Thursday, July 26, 2012

Cedar Point

Thought I would share some of the photos that I got from Jordan Sternberg at Cedar Point.

Our group got in for free this morning after posing for some publicity shots in front of the park.   I will upload more pics here when I get them ( unfortunately my email queue filled up and I know some good ones got bounced back to Jordan ... aaarrrrghhhhh ! )

Kendallville, Napoleon & Sandusky

The journey continues, through Indiana and on into Ohio this week.   We are now on the last three days of a 6 day run through part of the mid-west.   Each day had long mileage, and we all were a bit worried about high temperatures and winds and all of those other things that concern anyone out trying to ride a bicycle.   But fortunately, the cold front that brought rain to Madison last Thursday, has lowered the temps a bit and it is all working out pretty well.


We left Valpo after a breakfast at the cafeteria.   Lots of good stuff to eat, and just not nearly enough time to do it proper justice.   When we do breakfast, we are faced with two conflicting considerations, to get enough calories into us so that we can begin our ride, and to not overdo it, so that you end up with bloated feelings that make you really slow and lethargic all morning long.   Striking the right balance is tough !

The ride was pretty uneventful for us.  One treat was that we got sprayed with an irrigation sprayer as we rode along later in the ride.  I think the water spray is visible in the picture below... it got us all pretty good as we rode through it.   And then a few minutes later, we got chased by a few dogs, and I believe the words "eat him" were spoken ( ie... don't eat me, eat him ! )

Stopping for a break
 In Kendallville, the Parks and Rec folks put on a really nice dinner for us.   Hot dogs, BBQ pork and some salad fixings, for me it really hit the spot and was well appreciated.  And we got to meet Suzanne, the major of Kendallville ( sorry, I missed the last name ).  She and Jeffrey were talking about all of the common places that they had been in the Corps.

Supper in Kendallville


When we awoke in Kendallville, our next stop was going to be Napoleon, OH.    The skies were flashing a bit of lightening and we loaded the truck without much fanfare, and got a great breakfast by the same Kendallville folks.   As we rode out of town, it began to rain.    The group I was with stopped and dug out our rain jackets, and a few minutes later, it really opened up.   That was pretty much it for the morning, spots of heavy rain, then light rain, then drizzle and back into medium rain, just off and on.   Once you get wet, and get thermally adjusted to what is going on, it's just a matter of enjoying the ride.   Think I had "In the Early Morning Rain" by Peter, Paul & Mary playing for a while, most appropriate.

We crossed into Ohio at some point.   We almost missed the sign, it was on a little country road and hidden to the side was the Ohio-Indiana State Line sign, and someone decided to start a yellow line in the middle of the road on the Ohio side.  Not quite the big "welcome" fanfare that one sees when one takes the Interstates from state to state.

Ohio !

We stayed at the Henry County Fairgrounds in Napoleon.   Some nice architecture in the city, and Todd and Heather and I went exploring for a few minutes.


Court House

Up and at it with a breakfast off the truck for our last day of this 6 day roll to Sandusky.   Not much exciting along the route.   We got chased by a very little doggie with a blue collar and a very loud bark and that was the most exciting thing until we got into Sandusky proper and got ourselves cutoff by some idiot motorist who turned about 15 feet or less in front of Liz, Camilo, me, Rob and Sarah.   He got a pretty good vocal treatment.

Checkpoint in the corn fields

Bikes & flowers

Heather & Doron

Lake Erie from a Sandusky restaurant

Reesh & Jeffrey

Ben is enjoying this !

The next morning on our off day, the group went to the Cedar Point park.   It has giant roller coasters and other stuff.    The staff of Cedar Point took some photos of our group and we got in free.

Waiting for the rest of the team to show up

Here they go !

Lake Erie


That's about it for now.  Tomorrow it's a ride to Burton, OH and then off towards Pennsylvania and the final stages of this Big Ride.   We will have 6 days of rides, with some of them over hilly terrain.  Hope the weather holds and the legs keep pumping.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Grand Prairie, Coal City & Valpo

Well, we left Madison and headed south for Illinois, the Land of Lincoln !  

Grand Prairie

Our first stop would be Grand Prairie, and we actually ended up at the Happy Acres campsite.   The ride was about 94 miles long.  All in all, it seemed to go pretty well.   Rob and Sarah and I got in pretty early and a couple of the early arrives got to hit the pool area.   We all trundled over as a group to get a Friday night fish fry for our supper.   I don't think some of the people were all that impressed with it, but I stuffed myself, I was so..... hungry.   This hunger thing is becoming a real important issue on this trip.   I seem to eat whenever I can, and I'am still skinny.   Each morning stop at our Checkpoints, I stuff down a doughnut and a chocolate milk, plus a bunch of GU's and other goodies.  

Anyways, we maneuvered through southern Madison, after almost going the wrong way on the Madison bike path.   The group figured it all out and we got going the right way, and crossed into Illinois.

Rob at the state line
 I tried shooting a picture holding up the iPhone and just shooting blind.  One of them came out pretty good.
Sarah right behind me ( holding up the iPhone and shooting blindly )
 Jim Andressen,  a rider from 2008 setup the last checkpoint for us.   He had ice cream and goodies for us, and it was delicious !  Thanks Jim !

Jim's Big Ride sign
 Waiting for dinner, some of the riders were playing with bean bags in the dining hall.
Reesh, Cam, Liz and Sarah playing with bean bags

Coal City

Got up really early in the morning as we knew that we had 106 miles in front of us.   Ordinarily, I would want to rest up and take it easy for a few days, and "taper" before trying to do 106 miles, but this is the "Big Ride" and that option is not available.   We sorta joke among ourselves about the "Big Ride", but you know, it really is that.   It's a pretty unique thing.

OK, rolling at something like 5:05 am in early darkness, our little group manages to miss the third turn. We figured it out, and pulled to the side of the road.  My iPhone and Google Maps app let me know a way to reconnect without having to retrace our steps and we ended up back on course with no additional mileage penalty.  Yay, no "bonus miles" on a 106 mile day !!!!

We rode through cornfields.  And more cornfields.  And then we passed this pretty big windmill farm.

The day went pretty well.  We got to the 88 mile point and Charleton and the gear truck were not there, so we waiting in the shade of a couple of trees for them to arrive.   After they did, some of the younger riders started out quickly for camp ( 28 miles away ), and I decided to catch Sarah, who had left earlier.   Rob saw that I was trying hard to catch up, and he pulled me along for a bit until I got close to Sarah, timed it pretty well, and then swung out and with a burst of power, passed her explosively !  It felt pretty nice to be able to hit that after 100 miles on the bike.  Course, I slowed way down once we crossed the Illinois river.

Waiting for the Checkpoint to get setup

Rob, Yugi, Todd, Doron, Reesh, Ben, Sarah, Liz and Cam at Coal City pool


We left camp in Coal City and started for Valpo.   I have heard of this school.  They have played good NCAA basketball for many years and have played the UofA a few times.   We rolled at dawn, and made good time, but got stopped by Lynne, who needed to checkout some road construction ahead of us.   It took a while and pretty soon the whole company was lined up on the side of the road waiting for new directions.
Stop everything, waiting for road closure info
Once that was done, we had some good fast riding, with Liz giggling behind me for a bit ( when I had Lady Gaga playing on the iPod.   I think I trip out some of the younger riders that I listen to a lot of newer stuff ), until we got to the Indiana state line, which is not marked in the least.   The roads in Indiana took a marked turn for the worse.  We continually were yelling "hole right" and "hole left" or just "#$%^" hole.  But we got in OK and now are staying in one of the Valpo dorms.

Rob and Sarah in Indiana !
Tomorrow, we do 109 miles to Kendallville, Indiana.  Never heard of it.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Dakota Treats and Madison

We left Winona after a busy breakfast at the main cafeteria at Winona State University.  I think there was a football camp going on, as the place was packed with high school aged athletes and then our bicycle "gang".   Coach Charleton had told us that we would have a special treat today, as we were going to have our first Checkpoint at the home of the Myers family in Dakota, MN.

 The Myers family started welcoming Big Riders a few years ago when the girls setup a lemonade stand.  They have these wonderful scrapbooks with pictures of every Big Rider.   Today they welcomed us with food, drink and open arms and it was wonderful.
Guestbook includes every Big Rider
 Wish I could go back and try all of the stuff that I missed the first time around.  Those cupcakes were delicious, I had a big slice of pie, consumed a bunch of watermelon, drank about a gallon of punch and iced tea.   Awesome !

Yum !
 They have this beautiful garden area.  Everything was blooming and well kept.

Beautiful garden
Here's the family...

Our hosts
And some pictures of some of the Myers.
Kate & Beah Myers
Newspaper with story about Big Ride

Yum Again 

Glenn Myers & Charleton

Mary Lou Myers

Great Welcome Sign

The Mississippi is right across the street !

Could have stayed all day !

Everyone !!
We hated to leave, but all knew that we still had some hard miles ahead of us, and the day was getting much warmer, so Sarah, Doron, Rob and I bid our goodbyes and started up the road.   After a few miles and a ride along a riverside bike path, we got to Wisconsin. 
Hi Wisconsin !
 Then a bit later, we crossed over the main Mississippi channel into LaCrosse, Wisconsin, where we rolled along, "taking the lane" and hitting every single red light in the town.

Mississippi River bridge
The rest of the day was hot, humid and hot.  We finally ended up at a fairgrounds, and the folks running a Vacation Bible School at the next door Viroqua Christian Church saw our tents pitched in 100 deg heat and their pastor offered us a stay inside some nice air conditioning.   So with a long day passed, we bedded down in the nursery room with a pretty sunset out the window.

Sunset from the nursery room


The ride to Madison was going to be a 100 mile ride, and the company started early, getting up at 4 am and I, Sarah, Steve, Cookie and Molly were on the road in the darkness at 5:10 am.  We rolled along through rolling hills, some a bit steep, but not too bad.  

Going back to nature
The ride went well, we saw these lily pads at one of the Checkpoints at about the 75 mile point.

Lily Pads at a Checkpoint
 Dover, WI was a small town and not much is left except for this cemetery.  A few graves and two very beautiful large trees.

Roadside cemetery for Dover, WI
 Our last checkpoint was at the UpHill Grind Bicycle & Coffee shop outside Madison.  On the wall were posters from two Tour of the Tucson Mountains rides, one from El Tour de Tucson, and one from the Cochise Cycling Classic.   These are all Tucson rides and it was cool to see these posters hanging some two thousand miles away.

UpHill Grind Bicycle Shop & Tucson El Tour Poster
 I think Sarah and I got into Madison around 2:15 or so, and we made our way to the Student Union which fronts the lake in Madison.
Bikes & Boats at Union Terrace
 After dinner, I took my bike to Machinery Row bicycles to have my chain replaced.   It was still good, but we have another 1300 miles of riding to do, so it seemed prudent to go ahead and get it replaced.   Just as I got in the door, the heavens opened up and Madison got it's first big rainfall of July.
Raining cats & dogs at Machinery Row Bikes in Madison
 And later, some of us went out on State Street in Madison and we ordered this "boot" full of beer.   A great way to finish up this week of Big Ride riding.   Thursday is an off day for us, and then Friday morning we roll for Illinois.  DC is getting closer all the time !

Das Boot !  Me, Doron, Camilo, Ben & Liz