MAA – Day 21 – Three Weeks Down

Twenty one days. Three weeks in the bag. Over 2300 miles ridden and 2.5 times the equivalent of Mount Everest climbed! Onward. Getting Closer.

Now I remember why I loved riding in the Midwest so much. It’s days like this when you feel like you can ride forever! The road surfaces were great. The temperature stayed in the high 70’s. The hills reminded you that this was work but were not enough to make you curse. Besides, the downhills were long and fun! And the corn isn’t quite high enough to make you feel like you’re stuck in a Steven King novel, but it’s getting there.DSC01561  Not much has changed since Iowa – except the barns just aren’t as interesting (sorry Illinois!). Most are just big and white. They are nice, just not as interesting. DSC01562

The best thing about Illinois so far…no rumble strips! Thank you! And there were American flags flying everywhere! Either they are getting ready for Fourth of July early, or they are just very patriotic. I know what the Colonel would say!DSC01563

All was great until the end of the day. I had been feeling like my brakes were less and less effective over the last couple of days. And today, I realized that my front break pads were all but gone (I have mechanical disc brakes). I had started searching for a bike shop a few days ago in anticipation of needing new brake pads. I sent myself some to my brother’s house, but he wasn’t set to meet up with us until tomorrow or the next day so SOL! Every time I searched, I found something 80 to 100 miles away, and not on our track. Well late today, I asked the SAG to wait ahead for me so I could replenish water. It happens that they stopped in Peru, IL. When I caught up to them, I searched for bike shops, and found Bike Works! I called ahead to see if they had brake pads that would replace mine. They did not. And there wasn’t another bike shop anywhere nearby – or even far by for that matter. They weren’t sure if they had anything that was compatible either! Since I was in town, they told me to stop in and they would take a look. It turns out they had one set of pads that would fit! They changed mine out and sent me on my way. What a difference too! They were the nicest guys and are keen on getting people interested in riding. Great Shop too. Remember – Bike Works in Peru, Illinois!

Then we got to the RV park just in time for…you guessed it…another storm! Gotta love the Midwest! 🙂

No additional pics of the day.

Song of the day – since I was listening to 80’s tunes today…

Ride on!

MAA – Day 16 – Half Way There

Well, we’re half way there now! Wait. What? We’re only halfway there? More adventures await. Tomorrow we head toward Iowa and I have to say, I am going to miss Nebraska! For a cyclist, it’s been a dream. Good roads. Fairly flat, but with enough hills thrown in to keep it interesting.

Today we met up with another wonderful LCC Comfort Dog team. Katie Comfort Dog, and her handlers came down from Fremont, NE to greet us. We had a great few hours of fellowship and sharing dinner with them. What a fun group! I even get to be an honorary team member since they gave me one of their t-shirts and wrist bands.IMG_4885

I also got to see and catch up with my college roommate! We haven’t seen each other in 30 years! She hasn’t changed a bit either! She happened to be driving from South Bend, IN to Nebraska for an interview tomorrow. What a stroke of luck! (or a God thing)DSC01497 (2)

Other pics of the day:

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Song of the day:

Ride on!

MAA – Days 11 and 12 – So Comforting

Day 11 we left Wyoming and headed into Colorado. What a great ride! Beautiful vistas and nice smooth road (a little hairy with the semis at times). I was making great time too. It looked like I would make it to Fort Collins by 2:30 pm. A nice early day (rest day)! The only problem was, we had no campsite reservation and couldn’t find anywhere with an open spot. Mr. SAG had started calling as soon as we changed routes heading into CO.

Back home, we are part of a Comfort Dog ministry team through Lutheran Church Charities. Mr. SAG is a handler for Aaron Comfort Dog and I am one of his photographers. Aaron is one of about 150 Comfort Dogs deployed around the country through LCC. Luckily for us, Cubby Comfort Dog is in Fort Collins! So our “Top Dog” helped reach out to Cubby’s “Top Dog”. We connected and were able to set up camp in their church (Redeemer Lutheran) parking lot. What a great group of people too! We met several from Cubby’s team, were able to worship with them, and went out for a wonderful dinner. It turns out that a couple of people have MS and were excited that I am raising funds for MS research and assistance through this ride.

Speaking of dinner, we nearly had a huge catastrophe! We followed Cubby’s handlers to the restaurant in the RV. About five miles out, a car pulled up beside us honking away. As soon as we heard them, we knew what it was about! My bike had just been bungee corded to the bike rack on the back so it wouldn’t fall over in the wind. It wasn’t secured for driving! Mr. SAG and I were sick all of a sudden. We stopped the RV and ran around the back to survey the damage. Nothing! The bungee cord had held the bike up enough to where it never actually touched the ground/dragged. Wow! God surely was looking out for us! Of course He was shaking His head thinking “Seriously? What’s next?” We needed Cubby Comfort Dog after that! Thank you Kathy, Denny and everyone at Redeemer Lutheran for your hospitality! God is good!

Pics of the day:

Songs of the day:

Day 12 – Onward! Nothing much exciting today except lots of rolling hills and more wind! I dealt with a 10 mph straight on headwind for most of the day. One of the toughest centuries I’ve ever ridden! And according to Mr. SAG, we were on “alien abduction highway!

Pics of the day:

And for Janice – Song of the day:

Ride on!

 

MAA – Day 8 – I Love the Mountains

I love the mountains. I love the rolling hills. I love the flowers. I love the daffodils… One of the many songs that popped into my head today (Now you try to get it out of yours!) I really do love the mountains! This was a perfect day! I rode 55 miles from Salt Lake City to Coalville, UT with 4900 feet of climbing. It was a hard day but oh so satisfying! And the views were absolutely spectacular! I stopped early to respect the SAG Team. We needed a spot to set up for the night and there will not be another for way too many miles.

Just 1 1/2 miles away from the night’s campsite, I got my first flat! Ugh! But – good human to the rescue once again! I was just going to walk to the RV park when along came Alan. He was driving by, stopped and asked if I needed help, and he drove me to the park! He would take nothing from me except a thank you and the opportunity to help someone!

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Alan to the rescue!

And then Mr. SAG to the rescue. He had the flat changed in short order! He had even gotten the riding bug – was coming back from across town when I pulled in.DSC01242

Other pics of the day:

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Real song of the day:

Ride on!

MAA – Day 7 – All Roads Are Not Created Evenly

When I headed out today, it was smooth sailing! I was going downhill and even had a bit of a tailwind! What a difference a day makes! And then I hit the service road I would be on for most of the day. Turns out it was a road that is not maintained. They weren’t kidding either! For the most part, keeping up a good pace depends on your fitness level, weight of/on the bike, wind speed and direction, elevation gain and road surface. I learned quickly today that road surface is a really big factor. The road was bumpy and gravelly and beat me up for 30 miles.

It wasn’t all bad, though. I met some really good humans. Work crews were out doing major work on the Union Pacific railway which ran parallel to the road I was on. At one point, a truck stopped near me, and the supervisor got out and came towards me. He asked if I was riding all the way through on the road. When I answered in the affirmative, he radioed along the work line and warned them all that I was riding on and asked all the guys to keep an eye out for me especially when coming out onto the road. How kind! Then, every time one of their trucks passed me, they stopped to ask how I was doing and if I needed anything! LaVoy, stopped to give me cold water and a couple of ketone packs (Pruvit Max). And the last one I saw, offered me a cold Gatorade, a package of nuts, and use of their portapotty. What a great group of guys!

I met up with the Sag Team at 40 miles and then I was off again. The road was nice and smooth and I was making up time – For 10 miles. Then the road turned to gravel. It got deeper and looser the further I went. I made it about 5 miles as it went uphill and then disappeared all together. Needless to say, I backtracked, called in the Sag team, and they gave me a carry of about 20 miles around it until the route connected with us again. Smooth sailing into Salt Lake City! Phew!

As a side note, our coffee maker stopped working so no coffee this morning. Not a good thing if you know me (or Mr. Sag). Poor girl! I had to get my coffee from an Rx bar. I think it saved me from a full blown head ache! IMG_4477

Song of the day: I had to go back to Journey for motivation –

Pics of the day – You’ll see the road surfaces!

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Next up…more mountains!

Ride on!

 

 

MAA – Day 2 – Wow! That’s a Big Mountain!

You may have noticed (if you’re following my tracker) that the route changed. When Mr. Sag called the ranger station near Kirkwood, he learned that route 88 was open, but none of the side roads into campgrounds are. So, no place to stay. Executive decision was made to go up route 50.

Now, I’ve been to Lake Tahoe many times, just not in the last 10 years. I seem to have forgotten what the road was like. It’s different when you’re in a car anyway. You don’t notice all of the subtle ascents. On a bike you sure do! I climbed slow and steady ALL day starting at Cameron Park.

The first 30 miles were tough. I was on back roads and bike paths for most of the morning. (You can’t ride a bike on route 50 until after Pollock Pines. At one point, after being put on a lovely gravel road with steep climbs by my navigator, I apparently crossed over onto private property. The owner came out of his house to let me know I couldn’t be there and would need to go back the way I came. I apologized and after I told him I was riding cross country and was unfamiliar with the area, he wished me luck and let me pass on through! Phew! Somewhere around Placerville, I found Big Foot too! 😉

Once on 50, it turned into a great day. It’s a sweet ride (down) from Pollock Pines to Kyburz. Then the real climbing began! And it just wouldn’t stop! I finally reached Echo Summit and then it was a beautiful descent down to the campground. All in all, a very satisfying day!

Pics of the day…

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Ride on!

MAA – Day 1 – Let’s Hear it for the Sag

Think Let’s Hear it for the Boy and you won’t be able to get the song out of your head either! Day 1 turned out to be a great day to ride and a great day to learn! Cool, but not cold in the morning, turning to perfect temperature and mile breeze (not windy) in the afternoon. We headed up through Sacramento towards the Sierra foothills.

Before I left, I kept having the feeling of forgetting stuff. This would be the last day to pack things from home that I needed. Extra lights, charging cords, etc. Turns out, the first duty of The Sag (the girl) was to remind me that I hadn’t eaten breakfast! Good thing. With 100 miles staring me in the face, that would not have been good. I’m learning.

With everything packed and breakfast eaten, I pushed out. I made pretty good time all day except for the few navigational glitches again! It seems that when surface streets and bike paths run parallel, I’m not really sure which to be on (until I get the “off course” alert. I’m learning.

Day 1 had a familiarity to it. I had ridden the route a few times before up till Dixon (50 miles). The last half of the day was all new. My favorite ride so far was the American River Parkway bike path from Old Sac to Fulsom. I even met a few new friends on the path.

This is Al. We had a great chat at one of the rest stops. He was well aware of the bike path and rides it routinely to stay in shape now that he’s retired. Love it!DSC01063

This was my other new friend. I don’t just have random squirrel thoughts, they actually exist! (Scoobert’s jealous, though).DSC01073

Then I headed into the foothills. So much fun to climb for the last two hours of a century plus! I nearly bonked. I stopped at a CVS to get some much needed water and sugar boost only to realize that at my last stop to pull some snacks out of my pack, I had left it open! Somewhere along the way, my pouch with cash, credit card and id, fell out!! No replenishing now. When I met up with the hero Sag, they broke camp, and we drove back along my route to see if we could spot it (I knew a 10 mile area where it would have happened). No joy. As we gave up and headed back to camp to cancel card, etc., I checked my email. A kind soul, a fellow cyclist had found it! Charlton went to my blog – I keep business cards with that info in the pouch as well – in case new friends are interested. He connected with me through the blog and let me know he had found it. We texted back and forth and learned he was only about 10-miles away – so we retrieved it last night. My first Good Human story!IMG_4194

I’m learning! God is good! Your prayers are working!

Day 2 – hear I come! Ride on!