Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Two of Us Burning Matches

Soooooo....TOMROV. It was pretty amazing. I felt pretty crappy both days, but not so crappy that I couldn't do the ride. Whew!

It ended up just being myself, John and our other friend named John. Our other friend, Marco got injured and couldn't make it.

We got started almost two hours earlier than we ever have before. It was supposed to be ridiculously hot and it was supposed to storm, but what it ended up being was cloudy during the morning and then hot and humid in the afternoon. Not too bad, considering...

Thanks to John Heck for the photo.

Our friend John H. had never done TOMROV before. He loved the scenic views, but he did say that Saturday was probably the hardest day he has spent on his bike.

We started the ride in Bettendorf and rode along the Mississippi River encountering nice, rolling hills. As we got further into the ride, we crossed the River, and rode through an island called Sabula.

I tried to take a photo of John H. when the guy behind him here, swooped in for the photo bomb. He was pretty funny.

We did run into a little construction at the end of the bridge on the way into Illinois. They had a guy there stopping traffic, since only one lane was open. He didn't seem to mind the company of cyclists to chat with while he did his job.

A little way into Illinois, we hit one of the biggest rest stops in Pallisades Park. That whole area is gorgeous to ride through. The support for this ride in incredible. They had great food at all of the rest stops and so many great volunteers.

Riding out of that stop, we knew we were going to start hitting the big hills on the way to Galena. I had been feeling tired and crappy and crampy and my dry eye was tearing like crazy. I was still having fun on my ride, but I wasn't feeling all that strong. I let the boys pull for the most part, because I knew I couldn't maintain their speed. When John H. was getting tired on the bigger hills, I went up front and did some pulling finally. he told me he was just going to sit on my wheel and let me pull him. I told him that was fine. I owed him.

We finally climbed enough that we hit the ski resort. It was getting really hot and I was covered in sweat, sunscreen and road dust. Pretty.

The funnest part was riding down the hill from the ski resort. It's a pretty steep grade, but it also curves quite a bit and there other people riding pretty slowly and cautiously down it (and who can blame them). I wanted to hit 50 mph down it, but I fell short. I got up to 47 mph and kept thinking, "Please don't hit a rock. please don't hit a rock..."

After a few more hills we made it to Galena. We usually eat and drink beer there. On Saturday, I was too hot to really eat and the hormones put me on migraine watch, so I couldn't drink alcohol. I had lemonade and all three of us split one appetizer. Some of our Iowa City friends were there, so we got to chat a bit with them.

Photo courtesy of John Heck.

We took off and hit The Wall. It is a very steep, long  hill and most people we saw were just walking it. Last year, I hit it too hard and in too hard of a gear and just gave up and walked up it too. This year, our friend John H. said something and pulled over and stopped. I knew that if I stopped there with him, I'd never get up it. This year, my plan was to take it slowly and methodically and see how it went. Other than my heart pounding out of my chest, it went just fine.

We continued on after that and my eye was really starting to bug me. It was burning so badly, I couldn't stand it. I was smart enough to bring my drops and my Lacrilube, so I told the boys I had to stop and I started slowing down, but didn't realize that another guy had grabbed on to our train. He came around me and asked if I was okay. I told him I was, I just had to fix something. He went along and the boys came back around and waited while I put my medicine in my eyes and waited for it to start working. In that time every rider and every motorist stopped and asked if we were okay. I can get overwhelmed by how nice people can be.

We made it to the last bar before we crossed back over the river to Dubuque. I had a Coke and we sat in air conditioning for a few minutes. When we came out of the bar, we saw this guy with his megaphone heckling people as they rode pas the bar. I can't imagine strapping that megaphone on your back in the heat with all of those hills, but apparently, I'm not as dedicated...

Saturday ends with a huge hill on the way to Clarke College. I had run into one of my teammates, who I hadn't seen in a while, so I rode along and chatted with her for a bit, until we got to the hill at the end. Then I went on at my own pace and worked hard on finishing. When I had finished and we were getting our bags, some guy stopped me and said, "Holy cow! You passed me on that hill like I was standing still. What were you on?" I told him I was on "getting done with this ride and changing out of my sweaty chamois as soon as possible."

We ate their buffet which was so good. The even had shelves and shelves of any kind of dessert you could imagine. Sadly, I was still too hot and tired to eat much. We sat next two a couple of volunteers. They were older guys who talked to us about the history of TOMROV and they were very entertaining.

Finally, we got to our hotel. I told John that I would love to take a shower, go down to the bar and get my one drink for the day, sit in the jacuzzi and pass-out. He was all for it. Our night ended a really incredible day...Sure, there were a few hiccups and I wasn't feeling the best, but like they say, a bad day on the bike, is better than the best day without it.

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