Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Wonder of Wonders, Miracle of Miracles

Okay. So, now we're on day number two of OOBRAI. Thanks to Chelsea, Burne and John for any of their photos I used. We had a lovely evening and the next morning, my brother joined us. We'll just call him Uncle Bill. And then there were five...

We knew we had a long ride ahead of us, but from the git-go things started to go wrong. I will call this our day of getting thwarted. Don't get me wrong, this day was epic, but it was hard. Of course, from a month away, I mostly just think of it as a wild adventure, but at the time, we were all pretty roughed-up from the day.

This picture above was my first mistake. We had some leftover pizza and everybody ate it while I was in the bathroom and I didn't go back in to get some real food before we took off. D-U-M, dumb.

We weren't going to eat lunch until we got to the town of Hampton and that was going to be almost 70 miles in, but, of course, it was a lot farther than that after everything went to shit with our route...

At first the trails were lovely, we thought we'd have about 30 miles of them, according to Google maps.

After a while, the beautiful trails got ugly. We thought we might be able to go around the bad parts, but quickly realized the trail was all bad parts.

We went out to the road next to the trail and then took a wrong turn...Or really, took a wrong straight, when we were supposed to turn. It got us onto this VERY low maintenance road.

It was beautiful, but it was all sand and some of it had giant puddles on either side. I thought it was a lot of fun to ride.

We figured out we were going the wrong way and hit a gravel road to get us back on course. I always bring dog treats, because there are usually more dogs on gravel than paved roads, and I'd rather distract them with a treat than have to kick them away from my bike when they come at me.

It also means I get to make friends with some very fine creatures, like Kiera here. She was a good girl. Her human stopped mowing his ditch and came over to talk to us. When I asked him if it was okay to give her a treat, he said, "Sure. And you'll probably be able to convince her to rob a bank with you after you give it to her too..."I would happily rob a bank if it meant I could hang out with Kiera more.

We hit the small town of Clarksville and headed back out to the next set of trails that we hoped wouldn't be ripped up.

So far so good, we thought...

Until we looked across the highway at what was supposed to be our trail.

We headed down ANOTHER gravel road to see if we could connect to this illusive "trail" that Google Maps assured us existed.

Welp, This strip of shoulder high weeds was the "trail". We think what happened was that at some point, people thought they were going to make a great multi-use rails to trail and they ripped up the old railroad tracks, but then either ran out of interest or money or both and it all went to hell. We had no other way to go, so we soldiered on.

After riding way too long through thistle, and burrs and poison ivy and wild parsnip, John said he heard a road. So, we picked our bikes up over the barbed wire fence to see if we could find a more pleasant riding experience.

What we really found was a feedlot. The farmer who owned it probably had every right to shoot us for hopping over the fence onto his property, but he only waved to us when he saw us and his dog gave us quite a fierce show, until I threw a treat his way. Then he grabbed it and trotted off after his human.

We wondered if other people had bailed on the non-existent trail onto his property before.

We rode a gravel road into the next town where, wonder of wonders, I found a splash pad. I tried my best to wash off any of the bad oils from the poison ivy and wild parsnip, but I didn't have any soap.

We did, however, have better luck with roads after we gave up the trail. we were on our way to the town of Hampton, when I lost every last ounce of my energy. We were going up a hill and I kept fading. We happened to be on a road with a narrow shoulder, so it was harder for anyone to look back and see that I had dropped. I realized that I was bonking - it's a term that means I didn't have enough fuel and it makes a person overly emotional and tired and stoooopid. I stopped myself, set my bike down on the side of the road, sat down in a ditch and dug around in my bags for some food. I have no idea what the motorists must have thought when they drove past me, crying and shoving food into my mouth.

I finally had enough fuel and strength to get back on my bike and head up the rest of the hill. When I was almost at the top, I saw John coming back to find me. He said he asked Burne where I was, since he was the last in line and Burne said he had no idea. So, John rode with me and we met the rest of our group at a nice, shady park and we all made a big point to eat plenty of food before we took off again.

We finally hit the town of Hampton and found a great Mexican restaurant. We ate lunch at about 3:30 and headed out for the last 40 or so miles left.

About 5 to 10 miles out, John realized he broke a spoke. It was on his drive train side, so he couldn't fix it on the road. A person can usually ride with a broken spoke, but it can also upset the balance of the whole wheel and break more and more spokes. John told us he would just see how far he could get, since we only had 26 miles left before we hit Clear Lake. Five minutes after he said that, most of the spokes on his wheel broke all at once. Crap! Since John couldn't ride his bike like that, his plan was to try to hitch a ride to Clear Lake, while we rode on. My brother joked, "Don't put-out unless you have to..." har har har, but I was really worried. I wondered what the odds would be that John would find someone to give him and his bike a 26 mile ride to Clear Lake, and then drive 26 miles back to where they lived on a Sunday evening.

On top of all that, my brother started having real problems with cramps. We also realized that Google Maps was trying to tell us to ride a gravel road the 26 miles. Burne was smart enough to say, "Eff that!" and find us a nice quiet paved road back to Clear Lake...If only Uncle Bill could get over his cramping. Burne's girlfriend had some electrolyte tablets and Uncle Bill tried those. They seemed to do the trick and we pedaled on. A little later, I got a text from John with a photo of a van and he said he got a ride from a guy who would take him to Clear Lake. I was glad he took the photo, in case the guy was a serial killer.

We finally made it to Clear Lake, about 114 miles, many issues and 12 hours after we started. John had run to the store and bought some beer for us. He had also checked out places to eat and drink in town on a Sunday night. We went to a place called the Surf District. The owner was closing but he told us to come in anyway. He was a great guy. He told John he'd be happy to take him to the next town in the morning to get his bike fixed.

We had a beer and then headed over to the pizza place and ate dinner. By the time we went to bed, we were all exhausted. It had been a rough day for all of us. The next day we would ride to meet up with RAGBRAI, at least if we could get John's wheel squared away...

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