Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Day 66 Attica, Indiana to Chicago, Illinois

It's 7:15 am, van is loaded with all our luggage, Kenny, John Langlois, Dennis, and me. We have left our bikes behind in the Attica hotel and we are off to McDonald's for a hearty breakfast.

The oatmeal is good. The egg McMuffin sans meat hits the spot, but the coffee latte is syrupy sweet. At the counter I'm told it's just coffee and steamed milk, but I know that can't be the case, so  I just ask for a black coffee. Two out of three is not bad. The coffee is too hot to drink and we're ready to head back so I just put on the cap and climb in the van.

Minutes later I'm back at the hotel and working to get all the electronics on my bike running. The routes are loaded and now all I have to do is  start live track. Since I have no cell service (thanks T-mobile) I need to launch this while under the wi-fi umbrella at the hotel. By the way, the hotel was built in the 1853 and has some of the fastest internet we've seen on this trip. Just seemed strange...

In any case, I can't get my Garmin to pair with my iPhone and I'm struggling. I finally tell my phone to forget the Garmin, I reconnect, and voila, it's back. We can leave!

Birtie, the hotel owner is outside taking pictures of us as we leave. She was a great hostess and really made us feel at home.  We also meet a young man that considers Birtie is 2nd mom. He is very curious about our ride and asks us our ages. He is shocked and says something to the effect that as young as he is, he couldn't do what we are doing. We encourage him to get a bike and stop smoking. He laughs. But who knows, maybe he will change...

Birtie taking our photo as we leave

We are riding now. I look at the sky. Dark clouds. Thunderstorms forecast for all morning. But not rain yet and the road is dry.

We cross a bridge and start heading north. Oh, such a tail wind. This is going to be good. John looks at his cue sheet and says we missed a right turn. My Garmin indicates the next turn is 47 miles down the road. Drats, I loaded the wrong file. The file I loaded has us on 41 pretty much the whole way, and John had noted on his drive down to Attica that the shoulder was non existent and lined with a spoke breaking rumble strip.

So we stop and I find the right file on my iPhone and use it for navigation. I hope the iPhone battery  + the external one I brought will last the 103 miles we have ahead of us.

We ride a bit and the road is traffic free and smooth. 

We the turn left. It's dirt and gravel. Can this be right? Kenny looks at me. I tell him, "don't blame me, John picked this route!" We all laugh. John looks at his cue sheet and says, it's only 3/4 of mile.

 Dirt and gravel surprise

All smiles...

3/4 of mile turns into about 3 or 4 miles but none of us are complaining. The surface is not bad and we're enjoying the views. I'm thinking of how much this is like the Natchez Trace, just without the road! 

Kenny, master videographer!

Screen shot from Kenny's video...

Soon we are back on pavement and navigating right and left turns as we navigate along farm lands. The wind is strong. We feel like super heroes when it's at our back. Human when we turn right and hit the crosswinds.

We're on a good road and John indicates that we're on it for another 20 miles or so. I confirm with my cue sheet. Perfect. I turn of my iPhone display to save battery life.

 It's not 2-3 or minutes when I hear the RidewithGPS thump thump that we are off course. Yikes. I turn on the display and sure enough we missed a short left right jog at an intersection. We now turn around and head into the wind. We feel like slugs. Hard to move 10 mph. 

More laughter.

We find the course and once again we have the mighty tailwind. We are flying 25 mph. My watt meter shows 100 watts. John comments, "Does this count as a ride?"  More smiles. Yes it counts!

Lunch shows up at mile 58 and it;s barely 11 am. But we're hungry. Sandwiches get mixed up and I end up biting into a pepperoni one. And no guacamole. I swap with John who had my sandwich. He must have been hungry. Doesn't like guacamole but my 6" subway sandwich seems half gone. I supplement it with a cliffbar. 

As we head out the sun is shining, Nice but I can't read my iPhone display. Can't even see the brightness control. We pull over, John and Kenny help me shade the phone, and I get the brightness set to 100%. We're back in business.

The miles fly by. This is going to be one of the easiest century rides I've done. 

We're at mile 91 and it's starting to sprinkle. Feels good. At mile 92 the skies open up. It is pouring rain. The roads are not only wet, it feels like we are riding along a stream. The rain is cool almost cold. Get too close to the bike in front of you and you get sprayed with the rooster tail.. The road spray is surprisingly warm. Almost like taking a shower. I look back at Kenny. He's taken the brunt of the road spray and is looking pretty grimy. But he's smiling and singing, "I'm singing in the rain..."

At mile 98,  I suggest we pack it up. I'm not serious, but knowing that Kenny really wanted to complete a century. I am being an instigator. I get clear 'negativos' from both Kenny and John and we continue to press on. Kenny is still singing. This time it's "The weather outside is frightful..."


Soon we are at mile 103 and are greeted by John's wife Nancy who had driven with John to Attica, spent the night at the hotel and then drove ahead to pick him up in Merrillville.  We are all soaked.  I ask Nancy if she would believe me if I told her we rode the whole way in these conditions. She smiles and says "No,..." 

Kenny heads to the van to change into dry clothing. There's a nice clean towel in the van that my sister donated to the cause. I warn Kenny that the towel is mine and I'm not too keen on sharing it. 
He assures me he won't use it... More laughter.

I'm waiting outside, talking with John, Dennis and Nancy. Starting to feel chilled. The wind is still howling and I'm dripping wet.

Finally I see some legs hanging out the side door of the van. Kenny pops out and I jump in. I pull out some dry clothes, put the my wet gear in my dirty laundry bag, dry off with my towel, and get dressed. Love this van.

We say our goodbyes. Nancy gives us big hugs and thanks us for what we're doing. John, who is a IIT alumnus says he will see us at Thursday's event. 

I'm feeling great. Somehow getting to Chicago seems like a huge milestone. There are still many miles to go, but the end is  in sight. 

Shortly I will see Sean and Amy. Sean will be joining us for the rest of the journey and tomorrow I'm joined by Diana who will ride all the way to New York with me! Yay! 

In Perrysburg we pick up Andrea and my friend Rick Hoffman. I haven't seen Rick in 35 years. Can't wait. 

In Pittsburgh, my colleague Chris Lattin, joins in. And somewhere before New York, Tom Lacey might join. So as we approach the finish, the number are growing. This is good.

Short video highlight the fun of cruising with huge tail winds (we rolled at speeds up to 37 mph) and the small price we paid when the skies opened up...

Route summary...

1 comment:

  1. LOVE the video clip, great choice of music 😊. How lovely to have Diana joining you for the ride to NYC. And I'm sure Sean is very pleased to be back with the Tour! Great lunch story! And of course, I can't think of a Century Ride without thinking of you ... you gave me excellent advice about eating before, during (avocado 😊), and after my first 100 mile ride. I listened to you, and I did the ride without issue (I bonk easily, so this was all valuable info!).