Finally, finally...I'm on vacation. It always seems like it'll never get here and it's gone too fast but for now, I'm out of the loop for two whole weeks. Time to get caught up a little.
We're putting the finishing touches on our NS Thoroughbreds for 2010. A couple of last-minute donations came in late yesterday to put us over the top in donations so not only did we all ride like Armstrong, we topped the list of fundraisers as well. How's that for starters?
We're kind of planning on doing some riding while I'm off but mostly the big idea is to get to Virginia so Chris can dip her toes in the Atlantic. I'm all for it. After her trials and tribulations on the 65 mile loop, she really deserves it. Even though Doc and I had our share of problems on the 85, those 65 milers really got hammered.
The courses for three of the distances all started out the same way so everybody got pounded with that stiff hill-climb right out of the gate. There was a fair amount of walking bikes up that killer which kinda takes the edge off the rush pretty early. Once out of the valley though, it's more of the up-and-down stuff that's just the way of life in New York so the six from Team NS got together and rolling. Somewhere along the way, Chris heard that unmistakable TWANG as two spokes in her drive wheel gave up the fight and broke off at the hub. The rim instantly went out of true and that was that. A call went out to the trusty SAG truck and mechanical help soon came over the horizon. One spoke was fixable but the other required the one tool that the tech didn't have. A quick replacement was made and a good-enough truing was done to get her going and back in the game. He even gave her a ride to catch up with the pack. Nice!
Unfortunately...it wasn't the end of the run of bad luck. Why is it that no matter how much prep you do, something always decides to break once you get out on the road? Half the troops started throwing chains so several stops had to be made to fix greasy drivelines. No big deal but it sure breaks up the rhythm of things. Luckily, no flat tires or crashes put in appearances but then the weather decided to chip in on the proceedings. It was hazy and humid all the way which in this neck of the woods means there's always a chance of thunder showers. Sure enough, they got caught in one of those afternoon squalls that tear around the area on hot summer days. Luckily, there wasn't any lightning but the rain was like trying to ride in a waterfall. Reports of water sheeting down off the visors of their helmets were pretty much universal. Since there's really nowhere to hide from such a thing and they were all instantly soaked anyway, the only thing to do was keep on keeping on and hope the storm passed. Bicycles make very poor submarines so riding the remainder of the day under water was not exactly high on anyone's wish list. No wonder the answers to my cell phone inquiries were short.
True to form, the mini-monsoon came and went it's merry way fairly quickly and the rain was replaced with humidity normally reserved for malarial places like the Amazonian jungle. Ain't New York great sometimes?
Wet and trying to breathe a semi-liquid atmosphere, they pushed on around the detour Doc and I had already negotiated and found it to be a dead end. The only reason for them to do another climb and wobble down the afore-mentioned torn up blacktop was to reach a rest stop, then turn right around and go back the same way. Not exactly a great idea for half drowned people wearing soaked chamois and shoes that squished water every time the pedals went down. It added about 12 miles to the route for not much benefit. Thanks DOT.
Finally on the return leg, the remaining four...Chris, Dave, Norma and Amy with Karen bringing up the rear in that screaming red VW, started pounding away into the wind for the finish line. Karen wouldn't leave her adopted kids alone on the road and gave them a first-class escort all the rest of the way in. No more mechanical or weather adventures came along but by now, everyone was getting pretty tapped out and the bonk was lurking around waiting to pounce. A steady supply of goodies and Gatorade stashed in the VeeDub kept them going but as the time ticked down, they were still miles out and pushing the south wind. That's about when we found them.
They looked pretty droopy strung out in a line ahead of Karen but perked up a little when Doc and I came around the curve and tacked on behind the pack. A couple miles further and the road drops over a crest and runs downhill all the way to the foot of the lake. I heard a lot of whooping and hollering during the long coast down off the ridge and into town. We hooked up with Mark and Gary at the light and the damp, weary, dirty but happy tail-enders rode into the park like they rode out...as a team. What a way to end it!
So we all finished the day with smiles, hugs and handshakes on a ride well done. The photos say it all. Our first Tour was something I'll never forget and something I'm truly happy we did. It really was "The Ride Of Our Lives".