Thursday, June 21, 2007

Day 4 - Gerard Gets Going!

Gerard Berendse from Holland

Stats for the day:
Distance 62 miles
Climb: 2300 feet
Average Speed 14.6 mph

For once I wake up before Rich. The alarm clock has not been used yet (except for the first day when I set it for 5:45 on my PDA and it woke us up on Eastern time (ouch). Since then we’ve been using Rich as our alarm clock. Last night we left our patio door open and it was dead silent and cool great desert sleeping air filled our room and energized us for our ride today. I was surprised to find spring in my step when I climbed the three flights to breakfast carrying my bike and bags.

We had an above average breakfast today, oatmeal, eggs, orange juice and I was good to go. All in under 15 minutes. All 70 of us bring our bags to “The Box” (the sag truck) at 7am and we are under way immediately thereafter. The ride starts with a nice 1 mile descent out of the Casino/Resort Kah-nee-ta in the middle of nowhere Indian Reservation, OR. Gerard and John (airline pilot from Norwalk CT) had said they wanted to take the switchbacks up the steep side of the gorge versus the slower, more gradual climb to the mesa on our way to Prineville, OR. However, I waited, didn’t see them and left with Rich and took the slow more gradual climb.

We had a nice ride. Everyone wants to “take it easy” today after three good, challenging days and “the monster” that looms tomorrow. We start with Sarah but she gets impatient at our frequent photo stops and forges ahead. We meet up with Gerard and ride for a while in a small pack. Up the next long ascent (~ 3 miles) the group splits up and Gerard and I seem to be going at about the same pace. We end up spending the rest of the 62 mile ride getting to know each other better. He and I both agree we want to “save ourselves” for tomorrow. As a result we cruise along at about 10mph up the 5-8% climbs and ~ 16-18mph on the flats. It turns out he plays bridge twice a week, has an American wife, loves to bird watch the migratory birds in Holland and is in fantastic physical and mental condition. He is great inspiration for me. Besides Rich Simpson and Bob Kirk, I don’t think many 59 year olds could keep up with Gerard.

The ride is pleasant in that it is brief and we seem to have a crossing tailwind, fantastic scenery and bright sunny skies, but not too much in the way of heat. We spend most of the day on quiet roads with little traffic where we are able to ride side by side and carry on a nice conversation.

As we circumnavigate terrain and gain altitude, Mt. Hood continues to pop in and out of our view today as well.

With six miles to go we come to the top of a crest that opens up to a huge panorama of a valley that contains our destination, Prineville OR. Six miles straight ahead is Prineville. We start the descent. Our speed climbs from 18 to well over 30 as we tuck our chins near our handlebars. I turn on the helmet cam to capture some small piece of the rush. I tuck behind Gerard for a few moments. The descent flattens out. Then, as we start to peddle again I pass him and pull him for about 30 seconds then he passes me and vice verse for the next 4 miles. Gerard really got going on this flat section. We push as hard as we can just for the fun of it until I can’t take it any more. It was great fun, but so much for “taking it easy”.

We check in, eat lunch at a local sandwich shop ($5 for a huge turkey sub, chips and soup that was really hearty). We meet a lot of folks with cowboy hats and boots on that ask us if we are here for the local rodeo that starts tomorrow. We told them we couldn’t ride anything that didn’t have two wheels and pedals!

Today two riders in our group were unable to do the ride. Both due to tendon strains. We hope they return and are able to finish. One the tri-motor mom and the other a strapping young man of 18 years that is also a Florida Gator. His dad who is on the trip asked me if my block "O" Ohio state jersey was very old. I told him it was kind of old and a special gift from a special friend (thanks Anita). He replied that it must be old because it didn't say "Property of Florida" anywhere on it. (this ride isn't all fun)

Part of our ritual has become cleaning, lubricating and inspecting the bikes after each day.

Another part of our daily ritual is blogging. Rich and I are both blogging and it seems like many others are as well. The best blog of all is by our leader, Mike Munk who posts a journal under

Also of note today, the bike we call the “tri-motor” broke down. Cylinder #2 (Kelly the mom) strained her Achilles tendon on one of the ascents. Will the dad brought his own single bike and did the trip solo while daughter Jennifer tended to sag riders with great glee. She pressed the water jug button while all of us filled our bottles at both of the stops. She has become my, “up high, down low, too slow” buddy for giving five. She’s pretty good at it.

We have a weak meal that was prearranged at a local restaurant. I have fish and chips, Rich has meatloaf that later doesn’t sit well with him. Back in the room I crack open the extra large oatmeal container I purchased on the reservation and get creative fixing oatmeal from a coffee brewer. It seems to help as I get ready for bed and finish this blog. We have to figure out a way to improve our riding nutrition.

Finally, yesterday Rich and I decided to name our bicycles. I picked "Mariah" for mine. It does ride like the wind and the song seemed to have special meaning for me as I spend the most extended time I've ever spent away from the love of my life, Cindy. I miss love her, miss her and am very grateful that she is supportive of me taking this adventure of a lifetime. So, in case you are interested I included the lyrics here for you. Maybe you remember the tune.

They Call The Wind Mariah

They call the wind Mariah

Away out here they got a name
For rain and wind and fire
The rain is Tess, the fire Joe,
And they call the wind Mariah

Maria blows the stars around
And sends the clouds a’flyin’
Maria makes the mountains sound
Like folks were up there dying

They call the wind Mariah

Before I knew Mariah’s name
And heard her wail and whinin’
I had a girl and she had me
And the sun was always shinin’

But then one day I left my girl
I left her far behind me
And now I’m lost, so gone and lost
Not even God can find me

They call the wind Mariah

Out here they got a name for rain
For wind and fire only
But when you’re lost and all alone
There ain’t no word but lonely

And I’m a lost and lonely man
Without a star to guide me
Maria blow my love to me
I need my girl beside me

They call the wind Mariah

Blow my love to me


Idaho Smith said...

He's cracking. Next he will be singing to his new friend Maria.

Cindy said...

Tell Maria I am on my way! See you in a few days. Looking forward to riding with you.XOXOX

Marisa Antolino said...

Hmm... Maria?? Sounds like you're having fun! Is there a map of all your planned destinations too? Love and miss you! Make sure you're eating enough - it takes extra energy to bike ride and sing at the same time!

Mo&Dan said...

Just got back from your destination Ocean - we were a little farther South, Maria was there waiting for you! Enjoyed reading your blog, you make it feel like we are there - thanks!

Russ Morgan said...

Ralph, I called Cindy to get your blog site and a man answered. Not to worry. He seemed very nice. I enjoy reading your daily accounts. Are you able to keep up with the 8 year old? How about the 69 year old? It sounds like your competitive juices are still flowing. Why aren't I surprised? What happened to day 5&6?

tt said...

Have you met Steve? I don't know his last name but he is a friend of the trainer from a Safeguard class, Holly Adams. She screamed out in a restaurant when we realized, again, how small the world really is. Keep up the good work. Pat Molica says hi.