Monday, July 2, 2007

Day 15 - "The hills are alive"

Day – 15 Idaho Falls to Jackson Wyoming, July 2, 2007

Julie Andrews didn't have anything on Bavarian Allois Gaigl. Al was full of energy and enthusiasm as the day he awaited for unfolded. Al got his wish…a ride that rivaled his homeland, the Austrian Alps.

Euphoria Meter (1-10):
How energizing and fun was this day on a 1 to 10 scale? 10 only because we succeeded in a very challenging day and had spectacular scenery for the entire ride. I could have rated it a 2 based on the 20 mph headwinds combined with 6,000 feet of climbing punctuated with 10 degree grades for the last 6 miles.

Ride Stats:
Distance: 88 plus 6 touring Jackson
Riding Time: 5:50 hours
Max Speed: 52 mph (not on the climb)
Average Speed: 15.08 mph

Well the wind finally came at us today at 20 mph for the first half of the ride. Once we were in the mountains it seemed to swirl more and be less of a factor. The temperature was a little warmer. 91 degrees in Jackson.

The early morning outside our hotel room in Idaho Falls.
We started out in the low fifties, but the day quickly warmed up.

Rain! We were finally rained upon today. However, it was all artificial. They actually describe the watering systems as “artificial rain”. With the strong winds blowing across the fields, the spray from the enormous sprinkling systems out here was frequently going as much on us as on the crops. The fantastic weather we've had so far is hard to believe.

Incidents and Rider Report
Everyone finished. Some with SAG assists up the hills (present writer excluded). Max Mendelsohn had a terrible incident. On the final descent into Jackson (where I hit 52mph and Mike Munk did 55 mph) Max took a spill while traveling at 40 mph. Unbelievably the only injury to him and his bike is a slight road rash on his right cheek. The story goes that he was riding his brakes to avoid high speed (ie slowing to 40mph) and that a man walking along the side of the road shouted something at him as Max was passing by. Max squeezed harder on his already overheated brakes and his rear tire blew out. Simultaneously his front wheel seized up and Max was thrown from the bike. Eye witnesses said Max then slid for a while and stopped just short of nailing the guard rail. He gets up, picks up his bike, shakes himself off and continues the ride! Well done Max.
I suggested he say some extra prayers of gratitude tonight, think about ignoring strangers while traveling over 25mph and to ease up on his brakes once and a while. Seriously, we are all glad he is ok.

Also, for you riders who are reading, Mike Munk shared another tip I'd not heard before today with Rich and I over dinner. He said he believes you can avoid a lot of serious bike injuries if you happen to be "going down" on your bike by staying "one with the bike". By that he means holding on to the bicycle itself and not letting go. He believes most major injuries occur when riders let go of the handle bars and try to brace themselves. He recommends holding on and rolling. I hope not to test his theory. Also, Mike has time on these rides to take great photo's and does a fantastic journal that you might want to check out Mom, have Cindy or Teri help you figure out how to navigate it, but you'll get all the juicey details of the ride and some great photo's that I'm not including (sorry).

How I Feel (1-10) : 9.5
My tailbone skin area is much better with the application of “Bag Balm”. I felt good on the ride today in this area and think things are improving. Barbara Munk, Mike’s wife suggested several other items that I intend to employ to get everything in good shape for the rest of the ride.

Stuff happens:
Today was the toughest day for me so far. I don’t do well in headwinds. Although I felt pretty good physically, my 6’4” frame is basically a sail and it works poorly with 20 mph wind in your face. The sail works pretty good with wind at my back (see previous blog entries). Fortunately Steve Bennett and Allois Gaigl worked with me on the first 55 miles of the ride where the winds were the worst. They are both strong riders uphill and into the wind. That helped a lot.
The three of us started pretty much last again. Due to Allois’ exuberance at riding through hills like his homeland of Bavaria I rode much harder and faster than I might otherwise have, trying to keep up with him. He is age 41, 5’8”, 145lbs and a tremendous climber. I can’t hold a candle to his climbing abilities, he spurts ahead and waits at the sag stops for me and we continue on, eventually catching up with Daco, Cindy (mom of 2 girls age 12 and 8 whose husband stayed home to watch the kids), Bud (fellow Buckeye contractor from Canton OH) and Gerard who before us and are leading the pack. Allois and I take the big 5 mile descent into Jackson whole ahead of the others. When I pass Gerard on the second long 12 mile climb he sounds horse. Later he tells me he’s a little under the weather. I expect he’ll be back in action soon.
I took some nice pictures that I would love to share with you. However, the downloads and the time it takes to get the photo’s into the blog is really discouraging. Maybe if I get a better connection on down the road I will be able to share more.

If you have never been out here in the summer, it is quite a spectacle. Experiencing it on the bicycle is so much more intimate. You smell the wheat, potato fields and cow manure like you wouldn't in a car. Feeling the humidity of the sprinklers gives you an appreciation of what we have in Ohio that they don't have out here, .... water in the air. And wow, climbing up a 12 mile ascent to scream 5 miles down into one of the hotest tourist places of the West really makes you feel like part of the landscape and one with nature. Idaho Mike Smith, you would have loved it today, I missed you on the ride.

Finally, Mom, since I know you are probably the onely one who reads this far down in the blog, I took no chances, was really careful, gave the ride all my attention all the time and followed Mike Munk's safety suggestions to the "t". I love you!


tt said...

As far as I am concerned, you've not missed much except exceptional weather here in Columbus. OK maybe the chance to mow Mom and Dad's grass. Don't worry we'll let you when you get back.

Russ Morgan said...

I read to the bottom of your blog. Do you love me, too?

mom said...

First thing I do before breakfast is get on your blog,I absolutely love it.

b bayne said...

Ralph- I know all about those headwinds! I did a ride a couple weeks ago in Dillon Montana- close to where you're riding now. We did 3 passes- the uphill challenging but the down so worth it. The last 30 miles we had 40-50 mph winds. The wind was either in our faces or across the road. My forearms were so sore after just hanging on to the bike! The water in the air felt wonderful on that HOT afternoon. Stay cool this week - it's going to be over 100 here. I've enjoyed your blogs. Happy 4th!

Anonymous said...

Mom says...Ralphie... I miss pinchin' your cheeks

my lil Ralphie I am so proud of you