Friday, August 3, 2007

Day 47 - Little Falls to Troy NY -

Day – 47 – Little Falls NY to Troy NY
Peaches and Mariah take some hits

Euphoria Meter (1-10): 9
Despite minor hits today was still a very fun ride. I also caught up on all of the nice comments left on the blog. Thanks again Ray, Catherine, Russ, mom, tt and others. Ray I am really looking forward to seeing you and Nancy in Manchester!

Ride Stats:
Distance: 82.73
Riding Time: 4:25 hours
Max Speed: 32.3
Average Speed: 18.7
Total Miles traveled: 3,404
Miles to go: 225

Well, today thunderstorms threatened us, but did not hit us. We heard word that some riders called and asked to be picked up because they heard thunder. Build ups were out there. We seemed to be racing it in all morning, someone probably got wet today but Gerard and I were high and dry again. Rich said his group did the same and he didn’t hear of anyone getting wet either. Temperatures were not quite as high today, but still warm. The day started out quite muggy and humid. Fog was present for the first hour or so. We watched the sun rise, set, rise again and set again then disappear through the fog. It was really interesting. We traveled route 5 for the first half or so and then a bike path along the Erie Canal again into Troy. With big hills/mountains off on the side of the valley we stayed in the sun literally rose and set several times as it peaked over the tops of the hills when we climbed and then set as we descended further into the valleys. Eventually the sun burned all the fog away, but the humidity and lift index were triggering cumulo nimbus clouds and resulting thunderstorms on a pop up basis in front of a mild cold front that we avoided. The front is expected to move through this afternoon and evening with great high pressure weather for the area through the weekend and beyond. Like we would expect anything different!

We spend a lot of our day still riding along the Erie canal with views like this one.

Incidents and Rider Report:
Today Rich and I make the news in this category. First Rich…

He was coming in with his new, post-Niagara riding group that has developed into its own little pelaton. Rich has found a new riding home with Marv, Fred, Russ, (all from SanDiego), Joel Paine (from Bexley originally now Chicago) and our new recumbent rider from Boston, Larry Schwarz. I have watched this group over the last week develop and Rich has commanded a true leadership role in it. He has become a biker dude. Rich pulls them, musters them together, sets the pace and has his great “get ‘er done” smile on all the while. This ride has transformed him into a new man. In any event, today, when they all cross the island bridge into Troy over the Hudson river, apparently Russ gets excited about a photo opportunity half way over the bridge, stops abruptly with Rich behind him. Rich hits the breaks quick and Joel, who is behind Rich doesn’t hit them quite quick enough. As a result, Joel slams into Rich’s rear tire, bending it way out of true and mangeling one of his spokes badly. Fortunately Rich has spare spokes and only had two blocks left in today’s ride. We are going to take a break now and go to maintenance to see if super mechanic Jim Benson can straighten Peaches’ wheel back to performance standards or not. Rich leaves the wheel with Jim who believes he can straighten it out nicely, may not even need a new spoke. So Rich shouldn’t have any excuses for not riding tomorrow and doing well
Mariah and I also took a hit today. Mike Munk stresses the dangers of bike paths over and over again. He claims they have most of their problems on bike paths. How prophetic today for me. Gerard and I were riding just in front of Mike Munk and Karen (assistant leader) who were “bumped” out to the first sag and then riding ahead of the group to paint arrows on the roads and bike paths helping our riders find their way through the more confusing sections of the path and roads around the area. Shortly after we pass them we come upon a fairly large crew of tree trimmers. Two big trucks and about eight guys blocking the bike path. To get around the first truck we get off the bikes and walk carefully around the debris spewn all over the place. Gerard gets back on his bike quickly and darts around the second truck that is also blocking the path. Coming the other way and before I can get around the truck a group of about 12 senior citizens on city cruiser type bikes come the other way and I wait patiently while Gerard continues down ahead leaving me further and further behind. After the last rider goes around the truck I get on Mariah and start around the narrow edge of the bike path that is not occupied by the truck. I try to avoid the grass and all the debris laying in it but in my attempts to do so I graze the edge of the truck that has some sharp edges sticking out. I hit it with my left shoulder, loose my balance and go down in the grass and sticks. Right in front of Mike Munk and Karen who are watching me about 20 yards behind. They get a big kick out of it. I get a scrape on my shoulder and a cut on my hand. Mariah needs a little adjusting of the computer pick ups but otherwise seems ok. Gerard is no where in sight now. I adjust the cadence meter that got pushed over by a stick. Everything else seems fine. I hop on the bike and go chasing again after Gerard. He eventually figured out I wasn’t behind him and waited at the next intersection for me.

How I Feel (1-10): 9.5
I would be a 10 but with the cut on my left thumb and the bumps I took on my left shoulder (the same one I separated badly in December) that now is a little sore I got downgraded .5. The rest of me feels great, legs, spirit, energy and enthusiasm for riding and getting this finished so I can be with my honey once again!

Stuff that happened:
The ride today was nicer than the last few days. Gently rolling hills following rivers and canals from Little Falls to Troy. The early morning fog was something to behold as we rode in it and rose above it of and on. The towns we pass through are all old, quaint river/mill types of towns. None of them appear prosperous today. Rich had a tour yesterday with the laundry matt owner who told him the population of Troy had dropped from 30,000 to 5,000 over his lifetime and there is not much going on there now except retirees. He said there ws no way to make money there, just to spend it.
This morning we had reveille at 5:15. Rich is really good at reveille. Breakfast was at 6:00. I made it down there by 5:55 and was last, yes very last in line. It was a better than average buffet at the hotel. I had fruit for the first time in a long time. Eggs, French toast that was actually good, some corn flakes and orange juice. I am pretty good at gobbeling food (always have been) but I’m even better now. I had no problem catching up with the mob to load. Load was at 6:29. Mike changed the time from 6:30 to 6:29 in order to try and change the incidents of out – of – the hotel car/bike accidents. He knows what he’s doing. It worked today, no such incidents.
As I load my bags, put Gatorade in my bottle I look up and Gerard is gloved, helmeted, straddling his fine Ridley bicycle and just staring at me. I get the message and move quickly. Gerard is not a man of many words. As I pull up to him I say, “It looks like you really want to ride today.” Without even looking at me, as he hops on his Ridley. As he pulls away from the parking lot with me along side him he says slowly, deliberately and very quietly…, “Yes”.
It is amazing how 83 miles now just flies by. We left that parking lot a little before 7am. Probably half of the group was in front of us. We ride side by side. Very little traffic in Little Falls. A much more pleasant morning experience than the last few days. We slowly move by Dot and Jim on their tandem with Sue in tow. The three of them are all from Indiana and are almost always together. We pass the Delaware threesome turned four with the addition of their friend Mike a few days ago. Today is Mikes’ last day and they are on a mission to get him in early to catch a flight back home.

Gerard and Denise on our early morning ride out of Troy.

Eventually we catch up with Denise who is always out front and early. She is normally accompanied by Tucson Debbie but there is no Debbie today. Denise takes advantage of the opportunity and picks up her pace to follow closely behind Gerard and I who are riding side by side and warming up in the cool, moist morning air. We start up a long gradual climb and then enjoy little ups and downs along this river and canal. Denise is smiling, has no trouble keeping up. We talk about what we’re going to do after this is over. She is going home to visit a bicycling racing friend who had a spinal injury four weeks ago and is recovering. Denise’s husband Jim will be at one of his Walleye tournaments. She asks Gerard and I about our plans and we have this nice conversation.
The first sag stop is 35 miles out today. We are within five miles of it and are now no longer side by side. The road has narrowed. Gerard and I trade places leading with Denise enjoying our draft. When Gerard relieves me of my pull I look behind me for Denise and she’s gone! No where in sight. Apparently she had a flat tire and stopped without saying anything to Gerard or myself. We felt terrible. However, the whole group was coming up and we later learn from Cindy who came upon her next that she fixed it quickly by herself and was on her way in no time. As Russel from Delaware says, “no cry babies” and Denise is not one of them. The women on this ride are especially tough and independent. We loved having you with us Denise!
As we come to the first SAG stop we are greeted by not one ABB support person, but eight non riders with cameras flashing. It turns out the Miller family is from this area and they have orchestrated some sort of family reunion at the SAG stop. Bernice’s sister, Mike’s sister, their kids and friends are all anxiously awaiting their arrival. They really went out of their way with baked goods and special treats they brought for all of the riders. We were very grateful and thanked them profusely.
Off in the distance we now hear thunder. Barbara who is tending the first SAG gets a call from a rider who wants picked up for fear the lightening may strike them. Gerard and I look at the sky and decide we better get going. The race between us and the weather is on.
We have about 30 miles to the next SAG stop. It is a little more of a navigational challenge. Residential streets, bike path entrances that are hidden, detours all confront us. But, we are seasoned veterans now and figure it all out. We make it to the next stop in short order but no one is there. We look around the park. We wait for a while. We listen to more thunder and see dark clouds looming and decide to continue. We run out of water but don’t stop to ask anyone for some because we’ve now only 15 miles to go and we’d like to preserve our no rain ride record.

The Hudson River Bridge is too much of a photo opp to not stop for. There we snap a few pictures and make it to the hotel just as Barbara and “the box” are pulling in. She’s surprised by our early arrival. We shower, wash and dry our bike clothes, stretch and go to have a nice lunch with Steve Bennett and John Hubert at a local pub recommended by the Best Western Concierge called Holmes and Watson. There we have great Ruben and Merlot followed up with Stewart Ice Cream shakes. I had Coconut Brownie Avalanche, a flavor I especially liked.

Marilyn proudly introduces off her two sons at dinner. She's done every inch that ABB would let her do! We are all proud of her and her fortitude. Unlike most of us she did very little training or preparation, bought a bike and just showed up. Despite having the odds against her, she is making it happen and having a good time. She gets stronger and better every day.
At dinner I was able to pass out a few copies of "Bon Voyage" to some of the fellow riders as a little gift from me. The folks who've had a chance to look at it seem to appreciate and enjoy it. It is a fun thing to be able to share with others.


Anonymous said...

Sounds like you only have a couple more days left on the trip. I have had more fun following your adventures. Will miss your blog when you are finished.

Catherine Adele

mom said...

Well keep being alert and you will be safe. You will arrive home on our 53rd anniversary, what a neat gift for us, your return safe and sound. I envy Andrew amd Lindsay and Cindy. They will take notes on your reunion and give me a verbatum account. Love Mom

tt said...

Just about finished! You will have accomplished yet another of your life goals! Good for you Ralphie!