Thursday, October 29, 2009

Day 6 Oceano to Buellton – 73.1 miles 2472ft of climbing

I’m sitting here warm and comfy, fully caffeinated and all covered with sticky cinnamon roll goodness...and I’ve gone a negative 3 miles so far on the route...

Yesterday as we rolled through Pismo Beach on our way to the campground, we passed Old West Cinnamon Rolls and of course being the junk food junkie that I am, I really wanted to stop. We didn’t though because we agreed we’d be back in the morning.
(In my defense, I wasn't the only one covered in cinnamon roll stickyness)

So, here I am, 3 miles off route with a full belly, a sticky face and no desire to get back on the bike. But, knowing we have a long day ahead of us, getting back on the bike is what we do and after another 3 miles we’re right back to where we started.

Jay, John, Tracy and I have a pretty good pace going and I’m not sure if it’s the cinnamon rolls or the cumulative effect of the previous 5 days on the bike, but my legs are just not turning as fast as theirs and pretty soon, I’m just hanging on trying not to get dropped.

The route has taken us inland so we don’t see the coast. We’re mainly in agricultural areas with flat, wide open farms on either side. This only adds to the challenge as the wind is working against us. I really should move to the front and help with the pulling, but I know my legs won’t handle it and pretty sure the guys want to keep a better pace than I’d be able to manage. (at least that’s what I tell myself as I sit back and wheel suck for the first part of the day)

Eventually we come to the first rest stop and I drink an FRS in the hopes that it will put some gas in the tank. Speaking of gas, the whole area smells like oil.

We’re not sure why until someone mentions that one of the wells has sprung a bit of a leak...I’m paying 4 bucks a gallon for gas and these guys are letting it spill????

Another of the towns we go through is Guadalupe. It’s a tiny little town with a very big map.

From here we continue through the farmlands, it’s flat and windy but at least I’m feeling a little better. Soon enough we get to Foxen Canyon where the road begins its uphill journey. We’ve joined up with Matt, Norm and Gary and the pace picks up yet again. Now I’m really just hanging on and trying not to get dropped when all of a sudden I look down and swerve to miss a freakin tarantula!
That thing was huge and I hear a pretty good crunch as Tracy fails to swerve around it. We see several more but unfortunately I don’t get any photos. Bill and Gail did take the time to stop and get this one though.

the area surrounding Solvang that we're riding through has a couple of wineries. Ok, maybe more than a couple

Pretty soon, I’m falling off the back and the group continues to pull away. The most frustrating part is that I can still see them but I just don’t have the juice to gain any ground on them. Soon enough we come to the next rest stop where we regroup again.

Soon after the rest, we come to the real climbing portion of Foxen Canyon and I’m starting to think there might actually be something to the FRS drinks as I actually feel good. Tracy and I, having been dropped by the others keep a pretty good pace as we climb to the top and find everyone else stopped to catch their breath. (they may have actually been waiting on us, but it sounds better if I say they were catching their breath)
From here there’s a long, fast, really bumpy downhill and our group is making good time. Hammering along like a freight train, my teeth rattling in my head, I wonder if maybe I should have invested in a carbon frame.

The next turn brings us to the bottom of “the wall”. This last section and the one we’re in now are all part of the Solvang Century which I’ve done for the past few years. The best part about today though is that the Foxen Canyon climb and the “wall” come at the middle of the ride and not at mile 80 like they do on the Solvang Century.

The wall is actually a pretty short climb and again, I’m feeling surprisingly good. I’m not fast enough to keep up with the hammers but that’s not surprising. What is surprising is that I get to the top without feeling like I’m blowing up. I actually, for a brief moment am disappointed I feel so good, like I should have/could have gone harder and been faster. I quickly realize that’s crazy talk as I still have a decent amount of riding ahead of me and I don’t want to run out of gas.

The downhill portion from here to the highway is again, fast and BUMPY. Norm takes off and I shift to a higher gear and quickly catch and pass him, only to be passed again almost immediately. Pretty soon we’re ahead of the group and my legs are going like crazy and I’m sure that things are rattling loose on my bike and my body as the road is so bumpy. Soon enough though we come to the intersection with the highway and regroup.

As we enter Solvang from the back side of town, I’m amazed that we’re already here. Amazed that the day has gone by so quickly. We ride through town and head out the other side pointed directly into the wind as we pedal out Hwy 246 towards our destination in Buellton.

Eventually we roll into camp and start the regular evening ritual - but first a picture of the group that spent all day trying to kill me

We grab our bags, set up our tents, hit the showers and go find beer. With beer in hand, several of us take the opportunity to clean up our bikes, lube the chains and generally give them a once over. I’m surprised nothing rattled loose on the bumpy downhill sections.
Tracy spent an inordinate amount of time on his bike...I think he was just too tired to get up off the grass and sat there till he felt better.

Dinner this evening is bbq spare ribs which are delicious. Tonight is the end of the ride for those that opted for the 6 day adventure so the organizers set up a podium, speeches are made, people are congratulated and afterwards an inflatable movie screen is set up for a viewing of Breaking Away. This is a classic 70’s cycling film that unfortunately just looses out when it comes to my decision of sleeping bag vs cycling film...and thus ends another great day on the bike.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Day 5 San Simeon to Oceano – 63.4 miles 2157ft of climbing

I’m lying in my tent and wondering just how early it is...although the surroundings are different, this is pretty much my normal morning ritual.
I rarely use an alarm as one of the downsides to getting up so early every day for work is that even on my days off, my body wakes up early and then I’m up for the day.

I’m guessing it’s about 5am and even with my head buried in my sleeping bag, I can hear the waves crashing on the beach below. Eventually I muster up the energy to crawl out of my bag and head out in search of coffee.

I’m surprised when I crawl out of the tent by how calm the ocean looks. From the sound I was expecting the waves to be large and continuous. Instead, there’s a small shore break that wouldn’t even interest a beginner surfer.

I find the coffee and my fellow early risers and I spend the time before breakfast recapping yesterday's adventures. Soon enough though, the caterers are telling us breakfast is ready and continuing the trend I started on the first morning, I eat enough to fuel a small army.

Once the sun is up and the gear is packed we’re heading out on the road. Today will be a great day. From here our goal is Oceano and I’ll be riding with Jerry and the gang which is always a lot of fun.

Not that riding with the other group isn’t fun, because it is, it’s just that riding with Jerry has a completely different flavor. Instead of spending my day hanging on to the wheel ahead of me and trying not to embarrass myself when it’s time for me to take a pull at the front, today will be about seeing the sites, enjoying the scenery and catching up on our friendship. (and it’s also usually about making sure we take in way more calories than we’ll burn)

The route today is mostly flat and it seems like we just started when we pull in to Lily’s Coffee House in Cambria. Finally! A good cup of coffee! I’m not complaining about the caterer’s since any coffee is better than no coffee, but when I take that first sip from the hot cup of goodness that we get at Lily’s, I’m in coffee heaven...And of course you can’t just enjoy a good cup of coffee on it’s own. I had to have a piece of cinnamon walnut coffee cake to go with it. Afterall, it’s been almost an hour since we last ate.

Here's Dwight practicing his Vanna White impression as he points to the sign.

The owner (I assume it's Lily although I never actually confirmed that) remembered him from last year as well as the reason they were riding.

Back on the bikes again and the ride down Hwy 1 is scenic and empty. We do pass by the town of Harmony which due to a recent population explosion has increased to a total of 24 residents.

As Jay and I were riding yesterday, we passed a couple of trucks set up on the side of the road as a rest stop. It was the USO support vehicle. The strange thing was we didn’t see any other groups on the road so we weren’t sure what it was all about.
Today though, we found out as we came upon a group of riders and their support vehicles. The Ride2Recovery group is a group of veterans and supporters that were riding from SF to LA to benefit wounded veterans. Their ride pretty much leapfrogged our ride for the length of the coast so from today on, we would be seeing them regularly.

It was actually pretty humbling to see them ride. One of their riders on a hand-bike and whenever they came to a hill, you’d see a healthy rider pull up, grab the handle on the back of the hand-bike and begin pushing. Behind him, another rider would pull up, place a hand on the other riders back and begin pushing him and so on and so on...eventually there were 4 riders pushing the guy on the hand bike up the hill...a pretty inspiring sight for sure.

Before we got to the next scheduled rest stop at Morro Bay we rolled though the town of Cayucos which is a nice little coastal town. We stopped at the downtown pier/bathroom and met this guy and his friend. They had started in San Simeon and were just out for a day ride.

I also posed for the typical “what a cool roadie guy I am” photo...

Pretty soon we got to Morro Bay, hit up the rest stop and went down to the beach for the requisite photo of the big rock.

Back on the road again the route turned inland a bit and we came to what would be the only climb of the day. Eventually we rolled into San Luis Obispo for lunch. We ate at a great little sandwich place before rolling down the road to the scheduled stop at a local bike shop that had prepared homemade tamales for anyone that stopped in...very cool

From there we headed back towards the coast and down through Avila Beach, Shell Beach, Pismo Beach and eventually to our final stop for the day at Oceano. Somewhere along the way we passed the natural hot springs where several of the group decided to stop and indulge in a good hot soaking....Jerry and decided to motor on.

Once again, we rolled into camp, the tents were set up, showers were taken, chargers were plugged in and thoughts turned towards dinner and beverages....

Tonight though instead of joining the regular routine of sitting down to a beer and waiting for the caterers to get dinner ready, Tracy, Jay, John, Jerry and I decided to head down the street to a little Mexican restaurant for dinner and a pitcher (or several) of margaritas.

After a delicious dinner, we walked back to camp and as I have done every night this week, I crawled into my sleeping bag as soon as the weather got chilly and was asleep before 9pm once again.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Day 4 Big Sur to San Simeon - 64.6 miles 5080ft of climbing

Last night, I’m pretty sure I spent the whole night with my tent in front of a lumber mill… least that’s how it sounded with the guy directly behind me snoring like a chainsaw. As a result, this morning, I’m moving a little slower than normal. Adding to the misery is the fact that breakfast is off-site at the restaurant up the road.
That’s ok though, soon enough I have the gear packed up and over by the truck and am ready to go when the pump Tracy is using decides to rip the entire stem off his tube...this just gets better and better...and all before I even get any coffee. I’m pretty sure I didn’t see this in the brochure.

Soon enough though, we’ve finished breakfast and are headed out on a nice cool morning. I’m a little concerned about not having my arm warmers on, until I realize the first few miles of this morning’s ride are all uphill.

I get a slow start and soon end up behind Tracy and ahead of Jerry and the gang. That’s ok though, sometimes it’s better to suffer in solitude and this morning’s climb while not really suffering, is definitely keeping my heart rate up and keeping my ability to chit-chat to a minimum.

Soon enough though, the climb is done. I stop at the top to take some photos and begin a nice fast descent. I spend the majority of the morning riding by myself which is actually pretty nice. All week long I’ve been hearing how today is the toughest day of the week, so setting my own pace and not killing myself trying to keep up with others is actually working out in my favor.

Occasionally I run into Jay at various turnouts and the rest stops, but when we start out again, he quickly pulls away as his pace is just a bit faster than I’m willing to go. Soon enough we get to the bottom of the first of two big climbs.

Having heard from people all week, how today is going to kill me, I’m surprised when I get to the top and actually feel pretty good. Of course, as we all know, the best part of any hill is the downhill portion and this one doesn’t disappoint.

The road is in good shape, traffic is light and I practically fly down, taking the entire lane and smiling from ear to ear and the joy of letting go and hanging on...

Too soon though, the fun ends and as I prepare to climb again, I pull over to take off my jacket and take a couple of pictures. It’s here that I realize my camera is gone. Totally bummed, I frantically check my jersey, look in the bento box, take everything out of my rear rack bag...yep, definitely gone.

If you know me, you can imagine, just what a drag this is. I take pictures of everything. I am never without my camera on a ride and to think I’m going to have to finish this ride without it, completely bums me out.

Well, without my camera as an excuse to stretch out my respite before the climb, I get on the bike and begin what I assume what will be the reason everyone has been psyching me out about the days adventure...the climb up to Ragged Point.

I start off and amazingly enough, feel great. Yes, it’s warm, yes my heart rate is up in the stratosphere, but it feels good. I’ve always enjoyed climbing. There’s something good about the suffering involved in climbing. Something very therapeutic about focusing on nothing but keeping your rhythm steady, feeling the burn in your legs and your lungs and pushing right to the edge of blowing up and holding it there even as you hope the end is near. Sooner than I would have expected, the climb is over and as I pull in to the rest stop at Ragged Point, Dr Mel mentions Jay just headed over for a cheeseburger...
Did someone really say cheeseburger??? Gee, let me think about this I could have ANOTHER peanut butter and jelly sandwich or I could head across the parking lot, sit down and enjoy and cheeseburger...yeah, that’s a tough decision.

Pretty sure that was the best burger I’ve ever had. I’m also pretty sure it had absolutely nothing to do with the fact that I just finished the two toughest climbs of the entire week.

After a nice relaxing break, Jay and I headed out for last leg of the day. Not sure if it was the burger or knowing the worst of the day was behind me, but I really felt great.

Evidently, so did Jay as we pretty much hammered through the rollers on the way into San Simeon.

We did stop to see the Elephant Seals which was very cool, those guys are huge!!!!

The camp at San Simeon is very nice, situated right above the beach and with an awesome view of the Hearst Castle.

After setting up my tent, I head down to the beach and swim in the ocean. How cool is that? I spend all day riding my bike and end a perfect day with a swim in the ocean.

After hitting the showers, it’s time to turn to the business of finding beer. The campsite is beautiful, the ocean is gorgeous, the weather is perfect but town is several miles away...luckily, Robin comes to the rescue and runs Tracy to the store to solve our dilemma.

After an amazing dinner of fresh baked pizza washed down with a couple of cervezas I crawl into my tent with the sound of the ocean lulling me to sleep...

sidenote - not sure when these pictures were taken but here are a couple of really cool shots the first one, Jerry took of a California Condor the second is a picture of the power cords. This is typical of what the outlets looked like in every bathroom, every night of the trip.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Day 3 – Monterey to Big Sur 47.8 miles 2585ft of climbing

It’s day 3 and as I get my gear together I’m struck by the fact that today is a “short” day.
It doesn’t seem like that long ago when I started riding and thought 20 miles was a huge ride. Now, 3 days into the longest ride of my life, I’m looking forward to a nice easy 48 miles...

Today is to be a really fun day. Rich Rosendale is once again leading us since we’re in his neighborhood. (it dawns on me I should be jealous since, while I was sleeping on the cold hard ground in my tent, he was home down the road in a nice warm bed)

We meet up with Rich and begin riding through the quiet streets of a sleepy downtown Monterey. I’ve only been here on the weekends before so seeing the town still in this quiet and peaceful state and without the thousands of tourists and all the traffic is a real treat.

Once through the town proper, we work our way down the coast and onto 17 mile drive. I’ve never actually been on this road and was amazed at not only the views, but the houses there as well....

Here’s a picture of a nice little place I’m thinking of putting an offer on.

Of course 17 mile drive leads to Pebble Beach so we had to make a stop there.
Technically we were trespassing but I’m not very good at following the rules anyway so it just added to the adventure.

The day continued to provide amazing views and very cool sights. We saw the Frank Lloyd Wright house in Carmel
It actually looks like a boat sticking out of the side of the hill.

We saw the famous Cypress Tree on the coast This is probably one of the most photographed Cypresses ever.

We then, in keeping with the tradition of eating way more than we were burning, stopped and had a coffee and danish at a great little bakery in Carmel. (sorry no photo - too busy shoving a bear claw down my throat)

We also saw the Carmel Mission which, although started in 1770, is actually still an active parish. (and one of the most beautiful I’ve visited)

Once the sightseeing portion was over, Rich had to split off from the group and head home. We continued on down the road...
It was at the first checkpoint that we realized we were getting a reputation as “problem riders”. We were told (in not so happy voices) that if we were going to stray from the route, we would need to let the volunteers and the support people know. They assumed everyone had already gone through the checkpoint and only through luck did they find out we were still en route.

Our response to this was, “ok, we’re going off route” When? They asked, “probably quite often” we replied. Evidently, that wasn’t the correct response...

The coastline of California is an amazingly scenic place. The waves of the Pacific Ocean and the creeks and rivers of the coastal range have carved and battered the coastline into a rugged and yet beautiful shoreline. So, while Southern California is known and popular for its smooth beaches and amazing surf spots, northern and central California are infinitely more beautiful and provide vistas punctuated by sharp cliffs, rocky outcroppings, creeks and bays, all of which combine to leave you speechless at every corner.

Eventually though, our route turned inland and followed the road into the area surrounding Big Sur. Gone were the sunshine and sweeping ocean vistas, replaced by the cool shade of giant redwoods.
Pretty soon we came to camp and the daily ritual began again... Pick up the bags from the truck drop off point, set up the tent, sleeping pad and sleeping bag, grab a shower and go in search of beer.

This evening we would spend the hours before dinner unwinding with a beer or glass of wine next to a beautiful creek, talking about the day's adventures and daring each other to try out the rope swing. All the time knowing full well that despite our bluff ad bluster, it was safe from any attempt...

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Day 2 – Santa Cruz to Monterey

Day 2 dawned cool and clear. With Rich Rosendale leading us off, we immediately detoured from the daily route guide (DRG for those of you that lived by it for 8 days) provided and headed for the beach. Detouring from the route would be an almost daily occurrence for our group and would also get us in hot water with the ride leaders more than once.

The first stop was the famous and often photographed Santa Cruz lighthouse. It was here we first realized how challenging it would be to get our entire group together for a photo. It was at least 10 minutes after we started that we finally got everyone together for the shot.

From here we rode along the cliffs where we could see the surfers, stand up paddle boarders and even a couple of dolphins. We went down through the boardwalk and on down the coast.

Stopping regularly for pictures, we eventually we made it back onto the outlined route just in time to stop at a bakery for a coffee and Danish. 2 hours into the ride and we were something like 4 miles along the route according to the DRG.

About this time, Tracy, John and I decided we needed to split from the group and make some time. It was fun and relaxing to just cruise along, but to be honest, after a couple hours, we were ready to put some miles under belts. It wasn’t long before I realized I may have jumped in with the wrong group. These guys were keeping a pace that had me pretty well redlined and just hanging on. Add to that we were now in the middle of nowhere and it seemed like every turn pointed us directly into a headwind.

Soon enough we could see the smokestacks from the power plant at Moss Landing. Knowing this was to be our lunch stop I hung on just hoping I wouldn’t get dropped until at least after lunch.

Lunch was at Phil’s Fish Shack which turned out to be amazing! In addition to one of the best grilled crab and cheese sandwiches I’ve had, we had a hummingbird eating from the flower arrangement less than a foot from our plates. (you'd be amazed at just how hard it is to get a good picture of a bird whose wings beat at 200 beats per second)

Eventually though, we had to head back out into the wind and I was provided even more time to practice hanging on to the wheel of the two hammer-heads I was riding with. The nice part was that I pretty much just sat behind the two of them and hung on for most of the afternoon. Still when we pulled into Monterey, I was tired and felt like I’d ridden hard all day.

The really fun part of the day was yet to come though. Once we got in to the town of Monterey, we followed the signs to the campground. The only problem was the campground was at the very top of the tallest hill in the Monterey area and my legs did NOT feel like pushing my fat self up that hill. Slowly but surely and constantly on the verge of cramping, I made it to the campground. (Turns out John’s shifter had broken and he ended up doing the climb in the big ring)
We set up camp, trying to find at least a semi-flat spot, showered and soon began the quest for beer. Luckily the Monterey Chapter of the Arthritis Foundation was hosting a little shin-dig and had a keg ready and waiting for is good.

Total for the day – 56.2 miles 2212ft of climbing (but it felt like more)

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Coast Classic…Day 1

Here I sit, three days after the most amazing ride of my life, struggling to find a way to put it all into words.

How do you take 8 days and all the surrounding experiences, sights, people I’ve met and friendships I’ve forged and translate that into a bunch of words that adequately convey the feelings and the emotions of the event?

Normally with this blog I try my best to be witty and irreverent but I’ve decided that instead of trying that for this series of posts, I’d just try to relate it as clearly as possible in the hopes that the experience of the event will come through.
(note - I'd like to thank everyone who has sent or I have borrowed photos from as I lost my camera on day 3 and need to rely on photos provided to me by others)

Day 1 started at 5:15 when Tracy, Tammy and Ben, Tammy’s dad, picked me up for the ride to the start at Pier 39. Deb was supposed to go along but evidently the flu had other plans for her. (I’ll spare you the details of her day since I’m sure it’s not that entertaining and probably not fit to discuss in public)

We made it to the City, parked and unloaded the bikes where we had breakfast at the Hard Rock Café.

Immediately I was struck by the enthusiasm and the energy of the event. Having never been on a multi-day ride, I was obviously a little nervous. Could I do it? Would I have issues with my bike? What if I couldn’t hack the pace, the distance or the climbing? Did I remember to pack everything? On and on these thoughts went as I worked my way through the small amount of breakfast I had taken. Did I eat enough? Did I eat too much? What if I cramp???? When is lunch?

Pretty soon as the riders finished breakfast you could actually feel the excitement and the anticipation growing as riders got their bikes ready, filled their water bottles, stuffed clif bars in their jersey pockets and generally started to mill around in anticipation of the start. Then, someone up on the balcony started talking and pretty soon we were being herded together for the requisite group photo.

After that, the ride officially began and people started moving out with the goal of Santa Cruz as the day’s destination. It seemed so far away and with 85 miles to go, my excitement was tempered by my anxiety.

As we rode through the Presidio and on through San Francisco, we were repeatedly treated to views of both the city and the coastline that you just don’t get when you’re in a car.
We had made it as far as Pacifica before I flatted. Not sure what I hit, but it flatted quickly and completely.

As I pulled over I noticed a motorcycle pull over just ahead. Thinking it was Motorcycle Larry, our support guy, I was completely surprised to find it was my buddy Jack who had gone to the Pier to see us off and finding us gone, had traced the route until he caught up with us. (Just in time to witness me make an amazingly fast and Tour de France worthy tire change)

From there we faced Devil’s Slide which is a notoriously narrow and long climb. It’s bad enough in a car, but on a bike, with no shoulder and cars whizzing by, it’s downright not fun. After that we rolled into Half Moon Bay where Tammy greeted us with a totally unexpected treat. Sausage McMuffins and Strawberry parfaits…..that beats the heck out of a clif bar any day!

After the break in Half Moon Bay we started pedaling again. Even with a nice tail wind, I found that getting started after a break was usually met with legs that felt like lead and left me wondering how I was ever going to make it through the rest of the day.

The remainder of the day along the coast was gorgeous. The sun was out and we had an amazing tailwind.

We rolled into Santa Cruz feeling good, found camp, set up our stuff and began the hunt for the most important supply of the! It just so happens that our neighbor Jay, who we would ride with the remainder of the week, was also in search of this important staple.

Luckily for us there was a Costco right up the road and in an effort to hone our entrepreneurial skills, we purchased 3 cases, brought it back to camp and proceeded to sell it to our fellow riders at a small profit.

In addition to making us extremely popular with our fellow riders and introducing us to John who would also become one of the regulars in our group, this would actually fund our future beer needs for the trip.
- Day 1 Totals - 84.0 miles 4400ft of climbing

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

On hiring professionals….

As you, my widespread and many numbered readers know, (okay 12 at last count) I was on vacation last week riding my bike from San Francisco to Santa Monica on behalf of the Arthritis Foundation.

During my absence, and knowing that most of you would go into severe withdrawals without me here to keep you company via the world-wide interweb, I made arrangements with a professionally trained and expensively schooled writer to fill in for me.

I assumed that although not as witty (but much smarter) than I am, this person who will remain nameless, would at least fill up the space on my blog with words that you could cling to as a substitute. Sort of a Methadone treatment if you will...

Well, it turns out that there are some things you need to work out when hiring a professional writer, things such as timelines, prior commitments, deadlines and fees.

Evidently, as I found out too late, if there are no fees involved, then said professionals take that to mean there really is no commitment on their part to fulfill an obligation. In addition, if you’re not actually paying them anything, then any lame excuse such as a full time job, a husband, a sick kid and a previously planned vacation are all good reasons to blow off your project...who would have known...

Anyway, this evening I’ll begin to try to put into words the most amazing bike ride I’ve ever done and have something for all my readers (both of you) posted tomorrow.
Meanwhile, enjoy the first storm of the year and hopefully this is the beginning of an epic ski season...

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Once again, I’ve procrastinated myself into a corner...

So, the California Coast Classic starts this Saturday. Tracy and Tammy are picking Deb and I up at 5:30 to head over to the City for breakfast then the start…..(gotta love wives that are willing to get up at the butt-crack of dawn to see their men off to battle)

I’ve known this day was coming since Jerry conned me into it, I mean since I signed up almost a year ago. And physically, I think I’m ready. Unlike some of my other ride commitments this past year, I actually trained for this one. What I really haven’t done though, is plan what I’m bringing, how I’m packing or any of the important logistical stuff (like nearest source of beer each night)

Basically, as the weeks have gone on, I’ve come across stuff that I think I should bring and tossed it in a pile. The problem is, the pile is rather large and I’m only allowed to bring 50lbs plus my tent and sleeping bag. Granted, I haven’t weighed, or tried to calculate the weight of my gathered treasures, but I’m pretty sure a pile of junk that covers part of the garage, the entire workbench and one corner of my bedroom weighs more than 50 lbs...(in my defense, I’ve never done an 8 day bike ride before so I have no idea what is critical and what isn’t)

So, tonight, instead of doing my weekly mt bike ride with the group, and the only night I have available to me this week, (and yes, just one day before we leave) I have to figure out what I’m bringing and what gets left behind. Usually, when going on extended fishing, motorcycle or backpacking trips, this is at the very least a several day process.

I start with the list, writing down everything I can think of, I then gather everything I’ve listed (and lots of stuff not on the list) into a pile, revise it at least 15 times a day for a couple of days, whittle it down again and finally make the final cuts. (just so you know, this process has been perfected to ensure I forget at least half of the stuff I need and bring twice as much of the stuff I never use)

So, tonight (and possibly part way into tomorrow morning) I’ll be out in the garage with my list, shoving, pushing, cramming, and packing my stuff so that I fit everything I need into 2 duffle bags not weighing more than 50 lbs plus my tent, sleeping pad and bag. If you hear constant swearing and yelling coming from my neighborhood, don’t worry. It’s just me getting ready for the adventure of a lifetime…(I’ll also be mapping out the local walmarts along the route since I know there will be stuff I eliminated that it turns out I desperately need)

I’ve asked my daughters to fill in for me next week on the blogging so stand by to see how it looks when kolidge edumacated peeplz rite...