Monday, June 18, 2012

The notorious 3 H's

Monday, June 18. Waverly, OH To Peebles, OH. 59 miles of riding and bike-a-hike in 6:38 hrs.

Total butt kicker today with the infamous 3 H’s – heat, headwind and hills. Letf the campground super early today so we could bet to Mickey D’s so I could use their wifi to work and post blogs. We did manage to get some camp coffee on before we left, so we ended up at Mickey D’s with high test. Did my gig there for a bit and then got ready to ride at a gas station just inside Waverly. Pulled the bike out and bingo bango, I had a flat. Rather than fix it I just stripped the tire and tube and put on a brand new tire and tube. Just didn’t want to waste time looking for some thorn or piece of wire bead for a half hour. Got the new skins put on (courtesy of pup who gave me two awesome Kenda Skins). In the meantime, while Judy was getting ice, I got directions out of town to where the BT picks up.
         By this time the sky was getting pretty dark and it looked like another bout of rain on the way. Got our first meeting spot discussed and mapped out and I took off. Now I went with this guy’s directions kind of sight unseen – you know, go with the local knowledge. So I’m just moving along, looking up at the sky every so often, hearing just the faint rumbles of thunder off in the distance. But I was good. Then, like about 40 min in I sensed that something was just not right, like the direction I was going was goofy. So I made a turn onto this little county route to ask for directions, and about a half mile down the road, after these dogs chased after me, their owner yelled out the window at them. I stopped and asked the guy where the hell I was, and was I close to Denver Rd. “Denver Rd,” he said, “hell, that’s back in Waverly!” I was like, “are you kidding me. A guy told me I could get to Denver Rd going this way.” Then the dude says, “who told you that?” And then and there I knew that I’d didn’t double check my information. So I got new directions and rode all the way back to Waverly.
         Stopped once more, this time I flagged down a Sheriff, and he hand wrote directions down for me. So I was now back in Waverly and one hour wasted for the day. Passed a gazillion people on bikes doing the 2012 GOBA (Great Ohio Bicycle Adventure) and suddenly I was on Denver Rd heading towards Denver, OH. Made it through a detour area where a bridge was out, and right about that time it started raining pretty hard and the thunder and lightening got going. Ducked into the entrance way of a little Baptist Church and hunkered down for about a half hr during a pretty good storm. Now I tried to call Judy but as usual, my phone had just the bare minimum of coverage and she had nothing. I wanted to let her know that I was about 1.5 hrs behind schedule.
         So finally, as the storm was passing, the rain wasn’t, but I was kind of worried that Judy would be sitting at some crossroads for like 3 hrs so I just got on the bike and rode out the rest of the rain for the next half hr. At this point I was on all asphalt. No gravel to speak of. Now there was one off-road section of the BT that I came to, but with all the rain, and then chest high brush and weeks, it just looked like a total nightmare to do, especially since I was running so far behind schedule, so I shined it on and stayed on road. Once the rain let up, and the sky cleared, the sun came out and it was just insufferably hot and humid, with a pretty significant headwind out of the southwest. With the heat I was kind of holding back on the effort so I’d have enough gas for the day, but the other part of me wanted to get to our predetermined meeting spot asap so that she wouldn’t be sitting in the sun for hrs on end.
         Passed this dude on a bike with light luggage on board and he flagged me down and asked if I was Pete. Turns out he had talked with Judy back at our meeting spot. He told me all was ok with her, but she’d been there for a long time. Told me I was ten miles away at that point and I was like, “are you sure? I think I’m just about 5 miles out.” Well, it was more like about 6 miles out. And it was a very long and demanding 6 miles in 90-degree heat, up and over hills, and into a headwind. By the time I met Judy I was a good 4+ hrs into the ride and soaked in sweat, tired, and just pissed at the way the whole day had gone thus far. FUN was not in my playbook today.
         Kudos to Jude for sitting in the freaking sun, at some little intersection in the middle of nowhere waiting for me. She pulled out a chicken salad from last night and handed me two ice cold cokes. Man, I just scarfed that all down in no time. My sweat rag was just totally soaked and my kit was just dripping wet. We mapped out the last section for the day – about 15-20 miles - and it was to get me in the 50-60 mile day range, and hopefully not too long such that Jude wouldn’t sit around for another 3 hrs in the sun in the van. So off I went to the next section. And this one was much tougher, yet way more rewarding than the first , fore it was almost all gravel and single-track for the first 1.5 hrs. By this time, 1:30 PM the sun was just blazing. Now I had this “texting episode” just after leaving Jude, where I pulled the map out of my jersey pocket and was kind of looking at it and riding at the same time when all of a sudden I looked up and I was riding down into a 4 ft deep ditch on the right side of the berm. Shocked the hell out of me, and I kind of let the bike go with the angle of the ditch and somehow kept the damned thing up and rode it out to a stop way down inside this ditch. What a total dumbshit!
Next up I was faced with this climb up a road called Fire Tower Rd. Now it started out right along a creek, and I thought to myself, “ok, could just be all in the name, no climbing up to a freaking fire towner, right?” WRONG. This pup was just a beast. For those of you who did my cycling camp, imagine Summerston Mt road as gravel and continuing for like 4-5 miles. That was this road. I was just dripping wet in sweat. Like I was raining sweat as I was climbing in the easiest gear I had. And this thing false flatted like 3-4 times, only to pick up steam again around a corner and jump back up again.
         Finally topped out at a…BLOODY FIRE TOWER!! Dumbshit that I am. Then the descent was just crazy steep and fast on gravel. Now my arms were just like a river of sweat running down into my hands and onto the bars, and I’d hit these ruts in the road and damn near loose my gripping on the bars. I’d try to wipe my hands on my shorts, but it was fruitless, cuz my short were soaked to.  I have a friend who had this happen and he crashed due to just loosing contact with the bars, so I really jumped on the brakes and slowed it down a lot. Made it unscathed to the bottom and continued on gravel to a single-track section that went into Serpent Mound State Park. This was very poorly marked, and I was off the bike cussing and swearing at the poor Buckeye Trail people for their lack of trail marking. But I finally found the trail again and continued on to Peebles.
         And Serpent Mound – I didn’t go into the museum or anything, and honestly, I don’t know what the hell was going on there. I do have a basic understanding of the history here, buy I certainly couldn’t define these so called mounds. It was all field and woods. I just needed to be done for the day, so my curiosity was ebbing big time. Did a couple more great stretches of gravel and then finished on an asphalt road into Peebles. Missed Judy in town and rode a bit too much, but I did find her waiting at this convenience store. She looked just as beat as I was. We were both in a pretty bad state, her from waiting in a hot van all day long, and me for getting my directions screwed up and being at least 1.5-2 hrs behind schedule. Not a good situation and not one I want to repeat anytime soon.
         I got a gallon of ice cold water at the store and just chugged in the parking lot for 5 min. I’d gotten directions to a campground about 5 miles away, and off we went – to Mineral Springs Campground. Now this is a goofy place, more suited for ATV riding on the grounds and fishing in the lake. We were supposed to get a wooded site with shape but the lady led us out to the damned Gobi Desert. Shade? What you talking lady? Oh well, finished for the day. I’m happy.
         Now today taught us that we have to come up with a plan that enables Judy to do more than just be a support junkie all day. That just isn’t going to fly for either of us. She’s bummed that she can’t do anything, and I’m bummed that she’s not able to enjoy the trip. So we have to come up with a solution here. This whole trip is a work in progress and we’re still kind of getting the feel of how it will work. It’s easy when it was just me doing my solo trips, but now with someone else on board, and doing the support, there have to be some kind of gameplan so we both reap the benefits here. We’ll work on solutions tonight.
         Well, I could drone on more, what with 4 beers in the tank, but I’ll end here. Tomorrow more BT and on towards Portsmouth and then back west to Cincinnati. Oh yea, I got in about 30-40% gravel/single-track today. The rest was asphalt.

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