Le Tour De Shore 2017

The morning started early, like really early, like why did I even bother going to bed early.

Advertisements

The morning started early, like really early, like why did I even bother going to bed early. I was both excited and nervous. Today was the day for Le Tour De Shore 2017 ride! Today would also be the first time I would be taking a commuter train into Chicago. Being my first time, and wanting to make sure I would get a spot on the train, I decided to be there an hour early. Turns out I wasn’t the only early bird as other LTDS riders were already there!

The train ride went very smoothly, I chatted a bit with a fellow rider but about halfway through I think my nerves started to get to me. I found myself oddly silent and watching the minutes tick by. I had a lot on my mind. My biggest worry was about getting through the day, as I hadn’t put in the training miles like I had wanted to. My longest ride to date had only been 30 miles, and I was about to do 65. It felt daunting to say the least.

With a clickety-clack the train moved quickly down the track, and it soon arrived at Millennial Station in downtown Chicago. I took a deep breath as I felt the train come to a stop, and I said a little prayer for strength and safety. I quickly grabbed my bike and when I unloaded I looked for anyone that could be possibly doing the ride and started to follow them. I had no clue how to actually get out of the station but the advice I was given was to just follow the crowd. The advice turned out to be very good and after a short trek through the underground station and a small portering of my bike up some steps(which is not an easy feat when you have a big yellow bucket, and 4 water bottles attached to the bike) I found myself standing on the streets of Chicago.

It was sprinkling slightly, not enough to worry about but just enough to be annoying. Continuing to follow the crowds, we zigzagged across the streets until we made it to the McDonald Cycle Center in Millennium Park. It was here that I met up with someone whom had found my blog earlier in the year when researching this very ride! I had mentioned that I was planning on riding at about 10-12mph for this ride, and if that fit with her speed she was welcome to ride with me. I hadn’t heard back, so at this point I was figuring on having to ride alone(which I really wasn’t looking forward to having to do). As luck would have it though, this speed worked for her as well, and she had no one to ride with either. So on a drizzly Friday morning at 7:29am we set off on an epic ride.

To be honest much of this next part is a blur, and that is a good thing. The miles just melted away as we pedaled along the coast line of lake Michigan. As we chatted with each other about our lives, the weather slowly started to clear up and by the time we reached the first sag stop the rain had stopped. This was a sag stop that I was looking forward to arriving at! This was the PANCAKE STOP! WOOT! At the helm was Chris Cakes from ChrisCakesIndiana.com, and he would actually flip the pancakes out for you to catch! A fun experience and the showmanship was impressive(flipping up to 3 pancakes at once).

After a quick bite to eat, we soon hit the road. I knew some of this next part pretty well, as it was near where the WHAM RIDE takes place. In fact, I should apologize to my riding partner at this point, because I probably mentioned the WHAM ride about a half million times. I just get excited about things sometimes. At this point we were no longer on the closed trails of the lake shore, and instead were riding in the streets. I personally hate riding in the road, but at least I wasn’t alone. There was no bike lane here and the “side” was filled with parked cars. So I decided to take the lane, for both safety from the parked cars(and doors that might fly open), and for safety from cars trying to pass to close. Going down this particular stretch of road, which had 3 lanes. One going one direction, one going the other, and the center open for turns. I had at least two cars come up behind me, honk, and yell at me to get off the F’ing road. This while the middle lane was completely open and with them having the ability to simply go around me without even needing to slow down. I just don’t get people like this! It wasn’t like I was blocking them and going 5 mph for miles on end. It took them 5 seconds to go around me. Personally, I think every person that does crap like that, needs to be forced to ride a bike on those same roads, but I digress.

We soon reach the trail again, and are going along at a decent pace, enjoying the day as the weather was cleared up. When up ahead we notice about 30-40 other cyclists stopped in the path. I’ll give you 3 guesses on what was going on. If you guessed that we all had missed a turn, you would be correct. We were I think a mile or so off course, so not to bad. But nobody could figure out exactly where to go, because the on line map didn’t match up with the cue sheet(a trail was under construction). It turned out that while doing some construction, they had actually ground away and tore up the road marking for the turn. Ugh. We turned around and attempted to find our way back, when we saw some more LTDS cyclist heading the wrong direction we made sure to let them know as well. We ended up eventually running into some other folks who were lost, and we ultimately found our way back to the trail(thanks to a helpful construction worker).

It was about this time I realized something that I had forgotten to bring, my damn gloves. My hands were beginning to get torn up a by my sticky handlebar tape. No matter where I put my hands I just couldn’t find a comfortable position. This would turn into a worse problem as time went on, leaving me wondering at one point if I wanted to drop $25 to buy a new pair(spoiler alert, I decided to just tough it out). As careful as I was to pack everything, making multiple check lists, I can’t believe that I forgot them.

Around lunch time we rolled into the second sag stop. What was neat to see was that the helicopter and police vehicles were there again this year! It was busy, but not to busy that we had to wait long for our food. Peanut butter and jelly and some chips, which really hit the spot. Here are some photos

Leaving this sag I quickly found myself on my “home turf”, the trail I rode on often as it was near my home. We did make a quick stop at an unofficial sag stop at a new bicycle shop that will be opening right off the trail!

At this point everything went pretty smoothly. We soon arrived in Chesterton and rolled into the last “sag”. Well the sag was a bit down the road this was the bar that everyone stopped at.

After enjoying an adult beverage, and saying goodbye to my riding companion(she was staying at a hotel and I was camping), I sat down outside and just people watched for a bit. Though, with the last leg to go, I figured it was time to get moving. I stopped over at the actual SAG stop to fill up my water bottles, and there met two other riders who were headed to campground. I asked if they minded if I followed them and they said it was fine. I couldn’t help but think back to last year and how I felt at this point. I was dead tired, and could hardly keep going. This year though, while I was tired, I still had plenty of energy to get to the campground. I didn’t feel like death, I felt pretty decent.

We arrived in pretty decent time. Here is my daily mileage and riding time for the day

After figuring out where to actually go(it was a different site this year) I got to work on finding the right spot for me. I wanted something close to the exit, and some where that might give me a little privacy and discourage someone setting up camp right next to me. I found a nice little spot and quickly setup my tent.131418

My only complaint with the camping is that both years now there have been drunk rowdy people who have no respect for the other campers. This years loveliness was the screaming women at 11:30 at night, demanding their friends make them more vodka drinks and then singing “rise and shine and give god your glory glory”. I think next year I will get the number for the DNR on duty and let them deal with it.

Dinner was served again this year by the Rolling Stone Baker and it was simply amazing! I ate about 8 slices, 2 servings of salad, and some fantastic bread pudding. If you are ever out in Valparaiso, IN I suggest looking them up!

After a restless nights sleep, thanks to the drunk women across the way, I woke up at about 6:15 and decided to break up camp. I ate some food bars that I had packed with me, and began to mentally prepare for another day in the saddle. Planning originally to leave at about 8:30, because the annual 5k that is run in Beverly Shores, I realized that I didn’t feel like sitting around twiddling my thumbs. Instead, after getting everything packed up and loaded on the truck, it was time to strike out and leave. This was about 7ish(can’t remember the exact time). Before I left the park though I stopped for what I hope to make my annual Lake Michigan photo

2021

It was about 18 miles till the first sag where I knew some yummy donuts awaited me! Right before I reached Beverly Shores I was stopped by another group of LTDS riders who wanted me to take a picture for them. I happily obliged. As they took off I found myself following them. Not in a way to be a wheel suck, but more so that they were going around the same speed I was going. I ended up following them all the way to the SAG at Michigan City. We chatted a bit on the way there and it seemed like they would be a fun group to ride with. So when it came time for them to leave, I asked if they would mind I rode with them. In which they said that was fine, but to know that “if you get called a jack ass, it’s a term of endearment with this group”.

The ride through Beverly Shores is such a fun one to take. The houses are amazing, and the views you catch between some of them of the lake shore are just awesome. I couldn’t imagine waking up to views like that every morning. So we went a bit slower as we soaked in the views and talked about the different houses we would see. It was a highlight of the trip for sure. But like all good things, it came to an end. After BS begins the “hump”. This is where the hills really start to kick in, you are out in the middle of no where, and you begin to ask yourself why you are doing something like this. On the plus side though, I did manage to stop for a picture with some of the local wildlife!

22

I don’t know what it is exactly though, but the ride between the first SAG and the second SAG just is brutal. It drags on, and it was hot and sunny out. We were suppose to be getting rain storms all day and it was about this time that I was sort of wishing for one to start. I went through my two water bottles, and started on a third one that was on my fork. I just couldn’t get my thirst under control. I think I let myself become slightly dehydrated the day before, and thus was having to play catch up on day two. Just when you start to feel like you can’t take anymore of it though, you make a turn onto the road leading into Three Oaks, MI. The group did stop just before the SAG as some of them wanted to grab a soda from the local gas station. Now people always ask me the same question on these rides “what’s in the bucket”. Well I carry tools, tubes, food, bug spray, sun lotion, creams for the unmentionable parts, and after this stop a couple of drinks for the riders in my group.

Arriving at this last SAG I couldn’t help but have a bit of a flashback to last years ride again. I had already called my wife to come get me, but she wasn’t able to at the time, and was seriously debating if I wanted to just give up. I was dead, my saddle sores had saddle sores and I just didn’t know if I had another 10 miles in me. Flash forward to this year, and while I again was tired, I wasn’t feeling dead. I had saddle sores, but I wasn’t letting that stop me. I KNEW that I had another 10 inside me and then some. It is amazing what losing about 35-40# can do for your bike riding ability.

We took off as a group again from the last sag, but after about 20-30mins we were all strung out pretty far. At one point I couldn’t see anyone behind me or in front of me. However, I did eventually catch up with a couple of the guys in the front, but as they waved me past them(they had stopped to look at a friends house), I quickly realized that I couldn’t see them behind me anymore either. I was going to have to do the rest on my own, and so I dug in deep and pressed forward. I remembered from last year that the worst part of this short stretch(which is only about 12 miles or so) is that it just seems to drag on. It is the kind of lonely stretch that leaves you alone with your thoughts, and my mind quickly went to thinking about the trip so far. How much fun it was, and the bittersweet feeling of knowing it was about to be over. About 2 miles from the end I met up with a gentleman who I had actually seen the day before. He and his friend needed a bicycle pump for a flat tire, and of course I was happy to loan them mine(though they ended up not needing it as someone from their group caught up with them and had a better one). We chatted for a few minutes and he let me know that we were near the end. It was nice to find that out because I was beginning to wonder if I had missed a turn somewhere as it was really dragging on. He pulled off from me and warned me to watch out on the last hill because the roads were bad. A little bit later I was climbing the final hill and as I began to descend I realized what he was talking about. BOOM. I hit a bad pot hole/crack in the road and one of my water bottles went flying. I hit the brakes and had to go back and get it. After that I gently coasted down into the finishing area. Another Le Tour De Shore in the books, but it won’t be my last! Day two stats 232425

Last year I said “So the big question is, would I do this ride again? I honestly don’t know but this year I tell you I will DEFINITELY be riding again next year! Even if I have to ride it alone, because among fellow cyclist you are never actually alone.

27

Sorry this was so long, and thank you for taking the time to read it 🙂

Keep On Rolling,

Big Boned Biker

28

I’m not as fast as you…

Sometimes I feel like a fake, and it bothers me more than it should.

To start off with, I’m pretty slow compared to a lot of people, I average anywhere from 10-14mph depending on the day. I’m in a facebook cycling group and people are often bragging about how fast they are and how far they go, and while it shouldn’t bother me it does. It makes me feel like a “fake” cyclist because, I don’t put in big miles every week, I don’t ride as fast or as far as many, and I don’t follow all the “rules“.

Today though, I saw this meme today and it really hit me. As long as I’m giving 100% it doesn’t matter if I’m going 10mph or 30mph! It doesn’t matter if I’m riding 1 mile or 200 miles! It doesn’t matter what bike I ride, how it looks, or even that I have a kickstand(yeah I’ve actually been harassed for having one in that group). The only thing that matters is that I am giving my all, and whatever your all looks like, that’s perfectly all right!

Keep On Rolling,

Big Boned Biker

Meme by WheelBrothers.com

img_2709

 

Fear of the Fear

Life is a messy, muddy, and bumpy road.

032117

When you try and be fancy and screw up dinner. Yeah, that was me last night. It totally messed me up, and I went off the rails last night. That’s not true. We went out to Applebee’s, and since we don’t have the kids this week, it was just my wife and I. Which means I COULD have made the choice to order some healthy options, there are plenty available where we went. I had no kids rushing me to order quickly, I had time to think through what I should order. Instead, I ordered a creamy pasta dish, with onion rings as an appetizer. It would be so easy to blame it all on messing up dinner but the reality is that isn’t what messed me up. I messed me up, I made the choice, and I need to take responsibility for it.

About 3 weeks ago I finally hit below 300! I was ecstatic to say the least! However, in the last 3 weeks I have gained it all back. I don’t know why but I have been struggling hard core lately. I have talked about it with a few close friends, and the only thing we can think of is that I am afraid. Afraid of failure, afraid of success, afraid of letting people down. How can I do so well, just to throw it all away? Where do I go from here?

As I sit here writing this I feel the ache of depressing settling in on my heart. I KNOW what to do, I could do the program blindfolded. Yet, when it comes time to follow it, I am hesitant, I am afraid, I am weak. I’ve lost my spark.

When I set out to write this post it was going to be something else all together, something positive and uplifting. But, I make it a point to be honest on this blog, and life isn’t all sunshine and daffodils. It’s messy, gooey, smelly and just plan dirty sometimes. This is just a bump in the road, I will find my spark again, I am confident of that. Every cloud has a silver lining, sometimes it just takes awhile to find it.

Thinking about it, perhaps I just need to learn to not be afraid of the fear. I need to embrace the worries that I am having, instead of trying to run away from them. I’m not solving anything by hiding them away under a pile of food, I need to focus on working through them. Baby steps…

Keep On Rolling,

Big Boned Biker

10 things every cyclist should carry!

10 things every cyclist should carry!

 

  1. A phone, useful in an emergency or to call for someone to pick you up in case of equipment failure/bonking guy-1424911_960_720
  2. Cash, because some places won’t accept cards. It can also be used as a “boot” in case of side wall damage!dollar-941246_960_720
  3. Air pump or CO2 canister, so you can inflate a flat or low tirecycle-1578341_960_720
  4. Patch kit or spare tube(or both), I prefer glue-less patches but either type will work.220px-puncture-repaire-kit
  5. Tire levers, to be able to change the flat tirebad-luck-1411315_960_720
  6. ID, because you never know when you might get carded at a pub or have to deal with police.contact-97574_960_720
  7. A helmet, because you only get one brain!bicycle-for-our-minds-909820_960_720
  8. a bicycle specific multi-tool, in case you break a chain or need to tighten the hex bolts during a ride.knife-310205_960_720
  9. Water bottle for any ride over an hour, dehydration suckscamel-1348472_960_720
  10. For longer rides Food/Gels as you don’t want to bonk!hunger-413685_960_720

Disagree with me or did I forget something? Comment below!

Life’s for the living…

Just some morning ramblings…

Just some morning ramblings…

I was on a bike ride today, and as I was pumping along some lyrics came to my mind, “Life’s for the living, so live it or your better off dead”. How many years did I live as a dead man? I sat and watched endless hours of tv, played computer games until my mind went numb. I let the world slip by me like I was allergic to concrete. I let my weight climb so high that doing anything was becoming a seemingly impossible task. I was dead…

20120327-174431.jpg

Yet, I turned it around, I dropped from 450 down to 250, I was living life to the fullest! But, it was short lived. Slowly, at first, the weight started to creep back up. 280, 290, 300, 330, 340, finally finding myself around 360! I was living like a dead man again. I felt dead inside, and my outside was beginning to match it. But I always held on just a little bit, I would bike occasionally and every time I did, I felt that taste of life again. I recently recommitted myself to improving myself in multiple areas, from spiritually to physically. Yet I always feel like the boy who cried wolf. How many times have I “recommitted” to this journey just to fail again? To many to count. This time though things feel different. I’m not living like a dead man anymore, I am living life. I feel it every time I hit my daily step goal, when I take in a moment of quiet meditation in the mornings, and when I ride my bike.

I finally feel alive again.

Keep On Rolling,

Big Boned Biker

Living LIFE!

Green Eyed Monster

Man have I been bit by the green eyed monster lately. It is a vicious beast and strikes when you least expect it.

Man have I been bit by the green eyed monster lately. It is a vicious beast and strikes when you least expect it. I joined a rather large Facebook group for road cycling, and I noticed that everyone had nicer bikes, nicer wheels, and Garmin GPS units. I had never felt the need for a fast bike because my weight would be a limiting factor. Nor could I justify dropping $2k on a wheel set, that just seems crazy to do if you aren’t an actual racer(which most of these people aren’t). But, a nice Garmin gps bike computer, now that looks fun! I sort of felt like Ralphie from a Christmas story as he admired and coveted the Red Rider double action bb gun with the thing in the stock to tell time.

bicycle-for-our-minds-909820_960_720

So I started plotting, and planning on how I could make one of those beauties mine! I looked at prices online and the $400+ price tags would mean that new would not be an option. But what about used or refurbished? After all refurbished is better than new! I looked around and after comparing models settled on one for $190. It was amazing, it would tell me how fast I was going, how far I was going, and even give me directions on how to get where I was going! YES! YES! YES! I MUST HAVE IT! Now at this point I almost felt obsessed about it, I imagined how sleek it would look mounted on Tallulah. The way the lines would complement the cockpit view. I would be able to travel to unknown parts without worrying about anything. Life would be grand! Besides, from what I read, how could I be a real cyclist without one?

more-687241_960_720

The other night while driving home, I decided to tell my lovely bride about my lusting for this amazing piece of modern technology. Her response was surprising, I expected her to frankly just laugh at me and say “nope, you have enough stuff”. But instead, she opened the dialogue about WHY do I want it? I explained that it would allow me to free up my phone in case of emergency, it would tell me my information, and it had GPS so I wouldn’t get lost. Her reply was pretty smart , it went along these lines “Why do you need a gps? You ride the same routes all the time. Your phone works fine and you carry battery packs. Why do you really want it?”. It was at this time I realized I wanted it because everyone else had it. I didn’t NEED it, it was a want. IF the worry was about freeing up my phone, I could buy a cycling computer for half the cost and it would work just as well. This left me feeling a bit down and deflated.

Deep down I knew, I knew the reason I had to have it, it was because I see these people who ride, always talking about their Garmins, and they seem happy. In my mind I equated happiness with stuff, but that night I realized happiness isn’t about stuff, it’s about moments and experiences. They aren’t happy because they own a decked out bike with a fancy computer, they are happy because they are riding. Happiness comes from within yourself. Happiness is free…

Happiness IS FREE…..

sun-32198_960_720

Broken Spokes

With my oldest now in kindergarten(where did the time go?!?!?!?), when the weather cooperates I have been taking him to school on my bike “train”. Not only does it mean skipping the pick up/drop off line, but it gives me more time to ride.

With my oldest now in kindergarten(where did the time go?!?!?!?), when the weather cooperates I have been taking him to school on my bike “train”. Not only does it mean skipping the pick up/drop off line, but it gives me more time to ride. This last week I have been trying to be more active, so after dropping him off in the morning I take my youngest out for a ride. We usually go down to Hobart and back, nothing substantial but about a 45 min trip(counting the time to drop off my oldest). Pretty boring stuff.

Today though, as I was huffing my way back towards the house I came across my friend Alex! I was surprised he was up so early because he works nights but I think it was his day off. Anyways, he asks me what I’m doing and I explained that I was just coming back from Hobart. So he invites me to tag along with him on his ride. Ignoring the fact that I didn’t pack any water bottles for me, just the one full of toddler backwash for the little guy, I decide to take him up on that offer.

The air was nice, not to hot or cold, a few bugs out but nothing noticeable and it was just a nice cloudy day. We are moving along at a slower pace since I am pulling the train, we pass a few spots I remembered from the Le Tour De Shore ride. I remember how I felt that day, how worried I was about making the miles, but how proud I felt when I finished it. Anyhow, we are chugging along and at about 9 miles from the house I here a pop pop pop and my wheel feels really weird. I stop, my first thought is I have a flat. No worries though as I always have a patch kit with me. Bending down I feel the tire and it is rock solid. That’s when I check the spokes, and sure enough I broke 3 off them! DAMN IT! At this point I’m feeling angry, angry at my bike, angry at the spokes, angry at myself. There is only one reason that I can think of why I broke 3 spokes at once, and that is I am to fat. I instantly feel embarrassed, this is the equivalent of the fat guy breaking the chair as he sits down. I do my best to hide the feelings of shame and Alex offers to go get his car from home to come pick us up. We agree to meet about a mile or so down the road at a park we passed and off he sped away.

owl-158413_960_720

Ouch, something bit me, ouch something bit me again, and again and again. Turns out the mosquitoes were out, and were hungry today. My youngest is fine in his trailer with the mesh covering, but I have a long walk in cycling shoes, through the mosquito “jungle”, to get to the park. While walking I tried not to think about the wheel, because every time I did I felt that deep shanger(shame anger) building up. I started thinking about when I got home, all the things I could eat and all the food that would make me feel better. Because food makes stress go away, which means I would feel so much better after I gorged myself on what ever was in reach.

While walking to the park my youngest had fallen asleep, but there is something magical about a park that makes kids wake from the deepest slumber. While he played on the play set I sat down and really thought about this predicament. Food wouldn’t really help anything, sure it would feel great while I was eating, but it would feel ten times worse when I was done. I looked at my watch and figured by the time I would get home it would be lunch time. I decided at that moment I would not eat lunch until I was calmed down. I knew that if I tried to stick to what I had tracked and was still feeling this way, I would binge. I have been great all week, and I wasn’t about to throw it all away over a broken wheel.

When Alex arrives with his car we get everything loaded up(it’s amazing what a prius can hold), and he drops me off at home. It was at this point when my resolve started to waiver. I said goodbye after putting everything in to the garage, and headed into the house. My youngest was hungry as we missed snack time and I had to go into the fridge. After giving him his snack though, I sat there lingering for a minute. Those hot dogs look tasty! I think we have frozen waffles in the freezer! The delectable morsels cried out to me “eat me! No eat me! EAT ME FIRST! EAT ME DIPPED IN BUTTER!”. It was at that moment I had to make a choice. Would I eat, or would I wait until I was calmer?

fridge-1597106_960_720
I closed the fridge door, binging is what caused this problem to begin with. The little devil on my shoulder though wasn’t done with me. I stood there, staring at the closed refridgerator, I could feel my hand reaching for the door. The cold metal box was calling to me, it was wanting me, it was needing me. I knew I had only once chance, I picked up what was left of my courage and I walked out of the kitchen. I sat down on the couch, and didn’t get up until I was calm and relaxed again. I reminded myself that the bike is fixable, no body got hurt, and I was able to make it home without having to walk 9 miles pushing a bike train.

I still feel embarrassed right now, still feel a bit angry, but I feel in control of my food. And that is a win in my book.

Keep on Rolling,

Big Boned Biker