Le Tour De Shore 2016

After a restless night of sleep I woke up early at about 4:30 to begin my day. I loaded up my bike, while my oatmeal cooked in the microwave. I ate it nervously, and began to wake up the household. Today was the day. The day I had been both looking forward to and dreading since February, the Le Tour De Shore ride. A 100 mile 2 day ride from Chicago,IL to New Buffalo, Mi.

We arrived at the McDonald Cycling Center at about 6:30. I quickly unloaded my gear and saying goodbye to my family, I figured I would try and mingle. Accept for one little problem, I found myself full of anxiety. I couldn’t bring myself to talk to anyone, because I had this irrational fear gripping hold of me. I did ask one lady for some help pinning on my riding number (number 31), but I soon found myself standing all alone again. However that same lady approached me about 5 min later and asked if I had anyone to ride with? I responded that I didn’t and she offered to let me ride with her group.
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We ended up leaving a bit early as another rider offered to show us a better way to get to the Lake Shore trail head. He was a local and his route was very simple to follow, though I doubt I’ll remember it for next year. It was a pretty uneventful start, my nerves were still high as I was worried about completing the mileage for day one. We were keeping a decent pace through Chicago which was a nice difference from the last time I rode through it, Tri-State Ride. Everyone I was riding with was very friendly, which made the time go by very nicely. Everything was going smoothly, until we realized that we were missing someone. We waited for awhile, and one of the guys went back to look for him, but didn’t find him. After a bit we decided to keep going, as we thought he might have actually been ahead of us (he was a very strong rider). After a bit he came up from behind us, he had dropped his bike pump from his jersey pocket, it had wedged itself between the frame and the back wheel! I don’t know how but he didn’t fall and none of his spokes were broken. Luck was definitely on his side!

We were on our way again quickly and things again were moving at a decent pace. I could tell we were getting close to Hammond, IN where our first SAG stop would be. It was at this point we met a train, and not just any train, a REALLY SLOW train. It moved in front of the crossing about 300 feet and stopped. Ugh! We sat there for what seemed about 5 mins and it slowly, inch by inch started backing up. A bunch of us decided that when it was past the crossing we would cross. It was a single track and with the train moving so slowly it wouldn’t be any risk. A few people did yell at us from behind as we crossed but again, there was no danger. We quickly regained our speed and as we rode through a park area it started to turn, and turn, and turn us right back to that same train! Nooooooo! We were stuck at the middle of the train, the slowest moving train that has ever existed in all of human history! About 3 people decided to attempt for a Darwin award by going under the train. Now it was stopped at times, but it was still moving at others. While the 3rd person attempted a crossing the train started moving again, this time at a decent pace. Luckily they realized it in time and were able to get back. One guy had decided to go over the train and he almost lost his bike. It ended up being about a 15 min wait, and we all cheered when the train finally pulled away.

We finally reached the SAG point, and what awaited us was some gloriously yummy PANCAKES! We were all starving at this point, and we quickly found ourselves in line for the delicious food. We were lucky too, about another 10 mins and the line was wrapped around the corner. My oldest son had me bring along one of his transformers, and asked me to get some pictures of him on the ride. So here is Heatwave, in dinobot mode, enjoying some pancakes.

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The next section of the ride is kind of a blur, I was keeping a good pace of around 13-14mph. I remembered some of the roads and trails thanks to riding the WHAM Rides WHAM 2014 Night Ride WHAM 2015 the last couple of years. I do remember riding down a “hill”, which was really an overpass on the road. I was ready to get some speed, I moved into my drops and head down low, only to find out the bottom of the “hill” was where we had to make a left turn! Yikes! By the way, my brakes DO work, and I really love the stopping power from my disc brakes. There was another hill, this time on the bike trail, and I the ride down it that time I was able to coast for a good ¼ mile or more and still was passing people. Big Boned Bikers do well downhill. By the time we reached the second SAG stop, our group had split up. One of the riders, the lady who had invited me to join them, had been getting cramps in her legs. We called them and told them we would wait for them at the SAG stop though, and after about 30 mins they caught up. Turned out the ended up in some construction and had to walk their bikes for awhile. While we had been waiting though An ambulance had shown up, and a helicopter started flying over head. All of a sudden the helicopter started getting lower, and lower, and lower. It landed in a field next to the park we were at! I wondered if it was a medical flight, but I noticed on the side it said “LAW ENFORCEMENT”. As it was landing a squad car pulled up quickly, lights on. I was thinking to myself “what the hell is going on!?!?!”. Out of nowhere a bunch of kids started running up to the helicopter though and I quickly figured out it was a “touch the truck” type of event.

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At about 1pm we left the SAG stop and continued on, heading to the last SAG of the day in Chesteron, IN. The sags were all spaced about 20 miles apart, and about 10 miles in, we had all split up again. We stopped at an unofficial SAG stop. It just was a park with a restroom and some water. It was here that I ended up splitting up with the group. I didn’t want to be late getting to the campground, because dinner started at 3pm and only went to 6pm. What was interesting, and kind of weird, was that this section of the ride was right by my house (less than a mile). It is the trail I ride all the time! In fact, I almost turned to go home by mistake at one point. I was starting to feel a bit run down about this point, and ended up stopping to rest a couple of times. It wasn’t so much my legs that were feeling it, it was my “boodle” as my son likes to call it. I should have applied more cream( I use diaper cream to help protect and it works great), but for some reason I decided not to even though I stopped at a spot with a restroom. I kept on going though, one pedal at a time and found myself arriving in Chesterton! It was getting late at this point, almost 3pm but I had decided that I would stop at the bar next to the SAG and have my one beer. It was at this point one of the guys from the group I had been riding with pulled up! We decided to go grab a beer together. I had a Lagunita IPA, which on such a hot day was amazingly refreshing. We went outside and I quickly drank my beer. It was so damn good, I couldn’t make myself nurse it like I normally would.

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After finishing my beer, and checking out Broomhead  bars booth, who I must say have AMAZING bars! I couldn’t believe they were gluten free/healthy! I was headed out, and I must say this was the hardest part of the day. I was completely by myself, and I there were a few hills. I was tired, my butt hurt, and I just wanted to get to the campsite with out getting lost. I eventually ended up stopping to check my directions and someone else came along at that point. A lovely couple on a tandem bicycle, I offered to take their picture for them and they let me follow them to camp. Well I tried to follow them. I was just barely able to keep them insight. After what felt like forever, we finally pulled into the campground. It was a free for all setup and I found myself a nice quiet spot to setup my tent.

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I had expected people to be already eating but the place was pretty empty. Turns out dinner didn’t start till 6pm and it was only a bit after 4. I was starving, and if I do this ride next year, I plan to pack a second bag of just food! The campground slowly began to fill up though and dinner was finally served. It was from this AMAZINGLY FANTASTIC SUPER DELICIOUS OUT OF THIS WORLD wood fired pizza place. This is coming from a guy who hates thin/crispy crusts. Here are some photos of dinner and the firetruck they cooked it out of.

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Feeling a bit jelly aren’t you? You should be.

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That night, I slept pretty well, despite the party that raged outside my tent for what felt like hours. I fell asleep quickly though and I remember waking up to complete silence at about 1am. I had decided to leave before the official start time the next day. There was a 5k race taking place along the route that I knew would end up slowing down the ride, and the weather was going to be warm out. I got up at about 6am and packed up as quietly as I could, and was on the rode by about 6:30. I did take a quick stop by lake Michigan to grab a photo of Tallulah.

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Again, I found myself riding alone, and this time along a busy hwy near sunrise. This sent me into a small panic attack as one car decided to buzz right by me. An inch more over and he would have clipped my handlebars. As I rode along I shortly found myself riding along the lake, it was amazingly peaceful. I passed the location where the 5k was going to take place, no issues at all since I was so early. After going a ways though, I hadn’t seen any marks to turn, and I knew I had a turn somewhere near here. I stopped my bike along the narrow lane, and pulled over as far as I could. I dug into my yellow bucket and fished out my cue sheet. Damn it, I had missed my turn. I back tracked about a mile, back to where the 5k was going to take place. They had painted over the turn marking on the road! I made the turn this time and kept a sharper look out for my next turn. This time I missed it again, but only went about 100 yards before I realized it. Eventually though I was on course, riding through a swampy area and wondering to myself why I decided to pack the bug spray with my camping stuff. After what seemed like an eternity though I finally got to Michigan City, where my first sag stop of the day was taking place. As I pulled into town I meet up with some other riders, who invited me to join them. They were planning on riding at a slow pace, so I figured it would be a great group to ride with. I was surprised to find out that the reason they were on the road so early was because their hotel had a fire the night before. They had been up since 2am and had spent most of the early morning drinking coffee at a nearby panera.

Here is a photo of the group, they were all from Indianapolis.

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Despite my best efforts, I was quickly dropped. In all fairness, they did offer to slow down, but I knew that this was going to be a tough day for me. The night before all I was hearing about was how hilly this part of the ride was going to be, and it didn’t disappoint. This was the worst part of the ride. 20 miles of hot and hilly riding. At one point it got so bad I did the unthinkable, and something I really hate to admit. I called my wife. I told her I was done. I couldn’t go on any more and that I was exhausted. That’s right, I quit and gave up. Only, she wasn’t able to come get me for at least an hour or more. I decided that instead of sitting in the middle of nowhere I would keep on riding. I’m proud of myself because instead of completely giving up and throwing in the towel, I decided to keep pushing on. Turns out I was over half way to the sag stop! I ended up making it to the SAG, after having to stop a few more times to rest, and nearly going through 4 bottles of water. I was sweaty, thirsty, tired and beat up. It was still another 10-15 miles till the end of the day. Why 10-15? Because the mileage had seemed to be off on the cue sheets. I really didn’t know if I had it in me. But thanks to some encouragement from a stranger, who told me that if you do 90miles you do 100, I kept on riding. Luckily this was a much flatter portion of riding, and I was told it was just meandering through town. They lied. While it was less hilly, it was still hilly, and it wasn’t a simple ride through town, it was a ride through the country side, which meant less shade. However, after stopping one more time, I finally found a pace I could keep up with. My “boodle” was on fire, because I had developed 2 bad saddle sores, but I just kept pedaling. After what felt like 10 hours, but really was only about and 1.5 hours I rolled into the end of the ride! I couldn’t believe it, I made it!! Big Boned Biker completed his first Le Tour De Shore.

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So the big question is, would I do this ride again? I honestly don’t know. If I do it again, I need to drag someone along with me, because the times that were hardest were when I was having to ride alone.

Would I recommend it? Absolutely!

Keep On Rolling,

Big Boned Biker

Tri-State Bike Ride 2014

It was 4:30am and I had only had about 3 hours sleep, but I didn’t have time to worry about that, after all it was THE day! Both boys were asleep so I decided to get everything ready and loaded up before waking them. Here is my packing list:

Food

Bike

Bike Helmet

Bike Shoes

Bike Gloves

Cell Phone Cord

Battery Pack

Bike Clothes

Spare Clothes(For my wife’s car)

Beach Towel

Swim Shorts

Water Bottles X 4

Sunscreen

Determination!

A lot to bring, but luckily my Kitty Litter Panniers were up to the task, and with everything loaded up, breakfast eaten(Oatmeal, banana, and yogurt), I roused the troops! I needed to be at the starting point by 6am, and wanted to leave the house by 5:30. The ride there was pretty smooth sailing with a quick stop for an energy drink, we arrived about 6:10. I got a good luck kiss from everyone and rode over to the registration area.

As I looked around I noticed this was NOT the WHAM Ride, everyone had some serious bikes and were dressed in full kits. Check in went smoothly, though I ordered the wrong size shirt, I really should have gone with the 1xl not the 2xl. I was also handed a 10 million page cue sheet with complicated directions that had me going cross-eyed. I tried to talk to some folks around me but wasn’t having much luck, so I pulled out my “can you take a picture” opening line. photo 2

photo 1 That worked and soon I had struck up a conversation with a nice lady from Chicago, she was training for an Iron-Man event and this was simply a training ride for her. I also spoke with a guy who was on a recumbent, but I seemed to be annoying him. Finally I started chatting with 3 older guys, though I was more listening as I didn’t have much to add to the conversation.

Tick Tock, Tick Tock, the time is now 7 o’clock! 15 short and awkward minutes later the briefing started. I was relieved to find out the path was marked with spray paint, and that the cue sheet were for a back up system(or in case you get lost). We were also told about the “sweeper” Beth, who is the last rider and we needed to stay ahead of her if we were going to finish. Suddenly it was over and it was time to ride, the thoughts going through my head ranged from “WOOT!” to “How the HELL am I going to be able to do THIS?!?”. I had decided before hand that I would need to pace myself, despite wanting to go full bore with the rest of them, I held back to a 12mph pace.

ZOOM ZOOM ZOOM ZOOM ZOOM, people were passing me quick. I was worried I would be seeing Beth soon, when I looked over and saw a lady next to me about the same pace! I had noticed her reflector on the front, it was huge and she rode a vintage style road bike, so I started talking with her. We will call her Bell, since she was from Belfast, Ireland. She, like myself, was worried about being able to complete the ride. As we rode along together we seemed to be becoming friends, and the talking helped take my mind off the big task ahead.

On our way to the first rest stop, we made our first of many wrong turns, this one under a bridge, luckily we noticed it quickly and were able to get back on track(along with the 3 other riders who were following us). The adventure was only beginning though, as we soon found ourselves near the Shedd Aquarium, and a 10k race being run! It was right in our path, and we didn’t want to try and find a different route(which would have ended poorly). So not only did I do a tri-state ride, I also did a 10k race..it counts right? I tried to shout encouragement to the folks running, but in retrospect I think I came off more as an ass. The one downside to this was that our average speed plummeted down to 9.8 from 12mph! I needed to try and make some time up, or it was going to be a close call for the finish, as I figured my avg would drop more as I got to the end.

This is my riding buddy Bell!

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The first rest stop was nice, hit the bathroom and ate PB&J number 1, wish I would have grabbed a picture of the peanut butter gun. My goal was to only spend 15 min per rest stop, and made it out right on schedule. Minus a bit of confusion on where to actual go, it was pretty uneventful, not! It was such an awesome experience riding along the shore through Chicago!! With the beaches full of people, the street musicians and just the scenery, it created the perfect amalgamation. I was a bit sad when we started heading out to the suburban areas, but we had to keep moving forward!

We arrived at the second stop doing well, but ready for a quick stretch, and PB & J 2. So I have a habit of talking peoples ears off, I sometimes come off a bit strong and I was worried about this with Bell. I asked her if she wanted to keep riding with me, and she did, which worked out nicely. It was around this stop we picked up a new friend, “Fixie”, the guy who was ballsy enough to ride a fix gear through 3 states! It was nice to add to the group, and I enjoyed getting to talk to him. It was funny that his bike was green and blue, and my outfit matched it nearly dead on.

As we biked on, I made it a point to drink my fluids, mixed with a Gatorade solution(I went weaker with it as to strong makes me sick when I am riding), and I also tried to eat something every 10 miles or so, doing this kept me feeling fresh for the majority of the day. As we went toward the third rest stop, we hit long stretches of straight roads, it kept making me wonder if we were going the right direction. The nice part of this was, it let us make up a bit of time that Chicago cost us. When we hit the third stop our avg was up around 10.5mph. We did end up on a bike path for awhile and right before the rest stop there was a steep decent, short but like this “ \ “. I almost wiped out at the bottom of it as I turned. I went back up to the top of it to make sure this was the right direction. It turned out we just need to go straight and as I put my foot down to turn my bike around I over stretched and had a sharp pain going up my leg. I was really worried that this might be the end of my ride, it hurt. I kept riding though and was able to stretch it out at the rest stop. The things that sucked about this stop was that not only were the bathrooms locked, they were out of water!! People might make fun of me for carrying 4 bottles of water, but guess who has thumbs and still had 2 fresh bottles left? Yup, this guy! I added some mix to them and ate PB & J , and we headed out after 10 min.

We are over half way at this point, and I am excited for our next stop, this one was only 10 miles away, but would place me at my furthest distance to date! It also was my scheduled 30min lunch break too. I was wondering why it was only 10 miles away, but noticed that the terrain was slowly starting to change. Instead of FLAT were getting some small hills, nothing that really registered as a BBBEH(Big Bad Biker Eating Hill), though it would have in the past. After a few more wrong turns, one down a gravely bike path, and a few right ones, we find ourselves on a nice path. It was here that I noticed something, I am feeling good! I decided to kick things up a notch, and for the next few miles we were hitting speeds up to 19.5 mph! Sadly this was when we lost Fixie, but it is hard to hit speed on a single gear bike. Now he only reason we slowed down was due to the path ending, and needing to go on more winding and involved directions. In short order we arrive at rest stop number 4, this would be the last one till Kenosha. Here they had a hot dog place, ice cream place, and a deli! YUM! I decided though that I would eat PB & J 4 instead, and I am proud of that choice. I had been planing on a nice brat and ice cream cone for weeks, it sounded sooo good, but I knew for myself it was a bad choice. I would be left craving more, and I didn’t want that. I filled up my bottles and was getting ready to leave, when one of the other riders mentioned the lost their water bottle. Again, having 4 bottles comes in handy, and I was happy to loan her one of mine.

We had to choices on this final segment, a gravel bike path which would be a couple of miles shorter, or a road path that while longer, was also smoother. We talked it over briefly but we both agreed that the road would be the best way to go. Shortly after leaving we hit a BBBEH, well really this was a bridge, but it was a big one. I wasn’t 100% sure I was going to make it up, but luckily I packed that last item on my list! The great part though was that right after this was another hill! I ducking love hills! Not really, but that is what I tell myself as I am climbing them. I pushed deep and even passed someone(a stick as my friend “kool-aid” would say), and made it to the top. The guy I passed was part of a group of 3 guys, a father and his 2 grown sons, and we soon were riding with them. They had done this ride before, but had always taken the bike path. It was different riding with them, they called out every car they saw, even when it wasn’t in the way. Nothing wrong with this, just caught me off guard. I also noticed they all had helmet mounted mirrors, I asked them about them and I think it is something I might look into in the future. They really liked the fact that it was ALWAYS in view so no need to strain at funny angles to see it, even when going into the drops.

I was watching the mileage go by and noticed 80 was coming soon! I decided it was time to kick things up a notch, and our average speed had raised up to 10.8. Boom, I hit it! 80

I took off after awhile, and found myself all alone. I was getting hungry but since I was close to the finish line I decided to not eat. I wanted to save those points for a yummy dinner after all! The more I rode on though, the more the miles kept rolling, the hungry I was getting. I soon found myself rolling to a stop, I was done, I couldn’t go on anymore. I had gotten in my 80 miles, so I felt like it wasn’t a failure. That thought ended quickly though, I pulled out a snack, drank some more water(though I was getting low), and felt refreshed. I pushed on, not as hard or as fast as I was, but still moving! I had finally hit Kenosha! I wasn’t at the end though, I passed a spot I was certain was the end but was wrong…was there an end? At this point I figured it out, I must have taken a wrong turn! Great, how long had I been going in the wrong direction??? I pulled out my cue sheet and found out that I was in fact on course, I just needed to keep going. Isn’t that a lot like life? We think we are going in the wrong direction, things are going horrible, but the reality is we just need to push on a bit further down the the road!

Refreshed, on course, it was time to go into drive mode, I plodded along, not worried about the mileage just enjoying the town. I went through some of the “down town” area, with its shops, and even saw a bride and groom getting photos done( I shouted out a giant CONGRATS, as I went pass them). I soon saw it, the mystical and mysterious ending point! YES!!!! I DID IT!!!!! I survived, and not only that, I had ridden 89 miles(My longest to date!!!)! Later that night my wife asked me if I can believe I started the morning in Indiana and BIKED all the way to Wisconsin? My response was, NOPE! It still is sinking in that I did it, and the best part is I know I can do a century. If I had stopped for a quick rest, another 10 would have been easy to do. I forgot to take note of the time that it was but, it was about 4:30, and an official riding time of 8:11:27. I didn’t get a chance to go in the lake as my oldest boy wasn’t feeling well and we needed to leave. Next year though!

Also, Bell finished as well! She is putting together a video, and I am hoping to be able to share that with you all soon!

 

Some finish line photos thanks to Mrs. BBB!

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I am looking forward to next years already, and even more rides! I am not wasting my 30’s! If you are thinking of doing something like this, I highly recommend you do it! Sign up and force yourself to do it, you might just surprise yourself….

 

Keep On Rolling,

Big Boned Biker

Almost forgot, here is more information if you are interested.

Bicycle Illinois Tri-State Bike Ride: http://www.bicycleillinois.com/tristatetour/tristatetour.htm

Product Review: Shimano FC-M410 Crank Set

Shimano FC-M410 Alivio 8-Speed Square Taper Crank Set (170mm, 22/32/42, Black)
FC-M410

So I had this bad boy installed on Katrina a week or so ago, and I wanted to talk a bit about it!

Every one keeps asking me, why would I install this? For those that aren’t aware a 22 tooth gives very little power but lets you keep “spinning” up those tough hills. When I am asked my first response is “I am fat and those hills are nothing but a bunch of fat shamers!” This always bring about a chuckle, and while it seems silly it is true. Sometimes those hills are tough, add-on to it a kid(and soon to be 2 kids) riding in back, my panniers which get loaded with stuff, and it makes for a nice cocktail of gravitational forces! My hope with this new gearing is that I can keep my cadence up while hitting those BBBEH. So here is a review of Katrina’s boob job…

Here is my review:

Price: Felt like this was a great price( use this link, it helps me keep on rolling! ), it gave me the gearing without breaking the bank.

Easy of Install: I wouldn’t know, I didn’t install it. However, according to my LBS it was very straight forward.

Positives: Pedaling feels smooth, I kept the crank length the same so not much changed on that end. Price as mentioned before was a good deal, and I feel like this crank set will hold up nicely to my riding style.

Negative: It did take some re-adjustment of the derailleurs to get it to shift properly. At first I ran into an issue where the gears were “slipping” but my LBS had it fixed quickly. I still have one issue where it is slow to shift from my mid-range gear to the lower/higher on the front end. I think with a bit of tweaking I should be able to get this fixed.

Overall thoughts: This is a great crank set for people who need it! While it isn’t high up on the Shimano lineup, it still falls into the mid range. If you need to climb some big hills, pull gear, tour, drag kids around ect, this could be the crank set for you! If you find that you’re often on your top end and wanting more “power” from your bike, this is NOT the crank for you. You will go slower, but it lets you keep on going.

I hope you enjoyed this review, if you have your own thoughts on this great crank set feel free to leave comments!

Veni, Vidi, Vici

I decided that I wanted to challenge myself, and challenge myself I did! Yesterday I road out to Dodgeville, WI, and it took me on an adventure! No matter which way you try and go there was no escaping the hills(as I learned).

The route started out simple enough, it took the direct way to the “M”, I remember thinking to myself “no problem I got this”. I soon found myself saying “what the hell have I got myself into”, as the hills began. One of the most relaxing/scenic part of my trip was as I rode around the “M”, there was something magical. As Katrina effortless glided along, the cool Autumn style weather hit my warm face. The view was wonderful, and I found my self wishing this part would last the entire trip. Soon though, I arrived at my first turn, and the first of my real challenges. I want you to picture the letter ‘V” bold and capital. Now you have an idea of the terrain I was facing, well not true. Imagine the V with the downside shorter than the upside. As I crested the first hill on this road, I realized that it was NOT the top. Thus began the many hours of what I like to call Roller Coasters. VVVVVVVVV is a good way to describe it.

I eventually hit a rhythm, and found my stride so to speak. I often found myself wishing for a lower gear, and I would curse as I realized it was as low as it would go. As I rode along, I noticed that many of the roads had no signs! What the hell?? I began wondering if I missed my turn, and if I did I wasn’t sure I would want to back track. The only glimmer of hope was when I saw a sheriff’s officer ahead of me. I wave him down, and ask for directions. Turns out he was as lost as I was, but he had a map at least which was helpful. I realized that if I wanted I could take a turn earlier than I needed to, which would get me off these back roads quicker. I was glad to see the hwy up ahead, and sent out a little prayer for simply not dying on the before mentioned hills.

The highway was heaven on G/d’s green earth. Yes there was still hills(this is the driftless region after all) but the hills were gentle, the road smooth, and I had a 3 foot shoulder to ride on. I made much better time on the hwy, going from about 7-8 mph to 12-15mph. I arrived in Dodgeville, WI and decided it was lunch time. Enjoying my lunch immensely, I quickly finished it and after a quick check-in home decided it was time to go. As I was leaving a man walked up to me, asking if I was ok? I let him know that I was ok, and we soon had a conversation about cycling. Turns out he was a cyclist and tourer as well(though I suppose I am not technically a tourer yet). I showed him my panniers (insert link) and let him know how to find me on the bikeforums.com before I left.

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Hitting the pavement it was time to head home. I soon found out something interesting about the highway, rumble strips! It felt like I was in one of those paint shakers at the store! I thought Katrina was going to fall apart right there! Luckily I was easily able to avoid them for the rest of the trip, but I would recommend watching out for them. I decided that it might be a better idea to avoid those back roads on my return trip, and would stick to the highways. Things were going smoothly except for one little part, I felt like I was going to Bonk! Bonking is when you are suddenly drained of all your energy, leaving you unable to continue on. I decided to pull over to a gas station in Cobb, WI and get some Gator-aid with a snack. I mixed the gator-aid with my water about 50/50 and ate a frosted honey bun(which I would later find out was 17 points). While taking this break a strong wind came, and knocked Katrina to the ground. As I rush over to check on her, I noticed that she fell on her drive train side. I was very please to see that my pannier had broken the fall, which I am happy to report did not break the pannier either. Picking her up, I realize that I can’t turn the handle bars back. They were catching on something that I could not figure out. So I did the COS(call of shame) to Mrs. BBB, I told her I most likely would need her to come pick me up, but I wanted to check out one more thing first. After hanging up, I take one final look at Katrina, and discover the issue. The mirror was catching on the seat. I felt like an idiot, but was glad to see that I would be able to countine. After a quick call home to belay the order of pickup, I hit the road again.

Things went very uneventful all the way to Montfort, WI accept I was getting a lot of pain in my legs. Part of this is because I really need a new seat, and the other part was that I had done a lot of riding. I stop and take another break, taking some Aleive(which worked amazing). I contemplated calling home and asking for a ride, but soon shrugged that off. I made the turn to the next highway, and gasped in horror. If the first highway was Heaven on earth, than this was hell on a bad day. The shoulder shrunk, the road got curvy, both horizontally and vertically! I hit the next town, Livingston, WI and had to take another break. I was beginning to feel the effects of about 6 hours on the road. I was drained, I was exhausted, and I was defeated. I saw that my wife had texted me, and I wrote her back that I was exhausted. She asks if I had been drinking water and if I needed a lift. I sat there looking at the screen, “did I want a ride home” I said out loud. Do I? Am I done? I knew that up ahead was some of the worst hills of this trip. Would it be shameful to get a ride from my wife? No it wouldn’t be shameful, but was I done? NO, I was NOT done, I WILL NOT QUIT. I mustered my strength and told her “yes to the water and no to the ride because I am to stubborn.” She was worried, but I knew I had this.

“what is going on?” I said out loud, my legs becoming a blur beneath me. I was climbing a BBBEH(big bad biker eating hill) and suddenly all the tension disappeared from the pedals. I realized my chain had slipped off the bottom ring. Now, I was wearing my bike shoes which clip in and I panicked. However, I did have enough sense to kick my feet out of the death trap of my great steed. I did not fall over and was very proud of that fact. The downside to this though was that I a was half way up this hill and stopped. I have 2 choices, walk or ride. Walking would be the easiest, but if you have read this blog at all you will know I don’t typically take the easy way out. I hopped up on Katrina clipping in with one fluid motion. I push, I push hard! Soon I was rolling again and found myself at the point I was fearing this entire ride home, Arthur, WI!

It was a sharp downhill into Arthur, I found myself needing to hit the breaks much to my saddens. Sadness because I knew what was up ahead. A BBBEH, not one though multiple. It seemed to never end, and I found myself praying out loud “G/D PLEASE MAKE THIS END”. I regret to report my prayer was not answered with a yes. I am happy to report though that I did not stop nor walk up these hills. As things often due on these type of adventures, the hills finally ended. Well not ended but at least became spaced out a bit more. The rest of the trip went by quickly and I soon found myself pulling into the “stable”. I came, I saw, I conquered! Round trip it was about 65 miles, and I feel I earned every single one of those miles.

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I thought that today I would be to sore to move, and am happy to report that I was able to get 5.5 miles in today. I am now positive I will survive this bike tour next year.

I am also happy to share a link to our newest podcast at Fitastic Podcasts
Episode 3

Keep on Rolling,

Big Boned Biker

Roses grow from the ashes.

Things have been going pretty well, lost 2 pounds this week. It was a pretty uneventful week though, and did get a few small rides in. Went out to Cuba city again, and on the way there I hit a 15mpg average, which felt awesome. Admittedly the ride on the highway is pretty flat though, but I think it will be similar to my tour in door county.

On the way back from Cuba city I felt zapped, I didn’t bring a snack and did not stop for a banana at kwik trip. I was struggling to even hit 8mph even on the flats. It felt like I had lead tires, and it was very discouraging. The next day I went riding and it felt EXACTLY the same way, even though I had just left the house. I got off Katrina and looked her over, I did find the problem. My seat had slipped down, robbing me of all my power. So I put the seat back where it belongs(thanks to some electrical tape I put on, I know exactly where to put it). Immediately it felt better, and I am glad I figured it out.

I went for another ride that night, and it went ok until I tried a new area out. I did NOT make it up the BBBEH’s that I found. It was extremely discouraging and left me feeling a bit depressed the next day. I was going up, and just lost all my motivation. I could see the top but my legs stopped moving, despite my “want” of getting up the hill. I stopped for a bit and started going again. I went about 5 feet and stopped again, feeling defeated. I turned around and road down the hill, yet there was another one steeper on the way back. I didn’t make it up that one in one go either, but while I was stopped I looked around noticing how wonderful the sunset was looking.

Sunset on Old Lancaster Rd
I was so focused on “getting up the hills” that I forgot to stop and look around at the beauty surrounding me. So I stopped, rested and simply relaxed. I got on my bike, pushed my self up the hill and headed home. While I did learn a valuable lesson, as I wrote before I was depressed going into the next day.

How do I stop feeling like a failure? I KNOW I could make it up those hills, but I quit, which means I failed. Failures never succeed, they are a looser, and a looser is worthless, worthless people are quitters. You get the idea. I would love to tell you that I simply examined it, shrugged it off and felt better. That would be a bold face lie. I did though realize that it wasn’t true. Yes I would love to have made it up those hills, but you can’t always win. I did NOT quit, because it isn’t something that can be quit. It is simply life, and you know what? I WILL make it up that hill eventually, and that day will feel all the sweeter. I am reminded of one of my childhood favorite movies, and a song that was on it.

It is something important to remember, that we never fail if we learn from our “failures”.

I am excited to mention that I have started doing a podcast with another stay at home dad(who plans to join me for the bike tour). I will post the link when it is available, but here is a link to his blog.

Raisingfourkids.blogspot.com

Don’t forget you can also donate to the bike tour at http://www.gofundme.com/BigBonedBiker any donation is helpful!

Keep on Rolling!

Big Boned Biker

Rolling rolling rolling…

So today my wife was feeling pretty well. Which is not the norm since the pregnancy started. So I was able to go on a bike ride today! My goal I had in mind was Hazel Green WI, which is about 5 miles past Cuba city, giving me a total of 32. That was going to be my longest ride to date. However, things did not go as planned.

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I DID make it to hazel green but, I had different idea at that point.

So I head off to Galena, Illinois! For those of you who are not familiar with that town, it has a HUGE BBBEH that leads down to the down town area. The down town area is full of specialty and fun shops of all types. When my wife heard I was going to Galena, she requested I pick her up something special from one of the shops. So I had to go down the BBBEH, which in turn meant I had to go UP the BBBEH. I made it up in one go, without stopping, which surprised me more than I can say. Also, my first time crossing the state line on Katrina!

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As I headed back I thought about how much my life is changing, how I am not the man I was when this started. I never would have dreamed of doing this kind of ride, never would have dreamed about planning a 400+ mile bike tour. I love the person I am becoming, and considering I hated the person I was, it is a nice feeling. I still often times look in the mirror and see the #430+ guy looking back at me, however when I arrive home after my bike rides I don’t FEEL like that guy.

When I arrived at mile 42 I hit a wall, my energy felt sapped. I was eating through out, and chugging water as well, but didn’t seem to make a difference. I had a choice at that moment, keep going or call my wife to come get me. What did I decide to do? I got back in the saddle and kept on rolling. I still don’t know where that strength came from, but I do know that it is the tenacious attitude that has kept me going in this journey.

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53 miles!! A half century, as it referred as in bike lingo. Took me about 5.5 hours!  Also, this made for a total of 100.5 miles this month, guess I made that goal happen!! This is the bar that I needed to set in order to the bike tour next year. I will frankly admit I was scared about doing it, perhaps because it means one less “shield” to hide behind. As I pull down these walls, I have to face the things on the other side. When, I do that and succeed, like I did today, it makes me that much stronger though. The stronger I get, the easier it is to push on further. After all, limits are there for us to break!

Keep on rolling!

BBB

Keep Rolling on….

What a day today! To start it off my son woke me up at 6:15 when I wasn’t going to get up till 7. Took him to his daycare VIA Katrina, and went to visit with my sister for a bit. Was a great visit and it was decided that lil BBB would spend the night but I would take them all to the library before hand. So we all biked over to the library after picking up lil BBB. After that I brought him back to my sisters and came home. I ate some lunch and chatted with a friend of mine, Mr. A, who is thinking about coming with me on the bike tour. He is, as I am, a SAHD, and I think he would enjoy it as much as I will.

After lunch I decided to postpone my trip to Cuba city again, to be honest I am a little bit nervous about doing the route. I “think” I know what to expect but I will be taking some roads I have never been on before hand. On google maps, it looked pretty safe and nothing to hard to handle though. So I sat down to play some computer games until the wife came home. I got my butt kicked by all those dang 12 year old’s with their lightning fast reflexes.

When da wife got home my package from amazon arrived! I ordered some new biking shorts and a mirror for Katrina. I rushed out side and installed the mirror and decided that I would actually try to go to Cuba city today.

Here is the link for the mirror . I highly recommend it and I don’t know how I ever got by without it!

For the ride home I decided to skip the side roads that are filled with BBBEH’s and take the highway. Having my mirror attached made a HUGE difference, I didn’t feel like any moment now a vehicle would sneak up on me. That extra confidence let me concentrate on the actual ride, and I must say I did well. I averaged about 11mph, with having all those hills on the first half I am very happy with that average.

Coming home I thought a lot about things going on, and how things have changed in my life. Katrina has changed the way I view life, when I see these hills ahead(literal and figurative) I am no longer as scared. I know that if I put my mind to the task, I will arrive at the top! There have been many times that I have found my self in 1×1 with no more gears to use and having to decided to walk or keep going. More often than not, I keep going, but even if I do walk I know that as long as I keep MOVING I am a winner.

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In total today I did……..30 miles!!

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I am still taking donations for next summers tour, if you would like to help the Big Boned Biker keep on rolling feel free to donate. You can donate directly here http://www.gofundme.com/BigBonedBiker

As always, keep on rolling!

BBB