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…
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
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.
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?
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…..
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Feeling a bit jelly aren’t you? You should be.
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.
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.
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.
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
From the Desk of the Big Boned Biker:
Still going strong here! I haven’t posted in awhile, life has gotten in the way, and maybe a touch of laziness. I have been doing great with my workouts; consistently on Monday, Wednesday, and Fridays. I have found my time lifting at the gym almost as relaxing as well as fulfilling as riding my bike. It helps me focus and really centers my mind. Here are a few pictures from the gym, though they might not be the most “flattering” I am still proud of them.
I have also been training for my up coming ride with Le Tour De Shore! Day one will be the toughest day as it will be a bit over 60 miles, though I was able to do 60 last month it was still a struggle to complete it. I really need to work on my food intake, as I think I bonked at the end(ran out of “fuel”).
The ride started out well, it was a cooler day and I wore some gym pants and a light jacket. I wish it had been a touch warmer as I felt a bit overheated wearing the coat. I did try taking it off a few times but the wind from riding made it a bit to cold still. I had originally planned to ride to Michiana MI. but decided the night before to ride to La Porte instead. It looked like a nice easy ride, mainly on calm country roads, in other words some of my favorite riding.
I took off around mid morning and quickly made my way down the Prairie Duneland trail that runs near my house. That took me to Chesterton, and even though a couple people have shown me a route around the downtown, I couldn’t remember it for the life of me. I HATE riding through the busy intersection that is there, and I am pretty sure the cars behind me hate it too. I continued along the roads, I knew them pretty well as it is the same route I take to get to the campground. When I reached the point where I normally turn left, I continued straight. This was my first break, and about 20 miles in!
I was feeling strong and had only about another 10 miles to go before I turned around. Piece of cake! I take off and am riding along with a big grin on my face. There is something about being on a bike to make you feel alive! Wait, what was that up ahead? Ahh @#$@ a hill. Yeah, I didn’t know about the hills on this route! I ended up having to walk up one of them and this was waiting for me at the top.
So apparently I wasn’t the only one who felt this way! Despite the hills though I enjoyed the country scenery. I even stopped for a couple of pictures, or at least that is what I told myself the reason for stopping was.
Now my wife and I have a deal of sorts, when I go riding she wont come get me. If I got myself somewhere, I can get myself back. Now this isn’t serious, and it is more of a joke than anything, but it is a mentality that helps me push through some tough spots. This ride though, she had said that if I needed a ride she would come and get me. As I pulled into La Porte, I stopped for another couple of photos.
I was half way, I was tired, I was drained, I was feeling like quitting. I called her up, and told her how I felt. Those hills had wiped me out, and there wasn’t even that many of them. I also was getting over a bad cold and would go into minute long coughing fits, which didn’t help the matter. I told her though that I wasn’t 100% sure I was ready to give up, and decided to rest for about a half hour before heading home.
One, two, three, four, one, two, three, four, one, two, three, four. I counted a cadence in my head as I cycled slowly along the road. Through a bit of luck I took a wrong turn and ended up missing a couple of the hills, but I still was feeling like I was running on fumes. When I made it back to where the campground turn was though, I knew I could make it home. I called my wife and said to cancel the red alert, I would be biking home today! 4 miles later I was on the side of the road coughing, sore, tired, and wishing I hadn’t made that call. One positive note though, I did figure out the alternative way to go, so i was able to skip the busy area!Still, all the way home, about every couple of miles I was having to stop to rest my legs. I was finished. I couldn’t go one bit more. I stopped on the side of the trail, sat down and felt like crying. How could I have let myself get this far our of shape! I had done harder rides with ease in the past, even at heavier weights! The ride to Dodgeville was a tougher ride and I don’t think I could do that right now. However, I gathered my strength and pushed on. I just kept pushing myself, on pedal stroke at a time. I eventually made it home and I remember saying out loud “I f’ing made it”. It was a hair over 60 miles, but it felt like I had ridden a century.
I learned for my June ride that, I can make it if I push myself(at least I won’t be riding alone hopefully) and that I really need to get my food intake figured out. The power bars I brought just weren’t enough fuel for my body. I further learned that, when you do a big ride on Tuesday, make sure Wednesday isn’t leg day! Ouch!
Keep on Rolling,
Big Boned Biker
The day started like any great day should, with a lovely breakfast in bed (I had already eaten some of it before I thought to take the picture). Much better than the oatmeal I had been planing on having hands down. Looking outside, the weather was cloudy and looked like it could turn to rain. There went my plans for a bike ride with the family, I had been really looking forward to it too. We spent the morning just chilling out around the house, watched a movie, my oldest helped me switch out the pedals on Katrina (I decided to put the original ones back on her), and had a quick-lunch. Fun times, fun times.
I decided at this point to check the weather report and it said it was supposed to clear up and be sunny. Sure enough, having stepped outside to check, the weather was getting nice! It’s at this point when I asked my wife if she REALLY wanted to go for the ride I had planned. Surprisingly she was still up for it, and so I began the laborious process of getting ready. In case you don’t have kids, getting ready for anything isn’t a 1. 2. 3. task. It’s more like:
You get the idea I think at this point. Add into this I need to get the bikes/trailer all ready too, we worked up a sweat before we even left. The fun part of that is my landlord is fixing up our house, and is storing the supplies in my garage. The very front of the garage, and it’s a PITA to get the bike and trailer out of there now. Mind you, when you asked I thought it would be a couple of buckets of paint, not 3 ladders, a door, lumber, plywood, and a few things that I don’t know what they are. Our back porch/playroom is also filled with windows too, so can’t store them there either. I digress though, and after getting the tires all pumped, the trailer hooked up, and helmets all rounded up, it was time to get going. Oops, wait, someone needs to go potty. Ok now it’s time to go!
A few key points to remember, this is my wife’s second time on a bike since middle school, my wife has a medical condition that can cause her to faint during an intense workout, and finally her first ride was a total of about 4 miles. We decided to take the bike trail up to Chesterton, IN, which is only about 10 miles each way. Ya, that’s about 20 miles! We were set for a fun-filled time, and our adventure started early. We were heading to the trail head on some quiet suburban roads and we had a left hand turn to make into the park where we would meet the prairie dune land trail. A truck was behind me and I signal very clearly that I would be making a left hand turn. I begin to make my turn when half way through it I realize the truck had tried passing us! Had I been 2 seconds slower I think I would have been hit. I brushed it off, I was pulling the kids and didn’t need them to get upset. Truth be told though, I was rather rattled by this, with a flash back to a news article I read a few weeks ago. One of the folks I rode with on the tri-state bike ride was hit by a car and died! This happened about 15 miles from my home, this is one of my biggest fears with cycling.
Every made a promise to a kid, and instantly regret it? Ya, I sorta promised we would stop at a park on the ride. In the mind of a 4.5 year old that means we will stop at the first park we see, as well as every subsequent park that we pass. I knew that if we stopped this early we would never get anywhere! I did the reasonable thing though, I told him that the park was full. It had 2 kids playing in it, and someday if he reads this, I’m sorry, sorta. Something that you should know about this route, is that we pass by about 5 parks. That isn’t counting the fact that when we turn around we pass them again. To make it up to him though, I told him we would stop at the dragon park on the way home. It’s the nicer of them and its about 2 miles from home. This seemed to work better than I had expected, leaving me to solve the next problem.
“THAT’S MY TRANSFORMER! HE WON’T STOP TAKING IT! STOP IT!” is what I heard from behind me. A 4.5 year old trying to reason with an 18 month old doesn’t typically get the result that he would like. Just for the record, we brought 2 toys for them to play with. This went on for about 20 min, finally ending when one of them zonked out. This was followed shortly by the next one, this lasted until Chesterton.
I loved the fact that this gave my wife and I a chance to just chat. It reminded me of when we dated, those ideal conversations that had nothing to do with anything important. We made it all the way to the end of the trail without stopping for a break. When we did stop for a quick 10 min break before turning around the boys woke up, a bit crankily unfortunately. It was getting hot out and my they both looked very warm. We decided to give them a quick cool down with some water, and they both seemed to be in great spirits afterwords. A happy child, is a happy daddy.
The ride home was uneventful until we got to the park, the dragon park. When we arrived it was empty and the boys were having fun playing. My youngest ,just happy to be free from the restraints of the bike trailer, was just running around with no real objective. About 10 minutes into it a family shows up with their kids, about 6 of them (I think it was 2 families together). It was quickly apparent that it would be best if we just left. If you ever are looking for something fun to do, I suggest you try to get a toddler and a preschooler to leave a park after 15 minutes! We finally got them wrangled, my youngest being exceptionally fast for having little legs! We headed home, where everyone decided to enjoy a nice summer time snack of peaches and watermelon. Before I could enjoy my snack though, I put the bikes away. Katrina first, followed by bulls-eye (the trailer), finally Tallulah. As I lifted her up to carry over the mound of supplies in the garage, the back wheel came right off! Sometime during the ride it had come completely loose, while hooked up to the trailer filled with 66 pounds of kids and diaper bag(not sure which weighed more). To say I was shocked is an understatement, because I had checked them the last time I rode. Moral of that story, you can’t check your bolts/screws to often.
So, for father’s day, I didn’t get a card, I didn’t get a present, I didn’t get a little trinket to sit on my desk. I got the best damn gift I could ever ask for, a memory!
Big Boned Biker
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:
Cell Phone Cord
Spare Clothes(For my wife’s car)
Water Bottles X 4
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.
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!
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 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!
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