Feats don’t fail me now

And by feats I mean tires and tubes in this case. The last rainy day we had a good dozen flat tires including two of my own. Today that was not my plan.

Rain started during our meeting Wednesday night. We could hear it pounding on the school roof. This was the setting in which I wrote a review of my tent for REI four years ago today. It was raining inside the tent as I typed; seemed like as good a time as any to discuss its shortcomings.

With that memory and the forecast for a 100% chance of rain at packing up time in the morning, I decided to sleep in the gym. Why people need to set an alarm for 5 AM when sleeping in the gym, with gear loading time at 6:15, I don’t understand. Packing up a wet tent and campsite is easy in that time. With nothing but a bedroll, it seems pretty weird.

There must have been a downspout right outside the gym, as it sounded like I was camped by a stream. It was raining lightly when we broke camp and headed out to breakfast. It was still raining lightly when we left breakfast, with a temperature in the mid-50s (about 13º C).

The rain continued without letup. At 20 mph it felt a lot harder than at 10 mph. We climbed through Crawford Notch (“notch” is the New England word for “pass”). Coming down the other side it got worse. A strong crosswind kicked up and coming down a 13% grade in strong wind and hard, cold rain was not my idea of fun. Climbing I burned calories to stay warm. Descending led to stiff fingers.

At mile 33 the sun came out and the rain stopped…for 30 seconds. The rain continued and at mile 45 I saw my shadow despite the continuing rain. I passed through Conway, NH at around 11 – way too early to visit the recommended Tuckerman Brewery, which opens at 2. This was coffee weather, not beer weather. My hands and feet were too wet to be interested in stopping anyway. The new rain jacket kept me dry again. Other folks said they were soaked through.

The rain stopped for the last ten miles and, as we entered Fryeburg, ME, I decided to turn right, which appeared to be toward town, to find a coffee shop. The route went straight. Lo and behold, a coffee shop appeared at that intersection. A cortado and a donut hit the spot.

I continued to the fairgrounds and cleaned bike first, me second. Bike clothes won’t get washed today. A threatening sky makes it look unlikely that they’ll dry. They will get washed at home in a few days. With the choice of packing them dirty or packing them wet, dirty won. With a threatening sky, I will sleep indoors for the second night in a row. I guess I’m getting soft after 62 days. No photos today due to the rain. See the post from four years ago for pictures. Also no flat tires, for me anyway. I saw one person flatted at the roadside a mile before picnic.

We lost one rider today. He went home with pneumonia, two days short of the end. Our oldest rider turns 79 today (Friday). Since it’s already Friday in the Netherlands, we celebrated at dinner and toasted him after dinner, along with the Trail Boss, who is hanging up his spurs after 25 years at the helm of Cycle America (how’s that for a mixed metaphor), and Dan Brown, a long time router whose ashes have been scattered all along the route. The last bit will go in the Atlantic Ocean on our final cruise. A relative will bring the front wheel of his bike to dip in the ocean. The rear was dipped in the Pacific at the onset.

Friday we ride 90 tough miles to end at a primitive campground. Then one more day.