Peninsula Century

Thirty six hours of steady rain; not hard, just non-stop until three inches had fallen. These are not ideal conditions to prepare for a century ride. Then again, after riding across the country and maybe half-a-dozen centuries in the process (so who’s counting?), I oughta be able to do it anyway.

The bike needed more prep than I did. New chain, front derailleur, water bottle cages (I’m trying the cageless bottles that came with the bike); as well as a thorough cleaning.

Don’t do this to your derailleur

In lieu of training, I went kayaking once the rain stopped. It was a beautiful late summer day, temperature in the 70s (25 C), no wind. Gliding by a pier I noticed a Great Blue Heron standing on someone’s boat hoist. It stood so still, for a moment I thought it was a superbly realistic sculpture. Then it turned its head ever so slightly to show me it was alive. I met another half-fast rider at a lakefront biergarten to taste the local Oktoberfest. He mentioned that he is doing the ride also and asked if he could share my campsite. The century forecast is for a day much like today, with a storm rolling in the next day. Packing up wet is no big deal. I did it about 50 times this summer.

The shakedown cruise went well. Everything worked for a little 15 mile spin around the lake. The car is packed and ready.

On the way to Door County, one must pass through the belly of the beast. I passed a sign reading “Trump. Do you miss him yet?” This of course brought to mind this Dan Hicks song.

As we ate dinner the night before the ride, Alfred, Lord Tennyson remarked about the aggressiveness and cunning of the lcoal raccoons. I said, “You mean like the one who is trying to get into your tent right now?” A ‘coon was just crawling under the fly into the vestibule. We convinced it to depart and soon heard yelling from a nearby site.

It was a nearly perfect day for a bike ride. Coffee and breakfast in the dark, but warm enough to do that in bike clothes. Departure at 0700, The temperature was 70 degrees (21 C). It was windy, from the south, which meant headwind early and tailwind later.

At about mile 80 there were 2 signs at the same intersection – one pointing left and one straight ahead. I pulled out a map to check. The main route headed north (straight) and was a figure 8 loop, returning south into the headwind. If I turned left, it shortened the route, meaning cutting out about half of the remaining time into the headwind. With nothing to prove, I turned left, cutting the 100 mile ride to 89 miles. Since I was parked in front of a coffee shop, I could stop in for a cortado while I cooled down, then change clothes and head to the post-ride party for food and beer. I did that, then waded in the bay to cool my feet.

Al Johnson’s restaurant in Sister Bay, with sod roofs.

We went back to the campground for a shower and a brief rain shower. Dinner was popcorn and a Spanish red wine.

The real excitement came the next morning. After packing up I noticed a flat tire on the van. I dug out the compact spare (requiring some unpacking and removing a secret panel). I removed the flat tire and installed the spare. Once there was weight on it, it became clear that there was little pressure in that tire. I called AAA for help. Meanwhile, Alfred, Lord Tennyson tried to start his car. The battery was dead. The mechanic arrived and inflated my tires and checked for leaks. He found that the valve stem was leaking on the real tire. The compact spare worked (though recommendations are to drive not more than 50 miles at not more than 50 mph). With 200+ miles to home, that didn’t make for a good plan. It being Sunday, not much was open for repair options. He started Lord Tennyson’s car and took my tire to his shop to repair.

Meanwhile, I re-pitched my tent, since it was clear I’d be staying another night. While pitching the tent I charged my power bank with the solar charger. I set them up on the picnic table at an adjacent empty campsite, since it had sun and we didn’t. Within minutes they were stolen.

Late afternoon the call came that my tire was fixed. I went to pick it up and the guy was nice enough to remount my regular tire so I wouldn’t have to do that back at camp. The price was $20 and listening to stories for a couple of hours and looking at all of his cars.

We drove to a sports bar to watch the Packer-Bear game for the evening. When we got back to camp, ALT gave a loud yell. He had forgotten that he left a couple of wrapped chocolates in his tent. A raccoon had unzipped the tent door, crawled inside, and unwrapped and ate the chocolates. There was also a bit of cocoa powder in the tent so the bandit left chocolate footprints on Tennyson’s bed on his way out the opposite door. Yeah, that raccoon was ambitious enough to open two zippers.

Monday morning I was up and out early, stopping for breakfast on the road. While away the 2022 coast-to-coast jersey arrived at home. Here it is:

Update: since I scheduled this for the wrong day, I can add that ALT found a soft tire on the day he was leaving, limped into town for air, and found a screw in his tire. He then had to stop for tire repair before the driver home. I guess we should stick to bikes.

Sober in Nebraska

Sunday being a rest day, and this week being the closest we will get to Nebraska, this seems like the time for another musical plug. One of my favorite bands is Free Hot Lunch. (Even their website seems to have retired, or at least be on hiatus.) While they broke up years ago, they periodically show up for a reunion concert. Back  in the day, driving from Wisconsin to Colorado seemed like The Thing To Do. Some people did it to buy Coors beer back when it was not available outside of the west. Scarcity seems to equal desirability to some.

(True confession: the trip which resulted in my ankle injury was one such trip, though the injury didn’t occur until we headed south to New Mexico to escape the cold in Colorado. We dashed to our tent in a storm, leaving our dinner dishes out. When we awoke in the morning to find the dishes full of ice, we decided it was time to move on.)

Anyway, the drive was a long one and Free Hot Lunch commemorated it in song:

While we won’t ride across Nebraska, and everything looks different at 20 mph than at 70 mph, and I am crossing the plains not just to get somewhere else, I still offer this.

The song was written by John Corning, who also taught me that, while a pregnant woman is eating for two, her partner is drinking for three. If you like Dan Hicks, you’ll like Free Hot Lunch. If you like his sense of humor, you’ll like John Corning.

Next week will probably look a lot like Nebraska. Today (Saturday) was a precursor. It is now 96 degrees in Pierre, SD. We rode 91 miles today and the winds are still out of the southeast at 15-20 mph. We had one blessed interlude of tailwind when we turned north, but it was mostly a headwind or crosswind from the right.

Crosswinds take a lot out of you. They require concentration as at times you have to lean into the wind to stay upright, and then it will slack off and you have to stop leaning.

The wind seems to suck the moisture out of you – I probably drank more today than any day so far. My skin was coated in salt; I could have been a salt lick.

We also frequently ride in the space between the rumble strips and the edge of the shoulder – that space is maybe 18 inches wide at best and shrinks without warning.

The last 30 miles were on brand-new asphalt – so new the lines hadn’t yet been painted. It almost made up for the wind.

Mile 77 – refilled my water bottle with ice water.

Mile 80 – ice is just a memory.

Mile 83 – neither cold nor hot.

Mile 86 – ready to make tea.

Before the trip, people called me crazy for doing this; maybe they were right.

We surpassed 2000 miles today, entered our third time zone, and crossed the Missouri River for the last time. It is much wider than the last time we crossed it. This is the end of week four. We will start week six by crossing the Mississippi.