The Ride

The night before The Ride, the forecast for ride time is a 90% chance of rain. During the course of the day, that dips to as low as 75% briefly. If this were a ride just for fun, I’d bail about now. But this is a fundraiser, and folks have donated on my behalf. I feel a responsibility toward them. Besides, 70 degrees and rain is way better than 40 degrees and rain. So I readied my gear, with some choices for weather: do I wear a rain jacket and pants to stay dry from the outside, or do I forgo the rainwear, figuring at that temperature I’ll get wet from the inside if I wear waterproof clothing? Do I wear the raingear so I’ll stay warm, or will it be warm enough to be a non-issue? Maybe if I just wear shoecovers to keep my feet dryish and warm. Regular jacket? Long sleeve jersey? Leg warmers? I tossed them all in the car. It’s not that far to the ride start, but do I want to add 18 miles to a 102 mile ride, arriving at the start already wet, and riding home wet? No; I’ll drive to the start and be able to dry off and change clothes before I go home.

Four nights in motels, four days sitting in conference rooms, not in the saddle for more than a week – probably not the ideal training, but I can say I was tapering so as not to be over-trained. Yeah, I can say it.

After a quiet night, the first thunderstorm rolls in at 4:30 AM. A flash flood watch is in effect. The forecast has been revised to 100% chance of rain most of the day, dipping to 80% from 10-11. The time comes to leave the house. No lightning at the moment, but the rain is coming down so hard I can barely see the car parked at the curb. I’m not so sure I want to drive in this weather, much less spend 8 hours out in it. And it’s still dark out, which does not make it more inviting. Decision made: I wouldn’t let a knight go out on a dog like this. Responsibility is one thing. Foolishness is another. As I said in a post a month ago: “I mostly want to ride that day”. Well, that day is here. I mostly don’t want to ride. The money I spent to register and the money donated by others will go to cancer research whether I’m on the road or not. [See below!] Since I’ve already had a double espresso, I probably won’t be going back to bed.

The half-fast fall ride is just around the corner. You can pretend you’re donating in honor of that, if you’d like. It’s still a long bike ride, just no support unless you count the resturants we’ll be stopping by.

It rained for 12 hours. Only a bit of flooding, at least from where I sit. I stayed in all day to prove I’m half-fast. I didn’t just lie around and drink beer and watch football (or eat bon bons). I have a short-term job. I’ll work for 14 hours later this week. To do that, they required 4 hours of computer-based training. I spent the morning staring at a computer screen for courses on data security and workplace harassment. At 6 pm I finally went out and got my stuff from the car. The sun was shining.

The first day of fall dawned beautifully, with clear sky, crisp air, 55 degrees (13 degrees C). A perfect day for a ride; just a day late.

The PBS country music series is back on. Last night was a reminder of the social consciousness of country music in the 60s. Loretta Lynn wrote the song “The Pill”, in which she stated her refusal to be a brood hen anymore. (She had four kids by the age of 20, six by the time she wrote the song – which the label refused to release for a few years.) She also addressed the issue of marital rape (though not in so many words) with this song:

Merle Haggard sang of turning “21 in prison, doing life without parole”. (He was actually in for 15 years and did get out on parole.) People know him for “Okie From Muskogee”, far from his best song. He also sang of a man on death row. On his way to the gas chamber, he asked to have a buddy sing his last request – “Sing Me Back Home”. He sang of his “Mama’s Hungry Eyes”, growing up as a dust bowl refugee. But among his most poignant was the song of a single parent, pretending that the birthday gift for his daughter was from the absent spouse who didn’t bother to remember.

And in 1964 Johnny Cash released the album “Bitter Tears” about the mistreatment/genocide of First Nations people by the US Government.

Breaking News

Call me a wimp no more. I just checked my work email and The Ride was canceled. It wasn’t just me. (Interesting: at 1:01 AM they notified me the ride was canceled, at 6:01 AM they reminded me to sign up for Live Tracking and at 6:23 AM they notified me again that the ride was canceled. And I’m always checking my work email at 6 on Sunday mornings.)

Rain?/On hiatus!!

Editor’s Note: The program is freezing and won’t let me add anything at the end. If the post seems to end abruptly, blame the software. It won’t let me insert the last photos at the end, so I’ll try at the beginning. This is the sky as we arrived at camp for Thursday night.

I just found out I have used up my family’s data allotment, even after doubling it. I expected wireless internet access much more often than I actually have it. This will be the last post until I have wireless, which I hope will be this weekend at St Olaf. After that, who knows?

I slept inside Wednesday night due to forecast for thunderstorms pretty much all night and all day today. I figured I’d at least start the day dry.

At the meeting, Greg asked who already knew they wouldn’t be riding. We were supposed to be facing thunderstorms and headwinds all day. Radar showed a low pressure area spinning over the road we’d be riding on.

We left Watertown with the sun shining, riding east into the gathering gloom. Some riders sagged right from the beginning, to avoid riding in the rain. Others left early, presumably to get it over with. I, on the other hand, lingered over coffee and donuts and was one of the last to hit the road.


A few miles down the road I came to this billboard, which reminded me of the following Merle Haggard song. You can hear it with hipster irony if you choose to. It was certainly not Haggard’s intention when he wrote it at the height of the Viet Nam war. I’m not sure what he thought about the song 30 years later.9FF45D80-9FB5-435C-BDBE-E2655C417D23

The rain always seemed to be out there. Cars coming toward us had headlights on, but not wipers. And they were dry.

The wind shifted and became a tailwind. I flew down the road at 25 mph with minimal effort. I still wasn’t catching anybody. I guess they were all going that fast.

We crossed the border into Minnesota and it was getting hot in my rain jacket and shoe covers. I had already taken off the warm gloves and was just using them as padding under my hands. I jettisoned the rain clothes at the lunch stop.

I finally saw a few others at lunch. At mile 58 we ran into a section with major expansion cracks. They looked and felt like drainage ditches running across the road. I slowed and rose out of the saddle for them. Then I started bunny-hopping the bigger ones. My knees and wheels were taking a beating.

After 10 miles, smooth pavement returned. The sky remained dark in the distance, but the sun actually came out for the last 5-10 miles, when we turned south into a wind that had shifted again and was now coming from the south.

I think the wind came from every direction at some point in the day. It is amazing how much my attitude is shaped by the weather. A few days ago, pushing into a headwind, I wanted to go home. My thoughts were all I had and they were not profound. Today, breezing along, I was ready to do two days in one. I was having so much fun I thought I could go 150 miles.

77A50DC1-F5E1-49DD-A014-10379B6ADC61We arrived in the town of Montevideo and I think I found the first French Mexican restaurant – at least that’s what the sign looks like.

The town is the Sister City of Montevideo in Uruguay and has a plaza dedicated to Jose Artigas, an Uruguayan hero.54815928-1B6E-484A-9AC0-A58419BF1E97

We completed 82 miles by about noon so stopped at a cafe in town for espresso, then stopped again for a root beer float. 3F0742F6-8DE1-4A41-ADB4-ACA0773468FD

As we approached the school where we are staying, the sky became ominous once again. I brought my tent out and it began to rain. I decided to cover my bike first. By then the rain was coming down hard enough to convince me to forego the tent and set up in the gym again. Rain continues to dominate the forecast tonight and tomorrow. Vamos a ver.