Monday, September 17, 2012

Big Bike Trip Part 1

Finally. I found some time to actually sit down and write about the experience.

You may not care, but I'm kind of proud of myself for completing those four days. I knew biking four days straight for such great length would be a challenge... especially with the lack of training I managed to do. I do have Shawn T and Insanity to thank for helping me build up my cardio though (and for reminding me to "dig deeper" when I didn't think I could ride another mile).

The story really begins in high school when I met a guy (roommates of a friend's cousin who was attending U of M) who was telling us about how he was training to ride across the country. And then a year later when I ran across a blog about a group of friends about to do just that. Being the dreamer (and obviously delusional) person that I am, I went straight to my parents and declared that I wanted nothing more than to ride across the country on my bicycle. Originally I set my sights on that summer (I think it was '09), but that came and passed and so did the next summer and the next. I had put my dream on the back burner, but I refused to say it would never happen (well still refusing). This may not have been a bike trip across the country but it was a bike trip through three states and miles of corn mazes with allergies and busy highways and crazy dogs and two great companions (well really three counting my mom who we could have never done it without).

It started out on Tuesday morning, not as bright and early as we would have liked (but it wasn't a total disaster), around 11:30 from the KVCC parking lot in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

Here's us at the start. Brother, Dad, and Me smiling like we have nothing to worry about

My dad had gotten what he perceived to be a good route down, which was good until we started hitting dirt roads and having to reroute. Thank God for gps and smart phones. The first day also consisted of many hills, some bad Michigan roads, and some unfortunate road kill ride-bys. On the good side though, the first day consisted of some gorgeous scenery, mostly secluded roads covered by trees, downhills (big smile for this one), and the nice smell of Concord grapes.

Me and the brother by some grapes

At the Michigan/Indiana

We met my mother for lunch in the middle of no where and then kept on riding. I wasn't feeling too bad until we got around mile 60. Before this trip I hadn't ridden longer than 40 miles, and my energy was in short supply. With that and a clumsy mistake on my part, disaster struck at mile 69. I was attempting to put my water bottle back into place when it almost slipped from my hand. My dad and brother were not far ahead waiting for me at a stop sign, which was located at the end of a small decline. In my attempted to put back the water bottle and slow myself down I managed to slam my hand on the left brake and went head first toward the pavement. At first, nothing hurt (well not too bad) but when I got up everything was in pain. I had somehow managed to save my face, arms, helmet, and sunglasses from any damage (I'm giving the thanks for this one to all those falling forward squat pushup things I had to do the day before in Insanity); but I did get a good blow to the ribs from my handlebars, a bunch of random scrapes all over my legs from various things (ground, gravel, bike, chain) and one massive bruise (that still has a hint of color to it) on my right inside part of my leg just above my knee.

 This was the big bruise after a day or so.... the picture really doesn't do it justice

I couldn't believe I had been so stupid and I was so worried about the fate of the rest of the trip. All I could focus on was how disappointing this was (and how bad my ribs hurt and how the worst pain was coming from that tiny scratch on my ankle). But after getting the blood cleaned up, covering myself in bandaids, and wiping away my tears I got back on my bike and rode another mile to where my mom picked us up. At this point I knew I could would be able to finish this. If I could crash and get back up, I could manage the next three days. Although I was pretty thankful to be done after all those miles.

The first day ended in a camp ground in the middle of Amish country, Indiana. My mom and I slept in a tent, until half way through the night when I realized I couldn't breathe because my allergies had become so bad. That's when I moved to the upright position in the front seat of my Dad's truck my mom was driving for the trip. Needless to say it wasn't the best night's rest.

- - -

I'll finish the rest of the story tomorrow but this has already become the longest blog post.
Till next time


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