Don’s Blog: July 25: Eight is Enough
Today marked the eighth and final (at least planned, anyway) century distance or more on the trek. It was a long one too: 115 miles from Ludington to Mount Pleasant, Michigan. As with all of these long rides, everyone kept their fingers crossed that the weather would not make the challenge more difficult, as happened in Pierre, South Dakota and Rochester, Minnesota.
The prospects did not look good when we looked outside this morning, as rain was pouring down. The forecast called for “isolated thunderstorms,” but it appeared to be more like a steady rain. After a somewhat frustrating breakfast (more on that later) we reluctantly set out in the rain, with the final destination seemingly an impossible distance away.
Sometimes things are not as bad as they seem, and that was the case with the weather on this day. The rain was a minor nuisance, but the temperature was mild and the wind negligible, so after a slow start, Ted, Steven, and I cranked up the pace steadily; soon we were clicking along at close to 16 miles per hour. At the 66-mile sag stop the rain let up, and the sun even peaked out at times. The 90-mile sag stop arrived pretty quickly and it seemed the end was in sight. Sure enough, we arrived at the hotel just eight hours after we started, including the three sag stops. If only all long rides could be so agreeable.
In a long trek such as this one, food is an important part of each day, for all of the riders. The past few days have been, shall we say, less than stellar in terms of restaurant choices. The buffet at the Ponderosa on Saturday left everyone unhappy, and today’s hotel breakfast was even worse. They had a serious lack of food for the riders, and the wait for what was available was maddening. Ted had a bowl of cereal on the table and when he got up for minute, another rider simply took it and ate it. That is what it has come to!
Tonight we were scheduled to go to a “Denny’s” type place for dinner, but several of us opted for a local steak house, even though we had to pay for it ourselves. My guess is this will become more the norm for the remainder of the tour. It’s crazy not to eat well when you are putting forth the kind of hard physical effort we all are each day.
As mentioned earlier, today was the eighth century ride of the tour. Along with three I completed in training, that gives me 11 for 2006, far and away more than I have ever done before in a calendar year. I am amazed at how my perspective on cycling 100 miles has changed over the course of this tour. I now know you can do a century when not feeling all that great and when not all that well rested. On the other hand, I also know a century is easier to complete when you have a specific destination to head for, as opposed to an out-and-back at home. It is also easier when you have others to share the effort with, as opposed to going solo. All that said, I think eight is enough, at least for this tour!