Tuesday, July 24, 2012

A Michigander on the Michigander: Final thoughts

Soft water->soft hair: My hair felt soft as a toddler's on most of this trip. Was it because I didn't pack all my products? I finally figured it was that the water was so soft at many of the places. One morning I fretted that I left my comb back at the tent (and I am NOT making another trip back) but then I remembered what would happen as soon as I pack up. I'd have a helmet on.

Helmets: Very necessary. But a woman from the ride got the strangest looks walking around a Walmart in one.

Best ice cream: Alpine Chocolate Haus: Sea salt carmel ice cream with bits of chocolate covered potato chips topped with a whole chocolate covered potato chip.

Weird beer experience that if it is going on down here, I didn't notice: Summer shandys, a mix of lemonade and beer. Every hole-in-the wall place had this.

Nice locals: As I was drinking my powerade in front of a store mulling the consequences of being lost and figuring out that it would probably be OK, a customer joined me at the picnic table regaling me with bicycle trips of his youth and said that if I could do this, he could too and he would start training. On the final day, Rasta Man and I split up. I figured I could take things now at a leisurely pace and went back to the good coffee place in Cheybogan to get my wonderful latte. A local woman urged me to sit with her. She was not on the ride but wondered if I knew the  ride director as they were colleagues years ago. Yes indeedy. I grew up with her. She just lived a block down the street but even though we are the same age, we don't look it. Our campsites would get visits from the local sheriffs and politicians wondering what they could do for us.

Alterations to my appearance: A neighbor driving by today stopped to ask how much weight I lost. I don't know but I know my legs are very firm now. I have lots of new tan lines and very brown knees. I used sunscreen on my face but still got the red nose. My palms were blistered even though I had silicone gloves. I still have no feeling in two of my left fingers though it is slowly returning. I also have lots of bruises that I don't remember getting.

Bugs: Not many. I bought antimosquito wipes but only saw one mosquito. I did get bit by a black fly and a probable deer fly, the latter through lycra leaving a huge red welt on my butt.

Oversharing: I ate dinner a couple of times with a father and daughter (24) rider couple. The dad was telling me a detailed story about a cancer scare long ago (no I didn't say I had cancer to start him off). While he is telling me this, his daughter has the WTF look young people are so good at. It turns out she never knew of this story.

Serious riders: When this ride started 20 years ago, it was mostly trails. I don't know of any other ride in the country that features mainly trails (please enlighten me, random reader, if this isn't true). Still to attract riders, now they have a paved road option. I would guess half of the riders had road bikes and never touched the trails. Some of them were hellbent on seeing how fast they could complete it and formed draft lines. At dinner they discussed a rider that would draft but never pull (take his turn up front). I have only been in draft lines a few times. By myself, I would be able to cruise at 18 mph (when I was young and on a road bike..in races I averaged 20 mph) but in a draft line, 24 mph. But it is no fun and you have to pay very close attention to the wheel right in front of you or else. All you hear is road noise, like a hive of bees. I wasn't good enough to pull though we formed an impromptu one once at the end of a long day. We were off the main roads (lost!) and had to stick together. We were battling headwinds. Despite me being a woman, I was the strongest and pulled for them all. These days are gone as evidenced by me coasting for 30 miles in granny gears.

Lost..in a car!: I really wanted to go to Cross Village after the ride. Rasta Man was reluctant because we had no map. I figured if we just stuck to the shore, how hard could it be. In the past I had biked from Cross Village to Mackinaw (as had he). The reverse couldn't be hard. Well. This 15 minute out of the way side trip turned out to be 45 minutes driving in circles with Rasta Man wanting to abandon the plan if only we could figure out how to get out of this. We did find it eventually and I think it was worth it.

Not everyone was happy: I ate dinner with a couple and their 14 year old  son. I asked the kid if he was having fun.
No I am not.
His mother added that he would forever remember this as the summer his mother made him ride a bike 250 miles. She was not apologetic. I told him that I made my 10 year old son do 280 miles and by the time he was 14, he had convinced 3 of his friends to do it with him and the 4 of them did it 3 times.

No I am not your reincarnated sister-in-law: One woman seemed especially fascinated with me. It turns out that I look and act just like her beloved sister-in-law who also was her best friend. She had died young years ago. She took pictures of me to show the folks back at home that I had come back.

Bicycle anxiety: Could I do this? Will I be able to stop if I had to on the steep downhills? Could I climb 550 feet in a short period of time? Will the bike hold up without a tune-up? Can I tolerate 50 degrees in a strong wind and rain?

80 year old riders: There were presumably 4 riders over 80. One was asked why he did this? Because I can. I ate a few breakfasts with probably one of them (maybe she was in her late 70s). Her son tried daily to talk her out of this even trying to scare her with a possible bear attack but she does this ride every year. She has had many challenges in her life and yes, this ride is a challenge but one she could control and feel good when she overcame each challenge as it came along. It made her feel so good about herself and life in general. Amen sister.

A perfect bicycle moment: Day four. It is cool and we have been snaking through pine forests. The air is fragrant with wild flowers. We are on the top of a hill and can see just hills and hills of pines. I push off and down I go for 10 minutes? Don't know. I am going impossibly fast but it just feels so good with the air rushing all around me.

The Zen of bicycling: I could do this, I am doing this, I am doing this and I feel good.

1 comment:

Teri Bernstein said...

I love this post! It is like a poem...


Blog Archive