Cycling Along The Way...

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Silver City, NM, United States
Riders of the wheel. Racers, Roadies, Mountain bikers, Touring cyclists, Commuters, and others. Diamond frames, recumbents, trikes, and more. Sharing a web of connections often misunderstood or unappreciated by those who don't ride. Herewith, my attempt to share some of the more rational thoughts that flit around inside my head while bicycling, knocking back a brew or three, or just thinking about life. Reviews of bicycles, gear, touring, and more, plus some unsolicited posts about people, politics, and philosophy. Other things, too. Me: retired, gave up my TV in 1988, avid cyclist, several cross country tours completed with more to come. Your thoughts?

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Heart attacks...and humble pie.

Not really...just heart attack hills of Ohio, West Virginia and now Pennsylvania.  Those who know me know that I don't like to admit being wrong...sort of like Fonzie being unable to say, "I'm sorry."  Prior to hitting the hills of PA, I was certain that East coast cyclists were not as strong as the West coast cyclists because they didn't have the same challenges on their daily rides that the West coast ones do.  WRONG!!!  Jesus, the hills here have been unrelenting, steep, sometimes lots of traffic, and steep downhills plus winds.  My challenge to my friends in Silver City, NM, is this...bring your bicycles to PA and do a century ride through some of this countryside.  When you're done, you'll think the climb to the Gila Cliff Dwellings is a piece of cake.  So, for what it's apologies to my nephew, John, and all the cyclists back East, particularly those in PA, who can kick ass on hills...hands down.

As I ride, I realize how thankful I am to be able to do this ride...and to be above ground and physically fit enough to ride a bicycle across country, too.  Being out all day in the sunshine, watching sunrises almost everyday, meeting some friendly people, eating good food intermittenly, happy for the support of my friends in Silver City, and very grateful to Eileen for her support.  Words can't express how happy all of this makes me, particularly having Eileen in my life.  How a big mouth jerk like me ended up with all this is beyond description and belief.  So, I'm thankful for it all and for whatever reason it has come my way.

Day 28:  Bloomington, IN - Greenfield, IN.  Good ride; good weather, strong wind from the West.  Had lunch at an Italian restaurant in Shelbyville.  One of the owners sat down and talked with me for a while.  Good meatball sandwich.  Traffic was heavy heading north to Greenfield.  There was a great little restaurant there and it was a neat town, but no place to stay there.  Had to go north to the interstate to find a place and the wind was blowing too hard to head back to the little restaurant.

Day 29: Greenfield, IN - Vandalia, OH.  Lots of traffic in the Vandalia area .  This is the second Vandalia that I've been in IL where Lincoln served in the IL legislature.  Saw my first Friendly's Restaurant... definitely an East coast thing.  Also saw signs for "No parking...Snow Emergency Route", signs for snowblowers, snowmobiles, etc.  Things that one doesn't see in Silver City.

Day 30:  Vandalia, OH - Reynoldsburg, OH.    Good ride but didn't realize what a large city Columbus, OH, is.  Glad it was a Sunday on a holiday weekend.  Not much to say about this stretch except for being happy there was very little traffic.

Day 31:  Reynoldsburg, OH - Cambridge, OH.  Encountered the hills of Eastern Ohio.  Daunting, to say the least.  Got to Cambridge, which is at the top of a LARGE hill, had some good food, discovered the place that I wanted to stay at in Old Washington, which was my original destination, was apparently closed.  So, stayed in Cambridge, committed to making up the 10 miles lost the next day on my way to Washington, PA.

Day 32:  Cambridge, OH - Washington, PA.  94 miles; 91 degrees.  First, the good stuff...ate pizza at a restaurant in St. Clairsville, OH, ...DiCarlos.  It was written up in Gourmet Magazine when they did a special edition on Italian cooking.  Good pizza, but, unless you ask, the cheese is put on after the pizza is cooked and not put on before cooking it.  Weird.  The option to have the cheese melted on the pizza was available, so I had them do that.  Second, the bad stuff....HILLS.  Or HEART ATTACKS!!  I went into one town, Barnesville, which is at the top of one of the hardest, steepest, longest hills that I've ever climbed.  And the hills are unending, steep and kick my ass.  My hat is off to the cyclists around here.  Also want to mention that several people offered me water over the previous few days.  Much appreciated kindness. 

Day 33:  Washington, PA - Uniontown, PA.  40 miles: 5hrs; 75 degrees.  Today was, by far, the toughest day to date.  Beat me up.  Some incredible hills.  Hard to describe what it's like to ride up a hill only to see the road curve and reveal more uphill, then do it again and reveal even more hill to climb.  I knew that I would not be able to complete the 90 miles that I wanted to do today, so I won't be getting to Gettysburg Thursday night.  I'm aiming for Friday or Saturday now.  Tomorrow will tell me more.  If I can get to Stoystown, PA, then I should be able to get to Chambersburg by Friday...then it's 25 miles to Gettysburg.  Had a few draft beers today and some good spaghetti/meatballs and a salad.  While at the restaurant, I developed a cramp in my hamstring muscle that was INTENSELY painful.  Had to stand up and walk it out.  I miss Frisco Farms produce.  Can't wait to get home and get some!!  I'm also missing the smell of roasting chilis in Silver City.  They smell so good...!

Tomorrow, I'm aiming for Ligonier, PA, or Stoystown, PA, if the hills are not too bad.  High tomorrow will be 70 and sunny, so the weather is good for riding...with a west wind of about 15mph.  My nephew, John, is working a rest stop for his bike club's Civil War Century in Gettysburg, so I'm really trying to get there to see him and have a few beers with him.  We have been known to imbibe a bit and have a good time.  Last time we did this was in Baltimore where we ended up in a single malt scotch bar that sells 60 different types.  Until the next time I was there with John and Eileen, I thought they sold 120 types of single malt.  Gives you an idea of the amount we consumed...!

Getting closer to the finish of this ride....looking forward to seeing Clyde and his wife, Margee, who I went to Oneonta State with, as well as Chico, my other college roommate from Oneonta.  I can't wait!