Yep, that’s our SAG being worked on, taking up some of our tourist time in Portsmouth. The belt tensioner is being replaced to eliminate a loud whine that replaced the one I had fixed before we left home. On the other hand, the Suburban is 20 years old, even if it only has 90,000 miles (“only” given its age).
Needing truck repairs while on the road is a bit of deja vu given that last year the air conditioner and brakes both needed repairing even though both had been worked on within the past year. See a pattern here?
There are of course many differences between Laura’s Ride 2016 and Laura’s Ride North. This ride was longer and had more climbing but despite a few 100 degree days, much better weather. Although I got tired and hot, this time I never got cooked or sick from the heat. Also, I never needed the rain gear I brought because the only real rain we had was at night despite
a number of day time thunderstorm warnings. Nor did I use my warm jacket, long tights or full fingered gloves. In fact, I only used a windbreaker and arm warmers 3 or 4 times. In contrast, I wore arm sun screen sleeves almost daily.
The daily miles were generally longer this year and the rest days were less frequent. I think that both of those factors led to a bit more fatigue, at least mentally. However, I didn’t get lost this year as we did last year. A major reason was that I used an ear piece this time so that I could more easily follow directions. I am sure things would have gone much more smoothly last year if I had had one then too. I also always carried at least 1 external battery for my iPhone and usually another for my Garmin (I like to see how far I have ridden to know how far is left, I like to know my speed and the grade and I find it useful to have access to the time and temperature. Keeping track of how much I have climbed is also useful when I have an idea as to what the day’s total is supposed to be).
Another very significant difference is that this year I rode by myself whereas last year I rode with Nick who of course was my connection to Laura. That made for a number of differences. Although I always met Ale at some point during my daily rides this year for valued ice, nourishment and company, I spent the vast majority of my time on the road by myself. This year I rode with someone else only 3 times: with 2 riders for a couple of miles in Portland, OR, with 1 rider for maybe a mile entering Utica and then of course for 30 miles with Bob when finishing the ride. That meant there was no drafting as Nick and I did at times last year, there was no conversation while riding or during breaks and there was no one to debate directions with, though the ear piece made that much less of an issue anyway. It also meant no arguments with a roommate this year. However, I want to be clear: Nick and I always resolved things and the ride we began as basically acquaintances we finished as friends.
Because of all that alone time, what I think while about riding was a question. Kristina, my daughter, responded by sending me a lengthy list of suggestions, from trying to remember my 5 earliest memories to coming up with your most identifying experiences. While she had many thought provoking ideas, my problem was that I could seldom focus on any one thing for that long because my mind would go to focusing on the road for debris, bumps or cracks that I needed to avoid, to watching cars if there was any traffic around to calculating the number of miles to go to get under 50, under 40, into the 20’s and finally the home stretch of less than 20. When I wasn’t doing that I was often monitoring various body parts to determine how I was doing. Usually that meant my hands, shoulders or, as you have read a number of times if you have been following my blogs, between my shoulder blades.
One result was that I was frequently amazed by how resilient our bodies are. There were a number of times when I would feel a pang in one of my knees and think, “Oh no, I don’t want a knee problem.” But invariably I would change my position or pedaling stroke a bit and the slight pain would go away and I would be fine. (I wish that the upper back issue had been as easily cured but that wasn’t debilitating as a knee injury would have been.) I have also thought that it is pretty amazing that a body can tolerate so many thousands of pedal strokes and that tired legs can recover day after day after day. I was, however, very thankful for a couple of artificial helpers, chamois cream and, when I nonetheless chafed, the Bag Balm that Sandi sent with me. I will say that that stuff is virtually miraculous because there were times when my skin was raw and on the verge of blistering that I used the Bag Balm at the end of a ride with repeated applications before going to bed and by morning I was ready to go again.
A real bonus of this year’s ride was that I got to know Alejandra better and to appreciate even more all of the help she provides. Simply stated, the ride would have been impossible without her. There is no way I would do it self supported as do some of the riders I met along the way. I don’t want to carry the weight, I don’t want to rise the type of bike that requires and I definitely would not sleep on the ground after a day of riding.
The the photos include the one I am in with Glenn, Jack and Phil that I referenced last time but couldn’t get down loaded together with some that Sandi and Ale took in Portsmouth. The meals include breakfasts of what my family calls eggs in a frame and an egg and salmon concoction Ale got whose name I don’t remember. Dinner included a cheese plate, beet salad and haddock tacos, all of which were good.
We are now visiting New York on our way home. Home will be good although we will first spend a day or two in DC.