Yesterday – I am writing this July 5 – started ominously when one of my calves cramped as I was getting out of bed. Given the cramps I had had the previous 2 days, that wasn’t a good start. That was exacerbated by me generally feeling pretty weak. However, I drew some solace from Ale reminding me that there had been a number of days last year when I had said that I didn’t feel like riding only to have the day turn out ok. So, I could hope.
Actually, once I got on the bike and started pedaling, I felt ok. For a while.
The scenery was pretty – with much of the first part of the ride going along a river – and the road was hospitable. I even ran into stopped “traffic” because the highway went through a small town that was having a 4th of July parade, the highway apparently being the town’s main street. From what I could see, the “parade” had maybe 4 vehicles. None of which even pretended to be a decorated float.
There was a fair amount of climbing. Not exactly scaling a mountain, but definitely more than just rollers. I won’t claim that was easy, but given my recent cramps, I was pleased that I was doing as well as I was. And with no cramps.
However, the heat started getting to me. I stopped when I felt especially baked IF I could find shade and that helped. I again caused some concern when a couple of vehicles that had passed me doubled back to see if I was ok. I’m afraid one woman had been especially alarmed, thinking that I had taken a fall. I assured her I was ok and apologized for her worry.
A number of miles later I again pulled over when the heat AND humidity became overwhelming. It was 95 but the main problem is that it gets to be cumulative. This time, however, I pulled up a dirt driveway far enough to find some shade and a green patch to lie on. Hearing some noise, I managed to open my eyes to see a boy of around 10 or so who had come out of his house. That wasn’t enough to keep my attention so I again tried to nap. However, a couple of minutes later his mother came out with 2 bottles of cold water, saying that I looked pretty beat from the heat. She was right. The bottled water was great and almost as good as the cold water from their hose that I used to drench myself. It was cold because after I asked about using it, the boy walked over to the spout to show me where it was and he turned it on to let it cool off from the near boiling it was from the hose sitting in the sun. That shower was great! Drinking lots is necessary, but if your body temperature gets too high, forget it. And I say that from experience. Unfortunately, I was too out of it to get names or photos of these very helpful folks. I will blame that on the heat.
The shower was good but it lasted only so long. After more climbing in the sun I decided I had had enough after only 45 of my scheduled 89 miles and 1,945 feet and let Ale know I was ready to be a passenger. Although part of me regretted it because my legs were still able to climb and I don’t like giving in, I had promised myself – and Sandi – that I am going to be more sensible this time. The air conditioned truck was great and the wisdom of my decision was reinforced when we walked out of a restaurant after lunch. Walking into the 98 degree heat was totally oppressive and I was thankful I hadn’t continued to ride in it. My brain can’t afford to be cooked any more than it already has been.
I have to mention lunch. I said how hungry I was and ordered a bowl of clam chowder and a plate of mussels. Ale ordered the same, but a cup instead of a bowl. It turns out that her cup was as large as most restaurant’s bowls and my bowl was just plain large. Then the mussels came and I was overwhelmed. I finished the clam chowder – we both agreed it was excellent – but I barely ate half of the mussels and not because they weren’t good. Of course, Ale finished all of hers. (She did get a 2 hour workout in at the hotel’s gym last night and then workedmout again this morning after I left on my ride.)
So, as of yesterday evening, it was me ½ having finished ½ of the ride and the sun ½ for having wiped out the second half.
The departure from Bangor was different in that it was more urban than the previous couple of days. While we had driven into town through beautiful residential areas, some with estate sized lots and all with lush vegetation, I left through a commercial area. However, even then I felt pretty comfortable on the roads. So far this trip has been great that way.
Today to Bar Harbor, a beautiful Maine coastal town, was only 46 miles and 2,411 feet. Because it was hot – again over 90 – I stopped more than a 45 mile ride would normally warrant but, as they say, discretion is the better part of valor. The end result was that although there were a couple of times I was overheated, the ride was my best yet. No cramps at all and there were stretches that were simply fun. So, today I beat the heat: sun ½, me 1 ½.
The day was enhanced by my stop at 1A Relics, a charming new store in a unique old renovated building in Ellsworth, roughly half way to Bar Harbor. I had gone for 15 or so miles without seeing any place to get something to drink and was getting low on what I was carrying. When I stopped I didn’t initially realize it was an antique store but I went in anyway if only to ask where the next store with beverages was. I was greeted by Shelly Bradsell, a retired nurse who had opened the store only 2 weeks ago. As soon as I asked about the next store, she immediately brought me a couple of bottles of cold water and told me that she wouldn’t accept any money. We spent a while talking and when she realized the purpose of the ride, she wanted to take a selfie of us to post on their website. She introduced me as a 71 yo rider headed for Key West (the Laura’s Ride Atlantic Coast card I gave her mentioned a 71 year old). I disagreed, saying that I am really 55 but with all of the time on the bike I can pass for 71.The young woman she had introduced me to had the good grace to say that in either case I look good. Of course, I would prefer to look good for 55 but I will take what I can get. Thank you for your hospitality, Shelly. And best wishes for your new venture. Also, I hope that Conrad, who she also introduced me to, comes through with his promised donation.
The temperature should be better tomorrow. But I’m not sure about the projected thunderstorms. So I guess I will get wet. I just hope the roads stay safe. But if they don’t, I will ride in the truck. No heroics for me this time around.