Month: June 2014

Day 27: Louisiana Must Hate Us

Ah I have fallen behind again and I’m so sorry! The past few hosts did not have Wi-Fi so I haven’t been able to update you all on my journeys but I will catch up soon enough!

Day 27: How many flats can Team San Diego get in one day?

Just this enormous bridge we had to cross to get to the other side of the Mississippi River

The answer: One too many.  We were on the road at 7 am to leave New Orleans, LA to head 103 miles to Baton Rouge, LA.  When we left, there was a steady drizzle and we had to be extra careful right from the start.  I was riding with Eric, Taylor, Matt, and Haley and our host was on the outskirts of New Orleans so leaving the city was not too difficult.  I wish our  day could have been just as easy as leaving the city, but it was not the case.  About 10 miles out on our trip, Eric took a a little tumble off of his bike after we crossed some train tracks.  There was no serious injury except for a little scrap on his elbow so we were able to get back on the road again after making sure everything was OK.  By the time we reached the first water stop, it was still raining, but had let up a little bit so riding wasn’t as difficult as before.  Also we were able to hop onto a really nice bike trail that ran right along the Mississippi River!  It was pretty cool seeing the industry that relies on the River for their needs, although I can say the smell that accompanied them wasn’t too appeasing.  Since the bike trail was off of the roads, it was nice to relax and not have to worry about vehicles trying to pass us.  The trail lasted until the second water stop, and by that time it had stopped raining and the sun was shinning for us.  It was a pretty uneventful day until we reached our third water stop for lunch.  It was right underneath of a huge bridge we had to go over to cross the Mississippi River and reach our destination.  After lunch, we jumped up on our bikes to conquer this mighty foe.

The massive hold-up by everyone changing their flats

Unfortunately for us, the bridge may have won the battle against us.  You see, there are metal grates on the bridge to allow the water to escape when it rains, however, these grates had large gaps between the interlocking teeth so you had to go over it at the right angle.  If you don’t hit it at the right angle, then your tire will hit the bridge hard and cause a flat.  Myself and 7 other people couldn’t accomplish this, which meant that 8 people got flats going up it and only 1 whole team was able to safely traverse the bridge.  It was a little funny because we have this huge group of cyclist on the shoulder trying to repair these flats as quick as we can, while traffic is going by wondering what on earth could cause such a hold-up.  Needless to say, we walked over the those grates on our way down the bridge after repairing those flats.  After the bridge, it was essentially a straight-shot to Baton Rouge on a local highway, so we were praying nothing else would happen.  This again wasn’t the case as we had gone about 18 miles when Matt got a flat.  It caused a little delay, but we were able to get back on the road and head to the next water stop.   As I have said before in previous posts, everyday is a race against the weather, and today we lost.  After travelling a few miles down the road, we see storm clouds rolling in and knew it spelled trouble.  The wind was picking up and the rain had started when we saw lightening and heard thunder and were forced to find some shelter to wait out the storm.  We had been on the road for about 10 hours at this point and daylight was going to be running out.  The storm passed over us and we set out for a faster pace in order to make it before nightfall. Tragedy struck me though as we were 9 miles away from the host when I broke a spoke in my front tire.  It’s not a repair that can be done quickly, so I was forced to be picked up by the van.  The whole team made it to the host safe and in good mood too because someone had generously donated $500 to a local restaurant near the LSU campus!

Had to deal with this crazy storm rolling through

Although I had made it really far this day, it was very disheartening to make it so close to the host, but only be stopped short by a problem like this.  I had only gone 92 miles, however I knew the next day would bring more adventure and excitement, as this wasn’t my last ride ever.  I wasn’t the only one with bad luck, because the roads caused 27 flats in total for the whole team in one day!  That causes some major delays and major money that people have to put into buying new tubes.  I’ve been fortunate and only have to go through 3 tubes on this entire trip, but others have gone through about 10 so far.  The key, I think, to this trip is properly maintaining your body and your bike, because lets be honest, we are biking ACROSS THE COUNTRY (AHHH!!).  I can’t believe I have made it this far and it isn’t without all of your love and support.  With that little note, I have some good news for you all, we added 2 mail drops!  So if you want to send any goodies or what not, here are the addresses:

Austin Texas: July 4th and 5th

Rider Jeremy Palmer
4k For Cancer
10312 Dianella Ln
Austin, TX 78759

Clovis New Mexico: July 12th

Rider Jeremy Palmer
4k for Cancer
Living Water Community Church
2801 E Llano Estacado Blvd
Clovis, New Mexico 88101

Thanks everyone who decided to read this whole post as I’m sure it was quite the novel.

Days 25 – 26: NOLA Here We Come!

Day 25: And they said this trip wasn’t a race…

Got the whole team in this picture!

But it is.  Not the typical race though where you are competing against other humans, but against Mother Nature.  Last year’s team took a little more northern route and did not have the opportunity to travel all the way down to the Gulf, and suggested to us that we should to make it all the way down this year.  The problem with traveling all the way down here is that there is ALWAYS a chance of thunderstorms on a daily basis in the afternoons and early evening.  Waiting for a thunderstorm to pass is never fun though, so it’s always good to make it to the host as soon as possible (at least that’s my opinion of course).  Today was especially evident on the need to hurry, as we unfortunately got caught in a little storm at the end of the day.  We all started off from our host around 7 am and made my way across another state line as I was with “Team Keeping the Fun in Dysfunctional” (Tyler, Kenny, Lisa, Allison, Jackie, and myself).  We didn’t initially come up with that name, as most team names come with a story attached to it.

4 states in 4 days!

Our story was quite the crazy one as we keep getting ourselves into unfortunate situations throughout the day.  It all started off with Lisa accidentally swerving into my bike and bending a spoke in my front tire around mile 30 causing a small delayed in our travels after checking to make sure everything was OK with my bike.  After replacing my spoke at the next water stop, we were able to hit the roads again, only to find out that Lisa had a flat tire.  It was a quick change, but still caused a small delay again.

Repairing another flat on the road

About 5 miles after the first change Lisa got a flat another flat tire which we had to change again.  It’s funny to because she bought some expensive tires for her bike that is SUPPOSE to help prevent flats when she is one of few that has the highest flat counts (no judgement though, I still like riding with her) on our team.  Anyways, we continued along our route until we finally crossed into Louisiana!  We had officially crossed 4 states in 4 days and we felt pretty accomplished with that fact.  We had a lunch stop at the state line too so it was good place to relax before getting back on the road again.  About 5 miles down the road, Lisa got ANOTHER flat (That’s 3 flats in day) and we had to stop again to help her figure out the problem was a small metal wire being stuck her tire.   She changed the flat again and we were able to get back on the road for a little while until Kenny crashed us bike after running into a grove in the middle of the road.  He was fine and there wasn’t any serious damage to be found, so after a quick breather, we were able to once more get back on the road.  It was (almost) smooth-sailing from there, and we still had high spirits cruising along the Louisiana roads and crazy tall bridges.  Unfortunately when we were about 6 miles away from the host, we saw lightening in the distance and had to pull over until the storm passed, delaying our arrival once again.  It was a good time waiting out the storm after we started giving each other riddles and killed the time that way.  As soon as the storm cleared, we were able to head off once again to NOLA and hopefully to our final destination.  We even took a ferry across the Mississippi River which was a lot of fun too!  It wouldn’t be a complete day though unless we got one more flat, and Kenny was the man to do it.  As soon as we got off the ferry, Kenny got a flat and we had to change it, and we were less than 2 miles away from the host too.  We finally made it to host after 2 small crashes, 4 flat tires, and 1 huge thunderstorm, but all in all it was a fun day and night as well as we all went out to see Bourbon Street!

Day 26: Rest days are the best days

Had to get a proof that I went here

Woke up at 9:30 am and it was the best.  Never thought I could sleep in this late after waking up so early all the time, but I did it.  It feels great to be rejuvenated and ready for the day without having to get on a bike later.  The gang decided to explore The French Quarter in NOLA, so we all got ready and headed over to try and catch the US soccer game playing at 11 am our time.  As soon as we got there, we all split up to see different things, so I went with the Quad Squad to the Market Cafe to catch the second half of the soccer game.  After a tough loss (but we still made it to the Round of 16!) we headed over to the famous Cafe Du Monde to grab a coffee (not really worth the $4.75 in my opinion) and explore the town some more.  It was a pretty relaxing day as we didn’t do much and just hang out with each other.  It’s going to be needed too because we have another century tomorrow taking us to Baton Rouge, LA.

Found this funny picture in a local bike shop

Day 22-24: 3 States in 3 Days (Soon to be 4)

Today is the day! I have finally caught up on my blog (round of applause please).  Anyways, I am going to try make this quick because we are going to New Orleans tomorrow!  I can’t believe that after tomorrow we would have gone through Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana all within 4 days!  Of course I have to enjoy this while I can because we are going to be in Texas for 13 days (It’s a pretty big state apparently).  So let me stop distracting myself and start telling you about the past 3 days.

Day 22: The beauty of the Gulf

Sums up our day pretty well

We had a scheduled rest day in Pensacola, FL (and a much needed one after the previous day) so we had to jump on the opportunity of seeing the Gulf of Mexico.  The beach was gorgeous and nothing that can be compared to on the east coast because the water was so calm and much warmer than the Atlantic, plus the water was clear enough so you can see all the schools of fish swim around you!  It was an awesome experience and I hope to visit again soon.  All day we just lounged around on the beach and enjoyed a few drinks with a few cheers to our success of making it all the way to the Gulf.  It was not an eventful day, but it gave us just enough rest for us to continue our mission and make it to San Diego.

Day 23: Back to ‘Bama

Photo: Since we wake up at unnatural hours everyday we have "late night" bike maintenance.

Helping out some fellow teammates with their bikes

After a much needed rest day, it was time to hit the roads again for a 77 mile ride to Mobile, AL.  Team Overlords (Stoney, Erika, and Michelle being the Supreme Overlord) set off on relatively flat grounds and and back-country roads.  The problem with the back roads is that sometimes Google does not realize they don’t exist anymore, plus some of the roads are just dirt or clay and riding through it causes a terrible mess on the bike that you have to clean later (and nobody likes the extra work).  Anyways, everything was going smooth until Michelle got a flat in her back tire around mile 20.  Fortunately, we were near a gas station and were able to pull into it while we waited for her to change her flat.  It was a good thing that we pulled into a gas station, because somebody asked what we were doing and donated $20 to our trip!  It’s awesome to see how our influence affects other people to help the cause we support, just by riding our bikes!  The rest of the day was pretty smooth except for when we reached the city, and the directions once again got a little confusing.  No fear for the Overloads though as we were able to safely navigate to the YMCA to enjoy our stay there.

Day 24: Mississippi here we come (and there we go)

The line never ends to take pictures at state lines…

 

It’s crazy to think about how we show up in one state late in the day, and then leave it by the morning.  I definitely wish I could sight-see more on this trip, but I guess I will just have to do it again.  We woke up bright and early today at 5 am (waking up for school is going to be no problem now) and left the Y around 7 for a short (short for us at least) 66 mile ride into Biloxi, MI.  The beauty of the coast is how flat it is, however, the problem is the headwinds we face as I previously mentioned.  It was really funny that as soon as we crossed into Mississippi, we faced these terrible headwinds that forced us to travel only 12-15 mph for the majority of the trip.  I was in good hands though with Michelle, Bri, and our latest

Had to go over this bridge today while battling the wind

 

newcomer Lisa as we trekked through some nasty winds and an enormous bridge safely to our destination to a huge Baptist church in town.  All in all it was a good day except for riding through some wet clay and getting my bike all dirty again after thoroughly cleaning it the previous day.  It’s tough trying to upkeep everything, but I think I would rather have a working bike and less sleep than one that constantly breaks (as some people on my team experience).  Anyways I have to finish up this blog, fold some clean clothes (finally), and get ready for bed all in preparation for our 4:30 am wake up call in the morning.

Day 20 – 21: Hello Sunshine State (And Sunburn)

Ugh sorry again folks.  The past 2 days I did not have Wi-Fi so I could not catch up on this blog.  No fear though! I will catch up (eventually) and we can both reminiscence these days when I get back. Until then you will just have to deal with my past antics a few days ago.  Now, onto Florida.

Day 20: If only Florida was flat…

Just hanging around down south

Ok so here is the thing with cycling folks: Get rid of one element of nature, and another jumps in its place.  It was especially evident this day when we finally left Alabama and rode 87 miles to DeFuniak Springs, FL.  I left with Brad, Bri, and Erika to experience another adventure of a lifetime as we would finally make it to Florida after travelling 20 days.  Initially our ride was a bit hilly, but nothing that surprised us as we were still in ‘Bama and we had been dealing with the hills the past few days.  After only about 20 miles though, we started experiencing some really flat roads, however with flat lands come some terrible headwinds.  It’s like a back and forth, have hills and little wind, or no hills and it be windy.   It’s pretty tough doing either, but hey, this is what we signed up for and

This guy came out to visit us at our second water stop!

 

I love the challenge of both elements.  We actually experienced really flat roads until we hit Florida.  I always thought Florida was flat, but apparently it is not.  These are not normal hills that we had experienced earlier in the ride either, but tall, rolling, long hills with a nasty headwind to accompany it.  This happened within the last 17 miles and it was tough because you think you are going to get to the easiest part of the ride, but it was just the toughest.   It’s rough dealing with one challenging element, but pushing yourself to conquer two feels nearly impossible.  Nearly is the key word because we fought through the hills and headwinds like champions and made it to our host in a grand fashion.  It was a fun day overall and I am so happy that we can stop heading south and finally start making our trek out west.

 

Day 21: The boys are back in town

Photo: The boys are back in town #QuadSquad

Just a candidly posed photo of the Quad Squad

Ouch again.  We woke up early because we had to cycle 103 miles to Pensacola, FL it was going to be rough.  Like I mentioned early, you take away one element, and you get another just as worse.  Fortunately for the Quad Squad (From left to right in the picture above: Dan, Myself, Matt, and Brad), we have a great dynamic where we form pace line and switch off leading in the front for 2 miles then fall to the back so we equally share the work of pushing through the headwinds so those behind can rest a little following close behind.   Florida finally delivered its promise of flat lands for us so we were able to cruise along the roads pretty quickly.  Because we were able to go so quickly, we decided to go unsupported for the day so that we would not have to worry about waiting for the other groups to catch up to us.  The highway we were on is

Enjoying these lovely victory beers after a hard day of riding

pretty touristy and had plenty of places for us to refill our water bottles and take short breaks along our route.  It was a crazy day though because the whole time we basically stayed on 2 highways, and one of the them for about 70 miles.  It is hard to explain over writing, but nothing is worse then being on the same stretch of a road feeling like you are not going anywhere.  For the Quad Squad though, we were able to crush the route even with terrible headwinds (read: Absolutely awful where you are pedaling as hard as you can but can’t move any faster and it hurts so much trying to push through it).  We averaged about 18 mph the whole time with some peak speeds of around 21 mph which is really fast and allowed us to ride for 5.5 hours of ride time with a total time from start to finish of 7 hours.  Essentially, we crushed it and enjoyed the victory of riding another century with a round of beers and relaxing at the host.

Day 18 – 19: Sweet home Alabama

Day 18: Nothing like adding an extra 10 miles to your route

Photo: Pretty sweet place for a water stop in backwoods Georgia #4Ksanclan

The crew hanging out at a great water stop location

Ouch.  I feel like I’m going to be saying that word a lot this blog.  Today was especially one of those days as it was a very humid out as we started off in Carrollton, GA on our way to our next host all the way in Auburn, AL!  We started off the day thinking it would be around a 77 mile day so I hit road with my amazing team: Jackie, Dayna, Erika, and Kirstin. It was a difficult ride because of the climate and resulted in Erika having some chest pains putting her into the van early because there is no reason to push oneself to injury.  After we took care of her, we started off once again on our journey to Auburn.  About halfway through the day, we reached a huge milestone of crossing into Alabama and into a new time zone!  Even though it was only a hour, I still feel like it affected my ride performance because I was getting hungrier much sooner and couldn’t exert as much energy as I was used too.  It was also very hilly ride, but it was still a great day and my group had a great time.  It was prettyPhoto: Team Jer & His Gals made it to Auburn, Alabama!!!!!!! Glad we picked each other and miss Erika Oertle like crazy. #4kforcancer #day18 now #92miles difficult though because on our direction list, some of the roads we were suppose to ride on were just dirt roads for miles, so our plans were thwarted because of it.  To compensate for the lack of paved roads on our planned route, we had to make a detour of 15 miles.  15 miles is a ridiculous number for cycling because it adds about 1.5 hours or more on the road and we already had a time change this day so we were going to be pushing 10 hours on the road.  However, we were so motivated, we sang for the last 20 miles some of the most ridiculous songs that you probably don’t ever want to hear.  We arrived at our host around 6 pm that day and were completely exhausted but relieved and full of endorphins.  I crashed early because the room had A/C, and nothing feels better than curling up in your sleeping bag and feeling extra cozy after a hard day of cycling.

Day 19: Nothing like massive hills to make you feel alive

People in Troy have the strangest pets…

Wake up. Pack. Eat. Bike maintenance. Chores. Thank yous. Leave.  Seems like it is the same routine every morning, which is nice because I like to time myself to see how fast I can get done everything.  I headed out this morning with Michele, Dan, and Shawna, all of which are strong riders so it was going to be a good day to ride the 80 miles to Troy, AL.  The first 20 miles or so were actually pretty hilly and I was wondering if it was ever going to end.  Fortunately for me, the roads actually became relatively flat which is great for cycling.  We were able to cruise around 17 MPH through those flat lands which is really fast and just means we can all get to the host sooner to relax and take some showers.  What we were not prepared for is some (relatively, because I know the Rockies are coming sooner then later…) MASSIVE hills around mile 60 that stretched for several miles.  It was amazing to get up to the peaks of these hills, but also a little disheartening to see in the distance a bigger hill that you must climb.  We were able to crush those hills though, and it was smooth sailing all the way into Troy where we set up our temporary home in a local church.  After some quick showers at Troy University, we headed to a church member’s house where it was absolutely gorgeous.  It almost felt like we were on a Hollywood set of some multimillionaire with their amazing pool, ranch, and food.  We felt like celebrities and didn’t want to leave except for the fact we HAD to get ice cream from Milky Moo’s Homemade Ice Cream Shop which was featured on the Food Network.  It was utterly delicious and they even gave us a discount on the ice cream!  It was an amazing time, but I was exhausted and crashed as soon as we went back to church happy with a stomach full of yummy ice cream.

Photo: Regram from @leesajay of tonight's amazing host for dinner. Loving Alabama. Leave me here, please! #4ksanclan

This sums up the host location perfectly

Day 16 – 17: Ride Anxiety is a Real Thing

Almost caught up!  Keep with me folks and I promise I’ll catch us all up to the present day

Day 16: Giving back

Jackie doesn’t seem too happy

Today was our planned rest/service day that we have about once a week during our trip.  These days are great because it gives everyone a rest from biking and van duty to allow us a chance to go out into the community to help those who need it the most.  For today’s service event, we went to Atlanta’s Hope Lodge where those who are receiving treatment for cancer and live more than 40 miles away from the treatment center, can go and stay for free.  It is an amazing place for people to relax and not have to worry about travelling and paying for rooms.  It was quite a luxurious place and a really friendly atmosphere for those staying there.  As soon as we arrived, the director of the Hope Lodge met us and quickly did a run down of the chores we could do to help them out.  It was mostly cleaning, and with such a big group as ours, we were able to get it done pretty quickly.  After lunch, we had the opportunity to give out a scholarship from UCF to a recipient who displayed need for it and has been affected by cancer in some way.  So we all piled into the vans and headed out to the local hospital where our unsuspecting winner was working.  Needless to say, she was pretty surprised to see us all there to congratulate her.  We quickly celebrated and headed back to the Hope Lodge to finish up some last minute chores and to hang out with some of the guests staying there.  It was a really relaxing time, however everyone was starting to get anxious to jump back on the bike as I know my legs were getting the itch to start working out again.

Photo: Looks like ya boys are tired.

The boys and me enjoying a little bit of down time

It’s tough to have that many days off and then work back into the routine you had just gotten used to before the break.  There was little we could do about that, so after returning from Hope Lodge, we went to the local bar we had occupied the previous day to watch the U.S. of A crush Ghana 2-1.  It was really fun and relaxing to see Atlanta, but I did not enjoy it as much as NYC or Baltimore.  I guess that southern city isn’t for me.  Anyways we returned from the bar and it was time to prepare myself for the following day of the physical and mental grind of biking 50 miles to Carrollton, GA.

Photo

“You inspire us”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 17: Time to get my bike legs back

I guess I am front page material now

Ouch.  There is nothing like taking 3 days off the bike, to jump right back on and go 50 miles to Carrollton, GA.  We woke up late that day and were not able to get on the road until 9 am that day (yes, that is late for us).  It was a tough ride because my quadriceps were killing me that day and I knew they were not going to let up any time soon.  The key to any endurance sport is having the mental willpower to overcome the pain of constantly pushing your muscles to keep up with everyone else.  I’m just glad this trip is not a race, because I am sure I would be in last place on this day.  It was a pretty uneventful day otherwise, and it was fun to bike out of Atlanta and into a new town.  Our hosts were really great and I even got on the front page of the newspaper too! I wish I took it with me, but I unfortunately forget to grab a copy in the morning when I saw it (Good thing there is internet).  It was a really nice place and afterwards we decided to go the movies to feel like real people again,  One of my teammates, Erika, is EXTREMELY good at getting donations and discounts for our team, so when we arrived at the theater, she talked to the manager and stuck a deal for us to only pay $.50 a ticket!  It is amazing how generous people are if you just ask.  Anyways, the girls went to go see The Fault In Our Stars (Chick flick movie) and the boys went to go see 22 Jump Street (Comedy) and it was hilarious and totally worth the trip.  It was a really great day overall and I am so happy I am on this trip with everyone on my team.

Day 14 – 15: The Following 48 Hours

As I mentioned in my previous blog post, Jamie Roberts had passed away on June 13th, 2014 in an unfortunate series of events.  Because of seriousness of the situation, 4k was suspended for 48 hours and we could not ride our bikes at all during this time.  4k for Cancer and The Ulman Cancer Fund staff handled the situation very well in my opinion, which is where I will start the story today.

P.S. I don’t have any pictures for these days so sorry for the boring read!

Day 14: A rough day for everyone

A great graphic someone created to commemorate Jamie

Because of the ban, we had to shuttle from Clemson, SC to Athens, GA.  So in the morning we packed up all of our bags and tents and prepared everything to be shuttled to our next host.  The previous night we were told that a member of the 4k staff will be joining our team in the morning to explain the entire situation and be available to answer any questions or console anybody who needed it.  Stephan Hersey, the program manager for 4k, arrived at the beach around noon and explain everything in it’s entirety.  He is a great leader, and really helped everyone understand the situation.  After the meeting, we set off to the next host with our bikes on the roof of the van and not on the road.  I’m sorry to say I do not have any crazy stories or anything really fun to write about because there was not much we could do.  After arriving at the host we unpacked both vans, and one of them set back out to pick up the other half of the group that had to stay behind because we couldn’t fit everyone in one trip.  That night was pretty uneventful, but we did go over a lot of safety measures and bike handling skills that are nice to touch up on.  We even had a UCF board member come out to us to hang with us the next few days.  She was an amazing person as well who had a lot of experience cycling and really provided another person to talk to about anything we had in mind.  She is even a triathlete like me! Hopefully I can do a race with her in the near future.  Anyways, a pretty uneventful evening and we hit the sack pretty early to get on the road again to shuttle to Atlanta, GA.

Day 15: A day at the zoo

The morning was again pretty routine, except for the fact we had to leave the church by 9 am because they had service later in the morning.  We had to shuttle everyone to Atlanta, so we packed everything up again and the vans headed out.  I stayed behind with Taylor and Allison because we couldn’t load up all the bikes in one trip so some people had to stay back and help out with loading the bikes back on the van when it returned.  It takes about 1 1/2 hours to get to Atlanta from Athens so we had some time to kill when the vans left.  We decided to take a very long 3 mile walk to a local zoo where they rescue animals around Georgia!  It was pretty fun and afterwards we went to a duck pond right next to it to wait until the van picked us up.  After the vans picked us up, I was the designated driver to Atlanta which was a little unfortunate because my entire crew fell asleep on me (My music kept me company though).  We arrived in Atlanta and unpacked everything and headed to a local bar which was pretty fun.  Not much else happened that day though as we were just exhausted from shuttling all day.

Days 12-13: Sorry for the Lateness!!

Ahh don’t hurt me! I know I’ve been late on these blog posts but it has been a crazy past couple of days with little or no Wi-Fi.  I’m going to be trying to do two days at a time to catch up. Let us start from where I last left off…

Day 12: Quad Squad = Best day ever

Another one down!

Had a snap a picture of our great lunch

Woke up to an early morning at 6 am and after the century the day before, you could say the whole team was pretty sore and not totally motivated. Fortunately, we were able to pick our teams this morning and I went with my friends Dan, Matt, and Brad. Before I continue, let me break down my team for you. Dan and Matt were cross-country runners for Hood college and extremely good at it which resulted to be very good at cycling. Brad is an outdoor fanatic and is very good at cycling as well. Needless to say, I felt like the weak link in this group. We left a little later that morning because it was only 51 miles to Spartanburg, SC and my team decided we should start out a little slower to warm up. However, that was not the case. I can honestly say that was the first day I really pushed myself to my limit physically. The first 15 miles were hilly and exhausting after the previous day. After we made it to our first water stop and refueled, we set off once again to find out that a couple of miles down the road was the South Carolina state sign! We stopped for a quick photo shoot and hit back out on the road. Because our group were such strong cyclist, we decided to start a pace line which is an extremely efficient way to bike for long periods of time with a small group. Essentially you ride within 18 inches of the rider in front of you so that the lead person blocks all of the air in front of the other riders and significantly reduces the air resistance for the other riders. It is a little dangerous, but we were experienced enough for it not to be a risk. For the rest of the ride we did this and it was an amazing difference to do this compared to being more spread out. It was a tough ride, but very rewarding because we finished early and got a donation from Cook Out for lunch! Afterwards, we decided to explore the town for a little, and got a victory beer to celebrate the day and wait for everyone else to arrive. We arrived at our host at the local YMCA and it was the nicest Y that I have ever seen. They had an amazing staff and were extremely gracious in offering all of their services for our team. Overall, I would have to say this is the best day of the trip so far.

P.S. We out biked a train. That is how fast we were going (Granted it probably was not going as fast as it could…)

Day 13: It’s all mental

Finally made it to our home!

Glad we didn’t have to bike through this storm rolling up on us

The toll on the body is real when you waking up early in the mornings to bike all day. I usually do not feel it that much when I first get up, so I was feeling peppy as usual and excited for the day. We did the usual routine and we set out for the day and had two guests from the YMCA staff to ride out with us. It was a good day to ride and I set out with my team of Kirk, Aaron, Danny, and Stoney (aka Kevin). It was a great ride group and we had a lot of fun messing around and casually biking to our next destination 68 miles away to Clemson, SC (Originally we thought it was 63 miles, but I’ll get to that later). Stoney did have a flat that day, but it was quick fix and everything went pretty smoothly. Unfortunately, the toll of the past couple of days have began to take it’s toll on me. I was seriously struggling up hills and felt just a drag on my mind that day. I had a great team though, and they were really able to pick up when I needed it without them even knowing they had helped. We arrived at Clemson’s main campus and found out that we weren’t spending a night on campus, but a little ways off at their “beach.” I was not prepared mentally to bike another 5 miles to get there, but I managed to make it and the site was amazing. We were camping right off of the lake and it was an absolute amazing place to be. I really enjoyed it the site, however, a couple of people don’t enjoy the outdoors as much as I do. Anyways, when we arrived, we were able to jump into the lake (Which felt uh-mazing) and cooled off in the best way possible. Afterwards we brought the luggage down and set up the camp. We decided to jump into the showers on the Clemson campus and drove over. As soon as we got out, we were told we needed to make our way back to the camp site as quickly as possible because something had happened. We arrived and our ride director gathered us up and told us some terrible news.
One of the riders on the Portland team was struck by a vehicle and had died. The news hurt to listen to. I could not imagine the loss of a teammate in our team in that situation. The whole team was in shock when we heard. Not a single person has died on the trip in the past 13 years that 4k has been happening so it was terrible situation to be in. The UCF posted a statement about it here and The Baltimore Sun wrote an article about it here.  After hearing the news, we quietly set up our tents, went out to dinner as a team, and hung out to enjoy each others company contemplating on the news.

I wish I could spend more time on this subject, but it will have to wait until another time because I am completely exhausted right now.

Day 11: 100 Miles Later

Photo: Team Numero Uno Day 11 of 70

Team Numero Uno! Great picture we took at the first water stop

Our police escort out of Rockingham!

Wow I feel absolutely amazing.  I can now cross off trying to cycle over 100 miles in one day off my bucket list.  However, this is 4k life, and it isn’t just biking 100 miles that has made this day so great.  First off we got a police escort out of Rockingham!  It was an early morning because we had to wake up at 4:30am to beat the heat as much as possible, but the hosts gave us a great breakfast and even a better send-off!  We even had several articles written about that you can check out here and here! It was so awesome to ride behind a police car and having the entire path be cleared for 25 miles ahead of us.  I finally didn’t have to worry about a semi or a distracted driver trying to run me over on the highway!  Unfortunately they could only get us so far and we had to start fighting for our space on the road again, but it was still cool while it lasted and being able to legally run red lights.   Anyways, Team Numero Uno (Kirk, Spokey, Dayna, and myself) began to take the back roads and  begin trucking through the back roads through hills and small towns in order to make up as much ground as possible before the heat set in.  When 11 o’clock rolled around, we had went 49 miles in about 4.5 hours and stopped for lunch in order to let for the rest of the team to catch up and get some rest before the hardest part of the day: The afternoon heat.  We left the lunch stop right before noon and  began our journey once again to the next water stop, and ultimately our host, however misfortune overtook our group as Spokey broke a spoke and had to get into one of the vans because we couldn’t do the repair on the spot.  After the short delay we headed to the next water stop for a quick break and to recharge our batteries and everything was going fine until just after the next water stop at 75 miles into our ride.

Official trip mileage! Proof I actually went this far

At our water stop 75 miles in, we notice these large dark clouds rolling in over the horizon and knew it spelled trouble.  After riding for a couple of miles, it started drizzling and then suddenly raining cats and dogs.  We obviously couldn’t ride in that weather, so we pulled into a driveway to wait out the downpour.  After 10 minutes, the storm began to clear up and we started off once again as it was only drizzling at this point.  Riding when it’s wet out is quite dangerous, and it was even worse because we were biking along the highway with no shoulder and traffic flowing around you at 60 mph.  It became even crazier because it started to rain again, but we didn’t want to stop because we were so close and stopping would just create a bigger delay in our arrival and we would be wet longer and even more exhausted. So we pushed forward.   During this time, I couldn’t believe how careless drivers were as they would pass us with barely enough space to maneuver with even some of them honking at us.  I had never thought I was so close to be in an accident from biking then this day.  Furthermore, since we were biking in our team, it becomes increasingly dangerous because stopping becomes harder and communication of further danger becomes crucial between teammates.  Even though this was dangerous, I had a great team and we made it to the host just fine and in great spirits (so nobody freak out please).  I had an amazing team and it felt so amazing to see the 100 miles on my bike computer.  Overall it was a great day and when arrived at our host in Gastonia, NC (102 miles total!), they had beer and wine for us to drink during dinner!  This trip has been amazing so far, and I can’t wait to wake up in the morning each day and ride to the next town

Day 10: More Heat, Not Enough Food

Team with the Mayor of Rockingham!

Hey gang! So today was completely crazy, and I was not able to take any pictures on my own phone 😦 sad I know, but I have a reason. Also on a side note, I am biking 100 miles tomorrow, which will be a huge accomplishment so I have to type this up fast.  So today I had the opportunity to be in the food van with Micaela so that we could scourer the local fast food joints and restaurants to find food donations for lunch while chalking on the ground ahead of them to lead them in the right direction and to check ahead to ensure that the roads are ride-able for the cyclists coming through.

It is a very stressful job as I found out because our directions took us to non-existent and untraversable roads.  Furthermore, we rely on food donations to provide lunch to our riders and ensure the all of the money we raised can go directly to the Ulman Cancer Fund.  Unfortunately, we have no idea if we are going to get food or not and our team depends on us to get them food.

(Sorry I’m all over the place, hopefully I can edit this later.)

So Micaela and I started off our day chalking, found a road to have disappeared in front of our eyes that Google Maps said was there.  So we had to quickly look at a map and plan a detour for our riders.  After we mapped out a detour and chalked it, we scavenged the area for food.  Long story short, I loathe fast food joints.  Not a single one could manage to spare even a little bit of food and after 2 hours and 14 eateries later, we managed to bring 2 pizzas and 4 subs to our teammates from mom and pop shops we stopped at.  I hoped it was enough, because it is the worse feeling in the world not to be able to support your team when they count on you the most during that time of the day.  It was a rough day for the entire team as well as it was reaching the mid-90s by lunchtime and the team had to bike an extra 20 miles due to the poor route Google gave us (definitely not trusting Google anymore…).  Even though it was a rough day, our host was amazing and even got us a police escort into the town for the last few miles!  It was pretty cool driving behind the riders and seeing the entire way cleared for them.  At the host, the mayor of Rockingham (Oh yeah the trip was 70ish miles for the cyclist today) came out to meet us and even got the pool to stay open late so we can quick dip in after dinner!  It was a pretty rough day for me and the team overall, but with every low point comes a high point, and I can’t wait to jump back on my tomorrow to complete my first century (100 miles on a bike)!!!