Q: “Where are you guys from?
Q: “Where you headed?”
A: (depended on what day it was)
- “Iron Mountain, Michigan”
Q: “What are you doing this for?”
A: “For fun”
“I can think of a lot more fun things to do than this…”
And so it went for 4 days with just about every non-cyclist we talked to (which was everyone we talked to).
Gary, Mark (“Flat Stanley”), Chris and I left my house on Friday morning and proceeded to ride 545 miles in 4 days.
161 on day 1:
126 on day 2:
119 on day 3:
139 on day 4:
We lucked out by getting the hottest stretch of weather of the year. Temps on the road reached 104 degrees, and the dew points reached into the 80s. Along the way, we racked up:
one broken spoke
three ripped tires requiring
- a patch
- a boot
- a Shot Block wrapper repair
seven blown tubes
twelve used CO2 cartridges
We consumed approximately 12 gallons of water and slightly less beer
We burned approximately 100,000 calories or 28.5 pounds.
Many of the people “Up Nort”” were intrigued by our choice of transportation and our lack of camouflage clothing, but they were all hospitable.
The first day was a beat-down. I believe 161 miles in 1 day was a personal best for all 4 of us. The weather was very warm but not hot, and thankfully the whole weekend was mostly overcast. For any group of 4 guys trading pulls, 19.6 average moving speed for that many miles will take its toll. We were all tired at the end of day 1, but Gary was clearly the most spent. Day 2 brought the heat, and the second 100+ mile day and we managed to bring the speed down a bit. Google Bike Maps is great for coming up with routes… assuming you’re riding a cyclocross bike. By Day 2, it had us using gravel roads and even a sand road – complete with angry swarms of horseflies. We had to improvise using the sun for navigation on un-mapped country (paved) roads and eventually wised up and went old-school with a paper map for back-up.
Day 3 proved to be too much for Gary. He had soldiered on, but his body never recovered from the effort of day 1. I would have pulled the plug, but Gary kept riding until we all made the decision to get him a ride to the next stop. The heat was brutal and we were in the middle of nowhere at times – it became a true safety issue at that point. He truly gets the “HTFU” award for the week.
Day 4 started with us huddled around the Weather Channel at the hotel for an early departure. A severe heat advisory had been issued, along with a severe storm warning – fantastic. We rolled for an hour before the sky got so black we had to put lights on. Minutes before the rain started coming down in sideways sheets, we found refuge in a corner store in the middle of the country. We waited about 30 minutes while the storm ripped branches from trees that littered the road for the next 30 miles before taking off in a light rain. Thankfully the overcast stayed for most of the day because when the sun did pop out it became brutally hot on the roads.
The ride ended at about 7:20pm back at my house on Monday night, 545 miles after it started. Everyone agreed that it would be strange to NOT get up and ride the next day, but it would have been tough for any of us to find a comfortable spot on any saddle for another 100+ mile day.
I’ve already started planning the 2012 ride and it will be even more awesome – stay tuned!