Sunday, February 04, 2018

The Touring Series: I Had No Business Going- But I Did!

A Guitar Ted Productions Series
Welcome to "The Touring Series". This series is a re-posting of a story I told here on this blog in 2008. The story is about what I named the "Beg, Borrow, and Bastard Tour". This was a fully loaded, self-supported bicycle tour from just Northeast of Waterloo, Iowa starting in a little village named Dewar and the goal was to get to Sault Ste. Marie, Canada in one week's time. The plan called for us to be picked up there and taken home by car.

When I returned home from this tour I wrote a rough draft manuscript of about half of the trip. It is 27 pages of hand written stuff, front and back, and this is what I will be posting to begin with. You'll be able to identify the 1994 manuscript material by my using italics to post it here. After the manuscript information ends, the rest of the story will be picked up from memories written down in 2008. That will appear as regular text here. As mentioned, cameras, smart phones, and the like did not exist for us in 1994, so images will be few. There are some though, and I will sprinkle those in when they are relevant.

 Last Sunday we were introduced to Troy and Steve, two of the guys that went on the "Beg, Borrow, and Bastard Tour". This week we will be introduced to Tom, the bike shop owner and a bit of a twist in the plot:

Tom, the owner of Advantage Cyclery, was another RAGBRAI nut. He really, really liked RAGBRAI alot. When he found out about Troy and Steve's plan to have a little tour from Cedar Falls to Canada, he promptly invited himself along for the ride. He said it sounded like fun. Well, being taken aback by his announcement, all Steve and Troy could say was, "All right then...." And that is how Tom got on the roster.

Plans were then laid, and preparations started. The crew would leave one week after RAGBRAI's completion to allow for full recovery from RAGBRAI's drunken breath. Then on August 7th, it was off to Canada!

During RAGBRAI Troy and I toiled away at Advantage Cyclery. Troy was preparing his bike at this time for the upcoming trip and I was wistfully looking on. Troy was almost desperately looking forward to this trip because of all the hours we were putting in at work. I wanted to go along, but what was I thinking of? I had no bike suitable for such a tour, no bags, no tent, nothing. I had no road riding experience, and although I was in better physical condition than I had been in years, I had not spent much time on the bike in recent weeks. No bike, no gear, and no base miles equals no business going on a tour. I knew that, so I quit dreaming and kept working.

It was on Sunday, the day after RAGBRAI, as I was at work that Tom came in. He'd just returned from RAGBRAI and he announced that RAGBRAI '94 was a rousing excess. As an aside, he mentioned that he wouldn't be going on the Canadian trip. "What!", I said, "Not going? Why?" Well, apparently his RAGBRAI tour bus had broken down, the repair costs looked to be steep, and that would keep him off the tour.

A new chance leaped into my brain. A crazy idea. I could take his place on the tour! Insanity! I want to do it.

So, Monday I broke the news about Tom to Troy. He reacted calmly, as if savoring the taste of it before he responded. Tom then came back in an told him as well. Later that day while working alongside of Troy I mentioned the oddness of Tom's decision to drop out. Troy told me of his fear that the Canadian tour would turn into a "quest for the bars". He thought that was less likely now that Tom was not going. Then in what must have been a fit of utter insanity, he calmly added, "Why don't you go along?" My heart flamed with desire to say "Yes!" and loudly. All I said was, "Maybe. I'll have to think about it." Ha! Thinking stages had been passed long before. But only I knew that then.

The Jaand bags I borrowed as seen today.  I eventually purchased them from their respective owners.

In a short time, however, all resistance was washed away. Tom said he could let me off work. Duane and Toby, (co-workers at the shop) lent me their bags. The bike was a used Mongoose mountain bike I had been eyeing in the basement. (The story of the bike will be posted next week) Troy loaned me his brothers tires to put on some wheels I had just laced up. But there was a small matter of money that needed to be dealt with.

I told Troy that by Wednesday I would know if I could come up with the minimum of $150.00 to do the trip. That was the agreed upon figure each of us needed to bring. I managed to cover my obligations and scratch up $200.00! Still, there were two things I wanted to be assured of before I would say yes to this and go.

One thing I definitely did not want was to be a hindrance to the other two guys. I was assured that I could make it with some great pain and effort. "Just come along!", they said. Secondly, I wanted to be assured that I had not "invited myself", as Tom had been perceived as doing. They assured me that wasn't the case, so I said I would come, to which they reacted with enthusiastic "thumbs up".

That is how I got on the roster and how Tom got off. Although I still am baffled as to Tom's sudden reversal. At any rate, I was going. 

Notes: I don't think it can be stressed enough that I was under-prepared for this undertaking. I mentioned it before, but 33 miles had been my longest bicycle ride ever before I left for this trip, which called for averaging 100 miles a day! Sometimes you just have to take the leap, I guess. I did, and...... well, keep reading on Sundays and you'll find out. 

Next: We'll learn why the tour ended up being called the "Beg, Borrow, and Bastard Tour". We'll also get a glimpse of some harried last minute preparations before the send off.

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