Sunday, March 04, 2018

The Touring Series: The First Hundy Part 2

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.

  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.

Today we get to see how my relatives saw my trip and how the end of the day went on my first ever century ride. We pick up the tale as we roll into Lime Springs, Iowa and Lidtke Park where my family was having its annual reunion....

We rolled into Lidtke Park at the stroke of 1:00pm with 80 miles to our credit. I could see everyone lined up to eat at the "buffet" line. By design or desire I led the way in. By fortune I rolled to a stop right in front of my Grandpa Kenny. He quickly and without hesitation shook my hand and told me I needed my head examined. ( His exact quote was "I believe I'm shaking the hand of a crazy man!") He also said I would have quite a story to tell if I made it. I did make it, but as for the story, well....we'll see about that!

Having worked up a he-man's appetite, we were very appreciative of the mass quantities of food available. Oblivious to the strange looks and audible whisperings rampant in the clan, we gave our full attention to matters at hand. After eating our fill we moved off to the shade of some nearby trees and conversed with those who cared, ( or dared!) to come close. I was very glad for the rest, and so seemingly were Steve and Troy. But, after spending three wonderful hours there in that county park, it was time to fill our water bottles and go.

Leaving northward, guided by my Cousin Brian's and Grandpa Kenny's directions, we headed for Preston, Minnesota. I soon discovered that more hills and fierce wind brought pain back to the forefront with a vengeance. I gutted it out each time and was rewarded with fast and long descents. Steve recorded a top speed of 37 mph on his computer. I think I must have done 40 at least.

Steve also recorded my first "century ride". We were coming up to the top of a hill south of Preston when he and Troy counted down the final tenths for me. Then we all whooped and celebrated on our bikes as we crested the hill and felt the wind on our faces. After what must have been a three mile long downhill we reached Preston on a late Sunday afternoon.

We wandered around in streets devoid of people and only a few cars were about on the roads. We could only find a pizza pub that was open, so we went in for what Steve called "information gathering". I also noticed that it was a good excuse to have a couple of beers. Steve was a little harsh on the simple minded but accommodating waitress there. Muddling through her thick headed meanderings, we finally gathered that we were not far from the Old Barn. It was a place on the Root River Trail that had a large campground and rooms available to folks just like us. It sounded good, so we saddled up and took off in the direction that the waitress pointed us off to. It was getting late, and we had about an hour of sunshine left to us, so we were in a hurry.

Now there are hills and then there are HILLS! This town had a doozy of a hill that happened to be on the road we were taking. I might have thought that the waitress had sent us off on the steepest hill she knew of to pay Steve back for his rough handling of the conversation with her. But then again, I don't think she was that bright. It just happened that way.

Well now, this hill was maybe made steeper by the fact that it came at the end of a long day. Maybe having had done one hundred plus miles in the hot sun and wind had an effect. Maybe it was my lack of experience. I don't know exactly, but I just about died when I saw Steve and Troy disappear around the sweeping right hander I was climbing. I don't think you've really felt all alone until you are hurting and your companions leave you behind at the end of a long day like that. Anyway, I "granny geared" it up at my own pace for an eternity. Sometimes going so slow that I was weaving back and forth to keep my heavily loaded touring bike upright. I finally made it to a level enough spot that I could actually shift up! I had never been so excited to shift before.

After I finally caught my companions we were out in the country again. We spotted the Root River Trail, and after a short gravel climb we came to the Old Barn. 

I still vividly recall rolling right up to my Grandpa and shaking his weathered, claw-like hand molded and changed by years of manual labor as a farmer. His comments were the highlight of my day. He was old in 1994, at 83 years of age, but he would live on to be a 102 before he died.

That hill out of Preston! Oh my! Yeah, that's another vividly recalled memory. I'm still not sure how I managed that after a century, and my first one at that!

Next: A Night At The Old Barn

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