Sunday, March 31, 2013


Since today was a 111 mile ride, we left just before the sun rose.  Cool, quiet and bike lights flashing like a host of red and white fireflies.  I was pretty sure that I wasn't going to get my first Century today, so I decided to just get back  to what this trip was supposed to be all about.

Since I limit myself to one ER visit every five years and my diet has consisted largely of bananas and jelly beans lately, I decided I would just go for a lovely Sunday ride.  And I did.  I stopped and took pictures of clouds, sunrise and flowers.  At the end was the 20 mile SAG stop.  I topped up my water bottle and took off again.  And it was another lovely Sunday ride.  At the 40 mile SAG, I repeated the procedure, but it didn't turn out quite so lovely.

At about mile 45 there was a BIG honking hill that went on for freaking EVER.  I got some weight bearing exercise walking up part of it and gave my lungs, my butt and my thighs a bit of a rest.  At mile 48 there was a sheltered picnic area and I went there to (hopefully) call and let people know where I was.  There was another group there, Bubba's Tours, they have been roughly paralleling us off and on.  And Bubba hisownself gave me and my bike a lift to the 60 mile lunch stop.  Linda had made salmon salad and a Thai influenced cole slaw lunch and it tasted better than anything I have eaten for a week.

It was quite warm by then and not a cloud in sight, though there was a nice headwind building up.  Several of us decided to take the van the rest of the way.  There  is no point in ruining a lovely Sunday ride with a round of heatstroke.  I had planned to ride to 60 then decide about going to 80 but I think I made the right decisions - and Bubba earned a star for his halo.  If I am going to die on this trip, it better be for something spectacularly athletic, not from something stupid like heatstroke.

Now the musings.  

Riding "all the miles" was never a top priority for me.  Too many places that I just don't have the skills or experience for.  I didn't count on all the miles I wouldn't be able to ride for reasons beyond my control.  It looks like there is an outside chance that I will still be able to ride 2,000 miles on the trip, including one more opportunity for a Century.

But what if that doesn't work out?  I didn't come on this trip to prove anything to myself or anyone else.  I came to have fun riding my bike.  And from now on, that is precisely what I intend to do.  Even on the frustrating days, even on the disappointing days, it has been a pleasure to be with this remarkable group of women and share our experiences.  Every day it hits home for me that we are really on 30 different trips for maybe thousands of different reasons.  We learn, we share, we help each other and we all grow.  It's quite amazing.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Ft. Davis to Marathon

My legs were still feeling rather jello like this morning so I opted to bump out past the  hilly part of the ride and start at the 20 mile mark.  It was cool and overcast, my perfect riding  conditions.  We stopped in Alpine so some folks could visit the bike guy.  He got them all fixed  up in short order and we continued on.  

Passed some pretty views and even stopped and took pictures.  but let me tell you about West Texas cell/wi-fi coverage.  To say it is "spotty" might be an understatement.  In some places there is none at all and in others, it is a challenge to find it.  At Ft. Davis there was one particular yucca plant that you could stand by to get a cell connection, if you moved two steps in any direction, the conversation was over.  The morning we left a deer was eating the  yucca blossoms, so who knows whether you can get a connection there at all right now.

I have put new pictures on some of the older posts, so you might want to check them out.  I will add pictures to this post and newer ones as soon as Blogger decides to start cooperating again.

Ft Davis State Park, TX

I caught up with the tour on their rest day at Indian Lodge, Davis Mountain State Park, TX.  This was originally a cavalry post manned by Buffalo Soldiers - which brought back my memories of Ft. Huachuca, AZ.  Ft. Huachuca is still an active post but it's history is present and palpable.

The Lodge was built by CCC workers and is situated in a lovely site with great views.  There are lots of places to sit in the sun (or the shade), you can keep the door of your room open to catch the breezes.  There are nature walks and bird walks - the park rangers are very knowledgeable about all the flora and fauna of the area.  We haven't seen any bears or javelinas yet, but we know they are out there.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Back with my peeps

Finally caught back up with the tour, thanks to my wonderful friends.

We met Paula and Mike when they lived across the street from us in Olympia, WA and became good friends there.  We moved to Missouri and they moved to El Paso, TX but I see them a couple of times a year when I travel to Las Cruces to visit family.

They have always been generous in time and energy and in every other way, but this trip they have gone above and beyond.  First, when Nancy was injured, they offered to come to Silver City and house her and Emily until they could get transportation back to Boston.  That didn't become necessary, but the offer was generous and heartfelt.

Then when I needed a couple of days off the tour to take care of some business stuff, they graciously consented not only to let me stay with them and then drive me to Van Horn to rejoin the tour.  On the day I was planning to leave, Paula and I both got sick, wound up spending half the night in the ER at Ft. Bliss getting IV fluids and in general acting like (and feeling like) zombies for two days.  Mike was up until 3AM that night in the ER and then had to get up and get ready for work at 5 while Paula and I slept and sipped all the fluids we could choke down.

I was worried that after the two day stop in Ft. Davis, the tour would be too far away for me to catch up, there really are very few places we go that have even regional airports.  I researched buses, trains, car rentals and none of them were even feasible options.  I asked Mike to help me find someone that could drive me (Paula too sick, Mike leaving on a business trip) and he had already lined something up.

So today, Mike's brother Dan brought me here with Paula riding shotgun.  I am relieved to be back with the group, it makes things feel "normal" again.  Or at least as normal as traveling with 30 seriously demented* women gets.

I don't know how I am going to feel tomorrow or how much I will be able to do.  I will just do what I can without stressing my systems too much.  I reallyreallyreally want to do the 111 mile ride on Sunday, so that is my near term goal.

Thanks to everyone that has offered support here and via email or Ravelry comments - I appreciated the thoughts and well wishes.

* direct quote from Pat Rush

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Addendum - part two

Felled by a virus while visiting in El Paso.  Two liters of IV fluids and some powerhouse meds and things are back on track again, should catch up with the tour today or tomorrow.

Sunday, March 24, 2013


We watched the news about the wind storm this morning as we ate breakfast.  Those winds were 30-35mph with gusts from 40-45mph.  Now I feel tired all over again.

I am taking a couple of days off from the tour to take care of some business, will rejoin the group in Van Horn, TX on Tuesday - stay posted.

Saturday, March 23, 2013


The B&B was in a canyon and we had some fairly loud and somewhat worrisome winds during the night, but woke up to crystal clear skies and chilly breezes.

After a wonderful breakfast (homemade bread, homemade preserves, eggs, cereal, etc.) we started out.  The first 9 miles or so we coasted downhill.  Then came about three miles of climbing and after that we started downhill toward the Rio Grand River valley.  No shoulders on this road, but there isn't much traffic and the road is in excellent condition.  We went speeding down and it was wonderful.

It is amazing what you can do with more than three gears, a shoulder that moves and lungs that breathe in AND out.  We were going in a generally east and south direction and the westerly tailwinds were a welcome boost.

Finally, we get the westerly winds..........just as we turn south.  At first they were probably 10-12mph with occasional gusts to 25 or so.  As the sun got higher the winds got stronger and the last 30 miles we were battling crosswinds of 22-25mph with gusts higher. In places it was difficult keeping the bikes in the right hand lane. 

The farther south we went, the stronger the winds got.  The air was brown with blowing sand.  That's what happens when you use all the water and scrape away all the vegetation. This looked like pictures of the dust bowl. 

Only in NM could you get a total body workout, an exfoliation and a tooth polishing at the same time.


No pictures today - my hands were welded to the handlebars - but we saw cows, goats, a camel and lots and lots of sand.  The drivers were really watching out for us, giving us plenty of room - one family even gave a rider a lift to the hotel.  When I checked in, there was a man telling the desk clerk about what a hard drive he had had from TX, fighting the wind all the way.  I was thinking "you should try it on a bicycle."

Emory Pass

Started out of Silver City with a climb right out of the hotel driveway.  I did nine miles of steep rollers without too much trouble, but the last 100 ft of altitude gain (not climb), my chest got tight and I was having trouble moving air in and out of my lungs.  I had already used my rescue inhaler once, so at the first SAG stop I opted to go over in the van - I didn't think another 2,000 ft of altitude would make things any better.

The road after that was a more gradual climb and I think had it been at lower altitude (like where we were in CA) I could have done it.  If I had had my own personal SAG, I would have kept going for a while to see how it went.  But on a tour like this, you have to think about the other riders and the SAG/van drivers.  You want to make things as easy and efficient for them as possible.  The van and trailer can't just pull over anywhere, and even the SAG needs some room so people can get the bikes on the roof.
The trip over was beautiful and I did get some pictures from the overlook at the peak - as soon as my tablet is back in business, I will post them.

We stayed at a delightful B&B in Kingston, NM.  It is an old stone building with a large common room downstairs and a room with tables, chairs, a pool table, lots of books and table games.  Upstairs there is another large common room with couches, chairs, reading lamps a  TV with loads of videos, another fireplace, another piano and more tables for games, etc.  The bedrooms are tucked away in little corners and decorated in shabby-chic, comfort oriented styles.  Some have balconies, none have private bathrooms.  Our group occupied the entire place and spilled over to the annex across the street.  A hot tub, a masseur and the most wonderful wind chime I have ever heard completed the picture.

Silver City, NM - rest day

A lovely day in Silver City - order of the day was to get Nancy and Emily on their way back to Boston.

After they were safely on their way, I walked down to the old downtown of Silver city and poked around.  Lots of small businesses, restaurants and artisan's studios are there now.  I stopped in the yarn shop thinking that I might switch from spinning to knitting socks (my hands are really dry and snag the silk fiber) but they didn't have any size 0 circular needles.  I did have some lovely raspberry gelato, then Donna and I took the bus back to the hotel.  A quiet evening, with supper either ordered in or taken out from the Mexican restaurant up the hill.  

Tomorrow we cross Emory Pass.  Not exactly sure how that will go as wind is predicted, but I am certainly going to try.  Now that I can get into all of my gears (instead of just the top ones) it should be easier to climb.  If I ever ship my bike again I will make sure that the derailleur hanger is checked before I start to ride.

Pictures below from various places in "downtown" Silver City.

No wi-fi tomorrow night and possibly not Saturday.  Back in business Sunday evening.

addendum - without my tablet and using hotel computers so no pictures until I am back in business - my charger evidently decided to jump ship in Safford, AZ.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

My first boo-hoo moment

Another new post below this one.

This morning we began our climb to the Continental Divide.  Carol checked my bike out and Flo and I got out the gate - last, but out the gate.  The first couple of miles were pretty good, though it was quite chilly.  Then we turned east onto 190.

What had been a pretty nice tailwind while we were going north was now a full on crosswind from the south.  At the point you turn onto 190 it begins a gradual climb that starts at a 2% grade and gradually increases.  We were soldiering up this quite nicely, but as the sun rose higher so did the wind.  Pretty soon we were struggling just to keep the bikes upright and moving forward.  After about 10 miles of this, I was. ready to quit as it changed to 3-4% grade.  The van, however, did not see my signal and didn't stop - thus the boo-hoo.  But I put on my big girl panties and forged ahead another 4 miles (at which point, my computer was saying we were on a 5-6% grade.

There were several of us at that point that decided that with more climbing, steeper yet, ahead of us and no sign of the wind letting up it was time to throw in the towel.  We had a nice little picnic and gab fest as we waited for the van to return with empty bike racks.

Rather than seeing this as a "failure" at any level, I am seeing it as an accomplishment.  I rode 14 miles uphill with an altitude gain of over 1,000 ft. in a 25mph crosswind.  Most of it I did in the big chain ring because the middle one was just as much work with less payoff in distance.  I might not have been able to do the whole ride, but on a less windy day, I am pretty sure I could make it to the 27 mile mark.  I'll get a chance to find out on Friday when we go over Emory Pass (8,300ft).

So we are in Silver City, NM tonight and have a rest day tomorrow.  My first stop this afternoon was the bike shop where my bike was quickly diagnosed and treated - the problem was indeed a bent derailleur hanger - the rest of my climbs should be much easier.

Silver City is an old mining town with a thriving community of artisans.  I plan to spend some time tomorrow exploring.  After that I will give my bike a thorough cleaning - touring is a dirty business.

PS- cute guy at the bike shop (two, actually), Nancy's wife arrived to help her get home, wonderful bean soup for supper.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Two for the price of one

Yesterday was a very tough day, but it didn't start out that way.  Nancy and I have both had some of our riding curtailed for various reasons but we were really looking forward to what would be for both of us our second full day of riding.

After consulting with Carol, we decided to take a bump out to the 20 mile mark so we would have a great 60 mile day instead of a mediocre or struggling 80 mile day.  We were having the BEST ride.  Cool, sunshiny, minimal breezes.  We were getting better and better at the rollers on a road with mostly good shoulders.  We were having so. much. fun.

Then Nancy had a bad fall and broke her upper humerus.  I put on my nursey hat and we spent the rest of the afternoon in the ER.  Xrays showed a fracture across the humeral head but no other fractures and no other obvious injuries.  Her wife, Emily, is coming to get her and take her back to Boston, where she will probably need some pins to fix it.  

So many people were so good and so helpful.  A couple in a car coming the other way saw the accident and helped get her (and her bike, she was very concerned about that) off the road and out of harms way.  An AZ DOT employee named Thomas pulled up, put Nancy in his truck and took her up to our SAG stop.  Then he came back and got me and the bikes.  I'm pretty sure none of that is in his job description.   

She is doing much better today and will be home by the end of the week.  I will miss her.  We were building an excellent riding partnership.

Today I started out with some trepidation.  It took about 25 miles for me to get my head straight.  Not only was I somewhat anxious just about getting back on the bike, but now I needed to find new folks to ride with, new relationships to develop,  new routines to establish.  It had been so smooth with Nancy and now I was kind of adrift.  On long rides, the group can be spread out over miles of highway, and there may be little or nothing available in the way of support or help except the SAG, which typically stops at about 20 mile intervals.  Riding with/near/in sight of other riders is just the safest way to go.
It was a great ride.  Mostly good shoulder, mostly smooth surface, little wind, somewhat overcast and quite cool when we started out.  By mid-morning Evelyn and I were riding together.  After some looooong sloooow climbs and what Evelyn described as "A lovely bit of descent" (you'll have to imagine the British accent)we stopped at Ol' Jo's Cafe for some lunch in Duncan, AZ.  It might even be on the map.  Stopping in these small towns is one of the best part of the ride.
After lunch we climbed a little bit more, then hit the mother lode, smooth pavement and TAIL WINDS!!!!  We breezed down the road at 15-18mph, some of it on brand spanking new pavement!  We wound up going in the SAG van the last 12 miles because of the time change when we crossed into NM.  We didn't want to miss dinner or the Margarita Party.

I'll post more pictures in the next couple of days.

Sunday, March 17, 2013


This  is a picture of Keith a very charming Englishman from Yorkshire.  His trip is paralleling ours but he is self-supported.  He also went over Gonzalez Pass today, but rigged out like this.

Apache Junction to Globe, AZ

Today was the day for going over Gonzalez Pass.  After hearing that not only does it involve a very long, very hard climb, but has a tunnel, hairpin turns and no shoulder......I decided it was not for me.  The first 20 miles I probably could have done, but it would have been hard on my shoulder - the second half is well beyond my skill/experience level.  

After arriving at the halfway point, one of the riders discovered a huge hole in her tire (the tube had been replaced on the road) and needed a new tire.  Fine, no problem.  Except that the SAG was still out on the road supporting other riders so we had to get a tire out of the trailer.  Guess what?  The tires are stored behind all the luggage.  So Nancy, Carol and I unpacked all the luggage, got the tire and then reloaded all the bags.  Quite a few people seem to be pushing the 30lb limit pretty hard.  But we got it all in again.

Carol (on top) and Linda fastening down the bikes

Lunch  on the porch at the Buckboard Cafe - good friends, cool breezes
 Many people decided not to do the second half but there are only so many carriers on the roof of the van and seats inside, so some of us had to wait at the Buckboard Cafe for the van to go over the pass, unload, then come back to get us. Nice place, we sat on the porch, ate lunch, enjoyed the view and the cool breezes.

Riding over the pass in the van reassured me that I had made the right decision.  I would not have enjoyed even driving on that road, cycling would have been terrifying.  I didn't get this old by doing stupid stuff and this would have been a truly stupid thing to try at my skill level. 

So now we are in Globe for the night and going out to a Mexican restaurant for supper. More adventures await tomorrow.

Saturday, March 16, 2013


I feel like I finally got to start the tour today and it was wonderful.  If I were feeling any better, I'd have to be twins.  No shoulder pain, no bike problems - all I had to do was ride.

We left Phoenix this morning under cool and overcast skies - perfect biking weather.  Went through lovely neighborhoods, bike lanes, dedicated bike paths. Went through a lovely mixed use park with fishing ponds, water features, playgrounds, frisbee golf, regular golf, soccer and even rugby.  I took some pictures with my phone of some kids playing in a water playground - if I can figure out how to post them, I will put them in later.  After that we had a great view of the Superstition Mountains in front of us.

The lush and lovely landscaping of Scottsdale and the park juxtaposed with the parched landscapes not even two miles away made me wonder how long we can choose to use our precious water this way.  Going at people speed really lets you think about these sorts of things.

Now we are in Apache Junction for the night, basically just the eastern side of Phoenix.  I cleaned my bike and my body, now waiting my turn for the washing machine.  Dinner update as soon as I find out what it is - I did see lots of cucumbers being peeled.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Wickenburg to Phoenix

No miles today, I rode in the van to Phoenix, stopped at a couple of bike shops to replace the sun sleeves that are sitting on the bed at home.  I think I walked about 5 miles though, so I got in some weight-bearing exercise.  I am doing my stretches and plan to ride tomorrow, it's a shorter day of only 50 miles or so and the temps are supposed to be lower.


Addendum:  Tonight's dinner was salmon with a caper basil aioli sauce, tossed salad, buttered finger potatoes and carrot cake for desert.  From a 6'x6', two burner galley - for 32 people.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

14 March - Salome to Wickenburg, AZ

We had very weak and spotty wi-fi last night, so there are two posts today, there is one below this.

Today was a no-good, terrible, very bad day.  On a road that I should have been cruising down at 12-14 mph, I was barely moving.  My shoulder started tightening up right away and by the first SAG stop I knew I wouldn't be able to go much farther.  I am disappointed, frustrated and angry.  I can DO this ride, I have done this ride.

My plan is to bump the whole ride tomorrow, apply heat and stretching to the shoulder for 36 hours and see if the bike shop has any ideas.  I will NOT let this spoil my trip.

Bridge across the Colorado River, boundary between CA and AZ

The bustling metropolis of Brenda, AZ - the whooooole town.

Sheffler's motel in Salome, AZ (the neon is pink)- charming owners and we met a guy  planning to ride cross-country on a unicycle (you will be pleased to know I did NOT pick him up)

13 March - Blythe, CA to Salome, AZ

Cruising down a good shoulder at 18-20 mph is the BEST. THING. EVER!

We rode along I-10 most of the day, then off onto US60.  My shoulder started bothering me, but I got a side-of-the-road, under-the-underpass consultation, stretching and mini-massage from Carla.  Carla is one of the riders and at home in Brazil, she is a physical therapist.  That got me another 30 miles.  Carla was my angel today.

I did SAG for the last 8 miles and wrestling the bikes on and off the roof of the Subaru is hot, dirty, frustrating work.  In the process someone knocked my chain off and somehow manage to break/lose/whatever one of the springs on the front skewer.  Carol the magical mechanic soon put it to rights but it was a two margarita day.

The desert is beautiful but the weather is unseasonably hot, so the days are getting physically stressful, unrelated to the distances.  But this is an amazing group of women and everyone is helping everyone else.  If nothing else, meeting these wonderful people was worth the trip.

Nancy and I ride together well and we take turns taking care of each other.  She even volunteered to have Carla teach her what to do, so she can help me keep my shoulder stretched as we take breaks from riding.  This is from an old injury that I haven't had trouble with for many years.  The only thing different on this trip from my usual riding is miles and miles of 1-3% grades (for West Plainsianites, it is like the John Deere hill times 5 miles).

Tomorrow I am going to bump the whole day so I have time to spend at the bike shop in Phoenix.  I somehow left my sunsleeves at home and I want to see if they have any ideas about adjusting/changing my handlebars to help my shoulder.

Still having fun.

Cute guy of the day - AZ State Trooper that escorted Nancy and me around his car and the truck he had stopped.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Rest day

It has been a much needed rest day for everyone.  We spent the day cleaning bikes, eating leisurely meals, hanging out at the pool, reorganizing our baggage and other sundry chores. This is an amazing group of women.

I even managed to pick up another cute guy.  His name is Keith, he is from Yorkshire, England and he is cycling pretty much the same route we are.  I'm not sure whether he has adopted us or we have adopted him but it's been fun to interact with him as we travel along. Since he is also a mechanical engineer he had a look at my bike today.

And a picture or two - I hate to admit that I missed some good ones yesterday because I forgot to charge the camera battery.

First SAG between Boulevard and Brawley

 The beginning of the clown car episode - how many cyclists does it take to change a tire?  Actually the tire got changed in short order, but then we couldn't get the wheel back on the bike.  Not my bike and not me in the picture.  Marilyn, Flo and Nancy

Dog Beach, San Diego.  But the dogs had sense enough to come in out of the rain.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Brawley - Blythe, CA 36.9 miles

Disappointing day today.  The first few hours were fine, but rough pavement, two days of constant headwinds and mile upon mile of 1-3% grades completely and utterly defeated me.  My legs were fine, probably could have gone another 20-30 miles but my neck and shoulders  just couldn't take any more.  I had been kind of looking forward to the roller hills - my kind of riding.  After the Percocet kicks in, I am sure this will be another great day on the tour though.  And at least the issues are all mine, not the bike's.  And tomorrow is a rest day.

The desert we rode through today was spectacularly beautiful.  The Chocolate Mountains were in the distance, we passed through an extensive expanse of sand dunes - protected on the left, open for riding on the right.  As we got down to flatter areas, farmers were starting to harvest their first cutting of hay (alfalfa? timothy? not sure).  Blythe is a microscopic town, but it looked like there were interesting places to explore tomorrow after the bike cleaning workshop.

We eat at Sizzler tonight because Linda had to provide a full lunch stop - that just cuts too far into her time for preparing the evening meal.  Our food has been delicious - hats off to Linda.

WARNING - Introspection ahead

This kind of undertaking lets you explore yourself to an intense degree.  The "why am I doing it?"  the "am I capable of doing it?" soon lead to the "what constitutes 'success'  for me?"
When I was having mechanical problems, it was easy - if the  bike isn't rideable, it isn't rideable and you have no choice about riding in the van or the SAG.  But figuring out what constitutes an "acceptable" reason (to me) to accept a bump or a lift took a little more cogitating.  But today I decided (though I reserve the right to change my mind tomorrow).  I am an intelligent woman, with a fair amount of life experience and usually sound judgement.         
I am no longer going to second guess myself.  If I think that riding in  the van or the SAG is the better choice, that's what I will do.  I will stop worrying whether my reasons are "adequate".  No one here is going to question my actions or my motives, so I won't either.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Boulevard to Brawley

Today we dropped from 4,000 ft, rain and freezing cold to below sea level, warm, dry and windy.  I bumped past the 10 mile downhill with typically heavy crosswinds and a current high wind warning.  It is on the Interstate and that didn't seem like the ideal place to test out the repairs/adjustments on my bike.

We  started riding on great shoulders, wonderful scenery and crosswinds of about 10-12mph - pretty much what I typically ride, except for the spectacularly different scenery.  I don't know that I have seen the desert at people speed for many many years.  I guess I have missed it.

On the worst possible stretch of road (for those of you playing along from West Plains, it's like the road that goes behind Hillbilly Junction toward Mt. View, but worse) we also got, as an extra added attraction the worst headwinds (about 15-18 mph).  Annnnd, just because we are so special, that's where we had the clown car cavalcade of mechanical issues.  Fortunately, this time it was NOT my bike.  My bike worked fine today.  It was such a spectacular ordeal of comic complications, that by the time Flo and I got back on the road, we spent a mile or two laughing.  It was a GREAT cycling day.

I haven't gotten to do as many miles as I had hoped, but I am having a GREAT time.  This trip is everything I had hoped for and more.  What makes it so is the 31 women I am traveling with.

I was a total failure today at picking up cute guys, I'll have to up my game tomorrow

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Bummer, Alpine to Boulevard 5.68 miles

Headed out this morning in misty conditions and started climbing as soon as we left the hotel driveway.  Things went well for a while, even with no warm-up time, but when we started the real climbing my climbing gears were slipping.  I walked up a couple of pretty steep hills and then Dolly (from Indiana), adjusted the set screw on the rear derailleur and I was back in the saddle.  For a while.  I now had five of the top gears instead of only three.
That worked until we got to the 12% grade.  At the point we were supposed to get on the Interstate, I decided the better part of valor was to stay somewhere that the van/trailer had room to come fetch me.  I knew there would be times I would SAG, but I didn't really expect two in the first two days.  My riding has been fine, but the weather and the gear issues have conspired against me.  
Carol, the grand guru and all around fantastic tour guide, checked my bike this afternoon and was able to get the slipping transferred to the higher gears, but not totally resolved.  She is a pretty competent mechanic, but isn't quite sure why the cogs are slipping.  I am grateful it is down now to one of the cogs and one of the higher ones.  At least I will be able to continue riding.

But I spent the day in good company, we enjoyed the scenery, and the trip is still fun.  It is cold still, but the snow has melted off the roads.  First up tomorrow is a long downhill with vicious cross winds - the majority of us intend to bump up past that, and then continue on with what Carol assures us is a "happy" ride after that.  It is supposed to be sunny and a little warmer.

PS - I picked up a cute guy cyclist as I walked up the last hill.  He rode alongside as I walked and made sure that I was ok and not in immediate need of assistance.

Friday, March 8, 2013

We're off - San Diego to Alpine, 18 miles

An interesting day, educational too.  Started off in sunshine to get to the beach, where it promptly started raining.  We dipped tires, took lots of pictures and headed down the bike path toward Florida.  And the sun came out.  Yayyy, sunshine.

The dedicated bike path was nice, but soon gave way to an object lesson in urban cycling.  Merging left across right turn lanes is ........ stimulating, to say the least.  At least drivers here are aware of  bikes, they may not like them, but they are aware.  We climbed slowly but pretty steadily for a while and I was pleased with how things were going.  

As we started to climb for real, my rear derailleur decided not to cooperate (Chris, the back fender is coming off tonight) - pretty hard to ride up a 6% hill in the highest gear of the big chain ring.  The 6% turned into 10% (I was walking by then) then flattened out to 6% again.  I made it to the SAG stop just as it started pouring.  I was debating whether to take the fender off there and keep going or just hop a ride.  Then the lightning started - bag it.

A fortuitous set of circumstances gave three of us a direct  ride to the hotel and we  warmed ourselves in front of the lobby fireplace until our rooms were ready.  It would be SOOOOO nice to take a hot shower - but then what, the van with the dry clothes was still on the road.  We settled for warming our hands with coffee until the supplies arrived.

Lots of kinks got worked out today and we are all settled down and better prepared for the 
journey ahead.  It was a good day.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Twas the night before take off...........

Not sure about mice and sugar plums, but there is a strong sense of something magical about to begin.
The day was filled with bike retrieval and fitting out, briefings and schedules.  The evening banquet was lovely - lots of lively chatter, sharing of experiences, dreams and apprehensions.  The group is coming together well, lots of support and encouragement for each other, lots of admiration for each others accomplishments and ambitions.

The weather report is rather discouraging, with talk of heavy rain, possible thunderstorms with maybe some hail mixed in, snow at higher elevations (which we will hit on Saturday).  The good news is that there is also supposed to be a strong west wind.  Tail winds are good.

With great anticipation we wait to see what things are like in the morning, knowing that whatever they are like, whatever happens, we will get through it together and come what may, we will be in Alpine tomorrow afternoon.

Hoping for good dreams and good weather.

Monday, March 4, 2013

One Foot Out the Door

And the rest of me soon to follow.

All that's left to pack is my Kindle and I am out of here.  The stuff in the black bag is all bike stuff, it's helped me figure out why you want to start out with a light bike - the accessories add weight fast.  

I am in an odd Neverland sort of place right now.  Time has been like an accordian.  First it was two years, then six months, then only six months, then it's suddenly six weeks and the pressure is on.  Then six days......some of which were 98 hours long and others lasted 10minutes, now  I have to keep counting because I can't even remember which day it is today.  We are down to hours now, with not much left to do except straighten up the chaos my packing has left behind.

I have wondered what it would be like to do this again without the element of the unknown that has colored everything this time.  You would know where and when you would be able to resupply, you would have a better idea of what level of energy this is going to take.  You would know what will work back home and what won't.  More than that, you would know whether or not you could even DO it, or want to.  A lot of the anxiety would be gone.

But I guess that's what makes it such an adventure.  I can't even imagine how it would be to set out on your own, planning to camp (or not) along the way.  That's more adventure than I am up for.

Only a few last minute things to do, then I will be out of last minutes and on my way.