Wednesday, June 10, 2009

F**kin Hills

**Everyone's comment's have been so amazing. It means so much to me to have you riding along with me on this journey via the blog. You guys are rockstars!**

Day 8 - June 10, 11:14pm

75 miles. Middlefield, CT to Warwick, NY

It turns out that unleashing a perfectly timed burst of expletives while climbing your 25th hill of the day can actually do wonders for getting an extra boost of energy. I discovered this today and so did the people next to me.

Today was our first rainy day and riding wasn't so fun initially. In fact I was kinda out of it for the entire first part of the day. Partially the weather, mostly my pre-occupation with some personal things that have been bothersome. I wasn't necessarily upset, but do you ever have those days where you just can't help but not be happy and cheery? I've learned that what works for me is to kinda embrace this fact, and resign myself to knowing that tomorrow will be a new day in which I'll most likely feel great. Its kind of a more general philosophy of going with the flow and listening to what your body is telling you. However on the other hand, I found that thinking and working through the actual thing bothering me today was very helpful as well

Also, took my first spill today. Am totally fine now but the whole incident was still pretty scary. I was right behind a biker (prob around 17 mph) and our wheels touched as he turned into a gas station. I fell on my left side and bruised my shoulder and hip but nothing else thank god. Seriously, as soon as I recovered I really did expect the worse but amazingly i got away with nothing serious and for this i am supremely grateful. Had i not been wearing my gloves, my palms would've been in serious trouble. The other rider didn't fallover fortunately. On the plus side my jersey now has this sweet hardcore rip on it.

We crossed into NY today and rode along the beautiful Hudson today. The hills were fortunately nothing like the two days in CT before, but 75 miles is the most I've ever done(the previous being 53). After lunch near Bear Mtn, the rain stopped and the weather got a bit nicer. This and a couple things started cheering me up. (Isn't it ridiculous how much weather can affect our mood? Why do people even live in Boston in the first place?) A few of us got to meet Julie's(a rider) grandparents on the way. They were a super cute couple who treated us to snacks. In general i love getting to meet significant figures in the lives of my friends, it really helps me understand and appreciate them way more. Also, I gained an inordinate amount of pleasure from seeing Julie struggle to try and explain to them how to take a picture of us with their cell phone.

Then we started riding through this great park that was just gorgeous. I got into some great conversation with this rider Doug who i like a lot. We get along great and just really understand each other very naturally. Isn't it great when that happens?

At one point we stopped for a one minute silence break near a beautiful lake when i had my 4th! deer sighting of the day! Seeing those deer all up in their business not even caring about us silly humans and our wars and complaints and such made an impression on me.

The last few miles is when the hills got pretty ridiculous. Though the 2 mile stretches of downhills were tough not to enjoy. As was my new landspeed record of 46.2 mph!

Tonight we stayed at one of our trip leader's uncle's house. All of Sonya's family was here and it was just a great fun barbecue and destresser. Smore's over an open fire pit topped off the night.

Degreased and totally cleaned my chain (not fun but something you want to do when riding long in rainy weather) and am ready to head into Pennsylvania tomorrow. Only 80 or so miles, no biggie, you know.

I think I've got my personal situation more mapped out now. It's nothing bad or serious, but basically concerns certain group dynamics or lack thereof, and we'll see how it plays out. Should be interesting.

Still no time to put up pictures( there's actually not that much alone time here given showers and dinner and sleep time and everything) but they will be up soon.


Day 7 - June 9, 10:42 pm

Woke up extra early to get to the Dorothy Day Soup Kitchen and help serve breakfast along with 6 other Bike and Builders. This was one of the places the wonderful Sherry from the church helped us volunteer at since the build site was at capacity with volunteers. It was a really small place, almost diner-like, that got full pretty quick and had a quick turnover. We started out doing odd tasks and then finally settled in to a rhythm. I would start a plate would 3 sausages and a bagel, and Colin would add eggs to it and hand off to the servers. New landspeed records for moving food may have been broken.

The place was very nice. The people in charge were very friendly and grounded. It turns out all of the people in charge that day loved heavy metal go figure. I had some good conversation with Rich about his love of Kiss and Metallica, while this other awesome dude Jerry would sing along to every song on this ridiculous 80
s rock station.

The people to whom we were serving were very nice and visibly thankful. They're really cool because they don't ask any questions of their guests, and this is important for giving struggling undocumented workers a place to eat. I was really taken by just how "normal" most people seemed.

Some werent even that much older than me and most were just average folks. It just really makes me think about the labels and presuppositions we have when approaching topics such as "homelessness" and how debilitating they can be to our effective confrontation of them.

Got back to the church and had a pretty seriously epic 3 hour nap. Ate a great lunch and generally milled about in glorious lackadasiality. Tomorrow we're camping so I helped make sure all the tents were prepped, though I would've preferred setting up a good ol ridgeline FOP style!

Overall, the destressing was really necessary today. Just kicking back, reading, and struggling to think of a single obligation was glorious beyond words. I can't even remember the last time I've felt so stress free. At night we had the first three of our affordable housing presentations which we have all prepared in groups. We are presenting to each other this first month so we can all be super aware of everything affordable housing related for the road ahead.

Tomorrow we have our first 70 mile (rainy) day as we cross into Warwick, NY. This church has been utterly amazing with their hospitality. This morning they had already posted up pictures they took last night!

But most of all, the Splendid Sherry, who has seen Motley Crue 81 times and had a wicked Tommy Lee shirt on, MADE GUACAMOLE! Even more, since i almost dropkicked the stove in my euphoria while discovering the work in progress, Sherry just showed me a whole stash she has in the fridge just for me tomorrow! And yes, I report this without fear of having my tires slashed since It'll all be gone by the time i even post this online!

Tomorrow's hills will be tough, but we'll be tougher. Though, for tonight I think I will chose to softcore it on an actual mattress. Yes.

Powdery Relief

Day 6 - June 8, 9:45pm

Turned out today was only 53 miles to Danburry, CT. I didnt think it was possible but the hills were even WORSE than yesterday. It was just ridiculous at some points but we kept on beasting. My quads are not happy right now, but we have a Build Day tomorrow and we get to recuperate.

Lunch was particularly magnificent today as we were all exhausted by the 30th mile. I personally ate a peanut butter sandwich, 3 cups of tuna salad, and then 3 more leftover pancakes slathered in more peanut butter. This brings me to an important theme of this trip. FOOD. There is so much. Everywhere. Our great hosts have just been throwing it upon us and we have tons of leftovers every day. Honestly I have never ever in my life been so satisfied after meals. You're guaranteed to never leave a bike and build meal less than stuffed. Seriously I walk in every night thinking who in their right mind would agree to feed 32 ravenous emaciated cyclists. And every night i end up rolling in stomach pain from having gorged myself. In short, I love food and I have never been so irrationally happy over such a simple pleasure.

After lunch we came across a sweet pond and took the liberty of a full hour chill sesh and did some dipping. It evetually turned into tossing each other by the arms and legs into the water which was SO refreshing. PS - It was pretty hot today. While my forearms are developing substantial bronzed goodness, the non-exposed chestal area is a bit paler to say the least.

On the home stretch to the church, John treated three of us to ice cream in his store. We needed it, thanks John!

This church as usual was great. They had Bike and Build t shirts and banners set up to welcome us and have had our profile pictures up on banners since February. Their turkey burgers and dinner were also substantially delicious as was their hospitality. We walked into our room to find it filled to the brim with inflatable mattresses. How nice are these people!

Upon arriving the first thing they did was shuttle us to someone's outdoor swimming pool. We got to ride in the back of pickup. So fun! PS - Creating whirlpools in a pool and then stopping suddenly is great.

Today was also my first experience with Gold Bond Powder. I decided to skip the minor leagues and went straight with the extra strength. Lets just say I'm not used to experiencing sudden cooling sensations in that particular part of my body. All in all though it was chalky fun and I think i might become a repeat user. It apparently really helps avoid rashes when biking.

Post dinner was a great game of Big Booty after which the kids lit up some fun fireworks for us. Also i literally stood by this dip in the kitchen eating it for like 6 minutes before I realized that my hand was controlling me.

Since the build site can't accomodate all of us tomorrow, I'll be serving breakfast at a homeless soup kitchen from 6-9am tom. Never done and think it should be enlightening. Overall, am very happy with my stated objective of trying out as many new things as possible on this trip. Off to bed for 5:15 wakeup!