Saturday, June 20, 2009

Oh headwind

Day 17 - June 20, 11:45pm

81 miles. Marietta, OH to Wellston, OH

Today was actually one of the first mornings were i was pretty on top of things. The key is to really have a good system and stick to it hardcore and squeeze as much time out as you can. For example, today i discovered i can apply sunscreen while we discuss the day's route and can leave miscellaneous items in the van to help me save time and be more organized. While try and ratchet up my efficiency as much as possible. I'm normally really good when it comes to packing up during camping trips and I think that setting this as a legit goal will help me adopt the right attitude. Fortunately most people have got their routine way more under control than me.

To be clear, Headwinds suck. It's so frustrating to be pedaling like mad only to be going nowhere. ItWe were discussing the merits of hills vs headwinds and most preferred the former because of the fact that they are visible conquerable obstacles rather than this whole abstract concept of moving air.

We had no choice but to paceline in groups. Its a hard and scary thing to get used to given that one wrong move can cause a pileup but it was necessary for us to pedal even remotely efficiently.

Honestly not too much happened today on the road. We took highways the first half and country roads the second half. It was a little unfortunate becuase there were so many vast stretches of road without any cool sights or towns to stop at. While highways are way more quicker in terms of making time, all of that monotonous road can be very mentally exhausting believe it or not. We did have one sweet pre-lunch stop in this town burger joint where I conquered a quarter pounder, a BLT, some cookies and half a chocolate shake. It's hard for us to realize what a spectacle we are when even only 12 of us roll into a store in our spandex and loud jokes. I couldn't tell if the cashier's hidden side glances were out of interest or horror.

Today was hot, like 93 degrees at one point. The hot asphalt and air had us sandwiched. I found that it still doesn't really bother me so long as I'm hydrated, which i guess will help on this trip. Speaking of which, everyone drank at least 5 liters of water today on the road, which is actually an insane number considering most people drink less than 1 daily.

My water actually ran out at about mile 67 and it got pretty scary since we had just turned onto a highway for 3 miles. Dehydration in that weather is a bad road and can happen super quickly. On days like that i find myself sipping water at least every 3 minutes. Fortunately Kelly was with me(yea girl!) and let me sustain myself on her water until we finished the highway. Once off we found a house where the residents were kind enough to let us fill up. Kelly had to do all the talking since i was to parched to even speak.

Afterwards we were pumped to have only 12 more miles to go and booked it on home, though it was really all Kelly who broke the wind resistance for me. Also, there was def a decent amount of hills today for what i thought would be nice flat ground all the way. While they were no match for our hardcore hill eating selves, comfort was not the theme. 80 miles two days in a row is kinda tough and by the end my right knee was not happy with me.

Today confirmed that the hardest part for me is right after lunch. This is because its kinda hard to focus on pounding out 40 more miles when you've already done 45 until then which is a feat in itself. Which brings me to another interesting observation about how cycling is an enormously mental endeavour. I of course think professional cyclists as insane because they're basically saying "Hey i bet i can tolerate more lactic acid buildup in my muscles!" More than a few riders on the trip have been fighting little voices inside their heads. Though the day was utter exhaustion and it was so hard to go on at certain points, the feeling of arriving totally wasted after 81 miles you conquered is indescribable. Plus we were the 3rd and 4th ones in today!

At the host church we literally had the largest spread I've yet to see on the trip. it was about 20 feet of table covered with all types of food. Fittingly it was also the fullest I've ever been on the trip. I tried to stop i swear but was in so much pain after stuffing myself. Our contact Gretchen was so nice for taking us to the high school showers and for generally coordinating everything. The Pastor also made these heavenly pumpkin muffins. (I can't help but close my eyes in pleasure as i write this and think about them)

Tried to cancel my credit cards today but got disconnected three different times due to my cell phone dying. As if dealing with customer service isn't fun enough. Will try again tomorrow.

Also did pushups, and realized why i was okay with originally stopping them. Looking forward to getting that groove back.

OK finally, last point. I saw my first actual confederate flag today ever! it was hung on a porch alongside an american one which was interesting. I've been so fascinated by the fact that people still fly it to this day ever since we talked about the civil war in high school. I wonder if we'll see more. I'd really hope to get a chance to talk to someone who flies it. We'll see. Off to Portsmouth!