Monday, August 9, 2010

Day 30 - The Finish Line

If your dreams don't scare you they are not big enough!  This quote is from Spencer Klaassen in his write up of his Pony Express bike trip.  Yes, my dream scared me, but just a few hours ago all the hard work and discipline paid its dividends!

Today I walked in the sand and into Chesapeake Bay (or a river that leads to the bay) with my bike held high in my hands capping off the greatest 30 day experience of my life.  It is hard to believe that:
1.  I actually rode my bike across the United States
2.  The ride is over

The day started like all others except that David was my roommate!  He  took my bag out to the car instead of me having to load it in the van.  I originally believed that I would be able to ride leisurely to the meeting point and everyone would wait for the last rider to arrive and then head to the beach.  I was mistaken!  We were given a 12 noon time.  The fast guys would have to wait and us slower riders would have to get there at the appointed time or be left out of the final processional.  So, leisurely, it was not! 

It was still on the darkish side at the ride start and very humid.  I would still have to say it was on the coolish side though. My goal was just to keep someone in site and not get dropped too far back.  Although I have embraced being the last one in or the first one sagged, I did not want to be too far back today.  I was basically time trialling the ride.  There were times that I was breathing heavier today than any other day of the trip. The road was pretty decent rolling hills - just a few 5-6% rollers.  I was able to catch up with Cynthia and Jenae and ride with them some, but
 lost them at the second sag.  I did leave before a couple others, but I knew that they would most likely catch up with me before arriving at the meeting point.  That is when my cue sheet navigation skills came in handy.  For what ever reason, several of the groups of riders started making odd route choices.  I knew I was following the cue sheet so I just kept going.  At least 3 different groups made wrong directional choices.  So with 10 miles left to go, I knew I was not going to be last if I kept up my 15.5 mph pace!  Whoo Hoo!

The processional was awesome!  We lined up 2 abreast and rode 4 miles to the beach!  A lot of the cars passing would honk encouragingly at us as we passed by (you can tell the happy honks from the mean honks).  It helped that we were all in our matching jerseys!  Susan had a banner and tape for us to break as we entered the beach area!  We had arrived!  It only took a matter of minutes before we had taken off our socks and shoes and were trotting out to the bay with our bikes hoisted above our heads - or just cradled in our arms!

I did it  - I rode my bike across the United States!

Many people say a trip like this changes you.  I am not sure how I have changed, but it may surface along the way.  I do know that I have a deeper affection for the United States and its vast differences from region to region.  I will always remember the beauty we cycled through and the strong friendships forged over the last 30 days

Okay, now for the f word!  No, not that f word - Flats!  I became obsessed with tires and tire performance right before I left for the trip.  I had experienced 3 catastrophic blowouts using Serfa tires before leaving.  I liked them because I could change them easily by myself.  The other tires that fit my rims were much harder to change and it would take me 30 minutes or more to change them.  I purchased 8 heavy duty, not to mention expensive tires, for the trip.  HAHA - I had one flat!! ONE!!  I am still laughing about it!  It was on a Serfa tire with 600 miles on it.  I was only 2 miles away from the hotel, so I changed the tube out on the side of the road and then changed the tire again once I was in the parking lot of the hotel.  I was now using Continental 4000s.  Two days later, I change my other Serfa out for a Conti 4000 and I will never use Serfas again.  The Contis have over 2000 miles on them and they still look brand new!  Yes, they are harder to change, but they are fantastic on the road.  Some people were not as lucky.  Bob Lewis had 7 flats total, Ann had 5, Jeanae had a double catastrophic flat.

Injuries - we were very lucky in that department.  Last year on the tour they had 3 people fall and break hips.  We just had a hand full of minor accidents.  On the second day, we had 3 people go down in about the  same spot at completely different times.  Apparently, there were rumble strips hidden in shadows and that caused the 3 guys to go down.  A sore shoulder and road rash were the results.  I think we also had 4 more accidents caused by something in the road clipping a persons tire and taking them down.  The results of these were also road rash.  So, we were very fortunate that no one was hurt any more than this.

My issues - was I very lucky in this department.  "Issues" were the main reason I changed to the recumbent to begin with.  The last two tours I did I either cut my thumb or got a blister on it.  Not this trip!  While we were in South Dakota I developed my regular heat rash on my quads - it went away after two days.  Also during this time, I developed a very nasty heat rash on my back.  At first it completely covered my sports bra area and burned very badly.  After a few days it landed just across my mid back region and stayed there.  It still itches, but with Gold Bond powder, it continues to improve.  My tendon in my big toe hurt for a couple days.  And that is it.  The body is a very amazing thing.  I made it through 30 days of cycling with no problems what so ever.

What worked:  Food wise, steak and potatoes.  I rode my best after eating a good portion of red meat and potatoes and a salad.  I also did well with grilled pork chops.  The pasta nights left me too hungry to ride the next day with any energy. 

What worked: physically - massages!  At first I planned on getting them only once every 4 days, but then I found out how well they really work and got one every other day.  Jon would massage my quads, glutes and i t bands mostly and I would ride so much stronger and without general muscle soreness the next day.

What worked: bike food - Hammer rules.  3 scoops of SE and 1 scoop of Heed at every rest stop.  Also electrolytes, Endurance Amino and Anti-fatigue caps regularly.  I am now sick of bananas and pay days, but I would eat at least one banana a day and a pay day about every other.  My favorite afternoon snack was Lays Stacks - they are just like pringles and I loved them.

About to go to dinner will post more later!


sstremmel said...

Great job, I've been following you blogs the entire way and you should really be proud of yourself. Thanks for keeping us informed and you are a tremendous ambassador for PAC

William said...

Michelle, we're all so proud of you!! What an accomplishment. I don't have to tell you that you'll always be proud of making it through. And what good tips and advice you've provided to all of your readers. Come on back down to Mississippi. Everyone will be glad to see you.


Rando Rob said...

Great job on the ride and your excellent blog.
When the glow dims a little and after you have taken some time to really enjoy what you have accomplished, get out next year's calendar and start planning for your next great adventure.
You can't stop now!

Susan said...

Thanks you so much for sahring your experience with us. I'd read your post before going to bed each night and look for your text first thing in the a.m.

A HUGE congratulations from Chicago. Rob's absolutely right, start planning 2011 as soon as your bod recovers.

Prentiss said...

Congratulations! I have faithfully read your blog from the beginning and I have been impressed with your accomplishments each day and the positive attitude you have shown.

I appreciate your sharing of some of the things that worked for you during this tour.

I do wonder if you would do it again and what would you do different?

Peggy said...

Michelle, Congratulations on your amazing trip. I read your blog every day.Thank you for sharing with all of us.Hope to see you in Dallas sometime soon, have a safe trip home. Peggy

Nancy said... friend! You have been off playing around toooo long. It's time for you to come home! hehehe

I am sooooo glad that your last day you were not last in and you got to experience the final 4 miles together! HOW AWESOME!!!

You do prove that big things DO come in small packages! From hence forth, you will be known as MIGHTY MICHELLE!!!!

Can't wait to hear more details over some El Sambraro frozen margaritaS...plural!!!

See you soon! We are all so proud of you!!

Bonhomme said...

Super congrats. What an accomplishment. I will also tell you how good a narrative you shared with us. Not only descriptive but emotional. Thanks for takings us along for the ride.

See you soon.