Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Riding and a runaway horse

This past weekend the Wingman and I joined Ian and Joan (aka The B-Train) in Hadley, MA for "The Farm Ride". We originally were going to do the century ride (100 miles) but my mileage just hasn't been anywhere near that. It would be a game time decision as to what distance we would do.

Friday night we took the ferry from Orient and then drove from CT to MA. We arranged to meet The B-Train for breakfast in the morning, quickly checked in and went to sleep. The next morning we got up and met then down in the lobby for breakfast. We got up to speed about the course as they had done a short ride the day before. After breakfast we followed them to the bike start. The start is very informal. You basically just check in and start whenever you are ready.

We rolled out with cue sheets in hand. The B-Train led the way. The B-Train is what I call Ian and Joan onboard the tandem. Watching them ride is like watching a train roll by - smooth precision pedaling. As we were making the exit from the campus onto the road The B-Trian pulled ahead. The Wingman and I worked together to bridge the gap to get back to the tandem. We came upon some railroad tracks and I managed to launch a water bottle from it's cage on the frame. Wingman and I stopped to pick it up and that wound up being the last we'd see of The B-Train for quite some time.

After we picked up the bottle we decided to keep riding our pace and hope that we'd meet up at the first rest stop. We followed the markings on the ground and enjoyed the sights along the way. I wound up following some old-school cyclist. This guy was riding a touring bike and his shifters were on the ends of his drops. I was riding close but not too close. Good thing because Old-School liked to bunny hop the big bumps in the road. If I rode too close I wouldn't have too much time to react to obstacles in the road. At some point he pulled over to help a group change a tire so we continued on. We rode for a little while with another group, but it was quite haphazard. They couldn't decide what speed to ride. They'd be up to 20mph, then drop quickly to 15 requiring me to jam on the brakes. The guy in front of me would call out "slowing" but I really wanted to ride alongside him and say "Do you seriously think I can hear you when you shout from on front of me?" But I opted not to.

There are many farms and wide open fields on this ride. We passed a home on our left when something caught my eye. I thought a deer was running on the side of the road, but when I turned my head to look I realized it was a large HORSE on the loose. I have to admit that I puckered up a bit (and I don't mean my mouth). I was almost paralyzed with fear that the horse was going to run out into the road right in front of me. Oh man, if I ran into that horse, that might have actually topped my "I hit some kids, I'll tell you about it later" story. But lucky for me the horse ran along the side of the road and left us cyclists alone. Phew!! Bullet dodged.

We made our way to the 1st rest stop and didn't see The B-Train there. I hit the ladies room and then grabbed some fruit for a snack. We topped off our bottles and hung around a bit. A few minutes later we saw The B-Train roll in. We were puzzled as to how we were ahead of them since we never saw them out there after we separated, but they stopped a few times along the way. We exchanged a few stories and then headed out for the next leg.

Wingman and I rode a little longer with the tandem this time. We were riding in a large group for a while and when we came upon a hill, that was the end of it. The B-Train powered up the hill like they were riding on a flat road. I was stuck in some traffic and couldn't break away. Once again, we lost contact with the tandem. Wingman wanted to work together to bridge the gap, but I couldn't break free from the pack I was in. We did work together to break out into a smaller group that we stayed with until the next rest stop. We rode along at a nice pace but before I knew it I was getting pretty hungry. I was eagerly awaiting the next rest stop.

When we pulled in, I immediately scanned the area for food. They had pie but I wanted something more than that. I made a beeline for the table with the peanut butter and jelly. I grabbed two slices of wheat bread and the first thing I noticed was "mmm, this bread is soft. I like soft bread."  Then I smothered it with PB&J. I took a bite and was immediately happy, Wingman saw that I was eating a sandwich. He looked at me and then turned away. When he turned back the sandwich was gone. He asked me "did you just eat that sandwich?" and I sheepishly replied "yes" and looked down in shame. I made that sandwich disappear faster than a David Copperfield trick. After that I loaded my bottles again and we made our way out.

We decided earlier to bag the century and ride the 70 mile route. I just wasn't feeling a 100 miles in my legs today. The last leg of this ride was challenging. It had a short, steep hill and many miles of bike paths. We got up and over the hill no problem but the bike path was another story. It was far from smooth and incredibly boring. I think we easily rode ~8 miles of the path.  It was bumps galore and my kidneys were bouncing up and down and my eyeballs were vibrating. I couldn't wait to get off the path. Add this to the list of reasons I hate the state of MA.

We finally made our way onto solid roadway again and were on our way to the last rest stop. We stopped in and had some burgers and corn. We chatted we a few others from the ride and then decided to head out for the last few miles back to the campus parking lot where our car was. It was brutal. My legs were tired from the last stop. If we had just skipped the stop I would have been fine, but the stop and start was tough. The whole ride was ~74 miles. We slowly made it back to the car and the Wingman loaded our stuff into the car. We went back to the hotel to shower and clean up for dinner.

I think our dinner easily surpassed the ride. Ian and Joan had dinner Friday night at a local restaurant and we went back Saturday. Oh man, that was a great dinner. Each entree came with a giant popover. I swear it was the size of my head!! The dinner was great and so was the company. We had breakfast at the hotel Sunday morning and then we departed for the ferry ride home. We promised that next time we'd do the whole hundred.

The B-Train and the Wingman

The Wingman 

No farm ride is complete without a tractor

A cow field

One of our last bridge crossings

Riding at the back of the pack on the bike path

The reward for our ride - Popovers!!

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