MS Day-2

HOLLIDAYSBURG, PENNSYLVANIA

It rained overnight and was very gray at rollout. But it wasn’t raining. I was hopeful we would stay dry. I lined up and they pulled the 100-rider rope right behind me. I was in the first group. But last.

99 riders in front of me

As we started out I moved closer and closer to the front and eventually settled in with a group of 10 which might have been the first group on the road. We worked well together although the hairy legged monster I was following scared me by occasionally just coasting causing me to brake.

Ahead I saw a tractor which I spotted yesterday. I told myself that today I would stop so I put up my hand and excited the pace line. I’m sure they thought I couldn’t hang. I could hang.

Once I took the picture I got back on the road and bridged up to a group of three and the four of us worked together to the first rest. It was quick. No mechanic (I was looking for a wrench) but my bottle was nearly empty. Refill then hit the road.

It started to rain. I didn’t get out the rain jacket and we rode for the next 20 minutes in a light rain although we had wet roads for the next hour.

Halfmoon Twp., Centre Co., Pa.

I rode this section solo although I hooked up with another rider. We rode side by side because even though he gave a nice draft he also gave a nice spray. I’m sure I did too.

There was an ice cream stop at Camp Kanesatake. Ice cream, at least mine, was served by Katherine Orczeck, the Blair Co. Dairy Princess (Alternate). When I told her mother I rode over Locke Mountain yesterday she said she cannot imagine. Her car barely gets over it.

At this rest I found the Spokes and Skis mechanic. I just wanted to borrow an Allen wrench to reposition my BarFly mount for the GPS. I had a multi-tool with me but it’s much easier to use a dedicated wrench. Fix completed.

Katherine Orczeck

Leaving Kanesatake, I was passed by two young men who were talking about how to work together. They thought they passed me for good but I blew by them just after Spruce Creek. One mentioned that we were leap frogging. No frogs here.

Sign seen near Arch Springs

At Arch Springs I stopped for a photo. They passed and then I followed them to the lunch stop. I soloed to Tyrone after a quick water stop. I was on my own.

Arch Springs

In Antis I was on a narrow street which has cars parked on both sides. There was not enough room in between for a car and a bike. There was room for a car or a bike (or two), but not both. I was in the lane when an SUV turned to come towards me.

I knew she didn’t have room but she insisted. She sheared off her passenger mirror. I chuckled. She saved two seconds which was the time it took me to pass the line of cars. But then she stopped to pick up mirror pieces.

After the Antis rest I saw a rider coming behind me. I slowed, thought he grabbed my wheel, then rode away from him. Geez.

I slowed again and waited for him and we rode together for about 6-7 miles until I rode away from him for good.

Arriving at the finish line in Hollidaysburg I checked the mileage and went for an out and back for another two miles. I caught the two young guys who were leap frogging me. I leaped them again.

At the finish there was a medal. A woman, confined to a wheelchair with MS, put the ribbon/medal over my head – a poignant reminder of why we Bike MS.

 

 


Out of Bibs

STATE COLLEGE, PENNSYLVANIA

I arrived for check-in for the MS-150 ride. I did not see then had to ask for a bib to make “I RIDE FOR…” I was told they sent their supplies to another event which did not return any. I was disappointed.

This is how we connect with people. I wanted very much to ride for my daughter, Bethany, Kayla Bracken, and view Kristi Wallace. Seriously, how can they be out of the bibs? Press “Order Here.” Without the bibs it is just another group ride. I took out a Sharpie and wrote their names on my bib.

I was delayed. Two groups, supposedly of 100 riders each already left and it looked like ours was the last group.

What starting last looks like

I had been thinking about going over Locke Mountain instead of going to Roaring Spring with the group. Has I been in the front group, or second group, I may have rethought this. But I figured starting last or next to last, I would have to chase to catch the earlier groups to ride in a pace line. And since the pace lines would have already formed, I would be trying to bridge up to the pace lines.

Up Hill Drive. Made me giggle.

Still, I didn’t make the decision until I was on the road. I caught the tail end of the third group then, when it was safe, started to make my way through them. I had three decision points where I could make the move.

West Loop Road. I have no idea what this bicycle route is.

Coming off Frankstown Road was Locke Mountain Road. But there was construction and I wasn’t sure I could get there. Plus there were volunteers manning the intersection. I was past Tel Power Road before I even realized it. On Reservoir Road I continued to work through riders and may have caught some from the second group. As I signaled (bell) I was coming by I passed a guy and his wife. After I passed them I head him say “Wow!,” in apparent reference to my speed. I was doing 18 mph which isn’t exactly fast.

That probably cemented my decision. I really didn’t feel like hearing comments from riders as I passed them (although that may have been a compliment).

Looking out from near the top of Locke Mountain

I came to Loop Road, didn’t see any volunteers, and had gapped any riders behind me. I put out my left arm then turned on Loop Road. I didn’t want any volunteers to see me for fear they may chase me to tell me I was going the wrong way.

Trout Run where it enters Spruce Creek

The pavement on Loop Road was new asphalt. It was sweet riding. Apparently I was on a bike route – it appeared to have a clock tower although I haven’t figured out what it is or where it goes.

BBC Riders on the road

I came to Locke Mountain Road. It was all uphill from there. Most of the lower section, and indeed, most of the climb, showed 14-15% on my GPS. That may have been overstated though – it only felt like 12-13%. There were gnats around my eyes and I continually had to use a free hand to swat at them. Very annoying.

Lunch at Camp Kanesatake

I worked hard. I was soaked in sweat. On the descent I really couldn’t see clearly. Still I had a top speed of 45 mph.

Lunch at Camp Kanesatake

I followed some back roads to Williamsburg. I did not want to be the first rider at the second rest stop. I know there were some people hammering the course and I had cut 13 miles from it. Although I started much later than they did and had to get my fat butt over Locke Mountain I still felt it would be close.

Lunch at Camp Kanesatake

As I came to the end of Shortcut Road I saw a group of six go by. And they were apparently the first. I rolled in and spent a lot of time at Rest 2, mainly because I popped a lens out of my glasses trying to clean them.

Camp Kanesatake

I saw some riders from the Blair Bicycle Club roll in and reintroduced myself to Leslie, a woman I rode 100 miles with in October last year at the Sea Gull Century. They rolled out and I wasn’t too far behind them.

Disc golf at Camp Kanesatake

In addition to Leslie, I rode next to http://www.rieticultura.net/?dissertation-reports-in-finance Aurora, another rider I rode with last year, although I did not recall her name (until referring to the entry from last year). I integrated with their group of five until we came to the first of the uphills. I pulled through with the intention of pulling but instead rode them of my wheel.

Volunteers thanking riders at the Cookie Stop

On US 22 I soft pedaled some, waiting from them to come back but they never did. I caught watch Pat, another BBC rider, on the run in to Spruce Creek. He too, was part of our century group from last year, although I forgot. We talked for a little bit but as the road went down I took off (serious descending advantage – see “fat butt,” above).

Volunteers at the Cookie Stop

In Spruce Creek I deviated onto a side road for photos then when I came back I caught the Leslie group. Once again I road with them until we came to a chip and tar road and they slowed down seriously.

Lunch was at the beautiful Camp Kanesatake. I sat down on the bench and left a giant wet mark. I checked where others were sitting and didn’t see any wet marks. I won the sweating contest.

Beaver Stadium, PSU

The BBC group left and I found myself catching two Old Men On Bikes from Allentown. I really never integrated with them except I did without trying. We caught he BBC group and rode together. About four miles from the next rest I went to the front and pulled.

At the rest, two of the five riders went on and three stopped. They left about two minutes ahead of me, never offering for me to join them. Funny how these things work. I never really was part of their group.

I soloed onto State College, never catching or being caught by anyone. Instead of heading to the finish I went onto campus and stopped at the famous Berkey Creamery. I didn’t see a safe place to leave the bike (it is a college campus) so I decided to move one. After all, it’s just ice cream.

Refreshing mister at the finish line in State College

Throughout the day we watched the weather. The forecast was for thunderstorms and once it got dark. But I beat the rain by more than an hour. After I showered I looked out my window and saw riders finishing over the next 2-3 hours. In the rain. I had a good ride.

 


A Trip Across the Swiss Alps – A Review

WOODBRIDGE, VIRGINIA, USA

Sometime in the winter when I knew that Ride the Rockies would not work out for this year I decided to ride across Switzerland. Over the Alps.

I did not want to “bikepack,” which is to carry all my clothes with me on my bike. I found and had been following the tours at BikeSwitzerland.com. They looked (and look) great but was a little more time and money than I wanted to spend.

I asked my friend, http://smithsdaffodils.com/best-college-admission-essays-johns-hopkins/ best college admission essays johns hopkins Ben Zahler, if he knew how I could do this self-supported and he found Eurotrek, a company based in Zürich.

Me with Ben

Both companies offered a self-guided tour over the Alps via Panoramic bicycle Route 4. The cost differences were significant. BikeSwitzerland offered a couple extra days and a little extra riding from Geneva to the start in Aigle. Plus a return to Geneva.

Cost was a factor but so were logistics. BikeSwitzerland started in Geneva whereas Eurotrek started near Zürich. My base of operations would be in Zürich at my friend, Corinne Kolb’s, apartment.

Corinne and Stelvios

Both companies offered rental bikes. I never considered renting instead I flew with my own bike. I do not know what Eurotrek charged. But BikeSwitzerland offered my Trek Domane with Di2 shifting for 600 CHF.

I booked this trip with EuroTrek. They made all hotel arrangements and transported my luggage daily from one hotel to the next, otherwise it was self-supported.

Hotel Huber in Lichensteig

I flew my bike to Zürich. From Washington, D.C., American Airlines charged me $200. Returning, the same airline charged me 84 CHF ($87.50). I have no idea why the price difference. I liked the price coming back.

American Airlines 767 from ZRH to JFK

go site Day 1 was from St. Margrethen to Wattwill (Lichtensteig). The course was lumpy, even mountainous. Actually it had the most climbing of the seven days although it lacked an iconic mountain pass. I did not pre-load my map to GPS and could not always follow the Rte 4 signs. I also developed saddle sores (which I never get) and feared the worse.

parent essays for high school applications Day 2 was from Wattwill (Lichtensteig) to Linthal. This was the shortest day. It started with a climb (once I could find it) and ended with 30 km of flat farm roads or trails. It was the perfect remedy for saddle sores.

Day 3 was from Linthal to Beckenreid via a ferry at Gersau. It was the best ride of the trip. It featured a hard climb out of the box over Klausenpass. But the rest of the day was super easy. A great descent of Klausenpass followed by the nice trail along a lake I have been one.

here Day 4 was also nice but had the opposite profile of Day 3. This one had the lake riding first and ended with a climb up the Glaubenielen Pass down into Sörenberg.

Day 5 was from Sörenberg to Thun. I began the day by riding back up the mountain to the Sörenberg tram to the mountain overlooking Interlaken. Then, given a choice of adding an extra 12 km to Thun, I took the long way. I beat my luggage in then went swimming in the River Aare.

Day 6 was Thun to Gruyères. It felt more like a slog. I got lost in Fribourg. It was hot. Beautiful scenery but nothing breathtaking like Day 3.

Day 7 was Gruyères to Montreux. Somewhere I must have missed a Route 4 turn and just took the main road to Aigle. That was fine.

And that was it. Post trip I found that Eurotrek had GPX files I could have downloaded but I did not know to ask.

Only after the trip did I realize that perhaps a solo trip across the Alps was a bit risky. I mitigated some of the risk by carrying a hand pump with gauge and an extra tube. But a broken spoke or chain or worse, an accident, would have done me in.

As I updated my trip on Facebook I started adding Cycling Tips for Switzerland. The “numbers” were random, of course but here they are:

Tip #38 for cycling in Switzerland … Leave that finger at home. Number of times I’ve been buzzed (0), yelled at (0), thrown at (0), blown smoke on (0), honked at (0), had tires squealed at (0), cutoff (0). You just don’t need it as part of your cycling kit in Switzerland.

(This would end in Zürich on my last day when a woman pulled an impromptu U-turn in front of me causing me to take evasive action. I did not use a finger.)

Tip #19 for cycling in Switzerland  … If you see a house at the top of a mountain and think “isn’t that nice, I wonder how they get up there?” rest assured that after 60 minutes of sweating profusely you will pedal right by that house

Tip #1 for cycling in Switzerland … In small villages and big cities and in the countryside too, you will find the freshest water available for free. Don’t stay thirsty, my friends.

Tip #23 for cycling in Switzerland ... Be cool, wear a helmet. Most do. Gone is the time they knew you were American because you were the guy with a helmet.

Tip #29 for cycling in Switzerland … lose weight

There’s not much I would do differently. I was glad to have my own bike and starting two days after I arrived was perfect although I could have got my bike ready in one day. Well, there is one thing. I would not start on a Thursday or Friday because those days mean that Day 3, Klausenpass would be on a weekend day and I now know that is a popular “driving road” for sports cars and motorcycles.

It was a great trip which I highly recommend. And see Tip #29.