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Practice For Day 1

Yesterday, Kathy and I headed out for what we hoped to be a five-hour ride. We decided to head out to our friends, Mike and Patty, who live near Cheney, which happens to be the first stop we make when we start our adventure.

But first we had to swing by some other friends, Lee and Jenny, and drop a couple of golf balls in their yard. The backstory on that: Last year I’d occasionally find a golf ball in my yard, which I assumed came from a really bad duffer on the course across the street. I say really bad because the way the course is laid out across from my house you’re not hitting the ball my way. I piled the balls by the front porch. Later in the summer, our friends Lee and Jenny, spilled the beans that while they were out riding their bikes Lee was finding lost golf balls along Downriver Drive and tossing them in my yard. The balls I saved soon ended up in their yard when Kathy and I went for a ride. And we’ve been going back and forth since. We got a big jump on them this year since they’re mostly fair weather riders. I’ve been finding balls along the road as well and I think we’ve dropped around 15 in their yard so far. No doubt they will show up at mine soon because we like to keep in touch.

Back to yesterday’s ride. We took a roundabout route and got a few miles in before heading towards My Fresh Basket in Kendall Yards. While cruising around Summit Blvd in the West Central neighborhood we crossed paths with our friend Annika. Annika works for Wheel Sport and helped Kathy get set up with Sadie the Surly Disc Trucker. Annika and her friend were just finishing up a run as they are training for the Troika Triathlon coming up in June. How cool is that? After catching up with her we made for “The Basket” where Kathy got a snack. From there we crossed the Monroe Street Bridge, passed though Browne’s Addition, and got on the Fish Lake Trail. A couple hours later we were visiting Patty and she took our picture. With all the visiting time we spent with people we had to take the most direct route home because we were scheduled to video chat with the kids at 7:00. We made it back with 10 minutes to spare.

All said and done we did 42 miles with 4.5 hours of saddle time. Kathy did much better than she expected on the climbs. She’s a lot stronger than last year and she notices the difference. The sharp-eyed reader may notice I have a different bike. As much as I love the Elephant, it is not made to be a fully loaded touring bike. I put in a lot of time and trouble trying to make it work but it was not to be. So I ordered a Surly Disc Trucker frame and my favorite bike mechanic, Nigel at Simple Machines, moved all the components over from the Elephant. The front derailleur and the Haulin’ Colin porter rack would not make the trip. The Surly needs a bottom pull derailleur and the Haulin’ Colin sits at an awkward angle because it’s not made for that size frame. I have a Surly 24 Pack Rack on the way to carry my porteur bag. I have the handlebars sitting a little higher on the Surly so I could sit up straighter. That was more comfortable for my back and neck but it also shifted my weight towards my backside, which ended up a little sore for its trouble. So I’ll be working on that for the next couple of weeks.

Kathy and I can’t believe we hit the road in the next 2-3 weeks. Our departure day will be here too soon, which is exciting. But we’ll leave all our friends and family, which is sad.

Wind And Rain and Sun and Wind

Kathy and I went out for a 4-hour ride in the wind and mostly light rain. I loaded all my gear in my panniers to see how the bike handles with all the weight on. I still need to shift some of the weight to the front to keep the bike from shimmying at higher speeds.

After 2-1/2 hours, Kathy recommended we stop at the Wandermere Shari’s restaurant. It’s been a long time since I’ve eaten at Shari’s but I was quickly reminded how much the place disappoints. They don’t ask you how the food is because they already know. They work there. But the tea was good.

The weather alternated between driving light rain, plain old high winds, and windy with sunshine. During those more intense weather moments Kathy would exclaim, “Isn’t this fun? We are having so much fun right now.” Gotta love the girl. Whether rain, wind, or sun, I was squinting almost the whole time–except for when we had a tail wind. Then it was sweet riding.

Dropping My Winter Weight

I don’t feel I need to train that much for the trip, but I could stand to lose 10 or so pounds to make the riding a little bit easier. I went out this morning and caught some gravel because it’s more fun than pavement.

Training Day

Kathy and I loaded up the bikes, hers with just weights and mine with gear. The Elephant NFE is touchy about weight distribution so I need to get gear placement in the panniers dialed in since I’ll be carrying more weight on this tour than I would for a bike packing trip.

A half hour into it, Kathy got a flat. Of course, it always the rear tire. I helped with the bike and coached her through inspecting the inside of the tire and swapping out the tube. 15-20 minutes later we were back on the road.

During a rest stop we used a snow bank as a bike rack. It beats laying them on the ground.