Saturday, July 12, 2008

Storms, wind and failure

Friday dawned rainy and muggy. A perusal of cable channels and the site showed that temperatures were due to be in the low 90's and dewpoints in the 70's with severe storms in the afternoon. We set up this trip with a some time to spare in case of bad weather, and we decided to use that day today. We signed up with the desk of the casino hotel for another night and went back to sleep.

Entertaining ourselves at the casino consisted of sleeping, watching TV, wandering around the complex and sleeping. Naps were necessary since we were beginning to feel pretty spent and the humidity was taking a lot out of us. We ate breakfast and then spent some time in the workout room and here we were oddly not interrupted. We wandered down to the bar for a drink or two before "Prime Rib" night at the buffet. After a couple of drinks, we felt sufficiently numb for the spectacle that was the casino's buffet.


This is a blog called Fat Boy Biking. As advertised, I'm not slim, but I'm much better than I was and I'm in at least good enough shape to ride around Minnesota, as we're learning. But watching the herds of gooey Midwesterners filling their slavering maws at an all you can eat buffet, made me feel absolutely emaciated. Watching a 13 year old girl (already pushing 200+ lbs) go for her third double-fisted trip to the dessert bar is horrific and compelling. Seeing the rest of the family gives me a fairly good idea of where she learned her dietary habits. I imagine geese getting ready to become Fois Gras with a better sense of self-control than the folks in this room. It does wonders to appetite to see this and I'm tempted to bring a camera and film it and to sell the tapes as weight loss aids. Oh, the the prime rib sucked, too.

Feeling a bit queasy, we walked around the complex to check out the weather and satisfied that a storm was indeed on its way, headed back to the room to watch the local weatherpersons work themselves into a lather. From the fifth floor and facing west, it was patently obvious that something big was coming, and the high pitched squeals from the TV only cemented it for us. Around 8:00 PM, we could see the approaching squall line and the winds whip the trees. The fury of the storm descended, with the violence almost completely obliterating the view from our window. Then, as quickly as it had arrived, the sun showed through the clouds and we witnessed a beautiful sunset. Glad I wasn't biking through that...

We watched TV until the storm had passed into Wisconsin and Robot Chicken was over and then got ready for our last leg of the journey. We were warned that the weather would be "cool but windy," but we had no idea how windy "windy" was. We slept and looked forward to getting home.

We awoke early, packed, breakfasted and left and headed directly into the wind. "Windy" consisted of soul-grinding gusts howling directly at us. The roar in my ears sounded like a laugh track of the gods, punishing me for my hubris on the century the Wednesday previous. We covered 11 miles the first hour, and finally, blessedly, we turned away 90 degrees and into some tree cover to some respite from the tempest. When you have to pedal hard to go downhill, you're in for a long, difficult ride.

The forces of nature decided to team up with fate this morning and my squeaking handlebars, clicking crank were now joined by a more ominous sound, some new tick from the back wheel. After we stopped for lunch in Braham ("the Homemade Pie Capital of Minnesota" we were cheerfully told by the city's sign), things sounded much, much worse. I had developed a crack in the side of my rim that was clearly separating and spreading. The wind had taken a lot out of me, but the various noises from my bike had been joined by the cracked rim and a vicious wobble from the front of the bike and these destroyed what was left of my will. I was beaten.

I called my brother to see if he was available, and luckily I turned into an excuse to leave the Anoka County Fair for a rescue operation. I told him to meet us in Cambridge, the next town of any size in the area. I was going to limp along the final ten miles and hoped that the stricken bike would make it. A seemingly endless uphill against the wind for the 45 minutes it took to reach the Perkins was enough time to have him join us and load the bikes into his pickup. We drove back to Minneapolis and he dropped us off at home. Getting home in an hour certainly made me feel even worse after I figured it would have probably taken us over six hours of riding and who knows how many stops to cover the same distance. We showered, went to Town Hall for a drink and then took my Mom out for dinner to thank her for looking after the dog.

I'll probably write more about this later after I digest what happened and find out what needs to be repaired and maybe why it broke. I was willing to ride against the wind to finish this ride and that's because Mrs Yam wasn't about to stop. But I didn't finish it on my bike and that leaves me disappointed and sad for the failure to complete our journey. 430 miles isn't bad, but it isn't the 490, but I have an idea to do a day trip up to Cambridge and back to close the loop. Right now though, it probably won't be for a while as I'm pretty sunburned, weary and just plain grumpy to consider it seriously.

Time for bed -- my bed. That helps this day go down. I think I'll stay off the bike for a day and work on my gardens.

Good night.


the old bag said...

BUMMER! You'll close the loop...or you'll decide that the intent of the goal has been achieved (you'd have made it if not for the mechanicals).

These posts were great to read! The trip gives me inspiration to plan something similar...nice to know plans can be made that don't have to include hauling camping stuff.

rigtenzin said...

430 or 490. There isn't really much difference. I'm jealous and impressed by your trip. I need to get off my butt and plan something (less ambitious though).

Good job.

Doug said...

Meeting you and the Mrs. during your trip through Duluth inspired me to get out and make use of my LHT this past weekend. It was already in the plans, but your example of traveling by bicycle got me all fired up to try it myself.

I agree with the old bag, the goal was acheived. Mechanicals are something outside your control. But go ahead and close the loop if you feel the need.

Enjoyed the trip reports!