Today's ride will be the final adventure in the R-12 blog. I decided to ride the original route, that I created last year so that I could obtain the R-12 award.
It's a little cold out this morning, but I decided to save the heavy cold weather gear for later in the winter. I went with a poly-pro base layer and a long sleeve jersey covered with a wind jacket. I have bib shorts with leg warmers and decided to skip the mid-weight neoprene shoe covers and use the lycra blend stretch covers. It should warm up by mid-afternoon, and I don't want to be over dressed.
Although the picture is blurry (I must have been shivering when I took it!), you can see that it's below freezing. I don't think I overdressed. In fact, I'm going to have to move to plan "B", which is ride as fast as seems reasonable to stay warm, without overdoing it and breaking into a real sweat (which would NOT be warm). My feet were cold at the start but now are feeling better. I hope that doesn't mean that they are numb. I guess we'll see.
This is the first control. As you can see, it's closed. I've used this route on several occasions this last year, and I've always found it open early. A quick check on the door reveals all - winter hours. They won't open for another hour. I can't wait for that, the control will be closed by then. I'll sign my own card and move on.
In Carbondale for the next control - it's open. Yea. After I left the Grassy Store, I experienced an unusual psychological phenomenon. It seemed that the dark was darker, and the cold was colder, and the lonely was lonelier. And a voice in my head said, "This is stupid. Let's go home." However, I knew from experience that the voices in my head are seldom right (like the ones that tell me to walk around my neighbor's yard naked making cat sounds). Ignoring all the voices in my head is usually a good idea. (Of course, one of those voices is my conscience, I'll have to figure out which one that is and NOT ignore it.)
Here comes the sun! Finally. Maybe now my beard and my water bottles will thaw.
All three of these pictures show why I ride. It isn't about awards or approval from others. It isn't about bragging (or in my case whining). It's about being out here. While there are seasons in the great out doors, there isn't time. It's always now. I like that.
I don't know how many times I've stopped at Payne's Service Center to have my brevet card signed. In fact, today they were training a new cashier, and when I handed her my card, the girl doing the training explained what the card was for much better than I could have. Cool.
My strongest memory of this place is the stop I made here in June during the 600 kilometer event. I had flatted in the dark just 30 mins after the start. Everyone rode off, leaving me alone, and I hurried to change the tube so that I could catch up. (I had started in the back with the RBA and others. Now I was the last man on the ride.)
Although I carefully checked the tire for the offending glass or thorn, I found nothing. However, after an hour or so I began losing air. Because I was in a hurry, and because it had taken an hour, I just stopped - pumped it up - and kept going. Unfortunately, I would do that all day. I did stop once after catching up and took the tire off to recheck it, but found nothing. (Of course I was now alone again.)
Finally, when I got to this stop, it was late afternoon and there were three other riders here. Two were getting into the broom wagon (it was brutally hot that day), and one offered to check my tire before he rode away. Fortunately for me, he found a small stone embedded in the outside of the tire, picked it out and went on his way. I re-tubed, pumped and started the chase all over again. But this time, I didn't have to stop again.
What could have easily been a DNF for me, became the final ride in the full SR series. Yea.
I think about this every time I'm here. Thanks, Dennis, for finding that stone.
Home again. As the rednecks say "got 'er done"! This has been a long year full of learning. The one thing that I became most aware of was how little I know. I have lots more learning to do.
I'd like to thank the one person who made this all possible. Ed Robinson. Ed was the Permanents Coordinator when I applied for my first route last year. There were no routes in my area, and I needed something I could ride for credit.
When I contacted him by email, his response was "Who are you?" He went on to say that he had checked the data base and noted that "you have no results". I sent him a brief summary of my bicycling adventures up to that time, just to convince him that I could ride long distance.
He was willing to work with me to create a route for certification, but he insisted on a control every time the route changed direction. (There are so many controls on this route that you can often save time by walking your bike to the next control. It saves the time lost in all the mounting and dismounting!)
I was aware that he didn't know me from Adam's younger brother, so I didn't take offense.
This last year, I've completed the R-12, the SR series and been privileged to start serving our members as the newest RBA in a new region.
I just want to say thank you, Ed. And, Oh, I got results now.