This is the third time I've participated. (You can read about the other two times here and here.)
Saturday morning we wake to dense fog and warm temperatures. The forecast warns darkly of Hazardous Weather and Dangerous Heat Conditions, and I start to wonder if I should choose a shorter course than originally planned. But the fog seems to have cleared a bit by the time I take off for the ride, and the temperature doesn't feel too dreadful. I decide to stick with my original goal of riding the 40-mile course.
Passing a house just out of town, I hear someone shout "Allez! Allez!" Apparently Mr. M and I aren't the only TdF fans in the village. :)
A tandem looms up out of the fog behind me; as it passes, the stoker looks over at me and says, "You need a set of windshield wipers!"
She's right. My glasses are so covered with beads of moisture I've had to push them halfway down my nose so I can look over them to see the road:
Everything is dripping: my helmet, my face, the trees.... The air, which seemed reasonably cool before, is now beginning to heat up. Riders come steaming out of the mist to pass me and disappear in the dampness ahead:
The humidity is affecting my shifters, and apparently those of other riders as well; I hear plenty of clunking, clicking, and cussing, and pass more than one person whose chain has come off. (Later my own chain sticks and comes off. All part of the fun.)
Finally, about 12 miles out, a few rays of sun break through the clouds:
Soon we reach the first rest stop, where a dedicated volunteer works over a hot stove to produce the ingredients needed for build-your-own breakfast burritos. Cyclists stand in line or mill around, every one of them drenched with fog and sweat and happily complaining about the weather.
My breakfast burrito is small but sustaining, with eggs, cheese, a sausage, and salsa. I half-fill a cup with pickle juice and raise a mental toast to Snowcatcher, my long-distance cycling buddy and partner in pickle-juicery.
A buggy squeezes through the sweaty throng (we're in Amish country here):
When the break is over, it's a great relief to get back on the bike and feel the air flowing past me. This is the muggiest ride I've ever taken.
A few miles later, the sun disappears, but the steamy conditions remain. We bump our way over one of the rougher sections of the route:
(I ask one of the recumbent riders if she has any suspension on her machine. "No," she replies, "but I've promised myself that when I turn 80 I'll splurge and get one with full suspension. And power assist.")
My shifters continue to alternately stick or go slack (usually just at the wrong time). And my camera is behaving oddly. About every other time I pull it out, it refuses to work and flashes the "Change Battery" sign. I think the heat and moisture are getting to it.
But it's working when I reach the second rest stop:
Here pretzels and fruit chews restore the inner cyclist and provide some welcome salt and sugar. Then it's back on the bike for another 16 miles of occasional drizzle and rolling Amish farmland.
The weather seems steamier than ever by the time I finish, and as the post-ride lunch is served, large raindrops begin to fall. I eat my burger, grab an extra brownie for Mr. M, and head home just in time to beat a severe thunderstorm. I'm glad it didn't strike sooner!
A good ride for a good cause.
Speaking of good causes: this September Mr. M and I are heading to the Pacific Northwest to join our friends Snowcatcher and the Lizard at Bike MS Washington. Our goal is to raise $750 dollars for the fight against MS.
If you'd like to learn more, or make a donation, just click on the button below:
(All donations go straight to programs, services, and research to help people with MS. Every dollar counts, and even one dollar will help!)
How's your July going? Are you ready for August? :)
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