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The Trek Report

September 16, 2008

For all my die hard fans — and by that I mean the two or three people who like to follow this blog — I will now recount for you some of the adventures from this past weekend.

Part I

Glenn’s Constitution: The Preamble

On Friday evening my parents arrived to spend the weekend with our boys while Glenn and I went on the Trek. But just as we were sitting down to have some supper, Glenn disappeared. At first I thought he’d gotten pulled in on a late conference call (it happens) but after some time I went to look and found him lying in bed. Fully clothed. Feeling ill.

“What kind of sick? Is it your stomach? Your head?”

“I don’t know.”

Oh, GREAT. Not to sound too selfish… but this was to be my very first organized bike ride, and I dreaded the thought of going down there and riding all those miles myself. My goal of riding the long distance on Saturday was quickly fading to obscurity.

With great resolve I gathered up all the things I would need to take with me, set the kitchen timer for an alarm, and slept on the couch. Hey, I didn’t want any part of whatever Glenn was feeling! And, we have a very comfy couch.

Part II

On a Hot Day You Can Ride Forever

Saturday morning came early. I checked in with my sickly husband and found him feeling better, although not totally up to speed. He said he was going to go, but he would definitely not be up to the long ride. We packed our bikes and our gear, but took a little longer in so doing than we originally planned… which meant that we did not have time to stop for breakfast before we got down to our starting point in Harrodsburg. Oh, well.

At Old Fort Harrod State Park we checked in. And all I saw was a parking lot filled with people who clearly know what they are doing when it comes to bikes. Bike jerseys everywhere, with sponsor logos on them. Padded shorts, fancy bikes, and lots of people walking around with a funny gait as their specialized bike shoes with the pedal clips tap-tap-tapped on the pavement. At least I do not walk like a duck, I thought.

After gathering to review rules of the road, safety tips, and other important information, we all started to head out. And as we began to spread out a bit over the first mile or two, I thought “this will be fun.”  I was bummed about not attempting the 69-mile route… but at least I would not be alone while I rode the “short” distance of 36 miles.

Then we hit the first major hill. A dreadfully long incline that had at least one deceptive area where you thought you had reached the top but then turned to see the hill go on upward for another mile or two. OK, I could be exaggerating about the distance… but it was a really long, slow incline.

When we finally reached the top, there before us was our first official refreshment stop. Except, once again, I may be exaggerating. Because I would have expected a “refreshment” stop for an organized ride of about 200 bikers to be fully stocked with water and gatorade… but while we had plenty of apples, bananas and cookies to choose from, the liquid refreshments were not exactly flowing. This was a bit of a disappointment… and now I am not exaggerating.

After the rest, we headed on. For the better part of the day, everything was a blur of country roads, hot sun, and what some describing the Trek refer to as “gently rolling hills.”  [I have other special names for them myself.] It was hot. I remember feeling pretty good, though… like I was accomplishng something. And did I mention that it was hot?

The route we took on Saturday was officially 36 miles. Glenn’s odometer told us we’d gone about 38. Either way, it was the most miles I have ridden on my bike in one spell, and I was proud of myself for completing it.

Part III

[Almost] Gone With the Wind

I told Glenn I wanted to attempt the longer route on Sunday since we hadn’t been able to do it the first day… we were both feeling pretty good and he seemed to be over whatever bug he’d had Friday night, so we signed up for the 55-mile ride. The day promised to be not *quite* as hot as the day before, but all trekkers still got a lecture on riding safely in the heat. We also heard that it might get a bit windy. A bit.

The first half of the ride was really quite nice. There was a bit of a breeze that seemed to keep the temperature down. The ever-present “rolling hills” were still there, but at this point I was getting used to them. I was definitely one of the slower riders among those taking the long route, but I didn’t care. All we had to do was get to Shakertown by the end of the day… it was not a race, after all!

We made a couple stops (basically, whenever we saw one of the sag trucks setting up drinks at the side of the road) and I really enjoyed a few of the little country roads we took that day. We worked hard going up some long hills but were equally rewarded with some thrilling downhill rides, too. Everything seemed to be going along great.

Then the winds picked up. And I do mean “picked up,” because they were picking up everything that wasn’t nailed down. Somewhere around, oh I’d say mile 30 or 35, it got ugly.

Imagine riding a bicycle along a country road… no shoulder to speak of, with cars needing to pass you periodically… and, in addition to the regular challenge of climbing hills, you now have 55+ mph wind gusts to contend with. You are in the middle of tornado country, with clouds gathering above. Overhead power lines swaying wildly. Branches and other debris whipping through the air. You can’t even enjoy going downhill anymore, because the wind is so strong that it threatens to take your bike over into the ditch at any moment. You ride while leaning into the wind at about a 30 degree angle, just to avoid blowing sideways. Even on the flat stretches of road, you find yourself straining to pedal forward because the wind is just that strong. It’s exhausting. It is not fun.

When we finally made it to the main rest stop on the route… the Village Inn restaurant in Burgin, KY… we had gone about 47 miles. We were hungry and grateful to get some lunch. And it’s remarkable how a little food and a good rest can refresh you, even after such a horrid experience just prior. As we waited for our food and chatted with some of the other bikers who had gotten there before us, we were psyching ourselves up for the last leg of the ride, which was about 8 miles. Several riders had chosen to “sag” in, meaning they woud get a lift from one of the trucks. We really wanted to tough it out and finish the route since we were so close. But then we were told that we needed to take a ride in on one of the trucks, too, because the trek officials were getting worried about the safety of all the riders. Thus ended our bike trek for Sunday. 😦

Part IV

The End

Shakertown is a really nice place to stay. The guest rooms are very comfortable and the dining is great. In fact, the main reason Glenn has always tried to raise money to do the 3-day ride is so that he can stay over at Shakertown and eat dinner and then the big buffet breakfast there.

We checked in to our room and had a nice rest before it was time to head over to the dining room for supper. Unfortunately, Glenn was starting to feel poorly again and he had to excuse himself before he ever got to eat on Sunday evening. His little bug was not quite finished with him yet, it turned out. I ate my supper with some friendly strangers and then avoided all the other entertainment for the evening and returned to the room.

Hey, Shakertown has Tempur-pedic “DaySpa” beds in all their rooms! And they are wonderful. And I want one.

I had originally planned to ride one of the shorter Monday rides that would return us to our car at Old Fort Harrod State Park… but Glenn really needed to get back home and get to work as soon as possible, so we opted out.

Trek Totals:

38 miles on Saturday

47 miles on Sunday

$1080 to date* that I raised for the American Lung Association.
*This number can still change! Donations will be accepted through mid-November and credited to my account if you visit my personal fundraising page. Thanks again to EVERYONE who contributed to my ride this year.

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3 comments

  1. I knew you could do it. Did they forget to mention that there was a tropical storm blowing through on Sunday? No guts, no glory.


  2. Thanks for the update. I’ve been wondering how your ride went. sounds fun and a little bit scary too (the wind part) That’s great about your fund raising.


  3. Congratulations on finishing the Trek!! I hope you enjoyed enough to stick with the sport. Who knows, maybe one day you too will walk like a duck… : )



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