Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Furnace of Wind (TOMRV) --Andrew

How can I begin to say anything about this fabulous weekend? What ever I come up with will fall so far short of what I'm trying to communicate. So. Here. Goes.  It took me over two hours to get lost then find Jilly's and hubby's house, tucked away just outside of small-town Illinois.  Idyllic. Beautiful day, metal bike sculpture, outbuildings, greenery, vistas, fantastic.  And great big smiles from my companions in hurt. Two of us novice, two veteran TOMRV riders.  

Naturally, the Subaru fits right in with no problem, whatsoever.

Andrew, Jilly, Me, Colleen.
 We set off for Port Byron Illinois, which sits right on the mighty river, herself. The Mississippi.  An amazingly beautiful evening, with a house band, even.  It doesn't matter that the music was too loud, or that it wasn't great, it was summer & the weather was going to deliver us a 200 mile bike ride with no rain, no thunder, no cyclone.
Band, river, no bugs, warm summer night, americana. What else do we need?
Maybe a Portobello Sandwich? Check.  We're happy.
 Friday evening we couch surf with two of the nicest people around.  Life long cyclists and tandem-ists, these two own oodles of bikes and ginormous cred in the cycling world.  Ridden across country, across Alaska, across France, across Illinois.  These two own a load of tandems and were riding this weekend, of course.  I love meeting new people!
Check out the wind chime? Cyclists, through and through.

Looking at the sunset over the Mississippi.

Dawn on the Mississippi.

I'd say that as I experienced beautiful scenery and friendly folks, my spirit was pretty lively.   I tried to conserve energy, hydrate, fuel, and enjoy the view.
Andrew takes great photos on the fly. I'm impressed & happy.
We're about to cross the mighty river for the second time. Don't look down, through metal grates about sixty feet above the river. Looked fantabulous.

 Day one, it's a scorcher by mile 75 or so. We're eating popsicles and admiring the shade.  I comment that it feels like a Colorado summer day.  No humidity, hot in the sun. Lovely, but challenging on a grueling bike course.  Jilly says that the ride doesn't start until mile 75 and yup, she's right.  But by the time you ride 75 in 90-plus degree heat, you're already toast.  The final 30 or so was brutal, but we finished, proud and sunned.
I love this weather!!! says our fearless leader.
And so we survive day one.  It took a while. A tremendous amount of climbing, volume, and heat, but we're sated and gearing up for tomorrow. Nothing a night at Best Western and great big meal won't cure.
If only the hills and wind and urgency of the ride hadn't stopped me from taking more photos...but alas, I wanted to ride continuously, so my day two shots are limited. This is one of the few towns that opens up onto the river, we see commercial area, beautiful houses, lovely morning.  It's before 10AM and we think we have a shot at this. 

 After a night at Clayton College in Dubuque, we're off.

OK, yes, I'm addicted to dereliction. What can I say? How sad and profound this building on our river?

By the time we get this far it's past lunch.  The break-off point of the day is Preston, Iowa, where some people are actually finishing their weekend at 46 miles.  We've got another 43 miles, because our car is at the college where it all began, in Bettendorf, Iowa.  The last 43 miles hit us with a headwind that would slay the most mentally tough of athletes.  Thank you thank you that I was riding with two friends who were willing to team up and pace line the whole thing (our friend, Colleen, was super smart and didn't ride Sunday--but will next year!).  So there we were, it must have taken another 3-4 hours, my brain was so fried by the end of it all I couldn't calculate.  I'll close with a snippet of a lovely piece that Andrew wrote to a friend the following day:
our second-to-the-last-rest-stop mile 62 or so?
From Andrew:

"Yes, the tailwind was nice Saturday, but Sunday, turning left out of Preston into the furnace of wind, with miles and miles of straight flat road stretching ahead, dead into the wind, was depressing.  I just put my head down and kept track of Jilly's back axle and tire, keeping at most a foot back without crossing wheels.  I talked to myself to keep focus, reminding myself of how much I would not like to crash.  With my best wheel sucking, I was barely able to hang on.  At my first expression to Jilly that I was fading, she graciously asked what speed I would like.  I suggested 12 mph, and she obliged.  After a bit, I requested 11 mph, and found that I could hold even drafting, energy-wise, at that pace.  I also dropped back behind Karen, who was just as steady as Jilly, but sat up a bit taller.  Note that just about anyone sits up taller than Jilly when she's down in her aerobars.

I perked up (relatively speaking) at the rest stop in Elvira, and was honored that Jilly would accept my offer to pull for a few miles, and I was comfortable at 10 miles per hour.  It was good to feel useful and help the team, however briefly."


  1. Awesome TOMRV review! So happy to have such great riding buddies (misery loves company!). I wonder how many bikes end up on eBay the Monday after a TOMRV?

  2. Funny, i came home from TOMRV thinking the opposite...when do I get to upgrade/replace my Kestrel? I need something hot enough that someone will give me a "your bike is hot". ! ;-)