Wednesday, May 7, 2014

GTD 2014 day 4

After a great night's sleep and breakfast I said goodbye to my gracious hosts and set out to get back on the Trail.  I was feeling pretty good due to the good food, rest and ibuprofen.  It was cold but not rainy PTL!  I found the Trail quickly and set out toward the end of the Trail in Brainerd, MN.

The Trail ended but the transition on to the road that would begin my journey to St. Cloud was easy.  I set out through the MN farmlands in bright sunshine.  The roads went from flat to rolling, from good to bad, from paved to hard packed dirt.  I began the journey with some Gatorskin slicks so I was a bit anxious on the dirt surfaces even though I was carrying 2 Schwalbe Marathons on my BOB.

This anxiety led me to reroute quite a bit thus my day grew longer and longer.  I had been in touch with Jacque Breman throughout the day; he and his wife were going to meet me at the Campground and take me to dinner.  They were jetlagged due to just returning from China so I felt bad for them as the day started to move toward evening and the longer I rode the farther away I seemed to get.

My last reroute took me from the country roads I had ridden all day to busy Highway 52.  I could now see the light at the end of the tunnel but would have to endure lots of traffic and a rough shoulder.  I finally got to St. Cloud and to the Campground.  I checked in, got my campsite and then found Jacque and hiswife asleep in their car.

I woke them up and we set out to my campsite.  I was blessed to be setting up camp under a pole barn shelter because the weather was turning bad.  No sooner did I pull under the shelter did it start pouring.  I locked up my bike and trailer, showered then set out to dinner with Jacque and his wife.  They treated me to an awesome all you can eat Pasta Dinner; it was fantastic!

After dinner we returned to my campsite.  Jacque directed his headlights inside the shelter so I could set up my tent.  The land was a bit low so I was strategic in where I set up so I would not be flooded in the night.  After I was finished setting up I thanked them for the dinner and said goodbye; it was great to spend time with friends after a tough second day of riding.

It rained all through the night but my set up strategy worked and I remained dry.  How awesome it was to check in to a Campground that happened to have a pole barn shelter on a rainy rainy night.  Once again God had my back.

Day 3 of riding would return me to Minneapolis and allow me to get some work done on my bike and hopefully visit with Joel Bidderman.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

GTD 2014 Day 3

I woke up early and excited to get going on Day 1 of a 24 Day Adventure.  The call was for rain but when I looked outside it was a bit overcast but no rain.  I ate some breakfast, dressed warm, took a pre-ride photo and set out for Pequot Lakes.

The ride out of Itasca State Park was nice.  Ten minutes into the ride a slight rain started.  I turned on to Hwy 71 and the rain picked up and the cold seemed colder.  After about an hour I noticed that my phone was about dead; this was strange since it charged all night was at 100% when I started.  I was able to take a couple of photos before plugging into my I.Sound Portable Battery.  It began to charge right away; whew!

It was a rainy ride to LaPorte, MN.  Half way I received a call from one of the Campgrounds I booked in Wisconsin; they were letting me know that their Campground was under water and they were canceling my Reservation; surprise number 2.  No worries; God will provide.

I arrived in LaPorte and found the Paul Bunyan Trail.  Before starting down the Trail I took a break from the cold rain to get some hot chocolate and hot soup.  The Convenience Store Clerk was very nive and had a great Minnesota accent.  I set out down the Trail after warming up a bit and finishing my hot food and drink.

I was excited to ride the Trail and I was excited that the rain had stopped.  I passecd several ice covered lakes; the ride down the Trail was beautiful.  When I arrived in Walker, MN I got off the Trail to see the town and get a snack.  I was really excited to see the Northern Exposure store.  I snapped a photo and sent it on to Chris; he knew how much I liked NE.  Ironically the NE store was located in a town that sharedhis wife's Maiden name.

After leaving Walker the Trail took me through many small towns with interesting history like Hackensack and Backus. After Backus I was getting tired so when I found a bench overlooking Pine Mountain Lake I took a rest.  I also took time to call Pastor Olsen at Our Saviors Lutheran Church in Pequot Lakes, MN; I would be camping at the church.  I could not reach her so I left a message letting her know my location and approximate ETA.  After consuming some nutritious snacks I set off to Pequot Lakes.

After a few more small towns I arrived in Pequot Lakes and followed Google Maps to an abandoned lot.  I turned around and then asked a local if they knew where the church was; they weren't positive but they thought it might be down on the corner.  Since it was a small town I took a chance and that chance paid off; I had arrived!  Pastor Olsen and I had chatted a few towns back so I knew she would be arriving shortly for a meeting.  When she did arrive she suggested that I stay with her and her husband; they lived 8 miles south of the church just off the Trail; it sounded good to me.  Since I was spent physically she called him and had him bring his truck to the church.  We loaded up and went to the house; it was awesome!  After cleaning up he and I went to pick up some Chinese food; amazing!  After dinner and visiting I was ready for sleep.  It had been a good first day but a bit more taxing than I had anticipated: thank God for the prayers of his people and ibuprofen!

Monday, May 5, 2014

GTD 2014 Day 2

I woke up early; excited for the day to come.  My first stop was Freewheel Bike Midtown; I needed help securing my seat post.  Joe got that taken care of and fitted my Jamis VR with a cool fender.  FBM has a cafe so I enjoyed some coffee, a scone and conversation with "All the Way" Ray and Lou.

After FBM I set off for Itasca SP.  It was about a 3 1/2 hour drive to the park; very scenic with a few small towns along the way.  I checked in at thew Park Office and then went to the MR Headwaters to take a photo since it would be impossible to do so the next morning.  There is a certain feel standing at/in the MR Headwaters.  Just knowing that that little stream will grow into a mighty, mighty river that flows all the way to the Gulf of Mexico is incredible.

After the photo I settled in at my Itasca Suite; very cool place to stay.  I couldn't settle for long because I needed to return the truck to Park Rapids and then cycle back.  I dropped the truck off, grabbed something to eat then cycled the 23.5 miles back to the Suite.  It was a scenic cycle with a little bit of climbing.  Good warm up ride.

I cleaned up and then fitted my BOB Trailer with a rack.  After that I spent the rest of the evening organizing and packing so I could leave early the next morning.

It's been almost 2 years since GTD 2012; it's hard to believe how fast the time has passed.  I am now ready to Go The Distance again with the Lord's help and the prayers of His people.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

GTD 2014 Day 1

My flight wasn't leaving till 10:40 but I was wide awake and ready to go at 5:30.  I got to the airport early so after turning in the rental car I had plenty of time to check-in, go through security and relax at my terminal.  I did some reading and reviewed what needed to be done when I got to Minneapolis.

Both flights (to Dallas then Minneapolis) were on time and without incident.  I met several nice folks who clued me more into Minnesota and what I would experience riding down the River.

I picked up my BOB Bag then went to Hertz.  They had a truck for me, perfect!  I found the hotel in no time and was relieved to see all my boxes were in good shape (thanks FedEx!).  The remainder of the night was devoted to reassembling my bike and trailer and organizing my gear.  I was happy to get it done and get to sleep.

All in all, a good day one.  Tomorrow I will journey to Itasca SP and Park Rapids.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

GTD 2014 Practice Ride #1

With the Semester winding down and GTD 2014 only a couple of weeks away it was time to load up my BOB Trailer and Camelbak and set out on a Practice Ride.  My destination would be Palatka.  I got all my gear together, put it in ziploc bags and loaded it in my trailer.

After having Celeste take a pre ride picture I rode out of the neighborhood and headed north on 15th. About a half mile up the road I hit something that slashed my rear tire and brought my ride to a halt.


   
I walked my bike and trailer back to the house and changed out my rear wheel.  This eliminated a wobble that I noticed while walking back and it saved some time.

Due to lost time I decided to change my route.  Instead of going north to Hampton to catch the Lake Butler-Palatka Trail I would now go east through Melrose to Putnam Hall to catch the trail.  I set out and the ride was good.  There were a few issues with the gearing due to the new wheel but it worked well enough.

I arrived at the store on the corner of 100 and 26.  This is where I met Jeff and Nike from CA; they were on a 12,000 mile ride around the US and Canada.  This time I met 3 sweet American Born Chinese kids; their dad worked at the store.  They had all kinds of questions about my upcoming ride down the Mississippi River.  After chatting I crossed over 100 and started down the Trail.

I talked to Celeste; she was passing through Melrose.  The ride down the Trail was really nice but came to an end about 7 miles out of Palatka.


As I transitioned from the Trail to 100 I met Christian; a local. He provided me with more info re: the Trail and the paved sections.  As I was about to cross over 100 to the east bound bike lane Celeste passed by; waving as she passed.  I would meet her in Palatka.

The final 7 miles was quick; my average speed was between 16-18 mph.  I met up with Celeste and loaded my Gear in the car and the bike on the back.  It was a good Practice Ride.  My next one is to Ormond Beach and back.



This Ride allowed me to deal with equipment problems and problems with the weather.  I will be ordering new tires and a small rack for my BOB Trailer; this will allow me to carry more and access more things easier than if they were in my BOB Bag.




Friday, April 18, 2014

Rain

It's Good Friday and it is raining off and on.  The inclement weather reminds me to check the Weather Channel's 10 Day Forecast for Park Rapids, MN; the start of GTD 2014.  10 days from today the high will be 56 and the low 32.  In between the highs and lows will go up and down; ranging from 66 the highest high and 29 the lowest low.  There will be rain and snow on the 24th and 25th.
 
These conditions are acceptable and to be expected; not much different than my 2008 ride across Colorado in May.  I will be carrying 2 tarps with me; 1 for below and 1 for above my tent.  I will practice this set up in my back yard before leaving.  

In these final weeks it will be more about checking all my Gear before packing up.  I will be shipping my bike via FedEx to the Minneapolis LaQuinta where I will stay on May 4; Jordan will be looking out for it.  I will be breaking down my BOB Trailer, boxing it up and taking it on the plane with me along with my BOB Bag.

There is a lot of double checking that will go on these final 2 weeks; both Gear and Logistics. Looking forward to my GTD 2014 journey and all that God has in store for me along the way.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

GTD 2012 Day 24

No such luck re: the weather; it was raining harder than the day before and the wind was just as strong.  I was so close to the finish that I had to get suited up for the rain and head out.  Celeste did take my trailer and bag home for me so I was bike only for this last 28 mile stretch.

As bad as the conditions were the 28 miles seemed to pass by pretty quick.  Maybe it was covering the roads that I had ridden so much in training for GTD or for triathlons.  I did stop for a moment on 225 to duck out of the rain.  At that point I was so wet that I just started laughing; there was no way possible to get any wetter so I got back on my bike and began the final stretch of my 2012 GTD Fundraising Bike Ride.

I pulled into our neighborhood and then up to our house.  The rain continued to pour.  I put my bike in the Storage Room and got out of the rain; it was finished!


I want to first thank the Lord for providing all the I needed when I needed it along the way.  I want to thank my amazing wife Celeste for supporting my ongoing desire and determination to Go The Distance every other year; your support fuels me all along the way.  Finally I want to thank all my friends, family and CCH Gon4ths who hosted me along the way; you were a blessing and it was so awesome to see you, spend time with you and get caught up.



Now it's time to take a break before beginning to think about and plan for GTD 2014.  I will be riding down the Mississippi River starting at Itasca SP in Park Rapids, MN and finishing in New Orleans after going down to the Gulf of Mexico.  It should be exciting!

Monday, May 28, 2012

GTD 2012 Day 23

Well, the forecast was right.  We woke up to rain and wind; the Tropical Storm was here.  Crazy thing was that before I left to start my trip I had prayed that a Tropical Storm would come to FL and provide the much needed rain we were lacking; I just thought it would happen while I was up north riding.

The question now was; was it safe to ride or should I just stop here.  The conditions were actually no worse than I had ridden in before so we felt good about me pressing on to the finish.

Celeste was going to drive ahead of me and wait for me to catch up; it was comforting to know that she was close by in these conditions. 

Shortly after starting to ride the rain and wind picked up.  I got to the next small town and pulled into a Convenience Store.  At that point I was ready to pack it in and call it a Ride but when I talked to Celeste she had taken a different route and many miles ahead of me.  Therefore, I had to press on.  That turned out to be good; shortly after starting to ride the rain and wind let up.  I met Celeste at the next small city and we got something to eat at McDonalds.

 


I was now getting ready to enter FL and the rain and wind were picking back up.  I was also encountering some road construction so that made it extra fun.  Celeste was a bit worried due to the conditions and the traffic.  I assured her everything was fine but I was now wondering if I could make it all the way home.



That question was answered when I met her in Baldwin; it wasn't going to happen this day.  I told her to go ahead to Starke and we would stay there for the night and I would finish in the morning.  She went ahead and got us a hotel and I met her there that afternoon.  I was happy that my ride in Tropical Storm conditions was coming to a close for the day.  I got to the hotel and out of the rain.  I had to dry my bike, trailer and bag as much as possible before moving it into the room. 



I was excited to get this done because the sooner I was moved in and cleaned up the sooner Celeste and I would be eating at Laredo's Mexican Restaurant; our favorite! 

Laredo's was great and our night of rest was great; there was only 28 more miles to go to finish GTD 2012.  Of course my hope and prayers were that the next day the Tropical Storm would be gone that that the weather would be beautiful; we'll see.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

GTD 2012 Day 22

Rest Day! 

We had a great morning of worship and afternoon of sightseeing even though the Tropical Storm was threatening.  It would rain off and on but it wasn't too bad.  The forecast for the next day was to be lots of rain and lots of wind.  The original plan was to ride all the way home from St. Marys; we'll see how that works out.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

GTD 2012 Day 21

I was excited that this way would be a short 45 mile ride to St. Marys and that Celeste would be waiting on me.

After a great breakfast I packed up my trailer, said goodbye and made my way to Starbucks for another iced coffee.  I got back to the road I had been on the day before and turned south.  The ride was uneventful and since I felt good I covered the 45 miles in no time.  Once I got into St. Marys I put the hotel information in Google Maps and then made my way there.



It was easy to find the hotel, our car and our room.  It was great to see Celeste!  I got everything unloaded and unpacked and grabbed a shower.  After that we ran around some, checked out where the church was and got something to eat.

It was a good day and I was looking forward to a good night's rest and a day off.  The only thing looming was a Tropical Storm that was to hit Georgia and Florida the next day.  I wasn't going to lose any sleep over it so after watching some tv we fell asleep.