I’ve been fortunate enough to have have had some really great experiences in my life– from expeditions to triathlon races– many of which I’ve written about, but never have posted online (mainly because they were written prior to the widespread use of blogs or common occurence of writing to the web). I figured now is a great time to share some of these stories on Ascending Higher, particularly as we’re waiting for the snow to arrive and searching for some inspiration to plan out some exciting adventures for 2010. I’ll run them as a series of posts, starting with a narrative I wrote about my trip to Peru in July-August 2001 during an expedition to the Cordillera Blanca. I’ll then follow that with write-ups of my climbing trip to the volcanoes of Ecuador in December 2000, my expedition to the Cordillera Real of Bolivia in July-August 2004, trek to Everest Base Camp in March-April of 2000, as well as recaps of my experiences at bike rides (Harpoon’s Brewery to Brewery) and triathlon races (Eagleman, Ralph’s CA Half). I would love to hear your comments and experiences, so please comment on any of the posts!
Brewery to Brewery (B2B) Ride: An Epic of a Bike and Her Rider
It began innocently enough; a beautiful sunrise over the city of Boston on June 22nd, 2002, as we pulled into the parking lot at the Harpoon Brewery for the 2nd Annual Harpoon Brewery to Brewery ride (“B2B ride”). A sadistic 100 of us had volunteered to subject ourselves to 130 miles (even more sadistic since the original advertisement said 150 miles) of cycling from Harpoon’s brewery in south Boston to their northern New England location in Windsor, Vermont. We were all ready to go, including the fearless group of four from Team Mercury Multisport—Josh, Annie, Leslie and myself.
This ride actually had an sentimental element to it for me since this was going to be my final ride on the 12 year old Raleigh Technium bike that I have grown to love and hate. For I had purchased a newer, “cooler” model bike that will force the Technium into retirement. The long ride would serve as a fine send off for this loyal beast—so I had thought.
Once out of the traffic-ridden streets of greater Boston we chugged our way northward to the NH border. The sky got ominously more overcast as we progressed and the Technium had this funny gear slipping “thing” going on. “No worries,” I thought, “I’ve dealt with this before.” All felt good at the mile 47 water stop. After scarfing down two peanut butter and jelly sandwiches made on good ‘ol all-American Wonder bread, I was ready to tackle the next 90+ miles.
Pushing myself up a moderate hill around mile 50 my feet felt suddenly light and free. What had happened? Had I gained some sort of super power that turned my quads into pistons of pure muscle? This thought quickly left my mind once I realized it was me were talking about after all and I looked down to see my chain lying like a dead snake on the ground. “Good God,” I muttered, “the Technium must know this is it’s last ride and will not let me put her down without a fight”. It had not been a gear-slipping “thing” afterall, but a weak link in the chain giving me problems.
Not having a chain breaker, my hopes of an early finish in time for a date with about 10 IPAs at the brewery in Windsor were dashed. Instead, here I stood off of Route 119 in East Nowhere, NH pathetically holding my greasy chain and staring helplessly at the pavement. Suddenly a familiar flash of yellow and red appeared out of nowhere. A fellow B2B rider! This gracious knight, Colin, a citizen of Great Britain, fortunately wielded a chain breaker. All the kings horses and all the king’s men quickly put my chain back together and Humpty Dumpty was back on the road.
I was fixed and furious; ready to make up for lost time when alas, the “30% chance of showers” turned into a “100% chance of downpours” and the sky opened up for the next several hours. The rain actually felt good at first, serving to cool me down. However, by mile 75 while standing in a Dunkin Donuts convenient store shivering uncontrollably and sipping on a Gatorade, I wished the rain to Hell. Lesson number one out of the Handbook for Sadistic Cyclists says that you must always grin and bare it—finish out your ride no matter what the weather conditions. So I hopped back on the No-Large-Chain-Ring-Gear Technium and I was off.
It took about 10 minutes to heat back up and start to feel good again. The rain continued in droves over the next 21 miles to the second water stop at mile 97. The Harpoon support team was great, providing us with the nourishment and encouragement we needed to prod along. Leaving them behind, we knew it was our last stop for the day and the brewery now awaited us!
Fortunately, most of the route past Keene, NH was downhill. The rain had stopped for a brief thirty minutes or so to allow us to cruise this portion. In fact, cruising became the new theme for the day. I actually began to feel refreshed, and “second-winded”. That would not last long as the second wave of downpours arrived just in time for mile 108. Leslie and I had chosen to ride together for support, and now was my time to take advantage of that support. I am sure she got sick of me asking every five miles how far we had gone, but never showed it. Perhaps the daggers of water cascading off of her back tire and into my face was her way of silencing me, for I dropped back to avoid the acqua-induced onslaught. I dropped further back after several pee stops facilitated by drinking nearly two liters of water at the last water stop.
Around mile 120 we joined forces once again, focusing on the finish. The rain had stopped, the brewery was only 10 miles away and life was good once again. Around mile 125, the sentimentality began to settle in, for knowing this would be the last five miles I would ride on the Technium. I was determined to make it quiet, memorable five miles. As I steadily cruised along, I thought of all the good times on this bike: the numerous 22 mile sprints up to Bedford and back; the rides to the beaches along the north shore; and who could forget the 85+ mile jaunts up to the NH border and back? As I waxed nostalgically of these memories, I suddenly found myself jolted back to reality as I came off my saddle and hurled towards the handlebars. The scraping sound of my shoes on the pavement as the back tire lodged into the railroad tracks made me realize I needed to react quickly. Fortunately, I landed on my feet and stopped my fall quickly. I had made it unscathed. Alas, the Technium had not. The back tire turned into a pretzel upon impact with the tire tracks and flatted out (these tracks, in fact, caused several wipe-outs as I would later find out). One last memory, indeed.
Hitching a ride to the brewery with a B2B rider who happened to be driving by in his van, I finished the last five miles of the ride in non-ceremonious fashion. Taking the Technium out of the van, I leaned it against the fence in order to make off for the feast of grilled chicken and beer that awaited all of our hard work upon the completion of this epic. As I walked away from the bike, I heard a metallic slither. Stopping, I looked back to see that the chain had fallen off and rested on the wet grass. I just smiled and thought of all the good times.