This is a shameless attempt to save the the most advanced civilization in
history from imminent self destruction by eliminating carbon emission,
dependence on foreign sources of fuel,obesity, hypertension and diabetes.
Cycling accomplishes all those things at once and helps us develop a better
understanding of ourselves, each other and our relationship to the cosmos.

Oh, horse puckey!
I like to ride bikes, have been doing it all my life.
The rest of that crap is just a fringe benefit,
and the blogosphere gives me a chance to share my interior
monologue with virtual rather than imaginary friends.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Mountain Mayhem-I made it over "the wall."

Well the weather guessers did us wrong at the Michigan Mountain Mayhem.  The cloudy skies, gradually became intermittent showers and the temperature prediction was dismal as well.  I went to find the school grounds which were opened for camping.  People started arriving rather early, around 3 in the afternoon and continued to come in all through the night.  Unfortunately my camera started acting up and it looks like a bad movie by Prince, apparently Minnesota isn't the only place with purple rain (I honestly don't know what happened but I'll post the photos I could get).
We had a good time visiting,comparing gear and talking up the next day's ride.  Everybody I talked to was looking forward to it with a little trepidation.  After a while I approached somebody and asked if they had talked to anybody who had done it before.  None.  We started wondering...why had nobody come back?  Hmm.  Well the charming little village of Boyne City, which is located in one of the most picturesque places in the world

began to fill its little shopping district
with bikers registering for the competition.  After getting my packet I  went to a local watering hole for a beer and talked to another entrant.  He said he had gotten hooked on climbing when the company he worked for sent him to live in Peru.  He spent a few years there and rode through and over the Andes until he was totally addicted.  He thought this was a suitable warm up ride for the Triple By Pass ride in Colorado a few weeks from now.  Warm up? Triple By Pass?
   I went to sleep early, confident that I was surrounded by madmen and that we would see the graves of former participants along the route.  The  weather deteriorated throughout the night and the weather men reverted to the famous Michigan 15 minute rule-"Don't like it? Wait 15 minutes, it'll change."  I awoke at 6AM to the sights and sounds of a massive downpour complete with thunder and lightning, rolled over and went right back to sleep.  I slept another hour, and the thunder still surrounded us, the rain kept coming down and I knew we weren't going places for a while.  I got up to make a cup of coffee and the guys at the next campsite said the starting times went out the window and people were just going when the lightning went away.  The rain continued and I was surprised to see the lot fill with participants.
Although it was not the full 1000 field, there was a great turnout of people despite the 40 degree temps and rain.  I took off with the other two guys, left my timing chip at the start so I would be free to lie about it later, and went on down the road, coffee in bottle holder.
The road started off with some mild climbs and I told the other two guys on road bikes that they'd be dropping me at the first big climb since I was on the Hunq.  They were dragging about 10 less lbs so there was no sense fooling anybody.  That part of the strategy was correct.  The climbs and descents were really quite pleasant, I was told that the majority of the climbs were category 3 with a few reaching category 5.  I don't know "cat 3 from 5" unless I'm counting at the local rescue so I took their word.
The descents were great

and the Hunq tracked like it was on rails at speeds over 40 miles per hour.  A few of the spandex hamsters rode my wheel for a while before passing and thanking me for the excellent fenders on the bike.  This was the day to have them.  The rain finally gave up around 11 AM, I caught up and rode with Debbie and Stephanie
and enjoyed the beautiful country side for the rest of the ride.
Although I saw a few strange things, a couple of tandems, single speeds and one unicycle making the ride, this was the most unusual bike I came across
sitting in a yard on the route.  A "totally green" answer to lawn maintenance.
Because of the late start and lousy weather I made the decision to cut the 100k ride short and turn off for the 50.  I didn't come to prove anything and didn't see any reason to make work of it.  At the turn there were a few people collected, discussing the pros and cons of the decision.  I blew by and shouted "what decision?" which brought a burst of laughter from the group.  They caught up with me a mile or so later.  Then along came "the wall."
The wall is the last serious climb before the descent into town, all the routes face it and it is the single reason many riders come.  I have seen more challenging climbs, but not many.  Some short climbs into the Blue Ridge mountains were tougher, and many roads in the Rockies are, but this is a challenge.  It's about 3 miles long and it develops from 8 up to about 15% grade until the last 3/4 mile which goes straight up. I was told the last part is 29% and many, if not most, end up walking.  I took my time, grannied down and slalomed up the road.  It wasn't easy, I got out of the saddle a couple times because I was afraid the bike would wheelie and leave me on my back, but I got it done on two wheels.  The girls both ended up walking.  At the top we stopped to rest and a local reporter asked me about my strategy for getting up the hill.  I said it's a simple three point plan: "Gear down, go slow and leave your ego at the bottom!"
While we were resting, a woman came up the hill, dancing on the pedals all the way, reached the summit, looked up, said "whew!"  and flew on by looking for another hill.  I don't know what she was made of.
Well I don't care what their T-shirts say

I'm not lying, I did not have to walk "the wall."
So the journey was a success, they ended the day in downtown Boyne City with a catered lunch from an excellent local Mexican restaurant with beer and wine available.   If it hadn't been for the weather, I would have stayed and partied on, there was a band scheduled and drinking involved, but I was wet, cold and the weather was not really comfortable for just hanging out all evening outdoors.
I will be back next year, this is one fun and well run event that promises to get better.

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