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- Check out our blog on www.bmxmania.com for exclusive details you won’t find here.
NOTE: We have been camping for the last 3 days and have not had a strong enough cell signal to tether and have internet. Sorry for the late posting of all three days blogs; also my apologies to those who were worried about us. We are OK and back on the road today.
Once in town, we stopped at the convenience store/local gas station and got Frankenbutt his morning coffee. I asked the clerk if we could add some ice to our water bottles, from their soda dispenser, and she said that it was 35 cents a cup. Many places don’t charge us anything and we always make a point of buying something like coffee or Gatorade. I paid the extra since it looked like it was going to be a hot day. In fact, the morning fog burned off quickly and we were already sweating in the short 5 mile ride into town.
We checked the GPS to see what grocery stores there were between Aurora and our next campground stop. Only one small grocery came up, except for the local IGA store in Aurora. As much as I didn’t want to add the weight of groceries to my bike early in the day, I also didn’t want to be caught without a reasonably priced selection of food for the 3 days we intended to stay at Browning’s.
By now, we have a pretty good list of grocery items to choose from that travel well without refrigeration. I picked up 4 cans of Chef Boyardee overstuffed meat ravioli, 2 boxes of Velveeta shells and cheese, 3 packs of Knorr’s pasta sides, a 6 pack of plain bagels, a can of chicken, 5 bananas, a pack of hot dogs (to be cooked same day) and a pack of salami. That together with our 3 packs of Ramen noodles, jar of Peanut Butter and container of jelly, should last us the three days’ stay without needing to run back out.
Once I loaded it all into the pannier bags, my bike felt really heavy and would tip to the side easily when I turned my handle bars. I only had 23 miles more to ride with it that way, so I just figured I’d deal with it. When my bike is that loaded, I look like the old time street peddlers with their overloaded carts of wares. (I don’t personally remember them, but I’ve seen pictures.)
We met up at the bike shop and followed the GPS out to Route 50, heading west. The traffic was busy but there was a shoulder. Ahead, I saw construction signs and then realized that the road narrowed to one lane on our side, bordered by concrete barriers. We stopped before the construction and looked ahead to see that it was only about a mile of barriers that would prevent cars from passing us. We decided to wait until there was a good break in the traffic and then hit our pedals hard and try to ride as fast as we could through that section. In the planning stage, I forgot that my bike was now 20 lbs. heavier than usual.
When Frankenbutt gave the “go” sign, I trudged forward slowly, my bike preferring to roll backwards rather than forwards. I was in a full blown, red faced sweat by the time I finally got it moving at a good clip. By then, a few cars came up behind us but the motorists were patient as we pedaled to the end of the barriers and got onto the shoulder again. That kind of riding is the most nerve racking for me and I don’t think I really relax again for quite some time afterwards.
The rest of our ride into Versailles was pretty uneventful. Route 50 opened up into 2 lanes on either side, traffic got sparse after a few exits and we just enjoyed taking in the scenery. We stopped in the town of Dillsboro for a bite to eat at a place called Janet’s. The owner asked where we had ridden from and we told her Tampa, FL; she said she’s originally from Ocala, FL. Small world indeed. We ate burgers at the picnic table out front and several patrons asked us about our ride and where we were headed. When we told them Browning’s campground, they all seemed to know Martha and asked us to tell her “hi”.
After lunch, we rode the remaining miles and followed the signs into the campground. Martha greeted us and remembered that I had called days before regarding available space. She walked out front to show us where we’d be camping and was fascinated with our biking adventure. She gave us a nice, shady flat spot to camp near the main building so that we’d have easy access to the bathrooms.
After a peaceful night under the stars (we left the rainfly off so that we’d get lots of air flow), I awoke about 6am with raindrops pelting my forehead. I nudged Frankenbutt and said, “It’s raining”. He tried to scramble out of his sleeping bag but couldn’t get the zipper down. I unzipped his bag and then unzipped the tent door so he could grab the rain fly that was lying next to the tent. All the while, Coco was scrambling to get into my sleeping bag because she didn’t like the rain. Typically, the Beast helps Frankenbutt with the rain fly but it looked like she was sound asleep. Later, I found out that she was feigning sleep because she didn’t want to get wet either. Within minutes, our tent was covered and Frankenbutt climbed back in, removed his wet shirt and we all went back to sleep for a few hours.
By mid-morning, the Beast and I were engrossed in our books under the shade of the nearby pavilion and Frankenbutt was enjoying some computer games. I called Gmom to catch up on a few things and was told that she’s making me dinner with lots of vegetables when we return. Thanks, Gmom! I also got a phone call from Cathy K. of Trilogy Park, letting me know that our old BMX buddy, Lenny (from Jersey) also offered us a ride back from Louisville. He has a Suburban and it’s only his son and him coming to the Grands. We talked about 30 minutes until my cell phone battery quit. It was nice to catch up with her and hear how her kids are doing. It was also great to hear that their track in Pottstown, PA has been signing up 2-3 new riders every time they're open!! I can’t believe we’re going to see all of our BMX friends in less than 2 weeks!!
We were thrilled that she took first in her semi and 5th in the main. Frankenbutt also follows the career of Shanaze Reed, of England, and was glad to see that her racing is definitely at Olympic level, too. The Beast is a Sam Willoughby (of Australia) fan and she liked seeing his racing on the big screen, too.
After dinner, we retreated to the tent as more rain began to fall. We all read, with headlamps on, until we fell asleep. In the morning, the sun was shining and we arose for another day of R&R. On Monday, our final day in camp, we did laundry and again, a lot of reading. I was able to get phone calls in when the cell signal cooperated and also got a few phone calls out. All in all, it was another lazy day and I think the three of us are eager to get on with the ride.
We will be arriving in Columbus, IN on Wednesday to visit the BMX track there. On Tuesday, we’ll ride about half way there and spend the night in a state park.
We’ve had so many emails, calls, text messages and facebook messages of support. We really can’t wait to celebrate with all of you in Louisville!
On a personal note, to our friend Hara, the Beast would be delighted to show Rivii how to ride BMX. There’s a BMX track in a park in Egg Harbor Township, NJ where he can try it out. When we return in September, let’s make an evening of it!
On another personal note, to our friend Lenny Hicks: thanks for the offer to ride back with you; that might work very well. The Beast wants to ride back with Penny and her girls so it would only be Frankenbutt and me … AND … Coco. If you don’t mind the dog, that would work great for us plus we can share driving duties if you’d like. If you don’t want the dog in your vehicle, we understand that and won’t be offended. Just let me know.
On another personal note, to our friend Ellie: Thank you, too, for the ride back offer. If it works out with Lenny, we’ll probably go that route since he has a big Suburban for just him and his son. Plus, I was having trouble figuring out which half of me I should send back with you in the “room for 1 ½” comment. My bottom half is less attractive but also can’t speak; My top half is better looking but then you’d have to put up with my babbling! Hope that makes you laugh, smile or at the very least, roll your eyes! Miss you, El!