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After 3 days of “down” time, all of us were ready and eager to ride, even Coco. From the time we got up and dressed, Coco sat next to her trailer, waiting for one of us to unzip her kennel door for her. We packed down rather quickly and loaded the bikes up in short order, now that we each have our tasks and routine down to a science. The last item loaded? Coco. Frankenbutt asked her if she was ready to “go bikeys” and she perked up and pawed at her soft side kennel. He unzipped the netting door and she climbed up and in quickly.
Just as we were about to pedal out, a fellow camper stopped and marveled at our operation. He told us his name is Don Ireland and that he had done a cross country bike ride from San Diego to Georgia. His ride was a supported ride in which all of his luggage was transported from stop to stop and a mechanic’s vehicle assisted you if you had any flats, breakdowns, etc. He was stunned that we travel unassisted and couldn’t imagine how we possibly climb hills on our heavily weighted bikes. He remarked that we must drop to about 10 mph going up hills.
I had to laugh at that thought. Truly, we average about 10 mph riding on flat land. Hill climbs typically drop us to 4-5 mph. Although I can’t remember the calculation for the speed of light, I do know the speed of BUGS! As soon as our speedometer drops under 5 mph, the tiny annoying gnats usually show up; and they love to buzz around our ears, eyes, nose and mouth. Hill climbs are that much more annoying because of that.
We rode out by 9 am and rode some beautiful back roads, mostly with rolling hills, southwest in the direction of Cleves. By noon, we were halfway to our destination and confident that we’d arrive in time for the evening’s race. Luckily, my troublesome back wheel held out and didn’t really give me any problems. Frankenbutt worked on it while we were in Dayton and warned me that it’s on “its last leg”. I hope it makes it all the way to Louisville without an expensive repair because I may retire my bike in hopes of upgrading to a better road bike.
Once we were within 13 miles of Cleves, we searched the GPS for a lunch stop. A trusty McDonald’s was only 2 miles off our planned route so we headed there. We’ve eaten at McD’s more on this ride than any other restaurant for 2 reasons: $1 menu and free Wifi. The Beast and I ordered lunch and brought Frankenbutt’s out to him. She and I ate inside while I posted the prior day’s blog. After riding in the warm weather, the air conditioning was almost too cold; I found myself shivering as I typed. Once the blog was posted and I stepped outside, the hot air cured that and I wished I had bottled a little of the A/C to go. From there we rode to Kroger’s grocery store and picked up some dinner basics and a few road snacks.
With our necessary stops out of the way, we re-set the GPS to the Cleves track address and rode the last 11 miles to the track. Along Route 50, we saw a sign for Route 275 to KENTUCKY! Woo hoo, we are so close to meeting our goal to arrive in Louisville! We have 2 track stops left: Cleves and Columbus, Indiana. So, for now, Kentucky will have to wait. When we arrived at the corner of Route 50 and State Road, our GPS said we had arrived at the track. Since we didn’t see it or a sign for it, Frankenbutt pulled up the Google Maps app on my Blackberry and pinpointed exactly where it was, down State Road.
We made a pit stop at the local gas station/convenience store and drank a couple ice cold bottles of Nestea lemon tea. Nestea makes an extra tall bottle and sell them for only 99 cents in the summer months and it seems to hit the spot after riding in the sun. We crossed back over Route 50 and headed down State street, past the corn fields and soccer fields until we saw the BMX track at the end of the road. Since we were early, we parked our bikes under a pavilion and sat at the picnic tables for a rest.
Before long vehicles, with BMX bikes on racks and in the beds of trucks, started pulling into the dirt parking lot alongside us. We rode over and introduced ourselves and were greeted by some really nice BMX moms and dads. Track director John Peters introduced us to his son, granddaughter, wife and several other riders. Everyone made us feel at home from the start.
As soon as registration opened, I met John’s wife, Sue, who is the Clerk of Course and immediately declared us “crazy”. Don’t worry. I wasn’t at all offended. Since we started planning this ride, that’s the one most common comment we hear about our adventure. And now, I think it might be true. It’s hard to fathom that we ever thought we could do this long a ride on yard sale bikes and on a shoe string budget; but somehow, we are still at it.
When I registered the Beast, I told Katie in the office, that I was available for scoring if she needed me and she took me up on it. I liked how many little guys were there for racing. They had almost full gates of 5, 6 & 7 year olds, including McKenna, Track Director John’s granddaughter. Standing at the finish line and scoring is one of the most rewarding things I do. I love seeing the youngest ones, smiling ear to ear, crossing the line thrilled to have made it all the way around the track, regardless of their finish.
Melanie, who is relatively new to the sport since her son started racing this past year, volunteered to score for the first time. Katie and I taught her the basics and she did a great job. Just before the race started, the track director called us to the first straight and introduced us and told the crowd about our ride. We received a round of applause and it felt nice to be appreciated for something we love doing. With introductions aside, it was time for racing! I love looking up the hill from the finish line at the eager faces in the gate, waiting for that test drop to be over so they can get into the gate.
I’ve been talking to a few track directors about the idea of holding a “how to volunteer” meeting with new riders’ parents. Basically, I believe that most people don’t volunteer because they are intimidated by what they don’t know. If we explain the simplicity (and rewards) of what we do, I believe we’ll develop more volunteers on the local level instead of the same core of volunteers, who occasionally need a break. Plus, if you make volunteering a regular part of the program, from the start, (like the “new riders” meeting), it will become a part of the flow of your track’s operation.
After the racing, we said good night to all the families and the track director and pitched our tent in the nearby grove of trees. While Frankenbutt and the Beast worked on getting our sleeping bags and gear into the tent, I made up a bowl of foil packaged tuna fish and single serve (no refrigeration needed) mayonnaise packets that we’d picked up during our fast food stops. I put the tuna on open faced wheat bagels (which hold up very well when squished into pannier bags) and we all sat down to eat in the waning daylight. By 9 pm, we crawled into the tent and read with head lamps on until about 10pm.
Occasionally, a car or two passed by and a train whistle went off, but it was relatively quiet until about midnight. I awoke when Frankenbutt was getting out of the tent, after hearing some voices outside. He was quietly checking on our bikes which, although they were locked up, are vitally important to us. It turned out to be some folks in their late teens or early 20’s who were parked in the BMX track lot and talking and laughing. They weren’t bothering us or our bikes so Frankenbutt returned. Once he was back in the tent, I felt safe and drifted back off to sleep. Luckily, we weren’t counting on Coco to defend us; she slept through all of it.
We had set our alarm clock for 7AM so that we could be up, dressed and packed by 9AM. The track director and his wife invited us for breakfast the next morning, which was such a nice offer we couldn’t refuse. Plus, Frankenbutt was practically guaranteed a fresh hot cup of coffee. It was a “no brainer”.