24 July 2012

Road Rash

Informing the family of the day's events.
Well, week one, and I've now fallen twice.  Only this time I was going over 25 mph on a highway in a slight drizzle.  I'd just crested a decent hill and was on my way down when I realized I was going a bit too fast for the road conditions.  I lightly tapped my brakes, but that just sent me wobbling since my panniers weren't really balanced very well.  Seeing gravel ahead and still going too fast, I pulled my brakes a little tighter.

Well, I made a mistake.  The tighter brakes combined with a wet road, loose gravel, and shaky balance sent me shoulder-first into the highway.  Luckily, a truck passing the other way immediately stopped and was mindful enough to pull his truck into my lane behind me to keep oncoming traffic from hitting me.  He rushed to my side and helped me get myself and my bike off the road.  He grabbed a first aid kit from his truck and started cleaning me up.  During this time, a truck full of Army guys also pulled over to help, and one of them happened to be trained in the medical field.  He started assisting the first man in helping me find my cuts and get them cleaned up and bandaged.  Meanwhile, yet another super kind person, this one an off-duty EMT, stopped and started to help clean me up.  He was the one who decided it would be wise to call an ambulance.  All the while I was trying to get ahold of Annie, who was a few miles ahead of me.  Finally, we got ahold of her, and one of the nice Army guys went to pick her up in his truck.

So here I am, on the side of the highway, surrounded by wonderful people helping me, when I realize I can't afford to take an ambulance to the hospital, so I start deciding, Hey, I don't need to go to the hospital!  By then Annie pulls up and starts documenting, and I call my father for advice.

Documentation Begins. (Thanks, Annie, for remember what's truly important.) 
I was in shock, so they wrapped a blanket around me.

It seems that I could have hurt my shoulder.  The guys put it in a sling and iced it until we got to the hospital.
 The guys were very professional and thorough.  At one point they thought I could be bleeding on my back, so one was about to cut my shirt with some scissors, but I caught him and said, "No!  Please don't!  I have only one other shirt!!"  Thankfully, they agreed to leave my clothing intact-- except of course for all the rips and tears the road put in them.

Yep, they took me to the hospital.  Thanks for the insurance, Daddy!

Fuzzy, but an idea of the size of my favorite wound.

Much clearer.  :)

We just kept finding cuts.

Really, they're everywhere.

Wrapping my road rash with lots of gauze.

That one isn't too bad, really.

It hurt SO MUCH to move my arms like that.
The nurse said, and I quote, "I'm going to make you look like a human tampon."
So now we're camped out in the hospital's family waiting room.  The hospital staff really went above and beyond to help us figure out where to stay.  I'm truly surrounded by great people.

Dr. Evermore's Forevertron

The road goes ever on and on....
“It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to.”
- J.R.R. Tolkien

It's been an eventful few days.  We ended up taking a rest day in Madison.  We took our bikes to a bike shop and met a friendly bike mechanic named Martin.  He did some work on my bike, adjusting my derailers and switching the pedals on my bike to platforms (from clip-ins).  He suggested that we go to a place called "Dr. Evermore's," but he insisted it would be better if we knew nothing about it.  His enthusiasm convinced us.  The next day we set out on our mysterious adventure.  It was a perfect day for riding: slightly overcast, flattish riding, nice and cool.

We finally made it to our destination, but what we found confused us a little.  It looked like a few metal sculptures in front of a junk yard.  Martin, was this the great thing you wanted us to see?  

Looks like a junk yard, right?

But then we decided to investigate further.  We trusted that Martin would send us only to a super neat location.  And we were right to trust him:  he led us to a glorious scrap metal sculpture park. It has the "Forevertron," which is the largest scrap metal sculpture in the world.

This is what the entrance looks like.


Its eyes are made of survey medallions.  So clever.

The ants go marching one by one, hurrah! Hurrah! 

I enjoyed the shiny metal.

Crossing swords. :)

I love the details.

These girls were running around playing with the sculptures-- turns out they make sounds!

Some of them are really tall!

Love the colors.

Three heads are better than one.

These guys reminded me of Transformers.

They're a cute, tiny army.  

Thanks, Martin!!!

After that fun adventure, we continued on our way to find more beautiful Wisconsin scenery (and several VERY STEEP hills).

An old, abandoned house.

Beautiful countryside.

Roadside wildflowers.

We climbed over those hills.

Finally we stopped to camp on the side of our bike trail.  70 miles.  Nice.

We're so cute.

Lovely camping site.  Very cozy.

The next day was blistering hot.  Actually, there was a heat advisory for the area.  We got about 7 miles before we agreed it was hazardous to our health to continue.  We decided the safest thing to do would be to hitchhike to Annie's Aunt Sally and Uncle Gary's house in Necedah, Wisconsin.  It didn't take long for a super kind stranger to take pity on us.  Kaylan stopped to pick us up and even went slightly out of her way to get us right to Aunt Sally and Uncle Gary's front door.  She was soooooo kind.  I'm very happy we got to meet her.

Happy with Kaylan.
We ended up having a wonderful time with Annie's family.  They fed and watered us, gave us good conversation, and let us sleep in a super comfortable bed.  Bliss.

Annie's Awesome Family

21 July 2012


I mean, STOP! Ok, now go!  Kind of.

Annie did a great job summarizing the past few days.  We've already had numerous learning experiences and are well on our way to transitioning from amateur cyclists to pros.  Something I've really taken to heart:  Train. Train. Train.  It turns out Annie is a much stronger cyclist than I am, and "flat" places aren't actually flat at all.  As it stands, ugh, my body hurts.  A wasp stung me on the first day; I fell on the second; and I hit some of the steepest hills of my life on the third.  Even so, I'm having the time of my life.  We've met so many kind strangers and learned to push ourselves beyond what we thought was possible.  Yesterday I was ready to give up.  I was sitting on the side of the road, no water, halfway up the steepest hill EVER after miles of steep hills.  I was really discouraged after learning I'd gotten off my route, which added a few miles to my day. I was in a negative place.  But after some kind encouragement from David, I walked up the second half of the hill and a green "Welcome to Madison" sign greeted me.  I was so elated that I had no trouble cycling the last few miles to Sam's house.  And it was mostly downhill.  

Annie is remembering to take pictures more often than I, but here's what I've been able to document:

Getting ready and installing our panniers.

Packed and ready (?) to go.

Drenched in a thunderstorm.  So damp.

That's right: we camped there.

Annie and Dolly had a brief romance.

Country architecture.

We're both still learning how to access our paniers while still straddling the bike.  It's harder than it looks!

So suave.

Sometimes it's so pretty we just have to stop to admire.

See the hills?

This path is flat, the day was wind-free, and the scenery is breathtaking.  If only it was paved....

DAY1 DAY2 DAY3....where does the time go?

First stop at a bike shop: Higher Gear in Highland Park

Stung by wasp midride, poor baby.

Kept going like a champ only minutes later.

First night, soaking wet in our speedily set up stealth campsite.

First fall. It's hard to balance with 30+ pounds of weight on your bike.

FIRST STATE LINE CROSSING. We were very excited.

First Flat. Yes, that also happened to Jessi.

Jessi couldn't handle it. But no worries, I took over.


I DID IT...and it was not easy.

The best things in life are free....such as the satisfaction of changing a tire for the first time. Ah, it's the little things in life, isn't it?

At Country Rose Bakery and Café in Union Grove, WI. with THE Country Rose, herself on the left and on the right LouAnnie, one of the sweetest, most generous ladies I have ever met.

Our fantastic Day 2 hosts, Pat and MaryJo.

Jessi and I in our sweet little room at Pat and MaryJo's.

The height of luxury after our first wet, cold, night.

We still love each other!  
Just one of the MANY MANY MANY beautiful views on the bike trail,  Day 3.

The one and only SAM ADAMS took us in on day 3.

Day one. We haven't even started yet. What can go wrong? Well, a lot. What went wrong for us, you ask? Well, let me paint you a picture. Let's get a really early start.....HAHA. nope. Let's have everything packed and ready the night before.....uh uh, not us. Have our bikes properly tuned up and ready to roll....hell no. Know where we're going....not these girls! Needless to say, after a hectic morning of packing, cleaning, searching for a ghost key, and hanging out in the Bike Lane so Jessi could get her brake fixed, we finally set out at about noon only to get lost about a million times in freaking Chicago. I can't make a dramatic enough statement to describe how much I hate the way Google Maps does bike directions. So I'll just say that I REALY F%CK!NG (sorry, Mommy...but it's the only word strong enough to convey this emotion) despise it! They're so illogical and impossible to follow. Anyways, we finally made it out of the city and onto the North Branch Trail, which was paved and beautiful. We stopped at Higher Gear, a cute little bike shop in Highland park, just off the trail to supplement our gear, since we had already figured out several inconveniences in our little riding setup. The proprietors of Higher Gear were insanely kind to us, and we left the bike shop in high spirits. Shortly after, we hooked up with the Green Bay Trail...not quite as scenic and definitely not as paved as the North Branch Trail. Also, what's that? Ominous gray skies, rolling thunder in the distance (in the direction we're heading, of course) and strong headwinds? Oh, good. Needless to say, we did not make it to our planned destination. The downpour started at about 8:30, and we finally gave up when we started seeing lightening illuminate the sky above our heads at around 9 or 9:30. We definitely want to live, at least to finish out this trip, if not longer! So we pulled off the trail and set up our tent near some trees. I don't want to sound braggy here, but we were so efficient. We moved like a well oiled machine and had the tent set up and all of our gear inside within 15 minutes. We then attempted to dry off...hahahahahaha. Not in the cards for us. So we just stripped off our wet clothes, laid down on our damp sleeping bags, and fell asleep to the pounding rain and the rolling thunder, waking up briefly every once and awhile if the lightning flashed especially bright or the thunder clashed particularly vehemently.

Biking is SO easy, a little kid can do it. Biking into the wind is harder. Biking with 30 pounds on your bike is even harder. Biking uphill, with weight, into the wind is impossible. Yet SOMEHOW, we did it for EIGHTY MILES. That's right.....Day two was, I sweartogod, ALL UPHILL, with intense headwinds and light rains. We were on our bikes for more than 13 hours (with a couple of generous rest breaks thrown in.) We biked well over 80 miles. Here is my abridged version of Day 2: Woke up soggy and sore, but excited nonetheless. Packed up our tent and gear. Got back on the fantastic *ahem* gravel trail. Made it to the Wisconsin border (YAYY). My rear tire had a low pressure at this point, which made it quite uncomfortable and difficult to ride. UNFORTUNATELY, we did not have the adaptor to our air pump, so we couldn't fix it. This led us to take a 3 mile detour, only to find that the place we were seeking (a Target, I believe) did not exist. We managed to find a bike shop 4 miles away. They pumped up our tires, and we bought our adaptor there. Shortly thereafter, Jessi got our first flat. (Luckily, we had just purchased our trusty adaptor, or we would have been screwed!) I had never officially changed an innertube before, but thanks to the fantastic tutoring session I had with Mike Knish only days before, I was confident. It turned out to take a leetle more muscle than I had anticipated, but I DID IT.  Jessi was stung by a wasp at some point. We also made the decision, for better or worse, to bike on the highway because gravel is hard to pedal through, but soggy gravel is absolutely miserable. So we biked on the less gravelly, but MUCH more hilly highway....into the wind.  Call me a masochist, but I freaking LOVED it. Pedaling uphill was a struggle, but it was also like a game....all you have to do is reach the top, and you win. And the reward is SO worth it: Crest that hill and see the downward slope and go ohsofast back down that you make it halfway up the next hill before you even know you're on an incline. We did this for hours and hours and hours and hours. Finally, at about 10 P.M., we arrived at Pat and MaryJo's. We could not have asked for better hosts after the LONGEST day of our lives! They had a massage-shower. You can't imagine how heavenly that felt. And we got to sleep in a bed...so cozy.

Day 3 commenced with a late start....we could hardly bear to leave the Haven of MaryJo and Pat. We had a great morning eating breakfast, sharing stories, exploring their gorgeous property, and playing with the best Coon Hound I have yet to meet since Old Dan and Little Ann, Dolly. We set off for  Madison around noon. We biked from MaryJo and Pat's to a lovely paved trail and had a lovely ride. We hooked up with the Glacial Drumlin State Trail at Wales and took it to the end: 43 miles. It was a BEAUTIFUL ride. Unfortunately, the entire trail was gravel, which we have quickly discovered is our least favorite riding surface. From the end of the trail in cottage grove it was a pleasant (although quite hilly, compared to any ride I have ever taken in Chicago!) journey. In Madison, we met up with the fantastically brilliant Samuel Adams, who took us to dinner at a DELICIOUS restaurant, fittingly called the "Weary Traveller" where we both ate one of the best meals of our lives. Not that you're interested in mundane details, such as my eating habits....but this food merits a short description. I literally just copied this from the menu: Grilled Walleye Sandwich- fresh walleye filét with roasted Poblano tartar sauce on a housemade bun, with lettuce and tomato. Served with mixed greens, Yukon God potatoes and a pickle spear. Also, we had a Spotted Cow, which according to Sam, is THE beer of Wisconsin. It was quite tasty. We ended the day with....a great night's sleep! Can't get much better than that when you're on the road.

We road this trail almost from it's origin, for 46 miles. It was gorgeous, but gravel....Yuck. Call me city girl, but I love a paved trail!

(Posted by Annie)