Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Weekend at Billys

This past weekend was a weekend free of racing, so I decided to tag along with Billy and head up to his dad’s farmhouse on the shores of Lake Erie. Even as the weather was finally starting to warm up, I was really looking forward to getting away from the Burgh for a little R&R.  The plan was to head north and ride my trusty Cannondale Caffiene in and around the Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge.  There isn’t any single mile of singletrack, but there are miles and miles of dirt and gravel roads that are closed to automobile traffic, as well miles of mowed paths.  It would have been ideal for a cross bike, but as mine was trashed in the car accident, we were forced into using our second choice out of the stable.

Saturday morning, we departed Billy’s home and started making our way to the northwest corner of Ohio.  After a brief stop for breakfast, we arrived a little after noon to the farmhouse.  The brutal winter took its toll on the house and as we arrived to find the water lines had burst in the basement, even with waterline antifreeze in the system. Billy’s dad was going to head to town with the girls to get parts while Billy and I headed out on the bikes.  Despite the early forecasts for mild temperatures, it was downright cold as we headed out the door. Somewhere in the mid to high 20’s, depending on who’s thermometer you wanted to trust. But it wasn’t the cold that was memorable, it was the WIND.  Blowing in directly off the lake, the cold air bore right through even the thickest of layers. 
Gotta love some beach time!

We parked, jumped on the bikes and started straight into the wind. As you can see from my Strava file, even the trails are mostly arrow straight.  We couldn’t ride all the trails because there were several  nesting sites for Bald Eagles in the refuge area that were roped off and access was prohibited. But we eventually made our way out to the shores of the lake.  The water along the shore yards was frozen solid to at least 100 yards out.  If it looks like our smiles are forced, they are.  Just taking my glove off to hold the camera and take the photo was painful. BITTER COLD.

After riding in the cold, I was looking forward to a hot shower… until I remembered that we still hadn’t fixed the water line. That became my first priority… we cut out the broken section, glued a new piece in place, turned on the water and the water poured out of the pressure regulator and the expansion tank… ugh!  A quick phone call and we found the parts we needed, but as it was after 7pm, and we hadn’t eaten since around 10am, we were all starting to get touchy.  We combined our trips and grabbed the parts, and finally got some good food in our bellies.  After dinner, we put our efforts together and finally got the new regulator, expansion tank, and pvc pipe in place.  It was a bit disheartening when we turned the water on for a third time and heard water rushing, but to my relief, it was on the line to the outside spigot and on the “other” side of the ball valve and it was easily isolated. By 10PM, we finally had water, but my hot shower was going to have to wait, I was too tired to wait up for the hot water tank to heat the water.

We woke up Sunday to Sunny blue skies and relatively no wind. Temps were still hovering around freezing, but without the wind it was really pleasant.  Billy wanted to get in some extra riding so he rolled out a few minutes earlier than I did, but I had a general idea of where he was headed so I decided to just try to catch up to him.  I followed his tracks in the snow for well over an hour and I thought I had him trapped on a large peninsula and knew he would have to ride back past me to head somewhere else, but found out that there was an unmapped levy on the peninsula that took him over to even more trail options.  As the snow had melted by this point, I lost his trail and had to pick what looked like the path I would have expected him to take, but guessed wrong. I rode for a little while longer and then headed home to wait for him.As it turned out, he was out for another 2 1/2 hours and we had to go pick him up when he flatted and then discovered his spare tube had a large slice in it.
For the record, this is not Dynamic Physical Therapy's handiwork, but it did the trick!

It was great to get out and ride again. Because of the thumb, I wasn’t able to shift the rear derailleur without out letting go of the grips and using the palm of my hand to select the gear.  Thank God the trails were as flat as they were and with 45 miles of riding in two days, I registered ZERO vertical feet of
climbing.  Shifting was at a minimum and only required with a change of direction because of the wind or when the trail cover went from gravel to grassy stubble.  It was just what the doctor ordered. Thanks Billy, Arryn, Addie, and of course, Rich for putting up with me for the weekend.   Can’t wait to get to do it again!