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PMC Day 0: The Huckleberries Ride Again

Friday, August 1, 2008

This ride was epic.

There were fifteen of us, as shown in the picture below:

15 at the Start

From left to right: Scott, Joel, Jon, Tom, Mark, Dave, Tim, Not Sure, Ellen, Me, Steve, Mike, Mark, Not Sure, and Steve.

Could someone fill me in on the "Not Sures" please?

Did I forget to mention that I was riding with Lilliputians? They may be tiny, but they make up for it with numbers!

Click the image for higher resolution. (This is Mark Stockwell's photo, used with permission.)

Not pictured: Jimbo and ???, the guys that drove the sag wagon and kept us all alive.

Also not pictured: Rawson Hubbel and his friend Mike (who caught up with us later), and two friends of Mark Stockwell who we picked up in Stockbridge at the Red Lion Inn.

Now that you've met the crew, let me remind you of something. I started this year very heavy. In early April I weighed 278 pounds! Climbing hills wasn't just challenging, it seemed nearly impossible. I lost lots of weight, but in May I did the Birthday Loop with Steve and felt fat and slow. In June we started doing the birthday loop group ride, and Rick is so light and fast that he makes everybody feel fat and slow. Although I improved with every ride (which usually included some real hills), I never stopped feeling fat and slow.

Imagine my pleasant surprise, then, when Mark Stockwell and I flew into Huntington more than five minutes ahead of the rest! After Huckleberries I even managed to be first up the monster climb on Route 66 (though Mark and I left a bit ahead of some of the others). No, it's not a race, and none of the other riders are "slow," but I surprised myself.

The descent off Jacob's ladder was as amazing as ever. Miles and miles of gentle, downhill pedaling, looking through the forest on either side of the road, hoping to see bunnies and deer. It's so relaxing after the hard climb.

HAH!! Yeah right! Mark and I rode down that mountain like our butts were on fire, and I hit my top speed of the weekend: 52.8 mph. I actually managed that while coasting in the steepest section. The road descends for at least nine miles, but after the first five or six it barely deserves to be called a "road." Pot holes and rocks replaced the road, and we had to drop our pace or risk flat tires and wipe outs.

Gee, it would really stink to get a flat out there, wouldn't it? Would really hate to have to change a flat tire on the side of a mountain road... Yeah, anyway, I'll come back to this, as you probably guessed.

Rawson and Mike caught us at our namesake, the Huckleberries cafe.

At some point after the Route 66 monster climb, we regrouped and rode to lunch together at Atkins Farms Country Market. I ate better than in previous years: only half of a roast beef sandwich, a V8 (mostly for the salt, on the advice of Mike Lucas), and a bunch of grapes. Others in the group ate sushi. Sushi?! I couldn't do it. I like sushi, but it just makes my stomach turn when I'm riding hard.

Triple Flat on a Two-Wheeled Bike

Some of the roads were in such terrible condition that we'd all gotten a little burned out from pointing out every significant hole and bump. We were in a pace line — I don't recall now, four days later, if it was before or after lunch but I think after — and I was sixth or seventh back.

SLAM I hit a hole very hard, and heard the dreaded "psst psst psst psst" of my front tire gasping its last. We'd already had two flats on this ride, and I now had our third. One of the guys Mark Stockwell had us pick up at the Red Lion jumped into action and had my tube replaced faster than most riders could even pop the bead over the rim. (Seriously, he has this super-human talent for tire-changing, and I'm not the only one to notice it.)

I pumped it up with my frame pump, and managed to rip the stem off it just as I was finishing up. YEAH!! There's our fourth flat, same as the third flat.

Tom worked his magic again, and I got on to start riding... and my back wheel was flat too! GAH! So I had originally double-flatted without knowing it, and then managed to make it a triple flat by breaking the stem while pumping the front wheel. NICE. Surely I belong in some record book for that one.

On to Sturbridge

I was next to Steve Weiss when he commented, "There's Sturbridge." I looked up and smiled. Because sometimes I'm evil.

"Sturbridge?" I asked.


"As in... the town line?"

"That's the one."

I paused... not at all. I sprinted past the front of the line, and kept going hard until just before the town line. I couldn't hear him behind me, but I was sure he was back there. Just after I crossed the line I saw him out of the corner of my eye. He'd almost caught me. (That was fun!)

18 at the Finish

Finish Line in Sturbridge at Motel 8

While only 15 started in West Stockbridge, 18 finished with us in Sturbridge. We actually picked up four additional riders, so I'm not sure who is missing.

Click the image for higher resolution.

We all finished together at the Super 8 motel for pictures, and then I rode to the Comfort Inn where Corinne had already registered.

After a shower and a little munching, I drove back to the Host to register. The registration hall was almost empty, so I zipped through the line. Then I made a bold move...

Heavy Hitter

I committed to being a "heavy hitter" for the PMC again this year. That means I have to raise at least $6700 by October 1, instead of $4000. So far I've raised $675, so I'm 10% of the way there. I have to make it, or they charge the balance to my credit card...

Dinner to Lights Out

I held bikes while Steve, Paul, Dave, Mark and Andy unpacked their car, then I went into the "retail area" to buy a couple of tubes (for the guys who loaned them to me when I triple-flatted) and a CO2 cartridge for Mark (owed it to him for two years). I got what I needed, but never managed to give them to their owners. Sigh.

Dinner was the same as every year: held out back under the big tent, and was exactly the same food as we have every year. Pretty good, if a little boring. I sat with Paul and Steve, and Chris and Donna Rawson.

After wandering all over the Host parking lot to find the car (I could NOT remember where I had parked it!), I drove back to the hotel again. There was a mechanic set up at the back of the parking lot, just like they had at the Host! Hmm... I stopped by to see what was up. He had an interesting story:

The owner of the hotel came into the shop where the mechanic worked, the day before (Thursday). He asked if they were doing any volunteer work at the PMC like most of the other shops in the area, but they weren't. So he asked if they'd like to. They would, but it was too late to set anything up this year, because "surely the PMC had paperwork or a process they had to go through..."

The hotel owner's response was, "I don't care about any of that. It's my hotel, and I'd like you to set up at my place for all the cyclists staying with us." So, that's what he did.

He wasn't busy, so I had him retape my bars, and gave him a small tip.

Corinne and I watched some of the opening ceremonies on TV, and then went to bed. I felt good, and was confident that this was going to be a great weekend.

Stats for the Ride

100.25 miles (161.4 km) (including the ride from my hotel to the start, and from the finish to my new hotel) in 5h 10' 40" for an average speed of 19.36 mph (31.17 kph).

Page last updated: 8/13/2008

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