How do I describe the epic proportions of today's mini-disasters...
Wake up call was early for our 90 mile day, and particularly painful, perhaps especially for those who decided to explore a corn field at midnight last night. The first unpleasant surprise of the day came when we looked out the door and saw the rain and the second unpleasant surprise came when we stepped outside and realized just how cold it actually was. Rebecca, our brave and self-sacrificing social worker, stepped to the plate and heroically volunteered to be sweep for the day. The next problem was the disfunctional lights on the trailer which required myself, Severin, and John working on it and Niko having to later go get the fuse fixed. However, we loaded the trailed and set out into the gray morning, all wondering how we would fare.
One thing about chalk is that it actually stays pretty well in the rain. Sadly for us, this did not seem to be the case today and it was not long before the first people were off route with the van following them. It should also be noted that in an attempt to avoid biking on Route 30, we were trying to take a series of side roads resulting in ridiculously long directions. The lost people were discovered when Rebecca caught up to us as we enjoyed the momentus moment of crossing the Mississippi. This event did not pass with some lasting marks as I managed to tear a sizable hole in my chamois in the upper thigh region while climbing over the road rail, thus requiring me to hike up my leg warmers in order to cover it.
Now pressing on into the west and thouroughly soaked, several of us decided to stop for a warming cup of hot chocolate at the nearest fast food, thus resulting in a total of about 4 minutes of warmth. It was not long after this that we encountered a gravel road, which, thanks to the rain, was actually more of a mud road. Deciding that a 4 mile an hour pace with the leg work of an 18 mile an hour pace was not worth it, we turned around to meet Niko and the van. We then realized that we had lost the front three riders since there were no tracks in the gravel and we had seen no chalk on the road and they could not be reached on cell phones. Most of the group was not gathered munching on brownies and flattened bananas and we turned around to re-route for what would be one of many detours. Lindsey took a pretty skilled fall at this point. It was not approximately 11:30 AM and had gone maybe 20 miles... epically slow progress.
The journey continued and it was not long before we found ourselves biking in a large group along a busy road with Niko blocking a lane behind us. When it sunk in just how inefficient this was, we stopped and ended up walking our bikes along the shoulder back the way we came to get to an exit. A proud moment for everyone. Despite yet another on the fly re-route, we soon found ourselves at lunch eating primarily left-overs from the prior night's dinner. Lunch was brief as we still
have many miles to go, but it was not long after starting again that we encountered yet another gravel road and re-routed again. Meanwhile, the few who were ahead were encountering difficulties of their own, including getting 15 miles off-route and hitching a ride to get back to the right road.
So it is now about 3 pm, having covered about 60 miles of the route but traveled over 75, and we had just passed through the town of Toronto when we came to a fork in the road. We proceeded to take a small detour down the wrong way, but when we returned, it was discovered that the other option was also the wrong way. This was discovered by finding out that Niko was currently stuck in another ditch, this time at a pig farm about a mile down the road, which occured as he was trying to turn around. So the two options in front of us were wrong, and the only other way was the way we came. It was also now nearing 4 pm when we needed to be getting off the roads and since we clearly were not going to come close to finishing the
remaining 30 miles, we headed back to Toronto and passed several happy hours hanging out in a bar eating fries and enjoying classic hits from middle school played on the juke box.
There is still one more untold tale. While we were all happily resting in Toronto, there were several members of our group who had spent the past few hours sitting in the lee ward side of a ditch. Brian had not been feeling well, so when they stopped to take a rest he proceeded to fall asleep in the ditch. Deciding that it was wiser to let him recover, Rebecca and John stayed with him and let him sleep. Remember that it was still cold, wet, and windy, thus required the previously mentioned huddling to get out of the wind. Eventually we were all collected and loaded into the van and set off to collect
Severin and Brooke from the gas station, who seemed to be enjoying the amenities it offered. Although the day can be adequately summed up as a long, wet, and cold ordeal, it will be remembered fondly by us for being long, wet, and cold.