Day 40: Biloxi to Dauphin Island

Day 40: Biloxi to Dauphin Island

i May 31st No Comments by

Made it to LA

Statistics

*Rode from Biloxi, MS to Dauphin Island, AL – 67 miles
*Climbed a total of 947’
*Maximum elevation – 200’
*Total time on the bike – 5 hours and 28 minutes
*Average speed 12.3 mph

Commentary

After 4 days of bicycling we finally made it to LA. The traffic was not near as bad as I thought it would be. Drivers gave us lots of room. There was a decent shoulder. And the swamp land was kind of pretty. No we are not in L.A. We made it through Mississippi and are now in LA (Lower Alabama).

Pretty cool day. Neither of us was hungry when we started so we left without breakfast. After 16 miles just as we were getting hungry a Waffle House popped up. As we walked in the thunder started to roll. We had a big breakfast and waited out the majority of the storm. We did end up riding for 2-3 hours in the rain but it was not cold. (Actually felt kind of nice to me.) I taught Dad how to program our destination into his Garman. This kept him very entertained for the last couple hours of the trip. (He actually missed me turning because he was checking his navigation system.)

Not many people out today due to the weather. Saw a few houses decked out in flags for Memorial Day. (I wish I would have brought a Red, White, and Blue bicycle jersey to wear today.)

Have not done much listening to music on this trip but the last 10 miles into Dauphin Island, AL was a causeway and I am NOT a fan of bridges. So knowing that neither of us had to worry about making any turns, I plugged in my iPod. The first song out of the shout took my breath away. It was a Livestrong Dedication that I received from a lady named Jean whom I’ve never met. It was for her husband who became a victim of cancer on December 26, 2006. The song was Chasing Cars by Snow Patrol. The chorus of Jeans dedication goes, “If I lay here, if I just lay here, would you lie with me and just forget the world?”

Memorial day is a time to remember and thank people who served in the military. I am very proud of my son, Dad, brother-in-law, mother-in-law, and both fathers-in-law for serving where I did not. I can not help, however, spending most of my time on Memorial Day thinking of those who have served us in any way and who have died – parents, grandparents, brothers, sisters, wives, and husbands.

As I road into Dauphin Island I kept thinking about that chorus, “would you lie with me and just forget the world”. And I knew that everyone of us would give up all of today no matter how much fun we had to lay one more time with those who served us but are now gone.

It was a very fast and teary 10 miles.

Livestrong Dedication from Jean:
Despite years of surveillance and proactive measures, Doug was diagnosed in January 2006 at the age of 49 with Stage 4 mucinous adenocarcinoma. He underwent many cycles of chemotherapy and a course of radiation in the intervening months, yet he managed to ride 70 miles in the Philadelphia Challenge in September ’06. Erin, his Mom, stepfather and sister were there to welcome him as he victoriously crossed through the Survivor gate. As I look back, I am so ashamed that I did not push myself to walk or ride. I simply served as his cheering squad. In his last month of life, he became paralyzed from the waist down and was confined to bed. He passed away on December 23, 2006 in our home, quietly and peacefully as I held his hand. In the final months, he was tired, clearly struggling with pain and various discomforts. He used to beckon me to just come lay beside him and I did so, knowing that the days would come when I would long to have that chance again.

Day 39: Poplarville to Biloxi

i May 30th No Comments by

The Banana Boycott is over!

Statistics

*Rode from Poplarville, MS to Biloxi, MS – 59 miles
*Climbed a total of 1393’
*Maximum elevation – 400’
*Total time on the bike – 4 hours and 39 minutes
*Average speed 12.6 mph

Commentary

It is been 761 days since I last ate a banana. Yes, I know exactly the last time I ate one. It was the morning of April 20, 2008. Why would anyone track this kind of crazy thing? Well why does anyone bike 60-80 miles a day for vacation? Cannot help with the biking thing. It is just crazy. The banana boycott does have some logic to it.

If you go to my bicycle journal from April 20, 2008, you will find a reference to the fated day when the Banana Boycott started. (Use the link at the bottom to get to the actual journal.) We road that day 60 miles and I swear that I farted for at least 55 miles. I had no idea that one could fart for 5 hours. Where did all the gas come from? What had changed about my diet in the last few days that would could cause this? Bananas! I never eat bananas except when doing a bike tour. I had eaten one every morning for the past 4 days. Hence the banana boycott. Fortunately for everyone I biked far behind my Dad all day and there were not even any animals out in the west Texas scrub.

So why end the boycott today? The biking yesterday was great. When we got into the Nanny’s Nest (only room in town!) I did my normal stretching and felt great. We walked to dinner still everything was fine. As dinner ended, however, my lower back started to get tight. Oh well, we just biked 67 miles so I did some more stretching when we got back to the room. Legs were NOT tight. I was just as limber as I usually am – more so in fact. By the time I went to bed I could hardly stand up and there was no way that I could bend over. Took 3 Advil, used a ton of heat cream, said a little prayer, and went to sleep.

Next morning it was worse. Can lay down but cannot stand up, bend over, or move without significant pain. Anything that caused my back muscles to flex or contract hurt. Dad left for breakfast and I slowly got packed. Fortunately once I got on the bike it was tolerable. (Do not need to use core muscles much on a bike.) I still knew I had a problem but as long as I did not have to stop I was fine. (See a problem there? I will eventually need to stop!)

So what does all this have to do with bananas? At about 20 miles we stopped at a little gas station. I had tried everything I could think of: Advil, Aleve, Heat Cream, stretching, etc. I was sure that the energy drink (Hammer) that I use had potassium, but maybe it did not. Figured it could not get that much worse so I ate a banana. It was so weird! As I was eating it I could feel the pain in my back going away. Within 60 minutes it was completely gone.

So the banana boycott is over. I still do not know what happened to me on April 20, 2008 with all the gas. Was it the bananas? I still do not really understand what happened yesterday and today. I have trained really well. I stayed hydrated – one 24oz bottle an hour. It was really hot but I took one electrolyte tablet every 30 minutes. And I made sure I was eating. Was it really cramping? If yes, then why only my back? Oh well, I will try to have a banana again tomorrow and see what happens.

SHINE!

Day 38: Amite to Poplarville

i May 29th No Comments by

What to do when I grow up?

Statistics

*Rode from Amite, LA to Poplarville, MS – 68 miles
*Climbed a total of 1860’
*Maximum elevation – 400’
*Total time on the bike – 5 hours and 36 minutes
*Average speed 12.0 mph

Commentary

What to do when I grow up? This is the question I wrestled with today for 5.5 hours on my bike. It was really not quite a big as it seems. See I was only thinking about my bicycling hobby and only about next year. (If I start now I can plan and worry for almost 6 extra months. Hahaha)

2010 is all set from a bicycling goal standpoint. My #1 goal is to finish the ride across the US with my Dad. The current trip will get us 300 miles closer. We will have just over 600 miles after Tuesday – from Pensacola to the ocean – about 10 days riding.

What about 2011? My biking goal is actually pretty easy – 3,000 to 5,000 miles. I need to do this to be able eat Oreo cookies. There is no debate here. The real question is what do I do about supporting Livestrong with my biking? I have narrowed it down to three options: Personal Challenges, Livestrong Dedications, or The Widowmaker.

Personal Challenges: This is what I did two years ago to raise money – do all 4 Challenge rides, bike across Michigan in one day, do 12 hours on an indoor trainer, etc. Maybe for 2010 I could do a century ride every month or ride 7,000 miles or lose enough weight to do 10 pull ups or all of the above.

Livestrong Dedications: I now have 200 and they are awesome! People send me a short story about a cancer survivor/victim (sometimes themselves) and a favorite song. I have the story mixed over the song and play on my i pod. I want to have 1000.

The Widowmaker: This is the bike we bought last fall at a fund raiser for Livestrong. It is the actual bike Lance was riding when he fell and broke his collar bone (hence the name). It is an awesome bike and we want to use it to raise $1,000,000 for Livestrong. It would be so cool if the story of The Widowmaker did not end with us buying it.

So those are my choices. While none of them are very ambitious, I do not think I can do them all in one year. (I do have a real full time job and a cool family that I would like to hang with regularly!). I came to no conclusions on the ride today other than to narrow it down to these three.

Any opinions out there?

Day 37: Baton Rogue to Amite

i May 28th No Comments by

Walking, Walking, Winding

Statistics

*Rode from Baton Rogue, LA to Amite, LA – 46 miles
*Climbed a total of 469’
*Maximum elevation – 273’
*Total time on the bike – 3 hours and 39 minutes
*Average speed 12.7 mph

Commentary

Yes, I know that most people know that I cannot spell worth a darn but I do know how to spell “riding” but spelling it that way would not fit the alliteration!

Waking in Michigan. Whenever we travel Jeri always comments on the fact that it is so weird that we wake up in one state and go to sleep in another. Today it was weird to me too. I woke up in Michigan at 4:30am. Alarm did not need to work because my eyes popped open on their own at 4:26am. Remembered all my junk and the drive to the airport went well. Got to the check in early and they did not even need to open up my bike box. (Both bags were right at 50lbs!)

Walking in Memphis. While it may not really count to walk from one gate to the next, I also did need to find an ATM and a bathroom. I think about the song “Waling in Memphis” by Marc Cohn every time I am in Memphis. This has absolutely nothing to do with my bicycling, but it gave me something to write about.

Widing in Louisiana. Now the alliteration is complete. We took a taxi to a hotel, put our bikes together, and were on the road by 1:15pm (central time). Traffic was a little rough for the first 10 miles but then we got on Highway 16 and there was a huge shoulder. Great day but it was HOT! We passed a bank around 3pm and it said 95 degrees. Hard to believe that 3 weeks ago I was riding to work in tights, hat, and gloves.

So besides worrying about the next days hotel, route, weather, heat, etc. I think of stupid alliterations while I am on the bike for 4 hours. Tomorrow we go 72 miles – going to start early.

Day 36.5: Prologue – What the Heck!

i May 28th No Comments by

What the heck! In a couple hours my Dad and I continue our quest bicycling across the USA and am I feeling nervous. We are only doing 60 miles a day. I have the maps all done. The trip was all booked a month ago. I have been packed for almost 2 days now. Relax!

But I cannot. Did I forget to pack anything? Re-pack it all once again with the same check list I used the first 6 times. What if I cannot get my phone to charge? Worse, what if my ipod does not work. Throw in redundant chargers. (I now have 5lbs of redundant crap! So much good 200gram pedals will do me now.). Did I book the flights on the right day? Is my alarm clock set for AM? Do I have enough to read in the evenings? Damn! I forgot to send Jeri flowers. Yes I had time to stop at The Outpost and buy another waterproof bag for my camera but forgot the flowers. What the heck!

I have done this all before. In fact I travel 4-7 times a year with my bike. It is always the same. Nervous Nelly the night before. It is crazy! It ALWAYS seems like such a cool thing to do a month or two before. I look forward to it. Then the night before it ALWAYS seems like a really stupid thing to do. Why do I get myself into these things? And then as soon as I get on the road it ALWAYS feels great. I pride myself on rarely making the same mistake twice, but in this case I can never shake the nervous feeling the night before.

Oh well soon I will be out on the road with the wind whistling through my helmet. All will be calm and peaceful. I will be thinking about things like: How soon is the next turn? I should get another map. Do I have enough water? I need to call the hotel to confirm my room. Will there be a restaurant close to the hotel? I hope our bike boxes make it to our final hotel. My Grandma Mulder would be proud of me. She was a worrier too.

What the heck!