Thursday, October 15, 2009

September 25

Yesterday my chain started squeaking and I really started to regret not remembering the one thing I did, bike lube. Yesterday was also the hilliest 80 plus miles I’ve ever ridden.

Yesterday, my front derailleur stopped letting me shift to my biggest chain ring—the one that makes those monster climbs up the hill worth it when you finally make it to the top and begin the inevitable decline—the one you pretty much only use when speeding down hills. I could still go fast down those hills, but only as fast as gravity would allow. Pedaling was pointless. I just coasted down every hill. Still, my top speed for the day was 34 miles per hour. I wonder how fast I could have gone if I had the capability to shift to that big chain ring.

After a day of the incessant squeaking and futile downhill “pedaling,” it was an easy decision to find a bike shop soon. I needed chain lube and a new shifter cable. I replaced one shifter cable before I left, but neglected to change this one, of course.

I found a bike shop in Green Bay with the help of Cha Cha. Then I called them to make sure they were actually a bike shop. They didn’t have the work “bike,” “bicycle,” or “cycle” in their name, but they told me they are indeed a bike shop. Then I called them again after getting directions once, and they gave me more specific instructions on how to find their store:

“It looks kind of like a warehouse”

I found it. This place looked just like a warehouse. And they hooked me up! Holy shit, I bought chain lube, $7.99; three cliff bars, approximately $4; and two Luna bars, $2 is a lowball estimate; on top of that they replaced my shifter cable and made some minor adjustments to both of my shifters that are difficult to do on the road with no bike stand. I had resigned to paying at least $25 for everything I was to leave with. They charged me 16 dollars. That means they gave me a free cable and housing and free labor. Sure it was easy, but holy fuck, those guys were great to me. If anyone is ever in Green Bay I highly recommend In Competition Sports. That shop is exactly what a local bike shop should be.

And they gave me great directions out of town and to my next stop: Oconto, Wisconsin. I would be almost to Michigan, twenty-two miles from the state line when I stop riding for the day, without having eaten a single piece of Wisconsin cheese.

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention I didn’t leave my campsite until 11 a.m. today. Not good. I’m getting increasingly less organized with each day.

By the time I made it out of the Green Bay city limits it was almost 4. Shit. I had at least 20 miles to go until Oconto. Twenty mile is without figuring in the detour, which I had to figure out a bike friendly detour to the original detour because it took you on an interstate highway, with the detour, and some wandering, my ride from Green Bay was closer to 30 miles. I arrived in Oconto before the sun set with the help of Ian, his computer, google maps, a couple handfuls of chocolate-heavy trail mix, and two water bottles’ worth of water. The temperature was dropping quickly, but it hadn’t started to rain yet.

For the ride from Green Bay I hovered in the 18-20 miles per hour range. The rest of the day, and most of the trip, I’ve been living comfortably in the 12-16 mph range. I should eat more of that trail mix.

Really, though, I think I’m getting into better biking shape.

In Oconto I discovered another Subway, but hoped I could find something else. Subway should use me as the central character of a new marketing campaign: it’s Sam, he rode his bike around Lake Michigan and only ate Subway.

I’ve also eaten food I brought from home, which was running low as I pedaled up to the Riverview Inn in Oconto. The woman at the front desk gave me a list of restaurants in the area after I checked in, and menus for the places that deliver. I told her I didn’t eat meat. She showed me the one restaurant I could possibly eat at, other than Subway. Then I saw the light flash in her eyes:

“There’s also a grocery store right over there,” She pointed behind her, “just a block down 41 on the right. The have a deli with a pretty good pasta salad, and other things.”

“That’s close! I could walk there.”

“…Yeah…you could.” She didn’t understand how nice it is do not have to ride your bike just to find something to eat when that’s all you’ve been doing for the past few days.

After about a minute of looking through the delivery menus and the very similar variations of typical “family style” restaurants I went to the grocery store. I bought the pasta salad. It had lots of vegetables in it, awesome. I also bought some Newman’s own pasta sauce and great northern white beans. This was better than any family style restaurant. I restocked on road foods: trail mix, instant oats, and wheat tortillas (accidentally bought ones with chives, oops). I grabbed a small carton of chocolate soymilk, too. Tomorrow’s oatmeal for breakfast is going to be delicious with that soymilk. I’m going to have to practice some self control to save some of it for the morning.

It’s raining now. I’m glad I chose to sleep indoors tonight. The forecast is cold for the next week. Low temperatures are predicted to drop into the 30’s, with highs for the day in the 50’s.

Fall really has arrived.

I talked to Ian on the phone, also. We talked about traveling alone. I've decided I like traveling with another person, he feels the same way. The benefits to having a travel companion greatly outweigh the disadvantages of having another person with you. And, the advantages of traveling alone are greatly outweighed by the disadvantages of traveling alone, the main one being that you are alone. This isn't the type of alone that is staying in your room all day. No, this is a different type of alone, a kind you can only know if you've traveled for significant lengths of time without anyone else.

There Ian, I remembered the way I articulated it to myself while riding that I couldn't remember when I was talking to you on the phone.

This is the only picture I took today. I just couldn't resist...

I need to remember to take more pictures.

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