It's been quite a ride thus far! I rode into Michigan yesterday, Iron River.
I want to give a huge shout out to my better half Gina for being the best companion I couldn't have dreamt up. I don't deserve this much support and freedom but her kind, strong compassion is always there for me and my hair-brained ideas. While I'm out here spinning my legs in circles, she is at home taking care of the farm, keeping our pup happy, working, and slaying rats in the chicken coup. Thanks babe, I owe you big-time.
Yesterday was the full experience. I woke to a temperature around 20f and sun! Big bonus, no wind. Brisk, but surprisingly comfortable. Ate a meal in town, found great conversation, and headed towards Michigan at 10:30.
The knees felt great for about 2 miles, ugh. I ended up stopping for a long stretch session which worked miracles. Felt strong for awhile, maybe 30 miles or so. And then the small aches in my foot tendons I have been feeling for a few days now started to become more noticeable. The front of my left shin down the top of my foot and my achilles tendon in my right foot are the culprits. Shit, I can't seem to escape tendon issues this year. Yet again, I stopped, made some fit adjustments with my seat and stretched everything out. I still had 35 miles to go before hitting Iron River, MI and my confidence was waning.
I found a stride that seemed to work. Of course the pain wasn't gone, but doable. I fell into a sort of riding meditation. Climbed up a bit, then rolled over and coasted a bit, climbed up a bit more, and repeat..... This part of Wisconsin into Michigan is never completely flat but not full of big climbs either. Just rolls.
After many miles of this, a brightly colored man with a killer carbon road bike spec'd with the latest goodies was on the other side of the road holding what I thought was a phone. Even though this was the first fellow cyclist I've ran into since the 2 guys in Glidden, I was knackered and not all that interested in conversation. I was relieved to see he was on the phone. I politely waved and kept my mantra going.....fuck left tendon, fuck right tendon, fuck left knee, fuck right knee, Merganser!, fuck....Eagle!, etc...... A few moments later the brightly dressed cyclist came coasting up next to me saying, "Did you see that bear next to you?" "Wow, really? No, I was zoned out." "Yeah, it was on your side of the road eating some grass until that car spooked it off." " Shit, wish I would have seen it." We went on like this for about 5-6 miles, talking about this and that, gear ratios, riding, canoeing, camping, stuff that I was having a hard time focusing on to be honest. I was just trying to get my 13 year old mind and 70 year old body to a place of rest. But I had this feeling of meeting him before. I stopped to take a picture of the 'Leaving Chequamegon National Forest' sign. 62 year old Biker Bill stopped with me and he brought up the topic of Isle Royale National Park. I mentioned that my wife and I went there for our honeymoon last year and took the last boat off the island with Captain Don on October 2nd. He called me out, and said that the last boat leaves the island the last week in September. We debated for a second until he sealed the deal with "I know for a fact because I was on the last boat that year." "Wow! Really, maybe it was in September then, I'm fried right now" I replied and then said "Wait!, we must have been on that boat together!" Biker Bill enthusiastically said "I was the guy all dressed in camo." HA! I knew exactly who he was at that moment. Gina and I watched him chat it up with these two other fella's we ended up drinking too much beer with later that evening on the mainland. That's a whole other story which will be in our memory bank for years to come, a story of how small the world is and how great the people in it are. This one adds to that pile. We talked a bit more about that trip and how great the weather was, the gale force winds and such. And then we rode across the Michigan boarder together before we bumped fists, said our goodbyes, Biker Bill turned left and I stayed straight towards a place of rest. But now with a bit of newly found energy.
The energy didn't last long once I remembered how bad this ankle tendon was feeling. Ugh..... I got to Iron River and checked the RV park out and the loud generators didn't appeal to me at that moment. I grabbed the map to see how much farther the state forest or a campground would be. Too far, 15 miles. I opted for the hotel up the road with a sauna and hot tub, hehe, easier to cave at the face of modern comforts when solo. Once inside I noticed how warm the top of my foot was and that it was slightly swollen around the tendon. Damn! Sad to admit, but I've had lots of experience with agitated tendons and they don't get better overnight. The sad and sorry for myself Kyle shines through at this moment. A little pissed-off mixed in there too. I stretched, popped more pills, bitched a little, and went to bed.
Yep, this morning it still hurt a bit. I opted to stay in Iron River another day and rest. After all, I'm ahead of schedule by a day. I'm still pissed though and really uneasy about what the next few days are going to bring. My ambition has always been stronger than my body, particularly my tendons. Hmmm, what to do.
Today I rest, ice, heat, bitch, eat chocolate, make some adjustments to the bike.... Again, and then eat some more. Tomorrow I ride 30 miles to Sagola, rest, and then push for Escanaba. I'll make the call there if I can continue the last 150 miles or if I'll have to call up mommy and daddy to pick up my sorry ass and stretcher a bruised ego away.
I've always had this nonchalant attitude about cycling that has worked. With pride, I'd say, "You don't need to wear special shit, or get a bike fitting done, or train!" Well, that must have been my twenties talking because when I get back to Portland I'm going to buy the most expensive bike fitting in town. And I'm.....no I probably still won't train, but I'm definitely going to ride more before a big trip. Not so sure I like 30 yet. The joys of being a child at heart and in mind with a body full of over tightened guitar strings. Not giving up hope yet though damn't! I have been told there is a brew pub in Escanaba.....