Friday, July 13, 2012

Joining the 4H....Michigan

On to of the Wolverines..... land of the "Don't give a damn about the whole state of Michigan"......

Being a graduate of THE Ohio State University, it seemed only appropriate to stop in Toledo to revisit those years with my college friend and sorority sister, Leslie.  As college coeds, we didn't exactly get into trouble, but we did have a whole lot of fun.  Interpret that as you may......

Pulling in at about 1 pm, we picked up exactly where we stopped thrity years ago.....with a drink in our hand. Over many hours of visiting, we sipped Clamdiggers, savored Mijitoes, and languished over wine. We laughed as we reminisced of our college antics, (asking the kids to leave to room before doing so), cried for friends no longer with us, and shared events that had passed, but forever changed us.  We giggled like schoolgirls, reveling in a sisterhood unchanged by the years, planning a future Thelma and Louise getaway.  After many hours of talking and drinking, we finally retired at the late hour of 11 pm.  (We'll need to work on extending our hours if we are to be Thelma and Louise!).
Leslie in the car we cruised in during college. It still runs! What fun we had in that car!!

Dressed to ride Michigan, I came down the next morning. Leslie was slumped in a chair, with a cup of coffee, reading.

"Leslie,"  I said, "I'm hungover!"

That's the first 'H'....hungover

"Oh, thank goodness," she laughed, "So am I!  I was afraid you'd be fine and I'd be like this...."

"Nope....I just can't do that anymore and not suffer.  Guess we're getting old....older.",  I returned, wondering briefly why she thought I would be fine..... Things that make me go 'hmmmm'.

We drank our coffee and ate pastries in a post-drunken stupor, laughing at our inability to process alcohol and stay up until even midnight.  All too soon, it was time to go.

As I drove away, I was feeling poorly....very poorly. Knowing that dehydration is a big cause of post-alcoholic suffering, I sucked water from my water bottle every few minutes, but it was a lost cause.  I would suffer for yesterday's merriment. That's when the mental arguments began:  

Voice One: You don't have to do one would know.
Voice Two: I would know.....
Voice One: No one will know if you only do 10 or 15 still did it.
Voice Two: I would know.....shut up and drink your water.

A short drive later, I crossed over into Michigan....the voices started again.

Voice One:  You don't have to drive all the way to the Irish Hills to ride.  You can do it right here.
Voice Two: Now, that's the smartest thing you've thought all day.  That's a good idea.

So without a route in hand, I found an almost empty parking lot at a mega church, parked and went inside.  {{Ugh....I don't feel well.}} Ahhhh.....the air conditioning felt wonderful.  It was hot already---pushing 90 and the day was still very young.

That's the second 'H' ........'hot'

Finding some people working there, I told them what I was doing, got permission to park there and left an emergency phone number in case my car was still there tonight. (meaning I didn't make it back). With water bottles filled with ice cold water, I dropped in the electrolyte tablets and went to unload my bike.

Emerging from that wonderfully cooled building was like stepping into the hot, damp cloth of a barber.  The humidity was stifling; it felt like I was breathing the air of a sick room, with the vaporizer running full steam.  Beads of water collected on my face, sliding down like tears and my cold water bottles dripped with condensation.  

That's the third 'H' ........'humid'

Ready to go, I pedaled towards the exit, noticing another cyclist geared and ready to leave also.  I rode over and introduced myself.  After talking a bit, she, Denise, invited me to ride with her.  She was a triathlete out for a training ride.  {{Gulp... Hope I can keep up with her!}} She was only riding 25 miles, so the second 25 would be by myself. 
With Denise at a country store.
Off we rode through small town America.  It felt like a step back into time--a time of simpler pleasures and a slower pace.  The towns were still decked out in the patriotic finery from the Fourth of July and children cycled and played freely, without being tethered to an adult.  

Stopping at a country store, I purchased my favorite refueling drink--V8.  It's full of sodium and potassium to replenish that which I was losing through sweat and is also  full of good, healthy carbs for energy.  Because it isn't a sugared drink, the carbs will be absorbed more slowly, giving me a sustained energy boost instead of a big sugar spike.  As I purchased the juice, I asked the cashier if she had any vodka to go with it.  She howled with  laughter..... had she known of the previous day's imbibing, she might have not have found it so humorous.

Twenty-five hot miles later, we were back at the church; it was time for me to say good-bye to my new friend and continue the final 25 alone.  Waving a final farewell, I headed north.  

It was hot; it was humid; I was still hungover. The roads were in horrible condition and a strong headwind started blowing, causing me to have to work harder and harder for each mile. 
Horrible roads.
What does Michigan do with their tax dollars?  Not road repair!
Notice the flag...headwinds strong enough to keep it straight out and snapping. And it was a big flag!

That's the fourth 'H' ........'headwind'

The voices started again...... and this time, Voice One was very convincing. Shushing the conversation, I pedaled.....and pedaled, but yesterday's fun was bearing down on me.  I had to quiet my mind and be present just in that moment.  Stomach rolling, head pounding, I focused, internally coaching myself.
"Can you go one more mile?"

Then I'd ride the mile.

"Can you go one more mile?"

Then I'd ride another.   ...and so it went for the last 10 miles.  I pulled into the church half a mile short of fifty. Being a large church, it had an enormous parking lot; so large, in fact, that one ride around its circumference made up more than the half mile I was lacking.

Tired, hot, but pleased with finishing, I was done.  I had ridden the 50 miles despite how I felt physically.  The toughest part of the ride was not one of the 4 H's; it was the battle I had with myself.  

Fields and fields of  golden wheat
This was a huge grainery. 
Look at this countryside, then see the sign below
'Island Resort'........where the heck are they going to get an island?
The flatness of the land contributes greatly to wind.  There's nothing to block it.
Flat, flat,flat.

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