I promised myself I wouldn’t plan any new rides until I’d paid the bills for Climate Ride Midwest, but then THIS appeared in my mailbox!

Bike to the Beach Florida! Key Largo to Key West! January!!!

Everything happens for a reason, and I’m thinking this is why the thunderstorm shut down our GCI team just short of the Florida border…

The route:

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Team Alliance for the Great Lakes:
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Welcome to Indiana!
(Unmarked border…)

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We started our morning riding through beachfront communities with beautiful (for the most part) homes.

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Industry!

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First water stop at Indiana Dunes…

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Yes, I look that miserable. My cold was raging, I had something in my eye, and I hadn’t put the phone in airplane mode, so my real life was encroaching…

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From there, we were mostly on bike paths for the rest of the day. Cathedrals of trees and twig-strewn riding gave way to greenways. Lunch was midway down the Oak Savannah Trail…

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And welcome to Illinois!

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My first glimpse of Chicago…

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Shortly after hitting the Lake Shore Drive path, a slow flat (lots of glass in urban areas) took me out a mile from the meetup point. Fixed, thanks to our crew… And then it was time to hang out until the final 6 miles we’d ride as a group.

Stretching:

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Examining cobwebs:

IMG_2426-0.JPG (Later, I observed a heavily-inked beard farmer frantically shooing one off his mountain bike. Apparently, the giant spider tattoo on his forearm was meant to ward them off, not as a token of his arachnophilia….)

No panties under bike shorts!

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Beach fun:

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And then we rode to Northerly Island, a long ribbon of Climate Riders, old and young…
Across the finish line:

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Done!

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You can still sponsored and support the Alliance for the Great Lakes here.

I started this morning sort of easy: fast enough to get warm (I give myself 15 minutes from a cold start – if I’m still cold, then I’ll put on the windbreaker), slow enough to stay under (but close to) 150 bpm on the heart rate monitor. I felt good, but I knew it was partly because I’d taken care of myself the day before.

But then I saw this and had to STOP!

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Erin brought over the Shetland pony and the goat to meet me:
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Goat selfie!
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After the first water stop, we got to watch a bulldozer rip out some trees. Very sad.
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Shortly thereafter, a few of the “carbon boys,” as I’ve nicknamed the young men on carbon bikes, invited me to join their paceline. So I did, and rode with them all the way to lunch.
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And this is where we had lunch:

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I don’t know why this statue seems like something from a dystopian YA novel, but it does…
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Yarn bomb bike makes me happy every time I see it!
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The first few miles after lunch I took it easy, but a paceline found me and I hopped on, and was immensely grateful to be drafting when we hit headwinds. We got to the fork in the road – right for the 57.7 mile day, straight for the 73.6 mile day. Camp wasn’t even open, and the long route featured a bike museum and a distillery.

Off we went, and even though I was dropped on a climb with a few miles to go?

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The Dewey Cannon:

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Bike Museum!

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Journeyman Distillery

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So… Started easy, rode hard, lunch, rode easy, rode hard, finished easy.

A good day and I’m ready for dinner, a bonfire, s’mores, and some Ravenswood Rye!

The 6am alarm was painful. I felt off – the cold has been contained to sniffles, but I went for the medication. I remembered the heart monitor. I committed to taking it easy and chasing the joy of the day.

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For the first hour, however, I was chasing warmth. Yes, I brought a windbreaker. No, I was not going to cover up my fabulous new kit. No stops ’til Saugatuck!

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After the water break, I was on a long road with wild turkeys and pick-your-own blueberry stands.

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Lunch did not disappoint, although I fell over in the sand on the path in (my kit emerged unscathed)!

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Nor did the pedicure of a fellow rider:

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And then we were on the Kal-Haven trail (which I think should be named the Grandamazoo trail):

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So, the sand/gravel made me cautious. And then there were the other hazards:

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Our last stop of the day was at a local winery:

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Ten tedious miles later:

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But I didn’t have to switch rooms with George Emerson to get this view:

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One of the (unintended?) consequences of staying in “Beer City USA” is the post-zombie apocalypse feeling the streets have on a Saturday morning. Also, it’s on the western end of the Eastern time zone, so the sun wasn’t up until well after 7, when I went out in search of a good local cup of coffee.

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All the shops were closed, and all the people I saw on the streets were crazed (homeless or runners).

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So, this happened:

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Upon my return to the hotel, I met two members of a bridal party who were embarking on the same quest.

And then I was back at the Spoke Folks for the ride start.

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Here’s where we’re going:

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Here’s who I’m going with:

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Here’s a dog who did not want to take a selfie with me:

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Rousing speeches from a Grand Rapids council person and one of the Climate Ride founders:

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And off we went! I quickly felt the differences between the Sexy Beast and my new bike. The stem is too long, the handlebar tape not cushy enough… But I love the Shimano shifters, even with a slightly damaged lever.

First rest stop:

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Lunch:

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Afternoon water stop… And what water it was! My first glimpse of Lake Michigan:

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Something special is going on here today:

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Yup, gorgeous:

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Annnd we’re done and with 53+ miles on the Garmin? Michigan joins the DONE column!

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I can feel the splinter in my finger, but I can’t be bothered to get up, turn on the lights, and extract it. When the alarm goes off…

Awake. Check phone. 3:18. Didn’t I set the alarm for 3? No, 3:30. Up quietly. The Domestic Partner gets to sleep until 4 (two different vineyards are coming in today).

The ginormous splinter slides out easily. Rubbing alcohol doesn’t sting. This worries me. My finger still hurts.

Showered, dressed, kissed and into the Uber. LA looks different from the backseat at 4am. You notice the construction fences. You fly by the cleanup crews and the abandoned flares on the 405, the remnants of someone else’s accident.

Baggage checked.
Dog noted.

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Carbs loaded.
Flight boarded.

Zzzzzz.

Denver!
My connection is so far in the future that I don’t even have a gate assignment.

Five hour layover.
First Jamba Juice whatever it is they’re calling the Coldbuster now.
Southwest has great comfy chairs with built in plugs.

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Grapes are harvested in Santa Maria (Chardonnay) and Sta. Rita Hills (Pinot Noir).

I lose my QOM on the Friday ride.

I overhear a couple talking about how they got their dog a note so it would be a “therapy dog” and they can get out of the charge. I really hate it when people game the system like that – it makes things more difficult for people who have real problems.

Grand Rapids!

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Baggage claimed.
Cab snagged.
Heavens opened.
Bike reunited.

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RIP Giovanni Pinarello

Bike dropped off.
Pre-ride carboloading in full force:

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I had the Werewolf Lazer Circus and The Curmudgeon. I also had a couple beers by those names tonight.

Grand Rapids has Uber!

And nothing warms my heart like a boutique hotel in a small town. LOVING CityFlatsHotel

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And the agenda for tomorrow:

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My home team continues to undermine me. Larry shatters light bulbs into tiny pieces…

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…necessitating Hello Kitty band-aids
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And the Domestic Partner has done everything in his power to give me his cold, so I packed a little extra something in the emergency snacks/hydration department:
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The recharging stations are always overloaded, so I’m bringing my own:

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New kit from Machines For Freedom – so new you can’t even buy it on the website yet, but soon… And look for photos of it in action Day 2 of Climate Ride Midwest!

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…and speaking of recharging stations, Lot 2 on 2d Street in Santa Monica has dozens of them for my new mode of eco-friendly transport:

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Done

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Done

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To do:

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