August 4, 2004
Praire du Chien, WI to Beloit, WI
A typical day starts around 4:30 AM. I wake up and have breakfast #1. If there is a 24-hour Perkins or truck stop, that’s my first choice. I usually order Belgian pancakes with blueberries, eggs, and a couple of cookies on the side. Otherwise, breakfast is at a convenience store. I then go back to my room and get dressed and pack up my stuff. Around 6:00 AM, I go down to the ‘official’ PAC Tour breakfast to top off with a bowl of hot oatmeal with brown sugar and bananas.
At 6:30 AM, we drop our bags off at the luggage van and we go. There is a half hour window for the ‘load and go’: in theory, the slower riders leave right at 6:30 and the faster riders leave towards 7:00. In practice, most riders seem to be in a hurry to get out of Dodge and the parking lot is basically deserted by 6:35.
There are usually two rest stops spaced around 30 miles apart in the morning. Then we get the lunch stop around mile 90. The rest stops have the usual bike food (bars, cookies, gatorade, water, etc.) while the lunches are quite substantive – the lunches are like a picnic feast with pasta salads, a hot main dish, lunch meats and high-carb desserts. Lately, I’ve been cutting back on the lunch feast – sitting down to eat all that food after riding 90 miles can really make the rest of the day’s ride a tough proposition: your legs get stiff, all the blood goes to your stomach for digestion, and you just feel generally lethargic.
We get another rest stop in the afternoon and then we cruise into hotel at the day’s destination. An average day is around 130 miles. We have a few long days around 150-160 miles. The couple of days that were around 90 miles seemed like a vacation day off.
We’ve gotten some real hot afternoons on a few days. When we get one of these stinkers, fluid management becomes critical. You need to scout out a gas station or convenience store to avoid running out of water. Getting dehydrated can be really difficult to recover from and the effects can carry through to the next day. Not a good thing. While any one day on PAC Tour is doable by anybody who can ride a century, the real trick is riding all these days in a row without any breaks. You may feel strong and want to go hammer in a paceline, but you always have to think about how this might affect tomorrow’s ride.
In the hotel parking lot, bike stands are set-up and the PAC Tour crew is available to help with any bike repairs. Soda and chips are available to start the recovery process. We pick up our bags, go to our room and get cleaned up. The wash cloth is usually black by the time I wash off 130+ miles of road grit.
The next order of business is to find the ice machine. This is not always easy. At one hotel, I saw a big empty space where the ice machine was supposed to be. The hotel manager explained that the week before we arrived, a group of fishermen staying at the hotel ruined the ice machine by using it to hold all the fish they had caught. Yuck!
Every third or fourth day is a laundry day as an extra chore. Washing machines are always at a premium – the fast riders get in the laundry queue first.
Dinner is either a quick bite at a fast food restaurant or with a group at a sit-down restaurant. The group dinners are nice but sometimes take a long time since we tend to overwhelm most establishments. On the way back from dinner, I usually stop at a convenience store for snacks to munch on at night. Sometimes, I’ll schedule a 30-minute massage. A massage is another good way to help with recovery for the next day’s ride.
Back at the hotel room in the evening, the TV goes on to get the latest Weather Channel update and I fire up my laptop to put the day’s web page together. I dial-up the Internet and send off the page to Diane for posting and deal with any e-mail. Between 10 and 11 PM, I’m in bed. Before I know it, the alarm is going off the next morning, and the whole process repeats.
Today’s first rest stop was at a park with a mega-deluxe play set. PAC Tour crew member Steve, reminds us that the cut-off time to next rest stop is 10:30. Elizabeth and Mike are checking out the snacks.
Here’s Walter Page from Massachusetts. He’s showing off his spiffy ‘Crack of Dawn’ kit. The Crack of Dawn is a group of riders who get together to train for a 2-day, 200-mile charity ride across MA. Walter describes the group as informal without any structure although there appears to be a ‘Grand Derailleur’ who will sometimes decree edicts from above.
Lot’s of sharp rolling hills today. The rollers would’ve been a lot easier without the stiff head wind we had most of the day.
Beautiful farmland today …
Farm dog keeping the bovines in line …
Here’s PAC Tour co-founder, Susan Notorangelo. Susan has a great sense of humor. This morning at breakfast, she made a big deal of reminding Marc and Arend of the closing time for the rest stops. If they couldn’t keep up by making the closing time, they’d have to get sagged forward by the van. Marc and Arend are of course, elite riders.
Here’s PAC Tour crew member Les. Les was a big help the other day. He changed my worn tire while I ate lunch. What service!
Today’s message board
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Lots of sharp rollers that were harder because of stiff headwinds. It was quite exhausting - at the top of each roller, you need to get rolling to a maximum speed in your highest gear. Then as you bottom out, keep spinning as fast as you can, shifting to lower gears. As you lose momentum, shift to a higher gear and jump out of the saddle to pound up the last couple of feet to the top of the next roller. Then the whole process repeats, over and over again.