Luke, Ryan and I rode what would be my first century of the year yesterday and as you might expect I have a few points to make. First Luke and I drove to Mitchelsville to meet Ryan. We pulled and see that he has his touring bike decked out with 4 big bags in the front, along with a sleeping bag and a cooler on the rear rack. I thought he was nuts, we were riding touring bikes but not loaded. Well the bags were empty he just wanted to see if they worked out, but the cooler was full of ice and water/soda’s for everyone, so hard to complain about that.
I was nearly certain that this ride would destroy Ryan. I was on my touring bike but completely unloaded, and Luke was on his road bike. I lifted his bike and it felt to be around 50 pounds, then all that baggage would definitely mean more wind resistance. Oddly enough on the first big hill Ryan and Luke began to easily pull away from me, I was stunned. How is this guy riding away from me on a 50 pound bike.
The route I planned was not exactly good, at least not good for a Tuesday morning. Route 34 had coal truck traffic and I was under the impression that it didn’t anymore. Much of the route has a new shoulder, so it wasn’t to bad, but still not great. We eventually ended up in Cave in Rock IL and took the Ferry across the Ohio to Kentucky. At Cave in Rock we met a TransAM cyclist, who was having a bad day, he was grouchy and when I waved and said hello he gave me a dirty look and turned his head.
Once in Kentucky we took a little side road for a shortcut to Sturgis, this worked out great, except for when I made a long turn, and ended up on a gravel. It was only about a mile out of the way, but we lost Luke through here and didn’t catch him until Sturgis. This leads to another major point highlighted by this ride; its nearly impossible to ride together in the hills. On a positive Luke was able to stop and read every historical marker and give us detailed accounts of Steamboat racing on the Ohio and the high energy Sturgis coal.
Despite the fact that it’s so difficult to stay together it makes much more sense to stay together as a group which was proven by our next little mishap. After Sturgis Luke and I distanced Ryan, and waited about 20 minutes for him at a store. I became certain that he’d came by while we in the store and was just about to go tearing up the road to catch him but decided to ask a motorist pulling from that direction if he’d seen a rider. The gentleman told us there was in fact a rider on the side of the road just a short ways back. We went down the road to find Ryan fixing a flat a quarter mile from the store.
I spent some time after this trying to explain the touring lifestyle to Luke. See Luke has no real experience touring. Sure he rode his bike from Canada to Mexico but he wasn’t touring, he was racing. He was on the clock everyday, that’s not touring! The touring cyclist is living free, off the clock, just pedaling and and enjoying life. The touring cyclist is also carrying 50 pounds of gear, half of which he probably doesn’t need, but who cares. It’s not about the destination, its all about the journey.
There were no more mishaps after that flat tire. Ryan and I stayed together and rode at a casual touring pace. Luke stayed with us until we hit Illinois then shot up the road getting back to Harrisburg about 2 hours before we did.
Just a couple final notes from the ride. The touring bike made for a comfortable century, especially the B17. The only part of me that hurt after 7.5 hours on a bike was my hands. I still have to figure out why the touring bike is so slow, it cant’ be me… can it. Ryan is a beast, he easily kept pace with me on his crazy heavy gravel bike loaded with racks, bags, and cooler filled with ice.