We woke up this morning refreshed after having spent a night in beds in our own rooms. We set our alarm for 6 a.m. and began packing up our clean clothes and the rest of our gear. Dave's mom, Susie, made us a terrific breakfast of steel cut oatmeal and fruit, eggs in a hat and fried ham. It was very difficult to leave as their house is incredibly comfortable and the hospitality was so terrific. We loaded our bikes onto the car, put our gear in the back
and headed back to the spot where Dave's father picked us up. As we reassembled our gear on the side of the road,
I realized I was humming "Back on the Chain Gang" by The Pretenders. It was truly a Freudian slip as we were all excited about today's ride. Three weeks ago we mailed ourselves a box to Dave's house with supplies. We restocked our camp soap, chain lube, batteries for our head lamps, sunscreen, new tubes and I threw in a new set of bike shorts. As we pedaled away we were wearing clean bike clothes, had clean bikes, newly lubricated chains, were well rested and well fed.
Our plan was to take Route 57 all the way to our destination 120 miles away, the Genessee Otter Lake campground. The temperature was in the 60s, the sky was clear and the roads were perfect - Dave describes them as "sharkskin". I assumed it was because they are very smooth with a little bit of traction to help propel us forward each time we push down, but also realized this type of road is very similar in color to a typical shark - light gray. Anyway, those are the types of thoughts that pop into your mind when biking all day.
We were about 14 miles into the ride when it happened. I was in front, enjoying the smooth flat road, riding about 21 mph with Justin right behind me and Dave right behind him, all in a tight pace line. As we approached the intersection with Berrigan Rd, an older woman in a light blue Volkswagen Beetle pulled into the intersection without stopping at the stop sign. Although she would eventually stop, she was headed right for me when I hit my brakes. Justin swerved but crashed into my rear cassette, the teeth of the moving gears ripping into his front tire and tube with a loud explosion of green slime. Dave hit his brakes but as he was passing Justin on the outside, his handle bar caught Justin's bag and jack-knifed. He and his bike went down, the shifter for his rear derailleur broke off and his front wheel was bent. No one was hurt. As we recovered from the accident the woman stopped to check on us but there was no help she could give us. Now, many hours later, I wish I had asked her why she didn't stop at the stop sign. I also wonder why the truck in Wisconsin two days ago tried to run us off the road and why the car in Montana pulled up next to us and yelled, hoping to startle us off the shoulder. As bikers we are very vulnerable. We would prefer not to bike with cars and trucks but it is the only way for us to get around.
We quickly surmised that Dave's bike was unrideable and Justin needed a new tire and tube. My bike was fine. Still not far from Grand Rapids, we called Dave's father and located a bike shop 5 miles away in Rockford. When looking at the web site for Speed Merchants bike shop, we saw they carried the same type of higher-end components and wheels that we have on our bikes. While waiting for Dave's father, we changed Justin's tire, then prepared our bikes for the rear rack. He came quickly and by 10:20 we were in the shop. I cannot express how lucky we were to fall into the hands of the wonderful staff at this shop. They saw Dave's shifter and quickly started looking for a replacement. They didn't have one but were happy to "borrow" a replacement from a Trek Madone. While they were doing that, they re-trued his front tire. We thought we would be in the shop for hours, but they dropped everything and had us back on the road in under an hour.
To save time, we bought sandwiches at a nearby sandwich shop and ate them in the car as Dave's father, for the second time today, redeposited us on our route. At first we were a little nervous but quickly fell back into our routine. Trying to make up for lost time made us bike right through one of the larger towns, Carson City and look for a cold drink in the smaller town of Ashley. It looked like the convenience store was about 100 yards off 57 but it turned out to be closer to a half a mile. When we got in, the two people working in the store seemed amazed at what we were doing. They asked to take our picture and plan to follow us on the blog. They said we were inspirational, which is exactly what we needed to hear after the events of the morning.
We had dinner in the Walmart in Clio, our standard fare of yogurt, fruit, chips, tea and dinner salads.
Despite the delay, we made it to the campground before sunset. We quickly set up the tent, and took showers. To offset the story of the crash, I'll add something on the lighter side. We didn't pack towels so when we get out of the showers in the campgrounds, we shake off the water as best we can, put on our shorts and dry the rest of the way with the hand dryer.
After the showers, we bought some ice cream, brushed our teeth and were off to bed. As I finish this blog post, it's good to see both Dave and Justin asleep next to me, uninjured, resting for another day.