Love God, your God, with your whole heart: love him with all that’s in you, love him with all you’ve got!
If you read nothing else, skip to Number 4. I want to hear what you guys think of that craziness. That said…
This ride involved more than its fair share of many—well, let’s generously call them “experiences.” I did experience them, but they were way more than that.
First, the hills. Oh, lord, the HILLS! I conservatively estimate that I ascended about ten zillion hills, totaling approximately 100,000 feet elevation gain. Over 65 miles, and following yesterday’s 62-mile ride, my legs felt about ready to fall off by the time I crept up the little hills in Marlborough. However, since church is higher than home, I did have a net loss of elevation, which meant that I also had some really exciting, sometimes nerve-wracking, descents. I didn’t break my all-time speed record of ~40 mph, but I did hit 35 mph without really pedaling on most of the downhills. I haven’t used my new big chainring at all. It’s so big usually have a very hard time pedaling in that gear, and by the time I know a downhill will be big enough to warrant it, it’s too late to shift up (I learned the hard way that shifting in the front while pedaling fast downhill results in your chain falling off on the outside, ending that fast downhill ride quite abruptly). So I dub this the Ride of Many Hills, perhaps nothing compared to the hilliness of a Seattle ride, but plenty challenging nonetheless.
Second, the wind—or more accurately, the headwind. This also slowed me significantly at times on downhills; at times it felt like I dragged a huge parachute behind me, or I had a flat rear tire, I had to work so hard to keep going forward. Mostly we’re not talking about a really high wind, but it was unceasing and seemed to come steadily from the northeast, while I headed either north or east into it. I just checked the weather, and sure enough, the whole time I was out sure enough, the wind came from the northeast the whole time. Boy am I good.
Third, the weird road names and sights. I rode on the Central Turnpike, which far from being anything like Route 20 (also called the Hartford Turnpike), Route 9 (the Boston Turnpike), or I-90 (The Turnpike), tended towards the small and rural. Fine by me. This road also happened to be called, for a while, the Masonic Home Road—a most apt name, since it passed by a gigantic complex of sprawling buildings vaguely modeled off of local barns but much, much fancier and huger. It turns out it’s a Masonic retirement home called the Overlook Life Care Community. Who knew the Masons had their own whole healthcare system?
I also rode through a depressingly-appropriately named town called Hillsville, past the Buffumsville Reservoir, and on Mugget Hill Road (yes, it did have plenty of hills). Reading road names, where they’re marked, keeps me plenty entertained much of the time. Bacon Slip continues to be my all-time favorite weird road name.
Fourth, the drivers. Mostly they were pretty polite, although in—I think it was downtown Spencer—somebody did shout “Get of the road, bike!” I ignored that. I’ve heard it enough to not take such cat-calling seriously. Moreover, there was nowhere else for a bike to ride on that stretch of road, since riding on sidewalks is often illegal in downtown areas. The more exciting encounter, though, went thus:
To set the scene, imagine a four-way stop. I’m in some confusing little downtownish area, with few helpful road signs and a couple major intersections coming up, so I stop and pull out my map for a quick look-see. I’m maybe a foot from the “edge” of the road, which isn’t really clear, since it shades from grass to a wide strip of leftover sand to asphalt. I’m not far from the wide strip of sand.
Standing there, scrutinizing, I was surprised to hear a rather angry honk behind me. I glanced back and sure enough, a big red SUV was stopped behind me. I waved them to go around me, then turned back to my puzzlement. Maps, bicycling, turns in roads, and I do not mix well, so I’m very careful when making turning decisions (this is also why we make routes that involve as few turns as possible); I pretty much totally ignore cars around me while mapping.
Imagine my surprise, then, when the honk sounded behind me again, if possible more irritated than before. I decide to explain that I’m going to be here a bit, so I show them the map, point to it, and wave them around me again. I even say, “I’m looking at a map,” although I doubt they can hear me through a couple tons of steel. Then again I go back to my map.
Somewhat shockingly, the SUV remained stopped behind me and this time the driver actually opened the door, and stuck her head out. This, incidentally, is the first time I’ve had somebody do this. She said, very angrily, “We’re in an intersection! Pull over!”
“I’m looking at a map. Go around me,” I told her, amazingly calmly considering she’d just honked at me and now was shouting angrily at me.
“Go around me.” I look back at my map, decide to go straight through the next couple intersections, and tuck the map away. As I do so, I hear, furiously:
“Do I need to call the cops?”
My jaw dropped. The cops? For me standing on the right side of the road, not blocking the intersection, while checking a map? Yes, I could certainly have moved completely off the road, onto the grassy strip on the side. But, I’ll be honest here, after she started honking at me, I started feeling remarkably stubborn. I wasn’t angry at all, but darn it all, I was NOT going to move off the road, her irritation be darned! I guess that probably wasn’t very Christian of me, but doggone it. I don’t like being honked at any more the next person, and I have NEVER had anybody threaten to call the cops because of me. My most egregious law-breaking is tied between speeding in a car and riding my bike the wrong way on a one-way street. So I refused to move. In fact, I’m not sure what made me do it, but as I pulled away, I shouted, “GO FOR IT!”
By strange coincidence, I happened to see a state police car almost immediately after that, as well as two more local police cars in close succession. Each time I wondered, “Did she really call the cops?” I wasn’t worried, but—but—honestly. Call the police, because I was somewhat in her way? Goodness me.
I made sure to stay well off the road the next times I pulled over. Actually I did get honked at one more time, when I paused at an unmarked intersection on a detour because I wasn’t sure where to go. That time I pulled off the road and the driver waved at me. After they passed me, I was able to follow the other cars on the detour back to the main road, so that played out just fine.
Later, I actually spoke briefly to an Upton cop who had closed a road because of a huge accident. She said I’d never get through the blocked-off road, that there was tons of glass, and pointed me toward the detour. I decided to not push my luck, so I went down the detour. It turned out fine, thanks to all the other detouring cars on those little neighborhood roads that showed me where to go.
All in all, it was a hard, long, tiring ride. I took my jacke
t off partway through, but had to creatively tie it to my bike since it doesn’t fit in my vest pocket. I didn’t even see any tennis balls.
Please help me raise money for the MS Bike Tour Cape Cod Getaway. Donate today on my MS Participant page.