This article is from the Misc Bicycles FAQs, by various authors.
Shortly before we reached the US border, Charlie broke a spoke. John
did his best with our spoke wrench to help get the wheel back in true
minus one spoke, and we pressed on toward the checkpoint, where a
proper repair could be made. Then came the border crossing. John is an
Irish citizen. He moved to the states last spring, when he got a job
and a three year work permit. But the way things work with actually
getting a VISA put in his passport is that INS grants approval, then
he has to go home and have the US Embassy in Dublin grant the VISA. He
had not made that trip home, and only had his approval forms. Before
the trip, we'd both spent a fair amount of time on the phone with
various agencies trying to determine if we would be able to
participate in this ride. The final answer was as long as we didn't
stay in Canada for more than a month, John could return. He would need
only his passport and the approval form. John was only delayed at
customs for 15 or 20 minutes, while they tried to decide if we really
looked subversive. But my southern accent got me across without so
much as displaying a driver's license. I'm trying to teach John a few
southern phrases for our next crossing ! We later learned that another
foreign rider had crossed into Canada knowingly without his passport.
Apparently he had lost it somewhere en route. He was ahead of us, and
might have even contributed some to our delay, since the officials
were now on the lookout for other "aliens" without proper
(John has since returned to Ireland for a visit, and obtained his
VISA, so we can easily travel back and forth across the border)
We got through and took a break at the control in Rouses Point where
we found out that Fred Kresse, one of the volunteers working this
checkpoint, was at US Customs trying to get this other rider back
across the border, leaving Rick Lawrence to work the control alone.
Fred eventually did convince the authorities to let this rider back
in, but it took considerable time and effort. Good job, Fred.
Rick was doing a great job manning the control alone, but was not able
to leave and get extra food as supplies ran low. I managed to get a
massage here, while the others ate, and Steve Frechette, the ride's
official photographer, replaced Charlie's broken spoke.
After another long break, we rolled out as darkness fell. It wasn't
long before Charlie, riding on tubulars, had a flat. We were all eaten
alive by mosquitoes while stopped for the repair. I must remember bug
repellent next time. (Did I really say just NEXT time?) We got back
rolling, but John's leg continued to bother him. At least I was
feeling much better, and we did manage to pick up the pace and
actually do some legitimate tandem pulls for a while, until suddenly
John's sharp pains returned again, and rather than delay our three
companions any longer, we sent them on. I really worried that John
could permanently injure himself if this pain was caused by a pulled
or torn muscle. We stopped several times to stretch and try to relieve
the pain. At one point, we found a couple of Adirondack chairs on the
lawn of an Inn, facing the beautiful full moon shining down upon the
lake. I sat back and soaked in this incredible view, while John
stretched. The island is pretty desolate at night and we saw no open
stores for many, many miles. We finally spotted one, and stopped to
seek out some lineament to rub into John's sore thigh.
While waiting here we were joined by Jim Keuhn from the Potomac
Pedallers. We were sitting in a corner of the store fighting gnats for
our sodas when Jim convinced us it might be more pleasant outside. We
sat for quite a while, trying to muster up the courage press on toward
South Burlington. I had been in this same situation two years before,
except the roles were reversed. Going into Montreal, I had somehow
sprained my ankle. At the time, I didn't know it was a sprain, and
believed it was a tendonitis problem. I started swallowing ibuprofen
like candy, and tried to press on. I was so caught up in finishing the
ride, and so worried about disappointing my captain, that I tried to
ride through the pain. Somewhere on the island, I finally gave in. We
found our support vehicle a few miles later, packed up the bike and
drove to our motel. The next morning, after much icing and 8 hours of
sleep, the pain had been replaced by a lot of swelling. The ankle
looked very bad, but I could walk. I decided if I could walk, that I
could ride, so we got in the van, returned to the site of abandonment,
and started back up again, finishing the ride well within the time
I learned a lot from this. I learned about teamwork, and how important
it is to let your partner know that it's OK to stop to prevent an
injury, and that the ride is not so important that you'd risk injuring
your partner. I remember feeling my partner's support throughout all
this, and knew I had to make John feel that same type of support.
I also learned that it is possible to stop for 8-10 hours and still
finish the ride in the time limit. I learned that stopping and icing
can work miracles. And I learned that miracles can happen. This time
John and I did not have a personal support vehicle. We probably would
have dropped out long before, if we had. So we had to get to the motel
under our own steam. I tried to give everything I had so John could
take it easy, and we continued to take breaks along this section until
we finally saw the lights up ahead that signaled rest and possibly the
end of our ride.
We reached the motel, where we found Mark in the lobby on the phone.
He offered us food, but we declined in favor of sleep. They had
planned to head out very early, and we said that we might stop here.
We'd just have to see what icing and rest would do. We were both very
disappointed. We had worked very hard to prepare for this ride.
The next morning, John felt better, but worried that we still might
not make it. We decided to head toward Middlebury, where we could get
a lift in if necessary. We had a tough 35 miles of steep rollers and
headwinds to get to Middlebury. The winds had started to pick up the
night before while we were riding, and just before we reached the
motel, they were quite strong. I felt for those riders who had to come
down the island in this wind. It seemed we had again made the right
choice to press on into the evening.
We talked about our different options upon reaching Middlebury. There
would be a massage therapist there, who might be able to help. There
would be a bike shop there, where we could buy a new saddle or saddle
pad to help with the hammock problem. But John's leg hurt so bad, that
the saddle hammock was secondary.
We decided to stop at the bike shop and left with both a new Brooks
pre-softened saddle and a saddle pad. Then we headed over to the
checkpoint. I went in and talked with the massage therapist, and got
John the next available slot, about 15 minutes later. We enjoyed some
great lasagna and pizza, while waiting for John's massage.
I did a little bike maintenance, jettisoning some unneeded weight, and
trying to fix a problem with our big chainring, which seemed to be
bent. It turned out that the bolts were loose AND the ring was bent,
but I managed to tighten and straighten everything out. Since we had
not needed the powdered Ensure we had carried for 500 miles, I decided
to leave it in our sag bag, along with a few other bits and pieces. I
filled our bottles and Camelbaks, and prepared everything for possible
I also checked into a possible lift home.
When I returned to the massage area, I found a cheerful John still on
the table. The masseuse had told him that she believed the problem was
probably tendonitis, rather than a torn muscle, and had suggested John
see a podiatrist for orthotics after the ride was over. In the
meantime, anti-inflammatories were the order of the day. Out came the
John decided to go with the saddle pad on top of the deformed saddle.
We left the new saddle with our other gear, and rolled out. The
difference was incredible. Both of us felt great for the first time in
almost a day, and we climbed Middlebury like we never had before. The
descent was spectacular, and we topped 60 leaning hard into a corner.
The temperature was rising and I had a little trouble with the heat,
but just kept stripping off clothing.
We caught a few riders and formed a nice tandem-led paceline winding
through the valley heading toward Killington. Before the climb, we
stopped for a leisurely break at the General Store in Stockbridge.
This is one of my favorite places to eat in Vermont. I first
discovered it on TOSRV-East in 1991, and cannot pass by this store
without stopping for some of their wonderful homemade bread, a
sandwich or a pastry. We picked up some bread and sodas and headed
out to the front porch to sit for a while. We were in no hurry now. We
were actually taking the dinner break here that most folks would take
in Ludlow. With the climb up Mt. Terrible coming right after that
checkpoint, I wanted to spend as little time there as possible, so we
wouldn't cool down too much before that climb.
We rolled up and down Killington with ease and flew in and out of the
checkpoint at Ludlow. This climb up Terrible is tough, with 2 miles of
10% followed by a bit of relief and then 2 miles of 9%. A headwind on
the descent, that tossed singles about mercilessly slowed us a bit,
but still allowed for some nice speed. We headed up and down Andover
just as darkness fell. The rolling climb up Route 35 was really not
as bad as I had remembered - although the descent seemed way too short
for all the climbing I remembered on Day 1. As we discovered later in
the season, this section that seems like all up, and very little down
in BOTH directions is really just a long series of steep rollers.
This part of Vermont is pretty desolate. Somewhere along this section,
a car full of teenagers decided to follow us for a while. We heard
quite a bit of giggling from behind, but just as I was starting to
worry, they turned off. We caught a couple of other riders and rode
into Brattleboro together.
Here it was my turn for a massage. While waiting my turn, we inhaled
the best fried rice I have ever had in my entire life. In retrospect,
it was probably not spectacular, but after umpteen bottles of Ensure
with occasional bites of lasagna or pasta, it was heavenly. We spent
a fair amount of time here, talking with riders and checkpoint
personnel, as well as getting the massage and food.
We restocked our supplies, grabbed some fresh clothing and headed
across the border where a waterbed was reserved for our tired bodies.
We bragged to those that would listen about the waterbed that was
waiting for us just across the Connecticut River.
That's why is came as such a surprise to hear that the Crone's had
been told we had headed in. Apparently they were taking a sleep break
at the checkpoint motel. Neil awoke shortly after we left and asked
about us. Upon hearing we had left, he disturbed Eileen from her sound
sleep, and decided to chase us down. Rumor has it that at least one
rider when questioned implied we had passed him at great speed. It
wasn't until they reached the checkpoint in North New Salem that they
discovered they were ahead of us. But even then, they thought we were
nearby and they hammered all the way to the finish line. Because of
this, I feel like we can take a little credit for the phenomenal pace
and record they set. Meanwhile blissfully unaware of the competition
taking place, we slept soundly - although NOT on the waterbed that I
had been dreaming of.
When we reached our motel, I almost committed a murder. When I made
our reservations I was very explicit that our arrival time could be at
anytime, and I guaranteed our reservation with a credit card. This
meant they should charge my card and save a room for us, whether we
showed up or not. Apparently they didn't understand this normal
protocol, and when we did not show up by 11 P.M., they gave our room
away. Just as I was about to reach for her neck, the clerk offered us
the "spare" room. This place was in pretty bad shape, but it had a bed
and a bathroom, and that's all we needed. I probably could have slept
on anything at this point - and had we not gotten this room, we might
have ended up sleeping in the lumberyard a few miles down the road.
Anyway, we showered, checked the weather channel, and discovered that
rain was predicted for Sunday. We talked briefly about sacrificing
sleep to avoid the rain, but decided to stay anyway, and get up an
hour earlier than originally planned.
Sunday morning was cloudy, but dry. We both felt pretty good as we
headed up Route 9 and over Mount Pisgah. A few miles before the
checkpoint in North New Salem, we were caught by a gaggle of fresh
riders who were doing the twin centuries. Our sense of competitiveness
was fired up, and we hammered along with them toward the checkpoint,
until better judgment took over and we decided to cool down before
stopping a the control. They were quite impressed by our spunkiness
with so many miles in our legs. We were a bit surprised ourselves.