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9.3.7 PAC tours across the country 93 Part 7


This article is from the Misc Bicycles FAQs, by various authors.

9.3.7 PAC tours across the country 93 Part 7

Day 18 - Kankakee, IL to Wabash, IN. 137 miles, 1010'

We were really getting into the flat section of the country with
cornfield after cornfield after cornfield. This was definitely the
place to form pacelines and just hammer. I got into a small one in the
morning along with two of the Three Amigos. Dan and Lori can really
move on flat land and did very well in a paceline, despite not having
ridden with large groups before. Unfortunately, we also got quite a
bit of rain in the morning, so staying in the paceline meant getting
sprayed in the face with water from the wheel in front. We kept our
group together fairly well until lunch.

Lunch was in a nice shelter and included some nice hot soup and nachos
with melted cheese. Lunches really varied a lot day to day. Throughout
the trip we had pasta salads, rice, grilled tomato and cheese
sandwiches, and burritos, among other things. We did discover that
Susan really liked black olives, but she began to notice that many of
us didn't, so somewhere near the end of the trip, she stopped putting
them in every single salad she made!

I rode with Dan and Lori most of the rest of the day. I tried to
convince them that they didn't have to be in a large group to take
advantage of drafting. I had noticed in the mornings when I'd catch
the three of them (David was off riding by himself that afternoon)
that they were never drafting. I guess they had a lot to talk about.
We got a little three person paceline going until we reached a few
hills near the end. I did try to egg Lori into a town line sprint, and
that's when I think I hurt my Achilles tendon. All the sudden I was in
extreme pain. I stopped and stretched and took a Motrin. I ended up
taking my foot out of my shoe and pedaling one legged most of the way
for the final ten miles. I iced it most of the evening in hopes of
salvaging the trip.

I was greeted with another great surprise when I reached the hotel in
the form of a half dozen roses from a friend back east. It was exactly
what I needed. I never anticipated how lonely I could get in a big
crowd. I was almost always with people and for the most part, they
were really great, but a card or package from home really lifted my
mood considerably. Lori had given out the hotel list to all her
friends and family and received stacks of encouraging letters and
cards every day. I will definitely do the same if I ever take this
kind of trip again.

Day 19 - Wabash, IN to Troy OH. 133 miles, 1030' climbing.

Last year on Boston-Montreal-Boston, I sprained my ankle halfway
through the ride. My stubbornness would not allow me to stop, so I
kept trying to push on until the pain became so unbearable that we
were forced to quit. After a full night's sleep, and a lot of ice, the
ankle was fine. We still had plenty of time to make checkpoints, so we
started back up again and finished the ride. This experience taught me
a lot about myself and the healing process. Now was the time to put it
to a test.

I had iced my leg throughout the evening, and then stretched when I
got up. I planned to really take it easy during the day, and hopefully
not do any more damage. I rolled out alone, and just tried to ride
just below the pain threshold. Just after the first snack stop a major
paceline train went rolling by. When the first riders passed, I
decided to just let them go, but by the time the end reached me, I
realized that it was composed of almost everyone, and decided to try.
I knew it would be easier in the group than alone, and decided to
stick it out as long as it didn't hurt. The pace was fast, but easy to
maintain in the group, and I stayed with them. A few miles before we
reached the Ohio border, the real hammers broke out of the line and
sprinted for it.

Lunch was at a bike shop, which was quite handy. My index shifting was
really getting sloppy and was sticking in both directions. I'd had
this trouble before and knew it meant that the cable was sticking in
the housing. The rain had most likely caused a few rust spots to form
and it was just now getting annoying. I decided to get new cables and
housing, and it sure was nice to have someone else do the work, while
I ate. I was really surprised after lunch how stiff the shifting had
been before. The pressure I had been using to shift one, now shifted
three or four. It took a while to readjust, but I was very happy with
my indexing again.

Throughout the day, the pain occasionally popped back, but I'd just
back off a little and keep going. I starting taking the maximum
recommended dosage of Motrin, and thought back to my hope of making it
through this ride without drugs! Well, I certainly wasn't the only
one. In fact lots of people were taking a lot more than I was. There
were lots of ankles taped up, and knee braces, and most everyone had a
saddle sore or two, some worse than others. Most of us just seemed to
live with whatever pain we were experiencing and still enjoy the trip.
Susan later told us it was the first trip in many years that people
toughed out whatever problems they had, and no one flew home. Quite a
few sagged at some point during the ride, but everyone recovered from
whatever problems and got back on their bikes.

After suffering from Achilles problems last year, John had discovered
a partial solution in the form of surgery to the shoes. Apparently the
Achilles support found in so many shoes can actually aggravate the
situation, so removing it may help. John had already performed this
surgery on his shoes, and offered to help me with mine after dinner.

We ate with my roommate at a Golden Corral across the highway. Nancy
wasn't terribly impressed with the tiny little desert cup they gave
us, but found the big salad plate adequate for an ice cream sundae. I
really was starting to enjoy my ice cream treats every night and
starting to worry about the bad habits I was developing. Would I be
able to give up nightly ice cream, or would I have to ride 100 miles a
day forever.

Day 20 - Troy OH to Athens, OH. 154 miles, 2220' climbing.

Karen coaxed John into tandeming with her in the morning, and I was
lucky enough to share the bike with him from the second snack stop on.
I started out the morning riding with Susan and Phil. The more I rode
with Susan, the more I got to like her. She seemed a little abrupt
when I first started the trip, but I realized as the weeks wore on
what a really nice person she is. She really put a tremendous amount
of herself into making this trip enjoyable for everyone. This didn't
leave her much time to have fun herself, but I think she really
enjoyed every chance she got to ride. She talked about really getting
back into shape and maybe doing some racing again, and if she does,

When I reached the second stop, John had already been in for a while
and was trying to remove the saddle, so we could get mine on.
Unfortunately with all the saddle trading, the bolt had been stripped.
Ed saved the day and found a new one, and after several more delays to
readjust the height and position, we were on our way.

My ankle felt better, so now the saddle sore could scream. I did a lot
of moving around on the saddle and just couldn't seem to get
comfortable until we caught up with Ann and Dan and started playing
tandem games. We decided to trade off doing one minute pulls. Each
time we pulled off or pulled through, we would stand. This gave my
bottom the breaks it sorely needed. We managed to do this for about 20
miles. I was really happy to see lunch though. This was really hard

Rain clouds rolled in just before we rolled out of lunch, so we each
packed our rain jackets and headed out. The hills also returned. While
we didn't really like our choice of gears, but we were getting used to
them, and just kept pushing our way over the big hills. We came over
one wall to find Mike with the video camera.

We really started hitting some rollers, and I remembered that John
NEVER coasts, not even at 50 mph. Maybe we should have, because at
some point when we were spinning at light speed, apparently the sync
chain jumped off and back on. When we reached the hotel, the pedals
were out of phase by a couple of links! I did notice that my legs
seemed like jelly when we were out of the saddle, and thought maybe I
was tired. It just never occurred to me that we could have jumped this

I've been tandeming for a long, long time, and it's been a long time
since I've counter-steered from behind or actually screamed out loud,
but a 90 degree turn on a bike path at 15 mph caused me to do just
that. I trust John completely. It's me. I just don't think I have the
bike handling skills to take narrow turns fast, and I panicked. I'll
have to learn to do better in tight situations. Apparently I also was
breathing pretty hard on some of the climbs and the occasional sigh as
the road got really steep made John think of the famous restaurant
scene in "When Harry met Sally." I don't think it was that bad, but
maybe I really am a noisy stoker!

As we came into Athens, I commented to John that since we were in a
college town, we might be able to find some good Chinese food. I was
getting a little tired of buffets and pasta, and I was starting to go
into major Chinese food withdrawal. We ended up taking a taxi into
town, and the food was delicious. One great advantage of doing this
was great service, since we weren't in the same restaurant as 60 other
hungry cyclists. Ice cream, of course, followed for desert.

We called for a taxi to take us back and then found ourselves in
trouble. Neither of us could remember the name of the hotel we were
staying in. We described the general area, based on what we each
remembered from riding in, and the driver got us home. (The room keys
were "security keys" and did not have the name of the hotel or the
room number on them, so they were no help!)

Day 21 - Athens OH to Buckhannon, WV. 126 miles, 5410' climbing.

After a week of relatively flat stuff, we were in for a great shock as
we entered the Appalachian Mountains. I heard that Ed and Fred
complained about the fresh legs (of Mark and John Royer) that were
brought in to humiliate them in the mountains. I was wishing for some
fresh legs, but I'd just have to make do with the ones I had.

I noticed Dan carving out a hole in the middle of a spenco pad for
Ann's saddle. She liked the idea of the hole in the Miyata saddle, but
found the rear of the saddle a little too firm, so they were trying
her old saddle with the pad, but missing the middle. This seemed to do
the trick for the rest of the trip. It's amazing how a saddle you find
comfortable on a century suddenly becomes unbearable when you do 24
centuries+ in a row.

The Achilles problem seemed to be gone, although I'd get a twinge
every now and then. I'd just take it a little easy when I did. I had
perfect gears for the mountains and took advantage of it. I was
happily spinning my way up the hills, while others were standing and
grinding. The coal trucks made the day a little more exciting as they
went barreling past with very little clearance, and at one point we
hit a stretch of road that in my mind was the type moonshiners used to
go blasting down at high speeds trying to evade revenuers. Actually,
it really was starting to look like home (North Carolina, not Boston).

At lunch, Susan kept telling us how dull and small Buckhannon was and
not to be in any sort of rush to get there. I didn't notice that it
was different from any other town, since all I did was eat, get a
massage, pack for the next day and sleep each night. It wasn't like I
had time or energy to go dancing or shopping or sightseeing at the end
of each day.

I was a little disappointed to find that the town was actually about
8-10 miles further than the cue sheet indicated. Usually if there was
an error, it was in our favor, but this time, we were way off. I
really started to worry if I had passed the turnoff, until I saw Ann
and Dan's tandem about 1/2 mile ahead.

I found some postcards that expressed my sentiments exactly. They said
"Country Roads Take Me Home." Only three more days of torture, uh I
mean vacation. I was definitely ready for a break, even if it was
going back to work, and only having to ride 22 miles a day on my
commute. I missed my cats and my friends, and I was tired. I developed
some really special friendships along the way, but I was really
getting weary. This is a long, long trip.

The hotel was really quaint and the restaurant looked wonderful. I had
dinner there with Nancy, John and John's roommate, Louis. Despite
having pie and cookies for desert, John and I headed down to the local
Dairy Queen for a blizzard after writing a few postcards and getting a
massage. On the way, we ran into Pete and Joanne, heading back with
ice cream. I asked what I'd have to pay him to get him to ride next to
me the following day and push me up all the hills. The following day
was listed as the hardest of the entire trip with almost 11,000 feet
of climbing. It scared me a little, make that a lot! I also began to
notice a trend that Pete was also always able to find ice cream. I
wonder if eating ice cream every night will make me a good climber
like Pete?


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