Friday, June 11, 2010

My River Ride Preparations

It's been a really busy week around here getting ready for Saturday's Harpeth River Ride.

Monday I heard that Team Radio Shack pros Chechu Rubiera, Matthew Busche, and Bjorn Selander will be riding with us. Yes, I mean that Team Radio Shack ... the one with Lance. Seriously.

You see, Nissan is the presenting sponsor and host for the River Ride this year. We're starting from their headquarters in Cool Springs, with new routes and good parking and pre- and post-ride facilities and everything. They've been really cool throughout this whole thing. Well, it just so happens that Nissan is also a big sponsor for Team Radio Shack, so they called Johan and asked if any of his guys would like a nice recovery ride in a beautiful setting and Johan said, "You betcha." Or whatever the Belgian equivalent of "You betcha" is.

So, Monday night I had to clean my bikes ... even the ones that I'm not going to be riding Saturday. I mean, what if I go out for a recovery ride Sunday and run into a bunch of Team Radio Shack guys, and I've got worm guts all over the down tube? It would be like running into Cindy Crawford at Rooms-2-Go and finding out later that you had a dangling booger.

In the "Interesting Facts from the Team Radio Shack Website" Category:
  • Chechu and I have the same birthday: January 27. Chechu's is a few years after mine.
  • Bjorne's birthday is pretty darn close: January 28. He's a few years after mine and Chechu's.
  • Bjorne was born in the USA, so if you want to meet him don't go walking around the ride start listening for somebody talking like the baker from the Muppets. "The bike go flippety-flippety-floop."

Tuesday I went to the track for one last night of training with my partner for Saturday, Dan Dillon.

Dan and I rode the River Ride last year, winning the "42-Mile Adaptive Athlete Tandem Division" (or so Max Watzz claimed). We're doing the metric this year, and have been working hard to get ready. Tuesday night we averaged just under 20 mph for a full hour of riding, so I think we're in good shape.

The great thing about riding with a blind stoker is that he can't see when you un-clip from the pedals and rest your feet on the front wheel quick release. Dan notices that the pedaling just got harder and I tell him we're going up a hill, or into a headwind. I can never get away with that with RandoGirl.

Wednesday I did my River Ride baking. You see, the River Ride is famous for home-baked goodies at the rest stops. For the past three years, I've made chocolate-covered peanut butter crackers. This year, I did something different.

First, I changed crackers, so that rather than using plain old Ritz crackers I'm using a thinner whole wheat cracker made by Keebler. Next, rather than just plain peanut butter I used some of my Peanut Butter and Company stuff. One-third of the crackers have Dark Chocolate Dreams in them, one-third have Cinnamon Raisin Swirl, and the rest have The Heat is On. I then covered all of them with white chocolate.

As any conscientious baker would do, I sampled the results, as did RandoGirl and the RandoDaughter. We were pretty unanimous in that the ones with The Heat is On are freaking spectacular! The juxtaposition of the sweetness of the white chocolate with the chili powder and cayenne peppers of the peanut butter is just about perfect.

Now, let me warn you about something. First, I have no idea which rest stop is going to get these goodies. We just deliver them to the powers that be and they put them where they deem fit. Next, these things melt, so they will probably be kept in a cooler until the rest stop workers put them out. Finally, once the workers put them out, they get eaten fast ... maybe because they melt, but probably because they look almost as good as they taste.

So, what I'm trying to say here is, if you want one of these on Saturday you had better ride fast and stop at every rest stop.

Thursday I cleaned the tandem again, since we had ridden it at the track. I washed it, waxed it, cleaned and lubed the chains, and squirted lubricant into the derailleurs, brakes, shifters, and pedals. I made sure that the wheels are true and all of the spokes properly tensioned, and that the tread on the tires is still good.

I'll tell you why I do this ...

A couple of years ago, RandoGirl and I rode the River Ride on our old tandem. We were doing the century, coming up to the toughest climb on that year's route -- Stillhouse Road -- when the small chainring came loose. It turns out that the bolts securing this ring had slowly worked their way out, fallen off, and disappeared, and the next to the last one finally dropped off. So here we were, about one mile from the steepest part of the ride, with no granny gear.

We had about reconciled ourselves to just gutting out the climb in the middle ring when a SAG vehicle came up. They asked if we needed any help and we -- knowing the impossibility of the request -- asked if they had any spare chainring bolts.

They had four of them. Ten minutes later, we've got a granny gear again and we're heading for Stillhouse.

I learned two lessons that day: One, regularly make sure that everything is tight on your bike and that no screws or bolts have fallen off. The other is that the Harpeth River Ride has the best support of any bike ride, anywhere, ever.

Friday (well, tonight), I'm attending a pre-River Ride reception. Honorary ride leader Steve Baskis, who lost his sight fighting in Iraq, will be there, as will Paralympic Gold Medalist Pam Fernandes. There will also be lots of food, which I'd better stay away from because ...

Saturday is the ride. Dan and I are going for the podium in the "62-Mile Adaptive Athlete Tandem" division this year. Afterwards, I'll try to support the ride, and then help clean up, and then go to the post-ride volunteer party (New Belgium Brewery is donating us goodies for that!).

I'm exhausted and exhilarated just thinking about it.

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