Saturday, February 14, 2015

104 MoN: Good Morning!

If you haven't heard -- I am retelling the teeny-tiny-circle ride over the course of an eon. Join me :) You should probably start at the beginning.

My alarm went off at 5 and I slowly started moving. I put on my base layers -- shorts, sports bra, arm warmers, knee warmers, and socks. I threw on my zip up for warmth and headed out into the cold and crisp October air to load some things in the car. Normie ambled upstairs and did the same thing. My mom was up and trying to figure out her coffee maker to try to make Normie a cup of coffee. Caffeinated Normie is a happy Normie -- a fact that I respect and recognize as a very important part of riding with Normie in the morning.

For some reason I grabbed my toothbrush for the road (?) and we hit the highway. We made a quick stop at the QuikTrip on the way out of town so Normie could get more coffee and I could grab some Diet Coke and some granola bars for Breakfast #1.

We got to Ames around 6:30 and parked outside what we were **pretty** sure was H-Bomb's house. H-Bomb said she would be up early, but I don't think she expected us to start that early. Hell, Normie didn't even expect us to be ready that early.

We unloaded our bikes and threw all of our gear on Heather's Lawn. Normie moved her car off the route and we started riding. It was cold! I don't do much cold weather riding, so this was new for me. I took the "inside" line and Normie took the outside. Our goal was to get in at least 20 miles before a big stop.

Wait. First. I gotta take a Selfie.
After a few quick gear add-on stops (my head was cold so I borrowed Normie's head koozie thing), we were really moving...well, as fast as you can move when you turn right 4 times every 2.5 minutes.

The route wasn't too bad. We only had to blow through 2 stop signs and go through one stop-signless corner -- but that one was 1 block west of construction, so there wasn't much traffic. The crappy part of the route was the gravel/leaves on the corners. There was lots of slowing down and accelerating and it didn't take long for my hips to start aching a bit since I was riding the inside line.

We quickly realized a few things -- first, any wardrobe changes have a 5 lap grace period. Meaning, if you remove or add any clothing, you gotta give it 5 laps to adjust before you change your mind. Second, there was some tall grass on one corner that was fun to try to graze on the way past -- well, maybe I just realized that since I was running the inside line.
Pokey arrived by Mile 5 or 6. She started taking pics and organizing true Pokey fashion. At this point we were still counting laps.
I have no idea what I am going for here.
We rode about 20 miles before we stopped for breakfast. H-bomb was up, making pancakes and breakfast casseroles, so we went inside to eat. Big mistake. The house was so warm and cozy and Saturday-morningy, we didn’t want to go back out in the cold.
Masinga and H-bomb’s family started to arrive. Her dad, Russ, brought his bike, thinking he might, “ride a few miles” with us. He started with us at mile 20. Little did he know, he was in for a long day. We headed back out and started logging more miles. Leanne and Steve from Bike World showed up and set up a pop up tent on Heather’s lawn. That is when things started feeling a bit bigger. Bigger than we expected.
Neighbors started showing up, inquiring, and donating. Facebook drew a few friends/supporters and we kept rolling along. We had a few Coors that were sponsored by $40 donors and things got a bit hectic from miles 30-40. Pokey and Masinga were doing a great job managing the binder with all the mile assignments. A few members of my old RAGBRAI team, Buttice, showed up and sponsored a couple miles.
Soon, my mom and cousin showed up and the miles started ticking by a lot faster. There were jersey changes, helmet donning, yee-hawing, and Coors-drinking.
Ian and one of the girls on one of their MANY lists.
She brought us treats. I don't remember her name...but I DO remember that the treats were amazing.
Let the Coors begin.
Sometimes you have so many Coors to drink that you take em on the road.
Normie's chin stuck out the bottom of the helmet. I giggled the entire way around the loop.
 Tay showed up with his fat bike around Mile 30 and things really started to get fun!
 Unfortunately, around Mile 40...things started getting a bit darker for me. Next time.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

104 MoN: Miles of Nowhere Eve Preparations!

Are you enjoying my very sloooow telling of the 104 MoN? :)

I arrived at my Mom's at around 10ish, put Spark to bed, and then received this text from Normie.

Cable Guy Reference? Check. Tipsy Normie? Check. Considerate text so as not to wake up the baby? Check.

Well Done.

Once Normie arrived -- we quickly got to work.

Breakfast Burritos
No self-respecting ride in teeny-tiny-circles forgets the undeniable goodness of tortilla wrapped spicy sausage goodness.  I had already convinced my mom to brown the sausage and make the eggs. All I had to do was add cheese, hot sauce, and wrap 'em. My mom exclaimed, "now don't go gettin' all crazy with the cheese!" In her was 11 p.m. and I was making 6 breakfast burritos in her kitchen.

Novelty Check
Let's back up a second. I had called my mom the night before (Thursday) and told her I needed her help making a large novelty check to fill out with the final amount donated to HBomb. She had picked up some foam board, but hadn't done anything with it.

Once the burritos were wrapped and refrigerated, Normie and I began our charm campaign to convince my mom to use her artistic skills to make a fun ginormous check. I had one of my own checks for a model (damn, I'm organized!). After some routing number debate, Magazeta went to work.

Gear Organization
Some of crap was in the backpack I brought with me (bike lights, water bottle, binder with donations, laminated sentence stems for the white board, and shoes) and some was in a bag that Mr. Smitty had delivered to DSM over a month before (shorts, leg warmers, tights, arm warmers, thicker arm warmers, helmet, jersey, shoe covers, etc.). I dumped it all out in the living room and tried to organize it into different piles. One to go in Normie's car overnight (I wanted to save as much time in the morning), one for things that I needed the next morning, one for Spark's stuff (she was rotating between two grandparents' houses and would need some essentials), and one pile of my stuff to be left at my Mom's house. As you can probably guess, that process was not quick. I finally finished around midnight and had a series of plastic grocery bags lined up in my Mom's living room.

Bike Jenga
You haven't heard the story yet on Normie's blog -- but her bike had some issues after being transported to RAGBRAI. We didn't want that to happen, so we tried to carefully load the bikes and involved lots of towels for padding.

Sleepy (?) Time
Finally. Finally. It was time to hit the hay. Normie slept on the bed in my Mom's basement. I "slept" upstairs on the couch in case Spark woke up (she didn't). I used quotes around "slept" because by the time I laid down, I was wired. I had a hard time settling my brain. I think the last time I looked at the clock was 1 a.m....and my alarm was set to go off early. Very early.

More next time...

Sunday, December 21, 2014

104 MoN: Up Close and Personal

Spark and I waited in line at security. I only had one small backpack and a folding umbrella stroller with me. So, I felt like it would be a quick trip through.

Since I had Spark with me, they had me bypass the "raise your arms and let them x-ray all your bits" machine. Instead, I got to go through the old school metal detector and then they swabbed my hands for traces of explosives. Great. Sweet. Easy. Let's get this over with so I can get going.

One problem.

My hand swabbed positive for explosives.

Um. Wait. What?

They took me to a separate room. I couldn't touch my stuff (stroller or bag) and had to put Spark down so they could do a full pat down...and she fah-reaked out! After three minutes of "now I am going to brush the front of my hand past your _______" punctuated with pterodactyl shrieks emanating from Squishy Baby, they were finally ready to send us on our way.

I have no idea why my hands tested positive. The TSA lady said that lotions and soaps will sometimes set it off. That is messed up.

Spark and I grabbed some pizza (carbo loading?) and set up camp near our gate. She alternated eating with rubbing her grubby pizza grease fingers all over the chairs. We cleaned up, hit the restrooms, and headed towards our gate for boarding. While waiting in line, I realized I had left my very favorite zip up base layer in our original greasy-pizza-camp. I darted back to find it nicely draped over the arm of the chair. Score!

Every stage of toddlerhood has its ups...and its downs. Spark is growing up to really show off her sassy yet sweet personality. However, one thing I loathe about the 13-18 month timeframe is the mobility with lack of awareness of social expectations. The two places where this is worst: restaurants and airplanes.

We have to stay seated. I get that. The other passengers get that. Spark does not get that. She wiggled...and giggled...and fussed...and made friends with the baby in front of us...and wiggled...and fussed...and threw items one by one into the aisle. It was pretty exhausting, but luckily the flight was only 1 hour and 45 minutes. And it was really cute when Spark and the baby in front of me kept reaching out to touch each other and then giggled in response.

Finally, we landed and I got down to meet my Mom relatively efficiently. After 20 minutes of trying to unsuccessfully wrestle the car seat into the car in the rear facing position, I gave up.

Dramatic Re-enactment.

I couldn't get it tightened down enough. So, I put it in front facing and told my mom to drive carefully. It made me nervous, but *technically* she is big enough to face forward.

Once we were on the road, I called Normie to let her know our estimated time of arrival at my Mom's house: 10:00 p.m.

Next up: 104 MoN Eve Shenanigans.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

104 MoN: The Road Less Travelled

On Friday the 17th, I left work at 2:45 to beat the big long car line of parents picking up their kids. I picked up only Spark at daycare. In fact, I had to have the assistant director go out to the playground to get her because Sprocket and Spark's play areas outside share a fence...and Sprocket would have lost his mind if I only picked up his sister!

I loaded her in the car and headed towards the airport. My plan was to take the interstate to the tollway to a backroad to get there. I hate paying for the tollway, but really wanted to skip the high traffic route. "Backroad" is a bit of an overstatement. It is a major road, but the exit off the tollway is past the busier part of the road.

Anyway, I managed to miss the exit and thought I would just catch the next major road. Well, that road ended up coming to an unexpected T intersection. I didn't want to pull over to check my maps, so I just kept going. Soon I realized I was definitely not on the right track. Spark realized this, too. She was starting to fuss and I was worried about staying on track to make our flight.

I pulled over and quickly realized that I had driven way out of my way, but, luckily, could catch a connecting road to get back on track. However, this road ended up being about 2 miles of gravel.

This is not the gravel road I drove on. BUT, I didn't take a, enjoy the dramatic reenactment.

Leave it to me to manage to take an interstate, a tollway, **and** a gravel road to the airport.

We finally made it to the parking lot and got on the shuttle to the airport. Spark pointed at cars out the window and shrieked happily, while I pondered why I find no issue just holding her in my lap while careening down the highway in a bus with a complete stranger driving. I quickly shook off my concerns and held squishy baby a little tighter...until she tried to point at my face and poked me in the eye.

We got the airport and got checked in. We were right on track to catch our flight...until things got a little crazy getting through security. More on that next time.

Monday, December 1, 2014

104 MoN: The Pre-Ride Stupid Decisions

It has been a while since the 100 Miles of Nowhere shenanigans -- and 1.5 months later, I might...just might be ready to recount the adventure.

Normie and I wrote the reader's digest version for Fatty's blog -- but he never published it (Boo! Hiss!). However, I thought I would go into more detail in See Teacher Run land.

I had previously discussed some pre-ride details, but there is a lot I didn't mention leading up to the ride.

Including some stupid choices I made before the ride itself.

Stupid Decision #1: The Lock-in
I planned and executed an event at school that involved an entire night awake and entertaining kids. It was part of some culture and climate initiatives -- but, basically, 101 adolescents joined me (and some other crazy teachers) for an evening of insanity. The lock-in was a huge hit and about 75 out of the 101 kids stayed up the entire night. That meant 11 hours of crazy, fun, creative and insane planned activities. Fun stuff that will become a rite of passage in the middle school -- but in my infinite wisdom, I planned it for the week before 100 MoN. What was I thinking?!?! There was a TON of planning that went into the, the fact that the night itself was exhausting.

Loving a Grande at the Lock-in. I told our coffee runner that I needed a big bucket o' caffeine.
The lock-in was on the Thursday that was 8 days before I was set to leave and head to Des Moines. It took me until Sunday to simply catch up on sleep -- let alone start thinking ahead to the ride. Stupid.

Stupid Decision #2: The Flight
I do my Assistant Principal gig three days each week. On one of my "off" days I actually teach science enrichment in a different school district. That job is on Mondays and pays hourly. This means that missing a day of that job costs about $240 and is a pain in the you-know-what to plan for when absent.

Soooo, I decided to fly back on the Sunday after the ride and the only Frontier flight out of the Big D is at 6:53 a.m.

Since I am only at my AP gig 3 days a week, I didn't want to miss a Friday at that job. Plus, because I am part time I get less sick/personal leave. Not knowing what the sick season brings with the kids, I decided to not leave until Friday night so that I wouldn't have to miss work. The only Frontier flight to DSM is at 7:30 p.m.

Let's recap -- flight out at 7:30 p.m., lose an hour due to time zone, ride bike 100+ miles in teeny tiny circles, then fly back at 6:53 a.m. Stupid.

Stupid Decision #3: The Baby
The grandparents always want to see the kids. B didn't want to take care of both kids alone all weekend. Babies under two fly for free.

You see where this is going.

Wiggle. Wiggle. Wiggle. Wiggle. Wiggle.

Not only did I make rough flight decisions -- I decided to schlepp a 14 month old wiggle worm with me. Stupid. Stupid. Stupid.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

The Village

This weekend I learned that apparently it takes a village to pull off a 2-square-block-104-mile-battle-of-will-bike-ride.

As of Saturday morning, we had raised $1,700 for H-Bomb's girls and I felt SO good about that feat! Seventeen Hundred buckaroos was WAY more than I thought we would raise and I was so excited to share that final number with H-Bomb and her family. I was also looking forward to riding and visiting with a few friends that ventured to H-Bomb's yard to hang out.

Then, something interesting happened.

As Normie and I ticked off the miles...the support team (and their donations!) grew...and grew...and grew. The presence of a pop-up tent (thanks Bike World!) and social media really helped.

I could not believe the turn-out. H-Bomb's friends and relatives, neighbors, Normie's friends, my friends, our favorite bike shop managers -- heck, even our former AP Bio teacher showed up. Several people joined us for a few -- or a lot -- of miles. There was food, cheering, smiles, brews, and, lots and lots of money being donated for a great cause.

The final raised amount was $3,026.41 (+ some stragglers that are still happening). THREE THOUSAND DOLLARS for the Allen family!

Looking back, as I went to the "oh my. I need to ride my bike a lot in teeny tiny circles" place, I feel like I didn't have the mental ability or energy to truly thank everyone that came to support. So, if you were one of those people that observed the surly side of Smithers, please know that Normie and I are BEYOND thankful for your presence and support! Don't let crabby pants Pbear make you think any differently!

At the end of the day, I had tender muscles, tired eyes, and the mental exhaustion that comes from riding in circles for 14 hours.

But, my heart. My heart was swelling with excitement, love, pride, and accomplishment. And, I can only thank The Village for that.

Thank you, H-Bomb Nation.

Monday, October 13, 2014

The Main Issue

The big ride is THIS Saturday! Only FIVE more days!

And guess what?

There is construction on our planned route. Like, one-way-street-orange-construction-fencing-with-only-sidewalk-access kind of construction.

Damn you, City of Ames!

:::Shakes Fist in Air:::

Apparently, [:::insert eye roll:::] Ames just haaaaad to reroute around an old water main that happens to run right between H-Bomb's house and the chemo clinic. Exactly where we were planning on riding.

From the City of Ames website, updated 10/10/14

So, after some Facebook consultation with H-Bomb, we have decided to just ride a different route. Sure, it loses the symbolism of riding to the clinic and back, but, I think it is just the Universe's way of giving the big ol' middle finger to cancer. And old water mains.

Meanwhile, the donations keep rolling in! Check out my sidebar to donate!

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