Day 32 – Country Roads

Tuesday, August 20 – 2504 miles down, 770 to go

What a wild fun day!

This is a long one so if you get bored I understand.  Today we had quite a time.  But so much went on today.  It started in Valparaiso with breakfast and a 6:50am departure.  Another 81 mile day in front of us with a slightly uphill profile, so we figured we could make some time.  Also, we were off busy highway 30 and were taking highway 6 east to Ligonier.  There wasn’t a cloud in the sky to start, but get this, the humidity was 97%!  Anything over 12% and we Colorado folks are whining.  This was cloying, and you had to keep moving to get some breeze in order to stay a bit cool.  When you stopped, instant hot & sticky.

Departing the Fairfield Inn in Valparaiso

Departing the Fairfield Inn in Valparaiso

But before we started, in the murky light of dawn, a ritual was unfolding out by our trailer.  Our trailer hitch has been squeaking lately, and it needs grease.  But we don’t have any trailer hitch grease.  So this morning Rick took matters into his own hands.  He decided to Sham the trailer hitch ball.  He looked it over, then grabbed the Euro Style, and applied it liberally to the ball.  As he said in a quiet pondering way, “It was a deep Sham, and I got the neck too“.  We never heard a squeak all day,  I wonder if the Paceline folks know they have a multi-use product.

Rick Sham's the hitch ball

Rick Sham’s the hitch ball

When we turned onto highway 6 it was a quiet, tree-lined country lane with magnificent houses and yards, and mist in the air.  No traffic.  It was incredible.  We spun along and it became a true highway, but still not busy and with wonderful views and fields and yards.  We were wondering why everybody didn’t live on this road, when off to our left in the mist we could make out…guard towers!  Wow, there was some huge prison complex off to our left, rising out of the mist.  We figured our day was starting better than their day.

We marveled at the size of the yards. Literally acres of finely cut grass and large trees that were immaculate.  I’ve always wondered who buys those John Deere Riding Mowers, and now I know: Hoosiers.  We were feeling good so we made time and miles and were about to take a stop when we hit an intersection that had a sign that any Route Planner dreads: Road Closed 4.5 Miles Ahead – Detour

The Route-Planner nightmare

The Route-Planner nightmare

Of course the bile rose in my throat as I tried to figure out what we should do.  We could of course follow the detour signs but that might turn an 81 mile day into 120 miles.  There was a convenience store on the corner (the B&E Market) so Kathleen headed over to use the bathroom (she can be such a girl at times) and Tom followed her to talk to the folks inside to see if we could take our bikes through the detour.  Rick and I used a conveniently located semi trailer for a natural break.

Of course Tom got to talking with the locals, and before you knew it they were telling him and Kathleen about their friend, Fred Brust, who had Parkinson’s.  What was interesting to the team was the person telling them about Fred was like genderless “Pat” in the old Saturday Night Live skits.  This person talked and had mannerisms just like Pat.  So Tom, in an attempt to figure out the gender, asked this person their name.  The answer: Gene.  Or was it Jean?  Perfect!  Still didn’t know!

Anyway there was another gentleman in the store named Mike and together with Gene-Jean they told Tom and Kathleen about Fred.  And here we may have encountered a slight misconception about what was probably deep brain stimulation.  Seems Fred had tremors and shakes and was taken to the Mayo Clinic where, as Mike put it, “They laid him on a table for 8 hours an’ stuck needles into his head!”  Mike then said that Fred was on his way back home and rolled his truck.  He somehow walked to the B&E Market where the locals sat him down, cleaned him up and gave him some coffee.  Then they told him they wanted to take him to church to pray over him.  They got him to church, got him up by the altar, told him to spread his arms wide, and then, as Mike again put it, “He never shook again ’til the day he died!

Now Parkinson’s is not a funny disease, and DBS is a life-changing procedure.  Our ride has been all about raising the awareness and making sure people better understand the facts and resources available.  But honestly, we all laughed our butts off at this story.  Understand we were happy for Fred, whether it was the DBS or faith healing, but it was the delivery of the story that killed us.  These good old boys (well, one of them) relating these facts and tidbits was awesome.  It was yet another connection to the Parkinson’s community, albeit somewhat suspect, in the middle of nowhere.

But we still had to deal with the detour!  Gene-Jean told us that we could get our bikes “across the tracks” easy enough, but Isaac would have to drive the sag around on the detour.  So, grimacing and hoping we set off 4.5 miles down a road that increasingly had “ROAD CLOSED” signs on it, and finally a “I’D TURN BACK IF I WERE YOU!” sign.  OK, that’s actually from the Wizard of Oz when they’re in the forest, but you get the idea.

When we got to the construction we were greeted by some very nice highway workers, and we told them all about our ride and they gasped in disbelief and all the usual things.  One of them said we could just carry our bikes across the tracks since the bridge was out, but another said the railroad would call the police on us if they caught us because there was no flagger and on and on and on.  They finally gave us a mini-detour that we could take, so we rode on ahead and were about to take the detour when who should appear: Mike from the B&E Market.  I don’t know how the heck he got out there, or if he was even with the highway crew, but he waved us down an embankment and told us “You jus’ go across them tracks!“.  So we went cyclo-cross and scooted across.  Quickly, before the other highway workers could stop us.

The nice IDOT highway crew

The nice IDOT highway crew

Cyclo-cross across the train tracks

Cyclo-cross across the train tracks

We giggled like schoolkids when we got to the other side and rode off into the distance.  And we were still only 2 hours into our day!  We took a stop in a nice shady spot across from a little church and cemetery, got the chairs out and had another breakfast.  Then continued on that wonderful road.

Shady spot for breakfast #2

Shady spot for breakfast #2

At mile 47 we hit another detour sign.  We could see the construction this time, right in front of us.  One entire side of the road was missing and the other was a brand new stretch of cordoned-off concrete.  I decided this time we needed some heavy artillery, and called Tom to the front.  This was a much larger construction and we needed The Ambassador of the Universe to talk our way through this one.  Tom led off with handshakes and our Parkinson’s story and pretty soon it was Old Home Week with the crew chief and all the workers, and they said, “Oh hell, you can get through, just mind all that heavy equipment“.  And then Tom went for the jugular.  He asked, “Can we get our trailer through too?”  They shook their heads and said “Oh God no!“, and Tom pulled a long face and they melted and said, “Well, the locals do it all the time so it’s OK, he’ll just have to swing wide into the grass at the end to avoid the barriers“.  Tom – don’t leave home without him.  He’s invaluable.

Next thing you know we’re riding down a pristine deserted roadway, waving at agog highway workers in graters, and Isaac is driving the sag right behind us.  We got to the end, moved some cones so Ike could get the car through, and we were off into the distance one again!  Never had to drive on the grass or anything.

Isaac slides the sag through the barriers as I replace the cones

Isaac slides the sag through the barriers as I replace the cones

We had one low-light today: Tom’s bike started making a weird racket and we just couldn’t figure out what the issue was.  We finally narrowed it down to his front wheel, which may need some truing.  So he changed wheels and rode much happier the rest of the day.

By the time we got to Nappanee, Tom & I were agitating for some Dairy Queen.  We’ve passed about 500 of them in our travels, and today it was hot and humid and DQ seemed to be just what we needed.  We pulled into the Dairy Queen and were struck by the sight of a very long rail along one side of the parking lot.  At intervals along the ground by the rail there were piles of manure.  This puzzled us.  And then Merle Farmwald drove up in his horse & buggy, parked at the rail, tied up to it, and his horse, Rosie, relieved herself.  OK, now it made sense!  We were in Amish country.  Dual-purpose parking lots!

Merle Farmwald talks with Tom

Merle Farmwald talks with Tom

The team with Rosie and the buggy

The team with Rosie and the buggy

So we struck up a conversation with Merle and petted Rosie for awhile.  Merle farms 81 acres, 60 of which are all organic.  He also raises 13 flocks of Peking Ducks every year, and has between 5500 and 6000 ducks per flock.  Ever wonder where that Peking Duck comes from at China Garden?  Merle.  We asked Merle to be in a picture but he declined (I snuck a few of him anyway), and when we asked him to take a picture of us by his buggy with Rosie, he’d never used a camera before.  So I taught him how and he snapped a pic.  Then he went into Dairy Queen to meet a buddy of his.  My experience with the Amish is limited to the movie Witness, so I didn’t know that the Amish consorted with “Them English!” at DQ.  So I learned something today.

Our oasis from the heat and humidity

Our oasis from the heat and humidity

We had 20 miles left after our DQ treat, and it passed quickly.  We lost an hour as we entered the Eastern Time Zone, which is always a drag because that’s an hour less to nap (or work on a blog).  We were going to meet an old Boulder High classmate of ours, Mark Jennings, who is a pastor at a church about 2 hours north of here, but he had some folks go into the hospital that needed him so he couldn’t make it down.

Entering Ligonier

Entering Ligonier

Ended the day at dinner at The Charter House, which is known for it’s fish.  Oh good.  If you know me, I’m not a fish guy.  So I had the salad bar.  And all the fish is fried.  But there aren’t a whole lot of options in Ligonier for a meal, so that’s where we ate.  The highlight is when they bring you tartar sauce for your meal, and it’s in a decanter that typically is used for coffee. I’ve never seen such a huge tartar dispenser in my life!  And in watching the locals, the best method is to hold it about 9 inches above the table, and then pours large globs of tartar onto your meal from that dizzying height.  They must go through gallons of that stuff every night.

The Thunder Tartar Dispenser

The Thunder Tartar Dispenser

We’re in a bit of a dead zone in terms of Parkinson’s meetings and group activities right now (except for poor old Fred Brust).  Tomorrow a long day of 107 miles into Bowling Green, and then our final Rest Day on Thursday.  We have a big presentation planned for Thursday with folks in Bowling Green and some from Toledo, so that should re-kindle our mission.

Kevin

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Daily Route

Daily Route

Elevation and Temperature

Elevation and Temperature

Summary stats

Summary stats

Detailed stats

Detailed stats

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

15 thoughts on “Day 32 – Country Roads

  1. Elaine Crowe

    Sounds like a very interesting day!!! You can’t make that stuff up, can you? Really enjoyed the Gene-Jean post. You definitely have a great blog Kevin, I enjoy reading it. You are kicking some serious road, so proud of you all. Be safe!!!

    Elaine

  2. Steve

    Nice update Kevin

    You will be riding awfully close to my birthplace tomorrow. I was born in Defiance Ohio, maybe snap a pick if you see a Defiance sign? My cousin Missy and her family live there now. Have a great day.
    A O way to go… Ohio

    Croweman

  3. Maria

    As I was rolling on the floor laughing, I had a thought. Kevin is starting to sound like a true mid-Westerner.
    Cyclo-cross, gotta love it!!!
    What a day. So glad you had the energy to write an entry. Sleep well. Ride on. Be safe. xox

  4. Diane McGrew

    If you didn’t have the pictures to back up your story, I’d think you were making some of this up! It makes for great reading. Thanks, Kevin (and the rest of the crew!).

  5. Jay McAvoy

    Hi F F P team, Wow what fun following your gallivanting . You truly need to write a book. New rule, I will make additional donations for every road block you encounter . Any one else feel free to join in.?? Oh and you still get the premium rider donation even if Tom talks you through the road detour.So proud of all of you.Ride on my friends. Thanks Jay

  6. shannon

    Love the story, Tom we may need you on our ride next year. Heck you all need to come :) The DQ thing is so true you pass one a day at least and they just taunt you.
    You guys are doing great on all fronts, keep turning and burning.

  7. laurie robertson

    Kevin, What a writer you are !!! I have tears of laughter from this story ! Absolutely hilarious ! I am in awe of you guys and your trip. So proud to know you all. You all are my heros !

  8. Carl Ames

    Kevin, great blogging and it is amazing how you are able to capture everything and put it all together at the end of the day for us, your faithful followers, to relive what you are experiencing. Thank you all for the great people that you are and the awesome ambassadors you are for the PD community and the DPF.
    Rest well and ride on!

  9. Deana

    Humidity! That is the only thing I really do not like about the East. OOOH do I feel for you. My third summer of it and it still kicks my tush. May today have less humidity, a coolness in the breeze and people to guide you around detours in the road. Tom just keep talking! :-) KEEP PEDALING.

  10. julie richter

    God bless IDOT and I LOVE the “Pat” (Jene-Gean) story! Made me laugh today. Thanks!
    Do you think he/she will read you blog? Just sayin.;)

  11. Mary BB

    I love Amish country–they take such good care of the land and the animals they raise. If you are looking for another great ride when you return–that is if you don’t retire the bikes for good–Colorado now has a thriving Amish community in Wetmore or Wet Valley Colorado. It was started by two brothers from Iowa names Yoder, what else. The own a furniture store in the town and thousands of acres outside of town. They sell raise and sell hay and Percheron horses. They have become a cherished part of their new community.

  12. Roy Krughoff

    Rick,
    Guess our bike/hike over the creek construction on 63rd street is no big deal now.
    Roy

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