Saturday, July 23, 2016

An Exercise in Fortitude


Let me preface this story with the reason I registered for the Young’s Dairy Charity Ride. Every year Young’s Jersey Dairy in Yellow Springs, OH hosts a bicycle ride to benefit four different charities – Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, United Rehabilitation Services of Greater Dayton, South Community Positive Health Options, and, the reason I chose this ride, Alzheimer’s Association.
Last year, on this very weekend, my mother entered the hospital for the last time, as noted by my sister on my FB post. She passed away before month’s end. Like many older adults she suffered dementia and confusion. Unfortunately, society accepts these maladies as a normal part of aging. The Alzheimer’s Association wants to change that. Their mission: To eliminate Alzheimer's disease through the advancement of research; to provide and enhance care and support for all affected; and to reduce the risk of dementia through the promotion of brain health.


As you can imagine, my emotions were affecting my attitude, though not outwardly visible. Last year I was on the last day of a week-long ride when my sister called with the news . I felt helpless. I was hundreds of miles away in a remote area of Michigan’s UP, on a bike. It was 60 miles to the car, then a ten-hour drive home.

This year I was determined to find a ride that raised money for the Alzheimer’s Association and I would travel as far as I had to in order to participate. Wouldn’t you know there was one just a few counties away?

The ride started early so Velojunkie and I had to set the alarm for 4:30 a.m. With five dogs, two cats, and two goldfish to tend to, getting bikes and bags loaded can be tumultuous at times. We made it to the ride in plenty of time. With the bikes off the car, I started assembling all the gadgets I use for riding and blogging – bike bag, camera, computer, water bottles, etc. First oops! of the ride – I couldn’t find my bike computer. I knew I had it but it wasn’t where I swore I had put it. I looked everywhere and finally checked the first place a second time. Eureka! It was right where I thought it was. How did I miss that?


We walked our bikes across the highway to the start. That was a mistake because, had I ridden to the start I would have discovered that, by some unknown rhyme or reason, my saddle had been moved, the angle changed significantly. Unfortunately, I didn’t discover it until I jumped into the ride. I refused to stop to adjust it, that would have put us lagging behind all the other riders. I figured I could make it to the first rest stop and make adjustments there.

The longer I rode the more defined the maladjustment became. This was a saddle that I had been riding for over a year. I had it perfectly adjusted for my comfort. It should have by no means been touched. I may never know who or what moved it, but I was getting angrier and angrier, and each mile was getting longer and longer as I attempted to find a comfortable position for pedaling. My emotions were on edge anyway so I had to direct my displeasure at someone, and poor Velo was the only soul by my side.

I took solace in the fact that the weather was superb for riding. The humidity had all but disappeared and the temperatures stayed below 80 for most of the day.

All of the rest stops were sufficiently stocked with grapes, strawberries, cookies, corn chips, trail mix, and more. Something salty, something sweet, and something cold to drink.

First stop, adjust the seat. Ride a little way, better but still not right. Frustration. Feeling some pain now. Who the hell touched my saddle?!


Second stop, adjust the seat. Ride a little way. Better but still not right. Becoming more painful. This was supposed to be an awesome ride and a test of fortitude. But, because someone jacked up my seat, it had become an exercise in endurance accompanied by implements of torture.

At the next stop Velo thought maybe my seat needed to be moved back a little farther. He thought it looked like it was up as far as it could go and thought that might help. God love him, he tried. Now the tendinitis in my elbow started to flare because I was extending to reach the handlebars more. And sitting was still painful.

I know. You’re wondering why I am smiling in all of the pictures when it seems the cards are always stacked against me. We all know that “the worst day on a bike is still better than the best day at work”, right?

We made it to the lunch stop, a succulent array of pasta, pulled pork, salad and cheese curds. Bussing it from the lunch stop to skip the last 23 miles of the route was one of the ride options and my insufficient training and tendonitis had convinced me this was the distance I should pursue. The bus was waiting for the 60 mile riders so Velo and I took our seat for a short jaunt to the next rest stop. Our driver, Don, turned one way only to find the bridge was out, then he turned the other way for the detour only to come across a mobile home that had come off its trailer. Luckily the bus and bike-trailer were able to get past the calamity, but, because of the detours, Don was forced to drive the same route as the cyclists. I enjoyed my nap on the slow bus ride and felt refreshed when we reached the last rest stop, just 7 miles from the end. I decided I rested enough to finish the route on my bike for a total ride distance of 65 miles.

The night spent at Ohio Northern University was one pleasant surprise after another. Spacious dorm
rooms to lodge in, free ice cream from Young’s Dairy in a variety of top flavors, cold beer for a minimal donation, nice walking trails decorated by replicas of Remington’s famous sculptures, (full of PokeStops, too), and a banquet dinner in the ballroom. I was exhausted from the early morning rising and the long ride that I was having difficulty keeping my eyes open at the dinner table.





The dorms were very spacious. Not what I remembered from my college days. Velo and I had our own dorm equipped with a kitchen, a private bath, and two bedrooms. Each room had a twin size bunk in it furnished with clean sheets and a blanket. All I cared about was that it was soft and clean so it met my requirements perfectly. Velo’s bunk, for some reason, was about four feet off the ground. Velo, if you don’t know, is not a tall dude by any stretch of the imagination. He is also not very bendable so observing him climb into his bunk was my night’s entertainment.

Day two was starting out hot. We were served breakfast in the cafeteria with the cheer leading camp. Don’t get excited – these were all 8 to 14-year-old cheerleaders. I had already determined we were going to take the optional bus ride for the 25-mile move-ahead. The bus was full this time; I guess a lot of folks wanted to try to get finished before the sun was high and the heat got unbearable.

I had yet to get my seat correct and was just about to throw in the towel. This ride was supposed to be meaningful and dedicated to my late mom. But I had to keep tweaking my seat to the point of discouragement. About halfway through day-2 I may have finally gotten my seat adjusted. The route, though a little different, was a lot more of the same, vast corn fields, typical northern Ohio farms dotted with livestock and churches, and long county roads. After 60 miles in the heat and sun I was soooo glad to reach the finish-line celebration and the car.

If you want to see how a charity ride should be done, come join us on the Young’s Dairy Ride in 2017.


Thank you to all who donated to the cause. You Rock!!!


To find out what happens next week follow the Reluctant Cyclist by Email:


#youngsdairycharityride #nicejob