Thursday, September 20, 2012

Sans Socks!

In my last post I mentioned that I had I thrown out a pair of socks due to the amount of cockle burs caught in them.  Coming home from a ride sans socks has become a problem for me.  So far during the month of September I have ruined two pair of socks on rides.  The second pair was due to poorly maintained trails and a whole lot of cockle burs.  The first was due to poor planning that was overcome by good old fashioned "field expediency."

The ODR (Olive Drab Roller)
Labor Day weekend is a serious event for the Irish Tsunami.  As stated in previous posts, anytime we have a long weekend it is essential that we have a plan.  We started with an airshow in the rain and culminated with our second year at the Kewanee Hog Days.  I know what you are thinking, this sounds like an Forced Family Outing and you are correct.  It is an annual Labor Day event which boasts the World's Largest Outdoor Pork Barbecue, serving over 30 thousand!   Nothing says a great time like 30,000 pork sandwiches and carnival rides in 90 degree heat!  As for the entertainment.......I was entertained!  If you look at the link you will notice that the site does not show a picture or list any entrainment for Monday.  It just so happens that it was "Hoggyoke" and I have that photo.  
We watched this guy for a while much to my children's chagrin.  I guess they don't appreciate the finer things in life.

Just before we left the house for this event, I decided that I wanted to take my bike so I could ride the Hennepin Canal Trail from Awana to Colona on the way back.  Of course I decided that I wanted to do this ten minutes before we were going to leave.  Having never ridden this before and finding very little written about this trail other than the fact that it is there I made sure I had the basics.  After all, it would only be 25 miles so little planning would be necessary.

Following the festivities, the consumption of a couple of pork sandwiches, and a chocolate milkshake at the Dairy Queen, I was dropped off at the the canal near Awana. 

Overall the trail is very user friendly.  While they advertise that is is road bike compatible, I would venture to say that I would want a cyclocross bike or a touring bike with larger tires (700x28c or 32c).  I was riding my Surly Ogre (which has become my go to ride) and cruising in style.

Then it hit, "it" being two pork chop sandwiches and a large chocolate milkshake!  I had passed an outhouse a couple of miles back but didn't want to back track.  I figured that there would be another one eventually.  I figured wrong.  There was nowhere to go; a canal to the left of me and overgrown shrubs and trees to the right of me.  I pedaled as far as I could go and found no services.

The Hennepin Canal is pretty amazing and during it's construction aqueducts were built to allow barges to pass over intersecting rivers and streams.  Many of these still exist and I figured that going under one would provide the easiest access and the maximum privacy.  I carfully climbed down the bank and support structure, scratching my legs on every thorn on the way.  I safely reached the creek bed, the only problem was that I was missing one essential item.  TP!!!

This is where poor planing and haste intersect to cause a serious problem.  Fortunately for me, I have had a lot of great experiences in life, to include serving as an Infantryman in the Army.  This has provided me with the ability to overcome nearly any challenge that presents.  In the field or in combat you don't always have the luxury or conveniences of modern life.  In situations like that you have a couple of options that are "field expedient."

The options are

1.  Use a sock.  The problem is that you are wearing boots with no sock which leads to blisters and pain.  Last resort, only to be used if you don't have a knife to cut up your t-shirt or you are out of t-shirt (see #2).
2.  Use the bottom of your t-shirt.  Cut a portion of the bottom of your t-shirt off.  If you have a knife (who doesn't carry one with these at all times) you can cut sections off the bottom of your t-shirt.  In the Army this is covered by the outer camouflage garment and you cannot see that it is missing sections.  The downfall is that if you take the outer garment you look like a fool with half a t-shirt.  This is also a problem if you are wearing a nice shirt, (see #1)

Because I was wearing a nice biking shirt I chose option #1.  The problem with that was a 20 mile ride and looking like a fool with only one sock.

I am grateful that the Army provided me with some practical life skills.

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