Thursday, November 6, 2014

The Tsunami Rides: FFO and Great Pumpkin Ride in Lafayette, LA

I am exhausted!  We decided a month or so ago that we would participate in a charity ride in Lafayette, LA.  They were offering the usual assortment of distances to include 35 miles.  So we signed up and "planned" a forced family outing.  Household 6 (HH6) decided she and the two younger would do the 10 mile and I would do the 35 with Diga and the Chick.  Notice the word planned is in quotes.

We had a really nice Chariot trailer to pull Newby in, however, he can ride without training wheels and Leavenworth, KS was not the bike friendly place that the QC area is so we decided to sell it.  He cannot ride 10 miles just yet so we borrowed a much more low quality trailer and HH6 immediately lost the hitch for the bike.  So a couple of attempts on Amazon.com landed a replacement.  It arrived the day before we were to depart.

Additionally, it was a nightmare week at work and I didn't have time to pack.  So Friday night, O Hallowed Eve, I got off work at 6:30, ran to the store to get some stuff, then I slam packed the trailer with 5 bikes and a borrowed kid trailer and what I hoped would be the right clothing for the blast of arctic air was to come that night.  Yes, low 40 degrees is an arctic blast when you are used to 75 degrees for a low.  By the way, I have great cycling clothing for that temp, my children don't.

My dream is a small toy hauler trailer that we can also sleep in.  

We bathed the kids, put them in their PJs and hit the road at 9 pm for a 2.5 hour drive.  As we departed I noticed the low pressure light.  I stopped at the gas station for air.  It was broke, the only free one I know of was broken.  So we hit the road and stopped at the next station, put in $1 and nada.  So we hit the road and 20 miles later we found another gas station $1 and bam air.  Then another $1 because I decided to check all tires and needed to add more but ran out of time.

Then we hit the road for reals.  We arrived at our hotel at midnight.  HH6 has made it a goal to find the cheapest hotel ever.  Last time it was the worst smelling smoking room we have ever stayed in.  The only thing that could have brought the price below $40 would have been a chalk outline from a dead body outside.   The beds were not queen as we were told so one kid hit the floor and HH6 crammed in with two and I crammed in with another.  Asleep by 1 a.m. with alarm set for 6 a.m.  We then fought the kids into their clothing and headed to the venue.  

HH6 went to register while I pulled 5 bikes and a trailer out of our covered trailer and assembled.  Then we ran into our first "planning" failure.  The skewer was not long enough for the recently ordered hitch.  Of course nobody carries a spare skewer!  Team one down because it is highly unlikely that Nater can ride 38 miles.  Needless to say I was a little frustrated because I should have tested everything before we departed but I just didn't have the time.  

So I decided to at least attempt to ride the 25 and HH6 could pick him up if she had to.  That lasted all of 10 minutes when he couldn't shift with his mittens on (remember with a 15 mph wind 41 degrees gets cold fast) and he was mad.  She had to pin him down while we took off.  I decided that because of the wind chill, lack of good clothing for the kids, and wind we would do the 25 mile ride.  

Riding with kids can be a rewarding and enriching family experience.  It can also be a painful experience.  Enter the soul crushing headwind for 15 miles!!!!  I don't understand why my kids have not figured out how to use gears.  I coach them along but when facing a 15 mph headwind don't whine when you are in a high gear and you have many more options.  I assured them that the return would be nice with a strong tailwind!  Again, riding in the low 40s and into the windchill 30s is miserable all around if not well equipped.

Soul crushing headwind with some sugar cane.

The ride itself was nice, many of the roads were quiet and many had solid shoulders.  Some a little narrow and high traffic.  Again, I love scenery, in this case it was sugar cane.  I had no clue it grew so tall.

Redline Conquest 24
Sugar cane everywhere.  

At about the 13 mile mark we turned and headed back.  We decided to stop at a convenience store and warm up and eat some real food.  By real food it turned out to be one of those sandwiches that comes in the triangle package.  They devoured it and Diga got a root beer.  Once satisfied we hit the

 Not Casey's, a midwest treasure, but they enjoyed their turkey sandwich.  I would have loved a slice of Casey's pizza, always delicious and hot on a cold ride.

road to find that the wind had shifted a little.  At that point the Chick declared "Where is the tailwind dad!" It was not exactly a headwind but a stiff crosswind that made it less fun.

On the return the groups from the longer rides were linking up with the route we were on.  Diga took this as an opportunity to attack.  He blew past a few people who had just passed us.  Granted they were not the fastest ever, but one lady said she like his bike and that set him on the attack to show her how nice it was.  Then I warned that he is a wild card.  One moment he is flying, the next he slams the brakes.  While I attempted to control his attack and make sure he turned at the right locations, the Chick fell behind.  She was mad and we caught an earful.

We finished a little slower than I wanted but the headwind took its toll.  Then we ate some food at the finish line, packed up the bikes and I began the drive back, 2.5 hours worth.  It was a long drive but well worth it, though we were both exhausted this afternoon.