Day 14 - Worthington, Minnesota to Albert Lea,
was the day that Robert from New York was in for quite a surprise
and a serious workout. Having never ridden a tandem before, Robert
looked at Lon and Lon's tandem as a free ride, and had arranged
for a morning of serious torture stoking with Lon. Robert is not
what one would call of small stature. He had joked a great deal
about the incredible draft that would form behind a tandem with
the two of them riding. He even made up a "Wide Load"
sign to hang on his own backside. What he didn't know, was how
sore his bum was going to get sitting on that Brooks Leather
Torture Device and how tired his legs were going to
be trying to keep up with Lon. But he soon would find out.
This was also our first Susan-less day. Richard and I left a
little early as usual, but apparently we left a little too early
and rode a little too fast, and we passed the first snack stop
before the crew arrived. We rode on through town figuring that
maybe they were setting up on the other side of town. I had seen
two of the vehicles drive by, but not the caravan. After climbing
the hill out of town I knew we had missed the stop for sure. And
a few minutes later we came upon Ed with a snack stop set up just
for the two of us. We both begged him not to tell Susan, so we
wouldn't get in trouble for leaving early, and thanked him for
the special stop. Susan was very adamant that riders not leave
early unless they were really slow. She had a list of people who
had to wait, and yelled at them for leaving too soon. Well, normally
we were really slow, but it was really flat or even a little downhill.
Fortunately no one ratted us out.
At some point before the next snack stop, Robert (thumbing his
nose at me) and Lon and a few drafters passed. At the snack stop,
I saw both Robert and Lon's singles coming down off the trucks.
Apparently the tandem free ride was over. Robert seemed a bit
surprised that Lon never coasted and that even with the softride
his butt was really sore. He had to learn for himself.
I asked Lon
at this stop if he would be willing to take me on as stoker on
Sunday. The weather forecasts were showing that we would probably
get rain on Sunday, and in my opinion, the back of a tandem is
one of the best places to be when it rains, since the captain
shields the stoker from some of the rain. Sunday was also a very
hilly day. Lon commented on the hills, and I explained that unlike
Robert, who's achilles made it difficult for him to stand, I could
stand, and had a lot of tandem experience. I also said I really
wanted to ride on a rolling day so I could enjoy some of those
wonderfully fast downhills.
We stayed pretty close to I-90 again. Mostly frontage roads,
except for one little detour that added 10 miles to the route.
A few racer types followed Lon through the original route and
walked through pretty deep mud for a ways, reaching lunch at the
same time as those who rode the extra 10 miles.
The afternoon went pretty fast, as I got into a train with the
Penseyres brothers. We hit a very, very rough section of road,
and I decided I really, really wanted a softride. I stood for
a long, long time. I think we were on this stuff for 6 miles,
and it was such a relief when we finally hit smooth roads again.
I found myself riding with Gale and Pamela. These two were roommates
and had ridden together for the whole trip, despite just meeting
in Washington. They had very compatible styles and got along great.
Pamela worked in a health club and Gale is a racing grandma. Gale
had fractured her leg just 8 weeks before PAC Tour. The advice
of Dr. Bob Breedlove had enabled her to train and still do the
ride. I stopped thinking about the pain in my back after hearing
the hotel and a great surprise. Terry had baked some absolutely
delicious chocolate chip cookies, and sent them along with his
ride report from Day 1. The cookies were the best medicine. I
never realized how much a package from a friend would do for my
mood on the ride, but it really perked me right up.
John, a rider from Ireland, was the next rider granted a chance
to stoke with Lon. John and Lon spent a little time setting the
bike up for their ride the next morning. John had a bit more tandeming
experience than Robert. He had stoked a tandem trike in a 24 hour
in England. Tandem trikes are even scarier than single trikes,
and take even more trust to stoke than standard tandems. With
this experience and John's powerful legs, Lon had picked a great
stoker. Very few riders would be able to hang onto the Lon and