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Day 14 - Worthington, Minnesota to Albert Lea, Minnesota
123 miles
1260' climbing

This 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 her story.

We reached 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 John train.