So what 's a typical day like? We wake early, pack our bags, get our bikes ready, and then (if we're lucky) we eat breakfast before we load our luggage into the trailer that's towed by "Gold" to the next motel. The early birds look "bright eyed and bushy tailed", and the night owls still have sleep in their eyes. Most riders love coffee (never had a cup myself). Breakfast may be at the hotel, or at a nearby restaurant.
At the designated "load time", the trailer is opened, and Gerard and Andy (top picture, with newer rider Andrew from Las Vegas on the right, outside the van) hop on. The valuable bike pumps are handed out, and Herb is always lined up, calling "I get the pink pump first". (Don't ask!)
We hand our bags up to Andy and Gerard, then sign the "load sheet". Riders are then free to depart. Some folks always ride together, some folks always ride alone, but most cyclists ride with several others. I've tried to ride with every other cyclist on this trip, though I haven't always been able to ride with the folks who just travel a week or so with us. I've ridden and chatted with all the "cross country" riders, some for minutes here and there, most for much longer periods of time.
At the SAG stops we sign in, wash our hands, then feed, tell stories, refill water bottles and tend to other needs. On longer days, like today (95 miles with plenty of hills) most of us also stop for lunch somewhere. Unlike SAG food, we pay for our own lunches. Today I had a club sandwich--the ladies at my office will be astonished!
Then we continue the ride until we reach the hotel. Today we travelled east (of course) through western New York, and are staying in Canandaigua, in the finger lake region. The scenery was nice--but again, not that different from home (see middle photo).
Folks arrive at the next motel on a staggered schedule. The "harder" the day, in general, the longer between the earliest and latest arrivals. Today it was about 4 to 5 hours, I think. Several riders like to ride quickly to the next motel, and are usually in early. Others stop often, whether they ride quickly or slowly. I've been with the first group to the hotel and also with the last group (several times each) on this trip. It's nice to experience variety!
After a shower, and tending to other needs (bike adjustments, laundry, email, blogs,...) we meet for "Route Rap" and discuss the next day's ride. Pictured at bottom is a portion of the group at today's route rap. It was held outside because of the nice weather and the lake. Goose droppings were the only down side to this location. Notice how folks are studying the "cue sheet" while Andy (standing, left of the tree) talks.
BTW, we have a few pet names for the "cue sheets". These have typewritten instructions, telling us how far to ride until the next turn, SAG stop, or other direction. They are usually clear----however, occasionally they are confusing, esp. if there has been road work done since last year's Cross Country Challenge. One clever wag first dubbed them the "clue sheets", then, after getting particularly confused, changed them to the "haven't got a clue sheets" (alright, it was me again)!
Just kidding--mostly. We love our cue sheets, and can always find our way to the next turn. And when we don't, AbB is gracious enough not to charge us extra for the extra miles we rode while lost or confused!
After route rap, it's off to dinner which is enjoyed with good fellowship. Most folks then turn in early, but a few (esp. the younger riders, but some guys who are starting to look at middle age in the rear view mirror) go to a bar some evenings. Even the "night owls" are usually in bed by eleven. Then it's go to sleep, then wake up and do it again!