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Please Pass Me My Chocolate Hammer

I’m not sure what the Ritz Carlton in Puerto Rico is used to but I don’t think it’s two people with folding bikes and suitcases rolling into their hotel at 3AM asking to be checked in for that day. We were denied until 5AM. Good thing we still had cue cards to finish (rolls eyes); those are not fun to do EVER, let alone before the sun has risen. We made do and when we finally checked in (but seriously we’re so grateful they let us check in at 5AM since check in is technically at 4PM) we immediately passed out on the feather top bed.

When we finally awoke from hibernation we were hungry and had a lot of work to do. GVP somehow convinced me that setting up the bikes was more important than getting food; I still don’t know how he did that. Several months ago we’d decided to get folding bikes for this trip so we could fold them up and pack them in a suitcase. Easy peasy. However, I made the HUGE mistake of buying the Citizen Miami in orange. It is cute. I still think so even though I know what a piece of crap it is: the wheels are insanely hard to get off (why does anyone make wheels that aren’t quick release?), the back fender is riveted on. RIVETED! Grease oozes out of the bike from everywhere. Anyways, I had a Schwinn folding bike delivered to the hotel from Amazon (which ended up rusting in two short weeks so I sent it back; I am done with POS bikes. This is not to say that all folding bikes are awful. GVP had a Dahon which has quick release tires, fits into a large suitcase, and whose grease output does not resemble that of a teenager’s pores.)

We needed to pump up the tires. Luckily the Ritz Carlton has IMG_2443an excellent maintenance staff. Not only did they let us bring our bikes down to their shop, worked on our bikes with us, offered us sweat rags and water (it was hot down there!), but at one point Eduardo disappeared and came back with two packets of chocolate shaped like tools. Yeah. That’s real. Pliers, a wrench, and a hammer. I’m not even upset that my chocolate hammer’s head was broken off. I’m just impressed that these things even exist. And I have a lot of questions. Who else are they giving these to? Do they pass them out…well, like candy or are we the first people? If so I bet they were super stoked to give them to us.

When the bikes were ready to go we headed out for a late lunch. I don’t know what made us decide to get a couple of drinks each, a couple of appetizers, and an expensive paella dish but, but we dropped $100 on lunch. (Later when we wanted to dive into the leftovers we realized we had no utensils so we ripped off corners of the Styrofoam for spoons. Keeping it classy.)

Did I mention we got a complimentary bottle of champagne from the hotel?

Because I have love for all bikes, even the sucky ones; that’s why I love riding my bike.

 

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Well Done United. Well Done.

I flew United for the first time in a long time and I’ve got to say, I LOVE their safety video. It is WEIRD. For example, there is a family on the ledge of the sky deck of the Sears tower (not the ledge of the building but these glass cutouts they made so you can step out) and a flight attendant appears OUT OF NOWHERE from the bottom of the outside and starts the spiel on oxygen masks. Classic! I mean here she is 1353 feet in the air talking about oxygen masks. Genius!

And then I wondered how much discussion went into having the Chinese flight attendant in the shot from China. This one was quickly followed with some alpacas grazing somewhere…I love alpacas. And hate selfie sticks (there was a selfie stick in the alpaca scene) and that dumb see-through divider between economy and first class. Rude.

The point of all this is to say that I’m on my flight heading to Puerto Rico. My bag is too heavy (45.5 pounds) and I’ll definitely have to leave stuff at the hotel in San Juan to pick up at the end of biking (they already said that was fine) but I honestly didn’t know what to part with while packing. We’re going to have to use 5.4 pounds of stuff since I’m flying Spirit on the way home and their limit is 40 pounds. Ridic I know. I had no idea their baggage policies were stricter than the North/South Korean border. Lesson learned. Never again.

Anyways I’m hellah excited for the trip and can’t believe it’s here. I have spent countless hours planning it. Am I nervous? Duh. I bought a can of pepper spray for pete’s sake! But onward and southward I go.

It all started a few months ago when I got an email from an online cycling magazine. It listed some of the best rides in America. I sent it to a friend, let’s call him GVP, and out of all of them, the only one I was interested in was Puerto Rico. The price was higher than I was able to pay and the pace faster than I was able to go. We did some preliminary searches and found crazy guy on a bike so we decided to have our own go at it and bought some folding bikes and our tickets to San Juan.

And here we are. Well, here I am. I’m on my first flight of two. GVP is on his way to the airport (and his flight is conveniently my second!). We arrive to Puerto Rico at 2:40AM (which is more ridiculous than Spirit’s baggage policies but we wanted to maximize our day in San Juan…which is good because actually we have some cue cards to finish!)!

Que nos vaya bien!

Because riding bikes has no language; that’s why I love riding my bike.

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A Spandex Vacation

I don’t remember when I first rode my bike. I don’t remember when I first realized I love biking. I don’t think it was when the training wheels were removed and I bit it in the front lawn. I don’t think it was when my neighbor’s front wheel hit my back wheel and I skinned my knees on the gravel driveway (picking tiny rocks out of an open wound is not love inspiring). I imagine it happened sometime between then and when I went on my first bike tour. 11 years old. 7 days. 500 miles. Sounds like a great time, right?

1997 group shot; I'm on the left

I’m on the left in the GIANT t-shirt.

There I was in Whoknowswhere, Iowa on the Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa. Ah RAGBRAI. What a glorious thing. My companions? My badass 13 year old sister, my dad, one of my uncles, and my $100 teal Roadmaster. Oh, and probably about 12,000 other cyclists.

It was fun but man, it was a struuuuuuggle. Whoever claims that Iowa is a flat state has clearly never schlepped a 30+ pound bike across the state. I sagged. A lot. (In case you don’t know, sagging is when a rider is too tired to continue. On RAGBRAI the rider goes to the opposite side of the road, turns his/her bike upside down, and waits to be picked up by the “sagwagon.”) We ate homemade cinnamon buns and attended festivals in every town. We got free t-shirts and ate corn on the cob dripping with butter – onto said free t-shirt. Despite how ninth circle of hell it may sound, most of my memories from the ride are fond ones, so much so that 18 years later, I signed up again.

The pinwheel and I survived RAGBRAI XLIII

The pinwheel and I survived RAGBRAI

My Raleigh and I trekked from Chicago to RAGBRAI XLIII (that’s 43 for those like me who struggle with Roman numerals over 10). Joining me this time would be my dad, my brother and his girlfriend (who would wind up leaving early after a bad wreck on the morning of day one), and three friends. Oh, and probably about 20,000 other cyclists. I had done no other tours since RAGBRAI 25 so why do the same one?

I wanted to prove to myself that I didn’t need to sag.

And have fun of course.

It’s not that I’m ashamed that I sagged because that would be ridiculous. Come on folks; cut me a break. I was 11. It was more to test my 29 year old self.

Goals = accomplished! I wasn’t the fastest and I sure did complain about how sore my butt was and how loud people snored, but I did it. Not only did I have fun, but I crushed the mileage. I even completed the century day, although not quite as easily as the 14 year old girl I saw on an ancient steel Schwinn with her purse in the basket and no water bottle. She looked like she was out for a Saturday afternoon ride to her grandma’s house

But I digress.

RAGBRAI was a vacation from the structure of adult life. Work didn’t matter. Eating healthy food didn’t matter. Showering didn’t even matter. The only things that mattered were making it safely to the end town and staying hydrated (and getting to the ice cream stand before it closed).

Every bike ride is a vacation; that’s why I love riding my bike.