Posted by: robinson2000 | July 24, 2012

The Ride Begins, Well Almost

With a week leading up to the ride, training was as intense as ever with all the leaving socials at work to attend. I ended up fitting in a shortish 50 miler with full panniers and a few rides to work during the week to keep the legs in tip-top condition but things were so hectic with end of term activities that the training got left on the back burner for a bit. That didn’t mean that I forgot about the ride altogether as most evenings I would carefully re-pack my panniers and ponder on valuable space-saving strategies in order to maximize my storage.

The weekend passed amazingly quickly and before I knew it Sunday nght was upon me. Up to that point nothing had really troubled or worried me about the journey so far, but that night after trying the get an early night, my mind felt like it had discovered warp speed as a million and one concerns hit me. Would we arrive ok? Would we be terrorised in our tent one night by backwater hicks? Would our bodies be able to maintain 70 miles a day? Needless to say it was a very “tossy-turny” night and when my alarm rang out at 4.30am, I felt far from rested and ready.

The airport run went as smooth as it could have done, apart from smacking the empty bike box that was strapped to the roof rack on a low hanging sign, bending it completely in half. My cycle partner, Chris, had slightly less luck as on his way to Heathrow, he was told over the trains intercom that he had to get off the train as bikes weren’t allowed on the underground at that time if day. This lead to a very panick stricken phone call to myself followed by an incredibly expensive cab ride to the airport. With 2 hours to go before the plane departed, Chris arrived and we quickly dismantled his bike and shoved in unceremoniously into the battered box. As we frantically duck taped every possible hole a good Samaritan passed by with some heavy-duty tape and helped us seal up the box until it was more duck tape than cardboard.

Check-in was another stressful affair with a barrage of questions about the bikes and the inevitable charge for transporting the oversize goods, but finally we got our boarding passes and headed through security without any major hiccups. We even boarded the plane on time and felt quite relaxed about how things were going until we heard an announcement over the plane’s Tanoy for a Mr Robinson and Mr Rice to identify themselves. Now this was a new experience for me and one that isn’t the most pleasant as you make your way to the front of the plane feeling like a class-A terrorist. Luckily it was nothing serious and the airline just wanted us to identify our baggage, but it left us feeling that things weren’t going as quite as expected.

The rest of the flights went smoothly and we even had a fleeting hello with our baggage in Detroit and everything looked fine and intact at that point. Spirits were high in Detroit Airport as we tucked into a Fuddruckers burger before again receiving a personal announcement telling us get our backsides onto the plane as it was about to leave.

The day went rapidly downhill when we received our panniers at Bangor airport. Chris was missing a crucial clip that attaches the panniers to the pannier frame and I was missing 3 out of 4 clips! This was really bad news as not being able to attach your luggage to a bike your about to cycle the length of America will cause a lot of problems. In an exhausting 90 minutes we both worked frantically to rebuild the 2 bikes and attach the panniers using string and duck tape, which we hoped would hold for the 25 mile ride to the coast. A very kind lady came over and chatted to us as we sweated away and offered us a FREE pitch at her house in Stockton Springs and even a FREE lift to the bike shop in town in the morning. What an amazing offer as I thanked her profusely and gave the good news to Chris. Unfortunately, Chris was having serious bike issues as his pannier frame had become detached from the bike and was hanging on by lightweight string. With a sense of trepidation we left the safety of the airport and headed onto the open road. It felt wonderful to be riding on American soil again but just after a mile disaster struck as Chris pannier rack slipped and almost fell down onto the delicate derailer. Another patch up job on the side of the road and some appropriate swearing meant we were on our way again, only for it to happen 2-3 more times over the next few miles. With a heavy heart we turned tail and headed back into Downtown Bangor to find a hotel for the night. At $80 a night, the Charlses Inn was the cheapest option and we had a nice room with a TV. That evening we rebuilt our spirits with a Pulled Pork Sandwich and two 16 oz Sam Adams Summer Ale’s before returning to the room for a bike repairing session. After an hour of tinkering and taping we both crashed out for some much need sleep. Finger crosses the next day brings us better luck.

Miles Completed : 5 miles

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  1. Off to a great start then mate! And you didn’t even mention you got your arse kicked on the squash court on Sunday morning! I’m sure things will get better…….

  2. Hard to imagine a more panic stricken start, Ben. So clips are pretty important things then! Still 5 miles done only 2,395 to go. I’m sure you’ll catch up. Food sounds gooood :D. x Carolyn & Colin

  3. Think you have got troubles………… Dog did a dump at the bottom of the stairs last night. Guess who trod in it in his bare feet this morning??? Things can only get better……. can’t they? Keep going. Love. Dad

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