Day Five Elevation Profile

'Tour de Blue' Log:
Thursday 10/7
Day 5 - Karyn Goes AWOL

Note: Remember to check the web site after the finish of the Tour de Blue for the awards ceremony and wrap ups!

We ride every day until nearly sundown. I suppose that if we didn't take so many breaks we could get done earlier. But then we wouldn't get to watch Hans chase wooly bear caterpillers around the parking lot with a camera like he did today. What's worse, we found out that he was picking them up on the road and stashing them in his saddle bag for future photo ops. It became clear when, at a particular rest stop, he started rooting through the saddle bag saying, "Hey, one's missing!". While three wollies raced away across the parking lot, Hans started throwing things out of the bag, looking for a fourth.

"Eeeiioouu!"

Three woolies would have to do. In short, he abducted them, choreographed them, digitized them, and even as I write this he is sitting next to me with a laptop exploiting them. It's shameless.

Last night I neglected to tell you about our dramatic finish. Near the end of the day, we reached the end of the road. Within 8 miles of our destination, Mabry Mill, a sign appeared saying "road closed ahead". Our response was, "whatever...". Four miles later, as the sun was going down, we encountered a pickup truck backing up the road. We thought that it was another traveller who had met the obstacle, but it turned out to be a worker who shouted, "Hey! Road closed means ROAD CLOSED!" Given his attitude, it seemed unreasonable to expect that he would be open to our pointing out that he was driving his pickup truck backwards. So we asked him what the obstacle was. "Bridge closed. We're doing lead abatement. Noone can go there." Since he had obviously been working with the lead, we figured this had a lot to do with him driving backwards, so we left him alone.

By now it was very dark and our headlights were our only friend. We had to take a downhill, switch-backed, gravelly exit to a side road which would hopefully take us to Mabry Mill. Somewhere in here Hans fell over on his bike, though that is probably hardly worth mentioning. Karyn had gone ahead to find a hotel, and didn't know we had not taken the normal detour. The side road eventually led back to the Parkway, which led down a long, lonely, dark hill. A set of headlights suddenly appeared in our mirrors. We were three tiny little blinking tail lights against one big set of headlights. As the vehicle went by on my left, a voice said, "hey there". It was Karyn's voice. But then an arm extended out the passenger side window. I nearly ran off the road. "Where did Karyn get an arm that long?", I thought. Turns out it was Heather, who always seems to show up when the plot thickens, in the passenger seat. She is loving Han's Mustang and has been doing things like bringing us extra Power Gel which is very useful in bringing athletes back from the dead. We are most appreciative.

Today we started at 9:00AM in clear, 48 degree weather, much better than yesterday. So far we have encountered heat, cold, rain, and wind. Our wardrobes have been tested thoroughly. The best times to ride are in the morning, or in the evening because the sunlight seeps in from the horizon leaving highlights everywhere. We went past Roanoke and travelled ridges that offered the most unobstructed views yet. One sees broad valleys offset with a few prominent mountains of great character, instead of many large mountains competing with each other. It makes for easier focal points, and the views in the evening sun were mesmerizing.

But today's drama was that we finally had total thermo-nuclear group communication breakdown. After four days of intense riding it came down to this. "Where are we gonna eat lunch?" Around 3:00PM we stopped at a rest area, presumably to eat lunch. This made me very happy as a) my hamstrings were very tight, b) my gears were shifting roughly, and c) I had been dreaming about food all day. Hans talked Mike and Karyn into going on to the Roanoke Star, some big ol' star up there somewhere on a mountainside. I protested. "It's only six more miles," Mike said. "It's just a star!" I shouted. In my own defense, when I dream about food it means something. One burns a lot of calories on a ride like this; and I hate to "bonk" 'cause when I bonk (ie. run out of glycogen, life's #1 muscle and brain food), my lights go out. It's not a matter of will power; it's a curse of chemistry with me. When you bonk your body can still burn fat for energy. Mike's body is good at this. Mine is horrible at it. So, I moped behind as we headed toward Roanoke.

Now, Hans used to live near Roanoke, so he was excited to be taking us to see the Star. Mike didn't know what "the Star" was, but somehow thought it was a restaurant and liked the idea of going there. Karyn just wanted to know where to stop. So when Mike and Hans got to the exit for the Star, Hans said to Karyn "hold off" which must have sounded like "go on". She went ahead down the exit and disappeared. I, ready to eat my own foot, watched the van speed away down a steep incline which I immediately perceived as something we were going to have to come back up. Then I saw the sign which told us it was a long incline.

"No way!" I bellered. "I quit. Hans! What the ... are you thinking?!" He looked at me and smiled sort of helplessly. Mike looked silently perturbed. Mike never really looks perturbed, he just thinks perturbed and you can see him thinking. No one said anything except me. I cracked. I cussed like a sailor. Finally, not knowing what else to say I yelled, "Hans - you - you are a 30 year old industrial accident on wheels!"

Mike, realizing that Karyn was long gone, and knowing how long it would take for us to take that detour, decided we might as well get back on the Parkway. Karyn would figure out that we hadn't followed and catch up with us. I was just nuts with hunger. Mike headed on. I glared at Hans. It was then that Hans fell over on his bike. I said, "Wait, don't get up," and searched for my camera. "Ah never mind," I said and rode off.

We didn't see Karyn for 2 hours. She had been going up and down that side road looking for us. She also had called home to check on her mom. This morning when I checked my email there was a note from Karyn's dad which said that her mom would be going into surgery today to have an abdominal tumor removed. We were all thinking about that.

Just before we finally saw Karyn again Mike said, "Something bad must have happened to her." Moments later Karyn pulled up in the van. "You are so in trouble, " she said. I looked at Mike and said, "the beatings will now commence".

Karyns mom had a large tumor removed. It was benign. We laughed a lot later, at Hans daily out-of-control post finish photo shoot, about our communication breakdown . We were even happier that Karyn's mom will be OK. Then Heather showed up with more Power Bars and Power Gel, that stuff to get us through the 6500 vertical feet of long climbing necessary to finish this thing tomorrow.

Injury Report:
Hans fell over on his bike again today; but if you've read the above you'll know why he never got Hydrogen Peroxide. Barry White has left the building and I am feeling better; but now everyone else is getting my cold. Perfect strategy.

Miles Traveled So Far:
383

Miles To Go:
86

Overall Miles Ahead/Behind:
16(behind)

Tomorrow's Yellow Shorts Holder:
(to today's last place finisher)
um... me (Eric). The chicken attacked me and Hans went on around.

Thought of the Day:
Always remember to say you're sorry, no matter how justified you were.

Bummer of the Day:
That should be self-explanatory





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