Finally home…

I am finally home at my desk.  We had rain today as we started out on our final ride.  The temp was around 39 degrees.  It was cold.  But I was used to that, right?  After everything I’d been through, what’s another hundred miles today.  That’s what I signed up to do in the Dempsey Challenge, the event named after Patrick Dempsey the actor, to benefit the Patrick Dempsey Center for Cancer Hope and Healing.  I stood there at the start line as the rain began to fall.  It had rained overnight and had stopped before we lined up.  I had hoped it would hold of for a few more hours.  But, that was not to be.  The 4,000 other cyclist standing with me all began to shiver in collective unison.  Speeches had to be made, people had to get awards, we just wanted to get riding.  The rain filled the grooves in my helmet and every so often I would lean my head forward and about  a cup of water would pour off in front of my face and splatter on the pavement at my feet, reminding me that for some reason, I didn’t put my insulated shoe covers on this morning.

We were finally sent off with a countdown and the entire group rolled out of the start paddock as one.  We made a few turns, crossed a bridge and headed out of town, still in a steady rain.  In not too long I began to feel my feet getting  wet from the road spray.  Then the back of my pants.  My top half was fine, but my feet began to get cold as soon as they got wet.  By the time I got to the 10 mile mark, my legs, feet, head and neck and gloves were soaked to the skin and freezing.  I gave it some thought, just a little, and decided that I had done enough for Mother, Country and Cause and I have had just about enough of being wet and cold.  I turned my bike off to the right at the ten mile marker, cutting my planned route by 90 miles.  I felt guilty for a few minutes, until I saw others turning too.  I linked up with several other riders who said they had planned to ride further too.  It was just too cold and wet.

I rolled into the finish to no pomp and circumstance, no band playing, and very few cheers from the die hard supporters at the fence, just a cold PA announcer reading the names of the few “Early Birds” who were coming in.  I met my wife and I went and got changed into dry clothes.  After that, I waited for my team mates to come in and cheered as many of them as I could.  They all rode either 25 miles or fifty miles.  A couple of brutes did ride the 100 mile route too.  The rain had eventually stopped and Anne and I waited in the cold damp air to greet my team.  They were frozen.  They were soaked.  They were very happy they decided to ride.  All they could say was how beautiful the country side is in Maine.  That is why they rode today.  I see that country side every day, so I’m glad they could take that away.

I am still trying to get warm and I feel like I need to go to sleep.  Exhaustion is still knocking at the door.

A busy, exciting, exhausting 10 days has finally come to an end.  I can’t say I’d do this cross country ride again, but I am very glad I did it.  I said goodbye to my team today, those I could f ind.  I walked away from the Dempsey Challenge with tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat.  Another bitter sweet moment.  It was finally over, but I’m sad it’s over.  I will miss my team and hope to keep in touch with them.

Andy Bailes

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Home at last…well, sort of…

I am home in Maine.  I drove my team through Maine to get to Auburn and our Hotel.  I think they were a little nervous, but I love to drive Route 302 and 11 through the hills along those nice winding roads.  (They may never ask me to drive for them again.)  We spent one last night as a team and had a great meal and some drinks at a local pub called Gritty McDuff’s Brew Pub in Auburn.  This also is bitter sweet as I have come to  know and love my team mates, my new friends.  We have shared laughs, tears, immodesty and all the ups and downs that come from close quarters living for 10 days.  We all share the vision of the cause and we all love cycling.  The Peloton is a group of people riding together to a finish.  It is remarkably symbolic to the fight against cancer as the patient struggles through treatment, and their caregivers provide support to get them to the finish of that treatment.  Having  been a caregiver, and a bicycling fan, I can completely relate to the connection.  The Peloton Project Ride was at times very emotional for me and several times I had to fight back tears as I rode and as we all shared stories about our involvement with cancer.  As I said before, I am emotionally and physically drained.  I have a couple more days of involvement with this event and I’m excited to see the light at the end of the tunnel.  I will see my new friends throughout the weekend to say good by and to ride, but I will miss them as they leave town on Monday and life returns to whatever normal is.

Thank you – Thank you to all who followed on this journey.   Thank you to the Cancervive organization for letting me tag along on this journey, and Thank you to the Dempsey Center for letting me represent them as the only American, and the only Maine resident on the ride.  Thank you to all my friends and supporters, many of whom I don’t even know.  Thank you Thomas, Ken, Tammy, Rick, Jenn, Jay, Brandon, Connie and so many others.  And Thank You to Anne – She is my rock, my light house in the storm I know I can come home to.  She is my safety net, she is my best friend.

Thank you all,

Andy Bailes

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Homeward bound…

My team, Team 2 is in St. Johnsbury Vermont.  I just read that another team has just crossed into Maine, but the GPS spotter we have on them only shows them in New Hampshire.  We’ll be in Maine this afternoon.  Even after what a great trip this has been, it’s going to feel good to be home.  Yesterday we rode our last shift from noon to 6 pm.  We started in the rain, then it poured.  We rode for a few miles in the pouring rain and then it stopped.  When we got to our first rest stop we all ditched our rain gear, got something to eat and drink, and set off again.  We had dry roads for quite  while until our next rest stop.  While we ate and drank some more, a front came through and dumped on us.  Everyone scrambled to get inside some vehicle or another and we waited for a few minutes.  The rain let up and we decided to push on.  Night was approaching so we came to the consensus that if visibility, road conditions, or fatigue were a factor for any one of us, all of us would get off the road.  I think we had the best ride then.  Everyone and everything was in sync. It rained on us pretty hard at times, in the dark, but we had ridden together so many miles and become such a close well working team, it was a perfect ride.  At time I could barely see through my glasses from the rain and spray, but this ride was somehow magical.  We rolled passed dark farm land, dimly lit New England farmhouses that just seemed warm from the outside.  The smell of wood smoke lingered in the air at times and that always warms me too.  We approached the support RV almost too soon.  Because of time constraints we were not able to ride our bikes across the border, but we loaded up our gear and drove across in stead.  During the ride in the support RV we had to stay in our wet clothes and I picked up a chill to my bones.  I didn’t realize it until I got out of the vehicle and started to unload gear.  I could literally feel the warm flowing out of my arms and legs as if gravity was pulling it out of me.  I began to slur my speech a bit and shake uncontrollably.  I asked one of my teammates to take the two bikes I was moving because I had to go inside.  Luckily we stopped for transition to Team 3 at a gas station.  I ran in side and began shaking so badly all my muscles were tensing up and I started getting a back spasm and my arms felt locked around my shivering body.  I’m pretty sure I had started to go into hypothermia.  Being inside helped a lot.  I would have loved a cup of tea or hot chocolate, but all the station had was one small pot of coffee and I just couldn’t do that to myself.  I decided to leave that for the people who somehow can drink coffee.  It was empty in seconds anyway.  I had lot’s of people look after me and offer arm rubs, and I slowly warmed up as the shacking diminished.  I was eventually ordered by our team captain to get changed out of my wet clothes, which was the base problem.  It felt so nice to be in dry clothes.

I slept fairly well and have volunteered to drive the last leg of our journey for my team, so all of them can sit with their noses pressed to the glass of the van and do the tourist thing, gawk out the windows of our van at the beautiful New England countryside.

We have one more ride, a ceremonial ride from Auburn into Lewiston, Maine to officially end our trip.  I must say, I am exhausted.  I have never ridden so much.  I have never been on the move so much, as on this trip.  It has been a logistical ballet that is a true wonder to be part of.  I am proud that I was able to keep my end of the bargain and not disappoint my team mates.  I wanted to ride every mile of our schedule, and I did it.  The end of the ride last night was/is bitter sweet and I’m tearing up just writing this.  This has been an emotionally draining trip as well.  All of the stories.  The will to survive and the struggle to beat cancer, and the stories of those who could not.  There were times on the bike where a thought would enter my busy head, something about Brandon’s struggle with cancer, and I would tear up.  Not the best time for that, so I had to force my concentration toward the task at hand.  Other times the ride was so overwhelming with physical and emotional stress that I would sit in the van and not look at anyone until my eyes cleared.  This trip was difficult on so many levels, it will be hard to explain to anyone.

I will probably have one more entry after today, maybe two.  Keep checking in if you want, and Thank you for being there.  This has been almost like holding hands with home.

Andy Bailes

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The stars aligned – and – What to wear.

I have not been able to get internet access for a bit.  Sorry ’bout that.

About the dear strike – we were riding on a cold, dark road with very little traffic.  The Northern Lights were bright green and the moon was rising.  We had a few cars come by us, but being about 1:00 in the morning, we were basically alone.  A car approached from a distance ahead of us.  As he approached us he slowed.  When the approaching car was about 40 yards in front of the lead bike, another car came up from behind us and passed the ambulance and us.  No room on the road for two cars and a bunch of bikes.  The approaching car veered off onto the dirt shoulder as the minivan passed the bikes.  From about 2/3 back I saw one deer jump across the road through the lights right in front of the riders.  Then another – BANG as it hit the minivan.  We slowed and rolled passed the dying deer.  The car stopped, but the minivan didn’t.  We know it was damaged because there were pieces of car plastic all over the scene.  We rolled on and the car stayed, I can only imagine why.  All the stars aligned just right on that one.  A few seconds different and any number of things could have gone terribly wrong for us.  It was a real sobering moment for many of us.

So – what do you wear while cycling on a 20 degree night?  Head to toe -

Feet first, Two pair of socks, Toe warmers, Cleated cycling shoes, Insulated shoe covers, One pair off bib style cycling shorts, One pair of regular weight cycling tights, One pair of insulated cycling tights, One long sleeve compression top, One cotton long sleeve t-shirt, One short sleeve cycling jersey, One long sleeve insulated cycling jersey, one fleece vest, One cycling wind jacket, One “skull cap” under One helmet, One pair of clear glasses, One pair of cross country ski gloves, One pair of “Lobster claw” three finger mittens.  I was still chilly, and my toes were frozen by the end of our shift.  Our team is all done with night riding for this trip.

Today’s ride was fun but a bit frightening.  We were on a very busy road with cars passing the ambulance and then us, while there was on coming traffic.  Several times cars swerved back into line toward the riders.  We almost saw several accidents that very easily could have involved several riders.  We eventually got to the end of our shift, but we were all a little shaken.  The next team was on their shift for only an hour before the ambulance decided it was just too dangerous.  14 near misses for the riders was enough, time to get them off the road.  They packed up their bikes and squeezed into the support camper and drove to a safe location on another road, and resumed their ride.  Radio chatter indicated everyone was much happier.

Sorry, no pictures this time.  It’s late and I’m tired, so I’m hitting the hay now.  We ride at noon tomorrow, (Wednesday) and we’ll cross the border back into the U.S. (Vermont) on our bikes.  That should be fun.  Almost home!

Andy Bailes

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“Night Rider!”

WOW!  You think riding in a group in the day time takes all of your attention, try 11:30 at night!  I had my first full shift night ride last night and it was enlivening.  Seven of us speeding along sometimes at 20 mph, in the dark.  We of course have lights on our bikes and the ambulance is right behind us, but it really is a special challenge.  You really have to be at the top of your game and you senses are just at their maximum red line.  What a rush.  It was terribly cold.  How cold was it you might be asking?  The water in my water bottle froze.  That’s how cold it was.  We could barely speak to each other, our cheeks were so cold.  We get to do it again tonight from midnight to 6 am, sunrise on the bike, what could be better?  (Well, ok, I know of a couple of things.)  ;-)

Hey!  We made it through the border from Canada ok – Who da thunk it?  Team 2 and Team 3 went through the crossing at the same time.

Team 2 and Team 3 made it to, and through the border crossing at the same time.

Here is a picture of our bikes on the road.  We have to spend a lot of time in the van as we ride ahead to make it to the next transition point for shift change.

Bikes on the road. Sorry, this was taken through a dirty van window.

This next shot is of Team 1 coming in off the road for transition for Team 2, my team.  This was near Bemidji, Minnesota.

Team 1 coming in for transition to Team 2, my team.

Thank you to everyone who has been following along, and leaving comments.  Your thoughts and comments are truly motivating.

Andy Bailes

 

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Not a bad day…not a good day either.

Well, we’ve had two crashes.  On another team of seven members, five of them went down in a violent crash crossing a set of railroad tracks.  I guess they are ok, banged up, bruised and scraped, but they are still in the game.  Unfortunately our team lost a member today to a crash.  We were working very hard in an intense cross wind.  We were riding fast and pretty close together to protect the group from the wind when in a split second, her front wheel touched the back wheel of the rider in front of her.  She was right beside me and went down hard into the gravel along the side of the road.  It was also very violent and I had to swerve to miss her bike as it shot across the lane in front of me.  She has a broken arm and in the hospital for observation.  She is out of the game and will be going home.

On a lighter note -

The picture below is of the first day transition point.  Note the clouds.  It was cold and we had snow during the ride and a little rain.

Transition from Team 1 to Team 2.

The photo below shows Team 3 ready to go out for their shift on day 2.

Team 3 Second Day. Look at the flat, treeless, windy, cold prairie.

My team rides our first full night shift tomorrow night.  6 pm to Midnight.  We’ll be in the U.S. for that, having crossed into North Dakota for a very short period before entering Minnesota.

Check back for an update on that.

Andy Bailes

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Two days down…

Let’s see…My team, Team2 is in Brandon Manatoba.  We ride again at noon tomorrow.  Yesterday was cold, wet, snowy, rainy, fun.

I had some problem breathing at first, but as we rolled along I got much better.  Today I was great.  No breathing problems at all.  The ride was cold, damp and WINDY.  The wind never stops here.  Sometimes it helps us, sometimes it pushes against us, but we push back, and we win.  Our first taste of night riding this morning, not as bad as I thought it would be.  Cold though, did I mention the cold?

I took a few pictures today but I’ll have to load them some other time, maybe in the morning.  I saw Brandon on 207 today.  He looked great.

Thanks for watching,

Andy Bailes

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And, we’re off…

Well, the snow held off and surfaces are just wet so far.  I woke at 3:17 to find it was snowing pretty hard, but none of it stuck and it has stopped.  And the wind has died down.  It’s been terrible.

This morning at 9:00 about 40 cyclists will depart on an adventure that will take us across parts of two countries, form Calgary, Alberta Canada to Lewiston, Maine.  We’re pedaling in support Wellspring Calgary of the Cancervive organization and the Patrick Dempsey Center for Cancer Hope and Healing.

We’ll arrive in Lewiston on October 12th, coming across the Longley Bridge into Lewiston from Auburn at about 11:00 am.  Come on down to welcome my new friends.

Keep checking back for updates from the road.

Andy Bailes

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Bike Ride…All seems good.

I drove out to Canmore on Monday, not before having a film crew sent along with me.  John and Ian are working for Ramsey Tripp on The Peloton Project film.  Ramsey wanted some footage of me training, so he asked if I would mind if John and Ian rode along for that.  I agreed.  I rode about 25 miles (40km) in the mountains just West of Banff Alberta Canada.  Nature’s Cathedral.  Just gorgeous.  I didn’t see any wildlife though.  Wicked Windy!  I had to pedal down hill because the wind would stop me on the hills.  I did some switchbacks that reminded me of L’Alpe d’Huez in the French Alps.  Didn’t seem as difficult this time.  Maybe it was the cameras on me.

The following picture is looking into Bow Valley.  I call it Heaven’s Gate.

Heaven’s Gate

This picture is of a Moon Set at Canmore,just East of Banff.  This was taken from the deck at Bill and Lavina Gilliland’s house.

Moon Set at Canmore

We start off tomorrow morning at 9:00am.  Forecast for about 2″ of snow on the grassy surfaces.  Chilly!

Spread the word!  If you know anyone who would like to donate to the cause, they can click here.

Also – get as many people together as you can and greet the Peloton Project riders as we enter Lewiston.  Lewiston/Auburn are shutting down the Longley bridge to escort us across into the Peace Park just across the Bridge to the left in Lewiston at about 11:00 Friday morning, October 12th.  Hope to see you there!

Andy Bailes

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I GOT MY BIKE!

Woo Hoo!  About 9:00pm last night Lavina and I met up with the RV crew and there she was, my bike all wrapped in bubble wrap, snug as a bug.  I took her back to my room and lovingly unwrapped her…sorry, I digress.  I got her back together but there is an odd click in the headset.  I might stop by a bike shop to ask for an adjustment.

We had Northern Lights last night.  Really cool.  And really cool – we’re expecting snow Tuesday evening into Wednesday morning.  They expect about 2″ on the ground when we pull out of Calgary on Wednesday.  Ugh!

I’m going to try and get a rental car today, (So I can wash the interior.) and drive out to Banff.  Bill and Lavina have a house out there and they’ve offered it to me.  They ride out there a lot and have told me of some routes where I should see some wildlife.  I’ll try to get some pictures.                      See ya.

Andy Bailes

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