DALMAC! One of Our Best Yet! Part One, Day One: Wonderful Weather, Fast Miles and a Whole Pack of Friends.
When we rolled out Thursday morning for Day One of the Four Day West tour of Dick Allen’s Lansing to Mackinaw City bicycle ride, we were all nervous about Saturday’s forecast. It had been showing rain all week long and it wasn’t improving as the day drew closer. Still, we had work to do and clear skies with a tailwind with which to do it, so we set out from Michigan State University in Lansing on an unapproved route that a buddy who lives in the area made up to avoid much of the city traffic.
The first third was relatively flat to downhill, but we were slowed by intersections as we left our State’s capitol, heading for parts north. We had a big group, filled with cyclists who’d put in some serious miles together… with two DALMAC rookies. One, the son of one of the longtime DALMAC riders. The other a friend of the group who rides with us often, when his important profession allows – the man who renewed my wife and my vows this past June.
Once out of the City proper and onto decent, paved farm roads, we had a long downhill section and we just hammered it. Our average speed went from 18-mph to well over 20 as we took advantage of perfect DALMAC Day 1 conditions. We rarely have it so good. “Perfect” isn’t an over-exaggeration.
We’d skipped the first rest stop because we were all pumped up on DALMAC adrenaline. That meant we were 52-miles in before our first real stop. Thankfully, I have enough reserves in the form of stored fat, I could have made it halfway to Mackinaw City before eating. Some of the others, not so lucky. We stopped at a little Subway in a fueling station like a pack of ravenous dogs.
After lunch, I pulled out my DALMAC secret weapon – I’d brought a 5-Hour Energy for each of the first three days and downed my first waiting to leave. The kick was awesome and I set to burning it off before we met my wife on the road somewhere around the 85 to 90-mile mark.
Sadly, and I had no idea of this at the time, all good things must come to an end and our downhill to flat profile turned to a bunch of uphill, all the way home.
We met my wife at mile 90 after some difficulties trying to find each other over Google’s GPS location system, but find her we did and she was a sight for sore eyes.
We were on a trail at this point and heading into Vestaburg and I was tuckered out. The 5-hour energy didn’t last half the time its name suggests, but we were into some decent elevation gain and it was only my second century of the year (normally I’ve got seven or eight by the time DALMAC rolls around). My wife offered for me to ride ahead with the group but I was sufficiently happy just to ride along with her and told her so.
We cruised along, not being dropped but certainly not gaining on the group for a mile when my wife got out of the saddle and commenced to chasing the group down. I held her wheel and we caught the group with a fair effort.
We were cruising along at the back of the group when one of the guys kicked up a stick and it flung head-high into the air and landed smack dab between my fork and rim. The sound it made was horrible and I feared the worst as I signaled to stop and pulled over. The group didn’t let up… they left us, probably figuring we’d be able to chase back.
The stick had wedged itself in so tight, there was no removing it, front or back. I literally had to break it in two and pull it from the fork before we could get rolling again. The group was still in sight as my wife and I started rolling, but neither of us had it in us to chase them down. And I got what I’d been hoping for since I clipped in that morning; 90% of the ride with my friends and a nice, enjoyable 10% of the ride with my wife. I recounted the ride to her as we rolled along at a reasonable, enjoyable pace.
We pulled into our camping spot and I grabbed a few things for a shower, before heading into the school. Once cleaned up, we sat around talking for a bit and I offered to ride six blocks to the local pizza/ice cream restaurant to get my wife some dinner. She found this quite romantic (as had been intended). We slow-rolled it to the restaurant, stored our race bikes in the bike rack and went in to order. They had us out the door in fewer than ten minutes and I carried my wife’s dinner back to the campsite.
Then, it was my turn. I went in and ate my free meal with our gang and talked about the day’s events. There was laughter and good cheer. I’d decided when we separated not to be butt-hurt about being dropped. I’d wanted to ride alone with my wife, anyway.
After dinner, we walked down the the ice cream shop and had some ice cream. I chose the Ripe Raspberry/Chocolate Chunk and it was fantastic.
And so ended Day One; we walked back to the campsite and turned in for the evening. I slept like a baby.