So, after a full day of cycling, freezing and falling, capped off with two and a half bottles of Grand River Valley 'River Rouge' wine, the Saturday edition of this year's Ponte Vino Giro came to a blurry-eyed close. Sunday morning was still a good 8 hours away, but it already hurt. As I lay in bed with the sound of cresting Lake Erie waves gently lulling me to sleep, I was confident that Sunday morning would bring with it glorious sunshine, warmer weather, and error free riding. I forgot, of course, about God's wicked sense of humor.
When I arose at 6:30am Sunday morning, not only was there no sunshine, there was no power! The alarm clock was dead and none of the lights would work. Oddly, I could see the glow of hallway lights slipping in under the front door and through the door's peephole. I opened the blinds on the rear patio door and saw that the poolhouse was also well lit. What the fu...heck?? It was time to call the front desk, but as I made my way around the room by only the light of my cellphone, I could discern the chatter of lodge employees commenting on the accident that had occured in the middle of the night. Apparently, someone had struck a power poll outside the property that knocked out the entire street, including the lodge. Fortunately, the lodge had a generator for just such an emergency, which kicked in to power up essential hotel functions (guest rooms apparently not being on that list). It is what it is.
Now, the night before, my new friends and I planned to meet at 7am for breakfast, so not wanting to let them think a trivial power outtage would cause me to miss the grand buffet, I dressed and packed, again only by the light of my cell, and made my way to the restaurant. Impressively, the hotel staff was up and at 'em, working diligently to make sure everything was as normal as possible. They even had the entire breakfast buffet cooked, warming, and ready to go. Kudos to them, for sure. I was pleased...but not all was as it seemed. Now, I am not much of a coffee drinker. In fact, I'd rather suffer through intestinal flu then try and gag down a cup of joe, but for some people, the intake of the Columbian bean is a morning ritual not to be messed with. Ever. Unfortunately, with the power not scheduled to return till later in the day, electric coffee makers were not even pulled off the shelves. As I sat peacefully in the corner devouring a dozen scrambled eggs, I could sense the natives getting restless at the thought of no coffee. Suggestions like "boil some water" were being hollered about, and I knew a coup was only moments from erupting. I quickly inhaled the rest of my breakfast and snuck out of the restaurant. Only when I made it back to the safety of my room did it occur to me that my friends never joined me.
Having already packed, it was time to 'pre-flight' my bike for another day on the road. Although today's ride only called for about 42 miles, it was notorious for being a very hilly and challenging 42 miles, so I wanted the bike running smoothly. I lubed the chain and filled the tires with air. While pumbing the rear tire, I heard an enormous POP! At first, I feared the coffee crowd had finally taken matters into their own hands, but then quickly realized the sound came from my bike! The rear innertube just blew. Crap! As if everything the day before was not enough to amuse my God in Heaven, now this. Fortunately, I brought a spare innertube, and as I wheeled my bike into the well lit lobby to make the change, I thanked that very same God in Heaven that the tire blew here...and not out there. Sometimes, it's the small things we need to be grateful for.
Having successfully changed the tire, my trusty steed was ready for action. By this time, my friends had finally joined me. After several minutes of sharing our morning horror stories, we headed outside. The aforementioned sun was still buried behind menacing clouds and the wind was whipping around like crazy. Temps were easily in the low 50's...a repeat of yesterday. Great. All this and hills. Bonnie, Joe, and Dave had left their bikes outside on their respective vehicles and now were preping them for riding. (I know what you're thinking...they left their bikes outside in the cold rainy weather all night, but I'm the one who gets the flat! Yet another example of an omnipotent sense of humor at play.)
Finally, the crew all set, it was time to head out.