First bike tour: BRAT ’94
This is the ride that got me hooked on bike tours. I knew nothing about what I was getting involved in. I was not in condition for this kind of ride, tried to ride to fast, did not eat and drink properly during the ride, took the wrong kind of bike, the wrong kind of clothing, the wrong kind of tent and knew no one else going when I signed up. What a dummy! Fortunately for me I met Rick a few weeks before the ride. Had it not been for him, I may have an entirely different outlook on bike tours today. Yet, although this was a long, hard and very hilly ride, and produced some very sore leg muscles, it is still one of my favorite rides. And best of all, it has led me into many other rides around the country and allowed me to develop many new friendships, which I truly cherish.
First bike-tour friend: Rick Kilby, BRAT’94
It seems strange that Rick and I are still friends but haven’t done another tour together, although we’ve tried. But maybe we will one of these days.
Shortest tour: SAGBRAW ’01
This was a six-day ride and the distances were relatively short, 50 miles or so. Normally I prefer longer rides but since I had done very little biking prior to the ride and the fact the temperature was usually 98 degrees, short was just fine this time.
Longest tour: BRAT ’95
My longest tour was another Tennessee ride but this time in west Tennessee. It was 526 miles including a mid-week century. The century was my first and one I’ll always remember. Much of it was on the Natchez Trace and was actually 105 miles. This ride also is special because it is where I met Scott and Alex.
Largest tour: RAGBRAI ’00
With 14,000 most days and over 20,000 a couple of days, this was by far the largest ride I’ve ever participated in.
Hottest tour: SAGBRAW ’01
For four straight days the temperatures in Wisconsin were 98 degrees with a heat index of 115 degrees. Though I’m not sure, the temperature in my tent a couple of nights must have been close to 140 degrees, or at least it felt like it! Wow! It was hot!
Coldest tour: Cycle NC ’01
The first three nights, while in the hill country of eastern North Carolina, the temperature was between 30 and 32 degrees. Fortunately, I found sleeping space inside every night. But it sure made for some cold riding early the next morning.
Wettest tour: BRAG ’96
The first night it rained very hard and my tent began leaking from the top, not a good thing. Then later in the week, while we were staying at Fort Stewart, we had heavy rain and strong winds. Many tents were flooded and some blew away. It was a terrible storm. Fortunately, I was staying in the barracks and only had to battle the heavy rain to go to supper.
Most scenic tour: SAGBRAW ’02
It’s hard to beat a lakeshore ride for scenery and this was no exception. Riding the shoreline of Green Bay, Sturgeon Bay and throughout Door County offered one beautiful sight after another. And with mostly sunny skies and warm temperatures we were able to enjoy the views to their fullest.
Most hills on a tour: BRAT ’94
As one might expect this ride in east Tennessee had lots of hills. The second day’s ride from Roan Mountain SP to Jonesboro was the hardest day of touring I’ve done. But it wasn’t the only hard day, there were several. And to make things even more difficult, this was my first tour and I didn’t know how to pace myself for a week, nor how to eat and drink properly. My legs were so sore I could barely stand to touch them. Word of wisdom – don’t diet while on a bike tour!
Most difficult tour: SAGBRAW ’01
Because I had only been able to ride a few times prior to the ride and because the heat index was 115 degrees, this ride, although short in distance, was my most difficult. And to make it more difficult I took my mountain bike instead of my road bike.
Most unique overnight stay on a tour: “The House”
It was so cold at night on Cycle NC that we would sleep most anyplace to avoid sleeping outside in a tent. One night while staying in a state historic area this old, small, empty house was our only refuge. It had a kitchen, two bedrooms and a small living room and we packed it full of people. We actually had to step between, around or over people every time we walked in or out. There were probably 30 of us sleeping in that place including a couple of people who had snoring down to a science!
Best food on tour: TRIRI SE ’01
I’ve had good food on several rides but this ride had great food everyday. We ate buffet style every morning and every evening at a state park inn. There was great variety and an abundance of food! The meals also provided the opportunity for much socializing and the development of new friendships.
Loneliest tour: BRAG ’99
I’m not sure why but it was really hard to get connected with a good friend on this ride. One friend that I thought would be there wasn’t and although I met several people, a fun friendship just never developed. Going by myself had never been a problem before, and although I still had fun, it was a lonely ride. But wouldn’t you just know it? My next ride that summer was the friendliest ride I’ve been on.
Friendliest tour: Shoreline East ’99
I think this ride only had about 300 riders or less and maybe that is why it became the friendliest ride I’ve been on. For whatever reason, friendships on this ride just kept multiplying. It seemed by the end of the week I had met nearly everyone and it was common to hangout with 10 to 15 people at a time. This ride also produced one of my most unusual friendships. While visiting one historic lighthouse, I was standing in line to sign the guest book when the lady in front of me signed it. She signed Lynn Conley and I signed Conley Lynn. We had identical names but reversed. She was from Iowa and I was from Tennessee and we signed the register back to back, in Michigan. Only on a bike ride!
Most laughs on a tour: Cycle NC ’01
This ride wins this award hands down! Never have I laughed so much on a bike ride. By mid-week this group of six called “Team I”, consisting of Joe, John, Gabe, Julie, David and myself would share so much fun and laughter that we would sometimes cry. Not only did we laugh a lot but we were the fastest team on the road! Right guys?
Favorite year: 2001
Overall this was an absolutely fantastic year! Every ride introduced me to some outstanding new friends with whom I had lots of fun. It started when I first met Myrle on SAGBRAW, continued with the introduction to the “Corn Inspectors” on TRIRI SE and ended when our “Team I” team, led by Captain Janeway (Julie), was reprimanded for too much laughing on Cycle NC.
All-around favorite tour: RAGBRAI ’00
With so many great rides, choosing a favorite was a difficult task. With 14,000 riders, and some days more, RAGBRAI is so different and offers so many unique experiences that it just seems to stand out. The variety and availability of food along the route was unbelievable. But what really seemed to stand out most was the acceptance of the cyclists by the Iowa people. They seemed excited that we were coming through their towns and were genuinely interested in learning something about us. Because of the overwhelming number of people on this ride, having a very good friend along, as I did, should be a top priority when experiencing RAGBRAI.
Most scenic week-end ride: Horsey Hundred ’02
It is really hard to beat the scenery around Georgetown, Frankfort and Lexington Kentucky. With all the enormous horse farms with perfectly manicured pastures and fenced with board fencing it is a breath-taking ride. Just the beautiful barns alone would make the trip worthwhile. I’ve ridden the “Horsey” four times and if one can get good weather it is hard to beat. It is always on Memorial Day weekend.
Largest weekend ride: Hilly Hundred ’00
This is a great weekend ride in Indiana during September. It usually has around 4,000 participants and is one of the best-run rides anywhere. That has become expected of the Indiana rides. Another benefit is the opportunity to purchase bike merchandise at discount prices from the many merchants that set up shop under the big tent.
Best stops on the way to a ride: St. Claire, MI St. Louise, MO Chicago, IL Evanston, IL
In St. Claire I had the privilege of staying a couple of nights at the home of Alex Schneider whom I met on BRAT ’95. Alex and I got in a nice day of biking and did some sight seeing. He also took me across the border for my first trip in to Canada.
In St. Louis I finally had the opportunity to see and visit the “Arch”.
I loved my visit to Chicago and was much impressed with the beauty of the waterfront. Also I went to the top of the Sears Tower where the views of the city were fantastic.
In Evanston I enjoyed a nice dinner at a Spanish restaurant and a scenic tour of downtown, followed by a walking tour of the beautiful Northwestern University campus.