Friday, September 17, 2010

Door County Century

Why go 4 hours away from home to ride 100 miles on our tandem? Well Door County is one of our favorite places, the ride had good reviews and the route was flat compared to anything nearby.

So Saturday morning we left the boys with grandma and hit the road. It was raining a little but I left the bike uncovered since trash bags were the only option on hand. After a quick lunch on the way north we stopped to get our packets and check out the expo. Back at the car we found the sheet of paper in our packets informing us of required helmet stickers to make identification of trouble makers. I figure most drivers think all cyclists are reckless law breakers but would prefer the ride organizers at least feign a pro cyclist stance. Either way we were off to bigger, better things.

With the rain still coming down our options were shopping and eating our way around the small towns. We were shocked how busy places were since it wasn't fall color time yet. Zack had ordered popcorn, bacon cheese flavored to be exact. Double Delights has gelato as well so I had a small cup of pistachio while Jenny shopped. Up next was a farm market; they are all essentially the same. A large market offering fruit products, olive oils, snacks and wine. Jenny's favorite store Ecology Sports was up next to hunt for clothing deals.  Successful, she left with a shirt and yet another pair of shoes. The boys got a book called Boom, Splat, Kablooey and I got to sign the receipt. Jenny wanted to take bread home so a stop at the Door County Bakery for a Corsica loaf was next.  Most of the 7 pound loaf is now safely frozen for snacking through the winter. An early dinner was up next; soup at The Summer Kitchen in Sister Bay. This is one of our only remaining must stop places as the rest have either closed or suffered a loss of quality due to their success. Sweet potato fries and the soup buffet filled us up and we were hotel bound.

I guess it is an inn; The White Gull Inn in Fish Creek was our home for the night. Checking in was a bit odd with the lady escorting us to our room and giving a full tour. The worse part was turning down the morning coffee service since we had to be at the ride start by that time. Since the rain had stopped we wandered around Fish Creek looking at a few stores along the way. Just drinks and a cheap toy for the boys and shopping was done, back to our room. Jenny figured we should get a movie, free at the lobby and lots to pick from. She chose No Country for Old Men which is the most disturbing and confusing movie I've seen in years.

6:30 felt early Sunday but I had been waking up every few minutes anyway so I was up and dressed in 5 minutes. Where's Jenny ? Sitting by the fireplace eating more of the monster cookie from Pink Bakery in Egg Harbor. We didn't plan well for a pre-ride breakfast, as there was no food at the Inn until 7:30.

We got parked at the Fair Grounds and got rolling just before 8am but not until I scored a coffee sample near the start area. The route went up the bay side and returned on the lake side of the peninsula with rest stops every 15-18 miles. The first stop was at Murphy Park.  Early, but it was the turn around and split for the 30 and 50 mile routes. Lots of doughnut holes but Jenny noted 3 grapes made up the fruit options. We had plans to stop back at the White Gull and get coffee and coffeecake with our breakfast certificate that came with our stay, so we just ate a little. Between Egg Harbor and Fish Creek we encountered a wide range of riders. First at what I would call a small hill we watched guys zig zag up and have to stop at the top to rest.  Once out of ear shot, even Jenny made cracks which is normally my job. These people were in for at least 70 miles so one hill shouldn't be a big deal. Up next was the screamer, as we headed towards Fish Creek.  There is a tight curve on a downhill  but it was well marked with cones and manned with volunteers to warn riders. We needed none of it since this lady was screaming out every bit of road information she could. That was odd enough but the group she was with had just passed us and since she was at the back of the group(I suspect they were trying to drop her) her warnings could only be of use to me. It took all the restraint I had not to yell back "what I didn't hear you" instead we fell back out of ear shot.

What would turn out to be the best rest stop was next, back at the White Gull, coffee and coffee cake outside on the patio. Back on the bike we stopped at the main intersection in Fish Creek which was manned with two sheriff's officers. Since it's best to assume cyclists are ignorant we were informed that on coming traffic had the right of way, I nodded but at the same time the car with no stop sign stopped and without a thought I commented it would help if that driver knew he had the right of way. Guess I shouldn't have wasted all my restraint on the screaming lady.

We stopped at the Peninsula State Park rest stop to fill our bottles and noticed they had sandwiches. It was only about 10 am so that was odd and still no fruit. Off we went towards Ephraim and Sister Bay.  Nothing exciting happened, just lots of riders enjoying the scenery. Sister Bay had the oddest stop of the ride with strawberry shortcake being the sole food offering. I was annoyed since it was 18 miles to the next stop and I had packed nothing to eat. Jenny was better prepared and had a couple of gels along to hold her over.

The trip back down the peninsula was more into the wind but we made good time thanks to the tandem. We made such good time that the Baileys Harbor stop had no food.  This was more than an annoyance now; I was hungry. A ride van pulled in but was only a shuttle for drop outs so we left for Cave Point running on Gatorade. Turned out Cave Point had sandwiches. I think maybe only sandwiches but at least I got something to eat. We headed for the finish and got caught up in a group of guys, so got to draft off them for a few miles. Jenny and I had been passing people all afternoon but I was surprised we hung on with the race club so long. The final rest stop was at the Coast Guard station and we swung in for a look around. Pretzel rods, cheese spread and cups of cheese curds. So strange maybe they were catering to the large Illinois contingent.

Just 6 miles had us back at the car. We loaded up and changed clothes before heading for the post ride food. Pork sandwich, potato salad, beans and corn on the cob with cherry pie and ice cream for dessert. New Belgium Brewery supplied the beer.  Fat Tire Ale which is either really good or I was just really thirsty. That only left a 4 hour drive back home, racing the clock to see the boys before bedtime.

The organizers sent out an apology for the food issues. Good luck to them next year I'm not planning a return trip just yet.