Over a year ago Matt and I pinky swore over some beers that we’d quit our jobs and take some bike adventures across the good ole USA, today in a surreal culmination of a pinky swear coming to fruition, we’re jobless and happily in our van and on the road, right now near Kokomo Indiana! Dreams do come true! Thanks to so many friends and family and careful planning (mostly on Matt’s end) we are able to make this a reality and I can’t wait to explore so many places with my best friend! I also swore to some people on digits other than my pinky that I’d attempt to blog about our adventures, so here I am trying to keep my end of that bargain too. Today as Matt packed the van with all our bikes and camping gear it took me back to my childhood, and the multiple van trips my family did from Mexico City to New Albany Ohio. My dad would do most of the three -day drive in our brown Aerostar, or “the lords ford” as my dad called it sometimes 3 times a year with us weird Mexican kids piled in the back on our bed made out of all the American snacks our Grandma would send back to Mexico with us. They were some of the best trips, with lake swimming, fried chicken, cactus army fights and the alphabet game and singing along with cassette tapes of Donna Summer.
I’d spent most of the time in the back fighting with my siblings, waiting for night time to see any city lights or my favorite of all, pretending to be asleep when my dad would stop for snacks and then wake up conveniently when he’d crack open the bag of chips or cookies and say “mmm, smells like Dominick’s” and demand he share some with me.
Over 30 years have passed since those days but I can assure you that this will be my same travel plan of attack on this year off with Matt, to fulfill my duty as the snAcker! While Matt spent the last couple days and morning packing the van, making food, cleaning our bikes, mapping our route and other essential trip plans, I partied with the dogs, watched Survivor and my other shows, and mostly have been snacking and snoozing already on our 4 hours in to our year-off adventure! I’ve already polished off half a bag of jalapeño chips, double fisted some frig newtons, and spilled some of Matt’s tasty pasta salad on the one pair of jeans I’ve packed for the next 3 weeks. It’s how I roll! We’ve been chatting about all the fun riding we’ll be doing this weekend with friends in Brown County, then some hill climbing in Tennessee then more mtn bike braapping with other friends in North Carolina! I feel so lucky! Now and back then, living the van life with my loved ones, and the snacks I love as well, thank you all.
Alrighty, I never promised this blog would be pretty, it’s mostly the ramblings of my thoughts and my thinks in my brain compartments and departments, I might try to edit and clean it up later but for now I’ll leave it as is
Much like the FOMO I experienced 2 years ago while crappily pit-crewing for Matt during his first Dirty Kanza, I’m experiencing similar FOMO now as everybody is writing their awesome race recaps and I’d love to do the same, mostly for myself so I can remember why I’d love to do it again next year…but also because I’ve been such a huge procrastinator and just recently gave myself a rule that I can’t play my phone games until I do this dang write up, and I’m really missing my phone games, so here’s the darn recap ok? mostly pooped out of my brain thoughts in really long floofty run-on sentences hehehe. and much like how the DK was long and winding at times, so too is this blogpost…it might also smell like cow poop along the way…be warned
As I’ve been pondering (procrastinating) what to write about, it seems to be less and less about the actual bike riding or anything useful to others who might be reading this and want to do this race in the future, and mostly comes down to funny-only-to-me little stories and the great interactions I had throughout the day with different people I talked to…the people that looked like cows and the ones that looked like real people too.
Firstly the people named Matt, whose chillness and belief in me calmed my own silly nerves. Never having ridden more than 112 miles, I surprisingly wasn’t too worried, bc Matt seemed to believe I could do it, so gosh darn it, I thought I could do it too. Not only that but he drove us down to Kansas, took a couple of us on a pre-ride of the start and finish the day before, helped show me how to fix my bike if I’d ever need to (which luckily I didn’t), set up my Twin Six Rando with 650B tires so it fit better and my lower back and legs didn’t friggin’ hurt at all during the 206 miles. Most cry-inducing for me was seeing Matt at the finish line, waiting to give me a hug, after rocking his own awesome race and getting 10th overall working mostly by himself. Two years ago I underestimated how quickly he’d finish the third leg, and I totally missed him finishing in an incredible 4th place during a brutally muddy year! We waited too long to cheer for other friends at the third checkpoint so nobody was at the finish line to hug and congratulate Matt on an epic race, so to see that he was there to help me unbuckle my helmet and give me a hug after my first DK, really made my day, and the only time I teared up, I swear! what a great husbandito! I’m so lucky!
Other people that really made my day were our local Emporian hosts, Joan and Ron! They were awesome! thanks to Matt’s sponsorship through Salsa we got to stay in their home with a pretty nifty exercise machine to keep my legs loose.
They made us delicious homemade cookies and muffins and cinnamon rolls from scratch, all I had to do was stick my hand in the homemade handcrafted “grandma’s cookies” cookie jar that Ron made for her out of wood. They also told us all about how Emporia has the 2nd best water in the world ( I tested it, it’s true) and about the free zoo, that I’ll have to come check out another time, when I’m not busy riding all day, hehehe. Even they were at the finish line, ready to give stinky sweaty ole me a hug! that was so stinkin’ nice of them, the #1 hosts with the #2 water!
Other people I was super happy to see at the finish line and throughout the day at the pit stops, were the best crew I could’ve ever asked for: the Clemo brothers John, Pete and Chris (which is what host-mom Joan kept calling Johnboy, great, another nickname to add to his list) Seriously the best, they would be there at the aid stations, pointing me in the right direction for the portapotty’s so I could work out a fart, while they lubed my bike chain and refilled my hydration pack, fed me pickles and cookies and other delicious snacks, as well as told me how Matt and Jill and Chelsea were doing and funny stories to keep me laughing in between miles, next year it’s their turn! we’ll have to con somebody else into being our snack-sherpas. It was so nice seeing other support crews out there like Dan and April and Tom and Kurt and David, seriously I don’t think you guys know how much it means to see y’all’s smiling faces throughout the day!
snax make me so happy….
Pinter and me and Chris Clemo, cheersing our mazapan Mexican snax provided by Jill
I was grateful throughout the day for so many things. To start, the weather was great, not too windy, not raining yet and not muddy. Grateful for my bike not having any issues at all throughout the day. Grateful to be one of 200 women that were going to do the race that day, including my awesome friends Chelsea and Jill!
Grateful for all the previous lady friends who had done the race before and made it look like a fun thing to give a try (Danielle, April, Sally, Kaat and Michelle and many others) Grateful that I was injury free and able to race, and thankful for friends back home who had gotten injured or for other reasons couldn’t make it but were still cheering us on, that meant so much to me, your positive attitude encouraged me to keep going. Grateful for our friends Kelsey and Bob back home who were taking care of our dogs so we could come ride bikes for fun, and taking them on epic adventures of their own. Grateful for my fat biking friends who made us a delicious dinner the night before the race and fun chats to ease the nerves. Grateful to find friends along the route, like David taking pictures, or Chad who’d driven up from Texas the night before just to cheer us on and even made signs for me! wahoo!! One of the most exciting things for me was during the first 50 miles, biking along and seeing an 8lumens tent coming up with a dude wearing hair pants and another dude high-fiving people….I high-fived as I rode by and asked if they were bicyclepubes, they might’ve lied but they said: “Yes!” and boy oh boy was I super excited! I’ve been on this ludicrous quest to try and figure out who they were…and for a brief delusional minute I believed them and couldn’t wait to get to the pit stop so I could flaunt on Instagram about my now famous high-fived hand and never wash it again! there were high fives from kids along the way too…so those might’ve tainted the bicyclepubes grime, but that’s ok, those high fives from kids were sweet too!
I was thankful to get to start the ride with my GRBC teammates Jay and Eric, who went on to have amazing races themselves.
Super fun having Andrea, who I had met 2 years ago at DK as we were both there as support crew people, this year we were both racing in it! I heard a voice call out my name about 6 miles from the third aid station, after realizing it wasn’t a cow again talking to me, and it was Andrea I was so happy, and she was riding strong! it was awesome riding those 6 miles with her, talking about Casey’s pizza and all the other snacks we were gonna have after we finished this thing.
I seriously had an amazing time and think there was something magical in the air. Loved getting to be one of the 200 women, and I’d get so excited when I’d see another lady out there. I probably chatted with them too much, like Wendy, who was part of the round table discussion the day before and had given awesome advice about being selfish and not feeling guilty about going for a ride, I leapfrogged a bit with her and kept chatting, I think I finally got the hint when I snuck up on her again and she said “oh, it’s you again” hehehe. My most favorite was when I’d get passed by the awesome singlespeed ladies! so frickin’ inspired and amazed by all of them! and they were all so nice and friendly throughout the race, I had the pleasure of racing SS with some of them earlier in the spring at our local Barry Roubaix race, and kept up on their adventures and just reading about how they all got together to make a ladies SS category was so cool! I can’t wait to try DK next year with 1 gear!
Other thinks and thoughts about the race that I’m just gonna fart here because I’m tired of writing properly and in coherent paragraphs:
people had given me the advice to every once in a while look up and take in my surroundings and the beauty of the Flint Hills. I did this quite often, but every once in a while I’d remind myself to also listen to my surroundings and take that in too…the birds floofting around, the gravel pionging off my steel frame, the spinning sound of my hub when I got out of the saddle to stretch my legs…listening to make sure I was letting out only a fart, nothing more nothing less….hehehe
I had my map on my Garmin but wouldn’t look at the mileage…and I totally think that helped me get through the day without thinking too much about how long it was taking me or when the next checkpoint would come up. I’d give myself little treats along the way, saying if I didn’t look at the mileage until 4 more turns or 20 more cows, then I could guess the mileage before looking, and if I was close, I could eat another mini snickers bar…I think it worked
at one road crossing before the slight detour I heard a commotion of 3 people in a truck honking and yelling at the racers, I thought they were trying to tell us that maybe we had missed a turn, but when I caught up to the guy they were yelling at I think they were the only locals that were mad that this race was taking place in their neighborhood, on the fun side of that experience was that the racer they were yelling at happened to be a guy from Puerto Rico, when I started chatting with him about the incident, it got me attempting to chat in Spanish, which I then realized I was completely making up words, that might’ve been the kick in the pants Alejandro needed because he was then outta there hehe, no heckling from 3 locals can get you down, but a weirdo making up words in Spanish can hehehe
I took candy from a stranger, in the form of a butterscotch candy from a skinny guy on a fat bike.
For a couple miles during the third leg I was in the middle between to fun tandems, a tandem sandwich if you will. I really enjoy and appreciate tandem racers, they always seem to be encouraging others along the way and seemed to be having a great time, I’m so stoked two Michigan ladies who I met racing SS, did the DK tandem and got 5th in that category, you guys are awesome Middy and Heidi!
I like to think my brain was deciding to break up the race into different thoughts throughout the different legs. During the first 50 miles, I was thinking about instagramming a picture from the portapotty about my encounter with bicyclepubes, during the second 50, I was thinking about all the snackaloons I was gonna eat, during the 3rd leg, my brain was mostly concerned with this giant fart that I kept trying to release into the wild, but didn’t want it to turn into a surprise turd, the last 20 miles before cp3 all I could think of was where to find a tree to drop a deuce, while at the same time not trespassing and not exposing my butt to too many fellow racers…thoughts like these are what got me through the day! the last little bit was in the dark and I couldn’t figure out how to get my screen on Garmin to switch to night mode, so I tried sticking as close as I could to others by following their blinkies…all the way in and finally finished…with about an hour to spare before midnight!
when Jim, the race director gave me a hug and shook my hand at the end and told me “I like your glasses” I told him “thank you! I like your race!” and I totally meant it! see ya next year DK…now back to my phone games
thankful also to all the photographers out there! I was able to flip the script and photograph this one with her dog
and found this one of me…I must’ve been going super fast hehehe
Matt and I are sitting in a Starbucks in Frankfort KY right now, mooching off the wi-fi and using a gift card Peggy, the lady whose dog I ran back home gave us for our year off. After a couple days of mooching floor space and free fart air at the Salt Creek Inn off of some great GR friends Jay and Eric, this year of roughing it in the wild is off to a great start hehehe. When people asked me what our first stop would be, and I mentioned Brown County Indiana, most people laughed, because it didn’t sound that exotic. However I had heard awesome things about mountain biking there, and it did not disappoint! Brown County is the Sh!t! and not just because of the colors.
We arrived Thursday night and grabbed a pint of Indiana’s finest zombie dust at the pine room bar where we were treated to some live music and locals sharing their pub snacks and shenanigans with us. We waited a bit until Jay and Eric showed up, then went to their room and spread out our air mattresses and took over every nook and cranny in their room and claimed it as our own. Woke up on Friday and were greeted with sunshine and some wind, but we were happy about the promise of warm weather and kraaked on over to the trails. Jay and Eric have been coming down here for spring training the last couple years, so they showed us around, we even ran into some other GR friends Ernie, Kristen, their kids Fin and Moses, as we started biking and I was so impressed by Fin showing me how it’s done, climbing those hills on the north gate trail, even if your legs start to get a li’l tired. We kraaked around, went up to hesitation point, hesitated a tiny bit, then decided to kraak back down to get some snacks. While Eric, Jay and I took the walnut something trail back, Matt decided to give Schooner’s Trace a try.
We got back to Salt Creek Inn and sprawled out in the sunshine and ate some lunch, Talon showed up and waited around a bit for us to fart around a bit then headed back to the park to rip some more trails. I let those nerds go off and went exploring some stuff on my own, taking pictures and whatnot, being a creeper taking a break at one of the playgrounds, taking a tiny nap on one of the bridges, playing on the tire swing a bit, which probably caused one of the chains to strain, because when I then saw a bunch of kids come over to play, I went and watched like a creeper from a picnic table, and saw a teenager hop on the same swing and one of the chains broke and she fell into the mud puddle underneath…hehe doh!
anyway, I went back into town, explored Nashville Indiana a bit, which is pretty neat, tons of little ice-cream shops and galleries and fun alleys to ride your bike through, I bought myself a Cadbury egg and snacked on it in a field, then met up with everybody else. We showered and headed back into town to Quaff On Brewery where our night was just about to get better.
Being Michiganders, the 60-ish degree weather which was too cold for the locals to sit outside, was plenty warm for us and we got a table on the porch right away. We ordered some tasty beers and decided to try some appetizers of pulled pork nachos and chicken wings…they were dang tastiest nachos and chicken wings I’ve had in a long time, and we were all friggin’ grinning from ear to ear….we had thought about ordering real food, but when the waiter came back, we ordered another tasty round of nachos and wings and added some beer cheese and pretzel sticks! I looked around the table and was so grateful for all these friends, warm weather, the best beardliest husband, but mostly at that moment thankful for the tastiest of wings and nachos, we were pretty stinkin’ happy and our bellies were full of happy too, which would later come out as farts, but for now they were just happy. Thanks to Poppa Jay, he stinkin’ treated us all, then on the way back to the Salt Creek Inn, we stopped at the Hoosier Liquor store and stocked up on more Three Floyds goodies and went back and partied more in room 131.
Trying to be lady-like, I went and stunk up the nearby McD’s restroom, which became my second home for a bit this past weekend. getting my queef on after getting my quaff on, it didn’t matter though because back in 131, the nachos were making their second appearance, a room full of rap music, pfffts, friends, double IPA’s and good stories ensued. The construction guys in the room next door even had a deep fryer on the back of their truck, trying to compete with our party times, but they couldn’t even come close. Tyler arrived around midnight, we hung out for a bit, I was in the direct line of a missile fart so I tried to get out of the way, plopped down on my air mattress and fell right asleep, a great day had been had!
Saturday was another awesome day of riding some sweet trails in Brown County, (just the beginner stuff…hehe wink wink) we rode about 30 miles, and I tried one called Bobcat, which is unlike any trail I’ve ridden before, super narrow goat trail type stuff around some fun switchbacks, thanks to Tyler for letting me know what was ahead, if you haven’t been to Brown County I definitely highly recommend it. We all headed back to the Inn to lounge and snack on the stoop for a bit, then most of the guys went back out, while Talon and I stayed back. My butt was starting to get a li’l chapped and I wanted to go into town and check out the ice cream shops, thanks to Talon for the mint-chocolate chip ice cream cone! Was fun chatting with him and finding out about his job, talking about our dogs and how we both get our news from the Free Beer and Hot Wings show hehehe. We all met up again and headed back to get our Quaff On at the brewery for round 3. had another beer at the pizza place next door, then headed back to the Inn and made a fire in the pit in front of the lobby, I snuck back to the room early and took a night nap hehehe
Allrighty, I should probably start wrapping this long-ass post up. Matt’s been doing real internet work here getting the results from the Lowell 50 on the MGRS site, and I’ve been here flooftin’
Sunday was an awesome gravel ride into some pretty big climbs and wind, but was such a great time. We had some food at the Pine Room and said goodbye to our friends, super thankful for them sponsoring us this first little bit of our trip, thanks for all the food and floor space and farts and fun times.
Matt and I finally actually camped last night on Raccoon Ridge up in the park and it was awesome. The temp was great and I slept real good, went on a couple hikes and pretended I had Beau and Pedro with me. We got on the road, called my aunt and were thinking about checking out the place in Kentucky where my grandpa grew up, but figured it was a bit out of the way, as we’re heading to Tennessee to check out some things there, but maybe on a different trip we’ll go see that part of the US, thanks again for reading, sorry for the rambling on…
1 cadbury egg – using free CVS money
mint chocolate chip ice cream – Thanks Talon
the BEST pulled pork nachos and chicken wings from Quaff On Brewery – Thanks Jay for round 1 and 2 and thanks Eric for round 3
for our year of adventuring, my biggest fear is that I’ll run out of snack money…hehe. so on a recent road trip to some fat bike race with Matt and Bill Fartindale, we brainstormed an idea to create some fun bike ride/race with all my friends, call it the “go fund yourself” race, and in exchange, unabashedly ask friends to bring me snacks or a couple American pesos to buy snacks along the way. Then while proudly showing off my mockery of a logo for said race at work, my coworker Michaela also told me she would be looking forward to my snack blog, so I’m trying to make these two happen at once. Unfortunately I’ve procrastinated and will have to put the race off until some time later, possibly June. However I can still try to ” go fund myself” while making fun graphic things for friends. If you have any need for a poster or logo or stickers or even the need to photoshop your roommate riding your dog on a cous cous beach, I can help you out! Check out my website www.buttcrackjenny.com