I am getting a bit behind on blogging because of the lack of cell service and wifi (I am currently blogging in a TGIF while waiting for dinner). I am trying whenever I can, writing during water stops, in the van ride into the city, etc. Before I recap day 4, I'm going to continue with day 3. We were cycling from Bedford to Ligonier, 64 miles and over 5,000 feet of climbing.
The morning started out great, even with a rain shower. The scenery was gorgeous and the rolling hills were rewarding because we had as many fun descents as climbs. At the top of one climb, we rested for a bit and a bunch of puppies came running out of a house to greet us.
My team was having a great time, making animal noises whenever we saw farm animals (a rule that I've been trying to enforce) and really enjoying the day. The sun came out and it was starting to get hot, though. We ran into another team and decided to all ride together since we were on low country backcountry roads. Unfortunately, that was when the bad luck started. We had multiple flats and had to stop quite a few times. At one of the stops, we were at a sharp curve in the road and had to change three flats. As we were changing them, one of our bikes was on the other side of the road in the grass. A bus came and tried to avoid us by taking the turn sharply, and ran over the bike in the grass. I saw it happen and could not believe what I just saw. We stood there looking at each other, trying to comprehend what happened. Fortunately, the bus came back and we were able to flag it down and exchange insurance information. I called the support van so they could come get us. We decided to split up and half of us continued on.
I led the group the rest of the 16ish miles to Ligonier. There were a lot of rolling hills, and then a very long climb as we neared. When we thought the climbs would never end, I finally saw a summit sign. We made it to the top and all there was to do was descend all the way into Ligonier. The descent was SO MUCH FUN and rewarding after all that climbing. Three miles of flying down the mountain with averaging about 9% grades. It was a one lane highway, so I had to take the lane. I tried to control my speed by feathering the brakes, so my max speed was about 40 mph.
At Ligonier, we stayed at the YMCA. Our hosts made us dinner with salad and lasagna, and provided us with snacks and breakfast food. I showered, ate, blogged, and finally slept at 11:30.
On day 4, we rolled out of Ligonier. My riding group for the day was with Patricia, Chelsea, and Danielle. It was a foggy and cool morning, and the first few miles were down hill through forests shrouded in the fog. The sun soon broke through and the day became clear and sunny. We had a short day, only 46 miles, so we took it easy and stopped frequently to take photos.
The ride when by really quickly and smoothly, and thankfully no mechanicals, which my riding groups have been plagued by for the past few days. Some highlights include stopping to play on a playground and watching a local kid show us tricks on his bike. His bike was so much cooler than ours; it looked like a dirt bike and he was riding circles around us with his skills. He loved showing off, too, especially when we took out the cameras.
We got to the host, Springdale United Presbyterian Church, around 2 pm. We had pizza in the parking lot before being let into the basement where we were staying. I put away my bike, took out my sleeping bag to lie down, and was knocked out for a bit. That nap was so nice.
After showering and having dinner, we decided to go out for drinks. A bunch of us piled into the vans and we headed to The Church Brew Works, a really cool brewery that used to be a church.
The brewery was huge and easily accommodated our large group. It's also a restaurant, so the atmosphere was pretty chill. I got the IPA and the Schwarzbier, and both were pretty good.
And as if I didn't eat enough pizza in the past few days, I split a five cheese wood-fired pizza. It was topped with almonds and basil, and was seriously good.
Great ending to an easy day. I fell asleep in the van ride back to the host, and promptly went to bed for a full night's rest. Rest day on day 5!