Archive | August, 2016

August 13, 2016

14 Aug

Hello family and friends, 

It has been two weeks since we completed the Ragbrai event in Iowa. It has been a busy and eventful two weeks which I will summarize here.

At the completion of Ragbrai, we headed southwest toward Texas since we were expecting the birth of our first grandchild any day now. On Sunday  (7/31) we were passing the southeast corner of Kansas. Since we had never ridden our bike in Kansas, we decided to stop and ride a short section of Historic Route 66 which pass through the corner of Kansas. There are only about 16 miles of Route 66 in Kansas and we rode out and back over a  7 mile stretch so 13 miles round trip. It turned out to be an interesting section of route 66. 

We started at the Old Riverton Store which was a deli/ice cream shop with lots of antique decorations. 

There was one of the original bridges on the old route.

In the town of Baxter Springs there was one of the original Phillips 66 gas stations. 

It was a quiet little town with a historical museum and log cabin of an early settler from Germany (built a still – imagine that). 

Of course on Sunday evening everything was closed. It was somewhat refreshing to ride on quiet deserted roads after the week on Ragbrai. 
At the end of our ride we had a great Mexican diner in Gelana, KS witch is another small town trying to make a come back on route 66.

On Monday (8/1) Manny stopped to visit a business client outside Tulsa, OK and then we traveled on to Dallas, TX. In Dallas we stopped to visit our Son Troy’s in laws, Bill and Diggy Pagels. We visited for two day and joined Bill’s bike club for the Tuesday night ride. It was a fast flat ride and a good workout to keep up, but it felt good.

Wednesday  (8/3) we traveled to Lake Jackson, TX and the home of Troy and Laura who are expecting any day now. Well that any day came on Thursday (8/4). Lucy Marie Menendez was born at 9:56 am and came home that very afternoon. 

Here she is a happy girl to be home in her bassinet and brining joy to our lives.

Bill and Diggy Pagels of course were also visiting so Bill and Manny took a few hours out on Friday morning for a bike ride with the Braszosport bicycle club (BBC). It was a great ride at again a fast pace on this flat coastal area.

On Saturday morning   (8/6), Marsha and I decided to give the kids some time to themselves with Lucy so we pulled out the tandem to join the BBC for there morning  ride. We made it to the start just as the riders were pulling out so we fell in behind for another fast ride. It was basically the same route as the day before but faster. After 25 miles they took a rest stop at a convenience store were we got a chance to catch up and introduce ourselves to everyone. One young woman in the group turned out to be a co-worker with Troy. We went another 5 miles after the rest stop before having an unfortunate accident. We were riding right with the group but last in line on a very wide shoulder. A drunk driver came up behind and decided to use the shoulder to pass another car. Marsha and I did not see any of this coming nor do we remember any of it. All we remember is waking up in a fog and people talking around us. Fortunately we were the only bike hit and we thank God to be able to tell this story.

Although the driver who hit us did not stop, many others did and along with the BBC cyclists were all wonderful. We both suffered concussions and multiple cuts and scraps from our slide down the road. Marsha took the brunt of the hit being on the back of the bike. She had a very deep cut on her left elbow requiring 9 stiches. We were taken together by helicopter to a hospital in Houston. I  was released Saturday afternoon, but Marsha was admitted and released Monday afternoon. 

We are both recovering remarkably well at Troy’s home. Our cuts and scraps are healing well, but we are still a bit slow particularly getting up and down. Instead of being a help to the new parents we are somewhat of a burden. Our oldest son, Eric, has come in to stay a couple of weeks to help us out. We are very grateful to Eric and his employer for helping us out. Nathan, has also come in this weekend in route to a plant next week. It is great to have everyone together. Unfortunately Kelly (Nathan’s wife) could not join us this weekend – somebody actually needs to do some work. 

As for the driver that hit us, another motorist did follow him and call police so that he was apprehended. The police held our bicycle for evidence, but I can pick it up this week.

I did see a picture of the bike which just reinforced how thankful we are to God and all the people who helped us on the ground and through prayer. Here we are a week later recovering well and enjoying our family and especially our newest member, Lucy!

Love M&M

July 31,2016

2 Aug

RAGBRAI ended today after cycling 433 miles across Iowa with cyclists of every age and size. 

  We began this journey in Glenwood, Iowa where we camped along with thousands of other riders.

 On Saturday,July 24th,we rode with Linda and Rob Young,9 miles further west to dip our bicycle tires in the Missouri River. 

Today we finished this ride by dipping our bike tires in the Mississippi!
The scenery of souhern Iowa is rolling hills amidst many farming communities! 

As we did cycle in an easterly direction the hills did lessen and the daily climbs decreased from a high of 4000 ft to only 1500ft . The sun was strong and shade always at a premium.  Our comfort level improved dramatically with cloud cover on Friday and Saturday!
 Each day we improved in managing the crowds of cyclists.

 We had thought it was only 10,000 riders but we learned later that the number of cyclists was between 17,000 and 18,000 each day. Manny did an amazing, excellent job of steering us safely though the masses. The hill steepness could be assessed by the throng of cyclists working their way to the top.We were surprised to see some cyclists walking their bike up the first hill on  the first day. But we never saw anyone give up! There were some unique ways of completing the route. One man rollerbladed,

one man ran each day from dawn to dusk pushing a baby stroller which held his supplies ,not a child.One guy rode a pennyfarthing cycle, at least one of the days. There were 2 guys each on their own unicycle.Two people each  on their own elipitical with wheels which meant they stood the entire time,and 2 ladies on what can best be explained as a side by side bike like you would find at the beach. We also saw riders with artificial legs,riders with leg paralyisis using adaptive bikes so they could use their arms to pedal the route and on a tandem the captain of the bike a man from San Diego who was with a veteran from Florida  who was blind, being the stoker. These sights only increased one’s determination to complete this event. 

Of note also was The United States Air Force Cycling Team. We saw them each day and they were extraordinary!  At every accident,yes unfortunately there were some,and every bike  breakdown they were there providing first aid to both people and bike and also directing bike traffic.We did learn that they are not first a cycling team in the fact they really are our Air Force men and women.

On their own time they gather together to train and also  learn every nuance about bike repair. They are given orders for the week to do exactly what we saw them doing. Their presence certainly was needed! They did not need to take PTO time for the week which was great to hear! Certainly also  great PR for the USAF.

The food is a story on it’s own! Each day along the route are vendors! These vendors set up each day along the route at about the same mileage. Initially, it was overwhelming to figure out when to stop. Of course,you can stop anytime you wish but the idea is to finish the day’s ride certainly before sundown! There is much discussion along the route and at the end of each day as to which foods were not to be missed!  These included the breakfast guy gridlling up fresh eggs or pancakes,Mr. Porkchop, Beekman’s Amish homemade ice cream,Mr. G’S Burnt Brisket ends and Iowa Corn on the cob! We did manage to sample them all and  many more during the week. I must mention here,that despite all these wonderful food offerings,the vendor of the week for us was Munchkins! No fancy food here just good old PB&J and cold chocolate milk. It is what we usually have when we are biking. It powers us on to get those hills done! We learned to stay true to our usual biking style especially with eating!

The food story contines with pies! There were pie slices everywhere!  Take your pick of flavors- cherry,peach,apple,rhubarb,rhubarb-strawberry,blackberry,gooseberry and raisin- or have one of each! Every pie was delicious!  I did ask one of the lowa women if the pies were just unique in Iowa during RAGBRAI and she replied,”No,we like our pies through out the year!” 

At each town ,the riders amass in large numbers so everyone has to dismount as you cannot ride thru the streets! 

 We walked thru town with 3 main objectives. Finding the shortest port a potty line,getting a cold drink and ,for Manny and I,getting out of town as quickly as possible!  This did relieve the bike congestion for quite a few miles as so many bikers stayed in town for a awhile

For the first few days,we thought it best to get our luggage and tent first when we arrived at the day’s destination. The campsite was always crowded and not usually level. But this always took a good bit of time and we were hot,tired,hungry and thirsty as well. Once we talked about how miserable that part of the day was we decided to ride directly  to one of the churches in the destination town. They all served a fabulous meal in an air conditioned hall where we could sit down at a table  in relative quiet with a nice restroom with no line! It was a great thing to figure out! We always got some tent site and certainly felt more relaxed with  setting up camp for the night  

Friends from Kansas City ,Michele and Mark Maur joined us for the ride!

Also ,Susan and Dan Kutvirt from Alburquique  joined us as well! We came in close together at the end in Muscatine. 

Here is as close as we got to a group picture.

We thank these friends for coming to enjoy RAGBRAI with us! 

What an adventure,what a ride!