There are two things which happen at the start of every Hazon ride. First there is the reading of the prayer for travelers, and next is a shofar blast (musical note played on a traditional rams horn). Here is a repeat showing of the photo of Hannah reading the traveler's prayer (Tefilat HaDerech) for the ride, at 7.20am Sunday morning before we all set out. This was followed by a rousing blast on the shofar from Dan Kestin. (Click on the photos to see them full size).
Hannah and I stayed back to let the mass of riders pass, and then we started, in the rain. Nigel rode with us. Right away we could see (and hear) the gears on Hannah's bike were giving her some problem. However, it was less clear whether this was her nerves or something mechanical. As we tried to deal with this Nigel said he dropped something and that we should go ahead, so off we went, but it was really tough going. After a short while we stopped and Sal, the bike mechanic sweeping up the back of the group stopped alongside in his van to try to help. It was obvious to him something mechanical was wrong and Hannah reluctantly joined the party bus (her bike was stowed in the van and she rode up front with Sal) going ahead to the first rest stop. Looking back, although Hannah had ridden her bike on Saturday afternoon, and all was fine, it appears that a slight knock it took in the evening had dislodged something. Ugh!
I was left riding on my own, feeling terrible for Hannah. It did not feel like an auspicious start. However I was able to ride faster, and started making up time. As I rode up one hill and downshifted gears under strain I popped my chain off, and right at the side of the road, gently fell into the soft grass (damn clipless pedals again). Oops! No injury; not even a bruise - it really was very soft. I got my self up and, as luck would have it, Ed (one of the marshalls, and no mean mechanic himself) came by and helped me get the chain back on. This only took a couple of minutes. However, within another few miles I got a flat rear tire. The inauspicious start was getting worse. I recall not feeling too bad, however. There was something fun about the whole thing, and it felt like this was part of the experience of the ride. I called the marshall's emergency contact number on my cell, but before I could finish talking Nigel rode up. He had locked his chain in a bad gear change and had been stuck for 15 minutes dealing with that. He and I started working on the tire. Ed rode up again - although Ed is a fast rider, he was riding "sweep", at the back of the rider line. Ed reminded us to check the tire for the cause of the flat - which was lucky because we found some steel from a car tire which would have taken out the next tube. After another few minutes we were off again, and it was pretty smooth from then on.
Nigel and I rode on to the first rest stop through the rain. As we arrived it started to clear. Hannah was there and feeling really sorry for herself. Sal had not fixed her bike yet. She had so wanted to start well on the ride. I gave her a hug and tried to cheer her up. However, I really needed to flush my buffers. Nigel said he would look after Hannah for a moment and off I went. Of course, there was a line at all three loos, so it was a few minutes before I got back. Nigel said he had taken care of everything. Hannah was already back on the "party bus" and being taken ahead to the lunch rest stop. Sal promised to fix the bike before we got to lunch so Hannah could ride in the afternoon.
Nigel and I rode on through wonderful rolling countryside, enjoying the thrill of two recumbents riding together, catching up with the upright bikes one after the next. Recumbents are noticeably faster on downhills (aerodynamics) and the momentum can often carry you up the next uphill in a higher gear (and so faster), as long as it is not too long.
The weather really started to clear by now, and Nigel and I rode the last few miles into the lunch rest stop thinking about sun screen. As we arrived Hannah was there cheering us in, and all smiles. Sal had fixed her bike, and would I please hurry up and eat so we could get out there and RIDE!
So basically, that's what we did. Nigel and I took care of outputs (peeing) and inputs (food and water) and then we rode off, with Hannah in the lead, into the afternoon.
This was now serious fun. Nigel was wonderful as a riding companion, encouraging us both and chatting with us in turn. And then we hit the hills; you can see what the riders' cue sheets said about this stretch.
Here is the elevation chart for the first day's ride (we did the 65 mile route, which follows the chart above minus the "century loop" segment). The hills where Hannah dropped me twice are shown with the red highlight. As we rode into the mid-afternoon rest stop, I was bursting with pride for Hannah (as well as with something else relevant to all well-hydrated cyclists). After answering nature's call, and as Hannah chatted, beaming to other riders. I sat through a lovely emotional moment, shedding tears of pure joy at how fabulous it was to be riding with my daughter, who was doing so well. The high lasted all the way through to now, several days later, as I write this.
We continued to ride with Nigel right through the afternoon, and then, all of a sudden, there we were, at the end of the first day's ride. Hannah had done amazingly well, had bounced back from a really disappointing start and had ridden over 30 miles. Fabulous. Unbelievable. Amazing.
To be continued ...
While you can, and if you haven't, please go ahead and sponsor Hannah or me for the Hazon 2006 New York Bike ride.