19
Jul
08

Bike Trip Day Four: Kalamazoo to Grand Rapids

Today was the last day of the trip. Began, much like the other three days, early to get a head start on the heat. It was supposed to be cooler with a chance of rain, but got warm relatively early.

In general, the groups stayed approximately the same as before. This was a relatively short day, but when we arrived in the town where we’ve had lunch before, it started to pour rain in buckets. Once you’re wet, there isn’t really much you can do about it. There wasn’t a place to stop because the town was having a parade (even with the rain) and the way back to where we might have stopped was blocked by the procession.

Shortly thereafter, we ran into some dirt-gravel roads which, being wet and muddy, kicked up a bunch of muck and we got mud all over our bikes, backs and everywhere. And because it was raining, most of us had soggy, squishy shoes. Gratefully the worst of the rain trickled off but it came back occasionally. When you’re driving a car, you know you should be a bit more careful when it is raining, but on a bike you have to be even more careful. You don’t have a windshield to keep you dry, wipers to help you be able to see, nor particularly good brakes. There were a couple instances where I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to stop in time to avoid running into the biker in front of me.

Eventually we made it to a gas station about five miles from our final destination and we finally had lunch while waiting for the last group who’d gotten lost (my second youngest brother — who’d hit his hand on a post earlier — was in that group). Someone found and got permission to use a hose around the back of the station so most of us lined up to run our bikes through a spray down to get the worst of the mud off.

The plan, after the last group arrived and had a chance to catch their breaths and get some lunch, was that we would ride the remainder as one big group. Attempting to keep together after stop lights was a challenge. When we were within a mile or so, someone ended up with a flat tire and we were out of spares — our leader wasn’t even riding because he took the tubes from his bike and gave them to someone else who had a flat. Someone was able to help repair the tire or something and we went on.

The group arrived at Calvin College in Grand Rapids about 5:30pm, after riding somewhere in the vicinity of 300 miles or so, and braving heat, sun, rain, flat tires, getting lost and various scrapes and bruises. Many of our families and friends who had already arrived were there to greet and cheer the group as we rode onto campus.

It was an awesome time, I’d do it again even though this is my third time doing the trip. The full collection of images I took can be found on my gallery. Not as many as I might have taken if I weren’t riding and had a better camera with me, but more than I thought I had taken. =)

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