Day 40--Northampton to Holden, MA

I rode today  in memory of my maternal grandmother, Lydia Ballou Bloomer. She and her daughter, my Aunt Marg, lived in Pittsfield, MA, for several years in the late 50s early 60s, and when I was in Jr. High, they took me to Old Sturbridge Village in Sturbridge, MA.
I shall always remember Lydia for her wonderful camp on the Schoharie River where we Schuyler siblings spent our childhood summers; for her collection of field guides with which she helped me identify every bird, bug, fungus, reptile, fish, rock, flower or animal that I found; her tales of Ash Pelt and other Brothers Grimm-type fairy tales to which we Schuyler children would listen raptly while drying the dishes or setting the table; her crossword skills; and her impromptu grammar lessons. I still choke when faced with “will” and “well” the difference in pronunciation duly drilled one afternoon whilst riding in Lydia’s “Stoodie,” her green Studebaker.

Grandmother was an accomplished baker. I’d kneel on a chair next to the counter, and she would  let me cut with her wide wedding band tiny “cookies” from her pie dough. She would also peel apple pie apples in one long skin; when the skin fell to the counter, if it fell in the shape of your first initial you would get your wish. Of course I got many wishes, my first, middle, and last names all beginning with S. I was glad my name didn’t begin with Q or K or some other difficult letter.

Cousin Carolynn Bloomer Ludwig also donated Memory Miles today in memory of Grandmother Bloomer, her paternal grandmother. 

Knowing that this is probably as close as I will get to New Jersey and the Zayat connection, I will announce that today Albert Zayat of NJ, author of a Smashwords e-book One Rode In, donated Memory Miles in loving memory of his aunt Yvonne Zayat. Albert’s and Valerie Zayat Bloodgood’s fathers were brothers. Valerie is my good friend and the liaison and ride coordinator at the Judith Karman Hospice.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Today was BRUTAL! I started in the rain sans breakfast at 7:30 a.m., and got only 17 miles in three hours! Every time I applied the brakes the back brake would glue itself to the rim and I would have to get off and recenter it. Something was not right, but I inspected the bike repeatedly and could find nothing wrong--tires were inflated, no bubbles or debris in the tires, no part of B.O.B. rubbing, nothing wrong with the spokes, chain seemed fine, front wheel was true and not rubbing.

Also, the rain and the humidity were killers. I was soaked from both the rain and the exertion. There were many long winding hills. I walked at least half of them, some because I'd come down one hill, apply the brakes, and then not be able to climb the next one because my back wheel was locked. The bike didn't feel right, so I was not doing any speeding downhill either.

I stopped in a small town and ate breakfast at a Dunkin Donuts, stopped to replenish my water at another town, ate some curry tuna and crackers. The engine really needed fluid and fuel. I didn't want to bonk like I had done on the ride into Schenectady. The route was very scenic and beautiful, but I could hardly concentrate on the scenery.

I finally called it quits at about mile 26 of the 40 I was supposed to ride. I called Beth Kirchner and Hugh Manon, my overnight hosts. The original plan was for Beth to pick me up at the tavern at Old Sturbridge Village and drive me to Holden where she and Hugh live. The next day they were to return me to Sturbridge where I would continue on to Woonsocket. Once again, the plan unraveled. Beth picked me up in Ware, MA. On the way to Holden, she and I stopped for lunch in Spencer, MA at the Five Loaves Bakery. Tomorrow I will be dropped off on the other side of Worcester and will pedal to Upton where Regina Cunningham, a hospice nurse, will provide the bed for the night.

Interesting church steeple taken in Ware, MA, while I was waiting for Beth to rescue me

Hugh taught film at OSU from 2002 to 2010. While in OK, Beth worked for Chesapeake. Hugh & Beth now live in Holden, MA. Hugh teaches film at Clark in Worcester, MA, and Beth works for Conservation Services Group in Westburrough, MA. They have a lovely house and and a son, Lewis, who just celebrated his 7th birthday.

Lewis Manon-Kirchner, Hugh Manon, and Beth Kirchner at the sunroom dinner table Friday night
After I'd showered and cooled off, Hugh drove me to a bike shop in Worcester. The mechanic there spotted the problem immediately. The seat stay dropouts were not positioned properly; thus, the rear tire was pulled to the side and the brakes, though centered would, of course, clamp to it. Thank goodness I did not have an accident. I felt like an idiot, though, because my inspection should have included close attention to the dropouts since Jess and I had removed both wheels to get the bike into the trunk of the rental car.

 Wanted to rest on this guardrail until I realized that the plant growing so prettily along it was poison ivy

In the midst of all this mechanical melodrama, my computer stopped registering properly. At that point I was ready to toss bike and B.O.B. over the guardrail. But I checked it out and realized that the plastic bag I'd placed around my handlebar bag to protect my gear from the rain had dislodged the computer a bit from it's handlebar bracket. I was glad I was able to remedy this problem. Without the mileage I was uncertain of my turns. IF I ever do a long, solo ride again (ha, ha), I'm carrying a smart phone with a talking GPS system on it. Should have had one with me on this trip. Duh!

Only two more days ahead of me. My bike, my bod, and my brain are all going bad on me. I think they are in cahoots. Tune in tomorrow for my ride to Woonsocket.

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