Houston, We Have a Problem (Again)

Jay had a breakfast of scrambled eggs and fried sliced potatoes going early, giving the riders a chance to start early and finish by mid afternoon. As they say, “ the best of plans…” More about that later.

Today’s route plan included a 35 mile ride to Houston, with Jay meeting the team in Peterson on the way out and back with snacks and lunch. Riders would leave Peterson with a few miles on the trail to finish the 62 miles for the day. John departed first, on his way to Houston, leaving his water bottle behind—which was noticed by Jack. He and Jim took off together, water bottle in hand, in pursuit of John. Noticing a porta potty beside the trail, John made a pit stop and while inside Jack and Jim went pedaling by—now chasing a rider that was in fact well behind them. John was also comfortably hydrated with a reserve water bottle.

About half way to Houston, John stopped to check phone messages, and there was one from Jay telling that John’s GMC, the support vehicle that Jay was using, had just quit, with all systems shut down. There was no phone service, but John reasoned that his best move would be to head back to assist Jay— meaning he and those trying to catch him with the water bottles were now riding in opposite directions.

John got back to Jay and the disabled Acadia. AAA was sending a tow vehicle but cautioned that it would be a long wait. It was decided that John should pedal back to camp, about 18 miles, and come back with Jay’s pickup. Jay stayed in Peterson, in the company of a local antique Singer sewing machine repairman, and a number of jolly gnomes. Meanwhile, Jack and Jim water bottle in hand, were in hot pursuit of John.

Earlier in the day, riding through Rushford, the team paused a moment to look at the spot in the IGA parking lot where Jim once rode his bike into fresh cement—all evidence was erased by a good natured construction crew, and the bike was hosed down before the cement dried. Back to today’s ride, Jack and Jim were finally reached, and began riding back to Jay, John, and the disabled car.

In the midst of all this, Johnny Phillipich arrived after being stranded on the east coast. Despite a 3:00 pm start he hit the trails with almost a complete ride—even finishing in time for dinner.   

Eventually John’s vehicle was towed to a car dealer in Winona, and later the riders gathered at the table enjoying Jay’s dinner of steaks, sweet corn, baked potatoes, and salad. Later, the team shared stories of the day on the trail, some possibly true, and had Jay’s Apple dump cake.