Thursday, November 19, 2009

Day 120 ~ Just the Right Gear

Mike repairing flat #11 after a trip to the dentist. Not a happy camper.

Picturesque Pasture

Being reflective.

Coal Cars

"live passionately. Virginia is for lovers"

Gregory and Bradshaw one of the two Just the Right Gear shop cats.

Mike puts on a fresh set of Continental Ultra Gator skins. We were way over the recommended 800 miles (at 1,100 miles) and our sidewalls were starting to fray.

Double Click to read this great quote by John Muir (It was posted in Just the Right Gear.)

Just the Right Gear owner Steve Hetherington, girlfriend Rhonda Prillaman and her son T.J. took us out to Italian for dinner. Here Steve and T.J. pose with Mike and Gregory back at our La Quinta hotel.

Date: November 16, 2009

From: Christiansburg, Virginia

To: Salem, Virginia

Route: Hwy. 11 to Kestler Mill Rd. to Hwy. 311 (Just the Right Gear) to Hwy. 419 to motel

Miles Today: 36 miles

TOTAL MILES: 3,490 miles

Top Speed on this trip: 54.1 mph

Weather: Sunny 70s

License Plates Collected: 5 Montana, 8 Wyoming (2 motorcycle) and 1 Idaho (found in WY), 2 Colorado, 1 Kansas (Gifted from David of Baldwin City), 1 Missouri (To be sent to Grammy’s by our new buddy, Kansas City firefighter Shawn), 1 Illinois, 4 Kentucky (2 Gifted from Beth and Garry Feltus, one gifted from cousin John, one from Hwy. 127), 1 Virginia

Flats: 11

Broken Spokes: 3

Cracked Rim: 1

At 8:00 A.M. the dentist returned Mike's call and he was given a 9:15 A.M. appointment. What terrific luck only we were still asleep so we hopped out of bed, took showers and went to breakfast in the lobby knowing we had about 6 miles to ride to get back to the dentist office. As Mike sat drinking his second cup of coffee and reading U.S.A. Today I said, "Uh, Honey it's 8:52 A.M. Shouldn't we be going?" That lit a fire under him and we hurried back to the room. Thinking we might be there a while Gregory and I loaded a rear pannier with books and the computer.

As we headed out the Quality Inn driveway Mike made a sudden swerve to the right that threw us all for a loop. Then we heard those dreaded words, "Ahhhh. We've got a front flat!" Mike was frustrated and in a hurry and those two things don't mix. He was almost ready to continue riding on this half aired up tire when I insisted he at least fill up the tire. The worst thing was that as we mounted the bike prior to taking off that morning I asked, "Do we have a tube in case we get a flat?" Mike responded, "What are you trying to do jinx us?" Well, after he discovered the flat he had a field day with that one. He struggled with the pump expressing his frustration as he tried to inflate the tire and we were finally on our way. We really put the pedal to the metal on the ride over to the office and I was without knee braces. I think this was the start of my knee pain.

We arrived on time and I offered to lock up the bike while he started his paperwork. Now, I have watched Mike lock the bike many times but doing it myself was another story. I know this sounds silly but getting two six-feet cable locks around both wheels and the frame of a ten-foot bike and using only one lock isn't as easy as you think. It was ultimately Gregory who solved the dilemma and got us locked up tight. Maybe I should pay more attention to these things. Another admission is that I don't know how to change a tire. It is terrible I know. However, I have an expert bike mechanic on hand so no need to learn right???

Gregory and I had spied a Salvation Army just a few blocks down from the dentist and I promised Gregory I would take him thinking it would keep us busy during Mike's examination. Well, when Gregory went in and handed Mike the computer and said, "Bye Dad," that didn't settle too well with Mike. He felt like he was just dropped off and abandoned. He was left to fill out his paperwork on his own, left to watch the computer and handlebar bag and left to get his teeth drilled on all by himself. Hard to believe but this caused quite an upset in our morning. Once we got him settled we did leave the office and were back just as he was being discharged. Gregory was a happy camper because he'd found a small Nerf crossbow (that collapses) and a small TY animal that I promised to wash in the next load. Mike was a happy camper because he didn't have to get drilled and was given antibiotics and Vicodin to get him by. He does have to see an endodontis though and root canal work could still be in his future.

Back at the room we had to decide if we would ride on today. We'd secured a late check out of 1:00 P.M., so Mike made some calls to try to track down a new set of tires. When we started looking at the numbers we realized we had over 1,100 miles on this set and we usually change them at the recommended 800 miles. He found the tires but they were off our route in Salem. I wasn't keen on going off route but Highway 11 was proving to be relatively flat and though there was more traffic, there were two lanes affording vehicles plenty of room to go around us. What I've started doing when I see someone coming up behind us in the slow lane is just sticking my arm out and pointing to the fast lane. I figure they'll get the message that I want them to move over and go around. For the most part it works and I usually give a friendly thank you wave to maintain the peace, however, sometimes they aren't moving over no way no how and I just pull my arm in and forewarn Mike, "Coming close!" Gregory decided he wanted to help me with this on one of our climbs and my fear of him getting his little arm whacked led me to overreact in telling him to keep his arms in. We were struggling up a hill and I shouted for him to keep his arms in. He was just trying to help and it hurt his feelings. I had to explain that I wasn't mad at him only concerned. I had to apologize for yelling but it took a while for him to come around again. His output declines in these situations and that always makes Mike soooo happy, she said sarcastically.

Going off the route was worth it this time because we ended up at this great shop called Just the Right Gear. Getting there was quite the little journey and Mike had to make several calls to be sure we were on track. Gregory and I began to tease him with whining, "Are we there yet? How much further is it? Are you sure you're going the right way? This is taking so long…" At one point we stopped pedaling and Mike at first suspected Gregory but then realized it was both of us. He solved that problem by unclipping and dangling his legs. We almost came to a complete stop and Gregory and I had to say uncle before Mike would clip in. It was all light hearted fun but we were happy to find the shop. Steve and Rhonda and their employees gave us a warm welcome as did their cats Bradshaw and Kable. Gregory immediately befriended the cats and was off playing and exploring the shop. They did indeed have the tires we needed and Mike got busy changing those out as it was getting late and we still had to find lodging. We had a great time exploring the store that was stocked with quality products including a Sierra Nevada Brewery long sleeved jersey (Sierra Nevada is brewed in Chico, California where we went to college and neighbors our former hometown of Paradise). We picked up some more of our Assos Chamois Creme, some tubes and some new gloves for Gregory. (We lost his nice gauntlet ski mittens some time ago.) Steve gave us the swinging deal on the gloves saying they'd been hanging around for a while and he thought he might put them in the $8.00 box. These were $50.00 gloves!

Steve's generosity didn't stop there. Knowing the only food near our hotel was a Burger King he offered to come and get us and join us for dinner at an Italian Restaurant. Rhonda and her son T.J. also met us there and we had a fantastic meal and shared stories of the road well into the evening. We were excited to hear of T.J.'s plans to go to Japan to teach English after he graduates from high school this year and told him of other friends who've done the same and loved it. T.J. came back to the hotel to check out the bike and we continued to visit there. After they left we couldn't stop talking about what nice people we have had the good fortune to meet and how their generosity and kindness is what makes the trip. I almost forgot to mention that Steve gave us each a pair of customized Just the Right Gear socks from The Sock Guy company. Cool!

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