BAK Day 6, June 10, 2009, Ed's report:
Leg 6 (last leg for me) Halstead - River Valley Rd. outside Towanda
My Last Leg
No stats (my computer broke on mile 10, there's some foreshadowing for ya)
I'm done. And I am sad. I worked really hard for this, but it was not meant to be. Before I start waxing philosophically, here's what happened. I woke up to my lovely wife's quiet voice. My body felt good: not sleeping on a gym floor will do that for a person. I packed everything up, being careful not to forget anything (it's hard to leave things behind in a gym where there was nothing there beforehand). We went to the cash machine, then to the coffee shop, and were on the road by 5:45a. I got to Halstead in time to meet a buddy for breakfast at 6:30a, then load my gear on the truck. I was supposed to meet them at 7:00a to head out, but they were nowhere to be found.
I waited a few minutes, then decided to go, thinking I might catch up with them. My leg was achy from the start, but I was going off of the previous day, when it hurt for 30 miles then cleared up. I forged ahead. It was mild temperature, but misty/rainy, the kind of day I imagine they get a lot of in Scotland. The droplets were collecting on my glasses and making bigger drops, which would drop off once in a while. The first part of the ride was on the same route I took for the Wicked Wind 50: Halstead to Sedgwick, then to Park City. My computer stopped recording data or showing my speed or distance just as I rolled in to Sedgwick, around mile 10. I stopped and did everything I could to try to get it to work, but it nothing worked, so I clipped back into the pedals and kept going.
My leg was slowly getting more and more achy the further I traveled, and the rain got worse. I started getting soaked. But I kept going. A few miles past Park City, I noticed my back wheel felt really loose. I stopped to check it out, and I had almost no pressure in my tire. This was the same one that had blown out on Leg 1. I flipped the bike upside down, removed the back tire, and put in a fresh new tube. It took about ten minutes. I kept going, and a few miles ahead there was a rest stop. I saw my long lost high school classmate, and joined with her group. We kept going east, into the wind and rain. After another ten miles (I'm guessing, again with the broken computer) we turned south and had a blessed tail wind. But my knee was really starting to ache. I figured it was temporary, and pedaled harder like I had yesterday.
We continued south for about five miles, then turned east. After going about a mile, I dropped off the pack to stretch my knee. While there my companion appeared and I told him about the knee. He gave me some stuff that's supposed to make it feel cold, so I put that on and kept going. But my knee ached badly, this time in a slightly different way. I had to go up a hill, and I knew I was in danger. I saw a rest stop at the top of the hill and stopped. This stop, at the intersection of SW Parallel Road and River Valley Road just north of Towanda, was where my BAK dreams died.
I sat down and saw that my right knee was very swollen. I showed my companion, then got some ice to help with the swelling. I sat there for awhile, wondering what I should do. I called Beka, iced my knee some more, and talked it over with my companion, who to his credit realized the situation and didn't take off down the road. I then made what for me was a very tough choice: to stop there, not fulfill my BAK journey, but not cause any further damage to my knee. As I write this it seems like a no-brainer (why cause further injury?) but when I was sitting on the side of the road with an ice bag on my knee, which was not getting any less swollen, I decided yesterday was a fluke, and the pain was not going to go away this time. I made the call to Beka, and she was out there in a matter of minutes. We loaded up the bike, thanked everyone for their help, said goodbye to my companion, and headed home.
Now I am not normally an emotional person, but on the rude home I broke down and wept for a good 15 minutes (again, no computer to help with time). All the frustration of the headwinds, fighting through pain for hundreds of miles, and all the other small frustrations poured out of me. I was frustrated, sad, angry, in physical pain, and soaked to the skin from the rain. We got home, took everything into the house, I changed into dry clothes, and fell asleep on the same couch where I had started that day.
I woke up a couple hours later and Beka drove me to my doctor to see what was wrong with the knee. The first thing he said was how swollen it was. Duh... Then he moved it around and tried to bend it, which caused extreme pain, it hurts just thinking about it. He then said it was most likely a pinched meniscus, and put me in a brace that keeps my leg straight. I have to rest it for a week then come back so he can take a second look.
Thinking now, as we return from getting my bags from Eureka, it is too soon to decide whether I want to do this again. I met some great people, but the pain I went through for so many days will make me think long and hard about how to train for another BAK and whether long distance, multi-day rides are for me, or whether I should stick to more casual cycling to stay in shape and relieve stress. Thank you to all of you who left encouraging comments. I read them all and they made a real difference. I think I will look back on this as a growing and overall positive experience, and I'm glad I could share this experience with you all.