Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Elm Ridge, and The long road home...

We awoke early on our last morning at Kelly Acres to a beautiful east coast sunrise (really the only one I'd seen up to that point)

We went downstairs to use the wifi, and I brewed up a cup of our Green Mountain French Vanilla coffee so we could use up the rest of our liquid creamer. We were nearing the end of our journey, so it was time to finish off the rest of the food! Everyone else filtered in, and then it was time for breakfast.

Similar to Friday, I had scrambled eggs, a slice of bacon, toast, and a bowl of plain oats with peanut butter and a bit of honey. Delish! Great fuel.

Justin and I eventually hit the road to drive up to Elm Ridge, which wasn't too far out of town.

The trail directions said the first mile or so was rough and not to get discouraged. Justin cleaned all of it. There was a ledge or two I wound up walking, but it was definitely a bit...rockier than what we were used to ;)

We finally hit some fun singletrack a bit later, but I already wasn't feeling good. HR was ridiculously low and I think I'd done a bad job of glycogen replacement following Saturday's race.

We still had some fun, though, even if it was really short

Once back from the ride we showered and had huge bowls of cereal, then Justin got to work cleaning and packing the bikes while I updated training log stuff and looked at stuff online. We began the drive to Albany around 5:30 or so, and figured we'd find a hotel once there.

I called around and every hotel got more and more expensive. Finally a few miles further away we found a cheap HoJo, so headed there. The room was too far away to pick up wifi (notice a trend?), and I missed our B&B's of the past two weekends!

We went out in search of food and had trouble at the places we were looking for (stood around for a few minutes with no one around to seat the two groups there, restaurants closed down/out of business...) so eventually we headed back to the main drag and settled on Bucca di Beppo. I felt bad cause we wound up leaving half our bowl of spaghetti, but we were both totally stuffed.

Got back to the hotel, I finished typing up my blog to be posted, and then hit the hay a little too late for our 5:30 am wake up.

I was stoked that the continental breakfast had been set up early, so we grabbed some grub and coffee and headed to the airport around 6:30. Our flight was at 9:15, so we had plenty of time to check the bikes and our one bag.

Got up to the counter and began the process. The lady asked if our one bag was over-weight, and I said no. She was charging us for the bikes and for some reason one of the boxes wound up on the scale. 92.5lbs. They roll really light for their weight :\ The woman FREAKED OUT. She was like, "No way can we take it. It's more than 20lbs over our weight limit. I don't even know how that would fit on the plane." Justin explained that we had had no problems flying TO Albany on the same plane, with the same boxes. She went behind the desk area, and came back out. Then she walked to the other counters. Then came back over and said that it was too heavy and they wouldn't fly it. We weighed the other bike box. 90lbs. No.No.No.

She said that US Airways would take the bikes; the flight to Boston was at 1:45 and we'd get in to San Diego at 10:15. What! That's 8 hours later than we planned! We had jobs! The bikes had flown out there with no issues!

She repeated that the airline should never have let us fly out there with the bikes and we were not getting on Continental with the bikes.

Justin was really angry, so I lightly laid out our options: spread out the weight somehow into more luggage, or take the other flight. The woman was not going to do anything else for us, and had already began to ignore our presence.

We took the US Airways flights and went over there to check in the luggage and begin the long wait in the airport. Linda at the US Airways counter was wonderful. She answered all of our questions, helped us out, and went out of her way to find out for sure that our bikes would fit on our plane.

I laughed when we got upstairs and sat down since JHK and Heather had had their flights cancelled and were re-arranging travel. Wasn't just us!

I posted a blog, we had some coffee, I had a bowl of cereal, we went to the gate to charge up the laptop... Justin spent a LOT of time typing.

I think the plane was supposed to board around 12:40 or 1 pm. Well, the plane wasn't there. Eventually about 30 minutes after our boarding time they announced the plane was having mechanical difficulties... IN BUFFALO!!! It hadn't even left yet. It did eventually get there and land, and was summarily taken to the hangar for service.

In the meantime, a flight to Philadelphia out of the same gate had boarded, and shortly thereafter de-planed since the engine(s) wouldn't start. This left a long line of unhappy people and a full gate area. We were at least all sympathizing with one another. Some of us had been there since 6 am that morning, some since the day before!

At some point, probably around 4 pm, our flight was cancelled once and for all. We waited in line, talked to the gate attendant and she informed us that due to our weird circumstances (the bikes, needing to get home, rental car issues, etc.) we had to talk to the supervisor downstairs.

Yay! More waiting in line. We got to the front and talked to the supervisor who said they only thing they comp is stuff from that airport (e.g. they will get you a hotel in that town, and give you lame food vouchers for your hotel and the airport only). Since we didn't have boarding passes anymore we couldn't eat at the airport. They don't cover a rental car or anything else. So, we were stuck with a 5 am flight (unless we wanted to leave at 2 pm the next day instead), leaving the bikes at the airport behind the counter, and $20 off of dinner at the hotel.

I did get a bit snappy and almost asked for 2 rooms (ok, I did ask, and she said, "Do you really want two rooms?" "No..." I replied, dejected. The thing is... it was like an endurance race. I kid you not. Range of emotions is not much different between riding in circles for 12 hours and sitting at the airport for 11. Excitement, anger, frustration, fatigue, acceptance, amusement, confusion, extreme frustration, acceptance again...

I think she did wind up giving us a room in the nicer of hotels. It was pretty sweet for a Holiday Inn - big hotel, nice lobby, grill restaurant. Markus hooked us up. Justin regaled him with tales of our horrible day, and he asked what he could do to help! I said I wanted wifi and a bottle of wine. Well, we got the wifi, and he hooked us up with 2-for-1 coupons for their bar. Stoked.

The room was comfy and spacious

We showered off the airport stank and got dressed for dinner and drinks

Quite possibly the best Long Island Justin has ever ordered

The only lame part was that plates at the restaurant were like $18, and we only had $20 in food vouchers. Only had to pay for like half the meal I guess, but it didn't help. We had planned on eating home cooked food.

The GOOD news is that I've been eating salmon, peanut/almond butter, blueberries, cranberries, and a few grapes without any problems. Justin had thought it was salmon causing my problems since I had a bit of prickly heat/heat rash Monday night after I had salmon near the Brooklyn Bridge. It wasn't hives, though, so I remained unconvinced. Having fish Saturday night, and also Monday night, without a problem proved to me that I am good to go!!

We found out the Allman Brothers Band was staying at the hotel, so that was amusing. I even got to watch a bit of MNF. I totally was unaware that football was on at all!

Definitely went to bed too late Monday night, especially for our 3:30 am wake-up. I was in a bit of a panic about making the flight once I laid down. Naturally, our cab the next morning was late. The hotel shuttle didn't run until 4:30, so we had to pay for a cab to the airport. Grr.

We got there around 4:15 or so and there was a line at the counter. Our plane was set to board at 4:40. The line wasn't moving. One person at the counter. Time was ticking so slowly. I started to freak out. I nearly broke down. I could not do another day of this.

Finally it was our turn to check in the bag and the bikes and then go wait in security. It was about 4:45-4:50 when we got past security. I essentially tossed our $10 breakfast ticket on the floor when I saw the line at McDonald's (the only food joint at the airport that was open).

We get to the gate and the plane isn't even there. ARE YOU KIDDING ME! WHAT IS WRONG WITH THIS AIRLINE!

So, I went back for the food voucher and picked up $9.46 worth of breakfast. At least we were ending the trip the way it had started.

8/7 in Albany

8/18 in Albany

Eventually we boarded the plane in the early morning darkness. It wasn't a full flight.

East coast sunrise #2

We got in to La Guardia I have no idea when. I don't remember when we left. We did get another breakfast

Once in Philadelphia we waited yet again for our plane. It was customary at this point. It was a massive airbus, though. First big plane I'd been on since we left San Diego over a week before.

We got in the air easily enough and I spent the flight reading Walden and napping. Er, that or eating.

We landed in Phoenix, got some food, and got back on the same plane for the final leg home.

Hello, Phoenix. I'm almost home.


I almost didn't know what to do then.

We drove home, hit up the store for provisions and then got home to massive amounts of unpacking, small dinner (salad) and getting lunch together for today.

These need to be seriously scrubbed down or thrown away

This is the mail that I didn't throw away

Justin's innovative bike clothes drying

The bike clothes were all clean, but half of them smelled like smoke and the other half smelled like mildew and rot. I hope they smell better now. Load #1 was the last of my Sport Wash from REI, and load #2 was detergent with a tiny amount of bleach. Hoping I got most of the funk out. The mud spots are there to stay!

Glad to be home and back at it. I think I need to get 8.5-9 hours of sleep a night just to get back to normal. I went on EST without a problem, and am back on PST without a problem, but there is a lot of lingering travel fatigue. The legs were good today while we rode at lunch, but they're feeling packed up. Hopefully some foam roller and a lot of sleep will get all the kinks out!

I do still plan on posting a NYC blog just cause we saw some cool stuff, and then hopefully do a retrospective on this year's US Pro XC Tour presented by Sho-Air!

1 comment:

Luke said...

wow...what a crazy adventure! guess you got a snapshot of what world cup pros go through every week. wild stuff...and a big pain in the rump!