Big Al and I planned to ride the Ironman together. He thought we should start at about 9AM to avoid the early morning chill. "That way we won't have to carry our jackets during the warm part of the day" he reasoned.
We actually left Wirth park about 9:30 and made pretty good time out to Delano. I had heard that it might rain and thought it might be wise to just ride back. Big Al said that if I wanted to be a wimp that was fine with him, but he wasn't having any part of it. It was about 1:00 when we set out for Bufalo.
It started to rain about the time we got to Bufalo, so we went into a restaurant to eat. We looked pretty bedraggled in our wet cotton sweat clothes, but it was warm inside and the hot food inside felt good. It was still raining when we started for Delano, and it was as cold as a North Dakota outhouse in January.
About 5 miles further along it began to sleet. As I got colder, we began to talk about ways to keep warm. Big Al said that on the SOW ride last fall he had learned a wonderful trick for keeping alive if it got really cold. "You find a sheep and keep chasing it on your bike until it drops from exhaustion. Then you carry it until it dies. While you're carrying it you'll be pretty warm. Once the sheep is dead you can skin it and use the skin for a coat. Works great."
I said that I'd never heard of running a sheep to death. Big Al said he wouldn't have believed it either if he hadn't seen it done with his own eyes. "It was such great survival training that the leader was once voted Leader of the Year" he said.
It began to be hard to see the road markings because of the sleet. I'm not sure where we went wrong, but we wandered into one of the vast areas which our official maps left uncharted. It began to snow and it was as cold as a polar bear's nose. We still hadn;t seen any sheep. Big Al said that he was going to run the next dog to death.
Eventually Big Al began to tire. He said he'd just sit by the side of the road for a few minutes and then catch up with me. His last words were: "If you see sheep chase it back this way."
A couple of miles farther, I came to a town and went into the laundromat. The only other customers were an old lady and her 10 year old granddaughter. When I began to take off my frozen sweats, the old lady picked up her umbrella and held it between me and them to bock the view. She advanced towards me, obviously intending to impale me. All the while telling her granddaughter to call the sheriff.
I finished pulling off my icy clothes, put my money in the dryer, climbed in and closed the door. When the sheriff pulled me out, I was warm enogh to give my clothes a turn in the dryer.
The sheriff understood my plight, thank goodness. When the old lady waved her umbrella at us and demanded my arrest, he just threatened to make her climb into a sleeping bag with me.
When my clothes were dry I pushed on through the falling snow. I wasn't going to let them call me a wimp.It was as cold as Minnesota in April and soon I began to keep a sharp eye out for sheep again. Eventualy I had to stop to clean the ice build-up off my chain. After that I sat down on the side of the road to rest for a few minutes.