I had met Phil about a year ago, at my real job, on a radio station promotional tour for The Amazing Race. I write and produce commercials for those dying to know my glamorous occupation. His first reaction was, “you look a lot like Lance and you ride bikes?” I do get that a lot. Believe me the slight resemblance ends where the helmet straps hit the cheek bones. I guess my eyes are a little beady like Lance’s. He did remember me on Wednesday and kept calling me Lance on the ride. I’m sure some of that will end up on his daily video blog, or maybe when the show about the ride airs on national TV. Eek.
When I first saw Phil that morning in Columbus, I have to say, he looked thin and sort of wiped out. My face has looked like that from time to time. 32 days of back to back centuries, glad handing, and promotional stops is bound to take its toll on the body and mind. Just the day before, he wrecked on a set of rain slicked railroad checks leaving him with road rash on his knee and hip. He took a little nick out of his cheek too. You can see the bandage in the photo. The video of the incident is here, see the day 32 video. Soft spoken with the Aussie lilt, he was gracious enough for photos, book signings and autographs, but you could tell he really wanted to get on with the ride and more importantly a midday nap. After check presentations from GNC and the local MS group, he announced to the crowd that he was going to put on and I quote, “Belgian Butt Butter,” and by 10-10:30am, we were on our way. Phil’s riding across America to raise awareness for the National MS Foundation.
We rocketed through some sweet country. The rural farm roads we were on, sandwiched between OH-3 and OH-62 were freshly paved. Smooth, twisty and rolling, this is what I came for. We stopped twice along the way for them to check the GPS and confirm lunch plans with the people towing the Airstream which stuck to the bigger roads. I tried to recall the way back. Right at the cement factory, left on Johnstown, right at the new yellow house on the farm road, a slight chicane and back to Route 3. The sky was starting to look a little grey. My legs were starting to feel the pace. I had two swigs of Gatorade left in my bottles. I told Phil that I’d turn around at the next convenient store.
“Join us for lunch,” he said, “we just have another 12 miles.” Sure I could do that, I thought. I can’t pass up lunch with the host of the Amazing Race. At this pace it’d be just another half hour or so. I could tell Phil was getting tired. He lost the motorcycle's wheel up a gradual climb. Not to be a chest thumper, I could tell Phil was running out of gas. Then, somewhere within the next 5 miles, it started misting, then lightly raining. It wasn’t so bad, but the spray from the motorcycle was hitting my feet. My jacket was feeling damp on my arms. I didn’t want to be stuck in the rain with wet feet and a 50 mile solo ride back home. About 45 miles in, probably 15-20 minutes from lunch and just a few miles east of Martinsburg, OH, I pulled even with Phil and told him that I was going to turn around.
Sitting backwards on the passenger seat of the motorcycle, the camera guy lifted the camera to his shoulder. Phil and I said our goodbyes and shook hands. I signaled a turn around with my finger in the air and we parted ways. Hopefully that’ll be up on the website’s video blog.
With renewed energy from the adventure, through patches of rain and sun I absolutely killed the 45 miles back to Columbus. What a great day on the bike. But, man climbing the stairs at work hurt the next morning.