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2/21/2014 Bucket List Ride Day 6

Road side flat repair

It is a big deal to fix a flat while pulling all of our stuff. Unloading everything just to get to the repair kit

The weather reports indicated something significant and we knew a storm was coming. I must have been tired because the storm came in the night and I didn’t even hear it. Dad said the storm was bit with thunder and lighting and a bunch of rain. I’m glad we were in a hotel room.

When we got up and started getting ready is was super cold and windy. After discussing the route for the day we decided to head back to McDonalds and grab something to eat before heading out. The total millage for the day was supposed to be around 75 to stay on pace but I knew that wasn’t going to happen with my dad’s “surgery” from yesterday.

We had planned on being at Bob’s Bicycles by today but we were very off pace. I called my contact with the American Diabetes Association yesterday I asked if we could move the party to Monday to give us a bit more time and take some of the millage pressure off. The wind was very bad at over 15 mph and a total head wind for our chosen route, this was a bad situation for sure, especially since we already were riding at around 8-10 mph. This was not good for our mood.

While we were eating at McDonalds and going over the route someone came up to us and asked if we were going to take the ferry? What!? There is a ferry? A quick google search and we discovered a new route that included a short ferry ride and a tail wind! WooHoo! We decided to go that route and headed out the door with a new found enthusiasm and the wind at our back.

What a difference. We were clicking off the miles and soon we were rolling down a beautiful country road with pavement a smooth as glass. Awesome!

Road side memorial

As a parent myself, I was sad to see this memorial of a little boy killed on the road that we were riding on.

Riding with my dad has some challenges for me, mostly in the different skill sets that we have. I have been riding and racing for so long that there are things that I just take for granted and that I don’t think much about. For instance dinking and eating on the bike. More on this later.

I could tell that my dad was in pain. He was just sort of waiting for the clock to roll around so he could take another pain medication and he did around 12pm. I am sure he wanted that medication to kick in quick. Saddle issues are not fun and when you had surgery the day before and you are spending 10 hours on the bike the next day…… but the route was flat, the wind was at our back and the road was beautiful!

The first significant obstacle was a really long bridge heading to Dauphin Island. This was the first sign that my dad was getting very tired. He had to stop a couple of times leading to the top but I was not overly concerned. I knew we just had to get over the bridge and then to the ferry and our day was done.

Dauphin is a beautiful sleepy little town with doll houses lining the streets and old people on beach cruisers. It was right out of Leave it to Beaver. Almost scary how perfect it was. What a way to end our day. Beautiful little town, nice ferry ride and done for the day. We were excited.

The ferry landing was only a few miles away so we opted to wait to eat. Surely there would be a restaurant or stare at the ferry landing and surely we would have to wait to get on the boat. We will eat later.

Dead Armadillo

Dad and his wife Angela have a running joke of taking pictures of dead animals.

But our timing was good. When we got to the landing a ferry had just arrived and we were able to get right on. $7.00 for each of us. Small price to pay for a boat ride.

The ferry was fun. I guess people use it mostly for commuting and if you drove a car you had a place to sit. If you were on a bike, you were really exposed to the wind. There was a little bunk house that my dad and I could stay in and that helped get us out of the wind.

The ferry ride was about 40 minutes. It seemed like forever. I started noticing that dad wasn’t feeling good. He was starting to get very cold and shaking a little bit. I thought this was kind of strange, it was cold but not that cold.

Finally the ferry ride ended at Fort Morgan. The first order of business was to get some more clothes for my dad, lunch and a place to stay for the night. Happily we found the first restaurant a mile and a half from the dock Tacky Jacks 2.

It is always fun to meet great people and the first person we met was Marsha. Marsha and I connected as we are both “old Souls”. I think we chatted for about 45minutes. I told her about my trip and the adventures that we’ve had so far.

This is the ferry boat pilot house

This is the ferry boat pilot house

We had some great conversation and food but then discovered the bad news. No hotels for 21 miles! CRAP! This is a real problem and we were expecting to be done with the ride and my dad was fired. It turns out that he had not eaten anything since breakfast at McDonalds at 9:30 that morning so he was tired and bonked. His hands were shaking and he looked really tired. The food helped but it was bit too late, the damage was done and now we have another 21 miles to ride. Tacky Jacks had an all you can eat fish dinner and I was hungry so my dad decided to head out. I stayed back to eat some more food and I was probably there at least another half hour. Marsha and I had a great conversation while my dad rode on ahead.

Then I told her about my experience yesterday with the homeless guy. So strange, when I was talking about him it brought back all the feelings and sadness that I felt when meeting him. I started to cry. Marsha gave me a hug. We shared this strange experience together and we will be friends for years to come.

Eventually I left the restaurant. Fueled up with about 6 servings of great food, I set off to catch up with dad. The temperature had dropped a ton and I was a bit worried about my dad being out by himself. I was riding hard and wanted to catch up as soon as possible and finally did after about 45minutes.

I saw him up ahead in the distance. He was moving really slow and we still had 11 miles to go just to get to the city. We still didn’t have a hotel in mind.

My new “old soul” friend. We met her at Tacky Jacks 2

My new “old soul” friend. We met her at Tacky Jacks 2

We were pedaling along and I was trying to keep him motivated, but he was struggling. It was like we were moving in slow motion. I was mentally preparing for a long 11 miles.

Then all of a sudden dad yells, “I have to get off the road” and he started weaving all over the place. I quickly rode up next to just after he veered half way across the road toward oncoming traffic. I could feel the sheer panic and I didn’t know what was going on. I pulled up to his left as he wobbily moved to the right of the road. He stopped and put his head on his handle bars and was pale. “Dad, what is going on? Do I need to call the ambulance? Sit down for a second.” He was acting very confused and disoriented.

“I don’t think I’m having a heart attack.” He said. Shit! My dad is having a heart attack and he is going to die right here in front of me. He had trouble getting off the bike. His balance was off and he was dizzy. Stroke? I was running through all the possible scenarios in my head of what was going on. None were good. I kept asking him to describe the symptoms. He was too disoriented to give me any information. I could tell that he was scared and so was I.

Our ride was over for the day and my job changed to keeping him alive. What to do? Ambulance? Flag a car? I decided that the fastest way to get him to a hospital was to flag a vehicle already going the direction that we needed to go.

I sat him down and quickly off loaded our bikes and the B.O.B. trailer so I could ride down the road and flag down a truck. I road about 50 yards and the very first truck that I saw I flagged and they slowed down until they saw my dad on the side of the road and then stopped. My panic was still in full force and I headed back to my dad to see that he was still sitting on the ground disoriented but trying to stand up.

We had a serious issue and I flagged Donna and her husband down. They took us and our bikes into town.

Donna and her husband rescued us and took us into town.

I was fortunate enough to flag Donna and her husband visiting from Illinois and they were nice enough to stop and help us out. My dad got into the back of the truck very slowly and I was watching him for signs of improvement while I loaded the back of the truck. He still was not doing well and I wanted to get down the road to urgent care as quick as possible. This entire scene was a total of about 10minutes from the time he veered off the road to the time we were on our way to urgent care in the back of a truck.

While heading into town my dad started to improve. He began talking a little bit and eventually was cohesive enough to have a full conversation. He refused to go to urgent care.

As we drove toward town I could see that he was improving significantly but I was still concerned. He still refused to go to urgent care, he said it was a temporary issue and he thinks it may have been related to the pain medication that he took at 11:00am. (Oh yeah, no food, pain medication and 5 hours on the bike, not a good combination) Our new friends dropped us off at a hotel.

After loading the bikes into the hotel room we settled in. I was trying to decide if I should call this ride. This was such a hard decision. If I decided that we could not go on, my dad would not finish his bucket ride or he would try anyway without me. If I decided to keep on, I could be putting him at significant risk. Not fun.

After a couple of hours in the hotel dad noticed that I had been very quiet and he said, “You don’t seem to be very happy right now, are you worried about me?” Um, yeah, that’s a bit of an understatement.

As the hours went by he seemed to be improving. I was still worried but the medication may have been the issue. I did a bit of research online and found that some of the side effects of his pain medication were light headedness and dizziness. Warnings included “do not operate machinery.” Hmmmmm….. A bicycle is machinery and blacking out while on the bike is BAD NEWS!

Decision made. I will watch him the rest of the night and if he continues to improve, we will ride tomorrow.

Tomorrow’s ride is 40 miles and we will be able to take it slow and easy.

Oh, Yeah, and I have been infested by bed bugs from a couple of nights ago. Not fun. I’ve got blisters and welts all over my legs and arms.

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