You are reading the LONG version – the entire weekend recap.
Big thanks goes out to Yehudah for sticking with me throughout the entire 2,360 miles and to Rabbi Jacobson for hosting us Friday night/Saturday day.
We ate and did everything we needed to do by 7:45 and hit the road. I drove the first 200 miles, driving through rain, fog, falling rocks and all kinds of mean and nasty drivers.
Then Yehudah took over and drove for 400 some odd miles. I slept a bit, I read a bit (very little, as I got pretty nauseous pretty quickly), but mostly we just enjoyed the clean, open air. I tried to get Sruli’s iPod to work via the auxiliary cable jack. But alas, it wasn’t meant to be as Sruli’s iPod doesn’t hold a charge for the duration of two songs. Instead, I quickly loaded some music from my laptop to my Droid on the fly.
We stopped off every 200 miles, and after Yehudah’s final 200 (what a treat to not have to do all the driving alone!), I took the wheel and drove us up to Skokie Illionois driving past all kinds of drivers. Slow drivers, fast drivers, mean drivers, nice drivers, big drivers and small drivers (sorry if this sounds like a country song but I’m listening to Arlo Guthrie’s “Alice’s Restaurant Massacree” as I type this).
We arrive in Skokie and order two world-famous steak sandwiches and had ourselves a dinner that couldn’t be beat with Yehudah’s friend Tully @ Ken’s Diner. After that we got back in the car and I drove the hour southward to Bolingbrook where we would be bunking up for the night, compliments of Yehudah Perlowitz – the Aloft. It was a nice, edgy hotel with a bar, pool table, music, an outdoor commons area and swimming pool in the welcoming hall.
We settled in for the night and were asleep by 11 o’clock (midnight, NYC time).
The next morning (Friday), we awoke before the 7:15 wakeup call – we were up at 6:30 and getting ready to leave. On the road by 7:30, we drove to a Shop-rite-type all-in-one convenience store which had everything from cereal to fruit to diapers to live fish. True story.
We were out of the store and had eaten our breakfast of berries, cereal, cereal bars, grapes and plums by 8. Then I drove out to Des Moines for the race expo. I drove all but the last 85 miles. I must say, it sure was a pleasure having Yehudah there so I didn’t have to do all the driving!
We pull up to the expo in downtown Des Moines which isn’t anything like NYC. There isn’t much happening there, but it’s still kind of hard to find a spot. We parked in the church’s lot, walked into the building, where Yehudah went to ask the nearest attendant if he could park there. He was told, “Yes, at your own risk.” The time was 12:57. The next briefing was starting momentarily.
With not a second to lose, Yehudah turned to me and told me he would, dutifully, take one for the team. He turned his hat around backwards and sprinted Usaian-Bolt-style out of the front doors while I hurried up the stairs. I caught the briefing with a minute to spare.
The briefing was uneventful. The race director (I think that’s who it was) went through the motions of what to do with your bike, when to do it, where to be, where NOT to be…etc.
After the briefing and the hand stamping, I went to pick up my packet and meet Yehudah on the other side. My packet came complete with a fluorescent green swim cap, race numbers, race bracelet, information, stickers, bib number and various rules and regulations. I then proceeded to pick up what is, to this date (September 4, 2011), the best swag bag I have ever received. A fully functional 5150 Hy-vee championship backpack (which I will be using for college this year) stuffed with all sorts of goodies (such as a stainless-steel-pillsbury-doughboy flask, a frisbee, a bottle of *chilled* waterand many coupons for various local businesses), a (size Medium) cycling jersey, a hat and a visor. Wow.
Next came the race expo where I won a set of tire-irons (Yes!) and entered to win a GPS-enabled watch. Also picked up some energy-booster fruit drink type things.
After the race expo, we peeled out of there like the place was burning down (except not really. We took our time.) and made our way to town in West Des Moines. We did some walking around and I tried on some cowboy boots in a vintage shop (the only size that fit weren’t anything too exciting. Now the rattlesnake leather…of course it was a size 9!) and ended up buying a sweet pair of vintage Ray-Ban Aviators from when they used Bausch&Lomb lenses.
After that we went to the mall and picked up some delicious Cold Stone Creamery ice cream. Ice cream. In cones. In bowls. It was quite filling and quite refreshing.
Then we left the mall and began our ten-minute trip to the Rabbi’s house (who by the way, is both a scholar and a gentleman) where we spent the holy Sabbath.
Rabbi Jacobson and his family hosted us Friday night all through Saturday until we had to leave to drop off my bike in transition. The Rabbi taught us all about how “if you meditate or if you learn about Hassidus in the morning…if you relax yourself (which is the same thing I’m reading about in “Mental Training for Peak Performance” by ), you can hone in on the connection with God much faster. As soon as you let go of your body, you’ll be as fast as the speed of light.”
Eventually, we had to come back down to earth though where his wife cooked for us and provided us with towels, soap, shampoo, warm beds, a cool(ish) room (complete with a vent which *magically* opened up) and the children, for the most part, didn’t talk to us, really. Out of 7 kids, 3 were away and one was a baby.
Prayer services were held in the basement in the Rabbi’s synagogue along with the Rabbi’s personal ritual bathtub (Mikvah). Friday night was just Yehudah, the Rabbi, his son and I. Saturday morning however…attracted many other types of people. There was a family where the fatyher-in-law came from somewhere westward of Iowa to marry his daughter to the son who came from Canada with the father. Then there was a gentleman who attended Fordham University in the Bronx and attained five PhD’s in the process…he biked in. There were two other Lubavitch families, an older rabbi, and a conservative Jewish older man and younger boy.
Throughout the sabbath, the Rabbi endlessly introduced me to everyone he could get his hands on. Racing in a local triathlon seemed to the most interesting thing he could have ever heard and all he wanted to do was shout it to the world from atop a mountain.
Lunch was nice and just about everybody who was there for synagogue stayed for the luncheon prepared by the Rabbi and his wife. The Rabbi owned the only Kosher deli in town, and that’s where lunch came from.
Slept after lunch for 3 hours which kind of ruined the rest of the day for me, then I had some carrots and powerade when I woke up.
After the sabbath ended, we packed up and drove over to the bike drop off area, assembled my bike and dropped it off around 9:45, 1hr. 45 minutes after we were told to, but we received special permission, so it was all good.
We then drove to the Sheraton we were staying at where I showered, shaved and lay in bed from 11:00 – 12:15 sleeplessly. I got up, used the restroom, enjoyed some berries, carrots and cucumbers and then finally managed to drift off for three hours. Shouldn’t have taken such a long nap before.
To find the race report, follow this link.
After the race, we waited around for a cab for close to 45 minutes before the (called) cab finally arrived and brought us back to transition. I rode my bike out to where Yehudah was parked, we loaded it in, drove back to the hotel, showered, prayed, and hit the road.
We stopped off at the Rabbi’s deli to see what all the hub-bub was about and we both had “Roosevelt” sandwiches which is turkey and pastrami and tasted delicious. We also each took a sandwich for the 18-hour drive which lay before us. I ordered a “maccabee”…not entirely sure what’s in it, and I’m not sure what Yehudah ordered either, but I’m sure he enjoyed it.
On the way back, we stopped at the World’s Largest Truck Stop, which was interesting to see Eighteen-wheelers inside the truck stop. Then we stopped off in Indiana at Yehudah’s friend’s Pizzeria. Delicious mushroom-pepper pizza, fries and pibb Xtra.
We then drove onwards, stopping for gas when necessary and stopping over for the night at a Holiday Inn in Ohio about 8.5 hours from home. At midnight we were asleep and at 5:45 we were up for a fire drill. Murphy’s Law came into full swing at this place. The bathroom smelled like an addict took solace in there when they told him no smoking in the room. Nice. Well at least it (kind of) provided shelter for the night until I had to run downstairs for the fire alarm. Yehudah wasn’t buying it so he stayed up here with the elderly who said it went off yesterday as well from a hot shower.
We left the hotel 7:30 and got back 4:30 after waiting in traffic for an hour and a half at the Pennsylvania/NJ border. And that’s all folks!