Sunday, September 27 2009
We arrived in Abbotsford around 1 p.m., following our last 60-mile day. The weather was fair, with a mix of clouds and sun. We started in Chippewa Falls with a group photo (taken by Beth Larson who, along with her two dogs and new puppy, was our SAG for the day). We got off to a quick start, forming up in a paceline that allowed us to put in about 20 quick miles. It was a nice steady pace that helped us move along with ease. We each took our pull: Chris, Rob, Earl, Gene, Pete and Anna (who could pedal with the best of them... see below...)
As the ride went on, we began to see the beginning of the fall colors in the tops of the trees. We also rode through Amish country, where we saw a few horses and buggies traveling down the road. Rob snapped a few photos, so we hope to post those to the web site in the future. Beth (and her canine posse) followed throughout the day. They always seemed to be at the right place at the right time with Gatorade, water, cookies and Power Bars. THANKS, Beth! Our paceline kept a good tempo, and the miles seemed to peel off quickly. We also had a dog scare, with Gene narrowly escaping a small, but fierce, farm dog that bolted after him down the road. Gene put it into high gear and pulled away... but it was still a close call.
We met the Appleton Team in Colby (just outside of Abbotsford) and connected up for the now ceremonial picture in front of the Abbotsford sign. A great group -- lots of smiles, handshakes and tales of three days of riding to the meeting point. The editor of the local newspaper showed up at Duke's Bowl to get a few quotes and some photos for an article on the ride. We are news in Abbotsford!!!
The consensus on our team was that this was the best Thrivent 350 yet. Our team got to know each other well... very well. Three days on a bike will do that.... One thing we discovered is that for a Compliance guy, Chris Kopka is actually pretty creative and sometimes pretty funny. By the end of the ride, he had come up with a few good nicknames that really captured the essence of what it was like to ride with each member of our team.
And so (with a little editorial embellishment), here are the nicknames we settled on for the riders in our team: Jeff "Salt Water" Hahn for pulling the paceline like taffy; Pete "Clydesdale" Bernard, for his power and consistency throughout the ride; Rob "Hot Tub" Wagner, for his uncanny ability to be the first person in the hotel's hot tub after each day's ride; Gene "Three Miles to Go" Smaciarz (see previous day blog entry), Earl "Quadzilla" Johnston for the massive quads he used to pedal relentlessly uphill and down; Paul "Rainman" Olson, for his developing expertise in riding in the pouring rain; and "Hammer Time" Anna (his spouse) for her ability to out-pedal the rest of us... and with style!
As for Chris, we're going to call him Chris "Mash Mixer" Kopka, after the large mash mixer tub at the Leinenkugel's brewery. With his blue Guru bicycle, a radical new headband (that made him look part Hell's Angel, part short-order cook), and his cool Twin Six cycling jersey, he mashed the pedals the entire trip. He loved to mix and mingle with all of the riders on the team. Plus, it just sounds really cool. Enjoy, Chris!
So, another Thrivent 350 is in the books. We managed to raise approximately $10,000 for Thrivent Builds projects in the Twin Cities and Fox Cites. Thanks to everyone (riders, financial supporters, our support teams) who played such critical parts in making this year's ride a success. We look forward to your participation in next year's ride. We'll see you down the road... continued blessings to all!
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