Monday, August 9, 2010

Day 50: Manchester, NH to Portsmouth, NH - 61.5 miles with 2,500' of climbing

Today was a great day! We rode an easy 48 miles before heading out to meet a couple policemen for a final escort to the Atlantic Ocean. After a celebration on the beach we rode down the road for another 10 miles or so to reach the hotel in Portsmouth, NH after a short detour across a bridge to briefly enter the state of Maine.

For most the end of the trip brings mixed emotions. While everyone is thrilled to have successfully completed the ride and are relieved that most of the thousands of passing cars and trucks eluded us, many are overcome with emotions. Some cry because a lifetime dream has been achieved, some miss a deceased love one and rode to raise money on their behalf and some are just so happy to be done with a ride that perhaps even they themselves didn't seem possible. They say "Man's reach should exceed his grasp or what is heaven for?" I know we didn't find a cure for cancer or work to create world peace but we can say that in the summer of 2010 we set out to ride our bicycles across these United States and we succeeded and in so doing met a lot of great people along the way and possibly some lifelong friends.

Final roadkill count: 430 (Racoons were by far the most frequent roadkills)
Flats: 4
Wheels: Replaced the rear due to a cracked rim.
Tires: Front one lasted the whole trip with no flats, the rear was replaced twice.
Hurts: Very fortunate to have nothing more than sore quads at times.

P.S. Several of the trip photo comments on Facebook came from an old friend of mine Paula Walton, who I met when we were part of a group that spent a few summers backpacking in the Tetons and kayaking around south central Alaska in the early 80's as well as hiking a part of the Pacific Crest Trail a few years ago. Paula was an emergency room physician in Kentucky, in good health and had just gotten her first article published in Kayaker magazine. One night after riding across South Dakota a few weeks a go I got a voicemail telling me that Paula had passed away in her sleep while heading out to Colorado for another of her many adventures. I guess I bring this up just to remind myself that none of us know how much time we have on this planet. So I will try each day to let people know how much I love them, try to work on my "bucket list" sooner rather than later and try not to sweat the small stuff in life as almost all of it is small stuff.

Thanks for helping me achieve a dream and helping to raise some money for World Vision.

(Anyone interested in donating to World Vision can still do so by following the link at the top of this page.)

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Day 49: Brattleboro, VT to Manchester, NH - 79 miles with 4,100' of climbing

Another beautiful day of riding. We meandered through the towns of Keene, Antrim, Bennington, Greenfield, Francestown, New Boston, and on into Manchester. There were a few challenging hills that required our lowest gearing but the weather couldn't have been more perfect. We rode through the New Hampshire countryside where the fields are bordered with stone walls and most of the homes have barns attached to them.
Many of the towns have cemetaries with tombstone dating back to the early 1800s. We dropped down into Manchester around 2:00 giving us plenty of time to eat lunch and shower before tonights banquet at the hotel. (The banquet is tonight because once we reach the beach tomorrow some riders will go "poof" as Mike puts it because their relatives will wisk them away to head back home.)The majority of us will have one more hotel stay and fly out on Tuesday morning.
Thanks for following along. I can count the remaining days on one finger.

Roadkills: 426
Flats: 4
Wheels: Replaced rear due to cracks in the rim
Hurts: All is good.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Day 48: Latham, NY to Brattleboro, VT - 79 miles with 5,050' of climbing

Todays ride was gorgeous. It had challenging climbs, rolling green tree covered hills, beautiful buildings, tailwinds, cool temperatures, and scenic overlooks. We are in Ben And Jerry's Country now and everyone seems to take pride in their surroundings.
We rode through the historic towns of Old Bennington, Wilmington, and on into Brattleboro. One of our riders, Rod from NH, had several daughters visit with a bunch of fresh baked cookies and muffins for us.
The climbs are getting so much easier now that we have over 3,400 miles and almost 100,000' of climbing behind us. We seem to have so many more gears "available" now when we crest a hill. If only this level could be maintained.
As good as today was I am really looking forward to getting back home and seeing my better half, Belle. Seven weeks of riding is a long time.
Just 2 days left to go.

Roadkills: 420
Flats: 4
Wheels: Replaced the rear due to a cracks in the rim
Hurts: Very fortunate, all is good.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Day 47: Little Falls, NY to Lathem, NY - 74 miles with 2,100' of climbing

Today strarted with clear skies, cool temps, light traffic, tailwinds and wide smooth shoulders. We rode on an asphalt path under a canopy of trees for much of the day so it was a very easy 74 miles. We rode through Ft. Plains, Canajoharie, Sprakers, Amsterdam, Rotterdam Junction and on into Lathem. We had lunch at Jumping Jacks Drive-In where most of us had ice cream for dessert and then the second sag stop was at a park named after the Greco Roman Wrestling Olympic gold medalist Jeff Blatnick. We also met a bunch of cyclists who were riding some crazy home-made bikes with some real scary welds in the frames. I hope they hold up for their journey to Toronto.

The final few miles to the hotel were on more trails so it was a very relaxing day of riding. Only 3 days to go.

Thanks for checking-in.

Roadkills: 418
Flats: 4
Wheels: Replaced rear due to crack in the rim
Hurts: All is good

Day:46: Liverpool, NY to Little Falls, NY - 78 miles with 1,610' of climbing

We started out today under cloudy skies and wet pavement. The clouds let go for the first 50 of 78 miles. We rode in the country for most of the day but due to heavy rains photo ops were rare. We traveled through the NY towns of Canastota, Durhamville, Whitesboro, Herkimer and Little Falls.

At about 70 miles in the skies cleared and we decided to eat at a 50s diner (Crazy Otto's Empire Diner) in Herkimer. All the employees were very friendly and the decor was very cool. They spin a numbered wheel whenever a train went by and if it lands on the number of where you were seated your meal was on the house. A few weeks earlier they had set a world record for making the biggest omelet using 41,000 eggs. Scott, the owner, asked about our travels and gave us a 2 for 1 deal on their T- shirts because he didn't want us leaving without them.

The final few miles were a breeze and once we got in we had time to do laundry for the final time, get all the road dirt off our bikes and see Jim the mechanic for some minor adjustments.

Roadkills: 412
Flats: 4
Wheels: Replaced rear due to cracked rim
Hurts: All's good.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Day 45: Henrietta, NY to Liverpool, NY - 93 miles with 1,600' of climbing

Today started out under overcast skies with the sun trying to pierce its way through the haze. The group was spread out with some eating at the hotel and some going to McDonalds. The first few miles were on a busy road where one of our riders, Ann, was "tapped" by a car. She seem to be O.K. with minor bruises but traumatic none-the-less.

The next 20 miles were on a cinder bike path alongside the Erie Canal. It was slow but scenic. Once we were off the bike path the next 70 miles or so were on lightly travelled roads that took us through the small NY villages of Pittsford, Lyons, Clyde, Savannah, Tyre, Montezuma, Port Byron, Weedsport(where we had lunch), Jordan, and into Liverpool. We rode the last 30 miles with Alison from Arkansas who never seems to be exerting any energy. She is in great shape.

Only 5 days to go. Can't believe we have come so far already. Looking forward to being back home and spending some quality time with my darling Belle who has been so understanding through this whole adventure.

Roadkill: 406
Flats: 4
Wheels: Replaced the rear due to a cracked rim
Hurts: Knees hurt strating up after a short rest but that is to be expected.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Day 44: Niagara Falls, NY to Henrietta, NY - 82 miles with 1,550' of climbing

Today was an easy day of riding except for the hot and humid conditions. Everyone seemed to be taking their time and riding at their own pace.
Not a lot to see today but we did ride past some pretty unique barns and houses on our way into Henrietta. I got in around 1:30 and then headed down to Tim Horton's to refuel before showering and checking my email. One more day down and only six to go.

Roadkills: 395
Flats: 4
Wheels: Replaced the rear
Hurts: 0