Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Day 52 / Tuesday, July 28th / Manchester, NH to Wallis Sands Beach, Rye NH /
54 mile
Today was not only a gorgeous day but it was special because we were only 54 miles from the Atlantic Ocean, our final destination. Hard to believe that we made it without one fill up of gasoline. Instead our fuel consisted of eggs, pancakes, steaks, pasta, water, ice cream, and yes the famous bottle of chocolate milk, the traditional celebration drink at the end of the hard days ride to help us recover for the next day. The drive and determination that each of us possessed also helped keep those pedals and wheels turning. Hans, me, Bob, Leigh, and Chris where the last to leave the hotel as usual. I stayed with the group for about 10 mile then moved ahead to meet up with two special people to finish the ride with.
My Uncle Bob on the left who did this ride when he was 62 and my good neighborhood friend Jack Styles rode in with me. For me this was part of my dream and meant more than they can imagine. Thanks guys!

We all met up at Rye Jr. High at 11:30am for our final group picture then we had an escort in to Wallis Sands Beach by the Rye Police. As we headed to the beach it was time to reflect on the great memories. Once we turned the final corner we could feel the breeze coming off the ocean and smell the salt air. The anticipation of fulfilling our journey brought chills and tears. Just at that time we turned into the entrance to be greeted by family and friends and about 1,000 other beach goers that were fascinated and entertained by our excitement. After giving a hug to my wife I took off my helmet and shoes off, grabed my bike and headed to the ocean for the dipping of our front wheel into the Atlantic Ocean after dipping the rear wheel into the Pacific Ocean 52 days before.
What a greeting seeing my wife, friends Marc and Joan Kerble, Aunt Joan and Uncle Bob, Jack Styles, cousin Nancy and her son, brothers Skip and Russ and nephew Chris. My good friend Marc told me later he never saw me smile so much. There was a lot to smile about. Fifty Two days of riding with some amazing people, seeing America by bike, being greeted by special people, and being blessed by our great Lord and Savior for the opportunity to experience this amazing journey.

A special thanks to the support staff, all the riders, and especially my riding partners Chris, Leigh, and Bob. Stay in touch.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Day 51 / Monday, July 27th / Brattleboro, VT to Manchester, NH / 90 miles

Today was a special day for me. The sky's were sunny, although the humidity was high, it was our last day of any serious climbing (over 6,000 feet) and we were entering New Hampshire, a state where I have many great memories. I have lots of relatives living in NH, our family had a cottage in NH right on Alton Bay, and I got engaged in NH. It feels great to be back in New England. For me, today was the toughest day of climbing because of the steepness of the hills. Sullivan Road was the toughest climb of the day. We went up a 15% grade climb. I was in my lowest gear pushing and pulling the pedals so hard I thought my body was going to explode. If I didn't squeeze out every last oz. of energy and power, the pedals wouldn't cycle around and the alternative is that I would roll backwards and fall. I made it up !

After going up Sullivan Road the decent was fairly steep on a dirt road. They don't call it the cross country challenge for nothing.

The scenery was spectacular as we traveled along a moving stream and saw countless lakes along the way. At our second sag of the day the husband of Judy from the support staff brought us a home prepared lunch, what a treat. But the best treat was seeing my Uncle Bob dresses up like the rest of us ready to ride. He has been an inspiration for me on this trip. He is 76 and still an amazingly strong rider. He makes the hills look like flats. I thought we were going out for an easy ride, however; his pace was a little more intense than I expected. I had to remind him that the Tour de France ended yesterday. Tomorrow Bob will join me again along with my good neighborhood friend Jack.

Tonight was a long night with special awards and an opportunity for each of us to share our experience. A great inspiring, humorous closing. Jim (13) and Marilyn (12) got the award for most flats. I was fortunate to only have 2. The first one came on day 1. My armadillo tires held up well. It's time to hit the sack and get ready for tomorrows final day.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Day 50 / Sunday, July 26th / Latham, NY to Brattleboro, VT / 80 miles

The day started at 7:00am with breakfast then load at 7:45am for a nice mountainous ride climbing over 5,000 feet in elevation. It was humid yet relatively cool (upper 70s). After 20+ miles of riding we entered our 12th state on the tour and one of my favorites, Vermont.

I experienced some typical New England fun when I went by this carnival in the town of Bennington and saw the tractor pulling hay ride.

As we went through the downtown section of Bennington the town had statues of mouses at about every corner. Didn't see Bullwinkle though.

After our first climb up a steep 6% grade for 8 miles we had a fun decent into the town of Wilmington. Ate at Jezebels and had the New Englander (ham, cranberry on panini bread) DELICIOUS !

After lunch we had another big 3 mile climb, then the decent into Brattleborrow. It's hard to believe that there are only two days left until we finish our journey across country. It has been an experience of a lifetime and an experience I can cross off my bucket list. People ask me what's next. I'm looking forward to visiting Ireland next year with the family and enjoying the countryside and some golf.

At the end of the day I ran into Sean and Tom at this restaurant overlooking the Connecticut River. Vermont is a beautiful state.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Day 49 / Saturday, July 25th / Little Falls, NY to Latham, NY / 101 miles

Today was a great ride on another beautiful day in NY. The day started at 7:00am with some fog in the air. By 8:30 the fog had lifted and the sun slowly broke through to temperatures in the upper 70s. Today was to be an easy ride just enjoying the scenery. As we climbed the hills we could see the scenery of the valleys below along the river.

One of our first stops was at this interesting Mohawk Shrine. Today's ride was along the Mohawk River which the Indian Tribe occupied in the 1600s.

After one of our bigger climbs of the day I had my riding friend, Bob, snap this photo. This is the type of scenery we got to see the entire day.

After we got off of route 5 we started riding on bike paths that were flat, for the most part, and shaded, along the gorgeous Mohawk River. Riding on bike paths is a nice break from riding on the busy roads. Before I hit he second bike path I hit the second sag of the day that was next to a busy Jumpin Jacks (burger/ice cream) restaurant. The river was pretty busy with lots of boating activity. Had an opportunity to see one of the locks in action. The boats were on the upper section of the river. They entered the lock, the water level was dropped, the gates opened and off they went. Pretty neat to watch. I was enjoying the bike paths and scenery so much I turned a 76 mile day into a 101 mile ride.

Friday, July 24, 2009

DAY 48 / Friday. July 24th / Liverpool, NY to Little Falls. NY / 77 miles

The prediction for today was 70% showers so the strategic plan was to go out hard with Tom and Sean and get to the hotel as fast as possible. Well we left at 7:15 am and got to the hotel by noon so that goal was accomplished. We went through some pretty torrential downpours throughout the ride only to find out that most the riders behind us had a dry day. Today the plan backfired.
Had a nice lunch at the hotel in our soaking clothes, then showered and took a nap while I waited for our luggage to arrive.
After dinner I took a walk with Bob, from Seattle, to see the Erie Canal and the lock were the boats get transferred from one elevation to another. Apparently this is one of the greatest elevation changes in the world. Forty plus feet.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Day 47 / Thursday, July 23rd / Canandaigua, NY to Liverpool, NY / 85 miles

After Tuesdays all day in the rain ride we were dreading another day like that, however; the rain was falling as we made our way over to Denny's for breakfast. It continued to rain for about 45 minutes into the ride then the remainder of the ride was overcast and ideal conditions for riding with a slight tailwind. My plan was to take it easy today until I saw Tom and Sean closing in on me. So I said to myself, let's have some fun and sped up. I peddled like crazy and slowly increased the gap. After hitting several red lights they were on my tail again so I picked it up again. I could tell they were working real hard to catch me and my competitive drive said don't let it happen. Knowing that the sag was 5 miles up the road I kept the intensity up and beat them to the sag. Had some fun chatting about the tactics with the two of them then sent them on ahead so I could relax and enjoy the rest of the day.

I enjoyed the scenery as I cruised up and down the rolling hills.

As I traveled down a steep decent building some momentum for an immediate climb I came across this running water. So much for building momentum. I braked, stopped, then unclipped from my bike, relaxed for about 5 minutes and thanked God for the opportunity and health to enjoy this beautiful world he created.

Couldn't miss out on the opportunity to snap the picture on the right. It reminded me of my brother Skip's middle name. He wasn't thrilled about his middle name and we use to tease him as a kid.

Sandy's Barber Shop also brought back some childhood memories. Never will forget the time we were on vacation in PA and my dad brought us 3 boys to a barber shop in the mountains when we were young to get crew cuts. This was unacceptable in a time when the Beatles were influencing everyone to grow long hair. To make matters worse it was a lady barber, unheard of at those times. Well we cryed and the hair eventually grew back. Had another Chineese buffet at night and finished the evening off playing some pool with my friends Tom, Sean, Jack,Brian and Les at Tully's right next to the hotel.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Day 46 / Wednesday, July 22nd / Hamburg, NY to Canandaigua, NY / 96 miles

Today the weather was great, sunny skies and relatively cool temperatures for the summer (78-82). After breakfast at the hotel we biked 8 miles over to the most historic bicycle shop in the world. The owner, Carl, opened early (8:00am) just for our group. He gave us an amazing tour from the first 2 wheel bike ever built in 1817 to the bikes of the 1950s. Carl had a wealth of information for us from the design of bikes to the racing and culture of bikes.
Many of the advancements in designing bikes helped with the propulsion of the automobile.

The first rolling invention in 1817 (made out of wood) was only made for rolling and discovering that man could balance on two wheels. Pedals and chains were invented after that and these vehicles became known as a velocipede
Check out my bike on the left. As the saying goes: "We've come along way Baby"

Came across several small water falls. At our second sag there was a restaurant called Tom
Wahl's. Had a delicious cheeseburger and root beer float.
Got to the hotel just before the rain. Then had dinner at the Pondarosa Steak House then went back to the hotel and put my liners in my tires to help prevent flats on what could be several days of rain

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Day 45 / Tuesday, July 21st / Erie, PA to Hamburg, NY / 85 miles

Today we left Pennsylvania for New York. Today's ride was along routes 5 and 20 along Lake Erie. Unfortunately we didn't get to enjoy the scenery on a clear sunny day. This was only our second day on the tour with rain from start to finish. I tryed to focus on the name of our trip "the cross challenge" and realize that rain is part of that challenge. It is important to take adversity like this and turn it into something positive so I kept a smile on my face knowing how much the vineyards were enjoying the rain.

Apparently along the banks of the Erie the soil is ideal for the vineyards. We went by many vineyards offering tours and samplings. Some of our group took advantage of the tours, however; I continued to pedal and enjoy the many small towns on the waterfront.

As we entered New York I realized I forgot to bring my "Red Sox" to hold up in front of the sign. Probably a good thing, I felt a lot safer on the NY roads without those red sox hanging out of my pocket.

I had an invitation by Homer Simpson for lunch but it was 10:00 am when I rode by his restaurant which was a little to early for me. I wish my brother-in-law, James, was here because I know he would have stopped in to chat with one of his favorite cartoon characters.

Had to take a picture of this water fall on the left. Haven't seen to many of these and I do have a love for running water. The hot shower at the end of the ride was even more enjoyable.