Monday, August 9, 2010

Day 50 last day Manchester to Portsmouth 54.6 miles with 2279' of climbing

Last night we had our banquet and had many funny skits and ABB awards.  Everyone got to speak and everyone thanked the staff and many thanked the fellow riders for the way this group had come together and had became one big family.  It is hard not to be one big family going across the country in 50 days and sharing the accomplishments and the heartache when we had unscheduled dismounts along the way with the fellow riders.  Mike the ride leader said this was the 8th crossing that he was in charge of that got all the riders across and did not have anyone drop our from an injury that could not finish.  I attribute this to the discipline he instills in the staff he has working on his team and the way he instilled those values on everyone in our group to look out for each other and ride safely at all times.

Today we ate breakfast at 0530 and loaded luggage at 0630.  We only had a short day today and did not have to be at the Jr. High school where the police were meeting us at 11:30AM for our escort to the beach.  We all left and rode a leisurely pace and had one rest stop at mile 28.4  Fred's wife, my roommate had made homemade cookies and they were a real hit at this stop today.  After leaving the stop there was a bakery and coffee shop everyone stopped at and we sat there outside enjoying the nice weather and drank coffee and killed time there as we only had 11 miles to go to get to the school.  When it was time we left and rode to the school and got there at 11:10 Am and signed in for the last time and ate more cookies and waited until our escort arrived.

The group decided that the riders in our group that spent the most time riding everyday would lead the procession to the beach and all the rest of us would follow.  Ellen, Helen, Ian and Dereka were the ones that lead us.  They were the last ones in everyday and we all admired them for their accomplishments of continuing everyday when the rest of us were in and cleaned up and not giving up every day.

The ride today was somewhat hilly with many rolling hills and some of them kicked up to 14%. My legs were tired from the last 2 days of climbing and it took awhile to get them to respond before they felt normal.  After we got to the Jr. High school everyone was congratulating each other for what we had accomplished and then it was time to go to the beach.  We left with a police escort in the front and another one behind us with the 3 support vehicles along for the finish of this journey.  It was all downhill the last few miles until we turned the corner and we could see the Ocean.  We had to ride about 1 mile along the waterfront before we got to the beach where we would end our 50 day journey.  The police had his siren on and when we made the turn into the beach there was a big Cheer from the friends and family members that were there to meet their loved ones and congratulate them on their 50 day ride.  We then went to the sea wall, took our shoes and socks off and headed off to the water to dip the front tire in the Atlantic Ocean.  We all took turns taking pictures of each other and then the official ceremony took place with Matt the youngest rider pouring out the water that had been carried by the ABB staff from the Pacific Ocean and poured it in to the Atlantic.

It was now official we had all made our goals and dream of riding across this great country and being able to share this with 46 other family of riders along with the staff members.  There were a few tears shed as the emotions ran high with this day and then some dove in with their biking cloths on and swam in the Ocean.  I did not but they told me it was cold.

Then it was time to load my bike on top of the van and go to the bike shop for the process of sending my bike home.  They will box it up and then it will be arriving in a box home by UPS.

We then got some lunch and checked in to the last motel of this trip before I head home tomorrow.

It had been a great adventure that I am thank full for my family, and friends for all the support that I was given on my goal of riding across the USA,  It was everything I had expected and more..  The new fiend ships that I have made will last a lifetime.  Some are talking of other rides next year and we will keep in touch with each other by email. 

It is now time to close this blog and I will have to go back and read and reflect on the many days that I spent on the road, as it seemed like a long time ago that we stated this and you forgot all that you did and this will be a reminder as where we went and what I saw along the way.  In another way it has gone by so fast that you wonder where it all went so this is the last update.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Day 49 Brattleboro, VT to Manchester, NH 80 miles with 5105' of climbing

Today we had our last long and big climbing day.  We ate breakfast at 0630 and luggage load was at 0700.  We left shortly after loading and after riding 1 mile from the motel we came to our last and final state in our journey, which we once again had to capture on film.  Due to it being so close to town, everyone was stopped and waiting their turn to take their picture.  Most of the photos have 1 or more riders in it so we did not have to stay there very long.  Right after the state line the 1st climb started right out of town and it kicked up to 9% and then 11 and 12% and leveled off to 9% once again and went on for 1 mile.  We were in for allot of these today and going in we were all told that we would get these kickers all day.  At mile 18.2 we had a climb that went up to 14% for 3/4 of a mile and just before this climb I shed my jacket as the temperature this morning was 50 degrees and most everyone had jackets or arm warmers on. 

We had 2 rest stops today the 1st one was at mile 36 along highway RT 9 E and it was at the regular car rest stop and it was a welcome relief to stop after 3000' of climbing and we had homemade bars from yesterday that were leftover and they really hit the spot.  After filling up the bottles and getting ready to go I took a picture of 4 riders that had purchased yellow jerseys from the specialized bike shop in Brattleboro yesterday.  I left the rest area by myself and started to ride down the road and the road had more of the kicker hills, ( I call them kickers when you go down a great down hill and then have to climb right back up a steep hill on the other side.  I stopped in the town of Antrim at the grocery store with Kim and Tom, both from Washington state and got a chocolate milk and ate another hammer gel.  I figured that I would need the energy down the road as we had 37 more miles to go before we go home today.  I then met up with Margo and John and we all left the store together and rode to the second rest stop together and it was located at mile 55.  We ate some more and filled the bottles and all 3 of us left together and rode the rest of the way together.  After mile 65 we had a left turn and they had told us last night to get in your climbing gear and when we turned the corner is kicked up to 14% and then up to 20% for about 3/4 of a mile and it was getting tough by this time of the day.  We made it to the top and began to descend, which was a welcome relief as the legs were starting to complain at every uphill.  I kept telling my legs only one more hill, but had to keep lying to them as we had 10-15 more hills to go up before we got into town and there were not any more hills.  It was nice to see the motel and we checked in and went and got something to eat and then showered and cleaned up.

Tonight we have our end of the ride banquet tonight at 6PM.  They have it the night before our last day as all the activities at the beach tomorrow and many are going home tomorrow by auto as they live in thee area and have friends or relatives picking them up after we arrive at the beach and dip our tires in the Atlantic Ocean.  I still can't believe we have come so far from Astoria when we went to the Atlantic Ocean and dipped our tires there and now we are going to finish tomorrow and dip our tires in the other coast.  We are assembling at a Jr. High School at 11:30AM  tomorrow and we will have a police escort to the beach for the official ceremony.  We only have 50 miles to ride tomorrow to the beach and then I will have them take me and my bike to the shop to have it packed up and shipped home.