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.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Day 48 Latham, NY to Brattleboro, VT 80 miles with 5448' of climbing

Today we ate at 0700 and loaded luggage at 0730.  After loading we took off and were on city streets for about 5 miles and just before mile 5 we  crossed the Hudson River.  The roads in town were really torn up and had chuck holes and cracks everywhere, especially when we crossed the river and went under the road and had to go into a tunnel.  There were holes everywhere and you had a hard time seeing them in the somewhat dark tunnel.  After that we had a climb out of the river bottom and it kicked up to 9% for about 8-9 blocks and then we were out in the countryside and the roads were rolling.  It was really pretty and the countryside was like we had in the west with many trees and hills everywhere.  It was nice to see some different terrain after the many days of corn fields and the same things we had been seeing.  Many riders said that is was a great change to climb once again instead of the flat rolling terrain.

We had 2 rest stops today and the 1st one was at mile 29 after some climbs.  Rod, one of the riders on the trip meet his daughters and grandchildren at the stop and they had homemade cookies and date bars which were a real treat.  Anytime we can get homemade treats it is a nice change.  We then continued on and had more up hills and at mile 34.5 there was a barn on top of 2 silos.  One of the girls on the ride asked how it got up there and we commented the wind took it up there.  She didn't believe this but it was a great joke. 

At mile 32.8 we hit the Vermont state line and once again we stopped for a photo shot.  We can't miss the state entry sign.  It is like the real proof that we really crossed another state line.  Vermont is really pretty and we were steadily climbing and saw ski areas.  At mile 45 we had climbed 3500' and continued up from there.  When we stated the big climb at mile 45 it started at 4% which was an easy climb and then it kicked up  to 9% steady with some going to 11 and 12%.  With this kind off a climb you just get in a gear that works for you and keep grinding to the top.  When we got to the top it was some downhill with rollers once again until we got to the 2nd stop at mile 58.  Here we had another climb to the top of Hogback MTN.  It was 4.5 miles to the summit.  It once again started out with 4% and then kicked up again to 7-8% and we topped out and took pictures.  After leaving the top it was downhill followed by big uphills for about 70 miles before we had the steady downhill without the uphill kickers.  We did not have much of a shoulder and we had to ride out in the lane of traffic as the road was rough and there were groves that you had to watch out for.  We made it into town OK and stopped and the 2 bike shops to look around and then went and got something to eat. We then went to the hotel and checked in, unloaded the luggage and then showered. 

After I got out of the shower, I took my bike out and put on the 2 new tires I had with me.  Today on the downhills I could feel a small thumping and I did not feel real good about it so the new tires went on.  The old tires I took off were the original new ones I left the Pacific Ocean with and I had hoped to go all the way with them, but safety first and new ones will ease my concerns.  My old tires had 3670 miles on them so it was time to have new ones.

Tomorrow we are scheduled for another 80+ mile day with 6000' off climbing.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Day 47 Little Falls to Lathem, NY 75 miles with 2476' of climbing

Today we ate breakfast at 0630 and luggage load was at 0715.  We left right after loading and the weather was 66 at the start of the day with the high forecast to be in the mid 70's.  The humidity was also supposed to be lower than it has been the last 2 days.  Yesterday when we came into Little Falls we came down a nice hill, which means that leaving today we had to climb out of the bottom to the top. We climbed 576' on the 1st hill out of town.  I did not look at the percent grade of the hill as I felt really good and I pushed it going all the way to the top of the hill and then took pictures of other riders as they came to the top.  I then caught up with Gary and Rick and rode about 20 yards behind them for about 8-10 miles until Rick got a flat tire and I rode by myself into the 1st rest stop at mile 35.  We had a great tail wind and the ride was going very fast even with the climbing we had to do.  At the rest stop I found out another rider was cut off by a car and hit the pavement and broke a helmet and had a flat.  They fixed her flat , found another helmet for her,  as she was OK and she finished the day feeling OK with a little road rash.  We were all Glad she is OK and with only 4 more riding days, we are all getting a little spooked about  riding without mishap to ensure we all make it to the ocean on Monday.

After mile 50 we entered a real smooth and wide bike path  and we would ride this all the way to mile 71 until we had to get off and use the streets to get to the hotel.  The view along this bike path was really great with the river on the left side and the trees along both sides that gave us great shade, even though it was not all that hot today.  We all stopped at mile 56 and ate lunch at Jumpin Jacks Drive in.  We then hit the bike path once again and continued on to the second rest stop which was at mile 64.  I filled my bottles up and only age one slice of Watermelon and John and I were off again for home and the last leg of the journey for today.  We arrived at the hotel with Dennis, and Beth already there so we all checked in and once again went to get something to eat.  When we got back from the 2nd lunch the luggage was unloaded and we all got cleaned up and I am catching up on 2 days of blog as the motel last night in Little Falls had issues with their Internet and we could not get any service there.

Tomorrow we are scheduled for  80 miles with about 5000' of climbing.

Day 46 Liverpool to Little Falls, NY. 79 Miles with 1490' of climbing

Today we ate breakfast at 0600 and loaded luggage at 0700.  The weather forecast for today called for a 50% chance of rain all day.  It was cloudy when we loaded luggage but we took off at 0705 and had many turn to get out of town.  At mile 13 it started to rain and continued all day until we got into Little Falls.  It was the longest I have ridden in a constant rain since I have been riding bike.  Before today I have ridden 35 miles but today it was 68 miles in the rain and did not let up.  Everything I was wearing was extremely dirty from all the road grit that gets kicked up from the rider in front of you and from your own tires. 

We had 2 rest stops today one at mile 25 and the other at mile 52. Due to the rain we signed in and did not spend much time hanging around.  We just snacked and filled the bottles and took off.  I had my rain coat with me, but the rain was warm and it was not too bad as long as you kept riding.  When we pulled into the 1st rest stop Daniel and Bruno arrived and we found out that Bruno had gone down on the slippery road and tore his shorts and got some road rash on his elbow.  I asked him if he was ok and he said yes but a little sore from hitting the pavement. 

We rode to the 2nd rest stop today and did not spend very long, maybe 5 minutes and we were off again.  After stopping I was getting cold, so I put my rain coat on to keep me warm and off we went once again.
We finished up the ride and by the time we got to the motel it had stopped raining and the sun was coming out.  They had rags and a hose for us and we all cleaned our bikes up, showered and then there was a laundry mat across the street and we all did laundry. This will be my last day to do laundry, as I have enough clean cloths and riding outfits to get me by for the next 4 days until I get home.

Tonight they are having a Wine and cheese reception for us at the hotel where we are staying.  

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Day 45 Henrietta to Liverpool, NY 95.8 miles with 1965' of climbing

Today we started early with the luggage load at 0600-0645 and breakfast at the hotel or McDonald's.  I ate the continental breakfast at the hotel, which did not have very much food, but a small bowl of cold cereal, a small muffin, glass of orange juice and 2 pieces of toast and we departed at 0615.  Today we were listed at having 92 miles but I had a little more than that on my Garmin at the end of the day.  We rode on the streets for about 5.7 miles and then we turned and were on a paved bike path that follows the Erie Canal.  The bike path was really nice and paved and we stopped and took pictures of the 1st lock we came to early this morning.  After proceeding on the path for 3 miles we came to the town of Pittsford and we had to get off our bikes and walk about 150 yards through the town area and then we were able to get on our bikes and continue to ride.  The path then changed to cinder but it was hard pack and the riding was not too difficult with the road tires we have on our bikes.  We continues along the canal trail and came to another town of Fairport and they had many boats docked along this portion of the Canal.  We also saw 2 teams of rowers that were training on the canal with a power boat going along with them with the coach in the boat to give them directions.

We rode on the canal for a total of 21 miles before we left it and then we left the canal and were on the shoulder of route 31 for 56 miles, and the road was mostly smooth except for some rough spots as we got closer to our destination today.  We had 2 rest stops today one at mile 37 and the other at mile 68. The 1st stop we ate and filled the bottles up.  As we were getting ready to depart, Ann came in and said that she had been hit by a car.  The car turned right in to her and hit her right elbow and right hip.  By the time everything was done she hit the ground.  The driver did stop and apologized and her bike was OK.  Beth looked at her elbow and said that she needed to get some ice on it as the lump that was forming was filled with blood.  Beth and Barb one of the staff members put an Ice bag and they put a net around her elbow to keep in in place and then she sat down and put her arm on top of the 1st aid kit box.  She was still there when we departed the rest stop and we saw her later and she rode the rest of the way in to the Motel today.  She was going to get something to eat when we were unloading the luggage and she said she was OK.  I am glad she is OK, but she will probably be sore tomorrow.

We continued on and Beth stopped to take a picture and I rode by myself until mile 48 at the town of Clyde and I stopped and used the bathroom at a gas station and got an Ice Cream.  I went on and saw Beth and Ann along the road and Ann took off and Beth and I rode together into the 2nd rest stop today which was at mile 68 and it was getting to be lunch time, so we filled our bottles up and went to the next town of Weedsport and ate lunch.  After eating we left and got on the route again and the miles were going by quickly until we saw Andrew up ahead with a flat.   We stopped and gave him moral support and I pumped his tire up when he got it changed.  We then took off and made it the rest of the way into town and found the motel and all was done for the day. 

We now had only 5 more riding days left and tomorrow is supposed to be about 72 miles.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Day 44 Niagra Falls to Henrietta, NY 83 miles with 1985' of climbing

Day 43 Rest day in Niagara Falls.  We all enjoyed the rest day we had on Monday in Niagara Falls.  We did the maid of the mist boat ride and walked back over to Canada and viewed the falls from that side and looked at all the touristy things that were on that side and then we came back and looked at all that they had to offer on the American side.  We were right downtown so everything was within walking distance and quite convenient.  All is all it was a good day off, but we are waiting for the last week to start so we can get to the Atlantic Ocean and dip our tires.

Day 44 We loaded luggage today at 0630 and then we rode to Denny's for breakfast.  It was somewhat slow, but that is to be expected when 60 people all arrive at the same time and want to eat and then get back outside and get on the bikes and ride.  We got on the road at 0720 and it was all ready 72 degrees and the weather was forecast to be very humid today, and they were right.  We rode on a street that had a bike lane which is nice, however that is where all the debris is and broken glass along with many other things.  So this keeps you awake dodging all the things in the lane so you do not have a flat tire.  Luckily we got out of this area and we were once again on the rural roads with no shoulder's but the traffic was light and the roads were mostly OK.  There were some pot holes that had to be avoided but it was OK.  We had 2 rest stops today and the 1st one was at mile 33 which was by a wildlife refuge, and I took a picture of a family of Canada Geese that were on the grass by where we stopped.  This is the only picture I took today as the scenery was the same as the last 2 states, Soybean fields, Corn fields, and Dairy Farms.

While riding between the 1 and 2 rest stop we came to the top of a hill and to the right in the field was a 1 hump camel.  I did not stop and take a picture, (I wish I had) but we were determined to get the ride done today as the humidity made it somewhat uncomfortable when you got off your bike and stopped.  We asked some other riders if they saw the Camel and they said " what were you drinking".  Bill who's birthday was today got a picture of it so we had proof that it really did exist. 

The second stop today was at mile 62 and we filled our bottles and snacked and once again hit the road for the last 20 miles.  These miles went by quickly and before you know it we were in town and 5 of us stopped and ate lunch before going to the Motel as the luggage would not be unloaded until more riders arrived. After lunch we rode to the Motel and checked in.  At the front desk they had ice cold  water, bananas, apples and power bars for us, what a great treat.  Then it was time to unload the luggage and get cleaned up.

It was a good ride today as we did have the wind helping us a little bit and the ride went by quickly.  We only had 6 more days of riding and it is coming to an end soon.  Many of us commented that is seemed so long ago that we started this trip in Astoria, but on the other hand it has gone by so quickly.

Tomorrow we are scheduled for a 90+ mile day and we will see what it will bring.  One of the next 2 days we get to ride along the Erie Canal which will be neat.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Day 42 Brandford, Ont to niagra Falls, NY 73 miles with 1594' of climbing

Today the forecast was for showers at 30% but the sky's were looking good when we got up and we did not get any rain today.  We loaded the luggage at 0645 and then breakfast was at 0700.  Some of us ate at another restaurant-coffee shop at 0530 so we were ready to depart when the luggage got loaded.  We left and it was cool, 60 degrees and the wind was out of the east all day at a steady 10-15MPH which was either in our faces or crosswind all day.  There was only one rest stop today and that was at mile36.  They told us last night that we had to eat all of the fruit, as it is not allowed across the border.  I ate 2 bananas and had some peanut butter sandwich and salmon sandwich that Toronto Marks' wife had made for our stop today.  She was also at the rest stop when I arrived and I thanked her once again for all the homemade thing she had arranged for us on this leg and also in Casper when she visited Mark there.  As we were going down the road, she waived with her convertible top down as she went by. 

The road was busy with a very small shoulder for about 20 miles until we turned to the north for a short time and then back east and we were once again on small rural roads.  As we went on and got closer to town at about mile 52 we started to get into some nice downhills followed by uphills.  At mile 58 or 59 we hit 2 hills that read 17% on my gar min which was something we had not seen for along time.  Maybe they were getting us ready for the Vermont hills at are coming up.  Not sure but everyone survived and it was the main discussion at Rap as to how much each persons gar min showed as far as the % grade they saw.

We then started to get into the busy part of town with allot of traffic and may turns before we made a right hand turn at mile 70.7 and we went downhill and at the bottom of the hill were hundreds of tourists and we got our first look at the falls from the Canadian side.  The falls are really magnificent if you have not seen them before, (I had not).  We stopped and took pictures of the falls on the Canadian side, the falls on the American side and the bridge that goes across the river to the USA and New York, State.  After we took pictures of the bridge we went up the street that took you across the bridge and we fell in the line with the cars for the slow journey across the bridge and to the customs booths that we had to pass thru.  Rick and I went across the bridge together and when it was our turn to clear customs the agent was talking to 2 other agents in the booth next to them about what days off they had this week.  After they finished their discussion the agent looked at our passports and asked us about our trip, where we started, how many days and where we were ending. We were cleared and then we saw the New York State sign and once again it was time for a picture and then we went to the Hotel.  We are staying right downtown in Niagara Falls and within walking distance to everything.  This will be very handy as we have our last rest day of the trip and we can all do the tourist things tomorrow.

I did my laundry when I got a shower so tomorrow is all for relaxation and seeing the sites.  After the rest day it is back to the bike and we move east to Henrietta, NY.