Thursday, September 3, 2009
From June 7 to July 28, 2009, Bob Horn cycled 4,000 miles from San Francisco, CA to Portsmouth, NH with America By Bicycle and about 24 other riders. Here is a video recap of his journey spanning 14 states, 52 days, five flat tires, and one amazing summer!
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
The morning looked wet. In fact, I had my first phone call at 7:30AM from someone bailing on today's ride. But, it wasn't raining yet, so I took off to meet whoever would show up for our Saturday morning ride. The parking lot was empty. Until Warren arrived.
So, today's ride would just be the two of us. Which actually, was alright with me. I enjoyed chatting with "War" as we rode through Bothell and onto the Sammamish River Trail through Woodinville and Redmond. I had checked the weather on my iPhone back at the church parking lot and saw that all the rain had already moved through our region and was heading southwest. So, by the radar's indications, we would be mostly dry today.
The trail wasn't too busy, just early morning walkers and runners. When we reached Woodinville, we encountered a high school boys' cross-country team out for their morning training run. We pressed on through Redmond by the I-520 interchange and were met by very large, red signs reading "BIKERS MUST DISMOUNT." So, we stopped, got off our bikes, walked a couple steps, then got back on and rode through the rest of the construction area. Problem was, the sign didn't indicate for HOW LONG bikers needed to dismount... Really, they should clarify these kinds of things.
At Marymoor Park, we got on the W. Lake Sammamish Road and began our easy ride around Lake Samm. We were cruising nicely, making good time around the lake. As we neared Vasa Park, a handful of young women were walking toward us. We moved out of the shoulder to give them room. Warren's wheel caught a groove in the pavement. He leaned left. I thought for sure he was going down. But he quickly jerked the bike back to the right, regained his balance, and pedaled on. Superior bike-handling skills. The girls just stared as this scene played out before them. Warren had avoided disaster and certainly avoided giving these young ladies a story to tell about "the bike-rider guy who, like, totally crashed this morning..."
As we neared Issaquah, I saw a number of cars exiting Lake Sammamish State Park with road bikes on car roof carriers. As I got closer, I saw each bike had a race number mounted on the frame and that many of the bikes were high-end TT or Tri bikes. Ah, this was the Issaquah Triathlon. We rode past the entrance to the park and saw a couple of runners completing the course. Behind them was a white pickup truck and a race organizer retrieving orange pylon cones and placing them in the truck.
"Wow," I commented to Warren. "That has to be discouraging. You're completing the course as the cones are being picked up and the finishers ahead of you are driving out of the park..." It reminded me of a friend of mine who ran a marathon last year. He raced it in just over six hours. The race organizers allowed traffic back onto the course after five and half hours. Again, discouraging... having to dodge cars after running for half a day.
We stopped for our mid-ride break at the Issaquah Tully's. As we sipped our lattes outside the front door, we began to play a game: "Triathlete, Not a Triathlete." Various customers were parking in the lot, walking toward the front door, and strolling past our table. We observed that many of them were wearing running shoes, had black numbers on their calves, or were wearing red, white, and blue finisher medals around their neck. These were the triathletes. Then a very pregnant woman walked into the cafe. Not a triathlete. Then another fit gal with a Issaquah Triathlon t-shirt. Triathlete. Then a morbidly obese man with an NFL t-shirt. Very much NOT a triathlete. Thus, a new game for the morning. A friend of mine later commented that this was a lot like the game she played, "Hairpiece, Not a Hairpiece."
After coffee, we resumed our ride and continued on E. Lake Sammamish Road. The weather was improving and now we even had occasional sunbreaks. The view of the lake from this side of Lake Sammamish is always so attractive. We reached Marymoor Park again and took the new Marymoor Connector trail through the park, reconnecting with the Sammamish River Trail and the end of our route.
Y'know, I really could be a triathlete. I'd be willing to give it a try. I actually don't mind running, in fact, plan to get back to running a few 5Ks in the year ahead, maybe even a half-marathon. I'm not much of a swimmer, but I could learn how to fight through an open-water swim. I think my problem would actually be the cycling... "What?" you say, "You're an awesome cyclist! You rode across the freaking country!" Yes. That's the problem. These triathlons usually have short distances for the cycling leg: 12.4 miles for a Sprint Triathlon and 24.8 miles for an Olympic Distance Tri. I'm just barely getting started after such a short ride! I'd never get to the transition for the run...
I'd still be out on my bike.
Saturday, August 15, 2009
"There's no place like home, there's no place like home..." —Dorothy, Wizard of Oz
Today, I was finally riding again in Washington. On July 28, I had dropped my road bike off at Bicycle Bob's Bicycle Outlet in Portsmouth, NH. My hope was that I would see my bike again shortly after I returned to Seattle on August 1. It finally arrived on my doorstep on Friday, August 14. As I unboxed it, began assembling it and then put the finishing touches on it in our living room, my 11-year old daughter, Bethany, said, "Is it good to have your best friend home again?" I laughed out loud. I assured her that her mother was my best friend, but I agreed that it was very good to have my steel companion back under my roof.
On Saturday morning, after repairing the flat rear tire (the only real damage from the shipment), I mounted my steed and rode into our cul-de-sac on my way to Eastside Foursquare Church to meet our riding club. After two weeks of riding my 50 lb. Costco-special, beater mountain bike, I was amazed at my speed. I soared. It was refreshing to be back in the saddle.
At Eastside, I met up with Warren, Mike, Jim—our EFC Cycling Club regulars—as well as Tyler and Barbara, a couple from further south who rode with us years ago a few times. They were all aware of my 4000 mile ride across the United States, so there were plenty of handshakes, congratulations, and warm welcomes. I shared a devotional based on my "five take-aways" mentioned in my blog from July 28. We had a good time talking about giving God our dreams, seeing Him fulfill our heart's desires, and daring to dream big. After our group prayer, we hit the road.
We descended down Waynita Way to the Burke-Gilman Trail in downtown Bothell and turned east. We spent the morning catching up with each other. I shared stories from my summer adventure, but I also asked the others guys and gal about their summer. We rode past UW Bothell's campus and continued north towards Mill Creek where we met up with Gary who was waiting for us. We turned onto Seattle Hill Road amid a road crew and a few yards of construction. Mike was worried about riding over the steel plates. I chuckled and began to share with Mike how all my inhibitions about cycling on subpar road surfaces had vanished. Over our 4000 miles, we had cycled over everything... gravel, hard pack dirt, steel plates, cavernous pits, horrific potholes, ripped up asphalt... not much intimidated me now.
We paused at the Seattle Hill Road Starbucks for a restroom break and then dropped down one of the best downhills in Snohomish County. The sweeping descent to Lowell-Larimer Road is fast, curvy, and a downright thrill. It brought back memories of several of the great downhills from this summer... Donner Pass into Truckee, CA; Mount Rose into Sparks, NV; or racing down Monarch Pass into Salida, CO. But it was over too soon. No eight mile descents today. We turned west and rode through the Snohomish Valley amid dairies and farmland.
This flat section of roadway gave a couple of the guys the incentive to hit the gas. They passed me while I was conversing with Mike and Barbara. After getting passed a third time, I thought maybe it was time to play. I geared down and punched forward... 24, 25, 28, 29 mph. I flew past Gary, Jim and then Warren. As I eased up, Jim flew past me. When I caught back up to him later, he commented, "Well, I had my dream for today fulfilled... I gave you some Linda Ronstadt... when I "blew by you!"
We rode west through Everett and began climbing up E. Mukilteo Blvd. through Forest Park. This is really a beautiful section of roadway. The tall shade trees and forest create sun-speckled pavement. The road is lined with bright red, pink, and white flowered gardens. Overhead is a curving pedestrian bridge. The climb is short but steep and then followed by another sweeping descent that ends with views of Port Gardner and Possession Sound.
As we continued west along W. Mukilteo Blvd., I was thinking about how much I love cycling in the Northwest. After 4000 miles of exploring our nation, I'm still content that the Northwest is the best place to ride. Already this morning, we had ridden along bike paths, neighborhoods, farm country, city, and waterfront. Our region has so much to offer... We stopped at Harborview Park for a group photo and then finished the remaining mile or two to reach our mid-morning destination: Whidbey Coffee Co.
This eclectic coffee shop is positioned high above the Mukilteo waterfront with outdoor seating and cozy window tables. I ordered a white mocha and—of course—a cinnamon roll the size of a small child. Over coffee, I enjoyed spinning more tales of my summer ride. My friends obliged me by adding their laughter and questions. As much as I enjoy sharing my adventure, I hope that it instills in those I ride with a desire to experience their own dreams...
After our coffee stop, we returned through Mukilteo and then turned south near Paine Field and onto Casino Road. Mike shared with us—since he has offices near here—that this neighborhood has been plagued with a lot of gang violence lately. The Snohomish County Regional Gang Group has a document online that identifies a number of these gangs such as "MS13"—MS stands for Mara Salvatrucha and refers to large gangs in Central America and the United States. These gangs are composed mostly of Salvadorans, Guatemalans, Hondurans, and other Central Americans and subdivide into cliques, or factions. Another known gang in the area is “Asian Bloods (AB),” listed in this same document as "an Asian Blood set from the Casino Road area." I could tell from the people we passed at one intersection that they were conditioned to keep their heads down, eyes lowered, and not make contact with anyone else on the street. We didn't hang around very long, either.
We headed south along the Interurban bike path and crossed I-5 on a new bike and pedestrian bridge. This new bridge bypasses 128th Street SE, which has always been a busy overpass. It was refreshing to have this new bridge at our disposal. We continued on the Interurban down to Martha Lake and then took some side streets into Bothell and Briar. I had one more big challenge ahead for our group...
On the Briar/Bothell border, there is a looming climb named 228th Street SW. It's one of the hardest climbs in a local ride called "Summits of Bothell (S.O.B.)." I smiled as I told the group to turn left and begin climbing. I jumped out of the saddle and put some distance between me and the group. But halfway up, the hill was beginning to get the better of me. I sat back, geared down further, and breathed harder. At the top, I turned around to take photos of the riders behind me and give them some encouragement. Tyler was first up with Jim right behind him. Having both done the Courage Classic (172 miles and three Cascade Mountain summits over three days that took place two weeks ago), they were both well-conditioned for a stiff climb.
We rolled quickly down Meridian Ave. S into Kenmore. At the bottom, we noticed the new digs for Bothell Ski & Bike, our local bike shop that moved this year to be closer to the Burke-Gilman Trail. We crossed Bothell Way and got on the BG Trail once again for the last two miles back to the church. This section of the trail was recently redesigned and now features new pavement, tall cement walls, and landscaping along the trail. The trail was busy with other cyclists, pedestrians, joggers, and families. It was great to see so many others out enjoying our region. After cycling through towns and cities where we were the only people on bikes—and sometimes the only people as far as the eye could see—I was pleased to see so many others enjoying this sport with me.
Our last and final climb was back up Waynita Way. As I climbed up, I remembered the first time I climbed this road on the bike beneath me. I purchased it in 2003 and recall soaring up this hill with such a light bike compared to my old one. It was even easier today. And Jim was right on my tail. Not bad at all for a 60+ guy that just started cycling not so many years ago and has lost 15 pounds this year. I congratulated him when we pulled into the parking lot and then shook hands with my other friends when they reached us a moment later. I mentioned over coffee earlier that morning that the familiar song is true... "Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver, but the other is gold." I'm grateful for those I've met on my cross-country adventure, but I'm more thankful for my cycling buddies here at home... After all, there's no place like home.
For more photos from today's ride, visit http://gallery.me.com/eternaldesign2#100616.
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
"O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
God shed his grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!"
—America the Beautiful, words by Katharine Lee Bates, 1895
Today we reached the Atlantic Ocean. Our journey that began 52 days ago on June 7 is now complete. I have bicycled across the entire length of the United Sates of America.
Our morning began with an energy and excitement you would expect on the final day of a adventure like this. Everyone was wearing their America by Bicycle jerseys, so the hotel was awash in red, white, and blue. Cameras were already snapping with great regularity during our load out. Everyone left the hotel with their favored group of cycling buddies. I was no different. I gathered with Leigh Pate (Seattle), Chuck Tobey (Miami), Chris Zeidner (Columbus), and Hans Diethelm (Lucerne, Switzerland). We had dubbed our group, "Team A.L.L.: Always Leaves Last." Today that was absolutely the truth.
Chuck took the front of the line and led us out of the hotel... and promptly in the wrong direction. About seven tenths of a mile down the road, we realized our error, check the cue sheet, and turned around. We rode back to the hotel and corrected our wrong turn. Chris and I were actually giddy about the wrong turn. It made for an extra mile and a half. I was out to hit 4000 miles today and every extra mile would aid that goal. And besides, my motto is, "More miles, better stories!"
Our ride was at first along fairly busy streets with drivers and bicycle commuters headed for work. It was odd thinking about the significance of our ride that morning with countless others around us completely unaware. As we left the suburbs of Manchester and were further out in the country, we reached Lake Massabesic. It was worth stopping for a few photos and enjoying the view of the boats on the water in the early morning.
The roadway ahead was flooded. It was a suitable ending to a ride with adventurous road hazards and closures. We smiled as we rode through the inch-deep water. I think Chris turned around to ride through it a second time. As we climbed the hill after the flood, we spotted a group of cyclists and staff on the left. We pulled over to join them and were handed strands of Mardi Gras beads to wear as we rode. Great. I've never been a fan of necklaces on men, but I played along. Judy and Gerard, our staff riders this day, joined our entourage.
One would think that with two staff members riding along, you wouldn't have any more missed turns. Not so. We missed one more and after comparing notes and calling the two van drivers, we turned around and headed in the right direction. Our ride was quiet, perhaps introspective, as we individually considered the culmination of this life-long goal. The route was once again beautiful. We travelled under tall shade trees, past farms with bright, red barns, through small towns with brilliant white steeples reaching into the azure blue sky. I prayed several prayers of thanksgiving to God for His mercy and grace to give me 52 days of strength, health, energy, protection, and care for my family at home. I am blessed.
We arrived at the one and final SAG stop for our journey. For me, it was bittersweet. This would be the last time I would see that silver van and trailer parked with a table waiting full of snacks and fruit. This would be the last time I would remove my sweaty helmet and gloves, wash up, check my name on the sign-in sheet, and refill my water bottles. This would be the last time I would chat casually with the other riders about the miles we had just ridden. The last time, that is, until the next time... More about that later.
As we rode on, we reached the small, historic town of Exeter. The staff had told us we had an extra 15 minutes before we needed to be at Rye Junior High School, 12 miles up the road, to gather for the group photo and ride to the beach. We decided to stop at a cafe for one last time and savor the moment. We savored a little too long and when we checked the time, we realized we had about 40 minutes to ride those 12 miles. We would have to boogie.
In a way, it was fun to ride fast for one last time with my friends. We raced closer and closer to the coast. We pulled up behind two other riders and noticed it was Carole and her friend Dr. Dave who rode with us from San Francisco to Salt Lake City. We thought it would be appropriate to let Carole lead us in to the school. She had been struggling a little and knew she was late, so our presence boosted her spirits and she told us so.
We got to the school and everyone was already posed for the group photo. We dropped our bikes and ran into position. About 25 cameras later, and one "official" photo, we got up, remounted our bikes, and got in place. A police cruiser was in front and would lead us for the four mile ride to Wallis Sands State Beach. As soon as he turned on his lights and siren, shouts and claps went up from our peloton. Everyone had their cameras out as we rode slowly toward the seacoast.
My heart was doing jumping jacks with excitement. I wasn't alone. Everyone was smiling, congratulating each other, and reveling in the moment. Motorists pulled to the side of the road for us. Pedestrians stopped and gawked. Local residents stood on their driveways and applauded. We neared the beach and suddenly I saw what I had waited 52 days to see... the Atlantic Ocean! I was suddenly overwhelmed with emotion—gratitude, joy, and excitement. I could feel the cool Atlantic air and smell the salt. The blue coastal waters declared, "You did it!"
The beach was absolutely packed. Beach goers walking to the beach waved, clapped, or stared in confusion at this parade of patriotic-colored cyclists. We passed the long line of motorists waiting to enter the park, and rode right in. A throng of people was ahead, with signs and banners, all looking in our direction. It was our family and friends. I looked for Susie and the kids and spotted them. Bethany was holding a sign reading, "CONGRATS! WE LOVE YOU!" When I stopped, she turned it around to reveal, "CAN WE GO HOME NOW?"
We walked to the sidewalk at the top of the beach where I was handed my celebratory drink: an iced Starbucks white mocha with Toffee Nut. Perfect. I removed my helmet, shoes, socks, and gloves, and we walked across the stretch of beach packed to the gills with sunbathers and families. At the water's edge, all of the cyclists and their families were busy taking photos, hugging, kissing, and most importantly, dipping our front tires into the cool waters of the Atlantic Ocean. The Cross Country Challenge was complete. My Ride for Impact was finished. I absorbed the moment, watching my friends with their families, taking photos, drinking in the scene.
We eventually made our way back to the sidewalk where we had left my shoes and other gear. Susie and the kids were going to meet her old high school friend and her kids at a pizza place in Portsmouth while I rode the final miles into Portsmouth on my own. We shared some ice cream then parted ways. It was refreshing to ride these final miles on my own. I was reflecting on the day and the journey and just enjoying the view of the ocean, still amazed at all that had just transpired.
I rode along the coast for a mile or two, then turned inland through tide flats and forest, before reaching the outlying communities around Portsmouth. I found the "Welcome to Portsmouth" sign and took a final destination-city photo. But, I wasn't done yet. The Maine border was only a few miles north of me. We had been given route directions to reach Maine if we wanted to cross into one more state. I did. I walked across the bridge crossing the Piscataqua River connecting Portsmouth, NH with Kittery, Maine. A sign at the far end announced, "STATE LINE - KITTERY MAINE." I looked at my odometer. I had cycled 3,991 miles since June 7. I had to hit 4,000. I rode out to Kittery Point and added another six miles.
The Atlantic air was cool and refreshing. I could have stayed hours and soaked it all in. But, I had to be back at the hotel by 3:00 p.m. to take my bike to a local bike shop for shipping home. It was about 2:30. I retraced my path across the bridge, rode through the historic downtown of Portsmouth and continued out toward our hotel. I had missed a turn (that added an extra mile to my tally), and when I got to our hotel it was 2:45 and I had 3,998 miles. I spoke with Judy. She told me to go find a mile and then come back. The van to the bike shop would wait. I raced around the neighborhood, watching my odometer intently... 3,999... and then, there it was... 4,000. I took a photo. Then I returned to the hotel. Loaded the bike on the van and headed to, of all placed, Bicycle Bob's Bicycle Outlet. What a coincidence. My trusty steed would now be boxed and sent home. I would meet my family and drive to Boston and then New York City for a relaxing four days sightseeing before we flew home to Seattle.
Many have asked in a variety of ways what this trip has meant to me or what I have learned, enjoyed most, or will take away from it all. If you've read this far into the blog, you won't mind reading further. Here are my take-aways. The thoughts that are at the top of my mind upon the conclusion of this journey. I've been thinking about this list for several days. Here it is:
1. "It's about the journey, not the destination."—Whether on a vacation or in life, remember to take the road less traveled. In simplest terms, get off the Interstate. See the backroads and country routes that are the seams to this rich tapestry of our nation. Make time to look for the offbeat, unexpected, and serendipitous on your next travel.
2. "Be present in the moment."—Too many times over the last year, I had been impatient, hurrying to the next thing, worrying about the next task, unmindful of the moment before me. On this ride, I haven't had to focus on anything but the moment before me. It has been life-changing. Stop what you are doing. Look around and observe the people, notice the surrounding, drink in the environment, use all your senses and be aware of the time and place God has positioned you. Be present, fully present.
3. "Talk to people."—On this ride, I have had the great pleasure of meeting the most interesting people. If I were to do this ride again, I would talk to twice as many people. People are what God values most. And every person has a story. If you engage them, show that you are genuinely interested in them, and value them with the significance that God does, you'll be amazed at what you will learn. My pastor recently said, "Today I will assume the very best of people I meet; having the highest regard for them. If Jesus died for them, they must be amazing!" I couldn't agree more.
4. "Be proud of your country. Fly the flag."—I was amazed how many times and in how many cities I saw the stars and stripes proudly flown from front doors and flagpoles. In Seattle, I rarely see the American flag being flown. Across small towns and big cities in the West, the Plains, the Midwest, and New England, I saw the red, white, and blue flying high. The people that make up our nation are patriotic. They love America. Don't be fooled by what you see or read in the media that would suggest differently. I will put our flag outside our front door when I get home. I will fly it proudly, thankful for the freedom it represents.
5. "Dreams can and should be achieved. Do it now."—When I wrote down this goal of cycling across the United States, I was 32. I wanted to accomplish it before I turned 40. At 36, I decided if I meant it, I better start planning for it. A lot of effort, partnership, and timing went into fulfilling this goal. In many ways, the planning of this goal was as challenging as its fulfillment. My point is this: You have a dream. Turn it into a goal. Another pastor of mine (who I met in Auburn, CA on Day 3 of this journey) said long ago, "A goal is a dream with a deadline." Put a date on that dream and ask God to help you live it out. Too many people say, "Someday, when I'm retired, I'll do..." Truth is, that someday may never come. My father died at 44. I was 16 years old. I'm certain he had dreams that never came to pass. On this ride, I saw people in wheelchairs, on oxygen tanks, or in poor health. They may have dreamt of fulfilling an adventure like this, but poor health made it impossible. You only get one body. Take care of it. That's one reason why I wanted to do this now, at 39. I'm in the best shape of my life now. And now, I can dream of doing this again—or doing something even more amazing!
A final word to everyone who has been reading my blog (whether daily, semi-regularly, or occasionally), to those who have been praying for me, sending encouraging texts, emails, or Facebook comments: THANK YOU! I cannot put into sufficient words how much your prayers, encouragement, and comments have meant to me. Sharing this adventure with you has made it all the more valuable and exciting. I am forever thankful for your support. And to those who have believed in the cause of this Ride for Impact and have been a financial supporter, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. You have helped me raise $10,110 for IMPACT Ministries. These funds will help the poorest of the poor in communities around the world with global relief and missions support that they need. Thank you for your incredible generosity. You are my heroes!
The Ride for Impact is now history. Go out and find your own ride for impact. Get started today. To quote Phil Keoghan from TV's The Amazing Race, "The world is waiting..."
For more photos from today's ride, visit http://gallery.me.com/eternaldesign2#100585
For more about the Ride for Impact and to make your final donation, please visit http://www.rideforimpact.org
Cumulative Miles: 4,000
Cumulative Flats: 5
Elev Gain: 2,555 ft.
Max Elev: 627 ft.
Avg Climb: 2%
Max Climb: 12%
Monday, July 27, 2009
1. next to the last: the penultimate scene of the play.
2. of or pertaining to a penult.
We entered New Hampshire today. 51 days ago, this day was so very far away. And now, it is here. Even better, my family was in New Hampshire today. I haven't seen my wife since Pueblo, CO on Day 20 and I haven't seen my kids, Kyle and Bethany, since June 6 when they took me to the airport! I had, in a word, motivation today!
I was the first to leave the hotel this morning. I have never been first to leave the hotel. As I rolled out of the parking lot, Chris called out, "Bob's on a mission today!" Well, in truth, I didn't plan to be out in front very long, but it was fun while it lasted. Within the first mile, we were at the New Hampshire state border. We all piled up taking out turns to get our photo. This one was special. It was our final state we would enter (at least officially, as tomorrow we have the opportunity to ride into Maine once we reach the shore of the Atlantic.) So, the photo required something special. I lifted it up over my head.
It's a good thing I did that early in the ride. Because the next 26 miles would suck the life out of me! New Hampshire is noted for not having the highest mountains, but rather for having the steepest roads. We would suffer on a few of them today. But first, we had some pleasant riding through Keene, NH. At the center of town is a tall, white church steeple. I would discover today that every town in New Hampshire has at its center a white church with a tall steeple. But, this one was particularly stunning.
Shortly after Keene, the suffering began, slowly at first, then building, like the crescendo in a musical score. Only the sounds I was hearing weren't musical by any means. They were the sound of my heart beating through my chest only slightly overcome by the sound of my lungs drawing in as much oxygen as they could find. Old Concord Road was first to beat on us for awhile, then the work was handed over to Sullivan Road. These roads are between 10 and 15% in grade. For you cyclists reading this, you know how steep that is. By the time I reached the end of Sullivan Road, I took a photo of the sign as a gesture to say, "You did not defeat me today!"
At the first SAG stop, it was 10 a.m. I had talked to Susie earlier in the morning when she was about a half hour outside of Manchester, NH. I estimated I would be at the second SAG stop in Francestown by Noon. Now I did the math. That was 35 miles away. I would have to average 17.5 mph for the next two hours to reach her in time. My average speed so far was... 12.0. I had my work cut out for me.
I would like to tell you what I saw over the next 35 miles. I took a few pictures. But primarily, I was hauling butt. I was cycling as fast as I could. The roads out of the SAG were downhill for a long section and I soared down them. We had to climb Pitcher's Mountain for about 6 miles. I stepped on the gas and climbed that silly mountain as fast as I could, sweat pouring down my helmet and onto my handlebars. I raced through the towns of Antrim and Bennington and Greenfield. By the time I pulled into Francestown, it was 12:20. My wife and kids had only been there for 10 minutes. Susie and Bethany were sitting under a tree when I pulled up and ran over to me. Kyle was asleep in the car. I had great joy in waking him up with, "Hey Kyle, wake up. It's your dad!" We kissed, hugged, (despite my sweatiness), and I proudly introduced my family to the other riders. Then we talked and ate while I caught my breath.
Susie and the kids drove to the hotel about an hour later and I resumed the ride, this time at a far more leisurely pace. So many of these towns are quaint, beautiful, they remind me of Port Gamble back on the Puget Sound at home. But whereas in Seattle, we only have a few towns this quaint, here, all of them are! The route was mostly wooded, with lush, green trees towering over our road. A stream followed us on the left for several miles. I could have easily stopped and sat in the middle of it for awhile. It looked that refreshing. As we pulled into Manchester, I looked to Leigh and Chuck who had been riding with me and asked if anyone was up for some ice cream before we reached the hotel. Nods all around.
We found an ice cream shop and gorged ourselves. One last time. Then I looked at the cue sheet and realized our hotel was two tenths of a mile away. We were done for the day. And what a penultimate day it was. Our evening was spent with a celebration barbecue dinner. Awards, humorous remarks, thanks and appreciation, and well wishes rounded out the evening. As I looked around the room, I vaguely recalled seeing these faces for the first time 51 days ago. They were strangers to me. Today, they are all friends. And friends I hope to stay in touch with, and preferably, ride with once again.
Tomorrow is our final day. We ride 61 miles to Portsmouth, NH and dip our front tire into the Atlantic Ocean. By noon on Tuesday, July 28, 2009, I will have completely bicycled across the entire length of the United States of America.
To view more photos from today's ride, visit http://gallery.me.com/eternaldesign2#100577
For more about the Ride for Impact, visit www.rideforimpact.org
Cumulative Miles: 3,926 (This ride was advertised as 3,850 miles. Through side-trips and extra miles, I've exceeded that. Now I plan to break 4,000 miles tomorrow!)
Cumulative Flats: 5 (Last one was in Colorado, I think!)
Elev Gain: 5,102 ft.
Max Elev: 1,953 ft.
Avg Climb: 3%
Max Climb: 15%
Sunday, July 26, 2009
"These green hills and silver waters
are my home. They belong to me.
And to all of her sons and daughters
May they be strong and forever free.
Let us live to protect her beauty
And look with pride on the golden dome
They say home is where the heart is
These green mountains are my home.
These green mountains are my home."
—These Green Mountains, State Song of Vermont
We left Latham, NY this morning thinking this would be a rainy day. It did rain, but not until we had logged nearly 70 miles of riding in perfect weather—sunny, warm, and wonderful. By mile four, I had removed my arm warmers. Some time later, I took off my vest. The day was shaping up to be great. We crossed the Hudson River as we entered Troy, NY just five miles away from Latham. We crossed the bridge over the Hudson quickly and traffic was busy, so a quick glance to the left and the right was all I had time for. Good think I'll get a better view when me and my family visit NYC later this week.
Troy—the home of Uncle Sam, as the sign states—is a larger city with tall, brick buildings. As we rode through the town and climbed up Rt. 7, the neighborhood was primarily lower income homes. As we rode further east, the homes appeared nicer and the surroundings less sketchy. Our first SAG stop was in East Hoosick at a gas station and Dunkin Donuts store. I took the opportunity to start the day with a frozen mocha and a blueberry donut. I made the point that this was more food I wouldn't be able to eat unless I'm riding 80+ miles. Man, it's going to be hard to change these habits developed over 52 days of cycling!
After the SAG stop, we reached the Vermont State border. While the "Welcome to Vermont" sign wasn't anything special, the state certainly was. Within a mile, I was already gazing to the south overlooking green rolling hills, picture perfect farms, and verdant pastures. The town of Bennington, VT was a few miles further. As we entered town, I saw Old First Church, a towering white church on the road leading into the town center. I stopped for a photo and noticed an arrow in the cemetery pointing toward Robert Frost's grave. Far be it for me to not take the road less traveled and not see Frost's grave. So, I walked through the cemetery, enjoying the eery feel of the place (wondering what it would be like on an October night) and found his grave.
As we rolled slowly through town, I was struck by the quaint downtown storefronts, but more interesting were the brightly decorated moose statues. Back in Seattle, we have a similar downtown decor with painted pigs and at Christmas, it's painted nutcrackers. So I took great delight in looking for as many mooses (meese?) I could find and snagging a photo of each. Our favorite was the one dressed as Capt. Jack Sparrow with a pirate theme. The multi-colored moose licking an ice-cream cone was also a fun one.
Now we began our climb up into the Green Mountains. The road wasn't as bad as I imagined. It was refreshing to be climbing again. The sun was out so the climb was hot. I was keeping my eyes open for a special intersection coming up. We were about to bisect the Appalachian Trail, generally known as the A.T. This trail begins in Georgia and runs all the way to Maine. Hikers will take six-months to hike the entire trail from start to finish—they're known as Thru-hikers. I spotted a pullout and saw some hikers gathered and then saw the sign. It was the A.T. I parked the bike, took a photo, then actually hiked a few feet into the woods just to make the claim that I had been on the A.T. I met the group of hikers, most of them were thru-hikers. One had started in Georgia. A few had begun in West Virginia. We talked about our journeys and shared mutual respect for each others' efforts. It's a rare breed—perhaps with an element of insanity thrown in—that can spend that many days on the road or trail.
The remainder of our climb was as scenic as you could hope for. The road followed a bubbling stream with occasional rapids. Homes and cottages dotted the shores of ponds and reservoirs. Snowmobile trails and ski resorts showed that this region would appear entirely different six months from now. We arrived in Wilmington, VT and took time for a lengthy lunch. The street was lined with touristy shops and galleries. The sign above the country store next the restaurant said it best, "Maple Syrup & Cheese and Things that say Vermont"!
After lunch we had one more climb to tackle: Hogback Mountain. This climb wasn't hard at all. I chatted with Gerard all the way up. Halfway through the climb, it occurred to me that six months ago, chatting on a climb would have been all but impossible. Now, it was second nature. The view from the top was stunning. Rolling green mountains as far as the eye could see. The descent was even better. We roared down the mountainside, rolling up and back down again.
Eventually, we arrived in Brattleboro. A covered bridge on the edge of town made a great stop for a series of photos. Then we rode into the center of town. I found a bike shop that was open and purchased their shop jersey, a water bottle, and some cycling grub for the last two days. I asked if they had a "I pedaled 3800 miles to get to your shop" discount. I was surprised when the clerk took 15% off.
Now I rode the final few miles to our hotel. The day was late and I could have easily spent several hours walking around Brattleboro. I decided that I had a new state to add to my list of favorite states: Vermont!
Tomorrow, we'll ride 84 miles to Manchester, NH. We'll enter our 13th state and the state of our final destination: New Hampshire! Best of all, my wife, Susie, and my kids, Kyle and Bethany, will meet me en route and spend the evening with us at the farewell dinner tomorrow evening. I haven't seen Susie since Pueblo, CO back on June 26 and I haven't seen my kids since June 6 when they took me to the airport! I plan to ride fast tomorrow afternoon when I hear they are in Manchester!
To view all the photos from today's ride, visit http://gallery.me.com/eternaldesign2#100562
To learn more about the Ride for Impact and make your donation before this ride ends, visit http://www.rideforimpact.org
Cumulative Miles: 3,839
Cumulative Flats: 5
Elev Gain: 4,999 ft.
Max Elev: 2,485 ft.
Avg Climb: 3%
Max Climb: 10%
Saturday, July 25, 2009
"Low bridge, everybody down
Low bridge for we're coming to a town
And you'll always know your neighbor
And you'll always know your pal
If you've ever navigated on the Erie Canal"
—Fifteen Miles on the Erie Canal written in 1905 by Thomas S. Allen
Today's route from Little Falls, NY to Latham, NY was almost entirely along the Erie Canal. The Erie Canal was opened October 26, 1825. Today, it extends 340 miles across the state of New York from Troy on the Hudson River on the east to Tonawanda and Buffalo on the Niagara River. In 1903, the Erie Canal was enlarged by adding three branches to it, thus creating the Barge Canal System. There are 57 locks on the Barge Canal. The lifts of the locks vary from 6 feet to 40.5 feet. In Little Falls, the evening we arrived in town, Chuck and I investigated Lock 17. This lock's lift of 40.5 feet is a greater lift than any single lock on the Panama Canal. It uses a guillotine gate on the downstream end of the lock rather than moveable doors like our Hiram Chittenden Locks in Ballard north of Seattle.
As we left Little Falls, we were in a world of fog. Heavy mist clouded our sunglasses and moistened our faces. Looking to our right, we saw a few trees and then nothing but white space. Looking up ahead on the roadway, we could see a cyclist 100 yards ahead but that was all. After a few miles, the fog lifted and the sun came out. The sun would stay with us all day, baking us in it's sorely missed rays. I reveled in the sunshine today. It was good to have it back.
Our first stop was at the historic Fort Klock, built in 1750. This fortified homestead was the home of Johannes Klock and the Battle of Klock's Field on October 19, 1780 was a battle in the Revolutionary War. The homestead wasn't yet open but it was interesting to walk around the building and peek into the windows.
As we left Fort Klock, we were passed by two Amish horse and buggies. The second one was quite a sight. The riders had attached a long canoe to the roof of the carriage. I guess even the Amish like to hit the streams once in awhile! The scenery was varied, but always attractive. We were cycling through small villages, past farms and homes, and past forests and woodlands. As we rose up above the valley, we had some amazing views of the rolling New York hills and forests. I could tell we were beginning to touch Adirondack terrain when we saw some rocky cliffs and outcroppings. The Adirondacks were out of our reach today, however, as they are several miles north of us. We passed the Beech-Nut baby food and chewing gum factory in Canajoharie, NY. This gleaming white factory on the Mohawk River has been there for 118 years, but just this year production was moved to a state-of-the-art new production plant 20 miles east.
Another interesting stop today was at the Kateri Shrine and Indian Museum. Kateri Tekakwitha lived from 1656 to 1680 and was the daughter of a Mohawk warrior and a Catholic Algonquin woman. She received Christ and was baptized on Easter Sunday at the age of 20. Four years later, she died. Her last words were, "Jesus, I love you!" The shrine is a memorial to her. Native American Catholics venerate her and she is currently in the canonization process for sainthood. A pamphlet included a prayer you can pray for her canonization to become a saint. Hers is an interesting story, yet the particulars of Catholic worship and veneration of saints stands in contrast to my Protestant and spirit-filled Christian faith.
After our first SAG stop, we rode along a portion of the Mohawk-Hudson Bike Path that paralleled the Mohawk River. The Mohawk is one of several rivers that have been "canalized." The old canal that original was parallel to the Mohawk has been abandoned and the Mohawk has been made into the canal. This process involved dredging channels to assure a consistent depth and building dams to maintain a fixed water elevation above the stream beds. The bike path had great views of the river. We passed Locks 8 and 9, both much smaller lock than Lock 17 in Little Falls. As we neared our second SAG stop, we skirted the city of Schenectady, NY, then crossed into Scotia.
In Scotia, we stopped at the Jumpin' Jack's Drive-In. Having been to three drive-ins over the last two weeks (White Turkey in Conneaut, OH; Ted Wahl's in Avon, NY; and Jumpin' Jack's in Scotia, NY), I decided this one wasn't nearly as good as the other two. Who would have thought that I would be a connoisseur of drive-ins after 52 days of cycling across the U.S.? We rejoined the bike path and now had some beautiful scenery to bike through. The shady trees, views of the river, rolling hills, business parks and neighborhoods, were just part of the scenes that whipped past us.
Soon we left the bike path, climbed up out of the river valley, and into Latham. After a filling dinner, we enjoyed a great time at our T-shirt swap. It's something like a white elephant gift exchange, but with t-shirts. There was the usual stealing, trading, and good-natured ribbing. In the end, I got the shirt I wanted—one from the aforementioned White Turkey Drive-In in Conneaut, OH!
Tomorrow, we will leave New York and enter our 12th state—Vermont! We will also once again—and for the last time—be in the mountains: the Green Mountains of Vermont. We will cross the Appalachian Trail. (All you hikers out there know about this one. The Appalachian National Scenic Trail, generally known as the A.T., is a marked hiking trail in the eastern United States, extending between Springer Mountain in Georgia and Mount Katahdin in Maine. It is approximately 2,175 miles long.) We'll also be in some very scenic, touristy areas of Vermont. I'm ready for some climbing and some scenic riding! On Monday, I'll finally meet up with my family—my wife, Susie, and my kids, Kyle and Bethany. They've spent the day enjoying roller coasters and water park rides at Hershey Park in Hershey, PA.
For more photos from today's ride, visit http://gallery.me.com/eternaldesign2#100552
For more about the Ride for Impact, visit http://www.rideforimpact.org
Cumulative Miles: 3,758 ft.
Elev Gain: 1,980 ft.
Max Elev: 614 ft.
Avg Climb: 2%
Max Climb: 10%
Friday, July 24, 2009
"Focus on the journey, not the destination. Joy is found not in finishing an activity but in doing it." — Greg Anderson
"Two roads diverged in a wood, and I— I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference."—Robert Frost
I will begin today's story in the middle. You'll soon see why. But, today clearly—emphatically—demonstrated both of the quotes above. Our route was 79 miles from Liverpool, NY to Little Falls, NY. About mile 45, I was in Westmoreland, NY, a small town about a mile from Interstate 90, but not on the Interstate at all. I had stopped at a Sunoco gas station to use the restroom and possibly get some coffee. Before I decided, I thought, "Maybe there's a quaint cafe further down the street. That would be way better than gas station coffee." I pulled out my iPhone and used Google Maps. I searched on "cafe." Up popped a Starbucks. It was only a half mile up the road, but off course. I wouldn't usually choose a Starbucks over a local cafe—in fact, I've learned on this ride to always choose the local establishments. Go where the locals go. Skip the fast food chains. Favor the mom-and-pop shops. But, I also have learned to be curious. Always ask questions, explore, dig, find the unusual. This Starbucks didn't fit the lay of the land. I was curious why there would be a Starbucks in a tiny town like Westmoreland, NY.
I rode the half mile where the map indicated and reached an overpass straddling I-90. I looked all around. I saw an old hotel. I saw some homes. I saw no Starbucks. I called the phone number. The girl who answered said the Starbucks was located in Westmoreland and asked where I was. "Westmoreland," I said. I explained what road I was on. She said, "Oh, do you see the Carriage Motor Inn? We have an access road right across the street. Are you making a delivery?" I had no clue what she was talking about, but I saw the hotel. I said that I was just looking for their store. She assured me there was one there. I found the access road and then it began to dawn on me where I was going. I rode about a quarter of a mile and found the back entrance to an I-90 Travel Plaza. A fence and gate had a sign that read, "THIS ENTRANCE FOR EMPLOYEES & PERSONS ON OFFICIAL BUSINESS ONLY. NOT TO BE USED BY PATRONS." Well, I rode through that gate anyway and found the front of the plaza.
I parked the bike out front, walked in and was surrounded by Interstate travelers enjoying the amenities of the Travel Plaza. There was the Starbucks I sought. There was a Sbarro restaurant, a Burger King, a Travel Mart with New York knick knacks a plenty, a sunglasses and travel accessories store, restrooms, and even a couple of information kiosks with history and details about the local area, so you could be informed on what you were missing if you chose not to stop. And then it occurred to me. As I sipped my white chocolate mocha with toffee nut flavoring prepared to specific Starbucks standards, I realized that for the past 48 days, I have seen more of the United States than any Interstate traveler would ever hope to see. Even the last 45 miles, I had seen and experienced more of upstate New York than these travelers would experience all week. They will fill their bellies, return to their cars, step on the gas, and drive by the most amazing scenery, towns, and sights at 75 miles per hour and not see a thing.
I decided at that moment, that when I'm traveling for pleasure and want to really experience where I'm going, I will get off the Interstate and find the State Routes, the County Roads, and the two-lane highways. That is where you see the world around you. Now, here's what I would have missed today if I had chosen to drive on the Interstate instead of riding a bicycle.
I passed quiet century-old homes sitting on the banks of backyard streams. I rode through the Syracuse, but in neighborhoods most visitors will never visit. At our first support stop in Canestota, NY, I saw another section of the Erie Canal. In the center of Canestota, I found a small memorial park remembering the men and women lost in 9/11. It featured a small section of I-beam pulled from the wreckage of the Twin Towers. The engravings on the stone in front of the I-beam were moving and gave me pause that a small town in New York would make such a lasting memorial to those lost on that fateful day.
Further on, I passed "Cross Island Chapel—The World's Smallest Church" in Oneida, NY. It is 28.68 square feet and seats two. It's located on a tiny island in the middle of an algae-covered pond. There's even a small rowboat available to take you to the island. The church is available for "special occasions and meditation." It would be too small for a wedding, but my British roommate, Sean, remarked, "But, you could have a lonely funeral."
About six miles from Little Falls, I rode into Herkimer, NY. I was hungry for pizza. I passed a Pizza Hut, but I was looking for the local place. I found it on Mohawk St. —"Yetty's Pizza." Opened in the 50s, it's a comfortable mom-and-pop owned pizza joint. It was almost two, but a late lunch crowd was still eating. I found a table, placed my order, and enjoyed a great personal pizza with extra cheese, pepperoni, and homemade sausage. It was New York pizza, cut in the traditional criss-cross manner. As I was eating, I met Renee, a waitress there. We talked about my ride and she mentioned having been invited to do a local charity ride for missing and exploited children—a cause she is passionate about. She's never done the ride, but felt inspired to after talking with me about my Ride for Impact. I shared with her that I thought about doing this ride six years ago, but it was only three years ago that I really got serious about it. My friend, Pastor Don, (who I saw way back on Day 3) once told me, "A goal is a dream with a deadline." I encourage her to take that charity ride. Write it down. Set that goal. Fulfill those dreams now. I was glad I stopped in for pizza and found the road less traveled by. It reminds me of another thing I've learned on this ride, "Everyone has a story—You just have to ask the right questions to learn what it is."
The remaining six miles into Little Falls was quick but pleasant. When I got to my hotel, I found my roommate Sean asleep. He woke up to tell me that from mile 40 to the hotel was a full downpour. He didn't believe me that I wasn't wet. He and two others arrived at the hotel first. I guess that's another benefit of focusing on the journey and not the destination—you might avoid the rain!
Tomorrow's ride to Latham, NY will be 76 miles. We'll ride mainly along the Erie Canal. The weather looks promising—mid 80s and partly cloudy. We cherish each day's ride, but these last four should be extra special.
For those wondering what my wife and kids—Susie, Kyle, and Bethany—are doing, they arrived in Philadelphia this morning taking a red-eye from Seattle. The toured the Philadelphia Mint, saw the Liberty Bell, and rented a car to drive through Lancaster, PA, where they stopped at some of the Amish stores, and arrived at their hotel in Hershey, PA this afternoon. They plan to hit HersheyPark tonight and all day tomorrow. They're going to have a ton of fun!
For more photos from today's ride, visit http://gallery.me.com/eternaldesign2#100537
For more about the Ride for Impact, visit http://www.rideforimpact.org
Cumulative Miles: 3,681
Cumulative Flats: 5
Elev Gain: 1,714 ft.
Max Elev: 837 ft.
Avg Climb: 2%
Max Climb: 9%
Thursday, July 23, 2009
I was worried. I looked out our hotel window this morning and saw rain. Lots of it. The day had the markings of a repeat the ride from Erie, PA to Hamburg, NY just a few days ago. A royal soaking. I gathered all my rain gear: rain jacket, insulated booties, arm warmers, leg warmers, long-fingered gloves. I was dressed for a downpour. Thankfully, I wouldn't need most of it.
After our breakfast at Denny's a block away, we walked outside to find the rain had stopped. The roads were wet, but the spray and splashes were merely a nuisance. It was looking hopeful. By mile 12, the rain had stopped completely and I saw a silver lining in the clouds. I planned to ride easy today and see whatever sights along the way that seemed interesting. There would be plenty.
In Geneva, I took time to ride out to the end of Long Pier on Seneca Lake, one of New York's Finger Lakes. The clouds made the lake look cold, but I could tell this would be a pleasant place to spend a hot summer's day. Nearby, I passed an ice cream shop. It was too early to stop, but I turned around to take a photo. It was "Peppy's Ice Cream." That's significant because one of my good friends and co-worker in Bothell, WA is Chris Peppler, AKA "Peppy." Who knew he owned an ice cream shop in upstate New York.
In Waterloo, NY, I learned that this town is the birthplace of Memorial Day—formerly known as Decoration Day. I even rode past the "Memorial Day Museum." Waterloo, New York was credited with being the place of origin because it observed the day on May 5, 1866, and each year thereafter.
Shortly after Waterloo, we entered Seneca Falls, NY—the birthplace of the Women's Rights Movement in 1848 on the site of the Wesleyan Chapel. Next door to the remains of the chapel, is the Women's Rights National Historical Park & Vistors Center. We toured both the chapel and the visitors center as well as attended a brief presentation by a National Park Service Ranger. What surprised me most was how the Women's Rights movement was born out of the Abolition and Temperance movements but even more so, was how the Second Great Awakening and Christian revivalist Charles Finney had an impact. Finney preached that men and women are equal before God and that women can and should interpret Scripture for themselves. Two points that I am in complete agreement with. I left feeling very thankful for being a part of a denomination that values and promotes women in ministry, was started by a woman—Aimee Semple McPherson, and currently has a number of called and gifted female pastors on our own church staff—any one of whom I would willingly follow.
After Seneca Falls, we reached our SAG stop and I finally removed my remaining rain gear and left it in the van. I wouldn't need it for the rest of the day. I rode alone for the next stretch and enjoyed a chance to stop whenever I liked. I saw some scenic but small waterfalls in Throop, NY and then found a great place for ice cream in Elbridge, NY. Actually, Tom, Alex, and Hans had already found it. But, I was happy to drop in and join them. I ordered "Lobster Tracks" flavor ice cream, largely due to the name. But, it was a tasty blend of caramel, chocolate, and vanilla. I think it was the Maine equivalent of Moose Tracks.
After Elbridge, we came to Camillus and entered the Erie Canal Park. After looking around the museum and store within the park, two helpful ladies suggested to Hans and me that we ride about a mile down the Canal Pathway and see the newly constructed Aqueduct. An aqueduct is essentially a water-filled bridge designed to carry a waterway over a ravine or river. The ride on the former canal towpath was wooded, quiet, and idyllic. At the aqueduct, which was almost complete, the canal was flowing several feet above Nine Mile Creek. We continued on the pathway, resumed our route, and rode through the outskirts of Syracuse to Liverpool. On the way, I passed Armstrong Road. I smiled thinking of how Lance was currently doing in the Tour de France—and how I've cycled about the same number of miles he has this month.
In Liverpool, I made a stop in town at a local barber shop. I needed a haircut and the local barber was the right choice. Dave, the barber, was suitably impressed when I told him where I had ridden from. He gave a great old-school cut and told me it was guaranteed to make me faster. I'll find out tomorrow, because my ride was done just a few miles down the road when I found our hotel. But, I'll bet he's right.
Tomorrow, we ride 79 miles to Little Falls, NY. We wrapping up this ride very quickly. We have just five more days left until we arrive in Portsmouth, NH and dip our front tire in the Atlantic Ocean! My wife, Susie, and my kids, Kyle and Bethany, are flying from Seattle to Philadelphia tonight for a few days of touring on their own and then they'll see me in Manchester, NH the day before we finish. It will be great to both be in the same time zone. Even better to see them on Monday!
For more photos from today's ride, visit http://gallery.me.com/eternaldesign2#100512
For more about the Ride for Impact, visit http://www.rideforimpact.org
Cumulative Miles: 3,597
Cumulative Flats: 5
Elev Gain: 2,206 ft.
Max Elev: 1,002 ft.
Avg Climb: 2%
Max Climb: 9%
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
"Bicycle bicycle bicycle
I want to ride my bicycle bicycle bicycle
I want to ride my bicycle
I want to ride my bike
I want to ride my bicycle
I want to ride it where I like " — Bicycle Race, Queen
What a difference a day makes. Yesterday's drenching is yesterday's news. Today looked very promising. Sunlight was shining through the hotel windows during breakfast. It was a pleasure to once again ride my bicycle. And, with less than a week left to our Cross Country Challenge, I'm making sure I relish every moment. Today's first stop was a fun one. About 8 miles into our route, we stopped at the Pedaling History Museum in Orchard Park, NY. Carl Burgwardt, the owner and museum historian, gave a tour of one of the world's largest collections of antique and classic American bicycles.
We learned the history of the bicycle, beginning with the "Draisienne"—a two-wheeled walking machine invented in 1817 by Baron von Drais—to the high wheel "Ordinary" or "Penny Farthing" which was the cause of many a head injury. "Because the rider sat so high above the center of gravity, if the front wheel was stopped by a stone or rut in the road, or the sudden emergence of a dog, the entire apparatus rotated forward on its front axle, and the rider, with his legs trapped under the handlebars, was dropped unceremoniously on his head. Thus the term "taking a header" came into being." (pedalinghistory.com) These bikes were followed by the hard-tired "Safety" bicycle and the pneumatic-tired "Safety" bicycle which was common in the 1880s and 1890s. We could have spent the entire day in there. So many bicycles including a wide array of bikes from the 1950s and 1960s. Carl and his wife who own the museum are trying to sell the collection so they can retire. What you wouldn't be able to replace is his knowledge of each and every item. He's a walking cycling encyclopedia. ("cyclingpedia"?)
After leaving the museum, we had to play "catch up." We had only ridden 8 miles and it was now nearly 9:30 a.m. Our route took us out of Orchard Park, which is an attractive suburb / old town outside of Buffalo, and through East Aurora, Porterville, Marilla, and Alden. I passed residential areas, farmland, a few streams with small waterfalls, and some more corn. Our first SAG stop was in Alden at a gas station. I had to laugh at my "second breakfast" I purchased inside: Starbucks bottled Frappucino Mocha and a large chocolate chip cookie.
The next 38 miles were entirely on Route 20 with no turns. I was ready for a diversion when I spotted a road sign directing me to "Bethany." For those who may not know, my 11-year old daughter's name is Bethany. I turned left and found myself smack in the center of town—which included a Volunteer Fire Dept. building, a Town Hall, and about a dozen homes. I took some photos of Bethany's namesake town and returned to the route. I wonder if anyone named Bethany lives there.
Our second SAG stop was in Avon, NY. I found this entertaining because I was just in Avon Lake, OH two days ago. Avon Lake is bordered on the south by Avon, OH. Now I was nearly 300 miles east of there, but still in Avon. Our stop was in the parking lot of another diner. It was highly recommended I go inside and order a burger. I'm glad I did. I downed a vanilla milkshake and a cheeseburger that was twice as big as the bun. Man, I love eating like this, but it all will have to come to an end in less than a week. Or—I'm gonna have to keep riding 90 miles a day!
The remainder of our ride into Canandaigua was along Route 20 East. We passed a church with a sign outside advertising, "FREE COFFEE WITH EVERY SERMON ENDURED." Hmm. Interesting sales tactic. We passed a store with some old vehicles parked on the lawn. One was a truck dressed up like Mader from the animated movie, "Cars." I stopped, turned around, had to take the photo. And then, we were entering Canandaigua.
Canandaigua sits on the north end of Canandaigua Lake. It's a resort town and as I rode past the lake, I could see the appeal. The water was crystal clear and it beckoned me to take a swim. Families were playing on the beach and at a playground. Couples strolled along the crushed gravel path along the shore. A storm was brewing in the northeast and preempted my ride into the town center. I got enough rain yesterday. I made it to the hotel and was showered and dressed before the skies opened. Glad I missed that one.
Tomorrow's ride to Liverpool, NY will pass four more Finger Lakes. I'm planning to take my time and see the towns bordering those lakefronts since it's a short 69 miles. The forecast calls for rain, unfortunately, but I'm willing to pay my dues for the incredible weather we've had up to now.
For more photos from today's ride including A LOT from the bike museum, visit http://gallery.me.com/eternaldesign2#100504
For more about the Ride for Impact, visit http://www.rideforimpact.org
Cumulative Miles: 3,525
Elev Gain: 3,890 ft.
Max Elev: 1,141 ft.
Avg Climb: 2%
Max Climb: 11%