Friday, August 30 – 3273.6 miles down, 0 to go
Today we rode to the Atlantic Ocean and finished what we started 42 days ago.
Planning today had been tough because we needed to finish in New York City as the folks at Nat Sherman had a Finish Line Celebration planned for us. But first we needed to find a place on the Atlantic to dip our front wheel into the ocean and complete our arduous trek. I picked Raritan Bay Waterfront Park in New Jersey as our location for the finale of our ride. We would have loved to have ridden all the way to New York City, but there are rules about which bridges you can and cannot cross, so this made more sense.
Isaac took over driving the sag with Amy navigating as we had a complex route to follow to get to Raritan. Kathleen was once again suited up and ready to ride so we could finish as the foursome that started out from Oceanside on July 20th. We had a short 56 mile route to the park, so we weren’t in any hurry to get going. Plus, Tim and Caroline Sweitzer, two of our best friends, were delivering breakfast to us prior to riding. We’ve been riding for Tim since 2005, as Tim was diagnosed with MS in 2004 and we started riding the MS-150 two-day event that next year. They are dear friends and as luck would have it, Caroline is from Doylestown, and they were in town for a wedding. Tim, Caroline and their son Adam were there to see us off.
Departing the Days Inn in Doylestown: Rick, Adam, Tim, Tom, Kevin, Caroline, Kathleen
Thursday, August 29 – 3183 miles down, 90 to go
Lots of anticipation today about a number of things.
First, we had our last scheduled Parkinson’s event this evening and were looking forward to meeting a new group of PD folks and their caregivers. Also it was our penultimate day in the saddle, and we were checking off another day and looking towards tomorrow and riding into Manhattan. Finally Kathleen and Isaac were rejoining the group and would be riding and sagging along with us on our last day. So, lots of anticipation!
But first we had to ride! We had an 82 mile spin from Lebanon to Doylestown as our route. We were all up and loaded around 6:30am and then had breakfast at the Days Inn buffet. It was adequate. They had a rear-projection TV set up in the buffet area, and we wondered if they had stolen it from our Cassandra room. It blared Fox Sports loudly, and like bugs attracted to a light people sat in a semi-circle around the TV and ate their meals, staring catatonically at the screen. Somehow the NFL seems to have begun, or is getting ready to begin. You miss a lot of things on the road.
It was once again overcast and you could feel wetness in the air as we pushed off out of the parking lot and headed east. Shoes had dried well overnight, and stuffing them with newspaper is one of the better tricks we’ve learned on the ride. I think we may have the Stutzman’s to thank for that one as well as the double bar tape. We were hoping it wouldn’t rain on us like yesterday. Somebody told us “Yessir boy, we got 2 and a half inches yesterday in about an hour!” Yeah, we know. I found a Walleye in my shoe there was so much water in them yesterday.
Departing the Days Inn in Lebanon
Wednesday, August 28 – 3100 miles down, 173 to go
Today was book-ended with rain.
Rain was brewing last night when we went to bed, and the air was thick with humidity this morning and it had rained overnight. So we knew we’d have to start on wet roads. We loaded up and then went to breakfast, which we had to order in the hotel restaurant, so it took longer than we would have liked. Didn’t get on the road until 7:50 am. It was so wet that a gang of Street Ducks accosted us as we were about to head out. They came charging across the parking lot, making their intentions quite clear by quacking and threatening us with their demeanor. We threw them some bread to divert their attention, then quickly mounted our bikes and got going.
Departing the Days Inn in Burnham (had to stay there as Lewistown doesn’t have any hotels)
The threatening Street Duck Gang.
Tuesday, August 27 – 3019 miles down, 254 miles to go
Today was what we wish every riding day was like, except the end.
It started with a home-made breakfast, courtesy of Amy, because strangely, the Cassandra Railroad Overlook Motel doesn’t have a breakfast option. The entire town was eerily quiet the entire time we were there, but it felt like we were being watched. It was good to get moving.
Our room at the Cassandra motel
Monday, August 26 – 2939 miles down, 335 to go
This day has been circled with red ink for months.
It was our 3rd biggest climbing day, so we’ve been wondering what the hills of Pennsylvania had in store for us. The profile looked like an electrocardiogram, so lots of ups and downs awaited us.
But first we had breakfast with Joe Williams and said our goodbyes. He looked good after his effort yesterday. In fact, he looked great. He obviously recovers well. He was going to go rent a car and then drive over to where he had business. It was good to see him one more time and put a bow on our experiences with him. We met him in Durango when he rode out to lead us into town, then we stayed with him, then he met us and rode up Poncha Pass with us when we were headed to Salida, and finally he rode with us yesterday. Feels like we’re lifelong friends with him now. Looking forward to seeing him in the future as well.
Leaving the Hampton Inn and Suites in Pittsburgh: Rick, Joe, Kevin, Tom, Amy
Sunday, August 25 – 2853 miles down, 420 to go
This was the best and worst day of our journey.
The best part about it was that Joe Williams joined us and was going to ride with us. Joe is in the running to be The World’s Most Interesting Man, and he’s one of the warmest most personable people I’ve met in a long time. Joe has PD and was our host in Durango several weeks ago when we had our first rest day. Wow, that seems eons ago. Anyway, Joe has some business in this area of the world, so he flew in early and joined us this morning around 6:15am. While Tom and I were talking with him, he told us he had a donation from his cycling team, Go Joe Go. He handed us a baggie full of money, and suffice it to say that the GJG Team stepped up Big Time in supporting us. We spent some time talking and catching up with him, and as a result didn’t get going until after 7:00am.
Leaving the Ramada in Canton: Rick, Tom, Kevin, Joe
Saturday, August 24 – 2755 miles down, 519 to go
We were all looking forward to an easy 61 mile run into Canton today.
We had the Pro Football Hall of Fame on our minds, and wanted to get there quickly so we could visit the Hall and check out the exhibits. There were only three of us but our plan was to ride 30 miles, take a break, and then go 30 more. That meant two 5-mile pulls each, a break, then two more pulls each. Easy enough. We had to drive back to Wellington from Elyria, and we weren’t in a hurry so we didn’t get going until almost 7:30am.
And then there were three: Leaving Wellington
Friday, August 23 – 2692 miles down, 581 to go
Today Doug Bahniuk showed his steel on the road from Bowling Green to Wellington.
Doug was diagnosed with Parkinson’s 10 years ago at the age of 50. He rides his bike everywhere. Long rides. Hard rides. Two years ago he rode from Prudhoe Bay down to Anchorage on the Haul Road. In short, that’s insanely hard. We first met Doug two years ago at the Copper Triangle. Then this year we re-connected with him at the Copper, and last night he showed up at our presentation in Bowling Green with his wife, Alissa and their daughter Iris. Today he wanted to ride the 80 miles to Wellington, so he showed up at 6:15am at our hotel, ate some breakfast with us, and we got ready to ride with Doug.
Heading out from the Best Western in Bowling Green: Kevin, Doug, Tom and Rick
Thursday, August 22 – 2611 miles down, 662 to go
Another “rest day” packed with activity.
We started the day in a leisurely way with a visit to the ice hockey rink at Bowling Green State University. Tom knows a gentleman named Scott Sloat, and Scott’s son Jake is defenseman on the BGSU hockey team. Jake had agreed to give us a tour of their facilities, so we met up with him and he gave us a guided tour of their wonderful hockey rink, the offices, the locker room and everything. It was a great and informative experience, especially to see some of the past players who have gone on to larger fame (like Ken Morrow, 1980 Miracle Gold Medal Team in the Olympics, Rob Blake, Stanley Cup winner with the Colorado Avalanche, etc.). We met the trainer (“Fish”) and the equipment manager (“Scoot”) and soon learned that nobody knows anybody’s first name on the team. They all go by nicknames.
Tom and Jake Sloat
Kathleen is set free by ice
Tom ponders a Pinecliff winter hat
Wednesday, August 21 – 2611 miles down, 662 to go
Our tenth day in a row of riding and it was 107 miles.
We all actually felt good today. We’re in some serious Bike Shape right now, so even 107 miles didn’t call for any hand-wringing, more of a “Let’s get this done” type atmosphere. We were also hoping for some encounters with locals along the way, like yesterday, to provide some color to the day. Continue reading
Tuesday, August 20 – 2504 miles down, 770 to go
What a wild fun day!
This is a long one so if you get bored I understand. Today we had quite a time. But so much went on today. It started in Valparaiso with breakfast and a 6:50am departure. Another 81 mile day in front of us with a slightly uphill profile, so we figured we could make some time. Also, we were off busy highway 30 and were taking highway 6 east to Ligonier. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky to start, but get this, the humidity was 97%! Anything over 12% and we Colorado folks are whining. This was cloying, and you had to keep moving to get some breeze in order to stay a bit cool. When you stopped, instant hot & sticky.
Departing the Fairfield Inn in Valparaiso
Monday, August 19 – 2423 miles down, 851 to go
I never thought I’d be saying this: Gee, today was only 81 miles!
We needed a shorter day, especially one without a bunch of climbing. It had some inclines, but nothing major. Our target was Valparaiso, Indiana and the Fairfield Inn. Yep, so long Illinois.
Departing the Fairfield Inn in Naperville
Sunday, August 18 – 2342 miles down, 932 to go
Another milestone day.
We now have less than 1000 miles left of our ride. We cling to these milestones as they indicate the passage of the U.S. under our wheels. 2000 miles ridden, crossing the Missouri and Mississippi rivers, less than 1000 miles to go. We’ve been at it for 30 days now with 3 rest days thrown in. We’ve completely lost track of calendar days. I have no idea what day of the week it is, only “What ride day is it and how far to our next Rest Day?” Weekends and weekdays have no meaning. It’s kind of a surreal existence compared to a “normal” sleep / eat / work / home / repeat / weekend routine. However the hours can pass quickly on the road as you end up doing mental math to keep sharp: We’re doing 5 mile pulls, we have a 97 mile day, that’s 19 pulls plus change, meaning I have 5 pulls today.
Sorry to wax philosophical, it’s just a weird experience to change your time measurement algorithm.
Saturday, August 17 – 2252 miles down, 1021 to go
Another day, another century.
We’re in one of these quirky parts of the route where we had to string together some longer riding days. Plus, we’re riding these in Iowa and Illinois, so after the mountains we should be in fine shape. Sure. When making plans like this in the future I’ll always add in a “Wind Factor”. And we haven’t been calling the wind “Mariah” lately, but many other colorful names. Luckily we had some fresh legs with us to help us cross the mighty Mississippi and head east. Dave Parker was going to be riding with us to begin.
Dave and two of his buddies, John Harrington and Joe Jamison, rode out today with us. I found out that Dave was unable to ride a bike with Parkinson’s as his right side would freeze. But, he received deep brain stimulation and his freezing and tremors were minimized. To celebrate he bought himself a new Cannondale bicycle as he could once again ride. Recall that Dave used to ride at least a century a month. He was in fine fettle as we all assembled and pushed off around 6:45am. Dave’s goal was to ride 30 miles as that was as far as he had ridden to-date in his current situation.
The group departs the Comfort Inn in Muscatine: Kathleen, Joe, Tom, John, Dave, Kevin and Rick
Friday, August 16 – 2148 miles down, 1126 to go
Technology failed me today.
I know several people who will laugh heartily at that statement as I’m a known Luddite despite being employed in the high-tech industry. Regardless I put a lot of trust and faith in the Garmin to keep us on the right route each day. Today it urped when I loaded the daily route and said, “route calculation error“. Hmm. OK, so I always have a backup plan, and that’s written instructions that we keep in the sag for the driver and referral. So I had a look and led us out of Ottumwa. But I went awry somewhere and we ended up heading the wrong way. It took some time and friendly highway crewman and (thank God) Lori to get us sorted out, but we finally did, and added about 5 miles to our journey, which meant another century today. I was quite upset and wasn’t pleasant for awhile, but the team picked me up and we got past the situation. So “Thank you team!” (you have to say that like Tim Gunn on Project Runway for full effect).
Heading out from the AmericInn in Ottumwa