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.
But first, another milestone: Somewhere just short of Lewistown, mile 3000 passed away under our wheels. 3000 miles. Wow.
It rained overnight and the roads were wet when we rolled out around 7:05am. We’re starting later and later just because it’s getting light later. The mist lay heavy all around us, and the air was cloying and dripping with humidity. Heavy overcast skies that threatened more rain as well. We touched up our Sham jobs, rode away from the hotel, went around a corner and immediately hit our first hill. Welcome to Day 39 boys!
Actually we had about 6 miles of various climbs to begin the day, and then things evened out nicely. We had to get back on busy busy highway 22 for a mile or two, but then we turned off onto the Admiral Peary Highway (or Old Route 22). And it was beautiful. First, we had about a 9 mile downhill run into Altoona, and then we were on the Juniata Valley portion of the road. I have to tell you, we were on that road for the majority of the day (like 50 miles or more) and it was spectacular. More cool tree-tunnels to ride through, amazing vistas of the mountains stretching off into the distance, and all sorts of farms and little towns. I’d love to see it when the leaves are turning.
And hardly any traffic! We had the road almost to ourselves. There were the typical short climbs that we’re now used to, and they really worked us into a lather at odd times when they reared their head. Amy brought us coffee around mile 30 since we didn’t get any at our hotel, and that’s always a welcome break. Around 10:00am the sun burnt through the clouds a little bit, and the day heated up when we weren’t under the trees. Amy had lunch set up for us at around 43 miles, and we had leftover pizza, watermelon and shockingly cold Claussen’s. Must have some dry ice in one of the coolers.
Out lunch setup was, as always, by the side of the road, and it was so peaceful and shady that it was hard to get going again. Once back on the bike, it took awhile to get re-warmed as our quad’s were screaming a little bit (at least mine were). At 60 miles we came to our last big climb of the day, and it was a 2.4 mile son-of-a-gun that really got the juices flowing. When we topped out we stopped again for a Coke break, and the sweat was running off us in rivers. Out entire kits were soaked from the effort. Boy, did I feel thin.
While we were swigging our beverages, a man named Lin stopped by. We’ve had many nice people stop and ask us if we’re OK when we’re parked by the road, so we figured it’d be another drive-by like the others. Lin walked up and said, “I’m just nosy“, so we ended up telling him about our mission and explaining the DPF. We talked with him for quite awhile, and he said that on Friday he and his wife are celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary, and they’ve found that the one activity they really enjoy together is bike riding. In fact they were going north to the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon where there’s mile and miles of Rails-To-Trails pathways, and that’s how they were going to spend their anniversary.
We have a box full of the book that Davis wrote (“The Happiness Of Pursuit” – if you don’t own a copy, get one), and there was one in the car, so Tom gave Lin the book as a gift. He was quite grateful and asked what he could do for us. Well, donate! So he’s going to go online and make a donation. All we did was stop for a drink and we ended up spreading the message just a little bit more. It’s been amazing the response we get from people as we keep the grassroot movement alive, one person at a time.
But here’s the punchline. Tom told Amy that he’d given Lin the book that was in the car, and Amy informed him, “Um, that was the book that Davis signed for us“. Doh! Oh well, put to good use, and I sure hope Davis will sign another one for the Casey’s.
We neared the end, and suddenly a gigantic cow statue appeared in front of us. Not real sure what the deal was, so we stopped to check it out. A woman drove up and said, “That’s a big cow isn’t it? You should see how much milk we get!” Strange.
After that we had about 3 miles on Highway 22, which we weren’t looking forward to as it’s so busy. When we got on the highway we encountered some road work that narrowed it to one lane, and it got a bit crazy. We had to ride in the middle of the lane so that people didn’t try to pass us on the narrows, and it was real uncomfortable for about 5 or 10 minutes. And I have to say that the PENNDOT website is perhaps the most useless in the known universe in terms of telling you where construction is occurring.
We arrived at our hotel in a frazzled state, but a cold beer calmed things down. Did laundry, bottle washing, all the usual chores, and Tom and Amy went to the store and got gas so we’re ready to roll tomorrow. I re-jobbered our tomorrow route to Lebanon so we aren’t on 22 as much, but it’s hard to find alternatives as there aren’t a lot of roads that will get us where we want to go.
Only 3 days left. Seems amazing that we’re that close now. No events until we get to Doylestown on Thursday, and then the finale at Nat Sherman’s in New York City. If you’re not busy this Friday night, we’ll see you at Nat’s!