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.
We had a good route planned with many lesser roads, but there was one stretch around Reading that had us bugged pretty bad. Another few miles on a highway, and we weren’t sure about the shoulder. Regardless we got going and really were moving, and knocked out 20 miles in about an hour and a half (considering we had to navigate Lebanon when we started, this is a very good pace for us). We really didn’t even take much of a stop before we hit Reading and that highway. Of course it was sprinkling on us by then to add to the fun. We had a confab with Amy and agreed if the shoulder got too iffy then she’d drive behind us as a blocker until we could exit.
Luckily there was a shoulder, but it was littered with more highway offal than we’d seen the entire trip. There were mop handles, squeegees, all sorts of road kill, lots of bolts, and some silver fender thingy that may have fallen off a plane. Or a dump truck. Had one bad moment when the shoulder ended due to construction, but Amy blocked for us and it only lasted a few hundred feet. After a couple of miles we got the heck off and headed onto more serene country roads.
It was classic Pennsylvania, as we’ve come to know it. Lots of little climbs with towns here and there, and then wonderful country backroads with huge houses and yards. However at one point we came to yet another detour due to bridge construction. Tom rode ahead and found that bikes could pass, but Amy had to take the long way around. So we foiled another Road Closed situation, and added another $100 to Jay Mcavoy’s ever-growing Detour Donation Challenge.
We were nearing Boyertown and we wanted coffee, so Amy picked out a place called the Jukebox Cafe. We stopped and went inside to sit for awhile, and when we walked in there was a gentleman sitting in a booth who glanced at us. Nothing strange about that since we were all suited up in our Friends For Phinney finery, and still had our helmets on. The man got up and left soon after we arrived, but in 2 minutes he was back inside. He’d seen our trailer and all the logo’s. He came up to our table and said, “Are you the Friends For Phinney? I’m following you guys on Facebook and the blog! I’m with Team Fox!”
How is it that of all the coffee joints, in all the towns, in all the world, we walk into his? A fan! We were flummoxed as he shook our hands and identified each of us, I guess from pictures on the blog. His name is Dave Stinnard (long “i”) and he’s been a runner but is about to take up cycling due to knee issues. See, 2 1/2 years ago Dave weighed 400 pounds, and now he’s down to 220, and going for more. We chatted with him for awhile about the ride and DPF, and the Tom went out and got him a jersey and we all signed it and gave it to him. Told him it was his riding jersey for when he got on the bike. He’s a great guy, drives a van for Special Needs people, and it was a pleasure to make his acquaintance and to talk with him. But I got goosebumps due to the situation. On some backroad we pick some coffee shop at random, and we find a supporter of the Parkinson’s mission in there. Sometimes you just gotta believe that there are no coincidences.
We had lunch while we were there, and full disclosure, I ordered gravy fries. OK, they used to serve gravy fries many years ago at the L.A. Diner back in Boulder, and they’re a real guilty pleasure. Boy were they good. Gravy was nice and salty as well. Hey, I still have one more day of eating whatever I want! Mmm.
We got back on the road but didn’t make better time as we hit a series of small towns that held us up with stoplights and whatnot (I hate the whatnot’s). We took a Coke break about 12 miles from Doylestown, and after 40 days and 12 miles from done on Day 41, Rick snapped. He took Tom to task about his handlebar mirror which was reflecting sun rays into his eyes when he was riding behind him. It was good-natured, but pointed. We all laughed and Tom removed the mirror so it wouldn’t bother Rick any more. I noted that we’d made it almost to the end before any Airing Of The Grievances. If that’s all we have to bust each other for, or at least we’re willing to say our loud, then we’re doing pretty good.
And the sun was only out for about 7 minutes all day anyway.
Rolled into Doylestown and what a neat community it is. Downtown looks really nice and inviting. Of course we rode through downtown, and out to the Days Inn, which ain’t so nice. But it’ll do. We arrived around 3:30pm and had until 6:00pm before our PD event at the hospital, so Tom and Amy re-organized the car and trailer for tomorrow (time to shed some items and weight) and we got a number of chores completed. Kathleen and Isaac had landed in Philly and were en-route as well.
We went to the Dolyestown Hospital for our event, and met up with our contact, Mary Jane Barr-Silk. A wonderful woman who had coordinated the various Parkinson’s groups for us and had arranged dinner at the hospital. She’s a Speech Pathologist like Kathleen. We thank her profusely for the work she put in to pull the event together, and for being wiling to change from 5:00pm to 6:00pm so Kathleen could get there from the airport.
It was our first encounter with an “eastern” group of PD people, and boy was it fun. Just overall very boisterous and asking questions immediately. One woman named Francine was funny and vocal and loosened everybody up. Very different from the reserve we’ve found in other parts of the country. So instead of dinner, we led off with our story about the ride and the Davis Phinney Foundation. The one thing that every group agrees upon is that there’s just not the level of awareness for Parkinson’s that is needed. So, we were well-received. And it was good to have Captain Kathleen back again, as she anchors our presentation with her voluminous knowledge about Parkinson’s (she’s on a PD team at Boulder Community Hospital Home Care).
We piled on the food before sitting down to eat. One key question we’ve learned to ask is can you return for more food or is it one-stop? Doylestown is one-stop, hence the piling that occurs. And we had our 17 year old son with us, and Francine leaned over to me a bit later and said, “I wanna see if he eats all he took!“. He did.
I sat with a couple named Sandy and Van who were attending their first PD Support Group meeting ever. Van became curious about the groups after 7 years of PD so they picked today to show up! I asked them what was the trigger and they replied that there’s a lot of grey areas that they wanted to talk to other PD folks about. Like medications, and who’s taking what and what the symptoms are. Also, when you get a back-ache or some other pain, is it Parkinson’s-related or is it just “normal” pain? So, many questions that a Support Group can assist with, and a shining example of why each town or county needs one of those groups. Van is in great shape as he exercises regularly, either at the gym or playing paddle tennis. I have to believe that exercise is key after hearing stories for over 3100 miles. It helps.
Francine and her husband Bodo (a rare German name, we were told) were at the next table, and Bodo was showing us his paintings on his phone. He took up painting as a hobby when he retired, and let me tell you what, he’s darn good. There were many other attendees as well and it was a rollicking good event.
Sandy and Van’s comments reinforced that the DPF Live Well Today message is invaluable, as these questions they have are about everyday life and how to conquer and move on to the next day. We all hope for a cure, but in the meantime you have to live well to see that day. I have to admit that I didn’t have much of an understanding about the message when I got on my bike 41 days and 3100 miles ago. Now it’s been driven into my bones by these wonderful everyday people who woke up one day and heard the words, “You have Parkinson’s“. God, I hope I never know what that feels like. But one thing I do know: I want to make sure that every PD person out there hears what the Davis Phinney Foundation has to say. Because trust me, they so deserve it.