Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Portsmouth, NH - Day 52

Hi everyone from Portsmouth, NH,
Well we are finally at the last day and full of emotions, but yet feeling exhilarated!!! It is a beautiful day and we set out with bittersweet feelings. We had to alter the route due to a bridge being out, but we are all used to this kind of thing by now.
Our only SaG was at Kingston Village Market at mile 29 – here all were taking pictures and enjoying each other’s company before setting out on the last miles of our journey. The remaining miles had no hills (unlike the first half of the route) and we met at Rye Junior High for our last group picture.

The staff joined us on the last three miles as we were escorted by the local police to the beach for the “Wheel Dipping Ceremony”. I will never forget those three miles with the sirens going and all of us expressing our feelings with whoops and hollers!

The beach was extremely crowded because the northeast has not had much beach weather yet this summer. As we rode through the parking lot and found our families, we were all filled with congratulations for each other and stopped to remove our shoes to walk down to the Atlantic Ocean to dip our front wheels to complete the adventure. We shared a glass of champagne on the beach and took many pictures before departing our separate ways.

My family and friends surprised me with the number of people who came – many of them many miles in the car to share the moment with me. Perry, Joanne, Brent, Karen, Missy, Randy, Nancy, Beth, Diana, Bobbi, Tammy, Roni, Dan, Kelly, Dave, and Graham all drove many miles. I was really surprised at my family’s efforts to make a quilt to commemorate the trip.

Many riders rode on across the bridge into Kittery, Maine to add another state to their list of states they have ridden in. My group headed back to the hotel so I could shower and then we all headed out to the Portsmouth Brewery on Market St. for some celebratory food and drink. I loved that table – it was huge!!!
After everyone left except Beth and Diana (who were taking me home) and my friend Nancy, I took an hour to relax before we headed back into downtown Portsmouth for a time to sit outside and have some coffee and enjoy the atmosphere. This was followed by a meal down on the waterfront (I had a lobster roll) and then some of the best icecream!
Tomorrow we will start early on the long ride back to Gettysburg, Pa. and I will end this blog with a summary in a few days.

Manchester, NH - Day 51

Hi everyone from Manchester, NH,
Today was a real challenge for most riders! We started the day by passing over the New Hampshire line with a photo op and then continued on Rt 9 for 14 miles. We left RT 9 and then moved through the back roads of Concord, Old Concord, Sullivan and Gilsum Rd. There were two major climbs that put most legs to a test – of course, this resulted in some major downhills afterward. On Old Sullivan Rd. there was a surprise waiting for everyone – a mile long stretch of dirt road that was fairly well packed.
By mile 27 a break was needed and luckily the SAG Stop was there. The SAG was a very pleasant back road pull off that hid a deep hole that was used for trail/dirt bikes. It was quite warm here and everyone was trying to stay hydrated!
We moved back to Rt 9 for 5 miles and then after a rest at mile 42, we rode on Rt. 31 The remainder of the ride was on RT. 31 and then Rt 136 – this part of the day was much easier on the legs and we rolled into the hotel at mile 84.
There was a total of 6000 feet of climb today – it was tough because yesterday had 5000 feet of climb too. Not having those types of climbs for several states spoiled us, but all made it in to the hotel tonight.

First rest stop and Tom and Gerard were busy trying to fix Rick's back wheel - finally put a loaner on for him.

Anyone see the gnome??

This was our second SAG where we were met by Howie (a 2007 CCC rider) and Dan (Judy's husband) - Dan brought quite a spread of food that was enjoyed by all! Thanks!

My bike started here today and came out after the first rest stop - my legs weren't nearly as tired as everyone else's by the end of the day!

This is Christine, a former ABB staff member, who, along with her husband and dog Bosco, came to ride a few days with us. She rode in with me for the last 15 miles - thanks, Christine!

Tonight was a big dinner with the owner of America by Bicycle and family members of several riders. Each of us was presented with a present that represented something we had done in the last 7 weeks. I am embarrassed to admit that mine was a bottlebrush because early in June, a staff member found something nasty growing in one of my bottles. Thanks, Michelle, for giving me your bottle.
Next we were each presented with an envelope with a certificate and several other papers and asked to say a few words about our experience. Many reflected on their individual experiences – all were grateful for the opportunity to do the ride – I, of course, was crying and couldn’t say much more than “thank you” because the guy before me sang a song to Willie Nelson’s “On the Road Again” – only putting cycling words in it. I had heard him sing it the night before and was sad then too. I just didn’t want it to end!

Today’s hurrah goes out to all of you who followed my blog and extended good wishes and prayers for all of us along the way. It was really nice to hear from everyone who contacted me on the way too!

Thank God for the safety, health, and energy!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Brattleboro, Vt - Day 50

Hi everyone from Brattleboro, Vt.,
We actually got to sleep in an extra half hour this morning and began riding about 8 in a warm temp heading out on Rt 2 east across the Hudson River. We had a climb from 1.2 to 6 miles and ended back on Rt 7 east to leave the state of New York.
We rode on a very narrow road with very poor shoulders and more traffic than I care to ride with. Our first SAG stop was at mile 27.8 and there just happened to be a Dunkin Donuts there!!! I broke down and bought a donut – I really haven’t eaten any for about 5 years – so you can imagine what a difficult temptation it was.

Next we crossed the Vermont border and rode into a small town called Bennington after which the big climb of the day began – 8 miles with a steep downhill into Wilmington. Both of these towns were small communities with the cutest little houses and stores.
Apparently here the big thing are the moose statues – like the cows back how. There were several on each block – all with different decorations!

Our second SAG was at mile 59 at a post office and our staff couldn’t believe how many cars pulled in to drop off mail on a Sunday!
There was another climb after Rt 7 turned into Rt 9 and we followed it into the hotel for tonight.

Sorry this is so short, but emotions are running very high right now and I have a feeling they will be just as bad tomorrow and Tuesday.

Today's hurrah goes out to Dr. McGlaughllin who 6 years ago was instrumental in treating and helping me survive West Nile Encephalitis - who would have ever thought I would be able to do what I have done!

Thank God for the safety, health, and energy!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Latham, NY - Day 49

Hi everyone from Latham, NY,
Well, it finally happened – I woke up this morning and just was tired and really didn’t want to ride – I muddled through breakfast feeling sorry for myself and actually laid back down in bed for a few minutes before the inevitable was about to begin!! As I slowly ambled outside with my luggage and bike, this is what was to face me!!! Yes, a huge mass of fog – lots of moisture in the air and cool enough to wear a jacket.

So I started riding and the first 8 miles had some climbing as we headed on RT 5 East toward Schenectady. But, surprise, the fog did lift and it turned out to be a beautiful day!!! It truly represented the meaning of “every gray cloud has a silver lining”!
We rode through a small town call Nelliston and 15 miles later to Fonda – Rt 5 was a nice road with a huge shoulder designated a bike road, some traffic, and no rumble strips!!

Our SAG was at mile 34 at a beautiful scenic rest stop (no facilities, but a huge corn field in the back) and guess what – Eddy, the gnome resurfaced – can you find him??
While there, I got a call from brother Gary – perfect timing!We continued riding until I saw this sign – where am I?? I thought I was in New York – looks like it could be Pa. or Europe!!

We finally left Rt 5 at mile 50 - (I stopped at a store to get something to eat and got a call from Coach Bob which was nice and encouraging as usual) and went over the Mohawk River we had been riding beside all day and continued on the other side of it on a delightful bike path – it was very inspiring and just so much fun to be out in nature and not have to hear the sound of traffic – I could just listen to the noises from the woods.

Back to the bike path for another 10 miles and it was just heavenly!! Then off of path and another 6 miles and into the hotel – Ramada Inn tonight.

This is Leslie and Virginia who joined us in Erie and are completing their cross country ride on Tuesday - they did it in three sections and all of it on a tandem bike!! Congratulations!

Dinner was at the Old Country Buffet – hence one of my favorite signs!!

After dinner, we had a tee shirt swap and you can see that I ended with a Tour de France t-shirt from Gerard!! I was happy – the other shirt I tried to get was the soccer shirt from our British rider – I had it briefly, but the last person to pick also wanted it. So I am still happy!

Route rap presented the grueling day we will have tomorrow – but, as always, I will do my best and hopefully surprise myself!!

I received another package at the hotel tonight with more sport beans and.....this great card made by nephew Brandon!!! Did you pull that one picture off of my blog??? Super job kiddo!!!! Thanks!!!

Today's hurrah goes to nephew Kyle and his bride, Kasey who exchanged vows today - so sorry I couldn't be there, but do wish you many years of happiness!!! Congratulations!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Little Falls, NY - Day 48

Hi everyone from Little Falls, NY,
This morning’s ride started out with quite a few turns in downtown Liverpool and finally about mile 7 we were out of town and on the back roads again. The roads and scenery continue to be very much like what we have at home. However, they have had oodles of rain this summer and many people have been out mowing their lawns while the grass is very wet. As a result of the weather we have been riding through what seems to be 100% humidity, but it has been cool.

Breakfast this morning was in the hotel and we started riding about 7 – and our first SAG was at mile 24.9 miles right along the Erie Canal. After riding several miles on it, I all of a sudden hit something in the road pretty hard. But, I continued on to the “Nice N Easy” convenience store and then checked the tire to find the sidewall had a weak spot, but was still holding air – I had the SAG people check it and they put a patch on the inside of tire even though it hadn’t been penetrated; pumped it up again; and sent me on my way.

Five miles later I was wondering why it was so difficult to pedal and looked down at the tire and I knew it was going flat!! I called for help and continued to walk about a mile until they came – time was an issue, so I just told them to put it in the van and we would change the tire out tonight. This tire has made it all of the way across until now, so I can’t complain. Hopefully it will hold and I am set to ride again tomorrow.

When we arrived into town I took some pictures from the little town we are staying in. It really is quite quaint and pretty! Across from our hotel is a public laundromat and we all converged on it to do our last big wash for the trip. Many hotels along the way either had no laundry or one machine that we would all fight over. So this was quite a treat!!!

This is a shot of mechanic repair hour where my tire was being fixed!
alt=""id="BLOGGER_PHOTO_ID_5362194733896604994" />We only have four more days to be with our friends and many mixed emotions are surfacing – some are anxiously looking forward to seeing family members again and some just don’t want this to end for a while longer. It sure has been fun – you kind of feel like you are being taken care of for 52 days and you have no responsibilities except to stay healthy and ride your bike every day.
I’m not sure how much time I will get to do this over the next couple of days, but will try to keep you updated and after finishing will post a final entry when I have some time to think.

Today’s hurrah goes to all of the friendly people that we have met along the way who have been very supportive and just amazed at what we are doing!

Thank God for the safety, health, and energy!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Liverpool, NY - Day 47

Hi everyone from Liverpool, NY,
Well, it was another interesting day in New York!!! We awoke to rain and really warm weather – we rode our bikes to Denny’s for breakfast – eggs, oatmeal, bacon biscuit, oj, milk, coffee. I left the restaurant as early as possible because it was to be a short day of only 69 miles. The most exciting thing that happened to me due to leaving early was that I got to pass the front runners because one of them had two flat tires at the same time!!!! Of course, that didn’t last too long because as soon as they were changed they flew past me and left me in the dust!

We basically left the hotel on Rt 20 and stayed on it and Rt 5 for many miles – going through the town of Waterloo – birthplace of Memorial Day and Seneca Falls – Birth place of women’s rights Hall of Fame. We rode past Seneca Lake – it was very overcast so the pictures aren’t the best! I was moving very well and decided just to try to get in as early as possible so I would have some time to clean my bike after all of this messy weather!!

The only SAG today was at mile 30 and since a lot of people were sight – seeing, I was in early and Bruce asked if I would ride with him to help with all of the turns coming up. We had 19 turns in 40 miles and a lot of them were only .2-.5 miles apart. So we rode all the way into the hotel and I was actually there at 1:45 and had plenty of time to clean my bike – this resulted in a lot of grease all over my hands.

As a result of the weather recently a lot of people were cleaning their bikes this afternoon.

Here’s a serious cyclist about cleaning his bike – this is Jim – notice the apron and plastic gloves.

Mechanic’s hour is always busy on a rainy day – we had lots of flat tires today – luckily I have not had any and hope not to have any from now to the end!

Tonight’s dinner was at a Chinese Buffet – these buffet meals are going to come a screeching halt very soon when this ride is over!

Today's hurrah goes out to "Buckaroo" Michael - who is like the the "Everready bunny" when he runs because he just goes and goes when he runs!!!

Thank God for the safety, health, and energy!