Monday, August 8, 2011

Day 50

Done.  Today I completed something that only a very small percentage of the population can say they have done.  I biked across the United States and part of Canada.  And I was one of the riders on the tour that biked every mile.  A number of riders were forced to sag one day or more for a variety of reasons, injury, sickness or mechanical problems, but I was very lucky and did not have any of those problems, at least to the extent that it would have kept me from biking.  Including detours and missed turns, a total of 3,736 miles and according to my bike computer, 235,183 total calories burned. 

Today was a very easy day, it was only 50 miles and myself and the other riders took our time.  The first pictures are of the only rest stop and the last one of the tour.  The first two are of two of my best friends from the tour, Damien from Ireland and Diane from the Bay area in SF.  We were to all meet at a junior high about 3 miles from the beach, so with time to spare all riders stopped at a bakery about 10 miles from the junior high.  The first pictures are of the Netherlands group, brothers Andreias and Jan and Jan’s girlfriend Connie.  The second is of Nancy and Adrianne.  Nancy turned 69 on the tour and this is her fourth time biking across the US and this time she brought her daughter Adrianne.  Nancy has also done a number of international tours in various countries. 

The next pictures are from the junior high.  The first is of riders who are 60 and older.  Yes, I am in this group as I turned 60 a few days before the tour started.  One of the things I learned from the tour is age is just a number and does not define a person.  Though I hung out with individuals of all ages, three of my closest friends from the tour were 25 and younger.  Each had a magnetic personality and were very bright and thoughtful.  Individuals who are not set in their ways, are open to new ideas, have enlightening conversations, and can relate to anyone.  One of the individuals, Lucy who is 22 told me she learned on the tour that old people can be fun.  I assume she meant other old people, not me, though I am fun.  The second is a picture of the group.    

We had a police escort the 3 miles to the beach which was very cool.  The final pictures are of me arriving and dipping my wheels in the Atlantic Ocean.  Coast to Coast, pretty awesome.  Also there is a picture of Kim and I at the beach and then out for a very nice meal at a restaurant in a building that was built in 1785.  A great way to celebrate the end of the tour.   

After I have had some time to reflect on the Tour, I will add to the blog, but for now some thoughts. 

I want to thank Kim, Courtney and Morgan who supported me the whole tour but even more important encouraged me to do the tour. 

I want to thank my staff but before doing so, I want to thank my previous staff, Julie, Amanda, and Katie.  Without them or the foundation they helped build, we would not be where we are today.  I could send them gifts, but I am sure that would cheapen the moment for them.  Along with Courtney and Morgan, thank you Ryan, Stephanie, Ashley and Chelsey.  I am blessed with a very talented group  of individuals.  Thank you each of you very much. 

Biking coast to coast was pretty awesome.  More later. 

Day 49

We had a very nice day today.  Again we got lucky with the rain.  Though the road was wet in places, the rain had moved on by the time I got there.  I entered New Hampshire about two miles from the motel.  After taking days to cross the western states, it was weird going across  Vermont in a day yesterday.  When I talk with business people in New York City or Boston and I tell them I often drive from Fargo to our condo in Big Sky, MT, they often ask how many days it takes me to do so.  When I say one, they are amazed,  There is just a different sense of distance in the East.  Distance is often measured more in time than in miles. 

The first picture is me under the welcome New Hampshire sign.  The next two are of a creek we road next to for some time and wooded area.  New Hampshire lived up to its billing of being very beautiful.  The day started out as a combination of dense clouds and fog so riding through the valleys and climbing the hills was especially scenic as they were in and out of the fog.  It was easy to imagine what I looked like 250 years ago before the white settlers moved in. 

Tomorrow we go to the Atlantic Ocean.  Again the forecast is for rain.  We climb out of Manchester where we are staying tonight and then head for Portsmouth. 

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Day 48

Day 48 was difficult from two aspects.  It was one of the longest climbing days of the tour, over 5,000 feet.  Though not close to as high as the Rockies, the climbs were long and at times the grades were steep. Making it worse, was there were not shoulders and a lot of traffic.  I had more close calls today than in the previous days altogether.  I also had a flat tire which slowed me down.  Bruce and Dan, both from New York, stopped to help me fix it.  On this tour, if someone has a problem, other riders always stop to help.  Though it rained in the late afternoon and is still raining, I made it before the rain started. 

The route was scenic.  After a few miles we left New York and entered Vermont.  The first picture is of the Vemont sign.  The second is of farm land right after the sign with the mountains behind them.  The whole route was green like this.  We went through several small towns, one of which was having their blueberry festival.  We saw lots of pull outs on the road leading to hiking trails and a number of kayakers next to the river.  There were houses the whole way.  The last picture was of the view from the summit from the pass at Hogback Mountain.  On a clear day, the locals said you can see for 100 miles.  Kim and I definitely need to come back and spend more time here.  

The last picture is from supper.  Kim and I along with Karina, Jeff and Julie went out for supper at local restaurant next to the river.  The view was very nice and the food was great.  

Tomorrow we leave Vermont and enter New Hampshire.  Again a lot of climbing.  The forecast is for rain all day.   

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Day 47

Today started sad.  Damien, our rider from Ireland found out last night his brother-in-law died yesterday afternoon in Ireland.  He was 43, owned his own business and he and his wife had two little girls.  He was on his yacht and had a blood clot.  It is another reminder that life is not fair, but living life is always good.  One of our mottos on our website is “Learn from the past, plan for the future, but live for today."  It is important to study history, plan for tomorrow, but most important is to enjoy each day as there are never any guarantees.  Damien said he was riding for his brother-in-law today and we told him we all are.  His family told him he should finish the tour as that is what his brother-in-law would have wanted.

It was a very nice ride today.  We started in fog and climbed out of the valley to a ridge overlooking the Mohawk River.  It was very pretty but coming down the hill was a little exciting as between the fog and my glasses getting wet, it was tough to see the road.  The pictures are from the top of the climb and riders behind me.  The next pictures are of the Mohawk River and a lock on the River.  Biking through the Mohawk River valley was very cool. 

There are also pictures of myself at the first rest stop and Kim and I at the second.  Kim brought treats to the second rest stop and is a real hit with the riders.  Today she brought mini-chocolate bars, a chocolate cake and banana bread.  A nice change from the normal snacks we have had.  For me, it is awesome having her here. 

The last picture is from mechanics.  At mechanics, riders clean their bikes and if there are problems, Jim, the full time bike mechanic fixes them.  He is amazing and can fix anything.  Jeff is also there and he helps riders with their bikes.  He has taught me to clean my bike and made me a believer that it is important to do every day.

Tomorrow we leave New York and enter Vermont.  It looks to be a difficult day as we have one of the biggest climbing days of the year.  The forecast is for t-storms.       

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Day 46

Day 45 was a mosy day for me.  I did not feel bad, but not great either.  We had a slight headwind so I just took it easy and meandered the whole way.  I did make one wrong turn, but caught it right away.  I told the other riders I was exploring.  Once I got in,while I was stretching and cleaning my bike, Kim was exploring Little Falls.  She described it as a very old mill town producing cotton and wool among other items.  They just celebrated their 200 anniversary. 

The two pictures are of the Mohawk River and the road next to the river along with some riders.  There is so much early colonial and American history associated with this river and Mohawk Indian Nation, it was a very cool experience. 

The terrain today was rolling.  There were some farms and lots of trees; however, I would not describe it as rural.  There were very few times we were not going by houses.  Some were very nice, some were average and some were minimalistic.  There was a lot of traffic and though for the most part we had paved shoulders, some of the time we were on roads with no shoulders.  As with the rest of the ride, most drivers were very considerate, but because of the greater number of cars, it seemed like we had more drivers honk at us in an unfriendly manner. 

Tomorrow we ride to Latham.  So far the forecast looks good. 

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Day 45

Day 45 was good for me.  95 miles from Henrietta to Liverpool which is the north end of Syracuse.  After getting out of city limits we road along the Erie Canal for about 25 miles.  Though the trail was crushed gravel which made it more difficult, the canal is very impressive and the little towns that are by the canal were interesting.  The first three pictures are from the canal area.  The canal was started in 1817 to develop a water route from the Great Lakes to the Atlantic Ocean.  By 1822, 220 miles of the canal were open.  It was very controversial at the time and many opposed the government investment in the future.  All those who opposed are forgotten by history but those that supported are part of history. 

The forecast was for rain today; however, I got an early start and though I was in sprinkles most of the day, never really got wet.  Many of those behind me got caught in a steady downpour.  I felt good and actually biked faster the last 60 miles today into a slight headwind and sprinkles than yesterday when I had a slight tailwind.  Kim brought treats to the second sag station which was most appreciated by the riders tired of the same snacks every day.

Syracuse was the original site of the Iroquois Confederation which was originally five Indian nations before expanding to six.  There has been much written how the Confederation was one basis for the colonial government for a representative form of government.  The Iroquois Confederation is an amazing story which I have read much about.  The Seneca were the west end of the Confederation and it is their lands which we are not biking through.

The next pictures are of a park and Lake Onondaga which we biked by on the way to the hotel.  The whole terrain today were green hills and farms in the valleys.  The last picture is of supper, one of my three favorite meals of the day.

Tomorrow we bike about 80 miles to Little Falls. 

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Day 44

Day 44 was 84 miles under sunny skies and a slight tailwind.  After getting out of Niagara Falls, we were on rural roads, but still lots of houses and a fair amount of traffic.  Most roads had a paved shoulder.  I took my time, and it was great to know that when I got done, Kim would be there.

Only took one picture, and that was of rap.  Rap is the meeting we have each night to discuss the next day’s route.  In Wyoming and SD it was not a long meeting as often we were on the same road all day, but since MN, we might have 30-50 turns in one day, so it is important to pay attention.  I have a tendency to let my mind wander so I really have to stay focused.  We get a trip sheet that lists all the turns and roads and distance between each turn and total mileage as one makes the turn.  The trip sheet also list towns, food and where the rest stops will be.  Many riders have missed turns including me and it is a real bummer to have to ride extra miles. 

Tomorrow could be a fun day as we ride on the trail for a few miles next to the Erie canal; however, the forecast is for rain and t-storms all day.    

Monday, August 1, 2011

Day 43

Day 43 is a rest day in Niagara Falls.  Kim got here yesterday afternoon and we went out for a great supper last night at a local restaurant.  It is great to have her here and today we are going to do some sightseeing.  Kim tells other riders the reasons I wanted to have her here was first I do not have to eat at another buffet, second not wait in line to do laundry and third to see her.  Though one and two are nice, three is actually number one and got all the first place votes with me.  The initial pictures are of Kim and me on the Canadian side of the Falls.  We spent some time looking at the Falls from a variety of points.  Folloiwng are a few thoughts and comments. 

Weather:  We continued to be very fortunate with the weather going across the Ontario.  Every day there was rain and t-storms around us, but we never got wet except for few sprinkles.  Especially the day we went across the toll bridge when we had t-storms all night the night before ending just before we left.  If the severe weather south of us had been 30 miles to the north, it would have been ugly.  Also we had at least a partial tailwind every day which makes biking a whole lot easier.

Fun:  People often ask me if I am having fun.  The reality is the tour is very challenging, at least for me, rewarding, especially completing each day, incredibly scenic everywhere we have been, and spiritual, but rarely fun.  There have been parts of some days which have been a lot of fun, for example the first day going across Michigan, but for the most part, I would not describe it as fun.  At the same time, life should be fun at times, but also needs to be other things, most of which we have experienced on the tour. 

Self Contained Riders:  Since the first day in Oregon, we have seen self contained riders most every day.  Self contained riders have touring bikes, which are much heavier than road bikes, and carry their own gear as they ride across the US.  Adventure Cycling, a non-profit organization which promotes all types of bicycling, sells detailed maps of routes going across the US of which one parallels our route in many places.  I have a new respect for self-contained riders.  A few years ago I biked the coast of Oregon by myself and carried my own gear, but stayed in hotels.  Many self-contained riders camp, some stay in hotels and some do both.  Self contained riders are often carrying 50-70 lbs of gear including extra water and food as they never know if they will be at a place they can find more.  Though I have always respected self-contained riders, my respect has increased 100-fold.  Kim and I met a self-contained rider in Casper who was an ex-attorney, moved to Oregon and built a new type of touring bike and then was biking back to New York City.  Though it is hard to tell in the last picture, the total weight including the bike, gear and himself approached 300 lbs.  On the ferry across Lake Michigan there was a rider who had started in Oregon two days after us, carrying a total weight including himself of about 300 lbs, and was on the ferry with us.  This means that he had two days of less riding, carrying his own gear and camping at night, ended up the same place we did with none of the support we have had.  We all felt like weanies compared to him. 

In the moment:  For most of my adult life, I have lived my profession by thinking and planning for the future for myself and our clients.  However, on this tour I have been the most in the moment that I have been for many years.  I think about today and tomorrow and that’s about it.  Very few riders on the tour think or plan beyond tomorrow. 

Speaking of tomorrow, we got to Henrietta, NY.