Posted in 2017 Northern Tier

Mentally Prepared

A friend gave me “The Complete Book of Long Distance Cycling” by Edmund R. Burke Ph.D. and Ed Pavelka. Copywrite is 2000. It’s a bit dated but I’m reading it for the tidbits I can glean.

Chapter four discusses loaded touring. Although my ride this summer was supported, one paragraph still applies: Be mentally prepared. “You must be prepared to face difficult times and work through them. You must convince yourself that things will improve as you continue, because they will.”

I had to stop there, get on my blog, and share these thoughts. Although I did have a couple difficult times where I took SAG to finish the day’s ride, my biggest challenge was my roommate. Very early in the ride, I realized she was an extremely negative person. My way of “working through them” was to shower at the end of my ride and then leave the motel room. That did help, but it didn’t solve the problem. 

I never did figure out how to improve the situation. However, on our rest day in Niagara, we spent the day together being tourists. She told me some of her life story which helped me understand why she is the person she is.

Even with that understanding, it did not make our time together more pleasant for me. Another rider asked me, on the last day of the event, “How could you deal with all the negativity? Why didn’t you ask for another roommate?”. My response, “If I had asked to trade with someone else, who else could I wish her on?”  

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Posted in 2017 Northern Tier

The Fat Lady Has Sung

The ride is over. My feeling of wanting to continue is also over. I’m ready to go home. After yesterday’s emotional end to the ride and great dinner with my new friends, I was too worn out to write. I climbed into bed expecting to fall right to sleep. My brain had other ideas…it was running full tilt recalling so many things about the past two months.

The day was perfect for ending the ride. The threatened afternoon showers never arrived. It was a short day mileagewise but I asked to start with the early group and am glad.

Roel, Ann and I made up the final day’s group for the most part. Others were with us off and on during the day. Because we’d left early, there was time to stop for coffee/tea. But not too much as we needed to be at Rye Jr. High by a specific time. We did arrive in plenty of time.  There was lots of hugging and good-bying at this point because we weren’t sure what would happen at the beach.

Our police escort showed up and we rode the last few miles in style, as a group.  We had the blue carpet treatment at the beach. (A blue carpet led us onto the sand). Some took off their shoes, carried the bike and held it over their heads in triumph as photos were taken.

Family and friends were there to cheer for us all. Even the locals who were just visiting the beach were cheering for us and offering congratulations. It was quite a feeling of accomplishment.

Staff had collected water from the Pacific and our tandem team of Chris and James were chosen to pour it into the Atlantic.

Chris and James from England pouring Pacific water into the Atlantic.
Elation

Tilly and I made it from sea to shining sea.

At this point, we had choices. Pack bike in trailer and take van to motel, ride into Maine (just to say you’d done it), or ride to the motel. I chose to ride to the motel. As I was alone, it gave me time to reflect on what had just happened. Lots of feelings: happy, sad, elated, wonder, accomplishment…

View of beach where we dipped wheels in Atlantic Ocean.

Phil, one of the riders who lives near here, arranged for a group dinner at Warren’s Lobster in Maine. Although not everyone was there, it allowed us another chance to get together before the final farewells.

I sat at the table with  Hao and his parents. His father came here from Shanghai and his mother from Beijing both around 30 years ago. I would have liked to talk to them more since I visited China a few years back and have questions about life under Mao.

This morning there were still several of our group having another wonderful motel breakfast which gave us more time together and more goodbys.

Finally those of us going to the airport loaded up into the van for the drive to Logan Airport in Boston. Once we got to the airport, more hugs. The others were taking airlines in another terminal so I’m by myself in terminal C waiting for my evening flight. Can’t even check in my luggage until noon (its 9:30) so I’m very sedentary for now. What a strange feeling.

Posted in 2017 Northern Tier

45 Out Of 50

Hard to believe this adventure is almost over but we completed day 45 and only have five more days of cycling. When I started this, one of my thoughts was about other cycling events I’ve done. I always wanted to keep riding when the four to ten day rides were over.  Riding for 50 days across the US should take care of that, right?  No. I don’t want this to end!

On the other hand, I miss Dan a lot and will be glad to see him next Tuesday. We are already discussing things we can do together which helps with the wanting to keep riding issue.

Something goofy has been going on with our data plan so I’m afraid to download my photos from the phone so no pictures today. Maybe I can add them in a couple days.

Today’s ride started on a bike path that runs beside the Erie Canal. It was nice to ride for 15 miles or so without worrying about traffic!  When I got to one of the locks, there was a small boat waiting to be let down so it could continue down the canal. Got to see the water let out and the gate opened for the ladies who were waiting to continue their journey.
We have been very fortunate with the weather. Today was another mild day (and the winds were in our favor). My saddle issues are back so I had the saddle adjusted again this evening hoping for better results tomorrow, sigh.

Ninety two miles today. The rest of our days will be shorter.

Posted in 2017 Northern Tier

Penultimate Day

Today was the opposite of yesterday. Beautiful clear skies, comfortable riding temperature, good roads but still lots of hills. It was almost all either up or down not much flat at all. I chose not to beat myself up on the hills today so ended up by myself as I crested many of the climbs. That’s ok, I caught up on the down side…sometimes.

Made it into our last state of the trip – New Hampshire

There is lots of water here. I saw several swamp areas. I also passed by or over several streams. While we are headed east and are east of the continental divide, the water was running the opposite direction from the way I was riding. Although that looked normal to me, I’ve been told all the water east of the divide, goes to the Atlantic Ocean so where was this water headed? There was one stream flowing the other direction and, even though it looked strange, at least it was going the right way considering where I am.

One of the swamps along the way
Meeting house in Francestown

I only missed two turns today. The first one, staff was sitting in the van on the corner and honked at me. Darn, it was such a great downhill too! The second was the turn to get me to the motel. Good thing the Lady in My Pocket was on the ball. She let me know right away that I was off course. In my defense, the street signs are a bit strange here and I did not see one that said Queen City Avenue.

The duck that followed us all summer. He is going to stay with Steve, our rider that was hit and seriously injured by a big rig driver back in So. Dakota.

We had a celebration dinner this evening since the ride ends tomorrow. Each of us received a certificate and our own little duck. It was, of course, bittersweet. We have become a family and no one else will truly understand what we’ve done and how it has affected each of us.

Cake to celebrate “Congratulations On Your Ride Across America”

Tomorrow we dip our wheels in the Atlantic.

Posted in 2017 Northern Tier

The Rains Came Down

The road was wet when we started this morning but it was not raining. So the first miles were pleasant enough once we got out of town. It didn’t take long to reach the Hudson River today. Crossed it at mile 4.5.

Then, just before I reached the top of our first climb, the sky started spitting at me. Soon after I was at our first rest stop and the rain started in earnest. Roel and I stood under the awning at a gas station waiting for the cell to pass. When it eased a bit, we headed down the hill. Roel chooses to ride slow on the downhills so I passed him and kept going. I had been concerned about the climbs since we haven’t had any for many, many miles but they were not an issue. Yay!

The first substantial climb of the day brought me here.

The next milestone for the day was crossing into Vermont. Soon after that, we went through Old Bennington where another cloud dumped on us. The shoulders were bad, the rain was heavy and there was lots of traffic, I chose to use the sidewalk until I couldn’t any more. The rain was coming down so hard and fast, it was difficult to “read” the road. Is that a just a puddle or a pothole filled with water? Will there be pavement under that stream of water or broken asphalt with huge cracks to grab your wheel?

Penny photo bombed my picture. 🙂

And then it stopped raining. When I reached the second rest stop, it wasn’t raining but Deanna was inside the trailer with all the food trying to stay dry. So, it had rained there earlier.

The next section of the ride was up Hogback Mountain. Roel and I got to the top and it was pouring. There was a scenic overlook but nothing to see today! There was a store there too so we went into the vestibule and waited, hoping the rain would stop again. Roel got impatient so we went out into the rain and started down the hill. Not a wise choice but we didn’t know that until it was too late.  A very busy highway, wet roads, heavy rain, bad to no shoulder…we were very dependent on all the drivers paying attention. I am so glad they did!

As we got to lower elevation and away from the mountain, the sky cleared and the riding became better. The last 20 miles were better but we were both glad to be done with today’s adventure.

The other day we got the “taper” lecture. Start cutting back on eating so much as the body won’t need all the calories once the ride is over. So tonight I had salad, five pieces of pizza and a brownie. I can’t remember the last time I ate that much pizza. So much for tapering.

Posted in 2017 Northern Tier

Mohawk

In spite of the predictions, there was no rain today. It did start out overcast with low clouds obscuring hill tops and the Mohawk Valley. At some point, it looked and felt like we were riding right into a storm but the clouds lifted and we got some sunshine.

One of the riders got this pic of the Mohawk Valley. He went through at a different time than me.

Our first rest stop was at mile 35, Karen’s Produce and Ice Cream. What the name didn’t say was ‘pie.’ Hao bought a blueberry pie and had it transported to the motel. After dinner this evening, he shared it (big smile).

At mile 50, we entered a bike path which followed the Mohawk River. So nice to get off the roads for a few miles. We got off the path to meet at our second rest stop but not too long after that, we were back on the path.

Hooray for bike hike trails.
Mohawk River
Another lock, this one on the Mohawk River.

After the wonderful paths, riding into Latham wasn’t much fun. Rough roads, lots of traffic, having to fight for road position, yikes! Finished the 75 miles today with no hot foot. Maybe that’s my magic number for not getting the burning sensation.

A side note: many of the hotels/motels we’ve stayed at have leaking water problems…either a faucet drips or the toilet leaks. I just finished messing around with the toilet tank in this place. Maybe I’m more aware of this because we’ve just gone through a five year drought where we’ve had to be very careful about our water usage. I do let the staff know but I wonder how many of them follow up on the information.  Maybe I could create a job saving these places big bucks by making sure they fix these problems and spend less on water.  Each place we’ve stayed says they want to conserve water by asking the customers to use towels more than once but do they really???

Posted in 2017 Northern Tier

Liverpool to Little Falls, New York

As we left the hotel today, we were in a large group. Not good for negotiating through a busy town. I was able to separate from the big group so there were just two or three of us. Makes it easier for cyclists and motorists to get around each other.

Tucker Street! Alan had to stop to get a photo as that’s his last name. SoCal James and I were ruthless, we left him to fight his way back up to us after he got his picture.

Then I had to stop to take my pills, several folks passed me by. I was able to catch on with Roel and Dirk.

Later in the day, Roel, Dirk and I stopped at the second sag. While I wasn’t paying attention, they left! Alan was at the stop so he and I took off together. While we took turns “pulling,” he really did most of the work. At one point Alan mentioned the “Alabama boys” were catching up so we poured on the fuel so they wouldn’t pass us.

Then, just about two miles from the end, that left foot of mine started with the burning sensation. Alan was kind enough to pull over to give me a chance to give the foot a rest. We’d been there a while when I saw the “Alabama boys” coming. Come on, let’s go! And go we did. We beat them to the motel by a few seconds. They didn’t even know there’d been a race.

Fun day. Tomorrow there’s a good chance we’ll get rain.

Oh, I almost forgot to mention, I saw hills today. We’ve been in the flatlands for so long, I forgot how pretty the hills can be. I may regret saying that in a day or two when we’re climbing the steep ones we’ve been promised.

Spent the evening exploring the area around Little Falls.

Went thru Main St tunnel to get to the island and the lock.
Water on other side of this wall was above my head. Hope the dike doesn’t fail.
I was there!

Lock No. 17
View on other side of the canal.
Once a school, then a Masonic home, what next?
More unnamed wildflowers