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Friday, June 26, 2009

Date: June 25, 2009 - Final Day of the Ride
Riding Route: From Burlington, MA to Revere Beach, MA (Boston)
Weather: Great!
Elevation Climb: Minor
Miles Ridden: 18
Today's ride is dedicated to my two riding buddies: Charlie Semperton and Bob Fuller. If you've read my blog you know about the circumstances of these two fine gentleman. You both made it to the finish line with us! The pictures above include our flag salute to Charlie. Bob, my man in blue, is still recovering from his accident! Today you were with us in thought and spirit!
I'm sitting in the motel room in Burlington, MA (Boston) with huge mixed emotions. The bike ride of a lifetime is over. I made it! I rode my bicycle across America - all 3420 miles of it! We went through 15 states, stayed in 43 different motels, climbed over 100,000 feet of elevation and pedaled about 985,000 strokes! We encountered all kinds of weather (both good and bad); all kinds of roads (both good and bad); all kinds of people (good and not so good). I ate more food (and burned it off) than I thought could have been possible. I saw America at 15 mph. I stopped and smelled a lot of roses. I took over 400 pictures - and now I have the job of trying to organize them and remember who, what, when, and where is going to be a challenge!
A couple of folks have asked me what were the highlights and the low lights. The highlights were: the camaraderie of the 16 of us that completed the entire ride; the unbelievable professionalism and quality of the staff of CrossRoads (the tour group) - their dedication to our safety, comfort, happiness et al far exceeded my expectations; seeing America at a slow pace and over the back roads vs. the freeways; the historical facts; having a number of friends meet and greet me along the way; the people we met along the trek; the accomplishment of being able to do the ride at my age - and so much more!
The low lights: having two original members not be able to complete the ride with us; some of the tough weather conditions; a few days when I just didn't want to climb in the saddle again; the small percentage of drivers that were real jerks to those of us on bikes; some of the road conditions; and always being concerned about personal safety (mine and fellow riders). Notice this is a much shorter list!
The idea of trying to raise money for the Rod Denhart Memorial Scholarship Fund for the Decorative Plumbing and Hardware Association - and seeing the unbelievable response to this has also been a highlight! I had set a goal to raise $25,000 - and we're close to $24,000. If you were waiting to see if the "old man" would make it before you committed, you can go ahead and make the pledge now. We're so darn close not to make the goal! It's a great cause for something I am passionate about. For everyone that has committed - thank you, thank you, thank you!
This morning we rode all together - 18 miles to Revere Beach. The last 5 miles we rode in twos - with an escort vehicle in front and in back. I was honored to be asked to lead the group. (I think age had something to do with it)! We all did the traditional dipping of the front tire in the Atlantic Ocean (picture above). There were 60-70 folks lined up on the beach to greet us as we came in. My good friends, Ted and Lily Mahoney, were there to greet me with black and white checkered flags - and a Boston Red Sox tee shirt! (pictured above). Thank you Ted and Lily! My son Steve, and his wife Andrea (pictured above), were with Carol and I for the celebration - thank you "kids"...for sharing in your dad's accomplishment! I can't tell you how much it meant to have you here! What a great feeling! Tonight we have a closing banquet and then we're all off in different directions. In case you're interested, my bike and I are flying home! I'm not going to do the East to West pedal!
This ride would not have happened without the incredible support of Carol . When I threw the idea out last Fall she said "go for it"! (Heck, it got me out of her hair for 7 weeks). She's really been a biking widow since November 1st of last year when I started seriously training for the ride. I've had a number of folks comment on my blog. Again - all the credit goes to Carol. I'd call her every evening with a list of bullet points from the day's ride! She researched all the historical information, she made it interesting, personal, and the great read that it was. Thank you so very much Carol!
So in the beginning of this last blog I said I'm sitting here with many mixed emotions:
  • I'm glad the ride is over
  • I wish the ride could go on (country roads with no traffic, the sun shining and the wind at our backs)
  • I'll miss my friends so much!

So what will the next adventure be? I'm wide open for suggestions! Thanks to each of you for being part of this incredible experience!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Reporting on: Thursday, June 25, 2009
Riding Route: From Brattleboro, VT to Burlington (Boston), MA
Temperature: in the 70's/ Winds: 10 mph
Elevation Climb: 5900 feet
Miles Ridden: 91 miles

For the third day in a row I woke up with a very upset stomach. I've been riding the best I could - but today I took a "bump" and rode in the van. I haven't been able to eat anything - and the multiple trips to the loo have left me dehydrated, achy and in general feeling crummy. I am really bummed to have missed one of the prettiest days of the ride through the heart of the "founding of America" countryside. Oh, so much great history! (One other of our riders, Alec, is also sick with the same thing. It was a tough thing for him to "bump" today, because he has ridden every other inch of the ride.).

I told you yesterday that my friend, Todd McDonough, came to Brattleboro to ride with me. No problem though! He rode with Champ and did a great job. It was one of the longest rides he's done! I'm sorry I couldn't have shared the time with you Todd! And thanks Champ, you're a real "champ" in my book for filling in for me! Dr. George (one of our riders) gave me some Cipro - and I think it's working! I had dinner tonight - the first meal in two days.

Tomorrow is our ceremonial 18 mile ride to Revere Beach. We ride the last 5 miles in a procession with an escort and end the trip by dipping our front tires in the Atlantic Ocean. Tomorrow night we have a closing banquet which will be very emotional. We've become a very close group - laughing, crying, helping each other etc.

I was excited to have Carol, Steve and Andrea and Ron and Nancy here for the closing events. Several of the people have family and friends here supporting them too.

When I look at the big map that gets set up in the hotel lobby each day and see the black line that shows the route we followed - it sinks in that I rode my bike the whole way (well almost!) I have trouble comprehending the task we undertook. When you're riding 85 miles a day - virtually every day - it all kind of becomes a blur. I'm sure as I sit back and reflect on the highs, lows and in-betweens - it will all fall into place.

Only one more entry in this fabulous experience...dipping the tires in the Atlantic - and our group dinner.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Reporting on: June 24, 2009 - Day 48
Riding Route: From Albany, NY to Brattleboro, VT
Temperature:65-77 degrees /Winds:5-15 mph Elevation Climb: 6100 feet
Miles Ridden Today: 76

We completed our 12th State Line crossing today: Vermont! We had a heck of a climbing day - as we rode through Vermont's beautiful Green Mountains. They extend approximately 250 miles - with the highest peak being about 4400 feet. (There are actually 4 passes that are over 4000 feet). The range is part of the Appalachian Mountains which stretches from New England to Georgia. This area includes many downhill skiing areas and also a portion of the Appalachian National Scenic Trail - a hiking trail that runs 2170 miles - from Georgia to Maine. (There are three main trails in our country that form what is known as the "triple crown of long distance hiking". They are: The Appalachian Trail, the Continental Divide Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail).

We made it to mile 36 before it started to rain. There were several longer climbs - a 7.1 mile one and then another 4 mile one...not real tough - but long. Doesn't sound hard, does it? The toughest part seemed to be the long descents in the rain. There were pines and white birch everywhere. It was the first time I felt we were in the New England states! We crossed over into Vermont at mile 31 - and the roads changed immediately. There was a fair amount of traffic - and we were once again hugging the white line.

Brattlboro is a quaint town with a population of about 12,000 people. In the early years Whetstone Falls provided water power for watermills, beginning with a sawmill and gristmill. By 1859, when the population had reached 3,816, Brattleboro had a woolen textile mill, a paper mill, a manufacturer of papermaking machinery, a factory making melodeons, a flour mill and a carriage factory. Okay, who knows what a melodeon is? Yep, it's an accordian!

My friend Todd McDonough of Home Portfolio arrived at 3:00 and is going to ride with us tomorrow. He's a ex-tri-athelete and currently is a marathon guy! What a challenge he'll be for us! We have 91 miles tomorrow - and 6700 feet of climbing. It's our last full day of riding. As our group talked this evening we agreed that the 7 weeks seems like 7 months. We've been in 42 towns and different motels - and everything seems to run together at this point. I'm going to have to go through my blog and pictures to sort things out when I have time.

Tomorrow Carol, son Steve and Andrea and our friends Ron and Nancy Smith will arrive. On Friday we do the ceremonial 21 mile ride to Revere Beach to dip our tires in the Atlantic Ocean! Then we're done...with the exception of Peter. He has a friend coming to join him and they are going to ride from Boston to New York City - where he lives. Some people just don't know when to quit!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Reporting on: Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Riding Route: Little Falls to Albany, NY
Temperature: 69 - 83 degrees/Winds: 10-15 mph
Elevation Climb: 2900 feet
Miles Ridden Today: 69 miles

We had a wonderful ride today along Route 5 East - 38 miles of 2 lanes - but with little traffic. We passed through a few towns - but mostly followed the Mohawk River on the right - and wooded forest areas on the left! (Would a forest area be anything but wooded?) UGH! About 30 miles outside of Albany began to be in an area that was town after town! We had traffic, traffic signals, stop signs and way to many people! Where were those country roads that were so peaceful?

We passed several historical sites - the major one being Fort Klock. The fort is part of a 30-acre complex that includes an historic homestead, a renovated Colonial Dutch Barn, blacksmith shop, and 19th century schoolhouse. It was built in 1750 by Johannes Klock...and was a trading post and fortification for farmers in the French and Indian War - and again against the British and their allies in the Revolutionary War. The thick stone walls of Fort Klock have firing ports, allowing the occupiers to fire rifles at attackers. They do reenactments here throughout the year.

After our ride I took a 2 hour nap... then gave Peter and Al their haircuts! Yep, I've converted a few of the guys to my easy style of hair! I gave myself one too - so I'll look good for the finish line!

Later I met my friend, Frank Dorrance, from Aird Dorrance in Ballston, NY (picture above). They are a consulting client of mine... who specialize in the plumbing, industrial and building materials business. Thanks Frank for a great evening! I really enjoyed it! I can't tell my readers how nice it's been to renew acquaintances along the way! It's certainly added to the quality of my trip!

Tomorrow and the next day will be the 3rd and 4th biggest climbing days of our trip. Tomorrow is 6100 feet and the next day is 5600 feet! I think they're trying to do us in on the last days! Only three days to go and your's truly will have completed the ride! Hurray!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Reporting on: Monday, June 22, 2009
Riding Route: From Syracuse to Little Falls, NY
Temperature: 64 to 83 degrees/Winds: 10-15 mph
Elevation Climb: 2800 feet
Miles Ridden Today: 78

At this point in the ride I'm looking for an easy way to the end of the trip. The limo caught my eye and if I could afford it - it might just be the way to finish this ride! ha (picture above)! We rode about 8 miles before we got out of the town of Syracuse this morning. The usual traffic, lights and stop signs slowed the trip some, but we're all use to it by now. After that we had a wonderful 35 mile ride on great country roads. The scenery was beautiful and we rode side by side as we followed the Erie Canal and the Mohawk River ...passing through many small and picturesque towns. It was wonderful while it lasted! Once we were on Rt 5 the traffic picked up considerably. After the peace and quiet of the back roads the noise seemed deafening - and we had to get back to concentrating again!
We arrived in Little Falls about 2:30. After getting settled in the hotel Champ, Tom and I took a walk around the area. Little Falls is probably one of the smallest towns we've stayed in...with a population of a little over 5000. This area was a thriving place in the 1800's - when it had the biggest cow hide processing plant in the country. Later there were paper mills and woolen mills - mainly because of the abundance of water - and the ability to ship products on the canal. As we walked town we observed many old brick building sitting empty - a sign of the hustle and bustle of days gone by. Both the Mohawk River and the Erie Canal go through town. Two of the pictures above are of the canal at Lock #17 (still a working lock). Today it's used mostly for pleasure boats - with very little commercial traffic. This lock is part of the New York State Erie Canal which replaced 3 locks of the original 1825 Erie Canal... and until recent years was the highest lift lock in the world at 40.5 feet in height.
This is the first time I've explored the upper part of New York state - and I have to tell you it's quite beautiful...and has lots of history. As in past days, we again rode by beautiful old mansions with immaculate yards. Some of these home were build in the late 1700's and 1800's. What stories they could tell!
Short report today! Albany, NY tomorrow!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Reporting on: Sunday, June 21, 2009 - Father's Day and the first day of Summer
Riding Route: From Canandaigua to Syracuse, NY
Temperature: 61-80 degrees/Winds: 1o mph in our face
Elevation Climb: 3600 feet
Miles ridden Today: 68

It was cloudy and misty when we took off this morning at 8:15. Because of the rain - we were delayed an hour. For the first hour or so we had drizzle and mist, but by 10:00 the sun started showing through the clouds. We were a happy group! Jeff Morrell joined us this morning (Picture Above) - and rode for about 25 miles with us. Because of Father's Day activities with his family he turned around at that point and headed back. Now he's a real rider! His normal pace is about 22-23 mph. He was kind and dawdled along with us at 17+ - and I think it was a ride in the park for him. Last night Jeff and his wife Tracy, took Champ, Tom Ryan and me to dinner. What a wonderful meal! They also gave us a tour of the Finger Lakes area. Jeff and his brother Scott are in the process of building out a huge showroom that includes everything for the home. They are builders in the area - and can't keep up with the business. Eat your heart out all of you in California! Business is great here! I can't thank them enough for their wonderful hospitality!

Today we passed the north end of a couple of the Finger Lakes. There are eleven lakes in all - and each one is long and very narrow (hence the name "finger lakes"). We rode by Seneca Lake which is the second longest (38 miles) and by far the deepest...with 4.1 trillion gallons of water! As you would guess from their depth they were formed by glaciers. ( By contrast - for those of you on the West Coast - Lake Tahoe is the third deepest lake in North America and the tenth deepest in the world. Its greatest measured depth is 1,645 feet and averages 1,000 feet). I learned that Senaca Falls was an area that played a huge part in the women's rights movement in the mid 1800's. The first Women's Rights Convention was there here in 1848 (Picture Above). Any women reading this blog should buy the movie "Ironed Jawed Angels" - which Carol would highly recommend! It's a true story about two women who took a strong stand for women's rights in this country. Think about the women of Iran as you see it! It's inspirational!

We also passed by the Erie Canal. There is so much history in this area that I could write ten pages and still not cover the basics! But just a few facts: The Canal runs 363 miles from Albany to Buffalo tying together the Hudson River and Lake Erie...and was the first navigable water route from the Atlantic Ocean to the Great Lakes. It was under construction from 1817 to 1832 - but officially opened in 1825 when the first phase was complete. The main problem encountered was that the land rises about 600 feet from the Hudson to Lake Erie. Locks at the time could handle up to 12 feet, so at least 50 locks had to be built along the 360 miles canal. The cost was astronomical even for those days! For my young readers I need to tell you that the channel was a cut 40 feet wide and 4 feet deep. The soil that they took out of the channel was piled on the downhill side to form a walkway called the "towpath". Canal boats, up to 3.5 feet in draft, were pulled by horses and mules on the towpath. So how did the boats pass each other? There was only one towpath, generally on the north side of the ditch. When canal boats met, the boat with the right-of-way steered to the towpath side of the canal. The other boat steered toward the berm or "heelpath" side of the canal. Did you know that the sides of the canal were lined with stones set in clay? It took hundreds of German masons to do the work - and much of the original canal is still in place today!

We also stopped in Waterloo, NY today. (Yes, the village is named after the Waterloo, Belgium where Napoleon was defeated). It's known as the birthplace of Memorial Day. They first celebrated it here on May 5, 1866. The date was later changed to May 30th - which we celebrate today. It was originally known as "Decoration Day" in honor of our fallen soldiers. As we passed through communities today there were some beautiful "old" homes that were built in the early 1800's. They were well maintained and the yards were immaculate.

New York continues to get the best marks for bike lanes. BUT...yes we had another incident. Nancy flew off her bike today and dislocated her shoulder, has her arm in a sling and lots of "road rash". She was taken to the hospital - but is back with us tonight, and probably won't ride the remaining 5 days. I also checked in with Bob Fuller - who had the run-in with the motor cycle. He's been moved to a convalescent hospital but sounds in good spirits. If you're reading this Bob, know that you're in our thoughts and prayers! Get well soon!

Today was Willie's 52nd birthday and when we arrived at the hotel there were balloons from his family and a celebration for him. We all signed a card - and had cupcakes! Happy birthday Willie!

Both my knees are stiff and sore. The Aleve in the morning and evening are helping, but I think it's good that I'll have a rest in a few days. Carol, our son Steve and his wife Andrea, are meeting me at the finish - along with our good friends Ron and Nancy Smith (who are coming up from Florida) and we'll have some good hugs and a celebration that the old man made it all the way across the country! However, as you can see from the picture above, I've upgraded my bike from when I left Manhattan Beach! (Do you remember that picture)? More tomorrow!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Reporting on: Saturday, June 20, 2009
Riding Route: From Hamburg to Canandaigua, NY
Temperature: 60-72 degrees/Winds:10-15 mph
Elevation Climb: 5100 feet
Miles Ridden Today: 94 for a few - 0 for some and 27 for me!

Day 43 presented us with another test. You probably know the east is getting inundated with rain, rain and more rain. Today was another tough day weather wise. It was raining when we started today and the prediction was for rain all day. Many of our riders opted not to even get in their biking gear and took the SAG wagon from the beginning. I decided I'd give it a try - and lasted for 27 miles. Again it was dangerous and wasn't fun. The wind was blowing and I couldn't keep my glasses clear enough to see in front of me! Champ, my roommate, made it the entire way - and he had a flat tire to boot! (That's #11 for him)! Needless to say he was soaked to the bones when he arrived at the hotel. I told you about the EFI Club. He wants to join the "Every Fantastic Inch" club but said if we have another day like this one he's going in the SAG wagon also! Enough is enough! Our room looks like a tornado went through it! We're in a hotel that has no laundry facilities (which is unusual)...and have clothes and gear all over the place trying to get it dry before morning. It's kinda like a sweat box in here! If you'd pray to the weather gods to give us a nice day tomorrow we'd sure appreciate it!

Tonight I'm having dinner with my good friend Jeff Morrell. If the weather holds he's going to ride with me for part of the day. He needs to be home to celebrate Father's Day with his family in the afternoon! If the weather's bad - then we'll have breakfast and call it a day!

If you can pronounce the name of this town, Canandaigua, you're doing pretty good! Most of us can't! I did find out it comes from an Iroquois word which means "chosen spot." The only bit of history I was able to find out was that in 1873, women's rights activist Susan B. Anthony was tried in the local county courthouse for voting. She was found guilty and fined $100. (Which I'm sure she didn't pay)! We're also told there is a beautiful lake just south of town - Canandaigua Lake, which is the fourth largest of the Finger Lakes in NY. But to be honest, we don't have any interest in seeing another drop of water! Where is the Mojave Desert? I need to conjure it up in my imagination!

Tomorrow it's on to Syracuse - a 68 mile ride!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Reporting on: Friday, June 19, 2009
Riding Route: From Erie, PA to Hamburg, NY
Temp: 60's - 70's/Wind: 5-10 mph - our faces again!
Elevation Climb: 2600 feet
Miles Ridden: 78 miles
Today we made the trek from Erie, PA to Hamburg, NY. Another state line crossing (our 11th state) as you can see from the picture above. I know you're wondering where Hamburg is! No it's not Germany! (Altho did you know that Hamburg, Germany is the second-largest city in Germany (after Berlin) and the sixth-largest city in the European Union?) Hamburg, NY is on the western edge of Buffalo, NY! We are only 8 miles from Niagra Falls! Some of our riders went there today and had some facts to give me for the blog. You know that the Falls straddle the Canadian-United States International Border and is in both the Province of Ontario and the State of New York. It attracts some 12 Million tourists to her majestic beauty each year. It's a fairly young river, only 12,000 years old, a microsecond in geological time. (Think of the time you and I spend on this earth - we hardly exist in the time frame). It's the second largest falls on the globe next to Victoria Falls in southern Africa. Okay, enough!
The weather prediction for the ride today was of course rain, rain, rain! BUT...we had only drizzles the first hour and then outbiked the rain for the remainder of the day! What a joy! I would put today in the top three days of our trip: it was beautiful scenery, a fun ride and relatively easy! We followed Route 5E. Lake Erie was on our left - and miles and miles of grape vineyards were on the right. These vineyards produce grapes for Welch's...which began in 1869 in Vineland, New Jersey. (A physician and dentist named Thomas Bramwell Welch and his son Charles processed the first bottles of "unfermented wine" to use during their church's communion service). Welch's is the world's leading marketer of Concord and Niagara-based grape products! Most of us grew up on their grape juice!
Our group gave PA four stars for their bike lanes! But I have to tell you that NY gets 5 stars - at least so far! They have 6-8 foot wide shoulders - and have recently enacted a law that says all roads will have these wide lanes - basically for "breakdowns" - but it sure makes bike riding much easier too! We loved the sign as we rode into New York that is pictured above. It's a "Share the Road" sign that really makes sense. A good reminder to all of us - no matter where we live!
Bob and Gayle, if you're reading this blog I rode by your home in Forest Park today! We also went to see Gail at The Sugar Shack! We all agreed that it was one of the best stops we've made on the trip. The Sugar Shack (Gail - pictured above) has a cute gift shop, sells syrups, grows grapes, strawberries, cherries etc. She was so kind to our group - having expresso coffee and tea + ice cream with her delicious homemade syrups available for all of us. If you would like to buy the best syrups available then email Gail at Several of the riders ordered things to be sent home! Or, if you're in the area of Westfield, NY - go by and see her!
I had shifting problems at Mile 11 today. My bike got stuck in the "granny gears"! (Lowest gears). Rick, our mechanic, met me and got it into the middle gears - which I rode in all day. He promised to have it fixed tonight. Tomorrow will be another tough ride of 94 miles and 5100 feet of elevation climb! I'll need all my gears. We'll hit the 3000 mile mark tomorrow!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Reporting on: Thursday, June 18,2009
Riding Route: Day Off!
Temperature:57-67 degrees / Winds: 5mph
Woke up this morning and had chores on my mind. Champ and I met my brother and we walked down the street to do our laundry! Had a Starbucks with a few of the other guys while we were waiting. After that the three of us decided we'd go Presque Isle which is a 3,200-acre PA State park on a sandy peninsula that juts into Lake Erie. It's a popular area for swimming, boating and hiking and of course bike riding! It's famous for being the location of French, British and American forts - all of which still stand in replica today. It also served as base for Commodore Oliver Perry's fleet in the War of 1812! (He captured the area for the United States...and The Perry Monument on Presque Isle commemorates the U.S. naval victory on Lake Erie in the War of 1812). It was a major port in the 1800's - and as a result there are several lighthouses in the area. The park has been named one of the best places in the US to watch birds, and protects them in its Gull Point State Park Natural Area. It wasn't very crowded - but they boast over 4 million visitors a year!
After that we decided to take a boat tour of the Erie area. We went down to the docks and bought our tickets to go on "The Katie". (Picture above). There was not an overflowing crowd - in fact, only six of us! In essence it was a private tour! Where are all the tourists? Times must be tough! We learned that the earliest known inhabitants of the southern Lake Erie coast were the Eriehonan also known as the "Eriez", an Iroquois speaking tribe. Erielhonan meant the "Cat" or "Raccoon" people, and the name "Erie" became the name of the lake and county and city! Erie is the states fourth largest city in Pennsylvania with a population of 104,000. We Californian's can hardly relate to a city that small! We have over 40 cities that are bigger that that!
I also wanted to let you know how Pennsylvania got it's name. Its founder, English reformer William Penn, born in 1644, in London, England, named it in honor of his father. Persecuted in England for his Quaker faith, Penn came to America in 1682 and established Pennsylvania as a place where people could enjoy freedom of religion. The colony became a haven for minority religious sects from Germany, Holland, Scandinavia, and Great Britain. Penn obtained the land from King Charles II as payment for a debt owed to his deceased father. "Penn" comes from the family name - and "sylvania" means forest...hence Penn's Forest! My family has in it's possession an actual deed where William Penn deeded property to the Darlington Family...altho closer to Philadelphia.
I can't tell you how nice it was to spend time with my brother! Thanks Steve! By the way, where did you get all that hair?

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Reporting on: Day 40 of the ride...June 17, 2009
Riding Route: From Niles, OH to Erie, PA
Temp: Cold and Windy and Rainy all Day!
Elevation Climb: 2500 feet
Miles Ridden Today: 89 miles

Have you ever seen the sky open up and dump a pouring rain on the parched land below? Well today was that kind of day! It was raining when we started - and we were in the rain all day. It was our first "all day rain " of the trip. We've had rain off and on, but there was no let up today! Of course the wind was right there with the rain...we'd take a left and the rain would be at our backs - and we'd take a right and the wind would be in our faces. Our first SAG stop (at about mile 36) many of the riders quit! They jumped in the van and went to the hotel! I have to admit that I made it only to mile 60. My fingers were white and numb, my feet were frozen, my shoes full of water and worst of all I couldn't see anything because my glasses were streaked with water the entire time. When you have rain coming from above, the visor helps keep the rain off the glasses. But, when the wind is blowing, the visor does no good - and the rain hits the glasses and continues on down to soak every part of your body. When the SAG wagon went by...I put my hand on my helmet...and they stopped. (We have the signals down pat)! Good common sense told me that it was time to quit! My group arrived at the hotel about 2:00 - and I'm sure the hot water bill of the hotel went up significantly! Boy did that hot shower feel good!

Crossroads Tours has an elite group of riders who belong to the "EFI Club". What's that you ask? It's the "Every Fantastic Inch" Club. It means you ride every inch of the trip. Some of us have other words for EFI! Use your imagination! We have 8 people who are hoping to become members this year. Let me tell you - those who stayed with the ride today - deserve it! More power to them - and we will all be proud of their accomplishment! However, I know that I didn't get to this ripe old age without using some good old fashion common sense!

I didn't take any pictures today. Certainly every picture would have been blurred with the streaks of rain coming down the lens! We have a day off tomorrow...hurray! Of course it will be laundry day - and we'll see what we can learn about Erie, PA! I can tell you that Erie is one of the cities in the triangle of Cleveland, OH, Buffalo, NY and Pittsburgh, PA (which is directly south). The city emerged as a maritime center after the American Revolution, then as a railroad hub during the great American westward expansion. It became an important city for iron and steel manufacturing during the Industrial Revolution and thrived well into the 20th century with big industry. Today Erie is known for it's heavy manufacturing sector which now consists mainly of plastics and locomotive building. They are part of the "Rust Belt"! Yep, I said Rust Belt! This area includes Minnesota (where massive iron operations took place which were critical to the steel industry) to Northern IL, IN and OH, MI, WI, NY, NJ and PA and down into the northern part of WVa. It signified the collapse of the steel industry which resulted in the loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs in the region. The job losses dislocated many workers - particularly in Pittsburgh, Buffalo, Syracuse, Milwaukee, Detroit, Cleveland, Bethlehem and other towns forcing this area to diversify or decay. New technologies in this region include hydrogen fuel cell development, nanotechnology, biotech, information technology and wind power. These communities are hopeful that these new industries will help revitalize the economy of affected communities. Let's think about this: Did we bail out the steel companies?

Tonight I had the pleasure of my brother Steve's company again - and that of Gayle and Bob McNeil. We hadn't seen Gayle and Bob for 12 years - and what a wonderful time we had catching up on family news. They made the trek over from New York - and I thank them for their effort. What fun it was to spend time with them and do a major "catch up"!

More tomorrow!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Reporting on: Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Riding Route: From Wooster to Niles, OH
Temperature: 56 - 78 degrees/Winds: 5-15 mph
Elevation Climb: 4600 feet
Miles Ridden Today: 100 with detours!
We have six days of l-o-n-g and hard peddling behind us - and one to go! Anyone who says Ohio is flat hasn't ridden it on a bike! Today was not near as fun as it should have been. The weather was good, the scenery terrific and the company great! Oh-oh you comes another "but"! You're right! The roads were the worst we've experienced the entire trip. We've had days where we had places that were tough to ride...but this was an entire day of teeth jarring bumps and holes and cracks in the roads! On top of that we had several unplanned detours. I will also tell you that our group voted to give the Ohio drivers the prize for being "Absolute Jerks" (being said nicely) to bike riders! This was unanimous, absolute, unqualified and undisputed! If there was plenty of room on the road for them to move over - they came as close to us as possible...and blew their horns, swerved in front of us - and tried to run us off the road! At one point today I decided a HOG would be a better way to travel (picture above). You'll recall I couldn't get the little boy to trade bikes with me a few days ago - and today I couldn't get the big guy to either!
Last night I received a call from my good friend David Hawkins who lives in Canton. He and his wife Wendy drove over and had dinner with me tonight. You should have seen the three of us in their little Porsche Boxster! It was a challenge - but we did it! Thank goodness the restaurant wasn't too far away! We had a great meal and a wonderful time sharing thoughts and ideas! As many of you know, David is one of the preeminent showroom designers in the nation. If you're thinking of building out a showroom - he's your man!
My roommate Champ had a "crappy day" - as he put it! When he woke up this morning his bike had a flat tire. Then a couple of miles into the ride his bike computer gave out! He was going up a hill and the chain came off...and because the computer wasn't working he got lost! To top it all off 10 miles before we arrived at the hotel he had another flat tire! He did more than 100 miles today...and they were tougher than the rest of us had! It made us all stop complaining! However, a little time in the whirlpool helped him bounce back and he's in great spirits again.
Today Bob (who had the accident yesterday) had screws put in his ankle and his leg set. We were told that it was a good thing he had his helmet on - it was completed "shredded"! He's doing much better tonight! On a good note, Willie, one of our riders, is having 6 friends join him on the ride tomorrow. It really makes it fun when that happens. I've also got two more friends joining me before the ride is over.
A little history on Niles (population 21,000): It's known to most Ohioans as the birthplace of William McKinley, the 25th President of the United States. President McKinley's death in 1901 was the result of an attack by an assassin. It shocked the nation and especially people in this area...and in 1915 the McKinley Memorial was built in downtown Niles. The facility currently houses the community's library as well as a small museum. Not much else here!
Only 9 more riding days! Where has the time gone?

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Reporting on: Monday, June 15, 2009
Riding Route: From Marysville to Wooster, OH
Temperature: mid 50's to 80 degrees /Winds: 10 mph
Elevation Climb: 5100 feet
Miles Ridden Today: 97

Those of you who have been reading my blog from the beginning know that we lost a rider in Santa Fe, NM. He died doing what he loved! His death had a very sad and profound effect on each of us. Charlie had become part of our team and we've all put his name on our flags - which we fly each day on our bikes. He IS finishing this ride with us! We have now come to understand how much cycling meant to him...and I wanted to share the story with you. The following article appeared in his Vermont hometown newspaper on Friday:

"A Barre City man has bequeathed $1 million to his hometown and neighboring Barre Town to complete planned bike paths in the two communities.
Charles Semprebon died at age 66 on May 24 while on a cycling tour in Sante Fe, N.M.His family met with city and town officials last week to inform them of the bequest.
"I'm overwhelmed by Charlie's generosity," said Barre City Mayor Thom Lauzon. "Everyone who knew Charlie knew of his strong advocacy for fitness and cycling. This generous and thoughtful gift to our communities will help us realize Charlie's dream of a regional bike path that can be enjoyed by cyclists in perpetuity."
"For Charlie to honor his community so generously demonstrates just how much fitness, cycling and his community meant to him," said Jeff Blow, Barre Town chairman.
Semprebon was born in Barre, attended city schools and returned after graduating from college to work at the family-owned business, Calmont Beverage Company. He retired last year."

Today started out as a great day! We had good weather - with mild wind and no rain. BUT, (isn't there always a "but") at about mile 20 one of our riders, Bob...from Princeton, NJ was involved in an accident and had to be airlifted to Columbus. It was a case of just not seeing the other guy. He ran into a motorcycle...and ended up with multiple injuries. He was alert when the helicopter swooped him away - and all reports tonight indicate he is resting comfortably - and will have surgery tomorrow to set some broken bones. You're in our thoughts and prayers Bob. We wish you a speedy recovery and will miss having you with us! You'll be finishing this ride with us in our hearts and minds! All I can say is this cycling can be a rough sport!
The ride today took us through the town of Delaware, OH which is located near the center of the state, about 20 miles north of Columbus. It is the site of the Ohio Wesleyan University, one of the top liberal arts colleges in the country. The city is famous for The Little Brown Jug, an internationally famous harness race which is part of the Triple Crown of harness racing. President Rutherford B. Hayes was born in Delaware...but there is very little note of it...just a small marker along one of the roads we were on. The picture above was taken there.
Our destination today was Wooster...which is home of the Rubbermaid brand of products. Tonight Champ and I had the pleasure of having dinner with my brother and his wife, Steve and Barbara who drove down from Cleveland. One of Steve's law school roommates and his wife also joined us for the evening. We had a great meal - and a great time! Thanks so much to the four of you for sharing time with us.
The map in the picture above shows our progress to date. Tomorrow we head to Niles, OH...a 91 mile ride! Weather reports tell us it will be 54 degrees when we leave in the morning - and we will see a high of around 81 degrees. Winds will be from the Northeast again at 5-10 mph. We keep wondering when they will change to be at our backs!
We're closing in on raising the amount of money I'd set as a goal for the DPHA Scholarship Fund. If any of you are holding out on your pledge to see if I'm going to make it all the way across the country I'm thinking you could do it now! There are only 10 riding days left - and I guarantee you I'm going to stay alert and healthy! My many thanks to all of you who have supported this worthy cause...and at the same time supported me with your thoughts, prayers and dollars. For once I think I'm speechless!

Reporting on: Sunday, June 14, 2009
Riding Route: From Richmond, IN to Marysville, OH
Temperature: mid 70's/Winds: Yes, again!
Elevation Climb: 3500 feet
Miles Ridden Today: 104
Today was another challenging, but wonderful day of riding. The temperature was perfect! The challenging part was that we were trying to outrun a huge storm that pursued us the entire day! We had the feeling it was racing us to the finish line! Huge, black, ominous clouds filled with rain were in our sight at all times. Ah-h, but we were the winners in the end! Only a few drops of rain got us!
Today was the eighth "century" (100 miler) ride of the trip. We have two more...tomorrow and the next day (and a final one in New York). What are they trying to do to this old guy? We hit two unplanned detours today. It would have been fine, except that we had to ride in gravel for several miles. Have you ever tried to do that on these skinny tires we're using? Ah ha - another challenge!
The back roads continue to give us the opportunity to view America at its heart! We're seeing a part of our country the average "interstate traveler" doesn't have the chance to see. I'd sure recommend that if you have the good fortune to do a road trip - then take the road less traveled! You'll be amazed at what you'll see, the people you'll meet and the experiences you'll have. We passed into Ohio today - our ninth state crossing - and we're in the Eastern Time Zone!
Above is a picture of Sue on her recumbent bicycle. She joined us about a week ago and is going to Boston on this strange looking bike. And speaking of different bikes I must tell you that we passed many Amish on their way to church this morning. Guess what they were riding? Yep, tandem bikes and single bikes! It was a heck of a sight seeing them dressed in their Sunday best attire riding bikes! There were also the traditional buggies - but of course the bikes really caught our eye!
I'm calling it a night. They tell us tomorrow is the toughest day of the trip. For sure it's going to be a long one! My brother and his wife, Steve and Barbara, are meeting me tomorrow night for dinner. Yea! Something to look forward to!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Reporting on: Saturday, June 13, 2009
Riding Route: From Indianapolis to Richmond, IN
Temp: 65 degrees and cloudy/Wind: 15mph constantly
Elevation Climb: 3000 feet
Miles Ridden: 84

We had our usual schedule this morning - and took off on our 84 mile trek by 7:20 a.m. It was cloudy, but no rain! The first 8 miles were really tough because we were on a main street trying to get out of Indianapolis. We faced the challenge of a tremendous amount of traffic - and stop lights the entire way...and were extremely glad to get past that area. About 10 miles into the ride we saw Jo Ellen Lee out on the street waving and giving us the encouragement we needed. Thanks so much Jo Ellen!

The first 37 miles were tough for me today. I just didn't have the "juice" I normally do. My legs were tired - and the wind was in our faces again. All of us are tired of the wind. One of our riders did a little research on the wind and found out that from May to July the wind comes from the Southwest 82% of the time. That would be great - because it would be at our backs. I can tell you that for the past 5 days the wind has come from the Northeast. We sure have to work alot harder to get where we want to go! Now what's with that?

We passed through Millville, IN today. It's a small town thats only "claim to fame" is that Wilbur Wright was born there (Orville was born in Dayton). There is a small museum - but not much more! We also rode through the heart of the Indiana Amish country. We heard the clip clop of horse’s hooves pulling the black buggies (picture above) along the countryside next to us on bicycles - as RVs' were passing both of us! This area has the 3rd largest settlement in the US. I grew up in Pennsylvania where the Amish are prevalent. They value rural living - and resist modern technology. Over the years I've come to respect them for their family values and care of the land.

At noon we stopped in Hagerstown for lunch - and I tried to trade my bike to a four year old who had a two wheeler with training wheels! I tried it out and liked it (picture above). He didn't want to have anything to do with it! Scoffed again! In the afternoon we passed more beautiful farms with endless acres of manicured lawns. These folks sure do have a love affair with their riding mowers! I wonder what else they could be doing with their time?

Tonight we're in Richmond - not far from the Ohio border. In the next four days we have 390 miles to cover. We're hoping for good weather! I didn't get my photos uploaded - so will add them tomorrow!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Reporting on: Friday, June 12, 2009
Riding Route: From Crawfordsville to Indianapolis, IN
Temperature: 64 - 75 degrees/ Winds: 10mph headwinds
Elevation Climb Today: 2400 feet
Miles Ridden: 64

Day 35 of riding was another good one. The weather was great. It was cool and balmy - and as you can see I wore my jacket most of the day. There were a minimum of hills and the scenery was beautiful. Our only challenge was that in the 64 miles we rode there were 48 different turns on our route sheets. It meant that we had to really pay attention to where we were going all the time. Champ took on the responsibility for us today - which was great!

There were two major highlights today.

  1. The first one was that I had two riders join me from Lee Supply in Indiana: Chip Lee, who is VP of Operations and Andy Cherf, who is Branch Manager for their Carmel, IN location. First thing this morning Bill Lee (VP of Sales and Marketing), Dave Barnes(Controller) and Jeff Beeson (General Manager) showed up to send us off on our ride! Thanks guys - for all your support! (Group pictured above) I've been working with Lee Supply for about three years. It's a family owned and operated business...with the 4th generation now entering the scene. They operate great showrooms - and have been great listeners and implementers of Darlington's ideas!

  2. The second fun thing today was our SAG stop at mile 33: The Gentry Dairy Farm. Each year the family opens up their yard and home to the Crossroads Riders. They were wonderful! The picture above was taken on their front porch! More of the embracing Midwest hospitality!

We passed through many small communities (in Jamestown I had my picture taken at Darlington Street), hit lots of country roads, had detours and did anything to stay out of the Indianapolis traffic...which meant going through several local neighborhoods and past golf courses and parks. We're told it was the calm before the storm - because the next five days are supposed to be long and tough!

Indianapolis is known for the Indy 500 and the Motor Speedway...and is the racing capital of the world. The facility has a permanent seating capacity for more than 257,000 people and infield seating that raises capacity to an approximate 400,000. That makes it the largest and highest-capacity sporting facility in the world. (Just so you have the facts - the world's largest stadium is in Prague and seats 220,000 spectators). The first Memorial Day "500" race was run in 1911 - 2 years after the track officially opened! If you're a race car fan, then you know the rest is history! (Of course Darlington Raceway in Darlington, South Carolina is my namesake)!

I've done a little survey to try to find out where the term "Hoosier" came from. Ohio has the "Buckeyes" and North Carolina has the "Tarheels" these state names are somewhat common. But no one seems to know where the term came from. Most agree that it had a very derogatory meaning in the beginning. But today the term is used with pride! The Indiana University teams (Carol's alma mater) are part of the Big Ten Conference and we all know they are referred to as the Hoosiers! What a strange word!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Reporting on: Thursday, June 11, 2009
Riding Route: Champaign to Crawfordsville, IN
Temp and Winds: Getting Casual here huh? Both were great!
Elevation Climb: 2400 feet
Miles Today: 79

Today was another great day! However, it didn't begin that way! In the very eary hours of the morning we were awakened by a very violent thunder, lighting and rain storm. When we met for breakfast the rain was pouring down and all of us had moderately sad faces! By the time we assembled for our ride (which was an hour later than normal because we had just passed through another time zone) the rain was over and the sun was peeking through the clouds.
At the appointed time we all showed up in front of the hotel ready to ride. Yesterday I told you about the helmet decorating challenge. Everyone made an effort - some more than others. As you can see in the picture above I was voted "Most Patriotic"! Most of us removed the decorations before we left. Nancy rode with her decorated helmet all day - and received lots of attention as we passed through each town. It made for great conversation ...especially in Veedersburg where we had lunch.
We crossed the Indiana State line - our 8th State Crossing - (9th State - picture above). Another milestone for us! Can you believe we only have 17 more days? If the answer is no, I can't either! It's going way too fast! Carol told me there was a great article in the News Gazette in Champaign today on Champ and me. I was lucky to slide in with him - a native of the area! More great publicity for the Decorative Plumbing and Hardware Assn. and our challenge to raise money for the Scholarship Fund.
The remainder of the day there was NO rain, NO wind...but lots of humidity. Althought we had 2900 feet of elevation climb today, none of us felt it! It was a fun and easy day of riding. We had great roads, lots of little Indiana towns - and beautiful farm country! There were new crops of corn and soybeans everywhere we passed. Because of the late rains, everyone told us that the crops were planted extremely late this year also. We moved along at 16-17 mph and it was a comfortable pace.

Can you believe the sign as we entered Hillsborough, IN? (Above) Also, one of the small towns we passed through today was Waynetown, IN. There is an old Pioneer Cemetery there - where William Bratton is buried. Many of you know I'm a Lewis and Clark expedition fan - and Willaim Bratton (1778-1841) is buried there. With a US Army rank of private, he joined Lewis and Clark Expedition's Corps of Discovery near Clarksville, Indiana 1803. The Corps explored lands of the Louisiana Purchase and Pacific Northwest. He was a hunter, blacksmith and saltmaker. He completed the entire journeyand was discharged October 10, 1806. He may have had a minor position - but he helped make the journey successful!
More tomorrow!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Reporting on: Wednesday, June 10

Riding Route: A Welcome Day Off!

Location: Champaign, IL

I now have a few pictures uploaded from yesterday - so wanted to share them with you. When we took off yesterday morning I decided I wanted to ride with the "Big Dogs". They are the leaders of the pack - first out in the morning - and first in each afternoon. I hung with them for about 15 miles - and it occurred to me that I had yet to be the "leader of the pack". Of course all of you know my Type A personality - and I decided I had to do it just once. A surge of energy enveloped me and off I went. My good friend Jim took the above picture as I passed him by. It didn't last long, but it was fun to do!

The second picture is of me with a "senior" group of ladies in Clinton, IL. Three mornings a week they go to an exercise class. I think they do it for only one reason - and that's because when they are done they treat themselves to a Dairy Queen! I had a great time with them - sharing our exercise routines! What a great experience in this mid-America area!

I discovered this morning (our day off) that one of my wheels had cracked! I thought there was something wrong yesterday...because it felt like my rear tire was "out of true". So much for buying the best wheels available! There were three cracks where the spokes went into the wheel. So I went to a bike shop and they had exactly what I needed - (the wheel was still under warranty) - so I'm ready for tomorrow. Sometimes things go easy!
Today we were given a challenge to decorate our helmets! It's just a fun thing to do to celebrate being 2/3rds of the way across America. All of our group grabbed on to the idea and from what I can tell we've all been creative! I went to the Dollar Store and got busy. Hopefully I can send you a picture or two of the results tomorrow.

Champaign is the home of John Philip Sousa's Library and Museum. He was known as "The March King." Any of us who played an instrument in a band know he was an a famous American composer and conductor and was known particularly for American military and patriotic marches. A little bio on him tells us that when Sousa reached the age of 13, his father, a trombonist in the Marine Band, enlisted John in the US Marine Corps as an apprentice to keep him from joining a circus band. Sousa served his apprenticeship for seven years, until 1875, and apparently learned to play all the wind instruments while honing his skills on the violin. After being in and out of the service he eventually returned to the become the band's head in 1880, and remained as its conductor until 1892.

Sousa organized his own band the year he left the Marine Band. The Sousa Band toured 1892-1931, performing 15,623 concerts. In 1900, his band represented the United States at the Paris Exposition before touring Europe. In Paris, the Sousa Band marched through the streets including the Champs-Elysees to the Arc de Triomphe - one of only eight parades the band marched in over its forty years.
Sousa died of heart failure at age 77 on March 6, 1932, in his room at the Abraham Lincoln Hotel in Reading, PA. He had conducted a rehearsal of "Star and Stripes Forever" earlier that day. He is buried in Washington, DC's Congressional Cementary.
Tomorrow we head to Crawforsville, IN. It's 79 miles - and our 8th state crossing! I hope everyone's having a great week!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Reporting on: Tuesday, June 9, 2009
Riding Route: From Springfield, IL to Champaign, IL
Temperature: Winds:
Miles Ridden Today: 87

Today is the one month anniversary of beginning our trip...and it was a GREAT ride! It made up for the past several days of bad weather. It was fun, comfortable, bright and clear - and best of all - there was hardly any wind! Everyone enjoyed the ride and we arrived in Champaign early.

Our neighbor in Sacramento, Debbie, who is from Champaign, got on the phone - and drummed up some good publicity for us through the Champaign News Gazette. Interestingly enough Champ (my roommate) graduated from the University there - and they had word of him being on the ride also. The reporter was there to meet us at the hotel - and did an interview. Thanks for all your effort Debbie! There should be an article in the paper on Friday!

Champ invited his brother, son and friends to meet us and we enjoyed time together this evening. Tomorrow we have a much needed day off! I should have a few facts on the area tomorrow for you.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Reporting on: Monday, June 8, 2009
Riding Route: From Quincy to Springfield, IL
Temp 60-mid 80's/ Winds: Too Much!
Elevation Climb: 3800 feet
Miles Ridden Today: 108
It was another long, tough day today. There was thunder and lighting when we woke up - and the ride was delayed 1.5 hours. The first 70 miles again consisted of LOTS of hills. We had pouring rain for an hour + but it let up after that. It was the wind that did us in! It was one of the worst days we've had - and after 5 of the last 7 days being tough it got the best of several people today. We averaged about 11 mph for the first 70 miles. I have to be honest and tell you that it was not fun and many of us were depressed with the conditions. Several of the guys got in the van and took a "bump". The good news is that at mile 70 the winds changed direction - and the terrain became flat. We again had the wind at our backs - and the ride became much faster. I completed the entire ride today - but am one exhausted guy tonight!
What countryside I saw today was beautiful. Everything was lush green and we passed miles and miles of corn fields. The farms we passed had beautifully manicured lawns. I did a survey among the team tonight and asked them how much time they thought we spent looking at the landscape vs. looking down. There was some mixed thoughts - but they all promised to pay attention the next few days and report back to me! I'll pass on the consensus when I get it!
Today was my worst "dog" day since the trip began. I had five dogs come out yapping, nipping and chasing me in this one day! With the weather we had they should have been hiding in barns somewhere! Two of the guys following me said I ran great interference for them! The dogs were exhausted by the time they got up to them! I'm glad some good came of the experience!
Champ (my roommate) had a friend, Roger, join him for the ride today. We rode together about half the time - and I rode by myself the rest of the time...just trying to concentrate on getting through the challenges of the day.
I can tell you we are one tired group tonight. We are ready to leave the wind, rain, thunder and lightening behind!
We are in Springfield, IL tonight. Since we were late in our arrival (and exhausted) we're not taking time to visit any of the highlights of the city. Springfield is the capital of Illinois... and has an area population of around 200,000 people. I'm sure most of you know that the city's most important and prominent past resident was Abraham Lincoln, who moved from Indiana to the area in 1831 and lived in Springfield from 1837 until 1861. He began his study of law here - and spent the next 24 years as a lawyer and politician.
Lincoln is my favorite President. He served this country as it's 16th President from 1861 - 1865...when on Good Friday, April 14, 1865, he was assassinated at Ford's Theatre in Washington by John Wilkes Booth. Lincoln's body was taken to Springfield by train, and he was buried in the Lincoln Tomb in Oak Ridge Cemetery on May 4, 1865. For my young blog readers you should know that Abraham Lincoln is remembered for his vital role as the leader in preserving the Union during the Civil War... and beginning the process that led to the end of slavery in the United States. He was a masterful politician and a man of gentle spirit.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Reporting on: Sunday, June 7, 2009 (Day 30)
Riding Route: From Kirksville, MO to Quincy, IL
Temperature: 60-80 degrees/Winds: 15 mph
Elevation Climb: 2900 feet
Miles Ridden Today: 76 miles

This is going to be my good news - bad news report!

Good News: No thunder and lightning when we left the hotel this morning @ 7:15
Bad News: An hour into the ride it started raining hard.

Good News: It stopped raining at 10:30 a.m.
Bad News: It started raining again at 11:00 a.m.

Good News: We had no wind for the morning hours
Bad News: At our first SAG stop (picture above with several of us in our rain gear) the wind came out of nowhere and was in our faces the rest of the day...along with a light rain.

Good News: No traffic on the roads until 11:00 a.m.
Bad News: LOTS of traffic after that!

Good News: Not nearly as many hills as yesterday.
Bad News: We still did 2900 feet of climbing.

Good News: Most cars and trucks gave us as much room as possible.
Bad News: Those that didn't tried to run us off the road - and honked their horns at us!

Good News: Eight inch wide white lines were freshly painted and easy to follow.
Bad News: NO shoulder and we had to ride the white line.

Good News: The road was in great repair 95% of the trip.
Bad News: The remaining 5% was in horrible shape!

Good News: We passed the 2000 mile mark today (Picture Above)
Bad News (well, really not so bad): We still have 1500 miles to go.

Good News: We've made it through some tough wind & weather the past 5 days.
Bad News: We have a Century Ride tomorrow - and 87 miles the next day - before we have another rest stop.

Good News: My roommate Champ's wife, Veronica, arrived today from Washington, IL and I'll have the room to myself for three nights.
Bad News: I can't think of any!

Throughout the day everywhere we looked we saw signs in the corn fields that said "Crow's Planted Here"! All of us had a different thought. I finally had to ask! Crow is a brand name of hybrid corn. The company also products hybrid soybeans, alfalfa and sorghum! See picture above.

Ah thought you were going to get away without a little history lesson today, huh? No such luck. We crossed the mighty Mississippi River today (Picture Above) - and I thought I'd tell you a few facts about the river:

  • The Mississippi River is 2,348 miles long and is the second longest river, after the Missouri, in the United States. (The Missouri beats it by 208 miles)!
  • The area that drains into the river comes from 31 states! Even I just learned that!
  • The Mississippi starts in Minnesota and then flows south, following the boundaries between the states of Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Arkansas, and Louisiana on the west, and Wisconsin, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Mississippi on the east. It ends in the Gulf of Mexico. It is the actual diving line between these states.
  • The river's name means "father of waters" in the Algonquian language.
  • The advent of the steamboat in 1812 brought dependable transportation, and river traffic increased rapidly. During the Civil War control of the river was a major strategic objective; the Vicksburg Campaign of 1863 achieved that goal for the Union armies. Traffic resumed after the war, and the steamboat reigned it's waters for many years.
  • Eventually they were replaced by diesel, screw-driven towboats pushing barges. The rivalry between rail and river transport, which started in the late 19th century, persists to this day.
  • The widest point of the Mississippi River is Lake Winnibigoshish (how would you like to have this name in a spelling Bee?) near Grand Rapids, Minnesota at over 7 miles across. Now that's a W-I-D-E river!

One last thing: I'd like to encourage any of you who want to donate to the Scholarship Fund to get your donations in. You can do it online at On the left side of the page is a "Make a Donation" tab. Okay, that's it for today! Tomorrow we're off to Springfield, IL

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Reporting for 2 Days: Friday, June 5, 2009 and Saturday, June 6, 2008
Riding Route: St. Joseph, MO to Chillicothe, MO
and Chillicothe to Kirksville, MO
Temp: 50-82 - both days/Wind Up to 35 mph
Elevation Climb: 4900 feet and 5100 feet
Miles Ridden on Friday: 86
Miles Ridden on Saturday: 76
First off - I have to report that my roommate got back on his bike and has ridden both days after his mishap! Go Champ!! You're one tough old coot!
Well, I'm doing a two day report - but not because of being lazy I can assure you. This Missouri riding can be a tough ordeal! Yesterday (Friday) we pedaled 86 miles in constant major rolling hills. We started out at 500 feet above sea level - and ended up at 500 feet above sea level - and in between did almost 5000 feet of elevation climb. It truly was one hill after another. We'd pedal up a 1/2 mile hill and then go down as fast as we could to get a "run" on going up the next hill. Some of the hills were 13% grades - which can be a real challenge. I have to proudly tell you that I reached a top speed of 34 mph going down the hills (previous record 30 mph). I'm getting braver! You know I don't like the downhills - and the rest of the group is still passing me..but I can still beat most everyone going uphill!
The countryside was beautiful. We left the flat, treeless, relatively easy riding of Kansas behind us - and are now seeing lots of trees, lush green grasses - and lots of hills. At Mile 30 our group gathered together - and rode into the town of Maysville in pairs. Maysville has a population of about 1200 people and I'm not sure it's known for anything! But I can tell you that they have the nicest people anywhere around! Each year they meet the Crossroads Riders in the same fashion. Everyone - young and old - come out on the streets to meet us. (Picture above) The children routed and cheered and clapped for us as we crossed into their town. But the most amazing thing was that the "senior" ladies of the town put on a breakfast which included their famous homemade cinnamon rolls and all the trimmings! It was a wonderful event for everyone. They have a small museum and you can see I got a kick out of the bicycle they had on display. I'm sure glad I'm not riding one of those across the country! (Picture above). I even visited the local plumbing store. I'm not sure their showroom would meet the DPHA standards, but it was indeed special to meet the owners and share some time with them.
Today (Saturday) we had 5100 feet of elevation climb. Our day began later than usual because of lighting and thunder storms. We usually are on the road by 7:15 a.m. - but couldn't leave today until 10:00 a.m. When we finally did get on the road it was in rain and wind...which lasted until almost noon. We rode on a four lane highway in the morning - and turned north on Highway 11 in the afternoon. This change of direction put the wind and rain at our backs - which we were all thankful for. The afternoon also brought us a break from the heavy traffic we experienced in the morning...but the road was filled with cracks and potholes! All I can say is that at 5:00 when we arrived we were exhausted. We had our route rap, ate and headed for bed.
Our one historical fact for the day was that we passed through Laclede, Missouri where General John Pershing was born. He attended West Point military academy in 1882...and served in the Indian campaigns and in Cuba during the Spanish-American war. Later he lead the African-American unit (known as the Buffalo Soldiers), commanded forces in the Philippines from 1899 to 1905 and then did duty as a military attaché to Japan and an observer in the Russo-Japanese War (1905-06). This man was all over the place! He's most well known to us history buffs as the man who became the commander of the American Expeditionary Force in Europe during World War I. He ended up being one of the most celebrated soldiers in United States history. Another very interesting fact is that he was the only living person ever to be promoted to the rank of General of the Armies of the United States. This is the equivalent of a six-star general, but Pershing never wore more than four. The only other person to ever hold this rank was George Washington.
Enough, enough...I'm off to bed. Tomorrow is going to be another tough day as we ride to Quincy!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Date: Thursday, June 4, 2009
Route: From Topeka, KS to St. Joseph, MO
Temp: 55 to 80/Winds: 10-15 mph
Elevation Climb: 3500 feet
Miles Ridden: 86 miles

Nothing against Kansas - but after 6 days and about 500 miles (one wide state) it was fun to cross another state line! We went through Atchison, KS which was Emelia Earhart's home. We're in St. Joseph, MO tonight - which was the kick-off spot for the Pony Express Route that ends in our hometown of Sacramento.
Carol stopped and toured Amelia's birthplace home as you can see from the pictures above. She was an amazing woman - and her accomplishments were many. Amelia made great strides in opening the new field of aviation to women. In 1935, she became the first person to fly from Hawaii to the American mainland. By doing so, she became not only the first person to solo anywhere in the Pacific, but also the first person to solo both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Also in 1935, she joined the faculty of Purdue University as a female career consultant. It was the purchase of a Lockheed Electra, through Purdue University, that enabled Amelia to fulfill her dream -- circumnavigating the globe by air.
In May of 1937, Amelia embarked upon the first around-the-world flight at the equator. On July 2, after completing nearly two-thirds of her historic flight -- over 22,000 miles -- she vanished along with her navigator Frederick Noonan. They took off from Lae, New Guinea, bound for tiny Howland Island in the vast Pacific Ocean. The distance from Lae to Howland was about equal to a transcontinental flight across the U.S. A great naval, air and land search failed to locate Amelia, Noonan, or the aircraft, and it was assumed they were lost at sea. To this day, their fate is the subject of unending speculation. Some theorized the pair ran out of fuel looking for Howland Island, and had to ditch in the Pacific. Others thought they may have crash landed on another small island. Some speculated they were captured by the Japanese, accused of espionage, then held as bargaining chips in the event war erupted between the U.S. and Japan.
Along the way today, Champ and I were passing through one of the little Kansas towns - and we spotted a hammock in front of a house on a tree lined street. There was a young lad sitting in it with his dog. We asked if we might try it out - and after he got the okay from his mom, the picture above shows a very relaxed bike rider!

We arrived safely at the hotel - with the exception of my roommate Champ, who was taking a short cut to get our chocolate milk (which I've learned is a great energy booster after a long day one the road). He hit a big ditch, went over his handle bars, hit his head - and broke his helmet, bit his lip and bruised his leg badly. We went thru the excitment of the calling the EMT's and took him to the hospital. He's back in the motel licking his wounds and threating to ride tomorrow. I'm not sure that will happen! He's a very lucky guy that it wasn't any worst than it was!

Carol's been here for four days and it's been great having her here. It's been fun sharing this experience with her. It's hard to believe that in three weeks we'll be in Boston and she'll be there to see me dip the front tire in the Atlantic Ocean.

Please excuse the shorter message tonight, but we've been busy going to the hospital, buying Champ another helmet, getting his prescriptions - and I've got another 86 miles tomorrow. More then!