Date: June 25, 2009 - Final Day of the Ride
Riding Route: From Burlington, MA to Revere Beach, MA (Boston)
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!