Friday, October 14, 2011 Fernandina Beach (Amelia Island) to St. Augustine 61 miles
Now this is what I expected (or at least had hoped) that most of the ride would be like. We followed A1A along the Atlantic Ocean for the whole ride today. The islands that we rode were only about a quarter of a mile wide with the Atlantic on one side and the Intercoastal Waterway on the other side. The weather was fantastic and the wind was at our backs the entire way!
When I pulled into the motel in St. Augustine, our best friends, the Smith's were standing there to greet me. Ron and Nancy live in Beverly Hills, FL and drove the 2.5 hours to Fernandina Beach so Ron could join me on the last day of my ride. More on this in a minute.
I had time to do a little sight seeing which included drinking some water from Juan Ponce de Leon's famous "Fountain of Youth"! (pictured above). I think it must have worked because that night I dreamed of going back to school. We also visited a terrific Fort built in the 1600's by the Spainards .
Six of us went out to dinner at a great seafood restaurant on the intercoastal waterway. We sat outside and watched an incredible sunset.
St. Augustine is billed as the oldest city in the USA. What they don't tell you is that it was established as a city for Spain. I believe the truly 1st American city was Jamestown in Virginia.
Saturday - October 15 St. Augustine to Daytona Beach 53 miles
My good buddy Ron Smith joined "Bubba and his Babes" for this leisurely ride. Once again we followed A1A and the Atlantic Ocean all the way. It was a bit cloudy, but with a favorable wind we breezed along at 17-18 mph.
This is "Bikers Week" (motor cycles) in Daytona Beach. There are over 100,000 motor cycles of every size, shape and configuration. Ninety percent are Harleys and 90% of the folks were NOT wearing helmets??? Thousands of them passed us going both directions on A1A. If you've heard a Harley...you know the noise level. Compound this by thousands...then you know what a real "herd of hogs" sounds like! What should have been a nice quiet ride turned out to be too darn noisy and once again we had to be careful of traffic.
Happily we all made it to the motel safely. We are right on the beach and have a great view of the mighty Atlantic! This evening we have a closing dinner and I anticipate lots of hugs and probably a few tears.
Please allow me to summarize my view of the ride: It wasn't exactly what I expected it to be. First, the weather was terrible about 70% of the time. Secondly, there was a whole lot more traffic than I anticipated...which meant a whole lot more extra caution. Also, I thought we'd be on more "country" roads where you can hear, see and smell all those out of the way things.
On the very positive side the group of riders was fantastic. I can hardly get my head around the fact that 25 strangers can come together and bond as quickly as firmly as we did. I believe the fact that we all like riding bicycles and the fact that we are all good at it helps! All of us are goal oriented, pretty self disciplined and self motivated. We also had to be able to afford the cost of the trip and be able to take the time to do it. All in all, the people part of the trip was the best part for me.
I can tell you from my experience riding across the country...and now down the East Coast that the drivers in South Carolina are the biggest "jerks" by far...and that the roads and bike lanes in Florida are the best.
The staff of CrossRoads Cycling Adventures was terrific...and I'm not just saying this because Carol worked the tour. They fed us, hydrated us, hugged us, encouraged us and made the trip fun.
This weekend the Decorative Plumbing and Hardware Association (DPHA) is holding their Annual Conference in San Jose, CA. (Carol and I should be there)! They did a pretty cool thing for me. They had me call in on my cell phone in the middle of their big awards luncheon. They threw a picture of me in my hot spandex riding shorts and shirt up on the big screen and I talked to the audience about the ride and the Scholarship Fund. It was a one way conversation...so I could have really had some fun. But, using good judgement for once, I stuck to the facts.
Speaking of the Scholarship Fund, you wonderful folks have contributed over $17,000 to the Fund! Unbelievable!! I'm truly overwhelmed and forever grateful. More importantly, at the Awards Luncheon, DPHA awarded 2 $3000 scholarships. This in itself made pedaling those 1650 miles worth it!
Carol and I fly back to Sacramento on Sunday, October 16th and head to our home in MX the following Sunday. I'll be hanging up my bike and getting out my kayak.
Thanks so much for following my blog. It was a little tougher to do than it was on the cross country ride due to both Carol's and my schedule. I'd love to hear from you either via comments on this blog (which I understand is hard to do) or via email at darlingtonconsulting@gmail .com., or telephone 916-852-6855.
I consider myself to be very blessed with the most incredible family in the world, truly great health...and wonderful friends like you. Thank you, thank you!
This was a pretty non-descript, non-exciting riding day. Another 40 miles on Hwy 17 South making a total of 296.4 miles (but who's counting) on my least favorite road. I do have to admit that we had a lot less traffic and there was a pretty good bike lane most of the way.
Today's main obstacle was about 100 huge trucks flying by us carrying newly cut pine trees. They took up their entire lane...leaving little space between us. The draft they created meant we had to hang on to the bikes and we had to dodge all the small pieces of bark that kept flying off the trucks. We think they were headed to a paper mill, but we're not sure!
Last evening "Bubba" (me) and two of my "Bubbettes" sang a song to the group about Hwy 17. It was a takeoff on the Kingston Trio's MTA song. (Oh, he'll never return...no he'll never return...). This morning before we headed out everyone wanted to take a picture of Bubba and his Broads! (pictured above). In reality I only ride with two of these gals, but the group is making a big deal of the whole thing.
We crossed into FL (our 13th State) at mile 42. We were close enough to the ocean to smell the salt water and the greenery along both sides of the road really felt like Florida.
Our motel is just two blocks from the beach so I'm thinking the sunrise out of the east should be pretty special. We follow A1A along the ocean the rest of the way to Daytona Beach.
Tomorrow it's the Fountain of Youth in St. Augustine and hopefully there will be enough time for some touring. This is after a 9:00 a.m. start and a short 58 mile ride. I can't believe we're down to our last two days.
Day 22 - Day off in Savannah Day 23 - Savannah to Brunswick, GA 84 Miles
First a little bit about our beautiful day off in Savannah. I had an article due for a trade magazine I write for - so the first three hours were spent knocking that out! Then it was time to play. We had stopped here briefly here years ago, but didn't take in the sights. What a great city. Savannah was settled in 1733 by William Oglethorpe from England. He and 113 others left England for religious reasons ( plus they were cut lose from debtors prison if they agreed to go to America). Oglethorpe layed out the city in 24 squares (parks) with houses on all sides. Twenty two of the original 24 squares survive today. Each is named for an important person from the 18th Century. They all have monuments, fountains, and are surrounded by huge old Spanish moss covered oak trees. The houses are original...all restored and in magnificent shape. In addition to the squares there are several other large parks and the city is on the banks of the Savannah River. Savannah is the second largest port in America...only exceeded by Los Angeles.
One of the original homes that got my attention was the Owen Thomas House completed in 1813. It was the first home in America that had running water and indoor plumbing. Many of the most elaborate homes, including The Thomas House was designed by Wm. Jay a 21 year old architect.
Six of us took a two hour trolley tour . It had 16 stops and you could get on and off at will. We toured the Savannah Historical Museum which had lots of good info on the Revolutionary and Civil Wars, "King Cotton" and slavery. Eli Whitney, of the cotton gin fame, was from Savannah. It is also home to the Savannah College of Art and Design. This is a private college with a student population of over 10,000. They have purchased and restored over 60 building around town - and that comprises their campus! All in all, it was a great day off - and I'd encourage everyone who's not been here to come and spend a few days.
Here's a little on today's bike ride. This was our last "longish" ride - 84 miles. We left the hotel in a very thick fog. ..and it didn't lift until about 10:30. Yes, of course we got drizzled on a bit...just so I can say it's rained 16 of our 20 riding days. Tracy, the lady that runs this tour said it's the worst weather she's seen in doing this for over 15 years. The temp hit 80 degrees and it was fairly humid, but all in all not terribly bad.
We spent about 60 miles on my favorite highway: 17 South but with a whole lot less traffic - so it wasn't so bad. IO rode with two ladies again today (pulling them all the way). We've been labeled "Bubba and the Broads". (Said affectionately of course)!
We stopped at the "smallest church in America" - see picture. There were chairs for 12 people, and a little pulpit up front. I don't know if it ever gets used, but it was very cute.
We passed an elderly black couple and their granddaughter fishing off a bridge. I turned around and went back to check out how the fishing was and was advised "not very good because of a full moon and high tide". See the picture of grandpa and Naomi. When I rode away I thought that they weren't very rich monetarily, but I'll bet they were more happy and content than many people in our great country. I gave Naomi a bag of M & M's and got a huge smile and thank you!
There were numerous historical signs...mostly Civil War related. We passed a big, restored plantation, and had hoped to take the tour, but it was closed.
We're in Brunswick, GA (of which I know nothing). Tomorrow we cross into Florida and pedal to Fernandina Beach...a puney little 61 mile ride (I am sounding a little cocky, aren't I)? With only three riding days left - and all pretty short - I am feeling pretty darn good about the whole experience. Only a few more days to get those donations in...please...thank you!
We got to sleep in today because of the shorter ride. So the very first thing I did (and do every morning) is turn the TV on to The Weather Channel. What showed up got my attention: "flash flood warning, heavy rain (1-2 inches) strong gusting winds, thunder and lightning. But, not being terribly smart I donned my bike outfit and headed for breakfast. The talk of the group was "to ride or not to ride". Six or eight folks said "no way"! The rest of us headed out at 8:30 into a driving rain and strong winds. A bit nuts, I guess it's a macho thing - or just part of the adventure. Whatever - eighteen of us rode the entire time in a driving rain. The good news is - it was a warm rain so I never even put on a rain jacket.
This is our third attempt at getting this blog done - because of Internet problems here at the hotel.
About 5 minutes into the ride a garbage truck blew by four of us and hit a huge puddle soaking us from head to toe - but what the heck, we were going to be totally soaked in a few minutes anyway. Those of us that wear glasses find it even so much harder in the rain.
So you're thinking "What's wrong with him?" You'd be right to wonder. But with only 5 riding days left and the fact that I've ridden all but 30 miles (due to 3 flat tires) I really want to ride the rest of the way to Daytona Beach.
We rode over another 2.5 mile long beautifully constructed bridge coming into Savannah. This is another very big and important port city. We arrived at the hotel totally drenched and guess what? It stopped raining - of course! After a long hot shower and a quick lunch a limo picked up Carol and me and took us to two different plumbing and hardware showrooms. Mr. Steam, one of our generous contributors to the Scholarship Fund set this up. We met the owners, took a bunch of pictures and received a very nice donation from each of the companies.
Tomorrow's a rest day...our third and final one. We're going to do some serious sight seeing and touring in this marvelous old southern city. When General Sherman arrived here at the end of the Civil War, rather than burning it to the ground (as he did most cities) he gave Savannah to President Lincoln as a Christmas gift!
We'll share some of what we see and do in tomorrow's blog.
Thanks for your interest in my ride. It's been quite an adventure.
Okay, if you read my blog from yesterday you know what a grump I was. It just wasn't a fun day! Well, I'm back where I'm use to being. Up, positive and happy! When I bounced out of bed this a.m. I knew it was going to be a GREAT day! It's amazing what the power of positive thinking can do for you! Hey, this might make the title for a good book! What, Norman Vincent Peale beat me to it? Darn!
After the usual HUGE breakfast I decided to use a new strategy. Instead of leaving the motel with the "Pedigrees" (remember them)? and busting my butt to keep up, I opted to leave a half hour early with a half dozen other folks. What a beautiful thing! I was the lead dog with two of the gals all day. We averaged 15+mph and got to look around and enjoy the sites. We even rode that darn highway - 17S, which I complained about yesterday. It is Sunday, so there was less traffic...there was more to see and that wonderful wind was at our backs most of the time.
After about 30 miles we left Hwy 17 and did 35 miles of "back country" riding - my favorite kind. There was a fair amount of interesting historical stuff to see (mostly roadside markers). Lots of our early American history happened all through this area. Generals Lafayette, Washington and Jackson rode through here and were entertained by the wealthy plantation owners of the day.
We were greeted at mile 18 by Carol and some of the staff - wearing crazy hats (seen above). They were clapping and cheering us on. Very cool!
The old church (ruins) in the picture was built in the early 1700's by William Bull who was from Sheldon, England. He and his wife - and several relatives are buried there. The church was burned down by the British, rebuilt and burned down again during the Civil War. Note the Spanish moss hanging from the oak trees. Typical of the trees here in the South!
The picture of the marshes was taken from a bridge and shows a lot of what we've seen the last several days...since we're traveling so close to the ocean.
We beat the rain by about a minute - but tonight we're supposed to have heavy storms. In fact, a flash flood warning is being posted for this area on the TV.
Suffice it to say, today's 80 mile ride was as good as yesterday's 120 miler was bad! Life is good!
We've done over 400 miles in the last 4 days...but have a wimpy little 46 miler tomorrow - which takes us into Savannah, GA and our last day off. We even get to sleep in an extra hour tomorrow morning. I can't believe we only have five more days of riding...and an even 300 miles of pedaling left! The time sure has flown by...and after a good day, I'm thinking maybe I don't want it to end! More tomorrow.
This blog is going to be a little shorter than normal. In a moment you'll understand why! You folks that know me know that I'm an upbeat, positive, happy, love-life kind of guy! Every day I bounce out of bed knowing that it's going to be a good day. Very seldom am I disappointed. Today I was disappointed! It started with my little riding group heading out of the hotel a tad early and Champ and I getting stuck at a red light and never catching up with them.
I rode 120 miles and only enjoyed about 20 of them. I'll explain! We left Little River at the usual 7:45 a.m. and the first 20 miles along the Atlantic Ocean and through Myrtle Beach was really nice! Then we got back on HWY 17 South - the same darn highway we rode yesterday for about 80 miles. We probably rode it for 100 miles - no bike lane, tons of traffic, nothing to look at except pine trees on both side of the road. The most exciting thing is when 100 Harleys roared by us doing a Ride for Cancer. Riding the road was dangerous, noisy, bumpy, boring and no fun! This is not what I expected...although I'm told it is really the only way to get us where we are going.
One highlight for me was completing the entire 120 miles. It was my longest one day ride ever! Thats on top of 111 miles yesterday. Another highlight was riding across an incredible cable bridge coming into Charleston. It was 2.4 miles long and took us way up in the air over the Charleston Harbor.(Longer than the Golden Gate Bridge)! Charleston is a major seaport and Ft. Sumter is about two miles off shore. Will Smith, the Hollywood actor, had a big yacht anchored just off the bridge. I didn't get to the motel until 5 p.m. Carol had a staff meeting dinner so four of us riders took a taxi downtown for pizza and beer.
I wish we had a day off here because I know it would be a great city to explore.
Tomorrow we have an 80 miler to Beaufort, SC. As I look at the route sheet I see another bunch of miles on my least favorite highway (17S)...so I'm having trouble getting pumped up for tomorrow's ride. Plus, the weather report calls for rain. We'll see how it goes. Sorry about the venting, tomorrow will be better!
I stopped a runner on the bridge and asked her to take the picture of me...although there's no way of showing how magnificent the bridge is! The second picture is when I stopped at about mile 80 and found a sign that said "Charleston" - and went over to the side of the road and stuck it out...with my thumb up! If anyone had stopped I'm pretty sure I would have jumped in! Unfortunately no one stopped!
What a difference a day makes! Yesterday's 86 mile ride whipped me. Today's 111 ride was the strongest I've ever felt. Eating a huge dinner, and getting nine hours of sleep sure helps.
We left the motel at 7:45 with a temp of 51 degrees. By 10:30 it was in the mid 70's. I wore a light jacket to the first SAG (mile 32) and peeled it off and put it in the van.
From the first SAG to the end of the ride I pulled my little gang of 8 for the next 80 miles. The old adage "that unless you're the lead dog the scenery never changes" sure holds true when you're pedaling first! If you're back in the pace line - all you see is the person in front of you. How about an average speed of 16.9 for the entire 111 miles. My best ever by far. I guess I better give some credit to the great tail wind we had for 90% of the time.
I worked hard at standing up and changing my position on the saddle (seat to you non riders) and my butt felt the best it has the whole ride.
The ride was not particularly pretty or interesting. Very few picture opportunities. Plus we rode most of the day on a four lane highway. That means hugging a white line all the way as the bike lane was only about 15" wide. Plus there was a "rumble strip" in the bike lane a good part of the time. Your teeth literally rattle when you ride over that darn thing. I'll probably dream of white lines tonight. Plus, the noise from all the traffic wears on you after awhile.
Yes, we covered a lot of miles - but it wasn't like riding the back country roads where you can hear all the natural sounds and see all the sights.
My last blog I mentioned that I believe that I've become a much better rider. I recited a few of the things that have helped make that happen. When I started riding bike more seriously 25 years ago my good buddy Ron Smith and I would knock out 50 miles (all flat of course) and really feel like we had done something special. As I've gotten more serious about bike riding, I realize now how little I knew back then. I've learned a whole new bike riding "language". There's about a dozen hand signals and another dozen voice signals that good bikers use. They tell you when to slow, stop, and move right or left. They tell you when cars,/trucks are approaching from all directions. They warn you of potholes and junk on the road (you wouldn't believe how much dodging of "stuff" you have to do!) This "language" that we use and pass from one rider to the other helps keep us safe and in touch with what's going on around us. It's really a terrific thing - and I'd encourage everyone that rides a bike to learn all they can. You'll help yourself and you'll help other folks.
One of the pictures shows this ole boy crossing into SC - our tenth State! The other picture is of Tracy Lenier, who owns and runs CrossRoads Cycling Adventures...our tour company. She's Carol's boss and one of the best people motivators I've had the pleasure to be around. The picture of the tree filled with moss is typical of what you see in the south.
We just got back from the Officers Club Restaurant in Little River, SC - pasta once again, but I'm going to need those carbs for 118 mile day tomorrow! It's 9:00 and time for lights out! There's only one week left to get those donations in. Many thanks...
Up at 5:15 a.m. - dressed and ready to ride. Packed and on the ferry at 6:30 a.m. Two and a quarter hour ride to Cedar Island. A great trip with a great breakfast prepared by Carol and Robin. On the bikes at 9:30 and off on our third longest ride to date.
The first 20 miles followed the Atlantic - and was really in the boon docks...very little traffic or habitation...very quiet and very scenic. The wind was at our backs and we sailed along at 17-18 mph. We actually followed the ocean almost all the rest of the ride. We went through a number of towns and experienced lots of traffic the last 40 miles. The roads and bike lanes were pretty good, but you still have to pay close attention to your riding and there is a lot less looking at the sights.
We crossed over the intercoastal waterway at least 5 times. BIG long bridges, lot of boats making their way north and south.
The weather was terrific! Sunshine all day! Mid 70's and that wonderful wind pushing us 70% of the time.
Tonight we're in Jacksonville, NC...the home of the Marine Base Camp Lejeune. As we came into town an passed a tall chain link fence that surrounds the base there were huge banners and sheets (yes, bed sheets) with a variety of "Welcome Home Daddy, Honey, Sgt." etc. saying we're proud of you and we love you. It was very moving. Once again I was reminded I am so proud to be an American.
Today was a long ride. I'm tired. But I recognize on this tour that I'm a better bicycle rider than I was two years ago when I rode cross country. I really can't explain why that is...but it sure feels good. I can ride in a pace line better, go down hill faster, dodge the potholes, hug the white line and do a pretty good job keeping up. I am very aware of the many hazards we face each day when we're riding. One of the gals on our ride got clipped by a side view mirror this afternoon. An older gentleman that was hugging"our" white line, driving a pickup truck truck just got to close to her. She managed to keep the bike upright, but has a bad bruise on her left side. The State police got involved and gave the driver of the pickup truck a citation. Carol stayed with our rider through the ordeal and gaveher a ride in the van to the motel. She was very lucky. I too had a close call today...with a woman pulling out in front of me. She was on a cell phone and never saw me. So yes, we are constantly riding defensively.
The next two days will be a real challenge for yours truly. Tomorrow's ride will cover 108 miles and the next day is 117 miles. That will make a total of 312 miles in three days. That's more than I've ever attempted before. I don't plan to be a hero. If I need to take a bump (ride in the van) I will! My legs are doing real well, but my butt continues to be uncomfortable after about 50 miles. I have a lot of company on that score!
Picture #1 is of me giving the guys haircuts on our rest day! Number 2 is from one of the bridges over the intercoastal waterway; Number 3 is me enjoying a chocolate shake at a Dairy Queen 74 miles into the ride.
Kill Devil Hills, NC to Ocracoke Island, NC 80 miles and a day off!
Okay, so why were we late posting the last blog? We learned at our "route rap" that our Tuesday (10-4) ride from Kill Devil Hills to Ocracoke Island had to be totally rerouted. Hurricane Irene had washed out some of the roads and bridges that we would be traveling. We had hoped they would be fixed and open so we could ride the entire length of the Outer Banks. No such luck! Tracy, our esteemed leader, had hustled around and came up with an all new plan. This included getting up at 4:30 a.m. on Tuesday and heading out at 6:00 a.m. Some riders riding...some were in vans. Our goal was to travel 80 miles and be at a ferry at noon. This was going to be too big a push for 2/3rds of the group. So 8 pedaled 35 miles to a SAG stop and 8 were taken in vans. Then the roles changed and 8 rode bikes to the ferry and 8 rode in the van. Nine of the fastest and strongest rode all the way to the ferry from the motel. (I was not one of them)! Everyone made it and enjoyed a 2.5 hours ferry ride to Ocracoke Island. (Picture above at the ferry loading area).
The logistics of all of this was huge. The ferry had no food available so Carol and Robin had to hustle up a meal for all of us. They served chicken, pasta, coleslaw etc. from the back of the truck while we were on the ferry. It was a terrific meal. The whole day was beautiful...both riding bike and the ferry.
The bike ride took us through some very remote areas of the deep south. I took some great pictures (I really wish I could share all of them with you). I stopped some cotton that was growing along the side of the road - and had some great quiet time riding by myself most of the time. One picture shows a plain wooden cross that was standing in the middle of a field. I stopped for several minutes and reflected how very blessed I've been in my life. We have four terrific kids, four wonderful grandchildren, Carol is great, my health is great (for an old timer) and we have so many wonderful friends. So a short thank you looking at that tilted cross felt good!
I visited and vacationed on the Outer Banks before. But this is our first visit to Ocracoke Island. We're enjoying our second day of no riding. After a leisurely southern breakfast Carol and a couple of the gals hit the shops...and Mike (from CT) did a ten mile kayak paddle...(another one of my favorite outdoor activities).
Ocracoke Island is part of the Cape Hatteras Seashore. Except for the village the entire island is owned by the US Park Service. The whole island is just 16 miles long and only a few blocks wide. It was "discovered" in the mid 1700's and has a lighthouse that was originally build in 1823. There's a British cemetery and a Ft. Ocracoke memorial from the Civil War days.
Tomorrow we have to catch a different ferry at 6:50 a.m. for a 2 hours 15 minute ride to Cedar Island and then jump on our bikes for an 86 mile ride to Jacksonville, NC. It will be a long day! The weather forecast is good! The last several days have been terrific. Making up for the rain and heavy traffic we had early on!
If you've been following my ride you know that I missed posting the blog the evening of the third. It was written and ready to go but we had a major change to our schedule and it didn't get done. I'll explain what happened in the next blog. I really can't believe that 11 riding days are behind us and only 10 more to go...818 behind us and 770 in front of us. If all ten remaining riding days are anything like today's ride it will be fantastic! The weather was terrific. Fifty degrees when we left the motel - and then it warmed up to the low seventies.
I am pleased (tongue in cheek) that I can report we got sprinkled on - so that I can continue to complain that we've been rained on all but one day! CrossRoads, our tour company, did this same "reunion ride" in 2008 - and they only got rained on once. But, days like today make you forget all the wet, wind, fog, hills and traffic.
About six of us rode together at a very comfortable 15 mph average. This gives us time to enjoy the sights and scenery. Plus, I took more pictures today than any day before this.
We're in Kill Devil Hills, NC. This, like the beaches in NJ and MD bring back a whole bunch of good memories. Forty years ago, the Darlingtons and best friends, the Horners, with a gaggle of kids holidayed right here on the Outer Banks. Plus we lived in NC for four years (in Winston Salem). We loved the southeast. I ran a mid-sized plumbing wholesale business that had branches in NC, SC and GA. We traveled all over this area and vacationed all up and down the coast.
Today we rode across a 2.8 mile long bridge from the mainland to the Outer Banks. Then we rode twelve miles down a street next to the Atlantic Ocean. There were houses on stilts on both sides of the street. So far I'v seen very little signs of damage from hurricane Irene...but I bet we will in the next two days.
The highlight of the day was touring the Wright Brothers National Memorial (part of the US National Park Service). Right here in Kill Devil Hills (not Kitty Hawk) is where Orville and Wilbur Wright did the very first motorized airplane flight. On a cold, windy December 17, 1903 they did four successful flights. The longest lasted 59 seconds, went 852 feet and hit a top speed of 34 miles per hour.
The Wright Brothers were from Dayton, Ohio and owned a bicycle shop (very appropriate, huh?) They had a passion for the idea of flying. They started working on it seriously in 1899. Part of their preparation for motorized flying was doing a number of glider flights. They selected the Kill Devil Hills area because of the wind, isolation, high sand dunes and soft landings.
Just think about it! From that first flight in 1903 we landed people on the moon only 66 years later! My grandmother, who lived 99 years, saw both of these events plus the inventions of electricity, cars, radio, movies, televisions, computers and so many other thing that we take for granted today. It really boggles my mind when I try to put it all in perspective. Yes - in my humble opinion America is the greatest country in the history of the world. Please let's do whatever we can to get it back on track. I want my grandkids and there kids to enjoy the many advantages and privileges that I have.
I took a short walk on the beach, got my feet wet and picked up the perfect shell to give to Carol. As I'm writing this (8 P.M.) I've showered and shaved and she's still working. Guess who got the easiest part of this tour?
Tomorrow we pedal on down the Outer Banks and take a ferry to Ocracoke Island - 78 miles of pedaling.
Get those donations in for the scholarship fund. Education is one of the most important things we can give our young people. Thank you!
I apologize for always starting with the weather report. When doing a long ride like this it's a really important factor. We started out in a COLD (49 degree) rain. This lasted for about an hour an then the darn wind came up blowing straight in our face for the rest of the day. It was cloudy, windy and cold the entire 76 miles.
Once again I rode with 5 other guys who pedal the same speed I do. The last 40 miles we rode in a pace line. That's where we ride one behind the other about 18" (+ or _) behind the wheel in front of you. We took turns pulling each other with each of us taking a one mile pull up front and then going to the back of the line and rotating toward the front for you turn in the lead.
Our gang was the second group to the "transfer" are to be vannedacross the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel. I was in the van with my bike loaded on top when a couple of women came riding in. Being the fine gentleman I am (every once in awhile) I gave up my seat and had an hour and a quarter wait for the next van. No big deal!
Here's a few facts on the bridge/tunnel. The first two lanes were completed in 1964 at a cost of $200M. It took 42 months to build it and it was selected as one of the seven engineering wonders of the world. Two more lanes were added in 1999. From shore to shore the facility measures 17.6 miles and is considered the longest bridge/tunnel complex in the world.
The pictures of yours truly pointing at the sign is self explanatory. ..but I thought the picture of the sign at the church where we did the SAG stop was pretty interesting. They claim to have the longest, continuous running Sunday School in America.
Tonight we're staying in Virginia Beach, VA (our ninth state. This brings back memories of my Army days. After I completed my Officers Training I spent time at a small Army Post called Fort Story. It was located at the northern end of Virginia Beach - actually on the beach. Believe it or not back then the Army had ships and this was a base for amphibious landing craft. What I remember most (and maybe best) is that Fort Story had one of the nicest Officer Clubs I ever frequented. And there were only about six officers stationed there. Go figure!
I think we're up to about 750 miles so that only leaves 850 to go on the trek! Looking at the map it looks like it's all down hill. (I only wish)!
Today I wore my leg warmers, two long sleeve shirts, a rain jacket, 2 pair of biking shorts, two pair of socks and full finger gloves. I actually was pretty comfortable except for the darn wind blowing dead in our face and slowing us down by 2-3 miles per hour.
Tomorrow we're on to Kill Devil Hills - 77 miles and more memories from vacations past!
What a nice leisurely day we had. We started an hour later than usual and arrived at our destination motel at around 2:00 p.m.
The first 25 miles was along the Atlantic Ocean. Most of it was biking through Ocean City, MD. How about 152 traffic lights...of which I hit 41 of them red!
Our first riding day with NO rain. Yea! The wind was pretty strong from the northwest - but since we were going mostly south, it wasn't too bad. Mostly good roads and good bike lanes. Once again I am in awe of how 25 strangers can come together an become not only friends, but almost family, in such a short time. Eight of us had 51 days together on the cross country ride in 2009. There are 17 new faces and every single person is someone I'm proud to know. I think the fact that we all have a lot in common has a lot to do with it. Of course the bike riding, being fit, being goal oriented and self motivated is part of it. And yes, you have to be able to afford the cost of the ride, have the time to do it. The camaraderie, bonding and teamwork is something I've experienced before...but never to this degree! It truly is very unique!
We have a very tight routine...and you might be interested in learning a bit about it. It starts with a 5:15 wake up call, a huge breakfast at 6:00 a.m., our two duffel bags (15 lbs. each) down to the truck by 7:00 am, sign out and take off at 7:15 a.m. We arrive at our next destination usually between 3:30 and 5:00. Then we clean our bikes and lube our chains, have a fast shower and shave and be at the next days route rap at 5:45 p.m. This is followed by dinner at 6:00 pm, doing this blog, getting clothes ready for the next days ride and lights out between 8:30 and 9:00 p.m. Then we do it all over again the next day.
Tomorrow will be interesting. We ride 76 miles to the northern end of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge/Tunnel. Then we're shuttle across/through this one of the longest bridge/tunnels in America. Our vans can only take 6 riders/bikes each - so the first twelve riders to the pickup spot will be hauled across first (I'm going to hustle and try and be one of the first). It's about a 30 minute van ride across the CB to our motel in Virginia Beach. The slower riders may have up to a 60+ minute wait for the vans to return.
Maryland today was state #8 - and Virginia tomorrow will be #9! Not bad for just 10 days of riding.
Carol and Robin continue to do a terrific job. It's been great having Carol on this ride and I think we both have a new respect for what each of us are doing. My pedaling...and her hard work supporting the riders.
I checked how the scholarship donations are doing and am thrilled to share that we've passed the $12000.00 mark and it's still growing. Thank you so very much. On October 15th at the Annual Decorative Plumbing Hardware Assn. conference in San Jose, CA we will award two $3000 scholarships to two very deserving students. You can feel very good about helping these young people further their education and dreams.
Remember you can leave your comments on this blog site!
This is going to be a quick note. Today, the last day of September, has been our first day off since starting the ride. Eight days of riding and 605 miles behind us!
The ride from Hammonton to Dewey Beach was pretty easy. It was flat, less traffic and had better roads and bike lanes. Governor Christi, I apologize! You only need to work on fixing the roads and bike lanes in the top half of your state.
We had pouring rain three times yesterday but only for 15-30 minutes at a time. Even tho we got soaked it was warm so we dried off while riding. After 70 miles to Cape May, NJ we boarded a ferry and had a beautiful 90 minute ride across the Delaware Bay to our 7th State - Delaware.
Our son Steve was waiting at the motel when I rode in. He drove from Harrisburg, PA to spend two nights and a day with us. Today (Friday) has been a beautiful, warm, sunny day...our first day with no rain since leaving Portland, Maine. The day off was used for doing laundry, getting my glasses fixed and making a quick stop at the Drug store of some travel size toiletries.
Carol had some work duties - so Steve and I visited relatives in Ocean Pines, MD...about 30 miles away.
We all went to the beach for an hour and did a bit of body surfing. It reminded me how much nicer the East Coast beaches are compared to the rough, cold Pacific side.
This evening my nephew/godson, Corben and his mom are driving over from St. Michaels, MD to have dinner with us. We haven't seen them for a couple of years...so this will be special.
The last two days have been a "ride" down memory lane for me. I spent alot of time at the New Jersey "shore" while in high school and college. I worked at Ocean City, NJ while I was in college. Great memories!
Tomorrow we get to sleep in an extra hour because we only have to pedal 63 miles to Pokomoke, MD....most of it along the Atlantic Ocean. Barring any serious headwinds, it should be a beautiful ride. The weather forecast is calling for chilly, but sunny weather. It's time to head out for our mini family reunion - so we'll check in tomorrow evening.
You may wonder why I always start with a weather report. The reason is because it affects our ride so much. Wind, rain, heat, humidity etal can turn a fun ride into a disaster. Today we got rained on twice (hard, but for only 20 minutes each time)! It was warm, so we dried while riding. This afternoon we rode head-on into a 15-20 mph headwind. It slows us down by 2-3 mph and makes us "chug" lots harder. The first half of today's ride was still in highly populated areas with LOTS of traffic. We also encountered 2 bridges out from the hurricane - easy detours though!
Evidently there's a move to encourage Governor Christy of NJ to run for Pres. Unless he fixes the crappy roads here and adds some bike lanes he won't get my vote.
Yesterday I said our group broke out into the big, mid and small dogs! My group (the mid dogs) took exception to the name, so hence forth we are the "Pedigrees"! You can tell we all have a sense of humor!
This isn't pretty, but unless you ride a bike you have no idea how much "road kill" there is out there. Here's an informal survey (a guy has to do something while he pedals along): for every 100 squirrels there will be 61 raccoons, 54 muskrats, 49 birds, 14 snakes and 5 deer. On the cross country ride armadillos were #1 in the southwest states. This is something you were really interested in, isn't it?
Okay, here's something that is more interesting. We stopped at Grover's Mill and Pond (see picture above). The location where the aliens from Mars landed in Orson Well"s radio program: The War of the Worlds. Back in 1938 it shook the country when it aired...because listeners thought it was real. As you can see it's just a big red barn and a pond.
I need to lodge just one minor complaint today. My poor butt is hurting. The last 40 miles today were tough...lots of standing and moving around in the saddle.
This was our seventh straight day of riding - and most of us are feeling it! Thank goodness we have our first rest day on Friday so our bodies can recover.
The picture with the scarecrow and the two good looking guys was taken at our SAG stop today (mile 36). It was a great farmers market which was all decked out for Fall and Halloween. The handsome dude with me is Larry Freidman - a fellow Lafayette College grad (15 years behind me). (Carol's aside: Everywhere from Maine to here we have seen unbelievable Fall decorations in yards, nursery's and businesses. Pumpkins, scarecrows and beautiful chrysanthemums everywhere)!
So far we've ridden 523 miles - just about a third of the 1600 total miles. It's amazing how fast time flies when you're having fun.
Hammonton, the town we're staying in this evening claims to be the Blueberry and Cranberry Capital of the World. I can't vouch for the accuracy of that claim, but I can tell you we saw a whole lot of fields of blueberries. Tomorrow we're off for Dewey Beach, Delaware (state #7). We ride to Cape May, NJ and take a 90 minute ferry ride to Delaware. I wonder if those miles count toward the ride?
Our son Steve is going to meet us in Dewey Beach and spend our day off with us. We're excited about that! I hope the sun shines because I have a vision of sitting on the beach and doing a little body surfing. All is good!
We had another GREAT riding day. Cloudy, a bit of sunshine, temperature 80+ degrees with humidity over 90% and very foggy up until about 10:30. For the first three hours I could hardly see through my glasses. They were all fogged up and my rear view mirror fell off of my glasses early on. I saved it, but couldn't get it right back on. So there I was, I couldn't see in front of me - or behind me. Not a good thing when you're riding a bike in lots of traffic. This all got squared away when the fog lifted. The ride wasn't as pretty as yesterday because of more cars, people, houses etc. Yesterday we rode for about 23 miles through Bear Mountain State Park in New York. It was beautiful - and shy of all the things I just mentioned.
There were a few Revolutionary War history markers, but nothing terribly significant (easy for me to say, I wasn't there).
We did a ride over a bridge with several dozen flags waving. I started singing "God Bless America" and all of the folks riding with me joined in. It was a very special moment. Every evening at 5:45 we do a "Route Rap" (picture above of us gathered in the hotel lobby for the meeting) where we go over the next days ride. We don't have maps, but do have a daily route log. It spells out every turn, stop sign, RR Crossing, big climbs, Dairy Queens, places with restrooms and more. We all have odometers which tract our speed and the distance ridden by a tenth of a mile. So we are continually reading the route sheet, looking at our odometers and trying not to run into anything.
The average number of turns for both the cross country ride and this ride so far has been between 35 and 40. Today we set an all time record with 68 turns. Several of the riders have Garmins for odometers...so we count heavily on them to keep us on route. We've also broken out into riding groups. There are the "Big Dogs" - four guys that ride fast together (19-21 mph); next are the "Mid Dogs" - about 10 of us that ride about 15-16 mph and we stick pretty close together. Then we have the "Small Dogs"...about 11 folks that are a tad slower. Six of the latter group leave the motel a half hour ahead of the rest of us. Bill, from Seattle is ourlead "Mid Dog". He's got a Garmin, keeps a great pace and keeps us on course. The Big Dogs ride faster, but seem to get lost almost every day...but they still beat us to the motel.
Above is a picture is of a gentleman from American Standard presenting me with a check for $1000 for the Scholarship Fund that I'm doing this ride for. These nice folks picked me up in a limo, took me to their headquarters and brought me back to the motel. I felt a little like a rock star. I REALLY appreciate their generosity. Many, many thanks to them!
Somerset is know for the New Brusdwick Marconi Station. It was an early radio transmitter facility built in 1913 by the American Marconi Wireless Corp. After the early failure of the transatlantic telegraph cables, the facility was confiscated by the US Navy in April of 1917 to provide transatlantic communications for WWI. It was the principal communications link between the US and Europe. Woodrow Wilson's "Fourteen Points Speech" was from this site. After the war the facility was transferred to RCA.
Today reminded me of why I love riding bike. It was one of the best I've had in a very long time. The weather cooperated again. Partly cloudy - with some sunshine - 80 degrees and very humid. A little sweating has to be good for you, right? The scenery was fantastic! A dozen or more lakes, lots of valleys, mountains, rivers, waterfalls and more...plus lots of early American history - which I love...mainly the Revolutionay War. We saw where the colonist put a chain across the Hudson River to keep the British ships from going south into New York City. It's also where Benedict Arnold betrayed the colonist by trying to lower the chain so the British could get through. That failed...and he made an escape across the Hudson to the West.
We stopped before, on and after crossing the bridge over the Hudson River. The fog was just lifting in the distance. It's a BIG, muddy (because of all the rain) body of water. So now I've ridden across a number of the major rivers in our beautiful country...including the Missouri, Mississippi and now the Hudson!
Speaking of the British, look at the picture by the historical sign for Fort Clinton. The colonist met the British here and pushed them back. The fellow bike rider on the ground is Doug - from Britain. I thought the pose was appropriate - and he was a good sport about it! Some of the roads were the worst we've seen so far. There were probably ten miles of teeth jarring riding. We had 3614 feet of climbing - so it was a good workout for yours truly. I felt good and hung with the a pretty good group. (Yes, my legs are feeling it)!
No flat tires and the new bike worked just great. Many of you may remember that I HATE going downhill fast. But with a big uphill in front of you it sure helps to get up a head of steam. Having said that - I've gone over 40 mph 8 or 9 times. Talk about a white faced, white knuckled, scared to death old man! Almost everyone else loves it... 50+ miles an hour is nothing to them.
Another picture shows a road that was totally lifted up and moved over 20 or 30 feet as a result of the last hurricane. There were lakes on both sides of the road. One lake overflowed into the other lake and took the road with it. Once again, the power of Mother Nature.
Tomorrow is another fairly short ride day (64 miles) to Somerset, NJ. (state #6). I'm afraid to ask about how much climbing there will be - so I'll just wait and be surprised.
We headed out at the usual 7:30 a.m. start...cloudy skies and very humid. As the day progressed the clouds disappeared and the sun actually shined through for part of the ride. The temperature hit 81 degrees - 20 degrees above normal. All in all, very, very pleasant! Hurray!
We rode lots of back roads today...with fairly heavy traffic. There were only fair bike lanes - so we did alot of hugging the proverbial solid white line on the right side of the road. But hear this, five days of riding and no "jerk" drivers have pulled up beside us , blowing their horn and yelling at us...another nice thing about beautiful New England.
I love antiques...especially original Currier and Ives lithographs. (I did buy one while we were up in Maine). We passed a dozen or so great looking shops. The bike wanted to pull into a couple but the rider showed great restraint and kept on peddling.
So after one flat tire on day two, two on day three and three flat tires yesterday guess what I woke up to this morning? Yep, another flat! Mac, our mechanic, put new tape on the inside of the wheel rim, put on another new tire and tube and I made it though the day with no flats!
Five days of riding and we're in our fifth state. Pretty cool, huh?
Okay, this is hard to tell you. As you can see I'm saving it for last. I took a "bump" from the second SAG stop (mile 64) all the way to the motel. The hills were steep and long. The toughest I've seen since the Rocky Mountains two years ago. My legs just didn't feel like riding the last 30 miles. I did about 4600 feet of elevation so I don't feel too bad. Those of you that know me, know how hard this was for my A++ very competitive personality. But with over a 1000 miles to go I want to enjoy the rest of the ride. Our four kids might even say that the "old man" is finally using some good judgement (wonders never cease)! We have dinner on our own tonight - not with the whole group. We can chose our own fare and I'm thinking there may be a glass of wine on the menu.
Carol has had a very long hard day. Up at 5 a.m., two SAG stops, picking up worn out folks like me, shopping for tomorrows SAG stop goodies and restocking the vans. She didn't get back to the room until 6:00 p.m. and still has more to do. Both Carol and Robin are doing a GREAT job and it's their first tour!
There are 25 of us on this ride. All but one did a cross country ride with this same tour company (CrossRoads Cycling Adventures). There's 8 from my 2009 ride and we're getting acquainted with the other 17 folks. A great group!
Above is a picture of yours truly standing in front of some of the SAG stop goodies. I think that's it for today. Tomorrow we have a short 53 mile, but very hilly ride to Suffern, NY. (No new state)! Stay well - and thanks for your interest and support.
Named for a set of canal locks that opened in 1829.
Well, I'm here to report some good news and some bad news. The good is: NO rain, unseasonably warm weather and a "short" day of riding in New England. The bad: 3 flat tires (all on the back wheel and tougher to change) and I ran out of tubes and CO2 cartridges. So with 11 miles to go I had to join Carol in the SAG wagon. I'm bummed! I'm upset and I'm very disappointed that I won't be riding EFI (Every Fantastic Inch)! Sometimes the middle "F" word is a different word!
I like riding up hills and I'm pretty good at it, but steep down hills scare me. The first two days I hit 40 mph twice. Today I was a tad over 40 mph when the rear tire went flat. I was lucky I was able to control the bike and get stopped. Thank goodness it was the rear tire. If it had been the front tire I could have had serious problems.
The neat thing about riding with a group of other riders like this is the camaraderie and team work. Whenever anyone has a problem folks stop and help. It's never fun because it slows all those folks down. But we all know that the next time it might be you.
I'm very pleased and honored to have Mr. Steam as a sponsor for my ride. They are a manufacturer of steam generators for the home. Note the above picture of me in one of my Mr. Steam bike shirts. The folks at Mr. Steam have made a very generous contribution to the DPHA Scholarship Fund and they're working very had to encourage others to join them. Thank you one and all!
Three days of riding and we've been in 4 states. Tomorrow we have another tough one (93 miles) and a whole lot of climbing...6000+ feet. And of course, what's the weather report? Rain all day! Maybe we'll get lucky like today and dodge the liquid sunshine!
We stay in nice motels and we eat very well. On the longer days with lots of climbing we burn between 5000 and 6000 calories. Yes, that means we eat a whole lot more than normal...and we are continuously hydrating with Gatorade and water. Plus, we eat power bars, gels, trail mix, fruit and pastries at the SAG stops. In doing all of this I will probably lose weight. Carol did a great job picking me up with the SAG van and loading my bike on the van.
We're surrounded by history, but have seen very little to document with pictures. But take a close look at the picture of the house we passed today. What you see are the results of a tornado that passed through the area last month. There were several houses that looked like this and every tree was sheared off. Wow! The power of Mother Nature. I guess I better not complain about a little rain. BIG day tomorrow so I better turn this over to Carol to type and post. If you're following this I hope you're having as much fun as we are.
Today we rode from Portsmouth, NH to Worcester, MA. It was 93 miles and 4200 feet of climbing elevation. (Yes, there's an equal amount of descending)! The first 70 miles were great! Cloudy, mid 70's, a bit humid, but better than rain. But, at about mile 70 after a stop at the Dairy Queen and consuming a small chocolate shake - the skies opened up! About a mile past the DQ I got a flat tire - then had chain and gear problems. I sent my riding buddies ahead and toyed with the idea of getting in the SAG wagon. But, after proving I'm not such a bad bike mechanic I got everything working...and rode on into the city of Worcester.
It's a pretty big city. I think every main street was torn up because I hit bumper to bumper traffic. Heck, riding the sidewalk is an advantage for us bikers! I didn't arrive at the motel until 5:00 p.m. - and then had our daily "route rap" at 5:45 p.m. I have to tell you the long, hot shower felt good - but washing out the dirty bike clothes wasn't so fun! I had a really good dinner of steak with all the trimmings - and a well deserved glass of wine!
It's now 8:00 p.m. and both Carol and I are whipped. Thus a short blog! Carol worked hard today - with several folks opting for a ride in the van - which means putting the bikes on the van racks - in the rain. Her day started at 5:30 a.m.!
We're in our third state - and tomorrow will be our fourth - Connecticut. Guess what the weather is predicted to be: heavy rain and flood warnings. Oh please, talk to the sun gods for us! This should be such a pretty ride, but it's hard to enjoy it when you can't see it!
Day one of riding is behind us...70.3 miles! I felt good all day. Okay, I'm only going to complain about the rain once (today) - then I'll casually mention it and you'll know it was an ugly day!
It was raining when we left the hotel at 7:15 a.m. in Portland and was still raining when we pulled into the motel in Portsmouth, NH. We're in our second state out of a total of thirteen on the ride. We only hit 15 states on the entire cross country ride two years ago. Today would have been a beautiful ride if the weather had cooperated. We followed the coast of Maine about 50% of the time - and not far from it the rest of the time. We did a group photo before we started this morning (above). The only other picture s today were of several of us standing on the shoreline with the Bush Compound behind us in Kennybunkport. Wow, what a georgeous little highend "burg" that is! (picture above - but the fog was so bad Idon't think you can see the compound)
One of our riders went down at mile 2.2 and he thinks he cracked a couple of ribs...but he finished the ride and will probably ride tomorrow. The only other incident was a broken chain - and Carol and Mac, the mechanic took care of that!
As you can imagine, we were all soaked to the bone and chilled by the time we arrived at the hotel. I hustled to the washer and dryer and will have clean, dry clothes for tomorrow's 90 mile ride to Worcester, MA (3 states in three days - not bad, huh)? And yes, rain is still predicted for the next 4 days! Not just rain, but thunderstorms and hard rain! Come on Mother Nature - turn on the sunshine.
To all of you who have contributed to the DPHA Scholarship Fund - THANK YOU! If you haven't gotten around to it there's still plenty of time. Let's help these kids go to college!