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Friday, September 30, 2011

September 29-30, 2011

Hammonton, NJ to Dewey Beach, DE
82 miles

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 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.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

September 28, 2011

Somerset, NJ to Hammonton, NJ
80 miles
2500 feet of climbing
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 et al 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!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

September 27, 2011

Suffern, NY to Somerset, NJ
63 miles

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 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 our lead "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.

Tomorrow we're off to Hammonton, NJ (79 miles)

Monday, September 26, 2011

September 26, 2011

Fishkill to Suffern, NY
53 miles
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 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.
Carol sends her best to all!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

September 25, 2011

Windsor Locks, CT to Fishkill, NY
93 miles - 6100 feet of elevation
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.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

September 24, 2011

Worcester, MA to Windsor Locks, CT
68 miles
Windsor Locks: Population 12,000,
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.

Friday, September 23, 2011

September 23, 2011

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!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

September 22, 2011

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!
"Talk with you tomorrow".

September 21, 2011

A BIG hello from Portland, Maine. The fun and games are over! It's time for me to get serious. We start our ride tomorrow. It will be a 70 mile ride to Portsmouth, NH...and the first leg of a 1600 mile ride to Daytona Beach, Florida. Champ, (yep, that's his given name) Walker and I went out for an easy 10 miles this a.m. to be sure our bikes were put back together right (and that I could still stay upright after 10 days of running around the East Coast). Last Saturday I met Champ, and his wife Ronnie, and we toured North Central Maine where my mom grew up and I spent the first 15 summers of my life living with my grandparents in a rustic cabin (kerosene lights, wood stove etc.) on Lake Seabassticook. GREAT memories. You folks that like lobster may be a bit envious...I've had that delicacy from the sea 5 times in the last 5 days. (Not the best diet for my bike ride - but oh well!
We had our first group meeting this evening...introductions and our "route rap" for tomorrow's ride. We're all a bit blue. The weather report for the first 5 days of our ride is rain! Lots of it! I for one hate riding in the rain. It's tough for those of us who wear glasses. It's cold and the riding is a whole lot trickier. But, it is what it is...and Carol will be driving a SAG van so if needed I can always get a "bump". Speaking of Carol, I've hardly seen her since we both arrived here yesterday.
More tomorrow. Help my by praying for sunshine.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

September 14, 2011

Hello from Duncannon, PA (outside Harrisburg). I'm spending three days with our son Steve (in picture) and his wife Andy as I make my way to Portland, Maine...the beginning of the East Coast Ride.
I left Sacramento on Sunday and did a short stop in Hot Springs, AR where I did a Showroom Selling Workshop for a wonderful, family owned business.
Steve has set me up with his bike on a trainer in the basement so I'll be able to put in a few "miles" while I'm here. I'm also going to see several high school, college and "old" work friends while I'm here in central PA. I'm excited about that!
Since I started serious training about 10 weeks ago I've logged about 2000 miles on my new Trek, 30 gear bike (all around the Sacramento area). I'm not quite in the shape I was for the cross country ride, but I think I'm ready for the 1600 mile jaunt down the East Coast. Let's hope they're done with the earthquakes, tornadoes, floods and hurricanes! I do know we'll have some detours along the way.
Carol leaves this Sunday for Hartford, CT and SAG (Support and Gear) driver training. This is a very responsible job and she's taking it seriously. Saturday I fly to Portland, Maine to meet Champ, my roommate on the 2009 cross country ride. Champ, his wife Ronnie and I are going to do a little sightseeing in that beautiful part of the country before meeting up with the team of riders and staff next Tuesday.
I'm ready, and pumped! I'm excited, I'm a little nervous but I'm also anxious to get started!
More next week!