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Monday, October 17, 2011

(L) "Bubba" (me) and my "Babes)
(R) The owners of Sandpiper Supply in Savannah
a very nice donation to the scholarship fund.

Miscellaneous Pictures from Maine to Florida Trip

(L) We were waiting for a ferry to cross over the intercoastal waterway when I took a moment to catch the "big" one
(R) This is the group that I rode cross country with in 2009
(L) I've just traded my bike for Harley
(R) Taking a break with the beautiful Atlantic behind me

Sunday, October 16, 2011

A Final blog for Days 24-25

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 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 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!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

October 13, 2011

Brunswick, GA to Amelia Island, FL
61 miles
13th and Final State!
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 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.
More tomorrow!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

October 12, 2011

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!

More tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

October 10, 2011

Beaufort SC to Savannah, GA
50 miles

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.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Charleston, SC to Beaufort, SC
82 miles
Day 19
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.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

October 8, 2011

Little River, SC to Charleston, SC
120 miles

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) 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!
More tomorrow!

Friday, October 7, 2011

)ctober 7, 2011

Tracy Lenier
Jacksonville, NC to Little River, SC
111 Miles

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...

Thursday, October 6, 2011

October 6, 2011

Ocracoke Island to Jacksonville, NC
86 miles

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 gave her 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.
We're both tired - so will sign off for now!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

October 4-5, 2011

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!

More tomorrow!

October 3, 2011

Virginia Beach to Kill Devil Hills, NC
76 Miles

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!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Pocomoke to Virginia Beach, VA
76 miles
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 vanned across 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!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Saturday, October 1, 2001

Dewey Beach, Delaware to Pocomoke, MD
63 miles

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!
More tomorrow...