Wednesday, June 30, 2010

18 Miles to the Atlantic Ocean

I know that everyone has been waiting for my entry on the last day of my ride. For the record, I was so busy on that last day after getting back to the hotel, you know getting cleaned up, doing my laundry, (wouldn't have wanted to lose my "Laundry Queen" title) and going out for the celebratory lunch with Jan then back to the hotel to watch my bike get packed. Note to self, always make sure you are there, I almost ended up with Jan's front tire and she with mine OOPS, but as Kevin always said "It's all good!" and everything worked out

I also tried to write my entry on Saturday evening, I tired 3 times but just couldn't get my head around what I had just accomplished. I'm writing my entry now; 5 days following the end of my incredible cycling journey, because I have a handle on what I want to much space do I have????

As we rode the last 18 miles together through the streets of Boston, both on and off of the cue sheet, I felt sad that the trip was coming to an end but very happy that I wouldn't have to get up at 5:00 a.m. anymore to get ready for each day's ride and was excited to get home to my "Boys". As I thought back to some of the days I cycled; like up Mingus Mountain, the flat roads of Kansas with the horrific headwinds, our afternoon ride to Wooster, OH. with the 12-18% grade hills and the 7 mile climb up Green Mountain and then up Hog Back Mountain on the same day, it began to hit home as to what I had accomplished and the fun that I had doing it along with the sore muscles and smelling like "Pepie la Pue". It was all worth the hours of training and even worth the dinner at The Sands....well almost worth the dinner at The Sands.

When I began my trip 7 weeks ago there were two other ladies going across the country, in addition to myself. All three of us made it across with all the "Big Dog" guys that began "with us"...what's the saying "Women Rule" ha, ha! I am thrilled and delighted to have shared my 3,465 mile journey, (this includes some miles were I got lost and the ride on the Major Taylors Velodrome) with all of my cycling buddies. You all have helped to make my trip amazing and unforgettable. You helped keep me going when I thought my legs couldn't peddle another stroke and made the "boring roads" bearable. I'll always remember to "Make the most of the day" or was it "I had a Mimosa today"....hey either one works for me especially when I'm waiting to meet Lenny Dawson....Craig I'm still waiting! To the "Tailend Charlie Group" I'll be looking for a cycling route at home that includes a Dairy Queen for sure and who knows may even take time to take some photos during my future rides.
I also want to thank all my friends and family for their support when I began talking about my "crazy" idea to cycle across the country. Yes, I knew that's what cars were made for and I hope in the end you understood "Why" I wanted to take this journey. I especially appreciate all your encouraging words and e-mails as well as your donations to the Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund.
5 days after completing my trip, I'm still "bikeless" and eagerly awaiting for my bike to arrive. I've rested during these five days and am working at getting back into my routine at home. One thing though remainds the same....I'm so ready to get back out there and cycle some more. Yep, some things never change not even cycling for the past seven weeks for 3,465 miles!!!
If you have a dream remember this: "Happy are those who dream dreams and are ready to pay the price to make them come true!" I have accomplished my dream and I'm over the moon happy!!! Now go out there and accomplish yours.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The ride out of Battleboro, VT took us back through the quint little town that wasn't even awake yet as we crossed over the bridge and hit the New Hampshire state line, our first of the day. Then we began to climb, and climb and climb some more. We climbed for the next 30 miles up rolling hills, stair step hills and some long but not steep hills. Along the way we came across the Ashuelot Covered bridge. It was still in use, a one lane wooden bridge.

On mile 33 we rolled into our first sag of the day thankful that we were still able to walk. When we left the sag guessed it we climbed some more. Guess the theme for today's ride yet? Can you say "climb legs, climb!"

Shortly after leaving the sag we hit our second state line for the day, the Massachusetts state line. That was at mile 41 and we still had 50 miles to go before riding into Burlington, MA and our hotel. I will admit those were some long miles! At mile 60 we hit our last sag of our tour and cause for celebration, a perfect photo opportunity.
The ride today was 91 miles and which made for a very long day of cycling due to all the hills we climbed. It took me 6 hours and 40 minutes to cycle the 91 miles at an average speed of 13.9. I am very happy with that speed considering all the hills!!!!
Sorry to end this blog without having sighted a snake in the states of New Hampshire or Massachusetts, but that's just how it goes...sometimes you see them and other times they stay clear of the roads we cycle on.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Two mountain passes in one day

Our ride out of Albany was interesting as we dodged construction sights and then bad roads. We cycled over the Hudson River and then into a short tunnel. That was a first for me. Another first was having a sag stop at a Dunkin Donuts. What a great incentive to get to the sag!

After the sag we cycled a few more miles and hit the Vermont state line. But right before crossing the next state line, I saw a billboard that I just couldn't pass up taking a picture of, need I say more!!!!

Unfortunately the state sign of Vermont was a very tall sign and I was too short to get my picture taken under it. I guess I could have just had my hands showing in the picture, I always liked doing "jazz hands".

Following the ceremonial picture taking of the "Vermont State" sign, we rode into Bennington where we began our first up hill climb, the que sheet said it was 7.1 miles up to Green Mountain, but I think it was much longer, it took forever! While riding through Bennington, we also saw a lot of "local moose art".

Our second sag had a big surprise today, strudel pastries made by Stu and Sandy's very good friend and excellent pastry chef. I think it was that strudel that helped me climb up Hogback Mountain, a climb of about 4 miles. Then it was into Brattleboro had lunch and on to the hotel.
The ride today was 76 miles that took 5 hours and 55 minutes at an average speed of 13.6....I told you we did a lot of climbing today!!!
Sorry nothing to report on for snake sightings so it's a big fat ZERO for today!!!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Mohawk Valley

Today as we left Little Falls New York, we cycled along the canal way which was a great view, but we were also climbing a hill so no chance for pictures, remember the rule....we don't stop on hills. However, a little further down Route 5E, I took a nice picture of the canal along with the railroad tracks that ran along the water.

Our ride today was primarily along Route 5E which had nice wide shoulders that were also fairly smooth with very little debris and even less road kill to dodge. By the way, what was up with the very green frog laying in the prone position in the middle of the shoulder with orange fingers. I think it was plastic, but we didn't stop to check it out.

We also cycled through a number of small townships, one of which was Fonda where I saw a WWI Memorial. Of course I had to stop and get a picture. The Memorial was quite impressive, especially with the status of the "Leatherneck" standing on top.

As we cycled on, we came to our sag for the day which was on top of a nice climb out of Fonda. There was a historical sign for the Mohawk Valley which was the primary pass to the interior between the Adirondack Mountains and the Allegheny Plateau.

The ride today was 71 miles that took me 4 hours and 52 minutes at an average speed of 14.6 mph. Considering the other rides we have done over the past 7 weeks, this was a short ride. It's interesting after all the miles we're ridden that anything under 80 is now considered a "short ride" for the day, guess it's all relative.
There was also a snake sighting or I should say a sighting of a "snake skin". This was not just a smooched snake, it was a totally flattened like a pancaked snake and it counts.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Let's start the day with desert

It was another beautiful day to head out cycling from Syracuse to Little Falls, NY. In the back parking lot of the hotel was a truck with a cow and large container of ice cream being trailered, can you say "photo op".

Even though it was a Monday morning and people were going to work, we were able to navigate through the traffic with the help of several helpful motorist. We were headed out to the country roads when all of a sudden a rider was down. Immediately everyone stopped and began helping in what ever way they could until Tracy arrived. Roy we are all pulling for you and hoping that your injuries are minimal. As one who has also found themselves down on the road, hopefully you are ok and heal quickly.

As we continued our ride we had great roads through a lot of small "Villages". In one of those Villages I took a picture at the local VFW Hall. As I've ridden through out the county I have seen lots of flags, American, Marine and POW. This picture is very special as it has flags from every branch of the military.
Before our sag we saw a small little church sitting in the middle of a pond. While we were looking at the pond a Blue Heron scooped up a fish from the pond and flew over to the dock where the Church sits in the middle of the pond. He didn't eat the fish right away, guess he doesn't like to have an audience. Unfortunately my picture didn't turn out very well, I couldn't zoom in enough for the picture to show what the Heron was doing.
The rest of our ride went fast on wide shoulders and not too bad road services or to much debris. I road the 78 miles in4 hours and 55 minutes at a speed of 15.9 mph.
Sorry the "Snake Report" has nothing new to report, I think I'm finally out of snake country! But I still won't go into the bushes or the tall grass to use the "Green Door"!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

It's a Beautiful Day in the neighborhood

Today was another beautiful day of riding. We have been so lucky on our trip, only two days with measurable amounts of rain, yesterday being one of those rain days. We also left the hotel an hour later this morning which meant we got to sleep in a hour longer!

The route today took us through Waterloo the birthplace of Memorial Day, in 1866. As we cycled through Waterloo we came upon a town center where there was a park, which was located on "Memorial Day Drive", with a Korean Veterans Memorial. The message was "Freedom is not Free". That still holds true today.

After the sag stop we cycled to the Erie Canal Park where we stopped to take a look at the Canal. I have never been this far north in New York, so it's great to see sights that I have never seen before. Definitely another benefit of the trip!
We had good roads today with wide shoulders for most of the ride or country roads where we could take our time and meander our way to the hotel in Syracuse. We did encounter hills, but nothing to steep like the day we headed into Wooster, OH. The clouds rolled in to keep us from getting too hot; just glad they didn't turn into rain clouds.
The ride was 68 miles which took me 4 hours and 38 minutes to finish at an average speed of 14.9 mph. The odometer on my bike computer now reads 3,124 miles.
The "Snake Report" is another big fat ZERO, nothing to report...I am beginning to think there are no snakes in the state of New York.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Sunshine to pouring down rain

Today was an exciting day, no we didn't have another police escort out of town; I have ridden 3,000 miles! When I rode 1,000 miles it was like, "Well that's great but I still have a long way to go to accomplish my goal". Then when I had ridden 2,000 miles, it was "Wow, I'm two-thirds of the way to reaching my goal. Now I'm just amazed and thrilled at what I have been able to accomplish and at the same time overwhelmed that the challenge that I set for myself is close at hand.

To put everything into perspective, at the store where we had our "3,000 mile" picture taken I saw a Jeep parked on the side. I recognized several prominent stickers on the back window, so I went inside to find the person who owned the Jeep. It belonged to a very special Mom who touched my heart. Her T-Shirt read "United States Marine Corps Mom, Paris Island. I explained that I was cycling across the country and was raising funds for the IMSFF and she told me about her son who is stationed currently in Afghanistan. I thanked her for her son's service and asked that she tell her son "Semper Fi" for me and she thanked me for what I was doing. My conversation with her made the 3,000 miles I had ridden even more special!!

Up to that point the day was sunny, warm and the roads where smooth with wide shoulders. Except for the occasional "road kill" we were rolling along. The second sag was at the Avon, NY Fire Station and then we took off to ride the last 25 miles into Canadaigue, NY. About 4-5 miles out from our destination for the day the skies just opened up and the rain fell in buckets while the winds blew us sideways and it became every man/woman for themselves. Thank goodness I had my back light on so that I could be seen but with the rain coming down so hard and fast and then the thunder rolled in, I knew that it was time to get off the roads. I had ridden about another mile when I pulled into the Canandaigua County Building parking lot and got out of the rain, just 3 miles from the hotel.

Disappointed that I didn't get the last 3 miles in, I was happy that I was in a safe place, besides I can always ride around the hotel parking lot tonight to get the last 3 miles of the ride completed....don't laugh there have been riders that have done that in the past! I prefer to just get lost on another day's ride and make up the 3 miles. So today's ride was to have been 94 miles, I completed 91 miles in 5 hours and 15 minutes in an average speed of 15.5 mph. Despite the rain storm, this was a great day for cycling!

The "Snake Report" had another unsuccessful day for snake sightings, so it's a big fat ZERO.

After dinner Bill, Jan and I walked over to one of the Finger Lakes of New York . It was within walking distance of our hotel. It was very pretty, that's Jan and I at the waters edge, thanks for the picture Bill.