MAA – Epilogue – Reflections on a Month of Cycling Across America

 

 

Hi again – I get to relax in the RV on the way back to California, so I am taking some time to reflect on my month of cycling across our great country. I hope you had fun tagging along and getting a glimpse into what it was like. The following are some retrospective thoughts about the experience.

TRIP STATS

  • Start – Finish: San Francisco, California to Plymouth, Massachusetts
  • Days Riding – 32.5 plus prologue
  • Rest days – 0
  • Miles – 3569IMG_5704
  • Most miles in one day – 146.5 (Austin, NV to Ely, NV)
  • Feet climbed – 102,450
  • Highest point – 8062 feet (Colorado)
  • Most feet elevation gained in one day – 8288IMG_4236
  • Number of states touched – 16
    • CA, NV, UT, WY, CO, NE, IA, IL, IN, MI, OH, PA, NY, MA, CT, RI (ended back in MA)IMG_5837
  • Dogs giving chase – 36
    • Dog deterrent air horn used – 4xIMG_5428
  • Lutheran Church Charities (LCC) Comfort Dogs met – 12
    • Aaron (send off from home), Cubby, Moses, Eddie, Joy, Katie, Gracie, Shami (early morning send off in Illinois), Barnabas, Anna, Lydia, Obadiah – And they are all looking out for us on the way home!IMG_5827
  • Mechanical Issues – SAG Actual got really good at fixing/maintain things!
    • Flat Tires – 5 (I had one the day before the last ride – slow leak found at camp)
    • Brake pads replaced – 1 set
    • Rearview mirror replaced – 1
    • Chain dirt and grime cleaned – dailyIMG_5306
  • Times caught in rain – 3
  • Highest temperature on road – 104.6 degrees (according to Garmin)
  • Weight lost – 12 lbs.

OBSERVATIONS/LEARNINGS

  • I have a GREAT SAG Team!DSC01816
  • The sweet spot for riding is between 6 and 10 am.DSC01655
  • I don’t like riding in the wind (especially head wind)!
  • I don’t like rumble strips!IMG_4364
  • I am directionally challenged.
  • Biggest Surprise – that I liked Nebraska
  • I have the best supportive friends ever!IMG_5834IMG_5836
  • Best ride – day 15 – Gothenburg to Grand Island, NE – nice smooth road, flat, slight tail wind, moderate temperature (100 miles in under 6 hours).DSC01407
  • Hardest ride – day 12 –  Fort Collins, CO to Sterling, CO (103 miles) – lots of wind!
  • Prettiest scenery – California for awe inspiring, dramatic views and New York for absolute, serene beauty.IMG_4298DSC01738
  • Best barns – IowaDSC01552
  • Friendliest state – Nebraska
  • Best RV Park – Streetsboro, OH KOA (and then Dayton Ohio KOA after the ride)
  • Best bike path – Des Moines, IA
  • Best road – Route 6 in IL from Marseilles to Joliet
  • Worst road – Service and frontage road along Union Pacific Railway West DSC01174Wendover, NV to Salt Lake City, UT
  • Coolest experience – riding along prancing Antelope on the way to Laramie, WY
  • Dogs love to chase bikes.
  • This was a one and done adventure.
  • The vastness of this country is incredible.DSC01133
  • Riding across the country 100 miles at a time was easier than I thought and harder than I imagined (hard to explain).
  • When I asked for a sign along the way…
  • You get to take a new road/go in a new direction only at the top of a hill – never happens at the bottom – you must climb first!
  • Descents are the best!!! (This is what it was like coming down from Spooner Pass)
  • Scoobert is a dog that is too big for an RV!IMG_4345
  • Reconnecting with friends and family is great! Don’t wait to do it.IMG_5711
  • Downshift before you stop. No, really. Downshift BEFORE you stop!
  • America is not flat (except for parts of Nebraska)DSC01206
  • Even Iowa has hills, lot’s of hills!
  • My faith in humanity has been made stronger.
  • There are a lot of good people out there!IMG_5344
  • Respect the checklist! We learned early on that I needed a checklist to make sure I remembered everything. I forgot things every day! (Things forgotten: tail light, Camelbak, sunglasses, food, sunscreen, helmet, more…)Checklist
  • Respect the SAG team! They have a different vantage point and are extremely helpful!IMG_5051
  • Cycling gets you a great tan. LOLIMG_5726

This is likely my last post for a while. There will be more adventures/goals coming up and I may write about them as well, but I’m pretty sure nothing will be as epic as this one was! Apparently, this is the end of the path for now. 😉IMG_5080

God is good! Ride on!

 

 

MAA – Day 33 – (Omega) Done. Check.

It started as a dream about 30 years ago and after a nice 32 mile ride this morning, I made it across the country to dip my tires in the Atlantic Ocean! My sisters, SAG Actual, and SAG1 (their preferred names now) were there to greet me and record it for the history books! So cool!

I did get within site of the ocean first on a bike path, so I stopped to have a personal moment and take a few selfies. 🙂IMG_5644

Then it was on to Plymouth Rock and the dip in the Atlantic!

Obadiah Comfort Dog caught up to us to extend congratulations too!

Back in Latham, NY, my sister hosted a congratulatory cook out. I was so fortunate to re-connect with another high school pal, Terri!IMG_5707

And our cousins who read about the adventure in the Times Telegram came too! And they brought home made half moons too so they are definitely OK in my book!

The SAG team is just happy they no longer have to move in 20-50 mile increments!DSC01816

Other pics of the day:

Song of the day:

Stay tuned for a few reflections on the month of riding, and then it will be on to the next adventure! 🙂

Ride on!

MAA – Day 32 – Solo Ride?

Day 32 – a ride across Massachusetts – pretty, but HUMID! I found it as tough to climb in the humidity as it was at higher altitudes. I even dipped my toe, so to speak, in Connecticut and Rhode Island. CT was for about two minutes – literally. It was only for about a half mile. Rhode Island was a little longer – maybe an hour! But, I rode into them, so they are part of the history of this journey. 🙂 Rhode Island didn’t have a welcome sign, or any sign for that matter. When I entered, the sign was covered because of road construction. And when I left, there were no signs. I’ll improvise.

 

When we got into the campground – which is FULL for July 4th weekend – we had a great visit from Lydia Comfort Dog and her team of which I am now an honorary member!

 

This adventure is almost done. So has it been a solo ride? I may be the only one out on the road on a bike, but I certainly haven’t been riding alone!

Out there with me:

God – Soli Deo Gloria! – I’m pretty sure He intervened a few times (or at least one of His angels did)!

The SAG Team – I absolutely could not have done this without them! If I had tried, it would have been really, really, really, really hard! And it would not have been nearly as enjoyable!

SAG Base – Christy K back at home who connected us with all of the Comfort Dog Teams along the way and made sure we had shelter everywhere and kept the SAG Team sane.

LCC Comfort Dog Teams – Aaron, Cubby, Moses, Eddie, Joy, Katie, Barnabas, Gracie*, Shami*, Anna, Lydia, and soon to meet, Obadiah. You were there at the right time, every time providing comfort, shelter, food and friendship!

Tom J – The one who kick started my journey by pulling me back into good health and inspiring me with stories of his own adventures trekking through the Sierras.

Jena T – Always there with a smile, positive attitude, encouragement and interest.

My St. John’s Lutheran family who supported, encouraged and prayed every step of the way.

My KP staff, Sharon and Theresa who made me laugh and held down the fort.

Andrea, Aka. East Coast Support Crew Leader – and my sister who happens to have MS and inspired this ride to be so much more than just a bucket list check off.

Penni and Jennie – My cross training buds who motivate me to get across those state lines. It’s all about the bling – and so much more!

Felix who makes me feel like a lucky guy!

Kathy W, who tried desperately to implant songs in my head.

Everyone following along and commenting/liking posts or just sending good vibes.

All of the Good Humans I’ve met along the way.

Everyone who has donated to the cause.

Everyone following who has MS (or other). I ride because they can’t.

So thanks for coming along! It has helped me more than you know!

Song of the day:

Ride on!

* 7/6/17- Addendum – I almost forgot Shami and Gracie! How could I?  😦  Shami drove an hour to greet me at 7 am to make sure I had a great day! Thanks Shami! Love you and Toni! 🙂 And Gracie got us through the hail storm in Iowa!

MAA – Day 29 – Welcome Home!

They say you can’t go back home again once you’ve left. I beg to differ. I always love going home! Home is not just the place. It’s the people. It’s always good to re-connect with family and friends.

Today, I rode home to the Mohawk Valley. We are staying in Ilion which is right next to Herkimer where I am actually from. My Uncle Carl and many cousins live in Ilion and there is a great stop there at the Marina on the Mohawk River/Erie Canal. My sisters and several of my cousins were there to greet me as I rolled in. (Given their history, I sort of thought I’d get a 21 bun salute!) This is a short post because we had a big cook out at their house. I didn’t even take any pictures!

Sharon, a friend since Kindergarten stopped by to say “hi” too! Can you tell which ones we are?

The SAG team stopped on the way in to get one of my favorites! Half moon cookies are unique to the Utica area of New York and they are yummy!IMG_5405

It was a great day to ride and I just enjoyed it. Stopped for only a few pics along the way.

Song of the day:

About 3 1/2 days left to make it to Plymouth, MA and the Atlantic Ocean!

Ride on!

MAA – Day 27 – Full Moon Rising

Yesterday, I forgot to tell you that I got mooned! It was from some guy riding in the back of a pickup. I thought that I got sent back to 1980 for a minute and we were going to have to go streaking or something too! Not that I know what that is! So my song starting out the day was this!

 

I only had about 35 miles to ride through Pennsylvania before hitting NY, but it was going to be interesting! A big ol’ thunder storm was building and getting closer and closer all morning long. Just as I took my obligatory pics at the welcome sign, I looked across the road and a motorcyclist stopped because he was headed into the storm. Unfortunately, the wind came up and knocked his very heavy bike over. He asked if I could help him lift it up since it was so heavy. It turned out that he was from The Netherlands and is riding across America the other way!IMG_5337

Just as I started out again, the storm found us. Nancy happened to be running along the road and she yelled to me to come back to her house to hold up until the storm passed through. It was starting to thunder pretty good, so I followed her advice. Good humans are everywhere! She had the cutest little house right on the lake! We chatted away and I found out that she is a cyclist too, and she has a good friend with MS! It seems to touch everyone in some way!

The SAG team was monitoring my progress and the storm and caught up with me not too much later.IMG_5346

The storm blew through pretty quickly, and the rest of the day was a beautiful one along Lake Erie.

Other pics of the day:

Song of the day:

Ride on!

MAA – Day 26 – Comfort, But Not From Dogs

I never knew the area around Cleveland was so pretty. You don’t get a sense of it at all driving 70 miles/hr. on route 90. I drove it back and forth for years and never knew! I did seem to forget there were hills. Lot’s of them! I climbed up and down nearly 4000 feet again today.

IMG_5256

I’ll never complain about rumble strips again either! I rode this for 10 miles and I think my teeth are still chattering!

IMG_5258

I had great weather all morning, then the afternoon hit. Storms were threatening with increased winds and a few sprinkles. I never heard any thunder though.DSC01660

Once we got to the campground, we were lucky to meet up with my cousin Brian and his wife Sandy. They live in North East PA. We hadn’t seen each other for years! It was so great to catch up with them and have them meet the SAG team. They brought us a case of water, treated us to a wonderful dinner, and took us to see Presque Isle State Park where we had some yummy soft serve ice cream! It was so comforting to see family!IMG_5287

Pics of the day:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Song of the day (thanks to an old friend, I’ve been listening to Fleetwood Mac):

Ride on!

MAA – Day 21 – Three Weeks Down

Twenty one days. Three weeks in the bag. Over 2300 miles ridden and 2.5 times the equivalent of Mount Everest climbed! Onward. Getting Closer.

Now I remember why I loved riding in the Midwest so much. It’s days like this when you feel like you can ride forever! The road surfaces were great. The temperature stayed in the high 70’s. The hills reminded you that this was work but were not enough to make you curse. Besides, the downhills were long and fun! And the corn isn’t quite high enough to make you feel like you’re stuck in a Steven King novel, but it’s getting there.DSC01561  Not much has changed since Iowa – except the barns just aren’t as interesting (sorry Illinois!). Most are just big and white. They are nice, just not as interesting. DSC01562

The best thing about Illinois so far…no rumble strips! Thank you! And there were American flags flying everywhere! Either they are getting ready for Fourth of July early, or they are just very patriotic. I know what the Colonel would say!DSC01563

All was great until the end of the day. I had been feeling like my brakes were less and less effective over the last couple of days. And today, I realized that my front break pads were all but gone (I have mechanical disc brakes). I had started searching for a bike shop a few days ago in anticipation of needing new brake pads. I sent myself some to my brother’s house, but he wasn’t set to meet up with us until tomorrow or the next day so SOL! Every time I searched, I found something 80 to 100 miles away, and not on our track. Well late today, I asked the SAG to wait ahead for me so I could replenish water. It happens that they stopped in Peru, IL. When I caught up to them, I searched for bike shops, and found Bike Works! I called ahead to see if they had brake pads that would replace mine. They did not. And there wasn’t another bike shop anywhere nearby – or even far by for that matter. They weren’t sure if they had anything that was compatible either! Since I was in town, they told me to stop in and they would take a look. It turns out they had one set of pads that would fit! They changed mine out and sent me on my way. What a difference too! They were the nicest guys and are keen on getting people interested in riding. Great Shop too. Remember – Bike Works in Peru, Illinois!

Then we got to the RV park just in time for…you guessed it…another storm! Gotta love the Midwest! 🙂

No additional pics of the day.

Song of the day – since I was listening to 80’s tunes today…

Ride on!