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 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 24 – Wetness Abounds

I’ve always been one to not start riding if it’s raining, but if I get caught in it, it’s OK, I just keep going. When I started out this morning, it was not raining, but within five minutes it was a different story. So, I dug out my rain jacket, and onward! It stayed with a pretty mild to moderate rainfall for about four hours. And then off and on for the rest of the day. Mr. SAG was happy when I asked him to use the shoe dryers again tonight. 🙂

One of the benefits of riding a bike across the country is that you don’t miss much. You don’t have to do Batman turns when you see a roadside stand. You just slow down and coast right in. Many that I’ve seen are like this one – honor system. I got some honey and maple syrup today (love a little in oatmeal). IMG_5171

I even made it to the destination a little early today. The SAG Team was happy – they got to make an unexpected side trip to check out Fort Meigs. It is the largest reconstructed wooden-walled fort in the nation and helped secure the Great Lakes region during the War of 1812.

Anna Comfort Dog came by the campsite tonight. Well her team did. Anna was actually working – providing comfort to a needing family. Linda and Charn represented, though, and they made me an honorary team member just like Katie Comfort Dog did. Anna is Katie’s sister after all. This really is becoming a Comfort Dog tour. The network is incredible!

Scoobert thought he would step in but it didn’t quite work out. He was very distracted.

Other pics of the day:

I did reach Ohio today. And if you haven’t noticed, some good friends gave me a lanyard with a #micheleacrossamerica medal and state pins to add every time I reach a new one. Well, when I got to the Ohio sign, it was raining and windy, so I just did a quick pic and moved on. About ten miles down the road, I noticed I still had the lanyard on! All I could picture was some old athlete riding around with his/her medals on and this tune popped in my head…

So, song of the day lol:

MAA – Day 22 – Comfort from Dawn ‘Till Dusk

Short post today…

I made it to Indiana! This is the area where I really cut my teeth on long distance cycling. I can’t tell you how many times I rode from Hammond to South Bend and back. It was our century training ride (with Dave N). We would ride it nearly every Saturday and Sunday – March/April to October (depended on when the snow hit). We would push to make the time shorter and shorter, or race certain segments. We got the hundred miles down to under four hours at one point! Not happening today! 🙂IMG_5088

This post is short because I also got to hang out with my college roomie again last night. She told all kinds of stories about our college days. I told Ms. SAG that most of them must have been made up – it couldn’t have been me she was referring to! lol! Fun times, though! She even made/brought us dinner! How cool was that! Thanks Deb!!DSC01611

Aside from getting to city traffic yesterday which was more nerve wracking than any day I’ve ridden thus far, I had Comfort Dog visits to see me off, and welcome me to camp! Sure was great seeing Shami and Barnabas! They calm the nerves so well! Scoobert thinks he’s a comfort dog in training! Ha!

Other pics of the day:

Song of the day (since I’m back in John Cougar territory):

Ride on!

 

MAA – Day 20 – So Long Iowa

Today was another beautiful day, but it was one spent staying ahead of the storm. Luckily the roads were good and I encountered a gentler, kinder Iowa. Still rolling hills, but not nearly as steep as the last couple of days. I could easily use the momentum from the descents to get up and over the next hills. I even had a slight tail wind for most of the day. The only hard part was getting across Iowa City. Somehow I ended up going right through the University of Iowa’s campus.

Then, just as I was rolling into Davenport (about 5 miles out), the storm hit. There was a lot of rolling thunder – no lightning, thank God. And then the sky opened up and I got soaked! Glad I had my rain jacket, but my feet got wet through and through! I happened to catch up with the SAG team just as it was stopping. I decided to catch a ride with them since we were only a few miles from our initial destination anyway – and there were more storm clouds headed our way. Our first stop was on the Iowa side of the Mississippi River to meet up with Gracie Comfort Dog – perfect timing after the storm.

We left Gracie and her handlers and got back to the RV when this happened…

It lasted about 15 minutes and then we crossed the Mighty Mississippi and said “hello” to Illinois. 🙂

Thought for the day: I’m sure glad Mr. SAG decided to get that shoe dryer!IMG_5031

Other pics of the day:

Song of the day:

Ride on!

MAA – Day 16 – Half Way There

Well, we’re half way there now! Wait. What? We’re only halfway there? More adventures await. Tomorrow we head toward Iowa and I have to say, I am going to miss Nebraska! For a cyclist, it’s been a dream. Good roads. Fairly flat, but with enough hills thrown in to keep it interesting.

Today we met up with another wonderful LCC Comfort Dog team. Katie Comfort Dog, and her handlers came down from Fremont, NE to greet us. We had a great few hours of fellowship and sharing dinner with them. What a fun group! I even get to be an honorary team member since they gave me one of their t-shirts and wrist bands.IMG_4885

I also got to see and catch up with my college roommate! We haven’t seen each other in 30 years! She hasn’t changed a bit either! She happened to be driving from South Bend, IN to Nebraska for an interview tomorrow. What a stroke of luck! (or a God thing)DSC01497 (2)

Other pics of the day:

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Song of the day:

Ride on!

MAA – Day 15 – I Love Nebraska!

I never in a million years would have thought I’d say that! I’ve had my best rides so far in Nebraska, though. Today was 111 miles with 100 in under 6 hours! I haven’t done a century that fast in  years! It was great! Good road. Cool temperature. Enough small towns to keep me occupied. And we’re just about half way!

IMG_4752

I had the privilege of meeting more LCC Comfort dogs too! Moses, Eddie and Joy came out to meet us. They brought us gifts too! I received brownies, Nebraska beef (did you know that Nebraska is the “Beef State”?) and a wrist band from Eddie Comfort Dog (don’t tell Aaron). Joy’s handler has MS too. I sure hope we can make a difference with this ride!DSC01453A

Pics of the day (click any photo to enlarge):

Song of the day:

Ride on!