Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Manchester to Portsmouth NH 64.2 miles - 3,970.1 miles cum

It's over! We have made it to Portsmouth New Hampshire! I have bicycled 3,970.1 miles which is 123 miles over the advertised number. This was due to detours, route changes and wrong turns.
The day started out absolutely perfect and then got better. It was about 70 degrees and sunny when we left the hotel. Of course I could not start the day without a flat, number 10. I don't know what caused this one, only that my rear tire was flat when I left the room. Meiri, Dave, who came back to ride the final day, Brian, Howie, friend of Dave, and myself left as soon as my tire was fixed. We started riding through the streets of Manchester and had gone about five miles when I got another flat, number 11. This one was caused by a small copper tack which went through the tire and into the tube. Brian, Meiri and I rode to the first Sag where we quickly filled our water bottles, got a little to drink and eat and then left to get to the meeting point for our ride to the beach.
We all met a school about 3 miles from the beach and had a police car escort to the beach complete with sirens and flashing lights. Very Cool!!! It was exciting! It felt like we were in a parade with people cheering us on from both sides of the road. When we got to the beach, we all took our bikes to dip our front wheels into the Atlantic ocean. It was a very emotional experience to have completed something that most people think is impossible to do. A lot of the riders had their families and friends there to meet them so it was particularly emotional for them. Everybody on the beach wanted to know what we had done and asked questions about our trip.
Meiri and I decided to add Maine to our list of states so we crossed over the bridge into Maine on our way to the hotel.
I took my bike to the bike shop to have it shipped home and then Jack, Tom, Sean, Leigh, Meiri, Zero and I went back to Maine to get a lobster dinner to celebrate our achievement! It was the perfect ending to a wonderfull adventure which I will never forget.
I want to thank everybody for following along and I hope you all enjoyed reading about my trip. Maybe I will do another one someday. Maybe you will come along!!!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Brattleboro to Manchester NH 86.7 miles - 3,905.9 miles cum

Today, we entered our last official state on the Cross Country Challenge, New Hampshire!!! Hooray!!! It was a great day to ride a bike. The temperature was around 70 when we left at 7:15Am bound for Manchester. Our first stop was the New Hampshire state line only .7 mil es down the road. We headed for Keene, New Hampshire. My brother Charlie and I used to own some property in Keene about 25 years ago. I was hoping to find a couple of them to see how they have fared but I couldn't remember where they were. We headed out of Keene to start some serious climbing. Some of the grades were measured at 50 percent although most of it was between 10% to 20%. I found that I could climb them without any major difficulty. I didn't go up very fast, although nobody else did either, but I was able to do them without a lot strain. I guess we have trained eight weeks for today's hill climbs.

As I said before, Charlie and I used to own property in Keene so I have traveled to Keene quite a bit but I never have really appreciated how beautiful New Hampshire is. It is really nice to be in states that have character and beauty. Again we are riding through towns which date back to the revolutionary war and before. We have ridden from West to East and it is interesting to see the towns oldest buildings go from the early 1900's to the late 1800's to the mid 1800's to the early 1800's to the late 1700's and now the mid 1700's. We have followed in reverse order the development of the United States.

Lots of pretty scenery today but no adventures!

Tonight we had our final dinner together as a group. There were a lot of speeches made and tears were shed by a few. We have made a lot of friends which we will have for the rest of our lives.

Tomorrow we wrap up the adventure!! On to the Atlantic Ocean!!!!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Latham to Brattleboro VT 81.2 miles - 3819.2 miles cum

Today we entered another state, Vermont!! We are down to our next to last state. It was a pretty nice morning when we left Latham. After we crossed the Hudson river, Brian, Meiri and I took a little detour and wound up going through Russell Sage University. This was particularly exciting since Russell Sage was a distant relative of mine on my mother's side. My mother has been talking about Russell Sage ever since I can remember.

Meiri and I loafed along until we came to the Vermont border. We were amazed about how fast the view changed once we got into Vermont. Almost immediately, we started to see the mountains that have made Vermont famous. We began to see statues of moose which have been painted and decorated. They were everywhere as we approached and went through Bennington VT. We stopped at a Maple festival that was taking place and sampled the maple candy, maple flavored ricotta cheese etc.. They had a pretty good swing band playing. We talked to a lot of people about what we were doing and they were all impressed.

We stopped for ice cream in Wilmington. I haven't been to Wilmington since the family used to go skiing at Mt Snow VT which is very close. The town hasn't changed much since then except this was the first time I saw it in the summer.

We also saw Dave and Gordon who we saw the last two days and who are traveling from Washington to Portsmouth NH on their bikes. We also saw them several more times during the afternoon. We will probably see them again before we are done.

Only two more days before the adventure is over!! I think I am ready to stop riding.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Little Falls to Latham NY 79.6 miles - 3,738 miles cum

Today was the biking day everybody wants!!! After days of cool temperatures and rain, where we were starting to think that we missed summer, we had the perfect day! The sun was shining and we had a little bit of fog when we left at 7:45AM this morning. The fog burned off after a few miles and it quickly warmed up to the mid-seventies, eventually getting into the mid-eighties. Our first stop was Fort Klock just past St. Johnsville. It was built in 1750 and was used by the farmers and settlers as a safe house during indian raids. The walls were 2 feet thick stone and had 32 gun ports. It looked like it could be well defended. I went to the restroom which was in a little building away from the house. As I was leaving and reaching for the door knob, I saw a snake at the door trying to get out!! It gave me quite a start although it was a little garden snake. We left there and continued down the highway. It was easy riding, pretty much on the level with a good shoulder. We came to Beardslee Castle which was a restaurant and banquet hall. We couldn't go in but the grounds were impressive.
Meiri and I were riding together and we stopped at one of the locks on the Mohawk River which had a boat being locked through so we stayed and watched the process. The Lock Master gave us a pretty good description of what was happening. This lock had been constructed in 1915. Meiri was given fishing lessons by a young lad who was fishing with his uncle at the locks. She didn't catch anything. The Lock Master recommended a restaurant across the highway which we would have passed up. He was right, the food was excellent.
We crossed over the river to a bike trail which led into Schenectady. We missed a turn and were standing at a corner looking at our map when the two riders we met yesterday who are riding from Seattle to Portsmouth came riding up. We talked to them for a few minutes and set off. We were riding down a street with 1850 era row houses which have been or in the process of being restored when we realized we were going in the wrong direction so we had to turn around. We got back on track and rode the last 15 miles to the hotel on a very nice bike path. All in all a great day for riding a bike.
Check out my map, it is hard to believe that I have rode this far!

Liverpool to Little Falls NY 78.9 miles - 3,658.4 miles cum

No Internet coverage last night so this is a day late.

Today started out as a sunny and warmer than yesterday. We left the hotel at 7:45 and started riding east. It was not long before we were back in the country looking at farms and fields. I actually saw workers in the fields picking and stacking sweet corn. These are the first workers I have seen on the trip. I unfortunately did not get a picture of them. Next time for sure. Meiri and I poked along this morning and didn't really see anything of interest until our first Sag stop which was in the town of Canastota. Just before stop, we saw an old church which has been converted into a banquet hall and called Greystone Castle. We went inside and it looked like a great place to have a reception. We also saw a portion of the old Erie Canal.
After we left the Sag stop, we followed the Erie canal for quite a way. Meiri and I decided to ride on the canal path for a while. We met a father and son who were riding their bikes along the canal for it's entire length. We talked to them and they said they were getting bored with all of the flat riding and were not sure if they were going to finish it or not,
We stopped at a good restaurant called Knuckleheads, after the three stooges, for lunch. It was very good, one of the better lunch places we have seen. We continued on through more small towns which were founded in the 1700's and contained many old buildings. More and more of the buildings are beginning to look like the old buildings in New England.
We stopped to see one of the locks on the canal which was still operational. I didn't realize that part of the old canal was still being used. This portion of the canal was actually a river. It was too bad a boat wasn't locking through while we were there. It would have been very interesting to see.
We arrived in Little Falls and after dinner walked around the town. It has been restored and most of the storefronts are open. We saw several old buildings on the side streets being restored. It was nice to see the old towns being maintained and not abandoned as they were in the Mid-West.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Canandaigua to Liverpool NY 71.3 - 3,579.5 miles cum

We loaded our luggage at 6:30AM today and then bicycled to Denny's for breakfast. It was raining hard when we left so everybody was wearing all of their rain gear. After Breakfast the rain let up as we headed east again. We started through the finger lakes region of New York, passing through all of the small towns I have heard about over the years but never visited like Geneva, Seneca Falls ,Waterloo, Avalon and a few more. It was interesting to see all of these towns which were founded in the late 1700's and early 1800's. I noticed that the old houses in Avalon all were built with Cupolas on the roofs so they could see the lakes. I saw a lot of Bed and Breakfasts in each of the towns. I think it would be a fun place to visit for a few days.

Meiri and I stopped at the Memorial Day museum in Waterloo. They claim to have been the first to start Memorial Day. I know Boalsburg PA also claims to be first. I will have to do some research and find out who is right.

Before the 1st Sag stop, Meiri and I decided to stop at a Walmart to use the facilities and for me to buy some batteries. As we went down the driveway, I heard Meiri say that she had a flat. Yes, Meiri has had her first flat since we started. Over 3,500 miles without a flat! The tire was also ruined as it had a big cut across the tread. Some of the guys had told me that they were not going to let her go across the country without a flat. They planned to let the air out of her tire the last morning of the ride. Now they won't have to do that, too bad because it would have been funny!

At Auburn NY, we had ice cream at the Red & White Ice Cream Parlour. It was in a building that had been built in 1835. They had very good ice cream they brought in from Maine. While we were still there, Leigh came in and said we should check our tires because she had just dug 10 pieces of glass out of her tires. I checked my tires and found 2 pieces of glass embedded in the front tire and 1 piece in the back tire. My tires are starting to look bad, hopefully they will last the rest of the trip.

We got in fairly early today as it was a pretty easy day. After dinner, Bruce, Meiri and I drank the bottle of ice wine I bought at Chautauqua. It was delicious!!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Hamburg to Canadaigua NY 97.3 miles - 3,508.2 miles cum

Today started out bright and sunny, a big contrast to yesterday. We jumped on our bikes at 7:00AM and rode 8 miles to a bicycle museum in Orchard Park NY. It is run by a gentleman and his wife who are in their 70's. Carl Burgwardt is the most knowledgeable man I have ever heard regarding the bicycle. He told us about the evolution of the bicycle and it was fascinating. I found it very interesting that most of the early automobile technology evolved from the bicycle. There is a very strong bicycle connection to the airplane as the Wright brothers were bicycle makers who used a lot of bicycle technology in the first planes.
Again I rode with Meiri and we rode along highway 20 east through New York. I am really reminded of Western Pennsylvania as we made our way through the little towns. Some of these towns go back to the late 1700's We stopped at an old cemetery. It is fascinating to see gravestones of folks born in 1812 and who died in the early 1900's.
As we got closer to Canadaigua, we could see storm clouds. I was afraid that we were going to get wet but Meiri insisted that we would stay dry. She was right! We passed through several areas where it had obviously rained but we stayed dry.
After we got in, I found that Bruce had just got in a little before us. Heid that his wet clothes were milldewed from yesterday. He was going to go to the Laundromat after dinner so I went with him. Meiri and Alex also went. We finished off the night at a Starbucks! Perfect end to a long day!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Erie to Hamburg NY - 83 miles - 3,410.9 miles cum

I am glad yesterday was the rest day and not today. It rained the whole day! We started out with a light rain that just got worse. Normally on this route, you can see Lake Erie glistening in the sun and watch the sun rays catch the grape vines but not today. I rode with Meiri and Brian today. We visited four wineries during the course of our day. We also entered The state of New York which leaves us just two more states to go. After the 2nd winery, we were a couple of miles off route. We realized that we could just continue on the road we were on and merge back on route at mile 60. Unfortunately we would miss the Sag. Oh well we decided that wine tasting would make up for the missed snacks. About noon, we came to a little town that had an old fashioned diner so we stopped for lunch. It was very good. We stopped at a couple more wineries as we continued down the Chautauqua Wine Trail. We tasted some very good wines.
We started to really push to get in just as the rain really started to fall. I got my eighth flat going pretty fast down a hill. The bike got a little squirrelly as the tire went flat but no problem. The biggest problem was changing the cold wet tire but I got it done!
The rain continued to fall without any let up, In fact it was the worst as we approached the hotel. At one point, I was in water that was 2 inches deep as it was running down the road. We were soaked!!
Of course we have been lucky so far on the trip as we have had very few rain days. Maybe tomorrow will be different.