The Beers

Alicia and I enjoy many outdoor activities. Alicia has long had a life goal of bicycling across America. It sounded like a great adventure to me. This was an opportune pause in our lives with a recent job loss (May 2009), so with just three weeks of planning and training - we were off.

This trek started May 24th, 2009 from Anacortes, Washington ending 65 days later in Portland, Maine (We had expected 60 days to Bar Harbor, Maine.).

3964 spinning miles!! Biggest day 115 miles. ~~Pete Beer

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Final Remarks

Ride across America. Impossible dream; Romantic Vision; or Drudgery. For me is was an impossible dream. For Alicia, Romantic Vision. Reality: much drudgery, but also freedom, simplicity, surprise, and delight.

We have talked about the possibility of this ride for decades. Alicia is responsible for this life goal. It is her dream. I'm always one for adventure with tendencies to take up self sufficient expeditions. This is evidenced by a couple of 10 day backpacking trips and a stint living in a motor home (with Alicia and two babies) as a traveling evangelist. I have also always preferred endurance sports with cycling one of my favorites. How though does a working family ever, and I mean ever, get the time to take a trip like this. Almost no one gets that much vacation. Unless one is financially independent, I did not see how it could be done.

Effortless, large strokes, wind rushing through your hair, sky blue, sun gently kissing the skin, wonderful evenings in camp visiting with new found comrades: this is part of the Romantic Vision I think Alicia had. Even if things started out roughly, surely in a couple of weeks in we will arrive at this cycling Nirvana. Bugs, pressure points, pain and numbness that never leaves, daily grinding out miles that never really get easier to do even though more distance is covered, just plain evil and careless people, and let's not forget, headwinds, a true bane of cycling: these other elements are present and don't fit the Romantic Vision.

As I sit here writing, I do remember the good times. You see I am the optimist; Alicia my perfect pessimist (Don't ask me were her Romantic Vision came from!). I took great joy in meeting strangers and engaging them, letting them talk, listening to what they had to say, offering explanation of our trip, letting them steer us in a different direction. These were good moments, all.

The wind howling in the sky, blowing down the road, pushing 28 miles per hour on the flats. Awesome. Really, what can be better. Well, being pushed up hills by the same wind was pretty cool too.

Even the heavy rain dumping in buckets endlessly for hours had it's own joy, the experience unparalleled, meeting nature face to face, enjoying the dynamic creation of God, feeling the rain drops and yes the water running everywhere. Even while streaking along the road.

There are delightful surprises out there waiting to be discovered. The reed rimmed lake, green and lush, overlooked by tall spears of evergreens nearby. The deer leaping over 6 foot reeds just feet from my passing. The Curlews plying their trade leading me away from their young. The birds. Many birds. Loud, cheerful birds. I never tired of their constant song. Before dawn, ushering in the new day with their loud din.

Leaving care behind. Well almost. You see, we found the time to do this trek while looking for work. The ramifications of unemployment are still with us. We are still looking at losing some material things. Big things. I expected there to be a lot of time to conceive of new ventures, make plans, dream up some new inventions. Which did occur. There was also an abundance of time just being. Not really thinking about anything. Leaving the daily troubles behind.

This allowed me to rediscover the feelings I felt with Alicia when we first met. When we did not have the cares of life crowding out the simple pleasures of being together enjoying each other. Just being together. It is sublime and serene. Alicia is great!

Life on the road is very simple. You can't plan too much because you really don't know what is next. Nor do you know how you and your partner will hold out. How far can you go? What will the weather do? Who will tell you of something you must simply take time to see? Where will the next camp be? Is there one (not always). Happily, with camping, life on the road is also very cheap. It is cheaper than being at home. And it certainly occupies your time. I love simplicity.

The trip took everything we had - every day. We pushed. As we are wont to do. It is who we are. Consequently, even the easier days meant we rode longer and faster, not easier. There were some nasty folks. I forgive them. We all are frantic about our lives and the things we just have to get done. Don't get in our way or inconvenience us. I get that. I feel that, when I'm unsuccessful at being generous.

My biggest wish is that we would all give each other a break. The cyclist riding along is a wonderful piece of our landscape. Remember how fragile we are. Simply a blow by from a vehicle can knock us off balance or suck us toward the traffic or maybe even the car behind. We are not that stable though with panniers we appear so. Going up hill we are oblivious to all but the next few inches and we can veer easily into the lane of traffic without consciously desiring to. In a contest with a vehicle we die. Not kidding. Do you really want to kill us or leave us mangled for life? We just want to ride. Give us a break. Come out and join us. Cycling is fun and nearly everyone can do it.

But really, it's not just us cyclists. We all need to give all of us a break. Take care for the brother more fragile, less skilled, less able. Or the guy who maybe who just isn't thinking about your needs, only his own. We are, after all, a very selfish society. Let's not be. Care. It's a good thing.

For those of us unemployed, hopeless, worn, and tired. Dream big. Look around you and take heart. We have life. And hope. All will be better. Act. Be well. Look at the simple things of life that surround you. Spend time being at peace with creation. God is there. He does care. We will get through this. Joy.

~Pete

================================

Blood, Sweat & Gears


We are home: clean, shaven, getting sleep, relatively pain-free, ensconced in our daily routine. Now what?
Wow, what just happened over the last several months? It seems like a dream, alas a dream come true!

To say the least, I got over all my romantic notions of the Ride Across America, and yet it was a thrill and a joy. I spent hours following behind my best friend with a smile on my face and a song on my lips, humming and singing as I rode. I am sure passersby thought I was crazy, but who cares, you have to be somewhat crazy to take on an endeavor like this. To quote the lady who took our picture at the Atlantic Ocean, "I admire you and what you did but, you are f'n nuts!"

There was blood: when my gear sprocket goudged a 4" long by 1/4" wide strip of flesh from my leg and there was more blood donated to the relentless bites of mosquitos. There was lots of blood on the roadway from roadkill due to the relentless hurry of people driving fast like there is no tomorrow. People, please slow down, you will save an animal's and a bicyclist's life and possibly your own! Slow down and smell the breeze (ahh... Montana filled with the perfume of lilacs, a high point). Slow down and feel the wind blow across your skin and through your hair. Slow down and feel the rain on your skin. Nothing like cycling through a down pour, it was fun in its own way. Memories came back of my childhood in southern California; when it would rain, I would get on my bike and look for the end of the rainbow! (Talk about romantic notions!) Slow down and see the beauty in the sky: pink sunrises, orange sunsets, amazing cloud formations. Slow down and see the beauty in the forests and fields: the juxtaposition of fresh, green growth and old grayed buildings, waterfalls cascading down mountain sides, the tapestry of planted rows in farm fields. Slow down and talk with your fellow beings, wanderers all, listen to their stories and make a connection.

There was sweat: lots of sweat, sweat in places that I never thought could sweat, sweat dripping down, sweat in sheets, cold sweat and hot. The sweat was at times due to the weather conditions, humidity like I had never experienced in both hot and cold temperatures. The sweat was at times due to exertion, exertion that was empowering. To think that my physical body could produce enough power to get me, myself across this great nation, over hill and mountain, through valleys and plains, is just amazing. We are "fearfully and wonderfully made." There is nothing like the sweet sleep you get after a full day of exertion. The sweat was at times due to frightening situations that we found ourselves in, mainly due to traffic.

And gears: What an amazing contraption a bicycle is, combined with muscles it can take you anywhere and it did. I have loved bicycling since I first learned how to ride at age 5. It is so freeing, the wind in the hair thing, and all! Our bicycles performed better than I had expected, they took a lot of abuse and yet were ready to go again the next day. You become one with your bicycle, you learn its limitations and your own, you learn its strengths and your own. I have since ridden without being fully loaded, and the feel of the bike is totally different, the balance is different, it was much smoother with all of the added weight... I must start a new and different relationship with my bicycle. On the ride we shifted gears on our bicycles to account for the difference in terrain we encountered as we rode, we also had to shift mental gears through out each day.
Every day brought something new, something to be discovered, something to learn, something to overcome. I know I think differently about things since the ride, my mind is working in a whole other gear now. I think a few gears have been added!

Hope you all have enjoyed our RAAM blog. We enjoyed our ride and sharing our adventure with you.
Slow down, have faith, keep pedaling forward! God bless. - Alicia

Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Train

Chicago Train Station



The Train

This is from one of the stops.




Views from the Train





Looking out the window, the countryside streams past. So much, so fast. Who can taste of the small towns, the people, the wind in the ear, the birds, the breeze waving the grass? All is compressed into the blur. Yet it too, is beautiful. The flowing panoramas: golden hills covered in wheat; small lakes ringed with reeds, ducks trailing v's rippling as they swim across the pond. Here one moment gone the next, leaving a continuum of flowing countryside.

Before leaving the tree filled lands, distant views were few. Trees lined the train corridor and viewing outside was a dizzying blur of green leaves, and branches barely glimpsed.

The train is a nice slower way of travel. The seats are comfortable even in coach class with lots of legroom, adjustable footrests, fold down tables, leg rests and reclining seats.

Sleep is impossible. I give up the notion accepting that fits of sleep will be the norm for the next 3 nights. instead, I explore the realms of night: searching out those positions and postures on the chair that yield a few moments rest before searching for the next; awakening to the vibrato of snores strangely comforting; listening to the person commenting about the difficulties of rest to the "sleeping" audience; feeling the sudden shifts of the train. All this from the drowsy, half- wake vantage of the desperately weary.

Should one feel anger, irritation. I choose acceptance and burrow in to the half comfort of life surrounding the dead of night as we all endeavor to a grab hold of a few moments rest.

We finally join the Rockies going over the same pass we so labored over 2 months ago. It seems a shallow and easy pass. We too quickly are on top then going down.

We see the Issac Walton Inn where we stayed for 2 nights waiting for the snow to leave from the pass. Guests come out and wave as we pass.

At Whitefish we are ahead of schedule. While at dinner in the dining car. I note the we have not moved for quite a while. We come to learn the engine needs rebooting. This sounds like there is a computer involved to my computer geeky ears. Must be Windows!!

Finally we move - an hour or so later - and we retire to the next round of sleeping as we can. Amazingly, I drift off to in-between sleep quickly.

Slam-Bang! Skreetch! Tshhhh! Burning metal smells; rapid deceleration. Stop. Hissing. Awake now; what just happened!? Lights go out. People moving through the aisles. We look around and at each other
wondering. Nothing happens. People are talking, supposing much. I keep silent not wanting to perhaps feed a panic with my worst case thoughts. I do fish out a bike light to see if we are at least on somewhat level ground and not on a train trestle over some canyon. It is flat outside. A conductor comes through telling us to stay in our seats in an excited, slightly panicky voice. No more news. After a couple of hours, we start moving again. I can stop worrying that some automated freight train will come barreling down on us because we aren't supposed to be on the track.

The next day we hear that we probably hit a big animal. No trace found.

After 4 days and 3 nights, we arrive in Seattle's King Station. We were to continue south on the Cascades train to Olympia, but as we are 3.5 hours late, we rendezvous with Alicia's parents here instead.

It is great to see them. We bid final fare well's to our new found train travel companions with some promise to perhaps see them in Portland in coming days. We now head to Westport, WA for rest and reunion.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

The Big Wait

Our Crazy Bicycle Tans

Today is our last day here in Portland, Maine. It was nice to be able to be tourists and see some of the sights while we wait for Friday morning to arrive to hop onto the train for the long ride towards home. A note for all of you worry-warts: Be patient with us. We will not have internet connection for the next five days and seeing that the train will retrace the route we rode, we probably will not have any cell phone signal until we get closer to Seattle!

Wheels in the Atlantic Ocean

The bicycle ride was quite an adventure and when we dipped our wheels in the Atlantic Ocean it was a relief to be done. The cold water was also a relief on our feet!

While here in Portland we enjoyed using public transportation to get downtown and snoop around, then we took the mail-run of the ferry and got an inexpensive 3 hour tour of the bay with many island stops. Yesterday we rented a car and drove up the Maine coast through all the little tourist towns to Acadia National Park and Bar Harbor. So thankful we did not have to bicycle along that road! It was a steady stream of cars, and gridlock in each little town. I held my camera out of the window to get photos! The drive ended up being a lot longer than we had anticipated.

A View of the Bay from the Ferry

Acadia National Park

This morning we packed what we are going to take on the train with us and then shipped the rest of the equipment and panniers that we cannot take on the train. Then we just rested, jacuzzied and rested some more. Tomorrow bright and early we will be back on our bicycles for a short ride to the train station and the start of our journey home.

We will post another blog once we arrive home. - Alicia

For those keeping track: the total trip was 3,968 miles.

Cheers!

~Pete

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Day 65. Finis

Here is the Atlantic as seen on the approach to East End Beach near
downtown Portland, Maine. We rode 55 miles to finish today.

We are done!!! Yeah!!! We are both ready to finish. Though the
miles were short, we also seemed short on energy. I think we needed
to be done or take like several days off. It was a very humid day
where the air never looked clear and was almost fog.

At one point I got hungry and tore off a chunck of air to gnaw on.
Chewy but not satisfying.

We'll post more pictures later today.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Day 64. The Kanc is Cranked!!



Kancamagus Pass, locally known as "The Kanc" is the last pass of this trip. No more big hills. They have an annual ride here called "Crank the Kanc". This we have done. We passed into New Hampsire, completed the pass, then went into Maine and are now in Fryeburg, Maine. Tomorrow we finish the ride across America by going to Portland, ME, about 55 miles distant.

New Hampshire

Live Free or Diet?

It's Live Free or Die. A little trimming is in order here... :)



A Nice Stream in New Hampshire



The Connecticut River separates New Hampshire and Vermont.


We were not able to book the train before Friday, so we will leave for home then. We expect to meet with Alicia's parents August 4th.

The pass was tough, but not too bad. We have had rougher climbs. We were able to maintain some good speed (for climbing) up the pass. We had a touch of rain coming down the pass, though we learned that the full brunt of the storm was a deluge that moved through just before us.

Last week we rode 509 miles - really big considering all the climbing. Our total for the trip was 3,833.5 miles. With today and the expected 55 miles tomorrow, we should finish just under 4,000 miles at 3,968.5 miles. We will ride down US Highway 302 into Portland.

~Pete

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Day 63. Resting in Bradford, VT

The Adirondacks

Vermont Farm

View of Lake George from Fort Ticonderoga

Alicia at Front Gate of Fort Ticonderago

When we arrived at our destination here in Bradford,VT yesterday, we had a very nice welcoming committee hooting and waving at us as we came up the final hill, and the darling little girls ran down the driveway with balloons and bicycling medals complete with red/white/blue ribbon for us. Then it was the much anticipated hot shower and a delicious pasta dinner, which I had craved many times on the road, but surprisingly was just not available.

Our bodies are getting a much needed rest here today. Pete was having cramps in his leg and arm muscles last night, after many hours of sleep he is feeling better this afternoon.

An Amazing Journey
It is hard to believe that we are almost across to the Atlantic Ocean. About two more days of riding left. I am ready to be done. It has been an amazing and wonderful, hard and frustrating journey at the same time. As one cyclist told me (paraphrased), "It isn't the romantic bike ride that you imagine it will be, if it was easy everyone would do it." The amazing part has been not knowing what will happen up ahead, and yet cool and fun things were always around the corner. The wonderful part has been all of the great people we have met and talked to, in unexpected places. The hard part has been road conditions and traffic. The frustrating part has been dealing with the bugs. If you noticed I didn't mention the weather, although we suffered many days of humidity, I feel we have been blessed weather wise. (Not sure Pete would agree!) There was alot of unseasonably cool and cloudy days for which I have been extremely thankful for, since it kept me cool most of the time, and I have a tendency to overheat easily.

Last Roadkill Update
The roadkill across the Adirondacks has been completely different, it consisted of slugs, snails, frogs, salamanders, and their various colored round splotches left behind. Parts of the road looked polka-dot because of this. These are details that would not be noticed riding in a car. Everything is in HD (high-definition) when on a bicycle.

Looking forward to tomorrow's adventure... - Alicia


Dateline: Yesterday

The night before and this morning we watched the weather for the latest on the tropical storm moving up the eastern seaboard. Will it miss us? Will we experience the deluge of 2-4 inches, probably more in the mountains? We are in Middlebury, VT. The weather here is the typical riding weather of hazy, but clear-ish air with some promise of sun to come, evidenced by the filtered glow of the hazy clouds.

We start out southbound as our route takes us to the gates of Breadloaf just outside East Middlebury. As we parallel the Green mountains on our left, thick bands of dark gray clouds kiss the top of the ridge. On our right all looks good. "Are we really going to head into this, Alicia?", I ask. We pass through East Middlebury and before us is the beginning of the dread climb. It is impossibly steep. We have two initial stretches that are just too steep for us to ride. 5 miles into the ride and this. Impossible. There is a sign saying this road is not recommended for tractor trailers. Really!! We are expected to ride what a truck is not expected to travel?! After blowing out our legs, we walk the bikes, a cyclists ultimate humiliation - bikes are for riding. (We later learn some of these pitches are up to 13% grade - truly impossibly steep.)

The skies darken. The mosquitos emerge from the shadows and envelope us in clouds of hunger. Ahhhh! Ditch the bikes - find the bug spray - fend off the skeeters. Is this really happening?! At this point the tale would continue with: "... and then it rained.".

Only, thank God, it didn't. We endured. We persisted. We reached our goal after one of the toughest days of the trip. The clouds threatened all day, yet ever remained just before us, like we were closely following behind the rain. Often we felt light spray from the clouds; often we saw freshly wet roads, but never did we get full rain.

~Pete

Friday, July 24, 2009

Day 62. Bradford, Vermont

We have made it to the other side of Vermont. 89 miles; lots of
hills. The hills tend to be steep here. There were several that were
at 13% grade. A normal highway is graded to 6 or 7%.

At 10 am we had only covered 24 miles due to the climb over "Bread
Loaf". Still we pressed on and finally managed to join Dave and
Marianne Barthel at thier home here in Bradford. I worked with Dave a
few years back at Dartmouth. It is great catching up.

We will rest here tomorrow.

Two more days of riding to Portland, Maine. Wow! It's been some ride.

~ Pete (iPhone)

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Day 61. Middlebury, Vermont

Good bye New York! It was good. We really enjoyed all the wooded lakes.

Adirondacks




Hello Vermont!!



As soon as we crossed Lake Champlain (via Ferry - awesome!) we knew we were in Vermont. There is just a certain look and feel some places have. It is very pretty here. The nice rolling hills and farmsteads really set it apart. Other states have stood out as well. I remember crossing the Red River from Fargo, ND to Minnesota and hitting this wall of humidity. That really marked the beginning of the hyper humid mid-west in Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois and especially Indiana. Ohio and New York as well. Now I know this has been an exceptional weather year for all these places, but one must take note of the high humidity especially when accustomed to the decent temperature and humidity of the great Pacific Northwest! Yeah Baby! The PNW rocks weather wise as long as you can tolerate a bit of rain (which I love).

We started off slooow. A really tough start. No motivation, hills right away, I was ready to quit at 20 miles. Except I know you can't give in to those feelings. We pressed on. And on. And on. Finally covering 85 miles to Middlebury, Vermont. We went over the Blue Ridge mountains which turned out to be an respectable climb. Our New York map shows no elevation profiles which is a shame - some of these climbs should rate a profile.

One of our long descents was spoiled by a deluge of rain. It almost was hail at one point. Painful. I threw on my raincoat, which is a useless gesture as I was already completely soaked. But it did make me a bit warmer and softened the blow of the driven rain and half frozen hail. Alicia had a bit of trouble stopping her bike. It was steep enough we had to get the additional leverage of applying the brakes from the handle bar drops.

We toured Fort Ticonderoga. There is so much history in this part of the country. This fort has played a critical role several times in the past. Originally built by the French to protect Lake Champlain, it changed hands several times over the years. Lake Champlain, Lake George and the Hudson river are all near and provide critical access to vast reaches of colonial North America. Fort Ticonderoga is where the two lakes meet. And the Hudson river is just south of Lake George. This is the same Hudson river that runs by Manhattan. It was a well built fort made of stone overlooking both Lakes.

We took a ferry that has been running since the 1700's connecting highway 74 in New York state to Vermont. It was a fun respite. I love being on the water in any form.

We plan to go to Bradford, Vermont tomorrow. It is slightly off route and will afford us the much anticipated opportunity of reconnecting with friends from the time I worked at Dartmouth. It'll be fun.

Less than 250 miles to go!!! Getting close!

Check out this little fellow screaming across the road. As stretched out, giving his all. Go man, go!!



~Pete

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Day 60. Long Lake - Adirondack

The Adirondaks are great. This is a land of wooded lakes. Houses
with names dot the lakes shores. The Seguls Nest, Whispering Pines,
Singing Waters. Now I feel I need come up with a cool name for where
I live. How about Beer Parlor?

We started out with wet roads, a favorable weather report and no
rain. As we rode the clouds lowered, dew started forming on my
forearms, and my glasses started collecting water. After awhile we
took a break and there was a really fine mist falling. Is it mist or
just really thick clouds?

Wet, wet, wet... How many ways are there to be wet. There is, of
course, rain. But there is also the heavy dew. A couple mornings
ago, everything was so wet it might as well have rained. Then there
is exertion. Any and all of these can occur, sometimes simultaneously.

What good is a rain coat in these conditions? None! Unless trying to
stay warm you will be wet anyway.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Day 59. Boonville, NY

This is an attempt to capture what one of the hills we've climbed look like. The little gray line up the hill in the background is the same road as the foreground.


From Fulton we went north through Mexico to Port Ontario. We then headed due east through Pulaski with some soutward deviation. Once again, many hills were thrown up in our path, though we did manage to cover 80 miles.

Today we saw a few Amish and Mennonite farmers. The Mennonite was milling his own planks from logs.

It was a 10 dog day, some in pairs,as they hurled themselves at us at top speed. I can usually talk them down. It's funny because though we have Halt, a strong version of pepper spray that shoots 15 feet for dogs, by the time Alicia is able to pull it from the mount near her handle bars, the threat is passed. Just as well. I can just see accidentally shooting ourselves with it. If you have ever been shot with pepper spray you know this is no fun.

One dog just wanted to run with us and boy could he run. We were going about 15 and he just poured it on streaking ahead of us. He must have been going 20. Good show! I was impressed.

We left Lake Ontario for good once we left Port Ontario. It was a let down as the route today did not afford us any views of the lake even though we paralled the lake for 10 miles.

The day was very humid and the sun barely cast a shadow most of the day. In the afternoon rain threatened and we finally did get some sprinkles. Nothing serious though. Rain is expected tonight and tomorrow. Yuck.

Alicia goofed and mentioned that she felt a few drops. Now many of us know you just can't do that within earshot of a thunderstorm. Sure enough one of them heard her and thought we wanted to join in with it and play in the water as thunderstorms love to do. Shortly afterward it started spitting more rain and we even heard thunder. I was able to save the day through some adroit navigation and fast pedaling as we quietly slipped away. Whew! That was close. I think Alicia knows better now. :)

My Little Buddy

Yesterday I saw this little fella crossing the road. I stopped to give him a boost.




Orchards

This is one of many orchards near Williamson. Williamson is the self-proclaimed "core" of apple country.



Forests

This is a sample of the forests near us today.


I think we have 2 more days in New York. I am targeting being finished next Monday. It depends on how we handle the coming hills and passes as well as the weather. I am planning a rest day in this as well.

Later!!

~ Pete (iPhone)

Monday, July 20, 2009

Day 58. Fulton, NY

We have encountered the enemy and his name is "Endless Hills"! 73
miles. Our map mentions the last glacier formed hills similar to sand
dunes which are steep on one side and gradual on the other. The are
arranged so that the steep side faces west. We have confirmed this is
the case - the hard way!!!

We stopped in Williamson and sent back another 9.5 pounds of vital,
irreplaceable gear that we now must find a way to live without. But
we are lighter.

We had a nice lunch at a roadside fruit stand and restuarant called
Burnaps.

Lake Ontario

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Day 57. Macedon

Oh what a day. We covered some good ground taking a shortcut around
Buffalo and cutting straight over to Rochester before jumping on the
Erie canal trail. After 107 miles we find ourselves in Macedon at a
hiker/biker/boater camp right on the canal at lock #30.

The odd thing is, we are not tired. Normally I am nearly catetonic
after a day like this, but we both feel great and we got it at a
decent time: 5:30ish.

Tomorrow we will go north to Lake Ontario and follow the the coast the
rest of the day eastward and northward.

I took a shortcut continuing on highway 20 to highway 33 which cut
diagonally across the state to Rochester saving about 47 miles.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Day 56. Rest Day in Orchard Park



Wild Waves Camp





Huntington



Cleveland



We are happily resting today. We stocked up on food for the day in the evening yesterday and have been holed up all day. Everything is now dry from the big wet yesterday, though it did take putting Alicia's riding shoes in the sun a few hours to get them dry. They were still sopping wet this morning, er, at 1 pm when we got up.

We first got up at 8am and ate breakfast, then went back to bed. What bliss. No riding today. Funny though I do feel antsy after a while.

We have ridden 3324.5 miles. Wow! That's a few, huh? This week was a new high with 544 miles covered. We have two maps to go: one 421 mile through New York state; the other, the wrap up, traversing 402 miles of Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine. From this we will cut off about 60 miles with a shortcut tomorrow and we plan to end in Yarmouth a bit north of Portland saving another hundred or so miles. I did a loose mapping of days and estimate we could be done in as few as 7 more days of riding. There will be another rest day - so 8. And the mountains may tax us in New Hampshire so maybe another. Still we are getting very near. It is starting to be exciting that we will soon finish.

After 56 days on the road, this is not one of those cases where it feels this is ending too soon. We are ready. It has not been too much and it certainly will not be too little.

What!? No Corn!?




Going Wild


You know how we say that dogs (and other animals) can go wild after being turned loose on their own. Well, in a sense I feel the same is true for me. Not wild but perspectives really do change. There have been several relaxations of attitude that I think is for the better. Things that I would once have watched for I am not so concerned about, other things I didn't think of I pay attention too. The "safety things" are not quite the concern they were. What happens happens. The facts are bad things do not happen often, people do care and are interested in you and your well being, and causing you harm is incredibly inconvenient for the one causing harm.

We take pains to be visible. Particularly in day light. We have these bright Yellow/Lime colored wind jackets that we put on the back of the bike when not being worn because frankly, you can see us from like half a mile. They are great. Better than yellow, or flashers. In rainy weather, the flashers are great. Especially Alicias 3 X 7 inch giant flasher. We also use our headlights in flasher mode so that cars from the opposite direction know we are here. This has been important in a few car passing situations. I also wave to people to be friendly but to make sure we are seen.

These are the precautions. After this, I know we have done what we can to be visible. If we need to be on the road because the shoulder does not exist or the shoulder is too rough, we are. People do give us accommodation most of the time. We find that we can count on the good will of others to a great extent. There are though some who are decidedly nasty. It always evokes the question: "Why do you want to risk killing someone just because we are a bit of an inconvenience? What is so bad about slowing down a bit?".

In the end though, our lives are entrusted to God's care. I am glad not to have a rear view mirror. That would be scary and we would probably have gone off the road several times by now avoiding what we "thought" might happen. I have cars go by with maybe 6 inches to spare. I may look bullet proof, but, of course, I'm not. One little brush would probably really screw me up.

The two biggest challenges have been the high speed highways that have no shoulder and the really rough city streets where you only have time to react, react, react and you must take a lane.

Still, I have lost the fear and replaced it with precautions, considered action, and trust in my fellow man that they do not want to cause an accident.

Camping in strange places; securing gear; riding with traffic; meeting people; agreeing to stay in peoples places; all of these have concerns with them. Concerns I have left behind. Loss is not to be feared and all of these are related to loss. Loss of property, life, freedom; it can be so paralyzing and at the least occupies too much attention. Let it all go. Focus instead on relaxing, meeting people, accepting generosity, and, satisfying the interest of others. The other stuff may happen but probably will not.

In a larger sense, we are facing this with my job situation. It will all settle out and all will be well. It is well now. Life is happening and we are happening with it. Life is good. Life is living.

Astabula




My Latest Fashion Statement



~Pete

Friday, July 17, 2009

Day 55. Orchard Park, New York

Here we are in New York state. An easy 73 mile day complicated by
afternoon rain. We had a bit of rain in the morning that really
picked up at our lunch break. We were also tired. It's been a big
mileage week. Over 500.

But really, our overall time was still good. It rained hard this
afternoon. We were drenched. It is warm enough that rain gear does
little good. You either get wet from rain or under the rain gear from
exertion. You really can't tell which.

We plan to stay in Orchard Park tomorrow for a much needed rest day.
Butch and Chuck may catch up and ride with us Sunday. We'll see.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Day 54. PA/NY Border - Joe Barber place

The adventure continues. Strong tailwinds today provide much but
delivered little. The map also promised
lots of riding with lake views. Sadly these things did not pan out.
Still a good solid ride.

We took a 2.5 hour break for library and lunch in Conneaut Ohio. We
were interviewed for the local paper. A reporter saw us and hailed us
over. We talked far a good 30 minutes.

At the library, I handled a few of the difficult things we have not
discussed much. I noted in the news recently some refernces to
"funemployment". This is a fun term to apply to the unemployed who
decide to do something fun with their time off. While many may have
resources to pursue these things and while what we are doing could be
seen as funemployment, I have to say that for us this is not easy or a
purely fun undertaking. It is actually very inexpensive to live as we
are right now while working through the job hunt and ceditor
difficulties. Today I spent time printing and faxing key documents to
the mortgage company. We will likely lose the house which is a
sadness. I really like our home and it was a very reasonable and
modest purchase when employed. Please understand these things are
difficult and are not far from our thoughts as we travel. The library
was very helpful with networking, printing, faxing, and shredding the
faxed documents.

We had passed through Erie, Pennsylvania today and had decided to
press on to make the journey to Orchard Park, NY easier tomorrow when
we came up to a fellow on the side of the rode. His name is Joe
Barber and he Is a pediatrician in Erie. He offered us a place to
sleep at his place very near where we were considering camping for the
night.

We are rested having showered, jacuzied, and washed clothes. His
place on Lake Erie is very nice.

The view below is of the Lake Erie shoreline from Joe's backyard. We
covered 93 miles even with the big break. The wind helped
occasionally, though we were often sheltered by trees.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Day 53. Perry, Ohio

Chillin to the band at the city park in Perry. Nice community event
next to Lake Erie. Free too. The people are really enjoying
themselves. It is nice to just sit back and enjoy the people and music.

We traveled 91 miles passing through Cleveland today. Lots of rad
urban riding. It is almost like mountain biking picking your way
through the minefield of potholes, car whizing by, asserting your
space on the road and whipping along at high speed. Dangerous but
also fun.

Tomorrow we are looking to Erie, PA or beyond.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Day 52. Wild Waves

Here we see Lake Erie. We rode 95 miles to get here. The weather was
decent; cool this morning, 88 this afternoon. We will be following
Erie for the next 250 miles.

It is nice in camp. Very much a resort. Too bad there us little
time to enjoy. We are bushed.

Severe weather is in the forecast. We'll see. Hopefuly it wil miss
us.

Today a tent pole broke. It's fixed, but will need repair soon. I'll
give REI a call tomorrow and see about shipping replacement parts to a
post office down the road, general delivery.

After that a tent stake snapped in half. Oh well, just another set of
things to deal with. No big deal.

We expect to skate through the Cleveland metro area tomorrow. About
85 miles.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Night All - from Ohio

Day 51. Grand Rapids, Ohio

We made it into Ohio. A 77 mile day ( which feels moderate not
stressful). Nice weather, lower humidity, no wind early, tailwind
late - a good day of riding.

This picture is of a civic building ( court house, I think) in
Napolean. Very interesting architectue.

Last night in Monroeville when we rolled into camp we saw a couple of
guys I thought we would not see again: Chuck and Butch. They had met
somewhere on the road and were traveling together. We last saw Chuck
more than a month ago. I figured he was at least a week ahead. I had
also heard Butch decided to shoot on down the road, so I was surprised
to see him. Good meet!! Truely the fellowship of the road...

This morning we found that Jean-Marc had arrived. Another huge
surprise. He last dropped into Minneapolis to rest. So I thought we
would not be seeing him again. But here he is. He rode 175 miles in
one day just to get across Indiana. I am impressed. I would not have
thought anyone could ride so far in a day. I'm pretty sure I
couldn't. It did take him around 18 hours though.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Day 50. Monroeville - 115 miles - Alicia is 50!!

What a day. We rode 115 miles to the edge of Indiana here in
Monroeville. We enter Ohio tomorrow. If we do 400 miles a week, we
have 3 weeks left.

On this 50th day, Alicia turned 50. We indulged in copious amounts of
ice cream at the Whippy Dip. I had so much, I was cold for 30 minutes
after I went back into the 80 degree heat. The orange ice cream
slushes were fabulous ( I had 2.). Alicia had a huge banana split.

So we continued off route at 7:10 am. It was cool in the 60's and the
humidity was way down. I had actual drops of water on my forearms
instead of the unbroken sheet of water I had previous days.

It was pretty windless and we had a plan to take highway 24 up through
Huntington. When we got to the divided highway at Logansport we were
very disapppinted to find it had no shoulder. We aborted that plan
and took business 24 into town. I found that business 24 continued as
other roads along the desired route so that is how we continued. The
roads were ok, sometimes no shoulder, but very little traffic. We
rejoined the route past Huntington.

Later in the day we had some nice tailwinds which made the last 25
miles easier than we felt.

The picture below is an ice cream truck as we entered Monroeville.
What is awesome is it says it is a song truck on the side. For years
we told our beloved children the ice cream truck was a music truck and
failed to mention it sold ice cream so this is like perfect!!