Monday, August 9, 2010

AAN Day 50 - Manchester to Portsmouth, NH

Daily Statistics: Mileage: 61.4 miles Average Speed: 14.1 mph
Vertical: 2517 feet Depart: 6:36 AM Arrive: 1:27 PM
Calories: 4068

Link to Garmin ROUTE DATA

Today was all about a group celebration of a common achievement than about the route or the ride. For the record, it was a perfect day to ride. The weather was probably mid 60s to start, and I don't think it ever got above 80. The route was along lovely tree lined roads and quiet residential neighborhoods, but this was not the focus.
As this first picture shows, virtually the entire group was together for at least a while at the only SAG. Everyone wanted to share in the joint feeling of achievement, and of course, what have become good friends will be going their separate ways.

About 10 miles down the road, we came across a bakery, and again, almost everyone stopped to share the experience with coffee and pastry. We sat outside on the patio and chatted. We had been given a target to be at Rye Middle School no later than 11:30, so we couldn't stay indefinitely. It was still about 11 or 12 miles from the bakery to the middle school.

Once at the middle school, once everyone was accounted for, we assembled for our final group photo. You can see the handsome bunch below.

Of course, once a photo had been taken with virtually everyone's camera, it was off to Rye's Wallis Sands Beach for the final festivities. Here you can see me making the ceremonial dip of the front wheel in the Atlantic. It was a festive occasion.

Once again I was fortunate to have friends in the area. My old friend Doug Joyce and his wife Phyllis, who live in Stratham, NH came down to the beach to greet me at the finish. They are pictured here with Leo and Sue Anderson, who they quickly found had a common interest in sailing. Doug and Phyllis were kind enough to give me a first class tour of the area and a fine dinner on the water to cap the adventure.

Of course, I had to make my way back to the hotel after the festivities at the beach, and couldn't resist a quick side trip across the bridge to Maine, to add one more state to the trip. I stayed about 1 minute, and got back and boxed my bike and showered to be ready for Doug and Phyllis.

This brings us to the end of another wonderful ride. I hope those of you who have been with me through this blog have enjoyed the journey. I can't tell you how much fun it is to make the trip, and what a sense of accomplishment comes from its completion. If you enjoyed the ride, drop me an email to let me know.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

AAN Day 49 - Brattleboro, VT to Manchester, NH

Daily Statistics:
Mileage: 79.4 miles Average Speed: 14.4 mph
Vertical: 5114 feet Depart: 7:03 AM Arrive: 12:59 PM
Calories: 5808

Link to Garmin ROUTE DATA

Today was a beautiful day on the road, but it wasn't real easy. As you can see from the stats, we had a lot of climbing again today, and my legs hadn't really recovered from yesterdays work. We did have ideal conditions, as it was a beautiful clear day, with temps about mid 50s at departure, and high 70s at completion.
About a mile out of the motel, we came to the New Hampshire border, where I took the obligatory welcome to picture. This is the 10th state (11 if you count Ontario) we cross in our trek across the country, and for me, it will be the final. Last time I crossed, I made the short ride across the border into Maine, but I don't feel the need to do so this time, as that square has already been checked.
We were in Keene about 15 miles into the ride. I thought this United Church of Christ was a lovely picture on the center square of town. New England is full of these picturesque old churches.
While we spent much of the day on NH 9 and 31, we did get on a number of back roads as well. Here is a picture I took on Old Concord Road out of Keene. You can see it is nicely wooded and very green. It is also a tough little climb. You can also notice there is little to no traffic.

Here is another example of a New England church, taken I believe in Bennington (NH this time, yesterday it was Bennington, VT). I could have shot a bunch more of these, as I find them very interesting. I just realized this one was actually across from the second SAG in Francestown.
From the second SAG, we continued on Rt 136 to Rt 13. At 65 miles into the ride, we turned on Meadow Road to make our way to the infamous Joe English road. This is a very steep road, with grades in excess of 20% in spots. Three years ago I rode straight up it, but this time I had to do a little serpentine action. I must be getting old.

I joined up with Mark Weisbarth about this time, and we rode the rest of the way in together. He was a little nervous in spots, because neither Meadow Road or McCurdy Road had street signs, and he wanted to be sure we were on the route. I pressed on fearlessly, and it all worked out. We made our way into town to the Comfort Inn, and I immediately proceeded across the street to Subway for lunch. We have our farewell banquet this evening. It should be fun, but can be a little long, as everyone will say a little something, the staff will make presentations, etc.
I tell people tomorrow will be like the ride into Paris on the Tour de France. A lot of celebrating the end of a long journey. The finish at the beach is great, however.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

AAN Day 48 - Latham, NY to Brattleboro, VT

Daily Statistics:
Mileage: 79.2 miles Average Speed: 14.3 mph
Vertical: 5319 feet Depart: 7:34 AM Arrive: 1:54 PM
Calories: 5619

Link to Garmin ROUTE DATA

Today was an absolutely gorgeous day on the road. Just about everything was perfect. The weather was great: clear skies, temps in the 50s at start, mid 70s at the end, good roads in general, nice towns on the route, and beautiful riding in between.
We arrived at the Hudson River about 5 miles into the ride. I always think of that Army school on the Hudson when the name is mentioned, so I enjoyed the crossing.

We passed through Troy, NY and did a tough climb through and out of town. I spent the day riding with Gary Weinstein, who has improved dramatically since the start of the ride. I think his method of showing up for a few days of hard riding, then going home to work and rest, has really paid off. At any rate, we had a good time on the ride. At the first SAG, Rod Grimsley had a variety of relatives who live in the Bennington area show up, and they brought a variety of goodies for the SAG. I especially enjoyed the oatmeal raisin cookies. Shortly after the SAG, at 32.8 miles into the ride, we crossed the Vermont border. We timed it so we got there just after our thoroughbred crew, so I took there picture at the sign. This group is most of our very fast riders, who keep a pace line much of the time. You can see Mark Weisbarth, Mark Koltz, Jeff Gordon, Joe Schneider, Alex Steussey-Williams, and Dave Sullivan, with just a glimpse of staff Jeff in the background.
The Vermont countryside was very nice and extremely green. Here is a quick glimpse.

We also had a stream either alongside the road, or often crossing the road, which I always enjoy on a ride. Here it is from a bridge we crossed.
After we left the town of Bennington, we quickly started a long climb (7 miles) of about 1500 foot elevation gain. This brought us to the town of Wilmington, which had this inn that looked fairly New Englandy to me.
We also had our second SAG here in Wilmington, before starting another climb to the summit of Hogback Mountain. The view of the Green Mountains from there is great, but just looks like a bunch of trees in the picture, so I show the lodge instead.

From the summit, it was a reasonably easy ride the last 17 miles into Brattleboro and the motel. I liked this old church I found in town, so here it is.

Tomorrow is another relatively tough climbing day, and we will have our ride ending banquet there, because everyone will disperse once we hit the beach on Monday.

Friday, August 6, 2010

AAN Day 47 - Little Falls to Latham, NY

Daily Statistics:
Mileage: 75.0 miles Average Speed: 16.3 mph
Vertical: 2649 feet Depart: 7:21 AM Arrive: 1:15 PM
Calories: 5275

Link to Garmin ROUTE DATA

What a difference a day makes! Today we had almost ideal conditions. It was sunny, the temperatures were mild, and there was a nice tail wind a good deal of the way. We headed out of Little Falls, and spent the bulk of the early ride on NY Route 5S. It was rolling terrain, and generally along the route of the Mohawk River. You can see a view here.

About 56 miles in, we entered a bike path along the canal, and went right by Lock 8, which is a fairly modest lift to handle the drop you see here. Again, there were no boats ready to use the lock as there were 3 years ago when I was by.

As we crossed the river near town, we saw some waterskiers. We hoped one of them would make the jump you see in the lower right of the photo, but they all passed it by. I thought my son Mark would appreciate the boating picture, however.

We continued on a bike path for the final miles to town, only leaving it about 2.5 miles from the hotel. It was a very nice path, as you can see here.

The only down side to the day was that I had two flat tires, the first since Twin Falls, Idaho. The irony is that I have been hearing about my rear tire for days from other riders. It was so bald that blue kevlar was showing virtually all the way around, it had cuts all over the place, many such that you would expect a blowout, but no flats. Last night, I finally broke down and replaced it. Of course, now I get flats. The first, I ran over a big staple, so it was understandable. I compounded the problem by cross threading my CO2 dispenser so it wouldn't put out any air, and I couldn't unscrew it. I used a passing riders little pump, but probably only got about 40 psi in, so I got a pinch flat down the road. This time, a rider with a longer pump came by, and I got about 75 psi in, so I made it to the SAG and a good pump. Once it was properly filled, I had no further problems.

AAN Day 46 - Liverpool to Little Falls, NY

Daily Statistics:
Mileage: 78.4 miles Average Speed: 16.3 mph
Vertical: 1337 feet Depart: 7:06 AM Arrive: 12:22 PM
Calories: 5249

Link to Garmin ROUTE DATA

Today started with a chance of rain, and within about 10 miles, we really had rain. It either drizzled or poured virtually the entire rest of the way to the motel. As a result, I don't have many pictures from the road. I did take this shot at SAG 1, where the rain had let up briefly. It shows the group I spent the first miles with coming in on the wet roads.

After a pretty good day on the road, considering everything, we got to Little Falls. I actually preferred riding in the rain today to the heat and humidity we had yesterday, but everyone did not share my opinion. At any rate, soon after we got in, the skies cleared and it was a pretty nice afternoon. Here you can see the "little falls" in the Mohawk River that caused the name. The Mohawk is below, and the canal above at this location.

You can see the town looking from along the canal back toward town. It is an old, and largely dying community, but has some neat features, including several old churches. I checked the cornerstone on one, and it was from 1878.

After a nice lunch downtown, Leo and I walked the half mile or so down the canal to Lock 17. It is the highest lock on the canal, and I think in the country. It has a 40.5 foot rise. Unfortunately, the next boat was not going to be along for almost an hour, and we didn't wait, so I didn't get to see it in operation. It was built in 1909 as part of a canal upgrade to compete with the railroads.

Hopefully, we can keep the cooler temperatures without the rain tomorrow. I have already ruined two pair of socks in the rain.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

AAN Day 45 - Henrietta to Liverpool, NY

Daily Statistics:
Mileage: 95.4 miles Average Speed: 15.7 mph
Vertical: 2047 feet Depart: 5:59 AM Arrive: 12:25 PM
Calories: 6256

Link to Garmin ROUTE DATA

Today I must start with the events of last evening. I was blessed to have Gene and Jane Emborsky come visit. Some of you may remember them from the Cross Country Challenge in 2007. They are both great riders and great people. They rescued me from a pizza buffet courtesy of AbB, and took me to Delmonico's Steakhouse instead. We had a very nice visit, and it was a real pleasure to see them.

Today was a very good day on the bicycle trail. We were able to get on the road a little earlier, which I really appreciate. For my money, all the best riding is in the early morning. About six miles into the ride, we got on the Erie Canalway Trail. We stayed on it for just over 20 miles. Most of it was unpaved, but it was generally as you see here. A nice path along the water, with trees and wildlife.
We entered the trail at Lock 33, seen here. I was not fortunate enough to come along when any of the locks were raising or lowering boats, but some of the other riders said they saw some, and the water raises quite quickly.
The other thing along the trail was a lot of wildlife. Here you see 3 deer that let me get relatively close for a picture. There were also a ton of ducks and a bunch of geese as well. They must be well protected, because they sure weren't worried about people.
The other notable thing I saw along the trail was 3 different eight man sculls. They are a real pleasure to watch skim along the water. There were 2 male crews and one female crew.

After we left the trail, we still followed the canal for a quite a way along the road. We were on NY Route 31 for over 50 miles today. It is generally a very good road, with nice smooth shoulders much of the way. This took us through a series of small towns, including Palmyra (where Joseph Smith received the Book of Mormon), Lyons, Clyde, Tyre, Montezuma, Port Byron, Weedsport, Jordan, and others. We finally turned on Rt 173 and made our way the last 14 miles in to town and the motel. I think we are on the route from 2007 for the rest of the way.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

AAN Day 44 - Niagara Falls to Henrietta, NY

Daily Statistics:
Mileage: 82.1 miles Average Speed: 16.3 mph
Vertical: 1941 feet Depart: 6:34 AM Arrive: 1:27 PM
Calories: 5779

Link to Garmin ROUTE DATA

After a lovely day off in Niagara Falls, I bid farewell to Sara and family, and got back on the road. The depart and arrive stats are a little misleading, because immediately after we left, we stopped at Denny's for a nice breakfast, and about a mile before arriving, we stopped at a nice restaurant for lunch. The biggest issue with today's ride was that it was quite humid. I was fairly well soaked shortly after start, but the temperature was not too bad, so it was still good riding. The first SAG was in either the Tonowanda or the Iriquois wildlife area. Tom Zack and I tried to approach some geese, but this is about as close as we got.

The rest of the ride was fairly uneventful. We did spot a camel in a farmyard between the first and second SAGs, but I didn't get a photo. It was a one humped version. Other than that, we still had farms, as you can see here, with both soybeans and corn in view. I did see some watermelon growing in the fields (at least, I think that is what it was, might have been cucumbers).
At any rate, the last big push to the Atlantic is underway. We only have 6 more days of riding to go. I expect to see Gene and Jane Emborsky this evening here in Henrietta. More on that later.

Monday, August 2, 2010

AAN Day 43 - Day off in Niagara Falls, NY

Daily Statistics:
Mileage: Bike - 0 Foot - quite a few

Today was a very fine day off in Niagara Falls. As I mentioned yesterday, Sara, Jeannie, and Don came to spend the day with me. We crossed the Rainbow Bridge and spent most of the day on the Canadian side. Here you can see Sara on the bridge with the falls in the background.

We did all the good tourist things. Here you see me on what they call the White Water Walk, which is about 4 or 5 kilometers downstream of the falls, and the water is definitely moving. I really enjoyed this aspect of the day.

Of course, the Maid of the Mist is a must do, and we did it. Here you see the intrepid crew decked out in the provided gear, just after we were in the heart of Horseshoe Falls.

This picture, taken later, shows just how deep into the horseshoe the boats get. We were told they can carry 582 people, and they try to fill them.

We also did the behind the falls, as well as Niagara Fury. We enjoyed both. We also had some good vantage points at the rapids upstream of the falls, as you can see here.

All in all, a day well spent, although I probably didn't get the rest I should have to be ready for the big push in the final week.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

AAN Day 42 - Brantford, ONT to Niagara Falls, NY

Daily Statistics:
Mileage: 73.0 miles Average Speed: 14.8 mph
Vertical: 1802 feet Depart: 6:52 AM Arrive: 12:42 PM
Calories: 4804

Link to Garmin ROUTE DATA

We had another very nice day on the road, with a first class destination. The weather was again ideal, with 60s and 70s the whole way. There was a slight headwind/crosswind, but nothing too severe. I rode a good chunk of the way with Tom Zack, including the final miles. We had a great time. There was nothing too exciting along the route, so I will skip directly to the punch line. We arrived at the Canadian side of Niagara Falls just before noon on a Sunday, so there were tons of people milling around. We took the time to take a couple of pictures, including this one of American Falls. We will probably give you a few more, as our off day will consist of a full falls tour.

We had to proceed across the Rainbow Bridge from Canada to get back into the USA. The bridge is bumper to bumper the entire way, and we were told to just get in line with the cars, which we did. When you finally get across the bridge, it splits from 2 lanes to about a dozen to go through immigration. The immigration guy was more interested in discussing what days he had off with the next stall than in working with us. We got through quickly though.

As soon as we were across the bridge, we came to the "Welcome to NY" sign, marking another milestone on the journey. Our eighth of the ten states we will cover. Things are moving along.

The other exciting news was that Sara came to visit on the day off, along with her daughter Jeannie and son-in-law Don. We should have a great day tomorrow.