America By Bicycle - Fully Supported Bicycle Tours. --bicycle bike touring cross-country adventure dream cycling--

Across America North, page 5
Niagara Falls, NY to Portsmouth, NH
(The New England Meander)

current date and time 2006-10-21 | 09:17:32
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Number of Journal Entries online: 8
Day 43 - July 31, 2006 - Niagara Falls, NY - Final Rest Day!
New riders could not miss our hotel � it was the one with all the bikes displayed in the bay windows of the fourth floor. Back lit, framed by fine draperies. Next stop � Macy�s Christmas Windows! (See Photo)

Many riders stayed up late (10PM) to take in Sunday night�s fireworks over the Niagara River. Definitely worth the wait!

On Monday our company of adventurers dispersed. Some rode to the edge of the falls on the Maid of the Mist, some took in a 4hr bus tour of area attractions, some journeyed to a Buffalo Bike Shop to re-equip, while others crossed the river to simply stand at the edge of the falls and feel the power. There we were � thousands of gallons of water per second cascading right in front of us. If only we had it back in Pierre!

The staff spent the day cleaning up, grocery shopping, fixing bikes, and the like before heading out to dinner in Buffalo. Looking back I suppose they were getting a little antsy for the road. As they were headed home along Main St Buffalo they spotted a civilian cyclist walking his bike along the sidewalk. As they passed Jim diagnosed a rear flat. Transforming in to �The A Team� they hung a right at the next corner, flew out of the van and may have set a record for the fastest side walk flat repair. They gave him a catalog, wished him well, gave him a Rice Krispy Square, and sent him back on his way. Chances are he still doesn�t know exactly what happened.

Heard Around Town: �I�m gonna� fix my seat post sometime today...when I�m damn good and ready� (Arizona Bill looking to rest a bit before repairing) �Man its hot out there....Man its humid out there�...... (Just about everyone at some point) �I looked up and I knew I was at the right spot when I saw the bikes in the windows (returning ABB Veteran arriving for the final leg) �Why�d �ya have give him the Rice Krispy Square.....I like those� (Michelle to Bill after impromptu roadside assistance in Buffalo)

posted 2006-08-02 | 11:13:55 | article number: 1

Day 44 - August 1, 2006 - Niagara Falls to Henrietta, NY - 80 miles - 2650� climb
Rochester � Part Deux
The itinerary reads Henrietta, but many consider it to be part of the Greater Rochester area. Rochester? Weren�t we just there? Well yes....but that was Rochester Minnesota.
Jumping to the end of the day....Route Rap took on an educational dimension this evening as Kirk took a moment to describe some of the history that has occurred here in the Genesee Valley. Some of these events have resulted in this region being referred to as the Burned Over District. Today�s riders may well have felt Burned Over themselves today but for reasons having nothing to do with history. It was hot again! (over 100F - see photo) It was humid again! BUT our new best friend � the prevailing westerly made the whole thing worthwhile. Many rode along at 20mph + with greater ease than is needed on other days.

New Riders John, Joe, Mike, and Peggy joined the caravan today and didn�t miss a beat as we counted off 80 more miles towards the coast. SAG stops at mile 28 and 60, along with stores and service stations along the route kept the possibility of heat exhaustion at bay. At the first SAG Mike Kennedy, from Scotland, spied a thistle in the SAG table centerpiece. It complemented the one on the Scotland Rugby Jersey he was wearing. (see photo).

Steve and Barb even got invited in to a farmhouse for some down home hospitality after stopping to take a picture of yet another new crop.....Purple Cabbage.

If you ask me, Stu is secretly training for Race Across America 2007. With the benefit of 11 extra navigationally inspired miles he arrived at the motel showing 91miles. Then he blasts out for a 13mile bonus round to finish the day with 104. RAAM competitors watch out!

Overheard on the road: �I found new cleats AND cleat covers! (Dana when asked if she had ended her 2 day quest for new Keo cleats) �That�s a record time into the first SAG� (Kirk) �Jim and Tom ARE the topless dancers! �(when describing the location of the second SAG a staff member joked that it would be impossible to miss as there would be topless dancers out on the street waving riders in. �Well I guess Jim and Tom will be there then� the rider replied. When he was countered with the quote above......he considered finding a detour �Stu rode 104 miles today? He was probably trying to surpass the temperature� (Unknown Rider)

posted 2006-08-02 | 11:15:10 | article number: 2

Day 45 - Aug. 2, 2006 - Henrietta to Liverpool, NY - 83 miles - 1650� climb
They may have shut down New York City and sent office workers home early, but here on the North Ride it was business as usual � heat index or not � in upstate NY. We started with sunny skies but many riders had to seek shelter in the afternoon as a severe weather front passed through complete with lightening, driving rain, and 60 mile per hour winds.

A few miles out of Henrietta we came across a detour we had been expecting. Riders had made the appropriate adjustments to their cue sheets, but even so it was really easy to slip of course. More than a couple of people did, adding a few extra miles. After that we switched on to NY State Bike Route 5 and continued east. This route runs through a series of small towns each with its own charm and history. Our rider from Utah spent some time in Palmyra NY and happened across the only intersection in the USA with a church on all 4 corners. Pictured above is the town square of Clyde which we passed by. Small town USA at it�s finest: bandstand, Post Office, and a monument to complete the scene. It was not unlike the town in Back to the Future.

No one will confuse us with an episode of CSI. They solve the case in an hour, we take 40 days plus. We have been plagued by messy Gatorade containers for weeks. No matter what water gets dropped in to dry powder and things start to get caked-up. Today there was a breakthrough when a photo was taken of someone stirring their reconstituted Gatorade and placing the wet measuring spoon back in the container. Now...if we could only figure out who owns the hands in the above photo.

Heard On the Road Today, �Drink Abe!�(recited in unison every time his hydration alarm sounded) �ya�s a lot warmer in the sun than in the shade� (an observation by Barry �which way?� ( a rider anticipating the mother of all tail winds, when told of the Sheriff�s prediction of 60 mile per hour winds.

posted 2006-08-04 | 14:12:35 | article number: 3

Day 46 - Aug. 3, 2006 - Liverpool to Little Falls, NY - 85 miles - 1180� climb
Over breakfast at Denny�s at least two rider�s were sure they saw rain, even though the pavement remained dry. To determine whether they were hallucinating or not, Christine popped her head out and asked a man with a big beard and a straw hat whether he thought it would rain. �You should be OK� he said, carefully avoiding a forecast. Light rain did eventually show up, but the cloud cover more than made up for it with temperatures registering in the 80s.

Riding through Syracuse can be a challenge but today�s route lead us along with relative ease. After an initial SAG in Canastota NY riders continued on, SAGGING in Whitsboro, before heading along the Mohawk River Valley to Little Falls. Somewhere in between fate dealt an unfortunate blow to Kent as he hit a bump in the road, fell off his mount, and broke his collar bone. After a visit to the hospital he dropped in at dinner and announced that he would halt the ride at this point and head home for further assessment and treatment. A tough thing to come to terms with, and a tough announcement to make, but he carried it out with class. The peloton will ride on tomorrow, but it won�t be quite the same.

The Best Western at Little Falls rolled out the Welcome Mat by hosting a Social Hour before dinner which included complementary beer and wine, as well as a selection of hors d�oerves. Bill and Christine took turns wandering through the room topping up glasses and remarked �Not a single person declined a refill�. Sounds like everyone enjoyed themselves.

Heard On the Road Today �Kent...we�ll miss you� (everyone had their own way of expressing it, but the sentiment was unanimous)

posted 2006-08-04 | 14:13:12 | article number: 4

Day 47 - Aug 4, 2006 - Little Falls to Troy, NY - 83 miles - 1550� climb
Getting up to turn of the alarm this morning was accompanied by looking outside to see dark skies, a wet parking lot, and extremely light rain. Since breakfast was right in the hotel there definitely was a temptation to sit back and wait for things to clear off. However, no one really did. This group rides in whatever comes its way. Within an hour of setting out the threat of rain was gone, but it was too late; everyone�s was a little wet.

The first 34miles were on Bike route 5E, a highway with wide lanes that were for the most part clean. As we moved further east yesterdays gentle swells began to become a bit more noticeable. By the time we reached the first SAG near Amsterdam (see photo) we had clearly begun the transition to more Vermont-like surroundings. All of a sudden conversation switched to the climbs that were lying in wait during the final couple of days.

At mile 52 climbing concerns eased as we left the highway and moved onto a bike path that we would follow for the final 30 miles of the day. Having completed so many road miles it was a mental rest to ride along without the threat of motor vehicle traffic. Last night there were non-cycling hotel guests in Little Falls who were quite interested in our collective mission. Soon after passing Erie Canal lock 8, there they were sitting at a picnic table waving a wishing us well. We often forget that what we are accomplishing is really something pretty big and it often has a positive effect on others.

The second SAG was re-located to mile 59 so it could be located at Jumpin Jacks Drive In (see photo). That way riders could enjoy a burger and fries � when you ride like this fat is a good thing � as well as the usual SAG fare for lunch. Standing in line you could here a drive-in employee shouting �Subway� and being responded to with a �Thank-You� from her coworkers. This was done anytime a tip was left. Apparently years back a typical tip was the value of a subway ticket. If the number of locals lined up was any indication of the food, we were in for something good.

This evening we combine route rap, dinner, and a Pub Quiz game hosted by the Final Four, and moderated by Peter and Don. Peter read the questions, and Dan translated Peter�s English into something all of us could understand :)

Heard On The Road today, �we have passed acres and acres of corn since we left Oregon, but this one is the most attractive yet.� �Looks like Tom�s riding cyclocross� as he traversed a patch of mud as he screeched into the first SAG.
�is there a bike wash set-up here?� Good thing there was since there was hardly a clean frame to be found.

posted 2006-08-06 | 11:52:49 | article number: 5

Day 48 - Aug. 5, 2006 - Troy to Brattleboro, VT - 77 miles - 5150� climb
Wow. Time to check out of New York. After 5 days of �I _ NY� bumpers tickers, it is time to get in tune with the cross-border �I LOVERMONT� equivalent. For the last two days, when asked about Vermont climbs, staff have responded oh...they�re OK... However, last night two of them were spotted changing their cassettes to give them better climbing gears. Hmmmmm...sounds a little suspicious. .

Only 0.4miles out of the hotel the climb out of the Hudson Valley began. By mile 17 we had crossed into Vermont, the penultimate state of the journey. Shortly after passing Bennington we were into a full fledged climb. But you know.....having endured the heat and humidity of the last week, conversation focused more on the weather than the ascents. It was a perfect 85 degree day, the sun was shining, all was good.

Just prior to the second SAG stop we rolled through the heart of Wilmington. Those who chose to stop in for lunch raved about the food and drink they sought out. Fortunately most didn�t overeat, since the afternoon route passed by a ski resort or two. Even a non-cyclist can surmise what that means.

Heard on the Road Today: �perfect! 85 degress. That�s what summer is supposed to be like� (Dana) �hey we feel cheated. The cue sheet says 4.7 mile climb and we only got 3.8� (Steve and Barb, proving that they had become stronger riders)
�Wow what a view � I think I can see the Von Trapp Family Lodge from here� (unknown rider taking in the sights atop Hogback Mountain).

posted 2006-08-08 | 16:21:11 | article number: 6

Day 49 - Aug 6, 2006 - Brattleboro to Manchester, NH - 86 miles - 5800� climb
This morning it was actually cold as we loaded up the truck and headed out. As we followed the southern exit from a traffic circle we entered the state of New Hampshire. Emotions were divided between feelings of accomplishment and a sense of regret that within a matter of hours our trek would be reaching its terminal destination.

Oscillating emotions were put on hold when the first of the day�s climbs presented itself. It was a long 9% grade that plateaued for about a mile before ramping up to a 12% final stage. On the steeper sections some chose to walk their bikes up, but at this point flagging down the van for a ride was out of the question.

As our route did not pass through any towns or villages the first SAG was a simple side of the road affair. The remainder of the day continued to roll up and down but by this early hour the most challenging climbs were behind us. The weather was truly sublime � low 80s, bright sunshine, and not a hint of humidity. The second SAG of the day was situated on the lush front lawn of a church in the shade of a spruce tree, in Francestown. It was a picture perfect New England post card scene. (see photo). From there it was a 20 mile meander into Manchester where the hotel had set up a full service bike wash station: a tent, cleaning rags, sponges AND an ice chest full of water and Gatorade. A few riders had friends and family there waiting to greet them.

Dinner tonight was in one of the hotel banquet room and was followed by a presentation that included: a review of the route by staff, an awards ceremony (dollar store gifts selected in a rider specific manner), and the opportunity for all ride participants to share their thoughts and reflections on the experiences we have shared together.

Heard on the Road � and at the Banquet � today
�well we have 26 hours to go, lets make it count� ( Stu at SAG 1)
�Man these guys can ride!� (from a poem by Jeff Blake)
�I can�t wait to sleep in my own bed�(Joyce)
�I came for the riding; I will leave remembering the friendships I made� ( Don )
�It takes a village to raise a teenager, and for the last two months you all have been our village� (Lil )
�My hat goes off to our riders in their sixties and seventies. I hope I will be doing what they are when I reach that age� (Mike Kennedy)
�My only regret is that there were no 16yr old girls on the trip.�(Ray)
�Seven weeks ago I started out on this ride on Father�s Day with with my son Steven. A Father could not ask for a better gift� (Ted)
�Goodnight Jim Bob, Goodnight John Boy, Goodnight Ilka. That�s my last chance to say this because tonight, I�m sleeping with my wife� (Stu reflecting on his time in a triple room)
�You could have just booked a trip to prison instead� (Karen recalling one of Barry�s one liners from the day he flirted with heat exhaustion).

posted 2006-08-08 | 16:21:44 | article number: 7

Day 50 - Aug. 7, 2006 - Manchester to Portsmouth, NH - 60 miles - 750� climb
�Let�s Do It!� seemed to be the thought of the day as the luggage truck was loaded today. The skies were saturated and the forecast was calling for rain, but the resolve of The 2006 North Ride could not be compromised. By the posted loading start time of 0615h, luggage loading was complete. This may have been a first.

Endurance athletes often describe having songs stuck in their heads as they ride, or run, or hike, or whatever. For those of us in this club, the lyrics in mind today may have been from the Simon & Garfunkle tune that proclaims.....Slow Down �ya move too fast. Gotta� make the moment last..... We were all aware on time together was fleeting and we massed together at the Kingston Village Market for our SAG at mile 30, at a coffee shop in Exeter at mile 40, and at Rye Junior High for a group photo at mile 50 (see photo above). A passerby would easily mistake us for a group of best friends rather than a crew that only 50 days ago was a collection of individuals.

That we got to first SAG at all, without a major detour situation, came compliments to an eloquent intervention on Jon Gregg�s behalf. Our route took us down a road that was closed and we came upon a section where the road was completely dug up. John took a moment to explain who we were, what we have been up to for the last 50 days, and how close we were to finishing to the back hoe driver. Upon hearing this he proceeded to fill in part of the road, allowing cyclists and the trucks to get through. Well done Jon ! (see photo)

By the time we had reached the first SAG the rain had stopped and everyone was just about dry. Lois chose this moment to revenge the water bombings she had endured at the hands of Christopher over the past 50 days. She reached in to the SAG van, pulled out a Super Soaker Water Canon she had earlier stashed there, and started to meter out justice pump by pump. She looked every inch like the governor of California as she snarled �Hasta la vista....Baby !� and soaked him.

After our group photo in Rye we were given a police escort to the beach. There were a few kids cheering us on as we passed by. About half a mile from the coast you could smell the ocean, prompting a few cheers and pumped fists in the air. After a few more yards the Atlantic Ocean was stretched out before us. Without prompting a cheer erupted.

As we pulled in to the beach parking lot we were greeted by cheering family and friends, and we witnessed quite a few family reunions between people who had not seen each other for 50 days. I have only been with this group since Port Huron Michigan, yet I was still overwhelmed and a bit teary eyed by what was playing out before me.

To symbolize the completion of our journey just about everyone headed to the surf to dip their wheels and in many cases jump in for a dip.

It is 11:25PM now, and I expect the riders� party at Warren�s Lobster house is still going strong. And well it should be � it�s not everyday you complete a bicycle ride from Sea to shining Sea. Oh baby what a trip.................

posted 2006-08-08 | 16:22:16 | article number: 8

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