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Cross Country Challenge 2007 Journal
(Page 6)
Erie, PA to Portsmouth, NH
(Eastern States Tour)

current date and time 2008-05-13 | 17:38:27
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Day 44- Rest Day in Erie, PA
By the time we had checked-in last night we sure of one thing; the Avalon Hotel was in the heart of downtown, close to the lake, and convenient to a variety of rest day activities. Early this morning two other features � curtains that were extremely room darkening, and the lack of traffic noise � set the stage for a well deserved opportunity to truly sleep in. Once awake, Starbucks was a short three blocks away. There were a couple of Canadian based riders in the hotel this morning � Tracy from Calgary Alberta, and Bill L from Kingston Ontario � who were ecstatic to discover a Tim Horton�s franchise close by. �Good coffee eh?�

Striking out into the sun a couple groups of early birds packed into rental cars at 7AM and headed off to take in the natural beauty and the collection of attractions in Niagara Falls. If all went as planned they should have arrived by 9AM, allowing for an entire day there. Philippe is a swimmer and has traded his cycling shorts for swim trunks several times since we left the Pacific Ocean � most often when passing rivers of geographic or historical interest. Hopefully he won�t try to swim across the Niagara River!

Bill R was spotted reading the morning paper and marveling at the fact that the world was continuing on without us, as we pedal away oblivious to anything but our journey. Meanwhile, Tim, Jeff, Dave, and Pete were heading out on an early morning bike shop tour, driving with Dave�s wife who was visiting with their car. Later in the day, around 2:30, Gerard and a group of riders headed out on a different bike shop tour. Judging by the empty boxes placed found outside rooms � a Nokia cell phone box, a K Swiss shoe box, and a Dunkin� Donuts box! � shopping was not limited to bike stuff.

While others were going outside the hotel to find something to do, Gene and Jane did just the opposite by hosting a wine tasting social up on the eighth floor. They live nearby and had a couple of friends drop in with some locally produced wine and some home made pies. Herb had hoped to attend but unknown to him he had a little misadventure lined up. Somewhere between Rite-Aid Pharmacy and the Post Office his wallet went missing. Finding that the credit card help line was anything but helpful, he set off to find it on his own. When he returned empty handed, someone suggested he check with the Police. To his surprise it was there waiting for him, just as he had last seen it. A passer by had found it and immediately turned it over to the authorities. Living proof that the good guys still out number the bad guys � at least here in Erie.

Not long after the Niagara Falls group came in, a separate collection of riders was headed out to the ballpark (two blocks east) to watch a Double A match-up between the Erie Seawolves and the Reading Phillies. Truly a value with tickets starting at $3.

Somewhere in the midst of all this, four new riders arrived to join in for the Eastern States Tour. In addition, Jay, who rode across the Rockies with us has been able to find enough room in his agenda to come back and join us as we push on to the Atlantic. By the time we hit the halfway point tomorrow, everyone will have fit right in.

posted 2007-07-19 | 07:09:35 | article number: 1

Day 45- Tuesday, July 17, 2007 Erie, PA to Hamburg, NY 82 miles
Over breakfast this morning we had a chance to meet the four sets of fresh legs that will accompany us to New Hampshire. Carl and Andrew (we�ll call him Young Andrew so he won�t be confused with English Andrew or Ride Leader Andy) are a grandfather/grandson duo, while Paul and Geraldo arrived as strangers but have ended up roommates for the next week. Jay is once again in the peloton after a hiatus back home in Indiana. On this visit he will be here until we hit our terminal destination.

Young Andrew was the focus of attention this morning as everyone wondered �will UPS deliver his bike in time to start? It was meant to have come last night but didn�t. Instead of panicking he got on the phone to UPS, arranged crack-of-dawn transportation with the front desk, and was there to receive his box when it was unloaded. Gerard was waiting to re-assemble it when he arrived back at the hotel, and by mid-morning he and Carl had caught up and were riding along in the middle of the pack. Andrew is in the US Air Force and his ability to get things done was self- evident.

While all this was going on Geraldo had settled in riding with Erin and Wayne, and Paul had lit up the after burners to arrive at the 20mile mark after only an hour on the road. Rick and David may soon have to make room for one more at the front of the pack! Just before reaching the 20mile mark we crossed the state line in to New York where Christine was positioned to take photos of riders in front of the welcome sign.

As the first and only SAG stop was not until mile 47, Gerard set up an impromptu stop (mile 30) by the Daniel Reed Memorial Peer in the Town of Barcelona. By this point route 5 was running right alongside Lake Erie. Those who had never seen the Great Lakes before marveled at how ocean-like they looked. On the other side of the road we passed acre after acre of vineyards that are part of the Chautauqua Wine Region, and several fruit stands featuring locally grown produce. After weeks of cornfields it was a welcome change.

Under a red maple tree with an extremely dense canopy of leaves, at the marina in the town of Dunkirk, riders found today�s SAG stop. Many were surprised to still be dry when they arrived there. We spent the entire day feeling that the rain was minutes away from starting, but by the time it actually did start most had already arrived at the hotel. Without a whole lot of sunshine a couple of people decided to take Mike C�s advice and ride without gloves for the day to let the �biker tan� on their hands even out a bit. Immediately following the marina we arrived at a monument recalling the fact that Dunkirk was the site of the first naval skirmish that occurred at the start of the War of 1812.

By this time we had been on the Seaway Trail for quite a few miles. This stretch of highway runs along the northern edge of NY following the contours of the St Lawrence Seaway. From our position we looked out over the expanse of Lake Erie and came to understand why Buffalo gets buried with lake effect snow each winter. After the town of Silver Creek we merged on to Route 20 and rode along the most generous stretch of paved shoulder we have seen to date. Gene and Jane live here in New York and explained that a study done at the University of Albany, about 10 years ago, provided convincing evidence showing that the width of the shoulder and highway deaths were inversely proportional. Not all roads in NY have shoulders like this road, but some day they will.

After crossing over the New York Sate Throughway a couple of times we made a left turn onto Commerce Place and arrived at the Comfort Inn in Hamburg. Ask a local where they live and they may well say Buffalo instead of Hamburg. Buffalo may have a reputation for chicken wings, early season blizzards, and five consecutive trips to the Super Bowl without a victory, but in actual fact there is far more to the city than just that:

�Buffalo was a terminus of the Underground Railroad and helped many fugitives cross the Niagara River to Fort Erie, Ontario, Canada and freedom.
�At the start of the 20th century, immigrants from Europe came in to work in the local mills which used local hydro-electric power. The city got the nickname City of Light at this time due to the widespread electric lighting used.
�The city's economy declined in the later half of the 20th century, due to the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway in 1957, cutting the city off from the normal trade routes. The city, which boasted over half a million people at its peak in the 1950s, has seen its population decline by almost 50%, as industries shut down and people left the Rust Belt
Tomorrow we will get to see more of the Greater Buffalo area as we carry our journey to the next stop in Canandaigua.

posted 2007-07-19 | 07:12:20 | article number: 2

Day 46- Wednesday, July 18, 2007 Hamburg, NY to Canandaigua, NY 94 miles
One question that still has everyone guessing is �how did we manage to miss the rain again today?� The parking lot had fresh puddles as we loaded the trailer this morning, there were dark clouds all over, and even though it was a cool 67F the air was heavy with humidity. Young Andrew was convinced that we could successfully call Mother Nature�s bluff if we all stuffed rain gear in our jersey pockets. At days end it appeared that he was right.

The first 6 or 7 miles had us doing a series of short legs as we worked or way towards the wide shoulders of routes 5 and 20. Judging by the number of bikes leaning up against the �Pedaling History Bicycle Museum� in Orchard Park (mile 7), most riders elected to include this side trip on today�s route. The owner/curator was on hand to open-up early for us AND to give us a personal tour through a huge display of bicycles and related equipment that recalled the evolution of the bicycle from the pedal-less wooden walk-about, through the highwheelers, the balloon-tired classics, all the way to the high-tech lightweight racers. Many of us were surprised to learn that many inventions required for the automobile were originally created for the bicycle. I am sure all of our bikes felt lighter after seeing what they rode 100 years ago!

Once we left the museum we found ourselves in the Town of East Aurora after about twenty minutes. What made this town special was the contemporary look of its Main Street. It had all the features of old school main streets � flags on lamp posts, intersections made of bricks, and a bank and a funeral home � but it was also bustling with new businesses and many national franchises. As we made our way to our first climb of the day, we began to see smaller scale family run dairy farms that appeared to be growing their own hay, grain, and corn to feed their dairy herds. To date most of the farming we have seen has been might be better termed agribusiness.

A couple of climbs later we arrived at the days first SAG stop at mile 30. While there a reporter from the Town of Alden�s local paper arrived and took the opportunity to interview riders and staff about our journey. As this guy was 85 years old and a retired US Marine who had served on Iwo Jima, we may have had more questions for him than he had for us.

For the next 39 miles we pedaled toward the second SAG stop in the Hamlet of Avon. Gene taught high school for 25 years in this area and was able to provide considerable insight into local history. When we passed a sign that indicated Attica and the Attica Correctional Facility was only 3 miles away discussion ensued about the details. Wikipedia served as the arbitrator and revealed that back on September 9th 1971, inmates took forty-two officers and civilians hostage and aired a list of grievances, demanding their needs be met before their surrender. In a facility designed to hold 1,200 inmates and actually housing 2,225, theirs was a substantial list. They felt that they had been illegally denied certain rights and conditions to which they were entitled, illustrated by such practices as being allowed only one shower per week and one roll of toilet paper per person per month. The riots lasted several days and in the end, thirty-nine people were killed. The Cross Country Challenge � learning new things everyday !
By this point in the day the terrain had begun to list and roll into a series of long gentle highway hills separted by speed fostering descents and flats. These were not Missouri style rollers and they were definitely not Colorado style mountain passes. They were actually quite an enjoyable way to pass the miles.

In contrast to the East Aurora Main Street described above, the Avon Main Street was purely traditional featuring a grand town square as its centerpiece. The towering monument in the middle was dedicated to the area soldiers who had given their life during the Civil War. High on a hill riders could be seen approaching the SAG stop long before they arrived. There was shade, there were benches, there was a water fountain, and there was a Diner right across the traffic circle. On the SAG scale it was definitely a ten. Stu was all smiles, taking on water, and discussing the day with Christine.

With 25 miles left to go riders ventured back on to the wide shoulders of route 20 and made their way through the towns of Lima and East Bloomfield. Looking south Bristol Mountain and the surrounding hills of the Finger Lakes Region could be seen. The steep climbs down in that area figure prominently in Quadzilla (a 400 mile ride with a 40hr time limit) and The Highlander (a 100mile climbing-fest that has been dubbed �The Death Ride of the East�). Fortunately our hills never got this tough, although there were a couple of long ones in the last stretch before Canadaigua. The smile on Geraldo�s face as he checked in appeared to be 50% pride in taming these climbs, and 50% relief that they were behind him.

Tonight we are staying with the good folks at the Econo-Lodge. As many riders are making their first visit to the Finger Lakes, the location, a block away from the municipal beach and waterfront of Canadaigua Lake, could not be any better.

posted 2007-07-19 | 07:14:18 | article number: 3

Day 47- Thursday, July 19, 2007 Canandaigua, NY to Syracuse, NY 70 miles

We have been riding on the edge of rain for two or three days now. Today our paths crossed and we traveled together for most of the day. On paper it looked like it would be an easy day featuring 70 short miles on smooth, wide shoulders. However��.

Loading up in the midst of scattered raindrops a few people were seen repairing slow leaks in their tires that had shown themselves as we slept. Coming up on a gardening center just a few miles out, Tim and Jeff could be seen amongst tables of bedding plants. They appeared to be looking for some geraniums � or maybe they had begonias in mind � when in actual fact they were working on a new flat. Just past them the van was stopped helping Paul with a puncture, less than 500 yards further east the other van was pulled off with yet another flat stricken rider. Everyone was baffled by the bad inner tube karma that had descended upon us, but Jay said it best when he remarked that �. it must have rained down glass particles last night!� By the time we hit the 10-mile mark the count was up to five. By the time a final tally was taken at route wrap this afternoon we had a combined total of TWENTY-NINE flats on the day. Jeff took home the individual title going through six tubes on the road from Canandaigua to Syracuse.

Today�s route paralleled the Erie Canal most of the day, taking us through the history rich and still thriving towns of Geneva, Waterloo (birthplace of Memorial Day), and Seneca Falls (birthplace of Women�s Rights movement). Had we been under fair skies riders might have spent a bit more time exploring these pieces of New York�s past. Cash crops figure in to the agricultural mix in this area with fresh roadside cabbage, cucumbers, cherries, and apricots available along routes 5 and 20.

The rain and the flat tire phenomenon became purely trivial as word spread about Stu sustaining a fall between Waterloo and Seneca Falls, somewhere around the 22-mile mark. When the responding ambulance team learned that he had hit his head � he did have his helmet tightly fastened � they decided it was best to take him to the hospital to give him a once over.

Rolling in to the SAG stop at mile 31 it was difficult to tell whether the cyclists or the bikes were dirtier. Andy took this opportunity to call ahead to the hotel asking them to set up a bike wash station and a spot to hang up wet clothing. The skies looked to be clearing and by the time we re-took the road we were almost riding on dry pavement. This however, was short lived.

Sometime around 2PM the wind picked up, the skies opened up, and all but the heartiest sought shelter wherever they could. Herb and Philippe were on Old Pottery Road and knocked on the door of a house while others made an immediate decision to stop for lunch at the next available spot. Gerard was the consummate professional, offering to take down the umbrellas � they were about to blow away � before entering the diner where he and Bill would wait things out. Within half an hour all was clear and one by one we decided to carry on.

Business was brisk at the �Super 8 Bike Wash�, which was in bright sunshine. As is usually the case on days marked by challenging conditions � today it was the rain and the phlat phenomenon � the conversation was upbeat and had a �job well done� flavor to it. After dinner just about everyone planned to return to their bikes and make sure that all bits of residual glass, and stone, and whatever were dislodged from their tires.

For the rest of the ride all eyes will be on Eckhart and Andy. Tomorrow will be day 48, and neither of them has had a flat tire yet!

posted 2007-07-20 | 06:42:38 | article number: 4

Day 48- Friday, July 20, 2007 Syracuse, NY to Little Falls, NY 85 miles
Fifty yards into today�s route, barely out of the parking lot, Eckhart�s bid at a puncture-free crossing of America came to an unceremonious end when he returned to the hotel saying �I have a flat�. The tire has been removed from the scene and has been dusted for fingerprints by the Forensics unit of the Syracuse Police. These will be run against prints on file at ABB headquarters to determine whether co-rider sabotage was a factor. San Francisco CA to Syracuse NY without a flat tire �wow.

At load this morning we also bid farewell to Gregg who has been with us since Wooster, OH. He joined us by bike, and he is leaving � en route to visit his son who lives a couple of days ride away � by bike. No cab, no shuttle, no airplane, no bus.

Most had jackets on, or in their back pockets, as we struck out for Little Falls under the threat of rain at a pleasant 64F. The roads in Syracuse don�t seem to follow any sort of pattern, so the first 12 miles were a bit circuitous as we worked our way out of town. By mile 12 our course straightened out and we felt the help of strong west winds as just about everyone barreled down Chestnut Ridge Road with little effort. Those that cleaned up their bikes after yesterdays rain were reveling in their whisper smooth drive trains.

The first SAG stop was along the canal in the Town of Canastota, at mile 25. Earlier on, those that have ridden this route before recommended a side stop at Dunn�s Pastry Shop (Five Generations of Quality) that was just a block away. Gary and Bob had enough money for coffee, but they were a little short when it came time for donuts. Too proud to impose on their fellow riders they assumed the role of pan handlers � complete with tremors in their cup hands - and raised funds the old fashioned way.

The wind continued to work with us, but the skies turned against us as a gentle rain began just after Canastota. One group was forced to stop by the �Cross Island Chapel � The World�s Smallest Church� as a gaggle of geese crossed the road. As they were preparing to continue riding Christine noticed how a truck coming from behind came to a full stop and waited as one goose lingered on the side of the road. �Sure�he waits for a goose but he would probably roar past a cyclist like they weren�t even there� Hmmmmm��..

For the rest of the day the skies flipped back and forth between showers, mist, and occasional patches of sun. Not surprisingly, discussion seemed to be more focused on the turbo tailwind, the well-signed intersections, and traffic free roads as group after group passed through the second SAG stop at mile 52 in Whitesboro. Shortly after the route would turn right and run alongside the Mohawk River for the final 25 miles of the day. Erin was wet but smiling as she pulled in to the Best Western in Little Falls � that last stretch along route 5 was incredible�20mph+ the entire way�and I was barely even pedaling !!!!�

Little Falls continues to be a favorite overnight with ABB riders. We were acknowledged on the marquis �Welcome America By Bycicle� (sic), there is a monster Laundromat right across the road, the hotel hosted a pre-dinner social hour, and post-desert ice cream was available a few blocks away. Erie Canal buffs enjoyed having a lock station available for viewing immediately behind the hotel.

Going to bed The Weather Channel was forecasting cool blue skies for the morning. Sounds good � as long as we can keep those west winds.

posted 2007-07-21 | 17:30:13 | article number: 5

Day 49 - Saturday July 21st - Little Falls NY to Troy NY - 83miles
One quick look out the window this morning was all it took to know that we were about to enjoy a day of perfection. For the last several days we have ridden in rain or with the constant threat of rain. This morning the skies were deep blue, clouds were scarce, humidity wasn�t noticeable, and the forecast high was somewhere near 80F. Although the winds had diminished a bit they were still out of the west, well positioned to give us a boost all day long.

New York has its fair share of climbing, but having followed the Erie Canal and Mohawk Valley most of the past four days, we had been spending most of our time in our large chain rings. By the time we passed through St Johnsville at the 10 mile mark the transition towards Vermont-like terrain was beginning and we were reacquainting ourselves with our lower gears. Those looking for an opportunity to soak up a bit of the early morning sunshine at a more leisurely pace stopped in for a quick visit at Fork Klock at couple of miles further on.

Fort Klock � a 30 acre complex of original colonial farm structures and 19th century schoolhouse and blacksmith shop -was initially constructed in 1750, and was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1973. It is a little-altered architectural type example of a mid-18th century fur trading post and fortified stone house structure that was widely used in the Mohawk Valley by settlers as a place of refuge during the French and Indian War, and later, the War of Independence. The massive stone walls, nearly two feet thick, rest on a foundation of solid rock. The walls are constructed in two layers filled with rubble, a crude form of insulation against the winter's cold. From the stone floor in the cellar, still bubbles a spring which provided a constant supply of fresh water to the occupants without exposing them to outside danger. The walls are heavily loop holed on every side of the house so that muskets could be fired from the inside. At one time there were a total of 24 such posts guarding the Mohawk Valley.

Leaving life in the 1700s behind us, we carried on to the first SAG stop at mile 34. High on a ridge you could look out in all directions to see hillside farms, and scattered communities. While some riders were still congregated there, word came that Carl had injured his knee and was headed to the hospital in Amsterdam to have it looked at. Although no permanent damage was detected, he will need to rest for a few days while everything heals.

At mile 52 the route took us on to a bike path that we would end up following for the remaining 30miles into Troy. Twisting and turning with the contours of the river we had a chance to see a couple sets of Erie Canal locks up close, and to see remnants of the manufacturing industry that � not so long ago � was the economic engine of the area. Our second SAG stop of the day was next to �Jumpin Jacks Drive In� at mile 59. You could tell who the big spenders were as the staff shouted �Thank-You� each time a tip was left.

After negotiating a brief 15% grade along the bike path, the balance of the day remained flat, culminating with a crossing of the Hudson River as entered the City of Troy - �Home of Uncle Sam�. The Best Western was right downtown allowing the opportunity to stroll along the Hudson and see a city that is no longer what it once was, but continues to rebuild itself day by day.

posted 2007-07-23 | 07:30:54 | article number: 6

Day 50 - Sunday July 22nd - Troy NY to Bratlleboro VT - 77miles
Immediately after dinner last night we had a T-Shirt Swap. At breakfast this morning it was obvious that roommates Greg and Rob�rt went one step further by holding their own �Jersey Swap�. After 49 days it seemed just plain weird to hear a New England accent coming out of that yellow jersey that had been speaking French ever since San Francisco. Herb also threw a wrench into our routine as he set aside his usual and customary �Santa Fe� jersey for a white and red one that Mike had given him.

As we prepared to leave New York and cross into Vermont riders chose their morning meal carefully. On big climbing days like this some choose to eat more than usual while others back off a bit so they won�t feel weighed down on the ascents. After 3000+ miles, everyone seems to know what their engines need. Weather wise it looked like another perfect day: bright sun, low humidity, and a gentle breeze that was refreshing but not strong enough to noticeably help or hinder.

There was little time to loosen-up, as the first climb of the day started three-tenths of a mile from the parking lot. Riders have known from day one that today and tomorrow would be tough and they greeted the climb with the resolve. Passersby at the Dunkin� Donuts by the first SAG (mile 24) were impressed by the apparent ease with which we were tackling today�s terrain. When they heard how far we had come to get here they were congratulatory. Our faces must have looked proud! Four miles further we crossed into Vermont � pausing a little longer for photos knowing that our next state-line would be our last.

Dominating the town of Bennington was the Bennington Battle Monument. Built in the late 1880's, this monument is a dedication to the famous Battle of Bennington that took place during the Revolutionary war in 1777. It was at this location the American colonists maintained a store of weapons and food, which the British had hoped to capture in order to restock their own troops. It is just over 300 feet tall, and looks a whole lot like the Washington Monument down in D.C. Departing Bennington riders readied themselves for the 10mile climb that was scheduled to start at mile 34. At climbs� end it all seemed worthwhile as we then enjoyed a steep 2mile plunge towards the town of Wilmington.

Downtown Wilmington was packed on this particular summer Sunday. Nonetheless a lot of riders found this to be a good spot for lunch as it offered a good selection of restaurants, coffee shops, and of course�.ice cream. Those choosing to ride on without stopping were able to refuel at the second SAG stop set up at the Post Office just beyond town. Conversation was still buzzing with �Max Speed� figures from the mornings� downhill sections. Gerard had been riding strong all morning and many wondered if anyone had a chance of beating him into hotel in Brattleboro. With only 20 miles to go � including a climb up and over a ski resort � those that hoped to catch him knew they had to get at it.

Rounding a traffic circle on route 5 north, just before the New Hampshire State Line, Gerard rolled in the hotel uncontested. The chase group claims to have been distracted by a bike shop downtown��but who knows. At check-in we met up with a group of rowers who were competing in the area. For once it was nice to not be the only ones standing around a hotel lobby wearing spandex!

posted 2007-07-23 | 07:34:11 | article number: 7

Day 51 - Monday July 23rd -Brattleboro VT to Manchester NH - 86miles
This morning it was approaching cold, with overcast skies and a look of rain, as we loaded up the trailer 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 � Pitcher Mountain - presented itself. It was a long 9% grade that plateaued for about a mile before ramping up to a 12% final stage. A few weeks back some may have opted for a van ride, but today this was out of the question.

As our route did not pass through any towns or villages the first SAG (mile 27) was a simple side of the road affair. Even those who have typically flown through SAG stops with little time spent visiting took a moment or two to pause, reflect, and enjoy the camaraderie. The remainder of the day continued to roll up and down but by this early hour the most challenging climbs were behind us. Back on the road the cool skies continued to darken and before long we were riding in the rain. Passing through Antrim NH many opted for lunch at the Good Day Caf�, while others chose to press on and get to Manchester as soon as possible.

Cliff was feeling a bit chilly and didn�t have a jacket with him, so, as he passed a Laundromat he decided to take matters in his own hands. He must have looked 50% like Bob Barker from �The Price is Right� and 50% like Monty Hall from �Let�s Make a Deal� as he started browsing through piles of folded laundry offering to buy anything that looked warm. He came away with a handsome fleece jacket � grey � for the bargain price of $10!!

The second SAG of the day was situated near the lush front lawn of a hill-top church in Francestown. Had there been a little more sun it would have been a picture perfect New England post card scene with a towering white church steeple and a proud town hall with Roman columns. From there it was a 20 mile meander into Manchester where a few riders had friends and family 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. One theme that was constant was the appreciation of each other:

Jay took a moment to describe a few of his co-riders, depicting their accomplishments as �Profiles of Courage�

David observed that during our days on the road we spent a lot of time chronicling the challenges (headwinds, climbs, and rain) that were presented to us and correspondingly little time celebrating the bounty of benefits (tailwinds, blue skies, fellowship of each other) that were bestowed upon us. Looking on the sunny side can help us achieve our goals.

Wayne proudly announced that he had risen over $325,000 for his charity and that it would not have been possible without those gathered in the room. He dreams of writing a book about our adventure and will welcome our input.

Andrew took a moment to recount his experience riding into Garden City Kansas. He was dead tired, it was past 5PM, and he was riding quite slowly when he saw Christine roll up in the van. He thought she was going to ask him to load-up his bike and drive in. Instead she came out with smiles of encouragement, a fill up of his water bottles, and a heart felt �No Problem � You can do it!� � and he did. He also paid tribute to Brian, who as he described it �Squeezed EVERY last bit out of that ride�

Herb explained that this trip had been a Birthday present to himself, and with a tear in his eye went on to say �what a wonderful collection of guests showed up at the party�

Eckhart was disappointed about not being able to ride across North America on one set of tubes (he had his one and only flat in Syracuse NY), but other than that he enjoyed every last moment.

Cliff took a moment to express his appreciation for the support staff: �Late one afternoon my frame broke�..and when I got up the next morning I found a brand new bike that Andy & Gerard had built up for me !�

Rob�rt, speaking in French with Michelle translating, spoke of what a privilege it had been to get to know how generous American people are and to become more familiar with American food.

Jeff brought a tear or two to the room when he said the highlight for him was getting to spend so much time with, and having the opportunity to get to know his brother again.

Gene and Jane remarked on how lucky they were to ride across the country, each with their best friend, and still head home as room mates.

Greg declared that he had the time of his life, and that the whole experience was like a great book, full of interesting characters.

Rocket spoke for everyone as he said he would be leaving the ride with �friends for ever�

As we have made our way from San Francisco, we have carried a map of the United States of America with us. We traced out our route with a black marker. Each afternoon we extended the line, in a stepwise manner, as we made our way east. Tonight this map was presented to Brian as a memento of the Cross Country Challenge 2007. Earlier in the evening Andrew had described what an attribute Brian has been to our adventure, and judging by the applause as the map was presented, those sentiments are unanimous.

The black line however, has not yet reached the Atlantic Ocean. One more day of riding waits.

posted 2007-07-26 | 16:44:50 | article number: 8

Day 52 � Tuesday July 24th 2007 � Manchester NH to Portsmouth NH - 62 miles
July 24th��at times we thought it might never arrive, but as it has drawn closer many secretly hoped we could defer our final day for just a while longer. Breakfast was finished, and the luggage was loaded, but a sense of inertia seemed evident. We knew we had to saddle-up and ride on, but like a retiring athlete about to take the field for the last time, a collective part of us wanted to hang out in the �locker room� for just a few minutes more. Then, as the resolve that brought us this close took over, we pointed our wheels east and struck out under overcast skies that threatened a reprisal of the rain we experienced the day before.

True to form, Rocket, Greg, and Erin spotted a Panera Bread franchise a few miles out of the hotel and stopped for what may have been their final �impromptu� SAG stop.

We were all aware our time together was fleeting as we mustered at the Kingston Village Market for our SAG at mile 31. Doug Torosian � President of America by Bicycle � managed to sneak away from the office for a few minutes so that he could come and meet each and every rider. He has met many such groups over the years, yet he still seems to get caught up in the enthusiasm and positive energy as each collection of riders closes in on the final mile. The food at SAG stops is usually carefully organized and neatly set out. However, this being our final stop of the campaign the table more closely resembled a �Closing Buffet�. It was all up for grabs!

As the miles continued to click by, and we got closer to Rye Junior High, the skies steadily brightened. By 10AM we were enjoying one last �Perfect Day�. By 12Noon we had assembled on the front steps of the school for a group photo, all decked out in our red, white, and blue ABB jerseys. It many ways it did feel like a graduation ceremony.

Once everyone managed to locate their own camera, we fell into formation and were given a police escort to the beach, with lights flashing and the occasional screech from the sirens. 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, many of whom had not seen their loved ones for over 50 days. Unbeknownst to Erin her Mother had made her way to the beach to welcome her and share in her accomplishment. Tears were in abundance on the beach; all borne of hard work and perseverance.

To symbolize the completion of our journey just about everyone headed to the surf to dip their front wheel and in many cases jump in for a dip. Philippe has swum in many bodies of water as we worked our way across the country; this must have been the most rewarding of the lot!

Within a few hours our group will begin to break apart as we head back to our pre-ride lives. There will certainly be reunions, but it is unlikely we will ever be physically all together again. Last night after dinner Jay concluded his remarks with a quote from an Old Irish Blessing. As we started our good byes we could hear his voice once again�..

�May the road rise to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face.
And rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the hollow of His hand�

posted 2007-07-26 | 20:43:18 | article number: 9

Back to Page 1 San Francisco to Salt Lake City, UT (Western States Tour)
Back to Page 2 Salt Lake City to Pueblo, CO (Rocky Mountain Tour)
Back to Page 3 Pueblo, CO to St. Joseph, MO (Tour de Plains)
Back to Page 4 St. Joseph, MO to Indianapolis, IN (Heartland Tour)
Back to Page 5 Indianapolis, IN to Erie, PA (Country Mileage Tour)

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