Sunday, August 13, 2006

I MADE IT!!!!!!!

Day 48; Clarksburg, MD. to Washington, D.C.
For some unknown reason Norm (I had set my tent up right by his yesterday) got up @ 0530 and started packing up his camp! Breakfast was @ 0700 and we had a group photo @ 0730. I woke up grumpy as hell!!!! I slowly packed up my camp for the last time and as usual was one of the last people to get my gear on the truck. Everyone posed for the group photo and misc other pics and we left the campground @ 0800. @ about mile 20 I had my 4th flat of the trip, it was a slow leak so I replaced the tube, I was almost afraid to pump it back up to it's correct pressure after surveying the tire, it had 3 large cuts in it where you could see the casing thru the rubber, I was unable to find what had caused my leak. Carol and Ellen stopped to give me encouragement during the repair. When we got back on the road we traveled about 5 miles when we found Will patching Katie's tire. What a crappy day for a flat! We, the 5 of us, were the last ones thru the final checkpoint of the ride. After the checkpoint I suddenly realized that we were running late for the lunch that was scheduled for us in D.C., so I got down on my bars and hauled ass! Just outside of D.C. I noticed that my front tire felt soft and pumped it up some more. We entered D.C. on a bike trail and then onto the street that passed right in front of the Watergate Hotel. You could see the Washington Monument @ the end of the street. We rode past the finish line to get to the Old Post Office building where we had lunch. About 1 mile from the restaurant, as I rode down the sidewalk, I looked up and there standing in front of me was Norma, she was walking towards the finish line to meet me there. After a GIANT hug, she then walked along beside me to lunch. Lunch was put on by a Big Rider from 1999, who has a Greek restaurant in the Old Post Office building. Great food, and as much lemonade as I could drink! Norma walked back to the finish line with the Ride staff. Alan (the mechanic) released us 2 @ a time @ 2 min intervals so we wouldn't run over all the tourists on the sidewalk and not overwhelm the finish line! The Big Dogs went 1st, Dave and Moon, then Justin and I. Guess I made it into the "gang", as we were called by the other Riders! The finish line was a mad house of relatives and friends, everybody trying to get pictures, lots of hugs, quite a few tears, and lots of laughter. There was a presentation by Charlie V.(from the ALAW office in Seattle), the staff, and all the past Big Riders that were present. We received certificates and medals, and anyone who wanted to, could speak. After the festivities the Big Riders dissolved into the crowd of families, friends, and tourists. I know that I will never see most of them again and I wish I could have given each one a hug and told them how much I enjoyed spending the Summer of 06 with them! Several of us rode our bikes to Capital Hill Bikes and had them shipped back home. Charlie V. picked us up and then dropped us off @ the State Plaza Hotel, where most of the Riders were staying, Norma had gathered my bags and was waiting patiently for me. We caught a taxi and went to the Harrington Hotel, where we were staying for our visit to D.C., I carried my bags up to the room and then collapsed on the bed, still dressed in my bike kit. Fell asleep for about an hour, showered, and then went downstairs to Harry's Grill. Had a huge hamburger and 3 beers, and then back up to the room. It was hard for me to comprehend that it had been 48 days since Seattle, the mad rush and confusion of the start, and the fact that I was now laying on a bed in D.C. I'm not sure I will ever undertake such a grand adventure such as this again, but it sure has inspires me to dream BIG!!!!!

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Clarksburg, MD.

Up @0600, but everyone out of camp just after 0730, seems as if we don't want the ride to end, I know I am not looking forward to returning to the "REAL WORLD". It has been wonderful to live such a carefree and simple existence for the summer, I haven't worn a watch since day 1. Time and date just didn't matter, only pushing the pedals and enjoying the amazing country and people I experienced!! Sorry to get so melancholy but that's how I am feeling. Rode past more of the battlefield and into the lush green hills (barely bumps after this ride!) of Maryland. Saw some pretty impressive farms and estates. Cooler and drier today, hardly any humidity (remember it is a comparison to being in the sauna we have ridden in for the last weeks!). Rode on quiet back roads and I was just riding along enjoying the day, when I looked down I was @ 25 mph, amazing what 47 days riding does to your fitness!! I'm sure this is the most fit I have been in my adult life, and I feel great. Am @ between 190-195 lbs, have lost 9 lbs on the trip for a grand total of 45 lbs since the first of the year. Rode the last 10 miles to camp with Justin and Dave W., I kept riding down the road past the campground entrance, and into the edge of Clarksburg, had a great sandwich and then bought a 12 pack of beer, which I carried on my aerobars back to camp. We set up camp and for supper were shuttled into Clarksburg to an Applebee's for our last supper together. Ate and drank well, socialized, and presented all the staff with a nice framed group photos that we took in Tyler, MN. When we arrived back @ camp it was almost dark, someone had got a bundle of wood and we had a big fire. Everyone hung out and talked. Slowly they melted away into their tents and I realized I was the last person up, I sat there till the fire burned completely out and only then did I crawl into my tent.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Last Rest Day!

Gettysburg, PA.
Set up camp, and then showered in Middle school gym locker room, most riders had motels so the few of us that were camping used the shower in the coach's office. Walked down town to The Pub and had sandwich and BEER, yah, I know, more beer. Always a reward for a hard days ride!! Moon, Justin, and I walked about 2 miles to find the "happening" bar in town, it was dead, so we walked back to The Pub. Mark told us of a bar called Mama's that was 1/2 block away and down the alley, we walked there and settled in for a while. I spent almost 30 min sitting and talking with the guy watching the door, learned a lot about Gettysburg and the area. After a while the more adventurous Big Riders came in to drink with us. Moon was in a particularly foul mood due to his uncertain future when he got back home, and left early. Justin followed soon after but met a "local" and had an adventure of his own!!! The party didn't last long and I was back @ the camp, showered (all the cigarette smoke made me stink), and in my tent by midnight.

Up @ 0830, remember this is sleeping in for this trip, I felt great and hopped on my bike to get something to eat and do some sightseeing. Found a great local diner, had greasy omelet and pancakes. Rode up the street and came across a Walmart, where I had my pictures transferred to CD's. It was a gray day and was sprinkling a little. I then rode out thru the Battlefield National Park, it was pretty amazing to pedal my bike amongst all the monuments and statues. Of course I stopped @ most of them to read the information on them. About 1500 Moon called me on my cell, he was washing clothes @ the laundromat and was walking next door to grab a bite to eat @ a Mexican restaurant. I rode over to meet him, then Justin came, and just as we finished Dave W. Came in so we sat and BS'd until Dave had eaten. On the way back to camp we rode by a small bar, Hamilton's Tavern. The only way we knew it was a tavern was a small sign hanging outside and 1 beer sign in the window, otherwise it was just another door in a row of small apartments in an old brick building. Interesting place and while we were there, about 6 hrs, there were probably only 6 other patrons that came and went. We were the barkeep's main entertainment! Rode back to camp and dove into my tent, a nice and cool night, slept like a baby!!!

Gettysburg, PA.

Day43; Washington to Confluence, PA.
As noted it was an interesting morning, we got the "stink eye" from everyone including the staff. We were to "looped" to care. @ mile 37 (of 96.11 miles) we rode onto a rails to trails trail all the way into Confluence. It was a really neat ride, crushed rock and hard packed gravel, along the Youghiogheny river. The old rail bed followed a gentle grade up and along the river, thru hardwood forests, along the rocky bluffs. It really reminded me of the movie "Deliverence" and @ times I swore I heard banjo music!! Rick was hanging on the back of our paceline and hollered up to me that there was no way that we were going to drop him because he feared for his life way back in the woods! We rode into Connellsville, where a previous bike rider and his family had cold drinks, chips, sandwiches, and pie for us, what a treat. I sat for quite a while and just relaxed, then took out on the trail by myself. Got pretty sleepy, full belly, warm sun, and short night. Layed down on a bench along the trail and took a nice nap for about 30 min. Felt much better after power nap! I arrived in Confluence about 1530, set up camp and showered. Great supper of BBQ ribs and chicken. Tried to call Norma but no reception, we were camped out in a State Park, just below a big dam, in a narrow valley. Got on my bike and rode into town holding onto my cellphone. About 1/2 way across the river bridge I got 1/2 of a bar and connected with Norma. Talked for 1-2 minutes and then lost service, damn! Put up my rainfly on tent, looked like rain.

Day44; Confluence to Bedford, PA.
@ 0545 it started to rain just as everyone was picking up camp, we are far enough south now that the sun doesn't come up till almost 0630, so it was still dark out! I stayed in my tent until it let up, some of the early risers, the people I have come to despise, got pretty wet. Serves them right!!! I did have my best night of sleep so far on the trip, must be getting used to the hard ground, great, since we are almost done . Once I got on the road my legs were still like noodles and it took me a while to get warmed up. Stayed on the r to t trail for 33 miles. Rode past the Flight 93 Memorial just outside of Shanksville, stopped @ the crash site and then stayed for almost 45 minutes. I was surprised how I was affected emotionally, the "vibes" there were very heavy with anger, hopelessness, and angst. I sat @ a bench and just stared out @ the flag that marks the actual point of impact in the middle of the field of grass. I had tears in my eyes and I just sat there reflecting. I still tear up when I think of being there. Finished the 81.83 miles and arrived @ Bedford @ a large campground. Rode right past the Cannondale Bike factory on way to camp. Did a load of wash, ate dinner, washed the grime and grit from the trail off Bullet, and talked with Norma, it had been 3 days since we had a decent conversation.

Day 45; Bedford to Gettysburg, PA.
This is our "Final Exam" according to the staff, a very hilly century. Out of camp @ 0630, packed up using headlamp for light. Had slept good and was feeling great! Had b-fast @ Mc D's with Kevin and Norm. It was in fact the hilliest day of the trip, passed over the Allegheny and Appalachian mountains, nothing like the spectacular Rockies but consistently long, steep climbs. I glad I was in such good shape otherwise it would have been a really long day. Felt strong and had good day, 100.92 miles . When we arrived @ the Gettysburg Middle School there were 2005 riders there to greet us with food and drink, thanks a ton guys!!

Monday, August 07, 2006

Sam's Place

Washington, PA

Cheryl (owner) and Heather (bartender)


Washington, PA.

Boy, this was a day to remember! Woke to heavy dew, it cooled off during the night so everything was soaked!!! Foggy to start and stayed overcast most of the day. Legs continue to be really sore, more and more hills now. Bombed down hill (50.3 mph) into Pennsylvania, state #11. Crossed the Allegheny river, large Nuclear power plants on both sides of bridge. Continued to hot and muggy, had some long, steep climbs. Tired as hell!! The last checkpoint for the day was in a cemetery, I layed down in the grass and fell asleep for about 15 minutes. Barely made it into camp, again we are in the middle of nowhere. Kevin got into camp early and per his usual routine had scouted out the nearest bar and bought some beer and brought it back to camp. I had 2 and then layed down for about 1 hr and napped.

After supper Moon began lamenting that this was our last Sunday together and convinced Justin and I to accompany him on our bikes to the bar. We had to ride about 2.5 miles to get there. We proceeded to drink heavily until 0300, the owner was drinking with us, she locked the door @ 0200 and we stayed on task. Moon kept saying we should just stay and drink until it was daylight and time to ride again. One of the patrons had a pickup so he gave us (and our bikes) a lift back to camp, which was a good idea since we were way to intoxicated to even push our bikes back. We made quite an impression on the camp due to our driver's use of his diesel, double cab, lifted 4 wheel drive pickup with very loud exhaust system and the fact that he dropped us off right in the middle of camp. In the morning we had to be rousted out of our tents, we were the last ones to pack up camp, and we missed breakfast. I am sure we were all legally intoxicated when we started the ride. I think I must have sobered up about mile 25. Boy, I felt really good and rode like the wind all day, although I think you could have rebottled my sweat and sold it as beer!!! This is one night I will remember for a long time!

Sunday, August 06, 2006

New Waterford. OH.

THE END! Courtesy of Ellen, Carole, Alice, and Steve!

Norm and Minerva!

Slept inside air conditioned barn @ the fairgrounds in Burton, they were spraying for mosquitoes. Luckily the a/c ran all night and drowned out the snoring of James and Big Eric. It is a hazard if you set up camp next to James, man, he sounds like you are trying to sleep next to a sawmill!!! Eric usually isn't too bad but in combination with James, and being enclosed inside the building it sounded like the Texas Chainsaw Massacre! A least in the morning there were less skeeters to eat us @ breakfast.

The terrain is now becoming more hilly and my legs are feeling it, my knees feel strong when I ride and because of that I have been standing to hammer up the rollers. My thighs are really sore and until they get warmed up they feel like noodles.

Arrived @ camp early, @ 1245. We are stayed out in the hills, I am not sure there is a town even near where we were. This is one of the only places so far on the trip where my cellphone did not have any service. Verizon definitely had the best coverage of any of the networks. The excitement for the evening was a talent contest amongst the riders. It was Norm's 71st birthday, so he was the emcee of the whole night. We had purchased a blow up doll (not anatomically correct) for him in Cleveland and set it on his bike @ breakfast, he got quite a kick out of it, he named her Minerva, and she got to be an honored guest @ the show!
There were some great acts with several people singing the blues, I really enjoyed Debbie R.'s rendition of the Big Ride Blues. The evening finished off with "the end", see the above pictures!! What a great bunch of characters!


Justin, Dave W., Me, and Rick @ Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Chris, Mark, Moon (and his watch), and I @ the Dive Bar.


What a great town!!! We (Rick, Moon, Justin, Dave W., and I) drove back into Cleveland for our lay over day. Arrived late afternoon, checked into the Holiday Inn Express downtown, just across the street from the House of Blues. Showered and got cleaned up. Moon decided he didn't like the brown color his hair had turned after the attempt to dye it blue, so he bought some black dye and proceeded to get his hair back to black. Justin decided on spots vs stripes , so Moon fixed him up! We then went to the Cleveland Chop House and Brewery, it just so happened that we ran into about 8 Big Riders that had decided to stay in Cleveland and ride to Burton the next day. What are the odds of that? We ate and drank and then explored the bar scene in the warehouse district, The Velvet Dog had a roof top patio, we drank there for a while, and then went down the street to The Dive Bar. No shit, that's it's name. The 20 something girl @ the door asked Moon for his ID, when I asked if she needed to see mine she said, "No thanks, but that is one cool Mohawk, old man!" Damn kids, anyway!!! We finished the night there and got back to the motel about 0100.

In the morning we got up, walked across the street to a greasy spoon for a cheap breakfast and then walked to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. We spent 3-4 hrs there looking @ the exhibits, pretty cool! We arrived back in Burton about 1700.

Saturday, August 05, 2006


Friday, August 04, 2006

Burton, Ohio

What a relief, finished off the 7 days of constant riding. It was quite hard on me although I rode pretty strong the whole time. A little over 550 miles in 1 week!! Plus we threw in a few other bits of entertainment during this week.

On day, we rode thru Topeka, Indiana, A small Amish town, had lunch @ a small pharmacy/sandwich shop. Talked for about 30 minutes with Amish farmer outside of the store. He had lots of questions for us and we for him. A very kind and pleasant man and his 7-8 y/o son. Was quite a eye opener to meet someone from such a different "walk of life". Stayed in Kendleville @ a park beside the lake, worse night of the trip as far as I was concerned!!! Damn skeeters absolutely ate me alive. Went out of my tent @ about 0100, to pee, got bitten over 20 times in 1 minute and then they followed me into my tent. There are over 20 bloody smears on the inside of my tent where I squished the little mother scratchers after they had their way with me, I lay there itching and swearing, praying for daylight so I could ride like the wind to escape the bastards!!!!

Day 37 lead us to into Ohio. Feeling very strong on the bike and able to sustain over 15 mph average for all 75 miles. Stayed @ fairgrounds in Napoleon. Moon had bet with the staff that he could tow Mark (staff) on his rolllerblades with his bike! He towed him 2 laps around fairgrounds and Paula had to fork over a case of beer! It was Dennis' birthday so we celebrated that also, hey, any reason to drink is a good reason!

Day 38; Arrived in Sandusky, OH. after 91 miles. Was feeling rested today, finally, after a good night of sleep. About 1/2 way thru day as we were smoking along @ 20-23 mph, I aspirated a very large, black, bug. I was coughing, spitting, and gagging as we flew down road. The trouble was we had just stopped for a cherry slurpee and I was puking that up as I rode. Luckily the bug didn't make it into my lungs and as there was no one behind me there were no red stained riders behind me!!! Sandusky is the home of Cedar Point Amusement Park, it has some of the best rollercoasters in the world! We took a shuttle out there and had way to much fun until 2300 @ night. One of the coasters had the record for the tallest and biggest drop, another went from 0 to 190 mph in 4 sec, what a scream!!

Day 39; To Burton, OH. Left Sandusky and rode thru Cleveland to Burton. Started the day slowly, stopped @ the first Mc Donalds we came to, 10 miles. Moon and Rick the Tick stopped right after me. Rick woke feeling bad and thought about sagging today. Moon talked him out of it and we told him we would tow him the rest of the day. It was cool, we had a slight tail wind and Moon and I took turns pulling for 40 miles, we averaged 19.9 mph for that time and poor Rick hung on the back, I would occasionally hear him cough and gag but he swore he was OK! The last 5 miles Moon and Rick took a detour to a neighboring town to rent a car so we could return to Cleveland for the night.