Thursday, July 30, 2009

Day 52 and beyond: Manchester to Portsmouth to Harrisburg to Columbus -- The end of one adventure and the start of another!

Pictures are here.
Miles: 59
Total Miles: 3975
Time: 4:00
Average: 14.6
Max 34.5
Flats Today: 0; Total flats:9
Climbing: Pretty flat and down to sea level.
Weather: Sunny, warm, and gorgeous beach weather.
Climbing: Pretty flat and down to sea level.
Weather: Sunny, warm, and gorgeous beach weather.

Tuesday's final ride capped 7 plus weeks of this grand adventure. An absolutely picture perfect day on which to finish this ride with those I had ridden so much of it -- Leigh and Bob as well as Hans. Chuck had friends and family there who rode with him but the four of us took out sweet time to squeeze every last inch of riding pleasure out of these last miles. We got in two wrong turns, one of which was under Gerard and Judy's direction in response to an omission on the last day's "clue" sheet. So fitting after all the rides' successful reroutes they had engineered to have that happen on this final day.

We also added one yet unencountered road surface to our lengthy list -- a water crossing produced by last night's rain. We got to splash our way through it. And, when told that we had 15 extra minutes to reach the staging area for the community ride to the beach, we found one last coffee shop so Seattleites Bob and Leigh could satisfy their iced coffee addiction while Hans and I treated ourselves to a fruit smoothie. The leisurely coffee shop service and the soft couches drew our break out a bit longer than planned and so we had to hustle along to make those last 10 miles in 30 minutes.

When we rolled in at 11:47 the rest of the gang was already assembled under and in the sprawling branches of a large tree for our final group picture. The troopers were there with their cruisers to lead us down the last 3 miles to the beach. Our spirits soared at the prospect of soon sighting the Atlantic. After the picture posing was past, we rolled out in 4 columns and made our way to the Atlantic and then along the coast to Wallis State Park. The public beach was crowded with sun bathers while the spot where we arrived was crowded with riders' friends and families sporting signs and cheering to welcome us in. The beach was soon the scene of handshakes, hugs, champagne, tires being dipped, poses for pictures, jersey's shed to leap into the surf, shouts of congratulation and words of appreciation.

As the excitement subsided, Marcia and I began to make our way to the Portsmouth motel where I showered, changed, and bade final farewells before we headed south to Canterbury CT to spend the night at Marcia's brother Steve's home. I told Marcia I would plan to leave at 7:00 and ride about 70 miles west and she could then pick me up on our way to Harrisburg PA where her sister Andrea lives. Thankfully she would have none of that! We had a quiet evening at Andrea and Jerry's home, though I faded completely before 9:00. I think the past 52 days have caught up with me!
Today we finished up the journey to Columbus. We made a beeline to the hospital to visit little Max and proud parents, Jocey and Andy. What a thrill that was! The start of an entirely new and different and exciting adventure. We have been praying for this little guy for quite some time now. Certainly for a healthy arrival but even more than that we've been praying that little Max will come to know and trust in the God that has given him life. May little Max come to know Jesus as Lord and as Savior early in his life and so experience the joy of a relationship with Him.

I would like to wrap all of this up by sharing some final thoughts.

I feel immensely grateful to have had the health, the time and the means to do this trip. There are many who would like to but few who can make it happen. I had tears of gratitude the first few mornings of this trip and they returned as I reflected on it the last few days. My brother Pete would LOVE to do this trip, but he cannot. Chris Ray, who I met in Colorado would love to do it as well be cannot. I don't know why I should be able to, but I am very GRATEFUL to God that I could.

I am very grateful to Marcia who encouraged me to do it, who sacrificed so I could and who made the trip out to pick me up and share in this with me. Thanks sweetie!

The experience of this trip exceeded my expectations in almost every way. I loved seeing the US at 15 miles an hour. I loved the great variety of scenery we passed. I'd never seen Lake Tahoe and the Sierra's so I would say that was my favorite part. The mountains and the water were breath-taking. But I also loved the rugged Nevada desert, the endless fields of corn through most of 7 successive states, the big western sky, the tight New England hills and streams, the vast west Kansas plains and the broad-shouldered Rocky Mountains with those long 6% climbs. I loved riding in double pace lines along I80, cranking for an hour or more to the top of Mt. Rose or shooting down the back of Monarch feeling mildly out of control for most of the descent. I loved that tail wind in Kansas that made 20 mph seem easy and 25 doable if you wanted to work for it. I loved riding along at a social pace, conversing comfortably with so many of my fellow travelers or riding in a double pace line with conversation snippets for a minute or two between Chuck's shouts to "rotate" or sometimes hammering so hard with a few others that winded grunts were all the conversation there was. I loved chatting with locals about where they lived or what we were doing. In short, it was much much more about the traveling than the terminus. The accomplishment of riding across the US on a bike may be what first jumps out to others, but the memories of the journey and those with whom I made it are what will remain with me.

I am grateful that two guys with whom I really connected early in the trip, rejoined the tour for the last couple of weeks. Jim, my doubles roommate early in the trip came back riding strong. We did lots of miles together, talking and enjoying riding together. Jim is one of those guys whose knowledgeable on so many topics, can connect with about anyone and is a real gentleman. He had a string of friends and relatives he connected with all across the country. Rick is an elder at his church and a close follower of Jesus. His love for Christ is evident in how he talks, lives and conducts himself. He pulled those that wished together after the route raps for prayer for all the riders' safety. I very much loved getting to know Rick and share with him.
I am also especially grateful for our Always Leaves Last team (ALL) of Chuck, Bob and Leigh, as well as Hans who often joined us later in the ride. Chuck's infectious enthusiasm was a delight. And he was about as competitive as I am when it came to riding, horse, pool, table tennis, basketball and about any other win lose event. I really enjoyed our more serious discussions about how to live life to honor God. Bob good spirits and ready humor were a delight as well. He is able to sum up any situation with funny pointed brevity. Some of his lines will stick with me for a long time. I appreciated Bob's serious side as well. He is well read and knowlegable. And very devoted to Susie, and his two kids, Kyle and Bethany. Leigh is a great listener and interested in talking about all sorts of things. She has a great sense of adventure and has traveled all over the world. She wants to leave the world a better place which I commend. I really enjoyed reading her descriptive well written and well illustrated blogs.

Another point of gratitude is for the wonderful Ohio riding I have right here in my back yard. We have smooth roads, low traffic and flat terrain when we go west of Columbus. We have rolling terrain to the southeast of us and all the hills we want if we go further southeast. We have many many roads to choose from in every direction. Along the way there are small towns with little stores and delis and dairy queens and subways and local festivals . And if we wish, we probably have a greater network of bike trails to choose from than most other states. All in all, Ohio riding is pretty special.

I am grateful that I was able to check out of a very full life for a while. I greatly enjoyed the focus that simply riding each day brought. I never dreaded getting on the bike in the morning and my enjoyment of riding was enhanced, if anything as a result of riding each day.

Finally, I am grateful to my brother Pete who introduced me to riding in the first place. He and I had ridden many many miles together and it would have been so sweet to do this with him as he had dreamed. But that was not to be. He has made an impact in a far greater way than any I could make through the riding he has done which has impacted and benefited so many. Pete, you were on my heart and in my thoughts often over these 52 days. May God encourage you and bless you and keep you and continue to use you for blessing in the lives of others. You're courage, your initiative, your perseverance, your sense of humor and your love for others is exemplary. It has been a privilege to ride for Pete's sake!

Thanks to each one who followed along with me on this journey through the blogs and pictures. May God richly bless you and encourage you in mountain tops He allows you to climb as well as in the valleys He leads you through. May we each seek Him on of our journeys.

1 comment:

  1. This was a great way to end, Dad!! Such an amazing journey! :-)