Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Postscript

Well, the 2012 Big Ride is over and I believe all of our riders have made it home safely.   So,  I will try to set down a couple of thoughts about the ride while they are still in my memory banks.

This ride was awesome.   I know I have said that before, but it really is true.  We would get up at the crack of dawn, pack up, get a bite to eat, and then take off across the North American continent to a brand new destination that almost none of us had ever been to.  We would decamp in a new place, find new places to eat, exchange new stories of what happened to us out on "the road" and then go to bed, only to get up and do it all over again.   America is truly a beautiful place, and getting onto those back country roads, away from the strip malls and the Interstates is the only way to see it.   Our Big Ride organizers deserve a hearty "Thank You" for setting this all up.

There are lots of people to Thank about this ride, and I am going to take the risk of missing someone, in order that I can Thank the people that I can remember.   Yes, I should have taken notes, but I neglected to, so this is just about all from my memory.

When we got to Easton on that first night, we had Noel and Daria from previous rides, going along with us, and then got a great meal on a very cold and wet night, from the Seattle area alums.   Great pasta, a warm campfire, and some cold beer capped off a hard day of riding.   In Missoula, we connected with Cam's friends Leslie and Matt, and they invited the Team over to their home for a great meal, and showed some of us a bar that could only sell 3 beers to a customer on a night.  ( Never heard of that before ! ).

Way out in Harlowton, we all got invited to Todd & Liberty King's home for a great meal.  They are operating Cafe Chinook in Harlowton, and it will be yummy !   We rode on into South Dakota, and in a little place called Highmore, we were treated again to a great lunch stop from Sharon's Uncle Leo and family.   PB&J had begun to wear thin, and here was a bunch of deli meats and pastry to lunch on.   That's a key to a long distance cyclist !  And the Meyers family in Dakota, that was a great morning !

When we got to Viroqua, we were camped out on the fairgrounds in the sun with close to 100 deg temps, and Pastor Jeff of the Viroqua Church of Christ, invited us to come over and sleep in his Church.   The air conditioning made all the difference in the world as Rob and Liz and I fell asleep in the nursery room at sundown while the congregation was still doing some children's services.

Jim Andresen put on a great SAG stop for us, way out in the Illinois cornfields, with ice cream, and came to our camp in Grand Prairie with more ice cream and some Mike's Hard Lemonades.    We got another great meal when Liz's mom fed us home made pizzas and Ohio peaches and fresh fruit at our SAG stop on the way into Cleveland.   Fred Husak from the 2000 Big Ride put on a great lunch stop on the day that we rode to Confluence, along the banks of the Yough River.   Then Tony Cerrone brought his grill all the way from Allentown, and he and his son cooked burgers for us at Cowan State Park on the way to Gettysburg.  Tony came to Gettysburg College with ice cream and peaches and made sundaes for us.   And for all of that, the city of Gettysburg put a parking ticket on his windshield.

Alfred and Laverne fed us more pastry way out in Tracy, MN, and showed some of us a few facts about corn.   That was the morning that we jumped into the little yellow train like a bunch of kids.

At the Flight 93 Memorial, I met Wanda.  She welcomed and thanked us for riding out to the Memorial on our bicycles to see the Pennsylvania countryside and the Memorial.  Wanda was at the bombing of Pearl Harbor when she was a little girl.

We were treated to free entrances to the Cedar Point Park due to the efforts of James Lynne, who also provided the Team with a BIG box of batteries and other goodies to use on our trip.   And the Cedar Point staff escorted a group of riders onto one of the rides when we first got into the park.

And then there is Charleton and his wonderful wife Lynne who guided us across this big country and tried to keep us well watered and safe along the way.   What an amazing job they did.  Thank You Both.   And Gene Nash drove his own car "Blue Thunder" along the way and helped out every cyclist, hauling several of them long miles to the nearest bike shop to get broken things fixed.   With a repertoire of jokes and training as a paramedic, Gene is an awesome asset to have on a big bike ride.

And then my wife, Susan, who had to stay at home and keep the household running while I was off about the country.  I Love You, and Thank You for putting up with my being gone for 7 weeks.

So there were a lot of people helping out along the way, making us feel pretty darn special, and it was really appreciated by all of the riders.

Well, how about me ?   How do I feel ?

There was a great sign up at the Whiskey Off Road event that I went to back in the spring.  It said something like "Mildly Nervous, But I Think I Can Do This".    I believe that was my thought going into the Big Ride.  I knew I could do it, but was nervous about how I would hold up after many consecutive days of riding and of sleeping in tents.   And when we went outside, into the rain, that morning in Seattle, I started feeling a bit exposed by the whole concept... maybe I had bitten off too much.  But then, it was apparent that everyone else felt pretty similar, so we shrugged our inner selves and got on our bikes and rode off.    That's kinda the way life is, I don't really know what is coming around the bend, but the best thing is to just ride off towards it and see what happens, rather than sitting around fretting about it.   So, if there is an "epiphany for the ride", then that is probably it for me, and that's not too bad.

Thanks to all of you for reading my Blog, and many, many, many Thanks to all those who contributed financially to support the American Lung Association in my name.  You really made it all possible, and your support helps ALA fight smoking and lung diseases and supports the Clean Air Act and all of those other things that go to make for a healthier America.   Thank You One and All.

8 August, 2012
Mike





Missoula Ice Cream Social

Well, this posting is completely out of sequence.  I couldn't figure out where I put these pictures, but I finally found them !

Montana is one of the states that is considering legislation that may reduce the effectiveness of Clean Air laws that have already been passed.   And lots of businesses that pollute are upset with the efforts of the EPA to enforce the Clean Air Act.   Which,by the way, was passed by bipartisan legislation from both parties, by Senators and Representatives who saw the benefits to the overall nation by having clean air and people who were not sick from pollution.

But some companies and some legislators believe that emission controls are a hinderance to business and getting rid of them will help to create jobs.  In fact, in many cases, the opposite has been proven to be true.  So Renee Klein from the ALA office in Seattle came out to Missoula, Montana, to meet with some of the state legislators and with the mayor of Missoula, and our Big Rider group was invited to an ice cream social at the "Big Dipper" in Missoula as representatives of ALA.

Big Riders at the Big Dipper

Jim, Reesh, the Mayor, Renee, Rob


Steve, Jeffrey, the Mayor, Liz, Ben, Doron, Reesh, Yugi

It was a rainy day, and we assembled with our Big Ride bicycle jerseys on.   Renee made a short talk and then John Engen, the Missoula mayor, spoke for a few minutes.  In the photos, you can see the red baby carriage, which is a symbol of the American Lung Association's campaign for Clean Air.


Saturday, August 4, 2012

Washington !

We made it !

Our little band of 17 riders, and Gene and Charleton and Lynne all got to Washington this morning and we had our welcome ceremony.   Got checked into the hotel and took the bike off to Revolution Cycles to be shipped back to Tucson.   Rob's wife, Beth, drove us back to the hotel, and now I am looking at this thing in the hotel room that I believe is called a bed.   It is so much bigger than my sleeping bag and Therm-a-rest pad.

I think the American Lung Association folks took some very good group shots, so I am just going to post up a few pics that I snapped this morning.   Rob, Sarah and I rolled into Washington around 9:30 or so, and after passing along the Potomac and the Kennedy Center, we got to the Lincoln Memorial.  We walked up and looked at Mr Lincoln for a bit, and then headed off to find the restaurant that was going to be feeding us for the hour or so, that we would wait until ALA had their ceremony at Freedom Plaza.

Costas, a rider from 1998 ( I think ), fed us a wonderful Greek meal.  Chicken, gyros, baklava, and other goodies.   Then we assembled upstairs and rode off to be officially greeted in groups of two.   I rode up there with Rob and Jeffrey.

It all went by pretty quickly... we rode up E street and then we were there, and we got our medals and the whole Big Ride 2012 was over.   Something that we have been striving for, and working on, day in and day out for 48 days ( and a couple more for those who got to Seattle a bit earlier and ran around getting bikes ready ), is completed.  

I think I will wait a day or so, to post a final posting, but I have loved this ride.  I met a wonderful group of people, and value all of them as my friends.   I was loved and supported by my wife, Susan, who had to stay at home and take care of the household, and then I got to go off and ride my bicycle across our great country.  I didn't have any physical problems, no bad knees, unusual aches or pains, and my butt held up just fine... sore at times, but what would one expect after some 40 days of riding ?   Yep, I am blessed at the age of 62, to have been able to do this, and for all of our group to have come through healthy and safe.  Yahoo !


Jim, Jeffrey, Rob & Lynne at our last Checkpoint

Sarah & Rob

The Potomac River ( we have crossed a lot of big American rivers )

Mr Lincoln

Sarah  & Me

Yugi

Rick's bike "Maude" all dressed up this morning with pearls

Sarah behind me on the bike path this morning going to Washington

Me

Molly, Yugi & Jim

Steve Rick & Molly

Reesh, Ben & Rob 

Done !

Our Team

Our Team



Thursday, August 2, 2012

Gettysburg

Gettysburg

Mr Lincoln said it best:

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure.   We are met on a great battlefield of that war.   We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live.  It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate -- we can not consecrate -- we can not hallow -- this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract.   The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here.  It is for us, the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced.  It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolved that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.


August 2, 2012

Todd, Doran and I rode our bicycles off to the Gettysburg battlefield.  Here are a few pictures.  I wish I was a better photographer, and wish I could write better.   The last couple of days, with the Flight 93 Memorial and now Gettysburg is moving to say the least.   Our little band has ridden across over 3200 miles of the USA, from the Cascades, the Missoula Valley, through the Little Bighorn, past Mt Rushmore and Laura Wilder's South Dakota, to Germanic New Ulm, bustling Madison, and the cornfields of Illinois and Ohio.   Then through downtown Cleveland and old Pennsylvania towns to get to this place.   I am honored to have been able to do this.

Union artillery on Cemetery Ridge

Doron & Todd

Damm close....


Lee's plan

General Armistead fell here

yeah, that close !


Me

Looking down from Little Round Top, the high ground

Valley of Death

Union artillery from Little Round Top

So pretty

Breastworks
Rocks are still there, 150 years later....  

Confederate forces had to go up this hillside

Chamberlain's orders


20th Maine


Left side

Pathway at Cemetery


Big Week

Well, it's been 6 plus days since I updated this blog, and a LOT has happened on the Big Ride.  We had an off day in Sandusky, Ohio, and then set off to Pennsylvania for another off day in Gettysburg.   This was going to be a 6 day ride sequence, going to:

Burton, OH
New Waterford, OH
Washington, PA
Confluence, PA
Bedford, PA
Gettysburg, PA

So, as I sit here at Gettysburg College, I will try to remember what in the world we did during the last 6 days and see if I can describe it for you.

Burton

We left Sandusky in the early morning and rode along a lake front highway towards a promised mid morning treat from Liz's mom.  She came through with a bunch of delicious home made pizza's, fresh Ohio peaches and other goodies at our second rest stop.  It was wonderful, and simply delicious, some of the best food we have had on the whole trip !   And on the way there, we got treated to a waterspout as we rode along Lake Erie !

video


Then we headed off to Cleveland.   We went into Cleveland, past the Browns stadium, and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

Going into Cleveland


Doron outside the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

Chagrin Falls

Colin & Barbara

Then we rode up Martin Luther King avenue and up some streets that were very close to where my wife, Susan, used to live back in the 1960's before her family moved to Tucson !   Afterwards we headed out into the countryside and ended up at a fairgrounds for the night.

Susan's good friend from childhood, Barbara and her husband Kevin, took myself and Rob and Sarah out to dinner in Chagrin Falls.  It was really nice to see their house, and to ride in a car, instead of having to peddle ourselves someplace !  I enjoyed seeing Barbara and Kevin when they came to Tucson, and it was good to see them again.  And we got to meet Colin, their son, whose birthday was that night ( Happy Birthday Colin ! )

When we got back to our fairground encampment, we went to sleep and awoke with a serious thunderstorm.  Lots of rain, and thunder and lightening made sleeping a bit hard, as I wondered about the metal poles in my tent and finally decided it didn't really matter and went to sleep.

New Waterford

Off again on to south east Ohio and the township of New Waterford.  It actually was a campground and this was one of the first nights that we were completely "off the grid".  It is so easy to be dependent on Internet and phones and such and we got to a place that advertised 3G on the cell phones and yet nothing happened !   Lots of team members standing around in the rain, trying to make things happen on cell phones that just wouldn't happen.  The campground was out in the woods, and it rained quite a bit in the afternoon.  Didn't take that many pictures, just one of the woods with rain coming down.
Out in the woods


Washington

When we left New Waterford, we got to ride through a lot of fog and then found ourselves on a pretty empty road that suddenly turned into a pot hole riddled section of road which announced that we were in Pennsylvania.  Actually the roads in PA have turned out to be pretty good.  We rolled down a mile or two section and then saw the Ohio river and rode through the township of Midland, PA.  At our first Checkpoint, Lynne told us that a guy from the VFW announced that they had a $6 breakfast deal going on and we were invited !   Awesome, as most of us seem to be on the edge of starving at any given time, so we backtracked to the VFW, paid our $6 and had a great breakfast.  Kudos to the Midland chapter of the VFW and to everyone who has ever fought in a war to protect the USA !



Midland, PA PO, with Sarah in front

Todd, Doron & Sarah  ( Doron falls down in about 1/4 second )



We left our breakfast and headed across the Ohio River.   As we crossed the bridge, one of our riders took a fall on the bridge.  We gathered up his camera parts, fixed his bike tire and shifter levers, and made sure he wasn't hurt.  Then we got more hills, our introduction to Pennsylvania hills.   Some of thme are pretty darn long and pretty steep, and you just have to find a gear that works with your knees and your bicycle's transmission and just dial it in and peddle your butt to the top.  You will eventually get there !





Confluence

Sarah and I took off early and rode into town.  Sarah's iPod jumped out of her bike bag and ended up in a traffic lane.  Fortunately, the next car that came by did not hit it, and she was able to retrieve it, although the screen was cracked and crinkled.  The ride from there on was pretty straightforward and we ended up at our next campground spot without Internet or phone access.   We rode on about 50 miles of bike trail along the Youghiogheny River.   The bike trail is a converted railroad path, and was made of crushed gravel and pretty easy to ride on, even with narrow road tires.   Some parts were a bit rougher, and I would think "I should've brought the mountain bike" more than once.  

Houses right on the street in older PA towns

Sarah is back there !

Monogahela River

On the bike trail... DC is not that far away !

Rob & Sarah  ( this is on top of an old railroad trestle )

Supper at the Lucky Dog in Confluence, PA



Bedford

Up again from our camp for another big ride.   We left Confluence, rode across the river and onto some narrow two lane roads.   Our goal for the day was a bit ambitious, as we were going to ride to the highest point in PA, and then do an 80 something mile ride over hilly PA terrain.

The first thing that happened was a bit unsettling.  As Sarah and I rode, we saw a dog crossing the road in front of us ( from right to left ).  The dog ran up into his home yard, saw us, and then started down a small hill.  At that time a pickup truck came by and hit the dog just as he came out into the road.   The driver just kept right on going, didn't hesitate a bit.   I went to see how the dog was, and Sarah went to the house to knock on the door.   She couldn't raise anyone, and I petted to dog for a bit and tried to lift him out of the road.  At that point he growled a bit, jumped up and limped to the side.   A neighbor came out and said something about that "dog is in the road all of the time".   She was going to get in touch with the owners, and Sarah and I only having bicycles headed on up the road.

We made the turn for Mt Davis and at one point when I looked up the road, I saw a black bear making his way across the road.  He was really, really quick and there was no sign of him when we passed.


Pennsylvania countryside
We're there !

Todd, Sarah & Doron


Sarah, me & Doron
 More Pennsylvania countryside and hills awaited us.   There are a lot of Amish farmers in the region and you can tell their haystacks by the hand cut hay.

Amish haystacks

In the afternoon, we got to Shanksville, and the site of the Flight 93 crash.   Those folks saved either the US Capitol or the White House by their actions on that day.   I remember it all unfolding on TV, when we woke up and saw the smoke from the first tower on TV and then saw the live feed of the second plane flying into the other tower.   Way out in PA, another drama was happening in the sky as the crew and passengers of United Flight 93 tried to wrestle control of their aircraft from the terrorists.


Heroes

Memorabilia left.   Couple of things from NYC fire departments


The wall


"And Unborn Child"

The whole trip to the Flight 93 Memorial was moving, and I am really glad we rode the extra 7 miles or so to get over there and pay our respects.   When we left the Memorial, the rain clouds were threatening, and there was some lightening in the sky.   We went up Bald Knob, which is the peak of the Allegheny Mountains, and got a great descent on the other side.   As we got closer to camp, I had another tire failure.  My rear tire blew out and I put on a new one, and made it back to our camp.   The total for the day was about 90 miles and about 7900 feet of climbing, an "honorable" ride !

Bald Knob summit


Gettysburg

Another morning on the Big Ride.   This one was going to be hard, and I was a bit tired after the activity of the previous day.   I think I only took one picture, and that was of the Appalachian Trail as it crossed SR 30 outside of Gettysburg.  Our ride for the day was 101 miles, and we ended up with another 7600 feet of climbing.  

Looking towards Georgia

So the big week on the Big Ride was over, and everyone got into camp.   Jim, Yugi, Steve and Rick are riding into camp and then the rain came down.    On Thursday, some of us are going to checkout the Gettysburg battlefield.


video