Thursday, August 2, 2012

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.


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 !

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


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 !


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


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.


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


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.

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