Monday, August 14, 2006

My Just Desserts!

Having been largely disappointed by the lack of pie availability on my ride across America, I set out to make my own. I found some really good rhubarb at a local grocer, and made two cherry-rhubarb pies. I used the Betty Crocker oil crust recipe, and used only canned cherry pie filling as sweetener for the rhubarb. I made one pie with top crust, and one with crumb topping. They were both delicious. Sara and Chuck, I hope you can taste them over the internet!

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Splash!!! The Atlantic is Ours!!

Short Posting: We made it!!! A little after noon, we reached the beach near Rye, NH, and dipped our wheels into the Atlantic Ocean. It will take some time for the reality to set in, but our journey is complete! I will add more to this page later.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

So Much Fun I Feel Guilty

Today and yesterday were what I had been waiting for quite a long time: good biking weather combined with great terrain and scenery. It was so cool when we set out from Brattleboro that many riders were wearing jackets for warmth, not rain protection. The light had an ethereal quality as it filtered through the cool fog.

What a change from just a few days ago when we battled fierce heat in western New York. I felt so invigorated and happy I didn’t want the morning to end. The first few miles were near some beautiful lakes, and I took some side trips to drink in the view and take some pictures.

Another goal of the morning was to spot a moose. At certain times of the year, they come out more during the day, but I was told by locals not to get my hopes up right now. I figured that a bog would be the most likely place to spot a moose. Although I never saw one, I took this picture in hopes that one would turn up when I enlarged the image. Let me know if you spot anything.

Soon we entered our final state of the ride!

Many riders were dreading the climbing today, since it was reputed to be harder than some of what we did out west. As it turns out, most of the climbs were short, but steep. They were mostly up hills, not over mountain passes, so it was more like what I encounter around the Shenandoah Valley, but with more trees and quaint villages.

I rode with a lot of different riders today, but hung with Sara, Chuck, and Peg around lunch time in hopes of finding a good place to eat, hopefully with homemade pie. We scored on the lunch end by finding a café with a railway theme. The hamburgers were good, but there was unfortunately, no pie today. I did buy a raspberry turnover at the gift shop to which the café was attached.

After lunch we attacked the biggest hill of the day. I was able to get by with third gear for the steepest part of the climb, since I never knew if the road would get steeper, and it is always good to have something in reserve. A few more rollers and we found ourselves in the old industrial city of Manchester. I was wondering if we were headed for the same hotel I had stayed in several times when I was in Manchester for the FIRST Robotics kickoff. When we were about two blocks away I recognized that it was in fact the same place.

This evening we gathered for our last dinner officially together as an ABBike function. The “feast” consisted of some lasagna and salad, but nothing to drink until the ABBike staff rounded up some water pitchers. Although the food was lame, we had a good time recalling highlights of the ride, and each of us was given the chance to offer a few words to the group. Most of us commented on the closeness of our group as a whole, and how it was the people that really made this ride work out to be such a great experience. I am sure there will be more reminiscing tomorrow night at the lobster dinner.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Green Mountains Treat

I have been anxious for quite a while to get back into the mountains. Today, I got my wish! Right out of Troy, we started climbing, and the rolling terrain continued until we got to the first SAG stop. They had a lot of carved animals for sale at the store where the SAG was set up. We knew right away that we were in for a tourist-trap day.

In the distance, we could see the mountains we would be climbing, or skirting, as it were.

All of the towns we passed through today were ripe with history, and I took pictures of some of the old buildings and monuments as I rode.

This is a monument in Bennington in honor of the Green Mountain Boys of Revolutionary war fame.

In the same town, there was this old hotel, which I photographed but did not investigate.

Here is a picture of me entering Vermont, the penultimate state of this tour.

The first "designated" climb was sort of long, but not too steep. I did really well thanks to my preparations yesterday. On the route to Troy, we had few hills, but on each one I had started slow at the bottom, and sprinted up each one, trying to accelerate over the top, not slowing to recover. I feel this paid off well today, as I felt great on every climb. Also, I have been intentionally not riding with anyone (very closely at least) to make it a little safer. In honor of Kent, I am taking every precaution I can think of to make sure I have no incidents that could send me home early. Some of the others are doing the same.

I descended into Wilmington, a town full of tourists competing with trucks for space on the road, with little room left for bikes.

Fortunately, Sara had told me about this pie shop she had remembered from riding through here before. I checked in at the SAG, then headed back into town to wait for Sara, Chuck, and Peg, who ride together. We met up at the bakery she had remembered, and I had this great piece of raspberry pie. It was about time! The last good piece of pie I had was in Idaho. The states in between either had no good pie, or kept it hidden.

Sara and her raspberry pie

Chuck, looking cool in his ABBike Doo-Rag

The scenery today was the best since the Black Hills, in my opinion. I am refering to the overall presentation, not specific things like Niagara Falls. Today we passed a lot of lakes and mountain streams, which combined with the exquisite cool mountain air, made for a most delightful day of riding.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Beautiful Ride Along the Mohawk

Once again I woke up to the ominous words from Stu, “Its pouring rain”. Once we turned on the Weather Channel, however, I could see that the rain was in a narrow band that was moving rapidly past our location in Little Falls. Much discussion took place at breakfast, but in the end the concensus was that rain gear would not be needed, and that proved to be the case.

Little Falls in the Rain

The clouds were still hanging low over the mountain ridges surrounding the Mohawk Valley, and occasionally a few drops fell, but mostly we dealt with wet roads and traffic. The route today was unique (at least in recent terms) in that it involved only two turns at the beginning, and a few at the end. The rest was a long run on Route 5, and then a long ride on a series of bike trails along the Mohawk and Hudson rivers.

A castle along Route 5, now used as a restaurant.

The trails made for a fantastic ride, especially since the sun had burned off the clouds, and brought out the colors of the vegetation along the route. We always see wildflowers, but a bike trail brings them so much closer. There is just nothing like riding through shady glades in the cool of the morning. It makes you want to linger, even though the path begs you to ride fast along its dips and rolls.

Several places the path seemed to be painted over the landscape, contrasting with roads, which are forced through it.

We rode today for the first time without our compadre, Kent, who took too literally the motto “New Hampshire or Bust”. He left this morning for Virginia, where he will have more treatment for his broken collarbone. Kent, we miss you!!

Me at a lock on the Erie Canal

Another lock on the canal. Locks are located at dams, which level the water behind them. Locks allow the boats to be lifted or lowered to the next level, ranging from less than 15 feet to over 40 feet.

One of the old locks. This one looked somewhat preserved.

Ilkka and I at lunch, Kent's vacant chair in the background.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

August 3 Addendum- Kent Back for Supper!

In light of our disappointment in hearing about Kent's accident, we were delighted to see him show up as the guest of honor for dinner. He was released from the hospital after getting the X-rays that showed the extent of his injuries, and treatment for the pain that is sure to follow.

Kent will be flying out tomorrow morning, and then get some other opinions from several orthopedic surgeons regarding suggested treatment. His previous injury to the same shoulder the erector set you can see in the x-ray.

Here, Lil and Ray wish Kent well, and say goodbye.

Kent, we all will miss you, especially Ilkka and myself. I thought we made a great team, even though the 3 amigos ended up with our name. We will think of you every time we eat Mexican!! You already have two volunteers to accompany you when you want to finish up the final stage next year! Take care, heal soon, and God Bless!

Cooler, Yes! but Kent Breaks Collarbone

We were looking forward to a nice riding day after the heat wave of the past week. The storms of yesterday gave way to cool and cloudy, with occasional sprinkles. The sky looked really red at sunrise.

I passed this little church in the middle of a small pond. They claim to be the smallest church in the world. Others in our group said they saw churches in other places that make the same claim. Does it really matter?

Our second SAG was in the town of Whitestown. I thought their town square really captured the essence of community. Our snack table was set up in the gazebo.

It was a couple miles past this SAG where Kent met up with misfortune. He was changing his route sheet, and hit a large bump that caused him to crash. He reinjured the same shoulder that he had broken at the start of his ABBike ride last year, which was why he was back this year. Nancy came upon the scene shortly after his crash, and said Kent had already called the paramedics and ABB staff. He seemed to be otherwise OK. I will report later on his status. We wish him the best.

After hearing about the mishap,I continued on to Little Falls in a rather subdued and cautious manner. I have been to Little Falls before in 1972 with the Mennonite bicycling group OutSpokin'. We arrived a day after Hurricane Agnes deluged the area with huge amounts of rain, and we had to seek shelter ourselves since our tents got pretty much destroyed by the storms. We were offered a place to stay overnight at a church that I have pictured here. The church is now vacant, and there was no name I could find, but I am fairly sure this was the place. Tomorrow we will also be retracing the 1972 journey for awhile. It has changed a lot around here since then.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Last Hot Day? Please?

On the burner again. That was the prediction for today. We seem to have brought with us the heat wave we started out in South Dakota. Record heat seems to be the norm for this trip. I usually do fine with the heat, I just can't enjoy riding in it at all.

The sunrise looked a lot like yesterday's. Clear and beautiful in a sinister sort of way.

I joined a group of riders negotiating a maze of turns through road construction, and got this picture of Eberhard and Anja as they followed me. It took 6 shots to get the one I wanted. The rest were of the road.

My sister Judy wants me to take a series of shots showing my facial expressions for various situations, including pie proximity. I am working on this, and will publish it on a later posting.
Most of the day we were close to the Erie Canal. I was unaware that it is still in operation, and not just a historical relic. Here are a couple pictures of the canal.

Later I passed this building. I never would have guessed that it was a barn without the conspicuous label. Well Done!

Toward the end of the ride, I stopped at a roadside stand run by a young Mennonite girl. I bought some delicious peaches, and wanted to buy a rhubarb pie. Not being able to carry it, I waited in vain for someone else to come down the road and help me eat it. (The girl declined to share in eating it) While waiting, I told her that I was also Mennonite. She said I didn't look like it in the biker outfit. I asked if she had heard of Floyd Landis. She had, but didn't know much about him.

I reluctantly left the rhubarb pie behind, in hopes of finding a restaurant with some later. I caught up to Sara, Chuck, and Peg on the final leg into Liverpool, just south of Syracuse. We found a nice, restaurant, had lunch, and they did have pie. I had raspberry. It was quite good, and long overdue. When we left to ride the remaining two miles to the motel, we noticed that a large thunderstorm was approaching. We made haste, and beat it to the motel. Many others were caught out in it, but made it to shelter OK. It should be cooler tomorrow. I'm glad. I would like to ride with temps in the 80's again.