We’ll meet again

The ride is over. I get on a plane today to go home. My original flight was too early and Cycle America said they couldn’t get me to the airport that early. I switched to a later flight that turned out to be nonstop. I spent twice as much, but money seemed like a bigger deal before the trip than it does now, after seeing others drop hundreds (thousands?) on bike repairs during the journey.

Music defined today’s ride, so here we go:

It was a beautiful morning as we rolled through the New Hampshire countryside and I was singing this.
Since we’re in England, we’ll stay there for nostalgia for places he’s never been.
The quintessential road song – heading out, hardships, going home, thinking about heading out again.
Going home…featuring one of my favorite guitarists, Jesse Ed Davis.

We started through idyllic New Hampshire countryside…quiet country lanes. We were warned by our router that the roads would change when we crossed the border into Massachusetts and he was right. The road surface deteriorated immediately. These were the worst roads since Michigan and were probably worse. Speed limits are unnecessary because the roads are so bad. The scenery helped to redeem them until we reached more heavily populated areas, when nothing redeemed them. Most of the last 20 miles were just a case of “get ‘er done”.

First view of the Atlantic Ocean.

We rode into Gloucester High School to await the arrival of the last rider – the birthday boy, Tony. Once he arrived we proceeded to the beach with a police escort, complete with lights and siren. I was met by a former co-worker (and later boss). After a shower and change of clothes we were on our own until our harbor cruise and margarita party.

The birthday boy (Tony from the Netherlands, age 79) arrives, shooting video as he rides in.
The ceremonial dipping of the front tire in the Atlantic Ocean. The melding of the Pacific and Atlantic was cancelled, as the wax seal failed and the water leaked out. I decided not to fake it.
Your blogger at the Atlantic Ocean, photo by Noreen Poirier. Another Madisonian (my neighbor, unbeknownst to me before this trip) in sleeveless jersey at left, mechanic in red shirt at right.
Bosnia, UK, South Africa

My water bottle cages bit the dust today. Casualties include: two water bottle cages, two chains, two tires, six (?) inner tubes, one front derailleur. I noticed today that my rear shift lever has delaminated. Not to mention me. Despite a bout of COVID-19 keeping me off the bike for a few days, I rode more than 4000 miles. That illness and recovery made this special in a different way. I had a flight home booked from Jackson, WY. I canceled that after crossing Teton Pass, probably the toughest climb of this trip.

When I get home, I have a routine physical scheduled as well as an appointment with a massage therapist. I will ride a century in a month (with a couple of nights of camping) and have a fall colors tour with the half-fast cycling club planned for October.

Feats don’t fail me now

And by feats I mean tires and tubes in this case. The last rainy day we had a good dozen flat tires including two of my own. Today that was not my plan.

Rain started during our meeting Wednesday night. We could hear it pounding on the school roof. This was the setting in which I wrote a review of my tent for REI four years ago today. It was raining inside the tent as I typed; seemed like as good a time as any to discuss its shortcomings.

With that memory and the forecast for a 100% chance of rain at packing up time in the morning, I decided to sleep in the gym. Why people need to set an alarm for 5 AM when sleeping in the gym, with gear loading time at 6:15, I don’t understand. Packing up a wet tent and campsite is easy in that time. With nothing but a bedroll, it seems pretty weird.

There must have been a downspout right outside the gym, as it sounded like I was camped by a stream. It was raining lightly when we broke camp and headed out to breakfast. It was still raining lightly when we left breakfast, with a temperature in the mid-50s (about 13º C).

The rain continued without letup. At 20 mph it felt a lot harder than at 10 mph. We climbed through Crawford Notch (“notch” is the New England word for “pass”). Coming down the other side it got worse. A strong crosswind kicked up and coming down a 13% grade in strong wind and hard, cold rain was not my idea of fun. Climbing I burned calories to stay warm. Descending led to stiff fingers.

At mile 33 the sun came out and the rain stopped…for 30 seconds. The rain continued and at mile 45 I saw my shadow despite the continuing rain. I passed through Conway, NH at around 11 – way too early to visit the recommended Tuckerman Brewery, which opens at 2. This was coffee weather, not beer weather. My hands and feet were too wet to be interested in stopping anyway. The new rain jacket kept me dry again. Other folks said they were soaked through.

The rain stopped for the last ten miles and, as we entered Fryeburg, ME, I decided to turn right, which appeared to be toward town, to find a coffee shop. The route went straight. Lo and behold, a coffee shop appeared at that intersection. A cortado and a donut hit the spot.

I continued to the fairgrounds and cleaned bike first, me second. Bike clothes won’t get washed today. A threatening sky makes it look unlikely that they’ll dry. They will get washed at home in a few days. With the choice of packing them dirty or packing them wet, dirty won. With a threatening sky, I will sleep indoors for the second night in a row. I guess I’m getting soft after 62 days. No photos today due to the rain. See the post from four years ago for pictures. Also no flat tires, for me anyway. I saw one person flatted at the roadside a mile before picnic.

We lost one rider today. He went home with pneumonia, two days short of the end. Our oldest rider turns 79 today (Friday). Since it’s already Friday in the Netherlands, we celebrated at dinner and toasted him after dinner, along with the Trail Boss, who is hanging up his spurs after 25 years at the helm of Cycle America (how’s that for a mixed metaphor), and Dan Brown, a long time router whose ashes have been scattered all along the route. The last bit will go in the Atlantic Ocean on our final cruise. A relative will bring the front wheel of his bike to dip in the ocean. The rear was dipped in the Pacific at the onset.

Friday we ride 90 tough miles to end at a primitive campground. Then one more day.

Lake Placid

Friday night was marked by another Thanksgiving dinner that couldn’t be beat. Breakfast featured both pancakes and French toast with warm syrup.

Sign in the restaurant. Soon after I saw a banner (maybe 10´x 20´) that said “Democrats suck. This is a liberal-free area.” I did not stop at that house to ask for directions.

It stayed cloudy most of the night (which I know because I was up six times to pee by 1 AM – the price you pay for staying hydrated though this was worse than usual for reasons unknown), which kept the temperature above 50 degrees (10 C). It cleared up just before dawn so the temperature was dropping as we packed up and started to ride.

Ahead on the road was a thick fog bank – the road disappeared and soon, Roberto did as well. I rode into the fog and needed windshield wipers on my glasses and it was cold; much too cold and damp to want to stop and take a picture.

I came out of the fog and the sun was shining ahead, with a mountain peak just peeking out above the next fog bank. I was in the shade so, like the child detective Cam Jansen, just said “click” and the picture is in my head but not available to you.

The morning song

Leg warmers and jacket stayed on until picnic at 9:30 AM or so, mile 36. After that it was warm enough in a long-sleeved jersey. There was no serious climbing, but a lot of up-and-down and gradual elevation gain toward Lake Placid. Traffic was heavy in both directions but we had a wide shoulder until Saranac Lake, when the shoulder became a parking lane and traffic, both vehicular and pedestrian, was heavy. Traffic stayed thick with a narrow shoulder to Lake Placid.

Tupper Lake

We paid a visit to Placid Planet bike shop, which is still for sale after four years, if anyone wants a new career. It is a well-equipped shop with friendly staff. We keep them in business. Four years ago we bought them out of their shop jerseys (my size was gone when I got there). Today I saw two riders buying chains and having them installed, one buying cleats, another shoes and several other items. I bought a lock and cable to replace the ones I left behind yesterday and a second long-sleeved jersey in case it stays cold and the one I have doesn’t dry in time. Two spare inner tubes completed the transaction. With a new tire and tube and two new spares, I might even get lazy enough to wait until I get home to patch the leakers I have.

After the bike shop we crossed the street for chocolate malts before making our way up to the high school to camp.

We are camped immediately above the speedskating track where Eric Heiden of Madison WI swept Olympic gold in 1980. Just down the street is the arena where the “Miracle on Ice” took place, when the US hockey team (then amateurs) beat the mighty Soviet professional team.

Olympic speedskating track (minus ice). I am standing in front of my tent. The two staffers are contemplating where to pitch their tents, which they did at trackside. It could probably be a roller-blading venue now.
Mirror Lake (Lake Placid itself is outside of town)
Tent City, Lake Placid High School (from the speedskating track looking up)
Olympic ski jump (lower left) Mt Marcy ( right edge) highest point in NY

Eight Days a Week

We have 8 riding days left; a week and a half in total time. That gives me an excuse to link to the Beatles.

For more Beatles…I’ve had this song in mind several times and it is appropriate again. This part of New York is full of signs advocating for the repeal of all regulations relating to firearms and in support of a gubernatorial candidate who is campaigning on that issue.

Today was a short (55 miles) and easy ride, mostly along the south shore of Lake Ontario. We have done a lot of north-south riding this week to see the sights – the scenic route to the coast so we don’t get there too soon.

We rode 5.5 miles to breakfast, then another 15 miles to donuts. A roadside convenience store makes their own – simple plain donuts rolled in cinnamon sugar and still warm. Coffee for dunking. Sold only by the half dozen, so I had to enlist some helpers to eat them.

We were often on damp pavement, the result of early morning scattered showers – none of which actually fell on me. That was okay because the dew in Mexico was very heavy and there was a lot of drying needed on arrival – the short day helped.

Picnic was at Sacket’s Harbor and too early to be very hungry even with a lot of stalling. Yellowjackets were swarming the food. My unpleasant experience with a swarm of yellowjackets last summer made me less likely to linger around the food table.

4 riders, 4 countries
Sacket’s Harbor

After a great ride on quiet and well-paved roads through pretty countryside, we entered the urban ugliness of Watertown – busy roads, heavy traffic. We were not routed through downtown, so I saw no places to stop in order to delay my arrival at the school. I rode to the school and checked Google Maps for places to go, then realized I needed to use a bathroom first. By then, the Trail Boss was ready to unload the gear trailer. After unloading, it made sense to get things set out to dry, then it made sense to set up camp, take a shower, and change clothes. By then it seemed too late to go for coffee and too early to go for beer. No place for ice cream nearby…really nothing except a Piggly Wiggly. There is an interesting-looking place that advertises craft beers, but it isn’t open yet and is (per Google) a 10 minute ride or 30 minute walk from here. As a result, this blog entry and charging my phone win out over refreshments.

Tomorrow we are on to Star Lake, and from there to Lake Placid for the weekend. Two more shortish days if they go as planned – 134 total miles over two days, though we will be heading into the Adirondacks for some more up and down riding.