John refueling by the side of the road in Portland, Maine
I had just read an email from a friend who, having not seen a blog post in the last few days, questioned whether weâ€™d become road kill on a narrow highway or had been holed up in the swimming pool of a posh hotel. Neither came close to fact.
When I last posted, I had inherited Mikeâ€™s flu, but was suffering through. I had been able to overcome inertia each day to complete the dayâ€™s mileage, but at night the blog suffered. We were well into Maine, and I figured Iâ€™d catch up at my son Chrisâ€™s house. I kept wishing for my situation to improve, but there was little if any movement. Continue reading
The Nashua River at Sunset
Mike had just come back from a business trip to Frankfurt, Germany when we met up in New York for our New England bike ride. And he brought with him an uninvited guest: some kind of Medieval Bubonic Plague. And now heâ€™s successfully passed it on to me. @#$%&*#
Notwithstanding our infirmities, weâ€™ve been doing quite well. In the last two days weâ€™ve covered 104 miles, climbed 3100 feet of elevation, and in the process, logged 9 hours and 30 minutes of saddle time as we traveled from Worcester, MA to Nashua, NH and then on to Dover, NH. Today, Thursday, a few miles after we begin, weâ€™ll be entering Maine, our last state. We have transited New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and now New Hampshire.
Not much more for now, but one timing note. I offer my apologies for using â€œtodayâ€ and â€œtomorrowâ€ rather indiscriminately in my write-ups. I usually put my thoughts down in the evening and then formalize them in the morning. â€œTodayâ€ when I write in the evening, is really â€œyesterdayâ€ in the morning when I publish the blog. In the future Iâ€™ll try to use days of the week to be more specific. Again, sorry for any confusion.
For those interested, our Strava links for the last two days are:
To be continued
I had been looking forward to this part of the trip since the first day of our planning. We were approaching the end of Long Island and headed for the ferry terminal in Orient, New York. And the anticipation was not only for the ferry ride across Long Island Sound, but also the town itself. A friend and writing associate had written effusively about the community at landâ€™s end, on the north fork of the island, and I couldnâ€™t wait to see it. Then life got in the way.
A Glorious Day on Long Island Sound
While stocking up on Gatorade at a market before heading off, my bike fell over from the post it was propped up against. Having 30 or 40 extra pounds of weight didnâ€™t help its stability, but the fall broke the lever on one hand brake. Okay, I had another brake, the island is relatively flat, and Iâ€™d worry about tomorrow morning in Connecticut. It had happened once before and the fix was minor. Continue reading
Mike at a rest stop
Saturday we left our Garden City, New York hotel, under tornado watches and warnings, and we knew we were in for a drenching at the very least and perhaps worse. In fact we were feeling a bit jinxed. Yesterday it was man-made catastrophes chasing us, today it would be mother natureâ€™s turn. Our spirits were further dimmed an hour later when my daughter Jennifer texted that a tornado had just touched down in Brooklyn.
And the biking itself was difficult. At least the wind was not on our nose, but it was blowing from our right side and was strong enough to make controlling our bikes challenging. With our panniers (saddle bags hung on a rack) and a backpack strapped on top, we became â€œhigh profileâ€ vehicles. Cross winds, with gusts coming without warning, would make our heavily loaded bikes temporarily unstable. ClichÃ©, but oh what fools we mortals be.
Well I did it again. In my desire to get in just one more ride at home in California, I shipped my bike a day late, which of course meant it arrived over a day late in New York.
Sounds kind of minor, but it meant that instead of leaving New York City late on a Thursday morning, we ended up biking away from the REI store in Manhattan at 1 pm on
Mike on the Williamsburg Bridge
a Friday afternoon. We then stopped at my daughter Jenniferâ€™s house to load up our gear, and then rode through the heart of Brooklyn and Queens between 4 and 6 pm that same Friday afternoon. The only way I can describe what we did is with a football analogy. On a â€œbroken playâ€ circumstances prevent the preplanned offensive maneuver, and predictably everyone is scrambling unscripted, all over the field. The guy with the ball is totally on his own, and is doing a lot ofÂ â€œopen fieldâ€ running. Back and forth, sideways, whatever it takes to evade the enemy. Thatâ€™s how we left the city. Continue reading
Two years ago when my cousin Mike and I biked over a thousand miles across the country, I thought that would do it. After all I had just turned 70 (years old), and I had a sore ass, a sunburned neck, and because weâ€™d used motels in lieu of campgrounds, a much lighter wallet.
But alas, it didnâ€™t. For some reason that trip just whetted my appetite for more of the same. Maybe itâ€™s because I came late in life to long distance biking, maybe itâ€™s because I have an insatiable appetite for this kind of stuff, maybe, well maybe Iâ€™ll find out what it is during this trip. Nevertheless, here I am at 10 pm on Labor Day Friday at the San Francisco Airport waiting for my red-eye flight to New York. My bike is already on the way.
It’s been three weeks since I returned from my bike trip, and I’m ready to do it again. That’s the way I come home from most of my trips, anxious for another dose of whatever I’ve been consuming. Just give me the opportunity.
A thousand-plus miles is going to have to do it. We’ve decided to fold our biking tent and drive home to California. For reader’s of the blog a word of explanation.
There we were, in the lobby of the Casa Blanca Hotel, all checked out and ready to head off to Las Vegas.
“John, my @#$%&$ tire’s flat again.”
“You’ve gotta be kidding?”
I’d had heard about Arizona’s Virgin River Gorge even before I knew it was bikeable. In fact I’d driven through it several times and had always been frustrated that driving concentration interfered with my scenery appreciation.