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Sunday, July 10, 2011

Day 34 – the END!!!

Man we are all up really early. I think Sandy was up by 5.30am. So I guess that yes we want to get on the road and make it back as quickly as we can. We pack up and get onto the road, only we are going the wrong way!! We do about a mile and a half and realize this! Back to square one and start again. We have debated about our route into New York, thinking that we might find a bike route or take the smaller side roads. If we take the side roads we know that it will take a really long time to do the remaining 60 miles. So we plump for Route 46 again, knowing that there will be loads of traffic and certainly lots of intersections. Sandy is a little concerned and is heard to say “You guys are crazy”, but we really do want to get back.
Route 46 is busy and we make sure that we are all safe, Felipe and Angel are sharing this last day with Angel riding first. So we have 5 on the road, with Andriy driving and Felipe waiting his turn to ride.

Still some long hills and lots of drink stops. We have also made the van stop every 5 miles rather than 10 miles, which we feel is safer.

There are one or two other bikers on this route, and one points out a huge pot hole under an underpass, which I don’t see and hit at speed. Literally 100 yards later I have a puncture – my fourth in the last two weeks. Unbelievably there is a bike repair shop 4 miles on. So I get into the van and we drive there. It takes 45 minutes to get this repaired. A pretty busy place. We catch up to the group who are in a gas station. The decision about keeping going on Route 46 has to be made, as it’s getting extremely busy and there are now major interchanges. We take the decision to drive through the Holland Tunnel and then ride the West Side Highway back up to the Bronx. We all think that this is a smart decision especially Jack and Sandy who now don’t have to ride the George Washington Bridge! So we pile into the van and drive into New York.
The West Side ride is really great, no vehicles, only people out to enjoy the day. Under the GWB and over the Broadway bridge, and we are into the Bronx! It takes us another 40 minutes to safely ride through traffic and to Arthur Avenue, where we are met by CitySquash parents, Felipes and Angels. Joe Di Bari is there to meet us, he’s from Fordham and has come to take pictures for the Fordham University paper. We go to Michael Angelos restaurant to celebrate this epic journey and the fact the we made it back. We really cann’t believe that we did this. 2,700 miles give or take a few.

We have a party form 5 – 7pm in Michael Angelos, and we have parents, students from Fordham and some CitySquash kids and supporters of CitySquash there. Congrats all round, no speeches, just lots of stories about the Ride.

For me, I am amazed that we have done this, but it’s been a fantastic experience, one that I will never forget. Hopefully memories will come back about places, people, the group that I rode with, the mountains and the vicious hills that we all rode. Right now it’s great to be back.
I want to take this moment to thanks everyone who supported, donated, sponsored us, and encouraged us – A HUGE THANK YOU – we, BP, Jack, Andriy, Raymond, Felipe and Angel all appreciate this.

I also want to say to those who doubted that a) I would ever get this Ride organized, b) that I would actually do it, and c) that we’d finish it too – now you have to donate! We organized, we rode AND we finished, so please put your money where your mouth is. Thank you.
This blog isn’t finished yet – I still have to present the jerseys (a la Tour de France), and there are quotes that have to be told. So let me rest up and I will have these for you all.

Day 33

Penultimate day and we are getting excited about Riding into the Bronx tomorrow. Over the George Washington Bridge, with its spectacular view of Manhattan. Wonder what it will feel like when we ride it? Anyway we are meeting up with Sandy today, he’s arranged to meet us around noon, somewhere in NJ! Man NJ is a big place so I hope that we do meet up!!??
Well we do meet up in Milford and earlier at around 11am at the local diner – we are having breakfast when he arrives, courtesy of Shrubb who has driven him to meet us. Well done Shrubb and thanks. We’ve ridden about 25 miles to Milford from our camp site. Sandy settles in and enjoys a breakfast with us.

Sandy is kitted out the full cycling gear, bike shorts, snazzy top, glasses, water bottles the lot and ready to go. He’s excited to be here and doing the last two days into the Bronx with us, although, like Jack, he’s afraid of heights and not looking forward to the George Washington Bridge!

We are on our way and doing well. There are still lots of hills and they are pretty long. We’ve been told about these very early on in this Ride, but now we are getting to experience them. Sandy says we are all looking fit and well, and believe me we are very fit. I think that it’s something to do with biking nearly 3000 miles, and hitting the hills! Anyway we, I think surprise Sandy with our biking, and leave him on the hills.

Small towns are getting more frequent and traffic is certainly getting a little more dense. Not good breathing in those fumes!! I guess that we are getting close to the big Apple, well relatively speaking!

We are definitely getting nearer as we cross over into New Jersey. Pics taken then on we go, just one more State to go! We are on Route 46, quite a big highway, so we’ve been making sure that we are safe, even with the big shoulder.

It starts raining and we also hear some thunder in the distance. Sandy reminds us all just what to do if it starts to thunder and lightning. Good advice, however no lightning but the rain does keep coming down. We do the miles and finally get to our destination, Stephen State Park, our last camp site, wooppee! It’s in a really wooded area and one of the first signs that Felipe sees is about BEARS! And not aggravating them. Now who would do that! Also there’s plenty of mosquitoes too, not good, so out comes the bug spray. Tent up, tarp over the top so all good, we decide to treat ourselves to a meal, Applebees restaurant in the nearby town. Actually Sandy does the honours and treats us to this meal, thank you Sandy we all appreciate it.

Back to the camp site and sleeping bags, although I don’t think that there was much sleep as we are all getting excited about the last day and getting back to the Bronx.

Day 32

Nearly there guys !! So Again off bright and early, Jack and BP on the road. We actually find a bike shop that repairs Felipe’s tire and also repairs Angels’ front handlebars, but we also find out that Angels gears are really messed up, so his bike is still a problem. Still Towanda is left behind and we are into the Pennsylvania rolling hills and man do they rock and roll! Too much – they are not long, but they are frequent. Seems like there is a lot of German influence here, with farm buildings and other buildings having that Northern European look about them. Certainly names on farms and businesses are very Germanic. We have a change and Felipe and Andriy are out and on the road, for their stint, “Go boys”. We are getting into practice for Friday when Sandy arrives we are looking to work him hard other the last two days! We also have riders trying to come and join us on Saturday, Lee Rosen and possibly Chris Walker, which would be terrific. We’ll let you know if this happens.

Another change and its Jack and BP back on the bikes – we are both determined to do as many miles over these last days as possible. I think we are in Pocono territory, with lots of lakes and definitely getting more RV sites and camp sites too. They all seem to be by lakes, which look great and very clear, as opposed to the muddy waters that we had been seeing in Mid-America.

Angel and Raymond are taking it easy in the van I think that they are steeling themselves for the last two days and it’s now Scrabble instead of Monopoly on Jack’s iPod!!! Not sure who is winning at this! We do try to keep the van people entertained, what!! Other than the driver that is!

It’s a tough day, plenty of down hills but always those up hills, and there is ,more traffic on the roads now too. Plenty of CO2 into our lungs! But we are making good time and taking water breaks every 10 – 15 miles. I love the Gatorade powder in mine just makes the water taste better!

Also we are working out the party for Saturday and it’s going to be at Michael Angelos at Arthur Ave., and 189th Street in Fordham, so come on everyone make the effort to be there and we’ll tell you the alternate blog of this Ride, and there are some good ones too!

Into the town of Hamil, nice little town, reminds me of the actor, although I cann’t remember his first name – anyone help me here? A huge lake called Wallenpaupach, which has some terrific beaches around it, and Angel wishes that he could get out and swim. No can do Angel. Still more lakes and camp sites, and finally route 402 East, to Blooming Grove. We take this and end up at a cross road with a Church on one corner and workmen building a small bridge on the other corner! This is it Blooming Grove, we cann’t believe it, that’s it nothing else, no real village even. The van meets us there, they have been lagging and playing Scrabble, but catch up with us.
So we find a camp site, as ever we do this last thing, but we’ve never been let down or disappointed – google is a terrific way of finding anything!

The camp site is on a wonderful lake, and Angel and Felipe wander off to see what’s happening. They have two rockets, and they are determined to set them off tonight!
Count down and two days to go. See you Sandy tomorrow.


Thursday, July 7, 2011

Day 31

A drive by day, so a good rest before the last three days. We were up and off pretty early, none stop to get on the road, as it was a longish drive by. We had to make Towanda PA before dark. Jack was going to start the driving, but decides not to so BP is driving, which always scares Felipe, not sure why you’d have to ask him that! Now Jack has an iPod which has the Monopoly game on it, and this is the start to vicious Monopoly games, wheeling and dealing and trying to bankrupt each other! Just a game lads! More later.

I ask Felipe to take a pic of a truck with the initials PFC on the back. I’ve asked him to do this because my son John supports Portsmouth Football Club, so he at least might appreciate this pic! Pretty much of a muchness the scenery, although it’s starting to change to rolling hills and not as near as densely wooded as yesterday. We roll into Roanoke, which in fact is a really great little city and has a wonderful old area, which we park in and decide to eat the local BBQ food at The Blues BBQ Company restaurant. Great spiced lunch, but Andriy and Raymond have pizza – not as good as the Bronx boys! Stoked up we move on.

We’re on the road again and I’m seeing signs that maybe indicate that once again I’m back in the Old Country. You just cann’t get away from UK place names! First up are New Market and Edinburg, both close enough spellings for me. Then Winchester, which is very close to where I hold my Camps on the South coast of England, at Lee-on-Solent. Winchester was once the capital of England. Also we’re still in the bible belt, churches and crosses everywhere, hey whatever grabs you. West Virginia comes and goes pretty quickly, as does Maryland. Then the Mason Dixon signs which indicate that this is where the North and the South were divided at one time. PA welcomes us, and by this time Angel has won three games of Monopoly, much to Andriy and Jack’s annoyance. These game seem to last forever! He’s just been crushing them, along with a little help from Felipe though. They trade properties, and wheel and deal, apparently just like the real world Jack says. But there’s no stopping Angel. In a least one of the games Jack and Andriy literally give up in disgust, losing all to Angel. He’s really just too good at this game. Go into finance Angel, I’m sure you’ll do well. Felipe plays to annoy Jack and is always making “ridiculous trades” as Jack says.

Carlisle is next to show up, this is a town on the opposite side of the country from my home town in England. Berwick-on-Tweed is on the East coast of England and on the border with Scotland, while Carlisle is on the West coast of England on the border. Just how many more UK place names will there be?

The Susquehanna river is pretty wide and we are now following this river for quite some time, and it’s getting late, and getting dark. Very dark by the time we get into Towanda. Everywhere is full, even camp sites. There is a huge oil and gas industry in the area and they literally take all the available space in hotels, motels and camp sites. We do find a camp site, but the first one we went ot Felipe was really terrified “Hey this is in the middle of nowhere, we might get killed!” He’s very touchy about stuff like this and trusts no one especially late at night. We do find a camp site and settle in for a good sleep. But before going to sleep Angel reminds us all that he’s the KING of Monopoly – sorry Jack!


Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Day 30

Did the tire stay up? Yes it did, wonder of wonders. Pack up, but Felipes flip flop was wrapped up in the tent! Oh man he’s heading for the MVR (Most Valuable Rider) of this Ride! Anything else to sort out other than the van which gets more and more filled up with personal “stuff”. The comment of the Ride will be “It’s in the van!”, so when anyone asked if we’d seen anything the reply was always the same – “It’s in the van”!!!

Everything was “In the van” we were on our way to Hazard, an eighty mile ride, which we all felt good about. Andriy, Angel and BP up first and out of the camps site and out of Berea. Good roads with decent shoulders, so we got up some speed, rode through a rain downpour, which was refreshing to say the least and made the twenty miles to the van pretty quickly. Seems like we are in little England again, we were going through London, then Manchester to get to Hazard! At the van we were all gung-ho so we decided to keep going and again the pace was fast, Angel was doing his bit trying hard to keep me at the back of the three man pack! At twelve miles into this twenty ANOTHER puncture! Angels back wheel was gone, man were we stunned - AGAIN, eight punctures on the trip so far, please no more! We call Jack in the van and he has to come back to get Angel and his bike and take him into Manchester, but can you believe it no bike shops in Manchester! Plenty in the region, but a hike to get to any of them, and as Manchester is half way from Berea to Hazard we decide to bike on with Angel in the van. To bad.
The country side is actually interesting, Again trees up to the road, and as faras the eye can see, but there were vines wrapped around trees, telegraph poles, electricity poles, buildings and anything that these vines could wrap themselves around. Looked pretty surreal, and maybe out of a movie set!

Onward we go and looking forward to seeing Hazard because of the “Dukes of Hazard”, TV series, and the movie. Wow what a disappointment, nothing like anything in either the series or the movie. What we wanted most of all was to see a sop that sold Hazard Ts, but not to be. In fact nothing in the town at all about the shows.
OK so tomorrow is a drive by day, and quite a big one, so we have driven into Virginia and are now at our favourite camp site KOA in Wytheville. It cuts our drive down tomorrow and we love KOA.

Sandy coming to ride with us Friday and Saturday, so looking to him riding with us, and into the Bronx. Should be fun.
Not long to go people, then parteeee time in the Bronx.


Monday, July 4, 2011

Day 29

Happy 4th July America! Jack has his American bike top on and it’s impressive. There’s a $3 breakfast at KOA so we all take this, and it’s served by an Essex woman, been in the States for a long time but still has the accent!

So this is the last week, and I’m not sure that we were glad or sad to be finishing. I know that we all were saying that it would be great to get back, but I also think that we would be sad to finish this awesome trip – The Ride X America. One tent, one van and 6 people means that we all live pretty close, and this can get a little intense at times, but we seem to have got along well over the five weeks.

So we drive back to Bardstown and start the 80 mile ride to Berea, nothing special, same old same old country side. Probably wish we were all back in the Rockies with the tremendous scenery, but here we are in the rolling hills of Kentucky. I drive first, with Jack, Raymond, Andriy and Felipe all biking, man that’s impressive that they all got out there! 20 miles and then a change, I’m up and it’s me and Jack, he’s still going and we are doing 24 miles to Danville, easy peasy! Danville is a pretty historic town, so we stopped for lunch then some of us rode around the town spotting the various historical sites and buildings. The first successful abdominal surgery was performed here on Christmas day 1809, and get this, there was on anesthesia so the woman sang hymns all the way through the operation! That was the first piece of historical information, then there is the Presbyterian Church one of three founded in 1784. With all this e-mail now can anyone remember actual mail? Well we have the first Post Office West of the Alleghenies built pre-1792! Off course how could I forget the first tavern in Danville, built pre-1800 and used by the Danville Political Society. The town also has the Center College, a liberal arts College with a really wonderful campus.

Onwards to Berea, or so I thought. I get 2 miles out of Danville and lo and behold a puncture!!! I shout to Raymond that I have a puncture, no cell phone and the van is now on its way to the 20 mile away mark! Great! So I down the bike, take a drink and wait for Raymond to get to the van and the van to return to get me! What a wait, over two and a half hours. But I get to talking with two neighbours, on opposite sides of the road who are cutting their grass. A retired Naval Officer, and a local born and bred in Danville. Two very fascinating people but so very different. They offer drinks and whatever I would like, but I’m afraid to move from the side of the road incase the van goes by and misses me! Finally I get picked up and off we go to Berea! Guess what the camp site is a KOA, with kitchen, so we are all pleased as this means that we can actually cook our food tonight! Oh and I repair the puncture, well I hope that I have, we’ll see if it deflates overnight!?

Everyone on the camp site has the Stars and Stripes out, bunting, and other red white and blue decorations and are getting ready for some fireworks.

Hope that you all had a terrific 4th July.


Sunday, July 3, 2011

Day 28

We’ve taken the rest day today instead of Wednesday. It’s Wimbledon and we want to watch Rafa v Joko. Wow, Joko played well, what a match, although we all thought that Rafa would pull it back. So a new Wimbledon Champ., well played Joko. I have to say that watching the match was pretty great as we were in the only AC room on the camp site, and man it was hot even mid morning, 85+.
Now off into Louisville, Jack’s found the Louisville Slugger Baseball bat manufacturer and so off we go to visit. Louisville is a big city on the banks of the Ohio river, and the old city, which is where the Slugger factory is, is really fascinating, very much in a renewing programme, with buildings still just shells but which would, I’m sure, be wonderful.

The Louisville Slugger factory was terrific, basically the history of the “bat”. It has a huge bat outside the entrance, with lots of bats hanging up in the main area. Wx figures of the famous baseball players – Babe Ruth included. Sayings on the floor by various MLB players, history on the walls of the World Series (never did get the World bit as it’s only played in the USA, so how could it be a World Series?) Oh and there was a bit about the Cincinnati Reds and their winning years of the 70s. I had to take a pic for Tim as he’s from Cincinnati! It seems that Mr Hillerich had the market tied up with about 80% of baseball bats used made here – MLB, Minor League, Little league, and any other league you care to mention. Most of the MLB Teams buy their bats here for their players! And we were told that most players used anywhere between 60 – 100 bats per season! Go figure that out! The factory was really a factory and a museum, so it was very interesting and the tour to see how bats are made even more fascinating. 40,000 trees are cut down to supply baseball all the bats used each year. The forests are self sustaining, managed, and mainly in Pennsylvania and New York States. It used to take 20 minutes to hand make a bat whereas now it takes 40 seconds with the computerized machines. Each player has his own computerized software to make his own bat, and there are over 20,000 combinations. At the end we all got our miniature Slugger bats to remind us of our visit.

Down to the river side, and again this is a huge river, very wide and lots of bridges over it. The streets of the old town have various sculptures of some of the various events and places that are here. The Kentucky Derby horse, Kentucky University horse, the KFC Center which is the home of the Louisville University and would grace any NBA team’s stadium! On the riverside walk I found another map to Lewis and Clarke, across America route, and a statue to Fox who was Clarkes slave but went with him to discover the route across America.

Finally we gave in to food and went to the BBC restaurant which served pulled pork and other such great Kentucky food. Once refreshed we made our way back to the camp site to relax and to get ready for the last days of the Ride X America. Tomorrow here we go!!!