Monday, 16 August 2010

Broken Bicycle

I knew that the rear wheel was damaged but when I got to my local bike shop this morning for an examination, it was immediately noticed that the front forks were out of alignment (explaining the stiff front wheel) and the guy was unsure about how straight the frame was as well.  I should know the full extent of teh damage within a day or two but it is looking as if a complete new frame may be required.  I don't think Air France will be too happy about that so if anyone has any experience of these things, I would be grateful for any assistance.

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Day's 51 and 52. The Return of the Wanderer

I was up early on Tuesday morning and we were whisked to Logan airport in Boston, arriving there before 9am.  This was unfortunate as my flight was not till 5.30 pm.  There was nowhere to store luggage so while I waited to check in, I hid my bike behind some chairs to facilitate visits to the loo and to get food and coffee.  I tried to blag an upgrade on the basis of my trip but failed miserably.  It was an uneventful flight which saw me deposited at Charles de Gaulle in Paris at 6am and I had to hang about yet again for my 10:15 to Newcastle.  I declined to fork out $6 for a small bottle of coke! As we walked to the plane, I saw my bike in its big poly bag being lifted into the hold so was relieved about that.  I was so tired by this time that I slept pretty much the whole 90 mins of the flight.  Mrs P was on hand to collect me but when I got home, I discovered that my rear wheel rim had been damaged.  It looked as if it had been run over by something heavy so a claim is in progress.
I slept like a baby last night and got up after 11 hrs 30 mins in bed this morning still feeling a little fuzzy.
As promised to the other participants of the ride, here is my poem.

The View From The Ass End Of The Pack

It started with the Cross Country

Reading Andy Perry's blog

I hankered for adventure

And thought 'retirement's just the job'.

I bought a bike and did some miles

It was good exercise

The uphills hard, the downhills great

My waist it dropped in size.

Then came the day, deposit paid

But I didn't give proper thought

To all those miles and all those climbs

Some advice I should have sought.

I trained as hard as I thought I should

Tho' the weather turned me blue

Then there I was in Astoria

A cyclist without a clue.

As we set off on our first day

It soon became patently clear

Having been passed by all other riders

I'd be spending my time at the rear.

I'd gone out of my way to cycle some hills

But nothing prepared me for

4 hours in the saddle into a headwind

At a miserable 6 miles an hour.

I didn't mind getting up early

To be front of the long luggage queue

And setting off first always gave me the chance

To say Hi to each one of you.

On lovely mornings I was there in my shirt

Enjoying the fresh Summer air

While everyone round me was wrapped up for winter

And I looked forward to my helmet hair.

I learned about pelotons, pacelines, 3 P's

As cyclists kept passing me by

They shouted 'I'm Slowing', 'I'm Stopping', 'On Left'

And pointed at danger or signs.

The warnings were helpful and timely and good

They saved me from mishap, that's right

But most welcome of all came the shout from the rear

'Watch out, there's a man in white tights'.

I've found some real odd habits here

Like cycling on the right

Your beer's too cold, you use too much ice

and the air con's on all night!

Who's ever heard of baysil?

It's tomato not tomayto

At home it’s pronounced lessure time

At least a potato's still a potato

The USA is so diverse

But some things are the same

The huge food portions never change

From Oregon to Maine

There are fatties wobbling everywhere

Eating at a frantic rate

They should be made to cycle up Joe English Road

Now that would help them lose weight.

There's affluence and poverty

Sometimes living side by side

And it seems that Native Americans

Have lost much of their pride.

The contrasts between this land and mine

Are many and they're varied

But the thought of so many having guns

Now that is really scary.

I've seen bison, cattle, soya, corn

Fields as far as the eye can see

But I'll not be eating cornflakes again

Now I know where you go to pee.

Now Phillip he was one cool dude

He rode a Surly Trucker

He hurt his arm and has gone home

Unlucky m’man

We have some fast folks that's for sure

You'd think they were at the races

That foolish lot always get in first

Then have to unload all the cases

And so to all the riders here

We've achieved something special it's true

To friendships made and the laughs we've had

I raise my glass to you.

But we couldn't have done this on our own

So again I raise my glass

To give a toast to Mike and Team

For making this a blast.

Mike Munk thinks that he's in charge

We know that's not the case

But Barb just goes along with this

So that she can save Mike face.

Mike likes hitting balls in fields

and taking photo's too

If your case weighs more than 35 pounds

Barb will be gunning for you.

The staff do a fantastic job

Pandering to our every whim

and if you need your cycle fixed

You'll be met with a big smile by Jim.

Karen is in charge of SAG

And supplies the foods to burn

She fixes flats and does route rap

She knows every twist and turn

Jeff's been known to tell a fib

I recall before Rushmore day

He said the road that went to SAG

Was easy all the way.

Debbie seems to get dirt lots

Without any facilities

She doesn't mind, she always smiles

At least I can find a tree.

So now we're nearly at the end

I can't believe we're here

That gives me cause to celebrate

I think I need a beer.

Tomorrow we go to the beach

Escorted by the police

Back to friends and family

Normal life is within reach.

The emotion of tomorrow's ride

Has nearly got me choking

You ask would I do something like this again?

You must be bloody joking!

This poem is copyright.  You can print it off to your hearts content but if you want to publish it anywhere at all, please make a small donation to my charity.

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Day 50. Manchester to Portsmouth

I was up with the larks and off to ensure that I got to the bakery at 37.3 miles in time for a coffee and pastry.
We started the day with a nice climb out of Manchester.

 We were looking forward to meeting up at Rye Junior High School after that and then being escorted by the police en-mass to the beach at Wallace Sands to complete our journey.  I got to the SAG at 28.4, just ahead of a group of riders who were quickly catching me and then set off shortly after that for a cappucino.
I was really enjoying the terrain and the nice properties.  House of the day coming up.
I tried this but it didn't work.  I'm not sure what I was expecting but I think I will get one for home and see if I can increase my income a bit!

The price of everything is going up!

Anyway, I got to the bakers and was waiting for my coffee when I saw this sign and wondered how on earth they managed to sell the stuff!  Surely they should be encouraging people to bring a bag???

I didn't bother with any European bread and set off with time to spare for the school.  We all assembled and took some pictures. Andrew and I have agreed world peace between England and Scotland.

While Gerrard and I have agreed to raise a glass to each other when we get home.
I have had an 'Isle of Jura Superstition malt' followed by some 'Killermans Run' shiraz

Don and I have agreed that he should stop eating bread!
Well, he might not remember that!

And here we all are together.

The local Constabulary turned up and off we went in a long slow procession.
I doubt that Rick has ever cycled this slowly before (since 2007 anyway)!!

And there is Ellen leading the way with Helen and Dereka.

It was a wonderful and emotional experience and we were cheered through the beach car park by the assembled masses.  I had to keep my dark glasses on! One lady, who was not related to any of the cyclists,  actually came up and shook my hand, offering congratulations on this achievement.
And now down to the serious business!

Yes, my feet are in the Atlantic! Everyone else was at it as well.

Then, after young Matt had the job of pouring the previously collected Pacific sea water into the Atlantic formally signifying the end of the journey, we made our way to the hotel.  I was one of the early ones for a change and was happy to help with the final luggage unload. (Imagine having to do this every day for 50 days!!)

After bike dismantling/showering etc, I had a bit of free time so found a cold beer nearby and then met up with the others for a |Mexican meal.  Thanks to Bill and Mrs Bibler for the lift.  Here is Don with a wicked glint in his eye. I wonder if he is contemplating biting the lime!!!  Dan is on the phone again!!

After a very good sirloin burrito and a couple of glasses of something or other, some of us may have gone for more beer at a local bar.  There's a surprise now. 
Today's Stats.
Mileage - 60 
Climbing - Who Cares
Average Speed - Not Relevant
Pints of Sam Adam's Summer Ale Consumed - quite a lot!

Sunday, 8 August 2010

Brattleboro to Manchester

No blog tonight dure to  banquet! Will catch up after returning home.
Well, here I am!
After 1 mile I reached the New Hampshire State line on my own as I had organised an early start .
I got to the SAG first, creating a new record of 35.6 miles before being overtaken.
I wasn't quite sure what was going on here?

And here is my house of the day.

And I was very curious as to how this mountain got it's name?

I hope the owner of this sign wasn't referring to me or they'll be sadly disappointed.

I have to say that this was a very challenging day but Joe English Rd  was some hill.  They must have hated him to name the hill after him.  The good bit was that despite it's length and steepness (17% + gradient), I managed to get to the top without stopping.
Here's one for the OSPRE team.

Some of us went for a beer and I was disappointed not to be able to buy any of their golfing apparel due to them being sold out.

And I didn't have my suit with me!

Here are the staff prior to the banquet looking happy to be about to be rid of us!

And then to the banquet and a jolly good time was had by all.
I will post my poem later. 
Mileage - 79
Climbing - 5000 feet
Time in Saddle - 7 hrs 30 mins
Average Speed - 10.5 mph

Saturday, 7 August 2010

Day 48. Latham to Brattleboro

There was a great deal of concern about today's ride as we were back to some serious climbing after many weeks of flattish rides, (if 3000 feet on 14th July can be called flattish). I managed to arrange an early load and set off on a beautiful morning.  I had been informed by Jersey mark that the short (1 mile) climb out of Troy was the hardest/steepest and that proved to be pretty accurate.  I got to the SAG at 28 miles to discover that Rod's family were in attendance and had supplied cookies, muffins etc.  Excellent SAG stop and it was a wrench to leave but I thought I had better leave some goodies for the others.  We hit our umpteenth State at 33 miles
We cycled through the very interesting town of Bennington.  
I found an interesting furniture maker who obviously caters for the larger US citizens and makes McFurniture!!!

For some reason,Bennington celebrates the Moose???

And then the 9 mile ascent began with gradients from 4-8%.  I definitely did not find it as hard as several weeks ago.  At one point, I got off the road as an armada of motorbikes went past.  Dan reckons he counted 196 and I think that sounds about right.  Here is what the second half looked like.

I had hoped for a big downhill run but the summit undulated a bit before I got that.  There was then another climb to the top of Hogback Mountain and at some point during all of that, I managed 44 mph, a new personal best. 
There was then some lovely scenery.

A nice old truck for sale.

Some wooden ducks on a roof.

And a painted bear????

Now I know two people here are under age but the word the rest of you are searching for is BEER!!

Today was an interesting reintroduction to climbing hills but we again ahd perfect weather conditions and nice scenery to help us.  The roads in Vermont are as bad as anything I have experienced however and hopefully will be better tomorrow.
Today's Stats.
Mileage - 79
Climbing - 5000 feet
Time in saddle - 7 Hrs 37mins
Average Speed - 10.4 mph

Friday, 6 August 2010

Day 47. Little Falls to Latham

Today was a bonus as what was an expected 84 mile journey, turned into 74 miles, helping to make up for the extra 15 we did previously.  The forecast was sunshine, reasonable temperatures, low humidity and a West wind.  Against all the odds, the forecast was correct!
We started with several biggish climbs early on but the corresponding descents more than made up for the slow stuff and I was delighted to get to the first SAG having averaged over 13 mph over the 34 miles.  I celebrated with a delicious ice cream from the nearby store.  I saw some real American history when I passed this church built in 1769.
I then came upon some Amish people who were driving their horse and carriage and saw several others in the area.
I was even fast enough to overtake them!!!
I figured this must be a pretty quiet part of New York State judging by the size of the local police station.
We then spent some time on a superb tarmac cycle path which took us along the side of the Mowhawk River.
And then past the baseball field where Babe Ruth began his career.
I then took my 900th picture of the trip when I met this cyclist on his rather unusual bicycle coming the other way.
I can't believe that can be stable in windy conditions!!
Today's Stats.
Mileage - 74.4
Climbing - 2100 feet
Time in Saddle - 5hrs 35 mins
Average Speed - 13.2 mph

Thursday, 5 August 2010

Day 46. Liverpool to Little Falls

This morning we were told that there was 30% chance of rain.  There were no Scousers about early in the morning to pinch my bike but within about 10 minutes of leaving the hotel,  I discovered that the weather forecast in this area was as accurate as the UK and there was in fact 100% chance of rain, heavy rain at that!  It then persisted down for about 2 hours and 30 mins, at one point being so heavy that several of us took shelter under a large tree. Fortunately, the precipitation let up and off we went again.  Due to the damp, I had a shower cap over my cycle helmet , a shower cap covering my camera and a small ziplock bag over my cycle computer.  Unfortunately, I forgot to put my travelling dollars into anything waterproof but that is another story!  Fortunately, nobody else had their camera out to take a photograph of me as I must have looked a right t**. Nothing new there!
Eventually things got drier and I began to get concerned that the weather conditions might get worse after seeing a vehicle with a snow plough on one driveway and this on another!(For any USA citizens reading this, it is plough, not plow, OK?).
I can't begin to imagine how severe weather conditions must be in winter to need a Ski-doo to get about!
As we got closer to our destination, there were opportunities to engage in some directorial practice!

Live models eh? Unfortunately, I was going downhill at the time so there was no chance of me stopping!!!
I began to think that I had gone too far when I saw this sign from a distance but then remembered that there was a bit of an ocean to cross and the spelling was a tad inaccurate!

I was still going downhill when I saw this emporium.

Self Serve eh?
I was feeling a bit peckish as I passed here but really couldn't decide between the Hamburg and the Mexicans. I really don't think I could manage a whole one!

Just how does one choose??????
Today's Stats.
Mileage - 78.2
Climbing - 1610 feet
Time in Saddle - 6 hrs 1 min
Average Speed - 13 mph

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Day 45 Henrietta to Liverpool

Today was the longest day in terms of mileage left. We were able to load from 6am and I was close to the front of the queue.   I had a very quick breakfast in the hotel, declining the option of going to McDonalds and instead relying on my chewy bars to get me to the first SAG stop at 37 miles.  At 6 miles, we entered the Erie Canalway Trail and stayed on that until 26 miles.  It was a pretty busy area with other cyclists, joggers and even two 8 scull boats having a race.
There was some cute wildlife there and they were obviously well used to humans feeding them judging by how close they got.
I enjoyed this welding firm's efforts to advertise their capabilities!

I wondered if anyone would be interested in this truck?  Not quite as attractive as yesterday's!

I had just cycled through Weedstown and wondered how it had got it's name.  Perhaps the mystery has been solved!

And I particularly enjoyed their sense of humour.

Night Snoopy!!!
The afternoon became very very humid and while I didn't find it affected me too much, mainly because of a cool breeze, some cyclists were badly leaking water.  There was broadly the same amount of climbing as yesterday and I still felt strong, continuing to stand on the pedals like yesterday which hopefully bodes well for the two big climbing days still to come.
Today's Stats.
Mileage - 94
Climbing - 1600 feet
Time in Saddle - 7 hrs 23 mins
Average Speed - 12.7 mph