Saturday, September 19, 2009

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

the final few days

Here is a quick recap of the final few days, since we last wrote in Pennsylvania:

Our route went as follows:
Honesdale-New Paltz, Ny
New Paltz-Farmington, Ct

The rest of our ride on route 6 through Pennsylvania was pretty hilly. We didn't realize it coming in, but the area we rode through is called the 'endless mountains'. That is certainly what they felt like! It was absolutely beautiful. We crossed the Allegany river several times as we dipped down into valleys, and because we had quite a bit of rain through Pennsylvania, the river was often shrouded in fog.

We had two other major days of rain: from Galeton-Towanda, and from Honesdale-New Paltz. Riding in the rain is not so terrible, as long as you keep moving. It gets pretty chilly when you stop to change a flat tire, and it is often pretty difficult to warm up. We were pretty grateful to have warm showers when we finished at the end of our cold rainy days!

Our second to last day, from honesdale to New Paltz, Ny was one of these rainy days. We rode the first part of the morning through some pretty hard rain, which made trying to make up time on the downhills pretty tough. We crossed in to New York State, and made it to Monticello, when Drew's tire blew out. This was our last good tire, leaving us stranded on the side of the road in the pouring rain. We had plenty of tubes to change a flat, but had run out of spare tires. Fortunately, we were within 1/2 mile of a gas station, and we walked our bikes there to seek shelter. It was Sunday, so the closest open bike shop was over 50 miles away (meaning that we couldn't send someone to bike there). It was already in the works for Drew's girlfriend, Alli, to join us for the evening, and she was kind enough to drop her plans for the day to head towards us earlier. She stopped by a bike shop to pick us up a spare tire, and headed towards New York. In the meantime, we fashioned a makeshift tire patch out of a dolalr bill, rubber cement, and duct tape, and managed to keep the tire inflated. We figured we would just head on our way and limp along as far as possible before the tire blew again as Alli drove towards us. The patch ended up holding until about 6 miles from New Paltz, at which time Alli was only about 10 minutes from us. We lost about 2.5 hours of the day trying to figure out what we were going to do, but in the end, we made it to New Paltz by 7pm, in time for a big dinner at a local Irish pub! We thought that this mishap was going to cost us an extra day on the road, and we were pretty thrilled when we realized that we were going to make it back on schedule.

Alli took all of our wet, heavy gear for the last day, so riding on just our bicycles with no panniers felt like nothing! We had a great day of weather for our last ride through the western part of Ct, and it was great to know that we were riding with a real destination in mind. It was pretty cool to be riding through Connecticut and actually recognize names of towns, and know a bit about them! It was even better as we approached Farmington to be able to recognize landmarks that we have seen before. We rode up to the Health Center parking lot around 4pm, and were greeted warmly by parents and friends.

This has been a true adventure for us. It was great to spend our summer outside, and to see the country in a way that few people have. Even when times got tough, we were always able to fall back on why we decided to do the ride in the first place: to raise money for a great cause. This has certainly been a challenging time for all of us, but we all agree that it was a great experience.

Thanks for reading!

Monday, August 3, 2009

home sweet home!

we've arrived safely in Farmington after an amazing adventure. More to come on our last few days soon!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

soaking wet!

So, we finally feel like we're back close to home! We crossed over into Pennsylvania yesterday, and we're now about 5 days from home sweet home. We've heard stories about how wet this summer has been, but we haven't experienced it until today...and it rained A LOT.

Here's a recap of the past few days
Columbus-Masillon, Ohio
Masillon-Mercer, Pa

We left Columbus after a great day off with Drew's friend Claire. Although most of western Ohio was relatively flat, we were surprised at how fast the both the hills and the number of trees picked up outside of Columbus. We rode through a beautiful (and very hilly!) stretch of forest between Mt. Vernon and Loudenville around lunchtime, and then the rest of the afternoon rode through rolling hills and farmland.

Yesterday, we left Masillon and again rode through some hills on our way toward Pennsylvania. We were disappointed once again to cross a state border without a sign welcoming us. Katherine even asked in a local diner in Sharon, Pa if she had missed the sign, but was told that the route we took did not have a sign at the border. We arrived in Mercer around 5pm. The Mercer motel was kind enough to donate a room, for which we were very grateful. This motel also happened to be located around the corner from the town pizza restaurant, complete with Tuesday night happy hour specials. The special? 50% off any large 2 topping pzza. We each ordered our own large pizza, and were treated to a very large dinner (and breakfast).

After eating our pizza this morning, we set off toward Marienville. Even though we rode away at 6:45 AM, we made it only about 5 miles before the drizzles started. It rained lightly off and on until about 10 AM, when it started to pour. The hard rain didn't let up all afternoon, and it's still going at 7:30! We were watching the news tonight, and there are areas of Eastern Pennsylvania and New York state that have gotten over 6 inches of rain today. What a soaker! We're just thankful to be staying in a room donated by the Microtel Inn and Suites in Marienville, out of the rain. We've all showered and warmed up, and we've dried our clothes for tomorrow. The forecast looks pretty good for tomorrow (high 70's and sunny), but we'll likely get some more rain on Friday. We were hoping that we would bring good weather with us as we moved east, but it looks like our luck might be wearing thin.

Hopefully we'll be able to get in another post or two before the end of the trip. We can't believe it's coming to an end already!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

a day off in Columbus

After a great visit with Drew's parents, we left Terre Haute for a pretty ride to Greenfield, Indiana. That morning, we rode through some pretty dense fog, which was somewhat nervewracking in terms of our visibility to cars, but was beautiful. We rode through an area of cornfields scattered with farmhouses that had an eerie shadow cast over them by the rising sun and the moisture in the air. We attempted to take pictures, but they didn't really capture the light very well. By 8:30 or so, the fog had blown off, and the rest of our day was beautiful and sunny. In the early afternoon, we rode right through downtown Indianapolis. It was cool to see another city, and notice the unique aspects of each of the cities we have ridden through.

The next morning, we set off toward Columbus, where we are currently visiting Drew's friend from college, Claire. Our initial goal was to split the 150 miles in to two 75 mile days, but we had a great wind at our tail, and we had ridden nearly 50 miles by 11am. So, we decided to push on and head, crossing the Ohio border, and finish in Springfield, Ohio instead. The final mileage for the day was nearly 115, which was a long day even though it was relatively flat with good winds.

It's a good thing that we pushed on towards Springfield, because we woke up yesterday morning with only 45 miles ahead of us to Columbus! Also, there were strong storms in the forecast for the afternoon. When we first woke up, there were some pretty crazy thunder storms rolling through, but they had passed by the time we finished breakfast. Aside from a strong crosswind, we didn't see many other signs of a storm, so we set on our way. We made good time to Columbus, and we rode into town around noon. We managed to avoid rain all morning until about 3/4 a mile away from Claire's house, when we were hit with some really hard rain. We were soaked in seconds! Even still, we were glad to be done so early in the day with a full day and a half ahead of us to relax.

Yesterday afternoon and today have been a great time to relax. We all went to see Food, Inc. with Claire and her roomate, and spent the evening relaxing. This morning, we cooked a feast of a breakfast and explored a bit of Columbus while looking for a bike shop. We went to an ice cream shop with really exotic flavors (like salty caramel, goat cheese and cherries, thai chili, cucumber honeydew ceyenne, berry and burgundy, sweet corn and rasberry). We tried them all...they sound bizarre, but were really yummy! This evening, we will head over to the 'ribs and jazz festival' that is taking place in Columbus.

We're working out our route for the rest of the trip. We're a bit south of last year's crew, but we will try to meet up with their route to avoid the Appalacians in Pennsylvania. Right now, our estimated date to arrive in Farmington is somewhere around August 4th or 5th! We're all getting antsy to see family and friends again!