Bicycling 4,174 Miles Across the United States

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August 17th: Bridgton to Freeport, ME and Atlantic Ocean

It was a very special gift to have Nancy bike the final miles with me to the Atlantic Ocean pictured above (taken by our friend Carol) for the official conclusion of my grand adventure bicycling 4,085 miles and climbing 114,562 feet from Anacortes, Washington to Freeport, Maine.

August 17th Statistics: Bridgton to Freeport, ME

  • Today’s Biking Distance – 59.3 miles
  • Today’s Average Speed – 14.2 mph
  • Today’s Time In Saddle – 4.2 hours
  • Today Ascent – 3,310 feet


  • Total Trip Biking Days – 54
  • Total Trip Biking Distance – 4,084.7 miles
  • Total Trip Average Biking Distance/Day – 75.6 miles
  • Total Trip Average Speed – 13.9 mph
  • Total Trip Ascent – 114,562 feet

Knowing that today was my final bicycle ride of the cross country adventure, I admit sleeping was difficult.  I was awake by 6 am and ready to go.  However, today’s ride was very short, 50 miles to Freeport, Maine and 4 more miles from Freeport to the Atlantic Ocean. Considering the terrain, it appeared the ride was only going to take about 4 hours.

Doug, Robert, Jim and I agreed that we would meet at noon a corner just outside downtown Freeport so that we could ride together into town to the cheers of Doug’s wife and sister, Nancy, and friends Carol and Al (who bicycled across the country last summer).  I was so anxious to complete the ride and see Nancy, I was the first one on the road this morning (7:30 am) and only stopped for water.  My focus on the biking today resulted in my 1) only taking one photo during the ride (see photo below of Joanne and John) and 2) arriving at the designated corner in Freeport at 11:15 am (Jim, Robert and Doug arrived together about 11:50 am).

The shock of the day occurred at just before 11 am when I was about 4 miles from Freeport.  To my joy Nancy pulled up next to me in our SUV for the first eye-to-eye contact we have had in over two months (64 days to be exact).  With both of us trying to avoid a collision because we were so focused on each other, we found a pull off just ahead and celebrated the moment with a long and passionate kiss.  It was only after the kiss I noted that friends Carol and Al had joined Nancy and pulled over for a reunion.  Hard as it was, Nancy and I parted so she could get setup at L.L. Bean’s for the arrival of the four cross-country bikers and have her bicycle ready to join me for the final 4 mile ride to the Atlantic Ocean.

After Doug, Jim, Robert and I met outside Freeport, Doug got on the phone with his wife Lisa (see photo below of Doug and Lisa) and I got on the phone with Nancy trying (with great difficulty) to connect his family and Nancy/Carol/Al at the L.L. Beans complex so they could be together for our group arrival.  Finally, after many cell minutes , it was clear to Doug and me that they had found each other and were ready for our grand arrival.   Doug, Jim, Robert and I mounted our bikes for the ride to a reception at L.L. Beans in Freeport, Maine.

As we rode into downtown Freeport (which was mobbed with people and autos), a sudden chorus of “pops” and voices rang out as a crowd of people (10 actually) waved and yelled as our group of four bikers arrived at the corner in Freeport where L.L. Bean was located.  Doug was surprised for the third time on this trip with unexpected family members greeting him.  While he was expecting his wife and sister, greeting us were also his son and daughter-in-law and his daughter (see photo below of Doug’s family).  Joining family and friends for our arrival at L.L. Bean were also fellow bikers Joanne and John who had arrived earlier at L.L. Beans.  Nancy was there with balloons and a badge, “Action Hero” which she pinned on me.  The celebration at the arrival of four cyclist at L.L. Bean led bystanders to ask if we were celebrities or professional athletes.  I must admit it was a hoot to get this kind of unexpected attention.

After many introductions, handshakes, kisses, and congratulations in downtown Freeport, everyone was off on a bike or in a car to the Atlantic Ocean 4 miles away for the formal dipping of front bicycle tires by Jim, Robert, Doug and me.  Joining the four of us on bicycles to the Atlantic Ocean was Nancy, who was unmistakable due to the six helium celebration balloons she had tied to her bicycle.  I was very impressed to note that Nancy was easily able to keep up with me on her bike (actually passing me on one hill).

The celebration continued for everyone (including bikers Steve and Sharon) at the Atlantic Ocean where the four cross country cyclists had individual and group photos taken with bicycles (front tires resting in the Atlantic Ocean) by a dozen or more cameras.  Then it was a photo session with family and friends.

Finally, it was time to bike back to Freeport, where with a great sense of accomplishment  (and  a little sorrow), I ended the bicycling element of this adventure by mounting my Trek on our SUV.  Two more events occurred before we disbanded and went our separate ways.  A wonderful celebration dinner for all cyclists (the four cross-country group as well as the 10 who joined us in Brockport, NY), family, and friends was hosted by  Dale and Diane at  Linda Bean’s (grand daughter of LL Bean) Maine Kitchen and Topside Tavern in Freeport, Maine followed by a round of final comments by Dale, Diane, Doug, Jim, Robert, and me.  After a good nights sleep, Robert, Jim, Doug, and I met in the morning for a final farewell before Jim and Robert  left with Dale and Diane for the Airport in Portland, Maine, Doug left with his family for a long weekend reunion in Portland, Maine, and Nancy and I left for a week’s vacation (biking and hiking) in Kennebunkport, Maine and Wolfeboro, New Hampshire.

I am at a loss for more words at the moment, but will spend the next several weeks compiling my final thoughts, perspectives and insights about this adventure.  If you would like me to comment on any particular aspect of the adventure (I have already been asked to share my favorite state, hardest biking day, best restaurant and hotels, personal learnings, etc), let me know.

Thanks for your support, feedback and encouragement over the last two months.   I look forward to personally connecting with each of  you in the coming weeks.  Till then, best wishes to everyone.


Cyclist Prichard

Joanne and John from Avon, Connecticut who I bike with for some of today’s miles.

Mile 52:  Jim, Robert, me and Doug upon our arrive to the cheers of the crowd (actually 8 people – Doug’s wife, sister, son, daughter, and daughter-in-law as well as Nancy, and our friends Carol and Al, who bicycled coast-to coast last summer) when we arrived outside L.L. Bean in Freeport, Maine. The four of us met at a corner just outside of town so we could ride into Freeport together.  The commotion of our  friends and families at our arrival at L.L. Bean led bystanders to ask if we were celebrities or professional athletes (I must admit it was a hoot to get this kind of attention which was completely unexpected).   At this point we still had 4 miles to cycle for the official completion of a coast to coast bike trip by dipping our front tires in the Atlantic Ocean.

John (left) and Jim (right) with me outside L.L. Bean just after our arrival in Freeport, Maine.

Mile 4,085: Dipping my front tire in the Atlantic Ocean near Freeport, Maine.

My friend Al and me at the Atlantic Ocean near Freeport, Maine.  Al bicycled coast to coast last summer and provided me valuable advice as I planned my own trip.

Nancy and our friends Carol and Al at the Atlantic Ocean. Nancy was dressed in her bike attire and had her bike ready when I arrived at L.L. Bean in Freeport, Maine so she could ride the final 4 miles with me to the Atlantic Ocean.  Thanks to Carol and Al for hosting Nancy at their Maine retreat the evening before I arrived and for making the special effort to be there for my arrival in Freeport and joining the celebration.

Doug and his wife Lisa at our final dinner at Linda Bean’s (grand daughter of LL Bean) Maine Kitchen and Topside Tavern in Freeport, Maine.

Doug and his family at the final dinner at Linda Bean’s (grand daughter of LL Bean) Maine Kitchen and Topside Tavern in Freeport, Maine.

August 16th: Lincoln, NH to Bridgton, ME

Mile 13: As I began the long downhill from Kancamagus Pass into Conway, NH, I stopped at a lookout just below the pass to take this photo. The day was very overcast and rain was expected as you might tell from this photo. Fortunately, the rain held off until after the downhill (wet roads makes downhill riding dangerous, scary, and stressful).

August 16th Statistics:  Lincoln, NH to Bridgton, ME

  • Today’s Biking Distance – 69.9 miles
  • Today’s Average Speed – 13.1 mph
  • Today’s Time In Saddle – 5.3 hours
  • Today Ascent – 3,804 feet
  • Total Trip Biking Days – 53
  • Total Trip Biking Distance – 4,025.4 miles
  • Total Trip Average Biking Distance/Day – 76.0 miles
  • Total Trip Ascent – 111,252 feet

Today may have provided the most beautiful scenery that I did not get to view on our cross country tour.  Overcast skies, fog, and rain combined to thwart  enjoyment of the beauty of New Hampshire and Maine scenery.  The day started with a 12 mile, 1,900 foot climb to Kancamagus Pass in the White Mountains of New Hampshire.  Fortunately, it was a relatively gradual climb (4% to 7%) on a relatively smooth and wide shoulder.  Dave from Grand Rapids and I decided to bike to the pass together and had a great conversation, particularly about his and Susie’s exceptional volunteer work several times each year as physicians in third world countries (Susie, who is a family practice physician, is leaving for Nepal for a two month assignment this fall).

The long (12 miles) ride down from Kancamagus Pass was cold (needed to put on a jacket and gloves), exciting (fast), stressful (some wet spots) and, most importantly, uneventful.  At mile 42 we entered our last state of the cross-country tour, Maine.   Doug, Jim, Robert, and I spent what felt like 30 minutes for individual and group photos with the “State Line Maine” sign (and the “State Line New Hampshire” – see photo below).  Shortly after entering Maine, the rain with an occasional downpour began and continued for the rest of my bike ride (2 hours) to the lodging in Bridgton, ME.  At mile 56 the SAG wagon (with some riders who decided that only crazy/obsessed cyclist, like me, would continue to bike under these weather conditions) pulled up next to me so Diane and Dale could get my advice on the route.  It happened that a street sign at a critical turn was missing and I was able to confirm the turn with my bike computer which has a GPS that shows street names.  Somehow, I was the first rider to arrive (on a bike) at the Pleasant Mountain Inn.  I felt energized (to everyone’s surprise), accomplished, comfortable, drenched, and very pleased with my Gore-Tex, Pearl Izumi, and Taiga rain gear.  A long hot shower never felt better.  Dinner at the Campfire Grill next to our lodging was outstanding which topped off a good day.  It is hard for me to believe and accept that I only have one more day of biking to complete the Pacific to Atlantic bicycle tour!

I have three notable (at least to me) personal accomplishments to maintain for one more day – 1) Biking every mile of the tour (I don’t count the two miles in Montana when I was forced by the State of Montana to ride in a Department of Transportation pickup truck through a construction area with a grizzly bear grazing with a cub), 2) Biking through every weather situation without stopping or waiting it out in the SAG wagon, and 3) Not having a flat tire  (4,025 miles – thank you Specialized for your Armadillo All Condition Bicycle Tires).

Our lodging in Lincoln, NH (very touristy at an exit from Interstate 93), the Kancamagus Lodge. Lincoln is at the entrance to the White Mountain National Forest.  Last evening dinner was “on your own”, so Robert, Jim, Doug and I dined at the Common Man across the street from our lodging, which was excellent. My Uncommon Salad, “Seasonal greens tossed with balsamic vinaigrette and topped with Gorgonzola and candied hazelnuts, lobster Mac & Cheese, and Apple Tart, “A buttery flaky puff pastry layered with fresh ripe apples and baked golden brown. Served warm with C-man made vanilla ice cream and drizzled with caramel sauce (which I ordered only after craving it when Doug and Robert were served theirs) was delicious. Additionally, the Common Man had a 1/2 price wine bottle night so Robert ordered the white wine and I ordered the red wine (Josh Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon – excellent).  I highly recommend the Common Man (multiple locations).

Mile 12: The ride from Lincoln started with a 12 mile, 1,900 foot climb to Kancamagus Pass in the White Mountains. Fortunately, it was a relatively gradual climb (4% to 7%) on a relatively smooth and wide shoulder. Dave from Grand Rapids and I decided to bike to the pass together and had a great conversation along the way. Thanks Dave. When Dave and I reached Kancamagus Pass, there were Diane and Dale with the SAG wagon, waiting with refreshments, encouragement, and praise.

Mile 13:  An educational marker about rain drops at Kancamagus Pass.

Mile 13: Doug at the Kancamagus Lookout showing the appropriate attire (except for insulated and waterproof booties which I highly recommend) for a long, cold, downhill bike ride.

Mile 15: Another view of the downhill ride from Kancamagus Pass. It was very tricky stopping the bicycle to take this photo as I was traveling close to 35 mph when I saw the view (which would disappear around the curve) and the road was slightly wet in spots from an earlier shower.

Mile 27:  This is the Albany Covered Bridge (see marker below) which I crossed on the ride today on my way to Conway, NH.

Mile 27:  Historical and Educational Marker about the Albany Covered Bridge.

Mile 28:  After crossing the Albany Covered Bridge, I biked on this beautiful road, Passaconaway Road, for 5 miles on the way into Conway, NH.

Mile 42: For Robert fans, here he is entering the last state of our cross country tour, Maine, at the border of Conway, NH and Fryeburg, Maine.

Mile 42: Entering my 15th and last state, Maine, on my cross country bicycle tour.

Mile 42:  This sign is somewhat out of sequence.  Since there was no “Welcome to New Hampshire” sign when we entered New Hampshire yesterday from White River Junction, Vermont, Jim, Robert, Doug and I used the other side of the “State Line Maine” pictured in the previous photo to document our visit to New Hampshire.

Mile 42:  A group photo of, left to right, Doug, Jim, Robert, and me as we enter the 15th and final state (Maine) of our cross country bike tour.


Dear Family and Friends,

Tomorrow will be my final day of biking across the United States.  I plan three more posts: 1) Today’s (8/16) commentary and photos will be posted in the next several days, 2) Tomorrow’s final day commentary and photos posted in the next several days and 3) A final post with my thoughts about the entire tour as well as my favorite photos posted after I return from my vacation with Nancy on August 26th.

It has been a wonderful experience.  I’ll have much more to say later.  Hope you have enjoyed my blog so far.


August 15th: White River Junction, VT to Lincoln, NH

August 15th Statistics:  White River Junction, VT to Lincoln, NH

  • Today’s Biking Distance – 63.2 miles
  • Today’s Average Speed – 13.0 mph
  • Today’s Time In Saddle – 4.9 hours
  • Today Ascent – 3,548 feet
  • Total Trip Biking Days – 52
  • Total Trip Biking Distance – 3,955.5 miles
  • Total Trip Average Biking Distance/Day – 76.1 miles
  • Total Trip Ascent – 107,448 feet

Beautiful scenery, overcast weather, long climb, long downhill.  Hard to believe that I only have two more days of riding after today and I touch the Atlantic Ocean and kiss my wife (not necessarily in that order).

One of our first views of New Hampshire (near Haverhill) which we entered this morning.

Another view on our route near Haverhill, NH.

Steve & Sharon on today’s long and gradual climb (compared to yesterday’s climb to the Middlebury Gap) to the pass where the Appalachian Trail crossed the road.

Another view of Sharon and Steve on the climb to the Appalachain Trail.

Appalachian Trail Marker at the top of the pass . When we arrived we found a dozen college age hikers resting or hitchhiking the six miles into town. One group of six hikers told me that they had been hiking the Appalachian since February when they started in Georgia and were going to complete the trip in September.

View on the six mile downhill ride from the Appalachian Trail to the town of Lincoln, NH.

August 14th: Middlebury to White River Junction, VT

View of a valley in Vermont that we traveled today.

August 14th Statistics:  Middlebury to White River Junction, VT

  • Today’s Biking Distance – 71.8 miles
  • Today’s Average Speed – 13.3 mph
  • Today’s Time In Saddle – 5.4 hours
  • Today Ascent – 3,605 feet
  • Total Trip Biking Days – 51
  • Total Trip Biking Distance – 3,892.3 miles
  • Total Trip Average Biking Distance/Day – 76.3 miles
  • Total Trip Ascent – 103,900 feet

The climb from Middlebury to Middlebury Gap may have been the most difficult climb of the entire trip.  It was not the elevation gain (about 1,600 feet), but the grade (several miles at 11% to 14%) and road surface (new rough pavement). Glad it came at the end of the trip.

A highlight of the ride was traveling through the campus of the Bread Load School of English (see photos) where Robert Frost taught.  The scenery was beautiful for the entire route today, but did include some heavily travels roads.

View of our climb up Route 125 to the Middlebury Gap.

View of the Vermont mountains from the Campus of the Bread Loaf School of English. Middlebury established the Bread Loaf School of English in 1919 with involvement of Robert Frost who taught there to provide graduate education in the fields of English and American literature, public speaking, creative writing, dramatic production, and the teaching of English.

Another view of the campus of Bread Loaf School of English.

Fellow biker Steve climbing to Middlebury Gap.

Robert and Doug on the route today.

I stopped to take this photo of a strange monument, an antique motorcycle mounted on a rock. A man from a house across the street from it called me over to explain it. A good friend who was a BMW motorcycle mechanic died in his sleep several years ago when he was 50. In his honor his friends took one of his motorcycles and mounted it on the side of the road as a memorial to him.

Bikers Mollie and Joanne on the busy road today approaching Royalton, VT.

View of four of our bikers climbing a hill near Royalton, VT.

View of the road we climbed out of South Royalton, VT.

View of the final miles into White River Junction, VT.

August 13th: North Creek, NY to Middlebury, VT

A view of the Vermont bike route with Mollie of Coral Gables, who joined us in Brockport, biking one of the many hills today. You can see the road that led Mollie here in the background.

August 13th Statistics:  North Creek, NY to Middlebury, VT

  • Today’s Biking Distance – 65.7 miles
  • Today’s Average Speed – 15.5 mph
  • Today’s Time In Saddle – 4.2 hours
  • Today Ascent – 3,598 feet
  • Total Trip Biking Days – 50
  • Total Trip Biking Distance – 3,820.5 miles
  • Total Trip Average Biking Distance/Day – 76.4 miles
  • Total Trip Ascent – 100,295 feet

Today I reached a major milestone – I have climbed over 100,000 feet on my bike during the tour!  Amazingly, I also continue to evade a flat tire and more often than not – the forecasted rain as I did again today.

It was with fond memories I biked from Ticonderoga, NY to Middlebury, VT today.  About a year ago, Nancy and I persuaded six friends (Shelley & Eugene, Ted & Kristin, and Mike & Cheryl) to join us on a 6 day bike tour (the 1st bike tour for them) of the Lake Champaign region of Vermont.  The  last 20 miles of today’s ride including 1) the Kissing Bridge in Ticonderoga where Nancy and I were photographed kissing, 2) the Ticonderoga Ferry, 3) the beautiful ride to Shoreham), and 4) Middlebury, were part of last year’s tour which was great.  Even our hotel tonight, the historic Middlebury Inn, was the same hotel we stayed in last year.  The only things different were my riding ability (increased), the water flow (decreased) in the Otter Creek in Middlebury (a city we love to visit), and the location of dinner (this year we dined at the Two Brothers Tavern where the food was excellent, but the service was painfully slow).

View of Vermont as I begin the long downhill into Ticonderoga, NY.

Another view of Vermont from the downhill ride into Ticonderoga, NY.

The waterfalls (left) and “Kissing Bridge” (right) in Ticonderoga, which Nancy and I visited last year on our bike tour of Vermont’s lake region with our friends Shelley & Eugene, Ted & Kristin, and Mike & Cheryl.

My friend Jim who was summering nearby decided to ride with me for some miles into Vermont from the Ticonderoga Ferry. Pictured above is Jim and bike and his wife Nini as we wait for for the Ferry.

Pictured above with me on the Ticonderoga Ferry into Vermont are three bikers who joined us in Brockport, NY. Left to right next to me are Mollie from Coral Gables, FL, and Steve and Sharon from Los Gatos, CA.

Entering Vermont – only two states to go.

Mollie after a long climb from the Ticonderoga Ferry with the New York hills in the background.

Mollie after a long climb from the Ticonderoga Ferry with the New York hills in the background and a beautiful hilltop cemetery on both sides of road.

Steve after the long climb from the Ticonderoga Ferry with the New York hills in the background and a beautiful hilltop cemetery on both sides of the road.

A view of the Vermont as we bike towards MIddlebury, VT.

Pictured above is the Otter Creek Falls in Middlebury. Last year when Nancy I were in Middlebury (which we love) with our friends on a bike trip, Hurricane Irene had just passed. The Otter Creek waterflow last year dwarfs what you see in this photo.

August 12th: Old Forge to North Creek, NY

Pictured above are four of my closest friends from Philadelphia (left to right, Nini and Jim Wolitarsky, and Ted and Kristin Laws) who made a special trip to North Creek, NY to visit me on my tour. We shared a wonderful dinner in the Tavern at Copperfield.

August 12th Statistics:  Old Forge to North Creek, NY

  • Today’s Biking Distance – 65.3 miles
  • Today’s Average Speed – 11.4 mph
  • Today’s Time In Saddle – 5.7 hours
  • Today Ascent – 2,722 feet
  • Total Trip Biking Days – 49
  • Total Trip Biking Distance – 3,754.8 miles
  • Total Trip Average Biking Distance/Day – 76.6 miles
  • Total Trip Ascent – 96,697 feet

Today had its highs and lows.  The high was certainly the visit by my close friends Jim and Nini Wolitarsky and Ted and Kristin Laws.  The biggest surprise of the day was biking a tough section of Route 28 with my eyes totally focused on the road and having a convertible (top down) pull up next to me with Ted and Kristin.  They had been cruising the road between Old Forge and North Creek looking for me (using my yellow handlebar bag to identify me which turned out to be meaningful as there were hundreds of cyclists on the same route biking the 78 mile Adirondack Ididaride being held today).  After finding a place to pull over we had a joyful reunion after two months.  We continued catching up and sharing stories over dinner with Jim (who is joining me for a bike tomorrow at the Ticonderoga Ferry) and Nini.

The low was the loss of my energy level early in the day.  I felt great for the beautiful first 11 miles of today’s ride from Old Forge to Inlet, NY on a country road.  Then it felt like someone had tied anchors to my feet (but no other symptoms) or that the excellent blueberry pancakes I had for breakfast (I am occasionally eating breakfast) went to my feet.  I was struggling to maintain my new performance levels for speed and cadence (yesterday I climb more elevation and rode more miles, but went much faster than today).  Making me feel even more depressed, dozens of riders were passing me from the Ididaride and our own group at speeds far below my recent performance.  Fortunately, the ride was short (only 65 miles) so I arrived at our lodge at about 2pm and spent the entire afternoon napping so I would be in better shape for dinner with Jim, Nini, Ted, and Kristin.  I felt surprisingly better after the nap and even more so after a great evening with my friends.

Now the rest of the story – When I was preparing my bike for the ride the next day, I found that the front wheel was very loose.  Now it appears that my problem today was mechanical, not physical.  My front wheel may have been rubbing the brake pads for the entire ride providing me an extra challenge.  Supporting this conclusion was the fact that on the ride the next day, my performance immediately returned to my new expectations and I was energized.

Steve & Nancy highly recommended Keyes Pancake House for breakfast, so Jim (pictured), Robert, Doug, and I left the hotel early so we could be at Keyes when they opened at 7 am. Thank you Steve & Nancy, the breakfast was delicious.

View of Fulton Lake on our ride today.

Another view of the Fulton Lake Chain near Inlet, NY

View of one of the many lakes we passed on our ride today.

View of one of the many river crossings on our bike route today.

View of our lodging in North Creek, NY, the Alpine Lodge.

View of my room at the Alpine Lodge showing the rustic theme of the furnishings – very nice.

I was not the only biker to have company for the evening. Doug was thrilled for the second time on the tour to be surprised by family members showing up unexpectedly at one of our overnight cities. Pictured above are two of Doug’s sisters and a brother-in-law who drove up from Albany to share the afternoon and evening with him.

August 11th: Pulaski to Old Forge, NY

A view of the Salmon River from our bike route today.

August 11th Statistics:  Pulaski to Old Forge, NY

  • Today’s Biking Distance – 76.8 miles
  • Today’s Average Speed – 13.4 mph
  • Today’s Time In Saddle – 5.6 hours
  • Today Ascent – 3,977 feet
  • Total Trip Biking Days – 48
  • Total Trip Biking Distance – 3,689.5 miles
  • Total Trip Average Biking Distance/Day – 76.9 miles
  • Total Trip Ascent – 93,925 feet

Between a lack of internet connection at one hotel, not feeling well one day, and two wonderful evenings with six Philadelphia friends, Steve & Nancy, Ted & Kristin, and Jim & Nini, I have fallen four days behind in my blogs.  I am going to try to get as many posted as I can today (August 14th).

Today’s scenery was beautiful.  However, the threat of rain all day and heavy traffic for the last 10 miles on Route 28 detracted from the experience and left we with few opportunities for photos.  I left early this morning and took few breaks based upon the weather forecast.  Good decision – the rain started 3 miles from the Old Forge hotel so I only had about 10 minutes of biking in it.  The downpour started just as I arrived at the hotel.  Many in our group biked an hour or more in a downpour today.  Unfortunately, one rider took a wrong turn and rode over 20 miles in the wrong direction as well.

All bad weather was forgotten as my friends Nancy and Steve graciously hosted Doug, Robert, Jim and me at their vacation home near Old Forge for the evening.  The sky cleared, we took a boat ride on First, Second, and Third Lakes, met their dog, Parker, had our first delicious home cooked meal in nearly two months topped off with great wine, and exchanged stories of our trip and the Andirondacks.  Thank you Nancy and Steve.

The River House Restaurant pictured above was the location of our dinner last night in Pulaski, NY. Great meal – highly recommended.

Doug entering the Andirondack’s.

A view of the Salmon River which paralleled our bike path for the first part of the ride today near.

A view of Route 28 which we biked today. While the road was good, there was a lot of traffic which took away from the experience.

A view of the reading lounge at our hotel in Old Forge, Water’s Edge.

A view from the reading lounge of our hotel in Old Forge, Water’s Edge.

My friends Nancy and Steve, who have a vacation home near Old Forge, generously hosted a evening and dinner for Jim, Robert, Doug and me. Pictured above is Steve giving us a tour of the canoe collection at a lake reserved for non motorized boats.

Doug pictured with Steve & Nancy’s dog, Parker.

View of the evening sky while we were taking a boat ride with Steve and Nancy on Third Lake.

Robert on our Third Lake boat ride.

Nancy with Parker, Robert and Doug.

August 10th: Newark to Pulaski, NY

August 10th Statistics:  Newark to Pulaski, NY

  • Today’s Biking Distance – 77.7 miles
  • Today’s Average Speed – 14.2 mph
  • Today’s Time In Saddle – 5.5 hours
  • Today Ascent – 3,258 feet
  • Total Trip Biking Days – 47
  • Total Trip Biking Distance – 3,612.7 miles
  • Total Trip Average Biking Distance/Day – 76.9 miles
  • Total Trip Ascent – 89,948 feet

Today’s weather was threatening and the ride long, so I began riding about 7 am.  Our days of flat riding are certainly over – today we climbed over 3,000 feet, which we had done only day (Osceola, WI to Red Wing, MN when we were climbing the bluffs above the Mississippi River) since leaving the Rockies in Western Montana.  The overcast sky, occasion sprinkles, one rain shower, and terrain didn’t allow much photography so I only have two photos today.  However, they do provide you a good picture of today’s ride.  One more note – the road conditions in New York continue to be great for biking.

Dinner in Pulaski, NY at the River House Restaurant in Pulaski was exceptional – highly recommended.

Mile 32:  Typical view of the roads and scenery we biked today showing the rolling hills and road conditions.

Mile 45: Another typical view of today bike ride showing the rolling hills (note upper right hand side of photo which shows how this road continues).

August 9th: Brockport to Newark, NY

Mile 26: See story below.

Mile 26:  Doug and Tom, the owner of Bill Wahl’s Ice Cream Microcreamery (see story below).

August 9th Statistics:  Brockport to Newark, NY

  • Today’s Biking Distance – 56.6 miles
  • Today’s Average Speed – 15.6 mph
  • Today’s Time In Saddle – 3.8 hours
  • Today Ascent – 380 feet
  • Total Trip Biking Days – 46
  • Total Trip Biking Distance – 3,535.0 miles
  • Total Trip Average Biking Distance/Day – 76.8 miles
  • Total Trip Ascent – 86,690 feet

Relatively short day – 57 miles, nearly all of the riding being on the Erie Canalway Trail.  Much of the scenery was similar to what we had seen on the trail earlier.  On today’s section of the Erie Canal we saw many more homes, private boats and rowers, and commercial establishments, particularly around the Rochester area (which unfortunately also had a lot of graffiti – something we had not seen earlier).  Today ended our biking on the Erie Canalway Trail (we covered 95 miles).

One town the Erie Canal passed through that was particularly pretty and upscale was Pittsford.  Doug and I had an exceptional experience in Pittsford.  As Doug, Robert, Jim, and I were biking through an area of upscale stores (including an exceptional bike shop) and restaurants in Pittsford, I noticed the Bill Wahl’s Ice Cream Microcreamery on the bike path.  We stopped in front of it and I joked about the use of the term “Microcreamery” Cream to the others.  Robert and Jim continued to ride, but Doug wanted to try the ice cream.  Not being adverse to trying the ice cream myself, I joined Doug and went to the store’s front door.  Unfortunately, the store didn’t open until noon and it was only 10:30 am (still not too early to try microcreamery ice cream in my opinion).  Dejected, we started to leave, when a man we had not noticed who was sitting on the porch outside the store, spoke to us and said he was the owner.  Tom graciously offered to open the store for us, which Doug and I readily accepted.  With two scoops each, we pulled out our cash to pay but Tom refused to accept payment.  The three of us sat on the porch and spoke for an hour about Tom’s background, the history of this ice cream store (it burnt down in 2002 and was rebuild in its current form about the time he bought it), the ice cream business, and education.  We found many connections (e.g. Tom graduated from Villanova and lived for a while in Doug’s home town).  We also found out that the term “microcreamery” has a legal definition which Tom discovered as he was crafting the business.  It is restricted to an ice cream business that 1) manufactures its own ice cream and 2) produces no more than 60 gallons per day.  It was a nice way to spend an hour in a beautiful setting on the Erie Canal.  By the way – my cinnamon and caramel delight ice cream scoops were delicious.

Mile 3:  The Erie Canalway Trail near Brockport, NY.

Mile 11:  The Erie Canal near Spencerport, NY.

Mile 15:  Maintenance boat and barge on the Erie Canal.

Mile 19:  Who know we would be visiting Greece on our tour?

Mile 20:  A view of the Erie Canalway Trail as we approached Rochester.

Mile 22:  The snacks available to us at the first SAG wagon stop.

Mile 27:  Historical Marker – Erie Canal.

Mile 27:  Information marker describing one of the locks on the Erie Canal.

Mile 27: Informational marker about the current Erie Canal.

Mile 27:  Scene of a rower on the Erie Canal near Pittsford, NY

Mile 30:  View of a pleasure boat on the Erie Canal.

Mile 32:   Another view of the Erie Canalway Trail near Pittsford, NY.

Mile 45: This photo shows how the Erie Canalway Trail looked as we approached Newark, NY.

August 7th – Lewiston to Brockport, NY and August 8th – Rest Day in Brockport

MIle 47: View of the Erie Canal Trail that we biked for abut 45 miles today. While not paved, it was very hard packed dirt with fine gravel – not difficult for a road bike to travel. We will bike a total of 95 miles on the Erie Canalway Trail.

August 7th Statistics:  Lewiston to Brockport, NY

  • Today’s Biking Distance – 64.4 miles
  • Today’s Average Speed – 15.6 mph
  • Today’s Time In Saddle – 4.1 hours
  • Today Ascent – 455 feet
  • Total Trip Biking Days – 45
  • Total Trip Biking Distance – 3,478.4 miles
  • Total Trip Average Biking Distance/Day – 77.3 miles
  • Total Trip Ascent – 86,310 feet

Today was another perfect day for biking.  After 20 miles of biking on country roads, we arrived in Lockport, NY to begin our 95 mile ride over two days on the Erie Canalway Trail.  While the Erie Canalway Trail was not paved, it was hard packed dirt with fine gravel in most places and not difficult for road bike travel.  It was very lightly travels by casual bikers, runners, and hikers.  Except for a 10 miles stretch where the canal drained (see photo below of explanation), it was a very beautiful ride.

Our destination of Brockport, NY is a quaint college town (SUNY-Brockport).  Dale was a professor at SUNY-Brockport prior to starting Classic Adventures.  After 2,000 miles on my tires, I decided to replace them at the Brockport bike shop even though the tires seemed to still have some life in them.  I have ridden nearly 3,500 miles without a flat tire and hope to maintain that record until I reach the Atlantic Ocean.  Besides bike servicing, I used our rest day in Brockport to do laundry and catch up on my blog.

Dale and Diane hosted a reception at their beautiful home on August 8th for the cyclists continuing to Freeport, ME – Doug, Jim, Robert, and me as well as 7 new cyclists, Bill from Southington, CT, Susie and Dave from Grand Rapids, MI, Steve and Sharon from Los Gatos, CA, Mollie from Coral Gables, FL, and Greg, a fellow Delaware Valley resident from Valley Forge, PA.  Three more cyclist are to join us over the next several days.  Unfortunately, one person had to cancel at the last moment.  The evening was very enjoyable and made a family event with the addition of two of Dale’s and Diane’s son’s (Nate and Benton), their wives and children (including a 10 year old boy who is an accomplished pianist and played for us).  Their son Nate is featured in my early posts as he biked with us from Anacortes, WA to Minot, ND.  Their son Benton has been the owner and president of Classic Adventures for the last 10 years.  Dinner at the Hamlin Station Bar & Grill completed the perfect start for the final leg of the tour for the new group of cycle adventures.

Mile 12: View of the countryside I biked through this morning near Pekin, NY.

Mile 20: View of the locks at the beginning of the Erie Canalway Trail in Lockport, NY.

Mile 20: View of the water falls which are part of the locks in Lockport, NY – Doug, Dale, Jim, and Robert on the bridge.

Mile 22: Dale, Jim and Doug biking the Erie Canalway Trail shortly after leaving Lockport, NY.

Mile 29: An example of one of the dams on the Erie Canal (near Gasport, NY).

Mile 35: View of the countryside next to the Erie Canalway Trail. Interestingly, the crops we passed today were very diverse, e.g. grapes, corn, apples, and tomatoes (I could not identify the crop in this photo).

Mile 43: At one point the Erie Canal was completely dry and I didn’t understand why. It became apparent near Albion, NY (shown in photo) that a canal side wall had collapsed and a 10 miles section of the canal had been drained so repairs could be made. Immediately after Albion the Erie Canal was full of water.

Mile 54: View of the Erie Canalway Trail near Holley, NY.

Mile 60: Map of a portion of the Erie Canalway Trail (Lockport to Rochester, NY). We will bike a total of 95 miles on the Erie Canalway Trail.

August 6th: Angola to Lewiston, NY

Mile 58: Jim, Robert, and Doug at Niagara Falls, Canada.

August 6th Statistics:  Angola to Lewiston, NY

  • Today’s Biking Distance – 76.1 miles
  • Today’s Average Speed – 15.2 mph
  • Today’s Time In Saddle – 5.0 hours
  • Today Ascent – 1,348 feet
  • Total Trip Biking Days – 44
  • Total Trip Biking Distance – 3,414.0 miles
  • Total Trip Average Biking Distance/Day – 77.6 miles
  • Total Trip Ascent – 85,855 feet

Today was the most perfect day for biking of the entire tour so far – sunshine, low-mid 70s, low humidity.  We could not have had a better day for seeing Niagara Falls.  The roads were good for biking (actually better than much of the bike paths on the route so we often biked the roads) and we had minimal riding through unsightly areas of Buffalo.  While riding into Canada on the Peace Bridge was easy and quick, the return to the US via the Queenston Bridge required us to wait in line (mostly in the sun and exhaust fumes) for about 45 minutes with hundreds of cars and trucks.

I almost forgot a milestone today – I biked the entire day with Doug, Jim, and Robert and even led the group for part of the ride.  This is quite a change from a month ago.  I can clearly tell that I am a stronger rider every day.


Our evening was spent in Lewiston, NY.  After dinner at Maci’s Italian Restaurant, I decided to walk the town and relish the beautiful evening weather – glad I did.  As I walked into this quaint town I heard music.  There was a concert in the town square with hundred of people in lawn chairs enjoying it as they sipped their wine.  Further along there was a restaurant with a solo artist playing guitar and singing smooth jazz to a small crowd.  As I reached the Niagara River waterfront in Lewiston it was buzzing with activity.  I again heard music (this time rock & roll) coming from one of the many restaurants there, the ice cream palor was packed, and the walking path full of couples.  A nice way to end the day.

Mile 13: This is a view of Buffalo from Old Lake Shore Drive near Hamburg, NY. While the straight line distance to Buffalo was about 15 miles, it took us 30 miles to bike to it.

Mile 38: Robert and Doug biking along Amvets Drive pathway in Buffalo (taken with my iPhone as I was riding on the road).

Mile 40:  View of Buffalo from the Peace Bridge to Canada.

Mile 41:  Another view of Buffalo from the Peace Bridge to Canada.

Mile 56:  Approaching Niagara Falls on the Niagara Recreational Trail.

Mile 57:  View of the city of Niagara Falls, Canada from the Niagara Recreational Trail.  You can see the rapids building just prior to Niagara Falls and the mist being generated by the Falls.

Mile 57:  Another view of the rapids just prior to Niagara Falls.  Amazingly, the steel boat stranded directly in the center of the photo has been there since 1918 when the sailors who were rescued grounded it.

Mile 58: View from the Canadian side of the American Falls (US) left and Horseshoe Falls (Canada) right making up two of the three falls of Niagara Falls.

Mile 58: View of Bridal Veil Falls and the American Falls, two of the three falls that make up Niagara Falls with the US lookout site in the center.

Mile 58: Photo documenting my visit to Niagara Falls.

Mile 58: Photo documentation of Doug at Niagara Falls, Canada.

Mile 58: View of Bridal Veil Falls, the smallest of the three falls that make up Niagara Falls.

Mile 59: Another view of Bridal Veil Falls. Note the US extended lookout platform on the left top part of the photo.

Mile 61: View of Whirlpool Gorge and the cable car that is suspended from six cables and traverses the width of the gorge at almost 1 kilometer (.6 miles) in length.

MIle 61: Another view of the Whirlpool Gorge and cable car.

Sunset view at the waterfront in Lewiston, NY.

August 5th: Erie, PA to Angola, NY

Mile 32:  The only field of sunflowers I have seen on my tour.  Unfortunately, the weather was heavily overcast which prevented the photo from being more brilliant in color.

August 5th Statistics:  Erie, PA to Angola, NY

  • Today’s Biking Distance – 74.4 miles
  • Today’s Average Speed – 17.3 mph
  • Today’s Time In Saddle – 4.3 hours
  • Today Ascent – 1,455 feet
  • Total Trip Biking Days – 43
  • Total Trip Biking Distance – 3,337.9 miles
  • Total Trip Average Biking Distance/Day – 77.6 miles
  • Total Trip Ascent – 84,507 feet

Today had a 50% chance of showers and thunderstorms so we started biking early.  I left even earlier than the rest of group and didn’t see anyone except Doug until the end of the ride.  Good thing I did ride straight through – while I had a few sprinkles, I made it to the motel without any rain (same with Doug).  The other riders had to cope with some downpours before they arrived.  All of us were very lucky as shorty after the last person arrived, a very severe thunderstorm hit.  The rain was blowing sideways, the streets flooded, and, water started pouring from my bathroom ceiling.  I am clearly cursed when it comes to hotel rooms on this tour.  I quickly was relocated to very dry room and enjoyed a nap.

One comment about the scenery today – very beautiful ride with vistas of valleys to the south, Lake Erie and homes on the north, and grape vines on either side of the road.

Mile 15:  Shortly after leaving Erie, I biked on Route 5, paralleling the shoreline of Lake Erie.  For over 50 miles in both Pennsylvania and New York, I passed field after field of grapes on both sides of the road.  Not only were there numerous wineries, but I also passed several college research farms dedicated to grapes.  This is a photo of a grape field with a stately home on Lake Erie.

Mile 16: One of the wineries I passed in Pennsylvania.

Mile 24:  Arrival in New York State – the 12th state on my tour – 3 states to go.

Mile 35:  An example of the road conditions in New York, wide and smooth shoulders (but not as smooth as the road which I road unless traffic was coming) that were great for biking – moderate traffic.

Mile 44:  A view of the Lake Erie shoreline near Van Buren Point, NY.

Mile 65:  A unique store fixture at a gift shop near Silver Creek, NY.  It looked like it might be for sale if your interested.

Mile 70: This is June & Gary Feeney from Bay City, Michigan.  They are completing a loop around Lakes Erie and Ontario.  When we met on the road near Irving, NY they had biked 1,100 miles over the last 48 days.

Mile 71:  Another unique store fixture on an indian reservation.  I am at a loss to see the linkage between the gorilla and duty free tobacco, ice, and night crawlers.

August 4th: Mentor, OH to Erie, PA

Mile 52: Back home in Pennsylvania after biking 3,200+ miles (although I am 400 miles from home).

August 4th Statistics:   Mentor, OH to Erie, PA

  • Today’s Biking Distance – 79.3 miles
  • Today’s Average Speed – 15.9 mph
  • Today’s Time In Saddle – 5.0 hours
  • Today Ascent – 1,198 feet
  • Total Trip Biking Days – 42
  • Total Trip Biking Distance – 3,263.5 miles
  • Total Trip Average Biking Distance/Day – 77.7 miles
  • Total Trip Ascent – 83,052 feet

What a difference a day makes.  Once we left the Cleveland area, the roads improved, the scenery improved, and the traffic improved. The only downgrade was the temperature (mid 90s by the end of the ride today).  It is hard to believe that I ended the day in my home state of Pennsylvania (400 miles from home).  I started biking early to avoid the afternoon heat and biked the entire 80 miles only stopping for water.  I didn’t see a person in my group until the Comfort Inn in Erie.  It worked out great as I passed a large Trek bike shop a mile before the Comfort Inn and was able to get my bike serviced (new chain and cassettes, and cleaned & oiled) on the spot.  I still reached the hotel by 2 pm just as Doug arrived by bike and Dale arrived in the SAG wagon.  Since our rooms were not ready, Doug and I researched the best ice cream in town and road our bikes to Sally’s on Presque Isle (see photo below).

Unfortunately, I realized after several hours (and trying to take a nap) that the room was not cooling down (it was up to 87 degrees based upon my bike computer) – the air conditioner was not working.  The hotel (which was very nice) was sold out and didn’t have another room available, so they replaced the entire air conditioning unit in my room.   When I got back from a great dinner at Sarafini’s Italian Restaurant down the road from the Comfort Inn, I found that the replacement air conditioner didn’t work either.  Happy ending – while the front desk was working on a solution, I got a call that the hotel had a cancelation and a new room with perfectly working air conditioning was available.  I slept very well.

Two couples who rode this cross-country tour last year with Diane and Dale  joined us for the ride today and shared great stories of their tour last year and other tours they have taken.  One couple, Ron & Judy, biked Vietnam with Dale and Diane several years ago and had biked with Classic Adventures to Greece.

A positive comment I failed to make yesterday was the beauty of the homes (modest home as well as the estates) we passed on Lake Erie.  This was particularly true in the suburbs on either side of Cleveland (even if the roads were great for biking).

Mile 8: A view of the Grand River near Painesville, OH at 7:30 am.

Mile 15: I saw hundreds of these mailbox protectors in Ohio. I don’t recall seeing any until I reached Ohio. They varied from very elaborate and designer protectors to unpainted plywood with no markings. After having to replace my own mailbox twice due to vandals, I will consider one for us if it happens again.

Mie 30: A bicycle on display in Geneva-on-the-Lake, OH. The bike is about 8 feet tall and covered in lights – I would have liked to see it lit at night.

Mile 53: Historical Marker – Pennsylvania

Mile 59: View on Route 5 in Pennsylvania today – Great roads and scenery (the black tar marks on the road were very smooth and the shoulders even better to ride than the road much of the day).

Mile 60: Historical Marker – Pennsylvania State Line.

Mile 64: Today’s ride was designated three different ways, 1) Lake Erie Circle Tour, 2) Seaway Trail, and 3) Bicycle PA Route Z.

Sally’s, Presque Isle: Doug and I arrived very early at the Comfort Inn (2 pm) and before the rooms were ready. After consulting the hotel staff on the best ice cream in town we biked a mile to Sally’s – A landmark establishment at the entrance to Presque Isle State Park. It was mobbed with people enjoying the ice cream (like the black raspberry I had).  This view only represents a small portion of the entire restaurant that was in two different buildings.

View of Presque Isle State Park Beach.

August 3rd: Milan to Mentor, OH

Mile 1: As I was leaving our lodging in Milan at 7 am, this was a view I enjoyed and decided to photograph.

August 3rd Statistics:   Milan to Mentor, OH:

  • Today’s Biking Distance – 88.3 miles
  • Today’s Average Speed – 15.2 mph
  • Today’s Time In Saddle – 5.8 hours
  • Today Ascent – 886 feet
  • Total Trip Biking Days – 41
  • Total Trip Biking Distance – 3,184.2 miles
  • Total Trip Average Biking Distance/Day – 77.7 miles
  • Total Trip Ascent – 81,854 feet

Without a doubt today was the most unpleasant day of biking of the entire tour so far (and I hope never repeated).  It wasn’t even the high temperatures and humidity that left me with such a opinion.  It was the route!  I find it hard to believe that the Adventure Cycling Association which selects and publishes the route believes this is the best route through the region.

The first 15 miles of biking was on country roads or next to vacation homes located on Lake Erie.  This was the highlight of the day.  The great roads and traffic I had experienced in Ohio up to this point disappeared.

About 40 miles from Cleveland the biking experience significantly deteriorated.  First, the road became 4 lane with primarily industrial and commercial establishments – road shoulders if they even existed were covered in debris, potholes, gravel, and deep cracks.  The traffic was heavy and constant with autos and trucks who had no interest in slowing down as we tried to navigate the road’s obstacle course.  As I approached residential areas west of Cleveland (Bay Village, Rocky River, and Lakewood), I was expecting road relief, but didn’t get it.  The road surface became even more cracked and jarring to bike, was uneven, and potholes were even more prevalent.  The roads and the shoulders (if they existed) were narrow as well.  Traffic was very heavy, but with more cars and less trucks, but no greater driver interest in slowing down as cars passed us closely due to on-coming traffic and the narrow roads.

Then the real fun started in Cleveland biking the “Cleveland Lakefront Bikeway” which included biking through downtown Cleveland.  Besides the continued bad road conditions, the route traveled through very run down neighborhoods (I passed two locations where police had individuals against a wall).   Unfortunately, my limited view of downtown Cleveland with one exception provided no motivation to ever go back.  The exception was the Rock “N” Roll Hall of Fame which was near the waterfront and the the Cleveland Browns Stadium.

The roads and bikeway leaving downtown Cleveland provided the worst riding conditions of the entire tour so far from nearly every perspective, road surfaces, traffic volume, rude drivers, construction, lack of shoulder, narrow roads which drivers didn’t feel hesitation in passing me without slowing down, and scenery.  I had to stop for water at a convenient store and for the first time on the tour felt I needed to lock my bike before I went it due to the bars on the windows/doors of the store and the cashier behind a bullet-proof window.  Glad the ride of over.

Mile 58: View of Downtown Cleveland and its lakefront beach park from Cliff Drive just west of Cleveland.

Mile 59: View west from Cleveland Lakefront State Park (Cliff Drive is located just to the left of the high rise condo’s in the upper right of the photo).

Mile 61: Historical Marker – Birthplace of Rock “N” Roll.

Mile 61: Rock “N” Roll Hall of Fame

Mile 62: For many miles I biked on the “Cleveland Lakefront Bikeway”. It is impossible to believe that the City of Cleveland designated this route as a “bikeway” – it was almost impossible to ride due to the road conditions, and for the most part when shared with traffic, the drivers with little regard for bikers. The only attractive element of the path was the sign.

Mile 64: Entrance to Burke Lakefront Airport Park.

August 2nd: Napoleon to Milan, OH

Mile 68: Today we rode 9 miles on the North Coast Inland Trail pictured here which runs from Fremont to Clyde, OH. While not very scenic, it was quiet, offered some shade, and was flat.

August 2nd Statistics – Napoleon to Milan, OH:

  • Today’s Biking Distance – 94.6 miles
  • Today’s Average Speed – 16.7 mph
  • Today’s Time In Saddle – 5.7 hours
  • Today Ascent – 866 feet
  • Total Trip Biking Days – 40
  • Total Trip Biking Distance – 3,095.9 miles
  • Total Trip Average Biking Distance/Day – 77.4 miles
  • Total Trip Ascent – 81,854 feet

There was not much of note today except that it was a long (95 miles) and hot (high 80s) ride.  Fortunately, the humidity stayed low (<30%), but you could hardly tell.  I didn’t take any meal breaks and made good time so arrived first at the hotel (1:45 pm), even before the SAG wagon.  I treated myself to a Southwest Salad at McDonald’s across the street from the hotel while I waited for the luggage to arrive and our rooms to be available.  Dinner was at Applebees, my 4th dinner at Applebees during the trip, which has turned out to be a reliable place to have a good, if not varied, dinner.

Mile 32: Another small windmill field near Tontogany, OH.

Mile 70: Another view of the North Coast Inland Trail between Fremont and Clyde, OH.


August 1st: Decatur, IN to Napoleon, OH

Mile 19: For 4 miles today I biked on Stateline Road which separates Indiana and Ohio (photo). As you may remember, I noted hundreds of windmills in Illinois. Interestingly, I didn’t see any windmills during my travels across Indiana (ending with the scene on the left side of the road above), but as you can see above on the right side of the road, windmills were erected over many square miles in Ohio at the Indiana state line. I wonder why?

August 1st Statistics – Decatur, IN to Napoleon, OH:

  • Today’s Biking Distance – 76.0 miles
  • Today’s Average Speed – 15.3 mph
  • Today’s Time In Saddle – 5.0 hours
  • Today Ascent – 354 feet
  • Total Trip Biking Days – 39
  • Total Trip Biking Distance – 3,001.3 miles
  • Total Trip Average Biking Distance/Day – 77.0 miles
  • Total Trip Ascent – 80,424 feet

While the scenery in Indiana as I left the state this morning was similar to what I have seen over the last week, the scenery in Ohio changed quickly when I entered the state, not for the better.  Population density was much greater than Indiana and Illinois based upon numerous and unattractive homes I biked past.  I found little interesting enough to photograph during my first 40 miles in Ohio.  The scenery did seem to become more attractive as I paralleled the Maumee River past Defiance, OH.  I can say that the roads in Ohio were great.

The excitement today was a incident that I would describe as the closest near miss bike accident I have ever experienced.  As I was biking into Defiance, OH, a woman in an SUV traveling in the same lane and direction as I was (no other traffic), turned right, at a green light directly in front me.  I don’t know if she didn’t see me, thought I was turning right, or thought she was farther ahead of me.  Regardless, I had to slam on both brakes (I was traveling about 15 mph) and began to slide left and right as I fought to keep the bike upright.  I started to fall to my left side, but was saved from falling by hitting my shoulder against the rear of her SUV.  By that time I had been able to get my shoes unhooked from the pedals and kept myself upright.  She kept going (I suspect hearing my commentary as she drove away).  Fortunately, no damage to me, and more importantly, to my bike – only a temporary rise in my blood pressure and heart rate.  I was so upset I forgot to stop at the Dairy Queen in Defiance as I had planned.  I’ll have to have a double desert at dinner tonight.

P.S.  Talking about desert, since the tour started I have lost 2″ in waist size (and probably 10 lbs) and need to buy some new pants and belts at LLBean in Freeport, ME.

Mile 11: As I was biking at 7:30 am, I took this photo of myself with my iPhone.

Mile 18: Since I didn’t get a photo of the welcome to Indiana sign when I arrived, I decided to get it as I left. This sign was on Highway 30 near Monroeville, IN.

Mile 18: Welcome to Ohio.

Mile 55: I did not Photoshop this fountain on River Drive (Maumee River) in Defiance, OH. The blue water is what was flowing.

Mile 62: A stately home on River Drive near Defiance, OH.

Mile 65: Little did I know that Florida was in Ohio.

July 31st: Wabash to Decatur, IN

Mile 15: View of the Salamonie River just downstream from the Dam. While it appeared low, upstream of the Dam looked 15 to 20 feet low.

July 31st Statistics – Wabash to Decatur, IN:

  • Today’s Biking Distance – 66.6 miles
  • Today’s Average Speed – 17.3 mph
  • Today’s Time In Saddle – 3.9 hours
  • Today Ascent – 918 feet
  • Total Trip Biking Days – 38
  • Total Trip Biking Distance – 2,925.3 miles
  • Total Trip Average Biking Distance/Day – 77.0 miles
  • Total Trip Ascent – 80,070 feet

The weather was terrible at 7 am when we met for breakfast, torrential downpour, lightning, and high winds.  You could see on weather radar that this system was quickly moving past Wabash.  Since we had a shorter distance today (63 miles), we decided to reconvene at 10 am.   Perfect timing – The sun was out and streets were already beginning to dry.  It turned out to be a great day to ride with the minor issue of high 80s temperatures.

The notable event of today was my missing two turns.  Fortunately, I only added about 4 miles to my distance since I was easily able to get back on track thanks to my Garmin 800.  The scenery was no different than over the last five days so I only took a couple of photos.  Our lodging in Decatur was over 13 miles off route – Indiana simply doesn’t have good lodging near the bike route.

While Decatur appeared to have every fast food chain represented on the streets I biked, Dale and Diane spent 2 hours trying to find a good place for dinner.  When we left for dinner and they said that they had identified a buffet restaurant, I was apprehensive – I had no reason to be.  Dinner at “Back 40 Junction” was great (with the exception that it was mobbed, justifiably).  None of the very large selection of buffet items (salads, breads, appetizers, fish, meat, sides, and deserts) tasted “institutional”.

Mile 32: View of Edward Roush Lake (part of the Wabash River), near Huntington, IN.

Mile 44: Doug and Robert taking a break in the shade for ice cream in Zanesville, IN.

July 29th and 30th: Monticello to Wabash, IN and Rest Day in Wabash

Prichard Family Get-Together in Wabash:  Left to right – Steve; Brother Tom and wife Judy; Jonny (in front), son of Wendy; Brother Paul; Brian (in back) friend of Wendy; Keith, son of Paul; and Wendy, daughter of Paul.

July 28th Statistics – Monticello to Wabash, IN:

  • Today’s Biking Distance – 62.4 miles
  • Today’s Average Speed – 15.7 mph
  • Today’s Time In Saddle – 4.0 hours
  • Today Ascent – 1,068 feet
  • Total Trip Biking Days – 37
  • Total Trip Biking Distance – 2,858.7 miles
  • Total Trip Average Biking Distance/Day – 77.3 miles
  • Total Trip Ascent – 79,152 feet

Today’s ride had its challenges and rewards for me.  About mile 35, I missed a turn and didn’t realize it.  After some miles, the road I was on suddenly turned into a very rough gravel road.  As Nancy knows, I always resist going backwards, so I continued on the gravel road thinking it was the right road and that I had just encountered a short gravel area – wrong.  After three miles of very difficult riding I intersected a paved road and turned in the direction of the planned route.  Somehow, I again missed the intersection with the planned route  (so much for being bright and having a GPS).  I continued south until I intersected Route 16 which I knew would take me back to the planned route.  However, Route 16 had a barrier saying “Closed”.  Now the reward – I ignored the sign and began riding on Route 16.  It turned out that Route 16 had just been repaved and the only remaining task was to paint the lines.  I had 13 miles of Route 16 to myself and made great time on a perfect road surface.  When I eventually arrived in Wabash, I found that my route for the day was 5 miles shorter than the route taken by everybody else (dumb luck).  Along the way today I biked through Sitka, Denver, Chili, Metea, and Twelve Mile, Indiana, cities I don’t remember from my Indiana growing up days.

Upon arriving in Wabash, the Charley Creek Inn (see photos) was everything Dale and Diane had described – clearly the best lodging of the entire tour so far, maybe the entire trip.  I have not been in Wabash for probably 50 years, so I didn’t remember or recognize it.  The town is trying to remake itself as are so many similar small midwestern towns (like Anderson) which have lost their way over the years.  While I was very impressed with the effort in Wabash (the Honeywell Center, Charley Creek Inn, Wabash River Walking Path, cleanliness, and museums (closed both days I was there), it was still hard to ignore the fact that few people were around.

However, the highlight of Wabash was a visit from family.  My brother Tom and his wife Judy drove several hours from Nashville, Indiana to visit.  My brother Paul flew up from Saint Petersburg, Florida and combined a visit with his children who live in central Indiana with a family reunion in Wabash.  Joining Paul in Wabash was his son Keith (who is a junior at Ball State University studying social work), his daughter Wendy (who graduated from Ball State in medical technology several years ago, has been extremely successful in her career, and and is starting her MBA at Ball State this fall), Wendy’s son Jonny and Wendy’s friend Brian.  We ended the day with an outstanding dinner at the Charley Creek Inn restaurant, Twenty, and desert at their ice cream/candy parlor.  It was great to see everyone and start the planning for a complete Prichard family reunion next year, all brothers and spouses, children and spouses, and grandchildren.  It just occurred to me that I need to preference the term spouses with the word current.

Tom and Judy brought a special item – boxes of family photos, photo albums, movies, and negatives they found at our father’s home when they were cleaning it out after he died.  The boxes included special items from our grandparent’s photo studio, i.e. antique glass and regular negatives (from the late 1800’s) and numerous photos of our ancestors (many not identified yet) and Anderson, Indiana from the late 1800s to the 1980s.  We decided to split the items up and assign each brother a task of converting different items to an electronic version that can be shared by all.   I look forward to seeing them all again soon when I return to Anderson for my 45th high school reunion at the end of September.

Mile 0:  Best Western Plus, lodging in Monticello, IN – Great facilities.

Mile 12:  Unexpected hill encountered outside Buffalo, IN.  Turns out it is a landfill with several new hills being built.  Very clean, well planted, and no smell.

Mile 20:  Two fellow cross-country travelers (east to west tour) we met on a quiet country road in Indiana.  Unfortunately, I can’t find the piece of paper I had with their names, but I can tell you that he is from Germany on a vacation biking across the United States.  She is from Boston and is relocating to Seattle to start graduate school.  They did not know each other until they met on the road.  Yesterday, we met another traveler riding, Dick, who appeared to be similar in age to our group.  Dick was riding from Bar Harbor, ME to his home in Des Moines, IA.  Last year he road from Seattle to his home, so this summer he was completing the other half of the tour.  Several years ago he completed a different transamerica ride from the southeast US to the northeast US.  I estimate that we have met several dozen bikers riding cross country since we began out tour.

Mile 24: At the intersection of County Road 900N (our route) and Indiana State Road 35, we unexpectedly crossed the “Panhandle Pathway”, a 21mile hiking/biking trail in central/north Indiana.

Mile 50: Interesting descriptive street sign in Chili, IN.

Charley Creek Inn: The Charley Creek Inn is without a doubt the best lodging of the entire trip so far. It is a completely restored hotel with an art galley, fine wine store, ice cream and candy parlor, and gourmet restaurant off the lobby.

Charley Creek Inn: Bathroom of my room – beautiful and high quality.

Wabash, Indiana – Mural

Wabash, Indiana – Paradise Spring Historical Park, Officer Cabin from the 1820s.

Brother Tom and spouse, Judy on the Wabash River Walking Path

Wabash, Indiana: Historical Marker – Modoc the Elephant.

Wabash, Indiana:  Historical Marker – First Electrically Lighted City in the World, 1880.

July 28th: Watseka, IL to Monticello, IN


Mile 25: First view of Indiana – glorious day.

July 28th Statistics – Watseka, IL to Monticello, IN:

  • Today’s Biking Distance – 76.7 miles
  • Today’s Average Speed – 14.5 mph
  • Today’s Time In Saddle – 5.3 hours
  • Today Ascent – 576 feet
  • Total Trip Biking Days – 36
  • Total Trip Biking Distance – 2,796.3 miles
  • Total Trip Average Biking Distance/Day – 77.3 miles
  • Total Trip Ascent – 78,084 feet

Rather than retracing our ride back to the main route (our hotel in Watseka was 6 miles off route), we individually choose country roads for the first 15 miles to Iroquois, IL to rejoin the main route.  It was a beautiful day for riding.  On the route I picked, I happened upon a ranch of Clydesdale horses.  Unfortunately, the lack of sunlight and distance of the dozen or so Clydesdales did not allow of a photo.

Leaving Illinois was a sorrow.   Our biking in Illinois was clearly the most in any state on rural and little traveled roads which provided a unique private experience.  Additionally, the roads overall were the best for biking of any state on our tour.  The miles and miles and miles of farms and ranches were particularly beautiful when the sun came out.

It was with nostalgia that I biked into Indiana, my home state for the first 23 years of my life.  Mile after mile of biking the country roads brought back memories of rural Madison County.  The small towns I passed through reminded me of places like Lapel, Elwood, and Middletown near my home in Anderson.  Biking through Buffalo, IN was surprising as I didn’t remember that Indiana had a city named Buffalo.  At the end of the day (with an 11 mile off route bike ride due to the lack of lodging on the main route) we reached the Best Western in Monticello (one of the nicest hotels on our tour so far).  I remember visiting Monticello as a child on vacations and to visit relatives (which relatives I don’t remember).  We passed many vacations homes on lakes and rivers in the area in Lake Freeman and the Tippecanoe River where my family used to vacation.

Mile 1: Last view of Illinois at the Morris Cemetery on the Indiana border. Only our map indicated that this was the state line between Illinois and Indiana (no welcoming or departing signs).

Mile 29: Our first SAG rest stop was at a community park in Brook, IN. I don’t think I have ever seen a water fountain inside the mouth of a lion.

Mile 39: Crossing Interstate 65 near Rensselaer, IN.

Mile 39: Robert crossing Interstate 65 near Rensselaer, IN.

Mile 39: View of Indiana farmlands from Interstate 65 overpass.


July 27th: Streator to Watseka, IL

Mile 16: Early morning scene biking on County Road 900E near Cornell, IL. The clouds this morning were striking.

July 27th Statistics – Streator to Watseka, IL:

  • Today’s Biking Distance – 85.3 miles
  • Today’s Average Speed – 17.8 mph
  • Today’s Time In Saddle – 4.8 hours
  • Today Ascent – 634 feet
  • Total Trip Biking Days – 35
  • Total Trip Biking Distance – 2,719.6 miles
  • Total Trip Average Biking Distance/Day – 77.7 miles
  • Total Trip Ascent – 77,508 feet

A relatively long ride today (85 miles) so we started out about 7:30 am.  The riding, similar to yesterday, was primarily on very rural county roads lined by corn and soybean fields (many showing severe signs of drought).  While the sun was in and out of the clouds during the day, the temperatures remained comfortable for most of the day.  We benefited from a great tailwind that enable fast riding so we all arrived in Watseka about 1:30 pm (even after stopping for lunch at the Subway in Ashkum, IL).  A highlight for me was riding alone miles and miles at 22-24 mph along a remote county road without traffic and surrounded by fields of green crops and blue and white wildflowers (see photo below for an example) on the roadside.

Mile 35: I was surprised to bike through a third large area (dozens of square miles) of windmills (to many to count) in Illinois just outside Odell.

Mile 37: Another view of windmills outside Odell, IL.


Mile 50: A mural outside a bar and grill in Kempton, IL.

Mile 65: This may have been the most beautiful road (County Road 2700N near Ashkum, IL) on today’s ride – a single lane smooth paved road bordered closely on both sides by corn and soybean fields. I didn’t see an auto while biking on it.

Mile 75: A view of the Iroquois River on County Road 2400N showing vacation docks and boats.

July 26th: Kewanee to Streator, IL

Mile 15: View of typical farm house outside Kewanee, IL showing storms clouds in the distance (fortunately, which stay away from our route most of today).

July 26th Statistics – Kewanee to Streator, IL:

  • Today’s Biking Distance – 79.8 miles
  • Today’s Average Speed – 17.8 mph
  • Today’s Time In Saddle – 4.5 hours
  • Today Ascent – 1,280 feet
  • Total Trip Biking Days – 34
  • Total Trip Biking Distance – 2,634.3 miles
  • Total Trip Average Biking Distance/Day – 77.5 miles
  • Total Trip Ascent – 76,874 feet

Dinner the prior evening at Cerno’s Bar & Grill in Kewanee was a celebration.  After being seated at Cerno’s, a woman I didn’t know walked in and sat at our table – Doug immediately went into shock with a big smile on his face.  It was Doug’s wife, Lisa, who flew from Maryland to Peoria and then drove to Kewanee just for the evening to celebrate Doug’s and Lisa’s 25th wedding anniversary that day.  She left the next morning to return to Maryland, but will be rejoining us for sightseeing the last week of the tour.

Cerno’s decor was unique and beautiful. The bar was imported from Belgium for Pabst Blue Ribbon in 1898 and displayed at a World’s Fair.  The Mahogany mirrored bar spans fifty feet, with hand carved figurines at each end.  Cerno’s also had detailed carved lion heads throughout the building, wall buzzers topped with tiny eagles that were used to summon a waiter to the customers, an embossed tin ceiling, stained-glass and leaded windows, brass footed pedestal tables and a teller cage where men would cash their paychecks and then come in for a drink.   I particularly enjoyed the fried dill pickles.

Roads on today’s ride from beginning to end were the best of the trip so far.  They were smooth and almost completely rural with little or no traffic.  While the scenery was not the most diverse we have seen, nevertheless, it was beautiful and pristine.  While we had some light sprinkles and showers, they were welcomed due to the heat.

For the last 20 miles, Doug, Robert, Jim and I rode together at a good clip (18-22 mph) thanks to a tailwind and smooth roads.  When we reached Streator, IL (by going 5.5 miles off route to get to our lodging), our first stop was the Dairy Queen located five blocks passed our hotel.  Doug graciously treated all of us to ice cream.

Mile 25: First of two photos of a windmill area near Bradford, IL.  Like the one yesterday, this windmill area covered many square miles.

Mile 26: Another view of the Bradford area windmills.

Mile 37: View of bucolic cemetery surrounded by acres of corn and soybeans near Henry, IL.

Mile 42: This was the view in every direction at one rural intersection approaching Henry, IL.

Mile 48: This was a military monument in center city park in Henry, IL honoring submariners, in general, and a particular submarine captain born in Henry who was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor (see next photo).

Mile 48: Memorial to Captain John Philip Cromwell from Henry, IL who was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.

Mile 65: View on very rural Country Road 800N that we biked for 20+ miles – almost no traffic.

July 25th: Muscatine, IA to Kewanee, IL

Mile 2: Crossing the Mississippi River for the last time at Muscatine, IA. As you can see from my tan lines I am also wearing for the first time my sleeveless bike jersey for the 100 degree temperatures today.

July 25th Statistics – Muscatine, IA to Kewanee, IL:

  • Today’s Biking Distance – 77.9 miles
  • Today’s Average Speed – 15.4 mph
  • Today’s Time In Saddle – 5.1 hours
  • Today Ascent – 2,111feet
  • Total Trip Biking Days – 33
  • Total Trip Biking Distance – 2,554.5 miles
  • Total Trip Average Biking Distance/Day – 77.4 miles
  • Total Trip Ascent – 75,594 feet

Today was forecasted as the hottest day of our entire tour – high of 105 degrees in Kewanee, Ill.  The entire group started biking at 7 am to try to get to Kewanee as soon as possible.

While the roads in Illinois were very smooth for the first 10 miles, they deteriorated.  At one point we had to bike on what I would describe as 3 miles of rumble strips – I could barely focus due to the constant jarring and vibration.  And then we had the bad luck to face just before Reynolds, IL a 6 mile stretch on which our side of the road had been stripped of pavement yesterday and was being prepared for repaving.  While not legal or necessarily the safest action to take, I (and others in the group I was told) biked in the on-coming lane which had just been paved several days ago and was as smooth as can be.  Fortunately, traffic was very light and when I saw traffic ahead I darted back to the bad side of road or pulled over to the shoulder until the traffic passed.

A great experience for the day was my continued ability to maintain a higher biking speed (even in the high temperatures) – I kept up with Robert and Doug for much of the day.  By the end of the day, my eyes were burning from the sweat I could no longer keep out of my eyes.  When I arrived in Kewanee at 1 pm, I treated myself with a pint of peppermint stick ice cream for lunch and a two hour nap.

MIle 3: Entering Illinois (don’t know why the photo came out the way it did).

Mile 8: One of my first views of Illinois as I bike 322nd Street in Rock Island County, IL.

Mile 34: A striking mural on the Sherrard, Illinois Library.

Mile 36: A typical road border we biked today in Illinois.

Mile 67: While we passed two windmill farms in Montana and North Dakota, this one near Cambridge, IL was huge in comparison to the other two. It appeared to have hundreds of windmills spread over dozens of square miles. While at first we were surprised how many windmills were not working, it became clear as we biked it was because they were being constructed. As we continued east on Route 570N we began to see the the original windmills in operation.

July 24th: Dyersville to Muscatine, IA

Mile 25: One of the most beautiful views along Route 136 today.

July 24th Statistics – Dyersville to Muscatine, IA:

  • Today’s Biking Distance – 88.8 miles
  • Today’s Average Speed – 15.2 mph
  • Today’s Time In Saddle – 5.8 hours
  • Today Ascent – 2,818 feet
  • Total Trip Biking Days – 32
  • Total Trip Biking Distance – 2,476.5 miles
  • Total Trip Average Biking Distance/Day – 77.4 miles
  • Total Trip Ascent – 73,483 feet

Started biking at 6:30 am to avoid the high temperatures forecasted for the late afternoon in Iowa. It was a long ride (89 miles) even though we cut out 9 miles from the normal route by taking an alternative route.   Even though it was hot and long, today I felt particularly energetic (and for the first time started regularly using my cleats to pull up on the pedals which gave me a real boost) and after keeping up with a couple of the other riders, I actually passed them at one point and stayed ahead for many miles.

An interesting note – It has been clear for many days that Iowa is a battleground state for the presidential election.  The number of political TV ads (most of which are negative) has been overwhelming as we reached the broadcast area for Iowa (including TV stations in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Illinois that border Iowa).

Mile 2: Driveway decoration at a farm just outside Dyersville.

Mile 15: Cascade, IA (population 1,598) – Home of Red Faber (for those who follow baseball). I stopped at a convenience store and began a conversation with the friendly shop owner. As I was leaving, she came out and gave me a home grown tomato. The group shared it later in the day – it was delicious.

Mile 18: One of the many dirt roads on Route 136 in Iowa that lead off to farms.


Mile 20: View along Route 136 today with Doug in the distance.

Mile 27: View on Route 136 with Doug just after our SAG rest stop.


Mile 30: Entering Wyoming (IA), “The Christmas City” (population 626).  Interesting that the town found it necessary to post that “CEMENT TRUCKS ARE PROHIBITED FROM ENTERING CEMETERY”. I wonder why? The other interesting (but sad) feature of Wyoming was the golf course. It was the most colorful golf course I have seen – The greens were brilliant green and all the fairways were covered in dead brown/yellow grass and lined with dead bushes.

Mile 31: Robert (in very colorful attire) passing through Wyoming, IA.