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
FINAL TOUR STATISTICS:
- 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.
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).
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 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).
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.
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).
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.