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Saturday, September 14, 2013

First ride after the big trip

It's been a while. I got home on August 9 but my bike was delayed. I got a phone call from FedEx while on the train between Boston and Chicago because the shipping label had been damaged beyond recognition. So FedEx didn't know where and to whom it was supposed to go. Maybe they didn't know it was heavily insured, either.

On August 9, before FedEx finally delivered my bike, I had a road bike appreciation day.  I set out on the same route with my mountain bike and had a little crash.  I got a few scrapes and a bruised leg which became a large hematoma.  Walking was painful, to say the least, but now it's mostly healed.

A few days later and a few days late, my road bike arrived.  I took it to my bike shop to be checked and tuned.  After I got it back, I was putting new rubber on the rear wheel when the rear brake brake became loose although the bolt was tight. The fitting that allows a brake bolt to work with a carbon frame, the bits that must be glued onto the frame to make this work, finally let go.  If this had happened during my summer ride, the bike would have been unridable and probably unrepairable, too.  I took it to the bike shop and advice was sought from Colnago.  That took weeks because Colnago has been having personnel changes.  The advice was delivered and acted upon.  Now I have my bike to ride as described below.

I started out in bright sunshine but the rain that has been flooding a large part of Colorado is not done yet.  With threatening clouds looming in the southern sky, I hurried home toward the south and into the rain.  I started getting wet with about 5 miles to go and rode the last half-mile in a deluge of drops that felt like hail but weren't.

The bike path has quite a few rough spots where it was flooded.  Where the path is bordered by gravel and sand, there are much gravel and sand on the path.  Where it's bordered by earth, there is mud on the path.  One section was closed with no clue about a detour.  The Garmin is not very useful when lost and I saw exactly where to go when I got home and looked at a map.  The road is a better bet for a while.

I wondered why my heart rate was suddenly much lower on the summer trip.  It was seldom above 110 for the whole trip and the daily average was frequently about 100.  Now it's back up to normal with an average rate today of 117 with the last 20 minutes over 137.   I still guess that altitude is the cause.

There has been some e-mail traffic among the America by Bicycle group.  I wonder why they don't use ABB's Facebook page.

Monday, August 5, 2013

AAN day 50 - Manchester, NH --> Portsmouth, NH

Across America North - day 50 - Manchester, NH --> Portsmouth, NH

Today was the last day of the trip. I'm too tired to type any more.

Anticipation ran high at departure as we started out for the high school in Rye about 7 miles from Portsmouth. Fifty miles and a few rolling hills later, we were there and the police car showed up on time a half hour later. Then we headed for the beach several miles away at a stately, processional pace.

A crowd was at the beach that day. The wind was strong enough to blow some beach chairs over and the air was cool. It's been unusually cool here. A few of the riders jumped in the ocean for a good soaking while others got wet up to their ankles. The ones who were met by friends and family stayed a while and the others headed for the hotel 7 miles away in Portsmouth. The road to Portsmouth was along the beach and I could only imagine how much the price of a house there was increased by the location.

We finally made it to the hotel and the ride was over. Showers and a change of clothes were next followed immediately by bicycle packing and shipping. FedEx will be here tomorrow morning to pick up my bike along with several others.

A group of people had reservations at Old Ferry Landing, a seafood restaurant on the water in downtown Portsmouth. Luckily, I had a ride there in a car. On the way, I couldn't stop thinking about how easy it was to go up the hill and how soft the seat was. For dinner, I had baked, stuffed haddock followed by a trip around the corner to an ice cream parlor. They were both very good.

The America by Bicycle shuttle left this morning at 8:00 for Logan Airport and the people bound for Logan this morning met for one last hotel breakfast and loading of luggage. Good byes were said all around with many good wishes and a few tears.

My train leaves from Boston for Denver tomorrow at 11:55 am. That means going to the C&J bus stop about 3 miles from the hotel tomorrow at 7:30. So continues another cross-country trip. My epic journey is over now. It's more conventional from here on.

AAN day 50 - Manchester, NH --> Wallis Beach, NH

AAN day 50 - Wallis Beach, NH --> Portsmouth, NH

Sunday, August 4, 2013

AAN day 49 - Brattleboro, VT --> Manchester, NH

Across America North - day 49 - Brattleboro, VT --> Manchester, NH

Today was a moderately easy 80-mile day of New Hampshire hills. The first half of the day was some serious climbing but the second half was easy rolling hills. We're in Manchester now and will see the Atlantic tomorrow morning. First we meet at a high school where we'll get a police escort to the beach. After the good-byes are said, some of us will go on another 8 miles to a hotel in Portsmouth where we'll pack our bikes for shipment, spend the night, and go home on Tuesday. Once again I must commit my bike to the tender mercies of FedEx.

At least one of us will spend a second night in Portsmouth and leave on Wednesday. I'll take a C&J bus to Boston south station at about 7:00 Wednesday morning and take a train back to Denver.

I can't imagine how my trip across the country could have been made easier. I sat very comfortably in the lap of luxury on this trip and that's because the business of cycle touring was handled so expertly America by Bicycle. Highly recommended.

I wanted to have a bookend tour of my trip a half lifetime ago. This one was different in every way from that one. I was lucky to have chosen this year and to have done it with this group.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

AAN day 48 - Albany, NY --> Brattleboro, VT

Across America North - day 48 - Albany, NY --> Brattleboro, VT

We crossed into Vermont today. New York was a nice place to ride.

We haven't had this much climbing since we were out west. Vermont ain't flat, as the t- shirt says. The uphills were frequently steeper than 8% and there were extended sections of 10% and more. Climbing today was 5810 feet by my computer's reckoning. In local terms, today's climbing was four times up Lookout Mountain.

The descent into Brattleboro was about 13 miles long and I hit 48 mph a few times but slowed down in the crosswind. I'm sure that my tolerance of highs speed is declining with age but it was a geat bombing run even with the crosswind and winding road.

Friday, August 2, 2013

AAN day 47 - Little Falls, NY --> Albany, NY

Across America North - day 47 - Little Falls, NY --> Albany, NY

What a nice day this was. Gentle hills, cool temperature, lovely bike paths along the Erie Canal that would become my usual route if I lived here all contributed to a day acclaimed by most as the best day of the tour.

My derailleurs needed a little adjusting today to have the use of my low gear. I'll definitely need my lowest gear tomorrow. More specifically, my chainrings are 53 and 39 and my cogs go from 11 to 29. So my lowest gear is 39x29, which ought to be enough for most but are an extra effort for heavyweights like me. The steepest hills tomorrow go up to 20% with quite a few stretches of 8%-14%.

We'll be in Vermont tomorrow on a day with a lot of climbing. We'll be in New Hampshire the day after tomorrow on a day with a lot of climbing. That means about 6300 feet tomorrow and 5000 feet the day after. The end is nigh. I can do this.

AAN day 46 - Rochester, NY --> Little Falls, NY

Across America North - day 46 - Rochester, NY --> Little Falls, NY

No post yesterday because the network was impossible.  The designers of the hotel network apparently had no idea that more than one person at a time would want to use it.  Some people went a few blocks to the McDonald's and used its network but I went to bed early.

The day started with warnings of rain and it came as promised. A few drops through the morning became a steady rain starting at about 10:30. By the time I arrived at the hotel at 2:00, I was very wet and gritty. A clean bike is a happy bike and mine was unhappy.

There were so many days when we could have spent the day in the rain but we've been dry since Oregon. Other trips in other years have had temperatures over 100 but we haven't. We've been very lucky with the weather.

I brought a scale on this trip. When that became known early on, the others expressed quite a bit of interest but hardly anyone acted on it. Now that the trip is winding down, there is more interest and there is more caution about eating habits when suddenly not riding 80 miles/day.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

AAN day 45 - Rochester, NY --> Syracuse, NY

Across America North - day 45 - Rochester, NY --> Syracuse, NY

A gentler tailwind made today a little easier. The weather seems to be encouraging an end of this trip.  However, about 23 miles was on the Erie Canal bike path, a gravel and dirt path that slowed the pace quite a bit.  Still, the Erie Canal was a nice change of pace and seeing a lock in action was interesting.

Only about 400 miles left to go now.  I'm already winding down mentally and ready to roll onto the beach.