Saturday, August 2, 2014

Day 48, Clarksburg to Washington D.C. finale, 40 miles

Best: Predicted rain never happened and it was a beautiful night and day.

Worst:  Riding is all done, never to be repeated (again)

Most Unexpected: Leading the group to Washington D.C.

Last night's rain never materialized except for some light droplets at times, and the tent was bascially dry in the morning.  I packed up my tent for the last time, (thank God) and loaded the truck at 5:30, then rode the bike across the road from the campground for breakfast.  This is where we also ate dinner at a catered dinner for our last night together on the Big Ride.  We ate really well including steak, and blueberry pie, said our thoughts about the Big Ride, and made up unusual awards for the riders.  I ended up with the Animal Bonding award (for always saying hey to cows), Most Shiftless because nobody thinks I shift very much on my bike, (I have electronic shifting so they don't notice when it happens), and BRAA Clown (I am not sure why).  It was an emotional night and then we went to bed.

After breakfast which was late, we hit the road for our 40 final miles.  I led most of the way to Washington D.C. primarily because I set a pace everyone could pedal being not the fastest rider.  We rode some rollers, and then caught the bike path/foot path to D.C.  Being a Saturday, it was fairly crowded, but nobody was hurt in the making of the commerical.  We had time to see the Jefferson Memorial before heading to our lunch spot hosted by a previous Big Rider from 1998, Costas.  He had hosted us 2 years ago in his food court restaurant in the Post Office Building before it was bought out by Donald Trump, He of the worst combover in the world.  Costas was subsequently kicked out of the building along with all of the other restaurants, but had his friend in the Reagan building provide us with food in addition to Costas bringing in spinachkota (spelled wrong), baklava, cheesecake, and greek salad.  We then left the restaurant weighing our original weights before the trip and proceeded down the path to glory, received our medals from Charlton and Lynn, and then picture time.  I ended up getting interviewed along with Becka, and Anita for the Fox local affiliate, and we got to see the report tonight at our second farewll dinner.  I don't know what part got aired but I saw my ugly mugg on the TV.

After cleaning up in my hotel room with a BED, I went back down to the street to box up my bike leading to the need for another shower.  At 5:30 we all rendezvoused at a fancy bar for our last get together, and now I am back finishing up this blog for the next to last time.  Sometime in the near future, probably never to be read, I will give up my final thoughts.  Here are the last days pictures including one from last night.

Last nights camp.

How to put up a tent when you forget the poles. (and also the mattress pad).

On a road in Maryland, narrow and very pretty.

The bike path

The bike path looking backwards.

Virginia just across the river.

Heading to the...

Jefferson Memorial which can be seen from the White House below.

Inside the Ronald Reagan Building.

Just a part of the food served for lunch.

Getting ready to line up to stage for our final part of the ride. 

Ta Da!

The three single guys (married, but without their partners, the other three guys were with their significant others on the ride. Kenny, me, and Terry.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Day 47, Gettysburg to Clarksburg, 53 miles.

Best: The first 35 miles of the road were on beautiful roads.

Worst: (future projection) The rain through the later day and night.

Most Unexpected:  Somehow we had over 2300 feet of climbing in Maryland on flat roads.

Yesterday we visited the Gettysburg battlefield with Lisa's friend Jack as our tourguide.  There were 11 of us in Charlton's van, and we had a great time.  Fortunately Jack did not know all of the 1400 memorials on the battlefield, but was an excellent story teller.  When I drove the van, I did not wreck it which was a great success on my part. Dinner was at the Pub/restaurant on the corner of the square, and then we walked to Mr. G's last night for an ........ Ice Cream.  Based on expert reviews, Mr. G's and the Cannonball Malt Shop were similar in quality.  

We got to sleep in today and loading the truck occurred at 7:30.  I was on breakfast crew and we did a bad job.  The bagels were moldy, and we didn't boil water due to certain circumstances, so the coffee drinkers were going into withdrawal.  Cathy to the rescue as she went across the street and bought coffee for the twitching prone bodies on the ground.  We rode though Gettysburg past the National Cemetary, and headed out on a most bucolic ride. Beautiful landscape and well paved roads, the birds were singing, and everyone was riding together for the most part.  We rode on these beautiful roads until the City of Damascus where bikes were definately second class citizens. 

I arrived at our campground in Clarksburg just after 12:00, and immediately set up my tent expecting rain.  It is 2:15 and the rain hasn't hit us yet, but it is impending. I am racing to get this blog done before everything shorts out.  We are going out tonight for our farewell dinner at a surprise location; this campground is a new stop on the Big Ride. We will be driving because it will be raining, and it is expected to rain for tomorrows ceremonial ride into the nations capital.  I can't wait to try to dry out my tent in my hotel room tomorrow. 

Oh, and we crossed into our last state today, Maryland.

From yesterday, just to prove I did something other than sleep.

Bucolic yes?

Should have gotten a building permit.

There have been a ton of houses with stars for decorations.  Since this is my next to last day, I thought I would take a picture of one.

Look at all the traffic.

A small estate.

Really busy road, and so is the next picture.  We rode for miles with no traffic.

This is a residential subdivision we drove through.  These houses were huge, humongous, large, jumbo, collosal.  Sounds like sizes of olives. 

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Day 45, Bedford to Gettysburg, 100 hard miles.

Best:  Lunch made by Tony and his son Ryan.

Worst: Second flat tire due to a wire from a steel belted radial.  Curse those car tires!

Most Unexpected:  Riding with my buddy Jim Sheridan from the 2012 Big Ride

Same old morning routine.  Blah Blah Blah.  Ride started in the mist and was cold, 49 degrees in July in Pennsylvania.  My hands were really cold for an hour.  Another Beautiful ride in Pennsylvania only impacted by the stupid hills.  There was lots of climbing today, either 6500 feet, or 9500 feet depending on your computer.  Most of the hills were before lunch and were in the 8-9 percent range and were longer climbs.  We gained elevation all day until lunch at 2500 feet, and then had a great descent just after lunch.

The hills were a little tricky in that you wanted to conserve energy for the overall ride, but you needed to get up to the top of the climb to go down for the next one.  I don't remember it being as hard two years ago, but was the same route so that shows how crappy my memory is.  No bonking, so it was a good ride.

Lunch was at the top of the climbs in a state park, and once again Tony and his son Ryan cooked us a much needed, no peanut butter, lunch.  He barbequed burgers and chicken to order, and had made a variety of salads including pasta salad with 7 heirloom tomatoes from his garden, bbq'd mango and sweet potato salad, blueberries from his bushes that were day old, other fruit, and home made cookies.  This was the ballast we used to go down the descent right after lunch at top speed. 

Unfortunately after the descent there were more hills to climb, but they were not as steep, nor as long. We had a final climb to get over the top to Gettysburg that was long but gradual, and on the way down, FLAT.  5 miles from Gettysburg and I had to change the tire.

Before the final climb to Gettysburg, we saw a rider across the road who asked us if we were Big Riders.  It turned out to be Jim Sheridan from my 2012 Big Ride group who joined us to finish up our trip.  Jim will be sleeping with us (not literally) in Gettysburg, and then riding the last two days to Washington D.C.

After arriving in Gettysburg, we immediately went to the Cannonball ice cream shop for a scoop of ice cream, and then checked in to the Gettysburg College Dorm which used to be a motel.  We unloaded our stuff and I did a laundry run with 6 days of dirty bike clothes.  My dorm room, shared with Terry, looks like a homeless encampment with all of our stuff scattered in the room, and my laundry drying on every piece of furniture in the room.

We walked to dinner at an Irish pub, had a beer which almost wiped me out, and ate dinner which for me was an Irish breakfast. It went down well.  Afterwards we walked back to the Cannonball ice Cream store and I overindulged on a regular sundae with Chocolate whipped cream.
I went to sleep after 9:00 which was really late, and I slept until 7:20 this morning.  We plan on going to the Gettysburg battleground today, shoot a video, clean the bike, and print return labels for our bike boxes.  It is getting close to the end.  We also have a care package from Marich Chocolates, one of our sponsors, and I can't wait to see what we got.  Pictures follow, but no post for Day 46 because I just did it.

Early morning Pennsylvania.

Typical roads we were on today.  This is not the climbing I was talking about, this is considered flat.

This area where two turnpikes came close to one another was crazy to ride through with all of the trucks trying to make us a new hood ornament. 

I can just imagine the Town Hall meeting on this.  'Yeah, we need to burn down your house so we would appreciate you moving first.  Any objections?"  This is the name of the town that was rebuilt.

Tony and his blind son Ryan who cooked lunch for us.  (Ryan is not really blind).

I actually hiked the Appalachian trail after this picture, and added to the watershed.

All kinds of figures to put in your yard, with my favorite below.

Beth, can I have the potato head family for our back yard?

The cannonball old time malt shop.  Can you figure out how it got its name?  Look just below the American Flag and you will see a remnant of the Gettysburg battle. 

Me and my good friend Chuck with some tall guy between us. 

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Day 44, Confluence to Bedford, 83 miles of fun

Best: The downhill from Bald Knob, 6 miles of no braking

Worst: The trail for 30 miles of chugging.

Most Unexpected: Steak for tonight's dinner.

After blogging from the Lucky Dog cafe, the only diner open in Confluence on Monday, I went back to the campground where I had no cell service, but plenty of moisture.  It finally stopped raining about the time I walked back at 8:15, but it was misting, and everything was still wet from the ride.  The tent was semidry inside, and I slept well considering I had chili and a burger for dinner.  The people in the tent next to mine probably didn't sleep all that well considering I had chili and a burger for dinner.

This morning I packed up a sopping wet tent, and clothes from yesterday, and got started on a cold morning wearing arm sleeves, leg sleeves, shoe toe covers, and a wind breaker.  We got back on the trail for 30 + miles of riding, and it was frustrating how much effort it took to go only 14 mph.  The gravel really slows you down, and the unrelenting slope (almost flat) added to the slowness.  The crushed limestone was pretty well drained, but was not dry.  As pretty as the trail is, it does become mind numbing after several miles, and you wake up when you come up to a bridge with a view, or drop past a town.  

We got off the trail to begin fighting the hills that kept getting in our way.  There was no hill less than 5%, and several were double digits.  I don't think there was a flat section on the ride, and if there was, I didn't know what to do with it.  We slowly gained elevation as we would climb, then descend, then climb, etc.  We finally crested at Bald Knob and I had a great descent of 6 miles of 9% (sometimes less) and I was able to do it without touching the brakes.  Of course there was a climb after this, and in fact there were probably 12 more climbs in the last 8 miles of more than 6%.  I know, whine whine whine.  We did make it to the camp at Bedford called Friendship Village, which makes me feel all warm and fuzzy.  I got my tent up in all of its sopping glory, hung up my clothes in a tree, and by golly everything is dry (until it rains tonight.  If it rains, I don't care because we are staying in Gettysburg tomorrow inside, so I will have plenty of chance to dry it out over the next two days.  Only one more time for setting up my tent after tonight!

Dinner for tonight was brought in from somewhere by Lynn and included steak and baked potatoes with broccoli and a salad to make us feel healthy.  Dessert was pound cake with nectarines, blueberries on top and plenty of whipped cream on top.

Just before dinner I did a cleanup on my drive train to remove the trail I had carried into camp.  The chain looks so pretty that I may have to skip tomorrows ride.

This was another beautiful ride once again, and there was no rain to spoil the view once we got off the trail.  Everything is very green and I am glad my handlebar tape is tangerine color to offset the greeness. Overall the ride was difficult, but not impossible. 

Photo from a bridge on the trail, the lens is not dirty, that is the mist we rode through for several hours this morning.

This is a very cool tunnel on the route, which of course is closed necessitating an extra 1 + mile of trail detour to go around it. 

Something which woke me up as I rode past it on the trail.

This is from another bridge that went across the road and was way up in the air, and went for quite a distance. 

Looking the other way from the same bridge with Cathy ready to rev up her bike.

A caboose at our exit from the trail in the town of Meyersdale.  The background is a historic rail station, at least that is what it says on our cue sheet.

Looking back at some town we rode up into. It might be Berlin, or Shanksville.

Self explanatory, although you can see the summit is still a little bit ahead.  I know, you are thinking that I shouldn't be so pedantic. 

View from about halfway down the descent with one hand on the handlebars and one with the camera.

Getting down towards the bottom.

This is the first climb after the descent looking back what I came up.  Off in the distance you can see some of the descent I came down.  

Monday, July 28, 2014

Day 43, Washington to Confluence, 89 + 4 miles extra

Best: Seeing Falling Water, finally.

Worst: Riding with half of the road coating my bike and my body.

Most Unexpected: The road to Falling Water wasn't as bad as I expected.

Rain again last night, what a surprise.  However, the tornado warning was cancelled, so it was an uneventful night.  We had Taqueria dinner last night including tamales, tacos (make yourself), and pie for dessert.

We rode off and found some more hills in Pennsylvania.  I was getting pretty cocky because the hills weren't too bad, but then the roads must have heard me because they turned up the volume.  We then rode through Mingo park which was beautiful, as was most of the ride after we got out of Washington city.  Mingo park was fairly flat, and gave us a nice rest before we hit some bigger hills and then at mile 35 we got onto the bike trail the YRT, (Youghertiney rail trail).  This is a crushed limestone trail that does give up a lot of dust, and is a very slight uphill.  Because of the roughness, the speeds seemed to be around 15-16 mph while on it.  At mile 78 we got off the YRT to go up to Falling Water.  The climb started pretty steep, then flattened, then got steep again for about a mile.  Then to my surprise the road went down to Failling Water (this meant I got to climb out of Falling Water as well). The drizzle started on the climb, then increased on the descent.  We managed to dodge some rains while we toured Falling Water, then when we got back on the YRT, we got soaked.  The rain poured down on us, filled up the trail with water, and we ended up with dirt all over our bikes, and bods.  Getting to the campground gave us about 7 minutes of no rain to set up our wet tents from this morning, then once again the rain poured.  By my excellent calc, the hard rain on the YRT lasted for 7 miles, and we gained 46 pounds of road material.

Falling Water was awesome.  Our tour guide seemed new, so I asked her how long she had been giving tours.  We were her first tour.  I really enjoyed the tour, but they did not allow us to take pictures from inside the house.  Still, it was well worth the effort that I will feel on tomorrows ride.  REALLY AWESOME.

Early morning roads.

Riding through Mingo park.

Notice how brown the water is from the rains.

Leaving Mingo Park.

"I don't care if you are building a small bridge, I'm not moving"

This guy is made out of railroad spikes,  The guy on the right.


more of the YRT

A modest house.

Well worth the extra miles.

Just a little road grime.

Looking down at the waterfall from the cantilevered section of the house.  This is an illegal picture as I was in the house.  I showed this last to show the lengths I will go to serve my bloggees.