Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Mother Goose makes it home

My friend Mike E. graciously agreed to fly out to New York, join us on our grand finale ride and then hop into Mother Goose and drive her back across the country. That was Sunday, June 14.

Seems like ages ago.

But time flies, and on Tuesday, June 22, I received a note from Mike that "Mother Goose has Landed".

He added "The Goose survived but has about 40,000 bugs impaled on her nose....All the equipment behaved nicely in the back seat the whole way home and no one asked are we there yet?" "

I wrote back that I looked forward to retrieving my bike and extra luggage and hearing more about his journey.

I was pleasantly surprised the next day to receive an email recap of his adventure. It was interesting for me to hear that his impressions along his route closely paralleled mine.

Here's Mike's recap:

Thanks Mike for letting me post this!

"People in this country are generally kind, gracious, and generous.  Staying at small hotels, I found proud owners and managers happy to provide not only a room and meal recommendations, but wanting to engage in conversations about my travels.  Same story in the restaurants, especially at breakfast.  Don’t miss breakfast.  Really interesting people get up early for breakfast.

Most interesting place I stayed from a bike-rider’s perspective was Togwotee Mountain Lodge in Wyoming.  I had gotten there mid-afternoon and decided to ride back up to the Continental Divide I had driven across a few miles earlier.  As soon as I left the driveway I caught up with a fellow rider.  Turns out Clark was doing a solo cross-country ride to raise fund for Nepal earthquake relief.  Riding a 33 pound touring bike equipped with steel fenders and a pannier rack on the back (not being used at the time), he struggled up the mountain as we chatted.  He had to stop a couple times “to get a drink of water.”  He never got to the point of gasping, but it was clear he was feeling every bit of the 9000 foot elevation.  His sister was providing SAG, so when we saw her car parked on the side of the road, we knew we were getting close to the top.

The next morning  I found that the Lodge was an unofficial gathering place for riders crossing the country.  Two Norwegians were riding the Divide from Canada to Mexico.  Two other riders were participating in the Race Across America.  I saw a tandem pull up, and as the stoker got off, he was assisted into the Lodge by a helper.  He was blind, but that wasn’t going to stop him from riding.  You can read Thomas’ story at   Check out the page Actual to Dubois to see some of the scenery I enjoyed in the Goose.  Yes, it was that nice!

Note from Dave: here's a photo I uploaded...
Funkiest place I stayed was Dawson’s Lodge in Chemult, Oregon.  So far out of the way that you’ll need a good map to find it.  LuAnn had joined me in Boise, so we got to enjoy this experience together.  As we drove up she looked at me and said, “What…..did….you…”  Built in 1929, it looked like a 5 room hotel out of a western.  Only thing missing was the hitching post for horses.  The rooms had doors that opened to a common veranda furnished with rocking chairs that were as old as the hotel, maybe older.  All the rooms had a door that opened to an inside hallway as well.  The innkeepers kept all the inside room doors open so you could look in the rooms as you pass through the hall, and each had a different theme.  We stayed in the Cowboy Room.  Roy Rogers, Dale Evans,  and the Lone Ranger were in old photos on the wall.  Our bedframe was made up of 9-inch pine posts.  Huge!  A set of Texas longhorns hung above the bed, and a Stetson hat adorned one end.  They did have indoor plumbing, but there was a sign telling us to take quick showers not because of the water shortage, but because they only had 100 gallons of hot water for the whole hotel.  Ma innkeeper had no teeth, Pa innkeeper was rail-thin and talked a mile a minute.  Ma explained that the Chalet Restaurant down the street was the place to eat dinner because they slaughter their own beef.  If you eat at KJ’s across the street, you’ll get gas and won’t be able to sleep.

LuAnn and I headed over to Crater Lake with the intention of riding bikes around the 33-mile Rim Drive.  First of all, let me say that we were stunned at the beauty of Crater Lake.  If you’ve not been there, and we hadn’t, immediately put it on your bucket list.  An absolute must-do.  We had gusty winds at the top, and the road was narrow.  The ranger at the entrance had  warned us to be careful because some of the road had no guard rail and sheer thousand-foot drops.  We saw what he meant, and I’ll tell you the truth, I was terrified.  On a calm day with no traffic, the ride would have been enjoyable.  Gusty winds, sheer drops, traffic with drivers more interested in looking out their window at the lake than in looking at the road… way!  We kept the bikes in the van and put on our hiking shoes.  As we walked the trail, it often came within 2 or 3 feet of the edge of the crater.  I stayed well away from the precipice.  I’m not afraid of heights, I’m afraid of falls.

Travelling across the country, I didn’t stop at all the sights along the way.  I missed Orville Wright’s birthplace, I missed the Corn Palace and the John Deer Tractor Museum in Iowa, I missed Laura Ingalls Wilder’s birthplace.  I did stop at Mount Rushmore in South Dakota, and then drove across some of the most beautiful unspoiled prairie in eastern Wyoming.  Speaking of South Dakota, though, my thoughts were that it was too bad that you weren’t allowed to enjoy the beauty of its prairie due to the visual assault coming from endless stands of billboards.  I saw more billboards there than in all the other states combined.  I don’t know what Wall Drug is, but I must have seen over 200 billboards for that alone.  Ugly, ugly, ugly.

Old federal highways and state highways offer a low-stress alternative to Interstate highways.  Often only two-lane, very light traffic, but watch your speed as you travel through old, forgotten towns.  I remember I had to drop my speed from 65 mph to 45 mph for a town which proudly posted its population as 4.  I thought, “That’s not a town.  That’s a house.”

Sections of Ohio and Indiana roads were in pretty sad shape, but far and away, without any question, the worst roads I travelled were CALIFORNIA.  There were sections that I thought were going to shake everything off the walls.  More ruts, more patches, more really bad repair jobs than anywhere.  Just awful.  How do the other states wind up with pool-table smooth roads while we endure this crap?

Surprise along the way:  the nothing-ness of Wyoming, Idaho, and eastern Oregon.  Wyoming was pretty, though, and I did see cowboys on horses rounding up calves.  I thought it must be staged for the travelers.  The Great Northern Basin in Oregon had a desert beauty of its own.  Endless miles of sagebrush and wildflowers in blue, green, yellow and red.  On the downside, I couldn’t get out of Idaho fast enough.

Enough for now.  Catch me on a ride and I can tell you about trying to figure out what all the icons represent on the Nav system in the Goose, what DEF is and how to find it, and having to choose between country/western or Praise God radio stations across much of the country.


Thursday, June 18, 2015

HAA recap video and a little more

Here's a  video summary of the ride produced by Clarity Creative. Short and sweet.

I don't think the full impact of this HAA ride will hit me until I go back to my old routines. 

At a minimum I think it will be strange to go back to the same place more than 2 days in a row. I'm looking forward to this after 84 days on the road. And I am  looking forward to some home-cooked dinners and some bland simple lunches. I'd  be afraid to check my cholesterol after all of these rich meals I've enjoyed day in and out. 

Flying home today I looked at the plane's trajectory with a new appreciation. There's a new found familiarity with many of the cities we flew over. But crazy to see all of my riding undone in a 6 1/2 hour flight. In hindsight I should have booked a flight with 12 connecting stops. Next time... ;-)

While on the journey I had some physically challenging days, but rarely felt exhausted.
Now after 3 days off my bike, I'm feeling spent. Crazy.

I'm realizing that I don't have any photos on this posting. Not to break tradition, here's a few shots from the AHA's Heart Ball’s 100th Anniversary celebration. This was a fitting conclusion to our adventure. It also was our 25th wedding anniversary. Like small children, we both pretended the whole  event was to celebrate our anniversary. It's also fun to post some pictures where we are out of our biking attire!

At hotel, all dressed up and somewhere to go!

Early in the evening we met with Dr. Mehmet Oz and talked with him at length about Don. He showed a lot of interest, sympathy and caring. 

Visiting with Dr. Oz: We were truly comforted by his empathy 

 Taking a minute to enjoy the skyline views

Visiting with Steve Pine and David Smith 

 My favorite shot of the night

Monday, June 15, 2015

Day 84 Smooth sailing to a grand finale

Long armed "Rick the wall"  taking a selfie with me as we prepare to cross the Hudson River

I was not sure what to expect as we prepared to roll out on Sunday to officially conclude the HAA odyssey. We had just modified the course to address safety concerns and George Mount and I were preparing to play sweeper and warn any riders that may have missed the updates to the route. 

Of course, Rick the Wall volunteered to join the sweeping operation and Mike Elliot who had just arrived on a red eye flight decided to do the same. David and Tiernen Regan  also joined in. We were a formidable team.

 I worked on Don's bike to adjust it to fit Mike's smaller build. As Mike prepared to ride Don's bike, we were both overcome with emotion.

We rolled out gently. Not sure what to expect as we hit the hills, traffic, and narrow bridge passageway. We soon arrived at the old meet up point and sure enough we found a group of cyclists ready to join the fray.

Riders ready to go

 We advised them not to ride over the bridge but our warnings went unheeded. They were determined to join, regardless of the dangers. Sue, shared she hadn't ridden a bike in 8 years. My comfort level went from concern to alarm. But there was no swaying her. 

Sue calling the shots!

Initial trail riding is calm and serene

Tight squeeze in traffic

Then there were hills. George led us out and took us up the hills at a brisk pace. His climbing legs are back and I could hear suffering behind me. Tiernen, riding behind George seemed to welcome the challenge and I could sense that George was smiling. The joys of riding!

We reached our first stop lights and I looked back. Mostly smiles. Of course, put Mike on a bike and he always smiles...

Checking on the troops!

We arrived at the bridge and stopped at a first tier to wait for a signal from the camera crew to proceed. 
Approaching the bridge over the Hudson River


Ride across America verteran Max waiting for signal to move on! 

Tiernen enjoying the view

Soon we were on the way ...

Narrow passage ...


Busy trail

Smiling George 

It wasn't long before we hit 56th street and rolled up the hill to 9th avenue. There we met the rest of the team, including Sean Maloney and ASUS Chairman,  Jonney Shih

Jonney Shih, all smiles!

 Sean Maloney, "Let's do it"

Here we go! 

Rolling out

George Mount at the finish!!

The reception at B&H Photo was grand. I was overcome with emotion. Lots of wet eyes around me from both riders and those celebrating our arrival at the finish.

Congratulations to Amy Brennen, Jaril Valenciano and Steve Pine for their parts in making this a superb finish.

My work though was not over. We had to coordinate loading up bikes in the van, figuring out how to get to lunch, unloading at hotel etc., and sending the van on it's way to California with Mike at the helm. As things moved forward I could see Dennis relaxing more and more. Kudos to him for doing such a spectacular job getting us to New York. Dennis, the Mother Hen driving Mother Goose!

This all went like clockwork, with the exception of David R. and Tiernen arriving at the hotel sans luggage and wallets and expecting the van to arrive.

The van was happily parked at B&H and we were enjoying a feast of a lunch. In the end he scraped enough money to get a cab to our lunch spot, so all was well.

As Mike and Rick drove off in the van, Dennis looked both relieved and sad.

By evening smiles were everywhere.  .

The /Regan clan!

It's hard to believe the ride is over. I'm sitting at Starbucks with Diana, still processing yesterday.
Too early to even think about what the last 12 weeks have meant to me. 

I'm currently feeling physically exhausted yet filled with relief and gratitude. 

I will probably write one last blog capturing a recap of the adventure.   :-) 

Thank you everyone for your support and encouragement. Your comments and feedback have helped keep the fire burning. And a special thanks to friends, family, and caring new friends who came out to ride, provide support, or simply cheer us along the way. I don't have the words to tell you how much this has meant to me.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Day 83 If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere

Today Diana, George Mount, and I did a reconnaissance ride going from Ridgefield Park to B&H Camera in Manhattan. What an experience.

I've never seen so much chaos.

The ride over the Washington bridge had all of us white knuckled.

Words cannot describe it. Even George, an Olympian racer  and Italian groomed rider was shaken.

Based on this experience we quickly realized that tomorrow's (Sunday) grand finish route needed to be altered. At a minimum the ride over the bridge and along the river can not be a group ride. Anyone riding that portion needs to fend for him or herself.

We have modified the route on our webpage accordingly and now have the ride billed as the final mile starting at 56th street and 9th avenue. This seems much safer.

If you want a taste of what today's ride was like, check out this video recap (at 16X speed and slow motion for the endo I caught on tape

as well as George clearing the bike lane and then later helping a woman straighten out her wheel after hitting a beam on the bridge... Total insanity..

If the video makes you nauseous, well you can imagine how we felt!  However, if you play it back at half speed or less, (a YouTube option) it settles down a bit..,

Day 82 New Hope to Ridgefield Park, New Jersey

Friday,  June 12

Our morning started off with a wonderful breakfast at the Pineapple B&B. It was hard to leave this relaxing haven and face the roads, rising heat, and warnings of hazardous air quality.

Morning vista at the Pineapple Inn B&B

Steve and Dave doing something

Dave S. and Diana, "you want to do what?

We hit the road on target and the ride begins. The camera crew gets some good Drone shots as we cross our first bridge.

Our second bridge crossing though is not quite so easy. Closed to traffic but fortunately they let us walk our bikes. I felt like I was walking the plank.

Quite the challenge with slippery cleats

 It's 9 am and already hot, but the roads are good

We meet Phil Kramer, a neurologist. He takes our photo and intends to get a blurb on us in the local newspaper..

The trail riding is splendid."Lovely" to quote our Irish friends!  

We received a pleasant surprise greeting by Rick Hoffman's co-workers. Ten of them came out to cheer us on. Felt like 100's of cheers. I was overcome with emotion as were the rest of us. Truly amazing. We were all very thankful they came out...Their response "hey, any excuse to get off work!"brought out a round of laughter.

Rick's Colleagues show up to cheer us on

Once we were off the trail, we faced tough roads, lights and traffic. We call these junk miles. 

Pulling in to Samsung at Ridgefield Park 

Camera crews take some photos and video

We finally arrive at our hotel. As we unpack, we meet Cedric in the parking lot and share our story. 

Cedric promises to get at least his BP checked. 

Tracy brings us some great food at the Chart House

Dave and George enjoying the views

Dave and Dennis, planning the routes

Great views

Next on our agenda is scouting the route on Saturday...I'll post of a video of this on my next blog update......