Monday, September 29, 2008

Day 62 Sussex to Jersey City

Distance Biked Today: 64.89 miles

Time Spent Biking: 4:46

Avg Speed: 13.5 mph

Max speed: 37.7 mph

Total Distance Biked: 3983 miles

Today is the final summary post for the tour (albeit delayed), I would love to know that you’ve been following along this summer, so please send me a quick email. If you receive this via email just reply to the message, otherwise click on Post Comment at the bottom.

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Today, I took a lot of videos so get ready. If you haven’t watched many of my videos yet, today is a day to spend some time watching them!

I was very excited for the day to begin. I still don’t believe how far I’ve biked and that today will be the completion of a amazing, beautiful, challenging, and exhilarating journey. So many times I’ve heard people say that they could never do a trip like this. This was a trip that we just keep plugging away. You can do it slow as you want, but you’ll make it.

Last night was rainy, but I hope the thick dark clouds will pass for when we get to the ocean. We have had amazing weather for the tour (except for extraordinarliy hot weather the first weeks), so it would be sad to have it end in the rain.

Once again, several churches and groups provided snacks for us, including kids cheering (screaming) us on.

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Today, I rode with Marc Stehouwer. I have become good friends with him and wanted to end the tour with him. We crested a ridge and could see the skyline of Jersey City and New York City. I really realized what I had done at this point. I had made it. So much for the dream of some day biking across the country. I realized I had done it. It meant biking many miles and hours of headwinds and mountains and bumping busy roads but I had done it.

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Can you see the skyline? The Empire State Building?

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This is me trying to hide my excitement.

So, all the cyclists met at our staging area where we would ride as one group by police escort to Liberty State Park for the end of the tour where we would dip our tires in the Ocean. We got the staging area early, so Mark and I decided to take advantage of our healthy bodies one last time and gorge. We were going to get a donut each, but we decided to split a dozen. Fun times. I could have ate more, but I thought I should take it easy at four, as not to get sick during the most important part of the trip.

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Billy D was a volunteer that helped us all summer as the camp supervisor he made sure all the logistics went well in camp. He rode his Harley all the way too. While he passed us going to the next camp he would slow down by every cyclist and make sure we were okay and encourage us. I looked forward to the roar of his bike so much. I would sometimes try to race him, but he usually beat me. I would see him along the way sometimes talking to other bikers (motorized) about the tour and spreading the word. He was an amazing guy along with so many of the volunteers over the summer. I feel so blessed!

I also liked to help him in camp and would help him lock up the gear trailer or straighten thinks out. Even though I was incredible tired a lot, the volunteers worked really hard to and I wanted to show my thanks to them.

I also talked him into giving me a ride. So we went up and down a side road, very quickly. It felt odd having nothing to hold onto but I sat there and flew.

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The staging area.

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This is almost every cyclists as they leave the staging area.

Okay, you’ll probably look at the picture below and just look past it. However look at it and think about how we are being escorted by three police cars, we’re cycling as a group, we’re wearing our matching jerseys, and its the last 8 miles of the tour. Each of this things individually barely happened, let alone all at once! Look at the sea of bikers ahead! I’m excited just writing about it! I’ve been thinking about this moment every day for over a year!

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We took up a whole lane of the road. Police cars were leap frogging from intersection to intersection closing them for us. In order to pass us they would go head on into oncoming traffic and make the cars pull off from them. This is amazing. The significance of the moment was accentuated by the police escort.

And then we went onto the turnpike where the closed the whole side! We took over three lanes for a mile or two. Everyone was pumping, giddy, and taking lots of pictures. This is a moment you don’t want to forget!

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The police escort involved three different authorities. First the New Jersey State police escorted us, and then the Jersey City Police, who then handed it off to the Liberty State Park Police. Ed (the tour organizer) did an amazing job of this happening flawlessly.

As we got closer and closer the excitement grew. One cyclist blew a tire, but if he stopped the sweep van would have to pick him up, so he kept riding on the flat tire for several miles. This isn’t something you want to miss.

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We then made it to the section of rocks and weeds were we would end a journey that had brought us from Seattle across 10 mountain passes in record-breaking temperatures, headwinds, three concurrent 100+ miles days, breath taking lush hillsides, roaring mountain rivers, three waterfalls, two flawless border crossing, and no major life-changing injuries.

Chaplain Len spoke and prayed for us and to bless the money that we raised and the lives that would be changed by it. I really don’t remember too much of what he said. I had so much adrenaline that I was focused on getting to the water. We said the Lord’s Prayer and then all went down and dipped our tires.

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I went in the water, but some people went all the way in.

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Do I look happy at all?

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I was excited to have my parents at the end cheering me on, along with my relatives Klaas and Ada, and Peter and Trish (a nice surprise; I didn’t know they were coming). I’m glad my parents supported me so, and encouraged me along the way.

I thought we’d stick around the park for a little bit, but we all left in buses pretty quickly to go to the school, where we could pick up our stuff, change, and get ready for the evening service. Some people already started to leave to catch a plane or to begin their journey home.

After I packed up took a shower (it was so humid and stick today, yuck), my parents and I headed to an area church where we had a huge dinner. We didn’t even come close to finishing the food (a first for the tour!). Then we had the closing celebration rally. Today was an exciting day and it was evident by the energy and cheering in the room. I enjoyed worshipping with the cyclist one last time.

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Look for a closing thoughts post soon!

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Distance Biked Today:  83.2 miles

Time Spent Biking: 6:35

Avg Speed: 12.6 mph

Max speed: 46 mph

Total Distance Biked: 3918 miles

Wow. What a day! Today we climbed a total of 6,900 feet, which is more than any other day of the tour. It wasn’t a horrible day by any means, but it was harder than I expected. The climbs were longer than the last couple of days, where we could coast halfway up the next hill. Here we can’t as the hills are too long.

A lot of us were curious how well the cyclists who joined us for the last two weeks would do. I saw some of them struggling but there wasn’t a huge divide between the two groups.

I rode for a while with the Bonner’s and Stephanie but we separated after a little while. I also rode with Randy, and Fred for a while which included a couple of stops at Walmart and a local store to find a t-shirt of a local sports team.

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It was fun going down the hills, especially the steeper ones were I could get going fast.

My video didn’t turn out like I wanted, but below you can watch Josh’s.

Beyond the crest of a climb, we were greeted with this wonderful view allowing us to see so far. Immediately in front of us was a prison with very stately building. Click on the picture to see a larger version

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Our last state! Today we crossed into New Jersey! What a rush to be so close to the end.

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Our biggest climb today was to High Point in New Jersey, the highest point in the state, hence the name. For once we could truly say, “it’s all downhill from here”. We were greeted with refreshments and other goodies at the top.

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And goodies on the way down!

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And tons of food in camp!

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It rained a little tonight but by now we’re hardened campers and have our eyes dead-set on finishing the last day. No matter what happens tomorrow we’re going to bike it!

One more (albeit short) day!

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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Day 60 Binghamton to Dalton

Distance Biked Today:  57.3 miles

Time Spent Biking: 3:45

Avg Speed: 15.2 mph

Max speed: 40.6 mph

Total Distance Biked: 3835 miles

Today we entered Pennsylvania. As we got closer to the mountains we had more quick climbs. Also, you could notice a big difference in road quality as they roads in Pennsylvania are much worse. In face, right after this sign half of the road was closed indefinitely, leaving only lane for two-way traffic.

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We stopped and had breakfast in a town, I don’t remember where. Three gentlemen were already there for their morning coffee. Surprisingly they already knew about the tour and the details about it. This I believe is a first for me, usually people don’t know about us before we pass through. They were great guys and it was wonderful talking to them. In fact, one man (I believe Ross was his name) had his picture taken with us and paid for our breakfast. What a treat, even though I don’t feel like I deserve it.

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Also we saw an article about us in the front of the newspaper. Oddly the article below it discussing the new artificial field that the school we stayed at last night just unveiled, which cost $2 millon dollars. Oddly, this is the amount of money we’ve raised.

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Remember, I mentioned crappy rodes? This is a huge pothole, even though it’s hard to tell from this angle.

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Below is Tunkhannock Viaduct which is a railroad track that crosses this valley. I’m biking with the Bonner’s again today. James and I attempted to climb up to the bridge but the path we thought led to the top ended up just twisting around.

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When we reached the bridge my stomach started to not feel to good, so I decided to have some pizza. I knew it was probably a bad decision but it actually helped me feel better.

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We then had a couple more really steep hills which went up to 14% grade, which led us to the state park where we spent the night. It looked like it was going to rain, and it did.

Tomorrow’s a big day as we have the highest amount of total climbing in one day!

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Distance Biked Today: 78.3 miles

Time Spent Biking:  5:58

Avg Speed: 13 mph

Max speed: 40.8 mph

Total Distance Biked: 3778 miles

What a great day! I hiked to some awesome falls, tried some local cuisine, helped at a food bank, and saw my parents.

We biked close to Taughannock Falls, so Christeena and I hiked one mile back to the actual falls. I really wanted to get the day’s biking behind me as we had a big hill to climb and a headwind. Short side trips like this is what I love on this tour. The hike followed the stream / river as the canyon grew on both sides. The streambed was one huge piece of rock, flat as could be, and without a speck of sand or gravel.

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When we got to the falls, several cyclists were already there, including Aaron, Hans, Jason, Gretchen, and Melinda. I walked in a little ways and then just stood back, skipped some stones and took in the beauty. Even though the falls are higher than Niagara the amount of water cascading over them was minimal. It varies from a trickle to a rapid-producing waterfall.

But back to the route!

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After Ithaca we had a climb a sizeable hill. The church that is cooking for us tonight had some individual with water and trail mix at the top. What a great chance to take a break and catch our breath.

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About a dozen of us volunteered for the last service project of the trip. We went to a local food bank to help sort goods that a local radio show had just had a drive for. We organized all the goods by type, but first checked to make sure they had no dents. If a can has any dents it most likely puncture the seal so it goes to a local pig farmer for pig food.

Valley CRC who’s serving us dinner is actively involved with this food bank. The relationship that they’re developed is great.

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We also took everything out of a freezer and put everything back in all tidy so the worker there knows what is in it and can get it out easier. Plus I got a popsicle for helping.

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Dinner was served by the Valley CRC congregation. The local favorite is Spiedies, salt potatoes, baked beans, and Acini de Pepe Salad. It was great food and fun to have some local taste. A spiede is a skewer of marinated meat that is placed on top of a piece of Italian bread.

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My parents left home today to drive to New York to visit with relatives and then come to Liberty State Park to see us arrive at the end of the tour! And they also tried the food.

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Desert was brownies and ice cream. My favorite, but I’m trying to watch my sugar intake as I prepare to be a lot less active in a week, so I skipped it. The ice cream was very hard so they tried everything they could do shave off a little.

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What a beautiful sunset during our nightly Peloton Meeting. It’s hard to capture it with a camera, but I got fairly close.

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Monday, September 22, 2008

Day 58 Byron to Romulus

Distance Biked Today: 79.9 miles

Time Spent Biking: 4:59

Avg Speed: 15.9 mph

Max speed: 38 mph

Total Distance Biked: 3679 miles

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Today I rode with the Bonner’s again. We stopped in a city and had some breakfast at a restaurant. There was a bunch of us already there who had the same idea. There were only a couple locals there and one waitress, but we took up the rest of the place, severely overwhelm them. We ended up getting our own coffee and busing our tables.

The Bonner’s really cruised along today so I just stayed behind them and followed along. We passed a lot of people on all the rolling hills.

East Palmyra CRC came down from their hometown and setup lunch for us at a farm. It was great food and a great place to stop in the day. I took a nap on the grass.

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Going down a small hill later, I hit something that made a inch long gash in both my tire and tube. So I put a new tube in the bad tire and used a dollar bill in the tire to keep the tube from coming out of the gash. Luckily James is from around here so he knew where the bike shop is in Geneva. So, I hobbled into Geneva and bought a new tire, and a water bottle. I then used the bike stand in the shop to change the tire. There were helpful and interested about what we’re doing. I also forgot to get a picture!

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As we went around the north end of Seneca Lake we stopped for ice cream. They were very generous with the soft serve ice cream!

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Distance Biked Today: 81.7 miles

Time Spent Biking:  5:25

Avg Speed:  14.9 mph

Max speed: 31.4 mph

Total Distance Biked: 3618 miles

Today I’m on sweep again. Since I’m one of the last people to leave I could make this time-lapse of the gear trailer in the morning, including the end when we pack it with all the duffels. If you look in the back at the end you can see me throwing the duffel bags in.

Today we crossed the border at the Rainbow Bridge back into the U.S.A. The last couple of miles before the border brought us right along the canyon. It was wonderful to bike along the edge and have so many beautiful things to look at.

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All the cyclists met up at a parking lot near the bridge. Once we were all there, we biked as a group, passports ready, over the Rainbow Bridge and onto customs. It was beautiful crossing the bridge and seeing Niagara Falls just on our right and to see all of us cyclists in the same jersey and as a group. We were expecting to stop and have to show our passport, but the customs guards waved us through. Our tour organizer and the head official at the border had been planning our crossing for a while. He was so impressed when he saw us going over the bridge and orderly he told his guards to wave us through. I was amazed!

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Once on the American side, we biked out to the islands by the falls, including Luna Island. On the furthest island, we could have walked in the water just up from the falls, no railing or nothing. Plus the falls were a lot quieter now as it was a Monday morning compared to a Saturday evening.

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I joined up with the Bonner’s after a while. We then found a restaurant where we had barbeque sandwiches. Plus we took some wacky pictures!

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At the end of the day the Bonner’s and I sprinted several times. I couldn’t keep up with them so I drafted them for a ways at 30 mph +. Wow, we were going fast!

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It was a cold night too. We really layered up.

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Some other campers at the campground we stayed at wanted to play music for us on their bass, Viola, and guitar.

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