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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Anonymous said...

Hey Dave, it was a tremendous summer - following your blog along with all the others. I truely wish I could have ridden along with you, but by following the blogs as closely as I could, I almost felt like I was there along with you. I could feel God's protecting hand and enjoyed reading about his provision on numerous ocassions.

Thanks to you and the many others who took time to blog frequently for us folk who could not ride but were with you every day vicariously.

Jim Roehl

Unknown said...

Hey Dave, Where's the closing thoughts blog? It's been over a month now!

Dave said...

Jim, I follow several other travelers by their blog and also feel like I'm traveling with them.

God really protected us this summer. I'm very thankful for that.

Thanks for your kind words. Dave