Sunday, September 14, 2008

more thoughts on Sea to Sea

House in Marine City Mi

crossing the bridge to the US at Niagra

T-33 at Sampson st Park NY

September 14, 2008

Well it’s been a couple weeks since we finished the tour, and I still think about it every day. This morning (Sunday) I called Doug and Joy and got pretty much the same response from them. It was kind of funny because Doug and I were both going through Sea to Sea blogs before I called and noted that not many have been update since our return to “civilization”. Most of us have gone back to work or school or ?.
I don’t know how many are still riding regularly or at all. I have been riding somewhat regularly and even got in a time trial last Thursday. Yesterday I got in a 60 mile ride with Friend Ron Z. It was really nice to get out on the open road for some decent distance. It was also a reminder that time marches on. The route we took was through the small town of Attica, which as some of you may remember was hit by a tornado early, this summer. You may remember from one of my early blog entries the pictures I took of the piles of debris there. I’m glad to report that most has been cleaned up, but there is still some rebuilding to do.
Anyway I feel that I didn’t really end my blog properly or get updated pictures in place. I also think a lot of my fellow Sea to Sea participants are in the same boat. So my solution is to try and keep updating the blog and not try and end it in one fell swoop. One thing that people keep saying is “I can’t believe you pedaled a bike all the way across North America, I could never do that”. I think every one of the cyclists would say, Yes you could, one pedal stroke at a time. You might need a little help along the way, such as a sag ride, or a push, or maybe even walk that really big hill, but you could do it. I think that mentality of a “Job to big” is in us all, but if we can just say a prayer and do that first pedal stroke, then the first day gets done, the first state or province is covered, and all of a sudden you’ve covered a whole continent. I think I knew that before, but now I understand it much better. I also understand much better that the prayers of the people do make a difference. The whole tour was bathed in prayer and yes we had some injured folks but nothing life threatening. And I personally didn’t have so much as a sniffle the whole time. I really felt protected. I feel that the tour was a big success and will continue to be, as those that were involved and those we touched will look and react in positive ways for those who are stuck in the cycle of poverty.
That’s enough for know I’ve been trying to write these last few paragraphs on and off about all day. I’ll continue more later.

Thursday, September 11, 2008


Tire dipping at Jersey city
Rairoad Bridges
celebration Celebration in St Catherines
Don S rode with me for a day on his Nocom

Monday, September 1, 2008

End of the Tour

Aug 28, 2008

Today we left Binghamton and headed south east toward Pennsylvania and Lackawanna state park. It was very scenic with lots of tree covered hills and beautiful valleys the road was light rolling hills. We stopped at a small café for a light breakfast. There were a few other customers in the café and they were interested in the ride. We told them about the tour and they were very interested. When they left one of them informed us that he had paid for all our meals. There were 6 of us so that made it an especially nice gesture. As we continued on we came across not one but 2 old arched railroad bridges that were both impressive structures that were still in use. The last one was in Nicholson which was only about 7 miles from camp. That “only” turned out to be a hard but fun 7 miles of steep up and down and around hills to Lachawanna State Park. Even the final leg in the camp was up a very steep hill and it was a little difficult to find a level place to pitch the tent, but it is a nice quiet park with a good sized lake. Tonight we had a long peloton meeting and communion. It was nice but long. I found out that Andi is leaving for England from Chicago early on Monday so Bren and I have decided to leave directly from Liberty Island on Sat and meet Andi on Monday morning in Chicago. We will miss the final Celebration service and some of the goodbye’s and such, but that’s ok.

Total miles 3943 today 58

Aug 29, 2008

From a bikers prospective Friday was one of the toughest but most rewarding days of the tour. It had the most feet of climbing of the entire tour and was 82 miles long. Actually it ended up being 90 miles because I missed a painted arrow and added several miles. I was still going in the right general direction but I ended up staying on highway 6 most of the way. The part I wasn’t supposed to be on was pretty busy, but it went ok. Because the terrain was mostly short steep hills, I rode most of the trip by myself. In this kind of terrain it is hard for me to ride with the road bikes. I climb a little slower because of the heavier bike, but go down hills faster because of that weight and better aerodynamics. The aero really plays into the speed on the flats as well. Another reason I went on my own was today was that the racer in me wanted to run hard one last time on the tour. I wasn’t alone in that respect as several other of the “hardcore” cyclist on the tour did exactly the same thing. I did stop for short breaks at a couple of the sag and lunch at Wendy’s and still ended up at Sussex Christian School by 1:30. As I said before most of the climbs were short and steep, but one was reminiscent of the mountains out west, as it was fairly long at about 4 miles. It topped out at the highest point in New Jersey In the aptly named High Point State Park. Also the last ½ mile to the school was up a steep grade, which wasn’t really a surprise as that has happened to us on several occasions. I’m not sure why they always put the school at the top of the hill in those hilly communities. The Church community here served us a really great supper. Brenda had left Pella Thursday morning and arrived at the School about 7:00 pm. It was sure good to see her. We loaded all my gear and bike in the van so we wouldn’t have to mess with it on Sat. We spent the night at a nearby motel, which was great as it rained during the night and I didn’t have to pack a wet tent. It wasn’t so good as there was no water pressure in the morning or any internet connection either.

Total miles 4033 today 90

Aug 30, 2008

Let’s finish this thing. The Last Day almost seems like one of the first as we are again climbing into the fog through a huge forest of trees. But it’s also kind of like the prologue in the Tour De France where the race is over except for the ride into Paris. Everyone rides pretty easily as we have only about 50 miles to the rendezvous point. About 20 or more of us stop at a donut shop for coffee then move on down the streets. For many of us those streets had been an item of worry as we had heard the reputation of Jersey drivers and I had driven some of those streets in a car and didn’t like them at all then. In actuality they were not as bad as I thought they might be. There were some not so nice drivers, but not many. Ed had picked a pretty good route for us and it went through a variety of neighborhoods. It had rained the night before and the wet streets with plenty of debris did cause quite a bit of tire problems as there were quite a lot more flats than normal. We all met at a big parking lot and waited for our police escort. While we were waiting a group photo was taken. It was kind of hilarious as it was getting time to leave and more riders kept rolling in and we would all tell them to hurry and get in the picture. They had to run around a small pond as Jonathan our photographer would try and wait. One of the last ones to get in was Lawrence. He received a great big cheer from the group as he flew up on his bike and did a great bunny hop over the large curb and rode right up to us and jumped of the bike. After the picture we all assembled to do the last few miles with a police escort. Doug and I had decided to ride at the rear of the group just in case we could offer any mechanical assistance. Just as we were about to leave I ended up helping 2 people with flat tires and almost didn’t get in before the last police escort. I did end up helping a couple of people stay with the pack. The ride in was quite something as the riders fanned out in front of me. One of the police cars would hold crossing traffic back till we were passed then roar up the street beside us to the next intersection. We got to the park and kind of wound through it to the boat Ramp. It was quite a sight to see all the bikers lined up it looked like a lot more than 200. After a few words by Len and reciting the Lords Prayer together, we dipped our tires more or less simultaneously with quite a crowd cheering us on. It was quite an emotional event and we all kind of meandered around saying we couldn’t believe the ride part was over. Since I was not going to the rally I tried to find many friends and say goodbye, but even that was difficult to do. Most of the bikes were loaded onto semi trailers and then headed for the school. Brenda and I walked to the Parking Lot with Doug and Joy and their friends from Michigan. We said our goodbyes and turned the dodge toward home. As I write this from a motel room in Chicago a day after it still hasn’t sunk in that I won’t be getting up at 5 tomorrow morning and riding another 80 miles. I think it will take some time to digest it all. Already now I can say that it was a fantastic experience. I’ve seen a lot of cooperation and unity within the Reformed and Christian Reformed Denominations from many angles, be it country of origin or age or race. I hope we accomplished in some large or small way, our goal to raise the awareness of poverty issues. I know I as a cyclist on the tour, and I would guess all the other participants as well, will think of those things that hold people in poverty and continue to speak out on behalf of those less fortunate than ourselves.

A few stats for me on the tour
1. No falls or accidents
2. 2 flats that were a day apart in the middle of the tour. I replaced the front tire at that time. A short time later it went on the front of Claire’s trike and he wore it down into the cords. I replaced the rear tire before the last day as I discovered a bump on it. It had over 4,000 miles on it. The tires are stelvio’s and I really like them
3. Just about 4100 miles total, the official point to point total was 3881.
4. The only mechanical problem I had were some broken spokes on the front wheel. I am very happy with how well the bike performed.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Nearing the end

Aug 27, 2008

Today we rolled out of bed to a nice dry tent as opposed to yesterday when the dew was really wet. My legs seemed pretty tired at first but they came around in time to do quite a bit of climbing on the day. The scenery was very pleasant and it has changed to more trees and hills. We made a pretty big climb off route to see the Tougannock Falls. At 215 feet tall they are the tallest falls in the eastern US. The Falls were pretty but a bit disappointing as there was very little water coming over them. We then traveled through the city if Ithica NY. Even before leaving Ithica we started the major climb of the day. It reminded many of the climb out of Salt lake City. Not quite as steep or long or hot, It was very steep for a block or so (steep enough that I had trouble with slipping my front wheel drive ) then tapered of a bit into a steady climb. We had more climbs, but that was the biggest. There were a couple church stops along the way and lots of little signs and people along the route. Right across from the School we are staying at is Valley CRC and they had a stop for us. They also fed us supper tonight. They served us a local specialty called Spiedies , They consisted of marinated grilled chicken or ham on Italian bread. We also had salt potatoes, beans and pasta salad along with desert. With a lot of things going on and unknown Internet access , today will probably be the last post I make before the end of the trip. We have 3 days to go. It has certainly been quite a trip, hard to believe we’ve come clear across the country a day at a time. Since the job of riding is not yet done, and the job of doing what we can to alleviate poverty will be ongoing I will be posting more later.

Total miles 3985 today 78

Up state New York

Aug 26, 2008

Byron to Romulus NY. Southwoods RV Park where we stayed last night turned out to be a really nice place to stay. It also had a couple sections that had what appeared to be almost permanent residents in landscaped lots. The owners were also very friendly and supportive of Sea to sea. There was also some other campers near us that came over with their Base, Fiddle, and guitar and serenaded us after the Peloton meeting. We also had a big bond fire complete with smores. The trip today went well, for the first time in several days we didn’t have much wind fighting us. The landscape is still mostly farm country but it is more rolling hills. The roads have been very good with wide mostly clean shoulders. We stopped at about the 50 mile mark at a stop put on by East Palmyra CRC. It was a lunch stop and was delicious. This is the Childhood home of Friend Lee Talma and I found several people who knew him. It is also not far from where another friend Verlan Van Ee was a Pastor before moving to Wisconsin a couple years ago. We passed through the town of Geneva which has a number of historical buildings and old well kept houses. Then it was around Seneca Lake to Sampson State Park. This Park is on Seneca Lake and was at one time a navy training base and then an Air Force base, before becoming a Park in about 1960. There is a museum in the Park with displays outside, however the inside was locked up.

Total trip 3907 today 81

Monday, August 25, 2008

Back to the USA

Aug 25, 2008

Back in the USA! We had about 1 hour ride to where we were to meet to cross back into the USA. It was a pretty ride. We stopped by the Whelan Canal and watched a ship in the locks. Then we traveled up along the Niagara River. There are Huge Hydro Electric power plants on both sides of the river. Water is actually diverted from above the falls to reservoirs then the water rejoins the river after travelling though the power turbines. Most of the water is diverted to the reservoirs at night and the river is allowed to flow at near full strength during the day so the falls look good for the tourists. It is really quite an ingenious system. After we had all gathered in a parking lot, we proceeded en mass to the border crossing. It turned out to be the easiest border crossing I think any of us ever had. Ed V the tour director had previously been in contact with customs and had gotten us all preapproved to cross. As we approached the customs stations they had several agents there and they waved the whole group through. We didn’t even have to stop. The Vehicles did get a little bit of inspection but it went well for them as well. The ride on the US side was surprisingly flat and the roads pretty good. It was different not having stops to make every few miles, but that was ok. We did stop about 1:00 and had some pizza. The scenery is mostly farm land and trees with a few wetlands mixed in. It reminds me of central Minnesota. We are staying at an RV Park tonight in Byron New York. Not a fancy Park but nice.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Tour De Food

Aug. 23, 2008
We only have about 45 miles today and no less than 6 stops at local churches and one bakery. I nickname the day Tour de Food, as all the stops have lots of food. It seems kind of wrong to be eating so much on a tour for poverty awareness, but the churches here have lots of family and friends on the tour and are major sponsors of the tour. Many of the people here immigrated to Canada themselves or only a generation back. Most came over with almost nothing and now are doing well because they were willing to work hard and they had people to help them get started. The ride took us along the escarpment that overlooks Hamilton and through several vineyards. We are staying tonight at St Catharines, ON. The camp for the weekend is located at the Beacon Christian School.

I am ready for a rest weekend as I seem to be wearing down as are several of the other riders that have gone the full distance. The last week has been quite different from the previous weeks somehow. There are a lot more riders, both the riders that are doing the last leg and lots of 1 or 2 day riders from the local area. A lot of these riders are not as disciplined as we’ve become -- not bad riders, just not as seasoned on the road. Many like to ride and talk and end up concentrating more on talk than ride, which makes for few scary moments. I think next week will be a little more back to normal as we move away from so many supporters.

Speaking of next week, it will be our last week of the tour. Sometimes it seems we’ve been riding forever and sometimes it seems that we started only yesterday. I think I am ready to be done, but I’m not sure how returning to normal life will go either.
Trip total 3737 today 49