Current Ride Status (Pre-Ride Preparations)

May 1:

As we get closer to "the finish" on May 9th at the Pentagon, things seems to be getting better and better every day! Could it be Cee Cee Lyles? Or could it be the others, Chic, John, Tom, Bobbi, Jeff, Sara, Karen, Kathy, Dianne, Amy, and Ken and Jennifer, Michael, Robert, Amy Jarret, Amy King, Kathryn, Al, Michael, Alicia, Wanda, Sandy, Lorraine, Jason or Leroy that we rode for in the previous days? Today, as you can guess, we rode for Cee Cee and Rob again sent us on our way with the dedication. After yesterday, you’d think we were all in pain? Yep, we were but the pain was overshadowed by the presence of more riders! Brian Montgomery, an AA furloughee who now works at the Pentagon and 2 Dickenson College seniors Nathan and Bob (hope their professors don’t read this blog, think they cut class?) and Pete Collins’ wife, Karen. Pete and Karen were on a tandem bike with a big flag on the back (Karen provided the power that he lacked yesterday); Pete joined us in Shanksville and for the previous two days has suffered with us; Pete was also the guy responsible for all the rest stops and police escort in Pennsylvania and truth be told he made the Pennsylvania crossing not just safe but fun! For example, the father and son team Patrick and his son David Shane who met us in Shippensburg at the Produce Auction providing water, bananas, and power gels; Charles Gill from Dickenson College, who set up the rest stop in Carlisle (Carlisle Barracks) with the ROTC from Dickenson; to the school kids lining our approach to Carlisle Barracks and waving to us; to Nancy Gibson from the base Thrift Shop, who gave us a donation; to Nathan Fry who also gave us a donation; and, to the guys at the Pedal Pusher bike shop in Harrisburg who fixed both Paul’s and Henry’s bikes (gratis). These are just a few of the examples of support that we have gotten as crossed the central PA today. Ride Observations: you can never pass a Mennonite in a horse drawn carriage because no matter how hard you try: the horse is always faster! Think the horse wears Nike shoes? How do they (the horse) trot on the pavement without falling? How can the Mennonites farm without modern mechanical means? They do it so well! One needs only to look at their fields and crops: all done organically! Very healthy! Remember: save the best for last! Like the icing on the cake (day). Today, we were joined by Pennsylvania’s finest State Trooper: Nick Chimienti. Picture this: getting the guided tour through the State Capital with music! Now picture this: an audio tour of central Pa provided by Nick over the car loudspeaker! Picture this, talking to the FBI counter terrorism task force in downtown Harrisburg, during lunch hour and tying up 2 lanes of 4 lanes of traffic! It’s a good thing the State Troopers own the roads! Thank God to the taxpayers of Pa for providing such a wonderful experience! As we pulled into the Hampton, sirens a blaring we were greeted by the fine staff of the hotel! Again, the days/distances are getting shorter, becoming more enjoyable, and the crowds that we pass become more enthusiastic! Again, we need to thank Cee Cee for such a wonderful day!

Apr 30:

After yesterday, it was difficult to get started in so many ways: the visit to Shanksville, the rest day, and the prospect of some "major" climbs. This morning, Rob sent us on our way with the dedication to Leroy Homer; having to Ride for Leroy after our visit to Shanksville was indeed appropriate because we would need so much help. Rob said, "Leroy was a standup guy" and he’ll get us to Chambersburg. With so many days behind us, it is appropriate to start with the Ride Stats: Fall Status Category: Paul 1, Marc 0, Rob 0, Bobby (in the undisputed lead) 4, Tom 1, Rossetti 2, and Henry Urban 1. Flat standings: Paul 12, Marc 21, Rob 7, Bobby 5, Tom 9 and the RV 1. We departed the hotel with the Pennsylvania State Police escort and a new rider: Billy Garrish. Billy came with his Dad (Bill, Sr) from the D.C. area. Billy, a recent college grad is a teacher at Mater Dei School. For once, we departed the hotel on time: after 4 weeks we finally got it down or was it Leroy "prepping" us for what was to come. We immediately started with a climb, unfortunately not a gradual climb; with the climb comes the decent and then it starts all over again. Having crossed the southern tier of the Rockies, one would think we were prepared for today! Boy, were we wrong! It was one climb after another crossing the Blue Ridge! Very ugly. Today, over a distance of 98 miles we climbed over 7900’. Picture 8 cyclists going down a 14% grade covering a distance of 4 miles; picture the opposite: the climb. In the snap of a finger we go from a 45 mph downhill to a 6-8 mph climb! We did this 5 times with 3 summits each over 2100 above sea level! The views during both the climb and decent were spectacular: we could see down into the Cumberland Valley and across to the next ridge, running along the creeks and rivers, and seeing the change in foliage. As we get closer to the Atlantic and east of the Blue Ridge, it is back to spring: dogwoods in bloom, green grass, and lots of leaves on the trees. Ride Observations: Pennsylvanian’s are diverse when it comes to farm animals: we saw everything from Llamas, horses, dairy cows, donkeys, pigs, to the Budweiser Clydesdales! The police uniformly say that the last climb was the last: they forget to mention that the next one is worse than the one we just climbed! Stopping at the summit of one climb at a "biker" bar that was "user friendly" to bicycles was different! While descending at 40+ mph, the roar in your ears is deafening; hitting a bug while doing the same thing (as in descending) is very painful; thinking about how much rubber is on the pavement (while descending) is priceless! The last decent after all that climbing was into Chambersburg and as we pulled into the hotel we were greeted by Pat Isner, Mary Wingrove, and her friend Carol. They had a sign and an American flag waving in the wind! I’m guessing that Leroy was also responsible for that! He got us here safely after the quick and scary decent just Chic, John, Tom, Bobbi, Jeff, Sara, Karen, Kathy, Dianne, Amy, and Ken and Jennifer, Michael, Robert, Amy Jarret, Amy King, Kathryn, Al, Michael, Alicia, Wanda, Sandy, Lorraine, and Jason had safely gotten us to the Hampton in the days before.

Apr 29:

Today, a rest day after the hills of Kentucky, West Virginia, and western Pennsylvania, was anything but a rest day. We are 13 miles from Shanksville were UAL Flt. 93 crashed on September 11, 2001. After over 3100 miles, the hard times are ahead (not physical but emotional): the Flight 93 site, ground zero at the World Trade Center and, the site of Flight 77 crash at the Pentagon. We started out from the Hampton, heading to the Somerset County Court House, for the start of our journey to the Flt 93 Memorial site; after instructions and why the Ride is what it is (an awareness to the 33 crewmembers of 9/11); there were several surviving family members of Flt 93 to send us off and the 40+ cyclists "let it roll" to Shanksville. The hills, while short, were steep and some had to seek help from the sag wagon. As we rode, there was much uncertainty as to what we could expect. The views were spectacular because of the cool and clear blue skies; we could see for miles as we rode atop the hills. The last climb to the memorial was the hardest: in the distance at the top of a long climb you could see the temporary memorial site. Flags flying in the wind! As we crested the hill we saw all the memorabilia left at the site for the passengers and crew. People from all over the world, visiting the site, had left things such as hats, pins, notes, etc. anything to show respect for the sacrifice aboard Flt 93. Once we were all together, we carried a large wreath of roses and carnations to the Memorial Stone and had a moment of silence for not just the 33 crewmembers, not just of the passengers and crew of Flt 93, but for all 3000 innocent victims of that day….there was not a dry eye! After about 30 minutes, we started back to Somerset. On the way, we stopped at the Flt 93 Memorial Chapel; inside the Chapel were stories of the passengers and crew of Flt 93. The Chapel was a place to quietly reflect on them, that day, their sacrifice, and the 3000 other victims. Before leaving the Chapel, the minister blessed the riders, their bikes, their mission, and then rang the bell "Big Thunder" sending us on our way to Somerset. On the way, someone commented, "if there had to be a place of rest (as in perish), this is a good place"; the site is quiet, is a place is to honor, a place to reflect, and most importantly to remember. It is a place of tranquility. Once back at the Court House, we all went our separate ways. Today was more than a rest day: it was a day to honor.

Apr 28:

Today, as we assembled for a "continuance of the hills in Western Pennsylvania" we again remarked on the temperature and would we "warm up" climbing. We talked about Captain Jason Dahl, for whom we are riding today and pondered, the usual "leg/arm warmers or not". Once the uniform of the day was established, we started our climb, with a welcoming escort of two black and whites from the Pennsylvania State Police. We were minus 1 core rider, Tom; he was enrout to Pittsburg to pick up Rob who had been OJI (on the job injury) for the past two weeks. Although it was going to be a short day the ride did promise to be a difficult one as we rode along a lovely trout stream (some of us commented that we’d rather be there fishing than riding). Hidden Laurel Summit lurked just ahead of us and proved to be one of the more challenging climbs. Some (those that did not want to fish) wanted to trade places with Tom or or wound up wishing to be somewhere else. Before leaving Greensburg, we were forewarned by State Trooper that this was going to be a very long climb: 3-4 miles with a gain of over 1500’. Yep, the legs hurt! The rest of the trip into Somerset was quick because of the gradual downhill. As we rode into the Hampton driveway, we were greeted dozens of U.S. flags that lined the drive. In the lobby there were signs welcoming us, a cake decorated with a bicycle rider, a bouquet of flowers and some "locals" who wished us well. The riders "beat" Tom and Rob to the hotel because of the short distance and once we were all together again (when Tom and Rob got to the hotel) the "lies" started about the ugly hill, "Laurel Summit" and how easy it was to climb! Later in the day, 18 of us went to dinner. Picture the 5 core riders, Sheri and her "posse" and some 10 other individuals who drove hours to support the Ride. Folks like Betsy Dolan and Hutson Linder and his wife. Anyone want to guess how frazzled the waitress after making out all the "individual checks"? We talked about tomorrow: Shanksville, how we are ever so closer to home, and how we got here: thanks to Jason just as Chic, John, Tom, Bobbi, Jeff, Sara, Karen, Kathy, Dianne, Amy, and Ken and Jennifer, Michael, Robert, Amy Jarret, Amy King, Kathryn, Al, Michael, Alicia, Wanda, Sandy, and Lorraine had in the days before.

Apr 27:

The operative words of the day: Brr! And... Police(Yay!). Today, as we again assembled for the Ride for Lorraine Bay the discussion centered on how to layer to stay warm. Some wrapped themselves in plastic and then put on their arm and leg warmers, other just said "heck with it" (truth be told, they said something else) and did just the leg and arm warmers with booties. Anyway you look at it: frost on cars, on lawns, and temps in the low to mid thirties made for a chilly start, burr! As we were just about to leave the hotel, a former United Flight Attendant (think her name was Judy) came down from her room just to wish us well (no, she did not kiss us) and John Warnick came from his home in Wheeling to the hotel to also wish us well and said "I know a shortcut to Rt. 40" and off we went. John took us through Wheeling, by University of Wheeling, and along a bike path that went along a fresh water stream (to show how cold it was, there was steam coming from the water!). On this path, we passed several deer and guess what? They wanted to race us! Picture this: riding on a bike with 3 does (that’s female deer) next to you for several hundred yards! Then, just like they would on the road, they darted in front of us. No falls, yet. As we "pressed on" to Pennsylvania, we often heard a scraping sound. We were always moving so fast and concentrating on staying warm that it took a while to find the source: people scraping the frost off their car windows! Once at the state line, we said goodbye to John and met the Pennsylvania State Police. After the previous days without an escort, we looked forward to their protection. After the last two days of cars and trucks attempting to "run us off" the highway, we gladly embraced their assistance! Ride Observations: what goes up must come down (isn’t that that Newton thing?); picture this, struggling up a hill and then only to go down 40+ mph. We did this again and again: we climbed almost 6000’ in 78 miles! When you think of hills, think of San Francisco and hills there. Now, multiply that five fold! Painful! In Pennsylvania the "road kill" survey is a toss up between turkey, possum, and deer. Mind you, it’s still early and we still have miles to go and there will be changes. Speaking of changes and stats: Henry joined the "fall" stat; he fell at a light in Monongahela because he was unable to get out of his clips. Again, today, no flats: we have to thank Lorraine for that, just as Sandy yesterday got us home "flat free". The stat compilation: Fall Status: Paul 1 Marc 0, Rob 0, Bobby (in a commanding lead) 4, Tom 1, Rossetti 2, and Henry Urban joins the select group with 1. Flat standings: Paul 12, Marc 21, Rob 7, Bobby 4, Tom 9 and the RV 1. Tomorrow, we have a long "slog" to Somerset: the police warned us by saying "eat lots of pasta and go to bed early" but I know Captain Jason Dahl will take care of us tomorrow and get us over the "hill" just as Lorraine did today and Chic, John, Tom, Bobbi, Jeff, Sara, Karen, Kathy, Dianne, Amy, and Ken and Jennifer, Michael, Robert, Amy Jarret, Amy King, Kathryn, Al, Michael, Alicia, Wanda, and Sandy did in the days before.

Apr 21:

To heck with economizing. Tonight I’m going to pay for a hotel room. Some scenery just makes you forget about all the pain involved. It’s not heaven, but it’s gotta be close.

Apr 20:

One girl and three guys fighting over her. MUST be rough! Forget it. No way. I signed up to ride with you, not dress like you.

Apr 26:

Today, some of us rode for Sandy Bradshaw and others did a "recon" for tomorrow. When we awoke and got our "stuff" together for today we commented on two things: the early morning temperatures (37), and how the RV sounded. Guess it did not like the cold or the hills of West Virginia. After consultation with Cruise America (they wanted us to divert to Columbus, Ohio) we made the decision to go to Pittsburgh to get the RV looked at. Problems? It depends on whether or not you consider ugly noise (transmission? brakes? universal joint?) from the engine compartment and with the "idiot" light (engine light and no, the engine had plenty of oil and coolant) as being a problem. Do you think driving it for 24 days at 15 mph and hitting the brakes on a regular basis to avoid the crazy airline cyclists in front you might have been a contributing factor? Naaaah! So Paul, Bobby, Marc and Henry left the Hampton and headed to Wheeling layered in plastic bags, gloves, and leg/arm warmers. Tom, Sheri, and Donna left for the Cruise America dealer…..the route to Pittsburg was exactly what the riders we going to use along the Ohio River on Route 2. We passed many barges taking coal up the river; we passed small towns like St. Mary’s which were like yesterday, going back in time. We also passed old towns that were dying: only a handful of homes were occupied and all the stores were boarded up. We drove past our overnight city, Wheeling, and continued on for 30 miles to Pittsburg. Along the way (between Wheeling and Pittsburg), the "recon" mission began: checking out the route for the next day. Not something to look forward to! Hills; big hills; killer hills. Should we call in sick for tomorrow? But, this needs to be done so we can get to the end in Washington DC. In Pittsburg, we were told that the RV was ‘toast" and that we had to get another one. Imagine moving suitcases, bikes, parts, tools, and all the drinks and food stuff for riders for the next two weeks from one RV to another. Not pretty. All of it loose and scattered throughout every storage bin in the RV. I think Sandy wanted to make sure that we got our exercise while the guys rode their bikes! It took over two hours to move all this "junk". Once "swapped" we set out for Wheeling. In Wheeling, we beat the riders to the hotel by about 30 minutes. When they showed up, we traded lies about who did what and which crew worked the hardest today. We won because they said that they did not warm up ‘till about 1 p.m. So they couldn’t have been working too hard. In the end, it did not matter one iota: Sandy got us back together at the hotel safely, albeit under different means just as Chic, John, Tom, Bobbi, Jeff, Sara, Karen, Kathy, Dianne, Amy, and Ken and Jennifer, Michael, Robert, Amy Jarret, Amy King, Kathryn, Al, Michael, Alicia, and Wanda had in the days before. Tomorrow? Cold, even colder….what happened to Spring? Wasn’t it last week in Memphis when the same question was asked because of the heat?

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Ride Across America