Current Ride Status (Pre-Ride Preparations)

May 5:

Last night, we had no idea what would be in store for today: could we get the RV out of the NYPD "impound" lot easily, could we get 9 of us (our bikes, belongings, etc) in the RV, and could we find our way out of NYC? The answers: yes, no, and yes. The "impound" lot: the NYPD was kind enough to let us park the RV in one of their lots for the 2 days that we were there (airline deal: free) and the concern (unfounded) was getting the RV at 5:30AM. Packing: 9 bikes and the belongings of 9 individuals fitting in an RV built for 7. Not going to happen. Soooo... the belongings went in the RV and the Riders rode "out of town" on their bikes. After Wednesday’s spectacular crash, the concern was getting the bicycles across the GW Bridge in one piece. Not a problem, a "recon mission" found a wide bike path. So off we went. Today, for the first time we had a family member join us on the day that we were riding for one of the 33 crewmembers: Tom Roger, whose daughter, Jean was aboard AA 11. Prior the dedication to our crewmember of the day, Jean, Tom told us about Jean and then Rob said the dedication. Today’s Ride began by going "up the river" along the Hudson River bike path. Again, we were struck by seeing the river on one side (our left), all sorts of greenery on the other (our right), and quietness of the morning. One would never think that they were in New York! Crossing the Hudson the view was spectacular with all of Manhattan in sight! Once on the other side, we (again) met up with our New Jersey escort Sgt. Nadir Nassry (from May 3) and we rode along the "other" side of the Hudson. We thought the views from the GW Bridge were something, but seeing the New York skyline from New Jersey (again we thought "who’d want to live in Jersey?) was spectacular. Seeing Gotham, seeing the skyline filled with skyscrapers in the early morning sky was our reward remembering the 33 crewmembers of 9/11. We rode through Palisades Park, Hoboken, Newark (right past the airport), Linden, Brunswick, and Princeton on our way to Yardley. We rode on streets and highways that most likely had never seen cyclist: the elevated section of the Palisades and most of the way on US 1. Picture this: 9 cyclists mixing it up with semi’s and merging with cars doing over 60 mph. Interesting. Sgt. Nassry made sure we were safe by having his partner, John, run "interference". You can guess. As we approached Trenton, we left Rt. 1 and went to Washington’s Crossing (yep, that’s where he did it) and were "handed off" to our new escorts from Pennsylvania. Our "good" deed of the day: fixing a flat of a stranded cyclist. Near Washington Crossing, we passed Colleen Oriente walking/pushing her bike with a flat; we stopped, in record time (from having done this before) changed her tire, and sent her on her way. At Washington Crossing we met up with Bill Soloway and Steve Verde and several other cyclists who "led" us to the Garden of Reflection, a memorial dedicated to the 17 victims from Bucks County and the 3000 other victims of 9/11. There we were greeted by Ellen Saracini, Vic’s wife for whom we are riding tomorrow, and their friends; we got a tour of the Memorial, got refreshments, and looked forward to spending the evening with them at a barbecue at Ellen’s house. As we started to break up and head to the hotel, someone commented how unique today was: ending the day at the Garden and having Tom ride with us in memory of Jean and how we all came to be here safely in Yardley….all because some folks are watching over us: 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, Leroy, Cee Cee, Renee, Betty, and Jean.

May 4:

Today, was a day like in Somerset last week, like 4 1/2 years ago, but different. The skies were crystal clear, blue, and still. This morning we gathered in the Hampton lobby for the short ride to Columbus Circle, the loop ride in the park, and then the trip to Ground Zero. At Columbus Circle, we were joined by Bob Nadelberg (Delta pilot who was with us in Dallas) and Mark from last night's dinner. The Ride around Central Park (6.1 miles) was at an extrememly leisurely pace. We were all taking in the sights of NYC and laughing about the comments of the cyclists passing us (if they only know what were had done!). It was a great experience: you'd never think you were in NYC when in the Park. The fields. The meadows. The trees. The grass. The openness. At 9:15 we exited the Park, milled about for 30 minutes, and at 10:00 started off for the WTC. We went the wrong direction (for 29 days we've been traveling East; now it's West) to get to the river and the bike trail that runs along the Hudson and West Riverside Drive. We passed the aircraft carrier Intrepid with various aircrcaft onboard (it's now a museum), by the docks and piers where the ships come in (there were 2 cruise ships in port), by the heliport, and then we came upon a big empty block: Ground Zero. All of a sudden the euphoria of the Ride left us and we were overcome by the magnitude of the "event". We were met by Sgt. Milton Fong, of the NY Port Authority, who took us, all of us, as family to the viewing area. In this area, an area that is both sacred and hallowed, one gets the true sense of loss of life and the devastation of that day. There is no way to describe it. There, we placed a wreath at the temporary memorial, said a prayer, had a moment of silence, and at then threw rose petals over and into the "pit". There was not a dry eye. There, we were joined by other family members who lost someone that day (Eric Laborie and Becky Marchand) and members of the Airline Ambassadors. Before leaving Sgt. Fong asked us to dedicate the Ride back to the Hampton for the over 2900 souls of the WTC especially the members of the Port Authority; Rob then said the dedication. After having come so far, after Shanksville, and trying to tell the story of the heroes of that day, we left WTC with a sense of accomplishment (not riding a bike, but telling their story, the story of the 33 and the over 3000 who made the ultimate sacrifice).

May 3:

What a way to end a 3700 mile journey across the country. Our arrival into the Big Apple (New York City tied up 2 of 4 lanes of the upper level of the G.W. Bridge fixing 5 flats! Today, as we left New Jersey riding for Betty Ong, we were all looking forward to seeing the tall buildings of the city and at every turn, every crest of a hill, we searched. For the better part of 78 miles we were disappointed; but, cresting the last hill near Palisades City the horizon was suddenly filled with skyscrapers! What a feeling! Having come so far, so fast, and the reason why: the 33 crewmembers of 9/11 and the 3 memorials. All the pain, all the rain, all the cold was now worth it. Leaving Clinton, this morning, under the watchful eye of Sgt Nadir Nassry, we made it to the GW Bridge in record time (don't think that you could drive it any faster); Betty made lots of things possible for us: green traffic lights; the rolling hills of Northern New Jersey farmland, the streams that we crossed, the openness made many of us think "are we far away?" The day started out with the reason why we are riding for Betty today: her Dad's birthday and that her sister (Cathy) wanted today to be Betty's day; we talked about Betty's actions 4 1/2 years ago and Rob did the dedication. In less than no time we were overlooking the Hudson! Sgt. Nassry "handed" us off" the New York Port Authority and the ride continued under escort to "Gotham" on the upper deck. We made it over the first expansion joint with bangs, concerns about flats, and out of trim wheels. While crossing, the Villanova lacrosse team bus passed us (they are all banging on the windows of the bus). Crossing the last expansion joint, we had a crash. New Ride stats: Fall Status: Paul 2, Marc 0, Rob 0, Bobby (still, in a commanding lead) 4, Tom 1, Rossetti 2, and Henry Urban with 1. Paul, while jumping the expansion joint, "crashed", blew 2 tires, and thankfully was unhurt (again, Betty is looking out for us); both the Jamis bike and Paul escaped unscathed (only damage was to an ego and a helmet). While "assessing" the damage 4 more flats were found: Flat standings: Paul 14, Marc 21, Rob 7, Bobby 6, Tom 10, and the RV 1. Have you ever seen 7 cyclists changing tires on 4 bikes on the G.W. Bridge? History in the making! Once in the city, we rode down Riverside Drive and never once thought we were in the largest city in the country; the Hudson on our right, parkland on our left, and in the distance the high rise apartments. We entered Central Park on 72nd Street (near the Dakota), rode by Tavern on the Green, and went down 7th Ave to the Hampton. We made it! Over 3600 miles: all of it due to 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, Leroy, Cee Cee, Renee, and Betty. Once unpacked, the "crew" went to dinner at Colors Restaurant where we were all hosted an treated like "rock stars". A wonderful way to end the day!

May 01:

True to their motto, the Boy Scouts were prepared for us. And this is where I put my radio transmitter and secret decoder ring... Now that you mention it, I DO feel like I'm on Candid Camera So what if dad got free airplane tickets. I've got a lizard. State Police separate a roving biker gang and a group of local tough guys who were arguing over a pig. I can see how it would slice and dice, but I’m a little concerned about that julienne fries thingy

Apr 30:

How to fill up a 30 foot RV in one easy lesson Can you tell that a group of guys uses this RV? A short break after the easy mountain of the day A snapshot of us in the middle of Nowhere

Apr 29:

Tom Heidenberger on the Courthouse Steps Nathan and Kim who drove 2 hours that morning to ride with us. Caravan Home 2 The Caravan Home: Coming Back to Somerset The Flight 93 Chapel. Thunder on the Mountain Mac, who flew his private plane in from Chicago to ride with us that day. Mick Rosenblatt, Chloe and Whitney

Apr 28:

Welcome to Pennsylvania. Please enjoy your visit. You guys couldn’t wait 10 lousy seconds while I focused the camera, could you?? Sheesh!!! Take the picture already! There’s cake in the lobby!

May 2:

If you were with us yesterday I said, "as we get closer to the finish things get better" and that was so right on! Today, we rode for Renee May and it keeps on getting better and better. This morning, we gathered around and talked about Renee before the dedication by Rob. Sheri, Val, and Panda all either knew Renee or had flown with her and each had a story about Renee. Another day of moderate temps, blue sky and no wind: all of it compliments of Renee! Picture this: riding on back country roads for miles with no one (cars) around; riding through Amish farm country and riding through "postcard" towns like Strausstown or Shartlesville (squeaky clean) or seeing just outside of Hamburg the Tyrolean looking house! One would never think that they were in Eastern Pa but in central Europe. As we rode through Jalappa, we all thought we were in the Cotswold’s of England! All of it quite remarkable and it’s in our backyard (not far from D.C. or NYC). Near Hamburg, we picked up several riders: Jonathan and Brian, who were dropped off by their Moms (so I guess it was OK to play hooky) from Parkland High; Brian Smith (sports masseur) and Tim Blanger (news reporter) for the leg into New Jersey. Have you ever tried to keep up with two 16 year olds on bikes? Almost impossible after riding over 3500 mile. The boys climbed hills as if they were flat! Ever try to do an interview while riding? Leaves one "breathless" after 3500 miles! The 11 of us rode as a pack or pelaton through Allentown, Bethlehem, and Easton all of which was an impressive site. Crossing the Delaware into New Jersey (wonder if we were near where George Washington crossed) we all started to breath a little easier: closer to having crossed the country. After having ridden almost 95 miles, we abruptly came upon the ultimate "tease". A little downhill followed by a long 9% climb (about 2 miles); none of us were in the mood. Slogging up the hill we were rewarded with a long decent into Clinton. Again, picture: going 40 mph or more with your mouth open. Difficult to close when it’s flapping! Billy Garrish did his first century (100 miles) today and wanted to keep on going (that’s youth, for you); while the rest of us were just happy to be arriving at the Hampton with an additional 106 on our odometers. Rolling (or is it Riding) into Clinton we were met and welcomed by Christine Schaumburg (Mayor of Clinton) and Gardner (owner of the local bike shop). All of this was possible because of Renee with a little help from, 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, Leroy, and Cee Cee.

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!

The Official Hotel of the Airline
Ride Across America