Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Don’s Finish

The road was long, but it did finally end in Yorktown, Virginia. From “sea to shining sea, over the purple mountains majesty and across the “fruited plains.” Pedaling cross country was living the song, America the Beautiful. And as Ernest Hemingway once described cycling, “you really learn the countours of the country.”

The last days ride was a summary of my adventure. In the morning, the heavy rain clouds had momentarily departed, replaced by a rainbow. It was a good omen because I had a great day of cycling. Like everyday, there were challenges to overcome. This day was navigating the route through colonial Williamsburg and the GPS crashing at the crucial turn onto Yorktown. Like every others days difficulty, overcome or worked around. Then the final stretch from Williamsburg to Yorktown, a cloudburst missed me and I rolled to the finish dry. What a great day of cycling to finish on!

 All goals were met. As a fundraiser for Boy Scout camperships and Enlace, both met the goal of at least $1mile which was $4300. I just pedaled, generous folks who believe in these organizations made this happen. Thank you for the financial support for these organizations! It was also a significant morale booster for me to see the donations come in and the total grow.

There was an amazing level of support throughout the trip. Church hostels, Warmshowers hosts, and many Emails of encouragement. Also, TransAm race watchers waiting roadside to meet us and 'trail angels’ scattered randomly along the way. Missouri was a lot of fun with my brother David, and his family, visiting me in Farmington. Eric Bassett from work and Aaro Froese from the Scout office cycling with me. My wife, Joyce, met me at Houston, MO to have signatures notorized for my retirement papers. Now officially retired! Michelle Negron Bueno, of Enlace, met Nishanth and I for lunch and giving encouragement when south of Kansas City.Near daily phone calls with my family, Joyce and Justin, bridged the over 2 month physical absence. As the church sign said, “encouragement is food for the soul". My body was usually hungry, but my soul was well fed.

The 1982 Centurian ProTour performed well. The hills and 'hollers’ of Kentucky were hard on brake pads but no other significant mechanical problem. Not even a broken spoke or a  single flat tire! Overall comfort reduced fatigue when there were long hours of saddle time. Saddle time was also greatly aided by the Brooks gents B-68 saddle. Properly broken in, it fit my posterior like a favorite pair of Levi's.

I never got sick or hurt during the 63 days of cycling. The power of prayer at work here, I had my prayer warriors on duty. There were close calls and scary moments.
I knew I was experiencing a power I could not see, but I knew was real.

In small group, a member expressed as a lament, why was she so blessed in life and others not. I contemplated on this and concluded, if blessed then be a blessing. The churches across the country practicing Hebrews 13:2 “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it.” They were blessed with a church property that they offered as a cyclist’s hostel.
At a Scout meeting in early May, another volunteer leader,Hank Stelzer, asked about the ride and why I was doing it. He suggested it could be a fundraiser for Boy Scout camperships for summer camp. At 62 years of age, I  am blessed with the health and stamina to undertake a 4300 mile cycling adventure. I accepted the idea of adding a fundraising effort and extended the idea to an organization my church works with, Enlace. My blessing of health and fitness would become youth with financial need now experiencing summer camp. Through Enlace rural communities in El Salvador, Guatemala and Nepal would experience improvement in health, education and economic opportunity. My blessing would be a blessing to youth, families and whole communities. Amazing it could happen and did happen! I rode, took pictures and journeled, and others with their skills kept up the giving sites.  My friends sharing with others and money being donated. A simple idea to make a cycling trip a fundraiser, my acceptance and others making it happen and financially successful.
To everyone that in some way touched my cycling adventure, may God bless you also as I was blessed and looked over.

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Friday 8/3/18

Glendale to Yorktown

It rained late into the evening Thursday and some lightning that was close to the church. Friday morning, as I was leaving, there was a rainbow. I took it as a good omen for the last day of my cycling adventure.

I  had 4 highway miles before getting on the Capital Trail. This is a paved cycling trail that parallels along Highway 5 for about 25 miles. It was in nearly new condition. This follows the James River which has several plantations open to the public. A trip later with Joyce to view them properly.

Soon on the trail I met another cyclist,Tyler, a minister from lacrosse on sabbatical. He also was finishing a cross country ride, but a different route. We enjoyed a good conversation about long distance cycling. His trip was much different as his wife was pulling a camper and he was not loaded down. So I was cycling faster than typical keeping up with him. It did not seem long and we were at the end of the trail. I guess good company will do that. Tyler is a good conversationalist and positive. He kept me upbeat and moving along. Again a coincidence, God provided just what I needed when it was needed.

I headed down the Colonial Parkway, the final 21 miles to Yorktown. Steve Oker soon appeared by the road to encourage me on to the finish. Steve's Mom, Ethel and sister Pat go to my church. Later Steve would cycle a few miles with me.

As I got closer to Williamsburg, large dark clouds were building up. The route goes thru Williamsburg because cyclist cannot use tunnels on the Parkway. Navigating thru the Williamsburg streets was a chore. But it did allow me to miss a cloudburst on the Parkway. The lighter rain in town, I stood under an overhang till it passed. Back on the Parkway, it was running with water.

So the mornings rainbow was accurate as a good omen. I rode the final 13 miles to Yorktown and rolled to the finish line dry, what a day to end the trip on!

Steve Oker and Tom Alford were there to cheer me in. Tom vidio’d my arrival for the race facebook page.

Tom volunteers with the race on the finishing end to help racers with their travel plan arrangements. The 'red lantern’ trail angel of the race. Many had a part in getting us to the finish, Tom helps us get home to our loved ones. Thank you, Tom, for being the final trail angel of the race!

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Thursday 8/2/18

Ashland to Glendale

I woke up at sunrise to a sunny sky with a few clouds drifting by. I had a peanut butter sandwich with banana for breakfast. I packed and cycled the few short bocks to the campus of Randolph-Macon College. I took a few pictures as College campuses are usually picturesque. Ashland is unique that railroad tracks run down the center of the main street. Amtrak and freight trains run constantly. The train whistle almost becomes a background noise.

The route today was more urban it went thru Mechanicsville. There was the urge to stop at restraurants and convenience stores since till recently,  there had been so few. I just need to get unconditioned from the trip that typically had us in rural isolated areas. Joyce told me there was a Krogers right on the route. Still cannot get over getting to walk into a Kroger's. Main item was more cherries and just to take in the Kroger ambience.

Mechanicsville was the site of many Civil War battles as it is north of Richmond, the Confederate States capitol. There were a lot of historical signs to stop and read.

About 12 miles from reaching Glendale another cyclist was waiting for me. Ephraim Seidman had Emailed me saying he might ride a few miles with me. He keeps track of the racers and tries to meet as many as possible, even us in the AARP division! I enjoyed having company again. A few miles from the Willis Methodist Church rain started. As we got close it started down heavy. Luckily this church is a hostel, so I called it a day.  Ephraim called the church member David who let’s cyclist in. He discussed the weather prediction that included possible flooding over roads as ditches we're already holding previous rains. More reason to stay put.  The heavy rain continued into the evening, so a good call to end the day. This church included a shower in it’s amenities. A hot shower before a good meal would be a nice evening. I will pray for a clear  day tommorow and finish the remaining 60 miles of this 4200 mile journey.

Days miles about 40.

Wednesday 8/1/18

Palmyra to Ashland

Even though indoors at Palmyra UMC I did not sleep that well. Had bouts of mild leg cramps. Would get up and use the restroom, then walk around some. I had real milk to make my out meal and will drink some later today. Joyce says the calcium helps prevent muscle cramps. I also cooked 3 eggs and ate with a diced up tomato. Hope extra protien helps also.

For my notes I wanted to get pictures of the church and Freds house. Fred was outside do I got to tell him goodbye as well as include him in the picture. It seems the cyclist add something to Freds life even though we are a fleating presence. Made a day or two, then replaced by someone new and fresh that Fred can recount his life with.

I finally got packed up, a last look around for a stray item, and got going. The sky was gray and thick with ominous clouds. A bit of mist was coming down and my expectations for the day were low.

But the day worked out fine and I felt relatively good. The days roads were rural and no busy or dangerous sections. I made a few Enlace brochure drops and met church staff at two. They were very interested in my bicycle trip and if they could do anything like water or use of a bathroom. I told them both about the inspiration of the Thomas Camero article and the goal of just finishing. They liked that simple idea and wished me the best to meet the goal.

I got to Mineral about 1PM and stopped at Miller's Grocery for something to eat. I was just going to get bananas for a peanut butter sandwich but saw Bell’s deli counter. The plan changed to a Bell’s hot roast beef sub special. She added jalapenos, banana peppers and extra onion. It completely filled the bottom of the large styrofoam container. This sandwich was a beast and it included fries. While waiting I saw a markdown card filled with assorted snack cakes. I bought two boxes of cherrie pies each with 4 pies for $1.50 each. I ate one immediately while waiting and another for dessert after the sandwich. The second I looked at the calories, 480 each. That should help with the seven pound weight loss, or at least stabalize things. The things we have to suffer for the love of cycling!

About 7:30 PM I had made it to Ashland. The whole day I had enjoyed both good roads and weather. On the edge of town was a ballfield with concession building. So I had a bathroom and cover for the night. Not motel perfect, but all I need. I had a peanut butter sandwich on my favorite Kroger bread. Some cherries, and a 480 calorie cherry pie for desert.

Cleaned up with a sink bath, I slept OK.

Days miles about 75.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Tuesday 7/31/18

Charlottesville to Palmyra

Charlottesville is a large college town and stays awake at night. I slept OK under the park shelter building but lots of vehicle noise all night. I bet Columbia near to Campus is similar. Waking, the sky was heavy overcast and it had rained during the night. I did not have water or toilet at the park, so packed the bike pronto!

I decided to go back to the Kroger store. Use their bathroom to clean up  and buy another loaf of their their stone ground whole wheat bread. It has substantial texture where the Sara Lee whole wheat commonly available is like fluff. I would have decent peanut butter sandwiches the next couple days.

Next the plan was to stop at a convenience store before leaving town and have oatmeal and coffee. Before I made it that far, the drizzle started. I stopped at McDonald's for coffee and sat under a nearby canopy while eating a couple peanut butter sandwiches.

The light rain continued till 1PM and stopped. Highway 53 we are routed out of Charlottesville on, I was warned, was narrow and no shoulder. So I wanted to avoid low visibility and commuters.

It took a bit to figure the route out of town but I finally was out of Charlottesville and the weather mostly cooperated. I pedaled by the estates of Jefferson and Madison. It was supposed to start raining again later so I continued on. These could be a whole vacation later with Joyce.

I made Palmyra about 4:30 with huge clouds building up. The Palmyra Methodist Church has a cyclist hostel. I called the # and Cindy told me how to get in. She also called Fred, a 92 year old gentleman who lives next door. Fred was soon over to help me and told me to bring wet clothes over to his house. I took it as an invitation to visit.

After making and eating my supper of produce from the local farmers market, I went over with my rinsed out cycling cloths to visit Fred.

While the cloths dried Fred gave me a tour of his workshop. He and his wife Margaret had a TV sales and repair business. This is when TV’s still used tubes and were repaired, usually in your home. Fred still had his repairman's suitcase. Now he does woodworking in the shop. Margaret passed away about 3 years ago and Fred talked about missing her. There is a large void in Freds life and visits with the touring cyclist are a distraction from dwelling on the loss. Fred also writes short verses which I included one.

Fred also introduced me to his neighbor Lia Keyes, an author. Never know who you will meet,  cycle touring thru rural towns.

Running back to the church in a light rain, I had had another unique day. Not a lot of miles, but good and I slept well.

Days miles about 25.