Tuesday, July 22, 2008

July 22, Day 52

July 22, Day 52 THE END!!
Manchester to Portsmouth, NH
Mileage: 64
Weather: Great, but WHO CARES!!

Dear All,

Our last day. Unbelievable.

But before we get to today, we need to tell you about last night. After arriving in Manchester, the final dinner was scheduled as a farewell event. It was quite special. Many of the riders had family there which added both to the festivities and the sense of finality. Awards were presented to each rider but not the type you would expect. There was no“best rider” or “most improved rider” or anything of that nature. Rather the awards were all fun things determined by the staff. In prior reports we forgot to mention that Amy was always looking for Fritos at every SAG stop. As a result she was awarded a large can of the stuff. Because Amy grew to be such a strong rider over the course of the ride and would sometimes be seen riding in front of John, John was awarded bungee cords that could be attached to Amy's bike and John's bike so that Amy could pull John along. It was all in great fun, with every rider getting up and saying a few words about the trip.

The overwhelming comments dealt not with the ride or the challenge or the difficulty of some days or the beauty of the landscape. Rather the comments all focused on the friendships that were made and the way that everyone looked out for everyone else. Amy noted that every good thing must come to end and now was the time for this to end. She told everyone that she was glad she and John could experience this adventure together and she ended by saying”I love you all and you will all have a very special place in my heart”. John noted that while lawyers are known to be wordy he would not be tonight and simply commented “I have ridden across the country with my very best friend, Amy, but have gained 40+ new friends. What could be better.” Tears were shed. Strobes from the cameras were flashing all evening. It was a late night. We didn't get to bed until 9:15. As Amy said, “heck this is usually the time I get up for the first time after going to bed to go the bathroom”.

This morning everyone appeared for breakfast at 6:00 although many arrived early. We're guessing that given that it was the last day many wanted to make the day even longer. We did. All the riders were wearing their America by Bicycle jerseys and created quite a sight in the breakfast area of the motel. We loaded the van at 6:45 and headed out.

The first part of the plan for the day was to ride about 54 miles or so and then gather at a local high school in Portsmouth for a group photo. We rolled out and most of the riders were in no hurry so a bunch of us (probably 12 or 15) just mosied along at a comfortable 16 or 17 mph enjoying each other's company and the fact that we were on a bicycle. We moved up and back in the group so that we could talk to as many of the riders as possible.

We arrived at the high school at about 11:00 and by 11:45 all the riders were there. We lined up for a group photo and then a local police officer arrived to lead us, with lights flashing, to the beach, about 4 miles away. We had nominated Sarge, from Trinidad, and Steve, from Tasmania, to lead us to the beach. Jose, from LA, and John, from Seattle, joined Sarge and Steve in the first line. We were in the second line with George, from Frisco, CO, and Larry, from Estes Park, CO.

And so, off we rode. People on the side of the road applauded as we rode by and from time to time the police car sounded its siren. As we rounded a bend in the road, the Atlantic appeared on our right. John can't speak for others but the sight of the ocean sent shivers up his spine. There was a spontaneous shout from all the riders. We rode along the ocean boulevard with incredible homes on our left and the ocean on our right. You can not imagine the sense of accomplishment and joy we experienced knowing that we were about to complete a transamerican bicycle ride.

We rolled into the parking lot of Wallis Sands beach to the applause of many and then headed across the beach to dip our wheels. The realization of what we had done hit Amy as she rolled her bike into the Atlantic and a tear appeared in her eye.

Photographs were taken while curious sunbathers looked on and asked what all the fuss was about. When told, many of them couldn't believe it. John filled the plastic tube with water from the Atlantic to go along with the tube holding water from the Pacific.

We all wandered about shaking hand and giving hugs. What we said to each other differed for each but one memorable comment came from Forest, from Maryland, who whispered to Amy after a hug and a peck on the cheek, “you're my hero”. It was surreal.

We left the beach and headed over to the car rental, picked up the car and headed to Madison, CT to see Fred (Amy's brother) and his lovely wife, Margaret, and Susan (Amy's sister) had her terrific husband, Clint. We had a wonderful get together and a delightful dinner. All four of them were so enthusiastic and so willing to listen to our stories. They are terrific!!!

In the next couple of days we'll try to publish one final blog with some technical information concerning the adventure so from time to time you might want to check in.

Well everyone, the adventure is over. Well, not really. We will relive it over and over in our thoughts and memory. The friends we have made will, we hope, remain friends forever and over the years we hope to see many of them from time to time.

We know that the money contributed by many of you for Nardin and Child and Family Services will be put to very good use.

And you, our dear family and friends, will always be remembered. Your enthusiasm prior to the trip was wonderful. Despite the fact that some of you thought we were truly nuts, you always provided support and without that support we probably would have thought twice before proceeding.
During the trip your continuing interest in the blog, your comments and your excitement made many of the days that were really tough that much better. We knew your were the wind at our backs and the umbrellas over our heads when the weather gods decided that they had to assert their dominance despite your prayers.

We wish you all the very best and WE SEND ALL OF YOU OUR GOOD VIBES!!!

Love, Amy and John

Monday, July 21, 2008

July 21, Day 51

July 21, Day 51
Brattleboro, VT to Manchester NH
Weather: Wet but warm

Dear All,

Well, today was everything that was advertised. Tough. Really tough. But, as advertised, we were ready for it with 46 days of riding in our legs.

The day started innocently enough. We loaded early (6:30) because the staff knew it was going to be a dandy. We were on the road by 7:00 and within a mile the hills began. Unlike Vermont, these hills were both long and steep.

Within the first mile of the day we entered our 12th state, NH. We looked at each other and simply said “we can't believe it, 12 states”.
For the first 17 miles the hills were doable without using every gear known to man. The riders who have a Garmin GPS and who were riding with us told us that the grade varied between 7% and 9%. Tough but, as we say, doable.

We rolled into the cute little town of Keene, NH and after slowly riding down Winchester St. we turned onto Old Concord Road. Then the fun began. That road kicked up to about 12% and went on for a little over 1.5 miles. We thought, “hey, we can handle this.” In fact, the riders we were with all felt the same way. We then turned onto Sullivan St. and the real fun began. The tilted up to what we are told was an average gradient of 15% to 18% with a couple of spots at 22% (according to the Garmins). Now for you who don't ride, 22% isn't just steep, its damn steep. You would have trouble walking up a road with that gradient. Well, we made it. Our heart rates were probably off the chart and Amy was having some difficulty breathing but we made it.

At the very top of the climb some DOT worker had decided that it would be fun to let both cars and riders know what they had just been through so he stuck up a sign that said “HILL”. This is a guy who really should be a stand up comedian.

After Sullivan St., we thought, “OK, what more can they throw at us on our second last day?”. We shouldn't have asked the question.

At the first SAG stop, there were a bunch of very tired riders but we had only completed 27 miles of an 88 mile day so there was considerable talk about what lay ahead. After the SAG, we attacked Pitchers Mountain. Here the gradient was probably in the 14% range which would normally have led us to turn around and call it a day, but given what the earlier ride had exposed us to, we handled that particular mountain quite well.

It was right about then that the weather gods (who had been talking to the gradient gods) decided that they wanted a hand in this day. The skies darkened and before long we were in a steady rain. Not a downpour, just a steady rain. The type that soaks everything and requires windshield wipers on your glasses. However, the temperature gods decided that enough was enough so they played on our team and kept the temperature pleasantly in the mid 70's.

The scenery was very much like Vermont although given the rain it was hard to see very far and very difficult to take any pictures (sorry). We saw some really beautiful homes nestled in the woods and a couple of really lovely lakes that looked like they could have been in the Adirondacks or for that matter in Algonquin Park, Canada. Really very nice.

We stopped in the little town of Greenfield for a sandwich. The town is basically an intersection but we've learned that in little places like this you can usually find a little grocery store that will put together a really great sandwich. We, along with CJ and Dan, sat and had a delightful lunch while the rain let up.

Back on the bikes to finish the ride and within about 20 minutes the skies really opened up. The balance of the ride (about 25 miles) had rolling hills (maybe a grade of 7% or so) but with the rain it made the riding a little dicey, particularly the downhills.

We rolled into the motel and to our surprise Maria Hadley and her husband, David, along with their seven year old daughter, Chelsea, were there to greet us. Maria was an attorney at Phillips Lytle about 8 years ago. She's a great gal and we were delighted that she would take the time to stop by and say hello. Thanks Maria, we loved seeing you.

Amy has become a really great rider. Her ability to handle hills and the wind has improved 100% to the point where she finishes the day in the middle of the pack and on many days in the top 1/3rd In addition, her bike handling skills are great. Today, for instance, in the pouring rain she handled downhills with speeds in the mid to high 30 miles per hour.

Tonight we have a kind of banquet and it will be a kind of farewell to all since tomorrow, after we dip our wheels in the Atlantic, most of the riders will scatter to the four winds. We expect it to be emotional but fun at the same time.

Tomorrow we ride to the Atlantic. And then, it's over!! We'll write about our thoughts tomorrow or perhaps the next day. But, no matter what, your good vibes have been with us each day and have made all the difference.

We'll talk to you tomorrow.

You've got one more day to send the good vibes. Thanks.

Amy and John

Sunday, July 20, 2008

July 20, Day 50

July 20, Day 50
Latham, NY to Brattleboro, VT
Mileage: 80.5
Weather: Drizzle and overcast but no real rain
Dear All,
Well, we started the day knowing that we had today plus two more riding days and our adventure would be over. We also started with a bit of trepidation given the amount of climbing we would have in VT today.

The day started with light rain but not enough to get anyone excited. Within the first 5 miles we were presented with the first of several climbs. This first one was only a mile or so but it was enough to make one use most of one's gears and given that it was only about 45 minutes after breakfast it was not an easy climb.
Speaking of breakfast, we don't think we have mentioned what most of the riders eat in the morning. It's funny. Some riders are religious as to their morning diet. The really serious ones will generally have oatmeal with a little sugar. Apparently oatmeal has a high carb count and it releases the carbs slowly over an extended period of time. The less serious riders will have cereal and perhaps biscuits. Those who figure “what the heck, I'll eat whatever and if need be I'll just suffer” will eat eggs and bacon but will almost always go for French toast or pancakes for the carbs. On top of all this a load of coffee is always on the menu.

The route for the first 25 miles had some climbs but not what we knew we would see later in the day. They tested us but didn't make us ask “when does this hill end”. We arrived at the first SAG pretty much no worse for wear and for the first time in 50 days someone had put our dough nuts. They were gone in no time.

After the SAG, we crossed into our 12th state, Vermont. Looking around we knew we were in the state that's home to the Green Mountains. They were all around. And, they were pretty. And, they looked high.

We rolled into Bennington which is a really cute little city. Along the main drag they have mannequins which appear to be made of wood. The picture shows one of them. They added a little flavor to the town. Of course the Bennington monument overshadows the town and you can see if for several miles both as you enter the town and as you leave.

Right after leaving Bennington, we came to the real tester climb of the day. We have no idea what the name of the mountain is (or if it has a name), but the climb went on for about 8 miles and the grade was pretty stiff. All the gears we had paid for when buying the bikes many years ago were used and at times we were looking for additional gears. One pedal stroke after the next. It seemed to go on forever.
However, as we climbed the views were really great. The mountains were all around and while they were not as dramatic as the Rockies or even the Sierra Nevadas they were, nonetheless, very pretty in their own way. There was a mist hanging over the mountains perhaps from the rain which added a kind of mystery to them as if they were hiding something from us.

Finally we reached the top of the first climb and had a welcome downhill for a couple of miles into the second SAG at about the 55 mile mark. We decided on a hot dog at a little stand. Turns out it wasn't a Ted's but rather a steamed dog which left something to be desired. Ah well, it was fuel.

We left the SAG knowing that we had one more climb to the top of Hogback Mountain. This climb wasn't as long but just about as steep. Upon reaching the top we had a spectacular view which on a clear day allows one to see about 100 miles. Today was not very clear, but the view was still pretty super. We stopped at the store at the top and chatted with an elderly couple who, like most of the people we talk to, were aghast after they asked where we started and we told them San Francisco. It's funny but when we left from San Francisco and we were asked about the trip we would always say we were going to Portsmouth, NH. Now when we are asked we don't say where we are going but where we started.

After climbing to the top of Mount Hogback and chatting with some folks we started what was pretty much (but not entirely) a downhill into Brattleboro. About ½ mile from the motel Amy spotted a Friendly's (remember she's the one who can always spot ice cream within a couple of miles of the motel) so we stopped and had some.

Tomorrow we are told the climbs will be tougher than today. Yikes!! We'll need good vibes from all of you.

Tomorrow will be a different kind of day. We'll ride knowing that at the end of the day there will be only one day left. It's a strange feeling. There is pride in knowing that we're close to our goal and that we will soon be home. But, we will be saying good-bye to some new and wonderful friends and we'll miss them and the riding (despite the fact that some of the days were hard). We'll let you know how we feel tomorrow night with only one day left.

Say a prayer to the weather gods for the next two days. Your comments are always welcome.

Take careand send the good vibes.
Amy and John

Saturday, July 19, 2008

July 19, Day 49

July 19, Day 49
Little Falls to Latham, NY
Mileage: 79.2
Weather: Muggy but no rain

Dear All,

Our fourth last day on the road and it was beautiful. NY never looked so good and our lovely high humidity was at its best.

We left the little town of Little Falls at about 7:30 and within no time at all, we hooked up with Rick, from Richmond, VA, who is a wonderful guy, and a young man, Dan, from Sarasota, who is riding the section from Indianapolis to the coast with his grandfather. We essentially rode on Rt. 5 which has a great shoulder and for miles and miles we had the Mohawk River on our right.

Some of the vistas were really lovely especially in the morning with the mist hanging over the landscape. We began to feel the elevation changes that we know we will experience tomorrow and the next day when we ride into Vermont.

Amy was incredibly strong today as she was yesterday. With John and Rick pulling, Amy and with Dan (age 17), hanging out next to Amy, we motored along at an average speed of about 18 mph for over 34 miles. Despite the speed, we had plenty of time to chat and marvel at how pretty the Mohawk Valley is. We had only seen it in the past from the Thruway, but from Rt. 5 and at 18 mph it takes on a whole new look. A look that we recommend to all of you.

At the first SAG we had a wonderful vista over the Valley and saw how some riders “hang” their bikes during a break. When hung in a tree one does not have to worry much about the bike falling over and damaging either the paint or the dérailleur.

After a break we headed out and continued the same pace, but always willing to stop and look at the River. The second stop was at Jumpin Jacks Drive In which had the feel of a Ted's Hot dogs. The specialty was hamburger with all the grease you could eat. GREAT! Probably not what our doctor would suggest for a healthy lunch but boy did it taste good. No milkshakes, however, since, with almost another 20 miles to go, milk isn't such a good idea particularly since it was hot with humidity that had to be 140%.

Off we went with CJ, from Sarasota, along with us. At about the 61 mile mark we picked up a great bike path that went on forever. Most of it was in pretty good shape although some if was in need of a bit of blacktop repair. For miles we rode along side the River in the shade of wonderful old trees. Except for our speed it was what one would expect for a pleasant Saturday bike ride at home. Delightful.

We rolled into the motel a bit tired from the speed of the ride, but happy to have had such a pretty ride. New York around this area really is an undiscovered treasure. If you get a chance you should experience it.

We have three riding days left. The next two will be the toughest of the entire ride we are told. The Green Mountains aren't as high as the Rockies but they are much more difficult to ride. Tomorrow for instance we believe we will experience 12% to 16% grade climbs for up to a couple of miles. As a comparison, the ride up Monarch Pass in CO was over 8 miles long but it was about a 6% or 7% grade. As you who rider know, a 12% or greater grade will require every gear we have and then some. Our hope is that our legs are ready for it although we both commented this morning that after 44 days in the saddle these two bodies are beginning to suggest that they are getting just a bit tired. It will be interesting.

Say a prayer or two that the rain holds off and don't give up on the vibes. We still need those good vibes.

Amy and John

Friday, July 18, 2008

July 18, Day 48

July 18, Day 48
Liverpool to Little Falls, NY
Mileage: 79
Weather: Cloudy (no rain) and hot

Dear All,

Well, we've got four more days of riding. Hard to believe. We are told that the riding on Sunday and Monday will be hard and to be prepared for them. We guess we are.

This morning dawned with a bit of an overcast but very warm temperature. Before departing we spent a little time looking at some of the hot rods that were in the motel parking lot. As we said yesterday, Liverpool has a huge car show starting today and a number of the car owners were staying at the same Super 8.

We started out a little after 7:00 with really nice roads. They were mostly small country roads with only little rolls to test the legs from time to time. We hooked up with Fred, Allan, Skip, CJ, and Don and kept up a pretty good pace (around 19.5 mph). Amy's legs were good today and she was flying. The country side remained as in the last couple of days, but today it really looked more like rural residential than rural business. Just a house here and there and open fields that weren't cultivated. A very pleasant ride.

The first SAG came quickly and we enjoyed our typical fare. We haven't mentioned what is available at the SAG so maybe now is a good time to do so.

When we stop, the staff has opened the van so that everyone can (and MUST) use handiwipes before touching anything. You can't even refill a water bottle without first using the handiwipes The food available is usually cut up oranges and apples along with bananas, granola bars, nut and salty bars and trail mix. Fig newtons make the hit list from time to time as do sugar cookies. In addition to water there is powdered gatoraid to be added to the water bottles. If one is having a mechanical problem there are some tools along with chain lube. Most riders spend anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes at the SAG stop depending on how long the day will be. The longer the day, the shorter the stop.

John's sister, Peppy, asked what John carries in his bike bag. First you should know that most of the bikers don't carry a large bike bag at all. Most carry a simple little seat bag that fits more or less under the seat. They carry only an extra tube, a multi tool, and a tire iron. John's bag carries much more than that. Since only John has a bag, it hasat least two tubes for his bike and two for Amy's bike which is required since Amy's wheels are a different size than John's. In addition, to what other riders carry, John's bag carries both wallets, a multitude of snacks in case we get hungry between SAG stops, our non sunglasses, a number of CO2 cartridges to inflate tires and John's rain shirt.

Back to the day.
After the first SAG we joined up with CJ, and motored on. There really wasn't much to look at except that from time to time we rode along side the Erie Canal which was fun.
We arrived at the second SAG and thought about lunch,but after hanging around a bit we decided that maybe we would get lucky and find something different than a Subway up the road. Amy seems to be able to not only locate DQ's when necessary but also find some pretty cute little places for a bit to eat on days when we think we'll have time for lunch. Today was one of those days. So, we're pedaling along in a kind of wasteland with not much around when all of a sudden, up pops the cutest little spot run by two elderly ladies. It wasn't much to look at but the sandwiches were delicious. There were a total of 4 tables and there was air conditioning which was very much welcome. CJ ordered a ½ size sub. The thing was huge. The ½ size was at least the size of a full size Subway and the cost was a whole $4.00.

After lunch we headed into Little Falls. We commented on the fact that we have seen Little Falls from the Thruway but had never actually driven into town. It seems like a nice little place although it probably has seen better economic times.

There was a laundromat across the street from the Knights Inn so we decided that since we are never sure when a motel will have laundry facilities we had better do the laundry while we had the chance. We have spent a little time in laundromats over the term of this trip and most of them are quite nice. The one thing they really lack is air conditioning. They are HOT. We mean HOT. So we usually sit outside on a curb or if we're lucky on a bench, read a book or work on the blog.

Tomorrow we head to Latham, NY. We're hoping that the road continues to follows the Erie Canal which means that it won't have a lot of hills.
After tomorrow we'll be heading into Vermont and the Green Mountains.

Thanks for reading. Keep chatting with the weather gods and, as always, send the good vibes.

Amy and John

Thursday, July 17, 2008

July 17, Day 47

July 17, Day 47
Canadaigua to Liverpool, NY
Mileage: 70.5
Weather: Rain and then lovely sunshine

Dear All,

Today was to be an easy day with only 70 miles with some hills but nothing to get to worried about. As Amy loaded our luggage, John pumped up the tires. As he was pumping up Amy's front tire, there was a load bang and again Amy had a flat. John put in a new tube, we both crossed our fingers and off we went. Prior to leaving we spoke with an elderly guy (elderly, of course, is in the eye of the beholder) who was driving his Model T to Michigan. As you know that particular car could be purchased with any color the owner desired so long as it was black. John spent a little time chatting with the owner and learned that the average speed for the trip would be about 35 mph (just about double our speed down the road).

The countryside was the same as yesterday except we had the pleasure of seeing Lake Seneca up close as we pedaled thru Geneva. We passed by early in the morning and it looked lovely. The riders from out west and from oversees where really impressed not only with Lake Seneca but with all of the Finger Lake region. As we have always said, the Finger Lakes is really a well kept secret. Most people speak of the Adirondacks as the only really great spot, but the Finger Lakes are, in our view, equally impressive.

We passed thru Waterloo which is the birthplace of Memorial Day and Seneca Falls which, of course, is the birth place of women's rights.

As we rolled into the first SAG stop at about the 30 mile mark, the clouds to the north began to look pretty impressive and threatening. Off we went and within a few miles it became clear that we were in for some serious weather. As the rain started we found a house (which looked like no one was home) and sat under three of the biggest trees you have ever seen. It was like having a real roof over our heads. The rain came down pretty seriously for about 20 minutes and then we figured, what the heck, lets go. We got a little damp but the heavy stuff had pretty much stopped.

A little further up the road while it was still raining we stopped at the Red and White Creamery Cafe which was housed in a building that was constructed prior to 1840. It was a great spot with homemade bread and the biggest sandwiches you have ever seen. We ordered one sandwich which we split and even at that we didn't eat all of it. There was some homemade chocolate cream pie that looked absolutely spectacular. We toyed with the idea of a piece, but figured that with over 35 miles to go, it really wasn't a great idea. Someday we're going back and have a piece.

In one of the small towns (we can't remember the name) we found Amy's
Checkered Flag. John asked Amy when she had had time to open a little store and only received a mischievous smile in return.

We rolled into Liverpool and as you might expect, Amy spotted a nice little ice cream spot just a mile or two from the motel. We asked the owner if they had sugar free soft ice cream, and he took one look at Amy and said, “are you kidding, the last thing you need to worry about is sugar”. So we indulged and had a delicious vanilla cone and sat and watched some hot rods drive by on their way to a local park where a car show is scheduled for the weekend.

Tomorrow is an 85 or so mile day and we're told hills will be present.

Say a prayer to the weather gods and keep the good vibes coming.

Amy and John

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

July 16, Day 46

July 16, Day 46
Hamburg to Canandaigua, NY
Mileage: 98.1
Weather: Warm and wet

Dear All,

We awoke still thinking about how nice it was to have had family and friends welcome and visit with us yesterday afternoon and evening. It was wonderful.

We awoke at the more or less usual time of 5:40 and were on the road by 7:00. Prior to leaving and as we were loading our luggage, Amy felt a hand on her shoulder, turned to see our friend, Tom Barney, Jr. He was on his way to work and guessed as to what motel we might be in. It was wonderful of him to think of us and it really touched us.

We headed out and proceeded to get lost with all the other riders but found our way to the Bicycle Museum in Orchard Park. What a great place. For those of you who haven't been there, you should go. This is true even if you are not an active biker. It is a fun and informative place.

We finally departed the Museum at about 8:30 and since it was going to be a long day, we knew we had to hustle. As we proceeded toward the first SAG stop at the 30 mile mark, the clouds began to gather and in the distance the thunder began to rumble. Within a mile of the SAG stop, the lightning was all around us and very close. Just as the skies opened, we made it to the SAG stop at a gas station so we were able to find some shelter. Many of the riders did not have rain shirts with them since the forecast did not call for rain. Guess that just goes to show that weather forecasting is more of an art than a science.

After a little wait the rain slackened off and we took to the road. However, prior to leaving the gas station, a rather rotund fellow from the local Dept. of Public Works, stopped us and asked where we were riding to. He kept looking at us in a funny way and finally said, “Didn't I see you on TV last night?” We answered that he probably did and he then ran to get his camera from his car and took our picture. I guess this qualified as our “20 seconds of fame”.

Down the road we pedaled. Within a few miles, Amy experienced her first flat tire of the day. There were more to come. John spent some time fixing the flat and off we went again,. Within a couple of miles, Amy had flat #2. This was turning what was going to be a relatively long day into a longer day.

After fixing the second flat, we rode on experiencing hills that weren't quite MO like, but far more than the easy rollers we had yesterday. The vineyards had given way to fields of corn reminiscent of IL, IN, and OH.

We rolled into the second SAG stop at 68 miles at about 1:30. The question was whether to eat lunch or just keep going. The decision was to eat a banana or two and press on. Within another 10 miles, Amy had her 3rd flat. By now, we were out of tubes so we waited for the SAG van to roll by and picked up a couple (one for a reserve). In the process of fixing the flat, John noticed that Amy's relatively new tire had a pretty good gouge in it. John put in a new tube and off we went in hopes of making it to the hotel without another flat. Success! You can see from the picture we barely missed our second storm of the day which was just ahead of us.

After arriving at the hotel, John spent an hour cleaning the bikes and replacing both of Amy's tires.

The day was long but interesting. NY is a beautiful state and we should all be appreciative of where we live.

Tomorrow we head to Liverpool. The rain gods seem to have become somewhat displeased with us. We can't recall saying or thinking anything negative, but if we did we apologize. Perhaps you could all intervene on our behalf.

Keep sending the good vibes.

Amy and John

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

July 15, Day 45

July 15, Day 45
Erie, PA to Hamburg, NY
Mileage: 84.2
Weather: Couldn't have been better
Dear All,

Well, today we returned home in a sense given that we ended up a mear 20 minutes (by car) from home.

After a nice rest day in Erie we started out at a respectful hour (7:30 am) and effectively rode the entire day on Rt. 20 and Rt. 5. The weather started out great and got better by the mile. What a wonderful way to introduce all of our fellow riders to our neck of the woods. After about 15 miles or so, the Lake was visible on our left and as Amy said “it looks like lake linoleum”. There was only a slight breeze which was from the East but not enough to really make things tough. Route 5 and 20 are delightful with gentle hills and a wonderful shoulder.

As we rode we started seeing signs for places like Ripley and Dunkirk which seemed strange after 44 days of reading signs for places we have never heard of. The vineyards were always on our left and right with the Lake in the distance. At one point we saw a machine working the vineyards and Gary, from CA, who has a couple of acres of grapes at home described what the machine did. We still didn't quite understand, but it was interesting to watch it work. It was a great way to show off our area to all of our new found friends. For some reason we felt responsible for the area and were delighted that we could show it in all its splendor. We're not sure any of the riders are ready to move to the area but at least they all seemed impressed.

At the 20 mile mark we officially entered the Empire State, our 11th state.

At about the 60 mile mark we were met by our neighbor, Mark Mahoney, who had ridden from Hamburg to meet us. The three of us rode the rest of the way together with Mark taking us on a slightly different route than planned. It was really a delight to ride with Mark.

As we rode into the hotel, waiting for us were everyone from John's department at Phillips Lytle. That was really special for both of us. We chatted and had a great time. They even had put together a poster which you should be able to make out in the picture. Later, others from the office arrived to wish us well. We really can't express our gratitude to all of them for taking the time to come visit It means a great deal to both of us.

As if seeing our friends from John's office wasn't enough, the office arranged for the Buffalo News, The Law Journal and Channel 4 to come out and interview us. It all made us feel very special.
Then, to top it all off, our daughter, Meg, and John's sister, Peppy, and John's brother-in-law, Hugh, arrived. Hugs were shared by all. They stayed for route rap and for dinner. That was the icing on the cake.

Thanks to all for a really great day. It really was terrific.

Tomorrow we continue our journey and head to Canandaigua. It's a long ride (95 miles) so we're certainly praying for a westerly wind. Your assistance with prayers to the appropriate gods will be appreciated.

Today was a really special day (among many special days) which both of us will always remember. Thanks to all.

Keep up the good vibes.

Amy and John