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