Sunday, August 8, 2010

Day 49 – Brattleboro, VT to Manchester, NH

Today: 81 miles, 5730 feet of climb
Cumulative to date: 3628 miles, 120070 feet of climb, 1 flat tire

New Hampshire. Our final state. We finish tomorrow.

This morning we crossed into New Hampshire one mile after leaving the hotel. Only one more day to the Atlantic Ocean and we’ve cycled across the entire country. Amazing.

In some respects, it seems like eons ago since I dipped my bicycle wheel in the Pacific Ocean. But in others, it seems like yesterday. Staying in towns like St. Helens and Welches seems like a long time ago. But when I look at a map of the USA and retrace our whole route, it seems like the whole ride has passed rather quickly.

An early morning view. Jeff and Alex in the distance.

On to today. New Hampshire is not like Vermont for us. Yesterday we saw small farms, towns, and small stores selling antiques, produce, or maple syrup. Today we saw a lot of trees. It seemed like our entire route was through a forest of trees, with an occasional house thrown in for good measure. There were no strip shopping centers or clear cut areas. The scenery was what you might see in the very northern part of Georgia down seldom traveled country roads. Except there was no humidity and it was cool. I had to wear my arm warmers and vest this morning.

Baltimore Mark, Jeff, Alex, Joe, and Katie all climbed the Sullivan Road hill. ABB's Jeff took the picture.

Our route today was primarily on NH Routes 9, 31, 136, and 13 in that order. At the 20 mile mark we took a side trip up Sullivan Road. This is a very steep climb that used to be on the cross country route but was removed a few years ago. I’ve never done a climb where my Garmin showed a grade of 20% or more. On this climb my Garmin touched 34% and Jeff’s touched 37%. Now that may be an anomaly, but the grade was well over 20% for most of the climb. And when I sat down on the bike (I had to stand up on some of the climb) my front wheel was starting to come off the pavement. A great climb and I think I can now handle the Brasstown Bald climb. I’ll need to try that when I get home. Anyone in Georgia want to join me?

The Contocook River

The Day 49 peloton started with Toronto Mark, Baltimore Mark, Dave, and me. Katie joined us and we took it easy for the first 20 miles until we were joined by Jeff, ABB’s Jeff, and Alex just before the Sullivan Road climb.

Katie gets her first flat. That leaves only Gerard. Can he make it through tomorrow without one?

I guess I put the whammy on Katie. After Sullivan Road,but before our first SAG stop, she had her first flat tire. I believe that leaves only Gerard who has not punctured on the whole Sorry Katie, it was my fault for blogging about it.

We made a left turn on Joe English Road right here. The road immediately went up at over 20% grade for about half a mile.

We also had to climb Joe English Road at 66 miles. That climb was also over 20% on my Garmin. All told, there was a significant amount of rather steep climbing today but after 50 days of riding, none of it was any problem. I could have easily done a lot more riding and climbing. Hopefully I can keep my fitness for the rest of August and September and have a good day riding the Six Gap Century Ride this fall.

An early afternoon scene. Lots and lots of trees on rolling roads.

Tonight will be our farewell banquet where we thank the ABB staff and say good bye to one another. Tomorrow we ride to within three miles of the ocean, meet and regroup at a local school, and ride as one to the beach with a police escort. After the wheel dipping and pictures, all riders head separate ways, me to the bike shop to ship my bike home. Then back to the hotel to prepare for Tuesday’s flight home. Half the riders will be leaving for home by car directly from the beach or hotel, and half will be headed to the airport Tuesday morning.

I’ll be posting Day 50 events after I return home. I’ll also have some final thoughts at that time. But I’d like to share two random thoughts now:

First, when I went to church last Saturday night, I put my jeans on for the first time in three weeks. They don’t fit anymore. Neither do my shorts. I have to cinch the belt up about two inches for them to stay on. Also, I feel great. Getting down in the aero position without having my knees touch my stomach is pretty good. Now, my knees are touching my ribs. I haven’t been on a scale since leaving home, but I know I’ve lost some weight. Many of our riders look much thinner than they did fifty days ago. So I’ll weigh myself when I get home and hopefully be able to keep the lost weight off without burning 4000 bonus calories every day.

Second, and with all due respect to my biking friends in Georgia and elsewhere, the riders on this ride are of a different mindset. My biking friends in Georgia share their cycling with other athletic passions. They either run, play tennis, basketball, golf, softball or all of the above. Here, most of the riders live, eat, and sleep cycling. They spin. They bike in the rain. They bike in the winter. They clean their bike and clean and lube their chain every few days. They inspect their tires for cuts at red lights. They ride with regular groups on a weekly basis. They take no prisoners. And they put in a lot of miles. It’s been a learning experience for me to ride with them, and I’m grateful for it. I now know the best way to change a tire. The best way to lubricate my chain. The best way to clean my bike. And a bunch of other tips. I know what to inspect and how often to do it. And I can ride 40+ miles between SAG stops. The lessons I’ve learned on this trip will carry me through the rest of my cycling career. To all of the riders on this ride, especially The Geldings, thank you for your passion. And thank you for putting up with me and letting me ride with you.

Today’s route:

1 comment:

  1. Hi Joe, Today you can see the finish line.
    It was great following you across America.
    Have a safe trip home.