Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Day 50 – Manchester to the Atlantic Ocean (Portsmouth, NH)

Today: 52 miles, 2256 feet of climb
Final statistics: 3680 miles, 122326 feet of climb, 1 flat tire

The finish

We’ve made it to the Atlantic Ocean. Journey complete. I’ll always remember the events of this day and it unexpectedly turned out to be an emotional day for me as well.
Our top notch professional ABB staff. Debbie, Jeff, Barbara, Jim, Karen, and Mike. I thank you.

First, I need to go back to last night. We had our farewell banquet at the hotel in Manchester. After a nice dinner, Toronto Mark and Sandy emceed the festivities which included several skits, poems, and other routines by the riders which good naturedly poked fun at the ABB staff or our own shortcomings. Everyone received an Oscar style “ABBY award”, most of them funny (husband/wife that finished the farthest apart each day) and a few of them serious (most perseverance). Leo was awarded a hat made of tires, since he had the most flat tires during the ride. Margo was awarded the progress map of our route, signed by all riders, for her trials and tribulations which included multiple accidents. No one wanted the evening to end, it would be our last time together as a group, but we had an early breakfast and luggage load for our final day to the beach.

The Geldings final ride together. Dave, Baltimore Mark, Toronto Mark, Jeff, and Joe

We did get an early start on Day 50. Breakfast at 6:00AM (which means everyone was in the breakfast room at 5:30) and luggage load at 6:30 (which meant everyone had their luggage in front of the truck before breakfast). Although we only had 52 miles to the beach, there was still some climbing to do, including a few hills at 10% grade.

One final SAG stop

We had one last SAG stop about 25 miles which included homemade pumpkin spice and chocolate chip cookies. OK, I had three.

Bob, who rode with us from Astoria to Casper, met us at the bakery to say hello

All riders were to meet at a school at 11:30AM, three miles from the beach in Rye, for final assembly. So with time on our hands, we stopped at a nice bakery in Exeter to have more food, chat, and kill some time. Finally, we rode to the school where a final group photo was taken and the police were waiting to escort us to the beach as a group.

Our final posed photo as a group. Joe, Mark, Dave, Jeff, Mark, in the back. Alex in front.

Daniel and Bruno are police officers in Switzerland

Group photo in Rye

We get ready to leave for the beach

On the way to the beach

Arriving at Wallis Sands Beach

Video on the way to the beach

By Day 4, I was pretty sure I’d make it the whole 3700 miles, barring an accident or other physical injury. So I didn’t think it would be an emotional arrival at the beach for me. And I didn’t have anyone waiting to see me at Wallis Sands Beach either. But there were about 200 family members for other riders hooting, hollering, ringing cowbells, and high fiving us as we reached the breakwater. Folks on the beach also clapped and congratulated us, once they knew what was going on. We took over the beach. I confess I did get a little teary eyed as I rode through the throng of well wishers on both sides of the sidewalk and when getting off my bike for the last time.

Wheel dipping

Next it was time to dip our wheels in the Atlantic Ocean to make the ride official. A few riders had to pour out Pacific Ocean water they carried with them from Day 0. And then Jeff, Alex, and I went for a swim. The water was cold but felt great. Being at the beach was one of those times you will never forget. As my old friend Scott said to me on another occasion similar to this, “It will never get any better than this.”

Final photo together. Dave still has his shoes on.

Finally, it was time to leave the beach. Events after that were a bit anticlimactic. A shuttle to the bike shop where my trusty blue Trek 5200, the bike that shared my hotel room with me for 51 nights, was dropped off for shipping home. Then a shuttle to the hotel to clean up and retrieve my luggage.

My Trek bicycle held up well. No mechanical issues at all.

Dinner was very nice. When meeting in the lobby we found out Katie is now engaged to her boyfriend Terrence. Baltimore Mark and Toronto Mark and their wives, Michael and Matt (the father son tandem team), Katie and her new fiancé, and I had dinner at an Italian restaurant called Pesce. More chatting with other riders in the lobby after dinner, where no one wanted the day to end, and then finally to bed for a final early wake up call for a shuttle to Logan airport and the trip home.

Some final statistics for my cycling friends: I rode well over 3700 miles including mileage on the off days and the side trip to Iowa. I lost eleven pounds of weight. Todd and Gerard were the only two riders that did not have a flat tire the entire ride. There were several people with only one flat. Katie and I lasted the longest before we had our first. Toronto Mark had eight flats, but that was only good enough for a tie for second place. Leo and his Bike Friday had eight flats excluding one day when he had several flats and lost count of them. My Garmin shut off a few times a day requiring me to restart it, but the ride was about 225 hours of riding time at roughly 16.5mph. Considering we had mountains to climb, days with headwinds, dirt paths to ride, some places we had to walk, rainy days, some recovery rides, and city streets to negotiate, 16.5 is a pretty good average in my mind. We also had tailwinds and lightning fast descents too. My maximum speed was 49.7mph coming down Teton Pass. Were I willing to take risks, know the road, and ride down it again, I’m sure 53mph would be possible. But that will never happen. 52mph coming down Burnt Mountain here by my house is still my fastest speed. I started the ride with two heavy duty Kevlar tires with 500 miles on them. The back tire was replaced in Casper after an additional 1400 miles on it, and again towards the end of the ride with another 2000 miles on the replacement. My front tire was replaced after about 3700 miles on it.

This blog started as a summary of the terrain, roads and a few of my experiences so my wife Karen could follow along. I also didn’t know much about blogging back then. I hope it got better along the way. I’m not a very expressive person, and don’t write very well, as most of you know. The blog also finished for other folks that were curious, and those that would like to ride cross country but don’t have the time to do it right now. It also started about the ride itself and (in my mind) finished more about the riders.

Headed home on Tuesday morning

Once I’ve been home for a few days more, I’ll have some final thoughts and maybe a couple of my favorite moments in pictures.

Today’s route:

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