Friday, September 30, 2011

Sunrise over the ATLANTIC from Dewey Beach Delaware
Marsha Rae
Central Illinois Alzheimer's Assn
606 W. Glen
Peoria, Il
Mention:Champ Walker's bicycle ride.

During my rides I use rest days to promote the organization which I feel does wonderful work and encourage followers of my blog to contribute that organization. Once again it is the Central Illinois Alzheimers Association. While there are many worthy causes, I feel this is the one that best represents my interests and values. Research has shown that Alzheimers has officially reached epidemic proportions and as the "boomers" continue to age it well become worse. Therefore, I feel compelled to establish this as charity for which I solicit contributions. Anything you contribute will be greatly appreciated.
Today being a rest day , I took a mini-tour of Dewey Beach Delaware. It is so like every resort beach town in the United States. The "main drag" is rife with restaurants, bars, hotels, and Beachie thingies stores selling everything one would need to sit on the beach and enjoy life. Tonight is Elvis night at the Rudder (across the street) and I can's wait. Thank you very much (gruffly stated)

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Entering Deleware after ferry ride
Evening stroll on the Dewey Beach
Hey is that Leonardo DeCapra
View from ferry crossing Deleware Bay
Impending storm approaching
Excellent scenery on the ride through pine forest in New Jersey
Day 8
Weather-cool, cloudy, sunny,
wind-south 10-15 mph
Miles ridden to date-603
Our ride 80 mile ride from Hammonton, NJ to Dewey Beach Delaware began with roads that were long, flat, and straight. That's the good news. While the weather was a little cool and overcast we were looking forward to clearing skies and sun. Now for the dilema. We were to catch a ferry across Delaware Bay at about mile 70 into the ride. The ferry left the station at 11:00, 1:00 and 2:30. Many of the faster riders tried to make the 11:00. The group I ride with were trying for the 1:00 but would not be disappointed if we caught the 2:30 since we stop often for various reasons. Now here is the realization. We begin riding at 7:30. The faster riders would have to average over 20 mph to achieve this goal. Very optimistic. But if we tried for the 1:00 time the average speed would only be 14 mph. Quite doable. So the first 35 miles with a "pit stop" were done in about two an a half hours. After a 10 minute SAG stop at mile 36, Hank and I headed out before the rest of our group. So, here is where Karma sets in. About 15 minutes into the ride, it began to rain heavily. That did not deter us from our goal. As we turned south, we were met with a head wind of at least 15 miles per hour. That dropped our speed to about 14 mph. Our goal was still within reach. Then, after crossing a toll bridge, I got a flat tire. I told Hank to keep going and I would catch up but he stayed and helped fix the puncture. After the tire was repaired we still had time to make the ferry. About 18 miles from the ferry station while cruising through WildWood New Jersey I got another flat tire. We conceded we would not make the 1:00 time so we slowed down and enjoyed the rest of the ride at a more leisurely pace. In fact, the last 10 miles were with a tailwind. That's how Karma works. We were attempting to change our riding style that includes many stops, and not worrying when we got to our destination. Lesson learned! We arrived at the terminal in plenty of the to eat and catch the 2:30 transit.
On another point as the rain poured and the wind howled, we were actually riding parallel to the Jersey Shore (on the ATLANTIC). I was hoping to see Snookie or The Situation but they were no where to be found. Go figure.
One of the highlights of the ride was a 5-10 mile trek though what could be described as an enchanted forest. Pine trees and traffic free roads allowed us to really enjoy this part of the trip. When we finally arrived in Dewey Beach, I was pleased to discover our hotel is near the Atlantic Ocean (or Pacific or maybe even the Indian Ocean) and I enjoyed a casual walk on the beach. All in all an excellent ride. Dewey Beach is a well deserved rest day.
Today's shout out goes to Mr. Joe Metska and his classes at O'fallon High School. An excellent teacher and school. Good luck against ESL this Friday.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Horsing around at a SAG stop at the Orchard Lane Farm

Autumn near mums in full bloom

Workers repairing bridge from Irene damage- We had to walk the bikes as it was officially closed
Grovers Mill Pond--I don't see aliens
Day 7
Distance-80 miles
Weather-Overcast, rain
Temp. 75 ave. Wind-East 10-15 mph
Today's ride took us from Somerset Nj. to Hammonton, NJ a total of 80 miles. There was very little climbing and it was a nice ride with some great scenery. Now for a historical point. I am told that Hammonton, NJ. is the blueberry capital of the world. Until I was informed of that fact, I had always thought it was held by a small town, EKBA, in the Moldives. I have now been corrected. The day started out with a little drizzle then a steady rain began to fall.
While the east coast is rife with historical significance one of the today stops was of particular interest. This involved the infamous Orson Welles 1938 hoax radio broadcast; War of the Worlds. This particular fa broadcast brought general panic to many areas of the country. The area that the aliens were supposed to have landed is on the Grovers Mill Pond New Jersey about 10 miles from Princeton. I commented that of all places aliens would land this would probably not be a first choice. But who knows? I have it on good authority that aliens from Mars are pretty particular which parts of the U.S they invade. Anyway, it made for a good place to stop and photograph. Part of the ride reminded me of the western part of Indiana with stores along the way that offered an assortment of traditional autumn goods; fresh apples, pumpkins, mums etc. A great place for a sag stop. Now for the stroke of good luck. About 25 miles from our destination a slight rain started and we needed to stop for a "potty" break. We stopped at a small family owned restaurant called Cosmos to use their rest rooms. Unfortunately, they had a sign that said rest rooms were for "paying customers only". We decided it would be a good time for lunch so we stayed. Outside that "slight rain" turned into a virtual monsoon. It was a real "gully washer". Had we stayed on the road we would have been drenched and in fact it was so bad that one of our riders took shelter on someones porch. Good decision. By the time we finished our lunch the rain had passed and the last 25 miles were relatively uneventful. Tomorrow we ride to Dewey Beach Delaware.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Hankster making friends with locals during lunch
One of the many grand houses we passed in New Jersey
A view at the top of a serious climb looking back into the valley we just left.
Distance-64 miles
Weather=morning heavy fog-afternoon 80 degrees-hot at steamy
Today's ride took us from Suffern NY to Somerset NY. a total of 64 miles. There was still a bit of climbing as the grades went up to 12%. The good news, for me anyway, is that they were not very long, usually less that a mile. The route was mostly urban sprawl with no open space. Traffic was heavy most of the day even though we take state roads and county roads. I'm sure we angered more than a few motorists who could not pass us because on most of roads the shoulders were non-existent or minimal at best. In addition, there were many hills and curves which added to the passing dillema. While no one verbally assaulted us there were many who, as they went by, gunned their engines and passed with a minimum amount of room to show their disgust.
One of the disadvantages to this particular ride was that picture opportunities were rare. Therefore, I do not have as many to share, but I will do my best.
Now for a little history lesson. NO SLEEPING! THERE WILL BE A QUIZ!! Ironically enough, just before the trip began, I began reading a book (that's right, one with real pages that one must turn to continue reading) Thunderstruck. I t is a nonfiction book that tells the story of how Marconi invented and introduced the wireless radio wave. Well here is the irony. Somerset NJ is the place in America where, in 1913, Marconi put his transmission station to send his first radio broadcast to Europe. Too bad for him that the U.S. Navy absconded it in 1914 to use during WWI. That's about it for today's blog. More later.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Good use of stone on this Suffern house
Road washed out by Hurricane Irene
Placid lake in Bear Mountain Park. It looks like a Bob (happy trees) Ross painting
Site of Fort Clinton-Revolutionary War site near Saratoga. The turning of the War
This is Doug, from England. I think you all get the reference
Hudson River outside Bear Mountain Part
Bridge spanning Hudson River
Distance-53 miles
Weather-Morning: cool and foggy-65
Routes-Too many to list
Wow, today's ride was the best ride of the trip so far. After yesterday's 95 miler with a lot of climbing, today, while it was still quite hilly, the only major climb was a 2 miler going into Bear Mountain Park. That is a destination worth visiting again. Plus, the weather was absolutely perfect; not to hot, not to cool and no rain. And, with only 53 miles it made for a great day of riding. The pictures will tell the story. It's now becoming common that I take a wrong turn somewhere along the route. Second day in a row. Maybe I should pay closer attention to the route sheet. But the good news is that a helpful Suffern citizen assisted in me finding my destination. However, the route she game me included a mile of climbing that rivaled anything we did yesterday. But I finally made it. After the evening meal, I stopped in a establishment, Sutters Mill, to watch Monday Night football. That has always been one of my objectives on rides; to interact with the locals This time was no different. Ray the bartender, Jack and Howard sitting at the end of the bar became instant friends when they found out about my biking adventure. I got a lot of the local color of Suffern with a hard New York accent. I loved it.
Tomorrow we ride to Somerset NJ.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Helpful folks. Lucy helped me find my way after making a wrong turn
Sometimes when I stop to smell the roses I get treated to a scene like this. This deer just posed for the picture
For all my church family at Crossroads, here is a picture of the First United Methodist Church of Litchfield CT.
A small waterfall outside Litchfield CT
Loved this placid lake with a small cabin in the background

Windsor Locks CT to Fishkill N.Y.
miles 95
weather-cloudy early then sunny.
Okay, the first thing I need to do is rip on the drivers here in New York. I know that many New York drivers are courteous and respectful to bicyclists but I didn't see many in this part of New York. Many times, with only a 12 inch shoulder or no shoulder at all, those morons would pass me with very little room to spare even as I stayed as far to the right as was safe . This even happened when there was no oncoming traffic. Okay, that's off my chest. New York you're better than that.
Today's ride was officially a 95 miler. My computer had me at 100. Maybe because I had to backtrack a few times. Nevertheless is was a long ride. The weather was absolutely perfect for a ride of this distance. No rain, cool temps and very little sun. While I have ridden many "centuries" none have had as many long climbs over the length of the ride. There were three big assents over 2 miles and one neary 4 miles. These climbs had a 6-9 percent grade for a total of 6,000 feet of climbing. For those unfamiliar with grade, the hill that goes from McCluggage Bridge to ICC is a 10. So multiply that by four and you get the idea. That may not seem like a lot but with the distance it turned out to be quite a challenge. Because I bike mostly flat land it takes me a little longer to climb than most but that's alright because I like to enjoy the scenery, take pictures and rest when needed. With sag stops, picture taking, talking to some locals and various other delaying tactics it took me nine hours to finish. Hey, what would I do if I arrived at my destination early? Watch TV? Sleep? I don't think so. So overall it was quite an enjoyable trek. Touring this part of Connecticut and New York the scenery was excellent. From the tranquil lakes, small towns, verdant forests, and mountain views,( even the motorists could not distract from this), it was a truly fun ride. I do have an admission which I hope doesn't destroy my image. While the climbs were somewhat brutal, for me anyway, the reward is the downhill side.
I normally do not apply brakes and let the mountain dictate speed. This also helps when coming to another climb. However, now here it is, I actually felt I was going to fast and yes......feathered my brakes to slow down. Wow, does that mean I'm getting smarten in my old age. There goes the image!! Tomorrow is a shorter ride but still contains many climbs so tune in.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Conneticut welcome sign-recession limited their sign budget?
For all you librarians-Widnsor Locks Public Library

Devastated area outside Stafford. Our guess-Tornado
Stats-miles ridden 70
Weather-overcast wind at 10-15 southwest
Today's ride was 70 miles from Worcester to Windsor Locks CT. crossing another state line. The odd thing is that many of the riders consider it a "rest" day since we are only doing 70 miles. Ha! Very funny. The weather was supposed to be rainy again but aside from a little mist outside Stafford it was a a dry day. In fact, when we arrived at Windsor Locks the sun actually came out and it got hot and steamy. Lets hope that type of weather continues. The scenery was excellent as we rode through heavily wooded areas and small Connecticut towns. Unfortunately, I again didn't take many pictures. Tomorrow that will change. The most exciting part of the ride began near Hazard CT. It began with a very serious climb that never seemed to end. Needless to say I was in "granny" gear huffing and puffing all the way. Now for the yin/yang experience. From the top of the climb to the town of Hazard it was like a roller coaster. I attained 45 mph and I heard of others hitting 50. That's probably too fast, especially with all the traffic, but it was a blast. Hank had a flat tire coming down the hill but was able to stop without incident. That was very fortunate because of the amount of traffic and the speed factor. In fact he had two more before reaching Windsor Locks. With all the wet weather and amount of climbing it is playing havoc with many of the bikes. But, we have an excellent mechanic and he is doing a great job getting the bikes back into action. That's about it because tomorrow will be grueling so I need my rest. Today's shout out goes to Mr. Rich Burk. Good friend and excellent photographer.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Me helping repair the flat tires
Hank is THE MAN !
A typical flat tire repair. Two guys working and the rest of us supervising
typical Sag support with excellent staff
Entering Massachusetts
Distance-99 miles
Wind-South 10-15 mph
weather-morning fog and afternoon rain
Today we rode from Providence N.H to Worcester Ma. a total of 93 miles. How, do you ask, was I able to ride an extra 6 miles. I am riding with a group of 7 people and as we were approaching the first SAG I rode down this big hill that was followed by an uphill. My method for doing hills is to get a very fast pace going down and using that momentum to help climb the way up. Even though I now "spin" I still use this technique. Well, as I descended I had passed all of the riders in my group and many of us rely on one or two people to navigate the route. I am not one of them. So, I passed the SAG and rode another two miles down the road before I realized the group was not behind me. After that realization dawned on me I then rode back to where the SAG was located. The good news was that my group had not left the SAG. The bad news was that I did not spend enough time re hydrating and consuming energy food. Actually, I am smarter than that but I felt guilty they had to wait for me so I ate and drank very little. We had another 70 miles to ride.
While the weather for the first 75 miles was overcast and at times foggy there was no rain. That was certainly not the case for the last 20 miles as the rain set in and we were once again getting soaked. Not only that but most of the climbing was done in the last 80 percent of the ride. Our group had two flat tires (thankfully not me, knock on wood) and stopped at a Dairy Queen 14 miles prior to the end of the ride. If those events had not taken place we would have arrived at our destination and missed the rain. However, we like to stop and smell the roses, thus, pedaling into a severe storm up and down hills. That made it quite an exciting ride.
Now the result of insufficient hydration. As we neared Worcester, I began getting leg cramps. At first they were tolerable but it got to a point that I unclipped so I could stretch my legs as the pain was becoming quite severe. The traffic in Worcester was wall to wall to such an extent we actually biked on the sidewalk to avoid some of the danger. Also, we got lost trying to find the hotel but it is all good as it ended well
Now for a very positive story. Hank our fearless 76 year old was one of our group that had a flat tire. After fixing it and we were on our way, Hank indicated that his gears were malfunctioning.
He decided to stop and call a SAG wagon to pick him up. However, after the van arrived Hank had fixed his problem and told them he would finish the ride. He not only finished in the brutal traffic and rain, he actually found our destination without a problem. HANK IS THE MAN!
Tomorrow we ride to Windsor Locks Ct. A total of 68 miles. We are all looking for a sunny day but if it isn't rain has a very cleansing quality. And yes Jim, I got my "come uppance"
Today's shout out goes to my beautiful wife Veronica and my two sons, Christopher and Eric. Great people who support my crazy rides!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

map of East Coast Ride
Arriving in Portsmouth-soaked to the skin
The riders at the start of the East Coast ride
The crew I rode with outside Kennebunkport Me

Beginning the ride
Stats: 70 miles
wind south 10-15 mph
routes-1, 9, a1a
Today we rode from Portland Me. to Portsmouth New Hampshire a total of 70 miles. If anyone is checking out the weather in the Northeast, you will know that we will have three days of rain. So, the questions is where does the rain in Maine fall. Obviously not on the plain. Shucks, even I know that. The correct answer is EVERYWHERE!! Now, to be perfectly honest, I don't object to riding in the rain. It has many advantages. First, I don't have to apply sunscreen. Secondly, I don't need a shower following the ride. (Okay that second reason doesn't really apply) The ride began at 7:30 and we were finished by 1:30. This included a SAG stop and a light lunch at a deli in Portsmouth. Now, the questions is why the early arrival time. The main reason is that because of all the precipitation, taking pictures was difficult. We started out in a virtual deluge then a slight drizzle followed by a steady but persistent rain. Our ride took us along the eastern coast of Maine. It is a scenic wonder with all the forested areas, beautiful mansions and long stretches of beach. Normally I would have taken pictures of the many beautiful mansions and seacoast views; especially in the town of Kennebunkport. As most of you know, that is the summer home of former president George Bush. We did take a group picture near there but the persistent downpour prevented more. So the arrival into our first stop was relatively early. The good news is that all body parts are functioning quite well (knock on wood). A good rest is in the near future as tomorrow we ride to Worster Mass. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

No touring today. Tomorrow we start the ride. It looks like rain and headwinds and I can't wait to start. I will be a great day. Also, as per my cross country endeavour, I am raising awareness for and funds to support the Central Illinois Alzheimers Assoc. I am aware there are many worthy causes one could support but I feel this is one for which I can do the most good. So, if the mood strikes and you are so inclined, contributions can be made to
Marsha Ray
Central Illinois Alzheimers Association
606 w. Glen
Peoria, Ill 61614
Indicate-support for Champ Walker's East Coast Ride
All contributions are greatly appreciated

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Portland light house from cliffs

Hank after a purchase at one of the many antique shops that line highway 1
Searsbuer Maine, a cute little berg along the way
Our pre-ride journey took us from Bar Harbor Maine to Portland where we will await the start of the ride on Thursday. We took the scenic highway 1 in order to stop at various little bergs along the way such as Rockland, Searslank etc. As we drove through these places we read their history from a travel guide. Most of the coastal towns along the coast of Maine were sites of ship building home of famous sea captains (I know name 3) and other famous writers including Edna St. Vincent Millay, w.e. White, and Stephen Speilberg, to name a few. The highlight of the trip was the visit to Fort Williams Park and Portland Headlight Lighthouse. It was commissioned by George Washington, yes THE George Washington, in 1790. It is stated that the poet Longfellow, scripted his poem "The LightHouse" while pondering the wonder of the universe as he sat alongside this famous lighthouse. In fact, the Portland Light House is said to be the most photographed lighthouse in the world. Who am I to argue. Tomorrow Hank and I will do a test ride to determine the fitness of our bike equipment. Looking forward to the start of the trip on Thursday.
Today's shout out goes to Russell's cycle shop. The folks as Russell's impressed the support crew in charge of checking out the bikes. My bike was the cleanest bike of all those they worked on. The chain, rear set, and derailleur were immaculate. Cudo's to Russells as they cleaned and packed the bike for the trip to the east coast.

Monday, September 19, 2011

The rock was a little heavy but I managed to slide the guy off!!
Mountain Hibiscus for you floral enthusiast
Bay of Maine in background
Paul Bunyon statue-Largest of him in U.S.- Bangor, Maine
Tourist Monday. Okay, I admit it, even though this is the pre-trip ride through Maine, I became totally tourist today. After the ride from Newport to Bar Harbor, we all decided to take a (I know I will be ridiculed unmercifully) bus tour of Bar Harbor, Arcadia Park and Cadillac Mountain. It was decided that would be the best way to view all the attractions in this area. That makes us the ultimate "tourist" and I fully admit to that accusation . This is one of the most beautiful areas in this part of the country. It is inundated with history from Champlain and Lafayette who discovered and helped settle this part of Maine to the Rockefeller's who developed, settled and then donated much of this land to establish Arcadia national park. In fact, Arcadia National Park is the oldest national park east of the Mississippi River. The verandas it affords compares with any across the U.S. The only thing I could think of as we traversed the steep roads winding to the top of Cadillac Mountain was wondering how difficult it would be to bike up those roads. We saw a fair number of cyclist on these roads and it was a point of intrigue on my part. I suspect I could have biked up the steepest parts but I know it would have been difficult. Tomorrow we will take route 1a back to Newport avoiding the interstate and enjoying the little bergs along this stretch of road. I will then complete reassembling my bike for the beginning of the ride on Thursday.
I would like to give a shout out to the Tuesday morning breakfast group (Luke, Dulin, Les, John, Pat, Gary and any of the guest appearances) that meet. every Monday at the Galley and especially to Leslie the server who is the best employee at that establishment. Update tomorrow.