Finally it's up!
The last ride was anything but easy. I got up early and was still on quite a high from completing coast to coast the previous day. I was looking forward to the last leg and felt confident despite it being quite a long day.
I left at 7am and all was good until about the 25 mile point. From here the rain started and things got quite miserable. For long sections I was riding highway 1. The options for heading north are quite limited because of the peninsulas. Despite it being Sunday, traffic was heavy. Combined with the rain, the noise and spray made it far from enjoyable.
I stopped at a roadside lobster shack to try the local speciality. In pouring rain I sat under a small umbrella to eat it while some other customers sat and ate theirs in their big, warm, dry car. I must have looked a state. As they were leaving I watched them take a picture aimed in my direction. I don't think there was anything else of interest around. It must have been a crazy guy on a loaded bike, who looked like a drained rat, eating lobster in the pouring rain that they were capturing.
I didn't quite muster a smile ;)
I had ridden about 70 miles when my brother offered a lift and pointed out I had already ridden coast to coast.
With continuing rain and heavy traffic I said 'yes please, come get me' :)
On agreeing a meeting point the day almost immediately brightened up making me question my decision. It could have also been my morale lifting knowing that of nearly 4,000 miles I only had another 5 or 6 to pedal.
It was a good feeling. I had a moment with my bike, one last heartfelt conversation between the two of us. Then I slapped myself out of it.
The last few miles approaching the house were in deep woods and would have been difficult to navigate so a lift was a good idea.
100 metres from the house my brother kicked me out of the car and suggested I ride around the corner because the kids wanted to see me finish. When I came around the corner I was greeted by banners and balloons and cheering and decorations and big smiles all round. Oh, a nice cold beer too.
It was a really nice surprise and a perfect end to the trip. Thankyou for such an excellent welcome.
And thankyou to everyone for all messages and emails of encouragement Along the way.
Every single one was super appreciated Especially in the first few weeks where there task was quite daunting and I seriously wondered if I had bitten off more than I could chew.
Total mileage : 3,935
I really should go for a 65 mike bike ride!
Today was a pretty good day!!!
I only went and rode across the bleedin United States of America didn't I Rodders.
I got up at 6.30 am, after a poor rest of only 5 ish hours of sleep. It was surprisingly easy to get up though!! After breakfast I was on the road by 7.30 for the final journey to the East Coast.
The ride was 64 miles. I arranged to meet my Brother at a halfway point, Naples, for a late breakfast/early lunch. This broke up the day quite nicely - it was good to see someone I knew whilst en route. I tried to persuade him to swap vehicles but to no avail.
The roads all day were quite busy. Probably one of my least relaxing rides. The motivation was endless though. I was riding a good pace for most of the time, excited about the prospect of seeing the Atlantic.
Finally at about 1.30pm I saw the coast!!
I skirted it until I could find a spot to sit and soak it up for a while. It all felt quite surreal.
Unfortunately I still have to ride roughly 90 miles to Linconville but today was the big one for me. I feel like its most definitely job done.
It's been the most amazing trip, one that I will never regret taking. There have been so many positive experiences and I've met so many brilliant people along the way. By poking my head outside of the bubble I was living in I have reaffirmed my love of life and the world we live in. nice and cheesy I know.
I have had plenty of hurdles to get over; (I've listed some before but this is the last time)
Snow storms, strong winds, rain storms,
The dessert, extreme humidity, +40C temps down to sub zero, tornado alley minus the any tornado's,endless mountain passes, rednecks, the Great Planes, heat waves. I've been called Australian more time than I can remember, once it was even put in print in the local paper. I've become numb to it now.
The amazing sights include the Grand Canyon, Niagra Falls, Golden Gate Bridge, Zion, Chicago, the Great Lakes, Canada, the Rockies, me in cycling shorts etc
Mileage so far 3,860
1 million counties
2 new pedals
2 new tyres, bollocks
1 new chain,
1 slow puncture
I had a great stay with Julie and Dave. A very interesting couple who I felt very at ease and bonded well with. Thankyou for looking after me so 'brilliantly'
After homemade blueberry pancakes and local maple syrup, Dave drove me back to the main road where I continued the journey east under pedal power.
Soon after my good luck with tyres came to an end. The bike shop that didn't tighten my wheel (last week) may be to blame, but I can't be sure.
After beginning riding I felt a bit of a bump as the wheel rolled over. I stopped at the first town to inspect. It looked like the tube was squeezing the tyre outwards by the valve.
Somehow the actual tyre twisted a bit under pressure.
I deflated it, straightened it out and blew it up again but it just kept popping out.
It could have been a faulty tyre with a weakness but I suspect it was badly fitted in the first place. I will never know though.
I was close to a bike shop who diagnosed that the tryre was now kinked and splitting on the side and I needed to buy a new one. They agreed on the potential cause.
Very frustrating bearing in mind my Marathon Shwalbe tyres lasted in excess of 4,000 miles (1 is still going) and never had a problem. 1 was only replaced when it was looking bald.
This new, equally expensive, puncture proof tyre lasted 1 week.
The shop only had bog standard tyres which they fitted and off I went. I immediately hit my last major climb of this trip.
The Kangamangus Pass - 2,855 ft. It was 10 miles of steep climbing.
After only 2 miles I noticed my new tyre starting to go flat !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ???????? !!!!!!!!!!!
Tyre 1 - 4,000 miles
Tyre 2 - 300 miles (est)
Tyre 3 - 2 miles
I hoped the shop had just done a poor job of re inflating it but that wasn't the case. I pumped it up and continued on. It became apparent that it was definately a slow puncture as I had to pump it up again once more on the journey.
The climb wasn't great fun for the first 5 miles because I was thinking about poxy tyres.
I really enjoyed the 2nd 5 miles though. I got in a good grove and even managed to overtake 2 lightweight cyclists on the way up.
They were in their 30's I guess, had all the sporty looking cycling gear including sponsored vest etc and were riding bikes that weighed less than my STINKING shoes.
They must have been gutted to see a fully loaded, baggy top wearing, grubby looking, pop belly Brit overtake them. Especially so when my clippless shoes made me look extremely unprofessional, as my feet fell off the pedals when my dodgy gears kept jumping. (As I powered past ;)
To rub salt in the wound, after the overtake, they were downwind of me.... ;)
I was sure to say a big hello and wave as I went past. So many racing bike types don't say hi when they I overtake me. ;) hehehe.
I arrived in Conway, alongside queues of tourist traffic, having ridden 46 miles. It's a nice town and have found a hostel which isn't super cheap but better value than a Motel.
I'm now undecided whether to go for the coast tomorrow and hit Portland, or skirt it (the coast) a while longer and head more directly for Linconville, Maine.
So far the local beer is not helping me decide.
Either way, soon, I will be able to say I rode the USA (and Canada) coast to coast.
State number 12, New Hampshire.
Today was slow and steady and ended up being really tiring. I rode 64 miles with some steep climbing and kind of hit a mental and physical WALL after about 50 miles.
I'm having so many conflicting thoughts. I go from excited at being nearly done, to a bit dissapointed. Then I feel like it has all gone by so quickly, yet these last few days are seeming to take FOREVER!!
I'm staying with my third warmshowers hosts tonight. A very warm a quirky couple who again have been just so welcoming and made me feel very relaxed. Julie and Dave have a nice house in a very rural setting. Apparently a bear has been spotted in a neighbours garden the last few days. I'm getting closer.
As a hobby Dave runs a shooting range so I got to watch some 'gun nuts' enjoying their shooting earlier.
Julie kindly picked me up to save the mile or so journey up a dirt road to their house and we shared another great meal.
In other news today, I pedalled, allot.
I'm too tired to write any more. The last of the big climbs tomorrow before just plain old hills for a couple of hundred miles. Easy!!!
One step closer to the East Coast, but a reminder that there is plenty more work to do. It's not over until its over - there are some tough climbs to come first.
I started a little slowly again today, not leaving my motel until just before 8am. I was pretty worn out from the previous day.
Ticonderoga is located by a large lake so one of the first things I had to do was catch the ferry which takes you across.
Apparently this is the last remaing cable ferry in North America.
I arrived a few minutes after 8 and just missed a crossing so had a short wait for it to come back. I pulled a lever down to raise a flag to let them know I was waiting and to come back get me.
It was a very atmospheric morning. I sat on a dock watching the calm waters. Lots of dramatic and ominous clouds mixed with clear blue skies and the early morning sun. It was very relaxing sitting and waiting for the return of my lift.
The only thing that ruined the moment was the awful stink of my trainers. They seem to have taken on an evil lifeform since yesterday's soaking. I was tempted to sit with my feet and shoes submerged in the lake but realised this would not help for more than 20 minutes or so. I was also worried I may kill any nearby fish by doing so.
When the ferry returned I was the only person waiting so I had it all to myself. I paid the $2 and we made the quick journey across. On arrival I landed in Vermont, my 11th state.
It was quite a windy morning and as I rode into the first major town some seriously grey rainy clouds seemed to be closing in. I was looking for an excuse to stop, as riding in wind is not my idea of fun.
I stopped in a cafe to research local accomodation but nothing was really coming up. The skies also cleared up so stopping after 25 miles was looking like a non starter. When I heard another customer comment that the cafe 'smelled funny today' I decided to hit the road and see how far I would get.
Soon after I came to my first big climb of the Appalachian mountains. After riding the Rockies etc I feel like its a bit of a cheat calling these mountains because the maximum altitude I'm going to hit is around 3,000 ft compared to hitting 11,000 ft previously. However, these climbs are much steeper grades. These roads do not have switch backs so its a very hard, continuous effort getting to the top.
Today's peak was just under 2,000 feet and it was tough but didn't take too long. A cyclist who was riding a lightweight bike without any bags caught me up halfway to the top. I managed to keep up with him until we reached the top though which I was pleased with. My legs must be in good shape.
The downhill was equally steep and very fast. Unfortunately the road condition was poor so I had to keep on the brakes more than I would have liked.
Since hitting this region I've encountered a new problem when climbing. There are tons of Mosquitos and those evil biting flies. As soon as I slow down I'm joined by several trying to land and bite me. Today was worse - at one point I couldn't even take a deep breath in because I was in danger of swallowing the little ba@%%#rds.
They are like an army of evil personal trainers, trying to get me to go faster.
I almost got stranded with no accomodation today because everywhere was booked up. In the end I have found a place that costs way more than I can afford but it's on a nice working farm. I'm going to have a beautiful home cooked meal and breakfast included which I'm sure is going to be a massive treat.
I rode exactly 50 miles today.
Today was a great days riding through some beautiful scenery.
Things didn't start out too well though.
I had breakfast ordered the minute the pub opened for business and was then on the road by about 7.30.
From the very beginning there was a constant rain which I optimistically believed would clear up in no time.
Unfortunately it went on for several hours. By the time it let off I was soaked through.
Actually, I was soaked after only about a 1/4 mile of riding. A 4x4 overtook me and drove through a massive puddle which gave me my 2nd shower of the day. I just laughed to myself - That's the way it's going to be today I thought. Better to get fully saturated within a few minutes instead of dragging things out.
I stopped after about 25 miles to try and warm up over a coffee. I was actually worried the diner wouldn't let me in, I was that wet. But they were very nice and didn't look twice at the state I was in.
I didn't rush it but by the time I started riding again the rain had stopped :). I changed my socks which were squelching and continued on.
The aronidondacks, airyduckbaps, adirondacks are really stunning. With every mile of riding things just get better. For the majority of the time I'm riding through dense trees but quite often it opens up to a beautiful lake, river or view of rolling hills covered in thick trees. It's almost rainforest-like. Lots of fantastic small villages and camps are interspersed throughout. There must be so many properties hidden away.
It also seems that with every extra mile things get more and more hilly. Sometimes it's just gentle rolling but then you hit a massive steep hill that goes on forever. It's like western Kansas on steroids.
I'm really enjoying the challenge of climbs and feeling fully fit again. I'm getting a buzz out of caning the riding for 10 miles or so having already ridden 70 or 80.
Admittedly I might increase my pace of riding when I start thinking about bears eating me but quite often it's a choice not borne out of fear.
The adirondack region apparently has a healthy population of bears. I also saw a sign saying there were Moose on the loose. I would have LOVED to have seen either but unfortunately I didn't today.
At the same time I was also worried about seeing a bear too closely. As the trees closed in and traffic reduced to 1 car every 30+ minutes I did feel very isolated.
I wondered how close I could actually be to a bear. Despite wanting to meet one I turned my music up to full volume to minimise the chances of a surprise!
I feel like I got over a big hurdle today. The east coast could be reached in only a couple of hundred miles. Very exciting.
I managed 86.4 miles today, in 8 hours 36 minutes, climbing a total of 4,540 ft
I had half a heart to do 100 miles today.
The minute I heard my alarm, deep down, I knew it was unlikely. I was really tired and aching quite a bit from yesterday's exertions. But most days I ache so this was no big deal. It did take me 2 hours to get up, pack up, find breakfast and finally get on the go. Starting properly at 8 instead of 7 again made a long day even more unlikely.
After 23 miles I decided to stop for my 2nd breakfast, early, although it was already 10am.
I found a nice little hamlet on a lake with a shop and an old pub/hotel that looked like it would do good bacon and eggs.
The lady serving was the complete opposite of yesterday's experience. We talked about how expensive the area is at this time of year and she agreed, but then pointed out the rooms upstairs were only $35 which is a bargain!! I agreed.
They are basic with no wifi or tv but that's just fine.
With the smiles and value I was sold so on 23 miles I quit for the day!!
I'm really pleased I stopped. As I was eating my breakfast it dawned on me I wasn't in a race and I started to relax. I am trying to get through the expensive areas faster but this place is perfect.
I'm going to sleep, Swim in the lake, have a beer, go for a boat ride and sleep some more.
Tomorrow will be another long day on the bike though.
It was a strange start to the day.
As soon as I left the motel there was a wind in my face, which worried me because I wanted to put in a long day. Wind like this had previously done my head in. Fortunately it wasn't as bad as the same strength winds in Nevada or Kansas. Here there are trees and building galore which provide some shelter and break it up so it wasn't too soul destroying.
The next issue of the morning was my wheel.
I had bought a new tyre yesterday because the old one had worn worryingly thin. I thought I should replace it before I ride the fast descents that are ahead of me.
The bike shop swapped it all for me but this morning my bike didn't feel right. In the end I checked the front tyre and the shop hadn't tightened it at all. The front wheel was just sitting loose which could have ended in disaster. Luckily I spotted it and an accident was averted!
Just after this I (again) learned the important lesson not to ride with your mouth open.
A big juicy fly that has probably been bathing on a giant turd smacked into my tonsil and was never seen again, despite many wholehearted efforts to free it.
The last test on this difficult morning was the discovery of my least favourite patrons In the whole of America.
They were terrible.
It was a husband and wife team. Both extremely rude and unhappy but happy to show it.
The husband had a habit of shouting something at you then mumbling his discontent to himself.
When I ask him to repeat himself I'm 100% certain he did not repeat exactly what he was muttering.
I decided to order something cheap and quick so I could leave without delay but they obviously didn't like my order. I heard him mumbling 'bagel and cream cheese and tap water fggagrbe blah blah. I said what?
They ignored my request for a glass of water and told me to go and get a bottle from the fridge myself. It is the norm in the USA to give you endless glasses of ice cold water. Rarely do people expect you to buy bottled so I wasn't asking too much.
I explained I just wanted tap which they continued to ignore and mutter about.
The tipping point was when he mimicked the English accent and said 'tap water'
Really strange behaviour from someone running a business.
Very often people repeat what I say and laugh and joke. Its usually because they like the accent and I take it as a compliment. When this bloke repeated what I said he was being a twat.
I said that's it, cancel my order, I'm going elsewhere.
On my way out we had a brief discussion about who should stick it up their ass. I'm not sure what 'it' was but it was clear we weren't going to agree anyway.
I think this is an example of a pitfall of riding the adventure cycling routes. This couple (I presume had) had previous with other cyclists at some point.
It's unfortunate that their brains can't distinguish between different people on different bikes.
If I had a restaurant or any business here I would be extremely pleased to be on this bike route.
So I rode onwards. I was actually a bit worried because I'd already gone 40 miles and the next town was another 10. I would normally eat after 20-30 miles max. I was fine though and didn't get the food 'shakes'.
I really want to ride back to back 100 mile days on this trip. I know I'm capable of it and previously (Back in Kansas) did 2 X 96 mile says in a row. I managed 102 miles today and thought I would go for another tomorrow. The terrain has now gotten very hilly though and it's just going to get harder tomorrow. I was riding for 11 hours 27 minutes today, including 2 brief stops for food. I also climbed 5,600ft in total and some of the hills have been getting really steep.
I'm going to try for it tomorrow but its not going to be easy.
Other than things getting hillier and steeper I've been going through allot of dense forrest. There are lots of cabins hidden between the trees. I can't really remember the film Misery but this is the kind of setting I imagined it to be filmed in. if there weren't so many tourists about I might be getting paranoid.