Friday, August 10, 2018

Day 32 - Concord to Rye Beach NH - Mission Accomplished!!!

Ride Stats:
Distance: 53.7 Miles
Climbing: 2,749 ft
Ride Time:  3:37
Temp:   - Warm and Humid - Did not note Temp

We completed the transcontinental on Wednesday 8/8/18.  I am late with this post due to all the fun associated with the finish, then travelling home on 8/9.

This final ride was an enjoyable and well earned victory parade.  We all rode with the great friends we made during this tour and just had a blast socializing and riding through the scenic New Hampshire rollers to the finish.  We took our time, had fun, then all met at a golf course a couple of miles from the beach in order to ride the final miles as a group.

This has been a 10 year dream and journey for me.  I had years of learning how to train and ride high mileage multi-day events, then had a major setback in 2016 that prevented my completing that year's Northern Transcontinental just 10 days prior to that tour.  Clearing the final hill, then seeing the Atlantic Ocean, was a highly emotional experience for me.  I could hardly believe that I had finally achieved my dream - an average rider going coast to coast in 32 days!!!

It was fun looking at the puzzled looks of the people on the beach wondering why a group of bicyclists were bringing their bikes to the water.  Once they learned what was happening we received a number of congratulations on this major accomplishment.

For me, this had seemed to be an overwhelming challenge at the beginning of this year's trip.  My focus has been on just trying to survive each day, with a strong element of relentless determination to complete each segment.  Breaking down each day by focusing on riding to one SAG stop at a time.  Making adjustments along the way in dealing with physical, weather and other issues.

After enjoying our victory celebration on the beach, we then crossed the street to the hotel and enjoyed our final lunch together.  After lunch we began the process of packing our bikes for shipment, then checked into our hotel rooms.  In the evening we enjoyed a celebration dinner, with lobster, salmon and other great entre options.  After dinner, we watched a slide show of the trip,  received award plaques for our achievement, then just had fun socializing afterward.

I cannot say enough about the great job that PAC Tour did on this complex trip.  Lon Haldeman and Susan Notorangelo (owners) and the experienced support crew provided an outstanding rider experience.  Every day the support and coordination was tremendous, helping us in dealing with our physical issues, bike issues and the complex logistics.  They made it look easy, while dealing with many issues in the background.  The support crew consisted of veterans from prior PAC Tour events and transcontinentals, providing helpful advice and encouragement along the way.

I will follow up this post with a final one highlighting advice and information based upon what I learned.

Pictures from today:


Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Day 31 - Bennington VT to Concord NH

Ride Stats:
Distance: 128.7 Miles
Climbing: 7,379 ft
Ride Time:  8:26
Temp:  65-93

The last big riding day is now complete.  Climbing through the Green Mountains in Vermont and entering the White Mountains in New Hampshire was a real blast.  Great scenery - Lakes, Rivers and small towns with historic buildings, etc. etc.

I spent a large part of the day riding by myself just taking in all the many views.  As I mentioned yesterday, it is hard to really look around while riding in a pace line.  My approach for today maximized my experience of riding through New England.

After 30 straight days of not getting hit by rain, a storm finally let loose just before the final SAG stop for the day.  It was raining in sheets as I found my way to the SAG stop.  I had a very hard time seeing my bicycle computer GPS map and the cue sheets to find the location.  The rain stopped after about 20 minutes.

Tomorrow is the grand finale - 53 miles to Rye's Beach New Hampshire.  While I have thoroughly enjoyed this tour, it will be good to get home.

Monday, August 6, 2018

Day 30 - Little Falls NY to Bennington VT

Ride Stats:
Distance: 109.3 Miles
Climbing: 6,132 ft
Ride Time:  7:16
Temp:  70-94

Hot and humid all day plus climbing provided some challenges.  The plus side is the changing landscape and unique small towns as we head deeper into New England.  The wooded hills of upper eastern New York and the Green Mountains in Vermont provided great views all day.  The roads were generally good, with some sketchy sections including one of gravel.

The group of five that I have been riding with over the last couple of weeks is morphing.  Several of the riders that were struggling early on have improved their fitness, overcome other issues and have taken to surging on hills at times.  Not sure why since given all the climbing we need to do each day we need to save a little in the tank at the end of each hill and each day.  Steady and smooth is generally the best approach for a ride of this length, and was the hallmark of this group up until the last few days.  Since I have been struggling some with Achilles Tendonitis, when the surges occur I drop to avoid further damage.  Today I ended up riding the last 18 miles on my own.  It gave me a great opportunity to really take in the scenery, which can be hard to do at times in pace lines.

Pictures from today:
Typical scenery about 10 miles from Bennington

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Day 29 - Waterloo to Little Falls NY

Ride Stats:
Distance: 123.8 Miles
Climbing: 9,219 ft
Ride Time:  8:43
Temp:  70-90

Felt like we were back in the mountains today - lots of climbing all day.  We started with rolling hills then hit big climbs in the Finger Lakes area and after.  Had some great high speed descents, but the climbing took a heavy toll on all of us.

Since I am still fighting with Achilles Tendonitis I had to limit how hard I could climb.  I dropped from our group of 5 riders since I could not keep up on the hills.  By keeping breaks and the lunch stop short, I actually ended up finishing ahead of the core group.  On other group member dropped as well and we ended up joining forces for the push after lunch.

While it was one of the 3 toughest days of this entire tour, it was also very scenic.  I enjoyed seeing the Finger Lakes area, the huge wooded hills (mountains?), passing the Erie Canal, and going by various historical places on the back roads.

Tomorrow will be shorter on mileage, but still have about 5k of climbing.  Only 3 more riding days until we hit the ocean and complete the transcontinental.

Photo's from today:
Typical View

Close to the finish line

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Day 28 - Niagara Falls, CN to Waterloo, NY

Ride Stats:
Distance: 136.3 Miles
Climbing: 2,858 ft
Ride Time:  8:05
Temp:  65-88

Today was hot and muggy, and once again, we continued to dodge the rain.  A Thunderstorm developed as we were approaching our final SAG stop.  The wind shifted to the North and the temperature dropped.  But the storm moved just beyond us.  An incredible trend that has continued during this tour.  No rain storms yet.

We started the ride on the Canadian side of Niagara Falls shortly after sunrise.  The sunrise was partially obscured with mist from the Falls.  It took awhile waiting in line to clear US Customs and enter New York State.

After clearing customs, the ride started relatively flat with farm fields, then developed into rolling hills and more wooded areas as we approached the Finger Lakes region.  Our group of five riders road relatively strong all day, attacking the rollers with passion.  This was much better than we expected given the return to climbing.

Tomorrow will be a much tougher day with 8,500 feet of climbing.

I did not take any pictures today.  The area is attractive, but nothing really caught my eye.

Friday, August 3, 2018

Day 27 - London Ontario to Niagara Falls Ontario

Ride Stats:
Distance: 138.1 Miles
Climbing: 2,907 ft
Ride Time:  8:26
Temp:  65-83

Another good ride today.  Relatively flat with sections of rolling hills.  Lots and lots of farm fields.  There seems to be much more diversity in the crops grown in this region vs Indiana.  We past fields with tobacco, tomato's, and large tarp covered fields with raised beds for some kind of herb.

We dodged the rain again today, continued to battle cross winds, and still had moderate, but hotter, temperatures.

The real prize today was arriving at Niagara Falls.  Our hotel is just a couple blocks from the Canadian side of the falls.  After a quick shower, I headed down to see the falls.  I was close enough to get rained on by the mist from the falls.

Pictures from today:

Our Great Riding Team - Anni, Courtney, Mary & Tony

Falls by the US Side

Falls by the Canadian side

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Day 26 - Imlay City MI to London Ontario

Ride Stats:
Distance: 141.1 Miles
Climbing: 1,424 ft
Ride Time:  8:24
Temp:  62-81

Weather systems were North & South of us again today, but clear sailing along our route with moderate temperatures.  Today's ride was high mileage and very flat, no real hills until we got close to London.  The wind was mostly out of the South, so we generally had cross-winds all day.  We had a slight push as we headed Northeast, but mostly had to fight the cross-wind.

The most scenic part of the ride was when we took the Macon Orchard Bicycle Trail, tree lined with great pavement.

Tomorrow's route will be more of the same until we reach Niagara Falls.

Pictures from today:
Approaching Canada by Ferry

Scenic Bike Trail