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

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Day 25 - Midland to Imlay City, MI

Ride Stats:
Distance: 104.2 Miles
Climbing: 1,437 ft
Ride Time:  6:05
Temp:  64-79

We had our last easy ride today.  Relatively short, with a lite tailwind and moderate temperatures.  Rain was North and South of us.  We only had a few sprinkles.  We have been blessed with no real rain for the entire tour.

The ride was very flat with a few rolling hills.  Part of the ride was spent on a bicycle trail through a heavily wooded area.  At one point the tree canopy was so thick that it formed a dark tunnel to ride through.  I enjoyed seeing this part of Michigan.

Most of the tour riders rode easy, spent more social time at the SAG stops and lunch.  A good recovery day as we get ready to cross Canada and climb through New England.

All of us continue to nurse our aches and pains.  My Achilles Tendentious has remained mostly stable.  With ice, ibuprofen and a good tape job before each ride seems to be holding it in check.

No pictures today since this looks like home.  See the PAC Tour website for their pictures if you have an interest.

Thank you to all who have left comments on my blog.  I see the comments and appreciate them very much.  The encouragement is helpful.  I just don't have time to respond to each.

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Day 24 - Ludington to Midland MI

Ride Stats:
Distance: 133.7 Miles
Climbing: 3,294 ft
Ride Time:  8:09
Temp:  54-79

We had relatively good conditions for today's ride.  Started out cool and stayed moderate all day.  We had some lite headwinds, but nothing that we could not easily handle with our group.  Our group as a whole was stronger today following yesterday's break.

Our trip through western Michigan was very scenic - heavily wooded with rolling hills including parts of the Manistee forest.

The road conditions started out great, then turned bad (poor condition) after our lunch stop.  We then hit the Pere Marquette bike trail to Midland, which provide a welcome improvement.

We are nearing the end of our transcontinental tour - only 8 more riding days remain until we reach Rye's Beach New Hampshire.

Pictures from today:
At our first SAG stop 31 miles outside of Ludington

Day 23 - Manitowoc WI to Ludington MI

Today was a well earned rest day.  Typically our morning rides start sometime around 6:30 to 7:00.  We slept in today, having until 11:00a.m. to check out of the hotel and load our gear bags.  We then took a very old coal burning ferry (the Badger) across Lake Michigan to Ludington.  We all found places to relax onboard for the 4 hour trip, then traveled two miles to our hotel after arrival.

Pictures from today:
The Badger

Arriving in Ludington with a Coast Guard escort

Backed into this dock

Catching some ZZZ's on deck

Monday, July 30, 2018

Day 22 - Portage to Manitowoc, WI

Ride Stats:
Distance: 127.9Miles
Climbing: 4,757ft
Ride Time:  8:04
Temp:  56-82

We arrived at Lake Michigan and are primed for our one and only rest day as we cross the lake on Monday.

Today's route took us through relatively flat farm areas including some Amish sections.  At one point there were a number of horse and buggy's on the road, and one family walking, all headed to the local Amish church.   As we headed east, the hills increased substantially in size.  We ended up doing much more climbing than we expected and had a number of climbs in the 10% to 13% range. Temperatures continued to be moderate with lite tail winds - a continuation of ideal riding conditions.

I have not been taking very many pictures over the last few days.  The mount for my bicycle camera (Garmin Virb) has not been holding well, so I took it off until I can find time to fix it.  Also, when the sites look mostly like home I typically don't take pictures.  The PAC Tour website ( has great pictures each day, so you can check out their web site if you would like to see more.

Pictures from today:
Looking out to Lake Michigan two blocks from our hotel.  Maritime Museum is on the left

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Day 21 - La Crosse to Portage, WI

Ride Stats:
Distance: 142.0 Miles
Climbing: 3,048ft
Ride Time:  8:35
Temp:  59-80

We are on a roll - great riding conditions once again today.  We rode through the wooded hills of western Wisconsin, seeing a number of dairy farms including an Amish area.  As we approach central Wisconsin, the rolling hills gave way to more flatland with farms.

Our route took us on mostly county roads with a fair amount of zig zagging to get to where we needed to go.  We encountered three unexpected construction zones in which the roads had been removed and we had to walk or ride our way through.  The last one was quit extensive.  We tried to ride through but myself and one other crashed after hitting some sand that looked like hard packed soil.  I ended up walking my bike or shuffling along with one foot clipped in and the other free to push along the ground.

All of us are looking forward to Monday - our first and only rest day while we cross Lake Michigan.  This is such an intensive ride, all the riders have some form of physical issues.  The one rest day will be very helpful.

Pictures from today:
The bridge over the Mississippi, from our hotel parking lot was getting ready to start today

Coullee Overlook with morning fog

Friday, July 27, 2018

Day 20 - Albert Lea MN to La Crosse WI

Ride Stats:
Distance: 142.0 Miles
Climbing: 3,048ft
Ride Time:  8:35
Temp:  54-77

Today's ride was long, but easier than most days.  We had another day of tailwinds.  Hope this continues as a trend.

We started with continuing our charge through the flat farm lands, then hit hills and trees as we took close to 52 miles of bike trails through the final eastern stretch in Minnesota.  The bike trail was lot's of fun.  We were in a tree canopy for a large portion and followed a meandering river.  This was a welcome change from the flatlands.  We then crossed the Mississippi river into La Crosse, Wisconsin.

We had a moment of excitement on the bicycle trail when we encountered a live snake in the middle of the trail and the group had to swerve on either side to miss it.  It was a dark snake with light colored bands and a diamond shaped head.  Most likely poisonous.  Some thought it might have been a cotton mouth.  Fortunately, we scared the snake just as much as it scared us.

The group I ride in is known as the slow group because we are the last to arrive at the hotel each day.  Lon & Susan have assured us that we are doing well, but this years group is much stronger than in prior years.  We could pick up the pace a little quicker and spend less time at the SAG stops, but we are having too much fun together with our approach to the ride.  We typically have several riders from other groups join us periodically when they need some rest from their hard charging or just want to have more fun.

All of us are looking forward to Monday, our first and only rest day.  We will be taking a ferry across Lake Michigan.

Pictures from today:

Bridge over the Mississippi

House boats on the Mississippi

More progress

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Day 19 - Worthington to Albert Lea MN

Ride Stats:
Distance: 119.9 Miles
Climbing: 2,038ft
Ride Time:  6:39
Temp:  61-77-68

We had a great ride today, rolling through the flatlands with a nice tailwind and cool temperatures.  The only complaint was an extended section of the route with bone jarring expansion joints leading up to just before the lunch stop.  With sore butts and aching joints from all the day after day riding miles, this was a torture test.  But with strong tailwinds and smooth roads after that section, we soon forgot and enjoyed kicking the pace line into high gear.  Given the inherent competitive nature of cyclists, somehow the ride after lunch turned into a hammer fest with each rider trying to outdo the others during the segment leading to our next SAG stop.  Some bantering back and forth seemed to be the spark that lit the fire.

There was a cold front pushing through, with the temperature dropping from a high of 77 down to 68 by the time we were nearing Albert Lea.  There were a number of dark clouds blowing by, but we only received a few drops of rain.

I was very much relieved that my early stages of  Achilles Tendonitis seemed to moderate today.  After Ibuprofen, ice packs, and taping prior to the ride, I was very comfortable while riding.  The key is pedaling in a more toe down position, which the taping helps enforce, and not pedaling while standing in order to relieve stress on the Achilles tendon.  The PA that is traveling with us was extremely helpful in putting me on the right track.  Now, I just need to be very careful not to stress the tendon any more over the next few days and the remainder of the ride.

Only one picture today:
River crossing at Jackson MN

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Day 18 - Mitchell SD to Worthington MN

Ride Stats:
Distance: 136.7 Miles
Climbing: 3,468ft
Ride Time:  8:18
Temp:  64-81

Today was a much easier day than yesterday.  It was a cooler day with tail winds at the beginning and end, making this much faster.  The final 30 miles were were cruising along at 21-25 miles an hour with only moderate effort.  Thunderstorms were in the forecast with a 90% chance of hitting us.  We could see the storms, but we were blessed that they moved around and did not hit us.  We had a few raindrops for only about 5 minutes.

The terrain is all flat farm fields, just like home.  So I did not take any pictures today, except for the progress map below.

It is hard to believe that we have covered as much grounds as we have.  Two weeks from today we will finish.

The back to back riding days are taking a tole on everyone to one degree or another.  This ride is a huge physical challenge.  I started to have early stage symptoms of Achilles Tendinitis in my left leg. Fortunately, one of the crew members is a PA and is very helpful in dealing with this matters.  I am icing every hour, taking ibuprofen,  and will start taping tomorrow before the ride.  Hopefully all of this will keep this issue in check.

Pictures from today:
Wow - hard to believe that we have covered that much ground.

Day 17 - Murdo to Mitchell SD

Ride Stats:
Distance: 145.7 Miles
Climbing: 3,350ft
Ride Time:  9:21
Temp:  57-97

Today was a tough day.  We had cross winds and some head winds all day.  One of our team members had a minor medical episode a couple of hours into the ride and had to stop riding and call for a pickup.   In addition, another team member had two flat tires after riding a segment on the interstate.  So, my team fell well behind all other tour riders and tried to play catch-up the rest of the day with quick turns at Sag stops & lunch, along with pushing the pace to the extent we could.  We ultimately caught the tail end of other riders close to the finish.  It was surprising that we were able to make up the time.

The rider with the medical episode later decided that it would be in his best interest not to continue with the transcontinental ride.  So we have lost 2 of the 5 original team members this week.  Some other riders have joined our group, which is a big help, but we really hated to see 2 good riders that we had a lot of fun with leave the trip.

All of us were completely wiped out after today's ride.

The landscape in eastern South Dakota slowly change from hills and plains to primarily open farm field with some rolling hills.  Since it looked so much like my home turf I did not take any usable pictures today.

Monday, July 23, 2018

Day 16 - Rapid City to Murdo SD

Ride Stats:
My Garmin died during the ride today.  The following are from our cue sheet:
Distance: 146.9 Miles
Climbing: 4,180ft
Ride Time:  TBD
Temp:  62-96

God had mercy on us today.  We had tailwinds for the first half of the ride, with a light cross-wind for the last half.  We had a lot of rolling hills, but the ride was a gradual descent for most of the day.  Longer miles, but much easier riding.

Today we rolled through the plains of South Dakota, then the Badlands, then back to the plains.  It is starting to look a lot like the Midwest with big farm fields.

We saw a fair amount of wildlife today - Prairie Dogs, Buffalo, Badgers, Deer, Horses and some Goats.

My posts will be very brief as we now are riding long days with big mileage.

Pictures from today - Riding through the Badlands:

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Day 15 - Custer to Rapid City SD

Ride Stats:
Distance: 45.8 Miles
Climbing: 3,271ft
Ride Time:  3:20
Temp:  57-82

Today was a well earned active recovery day.  We became tourists for most of the day, visiting the Crazy Horse Monument (carved in side of a mountain) and Mount Rushmore.  We generally took our time and rode easy to Rapid City.  We arrived in time to catch up on things we needed to do (laundry & naps).  And yes, we had strong headwinds again, but with the shorter mileage it did not drain us.  All of us are feeling much better.

We had a voluntary weigh in after yesterday's ride.  Many riders are losing significant weight.  This morning the tour operators emphasized the importance of making sure we are eating enough and staying hydrated in order to survive the tour.  Over this ride I have turned into an eating machine, easily consuming 2 - 3 times what I normally eat.  A big breakfast, lot's of snacks at our 3 Sag stops, a big lunch on the rode, then a healthy size dinner, has helped me maintain my weight within about  2 pounds of where I started.

We are loosing one of our team members, Jim, who is leaving a couple of days early to handle some business matters.  He was effectively the leader of our group, fun to ride with and will be missed.

Not much else to report on today, so just see the pictures below.

Tomorrow we start high mileage days (140 range), so I may be more sporadic on my posts.  In one week we will cover all the remaining distance between here through Wisconsin, then have a rest day to take the ferry across Lake Michigan.  If I can physically handle this week with higher mileage, then I know I can handle the final legs.

Pictures from today:
Crazy Horse Monument

Mount Rushmore

Lots of progress over two weeks

Black Hills Forest

Day 14 - Gillette WY to Custer SD

Ride Stats:
Distance: 116.4 Miles
Climbing: 4,616ft
Ride Time:  8:49
Temp:  60-79

I am a day late with this post because today was the toughest day of the entire tour.  On paper, the ride stats did not look bad, but had a fair amount of climbing.  We were greeted with a strong headwind the entire day.  Our group of 5 banded together with 3 other riders which helped with the pace line rotation.  With our legs shot from the Big Horn Mountains and yesterdays headwinds, today was just brutal.  At times we were held to 6 mph on the climbs and 12 mph on the flats.  Time between rest stops seemed to take forever.

After we crossed the South Dakota border, the winds slowed some and the last 20 miles through the Black Hills was much better.  We crawled into the hotel, grabbed a quick dinner, and collapsed to rest for another day of riding.  Fortunately tomorrow will be a much shorter ride as we visit the Crazy Horse Memorial and Mount Rushmore.

The terrain was mostly rolling hills and plains through the eastern side of Wyoming.  Crossing into the Black Hills area of South Dakota, the hills became steeper with lots of pine trees.  Watching the changing landscape is one of the aspects I really enjoy on this trip.  While today was tough, I never get tired of immersing myself in God's creation.  It is a real blessing to be able to do so.

Pictures from today:
Our Team crossing the border

Starting the day heading out from Custer

Plains & Hills

Entering the Black Hills

Black Hills