Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Day 50 - Manchester to Portsmouth NH - THE END!

Day – 50 Manchester NH to Portsmouth NH – THE END!
A Celebration, parade, surprise and party.

Euphoria Meter (1-10): 10
If you have ever done something crazy that took 3 years to plan, 6 months to train for, 50 days to actually do, expanded your mind and your physical capabilities while simultaneously generating relationships with 75 neat new people that you can now call close friends and then have it all come to an end, you know what today was like for me.

Ride Stats:
Distance: 63 miles
Riding Time: 3:55
Max Speed: 34.9 mph
Average Speed: 17 mph while with Gerard to the beach
Total Miles traveled: 3,629
Miles to go: 0!

Weather:
Our luck did not run out. 50 consecutive days without rain on this ride. For riding a bicycle, this was a perfect day. It was cool, the clouds were definitely laden with moisture. However, we made it to the beach and I ended up riding to the hotel with Marianne and Barry (got lost on the way for the first time…nothing serious) and get to the hotel without getting rained upon. I was able to unload the truck, pack Mariah in my sister Lisa’s bike case outside. Just after I carried the bike up to my room in the case, all hell breaks loose with the weather and it pours as heavey as you can imagine. When we drive to lunch you can barely see the front of the car despite the wipers going full blast.

Incidents and Rider Report
Everyone riding makes it in and to the beach without a problem or a flat. By the way, I have been very reluctant to discuss the subject of flats in this blog or in person. Rich had zero. I only had one. The one I had was with 3 miles to go into Troy NY. The armadillo’s did not give in or let me down. We found the leak under the stem of my tire tube. It just gave way with the heat of that day and the length of the trip I guess. I was fortunate and so was Rich. Most people had plenty of flat tires. Gerard also had zero.

Those great Armadillo's!


How I Feel (1-10): 10
My legs are a little sore on this day from riding hard through the mountains the last two days. However, when I need them and after I warmed up they really felt great.

Stuff that happened:
The ride emotionally ended yesterday. However we do still have to finish the ride by going to the beach and Portsmouth today. Another 62 miles has to be peddled. Today we are all in uniform, the ABB jerseys, dew rags, caps, socks and shorts. It is quite a sight.
Rich is up early, 5am. I am slow to get up this morning. Load is from 6:15 to 6:45. That sounds like 6:45 to me. I get up with just enough time to load at 6:45. Then I think about the Comfort Inn’s self-serve breakfast. As I enter the room just before 7 everyone has left and is riding, except Gerard, Steve Bennet and John Hubert. These are the guys who are usually gone. Today, there is plenty of time and the faster riders are not in a hurry. We have to be at the Rye Junior High at 11:30. If we leave at 7:30 we can cover the distance easily if we average 10 mph. We are now cocky enough to not worry about it. The four of us enjoy a leisurely, non-hurried, no elbowing for chow breakfast. Nice.
The other three have to go to their rooms for the bikes. I brought Mariah down with my bags at load time. So I am now in the parking lot, waiting with Mariah all by myself. It is a weird, melancholy moment. The beginning of the last day. The allegory of life. Slowly I reach for my first glove and look at it. 50 days ago it was brand new and sparkly. Today, if it hadn’t been through so much with me and if it wasn’t so well padded and needed by my hands, I would be eager to toss it in the trash. But, I gently put the gloves on and press the Velcro straps together, for the last time of this ride. Wow. It starts to sink in for me. It really is over.
The ride itself was much more hilly than it was billed at rap last night. Both Gerard and I groaned a number of times as we had to hit inclines with more energy than we expected. This is a very social ride today. We do need to get there, but no one is in a hurry. At one point, near mile 50, in spray paint on the road is an ABB “sign” or cue that says “Last Hill” with a smilly face painted next to it. Gerard and I look at each other and I ask him if he believes it. He says, in his dry Dutch way, “Nooo”. Sure enough we have a few more. Even one with a note apologizing for the incorrect cue.
The Governator and his two boddy guards, me and Mike Heitz.

At 11:15 Gerard and I pull into the Junior High. Half the people are already there, the other half come quickly after us. The group had several stops at nice bakeries and the one SAG we did have today. Lot’s of photo’s today, hugs, a few tears and much in the way of “whooping” and “hollering”.
After a big group photo we fall in line behind a police escort that takes us the last three miles in a large pelaton to the beach. This is something. It really gets attention from passing cars and the vacationers in the beach homes we pass. It is ending.
At the beach I get another surprise. At the entrance, as I turn in from the parking lot, out of the corner of my eye what do I spy? With big smiles on their faces, I see my dad holding up a big sign and my mom with tears on her face. The Simpson daughters made these big signs welcoming “Rich and Ralph” to the finish of their ride across America at the beach! No stopping the tears now. Joining mom and dad was Cindy, Marisa, Lindsay and Andrew along with The Simpson clan and many other families welcoming their loved ones in from the Pacific Coast. We all get off our bikes, big sweaty hugs and kisses all around.
After we settle down, it is off with our shoes and the walk to the water for the tire dipping. I carry Mariah this time. She’s all cleaned up and I don’t want to get sand all over her again like I did on the West Coast. Tires are dipped. Photo’s snapped. Goodbyes to as many as possible. Especially Rich and Gerard.
Gerard and I in the Atlantic.

Janette Heitz pours the bottle of water we’ve carried from the Pacific to the Atlantic into the Atlantic Ocean. The EPA undoubtedly would not approve. It is now officially over.
You might check Mike Munk’s website http://www.bamacyclist.com/Journal2007/North07/07north.htm out for his great photo’s. Give him a day or two to post them. He’s really busy. He asked us to keep our camera’s packed. He had all of his staff and himself strategically placed along the final 3 miles of the route and at the beach .
Bill Patchett takes his damaged rear wheel to the dipping.
From left to right at Radici's in Portsmouth, Dad, Mom, Lindsay, Cindy, Lenny, Mark, Joel, John, Jessie, Max, Marisa, Andrew, Me.

That night we have a nice meal at Radici’s with the Mendelshon’s, Joel and Lenny. It was a great way to unwind and start our transition back to normal life. No “Old Country Buffet”. If you haven’t seen their blog, it was voted #1 trip blog by a landslide. Very creative father – son talk show type format. Quick and easy to view. See http://acrossamericainfiftydays.blogspot.com/ .

Thank You’s

God
For protecting me and all of my fellow riders, for the unbelievable weather and for giving me the strength, energy and courage to be able to pull this amazing adventure off.

Mom and Dad
For having me, for buying me a bike and teaching me how to use it at an early age! For always being my cheerleaders and for loving me.

Cindy, Lindsay, Andrew and Marisa.
For making it easy for me to go do this and for giving me something wonderful to come back to. Cindy especially, thank you honey, I love you very much.

Rich Simpson
For being the spark that made this happen and for being such a great roommate and time disciplinarian. I would have slept in plenty and been in trouble if it wasn’t for you! We had an awful lot of fun together in these past 50 days.

All my clients and staff
For giving me the confidence to be able to take such a break from my “normal” working life, encouraging me, and giving me a working life to look forward to coming back to!

Chris Carabini
For introducing me to Bob Parlee who made the wonderful bicycle we called Mariah that made it flawlessly across America. And for the great bicycle clothing from your bike team “Monex”. It fit great, looked good and was fun and very comfortable to wear. Manufactured by Parantini for any of you interested in nice bike clothing.

Bob Duncan
Bob your outstanding fit and design of the Parlee made this ride much more enjoyable that it would have been on other equipment, I am sure! Also your tips and coaching, putting together my training bike for St. John in short order, etc. etc. were all very instrumental in making this a superb riding experience.

My sister Lisa:
For being such an inspirational rider and keeping the flame of bicycling alive in our family while I took 15 years off. AND for lending me her treasured, fabulous bike hard case. It made to Portland OR and Portsmouth NH, now I will try to take good care of it and bring back to Columbus. Thanks again!

The ABB Staff
Mike Munk, Barb Munk, Jim Benson, Jeff and Sondra, Karen and Debbie. You all worked as a seamless team to keep us well organized, on schedule, well fed and having fun. This would have been a lot harder to do without you or with a less capable crew.

My fellow riders:
Riding across America is a unique and special challenge. Particularly the Northern Route. Doing this with you made a difficult, challenging thing energizing and a great deal of fun. Getting to know you and share this experience with you was truly the highlight of the experience. Thank you each and every one of you. Particularly Gerard for being such a good riding buddy in so many ways and Rich Simpson for his upbeat positive nature and sharing all of the off riding time we had together.

THE END.

8 comments:

Gus Cook said...

Wow, what an adventure!! Great work and congratulations!! It's been fun following your progress from the beginning - I had no doubt you would arrive in NH in good spirits and strong enough to ride back to Astoria if need be...

It will be good to have you (and your slip-stream) back in CMH to finish out the summer. See your rear wheel soon.

Michael said...

Ralph:
Congratulations! What a fantastic adventure! I am sure you will never forget!
Welcome Home!
Mike Adams

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