Were home! And its great to be back! I know I missed our second to last day's blog and so Ill make up for that with this follow-up (that I have been everything short of forced to write). Its not that I don't want to write the last blog, but I have been so overwhelmed by being home that I haven't felt like I've had time to collect my thoughts, or even sit down for a moment. I want to describe this overwhelming experience as something like culture shock. We had become so used to having one pair of clothing and only the possessions we carry on our bikes, so now when I sit in my room and look at all the clothes I have and the belongings that are part of everyday life, I feel stressed that there is so much to take care of and keep track of. This has even prompted me to clean out my room, and I am about to take a few overstuffed boxes to Good Will. Our last day was awesome, and also so unbelievable. It went by so quickly I have very little to say about it. The ride in was so nice, and went by way to quick! As we rode past the familiar places it didn't even register (and I don't think it has yet) what we had just completed. It was great to see everyone at the beach, and I want to thank everyone who came out. Great to see my family and so many familiar faces! We had talked about whether or not we would go swimming and I'm glad we did, it couldn't have felt better to be in the water in our hometown! Now its over and I'm just about ready to be traveling again, haven't made it back on my bike yet, but I'm sure it will happen soon enough. Thanks again to everyone who supported us. Glenda and Clay at Bay Area Bikes, everything you guys set us up with was perfect, and the bikes are, as everyone says, bombproof. Simply Smiles and CT Challenge thanks for all the support and I'm glad we got to work with both of these charities. Health Warrior, I'm still eating chia, the stuff is great! Thanks to the Gubinskis for the welcome home barbeque. Thanks to everyone who donated! And I hope to see everyone tomorrow!
Everything seems tiny. Having donned a set of normal person clothes (what a feeling) I got into my car and aimlessly drove around town. I should probably mention that while pumping gas I attempted to dislodge a pebble from one of my back tires (silly silly behavior). As I drove I knew something was amiss but not until I was looking out from Sasco beach did I realize what it was. The process of covering such an inconceivable distance has skewed my sense of distance and space. I would imagine that it is my minds way of coping with what I forced it to accept as normal for the past two months, a defense mechanism if you will. Yet now it has the affect of making everything seems drastically smaller. Apparently normal life may take a little getting used to, but what an amazing feeling it is to finally be home!
I apologize for the delay in entries, yesterday was a bit overwhelming, as well I was waiting for my partner to write tuesdays entry. And as I am not in his immediate vicinity I can't just nudge him to write it. It is conceivable that I could call him but it is kind of nice enjoying our separate space.
Yesterday morning may very well have been one of the longest moments of the entire trip. At any other point in our journey we would have relished in the joy of all the downtime and hotel amenities, yet I was far too anxious to complete our journey. Finally it was 11 o'clock and we rode the two miles to meet up with my father, Brad, Aili, Ann Marie and my sister, just this was too much to comprehend and generally overwhelming. The rest of the ride is an absolute blur of emotions upon sighting familiar locations and people. It was as though our trip had been exponentially accelerating for the past few days and it had just hit the point in the curve of no return. I do recall that riding over the train station bridge felt really really good, when cycling normally that hill slows me down to 22mph, yet yesterday I crested it doing 32mph. I think that my adrenaline and knowing that Ellie, Jake and Roger were waiting at the library were contributing factors. I immensely enjoyed my sisters as well as neighbors signs on the final stretch. Running into the water stands out as feeling indescribably good. As I said before the day was a blur and doesn't quite feel real.
At one point I found myself thinking "wow we have amazingly nice neighbors". It was extremely fitting that after experiencing such tremendous hospitality and generosity across the country we would finish on the same note. It seems impossible to properly thank all the family and friends that supported us and made this entire trip possible, we really could not have done it without you. Thanks again to Glen and Clay at Bay Area bikes who quite literally made this possible by setting us up with outstanding equipment - that certainly gets my seal of approval, as well as to Health Warrior for providing us with the necessary nutrition in our greatest moments of need, who knows where we would be without Chia! It was great working with Simply Smiles and the Connecticut Challenge, truly an honor to be affiliated with both organizations and the people behind them. This entry seems lacking as numerous thoughts keep coming to me, this will probably mean you may see a few more entries in the coming days. In closing my body also doesn't quite realize that it has made it home as my leg muscles are twitching with unspent energy. It is not out of the question that I could find myself on a bike later today. -Lucas
It is quite tempting to ride as hard as we can until we are home, yet we promised a Wednesday arrival so we shall arrive on Wednesday. It is also enjoyable to take more leisurely days mileage wise for this last leg of the trip. We started decently early but it was rather slow going as there were some impressive climbs. While stopped at a gas station we were instructed to a shortcut that was supposed to be more scenic as well as less hilly. Perhaps the first was correct but certainly not the later. It seems that the shortcut was essentially to go through the lower catskills rather then around them. This translated to a solid 2 hours of climbing and the sight of a sign claiming steep grade for the next 4 miles was worthy of a celebration. The celebration was in the form of lunch at the bottom. Following lunch we were miserably cold and then instantly soaked in sweat due to one last ridge. We are now camping (perhaps for the last time depending on what tomorrow has to offer) just outside of Montgomery, NY. Can't wait to be home!-Lucas
It's great to be seeing signs for New York City! We are getting so close and from where we are staying tonight we have only about 160 miles to go. It's just blows my mind that were actually as close as we are. We started out the day with a great breakfast at Roberta and Kevin's house as we waited for the rain to pass. Thankfully it eventually did and we got going after changing a slow leaking tube on Lucas' bike. It was great staying with Kevin and Roberta, and just want to thanks for everything, we had a great time! As we headed east the day got nicer and nicer. The clouds cleared and the sun even came out. It was still really cold, but once we were riding we were warm enough. Today we had a few good climbs, some of the biggest since Missouri, but also some great downhills. At lunch Lucas found us a nice shortcut that cut off 11 miles from our route allowing us to get one more town down the road by the end of the day. Also it put us on a really cool small dirt road up on the banks of a river. Unfortunately there was no where good to camp but we bartered with the owner of the small local hotel to get down to a reasonable price. Good to be somewhere warm after a day of cold riding. - Joe.
The circumstances of the morning appeared to be stacked against us, namely an assortment of free cocktails and a 2:30 am bedtime, but it is also worth mentioning the coldest temperatures yet, as well as the wind and rain. We left Cornell and headed to a amazing cafe in Elmira. Coffee and brown bread (a delicious molasses based treat) rejuvenated us to an extent but braving the cold was still tough. Once we got going things improved as we rode out of the rain, dry cold is infinitely superior to wet cold. Better yet we actually had our first significant tailwind in recent memory. A few climbs were welcome as they warmed our core temperatures and before we knew it the riding was very enjoyable. Yet as the day wore on I noticed my feet starting to numb and eventually they just felt like bricks. Now would probably be the time to complain about the cold but in light of the fact that we rode through 110F temperatures earlier in the trip I find myself refraining.
We knocked out 40 miles and were nearing the town of Owego, NY and figured it would be a perfect place to stop for lunch. On our way into town we passed a FEMA shelter and in the back of my mind I thought of the recent flooding in the area. I also began to notice a few houses being gutted on the outskirts of town. Then we dropped down a hill and there was debris everywhere, all of a sudden it struck me that the town had been absolutely destroyed by the flooding. I was reminded of the aftermath of a blizzard with massive snow piles but rather the piles were the remnants of the house's interior. It seems that the houses had been completely gutted and the inhabitants belongings were piled in from of the house and then plowed away into fields. I have never in my life seen destruction on this scale and was absolutely shocked by the extent of it. I would have taken more pictures but the nature of the devastation seemed so personal that it didn't quite seem appropriate.
We are lucky enough to be staying with some of Joe's relatives in Vestal NY. As we were nearing their house Kevin (the dad) passed us and warned us of an upcoming hill. As it turned out the hill may very well have been our largest climb since Missouri. We ended up having a truly enjoyable evening with them as they took us out to dinner at a local Italian restaurant. Our hosts could not be more hospitable and it was a pleasure meeting them. -Lucas
Today we got up a bit earlier so we could try to make it into town around one. The morning was really cold, at least as cold as our coldest night in the mountains, and tomorrow is supposed to be even colder. The nice part about the morning was nothing was wet! For once we had dry tents to pack up. We got on the road just before sunrise and watched it come up as we started our day. The riding was really flat, but we did have a solid 20 mile side wind and by the end of the day we had turned into it. At this point the wind doesn't even bother me, it's just part of the day, kind of like a hill climb. We made it into Elmira and had lunch and then we parted with Paul. Tonight we are staying at Cornell and Paul planned on taking a break day in the next town over. It's funny how long it feels like he has been riding with us. Not long till we are back in Fairfield!