First Heat, Then Chills And Then Fear

Another Start

Crab Cakes

Crab Legs

Although not chronological, I have to start by giving a very large thank you to Floyd and Mary Lou. THANK YOU!

I also want to say thank you to Cassius and Teresa, 2 people I have met independently on this ride who have both posted Comments.

And thank you to those of you I knew before this ride who have Commented. You are also appreciated.

Now to the chronology.

July 28, Saturday (Clinton to Wilmington):

Just 2 days ago and already my memory has faded. My Garmin tells me it was 64.6 miles, 991 feet of climb and 16.1 mph. So I recall it was a moderate distance, relatively flat and that at 30 miles I was at 17 mph. And that I was very pleased with that.

It got slower for a number of reasons. For 1, I picked up a bit of head wind. For another, I dropped quite a bit the last few miles dealing with traffic and stops. And, to be honest, the first 30 miles at 17 mph took something out of me, especially since the 17 mph was achieved only after bringing up a much slower average due to the slow pace getting started in town. So yes, I started tiring out.

Aside from a flat, 1 driver turning left in front of me so that I had to hit my brakes and actually unclip, a charging dog that also made me come to a complete stop until it’s master called it back and having to race 3 other dogs that ran parallel to me while sounding very unfriendly but didn’t actually charge me, nothing about the ride stands out in my mind. Except that there were no significant climbs.

I went to see Ant Man And Wasp which Ale passed on. It is silly but fun. We then drove to the beach and had dinner. Crab cakes for Ale and crab legs for me. We both enjoyed our dinners and the food was quite reasonable. And we followed it up with ice cream from next door.

Oh, yes. Today was the first time we have seen the ocean since New Hampshire. There is something special about that.

Starting In The Rain

Heading Onto The Ferry

The Pier Ale Walked Out On

July 29, Sunday (Wilmington to Oak Island):

Today started without rain but that didn’t last. However, although I got wet, the rain wasn’t a factor. It wasn’t so heavy as to impair my vision and I didn’t feel it jeopardized me much.

This ride was short and flat, 37 miles and only 541 feet, a number that is decreasing and if Google is to be believed, will disappear altogether. I averaged 16.8 and that was reduced a bit by some stop and go riding.

The 37 miles didn’t include a few miles on a 30 minute ferry ride that I spent talking to Jessica (I hope I remembered her name correctly) who spends around 20 miles a day on her bike commuting to and from work. Hi, Jessica and I hope I hear from you on here.

Nor did the 37 miles include the 6 miles I rode after getting to our motel while looking for someplace to buy a drink while waiting for Ale. Her car route was longer than mine and she did leave quite a while after I did.

Our motel was right on the beach which we both took advantage of. Ale walked out on a pier and walked on the beach while I was more sedentary. I took a short nap on the beach and then spent some time reading (Kindles are great!).

Dinner was at a Thai restaurant, Thai By The Sea, that we both liked better than the last Thai restaurant we ate at. That it was reasonably priced didn’t hurt, either.

Rain At The Start

Mary Lou And Floyd

A Beach View

July 30, Monday (Oak Island to North Myrtle Beach):

It wasn’t raining when I took my bike to the truck to pump up my tires and oil my chain and gears but that didn’t last which is why Ale took the start photo before I was on my bike so she could get inside. She had asked why I wasn’t wearing a rain coat and I said because it doesn’t do any good given the heat and humidity; I end up soaked anyway.

Although it was raining, it wasn’t much of a problem. To start.

I got out of town and after a few miles was on a highway with a minimal shoulder and fast traffic. Ok, I had dealt with that before, even in the rain. But then it started raining harder. And harder. Maybe no worse than a few days ago when there was an absolute downpour but then it got dark and windy and the shoulder became less reliable; at times I felt like I was riding in a stream and I always felt vulnerable to the passing cars with decreased visibility. My riding felt good – why not, I was fresh and it was flat – but then that third element kicked in. Fear. Things would have been fine with no cars but that wasn’t going to happen. I kept going until I could turn off on a road that I hoped would lead someplace with a bit of cover. I didn’t see anything so I just stopped in the pouring rain.

Then I saw Floyd, though of course I didn’t know his name at the time. He was riding a bike – a commuter – and I watched him turn a corner and pull into a garage. I got back on and rode to the garage and asked if I could share it for a minute. He was as wet as I was and immediately said of course. When I pulled in he offered me a towel and we talked a bit. I said I was going to call it a day and he invited me into his home to wait for Ale. I then met his wife of 7 years, Mary Lou and talked with her while he put on some dry clothes. I was immediately offered coffee or tea but opted for cold water with ice, naturally, which Mary Lou graciously got for me together with another towel, not counting the one she draped over a chair for me to sit on. I learned that Floyd’s late wife had died from breast cancer and that Mary Lou had been a widow before marrying Floyd. She mentioned how blessed they were to have found each other and from the short time I was around them I definitely believe that.

I learned that Floyd spent a first career in the Army before a second career as a mortgage banker. I know he is fighting a cancer issue and appears to be winning (I CERTAINLY HOPE SO!) I also know that at 81 he rides daily and still snow skis and that he and Mary Lou visited Machu Piccu just 2 year ago. I also know what gracious hosts both Floyd and Mary Lou are including having me change into dry clothes in their home after Ale arrived and walking me back to the truck under a huge umbrella after I was in dry clothes. Truly, meeting such people adds so much value to the ride for me. Thank you Mary Lou and Floyd.

After returning to the highway I had been on but this time in the truck I felt even more justified in having cut the ride short. Conditions were horrible and the shoulder looked even worse from the truck. Plus, while visiting, Mary Lou’s phone twice buzzed with local flood warnings. Which were on top of the lightning we had seen. I admit, though, that we didn’t see any floods and that the lightning had been quite a ways away.

We passed into South Carolina while I was in the truck.

By the time we got to North Myrtle Beach the rain had stopped and it didn’t start again until we were at dinner, at which time it came down by the bucket. Before dinner we drove around Myrtle Beach and I then spent some time at the beach right outside our motel. I didn’t go in past my legs but for a Californian it is amazing how warm the Atlantic is.

Dinner was at another sea food restaurant. I had fish and chips for the last time on this trip but I couldn’t order the salmon because they would only serve it pretty well done and I only like it more on the rare side. Ale had jambalaya. Dinner was fine but we agreed that we preferred the less expensive Thai meal last night.

I really am looking forward to riding tomorrow. Provided the conditions are reasonable. As I have said, I promised Sandi to be sensible. At least some.

It is late and I have talked enough.









Great Conditions, Mostly, And I Am Still Beat

Bike 1/2 Way Over The Blocade

Thank You, Teresa

I started with my shoe rain covers just in case even though it wasn’t raining. It was only later that I needed them but by then I had taken them off. Great call, Rick.

The ride got off to an interesting start when Google turned me off of a busy thoroughfare – which was good – onto a street that soon had a barricade. The photo is of my bike after I lifted it over the first part of the barricade before I lifted it over the 2nd part. I was just glad that it wasn’t higher than it was. Once past the barricade, the road continued as predicted and was a lot better than the busy street I turned off of.

Google did a good job of directing me to country roads with little traffic and good surfaces. For some reason, despite the good conditions and the lack of any significant climbing – only 1,532 feet over 73.6 miles – I was struggling. And not because of the slight headwind. My legs didn’t feel particularly tired bit I didn’t have any power and my body was plagued with a general malaise. Though not painful, it was just difficult to keep pedaling.

So, I didn’t. No, I didn’t quit. But when the chance arose, I pulled of on to a side road where there was a large lawn with some shade and a tree that made a good back rest and settled in for a while. After eating a ClifBar, I finally got going again, not because I felt like it but because I couldn’t very well stay for the rest of the day. Though that didn’t feel like too bad of an idea.

I stopped at a store not long after and got a cold drink and then started riding again. Whether it was from the added calories or just because I sometimes do better later in the ride, the riding wasn’t such a struggle any more. I still wasn’t riding as strongly as yesterday but at least I didn’t constantly feel like stopping.

When Ale caught me at about mile 46 I decided to take the shoe covers off. I should have known better. After multiple cups of ice water and having my bottles filled with ice water I set out for the final 30 miles. (I don’t know why I still had 30 to go since it was supposed to be a 67 mile ride, not 72.)

The riding was still better than at the start once I warmed up from the stop.

Oh, speaking of warming up. Today it reached 95 and was regularly 89 to 90. However, despite my weak start it never felt as oppressive as the day in Maine when 95 degree temperatures cut my day short. Maybe because unlike then, I wasn’t climbing mountains today.

At about mile 62 I started to feel some light rain, but nothing too much. I stopped in front of a couple of houses to check my phone – which appears to be water damaged – and a woman came out and asked if I ride much. When I told her that I do, she said that she had just moved to the area and wanted someone to ride with. I obviously had to tell her I am not from the area but I blew it by not asking her if she wanted to ride with me tomorrow part or all of the way to Wilmington.


She would make a credible riding partner because she has done the MS 150 mile 2 day ride. Although disappointed she hadn’t found someone to ride with, Teresa gave me a couple bottles of cold water and filled one of my bottles with ice. Thank you, Teresa and I hope you Comment on here so I know you are following.

By the way, she said that she is retired which means, based on her appearance, she did something right. Too bad she can’t join our group at home.

Just before I left the wind started picking up which wasn’t all bad because it was blowing in the direction I was going. It was hard enough that Teresa said I might not need to pedal the rest of the way. However, when I voiced concern about rain she assured me that wouldn’t happen soon. She was wrong. (I will attribute that to her being new to the area.) Within less than a mile, it started pouring. Then to make matters worse, I had to turn onto a fairly busy road with no useful shoulder for 3 miles. With the rain, the general darkness from the rain, the sketchy shoulder and all of the fast moving vehicles, I couldn’t help but think of the rider who was killed recently at home on a road we regularly ride that is a lot safer than where I was today. Thankfully, I was a lot more fortunate than he was.

I am writing this so yes, I finished. Soaking wet and with water logged shoes that would have benefitted from the covers I took off. I also felt finished. The ride wasn’t hard, being neither too long and pretty flat. But I was – am -still beat. I napped for about 1 ½ hours before dinner which is pretty unprecedented and I expect to go to bed early anyway. Plus, my legs are tired which is also fairly unusual. Maybe because I have now ridden 9 days in a row? Only 5 to go before R&R in Charleston and Ale assured me that Sunday is so short it will be like a rest day (42 miles). When did 42 miles become a rest day for me?

We had dinner at a local steak house. I ordered an 8 oz. Ribeye but could have ordered any size up to 24 oz. The 8 oz. Was plenty, thank you. Ale liked her chicken breast with mushrooms and we both enjoyed the salad bar.

Tomorrow is supposed to be 64 miles and 305 feet to Wilmington. However, today was supposed to be 65 miles and 453 feet, not 74 miles and 1,532 feet. However, if my legs get back to normal, it should be an easy ride. If not, I can complain some more tomorrow.

By the way, Ellen, thank you for the promise of ANOTHER donation, of $100, upon the completion of my ride. See, she knows how to motivate me to keep me pedaling.

Good night,




Couldn’t Have Been Better

Leaving Littleton With No Expectation Of Rain And There Was None

The Scenery Was Pretty But Apparently My Lens Was Wet; Sorry

Same Problem

July 26, Thursday (Littletown to Wilson):

What, no complaints? I have to mix it up sometimes.

No rain. All day and no rain. That in itself was news. Good news.

Country roads. That meant a minimum of traffic. And what there was invariably either waited for oncoming cars to pass us before going around me or they just moved over into the opposite lane to pass me. Plus, the road surfaces went from good (a pebble like surface but with a minimum of potholes and jarring seams) to great (a smooth surface that immediately increased my speed and reduced my effort). The climbs were generally pretty gradual and totaled only 1,906 feet in the 59 mile ride. The temperature wasn’t bad, maxing out at 90 and there were minimal headwinds, though no tail winds. I ended up at 16.4 mph which I am satisfied with over that distance and with no drafting. But, as I have said, it isn’t a race. Which is a good thing because I doubt that there is any race that my speeds would do well in.

The scenery was pastoral with large pasture like fields typically backed by hills covered with green trees. Most of the houses – when there were houses – were modest but there were some that would qualify as mansions. There are a lot of beautiful places in our country. Unfortunately many of them have some major weather disadvantages, like oppressive humidity and heat in the summer and snow in the winter which I understand can get to be annoying.

I saw few, as in maybe 3, c-stores or small markets on these back country roads but numerous churches. There were churches in areas where there were no visible homes. And, of course, there were churches where there were visible homes. Personally, I could have used more stores and fewer churches but since I am just passing through, I don’t think my preferences were of any significance at all.

I am including a couple of photos from the restaurant we at at last night in Littleton that were taken after I posted last night. The view of Lake Gaston was beautiful though it isn’t the first pretty water view we have had at dinner time. Lake Gaston is large enough that someone I talked to had traveled 40 minutes by boat from Virginia to eat at the restaurant, The Pointe at Lake Gaston.

I can only hope that riding conditions are as good tomorrow. So I am hoping.


PS: Our route and schedule has varied some from what I had planned when Maria created the map on this web site so the towns that are showing up may not be the same as where we actually stay.

The Pointe At Lake Gaston

A Part Of The Pointe And A Bit Of The Dock

A View From The Pointe

And Another





And I Usually Like Dogs

Leaving Richmond In The Rain


Calzone; Yep, It Was Big

July 24,Tuesday (Richmond to McKenney):

At home we make a point of trying to avoid riding in the rain. It isn’t especially comfortable, the road conditions are compromised, visibility may be reduced and cars just seem a bit scarier. I have the same mentality here but there is a difference. To get to where I want to go, I have to get on my bike even if it is raining. Although my mind is telling me I don’t want to, the thought of skipping days is even less appealing. So, at least so far, I get on and start pedaling even though the thought of riding in the truck has a strong allure. I suppose that Ale telling me how it is a short ride – less than 70 miles – and that I can do it undermines all of the excuses I am coming up with for not riding. As I have said before, a ride like this is as much mental as physical and at present the physical is not my weak point.

Oh, I have repeatedly forgotten to follow up on a comment I made a number of days ago about using Bag Balm to deal with raw spots I was raising from the constant contact with my saddle. Well, I used it at the end of the ride and by the next morning they no longer hurt and scabs had formed. With repeated applications I can say that I haven’t had the problem again and those raw spots did not blister as I am sure they would have if I hadn’t used the Bag Balm.

Now if it were equally effective in dealing with the rashes I am getting on the top inside of my thighs. Maybe too much sweat, I don’t know, They don’t hurt but they do itch. The Bag Balm helps but it hasn’t magically made the rashes go away.

And no, I am not a Bag Balm salesman. Or even shareholder. But I wouldn’t leave home for a ride of this sort without it.

Today, 67 miles and 2,139 feet of climb. I didn’t feel as strong as I would have liked and often thought about how much faster my regular riding group would have been going. Oh, well.

Ale says I need some rest but we decided to skip the R&R Day I had scheduled for Richmond. No, not because I am a masochist. Actually, quite the contrary. I have decided to use that day and the day we saved riding into Richmond to spread the miles between Richmond and Charleston over 9 riding days instead of the 7 I had scheduled. I like the idea of reducing the daily mileage.

About 35 miles into the ride Ale caught me and I rested in the truck, drank some cold beverages and Ale put ice in my bottles. She asked if I was wet and I replied that I was soaking, both from rain and from the humidity. Thankfully I followed Ale’s suggestion and changed into a dry T-shirt and jersey so I wouldn’t get chilled from the wet clothes. The change felt great but I was again drenched by the end of my ride. Even without rain I got constant drops of moisture falling from my helmet.

Oh, about liking dogs. Well, I really do. But there were 2 today I could have done without. While on a country road I stopped to take a picture of a horse pasture, in large part because it was one of the few times I could take my phone out and not have it get rained on. What I hadn’t noticed were 2 unfenced dogs, one that looked like a German Shepherd that was off to my right and another that looked like a hound – say the size of a Weimaraner – that was also on my right but farther up the road. The shepherd spotted me and started barking in a much less than friendly way. But at least he was at a good distance and didn’t have the angle on me. The other dog seemed to be ignoring me while he was sniffing a number of trees. So I got on and started slowly riding, hoping not to provoke him. Well then he wasn’t so oblivious of me and instead started to charge me, Since there was no way I could get by him without being intercepted, I stopped, got off my bike and faced him, being very careful to keep my bike between us.

He stopped but kept barking. When I stepped towards him he would run a short distance away but would stop and come back toward me. This went on for a while with me talking to him and telling him to go home. I really hoped that someone would come out of the house to call him home. That was just wishful thinking.

After a few minutes of this his interest seemed to diminish as he wandered farther away. So I got on my bike and started to slowly leave only to have him turn and charge at me. That was reason enough to turn my slow start into a much more frantic escape. I started pedaling like crazy but was in the small chain ring – hence a low gear – because I had been climbing before I stopped for the photo and I wasn’t making the progress I wanted. I was too busy to look back but I am sure he was gaining on me. I finally shifted to a higher gear and picked up speed. I don’t know how close he got before I started pulling away but I was half expecting he would catch me. Literally. But, thankfully, he didn’t and I for the first time on this trip actually sprinted for a bit.

By the way, I didn’t just refer to the dog as him arbitrarily. He got close enough so that there was no doubt about that.

Dinner was at an Italian Restaurant that appeared to be the only option any place close. Ale had lasagne and tiramisu, I had calzone and we both had so-called Caesar salad. The dinners were fine, the salad was crisp and Ale liked the dessert because it wasn’t too sweet..

I can’t post this tonight because we don’t have Wi-Fi so it will have to wait until tomorrow.

Until then,

Dry When Leaving McKenney But Not During The Ride


July 25, Wednesday (McKellen to Littleton, North Carolina):

The departure was without rain. It still didn’t take long for me to be soaking wet from the humidity. Not to be outdone, a number of cloud bursts also took their turns drenching me. Including one 4 miles from the end when Ale caught me and gave me a bit of a reprieve in the truck. I suppose that the thought of finishing the last few miles in the truck crossed through my mind as I watched the rain pour down but being so close to the end, how could I not finish on my bike? Though it did feel a bit crazy to climb on and start pedaling away in a down pour. I will say, however, that the rain didn’t last all the way until the end. Why should it given that I was already as wet as I could be? Not cold, though, thankfully, at least after the first couple of minutes when I warmed up.

However, when I had stopped at a store a few minutes earlier with the thought of getting something to eat, I only stepped inside for a few seconds because although the air conditioning felt good, it immediately started chilling me with all of my wet clothes.

Yep, we crossed into yet another state today, going from Virginia into North Carolina. We are now well past the halfway point as far as the number of states we will be in is concerned. Only South Carolina, Georgia (where Ale said she couldn’t have driven because unlike any place we have been, it requires an international driver’s license) and finally Florida. That compares to Canada, Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Delaware, Connecticut, New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia and North Carolina that we have already ridden in.

Today was a mix of 4 lane highways with no shoulders at all and 2 lane country roads with no shoulders. Although the cars and trucks on the highways all kept out of the right lane which I had to claim as my own, I preferred the country roads because their cars weren’t as fast and they didn’t have 18 wheelers, though I have to say that the big rig drivers have been uniformly considerate about giving me plenty of space.

Speaking of big rig drivers. I met Cassius, a big rig driver, who lives in Virginia Beach but was in this area dealing with a business matter. He was waiting for a ride because he has a broken foot that has kept him from working for a while. I spent more time at that stop than I otherwise would have because I enjoyed talking to him. He said he would follow along after I gave him a card and I hope to see his name pop up among the Comments. Nice to have met you, Cassius. And as you said, we may yet pass on the road sometime in the future though I truly expect this to be my last ride on the East Coast. Not that it hasn’t been beautiful, but I did promise Sandi, and my grandkids, that I will be home next July 4 which will be the first time in 4 years.

The country side was again pretty with much of it being very pastoral. Sometimes with crops near the road with tree covered hills in the background, sometimes with untended forest along the road and other times with houses with huge green yards. Actually, today the yards were typically much more impressive than the houses which often looked similar to mobile homes but without the mobility. I know, however, that most of us in the Bay Area would love to have similar yards where we live. Many of which are no doubt measured in terms of acres.

We finished up by going over the Roanoke River. Very impressive. However, between the rain and the lack of a shoulder, I wasn’t inclined to stop for a photo.

The ride is definitely flattening out. Today only 1,690 feet over 49 miles. Thanks to Google, this morning I rode the first 3 miles and literally ended up where I started. I started on the bike route which started off in the opposite direction than we wanted to go. Why? So I could take what I assume was some kind of a dirt, gravel and sand trail, though it certainly wasn’t one I would ride on this bike. Especially not with all the rain. So I switched to car, no highways and got sent back in the direction from which I had come. 3 extra miles is no big thing but I will admit to a certain amount of frustration when I have to repeat stretches that I have already ridden.

The relative lack of climbing showed up in my 16 mph average speed, door to door. Assuming decent roads and no increase in the slight headwinds I have already encountered, I hope that number goes up as the rides become flatter yet and hopefully the rain lets up. (It can’t rain forever, can it?) Though this IS NOT A RACE, I keep saying to console myself about my slow speeds, especially as I see the messages from those I ride with at home about how fast they are riding. However, longer rides may help hold the average speed down; today’s was definitely on the short side.

Well, for the 2nd day in a row we are in a tiny town. Tonight we have WiFi but no phone service (AT&T). We haven’t looked up our culinary options for dinner yet.

Thank you for the additional donations. And thank you always for the messages and comments. It really does feel better to see that there are people who are actually following along with us.


PS, By the way, Sandi is periodically posting on Facebook at Laura’s Ride North. Though I suspect that far more of you read that than this.




Not As Much Rain As Expected, So Far

Leaving Alexandria

They Actually Worked Pretty Well

My Ruben

No, Ale Didn’t Eat All Of This In 1 Meal

Cowboy Jack’s

The forecasts have been for rain all along the East Coast through next Monday. I don’t mind it too much if it isn’t cold and if it isn’t so heavy that it impairs vision. The bigger issue is with roads that have no shoulders or disappearing shoulders and drivers who don’t want to move over, of which there are some. While most have been considerate, and some extremely so, some I would like to throw something at.

July 22, Sunday (Alexandria, V to Fredericksburg):

Just a very few miles in I had problems with Google Maps’ bicycle route. When it had me retrace a portion of the route for the third time I ended it and went to the car route, “no highways.” I had to text Alejandra to figure out how to find the no highways option but, as usual, she came through for me.

While Google might consider the route it gave me to have no highways, there was one stretch that felt very much like one of our freeways. Actually, freeways usually aren’t too bad because they have wide, typically maintained shoulders. The problem comes with the on and off ramps. Sometimes I came to a complete stop in the triangle between the lane and the ramp to let cars pass me before I would move over. I was glad to take the first available exit even though I wasn’t thrilled by a 20+ mile stretch of road that had traffic but no dependable shoulder (meaning that the lane’s surface might be so broken up in places that a road bike has to avoid it – i.e., pull out into the lane – or the shoulder just goes away which also means that I have to move over into the lane, a scary proposition if cars are coming. Occasionally I would stop then, too, to wait for a break in traffic so that I could get started and then move over and claim the far right lane for myself. I have found that on a 4 lane road cars don’t come as close if I ride in the middle of the right lane than when I ride at the right edge of the lane. Actually, I learned that from riding a motorcycle but it also holds true for a bike.

There was a stretch of some pretty good rain. Since I didn’t have the rain shoe covers on – because they were still wet from the day before and because it wasn’t raining when I started in the morning – I stopped to devise some temporary covers because wet shoes are difficult to dry out. I have posted a photo that shows my solution.

None of the riding was rural, though there was still green, and as mentioned above, some of the riding made me uncomfortable because of the proximity of some of the passing cars.

The ride was 61 miles and about 3,600 feet of climb. I say “about” because my computer was off for about 15 miles and I assumed that I climbed as much per mile for that time as I did for the rest of the ride though actually the “lost” 15 miles had more ups and downs than the ride generally (what I am saying is that I think 3,600′ is an under estimation).

We ate at Cowboy Jack’s. I had a Ruben and a bowl of terrific chili and beans – terrific for me because of the top layer of melted, crusted cheese with sour cream on top – and Ale had that double deck burger. No, she didn’t eat all of it for dinner, ½ went for today’s lunch.

At night, while discussing the next day’s anticipated rain, we heard as loud a thunder clap as I have heard. It was actually kind of scary.

Leaving Fredericksburg

Partially Eaten Ribs

I started this ride with my shoe covers but no rain jacket. No jacket primarily because it gets too hot and the rain isn’t cold. It turned out that despite the forecast, there wasn’t really any rain today. However, I ended up as drenched as if there had been. As if there had been A LOT of rain. But it was all due to the 75%+ humidity. When I stopped, streams of drops would fall from my helmet’s head band. And when I was finished, my jersey was soaked.

The main feature of today’s ride that I remember is the constant traffic. And my second flat of this ride. Although it certainly wasn’t rural’ there was a lot of green on our approach to Richmond.

Today was 60 miles and 2,329 feet of climbing. It is getting flatter. According to Google, my climbing will be basically finished by the time we reach Clinton, North Carolina, which is about 265 miles from here. Then it gets really flat.

Tonight’s dinner was BBQ. I got beef ribs and Ale got a beef sandwich. Between the food and going to see the current movie version of Mamma Mia, I think I enjoyed the evening more than Ale did.

Despite saying that the rain isn’t too bad, I hope that tomorrow’s rain forecast turns out like today’s. Especially because there are also flood warnings.

Good night, all,



A Sample Of The Flat East And Two New Firsts

A Rainy Start In Baltimore

My Caesar Salad

Ale’s Spinach Salad

The Classy Restaurant

A Bit Of Alexandria

I didn’t post yesterday because our room didn’t have WiFi. So 2 rides are covered today.

July 20, Friday (North East To Baltimore):

This ride was different because little of it was as rural as previously. And no big hills. Just the flat east. So flat that I climbed 4,235 in 60 miles with grades up to 21%, though those were VERY short and dropped to 13 – 16% for a bit. The good news for me was that I felt good during most of the ride and didn’t feel beat when I finished.

Our time in Baltimore was such that we both agreed that we didn’t like what we saw of the city and it is a place I have no reason to visit again.

We went to a movie but the closest theater was 6 miles away and it took more than 30 minutes to get there. Not as slow as Philadelphia, but a lot slower than Orinda to Walnut Creek and with a bit more drama. On the way, I got cussed out at a stop when I told a young guy who sprayed our windshield that I was not going to pay him for squeegeeing it off.

The theater, which was downtown had no parking and street parking was almost nonexistent because of a once a year 3 day street festival. We did finally, with a bit of luck, find a place I could fit the Suburban with the folded up bike rack and I will say that the metered parking was very reasonable. However, between finding the space and the walk to the theater our movie – “Damsel” – had started. Although I hadn’t heard of it before, we both enjoyed it. It is a gritty western with beautiful photography, an interesting plot twist and some unrealistic gimmicks that didn’t ruin it for us, though they did detract for me.

After the movie we wandered through the festival which encompassed a number of blocks and had a large crowd. We both agreed that it was pretty boring in that aside from the food trucks
which had very long lines, most of the booths were advertising businesses rather than selling art or crafts. My feeling was that if this is there big once a year festival, Baltimore doesn’t hace much going for it. (I’m not getting into the Oriels or Ravens.)

Because of those lines, we decided to eat at a restaurant. The problem was that aside from fast food, of which there were plenty, the only restaurants we could find were downtown where parking was $20 because of the festival. The result was that we ended up eating take out in our room from a fish market. Ale called that an interesting experience; we heard 2 different customers cuss out the attendant, one of them saying that they shouldn’t hire Moslems, and another customer told me that we didn’t want to spend any time in the area.

Plus we hadn’t seen any part of the city that looked particularly attractive. Maybe I should have driven to Camden Yards, though I didn’t think of it at the time.

So I wasn’t sorry to leave this morning. Maybe that is why the only Baltimore photo I am posting is of my departure.

July 21, Saturday (Baltimore to Alexandria, VA):

Today started with warnings of rain, warnings that came very true.

This ride was more urban than any of the others with none of it going through country side. The roads were a bit less bike friendly in that what shoulders there are on Route 1 frequently disappeared so that I had to claim a lane for myself which, although the highway was 4 to 6 lanes, was a bit unnerving with cars going by at 60 mph or so.

And then add in the rain. Though by itself the rain really wasn’t too much of a problem except that the wet surfaces are a bit more sketchy.

Then one of those firsts happened. I got my first flat of the trip. I was disappointed because I had started dreaming of matching last year’s feat but knew that that was very unrealistic. At least it happened where I had a very large shoulder to work on.

At about mile 27 of the ride that had been very easy on my legs my earphone said that I was no longer connected to my phone, an untenable situation because I was listening to directions. I stopped and discovered that my phone had died which was a bit surprising because in the past I had still had a charge at 35 to 40 miles and I had been getting fewer directions because the last stretch had been for 16 miles. In any event, I knew I had to recharge it by connecting to one of my spare batteries and figured I could spend the time waiting in a small restaurant where I got some good fried chicken wings.

The problem was that I was soaking wet and I got cool in the air conditioned restaurant. No problem, I figured, because riding always warms me up so I put my wet raincoat back on, went out into the rain and got on my bike. However, I had to stand and wait at a signal to get across a very busy and very wet – as in streams of water wet – road. After returning to pedaling, which was no big deal, I found myself on a non-highway road on which I had to look out for cracks and pot holes while watching for impatient drivers who passed closer than I liked, often spraying me as they went by. And then I started shivering from being wet and cold even though earlier I had been equally wet and the temperature was no lower. The air conditioning had cooled me down and the stop to get across the road hadn’t helped. My whole body was shivering so much that it effected my riding; I couldn’t be sure of getting the bike to go exactly where i wanted, a scary proposition given a very narrow shoulder and some very unsympathetic drivers who were whizzing by. That is when the second first happened. I decided to call it a day because of being too cold with less than 20 miles to go, a distance that I have considered to mean that I am virtually finished for the day. My legs were very willing but I told myself that with my shaking effecting my bike that continuing involved more risk than I was willing to take. So I pulled over to a small strip mall and set out to contact Ale.

That was more difficult than one would expect. I couldn’t get my phone to work. I was shivering enough that I often couldn’t push the letter I intended, my fingers were so wet that the phone often wouldn’t obey my touch commands and for whatever reason the phone was also acting squirrelly and doing weird things. Maybe it was shivering internally although I had kept it dry in a plastic baggie. However, I finally reached her and I finished the last 20 miles into Alexandria in the SAG which was especially disappointing because until the very end the ride had been physically easy. 29 miles and only 1,329 feet of climb. Some at 10% but that was easier than it had been.

We visited Alexandria after the end of last year’s ride and it is delightful. At least it is when it isn’t pouring.

We splurged on dinner, a spinach salad and duck for Ale and a Caesar and duck for me.

Constant rain is projected as far south as Miami over at least the next 9 days. I intend to start out tomorrow rain or shine; well, actually, rain or more rain. How long I last will depend. I have pushed myself and will do so in the future but if it starts to feel unsafe, I will honor my promise to Sandi and call it a day. After all, as I told Ale, baseball games are cancelled for rain. Yes, I also mentioned that football games aren’t. And neither are bike races. But this isn’t a race, I am not getting paid and I want to return home without any accidents sending me home.

So, send in your donations, right? Remember, they are to help breast cancer victims so the fact that I may wimp out shouldn’t effect that.

Bye for now,



A Philadelphia Recap After An Easy Ride

View From The Nauti Goose

July 19, Thursday (Philadelphia to North East, MD):

I don’t have a lot to say about today’s ride. It was relatively short (60.6 miles), flat (2,037 feet) and more reasonable weather (up to 89, but typically 85). The roads were good though much busier because this ride wasn’t through the countryside. So, lots of cars and trucks but typically decent shoulders. Except for all of the stops and starts from traffic lights, I was well over 16 mph for the first time on this ride.

Leaving Philadelphia wasn’t on bike paths like entering the city was, and there weren’t beautiful river views, or even beautiful anything views. But for being city riding it was surprisingly stress free. The drivers on the residential streets were reasonable and the busier streets had decent shoulders. And maybe I am just getting used to cars though I know I have to be careful about that. It takes only 1 oversight to ruin this trip. Not to mention my life.

The ride was going quickly until I ran into a technical problem. I stopped at mile 26 to stretch between my shoulder blades and checked my phone’s charge. It was way down, which is typical because Google Maps is always on, so I plugged it into 1 of my spare batteries (courtesy of SPI Consulting, i.e., Sal) only nothing happened. Then I plugged it into the second spare. Same result. It didn’t make sense that I had messed up charging both batteries but it appeared that I had. Because I can’t afford to have a dead phone – not only would I lose my directions but I would lose contact with Ale – I immediately contacted Ale to have her meet me. It happened that she was close so I only had to wait a few minutes. When she arrived I plugged my phone into the truck’s charger but that was obviously going to take too long. After a lot of different tries, Ale finally discovered that the cord I had been using no longer works. Since I had others, problem solved but after wasting more time than I would have liked.

The next glitch was at the end of the ride. After turning off of a main highway, Google told me to turn left only there was no road there, only a driveway to a service station. So I kept going which is when Google went bonkers. It would tell me to turn in 600, then 500, then 300 feet only to then tell me to proceed for 1/4 mile, or ½ mile. And then to turn on a street that didn’t show up before telling me to keep going. I finally turned around, got back on the main highway in the direction I had been going only to see our Comfort Inn off to the side. It turns out that its access was through that service station driveway although there hadn’t been a sign telling me that. So, alls well that ends well but with the addition of another 3 miles or so. No big deal but a bit annoying. Though not so annoying as to cancel out the fun I had had being able to ride at 20 – 21 mph on flats and at 18 or so on some gradual “climbs.”

As I told Ale, with rides like today – i.e., rides that don’t hurt – the main issue is just the repetition. The faster riding is fun, but mile after mile, day after day after day, is repetitive.

We had dinner at the Nauti Goose which sits on the North East River which is large and has a number of boats berthed on it. The waitress couldn’t tell me the distance to the ocean and I have been too lazy to look it up.

Tomorrow’s destination is YTBD because Ale has been helping to improve my route.

A View entering Philadelphia

Cesar Salad At Victor’s

Ravioli At Victor’s

The Reading Transit Market

“Rocky’s Steps”

At The Top Of Those Stairs

Everyone Has A Hard Rock Cafe

Some Philadelphia Architecture

July 18 (R&R in Philadelphia):

Tuesday night we at at Vivtor’s, a restaurant whose owner had been a distributor for RCA Victor way back when. With its musical heritage, the restaurant features waitresses wh take to the microphone to sing various opera arias. (Is that correct?) A bit like our Opera House Cafe.

Although it didn’t have the frenetic activity that Boston did, getting through town is a slow process. Wednesday we caught a bus to downtown and it probably took 30+ minutes to go 2.5 miles. Stop signs at almost every corner and lots of street work. A car wouldn’t have been much faster. Except near the end of the ride when a woman in an electric wheelchair couldn’t get it off the bus even with the help of her attendant. We and virtually everyone else finally got off. I felt sorry for her because she must have been frustrated and probably embarrassed. At least the driver was being patient and no one said anything.

When we got downtown, we took a “Hop on, Hop Off” open air bus to see the city. That can be a good way to get an overview of a city. Although there are numerous historical sites in Philly, the lack of time and lack of energy limited what we actually stopped to see, Our final choices? The Reading Transit Market Place (named after the Reading Railroad that built a terminal over a market place; the huge food court/market is still there but the Reading now only exists in Monopoly games) and Rocky’s steps. As the guide on the bus said, when you go home from Philly your friends won’t ask if you saw the Liberty Bell, the Constitution or any of the other historical sites but they will be disappointed if you didn’t see the steps that Rocky made famous. Since Ale is unlikely to ever be back whereas I may bring Sandi to see all of those other things, Rocky’s steps are what we visited after we had lunch at the Reading Transit Market (Philly cheese steak sandwiches, naturally). We both walked up the stairs, neither of us ran. Given the heat and humidity that would have necessitated a shower.

We finished the day by picking up my bike from a bike shop where a new chain, rear brake pads and, gulp, a new cassette were installed. (A DuraAce cassette costs nearly 3 times the cost of an Ultegra; but it was cheaper than repairing ny Porsche,) We brought it home on the rack in the front of the bus. It was secure but I was much more comfortable when I was able to take it off and walk it back to our lodging.

I keep intending to watch a NetFlix movie on my laptop but it is too late by the time I finish this. Oh, well, that is what my Kindle is for.

Once again. Good night,




And I Forgot A Title

The Start From Middleton

Looking Back At A Climb That Felt Steeper Than This Looks

A Horse Ranch

More Scenery

This Isn’t Even One Of The Larger Parcels I have Seen

They Were Obviously Well Cared For

1 Of But Many

The City Of Brotherly Love. Yep, we are now in Philadelphia for a day of R&R. We are scheduled for a Hop On Hop Off bus tour of the city.

You may have noticed that I waited for this break to post about the last 3 days of riding. I needed the rest after the first 2 of those days though yesterday was my easiest day yet, despite humidity that had me dripping wet.

July 15, Sunday (Middleton, NY to Stroudsberg, PA):

Only 3 riding days ago and already my memory is fading. That is one of the reasons for these posts, so that I have a bit of a diary to help me remember what this was all about when I look back at it in the future.

My Garmin tells me it was 62 miles and 3,738 feet of climbing, which was more than twice what I had been expecting. Well, what I would have expected if I believed Google Maps’ elevation projections which, unfortunately, I don’t any more. They have all been substantially too low.

Thirty-seven hundred feet isn’t all that much. Except that temperatures did get up to 95 and though I don’t know what the humidity was, I know I was VERY wet. And my legs were starting to resent the ups and downs with the ups sometimes getting over 13%. My Garmin even registered as high as 21% though that sounded worse than it was because I had some momentum going into that climb which didn’t stay that steep for any distance at all. But it was still a climb.

There was one stop where I was resting on a bench outside of a store after some decent climbing when my mind was trying to come up with reasons for why I should just wait for the truck. I guess my mind wasn’t too convincing, however, because for some reason I got back on the bike and started another climb. Nothing too steep, but it was part of a stretch that just kept going. However, I remember when I finally got to what appeared to be a peak and there was a sign warning trucks to shift into lower gears for the next 4 miles. That made me feel better for a couple of reasons. One was that it meant that I didn’t have much climb in front of me for at least the next 4 miles. The other was that it made me realize that I must have been climbing for a while because if there was a 4 mile descent, there had to have been a pretty decent climb.

Well, that descent didn’t mean the end of all of the day’s climbing, but it was the end of the worst of it. I still had stretches where I got into my lowest gear but there were stretches when I could actually pedal at a decent pace. That is fun. If it hadn’t been so warm, it would have been even better.

I have a couple of photos of roads that were intended to show some of the climbs but while the grade doesn’t show up, the beautiful countryside does. I also have a photo of some of the few horses I have seen which, given all of the obvious horse pastures I had seen, is somewhat surprising.

There is also a cemetery photo. With all of the cemeteries I have seen, both large and small, I have thought that it would have been interesting to count them to see what it would add up to. Although I haven’t done that, I know I have seen hundreds, if not thousands, of headstones and dozens of cemeteries.

This ride started in Middleton, NY and ended in Stroudsberg, PA which is in the Poconos, a well known vacation destination. Ale had gone to a Walmart – where, as she has said, you can find anything – and commented about all of the foreign languages she heard customers using. So apparently the Poconos are known in more than just the USA.

Nope, neither of those towns were on my itinerary but we – i.e., Ale – have made adjustments because there haven’t always been accommodations in the towns I had scheduled as stops. And in the instance of the next 2 days, she had turned what had been scheduled as 88 and 14 mile rides into a couple of 52 mile rides (well, at least in theory).

Departing Stroudsberg

A Moderate Stretch

I Stopped To Rest, Not To Take A Photo

It Was Steeper Than This Looks

That Is Part Of What I Climbed, By Foot

Looking Down From That Bridge

July 16, Monday (Stroudsberg to Quakertown):

Today was only 62 miles and 3,405 feet. But other than the day I cut short because of heat exhaustion, it may have been my most challenging day.

The ride started out innocently enough until it turned me onto a road that led up and over whatever mountains – I refuse to call this a hill given what it did to me. I don’t know that there has ever been a stretch that has caused me to stop to rest as many times as this one did. I have gone up Mt. Diablo, Morgan Territory, Palomares, through the mountains in Oregon and I don’t think I have ever stopped so much to let my legs recover. However, I didn’t walk any of the climb; I just rested more than I would have liked but I did keep getting on and pedaling. And I didn’t fall over in getting back on, either, though there were a couple times when it took more than one try to get both pedals in.

After that climb, the rest of the ride really went pretty well. More pretty scenery and mostly good roads. Even the bike trails I was directed to were decent.

I had trouble finding one of the trails that started behind some bushes at the end of a dead end road (how does Google find these places?). Once I got on it, it wasn’t too bad. The dirt\gravel was much slower than pavement but there wasn’t much sand or thick gravel so I wasn’t constantly worried about falling. Much of the trail was along a river which made me think of last year’s Erie Canal path except this was even greener. The main adventure along here was when Google told me to make a right turn onto a road that wasn’t there. A right turn would have taken me into the river that separated the trail from obvious activity on the other side. So I didn’t follow that direction. Instead I continued for another couple of miles when I was directed to make a hard right. Well, there wasn’t a road there, either. But there was a very high stair case that led up to a bridge. So I took the stair case and was glad that my bike is light because I am sure that the bridge was 4 or 5 stories up. (I tried to take photo to show the height from the top but I don’t think it was too effective.) It turns out that the lack of the first right turn meant that I overshot what Google had originally intended, adding a good 4 miles to the ride. No big deal. Yet.

Aside from beautiful country side I have seen numerous huge mansions on lots that don’t exist at home. The millions they would cost if in the Bay Area went through my head, though I don’t know what they cost here in Pennsylvania.

When I was about 52 miles into what I originally thought was going to be a 52 mile ride (I knew it had been extended by me nor fording the river when I was told to turn), I stopped to try to cool down from the 96 degree temperature. I don’t stop within 2 miles of the end but I have vowed to try to avoid getting overheated so I stopped. I checked my Garmin and saw I had 2.4 miles to go. As hot as I was, that didn’t sound too bad so I got back on and said that 2 miles in nothing.

Well after I had done a couple of miles I stopped to check my Garmin again. Now I was 5+ miles from the end. How that happened, I don’t know though I wasn’t too thrilled by that. But what was I to do? Who could I possibly get mad at given that I knew that no one had forced me to take this trip. So I got back on and just kept pedaling. And I finished the ride. Dripping wet, hot and tired. But finished.

Goodbye Quakertown

Quite A Front Yard

A View From A Trail Within Philadelphia

More Of That Trail

Entering Philadelphia

July 17, Tuesday (Quakertown to Philadelphia):

The most fun, or at least easiest, day of the trip. 45 miles and 2,603 feet of climb. But the climbs were generally fun, the roads were good, the scenery was pretty and it was still hot. Oh, yeah, the “hot” part wasn’t part of the good parts, but it was bearable. And the rest more than compensated.

The ride was slower than it might have been because a number of miles were on an unpaved bike/pedestrian trail. It was harder riding than on pavement but it was, as so much has been, beautiful. Including the obligatory river with mini rapids and a picturesque bridge.

It even had a couple of snack shops along its 13 mile length (I wasn’t on all of it, but a good number of miles). When stopped while getting a drink, I noticed that I didn’t have cell reception and for reason my Google Maps connection had ended. I asked a jogger who had stopped with her son when I might be able to expect to regain reception. She asked where I was headed. I said Philadelphia and she said that I was in Philadelphia. I hadn’t expected that because the trail was totally rural. In any event, that is how I met Becky – who did some graduate studies at Cal Berkeley – and Jackson McWilliams. Hi, Becky and Jackson. I hope you leave a Comment to say hello.

The route into Philadelphia was so different than my entry into Boston which had taken my on busy city streets. This time I was on bike paths through most of the city. A very different feel. Unfortunately I missed the most dramatic photo of entering the city. With a curve in my path there was a large river – with an Indian name I don’t recall – with Philadelphia’s skyscrapers in the background. Beautiful. I missed the chance because I was going at a decent clip and figured I would stop the next chance. Unfortunately, that view wasn’t duplicated. But I remember it.

It is past my bed time so I will wait until later to talk about our time in Philadelphia. But I will say that I felt better at the end of this ride than after any other so far. May it continue!

Good night,
























Leaving Windsor Locks

The Dirt Path

The Wooden Bridge

Yet Another Of The Ubiquitous Lakes

The title has a couple of meanings here. One has to do with the unpredictability of my riding. Some days are ups, some are downs and after all these years I haven’t seen a pattern. The latest example is that 2 days ago I ended on a real up. My riding had been good and I felt strong, even at the end of the ride. I was definitely looking forward to the next day’s ride. And then …

July 13 (Windsor Locks, CT to Millerton, NY, sort of):

Friday the 13th was my “and then” day. Nothing horrible, I just struggled whereas the day before had been easy. I can’t attribute it to the weather or roads because both were pretty comparable, which is to say they were good. My body just seems to fluctuate.

The ride was 62 miles and 4,200 feet of climbing. The 4,200 feet is the second part of the “Ups And Downs”. I don’t know the altitude of the highest mountain I climbed but I don’t think it was much. It’s just that you climb the same hills numerous times, up and down and up and down and up and down And then do it some more. The consolation is that it was pretty. More trees, more green, more lakes.

Before the ups and downs, though, there was a dirt path, not my favorite riding, especially when there is gravel and/or sand. There were a couple of times it caught my tire but nothing bad. It just makes for slow going and is more tiring, especially if it makes you tense as it does me. However, the path was pretty and had the wooden bridge in the photos. My path didn’t go over the bridge but rode past it, the bridge leading to a picnic area. Again, very pretty.

I said “Windsor Locks to Millerton, sort of” because there was no feasible place to stay in Millerton. Apparently it is a vacation destination because either everything was booked or it was way past my budget. While I was riding, Ale was driving to neighboring towns and finally found us something 17 miles away in Dove Plain, NY. She took me there from Millerton.

Start Of July 14

The Hudson River

Another View Of The Hudson

Ale’s Tuna

My Sushi And Sashimi

July 14 (Dove Plain to E Middletown, NY):

Today had 2 firsts for this trip, neither of which I liked. The first led to the second.

The first was that I fell over. At about 1 mph. Within 1/4 mile of our motel Google Maps had me turn off of a perfectly rideable highway (not a freeway, but a 2 lane road with a fair amount of fast moving traffic) onto a rural residential road that started at about 10% and then increased to more than 17%. I have ridden hills of 20% – albeit a very short hill – but not at the start of a 60+ mile hilly ride. So before starting the steepest part of the climb I stopped to catch my breath. The fall happened when I tried to get started again. I couldn’t get my second foot cleated in because of the grade and I managed to fall over. I had a very minor leg scrape but did cut my saddle and bruised my ego. But what damaged my ego even worse was that I walked 100 feet or so to the top of the stepest grade so I could get back on my bike. That was the 2nd first, walking up a hill.

But things got better. After getting back on and pedaling up a 16% grade and then some of 10 and 11%, which at that stage were a relief, I realized I didn’t have my spare batteries with me. Those I can’t do without because my phone is my map and lifeline and it doesn’t last all that long when it is serving as my guide. I called Ale to see if I had left them in the room which I hoped I had done because then she could bring them to me in what would take less than 5 minutes in the truck. She didn’t see them, though, so I wondered if I had dropped them when I fell. Which meant I had to turn around and go down the climbs I had just struggled up. Well, I didn’t see them so rode back to the motel to see if I had left them some place Ale hadn’t looked. Just as I got back she found them. Which meant I had to turn around and repeat the start from hell. Well, I had no more stomach for that one short steep climb so I again walked about 100 feet and repeated the 16% climb. I had a lot of feet of climbing in the first 1 ½ miles of riding.

Lots more ups and downs 3,600+’ of them all told – but a lot more beautiful country. Included were a number of what appeared to be horse ranches though I didn’t see any horses. Vast green fields surrounded by trees and bordered by white wood fences. Why didn’t I use my camera when I should have?

More ups and downs. But now in temperatures that reached a humid 95+ degrees. 58 miles and 3,650 feet of climbing. It seems I keep doing the equivalent of a Mt. Diablo without seeing anything that tall. Tell that to my legs.

Today we crossed the Hudson River. I know that is what it is because I stopped a walker and asked. Very impressive.

Oh, yes, another first today. A bee got into my helmet and stung me before I could get it off. I don’t respond too badly to stings but would prefer they leave me alone.

I guess there was a lot of sun because Ale commented on how red my face got today. And how tired I looked.

A Japanese restaurant tonight. Ale had grilled tuna and I had a sushi and sashimi combo. And at least 4 glasses of ice water. My dinner was great. The lobster a couple of days ago was good but I preferred this.

The next 3 days should be a bit shorter. Ale changed my schedule heading into Philadelphia to a couple of 50+ mile rides from the 88 and 15 mile rides that for some reason I had scheduled. I said she is indispensable.

Here is something to think on, I know that I am: “Why do a ride like this, or any comparable activity?” I will share some of my thoughts later. I hope some of you do as well. And I am hoping for reasons other than that something is wrong with me as a couple of people have suggested.

I rode to Middleton rather than the scheduled Burlingham because Ale couldn’t find anything there.

Good night,