Except for the sprinters and those looking to win a stage, the last day of the Tour de France is basically ceremonial. So long as he doesn’t crash, the winner has already been determined. Although I didn’t race, and I certainly haven’t won anything, tomorrow seems basically “ceremonial,” or maybe more accurately, it feels like a mere formality. Unless I crash, I know that I have, or soon will, accomplish what I set out to do. That the last day is less than 50 miles, which will be by far the shortest ride of this trip, that someone is going to ride in with me over the last 1/2 of the way from Manchester to Portsmouth, and that it is the final day all contribute to the feeling that it is merely a formality and not the usual struggle. And having Sandi join us this evening also contributes.
Yes, I am going to tide to a local bicyclist’s home in Chester and ride with him to a beach in Portsmouth for the tire dipping in the Atlantic “ceremony.” I appreciate Bob’s company.
I will do some reflecting on the trip in later posts but want to say a bit about today’s ride.
August 15, Tuesday, Brattleboro to Manchester. Today we entered the 10th and final state of this journey, New Hampshire. And that doesn’t include Ontario, Canada.
The last riding day in Vermont was short, less than 3 miles. But a stretch of Vermont highway set the tone of the day for me. There was nothing remarkable about it, I have probably ridden on hundreds of miles of similar roads. But for some reason, having cars and trucks roar by me without so much as a rumble strip to separate us started getting to me. I’m not sure why this happened because I haven’ suffered any close calls. Unless, of course, you consider having a big big rig go by within 3 or 4 feet to be a close call. If you do, then I have had at least 100 of those. It was as though the cumulative effect caught up with me.
Thankfully that stretch ended within a couple of miles when I turned off on some back roads. But there were times later when I was riding on a narrow shoulder with more traffic than I liked when the thought of catching a ride with Ale was very tempting. However, the idea of catching a ride so near the finish was so distasteful that I just kept going. Though the thought that it would be pretty dumb to get hit because I was too stubborn to get a ride crossed through my mind more than once.
Although Google has generally been great, it’s penchant for dirt roads was a bit of a pain today. The first time it had me turn off of one of those stretches that was bothering me today onto a dirt road. I usually ignore those directions lately but I figured that it would be worth it to get away from the traffic. The problem was that the dirt road dead ended after about a half mile. So I got to backtrack in difficult terrain – the sand was just wet and deep enough to be a challenge for me – and get back on the road I had been anxious to leave.
The second stretch of dirt trail came at the end of a road that had started out just fine. I have included a picture of a stretch of that trail (the 3rd from the last) but you will see the trail only if you look very closely. I was there and sometimes I could barely see it. And when I could I was dodging protruding roots or thick gravel or sand. That lasted for 1 1/2 miles.
I will say that in talking to Bob, the cyclist I will be riding with, I mentioned one of the roads I had been on and he said he had never seen a bicycle there. And for a busy road, that was one I felt the most comfortable on. So maybe I’m not just paranoid.
Except for being routed in circles in a shopping center’s parking lot, the rest of the ride was good. Some good surfaces, country roads with little traffic and the hills were fun. A total of 82 miles and about 4,100 feet of climbing.
The scenery was again beautiful, lush green and some lakes and rivers.
More sushi tonight. I again loved it.
Now there is just tomorrow. Since Bob knows the back roads, that element should be an improvement.