The Day After

Yep, that’s our SAG being worked on, taking up some of our tourist time in Portsmouth. The belt tensioner is being replaced to eliminate a loud whine that replaced the one I had fixed before we left home. On the other hand, the Suburban is 20 years old, even if it only has 90,000 miles (“only” given its age).

Needing truck repairs while on the road is a bit of deja vu given that last year the air conditioner and brakes both needed repairing even though both had been worked on within the past year. See a pattern here?

There are of course many differences between Laura’s Ride 2016 and Laura’s Ride North. This ride was longer and had more climbing but despite a few 100 degree days, much better weather. Although I got tired and hot, this time I never got cooked or sick from the heat. Also, I never needed the rain gear I brought because the only real rain we had was at night despite
a number of day time thunderstorm warnings. Nor did I use my warm jacket, long tights or full fingered gloves. In fact, I only used a windbreaker and arm warmers 3 or 4 times. In contrast, I wore arm sun screen sleeves almost daily.

The daily miles were generally longer this year and the rest days were less frequent. I think that both of those factors led to a bit more fatigue, at least mentally. However, I didn’t get lost this year as we did last year. A major reason was that I used an ear piece this time so that I could more easily follow directions. I am sure things would have gone much more smoothly last year if I had had one then too. I also always carried at least 1 external battery for my iPhone and usually another for my Garmin (I like to see how far I have ridden to know how far is left, I like to know my speed and the grade and I find it useful to have access to the time and temperature. Keeping track of how much I have climbed is also useful when I have an idea as to what the day’s total is supposed to be).

Another very significant difference is that this year I rode by myself whereas last year I rode with Nick who of course was my connection to Laura. That made for a number of differences. Although I always met Ale at some point during my daily rides this year for valued ice, nourishment and company, I spent the vast majority of my time on the road by myself. This year I rode with someone else only 3 times: with 2 riders for a couple of miles in Portland, OR, with 1 rider for maybe a mile entering Utica and then of course for 30 miles with Bob when finishing the ride. That meant there was no drafting as Nick and I did at times last year, there was no conversation while riding or during breaks and there was no one to debate directions with, though the ear piece made that much less of an issue anyway. It also meant no arguments with a roommate this year. However, I want to be clear: Nick and I always resolved things and the ride we began as basically acquaintances we finished as friends.

Because of all that alone time, what I think while about riding was a question. Kristina, my daughter, responded by sending me a lengthy list of suggestions, from trying to remember my 5 earliest memories to coming up with your most identifying experiences. While she had many thought provoking ideas, my problem was that I could seldom focus on any one thing for that long because my mind would go to focusing on the road for debris, bumps or cracks that I needed to avoid, to watching cars if there was any traffic around to calculating the number of miles to go to get under 50, under 40, into the 20’s and finally the home stretch of less than 20. When I wasn’t doing that I was often monitoring various body parts to determine how I was doing. Usually that meant my hands, shoulders or, as you have read a number of times if you have been following my blogs, between my shoulder blades.

One result was that I was frequently amazed by how resilient our bodies are. There were a number of times when I would feel a pang in one of my knees and think, “Oh no, I don’t want a knee problem.” But invariably I would change my position or pedaling stroke a bit and the slight pain would go away and I would be fine. (I wish that the upper back issue had been as easily cured but that wasn’t debilitating as a knee injury would have been.) I have also thought that it is pretty amazing that a body can tolerate so many thousands of pedal strokes and that tired legs can recover day after day after day. I was, however, very thankful for a couple of artificial helpers, chamois cream and, when I nonetheless chafed, the Bag Balm that Sandi sent with me. I will say that that stuff is virtually miraculous because there were times when my skin was raw and on the verge of blistering that I used the Bag Balm at the end of a ride with repeated applications before going to bed and by morning I was ready to go again.

A real bonus of this year’s ride was that I got to know Alejandra better and to appreciate even more all of the help she provides. Simply stated, the ride would have been impossible without her. There is no way I would do it self supported as do some of the riders I met along the way. I don’t want to carry the weight, I don’t want to rise the type of bike that requires and I definitely would not sleep on the ground after a day of riding.

The the photos include the one I am in with Glenn, Jack and Phil that I referenced last time but couldn’t get down loaded together with some that Sandi and Ale took in Portsmouth. The meals include breakfasts of what my family calls eggs in a frame and an egg and salmon concoction Ale got whose name I don’t remember. Dinner included a cheese plate, beet salad and haddock tacos, all of which were good.

We are now visiting New York on our way home. Home will be good although we will first spend a day or two in DC.




The Last Ride Day

August 16, 2017, Wednesday. Manchester to Portsmouth. Although I usually feel fine once I get on the bike, I admit that most mornings have started with a certain degree of reluctance, if not, “Oh no, I have to do this again.” Yesterday, the 16th, was different. While I had had a difficult time sleeping the night before because of various thoughts I was having about the ride and about getting home, I was looking forward to the ride.

For one, I was looking forward to meeting Bob Bernoth who was going to join me for the last part of the ride. (Thank you to Jeff, the owner of Gus’s Bicycles for posting on his shop’s Facebook page which resulted in Bob contacting me.) I also liked the thought that the ride was only going to be around 50 miles, which is considerably shorter than most of the rides I have done over the last couple of months. And of course I was looking forward to the fact that I would be finishing the riding portion of this long journey.

Bob lives in Chester, which is between Manchester and Portsmouth so I met him at his house. The ride there was only 20 miles, but given the route I took – which varied some from what Bob recommended – I rode on 1 1/2 miles of dirt road. The ride also included 2 or 3 10% grades and 1 that reached 12%. Since I knew I wasn’t riding the next day, they were actually kind of fun, especially when they leveled out to 6% or so and that felt relatively easy.

As has been the case for the last few days, the scenery was beautiful. Lots of trees, hills and picturesque homes.

I met Bob at 10:07 and over the course of the day realized how fortunate I was that he was who volunteered to lead me to Portsmouth. The route he chose was great. None of the traffic that had been stressing me lately, good surfaces, pretty scenery, quaint towns and generally good riding. I commented that while we have climbs at home, we have to seek them out whereas here you can’t avoid them. It showed in the way he left me behind when going up some of those climbs.

We had arranged to meet Ale and Sandi at Rye Beach but I texted her to change it to Pearce Boat Launch, which I later learned wasn’t a good decision because it isn’t on the Atlantic. I was told that by Geoff at Gus’s Bicycles when we stopped there so I could visit the shop I had been in contact with. While there, Sandi texted me that they were at the Worcester boat launch. I told that to Bob and Geoff, pronouncing it “Worcester” and they both looked puzzled and said they had never heard of it. Finally, Geoff looked at the text and said, “Oh, you mean ‘Wooster’.” Although it IS spelled “Worcester,” in New England it is pronounced “Wooster.” After we got that straightened out, we decided that Rye Beach was the right choice if I wanted to dip in the Atlantic, so that is what I texted Sandi. Sandi never figured out why her text said Worcester Boat Launch when she meant Pearce Boat Launch. It was a regular comedy of errors but it all worked out.

One photo is of Geoff and Judy of Gus’s. Bob is in the pictures at the beach.

After the tire dipping, we sat on some rocks at the beach and enjoyed the champagne and lobster rolls that Sandi and Ale brought us. VeryNew England and very good!

We then loaded the bikes up and drove to downtown Portsmouth where at Bob’s suggestion we went to Brewer’s Bottle Cellar. Given the beer drinker that I have become, even I ordered one. (Sandi was our designated driver.) When the waitress brought us our drinks, she told us that they were the compliments of the man at the end of the bar. I of course went over to talk to him – Phil – and learned that the drinks were because he admired the cause and the accomplishment. I enjoyed meeting him and his 2 friends, who were equally effusive in their comments. It won’t come as a shock that I left them with a Laura’s Ride North card and I hope to hear from them. Thank you, Phil, it is people like you who help make this ride gratifying. I am in the photo with Glenn, Jack and Phil, in that order.

When I sat down, I talked to the 2 men to my right and learned that one is visiting from Sacramento and that the 2 of them are doing some bike riding in the area. Andy, the one from California and in the photo with the green shirt said that he is a 2 time survivor of cancer and enthusiastically asked for a card. I hope to hear from him. The other mentioned how he felt good when he rides 12 miles and that he was impressed by 80 miles a day.

Then Frank walked up and handed me $20 as a donation Frank also rides, including in a local MS RIDE THANK YOU, Frank. As I told him, it is for a good cause and it helps make all of this worthwhile for me.

When I returned to my seat, Sandi told me that Bob had also made a contribution. And that was in addition to the time he had also contributed. As I said earlier, I am thankful that it is Bob who joined me, and not just because of the route he chose. He is generous and was fun to spend the day with. We all enjoyed him. Thank you, Bob!

We ended the day by eating more mussels after having had some with the afternoon beer. When I get home I have to replace the muscles I have lost from not visiting the gym. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist the pun.)

This post is long enough that I will save some of my thoughts for another time.

If you were waiting to see if I would actually make it before donating, now is the time!


PS I tried to post a video here but couldn’t. Go to #laurasridenorth

At Last!


One day to go. Then ride. Then once again dipping my Bike’s tires into the Atlantic Ocean, this time just south of Portsmouth, New Hampshire. (Similarly to Astoria, Portsmouth isn’t on the ocean itself so we rode to Rye Beach, which is adjacent to Portsmouth but actually on the Atlantic Ocean to complete this journey.) Then enjoying the champagne that Sandi thoughtfully brought.

For a number of reasons, today was a great day. But it is now 11:10 p.m. and I’m beat so I will leave the details of today, including names and photos of some good people we met, for tomorrow’s post. In the meantime I just wanted to let you know that we have successfully completed this ride

Until tomorrow,