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