Saturday, July 20, 2013

Day #52: A Bittersweet Ride (with a Cherry on Top)

Today's Route: Rutland, VT to Ticonderoga, NY (45 miles)
Total Trip Miles: 3012

The heat wave continued through my final day of riding, and so I was on the bike again shortly after 5am.

The fog in the lowlands, as the sun rises over the mountains.

Today's ride was bittersweet. I reflected on all the positives - the miles I've covered, the people I've met, the experiences I've had. And I reflected on the sorrow of an amazing trip coming to an end.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Day #51: Paying Homage to the Mountain

Today's Route: Canaan, NH to Rutland, VT (66 miles)
Total Trip Miles: 2967

I had planned on getting an early start this morning to beat the heat. But waking up during the 3am hour was just a tad bit earlier than desired.

I awoke to the sound of a man shouting in the street right in front of the yard where I pitched my tent for the night.

He was going absolutely ballistic. He was telling some woman that she didn't have anything on him. That he had just finally gotten out of prison. And that he admired Noah for having the guts to put a bullet through his head; if he had a gun, he'd kill himself now, too. This whole dialogue was peppered with every cuss word and variation thereof (the noun form, the verb form, the adjective form, etc).

The "comic moment" (if you can call it that) was this dialogue:

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Day #50: Starting to Sink In

Today's Route: Center Ossipee, NH to Canaan, NH (70 miles)
Total Trip Miles: 2901

It's starting to sink in that my bike trip is coming to an end. I can't believe that, as of this morning, I have only three days of biking and about 190 more miles to go.

This bike touring thing has very much become a lifestyle for me. It's now deeply ingrained in my identity. It will definitely be a strange transition back to my "regular" life. It's good I have a few weeks of backpacking and visiting with family before I get back into the swing of everyday life.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Day #49: The Other Portland

Today's Route: Gorham, ME to Center Ossipee, NH (72 miles)
Total Trip Miles: 2831

Yeah! Shirley and I arrived at the Atlantic Ocean!

The Atlantic Ocean!

It's hard to believe that I left St. Paul, MN on this date last month. I've covered 2,160 miles in one month. I've experienced so much in that time - seen so many things and met so many wonderful people.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Day #48: A Change in Plans

Today's Route: Lincoln, NH to Gorham, ME (87 miles)
Total Trip Miles: 2759

In my La Mappa Della Bicicleta blog entry, I outlined the plan for my bike trip. The plan was as follows:
  • Bike to the Atlantic Ocean in Brunswick, ME.
  • Travel down to Washington D.C. to visit with my little brother and his family.
  • Bike from D.C. to Chicago to visit with the rest of my family.
  • Take the train from Chicago back to Portland, OR.

There have been a few changes to the plans. My new plans are as follows:
  • Bike to the Atlantic Ocean in Brunswick Portland, ME.
  • Travel down to Washington D.C. to visit with my little brother and his family. Bike back to the Adirondacks to backpack with my older brother and his girlfriend.
  • Bike from D.C. Hitch a ride with my older brother back to Chicago to visit with the rest of my family.
  • Take the train from Chicago back to Portland, OR.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Day #47: Tirgry

Today's Route: South Strafford, VT to Lincoln, NH (67 miles)
Total Trip Miles: 2672

A few months ago, I attended a presentation by Ellie Thalheimer. Ellie is a cyclist from Portland who has written a guide providing information on various long-distance bike routes around Oregon. In her presentation, she used the word "hangry" to describe that feeling when you're touring and you experience the mixed mood of being hungry and angry.

Today, hangry wasn't the right word to describe my mood. I was "tirgry." Tired. And hungry.

Day #46: The Northeastern Beauty Contest

Today's Route: Ticonderoga, NY to South Strafford, VT (82 miles)
Total Trip Miles: 2605

Sorry folks, but I have nothing to report from last night's stealth camping experience. Except that it went perfectly smoothly.

Aptly labeled dugout - my stealth "home" last night.

Yesterday I mentioned that my left hand was swollen from a fly bite. The swelling began about 12 hours after the bite and then lasted for a day or two. The swelling is now gone in my left hand but is now present in my right hand (which was bit the day after my left hand).

While I recognize that most of you are not familiar with how my hands typically look, trust me that the below swollen hand looks nothing like my hand. You can't even see my veins!

Very swollen.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Day #45: Deer Flies, Ladybits, & More Stealth Camping

Today's Route: Long Lake, NY to Ticonderoga, NY (66 miles)
Total Trip Miles: 2523

When I left Long Lake this morning, the sun was shining, and there was a perfect patch of blue in the sky immediately above me. But in the surrounding skies, in all directions, there were dark clouds.

Closely watching the clouds develop.

Last night I had washed some clothes in the sink, and today those clothes were strapped on the outside of my panniers, in hopes of drying.

The first hour or so of riding, I kept watching the sky, waiting to getting dumped on. But by late morning, there were clear skies in all directions. Score, I would be able to dry my laundry!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Day #44: The Beauty of the Rain

Today's Route: Otter Lake, NY to Long Lake, NY (64 miles)
Total Trip Miles: 2457

Today's ride was the best yet. I had a smile on my face the entire time - even when the heavy rains began to fall 35 miles into the ride. It was so wonderful to be riding among the trees. I am definitely a nature girl way more than a city girl.

At Seventh Lake.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Day #43: Cemeteries and Cottage Life

Today's Route: Texas, NY to Otter Lake, NY (77 miles)
Total Trip Miles: 2393

Seriously? I can't pedal my bike through Pulaski?

No biking allowed?

Get it? <Insert eye roll here.> I know, I know. Corny. Sorry for the bad joke.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Day #42: No Ifs, Ands, or Butts About It

Today's Route: Sodus, NY to Texas, NY (58 miles)
Total Trip Miles: 2316

Since leaving St Paul on Day #19, I have not had any rest days. The idea of going a day without cycling doesn't really appeal to me. With that being said, I think it's important for the body to rest every now and then.

My idea of a rest day is a lower mileage day. And so, after three days in a row of 80+ miles each, today's ride felt like a complete and utter rest day in my book.

Day #41: I "Heart" New York

Today's Route: Holley, NY to Sodus, NY (84 miles)
Total Trip Miles: 2258

Evan (my Warm Showers host from last night) rode along with me this morning for just over 40 miles along the Erie Canal. It was great to have a riding buddy to chat with. Evan saved the walkers, runners, and bikers along the trail from having to listen to me sing off-pitch Brandi Carlile songs.

Me & Evan.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Day #40: A Delightful Day

Today's Route: Buffalo, NY to Holley, NY (93 miles)
Total Trip Miles: 2174

Today was an absolutely delightful day! I rode 93 miles, which is the farthest I've ever cycled in a single day with a loaded bike. But it didn't feel like 93 miles at all. The miles seemed to fly by.

I left Buffalo this morning and crossed over The Peace Bridge to reenter Canada. I rode about 30 miles along the Niagara River. Although the bike-friendly Niagara Recreational Trail runs along the river, I decided to bike along the Niagara Parkway instead - the traffic was minimal, and I figured it would be faster to ride along the street.

After 20 miles of riding I came to The Falls. But just a few miles shy of Niagara Falls, it looked as though the city was on fire.

The city is on fire!

Day #39: Where the Buffalo Roam

Today's Route: Port Dover, ON to Buffalo, NY (83 miles/134 kilometers)
Total Trip Miles: 2081 (3348 kilometers)

I'm back in the states tonight. I'll cross over the border again tomorrow morning to do about 30 miles on the Niagara Recreation Trail before heading back into the states for good.

For tonight, it's great to be back in the good ole' U.S. of A.

Here are some observations I've made about my experience in Canada on this trip:

Friday, July 5, 2013

Day #38: The Port Burwell Predator & The Port Dover Angel

Today's Route: Port Stanley, ON to Port Dover, ON (75 miles/121 kilometers)
Total Trip Miles: 1998 (3215 kilometers)

Happy Fourth of July, people of the United States!

I have successfully managed to miss all independence day celebrations; I was in the U.S. for Canada Day, and I was in Canada for the Forth of July.

It sure did feel weird waking up this morning and seeing that it was July 4th, but knowing I wouldn't be seeing any parades or watching any fireworks. Heck, I haven't even seen any red, white, and blue decorations - flags, buntings, whatnot - for a few days now!

As it turns out, Canada celebrated its birthday on July 1st. I've seen many signs saying "Happy Canada Deh." I had to ask. Yes, "deh" is the good humored Canadians laughing at themselves for their "eh"-speak.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Day #37: In Need of a Soundtrack

Today's Route: Morpeth, ON to Port Stanley, ON (48 miles/77 kilometers)
Total Trip Miles: 1923 (3094 kilometers)

Donna, my Warm Showers host from Bay City (MI), took this photo of me three days ago.

Heading out from Bay City.

This photo surprised me; I look different than when I left for this trip. For one, my smile seems to be a bit bigger. But that doesn't really surprise me - this trip has been really good for me. What surprises me is that my clothes seem to be a bit looser.

I have definitely noticed changes in my body as I've biked over the weeks. For the first time in many, many years, I'm starting to see muscle tone. Oh my god, I actually do have abs!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Day #36: Oh, Canada!

Today's Route: Port Huron, MI to Morpeth, ON (85 miles/137 kilometers)
Total Trip Miles: 1875 (3017 kilometers)

It seems as though I have been in Michigan forever! Truth of the matter is that I crossed into Michigan 11 days ago. Having biked through the Upper Peninsula, I don't think it's possible to have travelled a longer route across the state.

The people of Michigan have been nothing but wonderful. I've been absolutely touched by the encouragement I've received - people hollering and clapping from their yards and cars pulling over to wish me the best.

Oh, and I love how so many Michiganites have asked if I just graduated from college. Why, yes I did! Thirteen years ago!

But...I'm ready for some different license plates. Bring it on, Canada! Beginning today, I will ride through Ontario, hugging the north side of Lake Erie.

Day #35: It's Not About the Bike

Today's Route: North Branch, MI to Port Huron, MI (57 miles)
Total Trip Miles: 1790

Bill came over to check on me this morning at the church. He handed me a little white bag. "What's this?" I asked. Inside the bag was a tasty pastry. That's total blow-my-socks-off "wow"! Just another example of the North Branchers' generosity.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Day #34: Firebows & Small Town Loveliness

Today's Route: Bay City, MI to North Branch, MI (65 miles)
Total Trip Miles: 1733

My morning began with a quick stop at a grocery store on the way out of Bay City. I was surprised to see two touring bikes in front of the store.

The waterbottles on the bikes stated "Spokane, WA," and a Tyvek jacket from the popular STP (Seattle-to-Portland) ride was strapped to one of the bikes. In fact, it was the same jacket I had from riding the STP back in 2008.