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.

There are some things you don't want to remember, like the feeling of being followed by the Port Burwell predator. But there are other feelings you want to wallow in forever, such as finally arriving at the Atlantic Ocean after a cross-country bicycle trip.

Or such as that near-goosebumpy feeling when you put on freshly laundered clothes that are not yet quite dry and set off for an early morning ride in the slightly cool air.

In an effort to beat the heat, I started this morning's ride shortly after 6am. And, yes, I nearly had chills when I began the ride.

I got a good 20 miles of riding in before deciding that I could no longer ignore Shirley's squeaking plea. I pulled over, stripped her of her panniers, flipped her over, and gave her some TLC; I cleaned and lubed her chain, wiped down her rims, and reinflated her tires to the recommended 90 psi (well, just over 90 psi).

I figured this is probably the last time I'll be giving Shirley this treatment on this trip. It's just another sign that the trip is starting to wind down.

Shirley gets some TLC.

A good part of today's ride was through the lakes region of New Hampshire. This area is gorgeous!

Ryan, my host from last night, recommended that I stop at the General Store in Moultonborough. Apparently the store has a nice, old-fashioned feel to it. Unfortunately, I passed through Moultonborough about an hour and a half before the store opened.

Ryan also recommended that I go for a dip in Lake Winnepesaukee, at the beach in Center Harbor. This I definitely could do.

It seemed a bit early for a swim at 8:30 this morning. I felt like I hadn't quite earned it. But I enjoyed it nonetheless and impressed the refreshing feeling into my mind so that I could refer to it later in the afternoon as I rode through the sweltering heat.

The Center Harbor beach on Lake Winnepesaukee.

Up to mid-thigh in crystal clear water.

Cooling off a bit more.

I stopped at the General Store in Danbury to top off my water. The woman who worked behind the counter showed me the local newspaper. The weather section indicated the heat index today would be 96. It is forecasted to reach 102 tomorrow and 103 the following day. Yikers!

The shade has been a lifesaver. If the sun is in the right part of the sky, if I'm biking in the right direction, and if the road isn't too wide, the shade from the tree cover makes the ride quite bearable. The heat is also manageable when the sun sneaks behind the clouds for a few minutes.

The breeze has also felt really cool. Unfortunately, that same breeze has generated a pretty strong headwind for me the last few days. It's a tricky situation - the headwind consumes more energy to pedal through, but the headwind also brings with it a source of refreshment.

Sometimes I find myself so absorbed in my thoughts when I ride that I'm surprised when I look up and see signs such as "New Hampshire Bank." I forget I'm in New Hampshire!

Maybe the heat has a bit to do with my mental fog. Near the end of the ride today, I was biking through a windy, forested area when I saw what looked like the head of a purple dinosaur. Wondering if the heat was getting to me, I circled back to check it out.

Indeed, it was the head of a purple dinosaur.

Wasn't sure if I was hallucinating.

I arrived into Canaan, scoped out a not-so-great ball field, then headed over to one of the churches to inquire about setting up my tent in the grass. There were two women in the church parking lot having a conversation. I inquired about putting up my tent, and one of the women suggested that I put up my tent in her mother's yard, a few blocks away.

I followed her over to her mother's house. After getting the bewilderment of this older woman taking me in without any hesitation, I set up my tent, shared some conversation, and then took a shower.

I have crawled into my tent and am about to close my eyes for the night, even though it's still bright outside. I will be waking tomorrow well before the sun rises.

Now that today's ride is done, I really can't believe that I have only two more days of biking and about 120 more miles. It's definitely starting to sink in.

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