Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Debby's Bike Trip: Through Rocky River to New England

We have been posting regular updates from Rocky River customer Debby Milano, as she attempts to complete the second leg of a cross-country bike trip along the Northern Tier Bicycle Route. Today we'll catch up on her progress as she approaches the end of the ride in Maine....

July 30: The Best Day.....

The last few days have definitely been the highlight of the trip for me. Rode into Huron and familiar territory this past Wednesday - having spent many summer weeks either at Lakeside, Bay Point, Cedar Point, Kelleys, Put-n-Bay, Vermilion or Mitiwanga; great memories came flooding back. All the better to share stopping at some of my favorite haunts along the way with my friends. Cheryl, Sara and Becky came up to Huron to join Sue and I as we rode into our hometown of Rocky River on Thursday. I was very excited as I am sure Sue was also, knowing that we were to be greeted by our families and friends upon arrival.

We had quite an eventful ride in a light rain along Lake Rd, stopping at the Mitiwanga cottage (now owned by Chris K.), the ice cream shop and the candy shop. Even with Cheryl's two flats, our spirits could not be dampened.

[Editor's Note: Deb's ride through Rocky River made front page news! You may recognize her jersey and that guy riding right behind her....]

Scott Cowan, owner of Century Cycles, rode out to meet us as we all picked up the pace to catch up with the rest of our riders at Huntington Beach. From there, it was on to my house and reuniting with my dear husband and daughter and Lilly our dog. Everyone checked out beautiful Lake Erie lapping against our back yard until our police escort arrived to lead us down to CYC.

And what a wonderful reception we had. So many great friends and family members were there to cheer us on. It was a very emotional moment for me, I tear up now thinking about it. The effort put in and the number of people who were there to recognize our group of women was overwhelming for us. The food, the friendly atmosphere and the festive surroundings will not soon be forgotten. I love you and thank you all for such a touching show of support.

I spent a restful Thursday evening and Friday morning at home. Finished the day at our hotel in downtown Cleve. and this morning we were on the road again, heading for Austinburg in Ashtabula county. Another good friend, Jim E. joined our group today and led some of us on a different route, a much prettier one, along the Grand River, through an area that Jim calls home. We had a beautiful ride with very little traffic and good road conditions. The rest of the group were not so fortunate and now the guides on our trip want to adopt Jim's route.

Tomorrow we leave Ohio behind and head to Erie, Pa. We are on the back-side of the trip now with some beautiful scenery to come. I am looking forward to the New England countryside, but I am also looking forward to being back home for good.

"I love riding with women. There's no snot blowing, spitting, or dirty jokes. Well, I guess there is, but it's more fun when you're the one doing it!!"

August 3: Niagara Falls ....

Enjoying a rest day here in Niagara Falls, NY. My first time staying on the US side, which I have to say is a bit on the seedy side. I was here a couple of years ago on my Underground Railroad Bike Tour, and prior to that have made many trips to the Falls. And time after time, the Falls never fail to amaze me. Many of the women on the ride are viewing this spectacle for the first time. Although we are staying on the US side, we crossed into Canada at the Peace Bridge in order to ride along the Niagara River as the current increased in speed, culminating into a mass of rapids as it plunged over the cliff of the Horseshoe Falls. There is a bike path that runs from the Peace Bridge all the way to Niagara on the Lake, where the Niagara River runs in to Lake Ontario, it is a beautiful and exciting ride.

Leading up to our ride along the River, have been several days of blissful riding along Lake Erie. With the exception of the city of Erie, the coastline has been pleasantly undeveloped. Cottages and modest homes, vineyards and beaches have lined our route. After leaving the cornfields and heat of the Midwest, Lake Erie has provided a serene backdrop for our travels.

We have been on the road for four weeks now. The wear and tear of riding day after day is beginning to manifest itself in a bit of testiness. Although, for the most part, still a happy and cohesive group - I was privy to several complaints while riding, regarding the lack of biking etiquette. So and so didn't call out pot-holes, another didn't call out passing and so on.... and of course there are complaints about snoring and talking too loud on the phone. Nothing major, but I have to say...... thank God, I have a room of my own. If anyone is snoring, it's me... and there is no one around to hear it. All of the "togetherness" can be too much of a good thing.

This afternoon, my good friend Kit's family, who live in the area, are cooking dinner for us at their home. They are a nice Italian family treating us to an Italian feast. Looking forward to it. Tomorrow back on the road heading to Brockport, NY, just west of Rochester, then travelling north to follow Lake Ontario until we head due east and cross the Adirondacks. The next couple of weeks will entail significant climbing as we make our way through New England.

Upon leaving Niagara Falls, on our first night out, our guide Michelle was attacked by Bed Bugs. I say attacked because she looks like she has been through a war zone. The poor woman's arms are covered by red, swollen bites and her face got it too. Unfortunately, she has had an allergic reaction- had to go to a doctor and is on meds. She will be all right, but we are all freakin now and are obsessively checking out our sheets and blankets. We are not exactly staying at "The Ritz", so there is cause for some concern. However, I must say that last nights' accommodations were superb. We were in a lovely B & B at Sodus Point, NY, a lovely vacation, resort town on Lake Ontario.
We have been skirting Lake Ontario, and riding along the Erie Canal for the past three days. The Erie Canal, which runs from Buffalo to Albany, NY is sided by a recreational trail for the entire 363 miles. The canal, which was completed in 1825, served as the main transportation system between the Eastern seaboard and the interior Great Lakes. The canal gave rise to dozens of cities along its' path, including Syracuse, Rochester, Lockport; many of which we rode through. Today's ride took us to the eastern edge of Lake Ontario and the city of Pulaski. Pulaski sits on the Salmon River and its' commerce revolves heavily around the fishing industry. Today's ride was very hilly as we are entering the Adirondack Mtns. region. We expect quite a bit of climbing from here on out.
In addition to a visit from bed bugs, we have also been visited by several women from past rides who have brought us cakes and cookies and shared dinner with us. Yesterday, my good friend Rebecca, from PA, joined us on our ride. (It was wonderful to see you, Rebecca). And while riding through the Rochester area, we were all invited to a brunch at the Woman Tours headquarters, where we all joined together for a few group photos.
As of today we have covered 1,864 miles. We are all feeling a little tired, with various aches and pains as the ride becomes more and more of a mental game. As beautiful as the terrain is, it takes quite a bit of self-motivation to get your self up and over that next hill... and the next one.... and...
August 9: The Adirondacks...
Three days of breathtaking scenery and we are over the 2000 mile mark. We have been riding through a heavily forested landscape dotted with crystal clear lakes. The riding has been very challenging with ups and downs the entire way; the steeper the hill, the more my knee screams. Still icing and popping ibuprofen around the clock. There has been very little traffic, with log camps few and far between. It has been utterly quiet and peaceful, at least until the gaggle of women riders comes through. Have seen deer, possibly a golden eagle, a fox, a turtle, but no bear which is what I would really like to see. While at our motel last night, we were told that a black bear is often spotted out behind the building.
Today's ride was short and sweet at 44 miles. We rode out of the Adirondacks to the edge of Lake Champlain, where we visited Fort Ticonderoga of American Revolution fame. The Fort held by the British was captured in 1775, by the Green Mountain Boys who were led by Ethan Allen and Colonel Benedict Arnold. We boarded the oldest cable ferry in the country to cross the Lake and enter Vermont, home to two of our riders. And, as has been reported, the hills immediately became steeper while the terrain changed from dense forest to farms and pasture land.
Spending two nights here in Middlebury, a quaint, New England college town. Tomorrow's rest day will allow for exploring the many shops and galleries in town. We are staying at the Middlebury Inn, right up my alley. The Inn is located in a beautiful, old white colonial with a wrap-around porch lined with wicker chairs. Right now I am sitting in the lobby, partaking in High Tea, while I write this email. This is by far, my favorite accommodation to date.
When we hit the road on Thursday, we will have 6 days of riding through Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine to the finish in Bar Harbor. We are all ready to wrap this up; we miss our families and friends and our butts are raw (to be blunt). Off to dinner now, we have many guests joining us this evening and then a good nights' sleep without a wake-up call at 5 am. YEA!!
August 13: The Final Countdown.....
Just three more days of riding and we will pull into Bar Harbor for our official dipping of tires in the Atlantic ocean.
We have enjoyed the most spectacular scenery of the ride over the last three days. New England takes first prize for the most stunning vistas. Of course, there is a price tag for all of the beauty, HILLS! We have crossed the Green Mountains of Vermont and the White Mountains of New Hampshire within three days. Upon leaving Middlebury and crossing the Breadloaf Gap, we picked up the White River and followed it into White River Junction, VT, a railroad hub for the past 150 years. And yesterday we followed the Connecticut River, crossed over into New Hampshire and rode into Lincoln, a bustling, recreation hub servicing the skiing, hiking, biking and rivers trades, sitting at the foot of the Kancamagus Mts. I arrived in Lincoln after a challenging 70 mile ride feeling pretty good, after a couple of hours I was struck with a bout of Vertigo. Don't know what brought it on, maybe dehydration or exhaustion, who knows at this stage of the game. Regardless, I was laid low and unable to ride today. So I rode in the van into Bridgton, Maine and missed today's climbing (not a bad thing). Tomorrow, we ride to Bath, then to Bucksport on the following day and finally into Bar Harbor on the 16th. Maine already has a different feel to it.
So... since we are nearing the end of the trip I thought I would present some interesting facts from the ride.
* The women on the tour hail from 17 states and Australia. California and Mass. with the most, each claiming four women.

* Every one is riding a road bike, all but two with drop bars. Bike companies represented in order of most to least are: Trek, Specialized, Lite Speed, Giant, Felt, Fuji, Terry, Lemond, Surly, Davinci

* We have stayed at 37 different motels (two with bed-bugs, sorry to report that the Middlebury Inn, my favorite of the trip also had bed bugs as one of our group was bit several times on the face)

* About 20 flats so far, I have had three of them - all due to the initial puncture in my brand new rear tire, which I had to replace two weeks ago

* Number of state lines crossed: 12 ND, MN, WI, IA, IL, IN, OH, PA, NY, VT, NH, ME

* Age range of women: 38 to 72

* Personally two bee stings

* Approx. 50 beetle hits in the face

* 31 dinners in the parking lots of our motels

* dinner servings of Cous-Cous: too many

* Biggest decision: end of day's ride - Chocolate Milk or Beer as a Recovery Drink?

* Have gone through two large tubes of Chamois Butter

* Miles traveled from Anacortes, WA to Fargo ND: 1900 miles

* Miles traveled from Fargo to Bar Harbor Maine: 2450

* Total miles cycled from Anacortes to Bar Harbor "Northern Tier": 4,350

Next report will be from BAR HARBOR.

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