ST. AUGUSTINE, FL TO
BAR HARBOR, ME
April 22, to May 26, 2018
Some of the Maine lobsters are rather large
We finished the ride in Bar Harbor on Saturday, May 26; exactly 5 weeks after departing St. Augustine. Having missed 3 of the segments due to the dislocated finger and pedal arm failure, I had to complete them over the next 10 days on the drive back to Florida. Here are the details of those 3 segments:
Day 35a. 59.3 Miles. 2,906' of climb. It was excellent weather for riding. Cool and comfortable with a slight tailwind. At 7 am, I rode out of Westborough, MA, the original starting point, and headed for Derry, NH. It felt strange riding the back roads without my companions of the last 5 weeks.
The hills were not long or steep so the miles clicked off quite readily. Approximately 15 miles of paved Rail-Trails made navigation quite easy and the trip was completed without incident. As a bonus, Sherry and I met up with a former K-12 classmate and his wife for lunch along the way. All around, it was a fun day!
Day 34a. 48.7 Miles. 3,897' of climb. Sherry dropped me off in Stafford Springs, the point where my pedal arm had broken. It is fortunate that the part broke shortly prior to that rest stop because Stafford Springs is located in a deep hole. I had to climb 920' in the first 3.9 miles and it was not much better after that. The legs should have been weary after that initial climb but they had been well rested and were strong for the balance of the ride. The hills were tall and steep but the downhills were as well. Twice I reached speeds of over 40 mph. Considering the 35 mph speed limit, 2 speeding tickets could have been issued.
It was with extreme satisfaction that I reached the Congregational Church which completed the segments missed due to the broken pedal arm. Previously, that church had represented our night's lodging. I joked about asking if we could spent the night there as did the group 2 weeks ago but our hotel seemed a much better choice.
Day 20a. 32.2 Miles. 1,539' of climb. Although I had been 4 miles into the ride when the fall occurred and the finger was dislocated, I again started from the hotel, about a mile from the Reagan National Airport. No falls this time and with a healed body part, I continued the ride. At the Lincoln Memorial, the US Marine Corps drill team was practicing so I stopped, placed my helmet on the ground and watched for 10-15 minutes. The cream of the crop, their coordination was quite impressive.
Nearly the entire ride was routed over dedicated bike trails, paved, about 8-10' wide and totally free of automobiles. That is the good part. After several days of rain, many areas of the trail were flooded with many muddy stretches. Moreover, one 4 mile stretch was totally closed and I had to guess where it picked back up. Fortunately, I was able to locate that point and continue the ride. Also fortunately, I was able to pedal and coast through the puddles without receiving wet feet.
There was a sense of relief to finish that final segment. The first 3 Bike the US for MS rides were completed with my cross-country companions. With this ride, however, there was unfinished business and now it had finally been completed.
Roads--They generally were better than on previous rides. Florida had the best roads and South Carolina the worst. However, SC has recently passed an extra cent gasoline tax to be totally dedicated to roads so there should be improvement over the next few years. The other state's roads fell somewhere in between. Some were blissfully smooth and others extremely rough with ruts and potholes--and those could sometimes be in the same county or community.
Flat tires--This ride of over 2,200 miles was completed with the same tires and tubes with which I started. Interestingly, this was my first cross-country ride without a flat tire. Previous rides featured at least 6 flats each. The tires were the same brand I have been using for several years but the tubes were an extra thick, puncture resistant type. That seemed to make the difference.
Rain--On 12 of the last 20 days, rain fell at some point. In most cases, it was only a slight inconvenience. However, on a few occasions, it was bone chilling and not much fun to be riding. But that is just part of the adventure!
Winds--Going in, it was anticipated that the winds would mostly be headwinds from the northeast. However, a very pleasant surprise was that, for most of the way, the wind generally was from the south and southwest which made the pedaling easier. We will take that any day.
Quaint names--Along the way, there were many small business with very cute names. Brewed Awakenings, a coffee shop; The Bull and Claw, rather than simple beef and seafood; and my favorite: Brenda's Bloomers, a flower shop, of course.
Thank you--Much appreciation to those who helped to sponsor my ride. You can be certain that your contributions will be well utilized. Combined with the other rides this year, Bike the US for MS has raised nearly $250,000 of which a large part will go toward the eradication of Multiple Sclerosis. We will not rest until an eventual cure is found.
Thank you also to those who offered many prayers for the safety of myself and the other riders as well. It gave us a good feeling to have a significant prayer support team back home. And thanks to God for giving me the strength and perseverance to complete all 4 rides.
It was a unique experience to pedal around the perimeter of the US over the last few years. One can see more detail from a bicycle seat than from nearly any other mode of transportation and I certainly saw more than my share.
There were many highs but also many lows on each of the rides. However, when the rides were completed, we went back to our normal everyday lives and any discomfort had ended. Those with MS, unfortunately, must continue daily to deal with the symptoms. We rode to help to make life better for those with MS and, hopefully, we succeeded in some small way.
Set your goals high, and don't stop until you have reached them.