May 13 - 19, 2018
    319 Miles    

 Day 25.  64.5 Miles.  2,408’ of climb.  A misty rain was falling as we departed. It gradually intensified to steady as we progressed closer to the destination and all of us were thoroughly drenched when we rode into camp. There was a nice older hotel only 500 feet away and I quickly booked a room for the night. When I registered at the front desk, a staff member recognized my name as a longtime friend of her father. He and I had been classmates in flight school and also pilots at Eastern Airlines many years ago and we still meet on occasion. However, his daughter and I had not seen each other for about 40 years. What an amazing coincidence!

A special mail drop had been pre-arranged and I received several very welcome cards from relatives and friends. It was a very happy ending to what had been a wet, dreary day of riding. A hearty pasta dinner helped to prepare me for the long next day’s ride.

Day 26.  95.8 Miles.  4,675’ of climb. This day was the exact opposite of the previous one. It started with a steady rain and gradually slowed to a stop around noon. Our clothing slowly dried as we pedaled so that it was back to normal by the time we reached the destination. It was a very long day with lots of climbing but not too bad.

Actually, the rides quite often are intimidating at the start. I treat the distances mathematically. There is a certain sense of achievement in completing the first tenth. Then 1/8th, 1/6th, 1/4th and 1/3. When we reach one-half, we are on the downhill side and the rest of the ride seems to go more quickly. Once the destination is reached, the discomfort is overridden by the elation of completion and we start to prepare for the next day’s intimidating ride. 

Day 27.  88.2 Miles.  6,480’ of climb.  This was another long, hard day with many steep hills, especially toward the finish. The arranged lodging for the night was a very rustic club with cold showers. Very fortunately, my good friend Jack Hazard picked me up in his gleaming red Ferrari and spirited me away to his country estate for the night. He and Leigh Ann pampered me with delicious hors d’oeuvres and an excellent dinner with fine Pinot Noir. A nice hot shower and a soft bed, followed by a great breakfast polished off a totally over-the-top experience. If all of the layovers were like that, the ride would be a complete pleasure. However, if they were, I would be so plump that I would not be able to even pedal, much less climb the hills. 

Day 28.  70.7 Miles.  4,541' of climb.  Heavy rain fell from the sky all day. Can you guess that it also was extremely cold. Even with full gloves, several times during the ride I had to stop and warm my hands so I could feel the shift controls. My shift is electric so a mere touch activates the change. However, you must be able to feel the correct lever for the gears to change correctly. At the rest stop, after a hot chocolate and a cup of tea, I was still shivering. Eventually, we thawed out, however, and soon were back underway. 

It warmed slightly in the afternoon so we were only cold and not freezing by the time the destination was reached. Graduation celebrations filled the many nearby hotels on that Saturday and I had to taxi 20 minutes into Hartford to find a hotel room. Just part of the adventure!

Now, only 7 days and 437 miles to go. Bring it on!

Accept the challenges so you can feel the exhilaration of victory.
                                                                                George Patton