Well, it’s not really the Trexlertown Turnpike. I began the day hoping that my sister, Betsy, and I would take our dad to the Great Allegheny Passage at Rockwood and ride about 12 miles to Fort Hill. But he said he was too tired to ride (he is 85) and I had kept him out late past midnight at the Pittsburgh Steelers’ game.
Pumping Station Road Entrance
Betsy previously had expressed interest in riding the Abandoned Turnpike at Breezewood. Fresh off buying lights for her bike last week at the 25 Hours of Booty, we both drove to Breezewood.
Entrance off Pumping Station Road It is not marked
I had my Trek Domane and a Trek MTB with me. The pavement on the Pike2Bike ranges from average to poor, with a lot of poor. All things being equal, I would choose a mountain bike over a road bike but it’s not bad on a road bike. It’s just better on fatter tires. However, since I had both with me it meant I had to leave one in the car so I chose to leave the MTB in the car instead of the road bike.
Entrance off Pumping Station Road
Entering from Breezewood, and after climbing the steep trail up to the start, you have your choice of four lanes of pavement, although it is often hard to tell. You start out in the left “lane” – that is where the entrance puts you. My experience is to ride the left lane to the Rays Hill (first) Tunnel. After exiting the tunnel, ride the left lane for a couple of miles but then switch over to the right lane before reaching the Sideling Hill (second) tunnel. After exiting the second tunnel, stay left. These are my suggestions only and know and there is no perfect line to follow.
Eastern entrance to Sideling Hill (second) Tunnel
I flatted after exiting the Sideling Hill Tunnel. I couldn’t find any glass in the tire but there is a little bit of glass on the trail. I think it was probably a pinch flat from the rough pavement.
Closest intersection to Pike 2 Bike
Once out at the far end, we rode another mile just to see where the roads lead. Then we
turned around and went back.
Exit of Sideling Hill Tunnel, looking west
After our ride I drove to Trexlertown. The last couple of years, the cancer support group, Spokes of Hope, was at Trexlertown to honor pediatric cancer survivors. This year, the invitation did not come until Wednesday, so we scrambled to get participants, both big and small.
Valley Preferred Velodrome Trexlertown, Pa.
I arrived at 3:30, we took some practice rides on the track at 4:00 p.m., coached by Cindi Hart. The kids stayed down (on the track). The grownups stayed up. Cindi ran us through some drills but in the end I think it was just the two of us.
After the practice ride I went on to over to the Bob Rodale fitness track. Three lanes: slow bikes on left, roller bladers in the middle, fast bikes on the right. What a great track to ride.
Cancer Survivors and Warriors
At 7:00 p.m. (scheduled) or 7:15 or 7:20 (actual) we were introduced to the crowd at the Valley Preferred Velodrome. We took 3-4 laps and the crowd cheered the entire time for the survivors and cancer warriors. It warmed my heart.
The races are a blast to watch, especially the Madison where teammates take turns and sling their partners ahead when they make the exchange. The German-Austrian duo of Marcel Kalz and Andreas Graf killed the field, lapping them in both the 50 and 100 lap races although American and local favorite, Bobby Lea, was not there.
My dear cousins, Stacey and Gary Gravina, came over from Phillipsburg, New Jersey to see me (or maybe just see the races). It was so great to see them and their boys.
Barry and Stacey
Abandoned tunnels in western Pa., velodrome in eastern Pa. – I’d say it was a good day.
• Rain fell from the beginning at 2:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m.
• Rode in Memory of Jacob the Hero Grecco and Jamie Roberts
• Rode in Honor of Alex Shepherd
• First 70 miles were tough with cold and wet conditions zapping my energy
• Planned to ride throughout the night but was getting cold and realized I would not handle that many hours without sleep
• Retreated to car about 2:45 a.m. for a couple of hours of sleep
• Knew I was on pace for 200 miles but only by skipping lunch
• I ate lunch
• Marveled at a 20-something woman who rode like the Energizer Bunny. She was up to 280 miles and told me she wasn't stopping the rest of the way.
• I escorted a woman to help her finish her first 100 miles.
• After the event I was 18 miles short of 200 (14 really since Garmin was off for two laps). I stayed an extra hour to get the miles, hence 25 Hours of Booty
• Final distance was actually 204.2 miles
The weather did not look promising. Still, there was only a 40% chance of rain in Columbia. They missed that one. Try 100%. All day. It was raining as we took to the start line. While there a woman looked at me and said “Hey, you were here last year. You wore the F**k You Cancer jersey.” I laughed. “Well, it’s FUCANCER and I am wearing the socks.
I then regretted not having my FUCANCER jersey (any of them). But I later discovered that I did have one of my jerseys with me. I wore my Bootystrong, Spokes of Hope, and Stand Up to Cancer jerseys throughout the 24 hours.
Our opening ceremony featured remarks by the organizer. Another, a guest who had lost his infant son, told a joke about how much he loved breasts. It made everybody cringe. We waited for recognition for Jamie Roberts, who had been killed on a cross-country cancer ride for the organization that benefitted from this ride. There was none.
Survivors, followed by top fundraisers, were to line up at the beginning. It appeared to me that the groups were mixed and everyone took off at once when it was announced. It would be more meaningful if they let survivors-only go. And then one minute later, let the top fundraisers go. Then one minute later, let everybody else go. Or let the top fundraisers go first. But a separation in the groups.
At the end of the first lap, and I went through it first – third year in a row, I pulled over and waited for my sister, Betsy, to roll by. And waited. And waited. Finally, after being lapped twice by the field, she came by and told me she had had a flat. She walked her bike back to the Race Pace tent and had them repair it.
We rode. We got wet. The temperature was 70° so it wasn’t that chilly although there was no warming sun. When we stopped around 7:00 p.m. for dinner I had 70 miles but was chilled to the bone, sitting in a tent, soaking wet. I thought about calling it a day/night then. I went to the car, changed clothes, and turned the heat on high. Aaaaah.
With dry clothes I hit the course again. My intention was to ride 24 hours although I am not a night person. I rode until “midnight pizza” arrived and then turned off my Garmin for the first time. I wanted to record a 24 hour ride but didn’t know about battery life. So I shut down the Garmin while I ate.
Done with pizza, I turned Garmin back on to a mishmash screen of incredibly small fonts. It appeared it was in diagnostic mode. I could not get it to work. My plan all along had been to count laps and take a water/bio break every 10 laps (21 miles). So I kept counting.
After two laps I went back to my car for an extra layer and turned on the Garmin. This time it worked. I only missed 4.2 miles.
Around 2:30 a.m. the realization finally struck. I suck at sleep deprivation. It seemed on course there were only four of us but it could have been five times as many as we were spread out. Still cold, but no longer wet, I thought some time off the bike would be useful.
If I could make one cancer patient’s life better by riding 24 hours I would never stop. But at this point, the money has been raised and the time on the bike was purely personal. That is all. It’s good for a humblebrag. I took a break.
When the sun came out I switched to my Trek Domane as the roads dried. At breakfast, Betsy and I sat with Paul Lemle. On course I rode with John Phipps and counted laps with him as his Garmin quit working too.
There were a few riders who openly declared they were riding 24 hours and piling up the miles. One of these had a coach or wife just beyond the start/finish line. He didn’t plan to exit the course to take on food/water but simply have it handed to him on course. I saw him take bottles from her on the fly and toss his empty bottles aside. And then he was sitting in the grass. Just sitting. For an hour. Then he left. I don’t know what happened. Hard crash? Mechanical? Bad idea?
Jim Gleason was one of the ultra-riders (although not the one mentioned above) and was the top fundraiser. Another was a young (20-something?) woman who routinely lapped the field every 5-6 laps. Around 10:30 a.m. she told me she was at 280 miles and was not getting off her bike until the end.
But she was no longer lapping me (and John) and each lap on the climb up the start/finish line, we passed her. She passed back on the back stretch but I also noticed she no longer pedaled on the downhill portion. Near the end she was off her bike and sitting in the grass. She was awesome, racking up more than 300 miles and also she was human.
Garmin beeped. Low battery. I knew if I was to get 200 miles that I was going to have to skip lunch. Once Garmin beeped I decided to go for lunch. I put Garmin in the car on accessory and gave it a charge while taking my time at lunch. I traded miles for lunch and my chance to reach 200 miles.
We were instructed to talk to people, and I tried. But so many people had earbuds in which screams to me “LEAVE ME ALONE.” So I didn’t talk to them. But late in the ride I was next to Veronica Galindo de Otazo and asked her who she was riding for. She said a friend of her daughter’s mother, who had a second recurrence of breast cancer. We rode and talked.
Veronica was also trying to get to 100 miles. At 12:26 p.m. we told me she was at 84 miles and wouldn’t make it. I told her she would. We would break it down. I told her we needed eight laps and at eight minutes per lap, we could finish with 20 minutes to spare. We did and she thanked me. She told me without me supporting her she wouldn’t have made it.
As we were held at 1:45 p.m. to begin the last lap, I put on my Team Alex T-shirt. At the completion of Booty I was at 184 miles. I decided to make it 25 Hours of Booty and get the 200 miles.
When I got home I realized those diagnostics that appeared in Garmin – it was fried. I could not offload the data. But I do have the picture and the course is a loop.
EDIT/EPILOGUE – Jamie never was recognized. A number of us waited to see if there would be something at one of the meals. Maybe a callup for a lap or two in her memory. Nothing. I expressed my disappointment in the organization that they didn’t recognize her life, her contribution. The CEO called me. It wasn’t to apologize for failing to honor Jamie. No, it was to chastise me for making a social media post that would criticize his organization. He said that he and Basil (the 24 Hours of Booty CEO) discussed this before the event and decided not to honor her. As he said, “everybody honors somebody.”
Yes, I followed a woman who had pictures of her cats that she had lost to cancer. Jamie’s life was way more important than those cats. The CEO also said I should have talked to him. I pointed out that neither he nor his COO or anyone from the organization bothered to show up. They just wanted us to fundraise so they could cash the check and continue to live in their McMansions on horse farms in Howard County.
It would be the last time I raised money for this event.
Each year it seems harder to bring myself to New Hampshire to ride this mountain. But it seems to be more about the 1,400-mile drive (round trip) than the ride up the mountain. And this year I wasn’t “feeling it.”
I was surprised when earlier this week my daughter, Ashley, asked me when I was going and if I needed a driver. I hadn’t made any gearing adjustments to my bike and was planning to call it a career at six successful hill climbs.
But with Ashley volunteering, if not wanting to go, I decided to go. Besides, I would see the Gubinski family again.
Two years ago was to be my last time racing this mountain. I needed a ride down and found the Gubinski family, or they found me. But every rider needed a driver and no vehicles could go to the summit that Saturday morning unless they were bringing a cyclist back down the mountain. It was a marriage of convenience. Lucas and Alexa were hiking to the summit and their parents, Vic and Alison, were to drive up and meet them – as long as they were bringing a rider back down. And thus we met.
Navigating here yesterday, and anticipating it would be the last time, I decided to try a different approach to North Conway. We came up I-91 so we could stop at our favorite rest stop in Vermont. Then we followed US 302 and came in on the other side of the mountain through Crawford Notch, a drive neither of us had done before.
I never saw a moose before until Ashley came with me in 2007. The race was canceled that year but she was happy – she saw a moose. She came with me again in 2008 and, again, we saw a moose. Ashley hasn’t been with me since 2008 and I haven’t seen another moose. Yesterday, we saw a moose. When I told my friends, the Family Gubinski about her “Moose Whispering” skill, they didn’t believe it – they always wanted to see a moose. So we left registration at the same time. We found another moose.
This morning I was hoping the race would be canceled. It would be appropriate bookends that Ashley was with me for my first (2007) and last (2014) races and both were canceled. The weather did not look great. When I checked before leaving the hotel it was 37 degrees at the summit with winds at 44 mph – wind chill was 23 degrees.
On the other hand, were the Gubinski twins, Alexa and Lucas. I had met them two years ago when they hiked to the top of the mountain. They loved watching the race and decided to come back – as racers. And they talked me into coming back last year. And this year. And today they were excited and ready to go. Alexa had taken brakes off her bike, weighed her water bottles to take the lightest ONE, and was going up without a spare tube or tool kit. She is extreme!
Before coming here I had purchased a larger cassette (32 tooth) to put on my bike but hadn’t, thinking I would return it unopened for a refund (if the race was canceled). This would make the bike easier to pedal. I had my mechanics change the front ring from a 30 to a 24 but last year ran a 24:28. The 24:32 would be better.
Ashley went up the mountain. The starter gun (actually was a small cannon) went off for the first wave of pro and “Top Notch” riders. I decided I better put the cassette on my bike. I was in the fifth and last group to start, 20 minutes behind.
This took me back to Cub Scouts when I was working on building a plane on a wire. I waited until the last minute to attach the propeller. At the race, my place won its first two heats, easily in fact. In the third, the propeller came loose and fell off because the glue had not set yet. This was a life lesson that should have taught me preparation. It did not.
But it did not go as expected. I had a new lighter wheel from my Trek Domane which I planned to switch to my climbing bike. It has an 11-speed cassette. My mechanic assured me the wheel would fit, and I guess it did, but it did not like the new 10-speed cassette. I couldn’t get the cassette fully tightened.
It could have been operator error but the second group was now headed up the mountain. (Just three groups left to go.) I took the last three gear cluster from the 10-speed and replaced the last three gear cluster from the 11-speed and tightened it. Now I was running an 11-speed cluster on my 10-speed bike/derailleur. This, my friends, is not a good combination. That 10-speed cluster is not meant for the 11-speed hub and I didn’t even bother to test it. I failed Cub Scouts too.
I was sitting in a field with two wheels, neither of which was working with my bike, and less than 10 minutes to go. The gears would have to be. I lined up at the back of the last group, which was also the largest group. I started dead last (which I always do). There were two unicyclists ahead of me. The cannon sounded. I didn’t move. The group had to space out first as they took off.
My gears seemed to work only for the first three but anything beyond that and they were skipping. That cluster of three gears was molded as one whereas the rest were individually added with a washer. Those other gears would be problematic except I would never get to them. I could have ridden a single-speed up the mountain as long as it had 24:32 gearing.
The weather was warm, around 70º (21ºC), at the base, and I, along with most racers, wore a short sleeve jersey. No jacket. No arm warmers.
The lower section (first two miles) is just beautiful. It’s just a 12% grade road headed up through a deep forest. At 1.5 miles I passed the first of a few people pushing their bikes. In the past, this was mentally deflating but not today. I kept going not even thinking about them.
Around Mile Three or Mile Four it got cold. Real cold. Real fast. I sort of envied those riders who had jackets or arm warmers. The wind was strong – at times it was a headwind.
I came to Mile Four realizing it was more than halfway. I wasn’t working that hard. I felt good. I passed a red bib rider (first group). Plenty of yellow (second), blue (third), and purple (fourth) too. Although I had been passed earlier by both unicyclists who were racing (after I passed them at the beginning), I overtook them too.
The top of the mountain was cold – my hands were starting to feel it a little, but otherwise, I was OK. I came to the final 22% grade and saw the Gubinski family cheering for me. I smiled. I waved. I gave thumbs up. I slowed down.
I finally shifted into my lowest gear (32t). I made a big deal about changing that cassette and never once used the lowest gear. So I made sure to get my money’s worth. I climbed the 22% grade and looked at the time – 1:48. Yuck. Same as always.
I was surprised. I thought I had done better. It’s about power to weight (ratio) and even though my weight is up this summer I felt good. This was the first hill climb where the “Quit Monster” didn’t hound me. Thoughts of Jake The Hero Grecco, Alex Shepherd, and Jamie Roberts carried me to the top. Every previous climb here I have had to fight not to quit or stop. Today was cool. Just climb. And since I didn’t use the easiest gear, I thought I might be going better than last year. I guess the wind or maybe cold slowed me down. Ah, it didn’t matter.
I don’t have power data but I do have heart rate data for my seven climbs:
Each year I hit my max on the final climb. The last three years my average has been 161; before that, it was 156. I have no idea what all this means except I’m alive.
As far as perceived effort, my climb in 2008 was a 10. I want to think today’s effort was a 6, which is probably not what one wants to do in a race. But twice I almost stopped not to rest but to take a picture. The only reason I didn’t was it is so hard to get started on a 12% (or higher) grade.
Ashley found me, we took some pictures (seven times up the mountain!) and I found the Gubinski Family. Alexa came in at 1:20:30 and, as she would find out later, finished 5th in the Women’s Division. Lucas did well too, coming in under 1:15.
At the bottom, we enjoyed a great turkey dinner and said goodbye to our friends. I didn’t want to make this trip this year but am glad I did. Although it’s good to retire with seven straight climbs, I do have that new cassette, only used once (and with a low gear almost not used at all). Any takers?
As for real racers, John Kronborg Ebsen beat Cameron Cogburn (and 516 others) to win in 52:53. Marti Shea won for the fourth time in 1:06:01.
“Shea hoped to finish the climb in under 65 minutes, but the cold and windy weather got in the way of that plan. The temperature was just over 40 degrees and winds about 35 miles per hour for a wind chill factor of 25 degrees when the top riders reached the summit.
“‘Down below, the weather was good,’ said Shea, ‘But around four miles the wind started, and then it was off and on – a side wind, then a head wind. I was losing body temperature. There have been a few races here with conditions like this, but this may have been the worst I’ve seen. Anyway, I’m happy about my fourth win.'”
Race Report Source: Facebook page of Mt. Washington Auto Road Bicycle Hillclimb (16 Aug 2014)
My Strava time was 1:46:53. Not competing for anything other than PRs, this is more accurate than the cannon time since I am usually near the end of the group and can lose up to 90 seconds or so at the start. But this is point-to-point and is consistent over time. My PR is 1:42:15. I am, if nothing else, consistent. Consistently bad perhaps, but consistent.
I had told my friend, Chey Hillsgrove, I’d be joining him at the end of his cross country cancer ride. I had hoped to get their route and ride backward from Bremerton or Bainbridge, Island, until I found them.
My friends, Dale & Kimber Polley were visiting in Seattle. Kimber wanted to take me to Chey (after some begging by me, I think). It worked out because while I envisioned we would encounter the riders on the road and I would start at that point, we left very early and Chey’s group planned to leave very late. We arrived in Port Townsend before many of the riders did (they had homestay visits the night before).
I said hello to Chey then met Shelby Perkins. Shelby was a college classmate and soccer teammate of Jamie Roberts and it was good for both of us to meet someone who knew her. Riders and friends joined hands for a dedication circle.
Words cannot explain what being part of a dedication circle means and I won’t try. Suffice it to say that my two highlights of a week of riding were meeting Alex Shepherd in Ashland, Oregon and being in the dedication circle. Neither involved riding.
We rolled out as a group, apparently minus one. I was riding with Mike McDonald (Virginia Tech) and chatting about others. He told me Adrienne Rivera also goes to Va. Tech and I asked where she was. After looking around he said “missing.”
Chey had dropped back to go find her. Ellie Stevens, Natalie Fischer, and I waited. Natalie left cue clues for them on the paths. Once we got together the five of us rode as a group the rest of the day.
At Mile 15 I pulled over long enough to raise my bike above my head to the bewilderment of the other riders. I just celebrated “Around the World” – 24,901.6 miles ridden cancer-free (started in 2010).
The first water stop was by the sound and by some fabulous blackberry bushes. I failed to grasp at the time that the entire area is basically covered with wild blackberry bushes. I started picking and sharing blackberries wherever I could find them.
These were the best blackberries I have ever eaten. I know now the best blackberries come from the coast of Washington. The best strawberries come from Finland.
Ahead of us was a steep hill. It measured 1/2 mile from the bottom which included the lower section where the water stop was. The “wall” portion was 1/4 mile long and it kicked up to 20% in a couple of stretches.
I had preloaded a turn-by-turn cue to Garmin which Chey provided two days earlier. That helped our navigation. Once we actually went off cue to stay on course, in the process saving some miles (I think). Later we followed riders up the road even when Garmin told us to turn. Garmin was right but we were with everybody else.
(This is also why it was not a good idea to go to the end then ride backward until we me. Chey’s group was prone to going off-course at times but then did make it across the country so they did something right!)
We rolled into the campground for the riders’ last night. I thought they deserved better than camping on their last night. Actually I’ll say it – they deserved better than camping on their last night.
After a quick lunch with Chey and his friends, I decided not to bike the surface roads back to Bremerton but instead to ride to the Seattle ferry. I was first in line to get on the boat and first off – which I needed. Because then I had to figure out the system — get a ticket to the Bremerton ferry which was boarding. I was last in line and last on the boat. But I made it.
The riding was fun but the dedication circle made the day. Jamie, Jake, Alex.
This ride was simple. Find someone’s ride on RidewithGPS.com. Download it to my Garmin. Follow it. Improvise at will.
I am as Pennsylvanian as they come with all my ancestors of at least five generations having been born in Pennsylvania. With one exception. My grandmother, Ruth Ann (States) Lowmaster was born in Oregon. Sweet Home, Oregon. Her dad, John T. States, was a lumberman in Indiana Co., Pa., in the early 1900s. He and two brothers went to Oregon as did the family of Mae Bartlebaugh, who was probably then 15 (when she moved).
While in Oregon, they met, married, and in 1907 my grandmother was born. Family tragedy would bring them back to Pennsylvania by 1911 and my grandmother never returned to Oregon to see where she lived, a disappointment she carried with her.
Dam at Green Peter Lake
Today was my day. I started by a covered bridge then rode out on US 20 – the same US 20 that rolls through Erie, Pa. I followed Foster Lake then made a climb through the lush forest to Green Peter Lake. I turned around and went alongside the other side of the lake and then my map took me away from town. I could have crossed a bridge and made a loop, albeit 20 miles or so but I was looking for 40 (or so).
Green Peter Lake
The (pre-programmed) route I was on was called Berlin Wall and the author sort of chastised anyone that wanted to try. I was on Berlin Road and this was a good name for it. I started climbing and reasoned it couldn’t be too hard. It kept climbing. And kept getting steeper. I was working hard to get myself over the top. Well done guys!
Liberty Rock Products
Once over the top it was down in the valley to a loop turnaround. I was passed by a number of logging trucks and two Weyerhaeuser plants. No mistaking, this is a lumber town.
Back in town I continued through town looking for a cemetery and looking for miles since I was close to 50. The cemetery is Gilliland, which I found (with help from a rural letter carrier). My great-great-grandmother, Emma Ruth (Ross) Painter, mother of Mae (Bartlebaugh) States, is buried here. I found her grave and was completely satisfied with a day of riding around my grandmother’s birthplace and a little tombstone hopping.
I have dreamed for years of visiting Crater Lake but it’s pretty isolated for this East Coaster. But when I started planning this trip I knew I could visit the lake. And not visit but to ride around it.
Both Crater Lake and Alex Shepherd are in the southern part of Oregon. Alex is a 12 year-old battling brain cancer. He’s an avid cyclist as well and last year I made a promise to him or to myself that I would ride with him.
I drove to Crater Lake and, following one rider’s suggestion, parked at Rim Lodge and rode clockwise. I would not recommend this.
It was a beautiful morning if not a bit chilly. The temperature was in the low 50s. I wore arm warmers and a vest. Headed out I headed up. None of the climbing was hard – just long. On my first climb I came to stopped traffic and went up the road past them to the front. There I had 15 minutes of quality conversation with a flagman. In the park they were working to remove loose rock along the side of the road before nature does.
There are more than 30 pull-offs. At one I saw two women both taking a picture of each other. I stopped and asked if they both wanted to be in one. They were so glad I stopped. Then they asked how far I would ride and I replied “around the lake.” They asked me if I could do that in a day. I told them I better do it in three hours.
Phantom Ship Rock
At one lookout I met Mike from Tucson who was riding a trail bike. At the Phantom Ship I met an older lady, probably 70, who was riding counter-clockwise. She told me counter-clockwise was easier because there’s less climbing. I’m still scratching my head on that one. To me there’s the same elevation gain and loss no matter which direction one rides. She may be referring to one direction has more linear climbing because the grades are less but longer while the other direction has steeper grades. And that would depend on your climbing preference.
As far as parking at Rim Lodge, I might recommend that for a counter-clockwise ride. But on a clockwise route with three miles to finish, I passed the visitors’ center (a good place to start). Then I began a three mile climb to Rim Lodge, to the finish. After three hours in the saddle I would have preferred not to finish with a climb. Like direction, you’re going to get the same amount wherever you start but I would much prefer starting with the climb while my legs are fresh.
Overlook at Rim Lodge
After the ride at Crater Lake I drove to Ashland to meet Alex. At first, Alex and his mother, Aushna, were out trying to get his medications and Aushna encouraged me to meet her husband, Dan, and daughter, Lily. Dan is also an avid cyclist and I thoroughly enjoyed talking about cycling (and life) with him. We also discussed Alex’s situation and their efforts to get him into a trial.
It was late in the day, I had been there for a couple of hours and still no Alex. I was on East Coast time and was getting tired. I also had a four hour drive ahead of me. I thought about leaving a note for Alex and Aushna but decided one doesn’t do that. I would stay until midnight to meet Alex.
Alex and Aushna did come home and I was able to meet them. Alex isn’t riding his bike right now, a couple of brain surgeries in the past few weeks will do that to you. But what a neat kid. He showed me some of the motorized Legos that he has built. I told him to let me know when he’s back on his bike – I still want to come out and ride with him.
Aushna Shepherd, Barry Sherry
This is an incredibly beautiful family. My prayers are with this family daily and I ask that you join me.
I rode with a group of college students riding to Portland on their second and third days in Pennsylvania. This trip had been planned for quite a while and I hoped to see them again in Oregon. Once Jamie Roberts was killed I knew that I must see them, not for their sake but for mine.
Bridge over Willamette River, Corvallis, Ore.
Aaron Hoxworth sent me their turn-by-turn directions and I told him I would ride the route backward from Corvallis to Eugene to find them. I started my day by riding to a rental car facility in Portland, taking it back then barely squeezing the bike box in the car. But it fit.
I drove to Corvallis and arrived later than I wanted to but it was the best I could do. Wheels down at 10:00 a.m. I followed my preloaded map and directions. I had ridden about 11 miles when, out on a country road next to the Willamette River, I saw four riders coming to me in the distance. As I passed they called out my name. I did a U-turn and congratulated each rider.
We rode together for a little more than two miles then I turned around and and went back to find the second group. There too I was met with warm greetings as I turned and rode with them. And I did the same for groups 3, 4, and 5.Once I hooked onto the last group, one with Ki Young Kim in it, I was enjoying good conversation when I saw the second group off to the side of the road. I told Ki Young I would drop off and ride back with them.
First Caitlin Epps was sitting on the ground, bike upside down, spinning the wheel and trying to true the wheel. Then Ashley Arnold took over. I was really impressed. On Day 2 they struggled with changing flats and here they were truing a wheel.
Once back on the road I took them the way I came which was over a wonderfully old rickety wooden bridge in Corvallis. Unfortunately that meant we missed coming off the newer bridge and seeing the mark to the lunch stop. It was only one more mile to the Boys and Girls Club – their hosts for the night, but it was noon. And we were the only ones there.
A quick phone call and we discovered where lunch was. Another mile back – bonus miles – and I got to meet the rest of the team. It was good to see them happy and I spent some private time with Caitlin. I said goodbye to Aaron, and not many more, because after an impromptu game of barefoot soccer, most of the riders scattered into town.
I was so happy to see them. They have come a long way – much further than 4,000 miles on a bike.
Bridge over Willamette River, Corvallis, Oregon
What’s Missing Here Joanna Wang?
(With Chris Blazer)
Portland, along with
Minneapolis and Boulder, is one of those “bike Mecca” places.
I’m not sure anyone is a fan of riding in urban areas but if you have to
ride in a major city, try it out in one of these cities. Your turn: Portland.
Alaska Airlines operated by Horizon
My biggest fear was
getting here, knowing I’d be flying with my bike and on a small plane
from Seattle to Portland. As I boarded, from the rear, I asked the guy
in the cargo hold if my bike was in there. He said it was. Sweet.
Suitcase and Bike Case
I figured out the light rail system and for $2.50 took a train to downtown Portland then put my bike on the suitcase and rolled them both up the street to the hotel. It was about a six block walk and beat paying $40 for a cab.
Once to the hotel and I got the bike assembled, I went for ride. Completely by “feel.” There’s a river (Willamette) so I reasoned it would be hard to get lost.
I stopped at Metropolis Cycle Repair on Williams Street for a CO2 cartridge (can’t fly with them) as well as some lube. And some free air. The guy in the shop was very friendly and directed me up towards the St. Johns Bridge.
St. Johns Bridge
It was a nice ride up and back. I was gone long enough to form some impressions.
First, there are lots of bike lanes. But like a lot of cities, the bike lanes are dangerously close to parked cars or include the gutter.
Second, glass. It’s America. There is broken glass on the sides of the road, which is where the bike lanes usually are. Proceed with caution.
Third, signage. Sometimes good. Sometimes spotty. I followed the signs to the St. Johns Bridge until I lost the scent. Same with Downtown Portland to get back.
Fourth, track stands. At every intersection multiple cyclists can be stopped waiting for the light. The really cool cyclists do track stands, that is, balance on their bikes without ever putting a foot on the ground. I’m not that cool.
I’m not a fan of urban riding but it’s a great city to ride in.
I’ve done this ride before although never quite like this. It was “wheels down” at 6:30 a.m. on a cool morning with a cloud cover. I left Friedens and rode up Pa. Rte 281 to Stoystown and not a single car passed me. I stopped briefly to take a picture when I found one of the decorative 1930s gas pumps that celebrate the Old Lincoln Highway.
In Stoystown I got on Plank Road for what should have been an enjoyable descent down to and past the Quemahoning Reservoir. And then I remembered a couple of weeks earlier laughing at Frenchman Arnaud Demare stopping during the Tour de France and running into someone’s camper to use their bathroom. Karma would get her revenge today although there were no campers alongside these forested roads. The good thing is that no cars passed me on this stretch of road either. (**)it happens.
Riding my new Trek Domane, I was wondering if my average speed would be higher today than it was four years ago when I was chased by Rottweilers. But I rode at a relaxed pace, often stopping to take pictures. Or other things.
In Northern Cambria at Mile 55, I stopped at the home of Don & Nancy Lowmaster for a needed water break. The sun had come out, it was warming up, and I had depleted my water. Nancy refilled my bottles with ice and water.
Although another 20 miles remained to my destination of a reunion site, these were the hardest miles for me. While the climb out of Johnstown seems somewhat steep, the road is good and the grade is constant. Once on these back country roads the climbs become stepper, the surface a little rougher, but for me, the hardest part is the grades are not consistent. It is hard to find a pedaling rhythm.
On Arcadia Road, I remembered a loose dog last year, so I sped up and went into stealth mode. I thought I was by safely. Then to my right heel was a pit bull chasing. Oh boy. But I was already 200 yards past his house and I think he was more chase than catch. At least today he was.
Just before Smithport someone went by and called out “Hi Barry.” I have no idea who it was.
After the reunion, I decided to ride on to Gobbler’s Knob and into Punxsutawney. I had never been to Gobbler’s Knob. It was another 6-7 miles with much of it on those nasty little climbs that are steep with no consistency. It was August 2 – six months after or six months before Groundhog Day. Was I early or was I late? It didn’t matter. It was a sweet ride down to Punxsutawney to end the day.
I had my dad leave the reunion and drive my car to the County Market in Punxsutawney to pick me up.
A check of the data shows I was not faster than four years ago although it was my second fastest time – even while not feeling so hot.