Ride with the Governor


This was the 9th Annual Governor’s Ride. I had signed up for it when it was scheduled for the day after the Sea Gull Century last month but both were canceled due to flooding from Hurricane Joaquin.

Governor Jack Markell

I left the house at 5:15 a.m. for the two and a quarter hour drive to Smyrna. The sun was rising as I crossed the Chesapeake Bay Bridge in Annapolis. I pulled into the parking lot at 7:30 a.m., relieved that I had 30 minutes before wheels down.

Cory Marshall-Steele
Cory Marshall-Steele

I found Branon Cooper, who drove in from Pennsylvania. I know him from Spokes of Hope – we last rode together in August at Trexlertown. He then introduced me to Cory Marshall-Steele, who organized the ride and someone I have corresponded with on Find a Grave over the years.

Rolling out - Mile 1. Governor in Blue
Rolling out – Mile 1. Governor in Blue

We rolled out of the Municipal Park with a full police escort. We had four or five SUVs and that many motorcycles leading the way for us. Initially, the governor, Jack Markell (Delaware) set the pace. There was an immediate gap and I stayed up front – there were eight of us from the 75-member group.

Leading out the pack - Barry on front.  --Credit: Facebook Page, Governor Jack Markell
Leading out the pack – Barry on front. — Credit: Facebook Page, Governor Jack Markell

But the pace slowed down a little to allow everyone to organize. Branon was going to introduce me to Jack but I found myself riding side by side with the governor. We talked a little – not about politics. I imagine the ride is nice for him that he doesn’t talk politics. He told me he has ridden the W&OD “out to Purcellville.” Nice guy.

Branon Cooper, Barry Sherry
Branon Cooper, Barry Sherry

Branon and I moved to the front and tried to set a reasonable pace that wouldn’t blow the group apart. We pulled most of the way to the first rest stop at Woodland Beach – which was right on the Delaware bay. We could see across the bay to New Jersey.


We rolled out of the first stop, again, Branon and I at the front quite a bit. One guy came past us and kept going, maybe in an attempt to pick up the pace, but we were in danger of dropping everyone. We let him go. After a quick in and out at Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge I was on the front when we hit Parson Point Road – a chip and tar road that was more chip than tar. I set a pace I was comfortable with – I prefer faster to slower for safety in the loose gravel.


After we got through the chipped road, we sort of regrouped. We were on a country road when we passed a house with two dogs running loose. The owner was furiously trying to corral the younger one, a pit bull chasing bikes. There were motorcycle cops at the front and rear of the group and a governor somewhere in the mix. I could picture the dog attacking the governor and a cop, well, intervening. But the dog was all bark – no bite.


After the second rest stop I decided to roll out last and sit in with the last group. Except I couldn’t. I was behind them for a while but they were too slow. When it was safe to pass, I went through and had to bridge up to the next group which was 1/4 mile away. And after a few minutes I worked my way through that group and bridged up to the next one. That was sort of fun. In a day of casual riding I could still hammer by bridging to new groups.

Branon Cooper, Barry Sherry
A triple – Wilson is the middle rider

We all pulled over for someone with a flat and once we rolled out I did the same thing: started last then bridged up to the front groups. At the end there was lunch but I didn’t have time to stick around. I thanked Corey and the state troopers then headed home.

Barry Sherry, Jack Markell
Barry Sherry, Jack Markell

It was a beautiful day although a bit windy and cold at start (45 degrees). But it was otherwise perfect. I didn’t mind a slower than normal pace* (maybe a B or CC) but I’m not a fan of 30 minute rest stops. In all I had 1:10 of down time – way too much for these legs. But I am really looking forward to doing this ride again next year.

*Actually my moving pace was 15.8 mph which was much faster than I thought. The lengthy time spent at the two stops made me think the pace was slower than it was.


My Last Ride With Dad


After a lifetime of not riding with my dad, three years ago I was able to take him on the Great Allegheny Passage which runs through his backyard in Somerset County, Pa. We went again in 2013 but missed a ride last year (despite trying but my dad was too tired the day we were going to ride). This time, we got it right.

Markleton on the GAP
Markleton on the GAP

I told my sister, Betsy, that I would meet her and Dad at Markleton, Pa. on the Great Allegheny Passage. Betsy followed him to Fort Hill, where he left his Jeep, then the two of them drove and met me at Markleton. It was in the low 60s but absolutely beautiful.

GAP near Markleton
GAP near Markleton

I chose this route because of the newly opened Pinkerton tunnel. Also, my dad hadn’t been this far on the trail. I knew it trended downhill from Markleton to Fort Hill and packed a lot of scenery into its five miles.

GAP in the Fall
GAP in the Fall

With leaves mostly still on the trees in Northern Virginia, it was strange to be here where most leaves are on the ground. The trail was fully covered in places.

Cassleman River near Markleton
Casselman River near Markleton

Words cannot describe how pretty the trail is. We went a couple of miles then came to the Pinkerton Trestles. It was probably 10 years since I last rode through here which was always Trestle – Detour – Trestle. And that was a beautiful route.

Dad at Pinkerton Low Trestle

Prior to the tunnel, the trail followed the railbed across the Pinkerton Low trestle. Rather than enter the tunnel, there was a one-mile detour out and around the tunnel which followed the natural flow of the Castleman River. But with the tunnel open it was now a straight shot from trestle to tunnel to trestle.

Pinkerton Tunnel
Pinkerton Tunnel

With the tunnel opened, it was even more beautiful. Although the trail trended downhill, it is mostly flat. One can’t coast but pedaling is a little easier in this direction. We were in a heavy forest and with leaves on the trail one could not see the surface of the trail.

Heavy leaf coverage on the trail
Heavy leaf coverage on the trail

And then – the trestle. We came to the Pinkerton trestle although we didn’t stop on it. We saw the tunnel and kept riding. It is not lighted, one would be helpful but is not necessary.

Pinkerton Tunnel
Pinkerton Tunnel

At the far end, we were on the Pinkerton High Trestle. We stopped and took pictures off of this one.

Pinkerton High Trestle
Pinkerton High Trestle

Reaching Fort Hill where his Jeep was parked, my dad asked, “Is this the end?” There was resignation in his voice but he wanted to keep riding. I was worried that if we rode four miles down to Harnedsville it would be too much for my 86 year-old father to ride another four miles back up to his car. I grabbed his keys and drove his Jeep down to Harnedsville. And so we rode.

Besty, Dad, Barry
Besty, Dad, Barry

Betsy and my dad rode ahead. Arriving at the trailhead with his Jeep, I rode back up to the trail to meet them and we then continued to the Harnedsville trailhead. At the end, we got a little concerned when he went into the middle of the road where the trail crosses. He stopped. This is a road normally lightly traveled, but now there was a car coming from each direction. Betsy yelled “Dad!” I got the attention of one car and motioned for him to slow or stop. All of a sudden it click and Dad said “OK!” Then he moved. Whew!

Dad near Markleton

Although my Dad wanted to ride ahead and look at a church in Harnedsville, there was no way we were going to ride on the road with him.  I loaded his bike in his Jeep and he drove home.

GAP at Confluence
GAP at Confluence

Betsy and I rode on down to Confluence. We looked for a place for a snack and found stairs leading from the trail with a bike trough to walk the bikes. The problem was the trough was on the side and not in the middle so the pedals hit the supports as I pushed the bike. Oh well.

Stairs from the GAP, Confluence, Pa.
Stairs from the GAP, Confluence, Pa.

We grabbed some cookies and a drink then rode back up to Markleton. What a gorgeous day on a bike.

Confluence overlooking the Youghigheny
Confluence overlooking the Youghiogheny

UPDATE: (SEPT. 14, 2016) – This post has been updated to “My Last Ride With Dad.” With each ride, we wondered if this was our last ride with him but this ride had more of a finality to it than the others. My dad seemed a little out of it standing in the road and I worried for his safety going home. He made it safely and then promptly sold the Jeep.

He never talked about it but looking back I sense he knew his mind was failing and that it was best to sell that beat-up Jeep he loved so much. We were just talking about another ride this spring when he fell in April. I wanted one more ride. I looked at first at recumbent bikes. Handcycles. Tandems where I did the work. Ultimately, he would never ride again. And on this day we said goodbye to him we were thankful for the rides we shared with him. We were the lucky ones.

Livestrong for Alex


Six years ago I didn’t see myself doing charity rides but then … cancer. And today I lined up for my fifth Livestrong Challenge. Two were in Philly (actually King of Prussia) and now the third in Austin.

Lexi Rogers
Barry with Lexi Rogers. She was my bicycle buddy for the Texas 4000 and we got to meet at In N Out Burger Saturday night.

I wanted to ride with 13 year-old Alex Shepherd in Oregon but never got the chance. At his service in June I told his dad, Dan Shepherd, I’d like for him to join me in Austin and we would ride for Alex.

Dan at the end of the road
Dan at the end of the road

I arrived on Thursday and attempted to find a route called the Volente Loop using a downloaded file on my GPS. The problem was there were a couple spots where the route crossed over (think figure eight) and the GPS wasn’t sure, or probably I wasn’t sure, which way to go. At 16 miles I found myself back at my car. OK, at 95 degrees, I gave up.


Friday morning I went to the airport and picked up Dan. We didn’t have much time as he assembled his bike then we rode downtown to meet Will Swetnam and some of the Cyclists Combating Cancer group at Mellow Johnny’s. We rode over to a Rudy’s which is delicious BBQ in a gas station.

Four of Seven Yellow Jerseys at Mellow Johnny's. I think the Tour de France called and want these baclk.
Four of Seven Yellow Jerseys at Mellow Johnny’s. I think the Tour de France called and want these back.

Yesterday Dan and I went to Livestrong Headquarters to pick up our registration materials. After lunch were able to do the real Volenti Loop. Still hot with some punchy hills and “heavy” pavement. Those 42 miles seemingly took something out of me.

Dan adding Alex's name to the wall
Dan adding Alex’s name to the wall

This morning we timed our entrance perfectly. I had raised enough funds to get a priority start in the first coral. I wanted to ride with Dan but being in the front coral meant I could ride out with the top fund raisers. Our CCC team almost always the top team but this year we were second to “Lance and Friends.” Well good for him.

Ready to roll out
Ready to roll out

Lance Armstrong lined up in the first group and I thought if I had a chance to ride next to him, I would. I got to the coral at 7:29 a.m. One minute to spare. But there were lots of cyclists in cue and I was at the back of the group. I never even got a glimpse of Lance at the front.


We rolled out at 7:30. Our plan was for me to soft pedal if I wasn’t with Lance and in either case, we would meet at the first stop at Mile 10. I wasn’t with Lance and I began to back off the pace. At Mile 6 Dan and I joined up, both looking splendid in our Team Alex jerseys.

Texas 4000 at Rest Stop 2
Texas 4000 at Rest Stop 2. Ayesha Kang (middle). Ayesha is part of the 2016 Rockies Team.

I rode up behind a man wearing a picture of a child and said “tell me about your daughter.” I slowed to talk and I think Dan saw that it wasn’t all about the riding. The best moments of the day would come from riding.

On the road
On the road

At the second stop I met the kids from the Texas 4000. That was a surprise to them as I started dropping the names of Vanessa Beltran, and Lexi Rogers and others who were part of the program the past couple of years. They seemed genuinely excited to meet me. Well, I was excited to meet them too.


Each “challenge” is designed to feature a challenge on the century route. While this route was mostly flat with some rollers, I remembered well the Wall. Around Mile 50 you could see this butte in the distance. As one got closer you could see there was a road straight up the side to the top. Closer still, you could see almost everybody pushing their bikes.

As Dan pushed on I told him we should back off a little. Don’t want to hammer it and then having nothing left for the big climb. At Mile 48 we pulled into a rest stop. There I met Rudy the Chicken. A girl was holding him and offered to let me hold him. She now has me rethinking my love affair with Chick-fil-A,


As we rolled out I wondered about the Wall. Dan went ahead and I found myself next to a woman, Christy San Antonio. I asked her if she had ridden this century before. She looked at me and said “I rode a century yesterday.” She must have heard “ridden a century before.” We talked.

Dan Shepherd
Dan Shepherd

The next 25 miles went by as quickly as any I have ridden this year. Not quickly as in fast but quickly as in the time few by. Mostly, Christy and I rode side by side and did not notice we were pulling 12 riders. Christy’s friend, Christa Ginsburg, and Dan were busy talking too.

Christa Ginsberg and Christy San Antonio

Back at the rest stop (with the chicken – we made a loop) there’s always that moment of truth when you have been riding with strangers. Do you wait for one another or do you move on? Not sure who but we waited for one another and the four of us rolled out of this rest stop.


Both women are strong. Both are triathletes. Christy has been to Kona for the Iron Man. Do I need to say more? But on this day, her derailleur wasn’t functioning and she was stuck in a small ring on the back. Not the 11t but close to it. Having ridden a century the day before in Houston and now riding in a “big gear,” I actually had a chance to stay with her.


At the next stop we found a mechanic. He put the bike on a stand and said a piece of hair was in the derailleur and he removed it. None of us believed that was the cause but her bike functioned again. The mechanics also confirmed that Lance and friends came by real early but apparently did not ride the full century. I never saw him the entire day.

We rode back to Austin enjoying more talk about cycling, doping, school, and politics. Once we passed a man, fit looking, who was struggling, and he looked over and saw two women. Whatever struggles he had that day he put behind him because he took off just like someone lit an afterburner. It was apparent he wasn’t going to get “beat” (it’s not a race, it’s a ride) by women.

Christa Ginsberg and Christy San Antonio

As we approached the finish line I soft pedaled and let the three of them go on. I still find the first 99 miles of these challenges to be easy but the last mile difficult. Even while talking about cancer all day I was really thinking about cancer. But the last mile is one where I think of others and I reflect on my own journey. I slowed down and moved to the right where volunteers handed out yellow roses to cancer survivors. It was my 5th time receiving a rose but it’s still hard.


Back at Camp Livestrong, Dan and I went to the food tent. While we were there a woman came by pimping her kid with a donation jar. She told us her sad story of how she needs money because he child has brain cancer. Dan and I were taken aback and I was the first to ask “what kind of brain cancer?” We know a little about pediatric brain cancer. She started backpedaling both from her story and from our table. Pathetic but perhaps a pathetic cry for other help.


I made bibs/cards for 60 people that I wanted to put on their message board. Just as soon as we started putting them up, workers were tearing them down. It was 4:00 p.m.


With nothing more to do we gathered our belongings and went back to shower at the hotel. Dinner. Pack the bikes and reflect on the day. It was a great day of talking about Alex, Jake “the Hero” Grecco, and others affected by cancer. The talking was therapeutic as was the riding.

World’s Men’s Individual Time Trial


Lawson Craddock
Lawson Craddock

I am a fan. I wish Richmond was a little bit closer but I made my fourth trip in four days.

The Men’s Individual Time Trial started inside Kings Dominion. I could drive close to Richmond without worrying about parking downtown.


I pulled up and was directed to staff parking (free) because I was wearing yesterday’s Volunteer T-shirt. Neat.


Actually, I wanted to ride down the road about 10 miles and take up a private viewing location. But after leaving the main parking lot I saw the police had already shut down Va. Rte. 30. I found an access road and rode for about 40 minutes. Then settled in for viewing.

I positioned myself at the exit of KD, a sharp right hander, where the riders jump onto Rte. 30. There were about 25 of us there at various times. There was another volunteer (an officially assigned one). There was a truck driver from Pitt-Ohio who stopped for an hour break and got to watch the ITT.


The first rider out of the box was Michael Hepburn, from Australia. The riders went in inverse order or world championship points so he was not expected to do well but put up a winning time that held up for 45 minutes or so. The TV broadcast showed up throwing up as he went to the finish line. He really gave it his all.

Lawson Craddock
Lawson Craddock

Some people relied on me for cycling knowledge. And I was the only one there who had the start order (above). One woman asked if I was one of the professional riders. I laughed and said “No, but that would make a good Facebook post.”

Rohan Dennis
Rohan Dennis

A Christian home-schooled family pulled up in their beat up old school bus. I enjoyed talking with them. When Taylor Phinney came I implored everyone to cheer for Taylor.

Taylor Phinney
Taylor Phinney

Tom Dumoulin - I think
Tom Dumoulin – I think

Tom Dumoulin – I think

Then it was a little anti-climatic watching most of the big names go. After Tony Martin went, I rode a little more, then went home and watched a recording of the race.

Vasil Kiryienka
Vasil Kiryienka

Phinney, just 15 months removed from a horrific accident, finished 12th which qualified the USA of one of the top 10 countries for two spots at next year’s summer Olympics (two countries placed two in the top 12). The winner was the 3rd seed, Vasil Kiryienka from Bulgaria.

UCI Women’s Individual Time Trial


Last year I saw an opportunity to be a course marshal in Richmond for this year’s world championships by volunteering for the Collegiate National Championships in 2014. I should have but had some time conflicts. The hook was volunteer then and get guaranteed spots in Richmond.

The road to the trail
The road to the trail

I took my chance. And I sort of forgot until August. I went online looking for events and the Men’s Road Race and Individual Time Trials were already full. But the Women’s Time Trial was open. I signed up.

Virginia Capital Trail
Virginia Capital Trail

Having been in town on Sunday for the Men’s Team Time Trial and to pick up my volunteer credentials, I was worried about where I could park and still get to the course. I settled on parking at Dorsey Park which is over near the airport and looked to be connected to the Virginia Capital Trail which I rode yesterday.

Virginia Capital Trail
Virginia Capital Trail

Bike selection was an option. Road bike or mountain bike? I didn’t want to take a road bike and have it sit in a big crowd unattended. I settled on the mountain bike.

Virginia Capital Trail - Flood Doors
Virginia Capital Trail – Flood Doors

I had flat pedals on it and decided to change to Shimano SPDs. I was lazy. I hand tightened the left one but the right one didn’t want to cooperate. I “tightened” it a couple of turns and took my pedal wrench with me to finish when I had wheels down.

Dutch National Team
Dutch National Team

I found the park and parked the car. I saw a large pond or a small lake with a paved path around it. I followed the path which just circled the lake. When I reached the southernmost point I saw a construction road or maybe it was just a dirt road. A construction worker standing there assured me it would connect to the trial. I took it and was really glad I was on the mountain bike with its wide tires.


I found the trail and headed to Richmond. I looked down and realize I forgot my water bottle. No worries. I stopped at a Valero gas station and checked out the water bottles which I thought would fit in my holder. I bought one. I was wrong. I put the bottle in the holder but it wasn’t snug enough. As I rode it would try to fall out but the base would keep it in – barely. My legs were hitting it on every pedal stroke. This wasn’t working. I ended up holding the bottle in one hand while I rode.

Advertising but not for Chick-fil-A
Advertising but not for Chick-fil-A

I had entered the trail in what was probably the last mile of its rural section. It was 10 miles to Richmond. Even a suburban trail, this was a nice alternative to riding with traffic. I went through the area at Rocketts Landing which was our start/finish area two years ago for the Cap to Cap ride. This was a really neat area.

One of the Junior Men
One of the Junior Men

I reached the canal area – walked my bike for a block (its the rules) then had to find my way to my location. I had just pulled over to mess with the water bottle and I saw the Dutch National Team go by. I forget I was on a mountain bike with a bottle that was falling off – I gave chase. I thought I would join them. One good press on the pedals and, wham!, the right pedal came off still attached to my show. My chase whimpered away.

Balance Bicycle Shop
Balance Bicycle Shop

Oh yea. I was supposed to use the pedal wrench when I got ready to ride. I tried to thread the pedal into the crank but couldn’t. I decided I could ride one-legged to my assignment. I have ridden one-legged on the trainer many times. What could be so hard? Hills, that’s what.

Ann-Sofie Duyuk, Belgium
Ann-Sofie Duyuk, Belgium

I tried but I had to discount to get up one of those streets. But at the top I rode up Grace to my assignment. I was early and found a bike shop, Balance Bikes. They took 15 minutes top to tap that out and repair the pedal. I could ride again.

Kristen Anderson, USA
Kristen Anderson, USA

My assignment was on the campus of VCU at Grace and Belvidere Streets. The course went up Belvidere and came back through. Belvidere Street had a median. The course here was barricaded the entire way. I had an opening to allow people to cross the street. There was 90 seconds between starts with a motorcycle leading the way.

Aude Biannic, France
Aude Biannic, France

I had four hours as crossing guard. But it was fun. Riders were going in each direction so I had to be careful. One man from Belgium came up and spent more time with me than any other. He was as excited as a school girl meeting Taylor Swift when he looked at my phone and saw the Belgian rider, Ann-Sofie Duyck, leaving the start house. He ran over to the other side of the street and cheered at her in Flemish.

Carmen Small, USA. Credit: UCI Feed
Carmen Small, USA. Credit: UCI Feed

He came back. We talked. He saw my Livestrong bracelet and tapped it. “He’s a good boy, you know. What, all the others are good but only he is bad?” He was referencing Lance Armstrong, of course. We talked about cycling and doping. But mostly we cheered.


Kristin Armstrong was second on the course because she had no international points. Her time held up most of the day but she would end up fifth, being beaten by Linda Villumsen, a Danish woman who now rides for New Zealand. Evelyn Stevens, third from last, finish a disappointing sixth.

After everyone went home I had to fight traffic to get back to the trail. But I was glad I was on a bike – even a mountain bike.

He's a good boy, that Lance
He’s a good boy, that Lance

A word about the Women’s Time Trial: The men got a 30 miles point-to-point course from Kings Dominion to downtown Richmond. The women and U23s got an urban course of 29.9 km (18.5 miles). Their course was heavy on turns. In fact, it was a 15 km course so the women had to do two loops. To accomplish this the first 11 went at 90 second intervals and then no one else for 30 minutes. So they departed in four waves of 11. It just seemed a strange way to run a race. I’m sure they would have liked departing from Kings Dominion too.


Virginia Capital Trail


Overcast and gray, I headed down near Williamsburg to ride on the Virginia Capital Trail. As an added bonus, the French family I met last week had told me they would be riding from Richmond to Toano. I figured they would be on this trail.


Two years ago I rode basically rode this route with the Cap to Cap Century ride from Richmond to Williamsburg (almost). So today I parked where our rest stop was – the Chickahominy River park. I checked the weather apps and radar and rolled out without a rain jacket.


On the Cap to Cap ride we were on the road, not the trail. I remember portions of the trail next to the road but I don’t think a lot of today’s section had opened. I really don’t remember much of the trail.


I climbed the bridge over the Chickahominy River then rode the trail. It is super sweet! Beautiful vistas in the forest with many newly built wooden bridges. Not sure where those bridges will be in 10 years but they sure are sweet now.


I rode. I caught a guy named “Wilson” who told me he rides around the country delivering letters. I had gone 15 miles and decided I would ride 20 then turn around.


Wilson and I were riding and chatting when we came upon my French friends, Thomas Houdy and his family. At Mile 19. After a few minutes of introductions I turned around and we all rode back towards Jamestown.


Oh oh. Rain started falling. They stopped to put on the rain gear, especially for the kids. The rain fell harder and we all stopped in Charles City – the only place one could find a restaurant.


They looked for a place to get dry. I saw a couple inside and recognized his Mount Washington T-shirt. I knocked on the window and gestured for him to come outside and take out picture. He did.


Then we said goodbye. They went in where it was dry and warm. I rode ahead in the rain.

The Houdy’s blog is at roues.libres.blog.free.fr

Scaring the Amish


Since its inception, the Jeremiah Bishop Alpine Gran Fondo has been a staple of my cycling season. The reason is because it supports fighting prostate cancer. Since being introduced by my late friend, Scott Scudamore, I have also become friends with Jeremiah and Erin Bishop, plus Robert Hess of the Prostate Cancer Awareness Project.


There was one problem this year. The world championships of professional cycling were being held in Richmond. This was the first time in 30 years the “Worlds” were here. Today was the only day to see the “trade” teams, Garmin, BMC, etc., in the team time trial. I wanted to do both.


I knew I could not do 100 miles and get to Richmond so I signed up for the “Valley View Challenge.” I know Erin was surprised when she saw my application but I explained that I was going to Richmond and wanted to support their ride. She understood.


We rolled out of town and I was at the front. As the peleton rolled on I was comfortably in the pack but new there was a turn coming up eventually. I pulled over, took some photos, then jumped back in the group and rode up to the turn.


I was on the road by myself then sat up and saw a rider from UVA coming. He joined me and we rolled to the first, and only rest stop. After a while we rolled out with a third. We were clearly in front when we came upon a young Amish couple on their bikes going to church. While Matthew and Luca* rode ahead, I slowed down to talk to the couple.


They were very personable. I introduced myself and they told me they were Keith and Julie Zimmerman and their young son. Somehow I happen to mention the Wenger name and Julie looked at me and said “that’s my maiden name.”


We came to a turn. The Fondo route was to the left. Keith and Julie turned right. I turned right with them. Matthew and Luca were up ahead and looked back and saw me going the other way. They turned around to follow me. One mile later we were at the church and I bid Keith and Julie a good day.


Matt and Luca weren’t sure where they were going and I laughed. “Well, you were going right until you decided to follow me.” I told them we would go exploring.


We went into Dayton and then did some trailblazing, getting back to Harrisonburg. We were first on the day.


It wasn’t the classic Grand Fondo right but it was just right. I spent a little time with Robert and Julie before heading on to Richmond for Worlds. And I thought how lucky I was to choose the short route on this day or I wouldn’t have been able to meet, and well, scare, the Amish.

When I got home, I contacted my 5th cousin, Daniel Wenger, who is the preeminent Wenger historian. I pieced together my information with what he knew and quickly proved she was a descendant of Christian Wenger (b. 1698). In Lancaster Co., Pa., we have two known Wenger lines. The other is Hans Wenger (1705), which is my line. It is presumed they are related, perhaps as close as first cousins, but no historian has been able to document that. DNA shows the lines are connected but we can’t yet say that we’re 5th cousins. Definitely my Amish cousins in name. I’m claiming them!

*Not their real names.


Spokes of Hope – Pa.


Having celebrated beating cancer with some kids last night at the Velodrome, this day was reserved for a fellowship ride. Mileage goals aren’t usually that important to me but they do provide an incentive at times. A few days ago I wasn’t sure I would ride 1,000 miles in August then, all of a sudden, realized I could do it today. I had a goal.


I left the Homewood Suites hotel and biked the two miles to Trexlertown. First, I made my way over to the track at Rodale Park and rode laps. By the time my Spokes of Hope friends showed up I already had 10 miles in the book.


And so eight of us pushed off from the Velodrome for the back country roads in Lehigh and Berks counties. We started with Ken and Cindi Hart, Jay Bodkin, Kathy Robinson, Branan Cooper, Andy Werner, myself and some guy named Mike (my apologies).


Surprisingly, I have ridden these roads before. I must say they are enjoyable.


We headed out into Mertztown to Bowers then doubled back to Topton. Mike peeled off in Mertztown and we were down to seven. In Topton we stopped at a cafe by the tracks which appears to be overrun with cyclists (in a good way – lots more bikes than cars and it was busy inside).


When we were ready to roll out we picked up an eighth rider to make up for Mike. Although we didn’t go back to Bowers, we basically just followed the route that we had just come out on.


Back at the cycling park, we huddle up for a group photo and, for most of us, said goodbye for another year. As they packed up, I rode back to the hotel and went over 1,000 miles for the month. A nice way to finish the ride.

T-Town Races


This place is cool. This place is fun.


For the third straight year I joined Spokes of Hope (their sixth straight year) in Trexlertown. The core of the group traveled to T-Town from Indianapolis. The rest of us just sort of filtered in from elsewhere.


Cindi Hart said there would be a clinic at 5:00 p.m. for the kids. I arrived at 4:30 p.m., and upon not finding anyone inside the gate, just went across the street to the Rodale Park and rode for a bit. When I returned I went to the track and everyone was already riding so I joined in. It wasn’t a clinic, at least for me, but some fun riding on the velodrome.


We cleared the track as the event riders started to filter in. Monica Johnson-Null and her boys went across the street to the park and I joined them.

Monica Johnson-Null

As the event neared I was surprised to see many organizations were set up inside, including many cancer groups. The Lehigh Valley Pediatric Cancer group was there as was St. Baldricks.


I didn’t get to watch any of the races and was preparing to line up to ride on the track when I heard my name called. My cousins, Stacey and Gary Gravina had come over from Phillipsburg, New Jersey so we talked briefly before they got to go to the stands and see the elimination race (one of my favorites).


We were announced at taking a victory lap over cancer although we took two. We made our way to the infield where our featured survivor was a 16 year old boy with brain cancer. He had lost speech and his ability to walk but now can was riding a trike.

Josh Grecco and Stacey Gravina

He took the podium as his triumph over cancer and the crowd cheered. It is a great night to celebrate.


And a final note. The final race was the 100-lap pro-men’s Madison, always a fun event. And the finale was an awesome fireworks (“pyromusical”) display – I think the best I have ever seen.

Inclined Plane


This is about the shortest ride I will write about – the only one shorter would be the Mount Washington Auto Road Bicycle Hill Climb. Why this? Because it was fun.

In shorter order I drove to Ohio and rode on Friday. I went on to Indianapolis the rode with the Spokes of Hope ride on yesterday. After the 100 miles I drove back to Somerset last night.

My parents were having a small party at noon to celebrate their 65th wedding anniversary. I wanted to do a ride from Somerset but decided I didn’t have time for the 50 mile ride I was hoping for. And I thought about Johnstown.

Floor of one of the cars
Floor of one of the cars

I would not count miles riding up a mountain on an inclined plane but decided that I could go down it that way. I parked in Ferndale, just outside of Johnstown and navigated by feel to get me to the top of the mountain. Or hill.


It was basically a two mile climb with another mile of “slight” uphill. Once in Westmont I found my way down their beautiful streets to the Inclined Plane. The Inclined Plane takes people and vehicles from Johnstown below to Westmont above. If it were a road it would be a 70.9% grade.


I found out that bicycles are free. Yeah! Oh, but a passenger fare was $2.25. Well worth it. Once on board, I was the only one. Halfway down I passed the other car going up. Empty.


At the bottom I disembarked and rode across the bridge the cross the Stony Creek River. At the end I could have taken the ramp to the street but the sidewalk with its switchbacks were much more inviting.


I really didn’t have much more time to go exploring in Johnstown. It was a matter of hurry back to the car and go celebrate with my parents. A fun, but very short, day on the bike.