Monday, May 31, 2010

Day 13 Back to real mileage at last!

We left the hotel at 5:40 because their breakfast was not going to start until 6:30. We had to eat so we stopped at the ugh MacDonald’s next store. It was mobbed but we eventually got our breakfast sandwich and water, ate, and left. We were finally riding at 6:05.

We headed out on US 1 south hoping to get south of Richmond. It was hilly again but not quite as bad as the last couple of days.

We tried to make a potty stop at a rental center in Carmel Church (at 14 miles) . We pulled up to the place and almost immediately someone came running out of the place (the owner) with two bottles of cold water. We chatted. He and his buddies in the shop were quite friendly and amazed that we were trying the trip we were on.

We didn’t stop again  until 20 miles in at a little town called Doswell. It was getting hot. We got a Gatorade and chatted with the proprietor. She described the next miles into Ashland as hilly but flatter after that. She was right. The next 8 miles into Ashland were very tough and our overall speed dropped.

At Ashland we stopped at a Hardee’s. It was the only thing in sight. We each had a double cheeseburgers (sale)  and senior sodas. We cooled of considerably in the air conditioning. Too soon we were off.

As promised the terrain after Ashland was not as hilly as earlier. Out speed increased somewhat. Of course by now we were quite tired and our goal was still 24 miles away. In addition we were now fighting a serious head wind. We really wanted to get to south of Richmond to avoid the morning rush hour on Tuesday.

We had been told that the terrain was basically flat on the other side of the James River that tuns through Richmond. It was. We took pictures of the river (its muddy) and the city (as we left). What we had not been told was that we would meet a strong head wind and that many of the roads were in dreadful shape. The going was overall a bit easier.

Partway through this last part of the trip, I tried to shift into the lowest climbing gear and the chain jammed between the spokes and rear cluster. It took me at least 20 minutes to release it. After that the ride was uneventful but difficult against the wind. We finally came to the street on which the Hampton Inn was located, made the turn, and rode the mile to the motel.

My, my, the shower felt good. So did the dip in their little pool. We finally cooled off. I did a little work on my course and we went to dinner at the Subway next store. That’s about it.

Today’s ride was 50.4. 1 miles at 8.9 mph. We rode for 5:39 (total elapsed time was 9:30). Our total trip mileage stands at 515.

Debbie’s emotionometer: Good emotional overtones today, in spite of the hills and headwind. We were delighted to make such a good distance. North Carolina is now only about 70 miles away! Hopefully, we will cross the border day after tomorrow.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Day 12 More slow going over the Virginia hills.

We were in Stafford, VA opposite exit 143 on I95. Fortunately for us the breakfast was set up half an hour early so we could eat it at the motel and still be on the road by 5:55 am. And it was a good thing. It is US 1 and there was virtually no traffic. But there were hills. I think it is safe to say that there were almost no truly level patches. We were constantly climbing or descending.

There is no question that we are stronger than we were at the start of the trip. The number of times we must stop to rest on the hills is fewer and fewer, it’s just not zero yet. We stopped a couple of times to nibble on food we were carrying (you have to fuel the engines) but had no major meal stops. As a result of all this, our overall progress was only about 5 miles in each hour of travel.

Of note, we were going down a hill, trying to get up a head of steam to go up the next hill when we had to slow down for two goslings who could not figure out how to get out of our way, as mom and dad honked at us from the grass for daring to threaten two of their babies. We lost all our momentum and had to take our usual breaks up the hill.

We got to Thornburg, VA at about 11 am. We stopped at a 7-11 for a drink, bathroom break, and information. We knew there were motels over at I95 but were less certain of the road ahead. The next anything would be at Carmel Church about 14 miles away. Two problems: 1. That is very near where King’s Dominion is located, and 2. It could be so hilly (no one seemed to be sure) that it would take us another three plus hours to get there and we really did not want to be on the road that late. So, we wimped out and biked the half mile to I95 and checked into a Quality Inn. Funny, we walked in and asked if there were any rooms and the kid at the desk said, “No, we were sold out.” We were a bit surprised and were about to leave to go the Holiday Inn Express next door, when it became clear that what he meant was that the rooms had not been cleaned yet. So we used one of those coupons from the travel books you can pick of at MacDonalds etc and got our cheapest room yet.

We were about the chain up the bike and go to eat when the kid came out and said our room was ready so we put the bike in, changed into bathing suits, and went for a swim in their very cold pool. It felt great.

Right now we are at a DQ eating and drinking and writing this blog. We are about three days behind but I figure we will get as far as we get.

Today’s travels: We rode 25 miles (plus .7 off route to the hotel). Our average speed waws 8.8 mph. We are now 464  miles into the trip (of which about 15 are off route).

Hoping to get south of Richmond tomorrow so we won’t have rush hour traffic to contend with on Tuesday, but it is probably too far given the terrain.

Debbie’s emotionometer: Today was a good day. High spirits, happier with the decrease in traffic on US 1 and early finish.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Day 11 Another day, another breakdown (the bike).

We got out of the Roadway Inn in Woodbridge quite early. We were on the road by 5:55 am thinking to have a good mileage day. The roads were pretty empty which was a good thing because US 1 has little, if any, shoulder.

Shortly thereafter Debbie mentioned a vibration or bumping in the rear. I could not feel anything at the front but we stopped to examine the rear and sure enough there was a bulge in the sidewall of the rear tire. It would eventually blowout: when, who knows, but a new tire was mandatory. The next bike shop was still 10 or so miles away.

At about the 13-mile mark I shifted into the lowest hill gear and the rear shifter over shifted and the chain got jammed between the rear gear cluster and the spokes. This had happened before and I have been able to pry the chain out and go on. NOT THIS TIME.

I had been working on this for more than half an hour when a car pulls up and asks if help might be needed. It was a retired marine officer and her eldest son who just happened to be a bike mechanic. He looked at it and had the chain out in a couple of minute. He also looked at the tire and though it would last the 7 or so miles to the next bike shop, but avoid potholes. What a life saver he was. The chain had been so jammed that you could not even push the bike. The woman thought about carrying us someplace but she was driving a Prius and there was no room. After profuse thanks on our part, we were on our way being very carful.

We stopped for drinks and cup cakes at a 7-11 along the road. We had gotten the phone number of the bike shop in Dumfries so we called them and described our troubles. They could help when we got there. They said it was about 7 miles and gave us directions. It was not quite that distance.

Off went again being very careful to avoid bit bumps in the road and controlling our speed on the downhills. We made a potty stop and met a fellow who had biked the country (west to east). We chatted about the roads in VA and NC. Then were off again. The going was very slow due to extremely close heavy traffic, no shoulder, and hills. We could not coast down the hills fast because of a fear of the rear tire blowing out. We could not get up the hills without stopping for rests because of the tired old bodies pushing the pedals. Every time we stopped we were too intimidated to get back going again until the traffic behind us cleared. Did we mentions HEAVY traffic? So we pushed the bike up lots of hills and took many short stops. Consequently it took ages to go just a few miles.

Finally Debbie spotted the shop. Just a left and a left and up a little hill. Revolution Cycles in Stafford, VA. We got in, took off the trailer and the packs. They put it up on a stand and got to work. We got a new tire, three new spokes, rear-wheel truing, a serious derailleur adjustment and cleaning, check the chain, and I got new pedals. They were great! David Taylor and another technician whose name I did not get did a beautiful job. This is a four-shop family-owned chain in the DC metro area. If the other mechanics are this good, go there.

While I was watching the work, Debbie went to the Post office to finally put in the stop mail we forgot to do before we left. Thanks to son-in-law and daughter-in-law for taking in our mail. Then she walked up to the motel next store. It’s a Marriott Suites where we are right now. It’s a very nice place and is the first one with a pool that is open.

After the bike shop we found a soul food Restaurant called the Family Reunion Restaurant. The portions were large and the peppery flavors were great. We chatted with an interesting lady there.

The day: 18.3 miles at an average speed of 7.4. We rode for 2:26. We now have gone 438 miles.

Debbie’s emotionometer: Trepidation wins the day due to bike problems, road conditions,  and traffic.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Day 10 About to Leave Metro D. C.

We were out at 7:03 this morning. We headed for the W&OD trail and did about 4 or so miles on it looking for Route 7100. This highway actually had a bike path associated with it. It may have been a mistake to take it rather than being on the shoulder because the path was very slow going. Eventually we did get on the road at about mile 12 and made better time.

We do not have very good maps at all but despite this Debbie got us to the correct connecting road to go to Woodbridge. It turns out to be Route 123. The going was pretty fast until we hit the town. Towns are slow. They typically do not have shoulders but do have traffic. The traffic here was heavy.

For the most part this was an easier day than several of the past few. I think the main reason for this was that it was not hot. The highs were only in the mid 70s. The going was not fast but the scenery was pleasant for the most part.

We finally made it to Woodbridge, but were tired and hungry and thirsty, a bad combination. After a mile or so of stressful riding we decided we were starving. With less than 2 or so miles to go to find a hotel, Mel lost his courage when we lost the shoulder and wanted to walk on the sidewalk rather than ride on the road. His courage turned out to be found at a KFC, along with food, drink, and a rest in air conditioning. We had only had fruit and nuts during the day and it was 1 pm. We stopped at a KFC. We were good. Debbie had a sandwich and Mel had a piece of roast chicken with a couple of reasonable sides and of course soda. When we left there another customer wanted to take our picture, so we asked him to take one with our camera also.

We hit the road again feeling fed, hydrated, and cooled off (and with Mel’s courage back in place). We then went to US 1 and turned right (south). Now we were just looking for a motel. In just a couple of miles we found the Rodeway Inn at Potomac Mills. We checked in. The price seemed high, especially when we saw the room. It was a real dump (for the money). The carpet in the room looks 20 years old. The fan in the bathroom is broken/rusted/painted over. They have a coin laundry but no detergent for sale. They have a free breakfast but the woman at the desk said they only serve bagels and coffee. She would only give Debbie change for $2 even though the laundry would cost $3. They do have air conditioning and free internet which I need. The main virtue of this place is that it was in the right place when we needed it.
Today we traveled 34.5 miles in 4:10 for an average speed of 8.2 mph. We have progressed 407 miles in our quest for Walt Disney World. That is close to a third of the trip.

Debbie’s emotionometer: Cooperative and pleasant, then anxious, then courageous.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Day 09 Maryland has hills too.

We were up and out of Frederick at 6:36. The going was immediately tough. There were hills, hills, and more hills. Some were rollers, some we just cranked up, some we walked. We were very slow. In addition, it appears that you can’t get there from here. The map shows roads joining up that do not join, so we spend a lot of time asking directions, as well as being briefly on roads where bicycles are not allowed. Very stressful.

We made our first stop at a BP in Jefferson. This was one place where we needed to get directions, as our road did not join up with route 15, even though it clearly did on the map. We were 7.5 miles in and it was 8:10. We split a quart of Gatorade ($1.80). Our next stop was in Leesburg. It was actually 6 miles from the city center. We again drank to the tune of $3.55.

We finally got to town and went to the tourist info spot in the city hall. We met a couple of nice folks who gave us some information on how to get out of town and towards our presumed destination of Gainesville.    We took off down route 7 (not nice for bikes). That road had no shoulder, three lanes in each direction, and lots of fast traffic.

 We got off and saw a Wegman’s totally stressed out. Did we mention the temperature was in the 90's? So we stopped and had lunch. This Wegman’s was huge. Makes ours back home seem like grocery stores. We  each had a tortilla-less burrito for $5.00 (each). They were great.

Debbie asked for directions since we did not want to continue on route 7and as it turned out one of the guys who worked in customer service commutes by bike over a dedicated bike trail. He told us how to get to it and we set off. It was really nice. It is paved and has a line down the middle as if it were a highway. We met many other bikes on it but of course they did not stop.

We got off at our presumed end point and of course got a bit lost. We asked for directions but did not follow them correctly so we had to stop again and get new directions which we did follow. By this time we were truly beat. Did I mention that the temperature was at least 90? We stopped at a Subway for drinks and air conditioning. We both needed it but Debbie was really hurting from the heat and traffic. After cooling off a bit we headed out and within a mile or so came to a hotel, Candelwood Suites, and checked in. It was too expensive but we were beyond caring.

Showers, laundry, my course occupied the next couple of hours. Then we went to dinner at Chili’s, and did some marketing at a Walmart Supercenter. Now I am writing this.

Today’s data: 42.3 miles, mean speed a surprising 9.2. We were on the bikes for 4:36. We are  385 miles into the trip (although not all of it is on route).

Debbie’s emotionometer: Happy and cooperative in the morning, pleased to make a new state (Virginia), freaked out and hot and exhausted (crabby, crabby, crabby) in the afternoon.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Day 08 Out of Pennsylvania at last!

That would be day 1 of week 2.

Last night we were in Gettysburg. We left there at 6:39 this morning. On our way out of Gettysburg we passed the fields of battle and the numerous monuments to those who fought and died there. Unfortunately we were too preoccupied with the trip and the traffic to think of taking any pictures.

The terrain today was for the most part less challenging than previous several days. There were hills and false flats but at times, with the tail wind, we could really fly. We hit the Maryland border at about 9 miles and felt “joy and rejoice for we are FINALLY getting out of Pennsylvania” – that state seemed to go on forever. We went to Emmitsburg and stopped at a MacDonalds for drinks. They have senior sodas for $ .42 with the tax. We left there on Route 15. We stopped at a 7-11 for Gatorade and to eat two yogurts that we were carrying. Then we got back on 15 until we had to turn off. There had been signs saying bikes on shoulder but at 20 miles of that the sign say something like “bikes on shoulders ending in .5 miles. We got off on some country road without a shoulder and had a stressful jaunt through the countryside looking for Frederick, MD.

When we got to Frederick things were no better. The streets were narrow and crowded. We were hot. Did I mention that it hit about 90 today? We were hungry. At about 12:15 we stopped at the Frederick Coffee Company (coffee shop) which was run by some 60s types (although they looked to be in their 20's). The food though was very good. We rested and drank and then left.

The city streets were so stressful that we ended up walking a considerable amount. We got directions several times but discovered that people do not know their own town very well. After pushing the bike almost half a mile up a narrow street we got directions from a guy at a transmission shop who gave the best directions, not perfect, but close. It turns out that were only about a mile from a Best Western. Of course we rode a bit over two miles to get there.

We really had wanted to get to something line Point of Rocks, on the Maryland-Virginia border but we lost so much time in Frederick that we decided to stay even if tomorrow only ends up being a 25-mile day. Bikes on credit-card tour have problems that cars or campers do not. We must make it to the next point with a reasonable motel. In my case I need an internet connection because I am teaching an online course. Not every motel shows up on Google.

We finally got to this motel about 2:00 pm. I should not have taken that long but such are the joys of bicycle touring. We checked in, showered, and did laundry. I worked on my course for a couple of hours. Then we walked to a Weis supermarket to shop for dinner and road snacks for the next day or so. Now I am blogging.

Today’s ride: We rode 38.6 miles. Total trip time was 7 hours and 21 minutes.

Debbie’s emotionometer: Delight at finally crossing another state line. Feels like the trip is really progressing.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Day 07 Pennsylvania has hills.

Imagine a giant washer board. That is was we traveled today.

We left Enola at about 6:44 am and headed south. The bike rode a lot better than it had before the repairs. Big surprise, fixing things makes the machine work better. We rode much of the same 5 miles we had yesterday on our way to the bike shop.

We wended our way to Route 15 south. We stayed on that route for quite a while. We ran into a terrible intersection with construction and a lot of traffic.

We got onto 15. It was a limited access road with an excellent shoulder. At 16.5  miles we stopped at Dillinigham  at an Arby's for toilet, food, and drink. At this point we decided to get off the limited access road and get on old route 15. The reason was the traffic and the noise. The problem with old 15 was the hills. They never ended. We would climb, then descend, then climb again. It was exhausting.

We stopped again and had a slice of pizza in York Springs. This was at about mile 28 or so. Then we took off on Old Gettysburg Road. It started with a long and steep hill, but after that it was not too bad most of the time. At least the road was not heavily trafficked.

Now the unwelcome surprise. A bridge was out and there was a detour. It took us over hill and dale and in the wrong direction. It was very hot, we were tired, the road surface was poor, and tempers became frayed.  At mile 40 or so we came to the connection to Route 34 which finally goes into Gettysburg. We stopped for  a drink at a pizza place and ended up having a sub. Their bread had just come out of the oven and the aroma was to die for. The proprietor told us we were only about half a mile from the city center.

Off we went. Getting through the city was not terrible. It was uphill most of the way and there was a traffic circle where 15 crossed 30. We continued on to the Quality Inn Gettysburg Motor Lodge at about 46 miles. It was $83. The room is nice but the WI-FI signal in the room was too weak for my netbook to connect so I am in the lobby writing this.

Today’s ride: We rode 46.3 miles.

Debbie’e emotionometer: It was all over once we were on the detour: Crabby City!


Monday, May 24, 2010

Day 06 Restoration

Unanticipated “rest”day.

We actually got up at about 6am. But today there was a leisurely shower and breakfast. I did some work on my summer course, read email, and invited a few more folks to  follow this blog.

At Debbie’s insistence we biked into Camp Hill to the bike shop without confirming that they could help us. We left here at about 9am for the 6- to 7-mile ride (with only three gears). Debbie decided to take us the hilly way. We walked a lot. I was not happy but on the way back we took the other route and she turned out to be right. It took us about 1:20 to go the 6.3 miles.

The shop was Holmes Bicycle Shop, 2139 Market Street, Camp Hill, PA 17011. They could not have been more accommodating. We were met by Jeff, a mechanic at the shop, who had us bring the bike in. I told him that we had broken a shifter cable. He started working on the cable which was going to be no problem. Then we got lucky.  Debbie added that the bike was making lots of strange noises, banging, creaking, metallic popcorn like stuff. Jeff started wiggling things like the rear wheel, the rear crank, and the front crank.

He found that the rear bottom bracket (pedals) was going -he could replace it. Whew!!  Then the rear wheel. He took it off and pulled the axle. It was shot. Half the threads were worn smooth and there were only 8 of the nine bearing still in there. Ouch!! No wonder it was making noise.

But wait, there’s more!!! After fixing the axle (he had a tandem axle in stock) he put the wheel back on to find that the last person to work on the brakes had installed them backwards and the pads were being held in place by a little pin (dangerous).

You think we are finished? There were four broken spokes in the front wheel and the sealed bearing is showing signs of wear. It should not go very soon but he suggested that it would be less expensive to simply by a new wheel than to have this one repaired.

When we got back we found that he had fixed a spring in the rear derailleur that had been causing a shifting problem for while. When all the parts were installed, he did the tune-up we had asked him to do. He did a terrific job. In all he worked about 2.5 - 3 hours on the bike. We count ourselves lucky that we found this shop.

During much of this time we were at lunch at The Cornerstone CoffeeHouse. They had terrific panini.                        

The bike road almost like new on the way back to the motel. Unfortunately Debbie spied a DQ and we stopped for a couple of blizzards. While there we met a veteran who had been in Germany at the Olympics at the same time as Debbie (army brat) at the time that the Israeli athletes were attacked. They shared several other postings around the world. It was like old homes week for them.

After a while we left and stopped at a supermart for dinner picnic fixings.

The day was 13.2 miles in 2:58 for 7.8 mph. Not bad for large chunks of walking.

Debbie’s emotionometer: Anxiety about getting the bike up and running then elation at getting such a full overhaul. Our hope now is that the bike will be much more efficient and that we will get more speed for the same amount of effort.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Day 05

Today we had our first unwelcome “adventure.”

We left the Comfort Inn in Sellinsburg at about 6:30. It had rained overnight and the roads were wet but it was not raining. Actually the temperature was nice. The road was described as flat by the people at the motel but of course they were not bikers. So it was “relatively” flat. That means lots of “false flats.” Those would be stretches that look perfectly flat in a car but to a heavily loaded bike with two not-so-strong riders it is actually an upgrade. However, it was a welcome changed from the hills we had ridden the previous four days.

So the road was good, and the shoulder was superb. We rode 20 miles and decided to stop for a bite. Near Liverpool, we came upon a minimart that was attached to a Subway. We had a couple of the egg white and cheese sandwiches (with added spinach and tomato) and a bottle of Gatorade. It was a nice break.

We “hopped” back on the bike and rode on. More false flats were in the offing. Somewhere after New Buffalo we crossed 22/322 and the road became sort of limited access. That was not so much fun. There was a lot of traffic but the shoulder was ok. However a little bit after that (after Duncannon) the shoulder all but went away (maybe a foot or so). That was dicey.

So we are riding along approaching Marysville and all of a sudden the rear shifter does not shift. Well the lever moved but the gears did not change. Well, guys, there are eight chain rings on the rear wheel that make it possible to climb hills and they no longer would get out of the road gear. We stopped and I examined the situation. The cable controlling the rear derailleur had snapped. It looks like it wore through at the place that it attaches to the shifting lever. In case you have not guessed, this is our unwelcome “adventure.” We stopped at a gas station to inquire  how far in the distance the motel might be, what the terrain was like, and if anyone knew of a bike shop. By the way, it is Sunday today. The motel was 2 miles down the road. The terrain was NOT flat. There was not bike shop any closer than the motel. We took off for the motel. We walked any upgrades. We rode on the flats and downgrades. We got to the motel more than an hour later than was projected - but we got there.

It seems as if the nearest useful bike shop is in Camp Hill. That is about 5 or so miles down the road. They do not open until 10 tomorrow so there is little that we can do until then. We have several options if they to not do road calls. One possibility is to ride the bike down there unloaded. There will still be a lot of walking but it is doable. Another possibility is to take a cab to a U-Hall place, rent a panel van, and take the bike to the shop. If we do that we will take all our stuff to a motel down the road (our motel had no pool or hot tub). This all assumes that the shop has an extra-long cable available or can get one fast. If that works out we will start out the next day 5 or so miles down the road.

Our day was 48.4 miles. Thanks to all the walking the average speed was 8.4 mph. The bike was rolling for 5 hours and 44 minutes.

For anyone who is interested in what it takes to fuel a day's ride: Fuel Summary

Breakfast: Both: a banana, strawberries (spliting a pound), a greek yogert; Mel - a roll, and a bowl of raison bran.

1 hour down the road: split a banana

1 more hour down the road: subway half sub, breakfast sandwich, (egg whites, cheese, spinich, tomatoes), split quart of Gatorade

1 hour down the road: split 3 oz. of trail mix, split another banana

2 hours later - each had a banana, split the other 3 oz of trail mix

Around 5 pm some cheese, tomatoes, and carrots

We had dinner about 6:30 at the Summerdale Diner - really a restaurant. We had their grilled salmon dinner with salad. It was delicious.

Debbie's emotionometer: Good spirits until bike broke, then crabby.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Day 04

Day 04
We really slept in this morning. Having lights out at 8:00 pm and arising at about 6:45 am qualifies. We were (are) vary tired.

Well we got out fast from the Patriot Inn and road the distance to Bloomsburg and on to Danville. We ate a bit of yogurt at a little grocery minimart. Then two hours later we stopped at Sorella’s and had a half a sub each and a very nice grilled turkey salad. The waitress there was very chatty and very helpful. She gave us lots of information about the upcoming road. There is a stretch along a cliff that is a known danger spot (lot’s of accidents and DWI). She also told us where there were some motel’s that I did not see on Google. She gave us a number and actually called one and we made a reservation for one of the last two rooms (Bucknell’s graduation weekend). (I feel like Blanche DuBois – “I have always relied on the kindness of strangers.” – Debbie) After the stop for lunch the ride was as flat as anything gets in the part of the country. The one “uncomfortable” stretch was about 8 miles of nice wide shoulder but loose chippings - that is, oil and gravel- on the shoulder only. That is yukky to ride on.

We got to the Comfort Inn in Sellinsgrove at about 2:00. We checked in, cleaned up, did a little research for tomorrow, and went out. There is a mall next door. Debbie forgot her earrings so we bought some. We did a little marketing at a supermarket and ate at Garfield’s (a Chili-like restaurant) in the mall.

The day was 33.6 miles of riding in 3:45 for a 8.9 mph. By the way, in the interest of full disclosure, yesterday was 35.7 miles in 3:57 for about 9 mph. I didn’t have the bicycle computer and had to guess.

Debbie’s emotionometer: The front seat of the bike (Mel) was predominantly fatigue. The back seat of the bike (Debbie) was anxiety - the loose chippings were NOT FUN! Neither was the ride around the ridge with caution signs indicating numerous DWI fatalities and warning against aggressive drivers.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Day 03

Some bodies in this group are very tired. We got in very late last night so we slept in. We finally got on the road at 8:00 am. Did I mention that PA is hilly? We had gone a princely 9.1 miles when I (Mel) said stop. We were in West Nanticote. We had pancakes at Durtin’s Flamingo Diner. They were not as cheap as the day before but they were as good. By the way, it was pretty hot today, in the mid 80s for much of our ride. We stopped twice for a large Gatorade. At one stop the nice people were so impressed that we were trying this (I think they took pity on us) they gave us two bottles of water.

In case you don’t know this part of PA, we went from our pancake stop, through Hunlock Creek, Shickshinny, Beach Haven, Berwick (nasty hill coming in here), Briar Creek, to end up just short of Bloomsburg. We found a nice Budget Host (Patriot Inn) located next to a restaurant and minimart. That’s heaven. The nice lady on duty locked our bike in their meeting room to keep it safe.

We only did about 37 miles today. Less than we planned but we had to stop early. We will have two relatively short days as tomorrow looks like a 30-mile day.

Debbie’s emotionometer: Very tired and a little grumpy. (Being so tired so early in the trip bodes ill for the next few days.)

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Day 02

DAY 02
Great Bend to Wilkes Barre via heavens only knows where. We started the day at 6:23 am in the fog. We finished the day at a Ramada on the Square at about 8:00 pm. This was clearly not according to plan. We really like to be off the road by 1 or 2 pm. It was very hilly and we got lost at least three times. We missed turns and had to get directions from a variety of people along the way. It may not been entirely our fault. The Google maps routinh uses route numbers and Street names. Sadly the streets are not always marked well. One fellow took pity on us and gave us two Pepsis. All in all it was one of the hilliest days I can remember. I (Mel) am in agony right now.

We stopped in Kingsley at Jenny Leigh’s Country Cookin’ for pancakes and coffee. The short stack has two 9 inch beautiful tasty cakes. I had coffee. The price for the two orders of cakes and coffee was $3.78. Take that IHop. I love good pancakes on the road.

We had dinner in West Pittston. We just could not pedal another mile without a meal. We at at Antonio’s Pizzeria. The woman behind the counter made us two huge antipasto salads. I had soda. It was $18.00. The food was great and the rest much needed.

Bright side: Our riding speed was actually 8.8 mph for the 66.9 miles traveled. I am glad we did it. The picture (View from a Bridge) says it all.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Day 01

Day 1
We left our driveway at 6:30 am. It was cool (48) but at least it was not raining. We headed down Route 11 for Marathon. The terrain is rolling and I am not in as good condition as Debbie. We covered the 15 or so miles in about 90 minutes. A short stop to eat half a pb&j sandwich and we were off to Whitney Point.     We got there at about 9:30 and ate the other half of the sandwich. Then the WHITNEY POINT HILL –ARGH! The 7 miles to Chenengo Bridge took 90 minutes. We ate chicken sandwiches at a Wendy’s and took a longer stop.

Now we got to go through Binghamton with its city streets, lights, traffic, and crummy roads. We were almost through when I tried to make a right turn into a parking lot (potty stop). The steering bar jammed making a right turn impossible and we went down. Debbie smashed her face against my helmet and bit a hole in her lip. She also skinned a knee - through two layers of cloth. There was no serious damage - just embarrassment.

After that “adventure” we continued on to Great Bend, arriving just before 4:00 pm. The day ended up at 58.9 miles which took us 6 hours 10 minutes of riding time, that’s a 9.5 miles per hour average. We were beat. We checked into the Colonial Brick Motel, did laundry, etc., went to dinner, and I am writing this entry.

Emotionometer: Today was marked by excitement and not a lot of crabbiness.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The night before

Twas the night before riding.....
I should note that we are very new to blogging. In fact, this is the first one, so don't expect Hemingway or Dickens. We will try to be regular and to include some pictures.

We spent most of the day getting ready. The bike is set up. We are (mostly) packed. I am doing some last-minute downloading to our new netbook. In the morning, the last minute packing, pulling the electric plugs on most of the electronics, a bit of breakfast, and ..... Put the Yak Sak on the BOB trailer and away we go. Well, away we go if the weather is not truly horrible. I am not a fan of downpours and lightning. I should mention that we are riding a Ryan Duplex and pulling a trailer. The Ryan is a tandem recumbent bike. I will try to post a picture tomorrow.

If we do get away on schedule, we will try to get to Great Bend, PA. That's about 59 miles from Cortland. That might be a bit ambitions as we are not as well trained as we would have liked. As Debbie says, "We will get as far as we get."

That's all for now. Talk to you all tomorrow.