Biking around Mammoth for several days. Help, I’m out of shape and gasping for oxygen. Heading to lower grounds today to ride with my bride. Maybe we’ll stop in at Mammoth Brewery for lunch !
The photos are from our historic meeting hall community bulletin board. My sweet neighbors and friends Jim & Abby posted a congrats poster. They are two of my four young followers. They are great kids and thank you so much to you both, you guys are adorable. Thanks also Mike & Jill ( dad & mom ) for your artistic and production guidance !
I hope you all can enjoy a nice leisurely bike ride this weekend. Explore, feel the wind in your hair and find out what’s around the next bend, what’s over that next hill ? 🚴🏻
You thought maybe yesterday was my final post ? Well now that I’ve had some relax at home time, here I am again. I thought I’d summarize some highlights as I now sit and reflect back.
My favorite State, I’ll stick with Kansas. The pace of living really reflected in the people’s friendly welcoming attitude. I will say the bread belt, mid west, and plaines states were so impressive to bike through. Watching the farmers and ranchers in action was really great.
My favorite town or place? Well that’s hard to pick just one. I’ll summarize a state by state version of how I experienced them.
The Mojave Desert and crossing California and into southern Arizone was in one word, harsh. All of the boys from the UK came over very afraid of our desert crossings. As a touring cyclist you need to be well prepared, we quickly learned.
As we started gaining elevation inArizona the riding and scenery went into a different mode. We started seeing green vs dry brown and trees emerged. One of the premier days of the entire trip was between Wickenburg and Prescott. There we did our first mountain pass and then an epic descend down into Jerome. Both of these towns are really a must see if you can. We also went thru Yarnell a very cute town and we saw the memorial to the 19 hot shot firefighters who lost their lives battling a fire. That was very sad indeed. Our Sedona ride and thru Oak Creek Canyon was another highlight for sure. Then Winslow Az. Rounded out the best of that state as I found Flagstaff way too crowded.
New Mexico was spectacular as our rest day enabled us to get the feel of the southwest in Santa Fe. We climbed to higher elevations leaving there, up and past Santa Fe Ski Bowl which was super. The high deserts on NM were great with mountains along side. Great, great riding. As a biker you’re always looking for, and riding on the smoothest pavement. I recall riding solo and for periods of an hour or longer riding the yellow line in the center of the road. No cars, no worries and just peddling away. It blew my mind actually. We continued to ride The old historic Route 66 for weeks !
We crossed Texas in 1 day with an overnight in Dalhart. It was more hot, dry, desolate and depressing to pass the huge feed lots of cattle and hogs.
Oklahoma was great but same thing, a short crossing with an overnight in Guymon. Pleasant place but trying to hang on economically. I got the feeling it was a failing town but a small college helped provide a small economy.
Kansas oh Kansas. My fav, Dodge City was a standout as was the Eisenhower museum and home.
What’s Mossouri like as a cyclist? Rolling hills. One day we rode the famous 148 rollers and the endless ribbons vistas of roads ahead. Very fun.
Illinois, it’s all about Abe, oh and quaint pleasant and green
Next up Indiana, corn and more corn. A trip highlight with the visit from Debbie and Kristen.
Ohio, Amish country. So really cool traveling thru their farmlands and towns. Seeing the Amish traveling in their horse drawn buggies and working their lands is like seeing history. Amazing to witness people living like a hundred years ago. What a lasting impression it was.
My memories of Pennsylvania include the classic old open seating root beer stand and Erie. Both the town and lake. I liked them both except for the lone hangover !
Five days of New York brought us north and into upstate. This was another highlight. I really liked the riding, scenery, and people. Especially memorable was the town of Canandaigua and the Finger Lakes. My numero uno town was East Andover NY. That was a really nice town
I won’t bore you or bring you back thru Vt, NH or Mass as we just went the that.
But cheers and thanks for coming along on the trip down memory lane
I’ll post one more highlight soon the before signing off.
I do want to once again say a sincere thank you to everyone who made a donation to Team Godfather and our ALS foundation. Your donations exceeded our expectations. Thank you so much. Bike 4 Mike and this Coast 2 Coast ride are close to my heart as you know. Thank you all.
Sorry I kind of left you hanging as I completed the ride and unplugged. But fear not I’m back to fill you in. I’ve returned to the real world, my home and my family.
So, ok let’s go back to days 47 & 48. We left Brattleboro Vt all happy and somewhat giddy. That day would be a first, a 2 state line crossing day. The New Hampshire state line came almost immediately like maybe 4 miles outside of Brattleboro Vt. We stopped on the old narrow bridge to take pictures of the Connecticut River which divides these 2 Yankee states. I was happy to say farewell to the crazed and aggressive drivers of Vermont. We had already gotten some mean stink eye back at the main intersection while leaving agroville. So back on the bridge the chairman of farewells decides to pass us rather than slow and let us ride off this bridge. His idea of have a nice day is to pass my left elbow by, I swear maybe within an INCH ! While he guns his way too cool econo van. That was the single closest call yet and I couldn’t wait to get into friendly territory. I was terrified riding through this region unfortunately. We did ride into some spectacular empty roads for a long long time thru New Hampshire. We had a 93 mile day with something like 6,000 feet of climbing. I renamed this state New Hillshire. I enjoyed the climbs a ton as many of the roads were just resurfaced and perfect for enjoying the shear fun of cycling. Thanks New Hillshire, you’ve restored my faith in the beauty of bicycle touring.
Our last state line crossing was into Massachusetts. This was our last long hard day and our final 15th state. It was hard to believe this 7 week adventure was ending. But stay the course McCauley, there’s traffic here. Our final 15 miles took us on some very residential back roads with about a million turns to follow.
We finished this day off with hugs and handshakes as if we were done. Wait I kept saying we still have tomorrow, Friday our last dance.
Friday was our finale, a short 17 miles to the sand and salt water at Revere Beach. We all stopped and gathered for the final 3 miles as we rode two by two behind our 2 sag vans. It was bitter sweet and honestly I was really enjoying just rolling along and didn’t want to get off get off my bike. My bike was a part of me like an extension of who I am. I rode most of the way glancing down at the photos of my family that I tapped to the top tube the night before I left. I was dreaming of going home. So we all did the traditional front wheel dip in the sea and started our hugfest again. We’re were officially DONE. Wow it was all really hard to process mentally. That night we had our final banquet and it was time to say goodbye to my new family of 7 weeks. We shared final stories, hugs, laughs and a few tears. It was a harder goodbye than I imagined.
I’ll put a final wrap up on the journey and blog tomorrow or the next day. I’m enjoying some time off until reality returns and I go back to work. We’ll sort of anyway, my next phase brings me into ” semi retirement “. My plan is to slow my roll down, take on less work and spend more family time.
Today started under dark threatening sky’s which later on unleashed their wrath upon us. I forgot to switch my sun glass lenses to clear for the threat of rain. So with the dark sky’s, my sunglasses and my deep thoughts today was a dark day. With much anticipation today was the day we’d arranged a visit with Andrew Leclaire Sr who’s battling ALS. So most of my thoughts today were heavy just thinking about this disease and why we were riding in hopes of ending it someday. Early into our ride Andrew contacted me and thanked me for for what we ( Jim Quigley and I ) were doing. That meant a great deal to me so I stayed in touch as we rode along. I felt a connection to Andrew as I had with Mike. So today was a special day.
But the weather wasn’t going to cooperate and make today easy. We crossed the state line and sprinkled our Pacific Beach sand as our good luck at the state sign. This is a tradition as you cross state borders and wish good luck. We carry beach sand from our departure at Manhattan Beach Ca along with us. Just after crossing the border we climbed up into Bennington Vt a very nice quiet town. We stopped and visited the grave site of Robert Frost behind an old church. The dates of on some gravestones go back into the late 1700’s. The town dripped in history and I would have liked to spend more time there. But it started to lightly drizzle. As we left town it turned to rain. And as we started a long 6 mile climb over a mountain it came down hard and mixed with hail. Yep, wrong sunglasses McCauley! So as we reached the top the temps dropped to 40 but I thankful that my light rain jacket kept me fairly dry and pretty warm.
Climbing up was pure frightening, white knuckle because of the knuckle head 18 wheel drivers and local pick up truck drivers. This was really scary and we’ve ridden some super sketchy roads and interstates. I thought the Green Mountain State was going to be mellow country folk, but boy I was wrong. I’m telling you in a full downpour rain with NO shoulder these trucks are ripping up this mountain at warp speed. Really sketchy.
Luckily we descend down into Wilmington and the sun starts to pop out. As the first clouds started to open up I began to get short quick bursts of warmth from the sun. Honestly I instantly felt like Mike was looking down and guiding me along. By the time we hit Wilmington we were in full warm sunshine. Our sag truck was there and all of us did a complete wardrobe change into dry cloths.
Next we climbed up and over Hogback Mt and into Brattleboro. Welcome to the hippie town. We found 2 bike shops and stopped in. Man there are some classic hippies around here. One dude walks by us with full tat sleeves a formal shirt and hat and a full length skirt and Birkenstocks. People are staring at us in spandex and were staring at them. Quite the juxtaposition I suppose. Well after all they’re the locals so we’re the strange ones, which often I think we are. Boy I’m tired of a daily wardrobe of spandex.
Jim and I rode up to Andews house and had an extremely meaningful visit. Both of us fought back tears, but it brought meaning to our journey. Kathleen, Andrews wife couldn’t have been sweeter. We also had the pleasure of meeting Andrews sister and husband. We shared stories about the ride as well as about ALS. Andrew has lost many family members as well to ALS. It was a solemn and humbling visit. Our message was to let Andrew and Kathleen know that there are people, foundations, and laboratories out there working to find a cure. They thanked us for visiting and I thanked them for adding meaning to our journey. I’ll remember this visit always. God bless you Andrew.
Tonight we are on our own for dinner so I walked to a small place called The Tavern. I sat at the bar alone and ordered claim chowder and a Vermont Cheddar burger. In the background they were playing Neil Young, like old Neil Young. I felt like I was in a time warp. I half expected to hear a News bulletin about Nixon and Watergate. Vermont sure has its history that’s for sure. And in some ways it feels like they still live back in the day.
I’ve been first and last
Look at how the time goes past
But I’m all alone at last
Rolling home to you.
We woke to another gorgeous day after a rain fall last night. The temps we’re going to be way lower and very low humidity. So it’s shake and bake Ricky Bobby time ! Except for one thing, I’m not feeling it. First it started with a horrible Denny’s breakfast. But honestly I’m tired. Tired of the hotel regimental routine, both in the early morning getting ready to ride and when we finish. I’m tired of doing laundry every day in the sink with only 3 laundry days with real washers and dryers. I’m still enjoying the riding but everything else has gotten old. I’m tired of the 2 hours it takes to blog. And I’m tired of being an ALS warrior. Come on Boston lets get this done.
Just before lift off this am I took a photo of the Herkimer ” diamonds ” display back at the Red Roof Inn. These aren’t real diamonds but as my fact checkers mentioned help put Herkimer into global limelight.
We cycled past Fort Klock today speaking of local attractions. The Mohawk Valley was a beautiful ride and a change of topography. We saw distant rolling green hills and pretty farm lands. The roads were excellent as well. Ok with one exception, Schenectady. We have a new leader folks, Syracuse just dropped into second place.
Prior to reaching the mine fields of Schenectady, we went thru Little Falls. There were saw our first locks. I took a few photos and in one you’ll see an old abandon factory with all the windows broken out. We saw a lot of this as well as many small businesses closed up. We even noticed businesses that look to be up and running but no one around. No cars and or people. It’s kind of strange. Anyway I believe there are around 37 of these Locks, give or take. There are 3 rivers running thru, the Mohawk, Hudson, and Schoharie. Our bike route kept us fairly parallel to a river and railroad a majority of today’s 80 mile total.
Tomorrow we skidaddle across our 12th state line as we go over into Vermont.
See you in Vermont, and go USA men’s team tonight.
I’ve been asking around as usual as to what puts Herkimer NY on the map, historically, geographically, and of any other interesting facts. What I’m concluding is pretty much kind of not much. There is a Fort Klock, so then I wonder why not Klockimer ? Humm. ? I know, because I see it from my hotel window there is a Herkimer exist on the NY Thurway. And there is a canal which seems to be the hub of activity. We ate at the Waterfront Grill twice today, lunch after our ride and back for dinner in lieu of another Appllebee’s !!! See photos A group of us elected to pay for dinner there vs. a free Applebee’s. Our nights lodging is at the Red Roof Inn where apparently the roofing contract has the roof color in very fine print. See photos. All interesting things you notice in Herk Town.
This morning back in Syracuse I decided to dress smarter for today’s heat. Today would be a white jersey day and I decided to forgo the heart monitor. Yesterday the black jersey and the H monitor added to the heat. Besides I didn’t want to see my heart rate before I imploded from heat exhaustion. I packed my water bottles with ice and took a third for dumping on my head and neck. Ok bring on the inferno. In reality it was a decent morning with the high clouds. But after lunch we suffered. When we reached Herkimer 70 miles later we were cooked a medium rare, charred on the outside but slightly pink inside.
Ok so we did put the hammer down on 2 epic pace line pushes. Yeah I undoubtedly instigated both runs but it was a good old fashioned pedal down push. One stretch of farm road just begged to be ridden at 25 – 27 mph so I took advantage and put some of the boys in tap out, I’m cooked. So our pace line started with maybe 12 and now we are about 9 ish into the first and only SAG. Then we fuel up with iced coffees, bars, jells, fruit, Gatoraides and top off water bottles. We roll back out onto the battle fields. Well sure enough we hit it nice and play fair until I couldn’t take it anymore. So we start bringing the speed up gradually until we dwindle down to the final four. We ride into Herk out of water and pretty spent. A good time was had by all.
How was that exit out of Syracuse you ask. Well we ran a slalom coarse around pot holes, giant road cracks and mounds of decades of road repairs. These roads are OLD and obviously the winters take a toll. But the pot holes are second to no others. We are talking the size of an abyss. I looked up abyss in the dictionary and it’s defined as, a deep immeasurable space or cavity, a vast chasm. It should also be defined as a typical pothole in Syracuse NY.
We saw a sign outside a cute country general store today that said, We have tomatoes pies. I asked if anyone knew what these were. The answer I got was ” yeah pizzas”!!
Another thing I saw back in Syracuse was a trash truck but it had 2 trash man. I didn’t think trash companies still used real trash man as trucks are automated with one driver and his cool trash can lifter upper. Kind of fun to see the guys flinging the cans into the back of their trucks. Oh the things you notice on the road from a bike.
Tomorrow we bid fairwell to Herkimer. I’ll remember you fondly the next time I’m rolling north on the NY Thruway. Adios, tomorrow the circus rolls onto Albany.
Today was a bad day to wear a black jersey. Jezz it was a furnace and made the 70 miles feel like 170. Other than the heat it was uneventful. We did ride through the town of Waterloo, the birth place of Memorial Day. It seems a good number of towns laid claim to this tittle, something like 20 of them however Lyndon Johnson finally declared Waterloo officially. It was ironic after yesterday’s post about all the American flags. That town was flag central for sure. See photos.
Another thing we saw was portions of the original Erie Canal at an area called Camillus. I never really saw a town but we stopped at a cool museum. Honestly the stop was to get water and the old timers there talked great story so hung there for awhile. Unfortunately the longer we hung the warmer the oven got. See photos. The water looked pretty slimy and gross but it was a piece of history
Our best stop was at a cool coffee ice cream kind of barn place. The owners wanted to build a ice cream stand but they built a really nice market kind of place. After waiting about 40 minutes for 4 lattes we figured the ice cream was a better bet. So we hung and again once we left the oven temps increased a lot. See photos. From that point all the way into Syracuse it cooked and hurt.
So once we got close to our hotel we stopped for burgers. Bad Idea. The burger joint was in a closed down McDonalds building. We should have known. But we met the owner who was the ” cook”. He came out of his den of grease to meet us. One look at his tee shirt and pants was enough to turn my stomach. I hoped his kitchen passed the board of Health inspection. But every bite of burger tasted like old dirty tee shirt I swear.
We got to witness more driving marvels again. We had a gap with one rider ahead by maybe 50 yards. Then about 4 of us. So Mr bonehead Jersey plates dude threads the needle between us !! Unbelievable. Every single driver elects to pull out in front of us like we’re a marked gang. It’s incredible and what’s it save these NASCAR wanna be’s anyway? And this was in a Sunday when the roads are quite. At our route meeting tonight we’re told we leave in the AM thru and industrial area where the commuter traffic is bad. Oh boy !
Another highlight was seeing Lake Oswego which we were told was once the most polluted lake in America. Apparently GE and a lot of industries trashed it bad. So in the clean up efforts the bottom was found to be covered with a giant layer of Mercury. Somehow they ” capped ” the whole lake bed bottom. Yeah nice job on that clean up, or cover up !! From what I’ve seen so far they can cover up Syracuse. It’s dirty and grimy but maybe it’s got some nice areas so I won’t judge.
Today was again magical and maybe my best day of riding. For some reason nothing was hurting and my legs felt turbo charged. I don’t know why but at the end of 97 miles I felt fresh and charged to keep riding. The weather was pretty perfect as we had sunshine again and low humidity. Well low for around these parts. Temps went into the high 80’s but it was manageable. The miles flew by as if I’d found a genie in a bottle. You know you’re in for a great day when your butt doesn’t hurt.
Another highlight today was a town we went thru, East Aurora NY. What a great town and one of my favorites of the whole trip. It was alive with people jogging and we actually saw a handful of cyclists as well. The town was really beautiful and had a really great feel. The homes were awesome as were the farms as we got out of town.
One of my favorite take away feelings on this trip has been the vast amount of American flags we see on display. On homes along with red white and blue banners Also many towns we ride thru have flags flying all the way down their main streets. We have seen so many cemeteries as well, more than you might imagine. And almost every single one has so many flags on gravestones. Seeing so many flags flying makes you so proud to be an American. It’s a memory of this trip that should stay strong in my mind.
At our route meeting last night we were cautioned to keep concentrating on safe riding. At this stage of the crossing in the past they’ve had three bad crashes. People start thinking about going home Etc so we are told. So today I put my riding on the defensive mode. I made sure to leave an extra wheel between the rider in front and my wheel. When group riding ( peleton) there are tons of factors and things going on. You want to concentrate on the pace, soft pedal as needed. Leave your lane a little to spill speed as you use the wind as a brake. You also want to trust the wheel in front of you as obstacles and hazards pop up all the flipping time. There’s a long list of unspoken do’s and don’t do’s. Group pace line riding is super fun but best with riders really experienced at it. Holes alone are science. There are small ones that are harmless, then medium ones that require being pointed out. Then there are hospital holes that gobble up rims and riders at will. Other hazards range from rocks, sticks, various metal objects and road kill. Each of them warrant being pointed out for riders behind to avoid. When a good peleton works it’s magic but trouble can happen in a nano second and can be be ugly. So with all that said and being defensive I went off the front today for some good old solo time at about 60 miles.
We are now in Canandaigua NY on one of the finger lakes. It’s a really cool place as its a popular summer lake vacation recreation area. In fact after our ride today we jumped in the lake for a fresh water swim. It has a nice older historic downtown with a typical Main Street. Nice place if your visiting western NY.
See you tomorrow in Syracuse.
Today we embarked on our final push, we have 573 miles to go with 7 more days of riding. It’s hard to imagine that in exactly one week from today this adventure will end.
Good bye Lake Erie and the most sunken vessels per square mile in the world. The waters of the war of 1812 and Admiral Perry. Where he proclaimed those famous words. ” we have met the enemy, and they are ours”. And don’t forget also his command to his sailors ” Don’t give up the ship”. It’s time for us to sail so off we went.
Today was pretty awesome as we declared it a team Bike 4 Mike day. All the guys who’ve bought the jerseys and kits wore them today. It was a really incredible feeling knowing this all started as an idea close to 6 years ago. Mike would be proud and I felt him smiling from above on yet another gorgeous day.
Today’s ride took us along the south shore of Lake Erie for 57 of our 79 miles. That part of the ride was great as we saw a lot of the shoreline, a few marinas, and actually one beach. It looks just like the ocean without the waves and salt.
Soon after we headed away from the shoreline, the traffic rudeness began and at one point we got cut off 3 times within about 3 minutes. One brainless driver backed out of her driveway at a snails pace which almost caused a pile up. I waved and said hello to a large man sitting waiting for us with a look of disgust. His window was down allowing his oversized arm to sit motionless as he gave me his best stink eye. So I waved again hoping he’d realize his face reflected his distain for life. So much for trying to get even a lifted one finger howdy. Nothing, just a blank stare, not even a nod. Good bye Mr happy. Then he pulled out behind us a guns the SUV that’s never seen a car wash. Maybe he didn’t like bike riders using his road.
So back on the home front, today is our Team Godfather Charity woman’s golf tournament. Under that light let’s talk seriously about our cause and ALS.
Today is Friday and you’re all jacked up to attack and enjoy your weekend. What are your plans, probably some beach time with the heat wave I’ve heard about. Maybe a little gardening, wash the car maybe, flip a few burgers on the grill? What ever your planning think of this, a person with ALS can do none of these. As the disease progresses so do the day to day functions. Until it’s time for a wheel chair. And from there it continues to spiral downward. I won’t go on and bring you down. But I will ask for your help.
Please go to the home page of my blog. Please read about why I’m riding and about my story. I put a great deal of time into writing these before I left. I greatly appreciate your reading these heading topics.
Thank you for following my blog, thank you for reading about why I’m doing this. And thank you for your donation. So many people are donating and it’s greatly appreciated, by myself, by all the volunteers at Team Godfather, and by those battling ALS. All donations go directly to ALS medical research and are tax deductible. Please donate if you can. Please share my blog with your friends.
Together we pledge to fight the battle against ALS, and we “don’t plan to give up the ship”.Happy weekend warriors.