A message from the Connecticut Burns Care Foundation

Ryan and Dwight hope to raise $10,000 to support the burn camp, which will host 70 children between the ages of 8 and 18. They are determined to reach the West Coast as a personal challenge as well as helping young burn survivors.

Started in 1991, the Arthur C. Luf Children's Burn Camp is located in northern Connecticut on 176 acres. Every summer, burn survivors come to the burn camp, which is a safe and fun environment that helps kids heal emotionally and physically. The Burn Camp is free to the children, who come primarily from the Northeast and some foreign counteries, but any burn survivor child anywhere is welcome. More than 70 adult counselors, primarily active and retired firefighters and burn unit nurses, occupational and physical therapists, child psychologists and even a doctor will serve as mentors for the week.

It's also our goal to promote burn awareness and fire prevention and education, which we do year around. We sponsor a burn survivor, burned in a car accident that involved speeding and drinking alcohol, who speaks to high school students throughout Connecticut. We also support the burn unit at Bridgeport Hospital, helping to purchase equipment.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Dear Indiana,

I love your gentle breezes, and your sweet, little bitty hills that go so softly under my tread. I love them even more than total flatness, because they shield me from the wind, and they break up the monotony of an absolute plane. I love that deep blue over head that blurs into lightness around the edges, and all those benign, white clouds that dot the sky like a ghostly archipelago, or a herd of white stags. O, Indiana, I could roll on like this, forever.

Halfway through Ohio I started singing mariachi songs to pass the time as I rode along, and when I ran out of those I started singing anything else I could think of. Halfway through Indiana I became manic and started singing odes to the countryside. The sun and the sky and the fields were so beautiful. And, unlike Ryan, I don't have an iPod, so I have to find ways of amusing myself.

We had to cross some un-pavement to avoid getting way off course

These signs make me so sad. I can't blame a person for wanting some privacy, it just seems a shame that a fella can't wander down that lonesome road in search of shelter, or even conversation. I guess they save us time by letting us know straight off where we're not welcome.

The last of nine lives was wasted, here. Shame.

Amber waves of grain...

Ryan takes a sample

The day we left Fremont we rode 70 miles to Defiance, Ohio. That's the day we passed through the fair city of Wayne. The next day lightning storms kept us off the road for most of the morning, and strong head winds slowed our progress the rest of the day. As a result, we only made it about 44 miles, but we did make it across the state line and ended up in Auburn, Indiana. Yesterday we rode from Auburn to just south of Wakarusa, about 70 miles. As we approached Goshen we saw clouds unlike the puffy whites behind us. These had bellies dark with water, pregnant with the coming storm. So we got stuck in Goshen for a while. But the sun stays out later as we go west, so after the storm passed we had light until almost 10:00, and we rode through a glorious dusk.

A wonderful couple at a fork in the road let us camp on their lawn, last night. Their young daughter followed our movements with great interest from the rear window as we set up camp in the back yard. I think she was talking to the cat about us. Total cuteness. In the morning she brought out breakfast her mom had prepared, and handed it into our tents. So nice.

Indiana, BABY! and more

After a long and flat western Ohio, we crossed into Indiana on Saturday night, June 29th. After our entrance into Indiana, we started looking for a spot to rest our heads for the night and found the next closest town on our route, Auburn. We stopped at the first fire station we saw entering the town and talked to the firefighters on duty, Gabe and Joe, for a bit about our trip and the charity we're riding for. They found out we were camping for the night and cleared it with the chief so we could set up camp on their lawn for the night but when I asked if there were any places to get some dinner around there, he replied, "you're better off downtown if you're looking for that sort of thing, we only have live cows around here."

Joe called the downtown station and said it would be fine if we camped on their lawn but when we got there we were pleasantly surprised. Tony and Jim, the firefighters on duty invited us to take showers in the station and showed us the fire-training area outside, behind the fire station. They said it would be fine if we set up camp in the "Survive-Alive" house, a house fully furnished, to demonstrate to kids what it would be like, and what to do, in case a fire. We were happy to call it home for the night.

We've been having to avoid route 6, The Old Confederate Highway, which is the most direct way east-west in northern Indiana. Route 6 is just too busy and unsafe to ride on. Because of this, we have to traverse the state along back roads that parallel route 6. There are many positive, beautiful aspects about doing this, even though it means more mileage and planning, but it also means some negative things, like country dogs. Country dogs are ferocious, territorial and great sprinters. The least these dogs do to bikers is bark violently at us as we pass by. This is terrifying because some of the time, the dogs chase after us, trying to bite at our ankles, tearing us from the bikes and try to kill us. Every time this happens, Dwight combats it with sweet-baby-talking these dogs to pacification. I had my doubts at first about his tactics but just yesterday I saw a dog lunging for him until he talked to it sweetly and it just lost steam and quietly backed down. You could see that the dogs still want to attack him but just don't have it in them to tear him to shreds when he talks to them like that...

AND by the way...I forgot to mention in previous posts, the quote of the trip, so far...the story goes like this: I believe we were in New Jersey and it was one of those really hot days when we were traveling hilly terrain, not going anywhere fast. Dwight and I weren't saying much to each other through the grueling ride to conserve strength, until we came to a small downtown area of a small town in NJ. It was about that time of day, so I asked Dwight if he was hungry for lunch. (I think up until this point, we were having sit-down meals for lunch) He said yes, so we stopped at this "food-mart," which was barely that, a small building that had as much variety of food as a gas station. So, I scrounged up whatever I could find...some cashews, chips, protein bar and some orange juice and payed for it. I went outside and starting eating my food quickly so we could get back on the road as soon as possible. Then...Dwight came out the food mart door with an orange juice in his hand...(and this was what led to the quote)..."Dwight, I thought you were hungry for lunch, what the hell are you doing with just juice?...(and with a tired, disgusted, valley-girl face on and gesturing with his hands) he said; "I DON'T have an appetite for SNACK FOODS, SNACK FOODS are not LUNCH, you asked me if I was hungry for Lunch, Snack Foods are Snack Foods!...I could've died laughing and I told him I should've brought one of my sisters, instead. We both couldn't stop laughing about it, afterwards.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

I'm in love with Wayne, OH

Yesterday we took a local cyclist's advice and left Route 6 for the less busy Route 281. It was probably the best decision we've made this whole trip. We stopped at a library in the town of Wayne, where we made yesterday's posts, shared our story with a few library-goers, and before we knew it, we were overwhelmed with gestures of generosity and kindness. One woman asked us if we needed anything, told us she lived just down the street, and then gave us twenty dollars. Shortly thereafter, one of the librarians told us that an anonymous donor had paid for us to eat at the restaurant down the street, The Country Market. While enjoying the delicious meal, served to us by a couple of very nice girls, we were approached by the mayor of Wayne, who said she had been told about our quest and wanted to come greet us, tell us she was glad to have us in town, and wish us well on our continued journey. These were just a few of the friendly characters we encountered in our brief visit to this community of fewer than 700 people. After we left, we couldn't stop grinning for miles and miles.

When we first reached Ohio, I was a bit disappointed by the "flatness" I had heard so much about, because it seemed to me that, though they were considerably smaller than their Pennsylvanian counterparts, there were still plenty of hills to be reckoned with. When I would register this complaint with Ryan, he would just roll his eyes and shake his head. But if this was supposed to be the flattest of flat, I had lost my faith in the existence of true flatness. Now, my faith has been restored. Flatness abounds, now that we've come a bit farther west. True flatness. Beautiful. A bit redundant, maybe, but refreshing after climbing those Appalachians on my ten-speed.

We've also encountered some pretty gnarly canines along the way through farm country, who like to bark viciously and give chase as we ride by. My technique for managing this situation involves talking to them sweetly with baby voices. I've had mixed results with that.

As you can see, we're approaching our first $1,000 on the fundraising front, which is exciting. We're not quite on pace to reach our goal, but hoping that things will pick up a bit as we advance along our trail. Even if everybody who visits the site gave just a couple of bucks we'd have...several dollars. A start, though, no? As an incentive to get more participation in this fundraising effort, I certify that whoever gives us the donation that breaks the millenium mark will be entitled to a kiss from Ryan. I can't guarantee that he will recognize the validity of that certificate, but as far as I'm concerned, he owes it to you.

Fremont and The Depot, Thursday 6/26

From Jeff's house in Sandusky, we had a short and wet 30 mile ride to Fremont, OH. A firefighter and bike shop employee, Jeremy, and his wife, Lisa, invited us to dinner with some of their friends at a restaurant/bar called The Depot (a converted train station) and to stay the night at their house. Dwight and I shared a large veggie za and we had couple Great Lakes lagers. We had a great night and got to enjoy the company of some really cool people.

Jeremy heard that we were doing the bike tour from the charity we're riding for, through the Fremont fire department. Since it was right up his alley, he volunteered his house for us to stay at Thursday night (6/26). It was especially encouraging and affective for me to meet someone like him. A great guy with very similar interests as me, who is doing really well for himself and his family.

The night before we left, Jeremy did some work to our bikes and spruced up old Rosey. We had a great time hanging out with Jeremy and Lisa and checking out Fremont Cycle and Fitness Center. Thank-you, guys!

Friday, June 27, 2008

West of Cleveland

Route 6 skirts Lake Erie going west from Cleveland, and as we rode it we kept catching glimpses of the lake through the trees. When we couldn't see the water, we could usually still see the big, uninterrupted sky that opens up above it.

The day we left Westlake we traveled about 50 miles to Sandusky, where we were lucky enough to roll into a firehouse full of great people. They gave us good food, hot showers, and comfortable beds. We spent much of the next day with one of those great people, Jeff, who took us to breakfast and hung out with us at his house until it was time to fulfill the main objective of our visit, a trip to the famous Cedar Point Amusement Park. He gave us a ride out there on his Russian-built, German-designed World War II motor bike.

Cedar Point has held Amusement Today's title for "Best Amusement Park in The World" for the past ten years, and has more roller coasters than any other park in the world, including the second tallest and second fastest on the globe. Needless to say, as a rollercoaster enthusiast, this was a trip I had been meaning to make for a while (though I didn't expect I would make the trip on a bicycle). The Millennium Force was all I hoped it would be, just beautiful. There was also a coaster called "Mantis" which you ride standing up, which I had never seen before. Top Thrill Dragster, the tallest, fastest guy, uses magnets to blast you to 120 miles per hour in four seconds (on a horizontal track), the force of which sends you up 420 feet before you plummet back down the other side. It's a short ride, but still worth the wait.

Just in case...

Jeff picked us up and made us some pizzas before sending us on our way. As we traveled west in the late afternoon, we encountered a couple of interesting smells. First, the unmistakable odor of ketchup, which was weird until we saw a Heinz factory on our right. Later, as the southern bend of Route 6 sent us through some marshy territory, the smell of decay, which at first I attributed to the swamp. We were rolling over what looked like dark, wrinkled leaves on the shoulder, which I thought nothing of until I slowed and noticed they were hundreds and hundreds of little frogs, lying broken on the road side. It must have been a great migration interrupted by this fatal swath of asphalt. I saw one little guy trying to make his way across the street, frozen in the middle, in the path way of an oncoming truck. I tried to chase him across with my bike, but he turned and hopped under my tire. Don't know if he made it under me safe, didn't have the courage to look back and see. My technique was careless, stupid. I should have picked him up and carried him across to safety. I regret my carelessness and its possibly dreadful consequences. I feel badly for the little guy, and his thousand brothers and sisters, their instinctive wanderings thwarted by the intervention of man.

We made the 23 miles to Fremont before dark, where another fire fighter and cycling enthusiast, Jeremy, had offered to put us up. We just can't stop meeting wonderful, generous people.

Dusk over Route 6

The Sandusky Fire Department

The enormous, 420 ft. tall, 120 mph, Top-Thrill Dragster

We rolled into Sandusky, OH, home of the great Cedar Point Amusement Park and some of the biggest roller coasters in the world, on Wednesday 6/25. The firefighters invited us into the break room, where most of them were eating dinner, and we started talking about our trip. They were really cool guys. One of them bought us some "pop" and the whole shift pitched-in to buy us dinner. Alex gave us some spending money and some money for the charity and when the crew found out that we were visiting Cedar Point in the morning, Jeff and Zach gave us their tickets to the park.

While we were hanging out and eating dinner, the thunder storms hit again. We still had another twenty miles to ride that night from Sandusky to Fremont but the weather was terrible and dusk was approaching. When they saw how bad the thunder storms were they invited us to stay the night in the firehouse. We had our own rooms with beds and we got to use their shower and laundry room. That night we hung out for a bit, watched a movie and got a great nights sleep, out of the rain. They were an awesome group of guys and seemed very tight.

In the morning, Jeff, one of the firefighters took us out to eat for breakfast and back to his house to hang out while we were waiting for the park to open. We played some Call of Duty 4 on his Xbox and I owned Jeff and Dwight. Jeff and his wife gave us some spending money for the park and invited us back for dinner, after the park. We had a great time at Cedar Point and riding all the roller coasters but I probably had the most fun ripping down the street in Jeff's ride. Sooo sweet.

A Russian made motorcycle and side-car. It was a stolen German design. It even had a machine gun mount on it....


The American Public Transportation Association named Cleveland's RTA the best public transport system in North America for 2007. We took advantage of the distinguished network to travel from our suburban hideout to downtown, where we visited the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (or "Rock Hall" as we kept hearing it). It was an interesting place, for some reason it felt different from any other museum I had been to before, but I couldn't figure out why. Eventually I realized that it probably had something to do with the fact that it was full of totems, artifacts and accessories to the art rather than the art, itself, kind of like an art museum full of famous painters' brushes instead of their paintings. There were some sections which described the progression of the art form, its historical roots, etc., but the exhibits seemed mostly to be invested in exploiting the aura of these sacred objects, the guitars and costumes of rock legends, even sometimes the seemingly irrelevant minutiae of their lives (Jim Morrison's middle school report cards, for example).

Anyway it was cool to see all that stuff, just a bit overwhelming, especially since we showed up less than two hours before closing. A highlight for me was an old collection of Beatles singles called "Incredible!" whose cover picture the members draped in cuts of raw meat and dismembered baby dolls. Apparently this cover art was not well received by the American public, and was quickly changed, putting the copies that survive among the most coveted of Beatles paraphernalia.

In the evening we explored the warehouse district with Jason. Thanks to Jason for being a wonderful host and welcoming us into his beautiful home. Its distinctive furnishings include a urinal in the basement, an area affectionately referred to as the "man cave."

These guys were in front of the Cleveland Public Library

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Pittsburgh to Cleveland in three long days

I had a lot of fun hanging out with Dan and his frat brothers. We ended up meeting a good number of them, despite it being summer-break. We had a huge cook-out with plenty of food and drink, threw the football around in the quad, checked out some of Pittsburgh and saw a Pink Floyd laser light show at the Science Center. Dan and his friends made us feel like we were at home. It was great to see Dan and meet some of his friends.


We have been living like kings for a bare-bones, cross-country bicycle trip. It seems like we have been meeting people every other day that let us stay at their houses, shower and do laundry, until now. The last three days, I can't help but laugh desperately at the condition we're both in and the feelings of nostalgia it brings, from last years trip.

I mentioned in an earlier post about the most annoying day yet...It's been that day, compounded three days and two nights. Scattered lightening storms everyday (mixed with a hot sun, when it's not raining), no shower, little food, undrinkable tap-water, crappy pavement, head-winds, trench-foot, wreckless and pissed-off drivers, attack dogs chasing us, saddle-sores, fatigue and slimey clothes, sleeping bag, helmet and skin. I can't say I don't enjoy it in a weird way, though. It seems terrible most of the time but sometimes I can't just help but laugh at it. I wish you were all here to enjoy it with us!...
We've been having to take emergency cover from the lightening storms under anything we can find. It's getting harder to do. Out in rural villages, man-made shelters are few and far between.

A roof we camped under one night, taking shelter from another lightening storm

We're now in Cleveland, OH. Jason, family of friends back home, The Gangs, put us up in his awesome house on the west-side of Cleveland. I just got up from a twelve-hour night sleep, in a bed! His dog Chase is awesome.

We're gonna check out Cleveland today and take-off for Sandusky, Cedar Point Amusement Center, tomorrow!

Oh, hi, Ohio

The next day was even more abbreviated by long spells of lightning, and we went only 36 miles from Chippewa to northern Salem, OH. Yesterday we got an early start and made up some lost time by covering 78 miles to Westlake, OH, just west of Cleveland, where we are staying with Jason, a friend of a friend. Jason has been kind enough to let us stay two nights so that we could crash out with exhaustion last night and still have a full day, today to explore the city, before heading out early on Wendesday.

We actually had a dedicated bike lane for a while on Route 82. It didn't last, naturally, but was nice while it did. This sign usually has a truck on it, so it was funny to see a bike, there.

Please, do

Berlin Lake, and some guy fishing

Days later...

An apology is in order for the great delay of this posting. The last few days have been a little crazy with lightning storms breaking up our rides and stranding us at various points. Any way, no excuses, sorry about that, I've brought you these flowers to try and make it up to you...

So, Pittsburgh was fun. Our good friend Dan took us under the roof of his Carnegie Mellon fraternity, where we met a bunch of great guys. He offered us his couch and his own bed to sleep on. The first night I took the couch, but Ryan is too selfless to take a brother's bed away from him and, though Dan had already made the sacrifice and gone off to sleep in another room, Ryan took the floor and left the bed empty. I, being not so noble as Ryan, saw to it that the bed was put to good use on the second night, while Ryan could agree to sleep on the couch, and everyone was happy (except maybe for Dan. Who knows where he slept? His hospitality will live on as the stuff of legends).

Dan took us to Shenley park, where we sat on the grass in view of U. Pitt's Tower of Learning, apparently the tallest academic building in the U.S., maybe the world, and then we explored some of the park's fine woodland paths, and saw some beavers. One beaver, at least. We had some sushi at a place called Little Asia, and later on saw a sweet Pink Floyd laser light show at the Carnegie Science Center.

Apple soda at Little Asia

On our way out of the city we ran into a fellow cyclist named Andy who showed us a bike-friendly route out of Pittsburgh (for such a competant guide we thank our lucky stars). He was also a percussionist for the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, and brought us in the back of Heinz Hall to see the stage, which was really cool to see. Thanks to Andy for taking the time to show us around and get us safely on our way.

Heinz field, for all you Steelers fans

After 500 miles free of flats, the day of our departure from Pittsburgh was also the day that I miraculously suffered not one but TWO flat tires. Boo. The first took place on the sidewalk in front of REI, where my rear tire exploded after a fill-up. I guess 90 psi was too much for the ancient tire, this time. I just heard what sounded like a gunshot and felt a huge blast of air and thought, "did I pack a huge balloon without knowing it, or something?" and these people on the sidewalk turned to us and with surprising indignance and were like, "what was THAT all about?" and I felt inexplicably guilty about the mysterious balloon which I swear to God I had nothing to do with packing in my panniers, some tricky son of a gun must have slipped it in there while I wasn't looking, very funny. Then I saw that my rear tire was flat, and all the pieces came together. I just realized that this was actually a somewhat fortuitous tire flattening, as this was, incidentally, where we met Andy, and without the delay caused by the flat we surely would have missed him.

There was nothing fortunate about the second flat, though, it was just annoying. I was sure that this one was the result of my poor workmanship in replacing the first tire, but in fact I had run straight over a rusty nail, which I found lodged right in the middle of the tread. Shucks. I try to be conscientious about where I ride (i.e. not over rusty nails), but this one must have escaped my eagle eyes. Shortly after flat number two we crossed paths with a guy named George who was making a cross-country bike trip in the opposite direction, San Fran to D.C. He gave us a great short cut that involved two bridges and a flat island which allowed us to skip three miles of hills. Thanks for the excellent advice, George, godspeed.

The combination of the flats and a couple of lightning storms meant our first day out of Pittsburgh was a slow one, and we only made it about 41 miles, in spite of favorable terrain. The end of the day was us running into the woods out of a lightning storm in Chippewa, PA.

Friday, June 20, 2008

6/19 Thursday

We've arrived in Pittsburgh.  We're going to stay here til Saturday morning.  We're hanging out with our good friend, Dan Ford, drinking Lion's Head, playing bomberman and pong.  A bit of a rest to catch up and get ready for the mid-west.

6/18 Wednesday

The most annoying day yet of the trip...yet.  The weather was inconsistent and relentless.  The rain would pour down and the sun would be hiding behind the clouds so we would be cold enough to have to get off our bikes and put on pants and rain jackets.  As soon as the sun came out again, it would be strong enough and stay out long enough, so we would have to get off our bikes again, put away the extra layers and put on sun-block.  This process of adding and removing layers continued all day long, slowed us down and took a heavy toll on us.  What made this day even more exhausting was that we were still climbing through the heart of the Appalachian Mountains.  

...Every once in a while we would have to take shelter under a porch due to passing lightning storms...After taking a rest under a residential porch on the side of route 30 and nearly getting struck by lightning (25 yards away, splitting a tree in half) we continued the climb up and up and up!...

But the view was worth it.

When we arrived to Jennerstown that evening we were both exhausted.  I started some more random conversations inside a gas station/sandwich shop on the main drag in Jennerstown.  I was kind of tip-toeing around asking people if we could sleep on their lawn for the night. (hoping they would just invite us over for a feast of a dinner and warm shower!)  I wasn't really getting anywhere until an angel walked through the door!  Dorothy!  

Dorothy overheard me talking to this guy Darrin.  She interrupted us and told me that with help from her friend, Georgeanne, she would set us up for the night in the church basement.  (She later told me that she interrupted my conversation with Darrin because "he's a few fries short from a happy meal!")  I told Dwight the news and we followed these lovely ladies to the church. We had our own kitchen, bathroom and warm carpet to sleep on.  Paradise.  It was much appreciated after such an annoying day.

Church camping...

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Bedford to Pittsburgh

Yesterday was a pretty ride through the high mountain meadows of the Alleghenys.  The beauty of the scenery was tempered by the rain, wind, and generally miserable weather.  We had to take cover a couple of times on account of lightning.  I thought we were done with the beastliest of mountains after passing through the heart of the Appalachians, but the Allegheny Mountains had something to say for themselves, too, and yesterday we saw our tallest peak yet, Bald Knob, at 2,906 feet above sea level.  Our total was 43 miles from Bedford to Jennerstown, PA, where our usual twilight homelessness didn't last long thanks to Ryan's making the acquaintance of another fair lady, who helped us find shelter in the basement of a church.

Today we started with Laurel Mountain (or "Laurel Hill," as it modestly calls itself at the summit of 2,684 feet).  It felt like days since we had had any real help from gravity, and the far side of Laurel Mountain was a much needed respite from climbing, followed by a long and pleasant ride along the river in Ligonier Valley, before the hills decided to show up again and slow our approach to Pittsburgh.  Route 30, which we've been riding since before Gettysburg, got pretty ugly, virtually unrideable, and we were lucky enough to catch a ride with a community college professor and high school assistant principle named Dan who talks like Billy Bob Thornton.  He brought us about 10 miles up the road to Penn Avenue (Route 8), and we took it from there.  So we rode 50 miles, today, plus 10 miles in Dan's pick-up,totalling 60 miles from Jennerstown to Pittsburgh.

P.S. - Notice anything familiar about this fella we found in the church basement?

It's from where we from!  How'd you get here, clock?

She been through a lot

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Monday 6/16

I almost forgot how massive the Appalachian Mountains of Pennsylvania are. Fortunately, as we rolled into town, looking for a safe spot to sleep, we approached the St. Thomas Volunteer Fire Department. I thought it might be a good time to visit our first firehouse along our route and let them know about what we're doing. It really worked out. I approached the fire chief, Mark, and told him about our journey and the charity behind it. I figured it would be worth a shot, asking him if we could sleep on the side yard of the firehouse...He said, "we don't have a side yard to sleep on...but you could probably sleep inside the firehouse if it was alright with the town." He made a phone-call and we setup our stuff inside the bunk-room of the firehouse.

We spent most of the night doing laundry, making dinner (on a stove!), and talking with the volunteers. They were all really generous and hospitible fellows. They made us beds and let us do laundry. I was even able to use their weight room. We got a great sleep on a bed, inside the air-conditioned bunk room.

The next day, proved to be a challenging one. We crossed a fair number of mountains over 2000 feet tall with 8 1/2 grades for a mile or longer, we reached 41 mph! I can't wait for The Rockies...

This gnarly...

Tall order

The good thing about the mountains right now is that they're not too hot. The bad thing about the mountains right now is that they're mountains. I felt like Sisyphus pushing all that weight up those Appalachian slopes. They went up and up and up for so long that I forgot what a down hill was. There was something comforting about hearing my heart pound out those arduous inches like a metronome, and trying to keep my pedal strokes and my breath in time with that insistant beat. When we finally got over the summit, all the way down the other side I couldn't stop saying "Thank you, God, thank you my good, sweet God, dear God, thank you..."

A lot of mangled, twisted animal bodies litter the shoulder, their mouths flung open and their souls spilling out, oily and dark, onto the black top. Sad sight. More people should ride bicycles.

We spent the other night in a volunteer firehouse in St. Thomas, about 35 miles from Gettysburg. The company was a great bunch of guys, many thanks to them for taking us in and being so nice to us. Last night we slept in Bedford, 46 miles further, in the shadow of the world's biggest monster retail monopoly, whose odious name will go unmentioned, here.

Monday, June 16, 2008

The King

Thanks to our friend Brian and his family for their hospitality and overwhelming generosity. They gave us nourishment, warm beds and good company on a dark and stormy night.


The tall grass swayed in the wind while its roots gripped that ground which had been watered by the blood of thousands, and the tears of countless others. This morning we stood by the stone monuments that marked their graves, and spent a solemn moment feeling the weight of all those young lives that were spilled out on those now quiet hills.

West of Gettysburg the hills felt steeper than they looked, probably having a lot to do with the wind coming down off of them, which made it a slow-going start, today. Some sun-showers drizzled benevolently down on us as we struggled up a long, steady climb. We passed what looked like a rain-induced auto-accident, a pick-up had skidded off the road, coming to rest in somebody's fence at the end of a trail of disrupted earth. It looked like someone else's bumper might have been involved, too. A woman was standing at the road side on a cell phone with her hand on her forehead, but she sounded calm. It didn't look like anybody was hurt, thankfully, but as we rode on all kinds of ambulances and firetrucks flew passed us in the direction of the accident.

We're sitting in the Grove Family Library in Fayetteville, on our way up Route 30 to Pittsburgh. About 160 miles and The Appalachians remain between us and Steel Town.

Gettysburg and the Katies!

As we rolled into Gettysburg a bit later than usual, past sunset, we stopped at a gas station on the side of route 30 to grab some food and water for the night so we could comfortably camp on one of the Gettysburg battlefields. I filled up my water bottles and picked up a drink from the cooler. As i was getting into line I noticed a girl at the back of the line around my age, dressed interestingly, wearing a top-hat...So i started some small talk, we paid for our items and went our separate ways. While I was outside watching the bikes and waiting for Dwight to fill up on water and grab some food for the night, the girl with the top-hat drove by with her friend, she beeped and drove away...I was a bit puzzled but kind of shrugged it off...until I was hanging out for a bit by myself and they came back! I talked to both girls, Katie and Katie, for a bit and they asked if Dwight and I wanted to go to the diner with them, which was right down the road...Dwight was about it and so was I, so we went...

Katie and Katie were the two girls in the car and they introduced us to some of their other friends at the diner. We talked for a while but it was getting late so we mentioned that we were gonna head off. Chelsea, Katie's friend knew a fellow by the name, Adrian that lived down the road and asked him over the phone if "a couple of her friends could stay at his place for the night.." He said yes! He let us shower at his house and showed us his artwork and his brother's band, Infraction.

It would have been cool to sleep on one of the battlefields but meeting people like we did in Gettysburg is the best part of a trip like this.

Chelsea and Katie

Where is Paradise?

It's on Route 462 in Pennsylvania between York and Gettysburg. Who knew? They probably put it there so that all those fallen soldiers wouldn't have too far to walk. Yesterday we road 58 miles from just east of Lancaster to Gettysburg. In Lancaster we went to a bike shop called Cycle Circle, to have some body take a look at Rosalita's chain action, as she had been temperamental about shifting gears, recently, and the rear wheel, according to Ryan, needed to be "trued." Tom, a true bicycle artisan, revealed things I had never known about Rosie's history, among other things evidence of a past accident in the displacement of her rear stays (I got Rosalita used at at an ABC tagsale in Madison, not knowing, until now, anything about her traumatic past). Tom noted that Rosie was not your typical touring bike, having only a two-ring crank and no aluminum wheels. Ryan told Rosie not to listen, and that she was a beautiful lady. Tom made some adjustments to make Rosie's unique anatomy work, and wished us luck on our journey.
On our way west we passed a small parade of evangelists, waving white flags and ringing bells as they yelled "praise the lord!" Some of them had some pretty sweet tattoos. They shouted encouragements at us as we rode by.

We fell upon the mercy of strangers, once again, for a place to sleep in Gettysburg, and through friends of new friends (Ryan's doing, once again) we found lodging with a fellow named Adrian, who is super nice and whose walls are covered with beautiful paintings by his own hand. Thanks to The Katies, Chelsea, and Adrian for taking care of us, and Katie V. for the wonderful cards she made us. Gettysburg is good people.

Week one is up, New Haven, CT to Gettysburg, PA. Almost 300 miles and we have suffered no flats, knock on wood.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Look at this tough guy

We passed him yesterday on his aged equine ranch on one of the 50 miles between Boyertown, PA and Manheim Township, just east of Lancaster, PA. We also passed a pizza joint, where we succumbed to the temptation of the 16" Square Sicilian. Our eyes proved bigger than our stomachs (mine did, anyhow). That last half slice, I just couldn't face it. Ryan faced his. To the face, full speed.

Some ominous clouds appeared up ahead as we approached Lancaster. We tried to out ride them, but the storm broke on top of us, soaked us in an instant. Then the thunder started cracking around us, and my chain chose that very moment to slip off the back rings and take cover under a screw that holds my rack in place. Not sure how it got there, but it refused to budge. This little maneuver was unprecedented on the chain's part, and could not be remedied without a moderately time-consuming procedure. So I had to make a mad-dash for cover by foot. The following blood-thrilling images by Ryan Gilhuly are the result. We eventually made it to my good friend Brian's house, and had a very dry, comfortable night.

The other day we rode about 55 miles from Washington, NJ to Boyertown, PA, where we spent the night in a camp site. We met with a great deal of kindness just over the state line, in Easton, PA, where the folks at Gensis bikes used every resource at their disposal to help us find the best route west (phone calls, maps, websites, and free use of their computers to see what we could find). A block away from there, V., the proprietor of Nature's Way Market, gave us a warm reception and lots of free stuff. Many thanks to all these people for their generous help.