Well, that looks like the Atlantic Ocean behind Carol and me, so that means--we made it! What a great experience!
We rode 58 miles to the beach this morning, and all riders took a little time to enjoy the ride. Howie and I missed two turns in a row, so we got extra mileage again. It was the only time we were not riding with several other people, and we just weren't paying attention to our "Clue" sheets.
As you can see the weather was lovely. The top photo was taken just after I dipped my front tire into the Atlantic Ocean at Rye Beach, just south of Portsmouth, NH. The middle photo was taken at a school in Rye, and shows the 24 cross country riders who finished the ride, the 4 AbB staff members, and a few other riders who joined (or , in Jay's case) rejoined us fro the final leg from Erie, PA to the ocean.
After that photo was taken, we rode as a group to the beach, with a police escort in front. Septuagenarians Herb, Robert, and Cliff, as well as 67 year old Arlene were given the honor of riding up front, just behind the police car, while the AbB staff rode at the back. As a second police car was not available to trail us, Carol drove our minivan at the rear of the peleton, with her flashers on.
The funniest part was hearing the AbB staffers who rode with us (Andy, Michelle, Gerard, and Christine) talking. Whenever they drove by during the cross country ride, they would admonish any rider who was riding too far out in the road to "move over to the right". But during the police escort, they yelled "Get back in the middle of the road. Why are you riding on the side of the road?"
I had two major goals during this ride, apart from raising money for the Lance Armstrong Foundation. They were as follows.
First, enjoy every day! That turned out to be easier than I had imagined. We had a great group of riders, a great AbB support staff, and rode a great route. Sure, we had some rain, and plenty of headwinds, as well as snow in the Sierras. But we never had the unbearably hot weather we had anticipated, and most road conditions were good to excellent (with several notable exceptions). There was never a day I didn't feel like riding--though there were certainly times where we had 20 miles to go and I wished the hotel were around the next corner! We all had to "dig deep" at different times, but people were very supportive of one another.
Since I love riding my bike, it was easy to wake up every morning and get on the bicycle. I was lucky enough (and experienced enough) to avoid any major soreness during the long ride. And that leads to may second major goal for the trip, which was to ride EFI.
EFI stands, of course, for "Every Fantastic Inch", or something like that. Early in the ride, I learned this term. It meant that a rider rode the entire route under his/her own power. Sure, we carried our bikes over the sand to dip our wheels, and we occasionally carried our bikes around obstacles (missing bridges, roads so thick with hot tar and stones that the wheels wouldn't turn), but we did every fantastic inch by ourselves, without riding in the SAG van.
About 16 riders (~60% of the cross country riders) rode EFI, and we were very proud of it. Almost half of the EFI riders are posing at the beach in the lower picture. It took luck, as well as lots of effort, to ride EFI. Avoiding illness, injury, and bicycle problems were always in the back of my mind. Our oldest (Herb) and youngest (Erin) riders each rode EFI, and I know they both had some really tough days--pretty amazing. Several riders had to SAG at one or more times due to illness, fatigue, injury, or a bike that was beyond the considerable ability of Gerard, our mechanic, to do roadside repairs on. (Remember that old bit about never ending a sentence with a preposition? I hope that's become passe, because ending sentences with prepositions is something I'm very comfortable with.)
I'll post some final thoughts on A "Wrap Up" page soon. Of course, it's time to get back to work in "the real world". It's been a great ride!