On Golden Pond – a loop around Squam Lake

Friday, 8/30/2019
Miles: 33.6
Average speed: 12.3 mph
Vertical gain: 2,330 ft.

I am still processing my big ride across the country, working on the ride report and catching up on all the mundane things I had put off, such as reconciling my credit card statements. But this weekend, Jennifer, Ernie, and I are staying with friends up in New Hampshire. So I got to go for a ride yesterday around Squam Lake, the real-life setting of the great movie “On Golden Pond”.

This 33 mile ride was my third since arriving home, the first over 15 miles, and the first not on Bill. I rode my carbon fiber road bike, affectionately called Willoughby.

Fully loaded, Bill, the titanium touring bike, weighed about 75 pounds. Empty, with racks but no bags, he is about 25. Willoughby weighs 16 pounds. The difference is transformative. Acceleration is quicker, hills are easier, everything is faster.

On the other hand, the Ti touring bike was much more comfortable than the carbon fiber go-fast bike, swallowing bumps and vibration. This was especially noticable on fast, bumpy downhills, of which there were many.

Also, the carbon fiber bike felt twitchy on this ride. I think this is because my muscle memory is used to weight, on the front especially, which was not there. This bike never felt twitchy until I rode a loaded touring bike.

The route is one I have done several times before. It is New Hampshire hilly, which is to say, a lot of short, steep hills. There was one hill in particular, coming out of Sandwich center, which is incredibly steep, over 12% I estimate, for maybe 2/10 of a mile. I remember it well, having never successfully climbed it without walking. Despite my confidence, conditioning, and light bike, I had to walk part of it yesterday as well. But overall, I felt good and rode strong.

Parts of the route, like the roads hugging the lake, were really pleasant, while other parts, like Route 25 out of, and Route 3 back into Meredith, not so much.

Lunch was in Holderness, at Walter’s Basin Restaurant and Pub, overlooking the lake where I had a very good grilled chicken and Greek salad wrap.

I’m thinking of doing a big ride tomorrow. The weather looks favorable, if cool. I’ll see how I feel.

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Day 107: Revere Beach, MA

Thursday, 8/22/2019
Miles: 44.7
Average speed: 11.0 mph
Vertical gain: 1,092 ft.
Current Elevation: 0 ft.

I made it! I rode my bike from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic, riding 3,897 miles over 107 days. What a ride! What a country!

The last day of my journey was a very pleasant and easy ride, with no big hills and no tough patches.

But for the first time in a long time, I had a schedule to meet. I was to be at Bedford Depot at the beginning of the bike path in Bedford at 10:30 a.m., for interviews with Bedford local TV and the Bedford Citizen. Then, I was going to meet with a reporter and cameraman from WBZ-TV, on the bike path in Arlington, at 1:00. Finally, I was going to meet with the same WBZ guys at Revere Beach at 3:00.

So in what was probably the earliest start of any day of the ride, except when I spent the night in a hot tent, I was out of the hotel, having eaten a light breakfast, at 7:15 a.m., heading to Bedford, where I live.

It is almost a coincidence that I am going through Bedford on my way to the ocean. In fact, I would have to go out of my way to avoid riding right past my house. But my house was not the end of the trip. The ocean was the end of the trip. So I did not want to stay at my house last night, for fear I would not properly finish, and I debated whether to even stop at home. After all, I saw my wife and daughter last night in Hudson, and we got the emotional stuff out of the way.

But I have not seen Ernie in nearly four months, and I really wanted that. We debated if that would be good or bad for him, if I stopped by with only minutes to spare before heading over to the Depot. So the default plan was for me to not stop at home.

In the event, I had the very early start and it took me just a little over two hours of very easy riding to go from Hudson to Bedford. I had over an hour to kill. I went home. It felt wonderful, and Ernie was very happy to see me.

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At about 10:00, Jennifer and Ronia drove over to Bedford Depot, and at 10:25 I headed over as well. (It would not do if I was early for the 10:30 appointed time.)

There, a small cheering crowd, a TV camera, manned (womaned?) by a young girl, and a bunch of people with cameras, awaited me! It was all very gratifying, very moving, and a bit surreal.

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I was handed a microphone, and my friend Tom asked me several questions, such as biggest surprise, hardest part, that sort of thing, all the while being filmed by the TV camera. I’m told the finished video will be out in the next day or two.

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Then it was off to lunch at Chipotle’s in Bedford. I rode there, along with Tom, Jerry, and Joel on his cargo bike. Ronia drove and met us there.

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After lunch, it was back up to the Depot for a quick visit to the Bikeway Source bike shop, just to say hello and thanks. Randall and Eric were there, but unfortunately Chris was not. I’ll thank him later.

Then the four of us on bikes headed down the Minuteman bike path, at a leisurely pace. As usual, I was a slowpoke. But we were in no rush. In fact, there was time to kill.

When we got to Arlington, about a block from where we thought the WBZ guys were going to be, we stopped and waited for 1:00. Joel rode ahead and reconnoitered, coming back to tell us that the cameraman was set up and we should just continue riding.

So we rode down past the cameraman, stopped, and I was interviewed by the news guy. Then they had us ride back and forth on the bike path about four or five times. Each time the cameraman would attach a GoPro to me or one of the other bikes, or get me coming or going or from different angles. Then we rode through the streets of Arlington, heading for Revere Beach. As we rode, the WBZ guys drove along beside me, shooting more video.

The ride from Arlington to Revere, through Medford, was surprisingly okay for a very urban ride. Much of it was on a bike path parallel to Route 60, next to industrial areas and behind apartment buildings with extensive community gardens.

Jerry had to turn back after the filming in Arlington, but it was nice having Tom and Joel along for the rest of the ride. When we were a few blocks from the beach, we still had about 20 or 30 minutes to kill. so we stopped at a small store, bought cold drinks, and stood in the shade outside waiting for 3:00.

Finally, at 2:50, we got tired of waiting, and so started to ride. We arrived at the beach a few minutes before 3, to a very small cheering crowd, consisting of my wife and daughter and friends Gordon and Melinda. There were also a few random people in the pavilion under which they were waiting.

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No sign of the WBZ guys or anyone from the PMC.

I started to take off my shoes and sun stuff in preparation for going down onto the beach and into the water. Then the two WBZ guys showed up. They had gone to the wrong location, an understandable mistake considering Google Maps probably sent them there. In any event, I put my stuff back on, loaded the bike back up, and then we did some more rides, recreating my arrival.  About that time, a rep from the PMC arrived and gave me a bag of PMC clothing – hats, tee shirts, and a sweatshirt.

Finally, I took off my shoes and sun stuff, and my jersey, and put on my Crocs, and walked down to the ocean, and stood in the water. I considered diving in, because it felt really good, but there was a ton of algae floating on the surface, and I just didn’t want to get that dirty.

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Tom and Joel both rode home, Tom back to Arlington, and Joel back to Bedford.

We loaded my bike and stuff in the back of Jennifer’s car, then Jennifer drove us home.

So that was it! It was a very satisfying end to a very satisfying journey.

That evening, at 6:10 p.m., the piece aired on WBZ News. It was very good! Here is a link: WBZ newscast

In the next week or so, I will write my usual ride report, which will not be just a rehash of all the daily blogs, but rather a reflection and summation of the entire trip. The report will go to all my donors, so if you would like to receive a copy and you have not yet donated, you can do so at www.pmc.org.

Thank you so much for following and supporting my ride!

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Day 106 – Hudson, MA

Wednesday, 8/21/2019
Miles: 37.7
Average speed: 10.9 mph
Vertical gain: 2,224 ft.
Current Elevation: 263 ft.

Almost finished! Barring major disaster, I will reach the Atlantic Ocean tomorrow.

I am currently in a Holiday Inn Express in Hudson, Mass. Jennifer and Ronia are on their way here to pick me up for dinner. I am nearly overcome with emotion.

Today flew by.

Although I got caught in a bit of rain, I mostly lucked out with the weather again. I did get my booties on before the rain began, and the little bit of rain I got caught in, my feet stayed dry. After checking into the hotel, it rained a lot. Once again, I didn’t care.

The first 23 miles today were on Route 20, where the shoulder varied between generous and zero, but the scenery was unrelentingly dismal – strip malls, body shops, and so on, with lots of traffic. (To the credit of Google Maps, it did not want me to ride on Route 20, but I insisted. At this point, I was more interested in expediency than scenery.)

Lunch was a Clif Bar while sitting in the shade of an abandoned drive-in movie theater. I wasn’t really hungry, although I should have eaten more. While there, I called the hotel in Hudson and made a reservation. During the call, the sun disappeared and it started to rain, but only a few drops. Nonetheless, I took off my sun stuff. I did not put the booties on yet. That happened later.

Then Google Maps took me on back roads to the hotel, so the next 10 miles were really scenic.

The last few miles were on Route 62, which I will take tomorrow to Bedford.

The plan tomorrow is to arrive at the beginning of the bike path in Bedford, across from the Bikeway Source, at around 10:30. There I expect to be interviewed by local TV and the Bedford Citizen. Then it is off to Revere Beach, along with anyone else who wants to ride with me. So far, I think that is only Tom and Jerry. Hopefully, lunch will happen somewhere along the way. Depending on lunch, and what time we leave Bedford Depot, I expect to arrive at Revere Beach, via Revere Street, around 3:00.

On May 8, I stood on a Pacific Beach. Tomorrow, after nearly 3,900 miles of riding, I will stand on an Atlantic beach. It is hard for me to fathom!

I am ready to be home.

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Day 105: Sturbridge, MA

Tuesday, 8/20/2019
Miles: 35.2
Average speed: 10.4 mph
Vertical gain: n.a.
Current Elevation: 620 ft.

I arrived at The Host Hotel in Sturbridge, Mass, today (although I am actually staying next door at the Super 8), only 18 days late for the PMC.

The Host Hotel parking lot looks really different from PMC weekend, when it is packed with cars and bikes. On this Tuesday evening, the vast parking lot is mostly empty.

Today was another good day, with the weather pleasantly warm (mid 80s), no threat of rain whatsoever, and enough hills to make it legitimately challenging.

Breakfast was at the Country Diner, riding out of Enfield. It was so typical, and so good. I sat at the counter and ate my omelette (I tried one of their specials, with pulled chicken, roasted corn, and roasted peppers, rather than my normal veggie omelette. It was good, but I think I prefer the veggie.). The owner, apparently, was sitting two seats to my left. All the customers said hi and goodbye to the waitresses by name, and they replied, by name. Some of the locals engaged me in pleasant banter, noting they have never seen me here before. This kind of place is a large part of what makes this trip so special.

Unfortunately, Strava screwed up again, so I don’t really know how much vertical I did today. But it felt hilly, except for the last five miles. I love it when a day ends on a downhill.

I arrived at my motel at about 3:00. I felt pretty good, and gave serious consideration to going another 15 miles, to Auburn. (There are no places to stay between here and there.) But for some reason, the hotels there are twice as expensive as the hotels here, and I was ready to call it a day. So I’ll stay here and just do tomorrow what I had previously planned, which is about 40 miles to Hudson.

Dinner was on the outside deck of the Oxhead Tavern, next to the Host Hotel. I have been at the Host now 13 times for the PMC, and I have never been in this restaurant. As part of my continuing effort to eat smart and carbo load for tomorrow’s ride, I had mac and cheese. It was very good.

Then, as part of my continuing effort to eat ice cream, I walked across the street to Friendly’s and had a Jim Dandy sundae, along with hot water and lemon. It was awesome! And the bananas and nuts make it healthy!

Tomorrow is the penultimate day of the ride. (I love that word!) I can really feel the end approaching. It is all I think about as I ride. In a positive way. This has been such a wonderful, great trip, but the best part of any trip, for me, is getting home.

Tomorrow night, I plan on staying in Hudson. It will be this trip’s last night on the road. Ronia is flying up from Miami, and she and Jennifer will meet me for dinner in Hudson. Without Ernie. Unfortunately, Addie’s job situation in North Carolina does not allow her to be up here, but we spoke on the phone at length just yesterday, and she is with me in spirit.

I must be doing something right when both of my daughters think I’m doing something pretty cool. I really appreciate that.

One of the hardest parts of this trip has been getting an early start in the morning. Consider it a character flaw. But I have schedules to meet the next two days. I will try to do a better job of that for the remainder of the trip.

And with that, good night.

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Day 104: Enfield, CT

Monday, 8/19/2019
Miles: 29.1
Average speed: 10.4 mph
Vertical gain: 1,477 ft.
Current Elevation: 56 ft. !

The end is really feeling near!

Today, which was a very good day, I left the Adventure Cycling route in order to take a more direct route to complete my ride and get to the ocean on Thursday.

Once more, my weather luck held out. The day was really nice, a pleasantly warm mid-80s, with blue skies. Then, when I was about 10 miles from my destination, it started to darken off to my left, thunderclouds developed, and I could hear the rumbling. At one point, a huge thunderclap went off right above my head. Still, the sun was shining on me, and I did not feel any rain, yet.

It continued to darken as I approached Enfield. I felt occasional drops of rain. I was peddling Bill as fast as I could. Fortunately, it was mostly downhill, so I made good time. Still, I did not think I was going to make it without getting drenched. Raindrops were starting to fall just as I arrived at the motel. In the end, I don’t know if it rained much at all, or just passed by. I didn’t really care, I was in my room.

Tonight, I am in a Motel 6 in Enfield, Connecticut. Tomorrow, I expect to stay in Sturbridge, where I had originally planned on arriving back on August 2nd. Oh well. Wednesday night, I expect to stay in Hudson. Then, on Thursday, I will ride through Bedford on my way to Revere Beach.

This morning, it was foggy and a bit cool as I packed up my camp and rode an easy and pleasant two miles to a convenience store. There I bought some Gatorade, ate for breakfast the rest of a Clif Bar I started yesterday, and put on my sun stuff. The fog had burned off, and it had become sunny and warm.

Above is a photo of Connecticut tobacco, with drying sheds in the background.

Then it was a very hilly fifteen mile ride to Granby, CT, where I dawdled over a late breakfast and figured out my route and itinerary for the rest of the ride. It was at this point, that I left the Adventure Cycling route, as previously mentioned.

Notice the two fly fishermen wading in the stream above.

Along the way, I passed a group of five bicycle tourists on the other side of the road, coming towards me. They were from Iowa, about my age, three men and two women. They had taken the train to Maine and were riding to New York City, where they were going to take the train home. As always, it was great chatting with fellow bikers and comparing notes. Sorry, no photo.

Although I generally prefer to avoid the national chain restaurants, there are a few exceptions, e.g. Perkins. Olive Garden is another, and I was thrilled to see there was one right down the street from the motel. After a good bowl of pasta tonight, I have no excuses tomorrow.

I hope the weather holds, and I can’t wait to get home!

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Day 103: Riverton, CT

Sunday, 8/18/2019
Miles: 46.5
Average speed: 10.2 mph
Vertical gain: n.a.
Current Elevation: 561 ft.

Note: This was written Sunday evening, but not posted until Monday morning, when I finally had good cell service at a late breakfast in Granby.

For the second night in a row, and not by choice, I am camped out. As we speak, I am sitting in my tent in a Connecticut state campground near Riverton. The rain, which did not start until after my tent was set up, has stopped, I think, although I can still hear thunder rumbling in the distance.

The reason I am camped out tonight is the same reason as last night, which is, there are no motels to be found, unless I was willing to ride an additional 25 miles to Windsor Locks, probably arriving after 6:30 or 7. Although I didn’t know it at the time I made the decision, it would have meant riding in the thunder storm. So I’m glad I’m camping.

At least tonight, the campsite has a shower! A shower was worth the cost of carrying a wet towel tomorrow. It felt really good, although I did not use soap, to avoid bug bites (I have learned from experience). There are no laundry facilities, and I am out of clean undies, so I rinsed off a pair in the shower, and it will do for tomorrow.

I saw this beauty in Salisbury, CT. It looked original, including the interior and badges, but the inspection sticker said “2001 Custom”.

I think I’m still on target to hit Bedford and Revere Beach on Thursday.

Today was interesting in that I am still backtracking my trip from seven years ago, and many spots I pass, I remember well. Yesterday I mentioned the rail bridge into Poughkeepsie.

Today, I am reminded that when I did this stretch of the ride last time, it was pouring rain all day. Today was actually a pretty nice day while I was riding. Although it poured last night, and again after I was camped today, the day itself was beautiful.

The first 10 miles of the day was on the beautiful Harlem Valley Rail trail. Later, in Salisbury, I intersected the Appalachian Trail. There I met a pair of thru hikers, and we chatted for at least 20 minutes. I love this, especially because I myself was a thru hiker at this exact spot 40 years ago this summer.

Later in the morning, I passed the big maple tree under which I sheltered from the rain seven years ago, and the nursery where a kind clerk let me use her floor pump to fix my flat tire.

On the last trip, I stayed at the Riverton Inn, which is about two miles from here. I called there yesterday about getting a room tonight. The message on the phone said “The Riverton Inn will be closed until September 3rd, when it will open under new management.” So much for that!

I’m not at all sure where I’m going tomorrow. Windsor Locks is only 25 miles away, which is too short of a day. But there seems to be another shortage of motels after that. I’ll let you know when I figure it out.

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Day 102: Amenia, NY

Saturday, 8/17/2019
Miles: 41.3
Average speed: 10.2 mph
Vertical gain: n.a.
Current Elevation: 568 ft.

Today was a very interesting day, especially the ending. The weather was really good, up until about 8:00 pm, when the sky clouded over and torrential rain & thunder began. This is especially germane, since tonight I’m camping out. Not to worry, however, because I am comfortable and dry in my tent.

Earlier today, I crossed high over the Hudson River at Poughkeepsie, on a railroad bridge converted to a rail trail. It was just as wonderful as I remembered it from seven years ago, when I was going in the opposite direction.

One thing that is new from the last time, and in fact not on my map, which is eight years old, is a new rail trail leading up to the bridge. I was navigating the streets, when I saw people on a rail trail parallel to me. I asked a local, who confirmed that this rail trail was only a year old and went all the way to the river. I’m on it! Next time I do this route, I’m buying a current map.

My goal for today had been to reach the town of Millerton, which according to my maps, has lodging. I could not confirm this on Google.

When I reached Amenia, 10 miles prior to Millerton, I decided to stay here, if possible. A sign on the road into town said “Motel 1 1/2 miles”, which agreed with Google. When I got to that motel, it looked incredibly stanky, and the office door was locked. I did not bother to call the phone number on the door, but instead rode back the mile into Amenia.

There was an Italian restaurant called Four Brothers Pizza & Inn at the main intersection of Amenia, and Google seemed to think there was a hotel nearby, the Caravana Inn. But for the life of me, I could not find it. I went into the restaurant and asked if they rented rooms. They directed me to the outdoor snack shop connected to the restaurant.

The girl behind the counter said yes, they had one room available, in an Airstream trailer parked in the back corner of the lot. However, it was booked for the weekend.

Also behind the restaurant was a drive-in movie theater and children’s play area!

I asked her if she knew of any motels in Millerton, and she very helpfully gave me the phone number and address of the Millerton Inn. This did not show up when I searched Google for lodging in Millerton. It was the same address, but different name and phone number, as the lodging listed on my map. I called, but they too were booked for the weekend. So I did not ride on to Millerton.

I then ask the girl if there was any other motels or camping around here. She said I could camp here in the lot, if I had a tent. So long story short, I am camped in the back lot behind this restaurant, next to the Airstream and the drive-in movie theater, which was filling with cars. The two movies tonight were both kids’ movies which I was not interested in watching. Despite the rain, the movies went on. I was surprisingly comfortable in my tent, and slept well, despite the noise outside.

Today was another hilly day, with more ups than downs, and predictably, my mac and cheese strategy at the rib fest last night was not sufficient. Today was definitely a low energy day. None the less, I was very satisfied with both my distance and my speed, climbing fairly well throughout the day.

Dinner tonight was a large bowl of excellent pasta and marinara at the Four Brothers restaurant. I hope to ride strong tomorrow!

I have no idea where I’m going to stay tomorrow night. I called the Riverton Inn, where I stayed seven years ago, and would be a good destination for tomorrow night. However, the recording said they were closed and will reopen in September under new management. So I guess I will have to figure that out tomorrow.

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