Traveling by Bicycle Across America

Category: People you meet

People You Meet

Rod, Shular and Denny in Belfast, Maine

hostel cabin

On August 6, I missed a turn and lost about 3 hours, adding about 25 miles to my day. When I realized I was off route I called Terry. I had phone service! I had to leave voice mail. What I did not know was when she tried to check voice mail, she was getting her own message instead of the mail box. I have had this problem with t-mobile before. When Terry saw Rod McDonald and Denny Andrie with loaded touring bikes she asked if they had seen me. If I had not been off route they could have. They were planning to stay at a hostel that night. Terry went over to arrange for us to stay also. It was 20 dollars for the night. The owner provided us with fresh eggs for the morning. Denny and Rod came down to visit. They both live in the Seattle area. It turned out that we had met some of the same people, including Ken Gomez from the Syracuse, New York area and his cousin Bill. I met Ken and Bill in Shelby, Montana. I was amazed by his detailed listing of sites to see, diners, places to stay and warmshowers.org hosts. Ken had to cut his tour short. He had recently sagged for Rod and Denny in the Adirondacks.

Denny Climbing

They asked if I would like to ride with them Tuesday. We started about 7:00am. That is the day we stopped for the pictures with lobsters posted earlier. The Adventure Cycling maps give great information about places to camp. I found a listing for cyclist only camping with a request to call ahead. I left voice mail. It was another day up and down hills. We arrived at Alex Allmayer-Beck’s house in the late afternoon. I was checking voice mail for a response from Alex when he opened the door. He has been involved in cycling since 2004 and is a gracious host.

Alex and Rod 173 Airborne

As he escorted us to the backyard, Rod spotted the 173rd Airborne bumper sticker. It turns out that he and Alex had both served in Vietnam with the 173rd. What a coincidence. Alex and Rod shared stories and memories throughout the evening. Alex drove us to the grocery store to pick up dinner and supplies and gave us a quick tour of Belfast. Alex has been CEO of the local soup kitchen for the last two years. He has been successful in building coalitions of people to help those in need and finding volunteers. His plans include renaming the organization to the Belfast Community Kitchen. The town is thriving. I think Alex will accomplish his goals for the program.

Natasha, Denny, Robert, Phil and Rod

Wednesday morning was foggy as Denny, Rod and I anticipated our last day of riding. Our energy was high. Down the road from Belfast, Rod spotted three loaded touring bikes. We found the riders in a cafe. Natasha is from northern California, Robert is from Arkansas and Phil is from Michigan. We must have talked for nearly an hour. We rode together to Bar Harbor. It was an amazing day for six of us to complete our dream of riding coast-to-coast together. We were less than 70 miles from our goal. Robert, leader of the other group, did a great job keeping us together. Denny, Rod and I were riding without gear. The others still had their full loads.

Blackwoods Campground Full

At lunch, Robert mentioned it would be good to reserve a campsite at Acadia National Park for the evening. I was having trouble with my phone. It showed that I had service, but I couldn’t hear anything except the voicemail messages that were recorded to the phone. I borrowed a phone and called Terry. She didn’t want to give up her parking spot, but went to the park to see what she could arrange. Terry was told the campground was full!

Site G1Blackwood Campground

It turns out, however, they had one group campsite left. They didn’t think anyone would want to pay the $50 fee. With seven of us, including Terry, the site was perfect. Terry lost her parking spot, but was able to make provision for all of us to camp after our final day of riding. Our neighbors were two troops of Boy Scouts. They were good troops with great leaders.

New England

Shular crosses Lake Champlain on a ferry boat

On Thursday, August 2, I crossed Lake Champlain on a ferry boat. The operator told me he had recently turned 74. He’s been on the job 46 years. The short ride brought me the Vermont side I rode on to Middlebury. I stopped to talk to Terry about camping for the evening. My original goal of Hancock was too far. That is when Jan showed up.

Trail Angel Jan

She looked at the map and discussed the merits of several campgrounds. She called her husband to get the phone number for Branbury State park located on the eastern shore of Lake Dunmore at the base of Mt. Moosalamoo. The attendant offered to leave a map marked with available sites. We enjoyed our brief stay their before starting todays route.

I started climbing Bread Loaf and Middlebury gap this morning. Some of the grades approached 16 percent. This made for long slow climbs. I had more climbing in the afternoon, but not quite as steep. In the late afternoon I rode into New Hampshire. I soon discovered River Road, designated on my route was closed. I rode to Lyme. I was looking at the map and talking to Terry about where to camp when a fellow across the street came over with local knowledge of campgrounds. It turns out that he has ridden coast to coast. He suggested the Pastures in Orford. It was 9 miles away and mentioned on my map. We are camped at the Pastures tonight on the Connecticut River. The wi-fi is great, the bathrooms are clean, an no quarters needed for a shower!

There is more climbing tomorrow. I am now just over 300 miles from Bar Harbor.

Please consider a gift to His Wheels International – http://www.HisWheels.org

 

Mark Mansell

Mark Mansell Cycling for Leader Dogs

I met Mark Mansell Monday afternoon as we neared the Adirondacks. Mark is a member of Lions Club from near Portland, Oregon, cycling from Portland, Oregon to Portland, Maine. He is raising money for Leader Dogs for the blind. He has already raised more than $60,000 Learn more about Mark and the program at http://www.CyclingForLeaderDogs.org.

Mark is pulling a Burley trailer to stow his gear. We had a very enjoyable time riding together and camping to nights.  Mark plans to be in Portland to finish his ride this coming Monday. Then it is back to responsibilities as a school superintendent.

Mark Mansell on the Bike

In Booneville, New York a lady ask if I had a tool to open a special remote device her friend needed to drive. The batteries had failed. My tools didn’t fit, but Mark had one to do the job.

Trail Angel

Julie

Wednesday afternoon I was nearing North East, Pennsylvania. A lady on the other side of state road 5 was jesturing as if using a water bottle. I stopped. She asked if I needed water. I did not, but I did need a restroom. She said it was okay. I met her nephew who was listening to blue grass music. She offered fruit, and got out the peanut butter and jelly with whole grain bread. As we chatted, she told me about a young Japanese man with limited English speech who had visited. She asked if I knew where I would stay that night. It was one of the few days I wasn’t sure, when I started. She called her friend Sean who owns RJ’s Campground a few miles inside New York. Julie sent me on the way with a bag of fruit.

Sean made dinner for me! Barbequed ribs. He told me that a storm was coming with expected high winds. He put me in a cabin instead of me setting up the tent with the storm coming. The winds was strong that night. There was a thunderstorm in the morning. I started late and came to Hamburg, south of Buffalo.

I am thankful to have met Julie.

Urban Riding

Cable Car at Lake Erie house

Day 58 – Monday, July 23 started in the country southwest of Huron, Ohio. It didn’t take long before I was seeing the lake in backyards. Eventually the houses became massive with a variety of landscaping. The Aspen cable car was one of the off-beat. I met a cyclist from Lakewood who was about 15 miles east of home, riding a titanium Seven with Campy Chorus equipment. I asked him if he had any advice on the route. He said I should try to get east of Cleveland. He suggested I get to atleast Willowick. I was there a little after 8:00pm, but the clerk at the motel had no idea how to tell me how to get there. It might not have even been in that suburb. I used my phone to checkk online. I need an app for that. I went of the route, made some inquires and ended up in Mentor. I am east of my plan for the day. The total was 87 miles. I back tracked when when I was off the route in Cleveland.

The houses along the lake in several of the suburbs were amazing. Another unique decoration was a British phonebooth. I had a southwest wind thet was a big help in making the mileage today. It was still 96 degrees just before 7:00pm. There breeze helped some. While I made good time on some of the roads, eventually the stop signs and traffic signals made for a slower overall time.

Finishing the Ride Across Illinois

Kate and Shular

On Tuesday July 17, after two days of rest my daughter Kate joined me to finish out the ride across Illinois. It was about 100 degress that day and the heat index was higher. We did have a little tail wind. The pictures shows that I rode without the B.O.B trailer for a while. We averaged about 15mph. Kate rode almost 50 miles with me. The longest ride she has ever made.  The day was so hot, the tar seeping through the chip seal was popping like pop-corn.  It was great to have company for the day. The time passed all to quickly. I put the trailer on, riding another 17 miles to Iroquois, Illinois, just over three miles fromn the Indiana border.

Wednesday I rode to Fletcher, Indiana after a detour. Thursday I went on to Roush Lake, south of Huntington, Indiana. Friday was a shorter day to Monroeville, Indiana. That day the head wind, a few minor hills, and a sore right foot slowed me down. It was about 45 miles for the day. Monroeville was the 2005 Adventure Cycling Association June Curry Trail Angle award winner. I stayed inside, with air conditioning, had a shower and did laundry! I was supposed to call the fellow in charge when I arrived. As has happened all too often, t-mobile did not provide service there. The city hall was closed. I stopped at the library, where they knew who to call without me telling them and gladly made the call. A few minutes later, I was enjoying the air conditioning. I was just a few miles from Ohio at that point.

Saturday night was a Jane Thurston State Park in Ohio. Sunday night, I am at a private campground, too close to I-80 noise ( I like small towns, corn fields and soy beans – all very quite ). I do have wi-fi so I can give you an update.

People You Meet

I met Peter McKay several weeks ago in Shelby, Montana. I has med Ken a little earlier that day. We were about to get something to eat when I saw another cycling tourist a block away. I walked over to meet him. He ate with us and then I road with him for several days.

We met Dylan Atkinson after Havre, Montana. We all road together for a few days. Actually we camped together, since we all ride at different paces. Dylan is from San Francisco. He is a teacher. We camped together for about two weeks. I hope to catch him when I get back on the road tomorrow.

Robert Kirkpatrick

I met Robert Kirkpatrick in Wisconsin just before crossing into Red Wing, Minnesota. We met again later and camped together.

The day after Muscatine, Iowa, a fellow yelled out the window of his Blazer that he would see me in Reynolds. I only averaged around 10 mph so he though the would miss me. I was looking at the map across from Casey’s when he showed up. His name is Brian Parkinson. He bought me an iced tea. He is an enthusiastic cyclist, farmer and sailor ( Chicago to Mackinac solo and on a team ). We talked nearly an hour. He is riding across one state at a time as he can schedule it.

It has been fun to meet various people and hear there stories and interests. Two more people to mention now. Outside Dakota, Minnesota I was off the route using US Highway 61 to shorten the day. I missed the last turn and ended up on Interstate. I took an exit in about a mile. I met Lauren and her dad Robin right away. They directed me to a path that put me back on the route in a few miles.

Lauren and Robin

The Bike Bunkhouse

It has been almost two weeks since I met Donn Olson at the Bike Bunkhouse in Dalbo, Minnesota. Donn is a very special guy. He was recognized as the Adventure Cycling Association 2011 June Curry Trail Angel Award for the providing the Bike Bunkhouse for cyclists touring on the Northern Tier route. I stayed there on July 3 and 4. It was a great place for my rest day.

Donn showed me around his property while I was there. He is a steward of the woods that have grown behind the crop fields since the land is no longer used for pasture. He manages a porable sawmill for a Baptist conference. He has used wood from the area to build up the bike bunkhouse. I wanted to include some more photos and to recognize Donn for his effort, providing for cyclists.

Here are a few pictures of the facility to give you a better idea of the bike bunkhouse.

The people in the last picture are Meg and Justin from southern California. They started from Chicago, riding to see family in Wisconsin and then on to Minnesota. Meg helped me get out of the barn by moving the B.O.B. She has one. It was a great help to make to corner. Lane and Pierre started their ride in Philadelphia after finishing college.

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