Monday, August 26, 2013

The routines of each day on Sea to Sea

I want to remember the rhythm of the days on the tour, so this note is mostly for me.

5:15 - 5:30 AM   Awaken without an alarm.  Hearing zippers open others' tents will do the job.
                           Dress in bike gear and apply sun screen.
                           Pack up tent and contents.
                           Place camping gear on gear truck and pick up dishes for breakfast.
                           Eat breakfast standing up or on a curb if available because chairs already packed.
                           Wash dishes.
                           Pack lunch, fill water bottle and camel back, fill bike tires, place map for the day in
                           map holder.
6:30 - 7 AM       Meet friends and leave camp ground.
Afternoon arrival in campground:  Find camping gear and set up tent.  I needed to find a spot near where  
                           Phil could park his van to be able to use a power cord for his c-pap machine.
                           Clean and lube the bike if there was rain during the day.
                           Shower - usually need to wait in line.
                           Most people blog during the afternoon, but Phil was gone with the computer and pad.
                           Take a nap, or read and have devotions if able to stay awake.
6:00 PM             Phil returns from marking the roads between 5 and 6:30.
                         Gather dishes and chair and go to dinner.  Such a delight not to have to cook for 3 weeks!
                          Wash dishes and return to the gear truck.
                          Use computer to blog if possible.  Phil usually used this time to finalize and print the next
                          day's maps.
7:30 PM             Peloton meeting followed by small groups.
8:30 PM             Blog and read e-mail if still have the energy.
9:00 PM             Prepare for bed and organize things for the next day.

August 24, Saturday. New City to New York City, NY. Fantastic finish!!

Today was one of my favorite riding days.  It was clear and cool again.  We have been so blessed with the weather.  I started every day of the last three weeks with my arm warmers on.
Claire and I left camp before 7 AM.  About a mile out of camp we climbed the first of several hills.  We rode high up along the Hudson River, enjoying beautiful old houses along the way.  Doug soon joined us as we continued along a tree lined Parkway with wide shoulders.  There were many cyclists passing us from the other way.  I assume they were getting out of the busy city for a Saturday morning ride.   It is amazing to me that there was so little traffic so close to NY City.  At about 25 miles, we came to the Washington Bridge over the Hudson.   It is a double decker bridge with lots of traffic.  We cycled the narrow pedestrian/bicycle pathway along one side of the bridge.  The excitement and emotion of being there among all those people and cars and trucks approaching NY City was overwhelming to me.  The shaking of the bridge, the smells, the sights of the skyline,  the many people all rushing by seemed to be surreal.   We found several places big enough to stop and take it all in.  There were many cyclists and people coming toward us and passing almost handlebar to handlebar.   Sometimes we used our bikes like scooters with one foot down to stay in control.   On the far side of the bridge there was a very narrow winding ramp down.   It was a relief not to meet another bike on that ramp.  We found Roger at the bottom of the ramp.  He had been hit by another cyclist.  He was unhurt, but the rear wheel of his bicycle was frozen.   He was considering calling a cab.  The SAGs couldn't pick anyone up today.  We were all trying to figure out what was causing the problem when an angel stopped by.  He was another cyclist who told us that he was a bike mechanic!  He asked for an Allen wrench which he was given, and he was able to release Roger's wheel!  Roger turned around to thank him, but he was gone.
We rode into the city on the Hudson River Greenway Bike Trail.  It was great fun to join the New Yorkers seeing the city from the river side.  Families were out with young children enjoying the day.
We all gathered in our matching Sea to Sea jerseys at the Staten Island ferry.  As we boarded a dog sniffed our bike bags.  Odd??  None of the pedestrians had their bags sniffed.
We had a police escort a short distance to Project Hospitality, one of the organizations who will benefit from our fund raising. Rev. Roland Ratmeyer who cycled the entire trip started this ministry.  The director, Terri, spoke to us both in the afternoon and later in the evening.  This organization has impressive services to the poor on Staten Island.  It includes housing for homeless and AIDs patients, feeding the hungry, serving the undocumented, and many others.  
The police then escorted us to Midland Beach for our tire dipping.  This area was devastated by Hurricane Sandy.  We carried our bikes through the hot sand to the water.  I was so thankful to see Phil who helped me get my bike down to the water.  There were lots of family and friends to share in the excitement and many pictures taken.  We concluded by forming a circle with our bikes, had prayer together and sang the Doxology.  This was all so impressive!  There is so much to be thankful for, especially the safety we were given on this trip.
With what seemed like a P.S. to me, we were again police escorted 10 miles to the Mission of the Immaculate Virgin - a Catholic Charities campus.  The Bishop amazingly allowed us to camp there, and have our final dinner there.  This apparently is very unusual.  Project Hospitality has a good relationship with this organization and uses one of the buildings on this campus to house AIDs patients.
Phil and I had reserved the Comfort Inn, so went there for a wonderful hot shower before dinner.  The dinner included family and friends.  It was great to meet some of these people.  The program after dinner included speakers from our sponsoring organizations:  Greg Elzinga from Partners World Wide, Andy Ryskamp from World Renew, and Jay Harsacort from the RCA.  One of my favorite parts of the program was a signing of the song, "Jesus is Faithful" by Thea and her daughter Sarah.  Sarah has Downs' Syndrome and has  become the "darling" of the tour.  Her signing was so beautiful!
I must say congratulations to Bev who cycled today and did so well!  I think that she has caught the cycling bug and I am happy about it.
It is hard to believe this tour is over.  We did not get a chance to say proper good byes to our new friends.  Hopefully we can stay in touch!
57 miles.
Phil spent much time looking on line to check the route, and marking the roads.  In the last week, Barb Mellema assisted him.  Check her blog on to get her perspective of those days.

Sunday, August 18. Worship

It is a blessing to have a xay of rest, and a day off the bike.  However, there are still some things that need to be done.  After a special breakfast of pancakes,  I joined Claire and

August 23, Friday. Hyde Park to New City, New York. It is not too late!

I am catching up on my blog, and hoping that although we have already finished the ride, that it is not too late to complete my story.  I also want you to know that it is not too late to contribute to Sea to Sea and it's attempt to make a difference for those in poverty around the world.  If you would still like to contribute, you may go to the web site at to participate in this great cause.  Thank you.
Claire and I left camp this morning at 6:55.  In Poughkeepsie we crossed the Hudson River on a beautiful pedestrian bridge. It was almost as wide as 2 lane road, and was more than a mile long.   Thank you to Phil and Barb who found this route away from the traffic of the vehicle bridge.  We could safely stop to enjoy the scenery and take pictures.  This bridge was completed in 2009.  It was formally a railroad bridge used heavily during WWII to bring supplies to the ports.
Today it seemed that we were always in heavy traffic except for a rural area near West Point where we were challenged with a hill/mountain instead of the traffic.  Julie very  strategically placed her SAG van at the beginning of the climb.  She warned us that the climb was long - maybe 2 miles.  We ate our peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and some fruit, tanked up on water and set out for the challenge.  The road was four lane and fairly good surface.  It turned out to be a 3 mile climb of about 1000 feet.  There were beautiful vistas on the other side of the road, but it was too busy for us to cross.  The decent was fantastic.  I don't think that I have ever cycled a 4 mile down hill.  There was very little traffic at the time we were going down, so we took the middle of the lane and  certainly used our brakes this time.  Great  fun!!   Soon after we reached the bottom there was a bagel/coffee shop where lots of cyclists were catching their breath and comparing stories.  We joined in.
The biking day finished at Congers Memorial Park, located on Congers Lake.  It was a beautiful setting, but had only one bathroom close to the camp.  The showers were cold again, but we have become accustomed to that.  We are all beginning to realize that the end of the trip is approaching.  For those that have been participating for 9 weeks, it will be a huge change to get back to normal routines.  New friendships have been made, and good-byes need to be said.  This is a time we are thankful for social media to stay in touch.  Jay pointed out tonight that none of could have biked without all the support staff.  There were gear trucks to transport our luggage, a kitchen truck and cooks to feed us, those like Phil who planned and marked the route, SAGs to support us during the day, and folks who planned the tour.  The most important people were those at home who supported us with prayer, funding, and words of encouragement.  A big thank you to all of you!  It has been a privilege to be a cyclist and volunteer!

57 miles

Sunday, August 25, 2013

August 22, Thursday. Albany to Hyde Park

The first 20 miles we biked today, another clear and cool morning, were along the Hudson River.  It was a beautiful tree lined ride with the river on the right.  There was also a railroad track between the road and river with two tracks.  Signs indicated a fast train.  I was hoping to see a train, but we only heard one just after we had turned away from the river.  I also have been hoping to see some large ships as we have seen so much of the St Lawrence and Hudson Rivers, but there was only a freighter in the far distance on the St Lawrence.
After we turned away from the river, we encountered lots of hills again.  We climbed 2500 feet today and need to remember that NY is hilly!  At our second SAG stop, Julie had parked next to a farm market stand. The folks donated fresh peaches for the cyclists when they found out what we were doing.  What a very special treat.  They were ripened to perfection - delicious!
We camped in Hackett Hill Park.  It was a beautiful park with a swimming pool, but apparently the money ran out and the pool had no chlorine, so was not available.  The fencing around the pool was used to support bikes, and dry laundry, so it had some use.  When we arrived in camp, the cooks were rolling out home made sweet rolls for our afternoon shack!  These women are amazing!!  What a treat.
FDR was born in Hyde Park and  his library and museum are there.  We had discussed yesterday that we would like to visit at least one of these places.  But, alas, those hills took their toll and we were just too tired to learn history today.  So sorry - I would have loved to take advantage of the opportunity, but a nap won out.
66 miles  12.8 MPH average speed

August 21, Wednesday Easier Day

Our stay last night was not what I pictured when hearing we were staying at a marina.  At our end of the camp ground there was one toilet and one shower for men and women to share.   The hose showers were set up and many used those.  This group is very gracious and for one night we did fine.  We are again reminded of those who don't even have that much.  In our small group we keep challenging each other to think about what difference this trip will make in our lives.  Much to ponder.
Claire and I did not notice sore muscles from yesterday, but we felt a bit tired as we biked out of camp and we decided to take it easy today.   We again had hills,  but did not need our granny gears until the end of the day.   We biked along Champlain canal and the Hudson River.   There were some DRS folks at the second SAG.  So nice to see these folks who are volunteering to help those affected by disaster.   World Renew will receive some of the funds we raise.
Our "work horses" Russ and Dave joined us and pulled us along.   We always bike faster with them pulling.  The road surface was poor with crumbling shoulders, requiring lots of concentration to avoid falling.   We took a much needed break with them and Mary and Mike at a coffee shop.
This is the warmest day since I started.   The third SAG had iced towels which we put around our necks.  Felt great!  Thanks Bev Pruim!!
We again saw the evidence of poverty in the outskirts of Albany.  So  many in need!  A beautiful bike trail brought us to a place we could see the impressive sky line of the city.   The State University of New York,  a huge, old stately building remimded me of London's parliament.  It stood in contrast to the brokenness we had seen just a few minutes earlier.
Our last three miles were granny gear hills up to The Y of East Greenwich.  There were lots of kids there participating in their programs.   It was a beautiful facility with hot showers appreciated by all!!I
76 miles. 13.2 average speed.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

August 20, Tuesday. Heading South over the Adirondacks Ausable Chasm to Whitehall, NY

I love my bike, I love my bike!!  Today I am so thankful that Harold could install my derailleur, that it is working well, and that I have an extra small granny gear suggested by Alger bike shop prior to 2008 Sea to Sea.  Apparently new bikes have only 2 rings in the front, I have three.  We knew that today would be one of the hardest with lots of hills.   Mary, Claire, and I left shortly after 6:30.  It was another clear and cool morning and we were ready for the challenge.  The first 20 miles had roads with smooth surfaces and rolling hills, including some granny gear hills.  The down hills here were fantastic.  There was little traffic, so we could take the lane and ride down without using brakes.  It was great fun!  We came to a very long hill up, and Claire's chain came off so she stopped for repair.  Mary went ahead and we did not see her until we arrived at camp.  We stopped in Westport with Betty B for coffee and a cherry turnover.  Soon after that, we had a big challenge.  There was a very steep hill up to Port Henry.  Some report it was a 15% grade!  There were lots of cyclists walking their bikes up.  It was very tempting to get off the bike, but when I took a good look at the walkers, they were also working hard to get up the hill.  With the help of our granny gears, both Claire and I managed to stay on our bikes and cycle up.   When we arrived at the top of that hill feeling good, we saw road markings indicating that we needed to turn left and another longer, steep hill.  Apparently that was a 12% grade.  We just kept pushing and pulling on our pedals until we reached the top.  There was a SAG stop soon and we were relieved to get off the bike. 
The hills continued along with beautiful vistas of the sparkling waters of Lake Champlain.   By the time we had cycled 60 miles, we were tired and ready to be done.  However, it was an 82 mile day, so we needed to keep going.  We did take another break at McDonalds and enjoyed the air conditioning.  The road was now smooth and had  wide shoulders.  We soon discovered that if there was an extra lane going up hill, it was going to be a difficult climb.  We came across a sign that said steep down hill next 1 1/2 miles.  That was just what we needed.  A fast and long down hill creates exhilaration bringing a willingness to continue. The temperature was getting very warm and we were very tired.  We decided to stop every 10 miles for a break.  Somehow we managed to keep going and we arrived at a Marina in Whitehall about 3:30.  What a relief to be in camp!!  We set up our tents, took a shower, and crashed.   Phil called late that afternoon to ask me to save him some supper.  He and Barb were still marking roads!  He arrived just as the Peloton meeting started at 7:30.  He was tired too.  There were no small group meetings so that everyone could get their tired bodies to bed!  We were sleeping by 9 PM.
82.1 miles, 5236 feet of climbing 11.6 average speed.