Deb and I woke up all cozied up lying in front a huge screen door in a beautiful loft at the Peats’ house, our Warmshower host. We weren’t really anxious to get going since this was our second to the last day and we don’t want this adventure to end.
First, I always checks bike tires and gives a high five when there are no flats. We have only woken up to two flat tires on the trip. Others happened while on the road.
We got our bags all packed and put on our bikes in the garage. We headed inside and Stephen/Susan had the French coffee press brewing coffee. Fresh fruit and homemade granola was on the table. 😁. We didn’t want to leave, but nice weather and our campground in Orland was calling our name. Stephen gave us directions to our route and we were off. We got a mile in and a rider stopped us to chat. She asked if we stayed at the Peats “yes” 😁.
We headed down the road and wanted to stop at the market owned by Jon Fishman, drummer of Phish. It was cool. Other bikers rolled in and asked a bunch of questions, one being “did you stay with the Peats”? Our Warmshower host has quite the reputation in the biking area. On we went riding through one village to another. We purposely had short days for our last two days so we could go slow and really enjoy Maine.
We are now sitting in our beautiful last campground of our trip. Our son John is on his way to meet us at the finish line tomorrow and successfully made it to his destination of Albany, NY for the night. We can’t wait to venture on tomorrow for our last day riding into Bar Harbor.
What do you think you will miss the most about your journey once you are home and have resumed your “normal” life? Deb: Hard to say what I will miss the most. The people we met and talked to of course are always just the best but also I loved the simplicity of life and at the end of the day measuring what was accomplished toward goal. It was a concrete and fun way to rehash the day. Tom: I’ll miss not knowing what’s going on in the world. The media is so negative and it’s nice not to tune in. Instead I’ll miss meeting all the new positive people. I’ll also miss my 15 mile conversations with God each day.
Besides the wildlife, what about the roadkill? Haha this question came from a fellow cross country cyclist. Lots of variety in the roadkill from state to state. And I held my breath while passing every single one. Poor animals and Yuck! I almost ran over a live honey badger once in Wisconsin.
Did you learn anything about yourself/each other? Deb: Another really great question and one I have been thinking about a lot already. Tom and I have spent a lot of time together these last 8-9 weeks. I mean a LOT! I discovered that we both say “huh” a lot. Either our hearing is going bad or we aren’t listening to each other. Lol. Also, whereas I’m all about getting to the destination and settling in, Mr. Tom is curious and likes to check things out. I never knew this about him. Things I learned about myself – I like to think a lot about things and miss when I can’t jot down thoughts. Hard to do with hands on handlebars. Tom: At the end of a day, if things don’t go as planned (for example the Google Maps lady gives bad directions) I get frustrated.
How many Calories did you have to eat to maintain your health?Calories in Calories out? We didn’t count calories and we ate a lot. We ate things we very seldom eat at home (sweets) but the day to day cycling amped up our appetite like crazy. We did not intentionally consume more calories, our bodies just asked for it out of necessity. Also we were mindful of including protein for muscle repair and fresh vegetables when possible. Tom ate an apple or two just about every day, Deb had her bananas. We used Tom’s Garmin to track miles but he didn’t wear his heart monitor so the calories burnt figure isn’t accurate. For example yesterday it said he burned 3,000 calories. He probably burned at least a couple hundred more.
What was your biggest challenge element-wise and how did you handle it? For both of us it was being so cold in Montana. It was early June, rainy and we were cold, especially our hands and feet. We had our Goretex gloves sent from home and that took care of it. We also used our leg warmers when it was cold and rainy. Huge help!
Will you ever wear those riding clothes again? Deb: Yes but not for at least a week. Tom: The jerseys, yes. They have held up well. The cycling shorts may not make it out of Bar Harbor.
Besides family, what did you miss the most while being away? Deb: Well I definitely missed family the most. Especially at the end of Wisconsin I was getting pretty homesick and anxious that I wasn’t going to be at home when little #3 was born. Other than family I missed time with my running buds and daily Mass. It’s such a great way to start the day and as much as I miss family time (a lot) I miss friend time, too. Tom: At the beginning I felt like my brain was going to mush. It was just decompressing from work, etc. I missed my son moving back to Indy and my other son and his wife moving into their new home.
Have you missed running? Deb: No but I have missed seeing my running buddies! I’ll start running again right when I get back. Tom: I have not miss running. I now enjoy cycling more than running.
Laundry is my big question- all the bike shorts. Great question! Both of us brought only two pair of bike shorts. We did laundry (in a washer/dryer) about once a week. If possible we rinsed shorts out at night and either dried them on the back of the bike bag as we rode the next day or many times, put them on wet the next morning. (Worst feeling ever for Deb). Sometimes we actually had to wear them the next day without washing. Yuck I know.
What aren’t you going to miss? Deb: Putting on cold, wet dirty bike shorts in the morning and deer fly fests. Tom: Will not miss my smelling sleeping pad and bag and unpacking a wet tent.
The original Northern Tier route goes through Iowa and Illinois and then to the east. What path did you follow? There are three basic options cyclists have for getting around Lake Michigan. The Main Route goes through Iowa, Illinois and Indiana. Since we live in Indiana we decided against that one. Another option goes up and over Lake Michigan. Again we decided against that one because we did a week long bike trip in the UP a couple years ago. Instead we did part of the North Lakes route (map 1 and 2) and rejoined the Northern Tier route with the Erie Connector Map. Cyclists take the US Badger ferry across Lake Michigan. This was a lot of fun and worked out very well because we then took a rest day and got our bikes tuned up in Ludington.
How much money do I need doing the same as you did? Tom is good about tracking expenses so we will post that after we get back, the total and the average daily cost. You could do it more expensively or also cut some expenses. We used our credit card for 95% of the trip (we get points) so it will be easy to figure.
What do you think “re-entry” will be like? Deb: For me re-entry will last about a day because I acclimate quickly. And the Northern Tier Ride will seem like a dream. I will be thinking about this trip for a long, long time. Tom: Well I’m going to work the Monday after I get back and home and at the end of that day it will seem like the ride didn’t happen. Life will presumably go back to “normal.”
How many tubes of sunscreen, bug spray, and chapstick? Sun screen – 3 with some left over, bug spray – 2 with some left over, chapstick – 3 with some left over.
How bad do your bottom and palms of hands hurt? All pretty good now! Took awhile to get the parts working together. Lol
Who was the most interesting person that you ran into and why? We have talked about this a couple times and it’s the most difficult to answer. It’s like asking what marathon was our favorite to run or what state was our fave. Each person has added value and inspiration to our trip from the rancher at Waucunda Pass, to Kate in Rochester, to Will the Harley rider in West Leyden and there were so many more. More recently we were so inspired John and Stephen, two separate Warm Shower hosts.
What have been your bathroom options on those long rides Deb? No bathrooms for miles & miles…Clearly it would have been much easier for Tom…lol Both of us have learned to be very creative with bio breaks. Let’s just say there is no shame between us, we are fast and we carry TP and zip lock bags (leave no trace).