#acaNoTier Camden to East Orland, 38 Miles | One More Day!

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From Tom:

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 werenโ€™t really anxious to get going since this was our second to the last day and we donโ€™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. ๐Ÿ˜. We didnโ€™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 โ€œyesโ€ ๐Ÿ˜.

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 โ€œdid you stay with the Peatsโ€? 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 canโ€™t wait to venture on tomorrow for our last day riding into Bar Harbor.

FAQs:

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).

#acaNoTier Brunswick to Camden, 61 Miles | All Good Things

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From Tom:

Started the day off with a bagel and cappuccino brewed by our Warmshower host, John. Our destination was a Warmshower host in Camden, 60 miles away. The forecast was rain so we planned on getting wet today. Of course during my morning prayers, I asked God if he saw fit that it didnโ€™t rain on us, that would be fine with us.

Off we went riding through one village after another on US 1. We had driven this route before a few years back when we flew in to Boston and drove to Bar Harbor for the MDI Marathon, so things looked familiar. Two fun stories:

We stopped by a bakery with three bicycles propped up outside. Lots of questions asked when you meet other cyclists. Turns out one of these cyclists grew up in Indiana and went to Shortridge HS.

Later we were riding on the outskirts of a village and hit a monster hill (not too long, but rather steep). Right after reaching the summit, I stopped to catch my breath and looked to my right. There in the middle of nowhere is a brewery. It was 12:15pm and the sign said open at noon.

Well, it was hot/humid and we were a bit thirsty ๐Ÿ˜ for a sample. Odd AleWives Farm Brewery had just opened three months ago. It was in an old alpaca barn and was one of the coolest breweries ever. We still had 20 miles to ride, so just a sample was in order.

We kept in touch with our Warmshower host to give them updates on our arrival. Deb had looked at the forecast and there was a long wall of showers coming our way. As we were riding through a busy village by a long line of weekend tourists a motorcyclist said we need to button down for a storm.

I looked at my phone and received a txt from our host. He can come pick us up. We said we were good and ventured on. About 11 miles out we see an Outback with a man standing behind it. We rolled up and it was our host, Stephen. He mentioned it wasn’t raining here but there was major rain up ahead and he could give us a ride. We thanked him profusely, but explained we came this far, we needed to push forward and that would feel like cheating to take a ride. He totally understood and said he would see us later at his house.

God has taken care of us in so many ways this trip. We are riding NE and the weather is traveling NE. Believe it or not, we arrive at our Warmshower and it doesnโ€™t rain a drop on us. Prayers answered big time ๐Ÿ™

And finally another “smilestone” (not milestone) – we reached the 4,000 mile mark, on BIKES!

FAQs

Did it seem to go fast? Yes! Some of the days were long but the weeks went fast.

What was the farthest Tom got ahead of you Deb? Did you mind riding alone? Deb: about a quarter mile and he waited at every turn. I don’t mind riding alone at all! But some of my favorite times were when we were both in a groove and riding a two person pace line. That was fun too!

How many flats did you each have? Tom had two and I had three. Not bad!

Once you get to Bar Harbor how are you getting back home to Indiana? Our son, John is driving Tom’s car out to Maine with the bike rack. We will stay one night in BH and then drive straight through to Indiana.

Do you feel like you got stronger each day of riding, or are you totally exhausted and glad to be done? Deb: I wouldn’t say I’ve been exhausted but if we were continuing on for a few more weeks I would definitely take a day off from cycling. I thought I was going to get a lot stronger riding but I don’t think I did. The elevation is more difficult in VT, NH and ME, maybe that is why I’m not riding as fast or long as I thought I would. I feel good though and could keep going if it weren’t for the stank bags. Tom: I think I went into the ride well trained and there really wasn’t a day I was really tired.

Was there anything on the trip that exceeded your expectations and was even better than you thought it was going to be? Tom: Riding up Logan Pass without cars – even better than I expected. And I thought riding the Plains would be very tough winds but they weren’t.

How many 100โ€™s did you do? You mentioned a dead skunk and a bear, oh I guess raccoons is that all the wild life you saw? We rode three 100 milers and saw fox, lots of deer, prong horn antelope, elk, wild turkeys, osprey, sand hill cranes, bald eagles and a lot of dead frogs.

What one item that exceeded expectations and what one item about the trip turned about to be a dud that you never expected? Again, Logan Pass without cars really exceeded expectations. Also the cool mom and pop motels along they way that we stayed in were not anticipated but pretty neat. Can’t think of any duds except the two flat tires Deb’s bike had within the first three days. Deb: My only unexpected dud was I never thought I would actually be killing mosquitos with bear spray in the tent. I wasn’t spraying the little pests but squashing them with the spray canister. #mosquitomurder

Would you do it differently next time? Support trailer? Route? Accommodations? Tom: Definitely wouldn’t use a trailer and we wouldn’t cycle Northern Tier again because we would want to do something different. Next time Deb will plan on taking four panniers and the front rack from the start. That worked out well when we made that change in Whitefish, MT. Accommodations were good! We thought we would use warm showers more but it just didn’t work out that way.

What is your next adventure going to be? ๐Ÿ˜Š We will continue to do more bike touring, a marathon now and then but would like to consider a long distance thru hike! Maybe the Appalachian Trail or the Pacific Crest Trail.

Did you ever want to give up? Tom and Deb: Nope. Never.

After Monday, when is the next time you think you will ride the bike? Tom and Deb: Maybe to the Indiana State Fair on Thursday? Definitely to work on Monday for Tom.

#acaNoTier Rochester to Fairhaven, 77 Miles | Whatโ€™s In A Name?

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You know when you are cycling on a road named Furnace Road in New York at the end of July at 4:30pm its going to be a scorcher.

Just the same as when your hubby has claimed a campsite in the Bluff Campground you know you’re going to have some climbing to do before you rest for the night.

That would not be so problematic except that…we’d already climbed a lot! And we stopped in town at the C-store for provisions which included three cold Molson tall boys, a free piece of hot pizza, some broccoli and a sammie.

While “grannnying” up to the “bluffs” I’m thinking our beer is getting warm, the pizza is getting cold and is this hill ever going to end.

All good though! We arrived at site 83 and immediately received invites from camping neighbors. One for dinner and one for s’mores.

Are New Yorkers the best or what?

We passed on dinner because there was that pizza, broccoli and sammie but opted in on the s’mores.

As far as the ride, it was splendid. It really was. However surprisingly we took very few pics. Mostly Tom and I were in prayerful reflection about a very special young man named Owen.

Owen’s parents were our warm shower hosts for the night. They let us sleep in their home, fed us, let us use their laundry, etc.

We met Chris several weeks ago just outside Babb, Montana as he was touring around Jasper and down to Glacier. We met in a parking lot just after we came down from Logan Pass.

He said he and his wife Kate were warm shower hosts in Rochester and we should look them up if our route took us near there.

I never gave it a second thought, however Tom took a note and contacted Chris on the WS app a few days ago. We discovered from their write up they are parents of two young adult sons, one however was killed in a boating accident in August 2017.

What to do? Honestly it was a bit daunting. We have been in cycling/vacation mode since June 1 and meanwhile these people whom we’d not met were experiencing the most significant loss one could experience. What would we even say and how could we be happy in the midst of their great loss?

We decided to let the Spirit lead us and stay with Chris, Kate and Michael.

What we walked away with was more than we could have imagined. Chris is a solid adventurer and litigator. He’s been everywhere and has his own hand glider.

Kate is one of the most compassionate, poised, intelligent, faith filled woman I’ve ever met. There are no words to explain what Tom and I walked away with from our morning conversation with Kate. Through the loss of her mother who suffered from Alzheimer’s, the unexpected tragic death of their son and even a propane gas explosion in their camper that could have killed Kate and did destroy many treasured family artifacts they were transporting this woman remains peaceful, prayerful and hopeful.

So sometimes it’s not what we say, but how much we listen and learn.

What’s in a name? The name Owen will be honored, loved, cherished and sweetly remembered for many reasons by many people but also by those who benefit concretely from Owen’s House.

So more about the ride. The first 30 miles we continued on the Erie Canal on what we think might be our fave stretch of the canal. And then it was on to rural New York, a place lush with apple orchards and loaded with hills. #ouch

We also met several riders riding the Bon Ton ride. That’s been on our bucket list for a while so that was fun chatting it up with the riders.

Finally, we said hello to our third Great Lake, Lake Ontario!

As we spin toward the finish we are so very aware of the gifts of others and what we can learn from them. And while we are so anxious to see family soon, we know we will miss our bicycle adventures.