Sunday, October 25, 2009

Napoleon complex

Pennsylvania was both beautiful and intense. I don't think we were quite prepared for the severity of the hills - some long, some short, but all steep. Casey insisted they had a Napoleon complex, trying to compete with the Rockies. Well, we all had to walk our bikes up hills in PA - which didn't happen in the Rockies. And going down the hills was sometimes completely terrifying. We had our brakes squeezed as hard as we could and were still flying down the hills. We made it all in one piece though.

In this picture you can see a small, fun version of what I'm talking about. Imagine that hill being miles long and covered in gravel.

We stayed with some friends of Casey's family before heading to Pittsburgh. Thanks for all the hospitatlity and amazing food, Kathy and Rich! Here we also got some fresh nutbutter (and chocolate nutbutter!) homemade in a 30 year old Champion juicer! Wow. It was like a live infomercial. If we would have had any money and a way to carry one, we would have tried to buy Rich's juicer/grinder on the spot.

Pittsburgh was great - much nicer than I expected! It was surprisingly clean and beautiful.

There was great food, including ice cream with over 100 toppings to choose from (I got chocolate with cardamom and cracklin oat bran - oh yeah!) and ridiculously huge sandwiches full of french fries and cole slaw.

There were little street markets all over. There were art galleries with free music shows - including this one where we saw a hip hop harmonica player! Kind of awesome.

And there were very helpful and fun hosts and REI workers. Thanks so much Larry, Adam, JJ, and Joe!

After Pittsburgh we got to ride for about 90 miles on a rail trail that goes all the way to Washington D.C. It was incredibly beautiful and FLAT. :)

After getting off the trail we went through a small town, New Baltimore, where there was this great covered bridge...

and an amazing family who invited us to camp in their yard and join in their family potluck. Thank you Plushes!!

Even with all of the hospitality we found up to this point, it seemed the people in PA are a bit more reserved than in other places we have encountered. But once they warmed up, they were super nice. We stopped at a fire station in central PA to ask if we could camp on their property. They were hesitant at first, but after talking with them a while they ended up giving us our own bunk room (with bathrooms and a theater room included!) and put up a sign to keep others out and give us our privacy. You rock, McConnellsburg fire fighters!

Friends of friends took us in in central PA. Not only were they awesome to us (thank you Ron and Beverly!!), but they also gave us the name of another friend who could take us in a little ways down the road. We had hoped to get further than that, but after a very strange day (where Casey did NOT pass out in a library bathroom, despite strangers' reports to us otherwise) the friend totally rescued us last minute, late in the day, out of the rain. Thanks so much, Terry!

A bright spot in a strange, rainy day

Then we camped out at a fire station, where the volunteer fire fighters were very nice, and surprisingly, mostly all under 20 years old. It was raining when we woke up the next morning. We went out to eat, hoping that it would get warmer and the rain would let up while we were eating. But I think the rain got colder and harder. We were 70 miles from Philadelphia, so decided to push through the cold rain and get to a dry warm place to sleep. This was maybe the hardest day of our trip.

We were drenched and cold, it was difficult to see with the rain pouring in our eyes, and we didn't get to Philly until after dark. But wow, were we happy to get to our destination. And what a wonderful destination it was. More on that later.
Here are a few random Pennsylvania pics:

Starting to get some good colors

At a candy/elephant shop

Good drive, indeed.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Oh Me Oh My Oh

If you've checked out our web page, you'll see that WE MADE IT TO BOSTON!!!! Woo hoo! And what a great trip it was!

We got a bit behind on our blogs, but we want to share some of the stories from the rest of our trip. So here are some flashbacks.
The rest of Ohio was awesome! Sooo many wonderful people there. In Lorain, a woman stopped us on the side of the road and invited us for a free meal at her restaurant (even though it was not open hours)! If you're anywhere near Lorain, OH, go see Phyllis at Fabyan's !

Then the wonderful Kelleys took us in after we asked them for directions. Mary Clare Kelley taught second graders, so the next morning we stopped by her school on our way to Cleveland and gave a presentation to her class. What a fun and attentive class!

We had a great time in Cleveland with our host Elizabeth (who had one of the most beautiful apartments ever!), and going to the local food co-op , talking with people about bicycling and our trip.

It's a nice co-op with a good group of workers and volunteers. Go check it out for another way to make ties with the community while being healthy and environmentally friendly!

After Cleveland we got royal treatment, staying with some of Hannah's family and then a friend of a friend. Wow, thanks Mary and Hamilton and Frank! I particularly appreciated the magnificent reception, as I was fighting a cold at the time.

Our last night in Ohio was one of the very few we camped out in that state (because of so many generous people). That chilly night we realized that fall was indeed on its way. (Nice wool socks, Hannah!)

Before heading into Pennsylvania, we decided to take a ride to West Virginia, which was too close to pass up - our 11th state!


Saturday, September 26, 2009

Last-Minute Reminder! Party in Boston!

Guess who's made it to Boston! It's been a spectacular trip and we'll keep on blogging about our adventures, but today we party.

This is a reminder to all the Bostonians out there that we're having a finale party at Ben & Jerry's on Newbury st. We'll have live music, face painting, and discounts for folks that use their bikes to attend. Don't forget your helmet! The festivities take place from noon to 4 at 174 Newbury st, just around the corner from Copley Square.

Its a great weekend for cycling events in the city with the Boston Mayor's Cup Race taking place at Government Center. Make it a day of celebrating bicycles!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Round on the ends and high in the middle

It’s been intimidating to write a blog for Ohio because there are sooo many people to thank and we don’t want to forget anyone.
Ohio (our 10th state!) was very good to us. Our first night there I thought Hannah was getting pulled over

but turns out it was a generous city worker/firefighter who invited us into his home after seeing us pulled over on the side of the road trying to find a place to stay. Thanks Mark and Sue!

Then on a bike trail we stopped in a little shop in Lindsey to use the restroom, and they gave us lots of free snacks for the road. Mmmm. Thanks Sandi’s Village CafĂ©!

And then there was Sandusky. Way back in Arizona we met this guy, Don, at a rest stop who was excited about our trip because his brother had done a lot of long distance bike touring. Don gave us his contact info in case we came through the area he lived – Sandusky, OH. So we gave him a call when we realized we would be going through there and that he lived in the town with the biggest roller coaster park in the U.S.! Unfortunately, Don was not in town when we arrived, but this amazing man called up his friends and helped us get routing information for the area AND found someone else who would host us. You’re great Don!
Don’s friend, Mary Jane, took us in for a couple of nights and was wonderful! Thanks so much Mary Jane!! She also happened to volunteer with the local Boys and Girls club, so we went with her to help fix lunch and give a presentation to the kids. Great fun!

After going to the Boys and Girls Club we went to the roller coaster park, Cedar Point. A friend of Casey had told us about this park early on, and since we all love roller coasters, we had been looking forward to this stop for many weeks. It would be our one big splurge of our tight-budgeted trip. And it totally lived up to all the hype. We spent 8 hours rolling, spinning, being launched and dropped. Oh so much fun! The only ride we do NOT recommend is the Mean Streak – a wooden roller coaster that jostled us so hard we think Hannah may have gotten another minor concussion. ☹ Until that point, though, we had a blast!

As we were cycling out of Sandusky a man pulled over on the side of the road and said he had heard about us from his friend Don! He has done some touring on a high-wheel. It was fun to hear his stories, and he also gave us some maps to help us on our routes. Thanks Dick!

to be continued…

Friday, September 4, 2009

Another news roundup, and info on the NYC to Boston ride!

Hello all,
We've re-entered hills after a long break in the plains, Pennsylvania is showing us who's boss! But more on that later, here are some fun links to folks that we've met along the way:

I Knit you Knot and Weaverknits are two lovely gals that can knit anything you can dream of, including a cute bicycle-inspired hat that I modeled and will be sporting this winter! Thanks guys!

Matt Haze, "The Ryan Seacrest of online business media" found us in Cleveland and interviewed us for a video about Join the Cycle. Fun!

Bike Commuters blogger Elizabeth met up with us in Chicago and interviewed us at our meet & greet in the Lincoln Park REI. Her blog is an awesome blog/online resource for any cyclist.

And in other news, we're getting close to the coast! We've just weeks to go and its time for all of you good folks out there to consider riding with us from New York City to Boston! This will be a fun group ride departing on September 19th and ending on September 25th, with a great finale party in store!. Its going to be lots of fun and not too hard so check it out!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Storms, friends, and Amish yumminess

We’ve reached the coast!

OK, so it’s the coast of Lake Michigan, and not the ocean.

After leaving Chicago we were able to ride on bike trails for the good part of a day. Yipee! We had hoped to stop for the night at a state park but stopped early because of big thunderstorms that came in. After searching for a couple of hours for a place to camp in Hobart, IN, we finally got permission to pitch tents behind the fire station. We were a little sad to be camping in the storm. But in the morning, when we rode to the state park where we were planning on camping, we found out that a tornado had hit that area! I guess we were lucky to be camping in just a thunderstorm and not a tornado.

After going through Indiana to get around the southern end of Lake Michigan, we popped up into the state of Michigan and rode along the border there. Michigan brought incredible Amish baked goods and wonderful people who took us in 1- when we were searching for a camp spot (thanks Amy, Nia and Jeff!), and 2- when we were at the Amish bakery (thanks Sharon, Roger, and Karen!);

friends who drove hours to find us on the road in the middle of nowhere and play bocce ball (you’re awesome Tituses!!);

and amazing fresh produce in stands at the ends of people’s driveways.

Hannah and I finished an entire cantaloupe in one sitting.

And to continue the healthy eating, Casey and I ate an entire box of 8 fudgsicles when they were on sale for $1. Mmmmm.

This is a pic of one of the greatest shirts we’ve seen. We saw it at a great campground along the Hennepin trail in Illinois (Geneseo). The people there were awesome, and they had this t-shirt that sums up our current lives.


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Chi-Town, that's not what the locals call it....

When I get back from this trip, I think I need to personally thank Rails to Trails for doing such wonderful work converting old rail lines to bike trails.... because we crossed almost the entire state of Illinois on beautiful bike paths!

Our bike ride into Chicago was even pretty easy, despite the stark warnings we heard from some locals and other touring cyclists.  That was partly thanks to our wonderful host Josh, and his friend Adam who biked part of the way into the city with us.  (Adam's sweet ride is a hand-powered recumbent)
Once we arrived in Chicago, we were greeted by Hannah's old college roomie, Hannah, and her boyfriend, Tyler.  They were great hosts, and even introduced us to the ORIGINAL house of pancakes.  Yum Yum!
We also had many wonderful journeys on another bike path, this beautiful one running all along the lake shore through downtown Chicago.
But Chicago wasn't all just fun and games.  The kind folks at West Town Bikes, a great community bike shop let us use their space to do a much needed tune-up on our bikes.  (Here I'm giving Melissa some tips on truing wheels)
Then it was off to Blackstone Bike Works, another non-profit bike shop with a great group of kids learning all about fixing bikes and being part of the community.
We also set up shop for an evening at REI, and talked to their customers about what we're doing and why.  We had a few people honestly say "You are an inspiration, I'm really going to try riding my bike more."  The event was a sure success, and we'll be doing more like this in the future.

But of course, it's not Chicago without Deep Dish Pizza!  (Sorry Hannah... this is definitely NOT gluten-free...)