Friday, July 13, 2012

So long LIfe Ride 2012

Here it is, most likely the concluding post of Life Ride 2012.

I flew home on Sunday, July 2nd and started the re-acclimation at work on Monday.
Michele arrived Friday July 6th after staying on the east coast a few days to visit cousin Carol. My bike arrived yesterday and today I took it out for a quick 30 mile test run. It felt strange on a ride that short; I guess its all a matter of perspective. Anyway, it was really fun to get back in the the saddle again.

After initially struggling last year with the decision to undertake this journey, and all the preparation, its hard to believe that it is coming to a close. Right from the beginning we aptly named this 'Life Ride 2012' for the relationship with our Pro-Life values and supporting Birth Choice Health Clinics.
Michele and I would like to deeply thank everyone who supported LifeRide with your interest in our journey, kind words, prayers and support of Birth Choice.  In addition, your generous donations raised over $7500 and more are still coming in.    We especially would like to thank our two daughters and son-in-law, Jennifer, Lisa and Tim for all their help in support of Life Ride from initial planning, logo design, customized sweatshirts, cheering, phone calls, mail handling and house sitting visits.   We thank our neighbors as well for helping out on the home front . We also appreciate the time and efforts of Laura Jones who contacted many reporters along our route getting Life Ride covered in several newspapers along the way.  Together with everyone, we truly hope to have made a difference, however small, in the quest to save the innocent unborn.

This ride was really about life, that greatest gift; how we use it & how we waste it, who we are, and what we are capable of doing. A journey such as this is really eye opening. We'll try to share our observations here.

First a bit of the dry facts:

Total Miles: 3430
Total Number of States: 15
Total Vertical Feet Climbed: 109, 256
Total Time Riding: 224 hours, 10 min
Average Speed: 15.3 mph (includes all city traffic, side trips etc)
Number of flats: 3
Total Number of Pedal Revolutions: ~ 1.2 Million

Favorite States: AZ, NM, KS, MO, NY

Favorite Rides:
Prescott to Cottonwood AZ, (The climbs were tough but the cool breezes swirling up to Mingus Mt were delightful.)
Cottonwood to Flagstaff AZ, (The red rocks of Sedona and the smell of pine trees in the canyons.)
Erie PA to Hamburg NY; (Beautiful road, lake on the left, vineyards on the right.)

Hardest Rides:
Las Vegas NM to Tucumcari NM (109 miles, hot dry and windy)
St. Joseph to Chillicothe MO (endless rolling hills)

Estimated calories burned per day ~ 4000
1 Huge breakfast per day: pancakes, waffles, OJ, yogurt, bacon, eggs, pastries etc
1 Huge dinner per day: pasta, potatoes, steak, chicken, dessert etc
1 normal lunch per day: chocolate milk, V8 juice, sandwich, chips

On the road fluids:
~ 25 Gal of Gatorade consumed
~ 45 Gal of water consumed
~ 25 Gal of water poured on rider for cooling
On the road food:
Enough gels, PBJ sandwiches, Cliff bars, Luna bars, cookies, bananas, oranges, ice cream, trail mix,
veggie wraps, watermelon, doughnut holes and yogurt bars to choke a large horse.

Highest temperature was 111 in Indio (my Garmin was reading road temp of 120.9), coldest 45, only two partial days of rain and lots of wind both headwinds and tailwinds.

Now to the more subjective comments and observations:

The Riders:
We had 21 coast to coast riders; 16 men and 5 women. There were 3 married couples, one of which rode the tour on a tandem bicycle. As you might expect this group was filled with rather focused individuals that had many stories of incredible challenges and accomplishments such as climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro, cross-Atlantic sailing trips, running marathons, skydiving, cycling in China, Africa & Europe. Many were retired from very successful business careers.
The interesting thing about the group is that it was the oldest average age of any tour Crossroads had run to date with an average of 62. The youngest was 48 and we had two riders of 70 and 71. One guy only 18 months ago fell from a tree and broke his back in three places yet he was there riding strong.

A tour like this is a significant challenge both physically and mentally but I found it interesting that the mental side of it, your attitude of life if you will, is probably the most dominant factor in a successful outcome. Age is not really the driver, nor is pure physical condition. Years ago, a retired engineer friend who was involved with mentoring young adults to become future engineers and scientist, once told me of his retirement: 'I'm going to burn out, not rot out'. I now understand his message that relates to life in any phase: No goal is out of reach.

Near Chillicothe, MO we rode past the following monument. I think it really captures what I am trying to say about the mental side of our tour.

The People:
It seemed to me that as we moved east, there was a slow but steady change in the people we encountered. Since we spent so much time on the road, these observations are primarily those of the local drivers but I think these conclusions hold for the people on the street as well.

CA/AZ/NM: Willing to wait for cyclists; maybe because it was the law but never the less we got along fine. Fast paced in urban CA but generally considerate everywhere.
KS/MO: A patient sharing of the road, almost too much at times. Some cars would match our speed on the roads for large distances until they could see a stretch that they could pass and move completely into the opposite lane. It was like they were saying 'I'm in no hurry, we'll wait'. I would call this 'Patient-Sharing' and I think it is part of the basic nature of the people and midwest culture . I loved it.
OH/PA: I would call these encounters 'Impatient-Tolerance'. We were given the right of way in most cases but when a car did finally pass, the car often gunned its engine in disgust. It was kind of like saying, 'how dare you cause me to have to wait'.
NY/VT/MA: Finally, we received the reaction from the stereotyped New Englander. These drivers would pass us on blind curves or hills, often dangerously crowding us to the shoulder. I call this style 'Aggessive-Intolerance' and it was like they were saying 'Get off MY road'.

My Life's Support
Speaking of dreams, some dreams can't happen with only your own singular determination and focus. My cross country cycling dream would not have been possible without the complete support of Michele. On one level, I can't imagine she would ever have bought into this insane idea for me to go in the first place. However, she not only supported the idea from training start to Boston finish, she joined in and followed along in a rental car for the entire trip.

Standin' on the Corner in Winslow Arizona..........
She was there documenting the craziness of the patients....

Michele looking for a Pulitzer in journalism.....

No Pulitzer received, but she does capture us throughout the journey

Beyond the departure journalism, she didn't take the shortest (Interstate route) between our start and destination hotel each day, but rather she got a copy of our turn-by-turn route sheets and traced the riders' route for each day. Now, that is about as close to riding the tour yourself as a person can be without getting saddle sores.  She was a part of the tour in every way: every day, every mile and hill, in a way I really can't describe.

From the start to the finish, we were there together on this most incredible journey.

Revere Beach, MA  29 June 2012
 I couldn't imagine taking this 7 week cycling trip with out her.  I'm incredibly Blessed.

Personal Take-Aways
In no particular order:
Michele and I were surprised how much farming went on in this country and how much of that is done on small family-farms. I hope we never loose this. Also, seeing these farms up close and intimate and then seeing the larger cities, we were struck with how much we are really dependent on each other. I wonder if the typical city person really thinks of that family farmer in KS,MO, IN or OH. This city boy didn't think that way and I suspect many other non-farmers don't really get it either.

These people are dependent on.....

....these people.

I also observed many very overt signs of patriotism, morals, faith and religion, and community in the Midwest. We have become so secular, intolerant and 'politically correct' in other parts of the country that these signs are almost unheard of. Either they never get built or if so are challenged in court or covered with graffiti. I for one loved this feeling of the Midwest.

I learned a lot about myself and my response to hardship and challenge. As the tour wore on, when facing difficult terrain, or physical discomfort or fatigue, I seemed better and better at responding. Of course, as the tour continued I got in better shape and on that physical level the riding became easier. However, as I mentioned earlier, I believe that the mental game is the eventual driver to success. In my mind, I began to really believe that I could overcome the obstacle, climb that hill or finish a really long ride. I started to mentally see the hills a little lower, not quite as steep or that long ride just a bit shorter. Here is a photo of rolling terrain in MO that is so demoralizing each time you reach the top of a hill. You see just more hills and more climbing and more road ahead. As the text says, self doubt tends to enter your mind and a little voice in your head gets a little louder.

The voice screams at you to quit and take a bump in the SAG wagon to the next rest stop but somehow you silence that voice and find a way to continue. Somehow, the hills are climbed and the miles roll on....  until the impossible dream finally comes into view.

And my final thought, a realization that when I speak it, tears come to my eyes. I've mentioned that this tour involved some major choices: sleep lost to training, lonely miles and at times what I would call pain or suffering. However along with that also came times of indescribable joy and personal satisfaction.

This journey was called Life Ride 2012 and as I reflected on those many miles and the emotional rollercoaster, it dawned on me that those countless unborn children lost to 'Choice' will never get the chance to feel the pain of the climbs or the joy of the summit. The mixture of excitement and self-doubt of the first miles in CA, and then the victory of the Atlantic sand in their toes will never be theirs to feel.

Why don't they get to dream? Why don't they get to choose?

Friday, June 29, 2012

Day 49: Burlington to Revere Beach MA - Final Ride 2012

 It seems appropriate today to flip the order of some of the photos; I'll start with the daily detail and then the USA map which shows our entire coast to coast journey which was completed today.

The final 19 Miles..........
Life Ride 2012: 3,430 miles from Manhattan Beach CA to Revere Beach MA

This tour has been remarkable in that we have had only one partial day of riding in the rain. So, it was ironic that we rode to Revere Beach in a rather steady downpour. Sandwiched between a Crossroads van in the front, another CR van in the rear, and finally escorted by a Boston Police squad car (with lights flashing) in trail, the rider pack finally crested the last hill and got our first glimpse of the Atlantic Ocean.

As we arrived, the rain kindly stopped so we had time to capture and savor the moment.

Team Life Ride 2012 at Revere Beach, MA

The Crossroads riders (Note - John F injured in NY and not shown)

Trusty bike, and trusty motor-of-bike celebrating the journey.

Helmet hair and all, it was a life time experience. Now can I sleep in????

Any finally it was time to stop and give thanks for this incredible journey, for our safety and the gift of life, and of experiencing this beautiful country in this unique way.

Mike, Tom and John (L-R) taking a moment to thank Him for the blessing of our safe journey.

Final tally for LR12:
3430 miles
223 Hrs, 44 Min Riding
15.3 MPH Ave speed
106, 911 feet of vertical climbing
Countless Blessings

Michele and I have been talking quite a bit on how to best describe what LR2012 was and what it really meant to us. Stay tuned to the blog and we'll try to write these summary thoughts down and post them. In the mean time, thank you so very much for your interest and support of LR12 and Birth Choice Health Clinics!

Now, final laundry is complete and its off to the CrossRoads XC12 final banquet.


Tom & Michele

Click here for details of today's ride:
Day 49: Burlington to Revere Beach MA - Final Ride 2012 by xctom2012 at Garmin Connect - Details

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Day 48 Brattleboro VT to Burlington MA

Well we have arrived in Burlington MA, just 18 miles from Revere Beach and our Atlantic Ocean goal!!
Today was a 92 mile ride with 4500' of climbing thru some beautiful NH and MA scenery. It was the usual staggered start with the early birds leaving at 0645 and the rabbits at about 0725, but today something was not the same. This was to be our last significant ride of the 2012 cross country tour.

As usual, Michele was there capturing our departure activities. It has been a great adventure to share with her and I'm sure glad she decided to a) entertain me doing this crazy ride in the first place and b) deciding that if you can't beat 'em then join 'em. It would have been a completely different, and emptier, journey without her.

Mike K and I started to ride together way back in Arizona. I think it was during the first long climb up towards Mingus Mountain pass that fate brought is together. I'd estimate that we have ridden closely together for about 3000 miles; on every day since, practically every mile, hill and turn since then. Michele and I made some great friends of Mike and his wonderful wife Diana and hope to stay in touch doing something that doesn't involve cycling.
Preparing to depart for the morning

Away they go to start their final long ride of the journey

Today, Mike and I crossed into NH and MA. We even stopped and the Ashuelot Covered Bridge just inside the NH state line. This bridge was built in 1864. There was a sign on the bridge indicating a $5 fine for using the bridge as speeds beyond walking so we just took the photo and moved on down the road.

Ashuelot Covered Bridge

At the SAG at mile 60, one of the riders casually said 'Wow, did you see all the poison ivy around the sign at the NH border?'. I'll tell you, even though we stayed on the road side of the barrier, I itched all the way to the hotel just thinking about that poison ivy. Wouldn't that be a great way to end the cross country ride?

Tom and Mike arriving in Burlington ... only 18 miles left to Boston!

I was so happy to see Tom arrive safely at the end of the final long ride!

Tomorrow, we have only a short 18 mile ride to arrive in Revere Beach, Boston and end the riding part of this 2012 journey. A bit of ceremony at the beach and a banquet tomorrow night.

Talk to you later.


Click here for details of today's ride.
Day 48 Brattleboro VT to Burlington MA by xctom2012 at Garmin Connect - Details

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Day 47: Albany NY to Brattleboro VT

Hello Life Ride followers.

Well, it would be hard to beat today's ride as far as a combination of beautiful scenery, weather and road terrain. The ride was 79 miles with some nice sustained climbs totally 5500 feet, which I really prefer to the 'rollers' of MO, and some rewarding long high speed descents. This day was very much like the training rides I'm used to in SoCal in the Anaheim Hills, Santiago Canyon, Corona areas. I really enjoyed the ride.

The only small off-sides today were that there was a bit of traffic on the narrow roads in the small towns and today I got my first, undeniable, must-fix-on-the-road flat. I was two miles from the hotel in Brattleboro when I hit some debris and heard the hiss-hiss-hiss sound of the rear tire deflating. Oh well, I must consider myself extremely lucky after-all; Nick my friend from the UK, holds the tour record for 'punctures' at 19!!!. Previously, I've only had two soft tires in the evening that were small leaks that needed a quick tube change before the next morning.

Anyway, as I said the road scenery was beautiful. Departing Albany, we crossed the Hudson River and then we were forced to walk thru a construction project for about 1/4 mile but it gave us a chance to talk to the many construction workers. They just couldn't believe that we had come all the way from LA.

Hudson flowing to NY City

Mike and Chuck showing perfect detour style.

I'll let the following photos speak for themselves. Imaging just cruising along on a country road, in the relative silence of a bicycle and being in the middle of this. Fantastic!!

Cruising down the country road.....

What's not to like with the Green Hills, blue sky and white clouds of VT

Our 13th State on the Life Ride 2012 tour.

Our climbing today consisted of ups and downs but there were two sustained climbs as I mentioned above. Here is the reward of the second summit; Hogback Mountain. Fantastic view of the VT countryside.

Believe it or not, tomorrow is the LAST of our real rides for the cross country tour. This 90 miles (and 5000 feet of climbing) will take us into and then out of New Hampshire, into Massachusetts and within 18 miles of Boston. Michele and I are both a little stunned that our great adventure is almost over.

Well, off to dinner and some rest.

Talk to you in tomorrow's posting.

Click here to see details of today's ride: Note - don't worry about the heart rate at the beginning. Apparently it was not making good contact.
Day 47: Albany NY to Brattleboro VT by xctom2012 at Garmin Connect - Details

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Day 46: Little Falls to Albany NY

A very quick post tonight since it is late and we have a tough ride tomorrow with lots of climbing.

Today we had an easy, wind at our back, 71 mile ride to Albany NY. We thought we were going to get rained on but alas again the weather gods were friendly so we only got a few sprinkels.
Here are a couple of pics of the ride:

All dressed for a ride in the rain.

Amish families traveling along the public road.

Beautiful Mohawk Valley and River

Mike and I are convinced that this sign actually means 'Men at Work MAKING potholes' .....

More Mohawk River: Runs from Syracuse to Albany.

Tom and Michele in the NY countryside

Click here for details of today's ride:
Day 46: Little Falls to Albany NY by xctom2012 at Garmin Connect - Details