Saturday, June 11, 2011

Slow and Steady

The past week or so has really helped us to get our heads wrapped around the fact that we still have a massive amount of riding ahead of us. Being in CT, then leaving home and hitting five new states in a matter of days and having a bunch of presentations in between was a huge high, but there was a lull in all of that as we rode out of VT and spent over a week in NY with our only presentation at the very end of the state, in Buffalo. But, that presentation, paired with the fact that we've backed down the mileage to around 60 or 65 miles per day instead of 70 or 75 created a huge shift in our attitudes and outlook on the rest of our tour. We are officially more than halfway through this journey, seems unreal to think of, and I think we were a little worried about five more months on bikes, but a good presentation where we get to meet like-minded individuals is always a good cure.

Check out our 1/2 way video!! And don't forget to encourage others to join us online for the 2nd half of our journey!

Riding to Buffalo after Niagara Falls was a nice break from the heavy winds we battled to get there. The headwind from earlier in the day became a tail wind as we retraced our tracks East then headed South. Kelly was awaiting our arrival. She had called us a few days before and set up an event at the local Green Options Buffalo and offered us a place to stay while there.

Cities are so much better when we have someone to welcome us and show us the way. We enjoyed a yummy pasta dinner that night, courtesy of Kelly, and were able to spend the next day doing laundry, grocery shopping, and spent some much needed Internet time in a Starbucks before our presentation that night. Kelly rode to work that morning, then met us at 5:00 so we could all ride to Green Options Buffalo together. We rode over a roller coaster bridge, then past the statue of a naked David in a park. Half way to the event, Adam realized he forgot a memory card for his camera, so unfortunately, no pictures of the naked statue.

The event was awesome, complete with ice cream and all the toppings you could imagine. There was a good crew of close to 20 people, though we're not sure if they were there for us or the fact that they could find a re-cycled bike for a good price. Green Options Buffalo has a good thing going for them, including programs for kids to Earn-a-Bike by learning bike maintenance. The more we travel, the more of these types of organizations we find. We-Cycle-USA in Phoenix, AZ. Bikes Not Bombs in Boston, MA. And just through a Google search, found New Haven Bike Collective in New Haven, CT.

For a little fun, we tried out this interesting bike called the Buddy Bike. It took us a while, but we finally managed to actually ride it around a bit. Still couldn't imagine biking all 50 states on this!

We left Buffalo to head on towards Cleveland. Along the way, we've enjoyed fresh spring water (it was safe, we promise), lunches at parks along the Lake Erie beaches, and meeting many touring cyclists like Mel who made us feel like slackers since he was at mile 70 for the day when we were only at mile 30. Lake Erie is so blue and the weather has been so warm with the occasional afternoon thunderstorm that we weren't sure if we took a wrong turn towards the Caribbean. I wish...

But with the beautiful lake has come some pretty incredible storms. We have had to duck into people's houses, hide in restaurants, and were grateful when the last storm came through and we were staying with the Wright family in Cleveland.

We've found that one of the greatest places to meet someone is at an ice-cream stand on a hot day. This is where we ran into Mick and Debbie who couldn't get enough of our story and ended up inviting us into their home for the night. We would have taken them up on their offer, but were already on our way to Jeremy and Kim's house ten more miles up the road. Jeremy and Kim were listed on Warm Showers and we had contacted them the night before, after we had paid $25 per night, two nights in a row for a camping spot.

The first night of camping was totally worth the money. At about 8:00 that night, two touring cyclists came riding up looking for a site and we offered for them to share our site instead of them having to pay the $25 fee. It was nice to be able to give forward a bit of the generosity we've been receiving all trip. We also met a couple, Tom and Pat from Albuquerque, traveling in a camper who invited us to their site for wine by the fire.

The next night we paid the same price but had no other campers nearby to make friends with. Instead, to feel like we got our moneys worth, we found the bingo room and though we didn't actually partake in any bingo, we did help ourselves to one piece of chocolate cake, a piece of chocolate peanut butter rice crispy, and a chocolate brownie. Not a bad dinner. I think Adam also snuck a cookie in there somewhere.

We didn't want to spend that kind of money again on camping, so that's how we ended up meeting Jeremy and Kim. In the middle of the day, Jeremy texted us, "The pool is 90 and the beer is 34." Talk about a tease! We were so bummed that we still had 40 miles to go and couldn't seem to get there fast enough.

But when we showed up to their house, we got invited to hang out in Shady Grove, their backyard Haven. They had a heated pool and screened-in bar area. Jeremy cooked up some hot dogs and gave us a feast of leftovers from the party they had earlier that day. We were certainly feeling luxurious.

I'm not sure what it is about Ohio, maybe it's something in the water here, but this was just the first photo we got of guys flexing. We met Kenny a few days later outside a grocery store. He pulled up on his bike with a radio carefully strapped in where the water bottles should be. He was blasting 80's rap music and took a seat at the bench next to us as we ate lunch. Adam was jealous of his music set-up and contemplated trading in his water bottles for his own radio. Kenny told us about his upcoming wedding, his move from N.J. to Ohio for love, and his new job. I ran into the bathroom and laughed when I came out to this...

I guess I never will understand men.

After staying with Jeremy and Kim, the next morning we were on our way towards Cleveland. We had a place to stay with the World Bicycle Relief's COO's sister, Judy and family. Since we only had 40 miles that day, we got there in plenty of time to move in our bags, take showers, get a hula-hoop show from Lila and Iris, Judy's adorable girls, and even take a bus into the city to see a Cleveland Indian's game. Our first baseball game of the year! It was great just being there, not worrying about the bikes or our belongings, and just enjoy a night out.

Judy made sure we got a nice taste of Cleveland and the next morning we went to a great little cafe for breakfast that served only locally grown food, got some treats at the local chocolate store, and then we met Judy's mom Eileen for lunch to share some stories with her. That night, Judy invited us to share our stories at a meeting they were having with friends at their house. We had no formal presentation lined up in Cleveland, but even just sharing our story with Eileen and few of Judy's friends felt good.

When Adam and I give presentations, our main mission isn't just about the money. Really, our goal is spreading the word about our charities. We want more people to realize the power of a bicycle. With this, we hope to inspire our audience to think about a way they might be able to give forward or to give back. This could be donating to our charities, and it can grow into so much more.

This is why we were so impressed with Judy and Walter's meeting that they invited us to partake in the second night we visited. In 2004, the Cleveland Colectivo was formed by like-minded individuals who were tired of talking about Cleveland's problems, and decided to do something to help make Cleveland a better place. Judy and Walter were among some of these people, and for seven years now, they have pooled together their own money and donated it to projects that promise to improve Cleveland.

Some of our favorite things we've learned along our adventure is seeing all of the innovative ways that people give forward, and all of the different ways that people tour by bike. On our way out of Cleveland, we met about 20 women traveling from Fargo, ND to Bar Harbor, ME with Woman Tours. Lucky them, they had a van to carry all of their belongings and someone to cook for them each night.

On the same day we met Charlie, traveling solo on a recumbent bicycle packed with all sorts of stuff. He called himself the Laid Back Cyclist and what a perfect name for him. He took early retirement, got rid of his belongings at home, and left to travel the country by bike. We took the laid back approach with him for a bit, but soon our legs were itching to gain some good miles before lunch and we pulled ahead.

We've had a few interesting nights, filled with getting kicked out of a park, waking up in Thunderstorms and heading to the local Police Department to avoid the storms.

So it was nice when Mike and Jacqueline invited us to camp in their little gazebo but kept their door unlocked in case of a thunderstorm. No thunderstorms that night, thank goodness.

Traveling slow and steady doesn't mean we're not making any progress. We've made it through Ohio and have now hit both Michigan and Indiana as we hug the boarder of these states for the next day or so. We're on State #33 already!

1 comment:

  1. Just love reading your blog. It is amazing how far you have come and I can't imagine how hard it was to get to Connecticut and then to get on your bikes again and keep going with still so far to go. I will confess when we got home from Seattle to Cheshire, Ct. we thought it would be a piece of cake to ride to the Cape the following weekend. We got about 50 miles out and called our parents to please come and get us. So congratulations on your continual progress! Don't forget to stop and smell the roses and check out the sights and have fun!