RE: I made it! Thanks go out to all of the support along the way and for providing a fantastic FINALE dinner party! My ride is complete, almost 4,000 miles by bike across America, from Seaside to Bar Harbor.
Thanks Omnilink, Intel-Lenovo, BodyMedia and Coffman Media and Sprint for supportig the journey.
Wednesday-9/28: Foggy this morning when I left camp and cloudy most of the day with a few sun breaks. It was a nice, but unremarkable day. The route was quite hilly. In fact I climbed the steepest hill I have ever encountered; I only had two gears left by the time I conquered it. I had to earn every mile I rode today. It’s become more and more difficult to get the necessary daily mileage. 99 miles for a total of 3748.
Harold: Instead of only reporting from Michael’s journal, I want to interject: As you can probably tell by Michael’s brief comments he is tired from the grueling challenge of pedaling hill after hill through New York, Vermont, and New Hampshire. To put this in perspective-- as the driver of the RV—the RV struggled to get up those hills. Think about what Michael has to muster. I’m in awe of Michael’s super efforts, abilities, and dedication. Not to mention he has to put up with a sometimes irritable uncle at the end of his ride.
Thursday-9/29: Left Thomas Point campground at 7:30; rain was forecasted. Not a drop of rain all day until I arrived at our new camp, at Searsport. I have really been blessed with good weather during the entire trip. I rode close to salt water bays and inlets and the scenery has changed from farming to maritime; farm machinery to boats, crab pots, and fishing gear. The villages and small towns New England architecture, stone fences, and tall houses with ornate trim were impressive. I discovered a tool works maker of heirloom quality, wood working, hand tools. The precision and workmanship was outstanding! I am especially fond of high quality hand tools. The terrain was rolling hills and the roads seldom had shoulder. Traffic volume was high and some vehicles, especially large trucks, drove too fast for my comfort. However, all in all I had a good day riding and I am must say again that I’m thankful for the good weather. I have a short day planned for tomorrow (50 miles). Plan to stay in Trenton and then a short ride to Bar Harbor the next day. Because the weather forecast is more of the same for tomorrow and not so good the following days, I might go all the way to Bar Harbor tomorrow, bringing this trek to an end. 88 miles for a total of 3829.
Thanks to Intel and Omnilink Coffman and BodyMedia for organizing a beautiful evening for the team in Bar Harbor at the restaurant Chart House. Should be fun..
Tuesday-9/28: Left camp at 7:am and rode 10 miles up hill to Fairlee and then crossed the bridge into Onford, New Hampshire. I rode through farm land, mostly small dairies. Many of the farms had their own little stores. They sold milk, cream, butter, eggs and produce. I saw a round barn, the first one I’ve seen. Just outside North Haverhill, I stopped at a little store, Indian Corn Mill, which sold mostly apple products. The owner, Sue Holden, graciously gave me three apples and a bottle of apple cider and we had a pleasant conversation. Eventually on was on my climb over the Kancamagus Pass, Highway 112. I had just come down from a long climb out of Haverhill and now I was facing another one and more challenging! The accent is 14 miles to an elevation of 2855 feet and the decent is 24 miles. The accent was incredibly challenging and the decent was greatly rewarding. Harold commented that his drive over the pass was quite pleasant and the vistas were remarkable, especially the early fall foliage. He also said he has a greater appreciation for New York, Vermont and New Hampshire. Before he made this trip he wondered why anyone would want to live in those states. Now he wonders why anyone living there would want to leave. We spent the night near Conway, eight miles from Fryeburg, Maine and 232 miles from our destination, Bar Harbor. After today, the weather ahead is predicted to be colder and wetter. 87 miles for a total of 3649.
Monday-9/26: Left camp just before 7AM and took a compacted dirt road 4.5 miles to my designated route without a hitch. I started to climb immediately and continued climbing hills all day. Harold jogged hills near our campsite after I departed. He said it was all uphill both going out and coming back. He’s either getting awfully old or is awfully delusional. Maybe both. Today is the first time this trip I had to use my lowest gear in the front sprocket. I think the Green Mountain State has too many hills, though I loved the down hills. The flooding caused by the recent hurricane is evidenced by washed out roads and bridges; miles of dirt piled alongside the roads; farm fields covered with several feet of mud; and trees uprooted alongside the roads. Harold complained that the narrow, winding, no-shoulder roads were “dicey” at best and the flood damage made them worse. To Vermont’s credit, the work force has done an outstanding job making repairs. I am greatly impressed with the beauty of Vermont’s forests, rivers, streams, lakes, waterfalls, farms, hills and valleys. All helped take my mind off the challenges of constantly climbing. We made it to East Thetford today and I am quite tired and quite satisfied. The weather has been favorable and should be the same tomorrow. From what I can discern by my maps, New Hampshire’s hills will be worse. I hope to have them all behind me by tomorrow’s end.
Please join Gary's Dad as he celebrates the end of the road in Bar Harbor, Maine on October 4th. Watch here for more, but we'd like to invite you to join us with food, drinks and live music in Bar Harbor, exact location coming soon.
Saturday-9/17: We departed Harold’s home at approximately 7:30 am and drove a short distance to Marine City, MI, to take a ferry to Sombra, Ontario. While waiting for the ferry to arrive from Sombra, Harold made me take over driving the vehicle. He was concerned that driving on board would be a tight maneuver and he didn’t want to drown us. As it turned out, the ferry was tiny and only our vehicle and another one fit—no maneuvering necessary. From Sombra we headed southeast and then east near Lake Erie’s shoreline with our ultimate destination on this leg of my trek, Ft. Erie. The area traveled today is sparsely populated and the scenery is nondescript, except for some beautiful pre-1860s farm buildings. The weather was windy and cold for most of the ride. I had to work hard to get my expected mileage; everything seemed farther away than what my maps indicated. We spent the night near Talbotville at a Canadian government run campsite. It was quite expensive and rundown. Everything has been expensive in Canada. We hope to cover 103 miles tomorrow along Lake Erie’s shoreline with Peacock Point or Selkirk as our stopover. It’s now 10m, I’m tired. Good night! 122 miles for a total of 2817.
Sunday-9/18: Departed camp at 7:am. The morning was cold and it was windy all day. My miles were hard earned; I struggled against the wind and three short, steep hills (I think I’m beginning to wear down a bit). I was disappointed our route didn’t take us as close to Lake Erie’s edge as indicated by our maps and GPS. Harold renamed it Lake “Eerie” because we can’t see it. I did catch a glimpse of the lake a few times. Even though it’s the smallest of the Great Lakes, it’s huge, more like a sea. Traveled through farm land all day and traffic was light. The motorists were quite courteous to cyclists (Go Canada!). I saw a variety of common crops and one that looked like tobacco (I saw several large ovens used for processing). Because this area doesn’t receive an abundance of travelers, this leg of our route is lacking in traveler facilities. Therefore, Harold has had some difficulties finding camp sites. When he asked a gas station owner, Alan muirhead, a gentleman with a strong Scottish accent, for guidance, Alan took him to a nearby public camp ground and stayed with Harold to make sure he had a site. Thank you, Alan! We spent the night near Peacock Point and were given a camp site overlooking Lake Erie. Now we clearly see the lake! 103 Miles for a total of 2920.
Thursday-9/8: Dropped Jerry off at the airport, Minneapolis, 6:am and picked up Uncle Harold at the airport a few hours later. We drove to Gordon Lake, WI, where we spent the night.
Friday-9/9: Started cycling at 8:am, very cold and sunny. Rode through hardwood forests, which canopied the road with its foliage. The roads meandered on rolling hills and along lake shores. I saw several wild turkeys, deer, elk and two wolves. A motorist stopped to tell me to be careful because there was a mother bear with two cubs ahead. I was relieved to find they were gone by the time I got there. After riding 84 miles I was sore from my saddle. My Uncle Harold told me, “In for a penny in for a pound.” I had never heard that. I think he heard it personally from Ben Franklin. Completed 107 miles for a total of 2167.
Saturday-9/10: Sagola, MI. Put Harold’s new saddle on my bicycle today to break it in for him. Big mistake; my butt hurt all day long. We made it to the upper peninsula of Michigan today. Very hilly and mostly uphill (not fair). I was exhausted and sore by the end of the day. This area is sparsely populated with few amenities for travelers. We couldn’t find an RV hook-up site. The manager of a gas station was kind enough to let us stay behind the station.
Sunday-9/11: Left at 7:am and arrived in Escanaba at 1m. I must be a glutton for punishment because I’m still breaking in Harold’s saddle. Now in the Eastern Time Zone. Started out with cold temperatures and got very warm a few hours later. Harold complained that the vehicle’s air conditioning doesn’t work. He decided it wasn’t a necessary fix because warm temperatures will go “South” in few days as we head north. Both Harold and I are directionally challenged (thank goodness for helpful people who aren’t and GPS). We came into Escanaba on different roads and he couldn’t locate me, even though we were only two blocks apart. I told him he could locate me by driving north on Highway 2. However, because Highway 2 is listed as Hy 2 East or Hy 2 West, Harold insisted he could only drive east or west. After we finally met, I told him Hy 2 actually ran north and south in that area. He scolded me by saying, “Don’t confuse me with the facts!” I laughed; he didn’t. 75 miles for a total of 2336. Plus Harold decided we should walk (for HIS exercise) eight miles round trip to a Walmart for some supplies. For some reason I’m especially tired today.
Monday-9/12: Left Escanaba at 8:am and got a flat bicycle tire at about eight miles out. Took out a new tube but it had a large hole in it! Patched the old tube but it wouldn’t hold air. A lady stopped to help me and we put the bike in back of her van. She took me to a bike shop in Gladstone and I had to wait an hour and half before it opened. The owner, Mike Williams, took care of me right away even though he had other customers. I lost five hours of pedaling today. In the meantime, Harold called to say the RV shower floor was flooded with what looked like backed up water. I asked him to handle it as best he could because I didn’t have time to discuss it further. Consequently he spent several minutes bailing water and sponging it up with towels. Afterwards he called again and I gave him exact instructions on how to drain the holding tanks. When we met later he was upset with me for letting him waste time and effort bailing water when draining it only took seconds. I apologized and had a good laugh; he didn’t.
7:00am Saturday, September 3rd at St. Mary of Carmel in Long Prairie, Minnesota.
The sun is just starting to rise into an overcast sky, 59 degrees with a high of 70 forecast--low of 48 last night, once it finally cooled down. When Mike left 20 minutes ago the forecast called for thunder showers so he was hoping I'd stay put and work on maps for a while and then catch up with him midmorning--didn't like the thought of a midwest lightning experience out in the open on the bike. It's beginning to sprinkle. Finally, a night on the road without trains or freeway noise all night! Gary, the UMC pastor here in Long Prairie offered us a place to park with electricity but Father Rich had a level place plus his shower so, yet again, we're enjoying Catholic hospitality. He adopted two boys from Venezuela and one of them sang at the hispanic mass last night. I wish I'd gone in and worshiped with them but I was sorting out maps and routes.
Mike had a short day (72 miles) into Fargo Wednesday and had 15 family members show up at a coffee shop for a reunion on his Dad's side. A TV reporter joined them and they showed up on the 10 o'clock news on Channel 11. If I can figure out how to add the URL's to this or the next upload, you'll get my filming of the broadcast on Aunt Gladys' TV. Uncle Bob blessed us with fresh garden produce he'd raised, much to Mike's delight. Another short day of cycling (34 miles) landed us at Aunt Elaine's in Deer Lake/Battle Lake, Minnesota--our 6th state. Aunts, cousins and their kids joined us for a reunion with pictures and stories from Mike's mom's side of the family. Again, lots of fresh produce and family specialties along with their prized recipes. Elaine, whose lakeside home we stayed in, is Mike's mom's sister and Harold's (the second driver who's taking over in Minneapolis) her brother. It just hit me that I won't get any time to cross train Harold on what I've learned about the RV, the tech equipment, etc. I had hoped to save him from many intense frustrations... I've worked through or learned how to live with. Now I wonder how many hot retorts she's swallowed, honoring the value of what I was doing and forgiving my insensitivity or ignorance of the pile on her plate.
I've had to adjust and readjust my expectations of this trip, getting in little or none of the cycling I'd envisioned. I'm also gaining a very different perspective and appreciation of the role of a "wife." At the end of the day when Mike comes rolling in I can see his unstated comment--"And what have you been doing all day?" At the end of our third week I'm getting the routine down so I maybe have something going for dinner--if it's too late, by Mike's standards--he won't even eat, which drives me nuts. Projects like this blog can eat unaccountable holes through my day, leaving no time to do what I'd like to, much less what Mike expects or hopes for. I understand better, Nancy's exasperation with me when I ask her to add one more seemingly simple task to her day's itinerary which I obviously won't have time to do because of my "more important" tasks... Especially if I've already been chipping away at that task--like cleaning bugs off the grille and bodywork of the motorhome--talk about road kill--but Mike hasn't noticed what I've been doing and asks me if I might find some time to do it.
Perhaps it's just as well that I had accidently turned off the audio for a week's worth of video soliloquys talking through our experience like a Christian version of Survivor Two--a "reality show--" with an inside glimpse of the all too human frictions between two guys under stress on opposite ends of several personality types adapting to life on the road in a micro-motorhome and our mutual attempts to use Christian alternatives to keep the peace or transform our responses.
Well, the sun's out and it's 8:40, so I better get rolling. Looks like Dalbo will be our destination tonight at 92 miles. I haven't found a way to get the URLs from my YouTube site that Noah, my 15 year old son, walked me throu setting up and uploading to. If you Google "Mike's Transamerica Bicycle Trip" [or bike"] you'll find out there's a lot of Mike's doing transamerica bike trips with various partners. Watch for references to Gary's Dad and hopefully you'll find us. Early on I was trying to send photos and videos to my face book account--Jerry Collell. That's another resource. And finally, I've been g-mailing daily updates to Kelly and Sarah from Sprint, Nancy and Tim and the Emanuel Lutheran office back in Yelm in hopes that someone more computer literate than me would get something into this blog.
An early wordless video of a coffee cup and a blue enamel cowboy coffee pot was about the learning curves Mike and I were experiencing, frequently steeper and more numerous than the switchbacks in the old Winchester Grade--like how to make coffee or figure out how much prapane we have left or how to answer a touch screen phone or... not lacerate one another in retaliation for an inadvertant comment that came out hurtfully. "It's all good" is woefully naive when we're living on the edge--of the road. DriverJerry, or in YouTube-ese, McDriverJerry.
Our first official whole day. Mike hit the road at 6:40am and pulled into Ainsworth Roadside rest at 6:45pm, 100 miles later. The Adventure Cycling Association took us through parts of Portland that were breathtaking and I'd never seen before, even having lived in the vicinity. And throughn the most strenuous but scenic parts of the Columbia Gorge that I hadn't driven since the early 70's
16 August More Gorge-ous scenery
Off at 6:40am and into the Roosevelt Treaty campground 102 miles later at 6:40pm. I got about 5 miles in, myself, seeing first-hand what rough pavement and narrow lanes feel like on a road bike. We were within 5 miles of my Mosier ranch where I'd hoped to retire after parish pastoring. The Mosier Twin Tunnels ride dedicated by Governor Mark Hatfield in 2000 was "the most scenic, pleasant bike route Mike had ever experienced, even over Spokane, although Spokane's was much longer." We crossed the Columbia at Biggs Junction and the climb up was so steep I waited at the first turnout for Mike to get nhis picture and give him a break. He never showed up and I went back down the grade fearing something had happened or to truck him this too-steep stretch. He was nowhere to be found. I went through the state park and asked at the orchards and fruit stands and finally went up to Stonehenge by a nearly vertical set of old, patched switchbacks which turned out to be the way Mike ascended that grade out of the gorge. Neither of us went to Maryhill Castle where there is quite a collection of original Rodin bronzes but we did go by/through the first American war memorial or the first memorial re. WWI. There were like 18 local men killed in WWI who are commemorated here. There are treaty accesses for native american fishing rights along the Columbia that are off limits to everybody else at certain times of year but otherwise open to all... or so I thought I'd read. The only shower available was in just such a setting. Mike thought it needed a thorough scrubbing but he loved the long shower and the free price... In the morning a lady stopped by and said it was fine with her that we'd stayed there but if a tribal policeman came by I'd get a $500 ticket for trespassing. I packed up most quickly that third morning!
17 August To Walla Walla Washington
114 miles between 6:00am and 6:30pm on the most boring stretch Mike had ever seen. Desert on one side, huge river on the other, and long stretches you couldn't see the end of but knew you had to peddle. I couldn't raise a long time friend nor the pastor of a beautiful park-like Lutheran church so we ended up in an expensive RV park with no privacy or scenery but an excellent shower. The automatic sprinklers soaked everything we left out on the picnic bench.
18 August to Lewiston, Idaho
Off at 6:30am we crossed the Snake river and peddled into Alan Opelaar's driveway at 6:45pm, really looking for a shower. We met up with Kevin Harvey-Marose, a seminary classmate's husband and went together to the Panda Express for a fast vegetarian dinner. Kevin had been for decades a Park Ranger for the Nez Perce museum area there and regaled us with their history and debunked the myth of the appaloosa horse and the various theories of how "the people" got the misnomer "Pierced Nose." Mike got his latest start at 7:00am the next morning... and Alan washed our clothes, served breakfast, and treated us like kings! We got our EVO 3d phone and pad from Sprint Thursday afternoon and I spent much of Friday with Nathan Miller, a lead person at that retail store, activating the equipment and trying to drag me into the 21st century. I'd never used a touch screen unit before and still am all thumbs trying to adjust to that and many other frustrating technological advances that Noah, my 15 year old son, was drooling over, wishing through the phone that he could get his hands on. The phone somehow found, all by itself, all my contacts and their birthdays and who knows what else, but I found out by accident that Alan's birthday was on the 20th! Seemed magical or providential, but by the time I realized it, we were beginning to learn about lack of signal and I had no way to wish him a happy birthday.
19 August up the old Winchester Grade and onto Kamiah Idaho
Mike made 101 miles Thursday and amazingly, after the grueling grade, 90 miles today on truly terrible pavement and punishing inclines. It also got really hot and dry. The larget dog in the world that's also a bed and breakfast and published internationally as one of the ten wonders of the world is only 16 miles from Grangeville where my wife Nancy was born and her mom and brother still live. We turned off the highway here and headed down into narrow old roads within a mile or so of where we buried Nancy's 101 year old grandmother last year. In Kamiah the ELCA pastor in his 80's and spryer than me offered his church for us to park at but his Catholic neighbor had a shadier spot and a shower so we stayed with him. There was a Nez Perce pow-wow going on so I went to see the fancy dancers for a while that evening. This was another day where I got to ride out to meet Mike and escort him to camp.
Saturday, end of our first week, 20 August to Powell USDA Campground at the base of the Lolo Summit
This was an 85 mile day from 6:48am to 5:00pm with a long gradual climb the whole way along the river. My Senior National Park Pass got us 1/2 off of the camping fee. I labelled Powell CG as the camp of the active squirrels who were everywhere, eating pinecones and chasing one another and being cute. This week saw Mike log 728 actual peddled miles over some really extreme terrain and awful heat and pavement conditions. He's an everready bunny of the first order. Even after a hundred miles, when I'd ride out to meet him, he'd leave me in the dust on a hill, though I gave him a run for his money on the flat and/or downhill. Carrying the house, I'm the tortoise, and eventually I get to each daily camp site before he does... but his endurance and stamina blow me away. Tomorrow, the worst part of the Lolo Pass and on into Montana and our second week. Happy Birthday, Alan!
These are the Columbia Gorge historic highway cluster from Corbett to Ainsworth State Park, Mike had been through here maybe 40 years ago. Fantastic overlooks, awesome waterfalls. Very narrow, rough road with a lot of elevation changes and tourist traffic. Ainsworth campground had our first shower facility, very appreciated!
A quick synopsis:
Sunday, 14th, 36 miles from Warrenton (Astria) to Clatskanie.
Monday, 15th, 100 miles through Portland to Ainswortho State Campground
Tuesday, 16th, 102 miles through the Dalles to Roosevelt Treaty Access fisherman's camp. Most scenic vistas and toughest hills for Mike, ever.
Wednesday, 17th, 114 miles through Umatilla to Walla Walla. Desert hills on one side, wide Columbia river on the other--long boring road up and down the middle.
Building mileage up slowly... Really rough road surfaces create an apalling amount of drag. Even downhill, Mike has had to pedal hard to get up to 18 mph. We're beginning to get a routine going... Been hard to guage where we'll actually end and camp. Tonight's Clarkston or bust.
The second night Mike had fatigued thighs and calves--absorbine and deep heat helped. Pressure in the prosthesis was troublesome--we used moleskin and a dry lubricant I got at REI. Tuesday it got bad enough we changed to his carbon fiber suction mounted arm. Much better. But there's a rivet and a wedge that created a cyst-like knot on Mike's forearm. Perhaps tonight we'll use my dremel and remove the rivet...
Since I'm the camera man, pictures of me will be far and few between. Mike is understandably unwilling to break stride, dig out a camera, and shoot what he's seeing. I'm getting lots of photos that'll be useful at the end, like of the Gorge and Stonehenge, etc.
I've gotta hit the road. Blessings to you all. Isaiah 40 is my theme for this trip! Jerry
Starting this week and continuing through October 4th, we have the unique opportunity of sharing and encouraging Gary’s Dad in fulfilling a dream and helping him accomplish something he has worked very hard for and supporting his motto of “Believe in Yourself!”
Gary is an employee at Sprint and a few months ago, he informed us of his father’s mission. Why is Gary’s Dad biking across the country? To prove he can. And this is where our story begins.
As a child, Gary’s Dad lost part of his arm in an accident. He has never let that stop him or be a deterrent in his life. In high school, he was a star athlete and the guy everyone could count on. Today he is an amazing father and grandfather. Gary’s Dad continues to be a role model and now, an inspiration to everyone as we join him online to track and watch his journey across America.
Gary’s Dad tells us, “I have dreamed of taking a bicycle trip across the United States for several years. Two years ago I rode my bicycle from Seattle across the Golden Gate Bridge to San Francisco. Last year I wanted to see what it was like to conquer a mountain, so I rode from Anacortes, Washington over the Cascades into Montana. I have made the decision; this is the year I will, finally, do the Transamerica trip.”
To get ready for the trip, Gary’s Dad has been in training with a certified fitness trainer for six months. He is in superb physical condition and has completed preparatory long distance cycling events prior to the coast-to-coast trip, so he is more than ready for this challenging adventure.
Together, with Sprint and some of their machine-to-machine (M2M) partners such as Intel, Lenovo and Omnilink, we can track Gary’s Dad’s Trans-American Bike Ride as he traverses the country over the historic Lewis and Clark route.
While on his cross-country journey, Gary’s Dad will be using an EVO 3D to upload videos as well as using Lenovo laptop to send in posts. Check in on him daily here. In addition, we’ll be tweeting about him using #garysdad as the designated hash tag to follow on Twitter. Please feel free to tweet encouraging messages using #garysdad or post your messages on this page. It will be updated often with blogs and videos from Gary’s Dad using equipment provided by Lenovo connected by the Sprint network.
Gary’s Dad says, “Anything is possible if you believe in yourself!” We look forward to celebrating on October 4th as he completes his journey. Join us in supporting him along the way!
It's been hard earned 250+ miles. (Rough roads, narrow shoulders, high traffic volume, and more hills than I want to talk about) the sites have been spectacular throughout especially Oregon's Columbia River Gorge, Troutdale, and Hood River. .
I am doing fine and expect a major challenge in a couple of days going over the Idaho Bitter Root mountains and into Missoula, Montana
I have dreamed of taking a bicycle trip across the United States for several years. Two years ago I rode my bicycle from Seattle across the Golden Gate Bridge to San Francisco. Last year I wanted to see what it was like to conquer a mountain, so I rode from Anacortes, Washington over the Cascades into Montana. I have made the decision; this is the year I will, finally, do the Transamerica trip.
I have been in training with a certified fitness trainer for six months. I am in superb physical condition at this time, and I will be participating in some preparatory long distance cycling events prior to the coast-to-coast trip, so I should be more than ready for this challenging adventure.
I suffered the loss of my right hand as a child and have overcome obstacles my entire life. I have had my bike professionally altered to accommodate this loss and look forward to, once again, proving that anything is possible if you believe in yourself. What’s your dream?