After 68 days, 3800 miles, 3 tire changes and a lot of breakfast sandwiches, today is the day I dip the bike tires into the Atlantic Ocean, completing the journey I started June 12 at Fort Stevens State Park. A lot happened today and I have a few comments for my final entry so sit down and get comfortable as you may be here a while.
Since we didn't get WiFi or cell service at the Natures Wilderness Campground we got up early and moved the RV close to the starting point where we could connect, post the blog, catch up on some messages and start the ride into Portland ME. I included the entire team for my final daily "start" picture. This has truly been a team effort and could not have done without Cheryl (OK, Zuri gets some credit too). I waited until today to mention it but John Van Beek, (most of you know him as John VB from the comment section of the blog) notified the Portland ME media and there will be two camera crews at the finish line at 2 pm today. So much for my intimate, incognito finish at Fort Allen Park. Thanks a lot John!
The 2 pm finish gave me plenty of time to go slow, reflect on the journey and keep my heart rate down. The ride itself was nice. Not a lot to see but the weather was cool, roads were OK and other than a few spots, traffic was light. I was on Cove Beach Trail for most of the ride into town so that was nice. As was fitting, it started to rain, so I could finish the way I started, soaking wet.
As is my SOP, I put Fort Allen Park into Google and let Siri provide directions in my ear piece. As also is SOP, I missed the turn where Cheryl and the TV crew were waiting. Yep zipped right on by them. In my defense they were on the North end of the park tucked near a boat ramp and Siri was directing me further South. So much for my impressive first impression with the TV crews of Portland ME.
As I approached the ramp I saw a group of people holding a banner and spraying Champage. My glasses had water all over them so it was tough to see clearly but the faces were very familiar. It was my kids!! They had all flown in without telling me (of course Cheryl was in on the secret that sneaking girl). The joy I was feeling as I approached the finish line was magnified 10X to see my family there to expereince the event with me. (sadly Lexi, Greg and Karl could not be here in person but were on FaceTime). Wow, wow wow. What a wonderful surprise. Not only were they here for the finish, they will be staying through the weekend so we have 4 days in the northeast together before Cheryl and I start DRIVING back home (assuming we don't just dump the RV and call up Delta Airlines).
As mentioned, thanks to John, the TV crew was there and did run the story on the evening news and posted on their web site link below. Obviously I was kidding before John, it was a fun addition to the finish. I appreciate your thoughtfulness.
So there we were standing on the east coast in Portland ME on August 19th, just as scheduled. Quite remarkable I must say that we were able to hit the day we set out to back in June. Certainly is wasn't as simple as the daily schedule would make it appear. Sure I was a little concerned when Greg and I were heading to Bend OR on Day 3 but we made it! I am very excited and a little relieved to be honest.
For the 6 or 7 of you who have stayed with us throughout trip following the blog, you already know the cast of characters, but I would like to take a moment to reflect on those who joined me and/or provided support to help me get through this. I am so grateful to you all!
Greg/Krissie – Only fitting that Greg partner with me to start the whole adventure. He road with me to San Francisco 8 years ago and that trip wet my appetite to do something bigger. What a first 4 days. Wow. Getting lost, huge climbs, and cold and raining weather. Through it all Greg never flinched and was always smiling. He is truly one in a million and I am so fortunate to have he and Krissie as friends for 35 years.
Skip/Betty – Coordinating a trip like this to include everyone is difficult but thanks to some scheduling handsprings, Skip and Betty were able to join us for a wonderful rest day in Lincoln MT and two days on the road. Perfect first day of riding crossing Flesher Pass and a little sheep herding. On top of that, Skip found us a house in Helena and lent out his bike so the team could continue after he had to drop. Just one of the many selfless acts by my amazing friends that I am so lucky to have.
Craig – nothing like driving 718 miles from Portland to Helena to ride for a day. Unbelievable. Sure he has family in the area but what a commitment. After all of that, your back wheel fails 20 miles into the ride. But as was the case throughout the trip, creative solutions allowed the trek to continue on schedule. Thank you so much for being a part of the adventure Craig.
Jack – Flew into Helena MT to participate in probably the most difficult leg of the ride. Blistering heat, with long stretches of, well, not much. Jack rode over 500 miles (not a typo) with me and it would have been painful to get through that stretch without him. I enjoyed the conversations on the road and relaxing evenings in the RV. Thanks so much Jack!
Kyle and Casey – Not sure where to start. RV engine problems that led to 7 unpredictable days filled with riding, sightseeing, eating, drinking, laughing and of course, frustration. Planning and replanning to keep to the schedule. Though its not how we envisioned the week, I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything. These two are amazing young men and I so appreciate them making the commitment to spend time with Cheryl and I on the road in the Midwest.
Tom/Kriti – An unexpected pleasure. Not originally scheduled, you jumped on the train near the end and provided a much-needed boost of energy. We made it through the Adirondacks and some tough climbing. Tom and Kriti had just moved into a new house, yet drove 4 hours to sleep in an RV with 4 adults and 2 dogs. Wow!
John/Vickiy – Though you did not make one pedal stroke, I felt you were with us every mile. Your consistent comments on the blog and side texts and emails were funny, insightful and always something to look forward to. Thank you for being such active participants and sharing in this expereince with us. This is number 3 in being a part of our adventures (1ktothebay, Amsterdam, Coast to Coast).
My family – Thanks for keeping things going at home and providing support and encouragement through texts, phone calls and the periodic group FaceTime. The milestone boxes were a great idea and gave Cheryl and I something to look forward to. We love you very much. The surprise at the finish line was unforgettable and the perfect ending to the journey.
Cheryl – Where do I start. The MVP of the trip. This ride would not have happened without her. Period. Words can not adequately express my gratitude for supporting me both before and during this adventure. Our time spent together in the RV for 69 days (more to come) crossing this country created everlasting memories. I love you so very much!
Reflections - I did a lot of thinking during the 250+ hours on the bike and solved all the worlds problems many times over. Not to be overly philosophical and say that I have fundamentally changed during this ride, I will say that I see things differently today than I did on June 12. I only rode through the northern section of the country, but it did open my eyes to the sheer size of the US and the many wonderful people and different perspectives peppered throughout. In many ways we live in a bubble in Portland drinking our lattes and micro brews thinking we have it all figured out. I would simply challenge us to broaden our world view to include perspectives from all areas of the country. Not to necessarily agree with them but seek to understand. I know I have learned A LOT by simply talking with the everyday people in local bars and cafes as we traveled the country.
Secondly, though I am typically a pretty patient, optimistic guy, this trip reaffirmed that I need to spend less time worrying about what should happen or what I want to happen and more time dealing with and enjoying what is actually happening. Everyday we had unexpected pleasures and confronted unexpected issues but all were equally important in creating to overall expereince and that is what this trip was all about.
Finally, and most important, I realize what an amazing support structure I have. Family, friends, coworkers, I am truly blessed with so many wonderful people in my life and do not take that for granted. That includes many of you that read my crazy blog for 69 days. Thank you so much for sharing this expereince with me. I could feel you with me through every mile.
And now the bike gets put on the rack for some much needed rest. I know it's just a bike, but it played an important role, almost felt like a trusted partner underneath me. Thank you Cannondale!
So that's it! I will likely periodically post on this site as a historical reference for the future (that memory thing again) but I don't want to bore you with "home movies" of our trip back so this is the last "official post."
Thanks again for following along. Hopefully it won't be too long until we do something crazy again.