My apologies for being a couple days late on this post. I can scarcely believe it, but I just finished riding my bike across the United States and part of Canada. I’m not sure if the reality of this will ever sink in.
We left the hotel this morning about 7:00 for our last ride of this great adventure. As expected, even this last day had some tough spots. The first 15 miles or so were mostly uphill with a few fairly challenging climbs, but then things evened out and we could take it easy the rest of the way. Amy and I rode together, mostly at a fairly relaxed pace, just kind of savoring the last few miles. At one point, three guys were standing in their yard and stopped us to ask where we were going. They had seen a number of riders, all in the orange “America by Bicycle” jerseys and wondered what was going on. They were pretty amazed when we told them what we had been doing these last 50 days. They wished us well for our last few miles and we headed into Exeter, NH where everyone planned to stop at the local coffee house/bakery to have a cup of coffee and pastry. It was only about 10:00 by this time and we were not scheduled to meet at the junior high school in Rye, NH, 11 miles away, until 11:30. Other customers at the coffee shop were amazed at what we had just done and congratulated us. Most riders began pulling into the junior high school by about 11:00. There was time to say our good-byes and take a group photo before the beach. At 11:45, the group pulled out for the last 3 miles, led by a police escort. What a sight – about 40 orange jerseys, riding in a group at about 15 mph. We turned a corner and saw the ocean and started hollering. When we got to the beach, there were dozens of people lined up, cheering us for the last few hundred yards. What a feeling. Fifty days ago, we left the Pacific Ocean and we had now arrived at the Atlantic!
When we arrived at the sand, took off shoes, carried the bikes to the ocean and dipped our wheels.Friends of one of the riders had brought champagne and we all toasted our accomplishment, feeling about as giddy as you could feel. It was hard to know what to do.
About 1:00, Tam and I finally said our good-byes, packed the bike into the car and headed west toward home. We made it to Syracuse, NY, close to where we had stayed less than a week earlier. We finished the drive back to Columbus by 4:00p on Tuesday, August 6, still trying to make sense of what I had just accomplished. I was exhausted and energized all at the same time. It felt so good to be back home, to sleep in our own bed. It felt good to not have to get on the bike this morning. Now is the challenge of trying to get back into a “normal” routine, whatever that will be. Remember, I’m still trying to figure out this retirement thing. One thing I know, the house needs painting, so I’ll be busy for a while.
I hope you’ll give me a few days to think about this and let it sink in. In a few days, certainly in less than a week, I will have some final thoughts about this adventure. To family, friends and those I’ve met along the way, please know how much your comments and encouragements meant. They kept me going in many ways. I hope you’ll stay in touch. You can always post a comment on the blog or Face Book. If you’d rather, my email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks for following my adventure. I hope you enjoyed it half as much as I did. It might sound a bit strange, but I think I’ll take a bike ride tonight.
For now, Be well. Do good. May God bless you.