Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Henrietta, NY - Day 44

This will be my last post...boo hoo. I will ride tomorrow, but since I will be hopping in the car and speeding off with Dennis to catch a plane to England on Thursday, Mimi and Ward will pick up the blog and keep us all updated on the last 6 days! I am so glad Ward is here to share this last section with Mimi.

So, here is what I've learned - my top 10 Tips - in case you ever do this trip!

10.  Don't let a day go by without Bag Balm.
9.   After getting to your room with your bag, tear off your clothes as fast as possible and run to the laundry room to try to be first at the washing machine.
8.   Stick with Fritos - they work as body fuel but can also be lit on fire in case of an emergency.
7.   Cultivate a taste for subway, DQ, and gas station food.
And did I say, don't let a day go by without Bag Balm
6.   Always keep your key sleeve handy so you know what room you are in.
5.   Keep your heavy stuff in A box, in THE Box.
4.   Do get something to eat if you arrive early. Then come back to help unload...in case they haven't finished already
3.   Don't arrive at breakfast on time - all the food will be gone. Either arrive   fifteen minutes early or fifteen minutes late after they have restocked.
2.   Find the TP when you first arrive at your room, trying to do so in the dark can be seriously hazardous to your health.
1.   Watch out for flying tire irons
AND.... don't forget the Bag Balm

So, this has been a trip of a lifetime, and a privilege to do it with my lifelong friend Mimi, as well as all the other wonderful riders and staff. Thanks to all of my family and friends who have supported me.

Day 44
Miles - 87
Total Miles - 3232
Elevation Gain - 1844
Elevation Loss - 1926
Link to Polly's Garmin Info - and this always has a map of our ride for the day

View over the wetlands from our first sag stop

Another wetland view

Antique Mimi dwarfed by the corn!

Antiques compared to corn!

Gorgeous New York country side and farm

Farm on the other side of the road

Corn and more corn!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Niagara Falls, NY, USA - Day 42 & 43

Big Day today because we headed back into the US, a new state, and Ward and Dennis would be meeting us in Niagara Falls, yippee! Ward will join the ride for the last section and Dennis made better time driving cross-country than he expected, so he'll explore while I ride, then we'll take off heading to England on Wednesday after the ride. Only 2 more riding days - hard to believe!

Leaving Brantford we quickly headed back out onto country roads dotted with gorgeous farms and houses. In Canada we have seen some lovely large houses with farms and large carefully mowed lawns, colorful and varied flower beds, pruned shrubs and beautiful trees, all very well tended. Even small houses, with smaller yards, have nice little gardens, mowed lawns and look cared for. The standout landscape element of the day was sod farms - acres and acres of golf course like grass surrounding red barns. Or, there were huge areas of carefully prepared chocolate soil that would soon sprout new grass. All flat and extending out to the encircling forest.

As we pedaled toward Niagara we entered some more forested territory with rolling hills and beautiful estates. It was fun riding. And we were accompanied by Jeff who works for ABB. We love his company and enthusiasm, and that he knows where to go! So entering Niagara we had our very own guide to help navigate our way to the falls. It was fun to enter from the Canadian side, clean but clearly touristy. We rode down a steep hill past huge casinos and tourist attractions. At the bottom of the hill, there were the falls. 

In spite of the busy surroundings - tons of people and cars, buildings and tourist kiosks selling goodies, the falls are impressive. There are three falls, American, Bridal Veil and Horseshoe Falls and together their combined flow rate is the highest of any waterfall in the world. The power and shear volume of water as it smashes into the turquoise blue river below, is something to see. The mist generated felt wonderful in the heat of the day. 

After photos and a quick bite to eat, we headed for the bridge, customs and our return to the US of A. It was a unique experience to pedal into the US and go through customs on a bike! When Dennis went through he mentioned that his wife was doing a ride across the country. The customs official asked if we were the ones in the blue shirts. (Our America by Bike shirts are blue, white and red.) When he answered, yes, she waved him right through.

Within minutes of our arrival, Ward and Dennis were here and the celebrating began! Before bed we watched the fireworks over the lighted falls. Nice end to a most pleasant day.

Day 42
Miles - 76
Total Miles - 3145
Elevation Gain - 1339
Elevation Loss - 1490 (going down...)
Link to Polly"s Garmin

Shades of electricity generated from Niagara?
Fred from Texas on the road in the morning light

The beautiful scenery

And more...

Corn and hay -just in case you forgot we see hay every day!

Sod farm - close up

Wide angle view of the sod farm

"It's not polite to smack your lips, but you
can't help it with Fritos corn chips.
Munch, munch, munchy munchy Fritos,
corn chips!"
Mimi's favorite sag stop snack!

Draw bridge we rode over en route to
Niagara falls - huge boat had just gone

At the falls wearing our ABB shirts:
Jordan, Rosy, Richard, Jeff, Polly, Mimi, Joel and John

The Antiques at the falls!

The Antiques and pal Jeff

American and Bridal Veil Falls

Maid in the Mist tourist boat - note the rain coats.

Horseshoe Falls

View from the bridge crossing back into the USA!

Another state! And back in home territory.

Day 43 - REST Day - touristy things - the Maid in the Mist, Goat Island, Cave of the Winds, eat ice-cream, drink beer, of course Mimi will drink straight Vodka, eat good food that is not from a buffet, wander around! A wonderful time!
Niagara Falls Park and all the sights! - Where we are!

American, Bridal Veil and in the background Horseshoe Falls from the observation deck

The bridge across the Niagara River that we pedaled over from Canada to the US

The Antiques and their Antique Husbands

On the Maid in the Mist - before we went up to the falls

The Antiques, through the wet lens, after going up to the
falls - can you tell?

Polly and Dennis on Maid in the Mist
 - check out Polly's hair vs. Dennis!

Lovely shoes we were given to visit the
Cave of the Winds

And from the back - also note the fashionable tan line!
Modeled by Antique Mimi

Antique Polly under Bridal Veil Falls

Bridal Veil Falls - close up

Bridal Veil Falls - closer up

Bridal Veil Falls - closest up!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Brantford, Ontario, Canada - Day 41

Today was another landmark day, we crossed the 3000 mile mark. (That's   probably more miles than Mimi has ridden in her entire life let alone a summer.) Can you believe it!? We still can't really believe we are actually doing this! 

When we started off the skies were grey, roads were wet and it was almost raining. The cool moistness was pleasant change for us Colorado girls who get our fair share of dry, clear weather. Besides, we decided the grey clouds accentuate the green and golden colors of the landscape. Today's highlight was stopping at a roadside stand to buy blueberries, nectarines, and a raspberry pie to be shared with all for dessert tonight. Mimi is not sharing her blueberries with anyone but Polly. We rode a good part of the day with Tim, from Virginia Beach, who kindly let us suck his wheel. Jeff and Kathy led us into Brantford since they knew the way. It's always nice to have tour leaders around when you are arriving in a busy city. Brantford, by the way is hometown of the "Great One", Wayne Gretsky.

When we pulled into The Best Western (remember our fav), our rooms weren't ready, but Polly needed to Skype Cate because she leaves today for her teaching job in Shanghai. By the time we had unloaded our bags from The Box ( the huge Budget rental truck) our rooms were ready.

We always pray for a room on the first floor so we don't have to cram into the elevator with all the other upstairs people or hoist our bikes up the stairs. Besides if you're on the first floor you can rinse out your biking clothes and dry them outside in the sun. You just park your luggage rack in the parking space and arrange your clothes for maximum wind and sunshine. Of course sometimes our room is in the hinterlands of the first floor and about two miles from the lobby.

Once we get our bikes through the million pound door without being crushed, Polly parks by the air conditioner on the far side of the room and Mimi's get the wall near the bathroom as far from the air conditioner as possible. That's because most times the room temperature is sub arctic with gusting winds. Mimi chooses to be as far from that climate as possible.

Then it's text home, showers, upload Garmin, upload pictures,and blog as much as possible before mechanic, box, rap and dinner. Phew it's a whirlwind, But after 41 days we're starting to get it down.

After dinner our main objective is to get between those nice clean sheets as soon as possible. Do you realize we have had clean sheets every night except the rest days? Ahh such luxury. Tucking my tired body into crisp clean sheets might be what I'll miss most once I get home. Thankfully Polly can sleep through anything so when Mimi is still roaming around collecting stray clothing, laying out the Bag Balm and sunscreen, plugging in her phone or when she's in bed thumbing through the first 25 pages of Undaunted Courage to find where she fell asleep the night before, it doesn't disturb her.

One thing about all this riding is that you have to keep hydrated. You have to drink gallons and gallons. As a matter of fact, my stomach usually feels like a fish bowl. What goes in must come out, so during the night we have to make a couple of trips to the bathroom. Now this is a bit problematic when you are in a different hotel every night and the rooms tend to be very dark. Well, it might be really dark because I'm too tired to open my eyes, but believe me it's dark. At any rate, you tend to get disoriented and besides I'm directionally challenged under the best of circumstances. (I constantly turn the wrong way coming out of the hotel room.) One night I ended up shuffling into the window curtains instead of the bathroom. One important thing that I have learned is to check where the toilet paper is located before going to bed. There is no way I'm going to turn on that blinding light to go to the bathroom and if you don't know where the toilet paper is located it is hazardous in a big way. One night I almost fell through the shower curtain and into the bathtub as I was groping for the toilet paper. In some of the hotels the toilet paper can be dangerously far from the toilet seat. That's why I locate the toilet paper before bed. Locating TP before bed is a good tip for anyone of you considering doing this trip. You might think that the hydration routine is now over but it's not. You still have to find your way back to bed. The other night as I was about to collapse back into my bed I noticed a dark lump. Damn, that's Polly! I almost climbed in bed with Polly! Well, let's leave it at this: the hydration thing can be a challenge.

Day 41
Miles - 70
Total Miles - 3069
Elevation Gain - 1276 // Loss - 1388 = FLAT
Next stop - Niagara Falls (and our last rest day!)
Link to Polly's Garmin - Mimi's still on strike and has probably abandon the ride

Morning skies and fields

In case you were having withdrawal symptoms from not having a picture of corn yesterday. 

Green barns, cows, and gorgeous

Tobacco grows in Ontario too

More tobacco and a greenhouse - This is a big vegetable growing area with lots of greenhouses and a variety of crops. We saw asparagus, green beans, onions, potatoes, squash and even ginseng - a big crop around here.

Big smoker, dreaming of lighting up

Hay fields from the bike path outside of Brantford

And again - hay field

Old part of Brantford

This one's for you Robert

Friday, July 27, 2012

London, Ontario, Canada - Day 40

Landmark Day
New country! and landmark number - day 40!
This morning, as the sun was rising, we pedaled over the Blue River Bridge to Canada. They stopped traffic while we rode over, so we had it all to ourselves, a truly unique, memorable and moving experience. In just a few minutes we were through customs, took advantage of a photo op, and were on with our ride.

The lovely scenery continued as we rode past well loved and tended farms, most of which were growing corn or soybeans. Many of the farmhouses were yellow brick, and many had lovely flower gardens,  well trimmed hedges and newly mowed lawns. The pride taken in the homes in the area we rode through was obvious.

The only negative about the day is that we had to get up at 4:50. A little early for us. So most mornings, although our stuff is already packed the night before, our clothes laid out, water bottles on the sink ready to be filled, we stagger around looking for things because we are so  out of it. There is always some moment of panic when one of us can't find something -the lip balm, the plastic bag with the money and credit card, the gel blocks or stingers, a glove, sunglasses --It's always something. And then, there is always the care of the bum - making sure we have put on our Bag Balm - not sure what this is, well, it comes in a big green metal can and is used on cows udders - and that we have our re-supply of it ready for the road. 

Now while we make some fun of this, it is serious stuff. Last year there were people who had to stop riding for days due to saddle sores, and in some cases people have had to give up the ride. So, we wear different shorts every day so the creases don't land in the same spot every day. We wash carefully every night, and we apply our bag balm religiously. Some people use other cycling specific creams. We tried them, but found them to be not quite as effective as our favorite Bag Balm. That big green can of Bag Balm has become our friend.

Day 40
Miles - 83
Total Miles - 2999 (!)
Elevation Gain - 1634 
Elevation Loss - 1453
Next stop - Brantford, Ontario, Canada

Link to Polly's garmin info - we are having trouble with Mimi's Garmin, so Polly's is stepping in

Welcome to Canada! Hope those American's leave their
weapons at home!

6:20 am - lined up behind the van, which will lead us over the bridge, and ready to go!

Mimi ready and waiting to leave

6:30 at the bridge - leaving the USA!

Here we go!

Welcome to Ontario, Canada! New country!

First town over the bridge. Can you find the Canadian flags in this photo?

Pristine, mowed lawn with barn

Green and white barns and farms - a change from the basic red or white - and still beautiful!
We saw our first and probably last totally green barn today! It's the little things...

The loved and tended yellow brick farm house

Same house looking at the front door

Just had to take this pic! Not sure who this is, but we must be related?

Another beautiful farm with pretty weeds and soybeans in the foreground

Mimi riding down the road - gives a feeling of what we see and enjoy every day.

Species Roadsidia Canadiana