Pedal Away!

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Starting out. 

Four days.
Two hundred fifty two miles.

Our trip has been crazy fun so far. The weather has been a perfect backdrop for our journey, it doesn’t get much better then cool days, gentle wind and dry weather.

And the scenery? All the trees and fields are bursting with life and color, every bend in the road uncovers stunning foliage and beautiful flowers.wp-1463915899971.jpegwp-1463915548983.jpeg

I feel like Noah and I are becoming a solid team, every day I feel so blessed that we can do this trip together, brother/sister adventures like this are a once in a lifetime experience.

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I removed five stitches from above Noah’s eye last night. Good trusting building exercise, I think. I didn’t stab his eye. Win.

We stopped at a bike store to buy some stuff and I found the prettiest bike I have ever met in my life. It was a Trek Madone 9.2 and I think I disturbed Noah by how excited I was. I dared to pick it up-I think feathers weigh more!wp-1463915435527.jpeg

The best part of our trip has been the people we have met. Along the Erie Canal Trail, we stop to chat with a dad and son who set off after the son’s graduation to cycle across New York.

We also visited with a couple from the Netherlands. They are completing their fourth major tour of the US. The guy was pulling a BOB so I immediately thought of Dan and his trailer. They passed us as we were sitting down to eat our second breakfast (or was it our first lunch? We are eating so much food that it gets confusing) and they took a picture of us. So somewhere, on a Dutch blog is a picture of us and our food.

And then there is Bob.
It was the third day and Noah and I were riding on the Erie Canal Trail through Rochester. The trail gets very confusing. Last year, when I rode here, I had to ask four different people for directions before I made it successfully to my destination. So I was pretty apprehensive about biking through Rochester-but then we met Bob.

We were riding along at a pretty slow pace when a guy caught up to us and asked where we were heading. When he found out we going to Holley for the night, he told us that he was going that way and he could take us through the city.

Suddenly, we found ourselves in the hands of a capable, friendly guide. Bob commutes this route several times a week, so he was a total pro, escorting us safely through each turn and intersection. We had been planning to spent the night at an RV park but he told us that we could  camp at the drawbridge in Holley. We are not the only touring cyclists Bob has rescued, he definitely needs an official “Guide of Rochester” title.

It was beyond amazing to be riding another cyclist’s commuting route alongside of them. Bob was a great, interesting person  to talk to and before Noah and I knew it we had made it past the city. Once Bob left us, Noah and I flew along the trail with wide grins spreading across our faces. Bob had saved us time and money. But most importantly, he had boosted our spirits and we reached our campsite that night feeling great.

When we got to Holley, I talked to the lady who was working at the drawbridge about spending the night. Jane was the sweetest lady we have met so far. We chatted about Colorado and in the morning, while we leaving, she called across the canal to wish us well.

Saturday night, we slept over at a friend’s house, which was a nice little break from camping. We hung out and skyped our brother out in Colorado, it is hard to believe we get to see him soon!

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Goodbye, Friends. Hello Adventure!

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After work today, my dad asked me how I was feeling. I told him I was feeling sentimental. The past few days have been nothing but a series of goodbyes and even though I know I will be back home before long, I feel so emotional about leaving.

I got emotional saying goodbye to the people at my church, to my Sunday School kids, my coworkers, customers at work…I thought I was holding myself together well until I became emotional while biking my commute for the last time.

Logically, it doesn’t make sense for me to feel emotions for a road but for me this is not just a road. It has been my classroom. This is the road that taught me to love cycling. On this road, I learned how to ride in dark, how to ride in the snow, how to stay warm in cold weather and how to use clipless pedals without falling over, just to name a few things. I have learned about myself, grown in my relationship with God and gained so much confidence while riding to and from work on this road.

But that isn’t why I became teary-eyed on my commute this morning. The reason I started bawling my little eyes out is because winter threw a going-away party for me on my final ride to work. That’s right, there was snow. Oh, it didn’t really stick but for about ten minutes, the snowflakes were falling so furiously that I felt like I was transported back to February. It was beautiful.

And then, after work was over, the wind was strong and the gusts were overpowering and I took it as an invitation to ride home slowly and take time to enjoy the familiar river and the farms, fields and hills that make my commute so unique and beautiful.

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But surging past these sentimental thoughts, is an irrepressible excitement . On Wednesday when I wake up, I will do something rather ordinary. I will hop on my bike and pedal down the road. But this time something will be different. I won’t be back home before the day is over. Instead, my brother and I will continue to follow that road (and many other roads).

And if there are no major disasters…
And we remember the difference between East and West…

…We will end up in Colorado with our brother.

Only two days left until “GO!” time, the next time I post we will be on our way. Thank you to all of you for your encouragement and support in this adventure, it means so much to me.

 

 

Three Special Rides

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Going on a bike ride makes a day good.
Going for two bikes rides makes a day great.
Going on three rides?
Makes a day practically perfect.

Yesterday I had one of those practically perfect days.

The day started out crisp and cool, just above freezing and I had to take advantage of it. After all, there are not many cool days left, summer is dangerously close and so are humid mornings.

First, I went to a friend’s house and we prayed about the trip together which was a huge encouragement to me. I feel so much support from friends and family.

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On my morning ride I met some cows.

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It took some time, but finally this cow became curious and trotted over.

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What is it?

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It tastes good!

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We quickly became friends for life.

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But Mr. Bull did not want us to be friends for life. Uttering my apologies, I took my bike and left.

 Then I rode up the road which my and brother and I will be taking to leave to Colorado. After 10 miles though, I turned around and headed back home.

It was surreal to think that in a week’s time Noah and I will ride up this road but there will be no turning back. We get to ride new roads, mile after mile, day after day.

I almost broke down in tears as I flew down the hill into the little valley I am proud to call home. I feel blessed beyond belief that I am in a place in my life where a trip like this is possible. It is even crazy that this is something I want to do! Just a few years ago I despised all forms of exercise but now I have discovered the joy of exploring new places on a bicycle and everything has changed. And the thing I am most thankful for about this tour is that I get to share it with my brother Noah, it is so amazing that we get to ride to Colorado together.

Speaking of Noah, yesterday was his 19th birthday so for the second ride he, my youngest brother Jono and I went to a pizza place for lunch. It was great to ride with not one, but two of my wonderful brothers. My brother Jono, as always, kept us entertained. He brought along a Bluetooth speaker and at times instructed us to sing along with the music.

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Then a few hours later, it was time to go for a group ride in Croghan. So I rode my commuting route, which always feels weird to ride during the daytime and met up with six other cyclists for a 16 mile ride. I really enjoy chatting on rides and finding out the story of how different folks began cycling. Sadly, this is my only time I was able to ride with the group, I am thinking that next Tuesday I will want to pass so that I can make sure I get a really good night’s sleep before my brother and I head down the road.

After the ride, I went home while the sun was setting and the moon and stars were making their return for the night. Once again the air became cold and I pulled into my parent’s driveway worn out but in the good “I had a lot of fun” way. And I got home just in time to eat peanut butter pie and sing “happy birthday” to my brother.

Days just don’t get better than this.

That Week Flew By!

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Oh my, is it really Monday already?

Here are a few things that happened during the past week…

Moving Back Home
With the help of my family I moved out of the apartment and back to my parent’s house. I am staying here until my brother and I leave to bike to Colorado on May 18th.

A New Commute
With the move, my commute increased by four miles each way, bringing the round-trip total up to 28 miles. The extra four miles are all downhill which is great since I only need to wake up a few minutes earlier to get to work on time. It has been exciting to try out a new commuting distance. Of course, I could have always extended my route if I really wanted to but for some reason I never got around to it.

Testing Out a New Tent
My brother and I set up our new tents (Big Agnes Fly Creek UL1’s) for the first time on Saturday. I was stunned with how fast and intuitive the setup is-if I don’t mess something up royally on the first try, you know it’s gotta be easy! I tried it out overnight, testing out my new sleeping pad and bag in the process. So far, so good!

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Unearthing Historic Bike Computers
I poked around in my dad’s old bike stuff and discovered several interesting gadgets, among them a Cateye computer (still in the box), which caught my eye since I use a Cateye on my bike. This one was a bit different though-solar power, baby!

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Hyperactive Gear Purchasing
I have been a touring equipment buying maniac and the majority of the stuff that Noah and I need for our trip is either here or on the way. My spending spree has been so epic that the bank called to make sure that my account hadn’t been hacked into.

Riding a Dream Bike
On Saturday, I visited a brand new bike shop that opened in the town where I work. When I walked in I mentioned how cool it was that they had a fat bike outside. I was instantly offered a test ride. Do you know how long I have been waiting to try out a fat bike? It feels like decades! So I rode that sucker around the block with a stupid grin on my face. It is not a question of if I will own a fat bike, but a question of when.

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Getting Pre-Trip Jitters
I have been thinking about this tour since last October and talking about it to friends and family since December, but now that I have moved out of my apartment and I am testing out all the new gear, everything finally seems real and a swarm of butterflies have made my stomach their new home. Today at work the new schedule was hung up and my name isn’t there anymore, what a bizarre feeling. My emotions are all over the place. I am so excited! But also so nervous!

I have a sneaking suspicion that I won’t be able to calm down until my brother and I actually head toward Colorado…maybe we should leave tomorrow.

Guess what came in the mail today?

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One of my brothers has been living out in Colorado for the past few years and although my sister and parents have gone out to see him, I haven’t had the chance to visit him yet. But this summer my brother Noah and I have decided that it is high time to get a move on it and go to the great state of Colorado to visit our brother. Since it is scientific fact that cycling is the best method of transportation, we are making preparations to bike out west. (You can’t argue against science after all!)

Today our maps came in the mail from the Adventure Cycling Association and I am beside myself with excitement. We are going to ride down to the Erie Canal trail and take it to Buffalo, then hop on the Underground Railroad route and follow it until we reach the Trans America. Then we will stay on the Trans America trail and eventually arrive in Colorado (if we manage to follow the maps properly). Here is a rough sketch of our planned route, starting from where we reach the Erie Canal.

We are expecting to leave at the tail end of May, so there is a lot of planning to do and much gear to buy. Is this actually happing? I think this is actually happing!