Day 8 – Bike Ride to Northampton, Massachusetts
You never know what you might find along the road. Today we found everything from giant chairs to wooden bears.
But one thing is for certain no matter where you are you will always find hills.
After lunch we found that our route was a bit off and we needed to reroute. One of the roads we were about to go on was not meant for bikes.
But before I get to that I just have to add that our lunch location was awesome. It was on a small beach in the middle of a state park. We got to go swimming before we stuffed our faces.
Anyways, our re route took us through the park and around the non bike friendly road. But we were told that it would be a bit hilly. Now we have all gotten fairly used to hills over the past week but nothing could prepare us for what we were about to climb. Hell the name of the road was called Mountain Hill Road. It was pretty much like climbing a 89 degree angle.
About halfway up the first slope I clipped out of my petals to take a breather. Which was a bad idea. It was a complete bitch to try to clip back in on a a steep slope and continue riding. I managed to get up to the first crest. I stopped to catch my breath ten continued riding. I turned a bend there was a even bigger steeper hill starring down. I kept climbing and climbing. I was completely exhausted and drenched in sweat from the 80+ degree heat. I could see I was almost at the top but at this point I was almost to the point of puking. But I told myself I would rather puke and fall over than walk. By this time my fellow riders had made it around the bend and could see I had almost conquered the mountain. They all began cheering me on which gave me the extra push to make it to the top. We all rejoiced at the top with sweaty high fives.
Day 9 – Bike Ride to Pittsfield, Massachusetts
Today was brutal. It was a short ride, only about 45 miles. But the hills, or should I say mountains were So intense to climb. I guess the ride the day before helped prepare us a little bit. We climbed and climbed for about an hour. Then finally it was all down hill. We had lunch at the bottom of the hill around 10:30 which was very early for lunch for us. Then, after lunch when we were all relaxed, sure enough there was a other hill to climb, it was just as big as the one from the morning. But this time on the down hill there was such a strong headwind I still had to pedal ping down.
For the first time ever I was part of the first group to arrive at the host. Completely exhausted I took a much needed shower and went out to explore the town with Ellie.
We found a cute coffee shop and enjoyed out company over a game of chess.
Later on, after dinner, we all went out to the bar and, I may have mentioned this before, whenever we all go out to a bar we pretty much take over the place. There was about 25 of us that filled up a small local bar. I told myself that I would go for ONE BEER, but one beer turned into two which turned into an Irish car bomb and the next thing I knew I drank a little more than I should of? Hence why I’m writing his blog post in the morning rather than last night. I guess I didn’t factor in how low my tolerance had dropped over the past couple months of not really drinking while I was training.
But on the up side I woke up feeling great and now I’m about to eat some breakfast then it’s off to the build site!
Day 10 – Pittsfield, Massachusetts – Build Day
Today was day one for the Habitat home we volunteered on today. So today basically consisted of prepping the lot for home to be built on. We cleared out tons of overgrown bushes and trash. Unfortunately whenever there is a vacant lot in a city, the community members ten to just use it as a dump for all their garbage. We found everything from pieces of a boat to tires and even a shopping cart.
After building, some of us went to a local bike shop that agreed to work on all of our bikes for free because of the work that we are doing. I ended up getting a new bike computer (speedometer) for mine because the one I was currently using decided to only record miles whenever it felt like it and was very inconsistent.
Once that was all said and done we had quite a bit of free time to relax. I went out to explore the town alone. It was nice to finally have some personal time because when you eat together, bike together, sleep in shared rooms and use shared bathrooms it can kind of begin to feel like you’re on social overload.
I finished the evening with grabbing some sushi with Matt. It was a perfect relaxing end to the evening.
Day 11 – Bike Ride to Poughkeepsie, New York
Today was a pretty exciting day. I got to ride “sweep” with Phil. Riding sweep basically entails being the last two people to finish. This ensures no one gets left behind along the way. So if someone gets a flat tire or is hurt then sweep will tool through to help them out. Being that today was an 80 mile day it was nice to take the time to roll through slowly.
Throughout our ride we crossed two state lines. We were in Connecticut for a brief period until we hit the great state of New York.
The ride through these states were beautiful. It was nice to take it all in and stop and enjoy the scenery. The riders from the south I feel enjoyed it more than me being that the scenery was comparable to Pennsylvania. But, none the less, the rolling hills of the Berkshire mountains are gorgeous.
We arrived out our host site to find we would be staying in a boarding school for the night. Which is awesome because that means we get to sleep in beds. It is such a neat experience to be back in the college setting. We kind of all resorted back to dorm life like it was when we were freshman. Everyone leaving their door open and bopping back and forth between rooms.
We finished our evening with a town hall meeting which was basically our groups way if keeping everything in check and bringing up any important issues to clear the air.
Day 12 – Bike Ride to Port Jervis, New York
Today I started out with a well balanced breakfast of left over Chinese food which, in turn, gave me heart burn for the entire day. Then around 9 am we stopped at a Dunkin’ Donuts for coffee because waking up at 5 am some of us tend to get a little drowsy. I, instead got a couple donuts and a breakfast sandwich because I guess I felt my diet wasn’t unhealthy enough.
We continued biking all day, climbing and climbing. I ride with Ellie today. Her and I wouldn’t consider each other the fastest people of the group so we tried to keep a quick pace so we wouldn’t get swept up by sweep. Our fear of getting swept up must of motivated us more than we noticed because before we knew it we were the leading group.
And after a day of climbing hills when we were about 5 miles from our host site we saw this sign which was the best feeling in the world.
It was nice to arrive at the host site a little early. It gave us a little more time to relax and to be the first ones to shower.
After dinner I have my bike a much needed cleaning. Getting all the build up grease an dirt our of the gears and chain. She’s looking brand new now!
Once all that was finished the majority of us went out to the bar for a beer.
I noticed something about or group tonight. We are all starting to become more of a community. Barriers are beginning to drop and people are beginning to be more and more open with each other. We are all so amazing.
Day 13 – Bike Ride to Mount Pocono, Prnnsylvania
We started off our morning by going to the Tri State monument. This is where New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania all connect. It is symbolized by a rock split into three sections. Standing on it I could place my body in three states at once which is pretty freaking awesome.
Over the past couple days that I learned that although seeing this sign it gives a sign of relief, it is very deceiving. Anytime you are going down a giant hill you know deep down that you’re gonna pay for it by climbing an even bigger one.
After about an hour or two of riding it was time to stop for a second breakfast. We’ve been eating so much food on this trip it’s ridiculas. For the past two days I’ve had three meals before noon.
We found a cute coffee shop on the edge of the Pennsylvania border to grab a breakfast sandwich.
And ten we crossed the PA border. It felt so weird to be entering the state by buck that I drive out of just two weeks go. Even when typing this I cannot believe it has only been two weeks. It feels like we’ve been on the road for over a month.
After lunch, our third meal of the day, we managed to score ourselves a free ride on bumper boats. It was just the run cool down we needed on such a hot day. We drenched ourselves in the fountain that set in the middle of the bumper boat pond, and it felt AMAZING.
Later on we stopped by a candy shop to load up on sweets. The shop was loaded with assortments of bulk candy. Walking up and down the isles I was overwhelmed with selection. I had the urge to just take handfuls of everything…but then I realized I would have to carry that extra weight in my camelbak.
Oh yeah, and then I found my dream car.
To get to the town of Mount Pocono we had some serious pedaling to do. 2 miles of 7% grade. It just kept going and going. I tried to watch the cars up ahead to see if try dipped down at any certain point but instead I just saw them turning off into the trees. And once I reached that turn I was only to find that there was more mountain to climb.
We finished the evening with the best host meal we have had so far. I normally would have a picture of such a delicious meal but I was too bay trying to shovel as much food into my mouth as I could before my brain figured out I was full.
And now I am going to sleep very full and very satisfied.
Day 14 – Bike Ride to Berwick, Pennsylvania
The terrain for today was fun. The hills were huge but they have been getting easier and easier to climb. I guess my mussels are getting bigger and used to climbing mountains everyday. The downhills are getting more and more fun as well. I am beginning to get more and more comfortable flying down hills. I have yet to break 40 mph but today I managed to crank it up to 37. And I’m sure my mom and Momma Kays are freakin out as they read this but not to worry, I don’t go fast unless I feel comfortable going fast and the road is smoothly paved with no traffic.
Farm after farm after farm, that is about all you will see in Pennsylvania. I have trouble realizing that, although I am in my home state, I am still hundreds of miles from home. All the terrain looks the same. I’m so used to seeing farm land I am expecting to come close to turning down my road. Although I must admit the hilly farms of berwick are much more beautiful than the ones I would come across in Erie County. However, there are still chickens everywhere.
Then we found a local brewery and got a sample tray of their brews. Nothin is better than a well deserved drink after a day of riding.
Tomorrow is our big day. Our 100 mile ride to State College. We have all been stressing out about it for the past week and it has been barreling down on us like finals week in college. We all feel fairly well prepared after all the mountains we have been conquering but there is still that unknown feeling of a century ride. I’m sure it will be intense but I know we all can do it!