Welcome

Please join us in support to raise funds and awareness of the Chikumbuso Women and Orphans Project and World Bicycle Relief as we bike from coast to coast June-August 2010.

Our goals:

To provide a well for a community soccer field in the compound of Ng’ombe in Zambia currently used by the Chikumbuso Grassroot Soccer Team. Chikumbuso provides free education and meals to 300 orphans as well as empowering widows and single moms through microenterprise projects.

Estimated cost- $10,000

Raise funds to donate 100 bicycles for an entire school through WBR- Bicycle Educational Empowerment Program. WBR has pledged to supply 50,000 bicycles to schools in Zambia. Recognizing the particular vulnerability of female children and the importance of educating girls, 70% of student recipients will be girls.

Cost- $13,500

To create awareness of Hasbro’s http://www.projectzambi.com/ inspired by a visit to the Chikumbuso Project.

To donate:

Click on the Donate Now link to make donations directly to World Bicycle Relief through our sponor page.

Or mail checks, payable to Friends of Chikumbuso or World Bicycle Relief, to Sabrina Buehler 350B Cossaduck Hill Rd, North Stonington, CT 06359. For more information email Sabrina at sabrinabuehler@aol.com

100% of Donations go Directly to the projects

Thursday, August 12, 2010

A Little Press

So for everyone who didn't get to see our interview on Fox 61, here is the link. http://www.ctnow.com/videobeta/98e32c11-61da-4127-a443-3c5506475afb/News/Bicycle-Charity-8-6 And the article run in the New London Day can be found here. http://www.theday.com/article/20100809/NWS01/308099909 Thank you everyone who has been following us on our journey and supporting us along the way.

Ben

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

“In God We Trust”


Old Lyme to Watch Hill, RI

It’s my and Sabrina’s outlook on life and the thought process we adhered to for this trip and will for the rest of our lives. Every time Sabrina saw a penny on the ground, she’d stop and pick it up. I could have quoted, ”A penny saved is a penny earned” or said that she was a Penny Pincher, but no, it’s because on the penny it says, “In God We Trust.” If the penny is heads up, Sabrina says it’s good luck for her, and if it’s not heads up she would give it to me and say it would be good luck for me. Because we trust in God to care for us, while we concentrate on helping others. Chikumbuso and the Rotary motto sum it up – “Remember to do for others” and “Service Above Self.” With that said, we must thank all of you who have followed us, supported us and prayed for us during this unbelievable adventure. You are God’s work that made it possible for us to complete this journey safely. Thank-you, Thank-you, Thank-you!!
The Final Day – With Carly at our side we depart from the Kramm household in a timely fashion, 9:00 as we were now on Bonnie Time. Or as Bonnie noted, Sabrina Time. Confused ? Let me explain. Bonnie had informed people that we would be at various points at certain times, so she needed to keep us going, “Bonnie Time.” She also knows Sabrina well enough to take into consideration that there are so many things infinitely more important to “living every moment of every day,” that might hold us up, “Sabrina Time.” And so, with all these variables to consider, it’s amazing that we actually hit the schedule times right on the track. Great job Bonnie! So for six riders, Bonnie, Callie-Jean, Ben, Carly, Sabrina and me, it’s Rt. 1 all the way into New London and over the Gold Star Bridge, into Mystic and Mystic Cycle Centre to pick up more riders. Many rotary club members were there to greet us with a welcome table of water and goodies as well as a map of the USA of all our stops thanks to Elaine Smith and her grandchildren. Rick from Mystic Cycle Centre and staff came out to greet us. In total, there were 18 riders in the peloton riding from Pawcatuck, through Westerly and out to Watch Hill for the final wheel dip at East Beach. They included Bruce, Linda and Kristen Wilkinson, Colby Graves, Diane Kodama, Maureen Rust, Russ Tuthill, Dan Gray, Alex and Carter Dole, Megan Murray, and Beth Macinko. We made a quick stop in Pawcatuck at Sabrina’s parents house where Bill invited everyone back for a big party after the dip. Thanks so much Bill and Charlotte Berardi for all your support before, during and after the ride. And to Bill, Master Chef, the food was “Simply Scrumptious.” It was so overwhelming to see so many friends and family celebrate a dream that could not have been possible without the inspiration of the Chikumbuso Women and Orphan Project and World Bicycle Relief as well as the support of all of you throughout the trip. We would also like to thank all the media organization who lent their support, The Day and their weekly publications , The Westerly Sun and their weekly publications, Jimmy Lehn and WCTY and FOX 61.
So if you are curious as to how much change was picked up along the road, it was $2.32. And yes, that will be donated to the cause. Please join us because as we all know, every penny helps. Hope to see you all in person at the Ben Taylor Benefit Concert on Aug. 29th at the Jonathan Edwards Winery.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Guess who’s coming for dinner


Even though It feels like we’re home, we still have these two more days but at least they are short. We started the earliest ever, 6:45am, but not to ride. We had our TV debut on Fox 61 in Hartford and had to be at the studio at 8. Linda Wilkinson was already there and while chatting with the camera man, learned that his daughter was in Lusaka, Zambia with a church group. When things like this happen, you realize that “It is such a small world.” It was great to visit with her while we waited for our moment with Logan. Ben and Paul were totally thrown off-guard, not expecting to be interviewed for the live broadcast. After viewing the segment tonight, it made us all laugh, memories….
We drove back to West Haven to ride along Rte 1 to Old Lyme. Paul and I had a pleasant ride through familiar roads into New Haven and then Branford where we met Ben and Callie-Jean at Zanes Bicycles for replacement tubes. Tom from Zanes recognized us and guessed that we were making our way back home, so he was kind enough to offered us the tubes, no charge. The next stop was Westbrook where our friends Lee and Joan were waiting to greet us. This day just kept getting better. The shoreline was beautiful but for the first time we got caught in a brief rainstorm. It didn’t stop us from finding our way across the Old Saybrook bridge to Old Lyme where Bonnie and Mark had the biggest surprise for us. We pulled into the driveway and out came Bonnie, Mark, Ben, Callie-Jean and... have you guessed it already from the picture? Carly!!!! She was going to surprise us on Saturday at the beach but after spending some time with Bonnie on MV, she decided to come today with her bike to join us for the ride. IT IS GREAT TO BE HOME! We are so looking forward to our final ride tomorrow with friends and family.
We received such great press this week. Thanks to Jimmy Lane and WCTY radio for the on-line auction for WBR, Bonnie Kramm for contacting Suzanne Thompson who wrote a great article for The Lyme Times (also in the Waterford Times and Stonington Times), Dina from FOX 61 and Julianne for the article that will appear in Sunday’s New London Day.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Yeah-Connecticut!!! We’re Home!!!


What kind of a day is this going to be? To start off, we opened the camper for the night, when we didn’t need to and it rained. The first thing in the morning when I opened the truck, I had a flat tire on my bike. So before going out, we had to close up the wet camper and fix a flat tire. Off to the Bear Mountain Bridge. Sabrina and I are off on a real adventure today, the route is all back roads through CT and into West Haven. There are no major roads to go directly there. Ben set off to write out the step by step, turn by turn directions. It was quite a ride through the Bear Mountain region with many great views of the Hudson from the east bank. Once out of N.Y. we were into the hills of CT. Who knew? Those old roads made in colonial times didn’t follow the easiest route, they went over hill and dale, from point A to point B. So chock one up for The Nutmeg State, they hold the record of the steepest hill we were tested by on the trip. One killer hill in Redding, took my all in granny gear standing up pedaling. With Sabrina and I dying from the hills, heat and humidity, we roll into Monroe and fill up the water bottles before trying to finish. It’s getting late and we still have a way to go when Sabrina gets a flat tire. Of all things, I don’t have a spare tube in my panniers. Remember, Ben had a flat the day before and I put my last tube in his wheel and didn’t replace it in my panniers. So, I set out to repair Sabrina’s tube as fast as possible and proceed to rip off the stem as I’m pumping it up! Damn! This day is NOT going as planned. We finally make it to CT and now we run into this kind of stuff. Called Ben to retrieve Sabrina and I set off to finish the ride by myself. Not how I wanted to end this trip. I later learn that 2 good Samaritans, Ian and Chelsea, stopped by Sabrina on the side of the road right after I left her and in no time had fixed her wheel and got her ready to roll. It seems that Ian had worked in a bike shop and had a tube and tools right in his car! He also had ridden cross country after college and was more than happy to help a fellow trekker. Sabrina decided to take the support vehicle ride back to Wayne’s and see the family. Once I rolled into Wayne’s, I was spent as much from the mental drain as the physical. I perked right up though, when I saw Callie-Jean and her Mom were there and was greeted by Connie and Wayne. Wayne cooked delicious Dutch oven fried chicken and roasted corn on the cob. Good food and good friends, what better way to end a trying day on the road? It’s good to be home to the familiar surroundings of CT. Two more days and we hit the Atlantic!
Keep Them Wheels a Rollin’
Paul

Thursday, August 5, 2010

New York and New Press

Were almost to CT and we’ve got to stay on our toes now. We don’t want to have accident on the home stretch and if anywhere, on the roads back east is where the traffic congestion is the worst. After a restful night at Angela and Rich’s we push off and head back up to Milford. The heat is on and the humidity is so high that there’s a haze in the air. We stay on Rt. 6 through Port Jervis and even though we don’t get a “Welcome to New York” picture, Port Jervis welcomed us. Riding through the city is not so welcoming though. A couple of near misses with autos reminded Ben and I that we’re “Back East” and these are N.Y. drivers. I kept my cool and just grumbled under my breath. “Stay on your toes,” I cautioned Ben after his near miss. A couple long hills along this ride would have provided spectacular view had it not been for the haze in the air. We did get glimpses of the views, unfortunately we were so wiped out from the heat and the climbs that we didn’t really feel much like standing and taking in the sights, we just wanted to reach the bridge. Because we were staying the night with Uncle Lou in Piermont, we wanted to finish the 45 mile ride at the Bear Mountain Bridge instead of riding more north to West Point. As Ben and I rolled in, there was Sabrina, melting in the truck, it was HOT! Down 9W into Blauvelt, N.Y. to drop the trailer off at Ernie & Irene’s, long time friends of the family who have room for us to park the trailer at their home. After a short visit it was off to Uncle Lou’s condo to say hi, clean up and head out to a delicious dinner at one of Lou favorite restaurants the ”Stateline.” Tomorrow it’s back in CT and next stop is at Wayne and Connies in West Haven!!!
NEWS FLASH…… FOX 61 in Hartford will be interviewing us tomorrow morning(Friday) live at 8. We hope you can tune in. Linda Wilkinson will be joining us to help us with the cause! Also The Day will be writing an article for Sunday’s paper, bathing suit warning…there will be a photographer at the beach!
Keep Them Wheels a Rollin’
Paul

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

No hill will stop me NOW!


Since Francis Slocum State Park was a few miles off our intended route, and it had a wicked long downhill into it, we opted to pack up camp and have Ben drop us off on the route where the trip was meant to continue. No sense in killing ourselves by starting the day’s ride with a 10% grade for 1 1/2 miles, right? We are starting to feel the miles, especially here in Penns-HILL-vania. This was supposed to be a 70+ mile day so of course we got out early, 10:30. We were anxiously looking forward to spending the night at Sabrina’s cousins’, Angela and Rich Pfeiffer, in Bangor. Only, as often happens on this trip, we under estimated the distance between Milford and Bangor. So after Ben met us at the halfway point he was off, down to Bangor, only to drive 40 miles back up Rt.209 to pick us up at the end of the day. He did get to drop off the trailer and see Angela for a while before coming to get us. By the time we rendezvoused with him, we had ridden 6 mile off course on Rt.209 south, downhill. We’ll definitely account for that when starting tomorrow. Well here we are in the Poconos and of all the mechanical problems a biker might encounter, I hit the worst one in hill country. You bikers out there might be able to guess, my cable to my rear derailleur broke after about 5 miles and no cell phone service! For those of you who don’t do bicycles, that means I’m on the smallest sprocket on the rear cartridge and can only shift on the front. So much for a 24 speed bike, now I’m down to 3. But the Teton Pass was the only hill I would succumb to and so I pushed myself through every climb in 8th.
Luckily, I finally make contact with Ben as he was a couple miles from passing us and he stopped to make repairs. We had new cables in the truck and after a quick repair I was back at full strength with 24 gears. Much of the day’s ride was on a Bicycle PA Trail, which is a specific bike route, but not necessarily a bike friendly road. There were many areas that had a designated bike lane which were much appreciated and then there those areas with no shoulder and heavy truck traffic. After finally meeting up with Ben we travelled to Angela and Rich’s to be greeted by family that we hadn’t seen in probably 10 years. It was a delightful reunion and of course we got to catch up on most highlights of the trip, although it meant we were up until 12:30. They treated us to a great steak dinner and a special ice cream cake with my, signature sign off, “Keep Them Wheels a Rollin”. Angela’s boss let her leave work early to be prepared for our arrival and also made a nice donation to Chikumbuso. It was a worthwhile detour. They had to get up early and go to work, but we had a short days ride into N.Y. the next day and could sleep in a little and leave on our delayed time schedule. Looking forward to friends and relatives in NY.
Keep Them Wheels a Rollin'
Paul

Ben’s BIG Belly Ache

Francis Slocum State Park in Wyoming, PA, just a little northwest of Wilkes-Barre is another one of those beautiful parks that we so regret not having the time to stay longer to explore. With very private, clean campsites in a nice wooded area, nice shower facilities, a huge lake for swimming, fishing and boating and a swimming pool that looked so beautiful from a distance that we didn’t want to go up close for the disappointment we would experience from not having time to enjoy it. That has probably been the biggest disappointment from this trip, being on a schedule that only allowed us one night in each stop. I’m seriously thinking about redoing the route with a camper and about 3 months time to really get to enjoy this beautiful country that we just rode across.
Good bye to the home of the Little League World Series and on to our next memory. Sabrina and I started out the day’s ride on the Rails to Trails pathway again, this time in the right direction. While riding along we discussed what simply marvelous idea this is to convert old rail beds into commuter/recreational activity corridors. We saw bike riders, power walkers, conditioning walkers, Moms with baby carriages and people just sitting outdoors enjoying the natural beauty of the environment. It should be a “No Brainer” for businesses, employers, towns, doctors, insurance companies and anyone else with a stake in a healthy community to see the benefits of these projects and to add their support to make it happen. Well, my bucket list keeps getting more things added to it, so I shouldn’t be idol in retirement. I’m writing down these things because, like this trip, if I tell enough people that I’m going to do something it really locks me in and motivates me to follow it through completion. Oh, I was supposed to be writing about the ride. It was a nice day with lots of long hills. The Poconos are definitely challenging hills, but not the Allegany’s. The biggest news for the day was Ben’s BIG stomach ache. It seems that as he was in no-man’s land at the half way point and feeling hungry, he typed “Food” into the GPS. It came up with the name of a hotel out on some defunct road. He passed a Bed & Breakfast with a convenience store and deli, so he stopped for a sandwich. Well, in hindsight, he doesn’t thing they sell too many sandwiches, so his “may” not have had the freshest ingredients. He paid for that sandwich in more ways than with money. Once again right after the bikers hit camp at 7:00 it was off the McDonalds and free WiFi. Sabrina had tons of e-mail with lots of good news about the PR for our ride’s ending NEXT SATURDAY! Hope to see you all there and at Bill & Charlotte Berardi’s house in Pawcatuck afterwards.
Keep Them Wheels a Rollin’
Paul

Monday, August 2, 2010

Surprise, Surprise – The Snakes Alive


The first surprise is not what you’re expecting and neither was I. For this day’s ride it was going to Ben and I, so I expected it to be short and fast, however there were so many things that came up that, well let’s just say there were a lot of stories. Start off with checking the bikes out before taking off. Pump up the tires, check brakes, inspect tire tread; OH NO, what this? The tread on my rear tire is split down the middle and peeling off for about 6” and after only 3000 mile on this tire! This is not a good way to start the day. So, since we’re all ready to roll with the camper and everything, I just limp over to the truck stop where there’s free WiFi and Ben and Sabrina do their thing on the laptop and I do my thing to the tire in the parking lot. All better now, let’s hit the road. We are tooling along about 5 miles into the day and we’re at the top of a big hill when Ben pulls over to the side looking back at me. Then I see it, a 3’ long rattle snake on the edge of the road. It was just laying there sunning itself on the hot tar of the roadside. It was lying there perfectly still, but with no signs of damage from being run over, so we were pretty confident that it was alive and just absorbing the heat from the road after spending a chilly night in the hills of PA. I wanted to throw a big rock on it but Ben stopped me because he wanted to get the picture. So after thinking it over, karma told me that we should just leave it alone and not bother it. Well after being out West and never seeing a rattle snake, I guess seeing this one counts for addition to the list of critters we encountered on the trip. So it is on through some pretty nice terrain and once again, Sabrina missed a day of great riding after being delegated to the support driver. As we’re riding along I get a phone call from Sabrina, she’s all excited about finally see a field of Sunflowers, “You must get a picture.” As I’m riding and talking on the phone, I miss an accident that almost happens on the other side of the road. Just as a car stops to let us ride by before turning across our path, the car behind it has to skid 20 ft. to a stop to avoid rear-ending the courteous driver. We travel through Bald Eagle State Park and into Jersey Shores, PA. Here the road we’ve been traveling on ends and we are directed to SR220 which is a “Motor Vehicles Only” road. Sabrina reached this point before us and was kind enough to venture over to a house where there was signs of life and ask for advice on travelling to Williamsport by bike. When Ben and I arrived she told us that she was advised that we should take the “Rails to Trails” pathway to Williamsport since SR220 was “MVO.” Remember my statement of “Signs of Life”? Sabrina then quantified her advice by saying, “If you want to believe a 20 something guy who has more kids than teeth and is standing roadside burning his garbage in a 55 gallon barrel.” What shall we do? She says to me, “You go ask him while Ben and I look at the maps and try to find an alternate route.” So I go over to this guy who is now rebuilding one of those mini motorcycles, and ask about the R to T pathway. He assures me that he has ridden it past Williamsport, it is paved all the way and is well marked so we can exit at Williamsport. OK, thanks for the info. We ride off down the road looking for the start of this R to T. We pass 2 kids on bikes and ask if they know where it is. They say it’s right over the crest of the hill adding “You can’t miss it.” So we ride on and come upon it where it crosses the road. Cool. We figure we should go to the right because with our male instincts and sense of direction, and no signage to help us, that’s got to be the right way. About ½ mile down the trail we come across an old stop station across from the main street in Jersey Shores and there’s the parking lot at the end of the R to T. Oops, guess we went the wrong way, what the heck, only ½ mile right? We head back only to pass the boys who comment, “We didn’t realize you were that unfamiliar with the R to T.” Later Ben tells me that in his mind something didn’t seem right. About 12 miles down this beautiful, scenic old rail line, we haven’t really seen any signs telling us the names of the different roads we’ve crossed or where they go. By my calculations we should have about 5 miles to get to Williamsport when Ben wants to take a break and stops by an entry point with a gas station nearby. Again, the only signs were to the restrooms and several nature point bulletin boards. I’ll go ask at the gas station how far it is to Williamsport. Oops, “You can’t get to Williamsport on this R to T” I’m told. You have to go back to Jersey Shores and go east to get to Williamsport. Ben says, “I knew it!” “Call Mom, I’m done riding!” he says. Oops, no cell phone signals. Well he walks around fuming and finally finds one bar, call Sabrina and walks her through programming the GPS to get her from Williamsport to Waterville where we were. Forty-five minutes and 22 miles later and Sabrina show up to rescue the “Lost Boys.” Well I figure we got our mileage in just as if we HAD ridden to Williamsport, we had a nice ride on the R to T pathway, I dream about working in my retirement on a project to make the old Norwich to Westerly trolley line into our own R to T bike route and we were “Making Memories.” It was a great day, I only hope I can convince Ben of that. Once we found a campsite, which was not as easy as it should have been, the GPS led us into a very nice neighborhood which was once obviously a campground, we cleaned up and went out for pizza. On our way from the campsite to the Pizza Hut we passed the International Little League World Series Complex and checked out the stadium and facilities. The nice waitress at Pizza Hut gave us the scoop on the Little League World Series’ effect on the city’s economy as well as straightening us out on the route for tomorrows ride starting with the local R to T pathway. The first thing we checked out was how many teeth she had compared to the number of kids!
Keep Them Wheels a Rollin’
Paul

Sunday, August 1, 2010

And the Beat Goes On/ Homecoming Party Update

An average day, as far as Penns-HILL-vania goes. God answered my prayer and eased up on the hills a little. Sabrina’s best quote for the day was, “There are lots of beautiful vistas to see, it’s too bad you have to ride to the top of a hill to see them.” Ain’t that the truth? There were some pretty high points along this ride which provided scenic views out over 40-50 miles of the surrounding countryside. Even though it wasn’t quite as bad as the day before, the repetition of day after day of roller coaster hills is starting to wear us down. Kudos to the Pennsylvania bike riders, we’ve been on the Bicycle PA Trail for 3 days now and if this is what you guys ride for pleasure, you’re a hardy bunch. This ride reminded us of the start of the trip in OR, some of the hills were long and gradual. But our legs knew we weren’t just starting the journey. Good thing this ride was only 55 miles. We got out of camp as usual, trailer all packed up and going back to the end point from the day before in DuBois, saying good bye to the beautiful Parker Dam State Park in Penfield, PA. We made our usual stop at Mickey D’s and did the e-mail and blog entry for the day. Since it was already 11:30 and I had eaten breakfast about 7:00, Ben and I had the $1.00 menu chicken sandwich to hold us over. We made it into Snow Shoe relatively early only to find out that our site had no electricity. I guess we’re in the minority here as overnight campers, because there are probably 100 trailers of various vintages parked here. Looks like people live here all summer. Oh well, let’s get dinner done and get to bed early. The only thing that held us up a little was going shopping after dinner while Ben stayed in camp to play games on the laptop. At the grocery store, once again we found ice cream on sale. So, you know what that means. We did take it easy this time, we only went for the quart of Eddy’s Peanut- butter Kandy Kake, even though the ½ gallon was on sale too. We are BAD when it comes to deserts, we even bought a ½ dozen marked down donuts. What the heck, we didn’t get the ½ gallon and we need our calories!
WE’LL ARRIVE IN WESTERLY SATURDAY AUG 7TH. COME JOIN US FOR AN OPEN HOUSE FROM 2-6 AT BILL AND CHARLOTTE BERARDI’S 141 WEST BROAD ST IN PAWCATUCK. FOOD AND BEVERAGES WILL BE PROVIDED, JUST BRING YOUR CHEERS. PLEASE NO BIRTHDAY PRESENTS BUT DONATIONS ARE ALWAYS WELCOME.
Keep Them Wheels a Rollin’
Paul

Saturday, July 31, 2010

The Roller Coaster Roads of “Penns-HILL-vania”

“Relentless” is the word that first comes to mind when thinking back on the hills of this day’s ride. By far this was the toughest day’s ride that we have experienced on this trip. Now I know why “Bicycle America” takes their tour up into Canada and back down into the states via Niagara Fall, N.Y., it’s to avoid the Alleghany Mountain region of Penns-HILL-vania. Today we did 75 miles of roller coaster type inclines, up and down, up and down, up and down, up and down and up and down. Usually on the downhill glide we’d reach 30+mph, but immediately after reaching the bottom, the uphill would start. Before you were 100 yds. into the uphill, you were down on the smallest sprocket on your crank and standing up to pedal to the top of the rise. Then you were over the crest and back down the other side, over and over. I reached 36.8 mph as my highest speed, yet we only averaged 11 mph for the day. It was a killer day on our legs and we were beat when we finally called “Uncle” and phoned Ben to pick us up at 7:30. We did make it to Dubois, but the campground was 20 mile past DuBois and off our route. We stayed the night in Parker Dam Sate Park in Penfield, PA. By the time he picked us up and we pulled into camp it was 9:00. Luckily Ben had pulled into a specialty meat smokehouse and bought some awesome smoked, cheese hotdogs. So, hot dogs and beans with chips, and we were satisfied. It was a busy place with lots of family campers and Ben noticed that here were the most pop-up campers that we had seen. People were up late enjoying the campsite and kids were up EARLY, 6:30 a.m. running around and yelling. All in all, it’s the sound of people enjoying their summer vacation, so it’s great. Dinner was done and the kiddies (Ben & Sabrina) were in bed by 10:00. Please GOD, be easy on us with the hills tomorrow, please! We still have 4 days left In PA and if it’s all like this, I might not male it!
Keep Them Wheels a Rollin’
Paul

Friday, July 30, 2010

We Kicked Some Amish Hill Butt!!


Karen wanted us to experience the Bob Evans breakfast so off to another big meal to start the day. It was difficult to leave such an eager and friendly host but we had to get on the road. The rains from the night before left us with a cool and sunny morning, probably the best biking weather to date. Within miles we passed Kent State University. Neil Young’s song about that terrible day in history has been stuck in my head since we entered Ohio, one of my favorites. It is also a favorite of Ben Taylor’s (shameless plug for the Aug 29th concert). The one time I heard it live was at the first Ben Taylor concert I attended on MV at the former Hot Tin Roof. What a night with Bonnie and Drew from Michigan! That was the night that Carly Simon came out singing the chorus to “Ohio” and she uttered the words as she returned to the stage, “but where is Sabrina?” referring to autographing my lyrics to “Anticipation.” We can only hope for a repeat at the Jonathan Edwards Winery……. Back to biking
Michael assured us the hills were not as bad for the rest of Ohio but as we entered Pennsylvania, they appeared, along with another Amish town. We passed many buggies, probably on their way back from work, mostly single men and women driving with their children, always returning a friendly wave. I took a break to eat a granola bar (thanks Diane, we are down to 4) for strength when a buggy passed us headed for a big hill. I wondered, who is stronger, the horse or the bike. Half way up the hill I passed the buggy! Ben said he passed an Amish woman mowing her lawn with a horse drawn mower as well as van loads of Amish workers.
Ben found a great campsite, Cozy Rest, in Harrisville, but it was another 2 miles of hills off the beaten path.

Who said Ohio roads were ALL flat and straight??


We are in civilization now, you can tell by the price of campsites. Of course you always get what you pay for. The place we stayed at advertised internet access. That means if you go to the front of the campground, next to the Super 8 motel, you can pick up their Wi-Fi. Now you can’t get it at your campsite or inside the office where you have an electric outlet, but you could do all your computer business with a long extension cord if your battery is low, like ours. Now onto the days ride. Sabrina and I started out in hot and humid weather but it didn’t stop us. About a mile out of camp a flat on my rear tire stopped up. Glass, there was lots of debris on the roadside. While changing the tube, a nice police officer stopped to offer assistance. He was actually the Chief of Police in Milan (My –lan) and he explained that Milan is in Italy! He also explained that Milan is the birthplace of Thomas Edison and many other interesting facts about the city and his life. He asked where we were from and when we said CT, he immediately asked where in CT. You see, he collects police badges and he happened to have one from the City of Groton and it had a submarine on it. He had over 2000 badges and he seems to have studied them all! He told us about one town where there was the Mayor assumed the Chief of Police position when elected, without any formal police training, and when asked about getting a badge for his collection, the mayor said they only had two badges. The Mayor said, “What the heck, I was going to fire that gal anyway” and promptly went over to her uniform hanging in the closet and cut the badge off her sleeve and gave it up the collection. He was a nice guy and actually offered to take my wheel home to his garage and repair it and he had a compressor, and he did actually go home and got us two cold bottles of Propel water and return to our route to give them to us. Now where but in MY-LAN could you get service like that? People in Ohio are so friendly. Back on the road again and I’m commenting to Sabrina about the nice flat, straight roads in Ohio when things began to change. I should have just shut my mouth and kept my thoughts to myself. The last 25 miles of a 77 mile day tested our legs.
OMG it was hilly. For you North Stonington folks, I mean Cossaduck Hill caliber grades. And not just one, they kept coming. Route 303 was kind of like Wyassup road. This day made the Tetons seem like a pleasant memory. We had a new land speed record for bikes on one downhill, 42.6 mph, the fastest either of us had ever been on a bike. Well, right after the most torturous climb of the day, a steep downhill into a sharp corner with no shoulder and then up, up, up, we met a nice lady and her two daughters. What started the conversation was that she had just set up a pen on the grass for two wirehair fox terrier puppies. The girls had gone into the store for ice cream and I went to look at the puppies thinking they might be Parson Jack Russell’s like Callie-Jean’s Zoe. Well, they weren’t, but we found out the lady was taking them to Cleveland airport to fly them off to their new owners in Minnesota. Now it was time for the final 8 miles to Stow. Our hosts for the night, Karen and Michael are Callie-Jean Tuthill’s aunt and uncle. We pulled into their driveway just as the first raindrop fell, starting a huge thunder and lightning storm. We had a great time with them, Sabrina reminisced about Ledyard High School with Karen and then they took us out to eat at a great Mexican chain restaurant, Chipotle. After dinner we went back to their house and Sabrina and I were introduced to the Wii game, of course Ben had already played. We Wii bowled and played tennis, very fun. We met one of their two daughters, Abby who will be attending Salve Regina in Newport this fall and heard about their other daughter who lives and goes to school in Boston, who will be married in Newport next year. Karen and Michael are originally from the CT/RI area and the girls always wanted to come back east for school but Karen and Michael have adjusted well to Ohio living. A great time was had by all and we hope to have many fun acquaintances with this family in the future. After all, these girls are Callie-Jean’s cousins.
Keep Them Wheels a Rollin’
Paul

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

When You Can’t Sleep - Count Your Blessing


Stony Ridge KOA is one of those blessing, you know the old saying, “Any port in a storm.” Well, this is the only place to stay around here and it’s 10 miles closer to the next stop. As we rode from one port to the next, we all happened to notice of the sign outside a church that said, “When You Can’t Sleep – Count Your Blessings.” Ain’t that the truth? Well today I’m counting my blessings. It’s hard to believe but we have less than two weeks left on this adventure and we have so much to be thankful for and we are still all healthy. Linda would say, “It’s a Jesus thing.” Just read the blogs and you’ll understand.
The ride today was on the ultimate typical Ohio road, straight and flat. It was Ben and I today, and after about 20 miles, I said that we just had to get a picture of this road or better yet, two pictures. Ben took one facing east and one west. For as far as the eye could see, there was nothing, nothing but straight, flat road with several cars going in each direction. You never get a break. You pedal anywhere from 16-20 mph as long as you can, and then some more, and more, and more. Ben and I would take turns leading and breaking the air, continuously switching. The only thing was his turns in the lead got longer as the day went on. And as the day went on and he would lead, I inevitably had a harder time keeping up. Finally, I gave up trying and just went at a pace I could maintain. Lucky it was only 54 miles. At one point right near the end, I actually lost sight of him going up a slight incline and couldn’t tell if he went straight or right, luckily I chose straight and saw him shortly thereafter. Only by my “blessing” did he stop and I saw him. It was there that we called Sabrina and found out that we were almost done. This ride did bring back many memories of the days when Sabrina’s parents lived in Port Clinton, OH. Names like Port Clinton, the Maumee River and Sandusky all brought memories rushing back of our early married life and trips with the kids to Ohio for the holidays. Count your blessings every day!
My biggest blessing is all my family, and Ben & Sabrina for riding on this adventure with me, but most of all for THEM PUTTING UP WITH ME.
Keep Them Wheels a Rollin’
Paul, Sabrina and Ben

P.S. Please Everyone, Concert tickets for Ben Taylor & Brothers McCann are on sale at the winery. We would like to get a feel for how many people are coming so buy your tickets ASAP. It’s gonna be a great show and it’s as easy as picking up your phone and calling Jonathan Edwards Winery to buy your tickets.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Schedule Change & Party Update

We all had the same thought, why not skip the last rest day so that we can add a day in Ct, our home state. Therefore we will be arriving a day earlier in every town east of Grove City, PA. But we will not finish a day early, instead stop for an overnight in Old Lyme on Aug 6th. Therefore the last day our ride will not be as long and we can finish at the beach in the early afternoon. That being said, why not join us for the ride? We do have some friends that will join the fun but the more the merrier! If you are not up for biking, join us for a pot luck at the beach, East Beach in Watch Hill, below the Ocean House or Misqumicut. It's up for a vote. Please RSVP any way you can, blog,e-mail, or cell phone Paul's 860-710-3359. Oh did we mention it is Sabrina's birthday on the 7th.

Speaking of birthday's, we would also like to send out a Happy Birthday wish to Glenn Reid's Mom. He is honoring her by sponsoring Ben on our bike ride. We will be happy to do the same for anyone out there following us.

Perrysburg, OH and beyond


Angola, IN to Perrysburg, OH
Pokagon State Park in Angola was by far one of the most complete State Park ever. I would recommend it to anyone passing through the area. Perrysburg KOA is on the opposite end of the spectrum. Enough said. Actually, the Toledo East-Stony Ridge KOA is past Perrysburg by about 10 miles. So tomorrows ride will be that much shorter, yeah!
Sabrina and I made the 90 mile ride on almost all flat, straight Ohio roads with nice wide shoulders. Poor IN, no welcome signs to greet visitors like most states. As we entered OH and saw the “Welcome to OHIO” sign and we looked back hoping to see the same going into IN. We missed the opportunity for a photo coming into IN from IL., but we had no luck this time either. It was a pretty uneventful ride. The topping on the day was the couple we met at the KOA who are from CT. Roberto and Judy are wonderful a retired couple from Stanford who were on their way home from visiting children in CA. They had a brand new RV and had just come from visiting the factory where it was built, just so they could see the Amish workers in action.
I need to once again give my compliment to the chef, his skills are improving with every meal. Last night he put his creative geniuses to the test and whipped up pork chops with sauerkraut in a Dutch over, roasted corn on the cob and wild rice. Yum, yum. Unfortunately, desert did not rise to his usual standard, but it was not completely Ben’s fault. We had run out of charcoal briquettes cooking dinner and there just wasn’t enough heat left in the fire to completely cook the cake on top of the peach cobbler. Oh well, we ate it anyway!
Keep Them Wheels a Rollin’
Paul

Monday, July 26, 2010

Notre Dame Fighting Irish & Touchdown Jesus


Welcome back followers and newcomer alike. I must start out by thanking our host, the Rampola family for making us feel like we were at home. Randy, MaryAnn, Ryan, Emily and Sarah, you have been like an extended family for so many years now th at it was really special to break bread together and exchange stories. We are very fortunate and feel blessed to know such a wonderful family.
Today started out with a sumptuous breakfast prepared by our hostess Mary Ann. After stuffing ourselves like we had never eaten in our lives, we were treated to a guided tour of the Notre Dame campus by an understandably proud Alumnus. Yes, Randy had earned his law degree at good old Notre Dame, so he knew the campus like the back of his hand. Not to mention that they lived about 3 miles off campus and had dealt with ND football mania most of their married life. It was really special to finally be on campus of such a storied place as Notre Dame University. Randy explained how the kids had grown up having the ND campus as their own personal park and playground. We even got the full story of “Touchdown Jesus”, the mural on the library wall directly behind the goal post at one end of the stadium. There is the “Son of God” standing with both arms raised above his shoulders like a football official signaling yet another ND touchdown! After the tour, it’s back to the house to pack up the truck and get on the road again. Today Sabrina and I will be riding the full 67 miles to Angola together, or so we think. Sabrina finally gets to ride on a decent road, nice shoulder, light traffic (Sunday, no trucks) and beautiful sunny, 800 weather. Mary Ann also explained that we would be going through an Amish town, Shipshewana, which was great but once again it was Sunday so no shopping. We passed through the town with many buggies filled with families, all with a friendly wave. Their homes also had beautiful gardens but looked more similar to our homes. Some even had cars as well as buggies in the yard. We passed two Mennonite churches, so that might be the explanation. All goes well until about 50 miles out when Sabrina gets a flat on her rear tire. Oh crap. No new tube to use, remember my frustrations patching tubes? Well you guessed it. Patch once, no luck, patch twice, call Ben. So once again, after starting the ride late out of the Rampola’s (12:00) because they were such wonderful hosts that we didn’t want to leave, and it was going a short day, and then wasting 45 min. with the tire, I was alone again riding into camp at 7:00. Oh well, c’est la vie. Ben finally got to make Chili-Mac, his and Callie-Jean’s staple dinner. So we ate dinner, did some long needed bike maintenance, washed dishes, showered, updated the blog from the last 3 days prior rides and then we finally got to go to bed. The state park we stayed at north of Angola, Pokagon State Park, was beautiful. Along with a huge lake where you could rent boats, there were tons of bike trails, horse rides, a restaurant and inn, and a refrigerated toboggan run for the winter. Too bad we are always too tired to take full advantage of these parks.
Thank-you “Touchdown Jesus.”
Keep Them Wheels a Rollin’
Paul

Mom vs. Technology


The lightning continued through the night and Mom & Dad woke me up at 9:30 because they gave up on waiting for the rain to finish. The ceiling vent leaked all night so the laundry bag was soaked along with the corner of the seat. All of the bags got packed in the truck along with anything we didn’t want to get wet. We broke down camp and as we hooked it to the truck for Mom the rain stopped. I guess we won’t have to ride in the rain after all. On our way out of the park, we got a phone call from the local Fox news channel, wanting to set up an interview. Randy Rampola had made the arrangements for us. Thanks again Randy for all your work. We met up with a young reporter, Dave, about 15 miles into our morning’s trip so he could get some footage and interview each of us. He was jealous that my new job gave me all summer off where the station he worked for wanted him to start the day after graduation. He was also surprised that this was the first time we were interviewed for TV. Anyways, he told us that he was writing the story and it would be aired soon, depending on how much storm damage coverage they would be giving that night. Then we were back on the road towards Granger. We told Mom to go on ahead and to wait for us at South Bend so that we could reacquaint ourselves with the directions. Then, later on we got a panicked call, “I hate this lady. I don’t know where she wants me to go.” Mom is referring to the GPS” lady” and can’t follow the GPS directions. I guess it needs to be updated because there are a lot of new round-a-bouts (rotaries, traffic circles) where she is “recalculating” the route. Mom didn’t like that, so she eventually found a McDonalds to work on the computer at with WiFi. But she has little luck getting online by herself. So on the road I get phone calls about how the computer won’t work and the “Lady” is always recalculating. I can’t do anything about it on the bike so mom gives up and we eventually meet up and plan how to get to the Rampola’s for the night. Mom arrived at the house first guessing it was the house with the soccer ball out front and rang the doorbell, no answer. She waited a few minutes and walked around the house to find a car with an MV sticker on it, this must be the place. Back to the doorbell and there is movement, the dog starts barking. Still no other response so she guesses they are out for the moment. Shortly afterwards, Mary Ann arrives with 16 year old Emily at the wheel. She guessed Randy was asleep after a busy morning cutting up a limb that fell from the storm. When we arrived at their home and we noticed a theme. Over the last 13 years of renting our house on the Martha’s Vineyard, they have amassed quite the collection of MV items. We had a great dinner and talked until we realized that the 10:00 news was going to be on. We turned the TV on and shortly into the news we saw a short video promo of ourselves on the screen, and it’s said that our story would be on tomorrow night. Great! We’re actually going to be on the news. We know we’re going to be in a camp site Sunday night, but we were assured that the story would be posted on the website the morning after it airs. We are looking forward to seeing the final product and you can too, check out http://www.fox28.com/Global/story.asp?S=12866895 So even though neither Mom or Dad can figure out the GPS (looks like I’ll be doing even more driving than planned) it was a great day.
Ben

Racing the Lightning Storm


Paul and I got a late start so we could answer e-mails and write blogs at the campsite. We left just before noon and since we would be leaving the state of IL, it was my last chance to find a state pin for my collection. Luckily we were biking along the shopping districts. It was suggested we try Walgreens. The first Walgreens we came upon in Orland Park USE to carry them. When the employees found out about our ride they offered us cold bottles of water and a snack bar, very nice. We continued to stop at many stores with no luck. All the stops and traffic lights made the miles go by slowly. We crossed the state line into Indiana with no welcome sign and no pin. Determined for this not to happen in IN too, we asked if there was a welcome center. We were led down a busy, 4 line road miles out of way so we gave up due to an approaching storm.
We rode through Gary, IN (remember the song?) birthplace of Michael Jackson. And yes, for Callie-Jean and Beth , I had a MJ song in my head, “I’ll Be There.” It is referred to as “scary Gary” because of the depressed neighborhood. After biking around many potholes with many stop lights and traffic, a man passing in a car made a helpful suggestion “get on the sidewalk.” So we listened to his advice and for the next 15 miles I felt like a kid riding up and down the sidewalks, especially when the dark clouds and thunder were overhead, then we were kids flying down the sidewalks racing the storm. We were about 3 miles away from the Indiana Dunes State Park, when Ben called to say it was pouring and he was coming to get us. Just as we got the bikes in the truck, it began to POUR, THUNDER AND LIGHTNING. The beach was beautiful, like the ocean, sand, waves but warm and no salt. The only problem was we couldn’t jump in to cool off after the humid bike ride because of the storm, although it was awesome to look at.
The storm died down for Ben to cook brats and sauerkraut on the camp fire, but at night the thunder and lightning returned for a newsworthy storm. So we were confined to our cramped camper in a most desired vacation destination. I was told that many get their reservations in January to guarantee a spot. We were lucky to get the last site.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Vincent Van Gogh or Mekatei (Chikumbuso widow) who is the most admired artist?

We finally reached Chicago and after a great visit at WBR we met Stuart, a Grassroot Soccer intern I met last June in Zambia. After 10 months in Zambia he headed for Chicago, where he attended college and now works for a “green energy” startup company. He walked us around the city, suggesting various sites and agreed to join us for dinner, Chicago deep dish pizza. Top on Ben’s to do list in Chicago. There was a lot to see in Millennium Park, free concerts (Musicians without Borders), cool off in fountain and beautiful gardens. We walked to the lake, more like an ocean. The city has many bike paths and was very clean, yes, windy and humid. We decided to cool off in The Art Institute of Chicago. It was fantastic! Many works of art I remembered studying when I was a freshman in college, Seurat, Monet, Van Gogh, etc. As I was admiring a famous painting of Vincent Van Gogh, two women were admiring my Chikumbuso bag, WOW! They approached me asking if I made it. I told them it was made by a widow in Zambia and they asked how to get one, so of course I gave them a card and told them to contact me. The widows should be proud of their beautiful works of art. Aren’t you all glad you have one?

Day of Rest with World Bicycle Relief Staff


What a good day to finally meet the staff at WBR in person. After 1 ½ years of fundraising and talking on the phone or e-mail, to finally meet and talk one on one was very satisfying. They are a nice group (small operation only 5 employees) who all realize what “The Power of Bicycles” really means in the context of helping mankind throughout the world. Katie, Jill, Beth, Matt and F.K. , you are doing a stupendous job and keep up the good work! The morning started off with almost a vacation like feel. Finally, a day of rest, no biking for us today. We figured out that we would drive into WBR headquarters, meet the staff, then meet Stuart Phelps (a Grassroot Soccer intern that Sabrina met in Zambia last June) and spend the afternoon site seeing in Chicago. Thank goodness for GPS. Ben plugged in the WBR address and off we go. We arrive at the SRAM office right on time and Katie gives us the tour of SRAM engineering/work spaces and test track, you should see all the bikes! SRAM develops and manufactures components that go on all the various bike brands e.g. TREK, Specialized, Cannondale and of course the WBR bikes. As Katie walks us onto the test track, there in a place of prominence is the WBR woman’s edition on display, in front of all kinds of research test vehicles. Half way around the track we run into F.K. talking to one of the head engineers in charge of development. So, Katie arranged for a luncheon for us with the staff and we were honored to be included with F.K.’s family, as his cousins Steve and Jane were in town and also invited. Steve and Jane we very interesting and we had a good time talking to them about our ride and their work as members of the Weyhauser Family Grant Foundation. They get to see how the grants are helping organizations trying to improve living conditions for people around the world. How cool is that? Pinch me please, I can’t believe this is really happening to us. When we shared the news about the Ben Taylor concert, Steve and Jane were plotting how they could join us on Aug 29. We also learned that F.K. and Leah will be coming to North Stonington the 1st week in August and suggested that they please try to stay for the finish of our ride on the7th. How great would that be to have the founders of WBR and Chikumbuso be with us at the “finish”!!!!! So, with F.K. having to return to a meeting and the staff having to get back to work, we bid them adieus and head out into Chicago for the rest of the day.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Smells – The Good, the Bad and the Ugly


Rockford to Joliet, IL
Something most people don’t usually think about as you drive cross country these days is all the smells you encounter when you’re out in the open air riding a bike. Let’s face it, most of us are riding with the windows up and the air conditioning on. Well, this blog is going to tell you about some of the smells we’ve encountered, or the things we think were responsible for those smells.
This idea came to Sabrina and I today as we rode past a place and we both said, “Smells like somebody’s baking a cake.” That’s when we noticed the factory off to our right. Definitely a Good Smell.
The Good … Onion and mint fields in Idaho. We could smell the onions and mint in Idaho even before we saw the fields. Steak house grill smells every state as we ride through cities that could account for all the steak dinners over the campfire. When we rode by Ethanol plants in NE and IA, we would smell yeast like bread rising. Thanks Aunt Evelyn, Ray and the kind campers in Chadron for supplying us with homemade breads. We noticed the Cadbury plant and were surprised that instead of chocolate, there was an overwhelming smell of chewing gum at the factory in IL.
The Bad …. Hog farms in Iowa. They grow a lot of Porkers in Iowa! Although it’s pretty cool to watch the Crop dusters do their thing, you get a different perspective when you smell herbicides. I would be remiss if I didn’t give thanks to the one helicopter duster who noticed me riding by and pulled up and made another loop before dusting right over the top of me. Thanks Mr. Crop Duster Pilot! We were riding past fields of soy beans in Iowa when we started to smell raw sewage. We noticed the ponds used for fertilizer (?) in fields. Manure in general at all the farms; however we’ve noticed a change from range fed beef to dairy farms manure smells as we come east.
Ugly Smells – All the Road Kill! You definitely smell it before you see it, and it is usually pretty UGLY! To immortalize the poor creatures, we smelled raccoons (sometimes whole families), deer, antelope, turtles (one snapper who’s eggs were strewn across the road), frogs, turkeys, hawks, quail, many gold finches (they must be bad judges of distance and speed), a few cats, coyotes, snakes and many opossums. Then there were also the many unrecognizable carcasses.
Today’s ride started off as usual. I mean that we started pedaling about 10:30. Isn’t this opening sounding like the norm, rather than new news? Mind you that today was scheduled to be a relatively long day, 90+ miles. It doesn’t pay to fret about it, I need to just go with the flow and finish when we finish. We had a nice stay at Mike the Rotarians home last night and when we got up to get going, both the he and his wife had already left for work. We brought all our stuff in from the truck and ate our own food and made lunches. One thing that held us up was that even at this late date, we still weren’t sure where we were going today. Campgrounds around Chicago are few and far between. So, this morning before everyone else got up, I went on-line and found this one, the Empress RV Resort and Casino in Joliet, IL. It’s South West on downtown Chicago and about 50 miles away. I can tell that we are starting to get into civilization because the roads and the number of cars have changed drastically in the last few days. These are older roads with no shoulder and there are hundreds of cars and trailer trucks. Ben and I are very concerned about Sabrina biking on these roads. Although she’s a good rider, she worries a lot and when you’re tense and on edge all day it doesn’t make for a fun ride. We do want this to be a fun experience, right? The hardest part is that she REALLY wants to ride. So anyway, Sabrina and I start riding on Hwy 20 which isn’t too bad, but degrades pretty rapidly to a condition that is not very safe for bikers. Meanwhile, scout Ben has been driving ahead to check out the route and phones back that there’s a problem. Right before Elgin the road turns into a divided highway and has a posting prohibiting bikes and pedestrians. Not only that but the connector that will get use the last 40 miles to camp is on a business/retail district road that has lots of cars and turn offs into plazas. See what I mean about the number of people here? Now it’s time to change the route. I break out the map and ask a truck drive at the next gas station and decide to take route 39, Randall Road, it looks OK on the map. It’s just a thin black line, not red, not white/red and not thick red. It should be OK, right? Well Ben has driven over from the original route and is now back tracking up along Randall Rd. and it’s not a heck of a lot better than the original, but at least I can get onto it. So, he meets us at the end of Hwy 20 and we load Sabrina’s bike in the truck and she grudgingly agrees to call it a day at 45 miles. Who would have thought that anything under 50 miles doesn’t feel like a day’s ride. So I’m on my own for the rest which is just as well because it was a rat race. Cars turning, trucks always passing when there is no shoulder and afternoon rush hour for like the whole 4 hours. I finally arrive at the Empress and about 7:00, really ready to call it quits for the day. Ninety tortuous miles in 90+ degrees. Well, tomorrow is a real rest day and we’re heading into Chicago to see the city and World Bicycle Relief headquarters.
Keep Them Wheels a Rollin’
Paul

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

New Chikumbuso YouTube Video




Yesterday, Carly told me about this new YouTube video on the 6th grade children at Chikumbuso. I wish I had this video to present to the rotary club yesterday. Last summer Carly got to know all the students in the video. The narrator, Akim, was April's(Carly's friend)"husband". I hope you will enjoy the video as much as I did.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Land of Many Presidents


We were fortunate to have another Rotarian host in Rockford, IL with a speaking engagement at the rotary club in Loves Park. Rockford is almost 100 miles away so early in the morning Ben dropped Paul off just before the bridge that leads into IL, then back to break down camp to help me drive to the meeting at noon. A very foggy start for Paul with lots of road construction so we were happy to hear from him asking to drop off some candy as we passed by. Ben and I both agreed that once we crossed the Mississippi, it looked very similar to a typical New England town, lots of trees and Victorian homes. We drove through Galina, known for the home of President Grant, a very nice town. Soon the corn fields appeared again with rolling hills and farms scattered in the distance with trees lining the properties.
Mike greeted us at Loves Park City Hall where the weekly meeting is held. A very nice lunch was served, much better than our staple, peanut butter and jelly. After Mike was honored for finishing the term of president of the club, we were able to show our power point to an attentive audience. The club made a generous donation to the causes as well as some bags being sold even though by now we have a very limited selection. After the meeting Mike escorted us to his home (with a pool, yeah!), no camping tonight. We dropped off the camper and drove back on Hwy 20 to drop off Ben so he could join Paul for remaining 36 miles to Rockford. I remained near for some photo opportunities. The camera couldn’t grasp the beauty of Ben and Paul riding along the hillside with fields of corn. I met them in Rockford and Ben’s comment was “Let’s keep going to Chicago.” He was feeling great.
We drove to Mike’s home where the pool was waiting. They are a golfing family with a putting green in the back yard. Both Mike and his wife Debbie work at a country club, with all 3 children enjoying the sport. Mike brought home pizza and shortly afterwards his wife and their 15 year old daughter returned from a golf tournament in Chicago. We had a nice short visit since everyone was tired from a long day with another planned tomorrow, 100+ miles to Chicago.
Note about Paul’s previous blog. Ben says” Coffee is the paddlewheel to Dad’s Mississippi sized colon. It keeps things moving.”

Last town in Iowa+ The Mighty Mississippi


Independence to Dubuque, IA
Out by myself this morning, first stop is Casey’s for a cup of coffee. We’ve run out back at camp so I can’t start my day until I’ve lubed my insides and taken care of business, if you know what I mean. TMI (for Ben and Sabrina) Now I’m good and off I go riding parallel to Hwy. 20 on D22. Nice rolling country road through several towns and into Dyersville. Here I ride past a couple bikers crossing the street and going to a car. Wait, they’re going to their SAG vehicle. Stop, turn around and go talk. This father and his 2 sons are riding cross country just like we are. They started in Seattle and are heading to Brooklyn, N.Y. , with the same goal as us, Pacific Ocean to Atlantic Ocean. They started out self sustaining, but had to call in SAG support (Mom) at Casper, WY. It’s not as bad as you think, they live in Chicago. Well, we were going to ride for a while but that never worked out because once they stopped to put sun block on, they never caught up to me again. I stopped once to have a sandwich and waited about half an hour but they never appeared. Sabrina was planning on riding half a day, but the road conditions were so bad that we decided she better not. Ben found a nice campground right on the Mississippi River in Dubuque. We found this great store, HY VEE, and treated ourselves to steak and Ben did another great job of cooking them over the fire pit and we had another delicious dinner. We had to look and look, but finally found Sabrina an Iowa pin for her collection of pins from all the states we go through. The End.
Keep Them Wheels a Rollin’
Paul

A Maze of Maize


Sabrina and I got a late start knowing the day’s ride was supposed to be a short one. After trying to patch Sabrina’s tube, notice I said “trying to patch,” and talking to the nice couple about our projects and their RAGBRAI ride, it was probably 11:30 when we finally turned a pedal. I don’t know why my patch just won’t hold air, but I’m giving up on patching tubes, I’ll just replace them unless I’m on the road. So, anyway, we ride into Cedar Falls and across the river to Highway 57. Ben and I had decided it would be best to ride the road parallel to 57, so we cross back over at the next bridge to the east and got onto the road, maybe. Not sure, I stop to ask 2 construction workers how to get to Independence? Their directions were not exactly what we had mapped out, but what the heck, they’re locals so we’ll follow their directions. They lead us right past this huge John Deere factory out on this country road, I sure wish it wasn’t Sunday so I could have gone in and checked out the plant. After that, directions got a little sketchy for the rest of the day. Good thing it was supposed to be a short day. We wanted to go to Independence, right, so Ben and I figured the Independence Street heading east out of Waterloo probably goes to Independence, right? The problem is that our map doesn’t show the name of the road and the blown up map of Cedar Falls/Waterloo doesn’t go out far enough to pick up the road. So, I’m no longer shy about asking for directions so I go into the next gas station for help. The attendant isn’t a native and all he can tell me is that the next intersection is Independence Street. He only knows if you go right, you go back into Waterloo, he doesn’t know where left goes! Outside, 2 gents are getting out of their car so I figure I’ll ask them. They directed us up the road about a mile to “Old Hwy. 20.” Three times is a charm right? So I ask a third time, a young guy wearing a Univ. of Northern Iowa cap and he doesn’t know, but concurs with the other 2 about Old Hwy. 20 being about a mile up the road. Majority wins, so we go up the road about 2 miles and get to Hwy. 20, not Old Hwy. 20. We don’t want to ride on this road! So, back we go to Independence St. and go east, hoping it will take us to Independence, IA. This road is the corn maze road. Old country roads don’t go straight, they follow the property lines around corn fields to the point that you can’t tell if you’re actually heading east anymore. With corn 6 ft. tall on both sides of the road, you feel like you’re in a maze of maize. So a few wrong turns and a few phone calls to Ben and we make it onto Hwy 939 to Independence. Not so bad, about 45 miles and we’re in camp with Ben right across the street from a DQ!
Now with it still being early, we’re looking for something to do on a Sunday afternoon. Ben stopped at the visitor center and found out that we’re in Amish country, so we take a ride to the North to Hazelton to see the farms. Of course we pass a horse drawn buggy and see several Amish farms. All the people waved to us as we passed and seemed very friendly, children were out playing in the yards and Sabrina was impressed with the beautiful flower and vegetable gardens. They all seemed to have a white house with a red barn and a windmill, no electric lines running to the farmhouse was a dead giveaway to Amish homes. Too bad it’s Sunday because all the Amish businesses are closed.
Keep Them Wheels a Rollin’
Paul

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Oh - The Joy of a Blue Slushy!


Webster City to Cedar Falls, IA
After a lovely night in a bed at Tami the Rotarian’s house, we got an early jump on what was supposed to be a relatively short day, 70 miles instead of the planned 100 to Independence. That’s the beauty of not taking rest days and having a SAG vehicle. Tami and Andy, our gracious hosts in Webster City, needed to be on the road to Omaha, NE by 8:00 a.m.
Well, we did our part and shoved off before 8:00 and headed out of town to Williams, where I ended my ride yesterday. By 9:15 Sabrina and I were on our way pedaling on County road 220. We decided to stay off the highways today as we were told last night by the County Commissioner that all the County roads were paved. So, 75+ miles in 1000 + heat really took a toll on me. I always start the day off with 2 water bottles of PowerAde. Then as we pass convenience stores, I keep equalizing the bottles and filling them with ice. Today I did that twice before I went so far of a distance with no stops that I finished all the liquids I had. Luckily Sabrina had half a bottle of warm water left that she willingly gave up for my survival. Finally, on the horizon, a Casey’s convenience store. We pull in and Sabrina does her usual ritual of asking the clerk if we can fill up our bottles with ice. She can survive on melted ice water, but not me! I’m going for the BIG BLUE SLUSHY! OMG - What a relief to have that sweet blue (who knows what flavor it is) icy drink when you’re just about as dry as a raisin. I mean I knew I was in trouble when I noticed that I wasn’t sweating any more. Ben just had skirted with dehydration yesterday and it wasn’t nearly as hot or humid as today. So, after Casey’s, off we go into the oasis of Blue Slushy. But, it was so good that within 10 miles it was all gone and I was out of fluids again and you’ll never guess what happened. “DETOUR-Road Construction 5 miles ahead” Oh No! Off we go into the unknown. How far will it take us? Well when I finally can’t go any further, I stop and Sabrina again comes to the rescue again! She still has water. So I’m panicking about dehydration and she hands me the water and says she can’ stop in the blazing sun. So she rides off into the distance while I dig through my panniers and discover – an ORANGE, a big juicy navel orange! Who cares if it’s hot? It’s so good, I forget all about the Blue Slushy and I thank God for the miraculous find. I was starting to think that I might keel over and dry up on the side of Detour road in who knows where Iowa. Well shortly after my replenishment, I’m back to pedaling and reach the detour turn sending us back to County Road 57. Sabrina is waiting there to make sure I don’t ride past in my delirium. I’ve been known to just ride blindly with my eyes focused on the road and not look at signs, so Sabrina has learned to always be one step ahead of me. Finally we reach the McDonalds in Cedar Falls and I immediately call Ben to the rescue. Sabrina has the gall to ask me if I want to ride the extra 5 miles to the campsite? And you know my answer! Ben will be here in any minute.
Well, once in camp Sabrina sets about making a delicious stir-fry dinner and shortly after dinner collapses on the bed for a quick nap. I sit down and start to record this blog when a nice couple from across the lane stop to read the Chikumbuso board I have placed out front by the truck. I explain both projects and they are very interested and the wife buys a bag and makes a contribution. She tells me not to wake Sabrina. Later that night, Ben stops by their camp and has a nice chat with them on his way back from the shower. Seems that they have some things in common as she and her son are both Mechanical Engineers, and they are also bikers. The next morning before we shove off, Sabrina gets to meet them as they ride by on their morning bike ride. They say it’s a shame that we’re too early to do the RAGBRAI ride across Iowa. They explain it’s a huge bike ride that happens every year with around 10,000 riders. They (along with hundreds of others) participate as bandits because they can only ride a couple of days and the whole event runs for a week. It’s a big deal with teams riding in theme get ups, free pie stops in all the towns, church suppers every night at various stops and quite a bit of jovial partying along the way. Sounds like a great ride and may just be the next addition to my “Bucket List.”
Keep Them Wheels a Rollin’
Paul

Tami - The hostess with the Mostest


Rockwell City to Webster City, IA
Well, Ben and I leave Rockwell City about 11:30, with only 45 mile on Hwy 20 to deal with. It’s not too hot yet, no real humidity, light traffic and a tailwind. Well once again the two of us are burning up the road. Ben always seem to let me take the lead, so I can’t help but make it into a game and see if he can keep up to the old man. Of course he can, but taking the lead is always more tiring. So, when I start to slow down, I always ask him if he wants to go ahead, but oh no, he’s usually content to draft off me and see if I can keep it up. I don’t know if I’m the only one playing a game here, it seems like he’s messin’ with my head. Oh well, 22 miles at 17.6 mph average and we come to a point in the road where we need to stop and make a decision. As Ben pulls up behind me he says he thinks he might be getting dehydrated and is feeling dizzy. Quick, try to find some shade, oh yeah, this is Iowa, no shade to be had. So get him off his feet and get some liquids in him, and an orange. Fifteen minutes later he’s feeling OK and wants to go on. Now, the decision. Do we go on the longer Hwy 20 Business District road or the Hwy 20 divided highway. What the heck, the divided highway is better than the two lane road we’ve been on. At least it appears that way for the first 18 miles. The last 5 miles are torturous, old pavement with no shoulder and trucks zooming by at 65 mph. When we finally make it to Webster City, we both agree that we need to find a different route. We are not going back on that road! After meeting Sabrina, I travel on alone another 15 mile on old hwy 20 to Williams and call it a day.
Back in Webster City, we finally get to meet Tami, after e-mailing back and forth for over a month. What a sweetheart, being 8 months pregnant, she just has a motherly glow about her and has gone way beyond the call of duty here. Tami is pregnant with her first child and tomorrow is the Baby Shower in her hometown. Can you believe it, Tami is the outgoing President of the Webster Rotary and even with all she had going on, she put on a sumptuous reception and invited several prominent Rotarians who attended to meet us and hear about our projects! The evening was a huge success with some bag sales and of course personal donations, but more importantly we were assured the Rotary would put our projects on the meeting minutes for discussion at the next executive board meeting and that could lead to a donation directly from the Webster City Rotary. The new President showed up and was very interested in Chikumbuso, as was a State Representative and the County Commissioner. Webster City’s Rotary has some young members who are very active and that is a sign of a community on the rise. My guess is that Tami, Andy and the State Representative are all under 30 years old. Kudos to you Webster City, good luck in the future. God Bless You Tami and Andy …… and Baby!
After everyone left, Andy filled us in on his own business, and gave us some useful information about Iowa crops and their effect on the economy. He also gave us the skinny on the wind farms, explaining each farmer got an annual payment for each turbine and that most of the power produced was targeted for some other place. As we spoke, Ben noticed some terrific lightning happening out the living room window. Andy explained that this heat lightning was a regular occurrence and that it may or may not result in rain. Sure enough right after we hit the sack it came down like cats and dogs.
Thank goodness we weren’t camping in the trailer!
Keep Them Wheels a Rollin’
Paul

Friday, July 16, 2010

South Sioux City, NE to Rockwell City, IA - Wind farms, soy beans and corn & more corn & more corn!


Today was great day. I got out of camp early (8:15) and really made good time. Today was just the opposite of the last 2 days. I started off from the campground on a bike path that went along the Missouri river and then over the bridge into Iowa. Once over the bridge, a nice lady biking with her little son in tow gave me directions on how to get onto Hwy 20. Once on that, it was a fast day with a tail wind and no humidity. Even though I stopped whenever I needed something, like ice, food, phone calls or shade; before I knew it Ben and Sabrina were pulling over and I had completed 65 miles. Once Sabrina joined me, we continued that pace, 15+ mph for the next 30 mile until we met Ben in Rockwell City, IA. We passed very close to some windmills and saw many off in the distance. They are all just standing there, spinning silently, at a very tranquil pace over a green sea of corn. When you see them for miles in all directions, it’s a very beautiful and calming site. What a wonderful undertaking which has been repeated many times over throughout all the western states we have visited. And they’re all generating electricity for the common good using Mother Nature’s power. Towns (or Cities as they seem to prefer) along Hwy 20 are usually very similar, just a gas station/convenience store, grain mill/feed store, tractor dealership/repair shop, a couple grain elevators and a City Park. Some City Parks allow camping overnight, but of course, Rockwell City Park does NOT. As we passed through on our day’s trek, we noticed that Sac City had a very nice park, Riverside Park, which advertised toilets and showers. So after making it to Rockwell City and asking the local police about camping, we headed back 17 miles to Sac City. It all comes in a day’s adventures. Once we got the trailer set up, Ben set about cooking us a delicious meal of pasta with chicken and broccoli in a garlic cream sauce. Add to that a tossed green salad and you couldn’t have asked for anything more. My compliments to the chef! Now that we’ve showered, have full bellies and are vegging out, it’s time to bid you adieux.
Tomorrow is a short day to Williams, IA only 60 or so miles and then we will backtrack a little to a reception at a Rotarians house in Webster City. She (Tami offered to put us up for the night, so no camper for the Three Musketeers tomorrow night. Wahoo! And maybe even a day of rest on Saturday. A fine way to end a great week! Wyo. to Neb. to Iowa
Keep Them Wheels a Rollin’
Paul

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Ben Taylor Concert


We are past our halfway mark for our bike ride so I thought it was time for a “commercial interruption” Please bare with me. As you know the purpose of the ride is not just a family bonding trip across America. We are hoping to raise awareness and funding for Chikumbuso and World Bicycle Relief. As we get closer to Chicago, where WBR has their headquarters, we were hoping the donations would exceed the half way mark. We are just shy of that goal so if you haven’t already made a donation, this would be the perfect time. I have been thinking of the widows more than usual when the days get trying and keep in mind their optimism and praise of the blessings we have. When there is 8 miles left to bike after a long day, I think of the schoolchildren who have and will be receiving a bike and the miles seem to go by with ease. To those of you how have made a donation, some even more than one, we thank you.


The second “commercial announcement” concerns a special evening with Ben Taylor, son of James Taylor and Carly Simon. He will be performing for us on August 29 at the Jonathan Edwards Winery in North Stonington. We are also fortunate to have Brothers McCann open for him. They performed at the winery 2 weeks ago to great applause. Tickets are $40 and can be purchased at the winery in person or you can call 860-535-0202. There is limited seating and we hope to sell out so please reserve your tickets today. This will be a very special event with nice silent auction items as well. We hope you can join us.

The Nebraska Finger Wave


We did it. We made it through NE, almost. We were supposed to be in Sioux City, Iowa tonight, but the campground we decided on happens to be on the NE side of the Missouri River. We can see IA right across the river and there is even a paddle wheeler casino boat tied up on the IA side. Close enough, tomorrow it’s just across the bridge and we’re in IA.
Now for a little information that we forgot to include in previous blog postings.
Thanks to Bob Stetter, the former District Governor Rotarian from Valentine, we learned how people from NE acknowledge each other when passing on the road. Rather than waving with a full open palm, you just extend your index finger and roll your wrist once. It’s amazing how many people, from old ladies in ’69 FORD Torino’s, to cowboys in pick-up trucks, speeding motorcyclists and to trailer truck drivers, will return the gesture. Thanks Bob for keeping us safe. This is NOT to be confused with the New York finger wave!
Back a few days in Chadron NE, we forgot to mention the twenty-something desk clerk at the Best Western. We were in there meeting with our host Rotarian, Matt Reeves, when she overheard our conversation about the bike ride. She asked if we were from CT and then said she used to live in Groton when her Dad was in the Navy. She lived in Groton for 8 years and left for Chadron unwillingly in her freshman year at Fitch when she was 15. Small world isn’t it? She also has cousins that live in Prestion.
Believe it or not, here in NE there are many types of wild life not commonly thought of as living in dry plains corn country. Unfortunately, these creatures have been noticed by us primarily as road kill. Would you ever think that there would be an abundance of turtles in NE? I’ve seen snapping and box turtles too numerous to count, squashed on the road! I’ve taken a personal oath to save as many turtles as I can on this trip. I’m not a marter mind you, but yesterday I took one poor box turtle to the other side of the road and today I saved two more. Luckily, I’ve yet to come across a live snapper trying to make his way across HWY 20. Now, it only makes sense that if there are turtles crossing the road from drainage culverts on one side to water on the other that there would also be this aquatic creature. You guessed it, FROGS! But, unfortunately for the frogs, and/or fortunately for me, I’m told that most of the frogs make their final passage during the night and are squashed while darting through headlights trying to eat their last supper. I don’t think I’ll be able to save too many frogs as I don’t plan on riding with my headlamp on this trip.
The east coast humidity finally caught up to us. Yesterday was overcast but the sweat was dripping off us. So much so that Sabrina’s phone in her back pocket got wet and couldn’t be used till it dried out. Ben was feeling the mugginess and ready to pack it in and go back home. Opening and closing the camper is getting old. Tami to the rescue with an offer to stay at her house in Webster City, IO, with an apology that she keeps her house very cold because she is 8 months pregnant. That brought the smile back to Ben’s face. Plus we found his camera.
Th,Th,Th,That’s All Folks !
Keep Them Wheels a Rollin’
Paul

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Middle America


Ben was sent ahead to find a place to stay, Plainview or Randolph. Since Plainview had a city park with campsites, hookups, bathrooms and a POOL, you can guess our choice. We realized we are getting closer to the east coast because of the humidity. This is the first time I have experienced sweat as we are biking. Paul and I were going to bike an extra 20 miles but once we saw the pool our plans changed. Ben read somewhere that Plainview is the friendliest town in Nebraska so we had to check it out.
The community pool was great, clean, big and with lots of kids, and yes, they were friendly. We passed a ball with a 4year old named Andrew. As we ate dinner we noticed many kids on bikes in the park and a family of kids strolling a young sibling in a baby carriage. Perhaps this was the nightly routine for some fresh air after dinner as their mom prepared dessert. Teenagers were passing a baseball on the tennis court at 10pm. Yes, I’d say a nice town.
This morning we met a couple from Colorado on their way to Minnesota. Paul noticed their bikes so gave them some WBR stickers and Bonnie promptly made a donation after hearing about our cause. The only bad news to report..Ben’s “lost” camera.
Sabrina

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Valentine- The Heart City


Today we’ll start off with a little bad news. Not really bad, trying is probably a better adjective. Like we were told, the flats can be the hardest riding if you have a headwind, and today we experienced it first hand on our ride. The first 38 miles out of Valentine were kind of slow, rolling hills with a noticeable shifting breeze, not too bad. But after a lunch stop, when Sabrina joined me, it really turned into a constant 12-15 mph headwind. The problem is that when you’re on the flats, there’s no break in the pedaling, no down hills to coast on. So, it a constant struggle on your legs to keep pumping. We averaged 11.2 mph over 91 miles. A lot different than the 16.6 Ben and I did into Merriman!
Now the good news! Rotarians rock! Today we were blessed to make the acquaintance of another super Rotarian. Bob is a past District Governor for this area and what an interesting and friendly guy. Even though he had a family gathering going on Sunday, he made time to meet with Sabrina and Ben and he even arranged for our campsite. He wanted to hear more about the projects, so he graciously invited us to breakfast the next morning and was really interested in showing us his town and giving us some background and some family history. We went around town for a couple photo ops, one in front of a heart (this is Valentine you know, and we learned you can have your Valentine’s Day cards stamped from this town) and then we headed to take a picture on a bridge. The bridge was a former rail road bridge but has been converted into a walking/ biking trail, the Cowboy Trail. The path was finely crushed stone so my bike could have handled it fine, but again Sabrina’s skinny tires wouldn’t work. So we stayed on US 20 all the way, even though the Cowboy Trail ends up across the street from the camp ground. Anyways, I headed off for my ride while Ben and Sabrina got taken around by Bob. They learned about the area, his Ranching days, and the fire that got a little too close for comfort. A few years ago there was a big forest fire in Valentine and it got within a ½ mile of their home. It would have gotten closer if it weren’t for the bomber that dropped a strip of fire retardant in front of their house. They had a nice talk with Bob’s wife, and she picked out a bag, while Bob was busy making photo copies of our flyers because we were running low. Thanks again Bob.

There’s No Such Thing as Coincidence


Karma ? Manifest destiny? Spiritual intervention? Did you ever wonder why some things happen? It’s cool, sometimes kind of freaky, but you know it just can’t be coincidence, right? Faith I tell you, you gotta have faith and let it take you where it leads you. Well today was one of those days. Do you remember yesterday, Ben and I were cruisin’, I mean we did the 75 miles from Chadron to Merriman in record time. We aver aged 16.6 mph, but the last 4 mile we ran into a strong headwind that knocked us down from 17+ mph. Remember we then went to the rodeo back in Chadron and had a great time? Well, jump back to the ride to Merriman. About 10 miles outside Merriman we pass this young guy walking and pushing a kart on the other side of the road and I yell out a friendly “hello” and keep pedaling along on my merry way. Ben catches up to me and I ask, “What do you think that guy’s doing walking way out here?” Ben answers, “Maybe he’s walking across the country.” Yeah, right, I think sarcastically to myself, walking across the country. Probably picking up cans and garbage I think. How dumb am I? Who would be walking in the middle of Nebraska picking up garbage? So now we’re driving back to Chadron and we pass this guy walking and again I’m friendly and toot the horn and wave. After our big night out at rodeo, we get back to the camper about 11:30, dead tire and we still have to set it up before we can crash for the night. Guess who’s camping out in the city park? You’re right, it’s the walking dude, he set up camp under the pavilion, a pretty sweet set up.
In the morning I’m up early and getting ready to bike out of camp before anyone else gets up like; wait, did I tell you the new arrangement Ben came up with? Because I’ve been kind of anal about getting an early start, Ben and Sabrina figure that I should just get up and go and then once they arise in their own sweet time, have breakfast and packed up the camper, they can just catch up to me and whoever wants to ride, can join on the ride wherever! Now, back to the story. Sabrina wakes and is so considerate, she has to feed me breakfast before I leave. Who am I to refuse a free meal? So, next thing I know, she’s cooking, Ben’s up and I’m repairing a flat tire on Sabrina’s bike. NOW the good part, remember the coincidence thing from the beginning? Come on now, stay with the story. The walking dude is up and moving about, so I’m feeling neighborly and go over to introduce myself and ask if he wants some breakfast. Francis, I learn IS walking coast-to-coast! OMG! And he’s going from Oregon to Boston! Seventy-two days on the road and not due into Boston until October. He’s worn out 4 pair of shoes and can’t wait to get the next care package from his Mom with new sneakers. This young man is quite amazing and has had many life experiences that hit home with us and our perspective on helping other people in need. He has work with Habitat for Humanity in Botswana and done volunteer work in Haiti. We exchange contact info, take pictures and share 2 oranges with him for his trip (he wouldn’t take any more). Francis is a very special walking dude on a spiritual journey.
So, now it’s 10:45 before I’m on the bike heading for Valentine. Again, the best laid plans of mice and men. But, today the delay was worth it and I’m learning that somethings are just meant to happen. I know Francis will show up again somewhere in our future. The ride to Valentine (60 miles) is pretty easy with only a slight headwind to slow me. Sabrina and Ben pass me and drop off a sandwich, explaining that they are travelling on to Valentine to meet Bob, another Rotarian, and set up at camp. Sabrina returns later in the day to finish the last 25 miles with me and we have a great time reminiscing about Francis. Earlier in the day I came across 2 other bikers riding from Chicago to San Francisco. They were both named Ryan, and were relocating Ryan1 to a new job in S.F. while Ryan2 will be flying back to Chicago after the trip; he’s just along for the ride. They, like us, were fundraising. Their project is a cycling project that is funding solar panels for schools. I explain that I went solar last year and explained the CT Solar Lease Program. We had a nice chat, exchanged info. And I told them where they could meet Francis (he was staying put in Merriman for a rest day) and use the restroom facilities or maybe even camp in the city park. Just another amazing day in journey for a better world and meeting more wonderful people along the way.
Check out Francis’ story on: http://www.mywalkhome.com/
Keep Them Wheels a Rollin’
Paul

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Back to Chadron we go, FOR THE RODEO


Since I would be the support driver for the day I decided to support the local Rotary club by running in their annual race. It started at 8 so Paul dropped me off to go back to break camp. It was a walk, 5k and 10 k race that was called the Colter Run, named after a famous trapper, John Colter. One of the fur traders in costume sang the story of Colter, a great story. He was a trapper and member of the Lewis and Clark Expedition who was caught by the Blackfeet Indians, stripped naked and was given a head start to out run them, which he did. He was also the first white man to set eyes on Yellowstone Park, then called Colter’s Hell because nobody believe what he said he saw there. It was a hot and hilly run but I managed to place 1st for 50 year olds in the 10k and will proudly wear my t-shirt and medal. Ben and Paul had a fast ride to Merriman, our next stop. The scenic by-way has rolling hills and long stretches of road that you can see for miles. The first corn fields I saw in Nebraska so far, most notable are the many windmills throughout the fields. Paul and Ben finished in record time so we decided to finally catch a rodeo, back to Chadron we go. We found a town park to camp for the night in Merriman, toilet and showers, we are all set. The rodeo was all that you would expect, barrel racing, bareback bucking, saddle bronc, kids stick horse racing and calf chase and of course, bull riding. One cowboy got his hand stuck and was dragged around the fence, face bleeding but sent away with applause as he left in the ambulance. That was our cue to call it a night, catch a bite to eat at McDonald’s(internet) and back to Merriman.