24 pancakes later, we were not only loaded up with carbs, but loaded up with a convoy of "3" SAG wagons. Ora drove the Rav 4 that had been emptied and readied for Dan to drive back to Ohio once we reached the shore. Michael and Dimos each rode their bikes with us as one of my sons, Nicholas had their SUV. Evan, my other son, drove the VW with roof racks. That comes out to one SAG wagon per cyclist – not bad for a grand finale. And of course, I could always count on my best friend Steven to find us on the road, to be there with Soula, my koumbara, and my Goddaughter Elena, to cheer us to the very end.
Our drive for the morning called for a stop at Saint Barbara Greek Orthodox Church in Toms River where Father Pappas welcomed us with a filling brunch, a tour of the parish (especially their newly completed gymnasium). Once Lynn and my mother-in-law Nancy, and of course Jake arrived, we were blessed with a police escort over the bridge to the island. Father Pappas would go with us to the beach where he would provide us with the blessing at the water's edge.
We welcomed and relished the head winds riding across the bridge, unlike many of the days riding eastward in the upper northwest; the salty air beckoned us and we pushed onwards. We slowed for the final miles approaching the entrance to Island Beach State Park. We had completed our 37-day journey, to some degree with disbelief, yet with great satisfaction.
Turning left onto 24th Ave. in South Seaside Park, we were greeted by friends, family members and IOCC representatives. Our families may not have been with us during the 37 days on the road, but their unwavering support, prayers and encouragement guided us each day. We thank all of our friends who sent us texts, called us to check in, surprised us on the road, and kept in touch with us on Skype. We thank those family and friends who called us because they could not be there with us. We thank Dino and Alex for riding with us – fond memories from '02. We thank Dean and Dan for Running SAG for a day – more fond memories from '02. The day would have not been complete if Laura, Tammy and Billy from the IOCC weren't at the finish line. We thank them for connecting us with all of the parishes and communities that would greet us, sustain us, and support our efforts along the way.
We would walk on the beach and dip our bikes into the Atlantic with mixed feelings. It was a joyous and precious time for family and friends. The weather had held out for us once again. We thank our Lord once again. We had completed our 2nd 3,000 mile cross continental Race to Respond, yet greatly aware of the fact that the "Race to Respond" for the IOCC is ongoing; it is an ongoing effort to meet the needs of all those in the world suffering the consequences of man-made or natural disasters.
To those parishes who greeted us and nourished us both physically and spiritually across the states, we thank you for your encouragement, your support, and your contributions during our journey. If the 2012 Race To Respond is to be "truly" successful, we look to all of you to take this enthusiasm that came out of this event, and move forward with your own special grass root efforts to increase awareness of IOCC's worldwide mission within your community and beyond.
RacetoRespond.org will be alive and well during the month of August and into the fall months. In the days and weeks ahead, the blog will continue with highlights and anecdotes from our journey. Please keep our efforts alive and continue to help support IOCC's unique Pan-Orthodox worldwide humanitarian efforts. As Orthodox Christians, we have much to be proud of. Let the world know.
We knew today would a full day and it was. Michael and Dimos met us at the Country Inn at Reading at 6am. It would be a 77 mile ride to Hopewell. The weather, once again, was in our favor. Overcast skies and a high of 81 until our arrival at Hopewell around 2:45.
We took our time riding to enjoy the moment. Leaving Reading, we went through the last of the small farming towns of Boyertown and Gilbertsville. Heading further northeast, we went through Harleysville and New Britain until we reached Doylestown, familiar territory from my years at Merck. The ride only grew more beautiful as we rode the last 20 or so miles to Buckingham Township through shaded county roads that descended into Main Street, New Hope.
Lynn, Mom, Nicholas and Evan were at Main Street in New Hope to greet us. It had been almost 6 weeks since the beginning of our trip; feeling more and more homesick in recent weeks made our reunion walking across the bridge into Lambertville more sentimental. Ora was there for our final SAG stop to refuel beverages for the last 12 miles on 518 East to Hopewell. Several days ago, I had called my friend Michael Johnson, the owner of Wheelfine Imports, to tell him that we may make a stop at his shop on the way home. Michael is not just a supreme bike builder, but an enthusiast and historian, a lover of cycling, and my builder for close to 15 years. He has built all of my bikes over the years and prepared me well for both Race to Respond trips.
We pulled into Hopewell where Lynn and Mom had prepared a luncheon menu with great variety that would satisfy our appetites for several hours. It would also be a time for us to break down the Rav 4 (our SAG vehicle) and give it a face lift for its return back to North Carolina. Lynn and Mom had the opportunity to meet Dan, Penny, Brett and Ora for the first time. It was an emotional meeting for everyone. It would bring names and faces together after 37 days.
Before you know it, it would be time to get ready for our visit to Father Cassar's home in Rocky Hill for dinner. For those of you who are unfamiliar, Father Cassar's parish is Mother of God, an OCA parish in Rocky Hill, NJ. Mother of God had been a great supporter of the original '02 R2R and a supporter of IOCC when we first began the Race to Respond. It was good to see his family after many years and we thank them for an enormous homemade meal and for our friends from the parish who came to celebrate with us together.
Soon it was time to head home and prep for our last day. God willing, we will be riding from Hopewell to Saint Barbara in Tom's River for a visit before completing the last 10 miles to South Seaside Park where we will dip our front wheels into the Atlantic and thank God for guiding our efforts over the last 37 days to raise awareness of IOCC global mission across the country.
It was around 5:30 this morning when I sat in the breakfast lounge at the Country Inn in Chambersburg about to take a bite out of a waffle, when I lifted my head and saw my brother-in-law Jimmy and Nicholas walk into the room. I had just woken up about fifteen minutes earlier and was pretty convinced that I was imagining it. That is, until they sat there in front of me.
Only one day before the ride to Hopewell, but the Country Inn felt a lot closer to home thanks to their presence.
It seems that Jimmy and Nicholas came in the night before and got a room at the Best Western nearby and had planned to surprise us early in the morning before the start of our ride. Then began the flashbacks. My first recollections were of 2002. Jimmy had taken the last couple of weeks off from work to join us as we concluded our ride to California. I recalled our sons Nicholas and Evan who were both only 10 back then. Lynn and my mother-in-law, Nancy, drove the minivan with the boys to lead the way from NY to CA; an arduous task to say the very least. Those memories are eternal.
Today had called for 106 miles. Jimmy and Nick followed along for the first couple of miles and drove ahead towards Harrisburg area to attend services at Holy Trinity Church in Camp Hill. After services, they continued to drive east until meeting up with us in the town of Annville, just east of Hershey.
We did 86 miles by 1:30pm, about 20 miles short of Reading, and called it a day. We preferred to spend the remainder of the afternoon with Jimmy and Nicholas in Reading at Olive Garden. (Note: Total miles for this summer's R2R, has already exceeded the total miles from '02 - thanks to Washington, Idaho, and Montana.)
God willing, tomorrow morning begins our ride through the eastern portion of PA into New Hope where we cross the bridge into Lambertville, NJ. The ride up 518 is a familiar one as we head towards the Sourland Mountains and our home in Hopewell.
During breakfast, Ora approached me with a route modification that greatly influenced the success of our day. Our route would have us climb nearly 7,000 ft in 86 miles. Rather than heading north for 10 miles and take route 30 east, we took route 31 east in Somerset. 31 spared us from traffic and hills for the first 30 miles.
The skies remained cloudy for most of the day, limiting the temps to the low 70's for a good part of the morning. By 10:30, the temps inched closer to the 80's where it would stay for the rest of the day.
We knew that 31 spared us from the heavier traffic on 30. Brett guided us through the heavily congested towns of Bedford and Everett until the inevitable, route 30. Once out of Everett, the climbing began to increase steadily. We began with consistant 6.5 to 9% grade ascents which soon increased to over 12% as we got closer to the peaks of McConnellsburg and Fort Louden.
There would be two summits we would have to climb that would earn us 7,000 ft. of total climbing in just under 90 miles. Both of these climbs were between 2.5 and 3 miles of sustained ascent at 8 to 10% grade. Each climb gave us the gift of lengthy descents at -8%. Unfortunately, the windy descents required constant breaking. By the time we reached the base of the mountain and passed through Fort Louden, the landscape changed dramatically providing generous descents until Chambersburg.
Tomorrow begins our ride to Reading. The topography becomes much different as we work our way east towards eastern Pennsylvania.
The prayer service at Saint Nicholas Orthodox Church last night helped sustain us today. Father Thomas Soroka provided us with a prayer service that without a doubt got us through the unforgiving hills of PA.
We completed today's route without any energy to spare. The climbs of PA as we left the Pittsburgh area increased in difficulty as we left route 30 and began our southeaasterly trek towards Indian Lake. By the grace of God, we had overcast skies and temperatures which hovered in the low 80's. Had it not been for last night's storm and the cloud cover today, there is a good chance that we may not have completed today's route. We climbed approximately 5,000 ft in 68.4 miles, most of the climbing in the last 20 miles of the ride. The elevation profile ranged from 4.5% to 9% grade, with several climbs in excess of 18% grade.
Once again, we thank Father Soroka and Saint Nicholas for hosting us last night. it was great seeing Nick Terezis (IOCC committee member) again, wearing R2R shirts from 2002. He even brought his daughter Ava along. We thank Deno Pappas for getting everything together for us. Last, but certainly not least, we thank the parishioners for preparing a delicious meal which fortified us for hours to come.
Tomorrow's ride from Indian Lake to Chambersburg will prove to be the most challenging ride of the trip. The 82 miles we are scheduled to complete includes a total of 6,977 ft of climbing.
Say prayers for us all. We will definitely need it.
Having detoured our route south yesterday to finish our ride in Kidron and stay with the Shelters, Ora drove us to East Canton, our starting point early this morning. We took route 30 through eastern Ohio and made our way towards PA. We knew today would be the first day involving significant hills and climbing since Montana. The early morning temperature of 74 gave us every indication that it would be a hot day, nothing unusual.
At around mile 45-50, we crossed a bridge over the Ohio River, but noticed that the welcome sign at the other side of the bridge read, "Welcome to West Virginia". Brett had managed to find us an alternate route that would take us off away the heavy truck traffic found on route 30. Doing so took us through our "third" state of the day.
It was around 1pm when we reached the outer limits of Pittsburgh. We found ourselves on a rural road about 7 miles from the airport when we decided to call it a day and load the bikes on the car. Arriving at the La Quinta Inn – Pittsburgh Airport, we checked in, ate, and slept to fuel up for our visit to Saint Nicholas Orthodox Church in McKees Rocks, a suburb of Pittsburgh.
For the time being, we sit in our hotel room in the dark as we just lost power due to a storm system that is in the process of hitting the central and eastern portion of the country. We wait and see what happens next.
UPDATE: We made it to Saint Nicholas where we entered the church for a prayer service on behalf of the Race to Respond. Afterwards, a supper was prepared for us where we talked about our journey up until this point and of the parishes we have been greeted by. A second set of severe thunderstorms hit the area during dinner. It wasn't until 7:45 that the storm had passed and we headed back to the hotel.
Tomorrow off to Chambersburg, PA. Rain, but no severe heat in the forecast. A mixed blessing.
We rose to a clear sky and 53 degrees this morning. Heading east on old route 30 (historic Lincoln Highway), we went through Bucyrus, Crestline, Ontario (not Canada), and Mansfield until we concluded our ride coming into Kidron. Eastern Ohio, unlike other portions of the state is not flat. The rolling hills through farmland and Amish communities are a prelude to the terrain we will be encountering as we enter western Pennsylvania tomorrow.
We were thrilled and honored to be invited to Ora's home in Kidron, as he and his family graciously offered to us their home for the evening. Ora's daughter, Ramona, had prepared a homemade lunch (more like a five-course dinner) for us after we had unpacked and showered. Shortly afterwards, Brett's parents arrived to take Brett to visit his grandmother nearby.
Entering Kidron, we encountered old world beauty and charm; Kidron. Ohio, is host to two well known Amish auctions, the Mennonite Relief Sale and Auction, and the Auction Barn (which holds weekly auctions). Kidron attracts many of its visitors for its diverse tool shops, especially Lehman's Hardware, which sells Amish-made goods and serves a wide range of customers from local Amish to tourists from around the world. There is an underground water spring in Kidron, and a protected forest is located nearby.
Surrounding countryside is largely used for farming. A public museum is located in Kidron at the Kidron Sonnenberg Heritage Center. Besides displays of local historic items, the museum includes a library and a database of genealogical information for research, particularly related to those of Swiss heritage and Amish and Mennonite background that settled in the Kidron area in the early 19th century. The museum is operated by the non-profit Kidron Community Historical Society.
Tomorrow, we continue east of Canton into Pennsylvania where we will stop in Coraopolis.
Although yesterday's ride was uneventful, Route 30 was completely dominated by truck traffic. It felt more like an interstate than a state road. Late yesterday, Brett and Ora thought back to "old" Route 30 and enlightened me with their experiences on the original route over the past couple of decades.
In putting together our cross country route, I had intentionally avoided "old" Route 30, and opted to take new Route 30 right into PA. I avoided "Business Route 30", under the impression that it would be full of truck traffic. Brett and Ora informed me otherwise. Business Route 30 is "Historic Route 30" which travels along local towns. The roads are newly paved and well maintained. Ora also informed us that Old Route 30 is a historic route that will be celebrating its 100-year anniversary next year. It also seems that Historic Route 30 was the first transcontinental road built from coast to coast.
Traveling along old Route 30, we went through small towns and communities which made for a more relaxing and enjoyable ride compared to yesterday. We rode by quaint developed communities, but at times also witnessed signs of abandoned stores and gas stations that use to support the truck volume and traffic once present before new Route 30 was built.
Rain and clouds were present for most of our 75-mile ride today. We could hear thunderstorms behind us that were heading southeast into Chicago and Kankakee, but seemed to stay behind us. Tailwinds pushed us along into Upper Sandusky which reduced our riding time. We arrived at the Comfort Inn by noon having once again being spared the heat – a high of 73.
Tomorrow, off to the Canton area where we will be overnight guests at Ora's home. Can't wait.
We never would have imagined wanting rain. When we looked at the forecast last night and saw that there was a 55% chance of thunderstorms last night, oddly enough, we were quite thrilled. Late yesterday afternoon, Ora told us that his wife Marilyn would be spending the night at our motel as she was on her way to Iowa City. It was a pleasure to meet with her, although too briefly. Marilyn brought us fresh baked cinnamon rolls and homemade jam.
We woke at 4:15am and began our ride with a light drizzle at 5:45am. The drizzle turned into a steady rain and in due time increased to a downpour. It would cycle like this throughout the morning. Even though we had to ride with rain gear, we did not complain. The temperature was just under 70 degrees for the first time in over a week.
By around 11am the rain had come to a stop and the sun finally appeared. We completed our 85 miles for the day, checked into the Comfort Inn at Van Wert, and proceeded with clean up.
Left Bradley, Illinois, early in the morning for our 45-mile ride to get to services at Saints Constantine & Helen Cathedral in Merrillville, Indiana. We headed north on Route 50 with the wind at our backs. The partly cloudy forecast for the remainder of the day would help us complete the final 40 miles of the day’s route.
We arrived in Merrillville at around 9:30 in the hopes that we would be able to attend a portion of the Divine Liturgy. We could see the dome of the cathedral from a distance. As it turns out, we attended part of the liturgy and the sermon. Father Ted Poteres closed services with an announcement that all should make it a point to attend the coffee hour to honor the IOCC Race to Respond.
As we entered the hall and stood in line to get our coffee and brunch, a representative from the "Novak Family Foundation" approached us and presented us with a generous donation. We were extremely honored to be recognized in such a way. We sat for awhile, ate, and introduced ourselves to several parishioners and Board members until it was time for us to deliver our brief presentation. It was at the conclusion of the Q & A that Father Ted asked all of us to come forward. Both the AHEPA Representative as well as the Philoptochos Representative, each came up to us and made a very generous donation to our Race to Respond effort.
Father Ted and all of the parishioners were extremely enthusiastic about our journey. We were amazed at how so many "Arms" of the Parish came together to support the efforts of the IOCC.
We will not forget, and we thank all of you very much.
We don't know what to thank Alex for first. I'm personally grateful to him for replenishing my inventory of bag balm, but it certainly doesn't end there. Alex joined us for the complete ride today from Rock Falls to our final destination, just outside of Bradley. He completed the 95 miles, and in fact set the pace for us. We finished just after 12: 30, having completed an average pace of 15.3 mph. Alex hasn't changed a bit since ‘02. In fact, he pulled the pace line heading south for quite a while. (We could sure use him for the rest of the trip, but he has a hotel to run).
Today was really the first day we began to notice the effects of the drought. Many of the corn crops were starving for water. The lower portions of the stalks had turned brown and the ears underdeveloped and darkened. We have heard that the soybean fields will stand the greatest chance for survival as they are sturdier and more resilient, but that is little solace for the farmers throughout the Midwest.
When we arrived at the Quality Inn and Suites of Bradley we were each directed to our own suite for the evening. Shortly afterwards he took us out to lunch at their restaurant, Oliver's, where Dino once again was able to join us. It was quite an afternoon, and we are very grateful to Alex for spending yesterday and today with us, and for his generosity at the hotel. It brought back great memories of staying at the hotel back in ‘02.
Tomorrow we leave Illinois and make our way into Indiana. We leave Bradley early in the morning once again to attend services at Ss. Constantine and Helen Cathedral in Merrillville, Indiana. We will be riding about 45 miles to get to services and completing our ride in the afternoon.
We did not expect the low 60's nor the overcast skies that kept our ride leaving Dubuque heading south for 55 miles along the Mississippi River just below 80 degrees. Neither did we expect our route to hug the river and to be as scenic as it was. The rolling hills were reminiscent of Montana. The Mississippi was clearly low due to the drought, but the wildlife was flourishing. The highlight of the ride was the town of Bellevue which typified a river town with shops, parks and cafes. We were also fortunate enough the see barge traffic moving along the river, making me think of Samuel Clemens. I thought of my brother-in-law, Jim Gabriel, who has always wanted to take a barge tour down the Mississippi. Soon it was time to cross the bridge in Clinton, Iowa, to begin heading east towards Rock Falls. This part of the ride brought us into flatter terrain and with that head winds.
Taking our final turn before pulling into the Rock Falls Motel, we couldn't help but notice someone standing along the curb holding up a sign that read "FREE BAG BALM". It finally occurred to us that it was Alex Mazarakos from our 2002 Race To Respond. We had spoken to Alex over the last couple of days to coordinate a meeting tomorrow on our way to Tinley Park. I guess he beat us to it. For those of you who are not familiar with Bag Balm, it is an equivalent to petroleum jelly, except for cyclists - a necessity for those sitting on the saddle 6 hours a day. We were running a bit short and had asked him to bring us a can tomorrow. A pleasant surprise for all of us. Alex will be joining us for our ride to Tinley Park tomorrow. He made a reservation at the Comfort Inn Motel in Dixon and even treated us to a room there as well. Once we unpacked and showered, Alex took us out to lunch.
Brett and I needed to have our bikes looked at for some minor adjustments and found a shop in Sterling, a few miles down the road. Before you know it, it was time to eat an early dinner and crash for the night.
Tomorrow we're off to Tinley Park, just south of the windy city, Chicago. Hopefully, the winds will be coming from the west.
We hadn't expected the fog, and more so that it would be a thick fog that would limit visibility until close to 9am. The temperature was lower than we were used to – a low of 65. That too, would remain abnormally low until 10am. The topography heading into the eastern portion of Iowa changed dramatically after about an hour. The rolling hills and pastures were agriculturally rich, and not in any way suffering from the drought that has obliterated the Midwest crops.
This evening we visited St. Elias the Prophet Greek Orthodox Church in Dubuque. Father George and parishioners welcomed us with open hearts and a delicious dinner. Father George even remembered our 2002 Race to Respond. We met a gentleman by the name of Don who had ridden cross-country twice unsupported. That is quite an accomplishment. We shared our experiences cycling across the country and talked about the other parishes we had visited and will be visiting in the days ahead. Just as we were about to leave, Father checked the mail slot at the entrance and found the box from the IOCC with our Race to Respond t-shirts – quite a coincidence.
Tomorrow we are off to Dixon, Illinois. The weather looks as though it may stay in the low nineties.
Today's journal will be brief. 95 miles – 6.5 hrs. Another 4am wake up to beat the heat. 5:15am – we were on the road. We had 60 miles done by 9:50, but the last 35 miles stretched out till just past noon. The closer we got to noon, the more frequent the stops to hydrate. Ora did a great job finding shady spots along the way. We checked in at the Parkview Motel and went for lunch. A quick stop at the supermarket and off to take a nap till dinner. Tomorrow is a 71-mile ride to Dubuque, where we are scheduled to rendezvous at Saint Elias the Prophet Greek Orthodox Church in Dubuque.
We all woke up well fortified this morning after yesterday's dinner, courtesy of (IOCC Executive Director) Dean (Triantafilou) and (IOCC USA Country Representative) Dan (Christopulos). Our ride south towards Albert Lea and onward would take us across the Iowa border and into Mason City. Completing today's 94 mile-ride proved to be a battle with the heat. We knew it was going to be another hot day, but the temps rose faster than we expected during the morning hours. By the time we crossed into Iowa it was already in the mid 90's. Approaching Albert Lea, we came across hundreds of modern-day windmills that spanned at least 80 square miles. At times, they were within 20 yards of the state road we were on.
We stopped more than usual as the morning progressed, but by the time it was noon, we knew we were in a bit of trouble. At about 12:45, and 14 miles short of our final destination, we called it quits. This was would be the first time we stopped short of our route due to the heat. We have been quite fortunate to date, given the July temps across the country. We will certainly be starting earlier in the morning in the coming days if the heat remains a factor.
Within an hour of checking in at the Super 8, each of us had consumed a medium-size Pizza Hut pizza, took a snooze for about an hour, and headed over to Holy Transfiguration Greek Orthodox Church. We were greeted by Fr. Joseph Mirowski and members of the parish who had prepared a dinner for us. Father Mirowski spoke for quite a while about the history of the community and the parish and of his experiences on the East Coast. He even confessed to being a die-hard Yankees fan (inside joke). When it was time to go, our hosts packed boxes of sandwiches, fruit, cookies and Gatorade for us to take on the road. We also wish to thank Father Mirowski and the parish members for the donation they made to the IOCC through the Race to Respond, and for sharing their time with us.
FOOTNOTE: For those who are not aware, our route to date has not been a direct west/east route. We took the most scenic and circuitous route through the western states covering close to 230 miles more than the shortest Trans America route. In fact, Race Across America (RAAM – www.raceacrossamerica.org) is a 24/7 race across the country over approximately an 8 day period and covering 2,989 miles. While we do not anticipate cutting miles from our route as we did today, should the heat index hit 100, we do have a cushion to cut miles from those days that exceed 80 miles. 5am starts will be help us complete most of the remaining routes. The last thing we want to see happen as we come to the final days of our ride, is the risk of heat stroke. Tomorrow, on to Oelwein.
When checking into our hotel in Granite Falls yesterday, the manager told us that our room had been paid for and that the reservation had been changed to 4 rooms. I told him that he must be mistaken, but it was in fact true. Many thanks to Michael Tsakalos, one of our riders from 2002 (and current IOCC board member), who decided to give each of us a gift of a private room for the evening. Michael is planning to ride with us on the final leg of the trip - Reading PA to Seaside Park NJ. Can't wait to see him.
Over the past few weeks, I had been speaking with Dan Christopulos, U.S.A. Country Representative for IOCC, who had expressed an interest in meeting up with us during our journey. It worked out to be today. Dan has been heading up a Habitat for Humanity project in North Minneapolis and had coordinated an effort to have Dean Triantafilou, CEO of IOCC visit one of his work sites. This worked out to be a perfect opportunity to coordinate a visit with us as well.
We had left Granite Falls at 5:15am and were riding just outside of Fairfax, MN when we saw Dan's Chevy pull up next to us with Dean. They were both wearing 2002 IOCC Race to Respond t-shirts. They provided SAG for us for the remainder of the ride into Mankato and took us out to lunch. Later in the evening, they took us out to dinner with the Habitat work group where we met the 5 volunteers from the worksite. It was an energizing and nostalgic evening full of shared experiences.
A busy day indeed. Last, but certainly not least, we met Ora, our new SAG Crew Chief for the first time. Ora will be providing support for us for the remainder of our journey to the East Coast. Tomorrow, off to Mason City where we are scheduled for another parish visit at Holy Transfiguration Greek Orthodox Church.
Today's ride would be our 4th and last day of riding in South Dakota. Our route from west to east was direct, yet we marvel at how quickly we made it through the state, unlike the circuitous route we followed in Montana over an 11-day period. The forecast had called for 96 degrees heading towards Granite Falls, but the cloud cover held it at 84degrees. It was a good day ... until the route 212 detour took our 85-mile day up to 98 miles. Christina was a real inspiration as she exceeded yesterday's mileage by completing over 40 miles with us. We even met up with a recumbent cyclist who was training for an 800-mile,4-day race in Minnesota.
Tomorrow is a day of transition. Our support and gear (SAG) Leader, Dan McKey, will be leaving us go to back home where he will soon go on a well-earned vacation with his wife, Penny. It is an understatement to note that this trip would not have been possible if not for the generous support offered by the Mckey family. In addition to volunteering his time to provide SAG along the route, Dan took on the task of shipping his personal vehicle to Seattle for us to use as the SAG vehicle. Dan's calm demeanor and his unwavering patience motivated us without hesitation, especially during the early days of the trip when the cold weather and the rain set in.
Dan leaves Monday morning with Christina to head to the airport. Christina will be the first to catch a flight home. Dan will await Ora Shetler, our SAG Leader, to arrive as he has volunteered to provide SAG for the balance of our trip to the east coast. Ora's flight is due in late morning which will give both Dan and Ora time to debrief. We look forward to seeing Dan again in Ohio, and to meeting Penny. They also plan to meet with us again on the final leg of the journey when we arrive on the East Coast.
It's hard to believe that we're almost halfway across the country and so we thought that today's journal would focus on what a 'typical day" is like.
But first, we welcome Christina, Brett's girlfriend. Dan and Brett drove off to Sioux Falls late yesterday to pick up Christina from the airport. On the way back, they decided to stop and visit "The Corn Palace" in Mitchell, S.D., built in 1892 by settlers who wanted to display their agricultural bounty. We thank Christina for bringing cooler weather with her and for riding 35 miles with us on the way to Watertown.
Today's Journal: It's a "hotel room for 8". That's right 8 – four people and four bicycles. In order to keep within a budget, we have been staying in a single room with 2 queen beds. Our bikes are stored along the sides of the room and next to our beds. We rise any time between 4-5 in the morning. We rotate using the bathroom, eating breakfast and getting dressed. Dan begins his checklist that includes route verification, hotel confirmation, ice for the cooler, prepping the Rav 4, and lastly, making sure none of us left anything behind.
Outside, a morning prayer is read, and we're on the road by 6am at the latest. Dan will typically take the Rav4 ahead at about 15-20 mile intervals until the temps rise over 90, at which time Dan will reduce interval distance down to about 10 miles due to the heat. Our breaks are brief. We refill water bottles, grab a cliff bar, apply sun screen and bag balm. Once we're within 20 miles to our destination, Dan makes a final stop for us and heads to the next town to check into the motel, empty our gear, and organize the room. Konstantin typically finishes first (no surprise). This actually helps, since use of the shower is staggered.
Within an hour of arriving at the hotel, we've showered and eaten a meal. Dan collects laundry and starts the wash. Shortly afterwards, we head to the supermarket to buy groceries for a mid day lunch and for dinner. (We've been very fortunate to have a "Subway" next to many of our overnights. We'll have a "foot long" around 2 pm and dinner around 5 to 6 pm.) We check our gear and prep bikes for the next day and get ready to crash by 7pm. Last, but not least, I download the day's photos and complete our journal for the blog. Tomorrow, we do it all over again.
Moving the clocks forward yesterday meant that we would leave Gettysburg this morning at 6am. In retrospect, perhaps we should have left at 5am as we had done the past several days. The heat wasn't as bad today, but the tail/cross winds we had earlier in the morning turned into headwinds towards the end of our ride into Redfield. The towns we would go through today were simply farming communities without a village center of any kind. Heading east we went through Seneca before reaching Faulkton.
There has been little if no evidence of drought for the past 3 days of riding through South Dakota. We have all been amazed at the wheat grass and corn crops. We have also come across more irrigation systems, marshes, and wildlife along the way. Perhaps the effects of the drought will become more evident as we make our way eastward into Minnesota.
At Faulkton we headed south on 212 until reaching Orient where 212 turned east once again. What were tailwinds turned into headwinds for the last 30 miles, but it was not in any way as significant as it was in Montana. Once we arrived at our Super 8 Motel, Dan and Brett headed out to pick up Brett's girlfriend, Christina, from the airport. She will be with us for several days, making use of the spare bike that has been sitting on top of the Rav 4 since the beginning of the trip.
This would be out last 4am wake up call for a while. 112 miles to Gettysburg, and we would be losing an hour. The heat would be less of a factor now as they predicted temps in the low 90s. Leaving Faith, we would once again go through Cheyenne River Indian Reservation, passing through the towns of Dupree, Lantry and North Eagle Butte. These towns were marked by little else than signs and clusters of farms. No shops, gas stations or evidence of a town center were to be seen.
Our route through South Dakota would be a straighter east/west route, nothing like the circuitous route through Washington. This would be our second day in S.D., and would mark our halfway point in the state before entering Minnesota. For the balance of approximately 50 miles, we could see an abundance of thriving wheat fields and more cattle ranches. We would even see corn crops at frequent intervals. It was around the 75 mile marker that Dan spotted the largest cluster of grazing buffalo to our right. They were no more than 25 yards away from us and not in the least bit intimidated by our presence.
The balance of the ride took us southeast towards Lake Gahe, which is in fact a part of the Missouri River which we crossed back in Great Falls, Montana. (From Great Falls, the Missouri River travels east into North Dakota where it feeds into Lake Sakakawea and once again continue eastwards as the Missouri. The Missouri at this point heads south into Bismarck, N.D. before feeding into Lake Gahe where we crossed this afternoon. Lewis and Clark would follow this river for quite a distance during their travels.)
After crossing Lake Gahe, it would be another 15 miles before Gettysburg. The next 3 days will be a welcome sight for us, around 75-80 miles a day. This distance gets us to our destinations by noon if all goes well, sparing us the heat between the hours of noon and 2pm. We lost an hour today with our 2nd time zone change.
From the moment we left Belle Fourche this morning, I knew we were in for a spectacular sunrise. There was just a bit of cloud cover early in the morning to capture the glow. Within the first hour of riding we passed a small lake where the sun would rise and hide behind the clouds, peeking out from behind every now and then.
The route from Belle Fourche to Faith was a vast cry from southeastern Montana. Fields of green grass and wheat were beginning to make their presence. Cattle ranches were more prominent than what we had seen in quite a while. The forecast for today was to be in the high 90's. Unlike yesterday, however, the winds were much more in our favor. We would complete our 101 miles today by 12:30, just in time to check into the Branding Iron Motel and Cafe, and grab lunch. The town is small and the Cafe was full of authentic cattle ranchers in cowboy hats and boots. I thought of taking some pictures, but I didn't think they would find it too amusing. Perhaps we'll attempt some hidden photography at dinner.
Dan was able to spot our third buffalo and took several photos. We'll have to download them soon. For some reason, our sighting of buffalo have been far and few. Tomorrow, a 100+ mile ride from Faith to Gettysburg. The predictions call for 30 percent chance of thunderstorms and temps in the low 90's. Like everyone across the country, we are all looking forward to some relief from the heat.
Once again we rose at 4am to beat the heat as we completed the last day of riding in Montana. We did... for a while. It has been an 11-day journey riding across Montana. Our route did not take us on a direct easterly path. We rode NE on some days, and SE on others to reach our destinations. In short, we logged almost 150 more miles of riding than the actual width of the state.
Heading south from Colstrip to Lame Deer, we covered about 23 miles we had already done the day before to log hours while the temps were favorable. We completed 100 miles in 7 hours by 2 pm. Once in Lame Deer, we began heading east through Northern Cheyenne Reservation Territory into what we heard to be one of the worst brush fire events in Montana history.
The 250,000 burned acres spread out over 35 miles had forced evacuations and brought in Red Cross volunteers from around the region to care for the displaced. Stopping in Ashland, it looked as though the worst of the fire damage was over, but evidence of fire damage could be seen for another 15 miles. It was only after Broadus that evidence of fire damage decreased. The photos we took tell the story.
The towns in the southeastern corner of Montana are far and few between. We were adequately provisioned throughout the day. On most days we would ride 15 miles before a break for fluids and Clif bars. Today it was more like every 10 miles so that we could cool off for a while in our support vehicle, a Rav4. Now we begin the trek through South Dakota.
((Footnote: To Dino - Dan says the root beer you bought him is the best he's ever had.))
(We were originally scheduled to cover 50 miles today, however it is our goal to combine Days 14, 15,and 16 into 2 days to put us back on schedule for an August 31 arrival at the Atlantic coast.)
The alarm went off at 4am. No one really spoke at all. We went through our individual routines in preparation for a 5am start. With enough light before the sun rose, we headed out of Hardin south on Old 87 towards the town of Crow Agency, the entrance to the Crow Indian Reservation. We stopped for a break at a local gas station to fill up for the next two days and stopped in the trading post for a snack. We were forewarned that we were to be cautious of our behavior as their laws take precedence over U.S. laws.
Heading east on 212, we passed Little Bighorn Battlefield. We were not to pass any significant brush fires up to this point, other than isolated pockets of local fires started by lightning strikes. Dan was told not to pull off too far into the shoulder of the road into high grass as the catalytic converter has been noted to start fires.
After 30 miles or so, we took a brief break in the town of Busby. As we crossed into Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation and continued riding into Ashland, we began to notice just how much we were in the minority. It was difficult for us to tell we were on Cheyenne territory. Half expecting to see teepees, we came across only a few. The homes were no different than the typical cottage/colonials found across the west coast states we had already traveled through. It was going through the town centers that made us feel like the minority.
Our final portion of the route was a steady climb towards the town of Lame Deer. The geography was dramatically greener, but that will not last for long as we head east of Lame Deer through the last day of our ride in Montana. We managed to add 30 miles to our route today, Day 14, which was originally slotted for 50 miles. Tomorrow we will add additional miles to Day 15 by combining it with Day 16. This should help put us back on schedule for our August 31 arrival at Seaside Park. It will be a long day.
This morning's wake-up call of 5:30 was prompted by the heat and the fact that Dino would be heading to Billings Airport to catch his flight back to Chicago. It was a treat having him with us. He happened to pick 3 beautiful days to ride with us, beginning with our ride over the Lewis & Clark Forest and ending with last night's visit to Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox.
Our attempt to beat the heat was somewhat successful. It was the last hour that did us in. By 11:45 a.m. the temps were in the mid 90's. We hadn't expected the topography between Billings and Hardin to vary as much. You'll see in the photos that for the first portion of the ride east was a steady climb along a windy and green road that rose over Billings. Looking back gave us a great view of the city. It wasn't long, however before the variations of green evolved into variations of brown. There were significantly fewer ranches to be seen, and a greater number of fields that had not been planted due to drought conditions.
There were, however distinctly unique characteristics to be seen this day. We passed many large rock formations at the tops of mountain passes with flattened plateaus along their peaks. Lakes and ponds were reduced to salt beds, reminding me of Utah ten years ago. At one point we passed a stream that snaked along for miles. Cattle had descended along it hoping for a plentiful source of refreshment. About 11 miles outside of Hardin, we came across the site of Custer's Last Stand.
We spent the afternoon catching up on email/phone calls and contacting Emergency Services groups between Harding and Colstrip to see if the brush fires between Crow Agency and Lame Deer were under control. As of 2 p.m. today, brush fires had burned through 150,000 acres in Cheyenne Indian Territory and Little Big Horn.
Tomorrow we plan on rising at 4:00 and riding at 5:00. Temps in Colstrip are expected to reach 98. We have a 62 mile ride that we hope to complete before 11am. That is our goal. It remains to be seen.
We made every effort to leave Harlowton this morning to complete the 55 miles to Billings before the real heat set in. We were partially successful. We got to Billings around 2pm and the temps were already 92.
The geography today was nothing short of scorched and the farmland was barren. Fewer cattle seemed to be roaming. Perhaps they too felt more comfortable indoors.
We took more breaks than usual today and realized how much more we needed to hydrate and nourish ourselves. It had been a subtle, but steady climb throughout the day. We were about 6 miles outside of Billings, when we could see it off to the south in the valley. It would be a pleasant descent into the city and a couple more miles to the Super 8 where we would spend the night.
Dino enjoyed every minute of his last day riding with us. Dan had driven ahead after our last roadside break 25 miles north of Billings. This would give Dan time to get to a bike shop for parts we desperately needed, and to get a bicycle box for Dino to pack his bike away for his flight back home to Chicago tomorrow morning.
We had not anticipated making it on time to Vespers at Saint Nicholas, but we did. It was good to get to services and we are very grateful for the warm reception the parish provided. A home cooked dinner had been prepared for us after services.
Soon afterwards, it was back to the hotel where we discussed moving our start time tomorrow morning up to 5am. We do not relish the idea of a 4am wake-up call, but we prefer that over riding during the middle of the day in the blistering heat.
Tomorrow, off to Hardin. In just a few days, we will soon we riding through Native American territory and Little Big Horn. Dan also brought to my attention that we are also just about 50 miles north of Yellowstone National Park, a visit to make on another adventure.
Given the weather in the vast majority of our nation, we have had nothing to complain about. This was the first day temps in Montana rose over 90. We started out at our usual time, around 7am and made it to Harlowton by 3:30. After passing Lake Sutherin, there were only two towns of any kind before our final destination for the day, the towns of Martinsdale and Twodot. It was somewhere between these two towns that we managed to grab some shots of cowboys rustling and corralling cows, something I've only seen on TV westerns dating back decades.
It is becoming clear to us that the further east we head through Montana the more we will begin to witness the evidence of the massive heatwave that has blanketed our country for weeks. Tomorrow we are off to Billings where we hope to make it in time to attend vespers at St. Nicholas Orthodox Church. The forecast calls for 40% chance of rain. Rain is looking pretty good to us about now.
Early this morning while Dan was readying the SAG vehicle, a young cyclist approached him and asked him if he could borrow his air pump. Dan, of course, obliged. This young man was very curious about the IOCC sign on the car and so they chatted for a while. About 30 minutes later Dan drove us to our starting point to begin our ride over the Lewis & Clark Forest into White Sulphur Springs, never thinking we would encounter this same cyclist later in the day.
Our starting point was a rest area outside the town of Monarch where route 89 would turn right into the Lewis & Clark Forest. During this short drive we would once again pass the mysterious cyclist in black. The ride for the first 25 miles along 89 was deep green and lush as we began the slow ascent to the peak. For hour after hour, the Belt Creek followed along side along our route.
It was at our 2nd rest stop after we had ridden 30 miles that the mysterious cyclist in black stopped in front of us and approached and greeted us once again. He would use the familiar Texas greeting, "What's Up Dude". We didn't quite know what to make of this person. Was he friend or foe? Once again he greeted us with "What's Up Dude". How does one respond to this? The cyclist in black, becoming frustrated, removes his helmet and calls out, "Don't you remember me from 10 years ago?" Shock quickly set in as did the thrill to see that it was Dino Davlantis.
The next 15 minutes seems like a blur. Apparently, Dino had flown into Great Falls Wednesday night in search of us and began riding his single speed bike early this morning using the route he had printed out from my website. We can't tell you how shocked we were when he rode up to us. It was a surreal and special feeling that brought back fond memories from ten years ago. Dino had spontaneously decided to use some vacation time and join us for several days until Billings where he will fly back home to Chicago. What a day!
Passing through the Lewis and Clark National Forest and Little Belt Mountains, the Kings Hill Scenic Byway (route 89) allows travelers to leisurely savor the rugged beauty and invigotating fresh air to be experienced in Montana. Stretching 71 miles along Route 89, the byway winds its way throught the pristine mountain lakes and streams and is home to an abundant variety of wildlife. We passed old abandoned mines and witnessed our first bison ranch.
At 7,393 ft we had finally reached the peak of the Lewis and Clark Forest, our highest altitude to date. The descent into White Sulphur Springs was well earned. Until Billings, we are a team of 4!
We went to sleep last night around 8:00 p.m. or so, even though it was sunny until 10:30. We could hear fireworks during the night, but slept soundly. We pulled out of Choteau around 7:00 a.m. as people were preparing for the July 4th Parade. A group of runners readied themselves for the annual 5K run.
Unlike yesterday, the winds were barely noticeable. We continued SE on 89 passing rolling fields of wheat and cattle ranches, a vast difference from the western North Dakota topography. We expect that we will be experiencing a wide range of cultural and geographic conditions during our 11 days riding across the state.
After passing the Freezeout Lake Wildlife Management Area, we entered the town of Fairfield. Almost immediately, 89 turned east towards Great Falls which eased our ride with tailwinds from the SSW. Getting close to Great Falls, Brett once again spotted a Frontage road that took us safely over the bridge that crossed the Missouri River. The city of Great Falls looked barren until we reached the center of town and could hear the parade. We caught the last few minutes of it, but it was enough to get us into the spirit. Dan and Brett decided to investigate the Charles Russell Museum's displays of a famous painter of the west.
Lastly, we are now entering a rich portion of the Lewis and Clark experience, something we are all looking forward to in the days ahead.
Another day to gear up for rain, but within 2 hours the skies began to change for the better. Leaving East Glacier, we continued northeast along route 2 – still in Blackfeet Indian Territory – and made our first stop in South Browning, route 89, where the terrain had changed dramatically. We looked back in the distance only to see Glacier's snow capped peaks.
Rolling fields, mostly wheat and grazing for buffalo and cows, soon became our terrain for the day. Our route to Choteau continued along route 89 heading south until our next rest stop at Dupuyer. Having to make a phone call, we found some shade near the only store in town, only to be greeted by a dog with a tennis ball and an interest in some company. Our final stop before Choteau was Bynum, just enough of a town to give us some shade and rest.
I had checked the weather the night before. Winds out of the SSW at 30MPH. We had the winds at our backs at first, but that changed to crosswinds which made it a cautious ride. Forunately there was little traffic on the Indian reservation roads we would traveled on. We could look back toward Glacier and see the rain dropping. When we left, the temperature was in the low 60's. It rose to just over 80 by the time we arrived in Choteau.
Tomorrow we are off to Great Falls, MT where we will cross the Missouri River.
Rest Day – East Glacier Forest, MT – Two Medicine Lake
We took advantage of the day by doing laundry, repairs, and restocking provisions, had a good lunch, checked emails, and made calls. By early afternoon, we headed into West Glacier Park, driving 11 miles until we reached an area called "Two Medicine".
Dan had done some research on Two Medicine Lake. It seems that many years ago, people would come into the town of West Glacier and take the 11 mile road up by horseback. In the distance and closer to East Glacier Park, is what is known as "Going To The Sun Road".
Surrounding the glacial lake were snowcapped mountains, waterfalls and an abundance of trails. Had we taken the road further into the national park, we would have come to Saint Mary Lake.
We woke to 55 degrees and a forecast of 70% chance of thunderstorms on the day we would cross Glacier National Forest and the Continental Divide. The ride leaving Kalispell would be a good warm-up for what would be over 6,000 ft of climbing to get to the eastern side of the National Forest. It was about 25 miles when we arrived at West Glacier Park. The entrance of the park was marked with souvenir shops, white water rafting outfitters and a museum.
From that point on began the ascent through the park. For most of this time we would follow the path of the Middle Fork Flathead River, at times right next to us, while at other times hundreds of yards below. One of the most spectacular sights was the view of the river snaking through the forest below a railroad trestle. Continuing along the river we came to majestic falls along Bear Devil Creek. Throughout the day, the climbing proved to be an arduous task, even with temperatures hovering in the low 70's. Before we would take the 8 mile descent into East Glacier Park, we would cross the Continental Divide. It was marked by an unassuming sign.
To date, we have climbed approximately 24,000 ft. in 7 days since we left Seattle. We will likely take a rest day in the next day or two. That decision may come tomorrow morning. The town of East Glacier Park is less than 4 city blocks long. We are staying at the Whistling Swan Motel this evening and perhaps another if need be. This day was by far the most challenging but the most rewarding.
This morning we left Libby, continuing on route 2 east. It was another cool morning, about 50 degrees. We didn't need winter riding gear as we did in Washington, but we started with several layers. Heading southward though the Kootenai National Forest, we passed Crystal Lake and Loon Lake where the loons could be heard in the distance. The glassy water was absolutely still with the sky's reflection. We had heard from others that eagles land on the roads and to take great care as they take a while to lift off. Unfortunately, we witnessed none. Sadly, we did come across a dead moose at the side of the road, the likely result of a collision with a vehicle.
It was at one of the many lakes at the top of the Kootenai that we came across a gentleman by the name of Greg riding unsupported. His Cannondale touring bike was equipped with 8 panniers, his bike weighing 150 lbs. He had already covered close to 3,000 miles in the U.S. At our request, he joined us for lunch and used our floor pump to get his tires to maximum pressure.
We had completed half our ride to Kalispell by lunch, and went on our way. It was a day of rolling hills and "big blue skies". One of the more impressive plateaus at the top of the Kootenai was the Smith Lake Waterfowl Production Area, a national preserve dedicated to promote waterfowl reproduction. We arrived at the Comfort Inn Blue Sky in Kalispell around 4:30 and are getting ready to prepare for another day. Tomorrow, off to East Glacier Park Village.
Please be sure to go to www.racetorespond.org to contribute to IOCC. If you have already done so, please please help spread the word.
Taking Rte 2 north, we left Sandpoint for our first parish visit to Holy Myrrh Bearers Church in Bonners Ferry, ID. We were fortunate to make it there for a portion of services celebrating Saints Peter and Paul. Father Gregory concluded the liturgy with a prayer service for our journey east. The parishioners greeted us warmly afterwards with a homemade brunch where we ate and shared experiences. It seems Father Gregory has his roots in the east and spent part of his youth at Seaside Park, NJ. After a brief discussion regarding IOCC's global initiatives, we left Bonners Ferry and began our ride through Idaho.
Heading North, Konstantin showed his fortitude by pushing forward until he was no longer in sight. This, of course, did cause us "some" concern because Route 2 north turns east towards Montana in 27 miles. We imagined Konstantin staying straight on the road heading towards the Canadian border (his passport and ID were in the SAG wagon). Dan rode ahead to reassure us that he was in fact on the 2 East. Brett and I had images of Konstantin riding up to a border agent asking "which way to Montana – I ride for IOCC".
The ride through Montana was spectacular as we followed Rte 2 along the Kootenai River. Dan had done some research and highlighted a stop which we were fortunate to make. Heading into Montana, we went through the town of Troy and came to Kootenai Falls. We parked the car and walked along a trail of towering pines that provided a soft bed of pine needles to sink into. The river, being at flood stage due to recent rains, made it all the more a majestic site.
It was time to hit the road for the last 15 miles into Libby. We also realized that the time had changed and that we had lost an hour. With that came a sense of urgency to get into Libby, eat, and sleep. Tomorrow, we're off to Kalispell where it appears the heat that has been affecting most of the continental US will be felt up north as well.
As we made our way to breakfast this morning at the Comfort Inn in Spokane, we couldn't help but notice that we were surrounded by 6'5" teenagers. It seems that this week is "Hoop Fest", the largest 3 on 3 basketball competition. Gonzaga University is nearby. There are approximately 150 teams attending a basketball camp, making the downtown Spokane area basketball heaven for sports enthusiasts.
It was time to head north on Route 2 that would take us to Sandpoint Idaho, a small town along Lake Pend Oreille. This was not to be as long a day of riding, approximately 55 miles, but the head winds from the north proved a bit daunting. Brett and I looked back at Konstantin with a look of frustration, and before you know it he's pulling us north at 17.5.
We ended up reaching Sandpoint a bit after 2 pm, giving us plenty of time to catch up on calls and a bit of extra R and R. We even drove over to the beachfront to view the expanse of the lake which was quite spectacular. Some of the mountain ranges to the north were still snow-capped.
Tonight we sleep early and prepare for day 5, our first visit to a parish. We ride from Sandpoint for approximately 30 miles to the town of Bonners Ferry, Idaho, where we will visit Holy Myrrhbearers Eastern Orthodox Christian Church, during services celebrating the feast day of Saints Peter and Paul.
Last, but not least, just when we thought we lost our friends with the "Ride for World Harmony", we spotted their mobile home at the beach. I sure hope they were getting wet.
Sun. No Rain. No flats. A good day. Breakfast at A La Cozy/Shell Oil. Interesting breakfast. The weather was a bit warmer. 61 degrees F rather than a high of 53 in previous days. No winter riding gear to get started today. Sun on our backs and off to Spokane. Cross winds weren't as ideal as tailwinds but we certainly weren't complaining. Our first town was Reardon. Almost took a wrong turn. Oops! Soon after, the town of Wilbur. Please note the photo of the pig from Charlotte's Web. (Riding on Route 2, I felt like Wilbur trying to learn how to spin a web – although he is persistent and tries hard to get the technique right but soon realizes that he is not equipped to build such a structure). Stopping for lunch in Davenport, Dan found the freshest cherries, apples and bananas to accompany our daily ritual of PB&J. Our last stretch of Route 2 brought us to a turn off that would take us north of Spokane, however we decided that we would take Route 2 straight into town. Unfortunately that put us at the entrance to an interstate. Problem, but problem solved. Brett found a frontage road that would take us right into Spokane to the Comfort Inn where we were soon quite comfortable. We made great time today.
Dan graciously offered to treat us all to dinner at the Olive Garden where we consumed massive quantities of carbohydrates. Konstantin finished a half a bottle of Olive oil. He proceeded to inform us that he puts olive oil on everything, even pizza.
Before closing I must note that we are not the only cross-country enthusiasts on the road. It seems that "Run For World Harmony" has been side by side with us since Seattle. They are traveling in a mobile home and have runners running with torches across the states. We have been passing them each day, for how much longer we do not know. They are running "around the country". It has been great riding along with them. Their route splits off after Idaho.
Tomorrow off to the home of the Idaho potato. Sour cream anybody?
When we woke up, we knew we were in trouble — rain. We expected a 30% chance of precipitation, but were hoping for the 70%. Brett began the morning with a prayer, a tradition started by Kerry San Chirico on our 2002 ride, and hit the road. We had the wind at our backs… knocked off 18 miles in 50 minutes. Things were looking up, until the series of flats that ate up a total of 2 hours. We have some theories. Konstantin believes that the cherry orchards along the road were the cause. It appears they use thin wire in their processing and leave remnants along the side of the road. Three of the flats were caused by thin wire threads. The others, a combination of sharp glass and rocks brought to the surface of the road by the rain. After changing tubes AND tires, we completed the last 25 miles into Coulee City by 4:50pm. (not Coulee Dam) We have a great room at the "A La Cozy Motel" in Coulee City. If you were part of the 2002 ride, it is reminiscent of the "Border Inn" (enough said). Actually this little 12-room motel, owned by Dee and Dave, offered to not only let us use their washer/dryer, but they actually folded our loads. Spent the evening hosing down the bikes. Dirt and grit from road traffic would grind components to shreds. They say tomorrow will be sunny...
It was an early wake-up call…5:30am. Breakfast was a 5-minute stop. Father John from Assumption came by Edmunds at 6:30am with Kim Angelis of IOCC Seattle Metropolitan Committee to do the blessing of our ride at the beachfront. And then off we went. The first 45-50 miles were relatively moderate although there were some pretty decent climbs leaving Edmunds. As we got closer to Route 2, the elevation profile began to increase. Once we hit Stevens Pass, the climbing began. Mile marker 48 to 75 was the real climb. By the time we reached the peak of Stevens Pass, we reached an elevation of 4,927 ft and completed 6,187 ft of total climbing for the day. Oops, I forgot to mention that the 25 miles leading to Stevens Pass was in the rain, as was the 35-mile descent into Leavenworth bringing us to a total of 108 miles on the first day. The Wenatchee River was roaring along our final 15 miles into Leavenworth. Some highlights: Konstantin got the first flat, flashback to 2002, Brett got the second one. I'm next in line – perhaps tomorrow. Leavenworth is a quaint Bavarian town. Brett and Dan, our support vehicle driver, went to an Italian restaurant, while Konstantin and I remained in our room cleaning our bikes and eating PBJ sandwiches with bananas. Off to bed after the laundry.
After waking up to a clear morning at the Filers, we attended services at Assumption Greek Orthodox church in Seattle. After being warmly greeted by Parish President Ted Dimitreou and Theodora, we were taken for a tour through their new church facility. During services, Father was gracious to mention of our journey during his sermon and introduced us to the parishioners. We thanked all of them for their generosity in supporting IOCC. Coffee hour gave us an opportunity to meet with many parish members who expressed their interest in following our journey and in supporting IOCC's global humanitarian efforts. It was then time to head over to Elliot Bay Cycles to pick up our bicycles that had been shipped there from the East coast, and head over to Edmunds Marina to check into our hotel accommodations. Before too long, it was time to head to Sea Tac to pick up Konstantin, who had flown in from the Netherlands for the ride. Back to the hotel for dinner and last-minute prep for our first day ride to Leavenworth.
Once again, please help support our cause by spreading the word and making whatever contribution you can at www.iocc.org.
May, 2012: Race To Respond 2012
Ten years ago, four dedicated IOCC supporters made history riding their bikes cross country to raise awareness and funds for IOCC's worldwide humanitarian work. The lead rider, Jim Angelus, is ready to repeat this feat in honor of IOCC's 20th anniversary. Jim, along with two other cyclists, Konstantin Kanelis and Brett Mckey, will cycle 3,000 miles in 37 days from Washington State to New Jersey. Dan Mckey and Ora Shelter will serve as Support and Gear (SAG) crew.
Jim is an Orthodox Christian of Greek descent. He and his wife, Lynn, are blessed with 20-year-old twin sons, Nicholas and Evan.
2002 Race to Respond Team: (l to r) Konstantin Kanelis, Dino Davlantis, Jim Angelus, Alex Mazarakos, and Michael Tsakalos
In 2002, Jim realized his goal to cross America on bicycle, the 2002 Race to Respond, an event that benefited IOCC's efforts in aiding the lives of people suffering from war, poverty and natural disasters around the globe.
The ultimate goal of the 2012 Race to Respond is to inspire and attract local, regional and national support to IOCC's humanitarian work. We invite you to become part of this inspirational undertaking and help demonstrate how the efforts of a few individuals can make a world of difference.
For more information about how you can get involved in the Race to Respond Program, please contact email@example.com or toll free at 1-877-803-4622.