My ride is over, but the memories will last forever.

A life long dream fulfilled ... a great cause ... new friends ... amazing support

Thanks to everyone who helped make a difference!

I have maxed out the picture space on this blog. To see my postings for Day 42 (August 1st) onward click the link below:

GOTO Mark's Trek - NEW Daily BLOG (August 1st Onward)

Sunday, August 1, 2010

New Link for Postings for Day 42 (August 1st) Onward

I have maxed out the picture space on this blog. To see my postings for Day 42 (August 1st) onward click the link below:

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Day 41 -- July 31st -- London, Ontario to Brantford, Ontario

Miles Ridden: 68.9
Avg Speed: 16.5
Avg Heart Rate: 113 bpm
Climbing: 1,214 ft
Calories Burned: 1,437 (so says my Garmin ... it's higher!)

Shorter and easier day ... flat tobacco farms ... dogs ... a mule ... a fall (not me!) ... Canadian flags and friends

Today' route and map --

A short day and the likelihood of a room delay in Brantford pushed back load until 8:30.  I slept in until 7:15 and had my first breakfast without my cycling clothes on.  It was a little chili and pretty overcast as we headed out.  Several riders picked up Canada jerseys and displayed them for today's ride.  Toronto Mark and Joe were among those donning jerseys.  Joe went on a hunt for Canadian flags during the ride, and was not disappointed, particularly in the town of Otterville.

8:30 Load ... I am In The Middle

Team Canada
The Geldings plus Alex started out together and rode quiet country roads past more farms and small towns.  Jeff and Alex dropped back to ride with Gary and Margot, and we pushed on.  Our pace was good, but not blistering ... just the way I like it.  The weather stayed cool and somewhat dreary, but was almost ideal for cycling.  Our only SAG was in a nice town park in Springford.  Toronto Mark's wife Susan and hist aunt and uncle were at the SAG with more treats.  There was also left overs from Jeff's mom's awesome treats from yesterday.  Mark's dog Millie was also there.  After the SAG we went through Otterville.  They had lots of Canadian pride and displayed lots of Canadian flags.  There was also a neat old flour and grist mill that dated from 1845. The mill was at one time the oldest continuously operated grist mill in Canada, but was finally closed down as an operating mill in 1981. A small dam and waterfall were also in town.

Joe and Mark ... Long Flat Roads

Joe Finds Lots Of Canadian Flags

Otterville Mill ... Circa 1845

Another Angle of the Mill

Small Falls in Otterville
Mike Munk stopped us to provide a heads up on some "aggressive dogs".  They proved to me pretty tame (or just tuckered out).  A little further up the road, we did get chased by a couple fast dogs.  I quickly pulled along side them ready to squirt my water bottle, but I was able to pedal just fast enough to avoid any issues.  We passed lots of tobacco and ginseng farms.  Like the US, some farmers are subsidized to not grow too much tobacco,  Several have moved onto to ginseng as their primary crop.  They grow it under the shade.  The next small town was Mt. Pleasant.  It was home to an interesting cemetery and neat windmill restaurant.

Dave Riding Past Fields of Tobacco

Ginseng Grows Under The Shade

These Were Not The Dogs That Chased Us

Geldings Spread Out ... Nice Shot Of Me In The Back

Now I Am In The Front

Joe Dropping Back After Drafting A Truck That Pulled Out Abruptly In Front Of Us

Not Sure Why I Took This ... Struck Me

Several Folks Stopped Here For Lunch
We made our way to Brantford.  As we exited off a busy road near town and over a bridge, there was some wet wheat or oats on the side of the road.  Joe and I were a little ahead and pointed it out, but Dave went into and and starting slipping.  He tried to keep himself upright, but with the bridge and no traction, he went down.  A little road rash and some smelly debris on his bike (and him) was the result.  Joe and I looped back around the exit ramp to rejoin Dave and Mark and headed into town.  The downtown area is in a major state of transition and rehabilitation.  They were literally tearing down the buildings on one entire street.  Brantford's big claim to fame is that it is the birthplace of hockey great Wayne Gretzky, although I could not find the Gretzky Sports Center (so the infamous sculpture of him from Edmonton will have to do for the blog).

Wayne Gretzky ... The Highlight of Brantford (and the sculpture is in Edmonton)
A few miles later we were at the hotel.  Dave was able to get his luggage from Barb and cleaned up his cuts.  I cleaned his bike ... we had quite the pile of oats in our room.  I was interviewed by the local Ontario newspaper (Brant News) today. I will post the story as soon as it is available (it will be on grabbed lunch at subway, a little R&R, and cleaned our bikes and chains before dinner.  The meal was a buffet, but pretty good at a another hotel restaurant.  Wish I had my camera, as there was a wedding going on.  The ABB riders clinked our glasses and got the bride and groom to kiss ... awe.  I searched for a local postcard, but came up empty.  I bought a note card just in case I can't find another Canada or Ontario one when we hit Niagara Falls tomorrow.

Another 70+ miles tomorrow to the Falls.  We are staying on the American side, but I expect to revisit the Canadian side during the evening and on our last rest day (Monday). Back to the states after that and our last leg into New England.

Good night moon ... good night Canada (and our Canadian friends) ... good night Brant News ... good night Wayne Gretzky ... good night girls (drive safe tomorrow) ... good night Mike (swing by the house and pick up your jury duty info) ... good night Dad (talk with you when I get back to the states)

Friday, July 30, 2010

Day 40 -- July 30th -- Port Huron, MI to London, Onatario

Miles Ridden: 87.8
Avg Speed: 16.0
Avg Heart Rate: 108 bpm
Climbing: 1,283 ft
Calories Burned: 1,635 (so says my Garmin ... it's higher!)

Blue Water bridge crossing .. Canada ... Sarnia tour ... butter tarts and Nanaimo bars ... another flat ride ... alone with my thoughts
Today' route and map --
Check out yesterday's interview on Federal News Radio (AM 1500) -- Read Article  -- Listen to Interview
A big day for our tour leaders ... a big day for the 50 riders ... another day of work for the Canadian customs folks.  A carefully orchestrated and effective logistical effort went off like clock work.  After an early breakfast at 6:00, load at 6:45, and group photo at 7:00, Mike Munk got the green light to take his minion of cyclists, 2 vans, and 1 truck across the the Blue Water Bridge that connects Port Huron, Michigan with Sarnia, Ontario Canada.  It was quite a spectacle and was made even cooler when the bridge was closed just for us.  A parade like no other that had to pause a few times in order for us to walk our bikes over the huge "kingpins" that are large expansion joints with sewer like grates.  Riding across those would have caused instant crashes. 

The Entire Crew Ready For Canada

At The Start Of The Bridge
We made the 5% climb up and over the bridge and then queued up at the customs booth for processing. It was the simplest and smoothest event ABB has seen. They asked us if we had any firearms and then sent us on our way ... didn't even check our passports. From there we headed on a tour of Sarnia that only a local could provide. Fellow Gelding, Jeff Douglas, grew up there and took us to Canatara Park, the beach, and the base of the bridge. We met up with his Mom and received some yummy Canadian treats for our SAG stop ... butter tarts and Nanaimo bars (more on that later). Sarnia was very clean, had great roads, a wonderful park, and provided us some good photo ops.

50 Bikers At Customs

Joe Snaps A Shot Of The Crowd

My Second Country

Jeff And His Mom

The Beach (Lake Huron) In Sarnia
After meandering through town, we headed out for our first day in Ontario.  A few detours helped break up the group and spread us out over the road (we had been riding together through town).  As we cleared Sarnia, the flat roads revealed farms similar to Michigan.  One difference ... no wind turbines.  In fact, the locals have quite the campaign to keep it that way.  A brief turn into the wind just before Watford, Ontario revealed the only SAG of the day.  The highlight of that was Jeff's Mom's butter tarts and Nanaimo bars.  The butter tarts are a Canadian treat that are similar to mini pecan pies.  Nanaimo bars are just awesome chocolate and custard cream squares named for west coats city of Nanaimo, British Columbia. They were a great energy boost for the next 55 miles.

Nanaimo Bars ... Yummy
Somewhere after the SAG and the town of Watford, I saw a neat old tractor that was for sale.  Not just any old tractor ... a 90 year old, $80,000 tractor.  A few small towns later, we went through Delaware (the town).  Just about everybody stopped for lunch at BJ's Deli and Ice Cream.  It looked like a nice spot and several riders told me they had a great lunch there.  I pushed on as I am not a big mid-ride eater. That put me totally on my own for the last 30 miles. I was feeling good and pushed along through the quiet back roads with just my thoughts to guide me (on yeah, the queue sheet too).  It was another wonderful chance to ponder and think ... to remember those who inspired me to make this ride a reality ... to look ahead just a short 10 days from now to seeing my wonderful crew in Portsmouth.  So many people will be there ... my soul mate Karen, my darling daughter Leah, my Mom, my Dad, my mother-in-law, my sister, my sister and brother in law, close friends Ed, Cheryl, and Dave, and maybe more.  My brother Joel will be join me later in the week and my son is wrapping up his internship so I will see him when I get home.  I am sure my eyes will swell when I see them all waiting by the ocean.

Neat Old Tractor For Sale
London, Ontario is our home for the night. A modern skyline, great bike shop, busy roads, and ummm, a XXX massage parlor (no more on that topic).  Dave and I grabbed a nap before dinner at the local diner.  Tomorrow we head to Brandtford ... a short (66 miles) and mostly flat day.  We get to sleep in big time with luggage load scheduled for 8:30.  The big 3,000 mile mark was surpassed today with only 700 left.

London, Ontario Skyline
Good night moon ... good night Sarnia ... good night Jeff's Mom ... good night Nanaimo bars ... good night Koltz/Lambert crew (can't wait to see you all!)

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Day 39 -- July 29th -- Birch Run, MI to Port Huron, MI

Miles Ridden: 89.5
Avg Speed: 16.7
Avg Heart Rate: 117 bpm
Climbing: 951 ft
Calories Burned: 951 (so says my Garmin ... it's higher!)

Flat ... great weather ... a tale of three rides ... visions of Canada

Wonderful weather greeted us as we awoke for our last day in the US for the next three days.  It was actually a little nippy when we departed just after 7:00 AM, so I donned my vest.  Breakfast was at the "Exit" ... fresh french toast and sausage.  Our first turn was a fast mile from the hotel and a few groups quickly formed on the road.  The first group missed the turn and came to a sudden stop that caused a few folks to plow into them.  Everybody was OK, although a few bikes got banged up.  My group (Geldings plus Alex) almost did the same thing, but we were able to avoid any problems.  Concentration and communication is the key.  I rode the first 30 miles with the boys (and girl) at a pretty blistering pace.  The roads were nice, the terrain was flat, but there was not much to see.  In a blink we were at the first SAG which was in a small picnic area with an artesian well.

Filling Up At The Well

About five miles after the SAG, I dropped back and picked up Helen. I had not had the chance to ride with her very much and wanted to spend some time with her. We rode a nice pace to the second SAG in Yale. The time passed quickly with great conversation and easy pedaling. Helen and I had chatted so much prior to the trip, it was great to finally spend some one-on-one time together. We made a quick stop in Brown City for a chocolate milk and Gatorade. I gingerly crossed several railroad tracks. I don't think I will ever cross them quite the same way again. At the SAG, we met up with a bunch of folks and took a nice break. A few folks went into the town. It is dubbed as the bologna capital of the USA. We found a nice mural just before town. The bologna festival was just a few days ago ... rats, missed it.

Flower Lined Roads

Another Shot ... Cool

Building Mural in Yale

Signs Were Still Up For The Bologna Festival
I rode the last 30 miles on my own and briefly with Beth. I picked up the pace a little and actually hit a hill (quite a rare occurrence the last few days). The roads remained pretty good, although there were a few bad spots. About 10 miles from Port Huron we turned onto Lakeshore Drive right at Peppy's. They had 100 milkshake flavors and I was a good doobie and actually passed without getting one. Beth, Tom, and I moved quickly down the road past some very nice houses that over looked Lake Huron.

100 Flavors And I Got None

Several Nice Lakeside Homes

Great Views Too
In town, we met up with Jeff who grew up in Sarnia, Ontario (just across the bridge from Port Huron). He showed us the bridge and where the lake and the Saint Clair River meet. We will cross over into Ontario in the morning. Jeff's mom is meeting us on the other side with some Canadian goodies. I had a phone interview with Federal News Radio (AM 1500) in Washington DC later in the day. It will air tomorrow during the afternoon drive show. Once I have the link, I will post to my blog and the My Media Coverage page of my web site. Chris Dorobek is the afternoon host and has been very supportive of my ride.

Looking Across Into Canada

Bridge Into Canada

St Clair River Meets Lake Huron

I Was There
Dinner was at the hotel and included an extended wrap about the entry process into Canada and some preliminary information on the last day in Portsmouth.  It is hard to imagine, the trip will end in just 11 days.  We will arrive at the Wallis Sands State Beach in Rye, NH about 12:00.  My entourage will assemble at 11:30 AM.  Can't wait to see everyone!!

Alex Skypes In The Hall After Dinner ... Too Funny

Good night moon ... good night bologna ... good night Federal News Radio ... good night USA

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Day 38 -- July 28th -- Mt. Pleasant, MI to Birch Run, MI

Miles Ridden: 80.9 (plus an extra 14)
Avg Speed: 17.5
Avg Heart Rate: 114
Climbing: 476 ft
Calories Burned: 1,560 (so says my Garmin ... it's higher!)

Pancake flat ... nice tailwind part of the day ... bonus miles with Beth ... Frankenmuth

Today' route and map -- to be posted

Our first morning "route wrap" was scheduled for 7:30.  As usual, Dave and I were downstairs about 30 minutes before luggage load (also 7:30), and the breakfast area was empty.  Folks just love to get an early start and stand in line.  Another waffle and bowl of oatmeal later, I was outside and threw my luggage on almost last.  We got our cue sheets for the day and ... boom, they were off.  By the time I got my gloves on, almost everyone was gone. Not up for any chasing, I eased into the day as I passed a local casino.  It was fun to see and talk briefly with folks usually on the road before me.  After a short 2 miles, we turned south and into a cross wind that slowed us some.  That lasted over 16 miles before we turned in Alma (Scotland USA).

Soaring Eagle Casino ... Just Down The Road From Our Hotel

Some Farms Were Not Pristine

Flat Roads
 It was very humid and the weatherman called for isolated storms.  The sky often looked threatening, but it never came.  The route from Alma was pretty non-descript, but the wind was our friend and I took full advantage.  After riding with the Swiss train into the wind, I set out on my own at a blistering pace.  I caught sight of Dave, but some lights in town, put him out of reach.  I never saw the other Geldings ... they left before I did out of the hotel.  A few miles before the only SAG I caught up with Beth.  There was a bridge out and a vehicle detour posted.  Often, bikes can make it past stuff, but there was an ABB arrow on the ground saying to go left.  I guess there was some words on the ground too, but Beth and I did not see them.  A short while later, the vehicle detour turned right.  Well ... Beth and I were looking for another ABB arrow and the road looked like dirt, so we kept going.  We rode up past another three turns (all dirt) before we made the call back to Debbie at ABB.  Turns out the words said to follow the detour signs!  Oh well.  That meant a few more miles back to the dirt turn, which we rode past a little :-)  We were laughing our butts off.  We finally pulled into the SAG with an extra 7 miles under our wheels.

The Detour ... I was Laughing Too Hard to Take One of Beth or I

I was only at the SAG for a short while and was off to make up some time.  Not much to see, no climbs, just me ... free to ride hard when I wanted to, and coast when I wanted to ... almost perfect conditions.  Before I knew it, I was in Birch Run with 81 miles done just after 12:00.  I am definitely in the east ... my first 7/11 in 5+ weeks appeared. 

Me Drafting A Tractor

Kim Drafting The Tractor
Dave lives about an hour or so from Birch Run and had mentioned a local diner (Tony's) and a local town (Frankenmuth) as good options for arrival.  I was not that hungry just yet, so I decided to make the extra 7 mile trek to Frankenmuth. Frankenmuth is a small Bavarian town with a monstrous Christmas shop and several chicken restaurants. I opted for a sub, but enjoyed the scenery and people watching before heading back to Birch Run and the hotel.  The Geldings made it to Tony's and witnessed their infamous one pound bacon BLT (Joe actually ordered it).  They also saw the half gallon of ice cream sundae.  Karen will be happy that I passed those up (so will my belly)!

Bavaria ? ... No, It's Frankenmuth

Bavarian Inn

One Of The "Chicken Dinner" Spots

Another Inn

Joe's 1 Pound Bacon BLT

Half A Gallon Of Ice Cream Sundae
Upon my return I showered and gathered my clothes for cleaning.  Our hotel washer & dryer (singular) was in the lobby and had already built up a huge queue.  Chutzpah comes naturally to me, so I headed across the street to the Holiday Inn.  No one was there, they had two nice washers, two nice dryers, a folding table, and a comfy lobby. I was back by route wrap and avoided the long wait at our hotel.  Dinner was at the "Exit" across the street.  Not too bad ... I had the fish and chips, but passed on the pies (see Karen, I am cutting back).  Dave's family came up for a visit and dinner.  I was able to meet them and talk for awhile.  His grand daughter is so cute!

Another flat day tomorrow into Port Huron.  A little longer (87 miles), but no worries.  Maybe the gang will stay together for a change.  If not, no worries.  On Friday we head into Canada.

Good night moon ... good night Beth (bonus miles made for a great laugh) ... good night flat roads and tail winds (please come back tomorrow) ... good night Bavaria (or least Frankenmuth) ... good night Federal News Radio - AM 1500 (talk with you tomorrow afternoon)