Thursday, August 7, 2014

BIG RIDE August 1 - August 3 Summary and Finish

Day        Destination                         Arrival                   Depart                  Mile

47           Clarksville, MD  1              Aug        2-            Aug                        60

Rolling hills and crossed into Maryland with some busy traffic.  Stayed at Little Bennett state park and went across the street to a pavilion that was the site of the last night  out.  After dinner very passionate words by the staff with Charlton commending us on our journey and paying tribute to Karolina who could not finish but gave it a shot.  Will was touching when he talked of his father and the example he set.  We all received awards for the ride with mine the  most inflatable because cathy and I both only had one flat, coffee thief for my ability to get coffee in the morning and believe it or not, best ass for my butt, I guess because I stand on the bike so much.  We all went to bed early and wanted to savor the last night but alas we were just too tired.

48           Washington DC 2              Aug                                                        42

The last day.  Busy roads and navigation to the capital and the end.  We went from roads to bike paths on the capital cresent trail and at the rest stop was surprised by an electrical fire on a telephone pole  across the street from the checkpoint.  The fire trucks arrived and we started to DC and the end of our journey.  Soon we met up with Ted, Ben, Liz, Andrea, and Jen who started early on bike to meet us.  What an overwhelming sight, family to join us to the conclusion, what a joy.  We arrived at the Capital and navigated to the Ronald Regan building where a           BIG RIDE alumni Mr. Costas arranged a nice lunch and final meal before we headed to the ceremony.  We all staged on the plaza and did a two minute interval into the final leg and received our medals with the capital and Washington monument as backdrops.  What a great ending .  Several great photos with the group , family and the Pedigo group as sponsors to Cathy’s trip.

That evening we went to Tonic and celebrated in grand style and retired to the State plaza hotel after good byes and farewells.  Everyone was happy to be finished and the celebration was a completion to the journey.



On Sunday we went to the Potomac  River for the front wheel dip before the van trip back to Pittsburgh.  The return trip to Pittsburgh included roads that were cycled the day before, with a stop in Bedford.  The climb was much easier powered by a Chevy engine and all the weight  carried in the van.  Arrived home in less than 5 hours , a task that took us 5 days by bike.  Great to be home.  I know where the coffee maker was, the bathroom and of course the king size bed was so comfortable.

The end.

Well, l not quite because we all have to adjust to reentry into the normal world, but that’s what we do every day anyway, try and adjust to the bumps in the road .

Thank you to all who supported the BIG RIDE.

Top Favorites  List

Best ride:  10 mile downhill into the Columbia River Basin with a tailwind.

Best scenery:  the Bad Lands

Biggest Challenge:  109 miles in Wyoming riding alone.  

Best University:  Wisconsin at Madison

Best Quote: Charlton DuRant, “This group is like herding cats with their tales on fire”

Biggest Surprise:  Flight 93 memorial and the emotional impact

Best Taste: Chocolate milk after the ride most days

Favorite Lunch:  Hummus on whole wheat flatbread and Gatorade




Miles:  3,384

12 States:  Washington, Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Maryland

Days: 52

Flats : 1

Days I didn’t want to ride: 0

Longest day:  113 miles in Indiana

Rescues: none, road every inch

2014 Big Riders: 11









Thursday, July 31, 2014

BIG RIDE July 25 - July 31 Summary

Day        Destination                         Arrival                   Depart                  Mile


40           Burton OH                           25-July                 26-July                 92

Left the flat and headed to the urban areas of Cleveland and wonderful homes along Lake Erie .  The route took us to downtown past the rock and roll hall of fame.  Great ride.
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Lake Erie at Cleveland


41           New Waterford OH         26-July                 27-July                  59

Today was the hills and rolling ohio country side after some flat to begin.  Terry and Kevin Craig visited us and we had a wonderful time.

Terry and Kevin Craig, our visitors from home

42           Washington PA                 27-July                  28-July                 62

Rolling hills with some steep climbs.  Back in our neck of the woods and Beaver County.  Had a gang visit us today.  Ben, Jen, Liz, Hewey, Tim, Lynn, and Mary and Mike .  They brought all sorts of food and drink.  Heavy rain and thunder.  Big time fracking, trucks everywhere.

PA line and Beaver County

Wonderful to be have family and friends visit us in Washington PA

43           Confluence PA                 28-July                  29-July                  88

Another great day of riding with the last 50 miles on the YRT from West Newton to Confluence.  Rained the afternoon .  Met up with Maury and Terry at OhioPyle and rode to Confluence.  Skipped the tent camping and stayed at an apartment that Maury had rented.  More visitors with Dave, Millie, Patty, and Diane coming to see us also Sally and Anita came over and we drank a few beers before heading to the Lucky Dog for dinner.  Felt great to sleep in a bed while it rained outside.

Impromptu Party at the Eagles Nest apartment


44           Bedford PA                         29-July                 30-Jul                    81

Long day with a side trip to the Flight 93 memorial in Shanksville.  Hills , hills and more hills.  Upon our arrival we were greeted by Corky, Dee, Patsy and her two grandchildren.  What fun.  We all went to a nice restaurant and enjoyed talking about the trip.

Thank you for the cheers of support, Corky, Dee , Patsy and grandchildren


45           Gettysburg PA                  30-Jul                    1-Aug                   100

A long and challenging day.  Many previous Big Riders saying this is the hardest day of the trip.  Started with several back road climbs and went through the Laurel Highland mountains.  Up over Bald Knob and a long descent.   Lunch was in a state park where a 2008 alumni cooked everyone lunch.  Almost a nine hour day and 103 miles on the bike.  We are staying at Gettysburg College and had dinner at a nice French restaurant.  A six day week of riding is now behind us.


46*         Gettysburg PA
Nice town for a rest day.  We are staying at Gettysburg College in a remodeled hotel/dorm very close to downtown.  The restday was the normal laundry, bike wash and huge breakfast at the Lincoln Diner.  Then Cathy did an interview for the local paper and the group went to the battle field for a tour.  We went to the campus and took video for the closing ceremony.  A mixed emotion on the trip ending with many ready to go home and some wanting to continue,   I guess we all miss home and have had a great time and want to continue.  Two more days to go and we will be finished.

Cathy doing a News interview and photo shoot
Video prep for the finish line

Thursday, July 24, 2014

BIG RIDE July 18 - July 24 Summary

Day        Destination                         Arrival                   Depart                  Mile

33           Garden Prairie, IL             18-July                 19-July                  94

This is starting to become a blur.  Ride , shower, eat, fall asleep and repeat.  Good Ride.  Cross into Illinois.  Our 8th state.
Madison WI at dawn before our ride


34           Coal City, IL                         19-July                 20-July                  106

Strong century.  Long flat roads  Great picnic at the co operative fairgrounds.  Very Nice weather.

Two weeks to go.


35           Valparaiso IN                     20-July                 21-July                  84

Tough 84 miles.  Very bumpy roads. Crossed into Indiana. Lots of traffic.  Staying at Valparasio University.  Crossed into Indiana our 9th state.  The roads are more patched holes than any that we have seen.  A very pleasant meeting with Ben and Chris at the university.  We all went out to dinner and had a good meal with fun conversation.  They are on their way  back from RAGBRAI and the expo.

Kenny and his Indiana crossing Jersey

Long horns


36           Kendallville IN                   21-July                  22-July                  109

Longest ride of the tour.  113 miles with a 4 mile detour that included tar and chips.  Went well with a few extra tough miles to catch the group at the 42 mile marker before lunch.  Rode with the group in the afternoon and went smooth.  Tonight we are in Bixler lake park and the parks and recreation dept cooked hamburgers and hot dogs for cook out and salad Gatorade , watermelon and ice cream.  The mayor said a few words and was really nice to everyone.  For 113 miles , I feel pretty good.

Why we ride


37           Napoleon OH                     22-July                 23-July                  70

Another beautiful day.  The weather has been fantastic.  Today was a high of 91 but modest winds and blue sky’s.  Crossed into OHIO , our 10th stated.  Toured the farmlands of  and saw single lane roads that went on for miles.  Arrived in camp a little after noon and staying in the local fair grounds.  Showered and went down town for a cold one and found brick and brew and had our pre dinner of pizza beer pita chips and dip salad and water.  Dinner was catered in camp of chicken green beans, potatoes, and strawberry shortcake.  We are so lucky to have it all set up.  Karolina joined us and will do the tour next year.  Tomorrow is Sandusky and a rest day.  Longest week of the tour with 553 miles.


OHIO - 10th state


38           Sandusky OH                     23-July                 25-July                  90

A long day began in the rain with left over showers from the night before that included lightning and thunder most of the evening.  It was a on again off again showers day with lunch in the sunshine but then a steady rain through out the afternoon.  Traffic increased as we neared Sandusky and it was good to get to the KOA.  It was a pleasant surprise to find cabins for everyone with a short walk to Jacks across the street for a great rib eye steak sandwich.  We had a party in camp with beer, whiskey and pizza and one of the few nights we all got pretty drunk.  Kenny and Anita started with a beer drinking contest and we all had a fun time.


Our cabin for two nights


39*         Sandusky OH                                    

Rest day and a beautiful weather with a constant breeze and temps in the 70’s.  We biked to breakfast and ate eggs, homefries, rye toast, coffee and pecan pancakes.  Wonderful relax day.  Bike wash and maintencance, adjustments and sort out the stuff.  Laundry and prep for the next ride day with some time for a swim and blog updates.

Kevin going lectric

Thursday, July 17, 2014

BIG RIDE July 13 - July 17 Summary

Day        Destination                         Arrival                   Depart                  Mile

28           Owatonna MN                  13-July                  14-July                  72

A fast day on the BIG RIDE. We departed MLC at 6 am and the day was exceptional for cycling.  Cathy stayed back with Anita to mentor her and I rode up front with the guys.  We set a new record at an average of 17.3 mph and was in camp at 10: 45 am completing the 73 mile day with ease.  Not much scenery and the roads were  cracked but the last 12 miles was very fast , helped with a tailwind and breakfast.  We are camped in the Owatonna Fairgrounds and have dinner at a Mexican Restaurant and breakfast at the Hy Vee supermarket chain.  Temperatures are cool in the low 70’s and a nice breeze.  We have been quite lucky with the weather.


29           Winona MN                        14-July                 15-July                  90

Another fast day with great tailwinds and nice weather .  Completed the ride with an average of 18.6 mph and arrived at Windona State University at 11 30 am.  What a ride!  Celebrated with summer shandy fries and a cheese burger before dinner.

German Architecture

30           Viroqua WI                         15-July                  16-July                 66

Wow .. day 30, a month on the road.  Today started in Winona at the cafeteria and crossed the Mississippi River into Wisconsin, our 7th state.  Posed for the group photo and had a special checkpoint at the Meyers farm who have a long association with the BIG RIDE.  What a nice reception , photos , interview and alumni books. We started to hit some hills and green grass and corn.  The area looks a bit like Pennsylvania.  We are staying in a fairground tonight and lucked out with some indoor space.  Tomorrow is a century so no beer tonight but it is a rest day coming up.


31           Madison WI                        16-July                 18-July                  100

A century day, breakfast in camp at the fairgrounds after a cold and humid night in the barn.  The usual of coffee , fruit frosted mini-wheat’s.  Usually try and find a Starbucks double-shot , and a Gatorade to help start the morning.  Today’s ride started with 25 miles through rural Wisconsin and some beautiful farms and valleys.  The weather is great with temps in the 50’s in the morning and going to mid-70’s in the day.  The middle 50 miles was on route 14 which is flat and some nice shoulders to keep the pace high.  The final 25 miles were hills and Madison WI urban area.  Upon arrival at University Wisconsin, we entered an excellent college environment.  The rooms are really nice with sheets, towels, TV, laundry facilities, coffee in the morning and friendly staff.  After the usual shower and clean-up we headed to the Student Union located on the water with beer, brats and plenty of seating to enjoy it all.  Dinner was fabulous at the dining services hall.  Slept all night in a quiet room with air conditioning and TV.


32*         Madison WI

Today is a rest day and time to relax.  University of Wisconsin gets it right with free coffee always available, tv with the tour de France in your room, free internet, just like a hotel.  Did the laundry, bike wash and blog thing and then a special tour of TREK’s headquarters in Waterloo Wisconsin and we saw a 10 lb bike.  Pretty cool.

University of Wisconsin and Bucky the Badger

Saturday, July 12, 2014

BIG RIDE July 6 - July 12 Summary

Day        Destination                         Arrival                   Depart                  Mile


21           Kadoka SD                           6-July                    7-July                    102

Today was a century ride with an excellent trip through the Bad Lands.  There are two state parks with one being a bit more painted.  The mornings begin early now at 4 30 , load the truck at 5:30 and breakfast at 6:00.  This morning we were on the road at 6 : 20.  We left Rapid City and headed east with most of the group  for the first 25 miles.  At the checkpoints/reststops some take more time and the pack usually seperates.The temperatures are starting to climb and by 10:30 it was well into the eighties.  High for the day was 91 which is still cooler than some years.  There was a tailwind and we made it to camp by 2:30 with time for a swim in the pool and dinner at H&H a short walk through the small town of Kadoka.  We met the mayor and police chief who stopped to say hello.  So many small towns with nice people that you never hear about.  Tomorrow is another long day and part of a six ride week.  Yesterday was the family reunion that we missed for the first time in 25 years.  Thought about everyone and miss them all.


22           Pierre SD                             7-July                    8-July                    96

Today we started out in the rain with a strong side wind.  The rain got harder and soaked everything including my shorts.  The rain went away but the side wind continued making this one of the toughest rides to date. Charlton arrived and had me going in 25 minutes. Got my first flat and the spare tire was not good.   The rolling hills lasted most of the day with the road narrow and the downhill speed kept to a minimum due to being blown off the road.  On our way into town we crossed the Missouri river and noticed signs for the Lewis and Clark trail.  We finally made it to Pierre and stayed indoors in a second floor gym. We walked around the capital building which was only a block away and took a few pictures.  Dinner was very good at a local Italian place where we saw Charlton, Lynn and Will who were celebrating Lynn’s 52nd Birthday.  Cathy was very generous and picked up their check for their meal.


23           Miller SD                              8-July                    9-July                    73

As hard as yesterday’s ride this was a breeze, a strong breeze.  The tailwind was a big push with the fastest average speed to date of 17.2 mph.  Made it to our camp fast but not before needing assistance on the road due to a broken  master  link in the chain.  Luckily, Charlton was close by and fixed it and was back on the road in 20 minutes.  Unsupported and that may have been a two day delay.  Kenny, Charles , Lisa and I rode at speeds of 25 mph.  Upon arrival at a brand new HS we got a private room in the training facility with a desk, sink and electricity.  Rode into town and got a great cheeseburger & fries at a local steakhouse and went across the street for a haircut.  This morning also marked a team member Karolina dropping out to return home due to a bursitis of the knee.  She was very disappointed to leave the group.


24           De Smet SD                        9-July                    10-July                  77

Today was an excellent day leaving Miller at 6:15 and getting the luxury of a nice tailwind, mild temperatures, flat terrain and smooth roads for most of the ride.  We kept the pace fast and averaged 17.3 mph our best to date.  We arrived in camp first and set up our tents in a very nice city/state/national park outside of De Smet which is the home to Laura Ingalls Wilder of the Little House on the Prairie fame.  We walked into town and toured the local museum and had dinner at a local restaurant which tasted really good.  We have had wonderful weather and expect that to change anyday.  Today was also marked with the ½ way point of the trip.  We all gathered at lunch for a group photo and street action shots of the event.  Hard to believe we are heading home with only 1,650 miles to go.


25           Tyler MN                             10-July                  11-July                 7

Today was a good day leaving early and saying good bye to South Dakota and hello to Minnesota, our 6th state.  The side wind kicked up after lunch and continued for the rest of the day.  We had lunch in Brookings at another wonderful park.  Arrived at 12:07 to a great glass of chocolate milk and watermelon , which has been our after ride refresher along with a few pretzels or snack mix.  Tonight we sleep in the gym so no tent duty , although I like the privacy of the tent and cleaner air.  Tonight is a catered dinner at the high school.  Tomorrow is our ride to New Ulm and a rest day, a cold beer and some rest.



26           New Ulm MN                    11-July                  13-July                  87

Today’s ride was updated with a construction detour that added 5 miles to the total.  Some crosswinds made the ride tough added with not eating much of a breakfast made the energy level low.  After a rest stop snack the pace quickened and we arrived at Martin Luther College and a bed, beer and rest day.  A few cold ones and a fish dinner helped to get a grip on the day.


27*         New Ulm MN

The routine for rest days are now pretty established.  Laundry, wash and lube the bike,  relax and see the town.  Had a nice lunch at the local pizza shop and  entry into the Student Center for the Tour de France update.  Do the blog and start planning the next week of cycling.  Rest , Relax and recuperate, this week’s total was over 500 miles.

New Ulm