From Small Towns to the Big City

Well I was born in a small town
And I live in a small town
Prob’ly die in a small town
Oh, those small  – communities

But I’ve seen it all in a small town
Had myself a ball in a small town – John Cougar Mellencamp

Almost all of our ride has been spent cycling through the small towns of America.    Matt and I have seen and done more than we had ever hoped for when planning our trip.  As I sit here writing the blog for day 59 of 60 for our trip across America it’s hard to fathom that the last two months were all real and not a dream.  As we prepare to complete our adventure in Boston tomorrow I think back to all the small towns I’d never heard of before this trip and the fond memories I now have of them.  Burley-ID, Ten Sleep-WY, Springfield-SD, Anamosa-IA, Winona Lake-IN, Ashtabula-PA and on and on I could list them.  Most of my work travels over the past 31 years have taken me to the big cities.  It was fun to discover the small towns of America that are the backbone of our country.   But that being said, I can’t wait to arrive in Boston, pedal over to Revere Beach and dip the tires in the Atlantic to signify the completion of our journey.

Today we had to wait a little bit before starting our ride as apparently “Moses Matt” wanted to get a later start and it rained early this morning.  Matt and I walked over to a local coffee shop and waited for the roads to dry at little since we were going to be starting with a fast 15 mile downhill.  It was nice as it gave us a little time to reflect on the trip instead of planning ahead like most of our trip has been.  We finally load the SAG vehicle at 8:30a and Brenda drove us to the top of Whitcomb Summit which we had climbed yesterday (that was such a good decision).  Matt and I then got to start our day on a beautiful 15 mile, new pavement, downhill ride through the forest and next to a river…it doesn’t get much better!

Brenda had found a place 20 miles down the road in Shelburne Falls, MA that was supposed to be a great pancake place.  Having visions of wonderful pancakes in our heads for B2 we pedaled a little quicker to get there.  You can imagine our disappointment when we arrived and there was a sign on the door saying they were closed and reopening on Labor Day…Bummer!  We got back on the bikes and planned to ride another 10 miles to Greenfield for B2 when 5 miles down the road we came across the Shelburne Falls Coffee Roaster.  The coffee was great and the blueberry coffeecake was even better!  We lingered over our food and coffee as we want to enjoy every last moment of our trip as we both realize our dram of riding across America is about to come to an end.

After our nice downhill this morning we had a few riding challenges to face today as our routing again tried to take us on a couple of dirt roads ass a farewell gift.  Luckily both times we were able to find easy short re-routes.  We also had quite a few rolling hills to ride and I can’t say that I’ll miss those.  Finally as my good friend Brian McSharry had warned us, we encountered a few pretty beat up roads that we rode on.  Felt a little like dodge ball as we tried to avoid the potholes.  But all was good and we arrived in Gardner, MA after riding 71 miles a little after 2p.

Matt’s daughter Katie was then the hero of the day as she found the Cruisers Malt Shoppe in Gardner which was an old-fashioned diner with GREAT milkshakes and lunch.  In tribute to the milkshakes that became a staple of our trip we all had a nice toast with milkshakes to celebrate the ending of the trip.   It was very special for Matt and I to be able to share these last days of our trip with Brenda, Sarah, Cindy and Katie.  Now it’s time to review the route for the final day, pack and then go enjoy a few beers at the ale house and talk about all the small towns…

The milkshake toast! FYI, nice velvet Elvis in the background.

Nice Elk statue at Whitcomb Summit our departure point today.

Starting our 15 mile downhill ride!

River we rode next to for most the morning. Ragbrai note – Brenda and Holly, Matt would like you to Make A Wish!

The hills of Massachusetts that we rode today.

Our great B2 stop after the first one was closed

Natural Bridge State Park in North Adams, MA that the girls hiked in

Everyday we’ve ridden past cemeteries on the outskirts of the small towns.

Bridge of Flowers in Shelburne Falls, MA

Shelburne Falls

Cruisers Malt Shoppe – Gardner, MA

Categories: Uncategorized | 4 Comments

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4 thoughts on “From Small Towns to the Big City

  1. Paul

    Great you quoted Cougar Mellancamp’s “Small Town.” I’ve thought off that song a half dozen times as I’ve read your blog over the past two months, and I think the stories and pictures from the various smalll towns across “flyover country” have been my favorite part of your trip. I cannot believe you’re finishing tomorrow – I can’t imagine the emotions you guys must be feeling. I’m definitely feelingg some…

  2. Just have to say you gotta love Matt’s tan lines. (check out diner picture). 😉

  3. See Matt, that’s why you should have rolled up your bike shorts! Would you like to talk about the tall socks next, or is that the look you’re going for when you wear flip flops?

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