Turning for the home stretch…

We’re staring at the last four days of our trip.  However before we hit the home stretch we had a nice rest day planned for today in Cooperstown,NY.  If you’ve never been here it’s a place you should put on your list.  In addition to the Baseball Hall of Fame, Copperstown is a quaint New York town on a lake that has fun streets to stroll.  All of our gang enjoyed sleeping in this morning and moving at our on pace and not being on a schedule.

Brenda, Sarah and I enjoyed walking through town this morning and stopping at the coffee shop and then walking over to the bakery for wonderful cinnamon rolls.  After our slow morning Matt and I met to plan out the final days of our trip.  Matt then gave the bikes some much-needed TLC while I booked the final hotel rooms of our trip.  After 56 days on the road it’s a little surreal to think the end is with in sight.

Matt and I also had some work business to take care of today so as a result we both visited the Hall of Fame with our families separately.  I’ve been here a couple of time with my brother Cliff a couple of times and have fond memories of our trips.  Matt, Cindy, Katie, Brenda and Sarah had never been to the Hall of Fame before.  At dinner tonight we all discussed how much we enjoyed the Hall and our favorite exhibits.  This is our third Hall of Fame on our trip (Cycling in Davis, CA and Rock and Roll in Cleveland, OH) and we’ve enjoyed each one quite a bit and hope to go back again one day.

While it’s fun to see who’s been enshrined in the Hall of Fame, the best part of the Hall is the history of the game that you can see and learn about.  This is the same feeling we had a the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  Not only is it a history of the game but it reflexes the history of our country and the evolution we went through as a country.  It’s also fun to see all the generations of people at the Hall and eavesdrop on their conversations about their memories of certain teams and/or players.  Baseball has certainly been an integral part of our society as evident by this “Green Light” letter to the commissioner of baseball regarding whether to cancel the season due to WWII: http://www.baseball-almanac.com/prz_lfr.shtml

We  wrapped up our last rest day with a wonderful dinner at Alex and Ika’s with great Fish Taco’s, draft beer and Creme Brule!  Now it’s time to start preparing for the last four days of riding and then back to facing reality which neither of us can clearly recall.

Enjoying our morning coffee in front of the inn we’re staying at in Cooperstown:

Matt the bike mechanic!

While Willie Mays was my favorite player growing up, Babe Ruth was the best player ever!

Love seeing the old equipment they used back in the day…

The five original Hall of Fame inductees:

These are the Giants I grew up on: Mats, McCovey, Marichal…

Brenda and the Swingin A’s she grew up with…

SF Giants Locker.  They have a locker for each major league team.

Tribute to matt Cain’s recent perfect game.  Can you tell I’m a Giants fan?!?

Matt and I enjoying the Baseball Hall of Fame.

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200 Hours

Early in today’s ride, Matt and I reached 200 hours cycling on our trip.  Now there are lots of ways to spend 200 hours…you could watch 100 movies, go to 67 baseball games, listen to 4,000 songs or watch 600 episodes of Seinfeld which I believe my children have done.  Matt and I have been fortunate to be able to spend that time doing what we enjoy most, riding our bicycles.  However, that doesn’t mean we haven’t had some obstacles to overcome.  We’re both starting to notice the little aches and pains a little more.  Nothing major that would cause us to not be able to ride, but just those little messages your body sends you to ask when you’re going to let it rest.  We’ve also been more frequent in our mid-ride application of additional chamois cream!

Today was also a mental barrier for us to get through.  It was our last planned long mileage day of our trip.  The last three days we’ve ridden 270 miles and in the final four days of our trip we also ride 270 miles but with an extra day to do so.  Matt was a little more chipper than me today but both of us were looking forward to the ride being completed and enjoying a day and a half in Cooperstown, NY.  Today was also a reintroduction of our legs to climbing.  We’ve been riding on flat terrain for so long that when we faced rolling hill after rolling hill after rolling hill (much bigger than the Iowa hills by the way) our legs had a mini rebellion and we weren’t sure they were going to fully compile with our request to power us up the hills.  In fact I wouldn’t call any of our climbs today “powering up the hill” it was more like “thank goodness I made it up that hill”.

The best part though is even with the fatigue starting to set in we’re still enjoying each day.  This morning we were on the road at 8a and after weaving our way through Syracuse we found the Erie Canal path and rode that for the next 20 miles to Canastota, NY for our B2 (2nd breakfast) at a great local diner the girls found.  The Erie Canal path was not in as good of shape as the section we had ridden on two days ago.  As a result we had to ride much slower (15-16 mph) but it was the best route to where we needed to go.

After we left Canastota, it was time for Matt and I to start riding through the hills for the next 65 miles.  It was much slower going today as we only averaged 15.1 mph for our ride between the conditions on the canal path, the road construction that made us ride on the sidewalk for a few miles and the endless hills.  For example, yesterday we went the same distance but averaged 19.3 mph.  While we were riding Cindy and Katie went and explored some of the museums in the area and Brenda and Sarah enjoyed   of the small towns on the route.

When Matt and I cycled through Clinton, NY we both called our wifes to suggest they might like coming there and walking around the shops and town square .  They then did a great job of teaming up to take care of Matt and myself while getting a chance to explore Clinton.  Brenda and Sarah drove ahead and met Matt and I in the one store town of Cassville, NY to resupply us.  Fortunately the one store in town was an ice cream shop so we of course used that to fuel up.  Brenda and Sarah then drove back to Clinton and passed the baton the Cindy and Katie who drove ahead with our gear to meet us in Cooperstown.

We rode to the Tunnicliff Inn in Cooperstown where we’re staying the next two nights.  It’s a block from the National Baseball Hall of Fame (we plan on visiting tomorrow) and right off Main Street.  After a shower (can’t quite describe how good a shower feels after riding 90 miles) we met up with Matt’s parents for a few beers and dinner.  After dinner Brenda, Sarah and I enjoyed the summer evening and strolled along all the baseball memorabilia shops and then walked down to the lake and stumbled upon an outdoor concert.  It was a great ending to a long day of riding and a great start to the final five days of our trip!

Here’s a few pictures from today.  Leaving Syracuse…

Some of the old locks on the Erie Canal

Matt along the Erie Canal

Part of the Chittenango Museum on the history of the Erie Canal

Chris enjoying the Erie Canal trail

Katie and Sarah joining us for our B2 in Canastota, NY

Typical house along our ride displaying the American Flag which almost every house does.

Clinton, NY had a street with these very cool painted doors that Brenda and Cindy took some nice pictures of.  Here are a couple:

Rest stop before the final 30 miles to Cooperstown, NY

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A Night at the Museum

I came across this quote and it is fitting for our experience tonight: “Life goes on and the roads always lead to unexpected destinations”.  How else do you explain us ending up having a great time in a basement in Cazenovia, NY followed by an unbelievable dinner on a lake?!?  I’m going to start by jumping straight to the end of the day as it was an unexpected incredible experience and isn’t that what our trip is all about?
Matt basically presented it to me this way.  “Chris there’s these friends of ours in Danville who have a sister who’s married to a guy that collects beer cans and they’re by Syracuse and they said we should go see his collection and maybe we can sample some local beers”.  You’d all go jump to see that…right?!?  I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I know the friends who were suggesting we go and the prospect of beer tasting sounded good so I figured what the heck let’s go see what this is all about.  Brenda’s sence of adventure was curious and Sarah thought this was going to be way lame.
After driving the back roads to Cazenovia, NY we found the house and were greeted by Hal and Linda.  It’s was one of those instances where you immediately know you’re going to like the people you’re meeting.  Hal then led us down to the basement and his Museum of Beer.  Before we could tour we all had to have a mug of beer which immediately made Katie and Sarah like this whole Museum of Beer thing much better.  We then spent the next hour and a half tasting beer, looking at beer bottles and cans from all over the world, sharing stories and basically having a great time with Hal, Linda and their son Brad.  Picture and description wouldn’t do justice to just how much fun we had, but here are a few of the photos:
Hal serving us our first beer (of many)
A few photos of the Museum:
The gang all around the bar enjoying swapping stories and sampling beer!
After the fun we had at the Museum of Beer we all then drove over to Lake Cazenovia for an incredible dinner on the lawn over looking the lake.  It was one of those perfect summer nights that wasn’t too hot or too cold and we watched the sunset while we ate a gourmet dinner while sharing even more stories.  We could have spent hours more there enjoying the great atmosphere but we do have 90 miles to ride tomorrow so it was time for us to close out and incredible night that started at the Museum of Beer!  Finally a big thanks to Hal and Linda for a great evening and then capping it off by treating us to dinner!
Now that you know the ending I’ll jump back to the beginning and middle which also fit my earlier quote well.  We left Rochester around 8a and upon entering Newark, NY hit our 3,500 mile mark for our trip.  I stopped and popped my head in the local barbershop and asked them where was a good place for breakfast.  I figured where else would be better to get the local info than the barbershop?  Matt and I then found ourselves at The Corner Family Restaurant and had a nice B2.  After they heard our story the wife of the owner, Tracey who is a second grade teacher, came out to interview us about our trip.
Today we had a number of small towns we were riding through so while we were riding our 87 miles for the day, Brenda, Sarah, Cindy and Katie spent the morning in Rochester enjoying jogging and walking along the river before driving the back roads and doing a little exploring of their own.  We met up with them at the hotel at the end of the day.
After we left Newark we rode a little further and then reached our second milestone of the day which was passing the 100,000 feet of elevation gain for our trip.  My legs certainly feel like they’ve climbed 100,000+ feet!  We then continued on to Weedsport where Matt and I rode over to Devaney’s Riverside Grill for lunch.  We sat outside and enjoyed a wonderful lunch and when the owner Cynthia found out we were cycling across America she treated us to lunch…thanks Cynthia!!!  From there we pedaled the final 25 miles to Liverpool, NY (next to Syracuse) and prepared for our beer adventure.
All day we had incredible unplanned and unexpected experiences which is the real highlight of the trip.  Each day is something new and we have no idea what the highlight is going to be.  Here we are on day 54 and we still are having this amazing adventure!  Can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings!  Here’s a few more pictures from today:
Leaving Rochester…
Sarah, Brenda and Katie getting ready for their morning exercise!
Bike art we saw along the road today:
Lawnmower for the avid cyclist:
Think he’s into cycling…
Matt being interviewed.
Glad to know it was “Officially Haunted”
Our lunch spot in Weedsport, NY
Devaney’s with our server Tracey and owner Cynthia
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100,000 Feet

Today has been a day of milestones. First we rode past the 3,500 mile mark and then later in the day we reached 100,000 feet of climb for our trip. We just rolled into Liverpool, NY and only have 6 days left on the trip!


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Riding Shotgun

Let me start by making certain you understand this is neither Chris nor Matt writing this posting.  I am Chris’ father-in-law, Bob Kuckuck.  I wouldn’t want you to be reading along and become puzzled by the sudden lack of eloquence in content and style of this amazing blog.  Chris honored me with status as a “guest blogger” early on, but having seen the wonderful articles these two guyswere posting, I have been hesitant to expose my lesser talents.  However, it has now been more than three weeks since we watched them ride off into their eating frenzy across sweltering Iowa (we handed them off in Sioux Center at the beginning of RAGBRAI), and I have had time to reflect upon (and greatly miss) the daily role Marilyn and I played as SAG Wagon drivers.  I feel it is time for me to at least once, show my respect for the honorific title of “guest blogger.”

When I originally volunteered to drive the SAG Wagon I had only a loose idea as to what my responsibilities would be, and as it turned out, an even lesser understanding of what a long-distance bicycle ride across the country really entails.  I did know that people debated what the SAG in SAG Wagon means, some considering it an acronym for Supplies And Grub, or Support And Gear, etc., with the purpose of supplying and supporting the riders.  Others said that SAG really comes from the word sag and was first used in England when long-distance bicycle riding resumed again after WWII, and a car trailed the group to pick up sagging riders.  This concept of sweeping up slow riders was introduced in the 1910 Tour de France when a “Broom Car” (Voiture Balai) was used for that purpose.  Of course, the English could not use the same name as the French, so apparently they chose Sag wagon for their name.  It is also interesting that apparently only the Americans capitalize all three letters in SAG.  Marilyn thought that SAG referred somehow to the bodies of aging drivers and was initially insulted to be offered the role.

We caught up with “Team Fat Guys” in Jackson Hole, WY, on their 12th day of riding, arriving within a few minutes of each other, we in an air-conditioned car, and they on their bicycles after a 91-mile ride over the Teton Pass through the Grand Teton Mountains at an elevation of 8431 feet.  We immediately recognized that this was no simple ride-in-the-park.

The first thing that impressed us was the energy of these guys.  Only a couple of hours after their grueling ride, they were already busy working online with their computers, then Chris began writing the blog posting and Matt prepared dinner, and in between they were watching the Tour de France on the internet – it was as if they had just had a short ride around Danville instead of a grind over the mountains from Idaho Falls.   After dinner they worked on their bikes (they actually carry a bike stand in the SAG Wagon), and began planning and preparing for the next day’s ride.  They were sort of “Eveready Bunnies” in Spandex.  In the subsequent two-and-one-half weeks of riding with them I learned how they acquire and sustain this energy.  They are very knowledgeable and professional about conditioning their bodies for this 60-day endurance trial.   They first spent months beforehand preparing, with long rides and core training.  They understand fueling, carbo-loading, and electrolyte balancing.  Each night they prepare their water for the next day by adding electrolytes and then storing the bottles in a cooler that will be carried in the SAG Wagon.  It was impressive to see them rise very early every day, have an quick breakfast and be on the road by ~6:30 AM or so, ride their planned route in the planned time, spend the afternoon and evening working and preparing for the next day, and then doing it all over again the following morning – day after day.   Very professional!  Very committed!  And tiring just to watch.  But never a complaint or a whine (that’s with an “h,” plenty of it without the “h”).

I was also impressed by their use of technology.  This was significantly different than the first cross-country bicycle ride by Thomas Stevens on a high-wheeler (you know, one big wheel in front of a tiny rear one) in 1884, which by-the-way, also went from San Francisco to Boston through Nevada, Utah, Wyoming, etc.  Stevens was only half as fast as Matt and Chris, riding wagon trails and railroad tracks, and he probably couldn’t find as many motels with WiFi either.  But he did build upon this “first leg” to subsequently go on and complete a 2 ½ year ride around the world.  No pressure intended here for the Fat Guys, just sayin…!

Back to the high tech part.  Of course, the bicycles Chris and Matt are riding are these amazing carbon fiber creations of modern engineering – strong, reliable and almost weightless.  They have more gear ratios than Congress has critics.  How else could they hold a constant cadence of 80 strokes-per-minute whether climbing a 10 degree mountain or crossing a flat plain?  See Chis’ technical data on the blog.  Now, if those engineers could just do something about those damn seats!

And as for fixing flat tires today by popping in a new tube you carry with you and pumping it up with a small cartridge of compressed gas – amazing!  I remember getting a flat as a kid in WVa.  I would take the tube out of the tire, pump it up a bit with my clumsy, heavy, hand pump, submerge it in the bathtub and look for the bubbles, then dry and scrape the rubber surface around the leak with a metal grating that came with the patch kit.  Then, I would peel the patch from its backing – this was the hardest part because it took long, sharp fingernails to separate the materials, and I always bit my fingernails into stubs.  Then I would apply the glue and hold the patch against the tube until the glue dried.  Then came the hard part, stuffing the tube back into the tire and putting them both back onto the rim without pinching the tube and causing another leak.  Finally, I would attach my standup hand pump and refill the tire.  Life was hell for a little boy in those days.  I also walked three miles through the snow to school and back, uphill both ways.

In addition to the high-tech bicycles, today’s communication technology also shaped this endeavor in ways unimaginable to one from my generation.  First-of-all, the internet!  Information about preparing for and carrying out such an adventure is abundant – physical conditioning and training, route planning, fueling and electrolytic balance, new and innovative equipment and gadgets, blogs and chat sites offering experience from others who have gone before.  Smart phones, laptops and WiFi allows the guys to carry their “offices” in their backpacks and conduct daily business from remote, dusty towns bordered by miles and miles of corn, soybeans and sagebrush on all sides.

GPS technology mounted on the bicycle allows all of us to track their minute-by-minute progress through the most remote corners of nowhere – and allows the immediate summoning of emergency services if needed.  And perhaps most important, the guys are able to meet (at least to some extent) their spousal obligations by ‘checking in’ with a phone call each evening by curfew time.

One of the problems facing SAG Drivers is eating.  These bike riders are burning several thousand extra calories every day, 9000+ on one day that I remember, and they relish in replenishing them.  They start a typical morning with coffee and at least a pastry (referred to as B1), after which they proceed with the ride, often stopping for a full breakfast a couple of hours later (referred to as B2).  Either later in the ride, or upon arriving at their destination they have lunch (referred to as lunch).  In addition, there is the tradition of finding the best milkshake in town when they arrive (referred to TBMIT).  Of course, there is a little wine in the room while they work, and finally, a full dinner with beer or margaritas or both (referred to as ridiculous overeating!).  The SAG Drivers are of course under no obligation to engage in all this eating with the riders – but they often do.  The result for the Drivers is obvious (referred to as obesity).

Traveling with bicycle riders is an interesting adventure.  First, you must realize that you are actually driving across the US at the rate of 80 miles-per-day, which typically takes about 80 minutes. This is the secret and wonderful byproduct of being a SAG Driver — lots of time to explore the nooks and crannies of America.  The people we met in these tiny towns of the Midwest are literally the salt of the earth.   There was the soldier who came home to literally nowhere in Wyoming to take care of his mother and now serves as the virtual backbone of the lodge we stayed in – handyman, cook, desk clerk, animal tender – working sixteen hours each day.  Smiling and happy, he makes wonderful flapjacks the size of Frisbees.  There was the well-educated and articulate lady from the Chamber of Commerce of a small Wyoming town who had graduated from San Diego State and married an ex-soldier with a law degree from Stanford.  He was practicing law in San Diego and felt he “wanted to make a difference,” so he joined the State Department and went to Iraq to help establish a legal system.  He was killed by a terrorist bomb.  Left alone, she then returned to the ranch she was raised on in Wyoming to care for her aging parents and was volunteering at the virtually-deserted Chamber of Commerce.  No complaints, or appeals for sympathy, just simply answering my questions about what brought her there.  And there was the group of teenage volunteers from throughout the east and south that had come to Wyoming to spend a couple of weeks painting and fixing fences.  Granted, they weren’t from the Midwest, but with their attitudes and values they fit in quite nicely.  Every town, no matter how small, has a well-kept senior citizens center.  And there did seem to be a lot of senior citizens.  Probably little desire to leave those towns when everything they ever knew is still there.  American flags were as plentiful as buffalo.  And when we had a car problem in a small town on an Indian reservation in Montana on our way home, these people were there for us as well – and refused to be paid.  I believe an eighty-mile-per-day drive across our nation’s midsection should be on a lot of peoples’ bucket lists.

However, traveling with bicycle riders can also have its moments.  In a tough place like Ten Sleep, WY, you can imagine the challenge of walking into a cowboy saloon for dinner with two guys who came into town wearing spandex with no underwear, who use butt cream, and admit they are from near San Francisco.  This usually bordered on provocative behavior in those parts and I always tried to separate myself with a bit of spitting, scratching my crotch, and saying something like, “…so damn hot outside, even them deer and them antelope ain’t playing today.”  I don’t think they got that.

The slow pace offered us other opportunities.  A surprising number of these tiny towns have nine-hole golf courses.  As Marilyn and I would roll into town ahead of Team Spandex, usually around noon or so, we often had time to play nine.  We had been smart enough to bring our clubs.  In spite of the drought, these courses were in fairly good shape.  The problems were the heat (over 100) and the bugs.  In Valentine, NE, they insisted we lather with bug deterrent and of course, had shelves full of it to sell.  The courses were interesting and in Valentine’s case, pretty difficult.  They were so unused to strangers coming to play their course that they ceremoniously inserted us into the middle of a kids’ tournament that was underway.   It was a little embarrassing, but it was impressive to see the number of kids in this tiny prairie town that were interested in golf.  And at a pretty young age.  It was even more impressive to see the adults who were willing to spend their time in the hot sun and constant clouds of bugs to coach the kids.  America is indeed, as the song says, beautiful!

So, what did I learn from this experience?  Perhaps most importantly, I confirmed something I pretty much knew before we even started – the fine character of these two men, and the depth and sincerity of their friendship.  Their positive, caring, and can-do attitude could overwhelm literally any challenge that could possibly be encountered in a mere cross-continent bicycle ride, and even more so, will surely continue to serve them well in their future endeavors — as it has done so well thus far.

Mark Twain is often quoted as saying, “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.  So throw off the bowlines.  Sail away from the safe harbor.  Catch the trade winds in your sails.  Explore.  Dream. Discover.”  Mark would have been proud!

Mark Twain prophetically emulating Chris and Matt.

Congratulations, Chris and Matt!  And thank you for the opportunity.  It was an honor to be a tiny part of your accomplishment.  As they say, “it was a great ride.”

Bob and Marilyn

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3,500 Miles!

We hit the first of one of our milestones today with 3,500 miles ridden on our trip. Here we are celebrating with our B2 at The Corner restaurant in Newark, NY.


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Pedaling along the Erie Canal

Today Matt and I enjoyed a wonderfully relaxing day riding on the Erie Canal trail.  We rode 92 miles from Niagara Falls to Rochester, NY and the final 60 miles were all long the Erie Canal.  Now I’ve already told you about adding riding the Sacramento River bike trail and RAGBRAI to your to do list.  Well add riding along the Erie Canal to that list as well.  But before I go into the details of the day I need to tell you about Moses Matt working his magic.

Today called for a 30-50% chance of rain all day and when we came down with the bikes at 7:30a ready to roll there was a slight drizzle.  However, by the time we had loaded the car and put on our rain gear wouldn’t you know it but the rain stopped.  Then later in the day while we were at lunch and protected it rained for about 10 minutes but when we got back on the bikes it was sunshine and blue skies.  Then to top it all off we rolled into the hotel in Rochester and literally 2 minutes after we were inside a cloud let loose and it POURED for about 15 minutes.  Matt is starting to get impossible to live with as his Moses Matt powers continue to work their magic.  Here’s Moses Matt letting the clouds he held back all day let loose with rain a few minutes after we were in the hotel:

Now back to the recap of the day.  Upon leaving the hotel Matt went one way and I went the other.  We both stopped a few hundred yards apart and stared at each other wondering what the other was doing.  We rode back to each other and while Matt had started to ride the route for the day he had forgotten that we were going to make a small detour and get a picture at Niagara Falls on our bikes.  Pretty good that it took us 53 days for that to happen.  Here’s the picture of us saying goodbye to Niagara Falls:

From Niagara Falls we rode along New York Bicycle Route 5 to Lockport, NY.  The NY Bicycle routes are roads that are good for cyclists and have been good roads for us to be on.  After our 25 mile ride to Lockport we met Dick and Mary Anna who found a great spot for our B2 and we met up with Brenda, Sarah, Cindy and Katie.  After breakfast we walked across the street to look at the locks and Erie Canal as well as “One of the Widest Bridges in the World”.  Finally a town that could come clean and claim One of the Worlds”…guess their lawyers where the ones who approved the wording of the sign:

Also, notice how we still have our jackets on?  Who would have guessed riding trough New York in August it would be cool enough for us to want a jacket?!?  Shortly after we left Lockport the rest of the gang got to see a boat go through the locks and see how they worked.  Matt and I pedaled a couple of miles down the road and then decided to go check out the Erie Canal trail which is crushed rock not pavement.  So far in both Nebraska and Illinois when we had tried to ride the crushed rock trails the rock was too loose for our small tires and didn’t work for us to ride on.  Matt and I got on the trail and started to ride and were pleasantly surprised to find out that the trail was in great shape and we could ride 18-21 mph.  Suddenly we had a day of riding along the canal with no cars, no need to worry about directions and more or less our private bike path.

We enjoyed every moment of just meandering on the trail, stopping for pictures and cycling through all the old Erie Canal towns that end in port (Lockport, Gasport, Middleport, Brockport, Spencerport, etc).  We road another 40 miles along the trail and met the girls in Brockport for lunch.  It ended up being the perfect meeting spot for the day as Brockport was having a festival going on so the girls could stroll through the craft fair (yes when I showed up both Brenda and Sarah had bags in their hands) while they waited for us.  We had a great lunch outside along the canal and Matt and I were so relaxed we even had a draft beer at lunch.

From Brockport we rode another 30 miles on the Erie Canal trail to Rochester.  It was a wonderful relaxing ride and we get to do it again tomorrow as we can follow the trail to Syracuse.  After relaxing in the rooms, we all headed over to The Back Nine for a great dinner.  This is the restaurant that is owned by Abby Wambach’s (US Olympic Soccer team captain) brother and has been on TV during the Olympics.  Here’s the pictures from today:

Saying goodbye to Amy who did a GREAT job SAGing us.  Notice her shirt which is the one’s we all got last night from Cindy and Mary Anna:

Welcoming the new SAG drivers Sarah, Cindy and Katie!

Boat entering the locks in Lockport, NY

…and now that they’ve raised the water the boat can exit.

New York Barn along the route

Enjoying lunch in Brockport, NY

Leaving Brockport…

The Big Apple

Matt showing the locks. Notice the difference in water levels.

Enjoying our day riding along the Erie Canal!

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Family Affair

Today was all about family and Niagara Falls.  Last night Cindy, Katie and Sarah arrived in Buffalo a little before midnight.  It’s so nice for Matt and I to have our families here with the noticeable exception of our boys Shane and Eric.  A couple of months ago Shane graduated from Arizona and is currently living in NYC working at an internship for World Team Tennis.  Eric graduated from Oregon and is living in Tahoe and working at the West Shore Cafe as he looks for more permanent work.  Both boys are missed tremendously, but we’re proud father’s that they’re out tackling the world.

After not crawling into bed until around 1am after our airport run nobody was anxious to move quickly this morning.  We finally rounded up the troops at 11a and piled into a couple of cars and drove over to Canada to see the Falls.  If  you’ve never been here before the way it works is you can walk to the islands in the middle of the Falls from the American side but the best view is from the Canadian side.  We had a nice outdoor lunch overlooking the Falls although it was a little chilly (who would have guessed its August).  It has cooled down quite a bit and the temps were in the high 60’s most of the day.  We all enjoyed strolling along the walkway and looking at Falls from Canada.

When you arrive in Niagara Falls it’s easy to be quickly jaded.  The New York side appears a little old, rundown and overbuilt.  The Canadian side while cleaner has numerous high-rise hotels and stores.  Before seeing the Falls, you feel you’re in the heart of overcommerialzation…which frankly you are.  Fortunately though they can’t ruin the beauty and power of the Falls.  Sure it would be nice if it weren’t so built up but you have to set that aside and enjoy how magnificent the Falls are.  We all enjoyed them quite a bit and I had hundreds of photos to choose from for today’s blog.  Also, much to my relief, after days without being in a world capital of something we arrived in Niagara Falls the “Honeymoon Capital of the World”.  We have a family connection to the world capital as Brenda’s parents Bob and Marilyn (our SAG crew earlier in the trip) honeymooned here in 1957.

We then headed back to the American side and walked out to Goat Island to go on the Cave of the Winds tour which takes you to the bottom of the Falls.  As we stood in line we found out it was going to be a 1.5 hour wait.  At this point it was 4p and suddenly the little voice in my head spoke up and said “Chris, you have 270 miles to ride the next three days…you need to go rest on your rest day!”.  So being a little protective of my body I decided to head back to the hotel.  I give Matt a lot of credit for hanging in there (of course he is 3 years younger than me) and taking the tour with the group.  I can tell you that although the wait was long, Matt, Cindy, Katie, Brenda, Amy and Sarah loved the Cave of the Winds tour and got drenched.  They were able to put their head in the Falls at one point and even though there is not actual Cave they had a blast.

Afterwards we all reconvened at the hotel and then went to a wonderful Italian dinner.  After dinner Mary Anna and Cindy presented us all with commemorative shirts they had made for our trip.  The shirts are similar to one’s they had made for Dick’s cross-country cycling trip 18 years ago.  Now it’s time for me to say goodbye to Amy who flies back to LA tomorrow and start the last 8 days of our trip.  It was special for me to have Amy be part of the trip and her professional cowbell ringing will be missed.

Here’s a few photos from today:

Horseshoe Falls.  Cindy’s back on the trip so notice how the quality of the pictures improves…

Enjoying lunch overlooking the Falls from Canada

Matt, Katie, Mary Anna, Dick and Cindy enjoying the Falls

Sarah, Brenda, Chris and Amy

Dick and Mary Anna

Matt so glad to see his daughter Katie!

Horseshoe Falls with the Maid of the Mist tour boat

Sisters together for one last day as Amy goes to back to work in LA and Sarah if off to start college at NYU.

The girls prepared to get wet!

On the deck at the bottom of the Falls

Girls just want to have fun! Amy, Sarah and Katie.

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Niagara Falls


Spending the day touring Niagara Falls with Brenda, Amy & Sarah Dittmore and Matt, Cindy, Katie, Dick and Mary Anna Swinnerton.

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Buffalo Wings!


While we wait for Sarah, Cindy and Katie to arrive, we went to the Anchor Bar which is the birthplace of Buffalo Wings!

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