ALMOST THERE !
We crossed the Connecticut River in the morning fog at 6;45 am and entered the State of New Hampshire. We were enroute to Manchester, 86 miles to the East, on what would be one of the most memorable biking days of the journey. It was a chilly Sunday morning in New England. We knew we were in for a long and difficult day in the mountains, in fact our computers at day’s end registered in excess of 6,000 feet of climbing. Today was considered our second most challenging climbing day of the trip. It was second only to the day to the top of the Teton Pass with its glorious descent into Jackson Hole, WY so many weeks ago.
Today’s topography chart got our ATTENTION. There were 3 separate climbs with grades in excess of 13%, including to the summit of Pitcher’s Mountain on Rt 123 near the town of Sullivan, NH. They all were challenging climbs, but slowly and confidently–with 48 days of conditioning in our favor–we cycled through.
The fog cleared quickly and soon we had a perfect summer day of weather. Clear blue skies, some puffy clouds, and comfortable temperature and humidity readings prevailed all day long. The bonus on today’s ride was the beautiful New Hampshire scenery. Postcard towns like Keene, Antrim, and Francetown were on the route. Someday I have to return to Keene, it looks “perfect” on a quiet Sunday morning in August. The rolling hills through green fields and woods made for an excellent biking experience. We were either climbing or sitting back and enjoying another downhill ride.
At the SAG in Francetown our friend Billy from the Mississippi Ride was waiting to see Dan, Joyce, and me. He was out for an afternoon ride and joined us for awhile. (He also presented us with biking socks quoting the motto of New Hampshire: “Live Free or Die”). We came to the bottom of the famous “Joe English Hill”, one of the 13% grade hills. Billy climbed it with us fearing he would be exposed in a negative way in this blog if he had turned around (as planned) at that point. He’s a great guy!
We rode into the busy city of Manchester at the end of an 8 hour biking day tired, but pleased with the kind of day we had all had. We now have only the “ceremonial” ride to the beach tomorrow and we will have successfully completed this incredible journey.
The ABB “banquet” was held this evening. The staff alternated in giving a recap–day by day– of our trek across America. We re-lived the adventures, storms, climbs and descents, cities visited, rest days, ferry and river crossings, headwinds, soaring temperatures, amazing escapades, the coming and going of segment riders etc. as they summed up our amazing ride across this immense and beautiful country. What a great story!
It was then OUR turn to speak. One by one, all of us spoke of what this trip had meant to us. To listen to the statements of fellow cyclists at the end of a journey of 3800+ miles in 50 days across America is an experience I wish I could share with all. It is heartwarming, emotional, uplifting and unforgettable. This is truly an amazing collection of people from all over the world whose common bond is cycling, and adventure, and a challenge. I am proud to be a part of it all.