Erika's Ride - Week 9 - Journal & Pictures
Week 9 - Monday, August 12, 2002 - Saturday, August 17
   Washington · Idaho · Montana
   Montana · Wyoming
   Wyoming · South Dakota
   South Dakota · Minnesota
   Michigan · Ontario
   New York
  • 8/12-8/18
   Vermont · New Hampshire · Maine · Massachusetts

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Week 9
Days 58-63: August 12-17 - Lake Placid to the ATLANTIC OCEAN

Total Miles: 4300 (about); 13 states (and Canada), 4 great lakes

Not a lot of details, but, in brief, 6 great days of riding. Lots of hills (yea, this is still hard hard work), beautiful green hills; a few fallen leaves (fall's a coming); ice creams; coffees; apple cider slushes; art work purchase; ferry ride across Lake Champlain; swimming in Lake Champlain; shared dinner with Chigee (friend from college now living in Burlington); ski slopes; Jacques Costeau's first dive site, flipping hot weather and too many hills in hot weather, record setting temps, and, late one afternoon after 88 hilly miles in 100 degree temps, in Littleton, as we turned the corner to the school, a stop at the Oasis (despite its name, an Italian restaurant/microbrewery, and, indeed, our oasis) where many of us downed lots of microbrews (and I downed more than I have since college -- I was thirsty, elated, weight lifted, and looking towards, and forward to, the future), a couple of phone calls, laughter, decisions -- a drunken afternoon -- walk up the last hill (riding would not have been a good idea - thanks, Lauri), TV interviews (will anchoring be my next career??) missed dinner at the school so had to eat in Littleton at the Oasis; and, the next day, another 70 or 80 miles (can't remember exactly how much). . . an alpine slide and an optional climb, which I chose to do up Hurricane Mt. (purportedly New England's steepest climb) and the turning experience at the top.

Day 58: August 12, 2002 Lake Placid NY to Burlington VT; 50 miles; TOTAL: 3977 miles; 10th state

Not a postcard









21% grade. No joke.

Welcome to Vermont.
Or as close a sign as we found.
Gosh...someone needs to talk to
Vermont's Governor...
The Ausable Chasm

Day 59: August 13, 2002 Burlington to Stowe VT; 50 miles; TOTAL: 4027 miles;

Day 60: August 14, 2002 Stowe VT to Littleton NH; 80 miles; TOTAL: 4107 miles, 11th state

Day 61: August 15, 2002 Littleton NH to Fryeburg ME; 62 miles; TOTAL: 4169 miles; 12th state

Welcome to Maine

Day 62: August 16, 2002 Fryeburg ME to Newmarket NH; 89 miles; TOTAL: 4258 miles - The day before the tire dip

So, here I sit, in the womens' locker room, after riding 89 miles, waiting for a shower to open, with a handful of coast to coasters, sitting on the locker room floor, naked. A far cry from June 16, the first night. No way anyone would have been sitting around naked waiting for a shower that night. 50 some odd schools later, 50 some odd shower faucets and sinks to figure out. Now, all of us, family. . . . chattering away. Tomorrow, 24 hours from now, our tire will have been dipped, barring any catastrophe, in the Atlantic Ocean. But, for now, we're enjoying our last moments together. . . reminiscing about times past, discussing the 'best ofs' on the trip, and, just now at this very moment, talking about if you could choose one place to live where we've been on this trip, where would it be. For me, hands down, it's Burlington, VT (except for the fact it's on the east coast).

So, the journey, or, as our tour leader Rich said last night during the plaque ceremony, this part of the journey, is coming to an end. It's amazing how the psyche works. I'm actually ready for it to end, I think. While I would love it if the journey were to continue (though a one week break would be nice), this trip has been all I thought it would be, and more than I thought it could be. I've had the last couple of weeks to process, and, on top of Mt. Hurricane yesterday, I began to look back on this trip - with all the gratitude in the world, and to look to the future. Looking back, it's many of you that, in some part, enabled me to be here by encouraging me to pursue the dream embark on this journey. It's many of you, individually, but collectively, that are responsible for us hitting our goal of $50K (still a few greenbacks shy) for the Komen Foundation, the world's leading provider of private research dollars to breast cancer research. And, when I think back to that day in Montana, it's each of you that made me continue - knowing that, at least at that point, the 50 miles would bring in $500. Yea, in the words of Lisa, for every painful mile. Gosh, my ride is nothing compared to the folks battling breast cancer. They have the real battles.
Your encouragement and support before I left - Lisa's editing of my letter and Lisa and Martha both telling me I couldn't have a 4 page letter; Sandy and Juan and the logo; Liz's staying up to 2 in the morning as we rewrote the letter; Lisa's shopping for stationary and, giving up a Saturday for printing; training rides; my girlfriends on that Wednesday night who came to my house for an envelope stuffing party; many of you telling me that you were touched by the letter (which, yes, I was really nervous about sending); Martha's time management (is it written yet?? What about????), and her accounting skills put to good use by doing the spreadsheet; Liz, and Mary and Debbie helping with the going away/thank you/bday party, Kathy and her routing my route through the country (gosh, good thing I didn't see that before I left - it'd be too far to ride!), and Karen and Frank - my number one support folks - sending out these entries, managing my life at home while I'm on the road, encouraging me. . . . . And, along the road, your letters and cards, your encouraging emails and voicemails, your visits along the way - made a difference. And, as the summer progressed, the community of support enlarged to encompass the folks on this ride. I couldn't imagine a better organization, or a better group of folks, with which to make this journey. It doesn't seem real that we have bicycled well over 4200 miles, and across the country. Basically, it feels like I've awakened each morning, at least since the middle of Wyoming, and gone on a daily ride with friends. I've made many friends, and, I hope, a few lifelong friends - that's the only way I know that I will be able to close the chapter of this book. And, for now, it is closing the chapter. I must admit -- It'll be nice not to feel the burn in my legs, give my saddle a rest, to be back home, and to cook a few meals. . . . . And, after tomorrow, it'll be nice to pack some dry things, get away from the ants that have recently been attacking us, and, eventually, in a couple of weeks, awake in my own bed. Be able to talk to friends . . . and, not have to wake-up and ride my bike 75 miles. Yea, I know I'll continue riding, but, some of the comforts of home will be nice.

But, for now, it's one more dinner of 'slop' (tonight, at the University of New Hampshire), some ice cream or drinks with friends, and another night's sleep in my tent, before riding the last 60 odd miles to the Atlantic Ocean tomorrow, for a tire dip, and, I'm certain, a body swim. I remember Jackson Lake in WY, feeling that, should I be fortunate enough to reach the Atlantic, I'd want to (not that I would) throw my bike in the Atlantic Ocean. Now, I'd like to frame it. Only problem with that, though, is then I wouldn't get to ride it; and, of course, that's unacceptable.

What happens next? I don't know. In the immediate term, like tomorrow, I get to see Barb, my friend from Alaska that I wrote about in my solicitation letter. She finished her last radiation treatment yesterday; and, hopefully, will go swimming with me in the Atlantic. On Monday, it's Liz, Lisa and Carolyn, my girl scout buddies from high school, for our good 'big chill' few days in West Virginia (w/o the death), and the celebration of our 40th bdays (and a bottle of 40 year old port). On Thursday, I look forward to sleeping late, and hopefully going for a good long ride. Barb's mom is having a celebration and fundraising tea on Friday... perhaps we'll hit the 60K mark. After that, it's some time with my folks, and then back to California, and to 'real', or at least, the other life. But, for now, it's time to get some rest (5 hours), and complete the 'I've had the Time of My Life' chapter of this summer.

August 17, 2002 - Newmarket NH to Gloucester (Boston) MA; 65 miles; TOTAL: 4323 miles; 13th state
STATS: Day 63 of 63; 13th state; the Atlantic Ocean

We knew this day would inevitably arrive. Just didn't know what it would look like, or how we'd feel. To me, it was a dream - an out of body experience. Surreal. We had breakfast at University of New Hampshire. It was early, because we needed to get the 63 miles in by noon. Camp was quiet. . . sunrise spectacular. Brian had a flat. His rear tire finally gave out. (A little preventative maintenance may have been good). No bother, we still were fine. We thought we'd leave by 6:30, but finally hit our 7am start time. Fred wanted to take pics of Peleton Latte. Pics of the legs - Alana, Nancy and Kendra - I didn't get one, but sure I'll get a copy.

The day's riding was fun. The first 10-20 miles were beautiful. Quiet roads, well maintained, rollers, farms and barns and trees. The fall must be incredible around here. Wonder if there's too much traffic. I stopped to take a photo of the barn with the horse's head bobbing outside of it - looking around. Kind of reminded me of me. What's next? It took some time to catch up with the rest of the gang. Peleton Latte and 15 or so other riders. We had one last stop - Dunkin Donuts - none of the ice cream shops was open yet. Bummer. Another reason to start our riding later!! I had a jelly donut - couldn't resist (childhood favorite). One last treat. Need to get the appetite down. Can't continue to eat like this. . . . A fitting cap. There were 20 of us or so riding. Double pace line. Not lots of jabbering, but lots of contemplation. We knew this was it. We were a crew with determination. There was too much traffic, and too many potholes. Not a beautiful end to a long and spectacular summer's ride. . . but the crew, folks I spent the last 63 days with, were riding to complete the journey we all started together, and, with the help of each other, were able to complete.

We were all on the same ride, but different tours. We each had our reasons for doing the ride, and different ways of accomplishing it. But, today, many of us were together. We were somber. There were enough burner hills that I'll be glad, I think, to be off the bike for more than 1 day. My body could use some recovery. . . but. . . it's just such a strange feeling. 4300 miles seems like a lot. It seems impossible. It doesn't seem real. I guess that's why I don't feel like I've ridden across the country. It's too big to grasp, to understand. Rather, it's just that I've ridden the last 60 some odd days with friends, on daily rides. My mind's cluttered, my heart confused. I'm going through the motions. I need some time, some distance, to get some perspective on this summer. I just can't comprehend it all. Did we really ride across the country? (I'll have to finish the map - that'll help sink the ride in)

A mile or so from the school, we smelled our last smell of the ride - the salt water. We didn't just see the country; we smelled it. Mile by mile. Yeah, the smell. Got to the school - were a few minutes late. One last smell. The smell we were aiming for - salt water. Probably 20 of us pulling in. Saw a bunch of folks in yellow, with a sign where's Brian. Huh? Brian didn't say anything about family coming. I looked around. Where's Barb? My friend from Alaska, about whom I wrote in my solicitation letter. She finished her last radiation treatment on Thurs, flew out yesterday, met Rich and Michael, her husband and son. . . ah, I found her. She looks great. She did the big journey - the big fight. Hopefully, for her, it is all over. Hung out at the school for awhile. Hugs and kisses with fellow riders, introduction to families and friends. Chaos. Folks torn - wanting to hang and celebrate with the 44 folks with whom we've spent the last 63 days, versus reuniting with family and friends.





Rode, en masse, with police escort, to the ocean. Through the crowds. It's not real. How'd I get here? Walked our bikes through the sand - dipped our tires. Put our bikes down. Walked into the water. Dove in. numb. Not feeling much. How's this supposed to feel? Elation? Satisfaction? Proud? Sad? Shock? Huh? Bittersweet? How does it feel? Yeah, for me, it's shock. Numbness. Bittersweetness. Dazed. Looking around. What are we supposed to do? What now? Is there a yellow arrow? Oh yea, we're supposed to frolic. Ok, let's splash. The funness came back. The laughter. The jolliness. For the last time, for a few moments, we played as a group. Folks started dunking each other and splashing each other. No one stayed dry. Sure, some of us will see each other again. But, never again, will we all be a group, together, sharing the same ride, for different reasons, but, for at least one similar goal. Quite the summer.

We left the water, and went to head back to school. Oh, wait, there's an ice cream stop. One last ice cream. For me, I had a double. Chocolate and blackberry. (I thought of our huckleberry shakes, almost 2 months ago. Have I been on my bike since then??) There must have been 30 of us. Just standing, just licking, trying to process what we've done, what just happened. It'll take time. No more denying it. Ken drove up with his family. He said goodbye. Yes, Ken, with whom I shared my first coffee stop, along with John and Paul. Ken, who had, on the back of his bike, a map of the states that he colored in as we rode through each state. There will be 42 other goodbyes. . . disappearances.

Lauri, Brian and I climbed our last hill - from the ocean to town. Yeah, my legs are tired. It's a hill. . . . My bike, this amazing machine, and my body, double leg casts (in high school), my back, and all, have made it. We walked, kind of in a daze, through the art festival - gazing at stuff (yeah, stuff, just stuff), and gazed, with glazed eyes, at all the people walking around the fair on a Saturday afternoon. Gotta get back to the bubble for a little while longer. Not yet ready to re-enter society.

Barb & Erika
Rode back to school. My friend Jennifer (my law school buddy and bar study partner) - winner of the South Dakota hinky pinky and trivia contest (she reminded me I owe her an ice cream - she gets a sun check for claiming) was sitting on the ground, with her 6 month old daughter Chloe, husband Bill and dog Molly, waiting for me. Good to see her. Flashbacks to law school and bar crap, while living in the moment trying to understand what was happening -- at what we just accomplished - the fact that we raised - and this is all of you -- $50K for breast cancer research -- that Barb had finished her treatments - thoughts of my mom, and what she would think - that I rode 4300 miles in 9 weeks, and thoughts about what's next - my mind couldn't all comprehend. Gotta get my bike washed and packed. Set up tent. Shower. An hour and a half until the bus leaves for Cambridge for one last evening with the coast to coasters. I'm in a daze. Great to see Jennifer. Really want to spend some more time with her. Will have to do so in the future.

Time was tight; I decided to have my bike detailed, and then packed by Derek. Good decision. Got my shower (one last school shower - there's probably been 55 different school/campground showers this summer - we couldn't count all the different kinds of faucets we've experienced, but if you're perplexed by one, chances are I've seen, used, and mastered it - -just give a holler). . . donned my shorts, cycle America t-shirt (clothes for the last 5 days) and tevas. Got on the bus to Cambridge, for the last evening. Oops, the bus broke down on the way there. Where are our bikes? We could have ridden quicker. The traffic.... Oh well...walked around town. Made plane reservations. Went into CVS to buy a disposable camera-no more memory on my digital. Cell phone rang. Tried to check out at the cash register and talk on the phone with Barb - hard to multi-task. This is a good thing.

John Harvards, the Cambridge pub, was good. It was different, though. Folks had already left. Outsiders were there. No longer just our group. The bubble is hemorrhaging, but, there's a few more hours. And, I'm ready for it to happen. Ready to return to the 'other life'. Believe it or not, I had _ a beer. I wasn't interested in drinking. I was, though, elated. Beginning to dawn on me that I actually rode across the country; the depth of relationships that made my endeavor, and allowed me to meet our fundraising goal. It's beginning to be tied together. Maybe. Decided to leave at 10, and check out what's happening in Gloucester. One last evening for Peleton Latte. I slept on the bus ride home. Tired. Leaning against Brian.

Back in Gloucester, Peleton Latte went seeking one last stop to cap the summer. Jim and Lauri were taking the 7 am shuttle to the airport in the morning, Brian was leaving with his family to NJ for a week before heading back to SoCal, and I was heading to Rocky Neck, a few miles away, to spend a day with, and celebrate with, my Alaskan friend Barb and the completion of her treatments. There wasn't much open, but found a couple of places, and after our reconnaissance, settled on Fanklin's on Cape Ann. Surreal. Ordered up some grilled calamari, swordfish, and a bottle of New Zealand Chardonay. Lauri has all the labels from the summer. . . will need to get pics one day. We had energy, or, shall I say, we were tired and exhausted, but found some reserves (this time at night, , , as usually our reserves, except for Brian's, were only found during daylight hours on our bikes). It was after midnight. (Only one other time this summer did we make it past midnight.) (Auld Lang Syne ran through my head. . . ) And, yes, we talked about Provence in September. To me, this is the foundation of a long lasting relationship. While it'll never be the same, I'm confident, if we keep our commitments, this will be the first of many memories. There are others in our group, though, that I know we won't have the chance to see again.....

One last - "Are you ready yet??" We closed the bar down. Walked back to town. And, to finish off the evening out, on our walk back to the school, some guys in the pick-up truck, after 1am, yelled at us - "Great asses." Huh. Guess 9 weeks of cycling, and 4300 miles, did something for us physically, even if we didn't lose any weight!

We thought about peeing outside the school.... one last time. We hadn't yet marked Massachusetts. But, that'll have to wait for another trip. Instead, we decided to be kids one last time and rather than enter the school through the door, we climbed the wall, besides the Penske, doubled over in laughter at the thought of marking 13 different states and 2 countries, trying to suppress our giddiness so as not to wake our comrades inside the school, and ducked under the halfway closed door into the fieldhouse for one last night's sleep.


August 18, 2002
On the plane from Boston to DC

The bubble has burst. The venture, at least the cycling portion of it, is now officially over. Hard to believe. Actually, unbelievable. Reality didn't dawn on me until I awoke, yesterday morning, at 6:30, after 4 hours of sleep, on the gym floor. Yes, I finally broke down and slept in the gym. I looked around. The crowd had thinned. Where's Kendra? She was sleeping next to me. Huh. Must have already left, along with Bill and

Joanne, all fellow Californians, on the 'private' 5 am shuttle to the airport. I'm surprised I didn't wake up. I looked around. Saw Lauri and Jim packing their bags. Tears came. None of this had seemed real, but, somehow, yesterday morning, it was very real. I've said before - I'm not much for groups. But, this is one group I really didn't want to see split up. But, as we know, this summer had a beginning, middle, and, inevitable end. The 44 of us made it across the country, with most of us riding EFI (every fabulous inch). Amazing.

I arrived at Logan airport, and it was a zoo. As many people, it seemed, as were in Niagara Falls. The ticket counter had lines at the door - even for frequent fliers. I finally got up to the front. Tears welled in me - behind the United counter, a poster from the American Airlines East Coast Reservations Center, sending condolences and warm wishes, with our Old Glory, and over 100 signatures, in remembrance of 9/11. How fitting to end a bike trip across the country, our amazing and glorious country, by flying out of Logan Airport. Somehow, this moment grabbed me. I'm sure there will be many like this in the future. I'm in culture shock. Just looking around. The bubble will last for a few more days. I'm meeting up with Carolyn at the airport in DC, and then we're driving to Liz's cabin in West Virginia to meet Liz and Lisa, for a few days of playing with my girl scout buddies. You know, a 'big chill' kind of weekend, without the death. I heard there's a county fair. . . folks have their eyes on the swine contest. One of them said we could check out the tractor pull too. The bubble is losing its air. . . but it's up to us to keep it.
Let's not forget to notice, and share, the color of the squirrel in the parking lot.

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