New and Exciting

20 05 2011

Bandit enjoying the snowy winter

It is hard to believe that about one year ago we were all graduating college and preparing for a trip of a lifetime.  Though our lives have all changes so much we continue to carry our experiences and memories with us wherever we go. 

Here is a quick update on what we have been up to since returning in August of 2010:

Alex James:

Since completing the bike trip, I have been on the move with extended stops inBurnt Hills,NY,Utica,NY,Hampstead,NC, and I am currently working for The University of Vermont as a Technical Support Specialist. Aside from enjoying the city ofBurlington, I recently got engaged my wonderful girlfriend Megan Reynolds and we are looking forward to the wedding in October. With the weather changing rapidly into summer, I hope to be able to utilize the close proximity to theGreen Mountainsand get back on the bike for some extended rides.

Colin Utz-Meagher:

Once the bike trip was over it was hard to settle back into reality.  I truly missed camping and biking daily.  However my body, more specifically my knee, felt otherwise.  Since the trip’s completion I have had a stubborn knee injury which has not significantly improved through rest or physical therapy.  My doctor thinks that my next step will have to be a diagnostic scope procedure.  On a happier note Brittany and I have been busy planning our wedding which is July 16th.  We are so excited and a little stressed with the thought of our wedding only being two months away. 

After finishing the trip I worked at the American Red cross for two months before starting work at Physical Therapy Associates as a medical office assistant.  Next year I hope to be going to either physician assistant or physical therapy school.  With warmer weather arriving I am excited to be able to enjoy the beautiful outdoors. We already have some camping trips in our schedule!

Brittany Trowbridge:

Upon returning from our journey I quickly settled back in to begin preparing for a maternity leave position in 1st grade.  I had a wonderful experience, worked with an amazing team, and taught my little ones until the middle of January.  It wasn’t until that point when I began to have time to plan our wedding, which meant we had to put things in overdrive!  Details are continually coming together as we get closer to the date.  We are really looking forward to celebrating with so many of our family and friends!  Currently I am working at theBurntHillsVeterinaryHospital and enjoying all that I am learning.  With an exciting and fast paced summer on its way, relaxing around a campfire and hiking trips will be a wonderful way to slow down a little.  I can’t wait to see what this next chapter of my life will bring!

Joseph Pericone:

After finishing the bike trip I ventured on toQuito,Ecuador.  There I not only encountered a new and exciting culture but was fortunate enough to meet several lovable Ecuadorian families.  I taught several classes such as computers, English, health and music.  While I may not be cut out to be a teacher I definitely loved interacting with the children.  There is never a dull moment when working with kids, especially when you have the ability to foster not only a mentor relationship but one of friendship.  Recently, I just started a job as a mechanical engineer working for Bechtel.  I am excited to put my college education to good use while meeting new people.  I have also been hoping to be able to spend some of my weekends in theAdirondacks, enjoying what Mother Nature has to offer.

We also have a few awesome things to update everyone on; one of which is long delayed while the other is very recent.  After our donation site expired, which meant no more donations would be added to our total on the team in training website, we continued to receive contributions.  Once everything was sent in, the final dollar amount was $20,257 in Eric’s name!  That is more than double our original goal of $10,000!  Needless to say, we couldn’t be more grateful for everyone’s hard work to help us exceed our previous goal. 

The next round of good news was brought about by one of Eric’s friends from NortheasternUniversity: Marisa Levine.  Months ago she contacted Brittanyasking for permission to nominate The Eric Zagorda Tribute Bike Team for a special honor.  The Massachusetts GeneralHospitalCancerCenterholds an annual fundraiser honoring 100 groups or individuals “whose diligence and discoveries, philanthropy and passion have helped advance the fight against cancer.”  We thought that this was incredible for her to want to nominate us but didn’t think much of it after looking at the previous year’s honorees; which included the late senator Edward Kennedy.  To our surprise, we were contacted a few weeks ago asking if we would accept the honor of being one of The One Hundred.  We couldn’t have been more surprised and trilled.  They are giving us two complementary tickets to attend the event and we are going to purchase one more so that Alex, Colin, and Brittany can all go.  Unfortunately, Joe has to work and can’t miss a couple days.  The event is on June 1st at the Westin Boston Waterfront.  Thank you so much Marisa for your hard work and writing a great bio about our efforts.  You’re the best!  See the bio/picture on The One Hundred website: http://www.theonehundred.org/honorees/view/the-eric-zagorda-tribute-bike-team/

We’ll write again about our experiences at the benefit!

Sincerely,

Alex,Colin,Brittany and Joe

Alex and his fiance Megan!

 

Brittany and Colin

 

Joe and two of his students in Quito, Ecuador.

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The End of a Journey

12 08 2010

The guys climbing to the summit

8/5/10
Mileage: 58

After saying good-bye to the Burnt Hills High School and the small crowd that was present that morning, the five of us bikers were headed down Lakehill Road on route to Boston.  It was emotional because we knew that in only three short days we would be finished with our journey.  Even though it was going to be nice to be home, it was such an amazing summer and we weren’t ready for it to end.   

Off we went, each sporting a new Maroon Burnt Hills athletic shirt; thanks to Bob McGuire.  We had flashbacks of running on these roads for years during cross country.  Four years ago, long hours were spent on these roads which infused a bit of excitement as we each thought about some of the most vivid memories that took place here.  After all, cross-country is what brought Eric into Colin’s, Alex’s and Joe’s lives.  It felt like it was yesterday that we were running and talking to Eric.  Now 6 years since we ran with Eric in high school, we were biking next to Kevin Zagorda heading towards Boston.  Both Eric and Kevin are extraordinary individuals that we have been so fortunate to have in our lives.  It was comforting to know the area as we headed towards Round Lake.  Although, that quickly changed, for soon after none of us knew where we were.   

It was nice having Paul there with us.  We were able to catch up with him more even though we had just seen him in Boulder, Colorado a month before.  We again talked about stories of Eric and other friends and family.  In discussion of Paul’s many talents, the idea was brought up that he should attempt juggling while biking.  While this may sound like something from the circus, we all concluded that he could have done it if he really wanted to.  Along the ride he started to do some other fancy tricks that were hilarious.  For example, he started swimming while biking by doing the butterfly and crawl stroke.  He would have fit in so well with us this summer!  It was still wonderful to have him with us for the last three days.  When we were busy goofing off, Kevin was busy out in front pushing the pace.  We weren’t completely surprised how good of shape he was in, but, even the hills didn’t seem to bother him.  You could tell he was enjoying every aspect of the ride.   

We were in three states today; which only happened one other time on the trip.  We started in New York and then were in Vermont for about 8 miles before ending in North Adams, Massachusetts.  It was a gorgeous ride, we were so happy with the route Kevin picked for us.  We couldn’t believe it but we got into North Adams around 1 O’clock.  Brittany was still home in Burnt Hills editing and uploading pictures to the post which meant we had some time to kill.  After relaxing for about 30 minutes we checked out the weather and saw that a storm was coming.  We had a couple of more miles left to get to the campsite but we didn’t want to get caught in the rain so we decided to stay inside a recording studio building.  Finally after the storm passed we headed to our campsite where Brittany met us.  There we took showers and headed back to the town to get some dinner.   

The 6 of us decided on a diner since they usually have a variety of food that was sure to suit the appetite of each person.  It was nice to be able to all sit down and talk without pedaling or swatting mosquitoes.  However, we were a bit distracted by a table of kids next to us.  One boy was about to finish eating his 6th hamburger.  Only in America would you see kids peer pressuring another kid into eating all 6 hamburgers. 

On the way back to the campground Kevin bought a couple six packs to celebrate.  Since we hadn’t had a beer since Nevada, the bottle opener was no where to be found.  You never know what will get your creative juices flowing.  Paul discovered a decent sized rock to open a few on while Alex learned that Bandit’s leash doubles as an opener.  Paul, being too strong for his own good, not only took off the bottle tops but the rim of glass as well.  Colin attempted to drink from the broken bottle but quickly learned that was not the best idea as he cut open his lip.  Paul then recommended drinking the beer from a bowl, something few people can say they have done!  It was such a great ending to the day as we sat and talked while enjoying a few cold ones.  There was discussion about the climb that was going to take place the following day since Paul and Kevin hadn’t cycled up a mountain before.  Paul thought that in order to lessen the pain, Brittany should wait for them at the summit with cupcakes.  With each of us growing tired, we retreated to our tents for a good nights sleep.   

8/6/10
Mileage: 70

After sleeping soundly at our secluded campsite, we were up and going by about 9.  This morning Paul made us laugh a bunch of times.  Colin and Brittany usually tie bandit to his lead on the tree in the morning so they can pack up.  It only takes him seconds before he is all tangled, even if there isn’t another object around.  Paul, seemingly still sleeping,  looked at Bandit and said: “Do you know the word REVERSE.”  We aren’t sure if it was because it was so early in the morning, but we couldn’t stop laughing.  Also, you may be familiar with Joe (AKA: Serial Sneezer) who can sneeze anywhere from 2 to 8 times in a row.  Paul had never heard him do this before and casually laughed and said “Pshh, nerd sneeze.”  The way Paul said it had us laughing yet again.  It was nice to have some new humor on the trip with Kevin and Paul, they both were entertaining.    

While packing up for the day, Joe was going through his bag and found one lone mustache in the package.  It was at that time we lost one of our friends and gained a new one: Claude.  Claude is Joe’s protégé.  As you may remember, Joe wore his mustache over Monarch Pass in Colorado.  While the mountain was not as bad as Monarch, it was still a nice way to conclude the last climb of the trip in honor of mustache Monarch.  Off we went for the day: Colin, Joe, Alex, Kevin and Claude. 

Along the climb we had paparazzi Brittany hiding off in the shrubbery taking magnificent pictures of us.  We stopped at various overlooks not just because we were tired but the views were incredible.  Then, a quick 8 miles later we were at the top.  Without fail, Brittany was at the summit with a few of the cupcakes left over from the fundraising event.  We each toasted our baked goods to a successful climb and good times.  While admiring the view where we could see five different states, Colin thought about how much Eric would have loved to be here.  After talking for a little bit Claude and Kevin decided it would be best if Alex, Joe, and Colin went down the mountain first because they didn’t know if there was a technique behind it.  Thankfully we had no problems zooming down the mountain and it was a beautiful view the whole way down.  

During the ride, we had all thought how impressive it was that no one had gotten a flat tire since we departed from Burnt Hills.  A little ways down the road, Kevin got a flat.    When we stopped, it didn’t take long to find the source of the problem as a large nail was sticking right out of his tire.  It was the most impressive flat we had seen all summer!  Not too much further down the road, Paul also got a flat.  We should have realized that our smooth sailing up to that point was about to catch up with us.  We got off track a couple of times because the Google maps directions that we had were, for the most part, useless.  We had to stop a lot to check Alex’s Iphone or the GPS to see if we were going the right way.  At one point we were riding on a road where bikes were prohibited.  It would have been fine but there was construction taking place which meant there was no shoulder.  It didn’t take long before an officer announced through a megaphone that we were prohibited to bike on the road, it was too dangerous, and we needed to get off right away.  We rode to the next exit and tried to figure out where to go from there.  Paul said we were lucky because one of his friends who also biked across the country received a ticket for being on a road prohibited to bikers. 

We ended our ride at Phillipston, Massachusetts.  Our campsite was in an open field with RV’s and other tents around.  It wasn’t the best campsite but it still worked out.  We were fortunate enough to be staying there on “Halloween” weekend which meant all the kids were dressed up!  Too bad we didn’t know to bring our costumes.     

After the ride, Alex and Joe did some push ups and then Colin joined in afterwards for an ab workout.  We could tell that Kevin thought we were crazy.  While cooking a huge pot of spaghetti, Alex’s girlfriend Megan came to support him with finishing the last couple days.  We were surprised that 7 people, 5 of which biked all day, could not finish two pounds of pasta.  After dinner, Paul showed us his juggling skills again.  We enjoyed it so much in Boulder we told him before we left that he should bring his juggling balls and clubs.  Before we went to bed we took advantage of camping in an open field by observing the bright stars.  We were lucky enough to see many shooting stars as well.  There, looking up at the stars, we couldn’t believe that the next day we would be finishing our journey.  It seemed so surreal.  On the eve of finishing such a trip, many of us experienced a range of emotions.  Although it would be nice to be home, it has been the trip of a lifetime and we weren’t ready for it to end.     

8/7/10
Mileage:  78

Leaving the campsite there was excitement in the air.  In about 70 miles we were going to be in the Boston Harbor and have completed biking across the United States.  It was hard to believe we were almost there.  However, it turned out to be a much easier day than yesterday, since it was mostly flat.  Though, we should have known after yesterday’s events that Google maps were only going to get us in more trouble.  We had to stop multiple times during the ride because we didn’t know where to go.  Around 2 O’clock we had finally made it to Boston.  On the way to Brigham Circle, where Mr. Zagorda organized a welcoming group, we biked by Dana Farber Cancer Institute.  Dana Faber is where Eric had all of his chemo treatments while working on his degree at Northeastern University.  It was very emotional to think that this was where he was fighting for his life and that two years earlier he was walking through those front doors.  As we passed by the hospital, an emotional silence rushed over all of us.  A minute later we looked ahead of us to Brigham Circle and saw a crowd  of mostly orange clapping for us.   

Amongst the crowd, there were a bunch of Eric’s friends from Northeastern, aunts, uncles, cousins, Mrs. Zagorda, John Munsey, Megan Reynolds, the Trowbridges, The Utz-Meaghers, and of course Brittany and Bandit.  Mr. James surprised us and tackled the 14 hour drive from North Carolina to Massachusetts with their dog, Hudson.  It was so great to see him and Hudson.  Hudson and Bandit didn’t get a long real well because all Bandit wanted to do was play but Hudson didn’t want anything to do with it.  We hung out and talked for awhile before getting pizza from a restaurant called The Penguin.  It was a good thing our final destination was only 5 miles away because we were all quite full and increasingly tired.  Eric’s friends from college seemed so nice and we were really glad to be able to meet so many of them.  Then, after people started to depart, we figured it was time to move on.   

On our way to Carson Beach, Kevin gave us a tour of Northeastern University and showed us where Eric lived while attending the University.  Northeastern is a beautiful campus.  When biking out of the campus we actually heard someone yell “Are you guys from Burnt Hills?”  We all stopped and turned around to see who it was.  It was Chris Frederick who was two years below us at Burnt Hills.  He actually e-mailed earlier this summer saying how inspiring we are and that he is in the same major Eric was at Northeastern.  It was great to see him, he was so proud of us.  After saying our good-byes we were off to the beach.   

It was a good thing we really didn’t want the trip to be over because, not more than 2 miles from the beach we had a mishap that required Brittany to come to the rescue one last time.  Joe got a pretty nasty flat tire that tore a hole clear through his tire.  We had our doubts that the tire would make it the last two miles.  However, we changed his tube and within seconds it popped again.  We then got Brittany on the phone to tell her we needed her to come and bring us our spare tire.  Of course Brittany just laughed and said “Of course, be there in a second.”  To lighten the mood, Colin made a comment saying: “Well, I really didn’t want this trip to end anyways.  So this is actually perfect!”  Then about 5 minutes later, Brittany called us and asked if the tire was in the car top carrier.  Colin laughed and said “yes.”  It turned out that the keys to the car top were in her camera bag which was back at the beach with her parents.  Colin and Brittany both started to laugh and thought that Eric was toying with us.  He too didn’t want this amazing adventure to be over.  Once Brittany and Lisa (Paul’s girlfriend) came to us, they both commented that we were biking in the wrong direction.  It turned out that getting a flat tire was a good thing, we could still be biking looking for Carson Beach!  At that point it added only a mile onto our route, but, it could have been much worse.  Maybe Eric was just helping us out since we were going the complete wrong way.  Then, after putting on the new tire and tube, a quick change that should have only taken about 15 minutes ended up taking about an hour.  We just laughed about it and decided it would be best to just follow Brittany and Lisa the rest of the way to the beach because the traffic was so bad in Boston.  We were glad to have one last good story before we reached the ocean.   

After making it to the beach we of course had to get pictures of our front bike tires in the water.  We had finally made it!  After taking pictures each of us jumped into the cold water of the Boston Harbor.  We stayed on the beach for a little bit talking and then we were off to the hotel for the night.  We decided that we wanted to hangout in Boston the following day to sight see a little.  After taking showers and relaxing for a little, we walked over to a restaurant and had a great dinner.  It was a really nice celebration.  During the dinner Colin called Steve Walsh.  He was so proud of us for making it and we really wished he could have been there too.  He again said how touched he was for being able to bike with us from Buffalo to Burnt Hills.  The truth is we were honored to have him with us.  Him and his family are truly an inspiration.  To emphasize how well he fit in with us: he made sure to have Colin make fun of Joe for him.  It puts a smile on our face seeing how much Steve was able to grow on the trip.  It is in these moments that we truly feel accomplished, not in how much money we raised.  After hearing about our feat, our waitress was kind enough to give us a cake in celebration of us finishing the trip.  She was so nice we were lucky to have her as our waitress.  After filling our bellies and due to sheer exhaustion, it was time for bed. 

8/8/10

We took our time getting up, eating breakfast and packing the car.  For a while now we knew we wanted to visit the Boston Aquarium upon our arrival, which is what we did. After walking around the aquarium for a few hours, it hit us how tired we were and were ready to head home.  We hit a little traffic on the way home but still managed to get home around 7 O’clock.  It was at that time Colin and Brittany decided they should empty out the car and sort everyone’s stuff.  We were going to vacuum, but it started to get dark so we decided to put it off until the next morning.  Surprisingly, the car doesn’t smell bad and after vacuuming and cleaning everything you would never know that four people and a dog lived in it for a couple months.   

What now?

Mr. Trowbridge related us coming home to the four hobbits in Lord of The Rings returning home after saving middle earth.  To be honest, it kind of feels that way; what can top this adventure and how can we make these feelings last?  We can’t believe that the trip has come to end.  Sitting hear typing this brings various emotions to the surface. 

The total number of miles we pedaled from San Francisco to Boston was 4,193.  We have learned so much about life and the U.S. from taking part in our trip.  We are so grateful that we have had so much of a following.  This has grown immense amounts since the start of our trip; much more than we ever imagined.  Seeing those Orange shirts at the Grand Union Plaza put tears in our eyes.  From the event, we raised nearly $2,200.  We never thought we were going to raise that much but so many people stepped up to help out that it was made possible.  Once the money is received and put up on our donation site we will be nearing $19,000.  This is absolutely phenomenal.  Our goal before the start of the trip was only $10,000, so we have almost doubled or goal.  THANK YOU.  Hopefully the money we have raised will help to fund a cure so families don’t have to feel similar pain as the Zagorda and Walsh Families.  We are still taking donations and the donation site should be up until the end of September.  With your help hopefully we can double our goal!

We are so thankful that we were able to ride for such a great cause in memory of our friends.  On this trip, we have learned that one of the most difficult things families face is the fear that their loved ones may be forgotten as time passes.  I hope this journey emphasizes the fact that Lauren, Shawn, and Eric will never be forgotten.  They were extraordinary individuals with bright minds and personalities.  We find it strange that people have called us heroes on this trip.  To us, Lauren, Shawn, and Eric are the heroes.  They lived their lives, positively influenced countless people, and fought an awful disease.  It will forever sadden us that so many people will go untouched by these three even though they have brightened so many people’s lives already.  Hopefully, through spreading the stories of their lives they can still continue to influence strangers.  One thing we hope everyone has learned from following our journey and learning about these three lives cut short is that LIFE IS SHORT, enjoy it.  Find the beauty in our world and with the people we share it with and be happy even in the darkest times. 

Where do we go from here?  Each of us will take lessons learned from this trip and apply it to other avenues of life.  As you may know from an earlier post, Joe is going to be leaving us to help the less fortunate in Quito, Ecuador.  He is heading out August 22 and we are not to sure what we are going to do without him.  He is one of a kind and people in Ecuador are so lucky to have him there.  He is going to do wonders.  During the trip, Brittany found out that she officially received a maternity leave position at Elmer Avenue Elementary School in Schenectady.  She will begin teaching first grade in September and will be there until the middle of January.  Both Alex and Colin are currently searching for jobs.  Alex is looking for an engineering job while Colin is looking for something in the medical field.  Both are looking to get more experience in the area of work they desire for their future before furthering their education.  And of course Brittany and Colin are going to be planning their wedding. 

Yesterday, August 11, it was 10 years since Lauren Zagorda passed away.  She was only 12 years old when she left us.  Even though she was so young she had an impression on so many people.  Yesterday, as always, the Zagordas were in our thoughts.  Even after 10 years the emotions they are faced with are unimaginable

Thanks again everyone for such a great following and all of your support along the way: encouragement, help and donations.  We wouldn’t have gotten far without all of you!  Keep checking our blog as we will have updates in the future.

Spread Love and Happiness,

Colin, Brittany, Alex, and Joe

PS:  Always remember those who have positivley affected your life, no matter how small or large the acts of kindness.

Kevin and Colin with a beautiful view

Joe, Claude, and Kevin - the colorful gang!

Cheers with cupcakes!!!

Paul showing off one of his many skills!

Ready to bike one last day.

En route to Boston

Everyone at Brigham Circle - thanks so much for coming!

Front tires in the Boston Harbor after starting in the Pacific!

All smiles

All of us out to eat in celebration!

Nemo! In honor of one of Eric's favorite movies!





Burnt Hills Bound

5 08 2010

Cailley, Steve, Dave, Alex, Colin, Kevin, and Bandit by the Erie Canal in Brockport

7/30/10
Mileage:  60
Average: 13.4 

Waking up with many others was so exciting and we couldn’t wait to hit the road.  After getting ready and saying bye to Justin, Gwen, and Brittany we were off.  The new additions of the crew were David Jones (a close friend from BH), Colin’s Dad Kevin, and Steve Walsh (a friend of ours father who passed away from Leukemia 5 years ago).  We had about 5 miles of biking before we finally hit the Erie Canal bike path.  It was a relief to finally get off the busy roads of Buffalo and onto a bike path.  Even though most of the bike path was gravel, which was difficult for the road bikes, it was completely worth it having the canal beside us most of the way back to good old BURNT HILLS. 

Being off the main roads meant we could bike next to each other and catch up about each of our summers.  It was so nice having them here with us because it just meant that we were that much closer to home!  Like so many other people, we think it was a little shocking to Steve Walsh just how close of friends we all are.  Some people might think we are a little too comfortable, but our whole group of friends are like family to us and Steve Walsh was our newest addition. 

As we have mentioned before Steve Walsh’s son, Shawn Walsh, was diagnosed and within 2 weeks had passed away from Leukemia.  This was five years ago.  The summer before Shawn passed away, Steve and Shawn biked from Buffalo to Albany on the Erie Canal Bike path so we all knew it was going to be very emotional for him.  We knew we were going to be right there for him to help him through it.  The first day of riding you could tell it was hard for Steve, but he was still there with a smile enjoying talking and the scenery.  While biking Steve told Colin that he was wearing Shawn’s helmet that he had worn on the trip 5 years earlier.  He was trying to hold back tears when saying this.  Colin had a hard time holding back tears himself because people just don’t realize how hard it is to live after losing their child.  As the day went on, you could tell he was feeling more and more comfortable with us.  He began taking part in one of our favorite pass times: busting on Dave!   

Then, a little after lunch, we had made it to Brockport, New York.  We all enjoyed some appetizers along the Erie Canal.  Then after eating, we headed up to Hamlin Beach State Park where Mrs. Utz-Meagher had gotten us two campsites.  It was a beautiful state park right on Lake Ontario.  Later that day we were lucky enough to have Liz Montgomery another Burnt Hills friend of ours, her boyfriend Chris, and also a close friend of Alex’s and now ours Bobby come to visit us at the campsite.  We spent the evening catching up and enjoying a beautiful sunset.  Bandit really loved the company and being chased around the field for half an hour.  Let us just say, he slept well that night.  The day concluded with the general consensus that it was wonderful to be back in New York.  Seeing our family of friends put a smile on our faces as we thought about seeing everyone upon our arrival.     
 

7/31/10
Mileage: 68
Average: 12 

We left the State Park and got to Brockport around 7:45 where we met another one of our close friends, Cailley Wayman.  We haven’t seen her in so long and it was wonderful of her to come along!  She now lives in Pittsford, which is really close to Genesse Valley Park where we all used to run at the McQuaid Invitational for so many years in High School.  She has been competing in Triathlons for awhile now and recently signed up for the Lake Placid Ironman next summer.  We are hoping to get a crowd up there to cheer her on because finishing an Ironman is phenomenal and we can’t even fathom such an event.  Her life seems to be going wonderfully which puts a smile on all of our faces!  She biked from her house which was about 25 miles to Brockport, then she biked with us for approximately 30 miles, and then biked home.  She wanted to keep biking but unfortunately had to go to work.  We were all sad to see her go because the time went by so fast!  Having only been in New York for a couple days it was wonderful to see so many friends.  While talking to Cailley we discussed how difficult it is to keep in contact with people now since we don’t see each other everyday at practice, as we did in high school.  Once people get jobs, move away, and become busy with life’s demands it begins to get increasingly difficult to stay in touch.  This fact saddened us as we talked about how many people we missed and haven’t heard from in a while.  We were still so honored to have Cailley with us even though it was a short trip!  Cailley we are all so happy and proud of you and what you are doing!  Stay happy, thanks for coming, and we love you! 

After leaving Cailley, we continued to move on.  It was really nice because going through Rochester we had a bike path the whole way.  You can tell that it is a very biker friendly city.  We made it all the way to Clyde, New York but we actually had a hotel in Newark, New York.  We had to drive back a couple of miles to the Quality Inn.  After realizing we had to pay an additional $25 to have bandit, we had to sneak him in the back way and make sure he was extremely quiet for the night.  Luckily no one realized.  We hung out, watched TV, Brittany worked on posters for the event in Burnt Hills and we ate pizza.  Later that night, another one of our friends joined us for the return journey to Burnt Hills, Andrew Dimartino.  Around 9 his father dropped him off at our hotel and then had a good two and half hour drive back home.  Thank you for driving him, Mr. Dimartino!  Again, it was great to have more and more people join us on the trip.  It just makes everything better to have the ability to share this experience with so many people that we love.

8/1/10
Mileage:  71 
Average:  Like a rabbit….       

Waking up at a hotel always makes it hard to get going the next day.  Once we got back onto the Erie Canal bike path we were feeling awake and ready for the day ahead of us.  The majority of the day’s ride was on gravel which was grueling for the riders on road bikes.  I guess you can say it was a new challenge, riding on a beach!  Syracuse was a struggle to go through because there wasn’t a bike path, as there was in Rochester, which meant we were required to stay on the roads.  We had to stop multiple times to check the maps to figure out which way to go.  After doing this so many times, it began to get really hard to keep stopping and going.  Once we made it out of Syracuse we were all relieved to have survived the concrete maze.  We ended the day in Canastota, New York.  Since the number of bikers seems to be steadily increasing, we ran out of room on the bike rack.  There was about 8 miles to get to Verona Beach State Park which meant that those who were not too tired had to bike the distance.  Dave, Colin, and Alex willingly volunteered for the extra ride.  This was yet another beautiful campground right on Oneida Lake.   

After eating and setting up camp we all decided to go swimming in the lake.  The water was really warm and shallow.  This worked out really well for Bandit because he was able to run really far out into the water without having to swim.  Finally, while chasing us in the water, he swam like a normal dog and didn’t seem as frightened as he used to be.  After swimming, another life changing event took place: Dave skipped his first rock EVER.  Yeah, we aren’t too sure if he had a childhood outdoors.  It was so funny to see how happy he was after he skipped it.  You have to love Dave Jones! 

8/2/10
Mileage:  71

After Dave, Colin and Alex made it back to Canastota we were off for the day.  Everyone was feeling pretty sore today since it has been a lot more miles than we expected.  It was a rough day all around though.  First of all Kevin was especially hurting and believed that he had pushed it too hard they day before.  But the answer to why he was hurting so much was not realized until about 40 miles into the ride when Colin and Kevin were biking next to each other.  Colin heard a noise on Kevin’s bike like something was rubbing.  After a quick examination, they figured out that his back brake was rubbing on against his tire.  That easily explained why he was having such a hard time.  On this trip we have each learned how hard it is to bike when your brakes are rubbing and were able to empathize with him.  You waste a lot more energy when you are biking like this.  Kevin couldn’t believe it and was really upset but also happy because it answered the question of why he was not feeling as good as he should have.  The thing that made this even worse for him was that 10 miles later there were some huge hills.  Alex commented that it was probably the biggest hill we have seen since Monarch Pass in Colorado.  They were pretty steep and long.  But finally we made it over both of the tough climbs and only had about 2 miles until we were done for the day in St. Johnsville.   

Due to the lack of car and bike rack space, Brittany and Colin biked from St. Johnsville to Palatine bridge were Colin’s Aunt works.  We had arranged for her to meet us there to drive us to Colin’s camp on Pecks Lake.  While Brittany and Colin were biking the rest of the gang went to the bike shop, grocery store, and then to camp.  Brittany was really excited to be able to bike after watching the guys all summer.  It ended up being about 15 miles to Palatine Bridge where Marion, Colin’s aunt was waiting for them.  Then they too headed to the camp for the night.  

Steve graciously purchased all of the groceries for the night while Kevin grilled all the hamburgers and veggie burgers.  Alex, Colin, Dave, and Andrew went swimming in the lake to cool off and rise off.  Brittany worked on more “to-dos” for the event to take place the following day.  The remainder of the night we spent anxiously awaiting the return of our team member, Joe!  The trip was not the same without him and we were thrilled that he was back at our sides to finish the remainder of the ride to Boston!

8/3/10
Mileage:  53

Today was an absolutely fantastic day.  We woke up to Steve cooking bacon and eggs.  Within minutes we had breakfast on the table.  We couldn’t believe the service!  After eating breakfast we took our time getting packed up and ready to go.  We had an interview in Amsterdam at 3 with News Channel 6, which meant we didn’t have to rush.  Despite this fact, we were still on our way to St. Johnsville by 8:30.  Then, after unpacking all the people, bikes, and bags we were ready to go.  Colin said to Steve, “It looks like it is going to rain.”  Not 5 seconds later it began to.  For about half an hour it rained fairly steadily, but we weren’t phased by it with the excitement of returning home and seeing friends and family at the event!  As soon as we hit the path, Brittany had to return home to prepare, pack, and set up for the event. 

 We arrived in Amsterdam at 12.  There we decided to waste some time by getting lunch right on the river.  However, it didn’t waste enough time because we were back on the bike path by 1:30 which meant we still had about an hour and a half until channel 6 arrived.  While waiting, we all talked until Channel 6 pulled up.  Both of the men were very nice and had Colin pegged to a T within minuets; in regards to being louder than Alex and Joe.  After realizing they only had two microphones, they turned to Colin and decided that he would probably be fine without one.  Then, he wanted one of us to wear a microphone while biking for a few miles and asked who was the most talkative while biking.  Without missing a beat, both Alex and Joe looked at Colin and started laughing.  Then the reporter said “I figured.”  It was a funny conversation and kind of lightened the mood with all the nerves rushing about as we were about to be interviewed.  The interview went really well, we were all really pleased with how it went but wished Brittany and Bandit could have been there! 

After the interview, we waited for some team in training members who ride with/for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society to arrive.  Dave Kramer and Megan Reynolds arranged for them to join us for the approximate 20 mile ride to the Grand Union Plaza.  Around 3:40, after getting about 4 more riders, we were off again.  We also had the photographer come with us.  With his crazy skills he had the camera in one hand and was riding his bike with the other.  We were all really impressed with his balancing ability.  We all had to make sure we weren’t saying inappropriate things since we were still being recorded.  Joe, as usual, made sure he got in a couple of comments about how much he loves Brittany and how they are boyfriend and girlfriend.  Then when we got to 5S, the photographer left us and instead video taped us through the car window. 

Once we got to Rotterdam Jct., we found out that in Burnt Hills it was down pouring.  After having everything set up outside, all of the helpers at the High School were scrambling to get the baskets, baked goods and picture frames inside and set back up again.  At that same time it started to rain where we were.  For the rest of the ride it sprinkled but never rained hard.  Again, on RT. 50, Channel 6 got in front of us and the photographer was dangling out of the back of the car video taping us.  He pretty much did that all the way from Pashley road to a little bit before the Grand Union Plaza.  Then we saw the spectacular sight of about 30 Orange Shirts crowded around the Grand union plaza clapping and cheering.  We were all speechless and can’t put into words how happy we were.  It was so emotional for all of us to see everyone stand there clapping for us while we biked into the parking lot.  We knew at that moment Eric would be happy not because of the money we have raised but seeing how close this has brought the community together.  It brought tears to so many people’s eyes seeing us and talking to us.  As we said to the reporters, we aren’t heroes, we are just four individuals trying to inspire.  It was unbelievable to feel like we did seeing everyone there.   

Then after talking to as many people as we could we were ready to bike from there to the High School.  It was so cool seeing everyone behind us in Orange biking down RT. 50 with a police escort.  News Channel 6 again took footage of all of us biking to the High School.  Upon arriving to the high school, there was another mass of 50 people clapping and cheering as we all rode closer.  As we biked towards the mass of people, it felt so good to pick out all of the familiar faces smiling back at us.  It was such an emotional entrance and we were all fighting back tears. 

From that point on it was a blurry rush of trying to talk to everyone and thank them for coming!  There were so many amazing friends and family members there who we haven’t seen in months.  It was so hard to see and talk to everyone but we were so thankful for the wonderful turnout and all of the donations.  It is truly breath-taking the number of friends who stepped up to help out setting up and running the fundraiser.  It would be impossible to thank each and every person who contributed in some way, but you know who you are!  THANK YOU!  We truly do appreciate everything and are so grateful to live in such a giving community.  A big high five goes to Brittany Trowbridge and Megan Reynolds for coordinated the fundraiser.  However, we wouldn’t have gotten far without the support of our community.  This was without a doubt a group effort!

While at the event, the four of us were interviewed by the same reporter, Rebecca Strum from the Gazette, who wrote the article prior to our departure.  It was nice having her interview us again because she could appreciate all that we have been through.  The article was in the Gazette on August the 4th.  If you missed it, check it out online!  Thank you Rebecca!

We are also anxious to see all the footage and pictures taken by News Channel 6.  The story will air today, August 5th, at 5:30 and 6:30.  Unfortunately, we will be on the road and unable to see it! Thank goodness for DVR!

8/4/10

Today we decided to take a day off while at home.  It felt wonderful to sleep in our own beds and have friends and family around.  We each did our own things during the day but still managed to gather to clean out the van for its final trek to Boston.  At 8:00pm we all met at the Zagorda’s house to go over the route and get pumped for the last leg.  It wasn’t hard to get excited after such an amazing event the night before! 

8/5/10

Early this morning, we all gathered at the high school at 7:00 to head out for the final three days of biking.  Mr. Zagorda, Paul Rightmyer, and the three guys were packed and ready to go!  We had a small gathering of people there to see us off including: Mr. Trowbridge, Megan, Mr. and Mrs. Reynolds, Mr. and Mrs. Utz-Meagher, and Mr. Pericone.  While we were gathered in the parking lot saying our hellos and goodbyes Mr. McGuire, the athletic director at Burnt Hills, drove up to offer his regrets for being unable to attend the fundraiser.  It was at that time that he went to his office and grabbed six BH-BL shirts for each of us to have and wear on the ride.  Thank you Mr. McGuire! 

Saturday we will arrive in Boston at our ending point of Brigham Circle.  From there, we will go to Carson’s Beach where the guys will be able to dip their tires in the Boston Harbor!  For all of those who are interested, we should be done around 1:00 pm and are asking Eric’s friends who are available from Northeastern to meet us for a picnic gathering.  Hope to see you there!

In amazement of our travels and the outpouring of support,

Alex, Joe, Colin, and Brittany

Biking along the canal!

Alex, Andrew, Sadie, Colin, Kevin, Dave, and Steve ready to ride!

Can you ever have too many sunset pictures? Sun setting on Oneida Lake

All of us sporting our orange shirts about to leave Pecks Lake!

Burnt Hills here we come!

Bandit reunited with his pal, Jessie!

A few of our beautiful helpers trying to recover things lost in the rain - thank you!

 

Everyone who joined in for the last mile to the High School. What a beautiful sight!

The wonderful entrance to the school.

Everyone about to arrive at the High School on Lakehill Road!

The four of us with the $500 donation from Walmart - thanks for your hard work Kim Durant!

Mr. and Mrs. Zagorda with the four of us - all smiles!

Sporting our new BHBL shirts about to depart for the final leg to Boston!





New York, here we come!

30 07 2010

Canadian geese floating on Lake Eire

7/27/10
Mileage:  97
Average:  17.1 

The day started off like any other when leaving the comfort of someone else’s home.  We woke up slowly, ate breakfast and packed up the car.  Alex and Colin were prepared to get back on the bike after a restful two days off, while leaving Brittany behind to finish the posts and packing.  Thank you Meagher family for your hospitality as we crashed at your house longer than any others.  We wish we didn’t have to move on! 

Only about 5 miles into the ride, Colin and Alex realized they had missed their turn which added on a few miles to the days ride.  They were pretty excited that throughout the whole trip they haven’t taken very many wrong turns.  It is just one of those things you shake off and keep moving.  For a lot of the ride we rode through Amish country which was a nice experience.  There was so many horse and buggies going down the busy roads.  While Brittany was driving by them bandit was so intrigued.  Throughout the trip we have all taken turns interpreting bandit’s thoughts and feelings at any given moment.  Although Joe thought we were all nuts at first by the end of his time with us he was also giving bandit a voice.  Something else we discovered is that bandit has a fascination with horses.  Brittany interpreted Bandits thoughts while driving by a horse and buggy by attending to his face and reaction: “What is it, what is it, what is it, it’s so big, oh my gosh, what is it, what is it?!”  It was so neat to also see a young lady in a dress and bonnet using an old fashion push mower.  Colin was really curious about how long it takes her to mow the lawn with that.  To sum it up, it was really interesting biking through Amish country to see a different way of life and to experience their friendly demeanor towards each passerby with a big smile and wave. 

Later, we finally got to Harrisburg, Ohio which is where we decided to end for the day. Upon our completion of the ride we almost reached another century but were completely content with calling it a day at mile 97.  After 10 minutes of being confused on what we had to pay for the campsite we just decided it was $22.  Alex said “If they want more money, they can come and get it!”  For the rest of the night we called various people to tell them about our event upon our arrival to Burnt Hills and also to make sure Dave Jones, Mr. Walsh and Mr. Utz-Meagher were all ready to meet us out in Buffalo.  It was hard to believe that the following day we were going to be back into our home state, NEW YORK!     

7/28/10
Mileage:  94
Average:  19.8

After a good night of sleep, without sweating all night, we got going earlier then usual.  We are happy to be back in the northern part of the country because it has not been as humid.  It was so difficult getting into our tents at 10:00pm and not being able to sleep until midnight due to being drenched in sweat.  Anyone want to borrow our sleeping bags when we return? 

Today was quite an eventful day because we were in three different states.  We started about 20 miles outside of Pennsylvania and then we biked through Pennsylvania and ended in Dunkirk, New York.  It is sad to admit but when we started to see signs for I-90 in Pennsylvania we started to get really excited because that meant New York was close.  Even though all of us are so sick of I-90, because of how often we have driven on it going to and from school, we were thrilled to see it.  The ride seemed to fly by because we had a really nice tailwind pushing us along at about 23 mph.     

About 10 miles away from where we decided to camp for the night, we stopped at a beautiful overlook of Lake Erie.  There we took many pictures of the lake, geese and ducklings.  When we decided we should move on to the campsite, Colin heard air coming out of his tire and couldn’t believe he had another flat tire!  Quickly he changed his tube again and they were off.  Finally, we made it to Lake Erie State Park where Brittany had already secured a site for the night.  Our campsite had a nice view of the lake and the beach was within walking distance.  Bandit and Colin enjoyed a swim in the beautiful water of Lake Erie not knowing that there were working showers! 

Again, the remainder of the night involved calling friends and family about the event in Burnt Hills.  Alex was lucky enough to enjoy a nice long phone call with Coach Button.  We all miss him so much.  He is such an important person in each of our lives.  He has impacted our lives in so many ways and he was also an important figure for Eric Zagorda.  When Eric was first diagnosed with Leukemia we told Coach.  The news caused him to become quite distraught.  However, since Eric was always looking out for the people in his life, he tried to comfort Coach.  He said that Coach made him the strongest he could be to help him beat this disease.  That was Eric’s style. 

7/29/10
Mileage: 75
Average:  18.4 

Today was a pretty uneventful day.  We just wanted to push through it as quickly as possible because we were excited to have our group expanded.  Most of the ride was along Lake Erie which was absolutely beautiful.  When we were in Hamburg, New York we had a great view of Buffalo in the distance and we couldn’t believe that in about 40 miles we would be there.  The last part of our ride was kind of brutal from Orchard Park to Amherst where Colin’s brother and girlfriend live (Justin and Gwen).  We were on a four way road and there wasn’t much of a shoulder which made being on a bike quite difficult.  We realized quickly how much we missed country roads and that we hate biking in cities.  But shortly after going through north campus of Buffalo we were at Justin’s humble abode. 

After taking some much needed showers, we ordered a couple delicious pizzas.  Our friend, Taela Durst, lives in Buffalo and wanted to meet up with us.  We agreed that ice cream would be the best thing to enjoy together!  Taela, and her friend Courtney, met the three of us, Justin, and Gwen at Coldstone Creamery.  While we all ordered our treats, Taela was busy at the register paying for all of us!  You sneaky girl!  Thank you from all of us, it was delicious!  While talking and eating some frozen goodness, Alex received a call from Liz Montgomery, another friend from High School.  She was in the area and wanted to see us.  Before long, there was a large group gathered outside of the ice cream store.  Unfortunately, by that time, Mr. Utz-Meagher, Mr. Walsh, and Dave were waiting for us at Justin and Gwen’s apartment.  Before we knew it, we were saying our goodbyes and then giving welcoming hugs again!  It is great to familiar faces!

At the apartment, we gathered to share stories and catch up.  To our surprise, Champagne was brought so we shared a toast of congratulations and well wishes for the remainder of the journey.  The seven of us squatters found our square on the floor to call home for the night and quickly fell asleep. 

7/30/10

This morning, the five bikers headed towards the Eire Canal bike path that will lead us home!  In five days we will be celebrating our efforts along with everyone who has donated and supported us along the way at the fundraising event at the Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake High School.  It is going to be a powerful sight to see friends, family, and community members biking down Route 50 in memory of Eric, Lauren, Shawn, and countless other’s whose lives have been affected by Leukemia and/or Lymphoma.  Hope to see YOU there! 

In enjoyment of new smiling faces,
Colin, Brittany, and Alex

Colin, Sadie, and Bandit enjoying the sunset over Lake Eire

The sun set fire to the clouds

The group after ice cream - Gwen, Justin, Taela, Brittany, Colin, Alex, Liz, and Laura

The guys ready to go - Alex, Mr. Utz-meagher, Dave, Colin, and Mr. Walsh





EZTribute Celebration & Fundraiser

27 07 2010

As many of you may know, on August 3rd we will be arriving into Burnt Hills, NY; our home town.  What you may not know is that there is an event taking place that evening.  Megan Reynolds and Brittany Trowbridge have taken it upon themselves to coordinate a welcome celebration and fundraiser within our community.  Countless people have helped us on our way to holding the event and donating goods to our cause.  We could not be more grateful for the outpouring of support we have received thus far! 

The event will take place on August 3rd at the Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake High School (the back parking lot near the tennis courts).  We are asking friends and family to bike with us the last leg into our home town from the Dollar General Plaza to the High school.  If you are interested in taking park in the ride, meet at the Dollar General Plaza on Route 50 in Burnt Hills at 5:30pm, wearing orange!  The bikers will depart shortly after 5:45 to ride to the High School.  Upon reaching the High School there will be refreshments for sale and a basket raffle.  If you don’t want to take part in the ride, you may arrive at the High School at 5:30 and await the arrival of the bikers with the others.  Remember, wear orange and your helmets! 

Hope to see you there!

In excitement,
Brittany, Colin and Alex





When it Rains, it Pours

27 07 2010

The three of us before saying goodbye to Alan and Bonnie

7/18/10
Mileage:  79.49
Average:  16.9

After having a lovely breakfast with Al and Bonnie we were extremely sad to say good-bye.  But it had to be done because we still had about a 2 hour drive ahead of us to get back to Farmington, Missouri.  We had so much fun hanging out and talking with Al and Bonnie.  We are so grateful for everything they did for us.  If you are reading this, thank you so much.  We love you both. 

While driving to Farmington, we ran into a horrible storm.  With the windshield wipers running at full speed we still could not see more than a couple feet in front of us.  When we arrived in Farmington the storm wasn’t letting up, so we sat in the car for about an hour to wait it off.  Then Alex and Colin were off again and like usual, it felt weird being back on the bike after a day off.  Also it felt weird not having one of our members, Joe, with us.  With the rain still coming down, we decided to leave Farmington and give biking a try.  After 10 miles into the ride the rain stopped.  Luckily it stayed cloudy for most of the day which meant a nice break from the scolding sun.  The ride went pretty smooth and much quicker than we imagined.  Before we knew it we were riding over the Mississippi River into Illinois.  The first town we entered upon crossing the bridge was Chester, home of Popeye.  It is fun to learn quirky facts like this while passing through different towns.  While in Chester we tried to find our friend John because we were trying to coax him into coming up to New York on his way to D.C.  We needed to show him our maps but unfortunately we weren’t able to find him.  Since we started so late and had about 40 miles ahead of us, we had to move on.  We ended at Murphysboro, Illinois and stayed at Murphysboro Lake state park.  We found a beautiful site right on the lake surrounded by blooming water lilies.

This location allowed us to learn another inanimate object that Bandit is afraid of: lily pads!  While walking on a dock we quickly learned that he was a bit weary of the large green objects floating near by.  After falling asleep pretty early we all awoke to the sound of thunder in the distance around midnight.  Quickly, we got out of our tents and put on our rain flaps.  As soon as we had the rain flaps on, it started to pour.  Soon the storm was directly above our campsite and the thunder seemed to make our hearts skip a beat; it was so loud and powerful. 

7/19/10
Mileage:  112.50
Average:  19.5

With a high mileage day in our plans we got going early.  Our goal was to get from Murphysboro, Illinois to Owensboro, Kentucky because we don’t have maps that navigate us between these two towns; which means we didn’t know where there was camping.  The total mileage for the ride would be about 140 miles, quite a bit more than what we are used too.  But we knew we could do it, if we started early enough and were smart about it.  The first 70 miles were on a two lane highway.  It wasn’t ideal but it had a nice shoulder and it was pretty much flat so we were able to average about 20 mph.  We had wished we were on the back roads actually seeing the country rather then seeing commercial towns and a whole lot of cars.  However, we didn’t know what other way to go, so we sucked it up and moved as quickly as we could to get off the highway.  

Once we crossed the Ohio River into Kentucky we got off the two lane highway to a smaller road.  It still wasn’t ideal but it was much better than before.  We couldn’t believe that we had finished another state and were going to be in Eastern Standard Time the next day.  Then, when we reached about 110 miles we could see a storm on our left and we could tell that it was coming our way.  What we have found out about storms in the south is that they happen quickly and are quite harsh.  We thought we were going to be able to get in 5 miles before it hit but oh, were we wrong.  The wind started to pick up and we weren’t moving at all.  Then the rain came and it started to down pour within seconds.  Hurrying as quickly as we could, we got off our bikes and ran into a Walgreens where we decided what we should do.  Once Brittany caught up to us we decided we were going to be done for the day.  The main reason was because we had a hotel room for the night.  Mrs. Reynolds, Alex’s girlfriend Megan Reynolds’s mom, was gracious enough to get us a room for the night.  Thank you Mrs. Reynolds, it was wonderful to have a place to stay for the night!

  From Harrisburg, where we stopped, we drove to Evansville Indiana were our hotel was.  While at the hotel, we didn’t do much besides eating and relaxing.  While watching the rain continue to come down on and off throughout the night, we were increasingly thankful to have a warm and dry place to call home for the night.  We decided to sleep in a little bit since the next week is going to be tough until we get to Colin’s Aunt and Uncles house in Medina, Ohio. 

7/20/10
Mileage:  90.3
Average:  18.5

After filling out stomachs as much as we could at the continental breakfast we departed from our lovely hotel.  Again, thank you Mrs. Reynolds.  It is amazing how having a hotel for one night is such a relief.  I know we are getting sick of bugs and sweating non-stop throughout the night.  We haven’t commented yet about how Bandit is not only a chick magnet but also a tick magnet.  Brittany and Colin have taken off 10 or more ticks from him.  There have been a few times during the night when Brittany has had a tick crawling up her neck, arms, and legs.  So yes having a gift like a hotel is huge.  Not only does it mean not having a bug bite for the night but showers and a warm bed. 

After sleeping in, filling the cooler and water jug with free ice, and packing up, we finally started biking around 12.  For most of the ride we followed the Ohio River which was really pretty.  Colin absolutely loved a old Mansion that they biked by and for about 20 miles couldn’t think about anything else.  After biking by it Colin said to Alex “That house is going to be the house Brittany is going to rebuild for me.  Just like in one of my favorite movies: The Notebook.  It has so much potential and its right on the Ohio River!”  Alex had no clue what to say to Colin’s masculine comments. 

At the end of the day we guessed we were only about 5-10 miles away from the Eastern Time Zone.  We couldn’t believe it, home is just around the corner.  It’s so close we can feel it! 

We stayed at a wildlife management area a little outside of Stephensport, Kentucky and didn’t actually know if it was a campsite or not.  There were some really sketchy bathrooms that none of us even wanted to check out.  Since it has been so humid we haven’t been putting on the rain flaps and of course during the middle of the night we all had to get up and put them on.  Since Colin and Brittany didn’t have time to put stakes in their rain flap the water still managed to come into the tent; which actually didn’t feel so bad since it was still so warm.  Since Joe has left us it has rained everyday.  Before that we probably only had about 1 or 2 days of rain.  The only plausible explanation is that Zeus is so upset, every day he is cries.  There is no way it has anything to do with the heat wave the north east has been facing, it just doesn’t make sense.

7/21/10
Mileage: 110.82
Average: 18.2

  While sleeping at the Yellowbank Wildlife Management Area a severe storm came through and dumped buckets of rain on us. The tents might as well have been in a lake because if we hadn’t been weighing them down I’m sure they would’ve floated away! We were lucky to not have a drop of rain through the first half of the trip, but we certainly have gotten our fair share through the Midwestern states. After packing up our damp belongings we continued on through the remaining part of Kentucky – for now at least. After crossing the Ohio River into Indiana we made our way into Corydon to find a bike shop where we could restock our depleted supply of tubes. Unfortunately the only bike shop in town had closed its doors for good so we had to move on after a short break and hope we didn’t get another flat. After another 20 miles of rolling hills we found ourselves riding through New Albany, one of the suburbs of Louisville across the Ohio River.

  We had planned to meet Brittany here, but before we knew it we were already past the city so we decided to meet Brittany another 20 miles past where we were. The plan for the night was to camp in Madison, Indiana at Cifty Falls State Park so after making it through the next few small towns we arrived at the park. After assuring the attendant that we already had a site (thanks to Brittany for going ahead to get one for us!) we started in to the park. Before long we realized it was not going to be easy to get to our site. The first mile in the park was up one of the steepest hills we’ve seen since Missouri (and at the end of 110 mile ride none the less!). After we reached the top of the hill we were happy to finally be at the camp site…we thought. After another few miles of winding our way through the state park we finally made it to the site and were happy to find that we had showers for the night! 

7/22/10
Mileage: 114
Average: 17.8

  Luckily we avoided the rain last night except for a few sprinkles here and there, but consequently the air was very humid to start the day today. We were excited about today because we would be making our way into Ohio via downtown Cincinnati and then would be hopping on a bike path for about the last 30 miles of the ride. Also we were planning on cutting off about 100 miles of the map that we were using. From Madison (which is a nice little town right on the Ohio River) we crossed back over the Ohio River into Kentucky – I told you we’d be back! From there, our route wound through rural northern Kentucky with views of the river from the south bank. By the time we reached the small town of Glencoe it was time to take a rest before going off the maps. We found a small convenience store where we picked up a couple of slushies to cool off and luckily the place had free Wi-Fi for Brittany to get on the internet for planning purposes. After getting talked at for about ten minutes by a local we decided to move on.

  From Glencoe to Cincinnati (about 35 miles) the route was determined by Google Maps and really consisted of staying on the same road for almost the entirety of the detour. The ride up to this point had been relatively flat with only a few short ups and downs, so we were surprised to find that those 35 miles included a significant amount of large ups and downs followed by a long steady climb before descending back down into the Ohio River Valley and the city of Cincinnati. Our maps indicated that there was a nice pedestrian/bicycle bridge that crossed the river into the heart of the city so we decided to give it a shot. The Purple People Bridge (yeah, we’re wondering about that name too…) turned out to be a nice safe route across the river that avoided the busy traffic of the major city. Now that we had officially made it into Cincinnati, Alex’s birthplace, Alex was excited to find a branch of Cincinnati’s staple fast food restaurant, Skyline Chili. The chili was just as tasty as Alex had remembered though not quite as filling as he had hoped and Colin was able to enjoy a vegetarian burrito. The remainder of the day’s ride included a quick tour of the residential section of the city before hopping on the Little Miami Scenic Bike Path. After spending the last 30 miles riding with traffic it was nice to relax on the beautiful shaded path. Just simply by coincidence we were crossing a road about a mile from our final destination and here comes Brittany making her way to pick us up. We decided it was a good enough sign and called it quits for the day. We headed just down the road to a private campground that specializes in canoe and rafting tours of the Little Miami River. The beautiful site was right along the river and provided us with showers and nice pavilion to pitch our tents under.

 7/23/10
Mileage: 110

  Luckily we’ve noticed that as we’ve been making our way north, slowly, but surely, the air is becoming cooler and less humid. The indicator of this is we’re now finding that it is in fact possible to get a little chilly at night when sleeping on top of our sleeping bags. The morning air quickly heats up however and we were happy that we would be spending the majority of today’s ride in the shade of the bike path. Now that we were outside of downtown Cincinnati the bike path was not nearly as crowded as it had been yesterday. The end of the Little Miami Scenic Bike Path brought us immediately to the Ohio to Erie bike path. We are very impressed by this set of trails as we have ridden a paved, traffic-less path for nearly 100 miles from Cincinnati all the way to Columbus. The Ohio to Erie trail becomes more patched together north of Columbus with roads and dirt trails, but as its name suggests it goes all the way to Erie, Pa. South of Columbus our route left the trail and we made our way around the west side of the city to Delaware State Park to camp for the night. The nature of bike paths is that they are flat, straight, and easy to ride, but with that comes monotony when riding for as many miles as we did. Thus, there is not much to say about today’s ride other than it was relatively uneventful. Delaware state park again provided us with showers (I know, we’re getting spoiled right?) and a nice place to rest up before making the final ride to Colin’s aunt and uncle’s house in Medina.

7/24/10
Mileage:  101
Average:  18.2

After a goods night sleep we were all ready to get going since tonight we were hoping to be at Colin’s Aunts and Uncles in Medina.  We guessed that it was going to be about 115 miles.  This isn’t that much more than what we have been doing for the past week.  At one point during the day we could tell there was a storm that we might have been biking into.  On top of a hill we stopped and Alex checked the weather on his Iphone.  While he was checking, the storm had pretty much passed.  But it was so cool to be on top of this hill while looking below over the town knowing it was pouring on everyone down there.  We pressed on and didn’t get rained on at all during the ride. 

With only about 1.5 miles to go and only about two streets away from our destination, Colin’s bike Hufflepuff decided to get a flat tire.  Even though it was horrible timing it answered one of Colin’s questions about if he should get a new tire or not.  Within a couple of minutes after changing the tube they were off again.  Colin made a comment that he loves how quickly he can change his tube now and before the trip he had actually never changed a tube before.  Once there, Colin’s Aunt, Uncle, Cousin Carson, and Brittany were all out back swimming in the pool and within seconds so were Colin and Alex.  It felt so good because it has just been so humid for the past couple of weeks and we just finished our last long ride for the trip.  The pool felt amazing!

Then we devoured homemade Mac and cheese and corn on the cob courtesy of Dan and Melissa.  After talking for awhile and entertaining Colin’s baby cousin Carson, who is three years old, we all dispersed to our rooms for a good nights sleep.  We are not sure what we are going to do while we are here, I think we would be happy with just hanging out and relaxing for the next two days. 

7/25/10-7/26/10

Rest Days In Medina, Ohio

We all slept in as much as we could.  The plan for Sunday was to pretty much just relax but we decided it would be fun to go watch a Baseball game in Cleveland; The Cleveland Indians versus Tampa Bay Rays.  About an hour before we were going to head up to Cleveland, Colin’s stomach started to not feel good.  He was hoping that it was just going to go away and he would be ready to go.  However, he ended up getting worse and sent Dan, Melissa, Carson, and Alex to watch the game.  Brittany drove to Oberlin, a short 30 minutes from Medina, to visit with her brother, his girlfriend, and her family.

After a day spent apart, we all gathered for a variety of pizzas prepared by Brittany and Colin.  Christopher and Erika joined us from Oberlin for the feast.  For dessert, strawberry shortcake thanks to Dan and Melissa!  Once again our bellies were full and we grew quite tired.  Spending a day in a house made us realize how much easier it is to get things done and how comfortable we actually have it while home. 

On Monday, we returned to our normal routine by taking part in the chores of the road life: cleaning the car, cleaning the bikes, checking the fluids in the car, cleaning out the cooler, working on the post, doing laundry, etc.  We did manage to take a few hours to return to Oberlin; this time Colin and Alex made the trip as well.  After visiting with Erika’s mom, Christopher and Erika gave us a tour of Oberlin.  Upon returning to Erika’s house, Christopher gave each of us a ride on his motorcycle.  After saying our goodbyes we returned to Medina where there was a delicious dinner waiting for us.  We spent the remaining time finishing our chores and getting ready to leave in the morning.  Once again, we have been lucky enough to have a place to call home for a few nights.  Thank you Dan and Melissa for everything you did for us; it means the world!   

Next stop, NEW YORK.  See you in one week!

In gratitude,

Alex, Colin, and Brittany

Riding in the rain!

Chester - Home of Popeye!

Beautiful water lilies by our campsite

Sporting their EZTribute shirts!

Two owls looking for dinner near our campsite at Clifty Falls

I guess it can't always be a beautiful sight...

An attractive bunch - Britt, Alex, Chris, Erika, Colin, Melissa, Carson, and Dan





Rolling Through Missouri

18 07 2010

The rolling hills of Missouri

7/11/10
Mileage: 61.00
Average: 15.3

We awoke groggy on this morning due to trains that frequently passed by the city park all throughout the night.  There were probably about 5-10 trains that went through and sounded like they were going to run over our tents.  Although, Alex is such a heavy sleeper that he didn’t wake once.  We couldn’t believe how busy the track was in such a small town.  While biking out of Cassoday we saw a sign that said that it was the prairie chicken capital of the world.  Who would have thought that there was such a thing?  Through the duration of the ride out of town, a short two minutes, we did not see a single prairie chicken to our disappointment.  Throughout the day it got increasingly warmer reaching somewhere between 95 and 100 degrees.  We were pretty happy that we did so much mileage yesterday so that today would be shorter in the heat.  That night we had planned to use a contact through warm showers in Eureka, Kansas.  However, we were feeling pretty good and biked past Eureka to the next town, Toronto.  Here we had to pay a small fee for camping but there were free showers and a beautiful lake to swim in.  How could we pass that up?

The water felt so good in the lake.  We all got a kick out of trying to get bandit to learn how to swim.  He tries so hard to keep his head above water that he doesn’t concentrate on actually swimming.  His front paws smack the water and make big splashes in front of his face.  What is a dog to do but try and bite the water?  However, while doing this, he kind of forgets he can’t touch bottom.  To say the least, Bandit may have attention deficit disorder.  Colin and Brittany tried holding him so he could work on his technique, but he was more confused than anything else.  We all enjoyed a nice laugh on bandit’s behalf.  We ended up staying in the water while watching the sunset before preparing for the next day. 

Since we enjoyed the heat so much we decided that it would be appropriate to do an early morning ride under the stars.  Our plan was to get up at 3 and hopefully start at 4 with the stars allowing us to see the way.  Before heading to bed, we observed a beautiful lightning storm in the distance.

7/12/10
Mileage:  91.68
Average:  15.7

Well we actually did the morning ride like we wanted to do.  Alex’s alarm went off around 3:00 but we didn’t get out of the tents until 3:30.  Upon getting up we remembered an interesting event that happened in the middle of the night.  Around 1:00 in the morning, there was a conversation between Colin, Brittany and Joe.

Joe Screams: COLIN… COLIN…
**silence**
Brittany:  Yea?
Joe:   I GOT A PLANE TICKET
Colin:  Joe, what do you want?
Joe:  ZZZZZZZ…..

Surprisingly Joe does not remember a thing and Alex is the world’s heaviest sleeper so Brittany and Colin were the only lucky ones to laugh at Joe.

At 4:30, we were off with only a couple stars visible through the clouds.  We had Joe and his flashlight leading the way while Alex and Colin both had flashers bringing up the rear.  It was nice to have it not be so hot but we were all quite tired.  As soon as the sun came up around 6:00 it felt like the temperature jumped up about 10 degrees.  It was still nice because the rest of the ride was really cloudy and foggy making it a lot cooler than it was yesterday.  We took one wrong turn which added on about 5 more miles to the ride, however, was no big deal.  Then at around 1 we got to the city park at Girard, Kansas.  The clouds and fog decided to leave and the sun was back out in full force.  Sitting in the park we were all sweating so we got the great idea of going over to the public library for a little AC.  There we ran into our friend John again who also had the great idea of getting out of the heat by being in the public library. 

There we started to talk to a lovely librarian, Terri, who within in 5 minutes of meeting us offered all of us a place to stay since it had started to rain and then storm.  She said that just last week they had seven other cyclists stay at their house.  From time to time, She and her husband, Maurice, will drive down to the city park when it’s raining to offer bikers a dry place to sleep.  They both are truly amazing people.  Terri said she had a meeting until 6:30 but we could head over around 6 because her husband would be there.  When we made it over to her house, Maurice was waiting at the three car garage port offering us a shelter for the van.  We talked with him for awhile and during our conversation he indicated multiple times that anything in the house was considered ours, snacks, beds, showers, laundry, etc.  They were both such caring individuals who have so much trust in people. 

We found out later in the night that they had lost there daughter 7 years earlier and were still struggling with their grief.  It was just heartbreaking when Terry told us because similar to the Zagordas, they are a great family who was faced with such terrible loss.  Again it made us all think how lucky we are to be healthy, happy, and able to take on such a journey.  Sometimes we need to realize how important it is to cherish life and everyone around us.  We were extremely lucky to have met Terry and Maurice and if you are reading this, thank you!  We are so grateful for you willingly opening your house to us and filling our bellies.  There really are wonderful people in this world.

7-13-10
Mileage: 87
Average: 15.8

After a good night sleep in the cool AC of Terri & Maurice’s beautiful home in Girard, KS we woke up early to make sure we got on the road while we could still take advantage of the cool morning air. The first 20 miles from Girard to Pittsburg we had very pleasant and relaxing warm up while we chatted with John Harris. John stopped in Pittsburg to grab a hearty breakfast and check out the bike shop in town while we continued our to make our way to the Missouri border. After crossing into our 6th state, the terrain gradually began to transition from the plains of Kansas to the beautiful green rolling hills of the Ozarks.  Our first major stop of the day was in Golden City where we cooled off in the shade and ate our lunch.  The heat continued to increase and by the time we reached the city park of Ash Grove we were very pleased to find out that bikers were allowed to swim for free in city pool. In a matter of minutes our night was looking even better. The pool manager informed us that the city also offers the key to its community building to bikers passing through. So in addition to the free dip in the pool we scored a roof over our heads, a full kitchen, bathrooms, and some more AC. John also made it in to Ash Grove for the night so we were able to share the house with him. Before the pool closed for the night, Alex was coerced into refereeing a swim race between John and Joe. With the guys vying for a free meal from the loser, tensions ran high. Maybe it was the competitive juices, but neither would give up and Alex was forced to call it a tie. After all the excitement, it was time to settle down and rest up for the next day of riding.

7/14/10
Mileage: 114
Average: 15.8

The night in the Ash Grove community building gave us the opportunity to get some extra rest before the long day of riding ahead of us. The goal was to make it from Ash Grove to Houston, a grand total of 115 miles during one of the hottest days so far this summer. The morning started out warmer than the rest, but we were still able to enjoy the early morning light and the lush green hills of southern Missouri as we made our way through Walnut Grove to Fair Grove. After leaving Fair Grove the temperatures climbed to their midday peak as we continued on to Marshfield. In Marshfield we decided to wait to eat our lunch until making it to the next town, Hartfield. We tried to avoid the hottest part of the day by resting for over an hour in Hartfield, but it seems to be impossible as nearly the whole afternoon is ruled by heat and humidity. In Hartville we ran into another TransAm rider who recommended stopping a few miles short of Houston for a good swimming spot to cool off and rinse off after the long day of biking. With that in mind and after getting some Subway to boost our spirits we continued on to the last leg of the day into Houston. However, about 15 miles short of Houston we ran into some trouble as Colin and Joe found their water bottles running dry. With no public facilities in sight they started to knock on doors asking for water. Much to Colin’s delight, the first door he knocked on was answered by a sweet old lady, whom Joe named Mrs. Johannsen, that was more than willing to help out. In addition to filling their water bottles she sent them packing with a whole cucumber each. Colin was very sad to leave Mrs. Johannsen as she seemed very lonely and very appreciative of the company. If Colin had his way, we would still be camping in her yard eating fresh cucumbers. With a full supply of water we pushed on to the last few miles before the swimming hole. Luckily we made it in time to have some daylight while we swam. While we cooled off in the stream at Dog’s Bluff, we watched as people were cliff jumping into a deep part of the stream. We decided it looked pretty fun and that we’d give it a try. After jumping from the 25 foot cliff we had a few aches from hitting the surface and a little water in our ears, but otherwise were no worse for wear. While we swam the sun had set and so we biked the remaining 4 miles in twilight to Emmit Kelly city park in Houston where we would spend the night. 

7/15/10
Mileage: 84.5
Average: 13.5

We woke up fairly early from Emmit Kelly park in Houston, Missouri.  Unfortunately, as soon as we started Colin noticed that his left knee was popping.  We therefore took the first 20 miles fairly slow.  While his knee did not hurt we felt that we should be careful as we have been going up and down a never ending supply of hills.  We rode through Missouri and enjoyed the scenery and shade that the trees provided.  It was not as hot today as it was yesterday but with the humidity there was not much difference.  We were also lucky enough to be able to bike through Ozark National Scenic Riverways park.  We stopped and enjoyed some of the views and were able to enjoy the shade this park offered.  Now, while Missouri does not have the same elevation challenges that we have already experienced, some of the rolling hills are no joke.  While these hills are not very long, the challenge comes from how steep they are.  Looking back on it, every state seems to have a certain challenge that makes it unique. 

We were able to make it 15 miles from our ending destination, Centerville, when it began to rain, thunder and lighting.  We took a break with the van to see if the storm would pass.  When it seemed as if the weather was improving we continued our ride, but approximately 10 miles from the end the weather worsened and we continued to bike towards our goal.  It took more time than we expected and we had to turn on our blinkers to help cars see us, but we made it.  We arrived to the town with a population of about 170 people in the pouring rain.  What makes it even more interesting was that we ran into 3 more groups of bikers.  The cherry on this, is the fact that in this small town, one of those 3 groups was two people who knew our dear friend, David Jones.  We had run into his college friends Tyler and Annie as they were heading west towards San Francisco.  Small world. 

We enjoyed our dinner at the diner, set up our tents in a pavilion in the back of an elementary school, and called it a day.  We were all excited as tomorrow we would be arriving in St. Louis and spending Saturday with more of Alex’s family. 

7/16/10
Mileage: 44.5

Today was one of those days that you just couldn’t win, except in this case the “you” was Colin.  Right from the start we noticed that his back tire was flat.  Apparently at some point it had rubbed against something damaging the tire and puncturing the tube.  We had hoped that changing the tube alone would solve the problem.  Unfortunately, 10 miles into the ride Colin noticed that his tire would not hold pressure.  He wanted to try and continue as today was a short day, but after time it became apparent that it was not going to make it.  We wanted to try and put the CO2 cartridges to use but due to user error, it was cross threaded and we said goodbye to the CO2 as it leaked out.  It was even better when we found out we didn’t have cell phone service.  As we were not sure where Brittany was, Alex and Joe continued to bike forward until they reached a gas station.  They were able to reach Brittany and she was soon on her way.  It’s funny because in the time that it took Brittany to drive to the gas station, Colin was able to proudly walk his bike to the very same gas station.  Both tire and tube were exchanged and we then were back on the road.  Now, it didn’t take long for Colin and his bike to decide that something else needed to go wrong before we finished.  Within 2 miles Colin noticed that his tire was not properly rotating.  Apparently the tire was bulging out causing the tire to unevenly spin.  According to Colin, it felt as if he was consistently biking over a rumble strip.  We knew that the truth was that Colin did not want to bike today and was doing all he could to not do so.  He’s good.  He decided though that he could finish the ride as we had maybe 15 more miles until we reached Farmington.  We were able to finish biking, but just so you have an idea of how much Colin didn’t want to bike:  We rode for 2 hours 45 minutes and the entire ride took us a little over 5 hours.  Everyone is bound the have a bad day we figured…

We piled into the car and then drove up to St. Louis to once again stay with more of Alex’s family.  We were warmly welcomed upon arrival.  The very first thing we did though was open all the doors to the van, and remove the majority of our belongings.  Humidity plus dirty clothes plus dirty boys equals a very bad smell.  (We may want to apologize to the Trowbridges in advance if that smell never comes out…)  We organized the van, did laundry, showered and talked with Bonnie and Alan for the next couple of hours.  We were all excited because for dinner we agreed to go to π Pizzeria to enjoy some of the best pizza we may have ever had.  We were very grateful for not only have Alan and Bonnie allowed us to stay and use their house, but they treated us to dinner as well.  It’s amazing how nice Alex’s relatives are, we are beginning to wonder why he isn’t the same way…(just kidding)

7-17-10
Rest Day

This morning, in Saint Charles, Missouri, we took our time waking up in a nice bed with the comfort of air conditioning.  Alan prepared a beautiful breakfast of eggs cooked with onions, garlic, and mushrooms followed by an avocado smoothie, cantaloupe, and homemade bread courtesy of Barb and Elaine!  Needless to say we polished it all off in no time.  After breakfast we took care of a few remaining tasks (laundry, writing a post, figuring out the route for the next couple weeks, etc) before getting ready for the day.  While in Boulder with Paul and Lisa, they told us about this awesome museum in Saint Louis that we should go to.  After hearing about it we were sold! The four of us and Alan drove into the city while Bandit stayed home with a dog sitter; a neighborhood girl going into 4th grade. 

It is called the City Museum and is located in, what used to be, a10 story shoe factory.  Now it houses a fun house for children of all ages and adults who refuse to grow up… appropriate, right?  The museum is created almost entirely from materials that once held a purpose in Saint Louis.  Materials include lug nuts, rail road ties, tires, road signs, trees, air planes, a school bus, etc.  You name it, our bet is that you could find it within the museum.  The structural aspect of this museum is unlike anything we have ever seen which makes it really hard to describe, however, we will give it our best shot.  Upon entering the museum there is a three story slide that descends into the lobby which whets your appetite right away.  After purchasing a ticket and following the mass of people, there were various ways to get up to the next floor including: a giant slinky spiraling around a mosaic, crawling through a cave, or through a hollow inside of a fallen tree.  We were absolutely blown away and overwhelmed with all there was to see and explore.  Some of the highlights of the museum include a 10 story slide, caves that lead you through dark tunnels, an outdoor area where you climb through air planes (among other things) suspended 8 floors high.  I am sure we could write a whole blog about the awesome time we had, but it still wouldn’t do the museum justice.  One thing we did realize is that we had a difficult time trying to fit through locations that only small children could enter.  Oh to be a kid again…

Today may very have been the saddest day of our journey, as fun as the afternoon was.  While we know we must press forward, we may very well not want to.  Unfortunately our favorite team member has left us to head back home.  Joe headed back home today to spend time with his family and prepare for his upcoming year.  In mid August he will be traveling to Quito, Ecuador where he will be volunteering for a year at The Working Boys Center.  Since poverty is very high in Quito, the center was established to help combat this problem.  The center, for free, takes families in and gives them an education, while teaching them a trade to help them obtain a job to better improve their life.  As this organization functions strictly on donations Joe will be volunteering there to help teach and improve the community in which he will reside.  It had been decided though that he will continue the ride from Burnt Hills to Boston as we travel.  This trip will not be the same without him, because he is so awesome, but we hope he enjoys his time with his family and wish him luck.  (Can anyone guess who wrote this paragraph?)

Next weekend we will be in Ohio at Colin’s aunt and uncle’s house.  In order to make this happen, Alex and Colin will need to average around 90 miles a day for the next 8 days.  Now we know the real reason Joe left (just kidding).  Let’s hope everything goes as planned!

In humidity,
Alex, Colin, Joe, and Brittany

The beautiful sunset over Lake Toronto

The boys about to leave on their 4am ride.

John, Maurice, Terry, and the four of us after a great dinner.

The guys about to go cliff jumping into Dogs Bluff

Tyler and Annie - Friends of Dave Jones that we happened to meet in a town of ~160

The outdoor area of The City Museum

Joe about to fly home to spend time with his family