WE MADE IT!! I can’t believe it. Rolling up to the Atlantic didn’t feel real. I guess because the whole trip has been so cumulative it wasn’t as big of a burst to finish. We were greeted in Falmouth by the Farnham family. They had graciously made a welcome sign and a cake shaped like Canada (including the altitude of the Rockies)! We took a good 15 minutes to work up the courage to jump off of the high dock at the end of their road into Casco Bay. You would think we would be fearless after this journey, but I guess not fearless enough to jump. After finally working up the courage to take the plunge, we went inside and took warm, well-deserved showers.
After a great dinner out in Portland with my mom’s college friends, I found the last few missing stickers I needed for my collection on the bike. I treated myself with a heaping cup of gelato, post sticker hunt. We couldn’t believe, all night, that we’re done. I don’t know that I will ever look at hills and roads ever again!
More updates on the fundraising to come once we return to Vancouver on Thursday!
Almost the end of our journey, and still one of the most strikingly beautiful rides of the trip today as we ventured though White Mountain National Park to North Conway, NH. We climbed a bit at the beginning of the ride and then the rest of the morning was pretty much downhill. We left early in attempt to beat thunderstorms coming through the mountains. Luckily, we got here on time but accidentally passed the subdivision we were supposed to turn on to (oops…) so we had a nice, accidental brunch in town and then backtracked 5km down the road again to my mom’s aunt and uncle’s house. Lots of other family were also staying here: my mom’s cousins and their kids. I spent the afternoon chasing Sam, Zoe and Hazel around the house playing hide and seek. It was probably more tiring than today’s bike ride. It was so nice to see everyone and be welcomed into their home.
Tomorrow we complete our journey across the continent. As I think back on when I decided this was something I wanted to do, almost a year ago, I question my sanity. I didn’t, in any way, realize how big of an under taking this would be. I’m thankful for my mom who has accompanied me and made this possible. I had initially wanted to do this alone but was told by my parents that would not happen, ever. Luckily, I somehow convinced my mom to come with me. So far, it’s been an experience I will carry with me for the rest of my life. I’ve learned so many things that I would have never otherwise learned.
I never truly feared the athletic component to the riding; I only feared the vastness of North America. I’ve learned that fears can be overcome. Fears can push you further than anything. If you don’t let them stand it your way but rather let them push you, one can be propelled past their initial fear. This can be pertinent to anything in life not just this once-in-a-life-time crazy bike ride.
I don’t think many people realize what we do when we’re not biking. I like to spend pretty all of my down time watching Netflix. To be honest, there isn’t much else to do. It’s exciting when we have laundry. Today, for example, our motel doesn’t have laundry, so we had to sneak through the bushes to the place next door and use their laundry room. Ok, it wasn’t really sneaking, we were allowed to be there, but we try to find more adventure in everything. The dryers were about 50 years old and tiny. We ended up having to pin-up all of our clothes on the clothes lines and come back for them after dinner. When we went to collect our clothes we had to be careful about what we pulled off because someone else had hung their clothing when we were gone. My mom accidentally pulled a shirt that wasn’t ours off and stuck it in the dryer because it was still wet. It wasn’t until we went to fold it that we realized it wasn’t even ours. We, as discretely as possible, placed it back on the line.
A lot of days it takes me a good half hour to actually get out of bed. I try to stretch the lie-in as long as possible by eating breakfast and putting on my sunscreen whilst still lying down.
As you may be able to tell, today was a pretty routine day. We are in the White Mountains and will head out of them to North Conway, NH tomorrow to stay with my mom’s aunt and uncle and other family visiting. We are slowly making the transition back to a civilized life style. Two days to go and we will have made it, coast to coast, across North America!
I accomplished a major life goal today: I visited the Ben & Jerry’s factory. Now, if you know me, you should know a major food group of mine is ice cream. During basketball season and this summer (and truthfully most of the rest of the year), I eat about a bowl of ice cream a night. My whole family can vouch for this. At night if I hear someone in the kitchen getting a bowl out of the cabinet I can be counted on to yell ‘that’s my ice cream’ from my room no matter what time of night.
We rode 75 very hilly km in the heat today. We tried to leave early and did around 8am. Lucky for us, since my grandparents are visiting with us they were able to carry our bags today. Since we haven’t ridden without the 40 pound bags in almost two months, we cycled, quite noticeably, faster today. Going up hills seemed 100x easier yet they were still quite difficult.
After a delicious pizza dinner in town we headed to bed. The sun really tires you out a lot more than one may think. We have three days left in our trip. I can’t believe it. Have we really come this far? It seems like I just finished my last exam. This summer has flown by so quickly.
A great day NOT to be riding. It was 35C degrees and extremely humid. Even walking around town seemed like an incredibly arduous task. As I said (I think in the last blog), my mom went to college at Middlebury so she knows this area quite well and spent a lot of the day reminiscing, although a lot has changed since her time here.
She brought me, proudly, on a tour of the campus. Although hard to stay interested because of the heat, I was happy to get a glimpse into a part of my mom’s past I know nothing about. Thankfully there was a fro-yo place in town so we were able to meet up with my grandparents and cool off after a couple of hours in the sun.
We then took a speedy tour around campus trying to determine what was sidewalk and what was road by car with the grandparents. A couple of times we tried to go over curbs onto sidewalks by accident. A great quote of the day by my grandma was “If it’s a one way road, go on the wrong side, there will be less traffic” …to which I replied, “traffic in which direction?!”
Middlebury seems like a great school but is incredibly rural and not something I would think about considering in my future. On the other hand, I could definitely see my brother, Sebastian, going to a school like this.
As always, highlights of today included a trip to the laundry mat and the local grocery store for some bananas and sun screen.
We used the first-aid kit twice today, but for minor injuries, not to worry. We broke it our before even leaving when my mom somehow managed to cut her finger attempting to pump up a bike tire. The second time we had arrived for the day and when my grandma ran to greet us she somehow managed to cut her toe and it was bleeding. I patched it up, excited to be able to use all the supplies we’ve been hauling around with us this summer.
It was horribly hot today, around 35 degrees. I would argue this was one of the hardest days we’ve had to date. The heat combined with never-ending, steep hills made for a tough ride. In the Rockies, I didn’t stand to climb while riding as often because it’s a much more gradual ascent. Here, the hills are sharp and at around an 8-10% grade, so standing is pretty much the only was to get up them. I think I went through 5-6 bottles of water today; as I said, it was HOT.
It was nice to have an actual view today (instead of just never-ending forest or prairies). We looked out on the Adirondacks to the west and Green Mountains to the east. We followed back country roads most of the day; it was nice to be off of the highway.
Besides the excitement of seeing my grandparents, there was a moose today. Well, not a real one. My grandma has been following along by blog this summer and clearly learned about my fondness for moose. She bought me a moose figurine and was very proud to present it to me. Thanks, Nanny!
We raced a solid 70km today without stopping in hopes of making the earlier ferry across the lake. Luckily, although completely exhausted, we made it with enough time to spare to get some snacks before we left port. It was very hot today and the topography is beginning to become mountainous again (yay?). There are lots of windmills in this area because apparently it’s in the red zone for wind, whatever that means. We were very grateful that the windmills weren’t very effective today, meaning it wasn’t very windy.
After getting off of the ferry, we were in Vermont. I was happy because it was only about 5 more km to our motel. Sadly, what I didn’t realize is that VERMONT IS NOT FLAT. IT IS EXTREMELY HILLY AND THE HILLS ARE VERY HIGH IN GRADE. (I don’t know if you’re able to notice, but I did not like that.) I was dripping in sweat by the time we arrived.
Once showered, we headed into downtown Burlington. We walked around and then settled on a place for dinner. Needless to say, we’re happy we didn’t have gas station food for dinner. I really do miss home-cooked meals.
Tomorrow we are headed to Middlebury, a very hilly 70km South. My mom went to school in Middlebury, so she knows the area pretty well and my grandparents will meet us there. It’s supposed to be over 30 degrees, so hopefully we are able to cope with the heat and hills!