Today was another wonderful day on our ride across America to beat hunger...and I will discuss the details in a moment. But tonight I first want to publicly praise Don Croteau, chair of "The Ride To Beat Hunger," and the other wonderful people who have been working for many months to make this charity fundraiser a success. Many months ago I asked Don to chair this committee, and — in his inimitable style — he has ridden herd on this whole process in a way that has ensured its success. So hats off to Don. He has believed in this project from the beginning, and he doesn't get enough recognition for the good and compassionate work he does in the Treasure Coast community. Don, you are the best...thank you for the energy and passion you bring to our community!
And then there are all the other wonderful people who have played a role in our success. Bev and Marty Paris, our wonderful, wonderful and faithful publicists. Earle Beasley, who so artfully developed our great website. Jim Daly, who has faithfully managed my blog. Earle Kirkbride and Kristen Jolly, who have payed crucial administrative roles from the beginning. Maureen and Larry Labadie, who have been just wonderful keeping us on track with the Stop Hunger Now portion of the project. Kristen and Austin, and the other good folks at Harvest Food and Outreach Center, who have kept us on track to provide local food help. Patrick, from the Press Journal, and Lee from Waldo's and so many others (the list is so long, I just can't name everyone, so please forgive me if I haven't mentioned you by name) who have played a part in helping us to achieve our goals. The true heroes of this project are the good people who have been working behind the scenes to make "The Ride To Beat Hunger" a success. All I have done is gotten on a bike to ride 3,300 miles...it is these good folks who deserve the credit for what we have accomplished.
OK, now that that is off my heart, I want to briefly tell you about today on the ride. We have been so blessed with good weather in the last 2 weeks...today was another picture-perfect day for cycling across this beautiful land of ours. We crossed some 150 miles of Alabama today, and it was just spectacular...great (rain free, mid 80s) weather...rolling and green landscape...bucolic scenery...and great camaraderie. Over recent days I have almost wanted to pinch myself as I have ridden. Yes, I sometimes get tired, and I am sick of aggressive dogs chasing me (what are these dog owners thinking to let their mean dogs loose on public roads???), but all in all I feel so blessed by this opportunity to be out in America, seeing all she has to offer. Maybe I am a simplehearted guy, but this ride has really been wonderful...day after day after day.
We now have just 3 days left to Savannah, where I say goodbye to these 12 riders with whom I have shared so much since Costa Mesa and meet up with (Vero luminaries) Bill Penney and Mark Schumann, who will ride the last 4 days down to the Homecoming Splash Party in Vero Beach with me. Blessings to all. Talk to you tomorrow.
Today's ride was 119 miles, mostly through the rolling — and very green — hills of Alabama. We climbed some 6,000 feet (mostly 50 to 100 feet at a time) and dropped a similar number of feet as we traversed the rolling and sparsely inhabited landscape...it was a pretty day that moved along well. We had no rain today, just a lot of cloud cover early, which finally broke off into sunshine as the afternoon progressed. Temperatures reached the low 80s — not hot enough to negatively affect our ride or energies. All in all, everyone had a good day, and we are now safely into our Hampton Inn here in Prattville, Alabama, the hometown of our ride leaders Mike and Barbara Munk.
Tomorrow, we enter the Eastern Time zone when we cross the Georgia border at Columbus, Georgia. Everyone can now sense that our ride is soon coming to an end, although I have an extra 4 days (after I say goodbye to my ride companions of the last month) to get me from Savannah down to Vero Beach, ending at the Homecoming Splash Party on Tuesday, May 22, at Waldo's restaurant at 5:30 pm. In a conversation today with a reporter from the Press Journal (which I did from my bike seat late in the afternoon), I was asked how I felt about having successfully completed the ride so far. I shared that I am relieved and delighted that I have been up to this physical and mental challenge, and have had more than enough inner resources to get up on the bike each and every morning and put in the miles before me. I am the oldest rider on this trip by at least 7 years, and have more than 10-15 years on most of the other riders...so I am pleased that I have been able to share this ride with them — day after day. I was nervous before the ride about my physical capabilities, and I have a real sense of relief and accomplishment...now I just have to keep going for the next week!
Tomorrow's ride should be a little less demanding than today's. Now I look forward to a good dinner with my companions, and a good night's sleep. Blessings to all...talk to you tomorrow on the blog!
We got up this morning in Aberdeen, Mississippi, to a thick and low gray overcast and the forecast of heavy rain for the morning. The gods (as they are wont to do) did not disappoint. As we prepared to head out at 7:15 am (see my video blog), the skies opened up, and soon no rider had as much as a dry stitch of clothing. We were soaked to the bone, but luckily it was not cold, around 70 degrees, which kept our body temperatures in the comfortable range. I did, however, have to take my eyeglasses off (they were all fogged up in the steady rain) so that I could see where I was going...but I actually had a great morning. I was very fast and strong, and just felt like the bad weather and challenging ups and downs of the hills were my "element," and I quickly got to the lunch SAG. After lunch, the skies became party cloudy, and I finished the 110 miles of the day about 3:30, as we pulled into our nice motel in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, the home of the University of Alabama — which we saw as we biked through town...quite a large and impressive campus.
I had time this afternoon to thoroughly wash and relubricate my bike (heavy rain makes a cross-country bike filthy, and it needs to be cleaned completely if it is going to complete the ride) and time to do laundry (similarly, all my biking clothes were filthy from the road grime and dirt). Then I took a hot bath, so rider, bike, and clothes are all clean, refreshed, and ready to go in the morning.
Tonight's (elegant) dinner will be Domino's Pizza in my room — because all the local restaurants seem to have a long wait for Mother's Day — with my fellow rider Steve Schwartz. who will be coming to the Homecoming Splash Party, a week from Tuesday, May 22, at 5:30 pm, at Waldo's in Vero Beach. Hope to see you there! Tomorrow's ride will be up and down the many hills of Alabama, so I should have a long day, with our mileage at about 119 miles. It will surely be a physical and mental challenge, but at this point in the ride — with more than 3 tough weeks under my belt — I feel I can do just about any day they throw at us. Talk to you tomorrow night on the blog. Blessings to all.
This morning, we woke up to a cloudy morning in Senatobia, Mississippi, had a great and filling breakfast at the Huddle House, a Southern chain restaurant, and headed out on a long 139 mile day. The Mississippi countryside (which was bucolic and lovely) was rolling (we climbed and dropped all day, with none of the hills or valleys being very dramatic...but it was all work!), and then about noon it started to rain. The rain became steady, but it was not cold and none of us got very uncomfortable...but rain (and wet clothing and roads) is never ideal for cyclists, as I am sure you can imagine. We got into our (rather sparse and simple) motel in Aberdeen, Mississippi, late afternoon, and struggled a bit to get food, in that our options were limited (the motel was out of town, with no restaurants nearby), but we all managed to eat to replenish ourselves after a long day's work.
I am tired tonight, but today "played to my strengths" as a cyclist. I am a pretty strong climber, so the hills did not bother me as much as they did some riders...and rain and bad weather usually don't dampen my spirits...so, all in all, today was a good day for me. My hopes for the rest of the evening are simple — touch base with my spouse, Collins...watch a bit of television...and get a good night's sleep. Tomorrow's trip is not nearly as challenging as today's, and the weather is supposed to clear, so I hope for a bit easier day tomorrow. Blessings to all...talk to you tomorrow...