May 13, 2003

Ken Lloyd checks in!

{..} as per

Great article and photo. As a first leg rider, it was a challenge and an
experience with a good group that never complained about the conditions, we
just made sure we were on schedule.
Ken Lloyd

Posted by mkrieg at 01:50 PM | Comments (36)

May 12, 2003

Jim reflects on DC to Pgh rain ride

Hi Everyone: Rain, but what's new. Took the bus back to DC after the presentation to get my van. The Edstroms there welcomed me back, gave me a warm DRY bed, breakfast and some fresh oranges and grapefruit from Sunny Florida. What a deal, what great friends.

As I watched the rode from the front seat of the bus I realized just how wonderful the C&O trail really was. It may have been wet, and a little muddy, but there were no hills. You sometimes forget to appreciate the beauty of the moment.

That became more apparent this morning as I drove back to Pittsburgh. While we were sort of complaining about the rain, its effect on everything are wonderful. Every tree was bursting with bright green buds, as were the grasses in fields along the road. I could not remember this area looking more beautiful. The roads were all washed clean, the rock cliffs shined with their wet surfaces. The more I drove the more I appreciated the rain we had ridden through.

There was another factor that came to mind. While biking through the rain dealt with the mud and flat tires, never was I or any of us stressed. We were laughing and enjoying the experience.

Today while driving in my van, I was immediately stressed. Cars and trucks flying by at excessive speeds, generally well over the posted speed limits. Fear of death actually came to mind as I saw a few accidents. I could get killed out here if I am not careful and lucky. I could not wait to get back on my trike and enjoy a stress free ride again.

I am sure that the next section of the ride will not have some stresses in it, because of our riding on the road. I'll try to cover that experience later.

Life is good, Happy Mothers Day to all Mom's in the world. Be nice to her take her for a bike ride, she will love you for it.

Signing off, Jim

This mobile message sent using PocketMail.
Sign up for unlimited e-mail at

Posted by mkrieg at 10:20 AM | Comments (0)

May 11, 2003

Denise describes Ride into Pittsburgh

location: my couch, Pgh PA.

the first leg of the NBG 2003 ride has come to a close, but not without its last-minute battles with precipitation... battles which we soundly lost.

at 7:30am we all met up together again under cloudy skies for our final 20 miles. no sooner did we swallow the last of our coffee than the first fat raindrop smacked my helmet, and it brought all its friends. it poured like an expletive deleted all the way into town.

I won't say too much about the roads we took to get to the city since my mom's reading this, but its name ended in North, and there was no shoulder, and it wasn't flat. then we crossed some bridges, stopped at a gas station for a pit stop to shake the rain off, and stopped at a lawn ornament store for directions... I really don't remember much other than trying to ignore the cold and wet. and hoping my brakes wouldn't fail on the downhills.

as we approached the city, we found ourselves riding parallel to the trail. "that's a pretty nice looking TRAIL over there!" yelled Ken through the rain. we couldn't get to it because of the fences and railroad tracks in between us and it. finally we found a series of holes to climb through, and we shuffled across the rails and lugged our bikes over to the trail.

gradually the rain stopped as we made it across Pgh's Hot Metal Bridge and up to the head of the Eliza Furnace Trail, where our public was waiting. over a dozen folks from different bike and outdoors advocacy groups like Bike Pittsburgh and the Western PA Field Institute were there to support our finish and bring us much-needed hot tea. we hung out for a bit and then circled up for our final 3-mile stretch.

as the clouds dispersed and the city started to dry out, we rode to the portico of the City-County Building, where Mayor Murphy's office presented us with our 2nd proclamation of the ride. Mayor Murphy did the ride himself a few years ago with his daughter Shannon, who was there herself to greet us and say a few words. right on.

there are too many individuals to thank for getting the ceremony together and coming out in the less-than-ideal weather for the cause; to all, we thank you more than we could properly express.

all of the Pgh to Columbus, OH riders were there to welcome us, and we were interviewed by a few papers and grinned for lots of photos. then we were treated to lunch in true Pittsburgh style at Primanti Bros. (think giant dagwood with fries and coleslaw IN the sandwich too), which probably set our hearts back about 200 miles.

and finally, the numbers:

bike maintenance problems: 0
wet, cold: yes
rain: hail yeah
proclamations: TWO!
mayors: 2 down, 23 to go...
a few days off: yes please

starting Tuesday, tune in for more wacky hijinks as we following Mike, David, Jim and me from Pgh to Columbus. what kind of zany adventures will those kids have next?

in the words of Ora Sue, "on the road again..."

Denise for Ora Sue, David, Ken and Jim

This mobile message sent using PocketMail.
Sign up for unlimited e-mail at

Posted by mkrieg at 02:14 PM | Comments (185)

May 09, 2003

Jim's Emotional Goodbye to First Leg of Relay

Hi Everyone: Another emotional day, not because of the rain, but because already it is time to say goodbye. The 330 miles have flown by, even though we have had rain, tire problems, mud, but without tears, everyday was a blessing for us all.

Today we only had to bike 30 plus miles, but the Pennsylvania weather challenged us several times. Miraculously we only had a few wet periods. Along the way, we met Bob McKinnley, the trail manager, in West Newton.

Later, the owner of Korber's bike shop helped all of us out. Denise had been limping along on a bulging side walled tire. Ken needed a new rear brake and I needed 2 new tires, 4 tubes and some tire liners. For $6 they mounted them and I stopped worrying about getting flats. Life was good again.

We saw several snakes, one I was sure was a rattle snake. It tried to strike the tires of two bikers as they passed. The other snakes had a rectangular pattern on their backs that was pretty.

The night before we had stayed at a B&B in Newton, PA. The lady of the house was very nice to us and gave a super deal for the three of us. $25 each, nice big second floor porch to hang up everything to dry out. Later we walked down about a mile and had our last meal together. It was a little sad. It is amazing how attached you can become in just a week of working so hard as we biked together.

The morning of the presentation ceremony in Pittsburgh it again rained all the way in. We came across a big sign that said, "What an amazing thing have you done today". Soon as rode into Pittsburgh about 20 miles along some of the busiest streets imaginable, I realized how important the goal of the NBG is. We might have to ride on these busy streets now, but due to the Mayors efforts all across the country, maybe our children and grand children will have safe places to bike.

The mayors daughter, Shannon Murphy rode in the rain with us for the last 3 or 4 miles. Ro the activities director was there. Mike the host greeted us and pointed out all the impressive things going on that really do make Pittsburgh an impressive city to bike in. They now have 17 miles and are increasing it to 36 by next year.

Primanti Bros. fed each of us with one of their great, very filling sandwiches for our riding efforts.

Off to DC to retrieve my car. We (Jim, Denise, David Huggine-Daines and Mike Costarell, ed) plan to leave on Tuesday morning for Columbus to accommodate one of the riders work schedules.

Signing off, Jim

This mobile message sent using PocketMail.
Sign up for unlimited e-mail at

Posted by mkrieg at 09:28 PM | Comments (0)

Sixth day of the NBG ride 290 miles Ridden

Hi Everyone: Today was our second emotional day. Starting with the high of a smooth trail, well there were a few rough spots, but compared to days before it was like heaven. The Cassellman River we were following gave off a fog that reminded me of the mists of Avalon, it covered the river and the trail in a special way, I was expecting to see the lady of the lake landing her barge, parting the mist and inviting us to her special island. I was ready to step on, but she never came. I think she was busy moving.

The Cassellman River flows into the Youghiogheny River at the Confluence. The river almost makes a u-turn at this point and creates a unique waterfall.

We saw a ground hog, a grouse, a large owl, a snake and lots of squires and gophers. Today the flowers were changing to unique orchid like flowers, large lady slippers, and lots of little blue and purple flowers to tease the eye.

The rock cliffs we rode along were filled with water falls. The larger gorges delivered a cool breeze. Ken our newest rider said it was always cool on this trail.

We all are impressed with the numerous long biking bridges over a host of obstacles, some even had concrete surfaces.

A delicious pasta meal at Luigi's and then the owner even gave us a ride back to our motel. We are a playfully aggressive group and ask for our needs and often have them met.

Signing off, OraSue, Denise, Ken, David and Jim

This mobile message sent using PocketMail.
Sign up for unlimited e-mail at

Posted by mkrieg at 08:21 PM | Comments (115)

Jim Muellner on Day 5 DC to Pittsburgh

Hi Everyone: Survived one more day. Took the morning to dry out our gear. Fixed the trike a little and left the Red Rooster and our host JD at 11:30am, a decent time to start. Well truthfully we only had 30 miles to ride. We were also giving the trail a few more minutes to dry out.

All along the trail we have seen bright yellow and black butterflies. The furry brown squirrels have been there to great us too. Several pairs of colorful wood ducks. Some new turtles that looked like box turtles with a lot of square designs on their backs and a yellow and black pattern on their stomachs.

This afternoon we all learned not to stick our hands into any holes in a tree. There was at least a six foot long Black Rat snake sunning itself about six feet from the ground wrapped part way around the tree. OraSue volunteered to pose with it and I took a flash picture. It did not like that and crawled into the tree and in a few minutes it stuck its head out to see if we were gone. It must have been well fed as it had to be 3 inches in diameter at its middle.

I had some problems with the mud under my fender, but otherwise everything went well.

OraSue had two flats. One from the trail and the second a minute after she changed and put on a new tire and tube. Somehow there was a sharp object where she set down the tire to pump it up and it punctured the tube and tire. A real bummer but some local cyclist came by and fixed and pumped it up for her. What a country.

We were shuttled from Cumberland to Meyersdale, PA so my bag and cover and bike got a wind test at 70 miles an hour. I kept looking back sure I would see my belongings spread out across the road, but it pasted the test with flying colors.

We met the new rider Ken, who let us into the hostel. Later we met the manager, Sharon. It is the Alleghany Trail hostel, a basement of an old school with bunk beds and a great shower.

Another great meal and off to bed. Tomorrow it is a 7AM start we hope on a smooth trail. I want to experience that before I am convinced.

Thank you loyal readers, Jim, Denise, OraSue and Ken

This mobile message sent using PocketMail.
Sign up for unlimited e-mail at

Posted by mkrieg at 08:14 PM | Comments (0)

Denise - Day 07: fun with rain, flats & groundhogs

The riders ended their grueling ride in Pittsburgh today amid a howling rainstorm. However THX to Ro Fischer and Michael Sobkowiak, their reception was a grand one indeed. Look for the whole story in pictures over the next few days. And because of the inclement weather, our NBG cyclists weren't able to get near a phone to report on Thursday's ride until their City Hall and free lunch (at Primantti Bros) was complete.

So, here is Day 7 from Denise Hill, Jim Muellner, OraSue Mckinnon, Ken Lloyd and David Hiebert, who were on the road from Washington DC to Pittsburgh!! 67 year old Jim, last year's Indy to Chicago relay rider, the inventor of the Smart Carte shopping cart system that passengers rent to shuttle their baggage around at airports is riding the trike, made by his new company Just Two Bikes, that folds to fit in a suitcase. Denise, who is continuing on to Columbus with Jim and will be joined by David Huggins-Daines and Mike Costarell can still be reached on her Pocket Mailer at this address dc-pgh @ If you want to start from the beginning and/or follow them as they move forward in the National Mayors' Ride , TransAm Vet and last year's Mayors' Ride relay rider powerhouse, Andrew Morton, has their reports (as well as all the relay cyclists who will follow) blogged (a web log). Point to their blog . Here is more of Denise's great writing

this morning I awoke to the harrowing sounds of pounding rain, but David and I decided over Cheerios not to watch or discuss the weather. I strapped on my Poortex (plastic bags on my feet) and we rode to meet the others. 20 seconds after we left, the rain stopped. good thing, too, my Poortex was failing miserably.

the "undulations" on the way back to the trail were outstanding to ride, and each uphill climb was rewarded with a brilliant downhill. we hit 40 mph on this one drop. I think I was in freefall.

perhaps it was the 40 lbs of gear on my rack, or the ugly gravel I'd tried to ride on the day before, but something caused an annoying bump in my back tire on every revolution. I ignored it as best I could for the 30 miles till West Newton, where the first bike shop was. the guy who helped me take off my tire estimated that I had about a quarter mile to go before I blew the hell out of the tire wall and killed hundreds of innocent bystanders.

so! I got a brand spankin' new set of the sexiest hybrid tires they had, and for cheep too! and the guy even gave me a tire iron for free (woohoo!). shameless plug: visit Korber's Bike Shop for all your cycling needs, conveniently located right on the Yough River Trail in West Newton.

while we were there, Ora Sue met a lady planting flowers along the trail. turns out she lives 15 miles away, but uses the trail often enough to know that by golly, there should be a flower bed right there. it was great to meet someone volunteering to beautify the trail like that.

apparently this town is some kind of hub for all things trail, because we met a guy who manages this section of the GAP trail. he let us come hide in his office while we waited for a short angry thunderstorm to pass. you know it's (almost) summer when you get a dozen short loud bursts of rain in a day. the humidity was hovering around 100% as we charged down the trail to run away from the next dark menacing cloud.

finally we got to Boston, PA, where we found the B&B for Ken, Ora Sue and Jim. David and I rolled along the trail looking for a good secluded place to camp. we found an abandoned bait and tackle shop, but settled on a wooden shelter near what would be a launching area for boats. it's supposed to thunderstorm like crazy, otherwise I'd be in the middle of a field with no tent, but you can't have it all.

we all went to dinner and spent dessert swapping stories about hilarious encounters with animals. if you should ever get the chance, Jim's pig story is awesome; also ask him about the badger.

the numbers:
groundhogs: 1
snakes: several
fox squirrels (that's a squirrel, people): plenty
oxidized mineral deposits from overflowing mines: 1
turkey vultures: 2
hot new tires: two! yow!
miles till Pgh: <20

you know you're close when you find a Pgh public transit bus stop sign,

Denise, Ora Sue, Jim, Ken and the loudly snoring David

This mobile message sent using PocketMail.
Sign up for unlimited e-mail at

Posted by mkrieg at 01:05 PM | Comments (1126)

May 08, 2003

NBG Denise's rain riding joy - More riders join

Here is Day 6 from Denise Hill, Jim Muellner, OraSue Mckinnon and now Ken Lloyd and David Hiebert, who are on the road from Washington DC to Pittsburgh!! 67 year old Jim, last year's Indy to Chicago relay rider, the inventor of the Smart Carte shopping cart system that passengers rent to shuttle their baggage around at airports is riding the trike, made by his new company Just Two Bikes , that folds to fit in a suitcase. . If you want to contact them, you can reach them on their Pocket Mailer at this address . If you want to start from the beginning and/or follow them as they move forward in the National Mayors' Ride at , TransAm Vet and last year's Mayors' Ride relay rider powerhouse, Andrew Morton , has their reports (as well as all the relay cyclists who will follow) blogged (a web log). Point to their blog at .

location: David's kitchen, Scottdale, PA (45 miles from Pittsburgh, as the crow flies, ed)

we rolled out of bed early today to get a head start on our 60 miles of trail, and had breakfast at a coffee nook in Meyersdale. then we climbed the steep hill to the highest point of the rest of our journey, the Great Allegheny Passage trail (GAP).

after the first mildly bumpy mile, the trail was smooth and sandy and with a constant 1.5% downhill grade. this brought us great joy. of course we endured the usual: flat tire, rain, etc, but the terrain was a pleasant change and the scenery is much more dramatic here. I trust Jim will take care of the poetic naturalist descriptions.

we passed some big geese so defiant that my front tire and foot grazed this one goose's tail, as I rolled by at about walking speed. talk about brass!

Ken pointed out these coal seams, which are visible deposits along the steep rocky walls flanking the trail's west side. he also showed us the subtle remains of the railroad that paralleled the trail. we followed the Casselman River for a long while, crossing it a few times over long, high bridges with gorgeous views. we have former PA governor and avid biker, Tom Ridge, to thank for the bridge work. cheers, man.

we were treated to a thunderstorm which made everything smell even more amazing than it already did. the rain unrolled a blanket of fog on the river, and the air seemed to double its oxygen content. it wasn't too cold out, so we didn't mind being covered in sloppy sand and trail grit. every time we'd pass a little waterfall or creek running down the steep rocky walls, the air temp would noticeably drop for a few seconds.

at the town of Confluence, the Casselman meets the Youghiogheny River, and we'll be following that almost all the way to Pgh. we rode on through Ohiopyle State Park, stopping to see some lovely falls there. Ken told me about him and his friends scuba diving and swimming beneath the falls. I can't imagine what the fine would be for that these days. hee hee.

further along we met David on the trail, so now our merry band is complete, and we'll be riding into Market Square on Friday as a five-some. our riding day ended at Connelsville. Jim, Ora Sue and Ken went on to a motel, and David and I scrambled up hills, trespassed across old train bridges, hobbled along gnarly gravel paths and climbed steep potholed roads to his home in the (not-so-) nearby town of Scottdale. it's like what Jim says about the emotional ups and downs of adventure traveling... one minute you think you're gonna die of dehydration along a bumpy 15% grade Appalachian road, and the next minute you're making rhubarb crisp in a warm, clean kitchen.

the numbers:

peacocks (I kid you not):1
giant windmills (go sustainable energy!): 7
4' black rat snakes slithering up trees: 1
chipmunks, owls: 1 each
big white geese that looked like lawn ornaments till they moved: 3
deer carcasses: 3, all smelly. yuck.
tires successully patched: 2
# of times we hosed off our bikes: 3

Denise, Ora Sue, Jim, Ken and David

This mobile message sent using PocketMail.
Sign up for unlimited e-mail at

All of the above excitement will all be consummated at the second annual Santa Cruz NBG Bike Fest !!

THX for tuning in -- THX 4 U!!

Posted by mkrieg at 07:47 AM | Comments (1)

May 07, 2003

Day 05: Rain Stops, Time stops, More Riders join, Pittsburgh powers up

You know your cross country bike ride has begun when you start losing track of time. Here is Day 5 from Denise Hill, Jim Muellner, OraSue Mckinnon and now Ken Lloyd, who just joined in, who are on the road from Washington DC to Pittsburgh!! 67 year old Jim, last year's Indy to Chicago relay rider, the inventor of the Smart Carte shopping cart system that passengers rent to shuttle their baggage around at airports is riding the trike, made by his new company Just Two Bikes, that folds to fit in a suitcase. . If you want to contact them, you can reach them on their Pocket Mailer at dc-pgh @ If you want to start from the beginning and/or follow them as they move forward in the National Mayors' Ride, TransAm Vet and last year's Mayors' Ride relay rider powerhouse, Andrew Morton, has their reports (as well as all the relay cyclists who will follow) blogged. All of this excitement will be consummated at the second annual Santa Cruz NBG Bike Fest:

Note: Jim, Ora Sue, Denise and Ken and soon David, on Friday will be joined by scores of other riders as the city of Pittsburgh and the Western Pennsylvania Filed Institute have been busy building an unprecedented reception for them. Including a free lunch at the famous Primanti Brothers Restaurant

Location: Meyersdale, PA.

Pretty chill day today. We lounged around the hostel 'til the leisurely hour of 11:00am, then rolled out. The trail had dried enough, and we took our sweet time over the next 28 miles.

While we were eating lunch by the water, we met a couple headed from Buffalo, NY to Raleigh, NC. I'm starting to get jealous of all these retired people. Is 23 too early?

Ora Sue got a brilliant flat, replete with a dramatic "PFFF!" sound. Fortunately a fellow named "Davis... Harry Davis" who we'd passed earlier caught up to us just in time to lend us his big, fast tire pump. Thanks, dude.

After we'd tooled around with that, we covered the last few miles of the C&O towpath portion of our trek, to Cumberland, MD. We said goodbye to the Potomac River, and on the advice of a biker we met at the trail's end, we stopped for some ice cream.

After we got a new spoke for Jim, we met the shuttle driver who picked us up and carried us and our bikes over the gnarly, dangerous roads to Meyersdale, where we're staying in the basement of an old high school cum hostel.

We met Ken Lloyd there, he's joining us till Pittsburgh, so now we're 4. We’ll be picking up a David tomorrow somewhere, and our merry band will be 5 strong.

All said, it was a pretty uneventful day after yesterday, but hell, at least it wasn't raining.

Jim, Ora Sue, Denise and Ken

Hi Martin: Saw this tree today and thought it should be in my report. Swamp White Oak (Quercus bicolor) largest specimen in Maryland, 16ft 2 in. dia and spread of 84 ft.
These mobile messages sent using PocketMail.
Sign up for unlimited e-mail at

Posted by mkrieg at 08:10 AM | Comments (1)

May 06, 2003

Denise - Day 04: Paw Paw, West Virginny

This was the funniest day yet, although my account of the first 11 hours might lead you to believe otherwise.

This morning we woke up to menacing gray skies, so we waited for the downpour to let up over our continental breakfast. I drank enough hot chocolate to propel me the next 60 miles to the end of the C&O canal trail. Finally we'd had it with Mother Nature dictating our day, so we shrink-wrapped ourselves in plastic and headed out.

Fortunately for us, there's a *paved* rail-trail that runs parallel to the C&O towpath, so we opted for that as far as it could take us. but the rain kept falling and we were getting chilly... we passed a couple of fellow bike campers heading east to DC, who warned us about the sloppy terrain up ahead. joy.

A little ways up I found a big ol' Eastern Box turtle and talked to him for a while, while Jim fixed his flat rear tire. Ugg.

We rolled under some plastic orange netting and past all the 'do not enter' signs through a section of closed trail, which was labeled such due to the "falling rock." clearly it had already fallen all over, so what was the big deal?

Further along the trail (back in the open part), we found a random wooden structure like a kids' playhouse but with a taller roof, and totally empty, so we went in to shake off and get out of the rain. Jim taught us how to polka, so we shuffled around for warmth. (Ora Sue wondered aloud what in hell a passerby would think, but there would be none, since anyone with enough sense to come in from the rain was - yeah, doing just that.)

Just as we were about to leave, Jim realized his front tire was flat (drat) so we pulled his trike into the little house and replaced the tire while I made coffee and hot chocolate. Yum.

We rolled on, and when we had to pick up the C&O towpath again, it was just as soupy and messy was we'd been warned. poor Jim had the roughest time with this. (Let me just qualify something for all the future 2003 NBG riders: the only reason Jim goes around 9 mph is because the last 100 miles of trail has been like 2 narrow, parallel paths. His trike wheels are too wide to both fit in the path, so one back wheel is always fighting the grassy median, or in today's case, cloudy muddy trenches. But as soon as we're on a paved surface, or even a wider path, BOY does he fly. Just be warned.)

We went off trail to find this supposed "sandwich shop," but as luck would have it, it was closed. We did however find a small abandoned fire going behind a dumpster, so we fueled it with whatever dry flammables we could find and let the water steam off our clothing for a while. (I have to say that it's such a pleasure traveling with folks who aren't afraid to dive into a dumpster for dry cardboard).

This was meant to be our easy, short 30-mile day, but it was proving to be the most challenging one yet. back on trail, I kept my mind off the raw cold by NOT counting miles, singing songs and trying to learn how to circle breathe. I think I'm picking it up.

Finally we came to the last mile of our trek, which includes the Paw Paw Tunnel. it's an unlit .6 mile long tube, and unless you're a bat, you need a flashlight.

I took a brilliant fall just before the tunnel and although I wasn't hurt at all, I was momentarily pinned under my bike and couldn't escape due to minor thermal muscle debilitation. Plus I was laughing too hard. Too bad no one was there to laugh with/at me too.

The tunnel was fun in that long, narrow, dark kind of way. at the other end we had less than a mile to go to the hostel. I waited for Jim who'd gotten yet another flat (3 for 3!), and we rolled across the Potomac to WV, which has recently become The Greatest State In The Union.

WELL! after we hosed all the crud off our bikes, we took The Greatest Showers Ever, and headed down the road for The Greatest Pizza Ever and The Greatest Fried Chicken Ever, which we washed down with The Greatest Beer Ever.

Then we went back to the hostel to sweat - for the first time all day - in their sauna (ohhhhh yes), and stagger around blissfully for the remainder of the evening.

Aaaand that should bring us up to date. No numbers today, since I've sweated off my ability to count. I did however rescue one (1) worm from certain demise on the paved trail.

Denise, Jim (passed out), and Ora Sue (ditto)

Posted by amorton at 03:42 PM | Comments (0)

Jim - Day 04

Today definitely was an emotional day, we started off euphoric having dry clothes, sleeping bags and camping equipment. However when we looked outside it was raining. But being the troupers we are, we dressed accordingly and after a bowl of cereal, toast and a hot cup of coffee, we set off. Fortunately there was a paved trail the first 8 miles. We did have to break a few rules. There had been some rockslides along the trail that wiped out the fencing on the steep side in numerous places. Some of the boulders on the trail were several feet square. But it was the tiny pieces that got me. I always did enjoy changing a tire in the rain. But it went quite well. The orange barriers across the trails were a little scary to cross as the rain was coming down pretty steady.

Now we had to leave the paved section and hit the puddle filled dirt road. It was depressing but no one complained. When we were at our lowest what should appear along the trail but a little hut. A door and two little windows that had little shutters we could close. We all ran inside and huddled together, discussing the good fortune. I even gave the girls a little lesson on how to do the German polka. It would have been nice to get a picture of the three of us laughing and dancing to get warm. And it worked -- we were high for the moment.

As I went to get on my trike, however, I noted I had my second flat and this one on the front wheel. The emotions dropped a little at that point, but what a blessing that it happened right in front of this one and only hut on the trail. We pulled it inside and I went to work. Denise and Ora Sue decided to make us some hot coffee and in minutes we were laughing again. How lucky can you be?

Repair and coffee over we are off again. Today there were few flowers or birds. Forgot to mention that the girls saw 12 deer yesterday. They must have been smarter than we were and stayed inside.

We came to our planned lunch stop and discovered it was closed with not a person in sight. There was a smoldering fire in back that we stoked up by collecting some scrap wood and before long our wet clothes were stemming. We were almost high again.

Off again for the last 15 miles. It required constant attention to try and miss as many of those water puddles as possible. We all wanted to get to the Paw Paw Tunnel, an engineering marvel of the C&O canal, 3134 feet long through a mountain dug mainly by hand, using some black powder. The girls went ahead to secure the hostel, called the Red Rooster. Unfortunately for me with the tunnel in sight I had my third flat. Another low point, but miraculously it had stopped raining, how could I be so lucky?

You needed a headlight to see in the tunnel where the area once used by the mules is now a bike path. Right next to you is water the whole way, so if you fall it's wetsville. There is a railing, but even that cannot prevent you from falling. On the way into the tunnel, huge slabs to slate are tipped at about 45 degrees toward the water. Denise did a slow motion fall on the wood planking as she was riding along. Fortunately she was not hurt.

We all wanted to kiss JD the owner of the hostel when we got there. I tried to explain my appreciation and my emotional high to him, I am sure he had seen it before. We stashed our bikes in a carport and headed for the showers, another high.

We found out the beer was sold at the local garage and there was pizza and fried chicken and ice cream across the street. Gretchen the waitress was funny, as she could not believe how much we ate. Ora Sue is a real negotiator getting her chicken pieces for half price compared to what I paid.

We had a five piece snack and macaroni and cheese, then we ordered a 8 pack of fried chicken and a 16 inch pizza. We ate it all but a few pieces saved for the next days lunch. Oh yes we polished of a six-pack of Fosters Lager along the way and topped it off with an ice cream cone. Were we hungry or what? We were on cloud nine.

Once back at the hostel were hit the sauna and a little conversation. Ora Sue was doing her laundry and offered to do my few pieces, she was an angel.

Off to our bunk beds. We were gone and all agreed it was one of our best days.
The biking pioneers signing off, Denise, Ora Sue and Jim

Posted by amorton at 01:29 PM | Comments (13)

May 04, 2003

Jim - Day 02 & 03

Made it thru day two from Leesburg to Sharpsburg along the C&O Tow trail. We stopped in Sharpsburg, MD to take a bike tour of Antietam Battle Field. It was like living a piece of history -- the visuals were tremendous seeing the cornfield where all our men fell to keep our country whole, to free a people. The tour was something no one should miss.

Forgot to mention that last night we tried to stay in a inn but they were all filled. So we tried the advice of Willie Weir, biker and author, who said stop at homes that have flowers. We did and Joanne and Paul who own one of the inns we called let us stay in their back yard. Saved us from biking an additional 12 miles. This morning after a little night rain, Joanne brought out some tasty coffee cake. She was an angel helping us out. They own the Jacob Rohrback Inn, Be sure to stop and stay if you're in the area.

Now we are enjoying a little lunch and will be on our way to Hancock to stay at a hotel and shower and dry out. The range of emotions when it rains is wonderful, first its damn, then oh well, do I really want to get up, lets do it, damn its messy when everything is wet, wonder how heavy my gear will be with all this moisture, made it, where can I find a cup of coffee, that's good, that wasn't so bad, in fact that was a great morning and we are off for the day.

Sorry these reports are so sporadic but between Denise and I the picture should start to take shape.
Forgot to mention yesterday that the Sycamore trees were enormous, some had holes so large that I could have stood in them. They and other trees formed a canopy over us that keeps us mainly in the shade. The rock formations for the kayaks in the river are challenging for them and beautiful for us.
Signing off from Sharpsburg, MD.

Decided to add the afternoon ride. Mother nature is a wonderful painter. The flowers continue to line the trail, first in light blue, then yellow, then a little pink on the trees and the ever present trees with white flowers, whose name I cannot think of right now. What I need is a smart docent who just happens to be a biker to explain all these things to me. Even the rock cliffs were decorated with tuffs of white flowers. In the wetter area there were old trees with all kinds of large mushrooms growing either along them or up the trunk, some the size of dinner plates, some like saucers and some like demi cups. I thought either a little elf would come out from under one and offer me a pot of gold or the little Keebler elf would offer me a cookie. As I got hungrier today from the long ride I was hoping for the cookie.

The river widened and the red banks were hung over with tall trees. I could just imagine a paddle wheel boat coming around the bend with a banjo player sitting on the deck playing for a few lovely ladies in long dresses with little parasols strolling along the deck.

We took a tour of a lock attendant's home and that had to be a lonely existence. Love to all of you,

Posted by amorton at 10:56 PM | Comments (12)

Denise - Day 02: A lawn in Sharpsburg

That "nasty thunderstorm" we were supposed to get never materialized (woohoo!) and instead the temp dropped 15 or 20 degrees (hurrah!).

We biked the Appalachian Trail today! or at least the few miles that overlap the C&O Canal around Harpers Ferry.

We planned to go off trail to check out Antietam's battlefield and do a 12-mile bike ride tour, but the gnarly hills and conflicting directions delayed us. We're gonna see the battlefields tomorrow morning, and try to make up our lost ground in the afternoon.

Hats off to Jim, who never once stopped or got off his trike on even the steepest of hills, with all his weight on his tail, and without the leverage/benefits of gravity that an upright bike has. Ora Sue and I agreed that he definitely earned his evening ice cream cone and beer (not at the same time though).

The numbers:
muskrats swimming in the canal: 2
broken spokes: 1
creative remedies for broken spokes: 1
friendly innkeepers who let us camp on their lawn: 2
orphaned baby ducks: 5 (poor guys)
people admiring Jim's trike: 4
"Just 2 Bikes" propaganda/brochures Jim gave out: 4
seedy bars with the Kentucky Derby on: 1

So far so good, so good so far,
Jim, Ora Sue, Denise

Posted by amorton at 05:25 PM | Comments (50)

May 03, 2003

Jim - Day 01

Hi everyone, well we are on our way. Met with the Mayor Anthony Williams of DC, a wonderful pro biker and about 500 or more riders who were at the presentation for the Bike to Work day. Wonderful program. City is filled with nice trails reaching to numerous areas. I did three 50 mile rides to different areas here in preparation.

We left Freedom Plaza about 10 AM and rode to the beginning of the Chesapeake and Ohio Tow trail that goes all the way to Cumberland. It is not paved so it has some challenges. But the beauty of the ride along the Potomac River far out shadows any negatives. We have seen hawks, owls, large grey egrets, deer, turkey vultures, rapids and rock formations that are awesome. Lots of hikers and bird watchers, fishermen and birds. The large turtles in the canal are interesting.

The flowers are breath taking and at times petals covered the trail. Blue bells and dog wood trees in bloom reflecting in the canal double their beauty if that is possible.

Last night we biked an into Leesburg, VA for a delicious pasta and two beers. Set up at a local camp site and tested my equipment. Slept well.

My fellow bikers are Dennis Hill, a woman from Pittsburgh and OraSue McKinnon from Marlton, New Jersey. Both are strong bikers and I need to pedal my legs off to keep up. Thankfully the weather has been cooperating and we keep applying sun lotion.


Posted by amorton at 09:50 AM | Comments (47)

Denise - Day 01: Leesburg, VA (the FRIENDLIEST town in America)

Welcome to the first issue of the 2003 NBG Mayor's Ride Daily Update.

Our first day out on the trail brings us gorgeous weather. The starting point, the DC Bike to Work Week festival, had several hundred folks and their trusty bikes out celebrating our superior form of transportation. Jim even won us a tire pump (woohoo!). Around 9:30am we ceremonially dipped our front tires in the Potomic River, and we were off.

The C&O Canal towpath was a nice shady trail all day long, and we averaged a chill 9 mph for a total displacement of 40 some miles, including the ferry ride and the distance into town.

Fortunately we found the Fife and Drum Corps Muster, which is having its bi-annual camp-out/competition, so we're camping for free and hanging out among their tents, RVs, families, dogs, and drums.

The numbers:
meter maids who cheered for us as we left downtown: 1
fuzzy yellow baby geese on trail: billions
surly mom and dad geese: plenty
turtles on logs in the canal: lots
Clif bars consumed (net total): 4
deer, turkey vultures, owls: 1 each
blue herons: 2
trail mud eaten: yes
creative detours: 1
water: iodine-liciois
people who believe Jim the first time when he says he's riding to California: 0

So far so good, so good so far.

Denise, Jim and Ora Sue

Posted by amorton at 09:11 AM | Comments (52)