LAST 12 DAYS

DAY 36: Tuesday July 23, 1996
Lafayette, IN to Portland, IN (105 miles)

Beautiful day for cycling-sunny but not too hot or humid, pleasant southwest breeze, gently rolling but predominantly level terrain. Passed through Hemlock, IN where a tornado occurred four days ago. Trees and poles torn up, but no one was hurt. We stopped in some shade in the next town and an elderly man came out to chat. He got us a Coke and offered us the use of his bathroom-Midwestern generosity/hospitality. We ate lunch in Fairmont, IN, the home of James Dean. The restaurant was full of Dean's pictures and news clippings. Surprisingly, Dave didn't want to stop at the James Dean Museum! HaHa!

It is amazing how many homes here in the Midwest fly the American Flag daily. We've seen so many hawks at close range that it's become commonplace. We enjoy seeing the little birds harass and even ride along on a hawk. (It makes me think of Pete jumping on the back of Jason R. -a 300 lb. friend - and hitching a ride to class!)

Found out (front page of local paper) that Wandering Wheels tour came through town yesterday.

DAY 37: Wednesday July 24, 1996
Portland, IN to Bellefontaine, OH (73 miles)

Terrain and weather very similar to yesterday, with some rain in the morning. Bellefontaine is the "Top of Ohio", at 1549 feet. More hospitality from the locals: stopped to ask and older gentleman for directions and also got our bottles filled with water and ice cubes, and enjoyed the grandson's excited description of his visit to a theme park. We declined his offer to go around back and see the dogs. We are now back in the Eastern time zone.

MET AN 80 YEAR OLD MAN AFTER LUNCH RIDING A NORDIC TRACK BIKE. IT HAS A BELT BRAKE AND WHAT HE CALLS "AUTOMATIC SHIFT" WITH NINE SPEEDS. HE CLAIMS TO RIDE 10 MILES PER DAY, 3,000 MILES A YEAR. WHEN HE IS TEASED ABOUT RIDING TO CHORES AROUND TOWN HE JOKES HE IS "WAITING TO GET HIS SNOW TIRES OFF THE CAR." WE STAYED AT MOUNTAIN TOP INN, NAMED TONGUE IN CHEEK, I SUPPOSE.

DAY 38: Thursday July 25, 1996
Bellefontaine, OH to Coshocton, OH (119miles)

Much more hilly today but pleasant riding. In the sub shop where we had lunch, a "Terrible Towel" was hanging on the wall and a Steeler pillow was displayed. Turns out the owner was a native of Pittsburgh and a big sports fan, so he and Dave had a lively conversation during lunch (this deep in what had been Cleveland Browns Territory).

Stopped at Kenyon College for water and spoke to a professor who was cycling. He gave us directions to a bike path and a much prettier route than we had planned. Passed a dam on the Walhoning River which didn't appear to dam anything; it must be for flood control but the river was such a tiny one and the dam so huge.

We got to Coshocton at 7 p.m. to find that every motel room and B & B was taken due to a religious convocation. The motel manager (a young woman) where we stopped was extremely helpful; she called the police, the Salvation Army, a Rotarian, etc, but to no avail. Finally she began calling other motels in case they'd had a cancellation. Luckily, the 2nd one had someone cancel 10 minutes before. He commented, if we called moments later, it would probably have been snapped up. After 119 miles, I don't think I could have gone on and the sun was going down. Also, there weren't any large towns nearby.

DAY 39 Friday July 26, 1996
Coshocton, OH to Moundsville, WV (97 miles)

Feels like home!! (Or as Dave says, "We're not in Kansas anymore!"). We're in the foothills of the Appalachians; crawl up one hill, zoom down the other side, crawl up, zoom down . Morning was very challenging, but luckily not too hot. Afternoon was much nicer, along a pretty river valley. We found that route by asking at an ice-cream stop. We've definitely become experts at getting advice from locals.

A local cyclist, Doug, joined us just before we crossed the bridge into Moundsville, over the Ohio River. He offered us a place to stay tonight...we certainly could have used his offer last night. My Dad was waiting there in a parking lot for us, doing crazy jumping jacks to get our attention. He brought us back to Peters Township to a meal full of fresh vegetables! I couldn't get enough! Sister Jeanine and niece Phoebe came too, so it was an evening of sharing our experiences. Mom is looking good after her surgery.

DAY 40 Saturday July 27, 1996
Moundsville, WV to Masontown, PA (56 miles)

We were interviewed by a reporter for "The Advertiser". She is a cyclist and so asked very knowledgeable questions; lasted over 1 hour and took photographs too.

Dad took us back to the same parking lot in Moundsville and we started with a two-mile hill. It wasn't too bad, gradual, but the ups and downs afterward were tough. Then for the later part of the ride it was quite flat. Dad had waited around for us and brought us back for another great meal - homemade bread and broccoli. Aren't mothers great? Dads too - devoting so much time to our needs.

Stopped in a tiny grocery store and talked awhile with the elderly owner. She moved there with her husband in 1933. Her husband, now deceased 18 years, built the store from two old one-room schoolhouses. She told us about the recent flooding and thanked us for stopping.

DAY 41: Sunday July 28, 1996
Masontown, PA to LaVale, MD

Dad drove us back to Masontown. It was difficult to leave Mom while she's still recovering. The climb up the Uniontown hill took us 49 minutes (3 miles) and we took two breaks. It really wasn't an extremely difficult climb, it's just that the remainder of the day was up and down which is so tiring. Had such a surprise climbing one of those mountains. A vehicle passed us and then stopped up ahead. It was Tom, Mary Jane and Nick D.! It was so wonderful to see faces from home; even as friendly as people have been along the way, this was the best yet. Mary Jane couldn't believe it was us, since they'd just gotten our Illinois postcard. They gave us some cherry cider and better yet, took the panniers home for us, so we got to ride an empty bike up the remaining mountains! Later, Dave had the nerve to complain because I bought some broccoli, cherries and cashews.

DAY 42 Monday July 29, 1996
LaVale, MD to Hancock, MD (46 miles)

Pete took us back to LaVale at 12:30, but we didn't actually get on the road for two more hours. I went to Wal-Mart to get a plastic cover to make a second sign ("Seattle to NJ") and saw Bill C. , and we talked for quite a while about how Polly and Bernie are. Then we spent some time at Allegany Bike Works talking to Ed Taylor and crew. Ed kept telling us how proud of us he is; he is so excited about us doing this trip. Then we ate lunch at Wendy's where we ate with Allen S., and I was feeling nervous about crossing all the mountains before dark. But I didn't realize that Hancock was so close to Cumberland; we were there by 7:30 p.m.

I had a lot of stomach cramps - eating and then immediately riding. The mountains weren't actually too bad, I just didn't feel very well, and didn't go to dinner with Dave. Central Maryland is so pretty, but it was too overcast to appreciate. We had a flat tire today, a pinch flat caused by hitting a rock in the road.

DAY 43 Tuesday July 30, 1996
Hancock, MD to Thurmont, MD (51 miles)

3,443 total miles to date

Another day of ups and downs; mostly overcast again and we got to our motel 30 minutes before a tremendous downpour. We rode several miles on the C & O Canal--just enough to get muddy. We saw a kingfisher. Memories of all the trips we've done on the canal and those friends with whom we rode: Andy, Skip C., Charlie W., Darrel and Mary Lou, Amy and Rob, Bud and Wes C. East winds today. It's taken 43 days, but I found the perfect restaurant, "Heavenly Gates" in Hagerstown, a Christian run health food restaurant. I had a cold lentil tarragon salad, pasta primavera (even included squash) raisin muffin, and fruit cup. I wanted the apricot-mango cake roll with strawberries for dessert but it wasn't available so I had a "Hummingbird Angelette Cake" (small spice cake with pecans, pineapple, coconut with a flower in the center). The waitress was very friendly; she plans to compete in the 2000 Olympics in the equestrian events (we'll look for Jessica Hall then). Equine management is her planned major in college. (She warned us not to stay in Thurmont because the Grand Dragon of the KKK lives there; I'm not sure where he was hiding but it was a pleasant enough town.)

The ride through the Catoctin Mountain was great, but as always, we didn't stop to see the falls, just flew on by. Stayed at the Cozy Inn, which has been visited by Winston Churchill, FDR, and many others, due to being so close to Camp David.

Dave's report: bottom bracket is clicking.

DAY 44 Wednesday July 31, 1996
Thurmont, MD to Monkton, MD (50 miles)

It was pouring when I woke at 5:15 a.m. and continued doing so off and on, so we didn't leave until 10:30 during a lull. The report was for scattered thunderstorms and rain all morning, but we really lucked out and only had a few light spatterings. Stopped in Westminster (recognized it as the town where Kelly picked us up on a Cycle Across Maryland Tour) to have the deraileur cleaned up and worked on. This time, Kelly picked us up at the Northern Central RR path just north of her home in Towson. She had a dinner party including Dana and her mom and boyfriend and Michelle. It was exciting to talk to friends who hung on our every word!

Today a motorist pulled along beside us and asked when we would be taking a break. He was on his way to purchase a book to help him plan a cross-country cycling trip, so he decided to talk to the "experts". At the NCR train we spoke with a family with a new infant and gave them some advice about starting the baby cycling, and also to a man walking his dog, who offered us the use of his Ford Explorer to transport the bike. Traffic, traffic, Traffic!

DAY 45: Thursday August 1, 1996
0 miles

Spent the day with Kelly. Adjustments were made to the bottom bracket at a bike shop but were not successful. We went to the movie "Phenomenon". Also lunched where Dana works as a hostess and had fun teasing her about seeing a mouse.

DAY 46: Friday August 2, 1996
Monkton, MD to Odessa, DE
(96 miles)

Hotter today and more hilly than we expected. Had planned to go to Dover but it was too far. We rode several miles on NCR trail before taking to poorly marked back roads. Spent half the day wondering where we were.

Crossed the Conowingo Dam over the Susquehanna River; pretty river above the dam and very shallow and rocky below it..many waterfowl roosting on the rocks.

Talked to husband/wife (Amy, Rick) cyclists going from Philadelphia to North Carolina; it was only their second day; it's our second to last. Our last night in a motel! The terrain finally flattened out in Delaware. We rode past the University of Delaware. The click is louder in the bottom bracket. I asked Dave if I should sing in order to mask the noise (since it upset him). He didn't appreciate my humor.

Horrible city traffic in Newark, DE. I couldn't handle that on a single bike. Problems with my seat again, rocking back and forth. While talking at dinner time, we both agreed that it's time for the trip to end. The biking has become boring, maybe partly because we're in our home territory which we've biked before. Also, there's no more question of whether or not we'll make it or of what will happen next, so it's no longer a mental challenge. Also, the stops in Peters Township, Keyser and Towson "broke the spell" as Dave so aptly put it. It was wonderful to see family, but it did make the trip feel completed before it actually was.

For whatever mistaken reason, we thought the two days from Baltimore to Ocean City, NJ were going to be short and easy. Today was anything but! It wasn't particularly difficult but it wasn't easy. But we agreed that this is the appropriate way to finish the trip...worn out and tired.

DAY 47: Saturday August 3, 1996
Odessa, DE to Ocean City, NJ (122 miles)

A day of surprises; headwinds almost constantly; much longer mileage than expected, bicycle maps very difficult to follow because many roads in Delaware aren't identified or labeled. We had to ride on major highways with the ocean traffic. (Thank goodness it was overcast) We followed a scenic road to Bower's Beach right on the coast, had lunch and planned to take another scenic road down the coast. The waitress overheard our plans and hurried out to inform us that we couldn't get from Bowers Beach to South Bower's Beach for the road we wanted because there was no bridge across the river. There was only one way in and out of Bower's Beach, so we had to turn around and retrace our route.

We took the Cape May-Lewes ferry; it was a much longer ride than we had expected. Talked to awaiting family by cell phone; we had told them to expect us around 4 p.m. and it was after 6 when we got off the ferry. Mother had a TV crew and a news reporter there; I felt bad that the plans didn't work out. Dave and I sprinted the last 36 miles to Ocean City, my hamstrings protested!

Our reception at the ocean boardwalk was better than I could have imagined; the entire family was there with cameras and video cameras and the reporter had returned. We caused quite a commotion on the boardwalk entrance. The family serenaded us with "Daisy". Dave and I took the bike right into the surf and we got lots of pictures. What a day, what a tremendous trip! Best experience of my life, besides being married to Dave!

47 Day Total: 3,710 Miles

Appendix

Rhona and I rode a modified GT Quatrefoil tandem. It was originally equipped with 700 D hybrid wheels, but had been modified to use 700 C wheels by Allegany Bike Works (ABW). A Magura hydraulic brake was installed on the
back wheel along with a drum brake. The front wheel was built by ABW. The rear wheel used Phil Wood hubs and was built by Totally Tandems in Iowa. The bottom brackets were Phil Wood. It appears the clicking sounds we heard
late in the trip were caused by worn timing gears, not the bottom brackets.

We started the trip with 28 mm Kevlar GTK tires from Performance. Two of the three tires failed prematurely (one after only 300 miles). We purchased three Specialized Armadillo tires in Minot, ND. The rear one lasted until Pittsburgh, PA. The front tire appears to still have a lot of wear left in it.

We erred in not starting the trip with new front and rear derailleurs and replaced both of them during the trip. The Grip Shifters worked well. We both used bar ends on the handlebars and had to put additional padding on them to prevent pain. We used clipless pedals from Performance.

We started the trip with front low ride panniers, a sleeping bag on a front rack, a captain's handlebar bag, a stoker's handlebar bag, two rear panniers, a tent and two air mattresses on the rear rack. The setup was acceptable except in strong crosswinds. I'm not sure if pulling a single wheeled trailer would have been a better idea while fully loaded. Just before we reached Glacier Park we sent 26 lbs. Of camping gear and clothing home. For the reminder of the trip we only had the handlebar bags, the rear panniers and a gym bag on the rear rack.

Dave lost approximately 25 lb. Two weeks after finishing the trip, the captain has regained feeling in all but one toe (at one point six toes were partially numb). A sensation like an electrical charge is still felt when I grip something tightly. If I was planning to make the trip again on this tandem, I would add a flex stem of some kind to absorb the shock caused by the frost heaves on the western roads.

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