April Go She Will

April begins with layers and ends in shorts. All four bikes got in on the riding action. Every day brings more daylight. Baseball is back. Trip planning is in full swing. Now if it will only stop raining…


Big Nellie came out of the basement and went for a rumble or two in the open air. Little Nellie continues to delight with her new handlebar set up. In fact, for the first time in nearly five years I rode Little Nellie over 60 miles in a day with no ill effects. The CrossCheck with saddle moved slightly forward is running well.

The front shifting on The Mule was working great for a day, then it went bung. I was about to give up when I decided to take it to a bike shop near home and have another set of eyes look at it. (This is at least the fifth bike mechanic to try to fix the front shifting in the last 12 months.) A scruffy looking mechanic whom I had never seen before took it for a ride. Then he put it in the repair stand and started making adjustments. Then he took it for another ride. Then he put it back in the stand and made more adjustments. Then he took it for another ride. He returned and declared the shifting fixed. I was skeptical of course so I took it for a ride. It works! Just like it is supposed to. The mechanic suggested that the problem is likely caused by a worn tensioning spring (something my friend Rudy mentioned at a recent Friday Coffee Club) and recommended replacing the front derailleur. As Aesop the bike mechanic once said, a derailleur in hand is worth two in the bush. I’ll replace the derailleur (and probably the rear brake) in the fall.

I clocked in at 931.5 miles for the month, riding 27 of 30 days. All of my riding was outdoors. In addition to my 63-mile ride on Little Nellie, I did 52 milers on The Mule and, again, on Little Nellie.

For the year, I stand at 3,294.5 or 27.5 miles per day, nearly dead on 10,000-mile-per-year pace. It’s amazing to me that I have ridden Little Nellie 686 miles this year. When the year started I had all but given up on this bike because of the back pain it caused me. Now, it’s my favorite bike.


Luther – The Fallen Sun. It’s been a long wait but Luther is back. I am a big fan. Idris Elba is fantastic as DCI John Luther, a cop who breaks the law while enforcing it. He doesn’t walk; he skulks. He always wears the same overcoat and the same shirt and tie, like Indian Jones and his fedora. Some shots and the overall vibe intentionally borrow from Batman. The bad guy is played to sinister perfection by Andy Serkis, in an absurd looking wig. The movie is flawed in more ways than I could count, but it is still entertaining.

The Caitlin Clark Show – I watch the last two games of the Iowa run at the NCAA women’s basketball title. Clark is a one part Steph Curry one part John Stockton. Fun to watch. South Carolina deserved to win.

The Frozen Four – I lived with the hockey team when I was a freshman at Boston University. They finished second in the NCAAs that year, losing the final game to Wisconsin. (The won it all the year before and the year after I attended BU.) The Terriers were in the Frozen Four this year but lost in the semifinal to Minnesota who seemed to be a much better team. (Minnesota lost the final to Quinnipiac ten seconds into overtime.)

Washington Nationals – I watched a bunch of games knowing full well that the Nats are going to stink this year. They are living down to my expectations but I did ride to a game and watched them make three errors then come from behind to beat Cleveland. They are a couple of sluggers, a decent starting pitcher, and a hundred games of major league experience away from being consistently competitive.

The Mandalorian – A group of armor clad people plod around the Star Wars universe. Baby Yoda is with them. There is ominous music. Mostly this series is a good sleep aid.

American Manhunt – The Boston Marathon Bombing. I lived in Boston for five years. When I moved to Providence (where I lived for five more years) I took up running. I always wanted to run Boston but I was never fast enough to meet the 2:40 minute qualifying time. The bombing hit me every bit as hard as 9/11 and January 6. I just could not fathom it. Hearing about it filled me with rage. This three-part documentary on Netflix describes how the bombers were identified and found. I can’t believe it happened only ten years ago. I suppose the pandemic twisted my perception of time.

Conversations with Friends – A miniseries based on Sally Rooney’s second novel of the same name. Very well acted. Basically a moody Irish telenovela. Lost of talk. Lots of sex (although the sex scenes aren’t nearly as overdone as in Normal People). I found two actresses distracting. The actress playing Bobbi, who is protagonist’s BFF, doesn’t look a thing like my friend Rachel but she had very similar mannerisms and vocal overtones. The actress who plays the protagonist’s Irish mum was the doppleganger of my friend Finn who is Irish. They even sound the same.


The Anthroprocene Reviewed by John Green. Green is the author of several very good young adult novels including, most notably, The Fault in Our Stars. He decided to take a break from teen lit and go back to his roots as a book reviewer, applying his reviewing chops to random aspects of modern day life. He reviews Halley’s Comet, Sunsets, CNN, the movie Harvey, velociraptors, and several dozen more topics. The reviews are informative and quirky and very entertaining. Each one is only a few pages long which makes this excellent bathroom reading. I give it five stars.

2023 Bike Tour Itinerary and Worries


I sat down a few days ago and worked through an itinerary for my bike tour. Each day ends at a campground or motel. The only exceptions are on my first day when I will stay at my friend Mark’s house outside Baltimore and a couple of weeks later when I stay with my daughter Lily in West Harford, Connecticut. The itinerary does not factor in staying with Warmshowers hosts. (Warmshowers is a program in which people provide shelter to bicycle and other active tourists, like Couchsurfing with wheels.) I did a bit of browsing on the Warmshowers website this week and was pleased to see hosts pretty much all along the route. As I travel I’ll seek out Warmshowers hosts each day.

I appreciate well-meaning friends and readers who offer shelter or suggestions for things to check out near the route. If you are so inclined, please keep in mind that “we’re only 30 minutes away” translates to a half day of riding. It’s one of the shortcomings of bike touring that you have to make difficult decisions about what to exclude from the tour. A good example is the Grand Coulee Dam in Washington State. A couple of people urged me to check it out and I’d have loved to see it during my 2018 ride, but it would have added over 60 miles to my tour which ended up being 4,300 miles as it was.

The 2023 tour as planned involves 2,537 miles over 47 days, an average of 54 miles per day. There are five rest days which make the riding days average 59 miles. That’s a lot considering how hilly this ride is sure to be. Also, the actual mileage will probably be over 2,600 miles because of wrong turns, food and shelter searches, and such.

I learned a couple of days ago that a friend lives close to the route in New Hampshire. Katie Fignewton (not her real name) was a college student back in 2017 when she rode the first Cider Ride, an event held that December near Washington, DC. She was hurting with about five miles to go on a cold, wet day so Chris Mamone (who was flagging when I scooped him up five miles earlier) and I gave her a two-middle-aged-men escort to the finish where we fed her recovery food (pizza). Katie and I have been in touch online ever since. (Chris, sadly, passed away a few years ago.) I hope to connect with her somewhere on the legendary Kancamagus Highway in New Hampshire.

BeginEndEnd StateDay MilesTour MilesLodgingDate
HomeMark’s HouseMD6060Mark’sMay 23
Mark’s HouseFreelandMD80140CampMay 24
FreelandLancasterPA55195Camp or hotelMay 25
LancasterNorristownPA62257HotelMay 26
NorristownMilfordPA60317CampMay 27
MilfordDel Water GapPA57374CampMay 28
Del Water GapCuddebackvilleNY47421CampMay 29
CuddebackvillePoughkeepseeNY50471HotelMay 30
PoughkeepseeEast CanaanCT62533CampMay 31
East CanaanWest HartfordCT63596Lily’sJune 1
West HartfordWest HartfordCT0596Lily’sJune 2
West HartfordStaffordvilleCT47643Bike only CampingJune 3
StaffordvilleWestboroughMA65708HotelJune 4
WestboroughEast DerryNH65773CampJune 5
East DerryYork BeachME55828CampJune 6
York BeachPortlandME65893HotelJune 7
PortlandNewcastleME63956HotelJune 8
NewcastleBelfastME641020Bike only CampingJune 9
BelfastBar HarborME601080CampJune 10
Bar HarborBar HarborME01080HotelJune 11
Bar HarborBelfastME601140BIke only CampingJune 12
BelfastNewcastleME641204HotelJune 13
NewcastleLewistonME601264HotelJune 14
LewistonWest FryeburgME601324CampJune 15
West FryeburgNotth WoodstockNH531377Camp or HotelJune 16
Notth WoodstockSharonVT601437HotelJune 17
SharonEast MiddleburyVT521489Camp or HotelJune 18
East MiddleburyEast MiddleburyVT01489Camp or HotelJune 19
East MiddleburyNorth HudsonNY481537CampJune 20
North HudsonBlue Mountain LakeNY351572Camp or HotelJune 21
Blue Mountain LakeBoonvilleNY621634Camp or HotelJune 22
BoonvillePort OntarioNY521686Camp or HotelJune 23
Port OntarioSodus PointNY621748Camp or HotelJune 24
Sodus PointBrockportNY701818Bike only CampingJune 25
BrockportLewistonNY601878HotelJune 26
LewistonHamburgNY501928HotelJune 27
HamburgBarcelonaNY541982CampJune 28
BarcelonaPresque Isle SPPA452027CampJune 29
Presque Isle SPPresque Isle SPPA02027CampJune 30
Presque Isle SPMeadvillePA392066Camp or HotelJuly 1
MeadvilleEllwood CityPA762142HotelJuly 2
Ellwood CityPittsburghPA452187HostelJuly 3
PittsburghConnellsvillePA602247CampJuly 4
ConnellsvilleFrostburgMD752322Bunkhouse or CampJuly 5
FrostburgHancockMD762398Camp or HotelJuly 6
HancockHarpers FerryMD632461Camp or HostelJuly 7
Harpers FerryHomeVA762537HomeJuly 8


This routing is contingent on my son not coming home from overseas until August. If he changes his plans and comes home earlier, the itinerary goes in the trash. (I have contingency plans so this is not a big deal.)

Last month I was diagnosed with hemorrhaging in my left eye, the one that has had two retinal detachments. I swear that Roseanne Rosannadana is my medical muse because with my body it’s always something. I go back to the eye doctor next week to see if it has resolved. (It doesn’t affect my vision in any way so it goes on my list of latent medical concerns with funny looking moles on my back.)

My age is always a concern. It wasn’t an issue last year when I was riding all over the Rockies and the Northwest.Then again, I was a chipper 66 year old. I am well aware that I am beyond the age when most people throw in the camp towel on unsupported bicycle touring. Last year as with most of my tours I grew stronger and stronger with each passing day. I climbed out of Ennis, Montana like a champ. There were two climbs in Idaho (near Grangeville) that put hair on my chest but the rest were surprisingly doable. Alas, I won’t have a month of riding at altitude on my side this year.

Weather may pose some challenges. Rain and the combination of heat and humidity will play a much bigger factor than my 2018 and 2022 tours. I managed to make it through non-stop rain, massive floods, and two tornado warnings in Illinois, Missouri and Kansas during the first month of my 2019 tour so I doubt the Northeast will dish out anything worse. Riding down steep hills in the rain with rim brakes will require some caution.

Speaking of hills, there are several whoppers on this tour. The eastern US features short and steep climbs as opposed to the long, gradual uphill slogs of the western states. It’s hard to imaging that the climbs will be any worse than those in Utah, Nevada, and California during my 2019 tour. I managed them, albeit with some walking, on a bum knee and a very painful hip so I suppose I can take on the Berkshires, White, Green, and Adirondack Mountains with some persistence and shattered pride.

Narrow roads, traffic, and crumbling pavement are additional concerns. Bombing downhill will require heightened attention to things like potholes and nptoriously wikkid Massachusetts drivahs, known throughout northern New England as Massholes.

Another challenge will be language. Depending on where I am I’ll be calling a sandwich a hoagie, hero (gyro), sub, or grinder. Milk shakes are called frappes and cabinets in eastern New England. Places to buying alcohol (not that I intend to) will vary from state stores to supermarkets to package stores to liquor stores. Accents will be changing by the week.

Physical Preparation

I’ve ridden over 3,000 miles already this year. I recently have started dialing in longer rides as my departure date approaches. I did 63 flat miles on Little Nellie last week, Yesterday I rode 52 on The Mule, after which I mowed the lawn. I was trashed but I’m still standing.

Thankfully, today is a rainy day. Rest is important. The couch awaits…

Mind Games for Miles

What do you do when you’re riding your bike hour after hour after hour? How do you keep your mind from going numb or mad? I have a few tricks. Singing of course is one of them. There’s a saying that you should dance like no one is watching. Well, I sing like no one is listening, because they aren’t.

What would you sing? I suppose it depends on the day and the conditions. One Sunday riding alone out in the middle of North Dakota or Montana, I started singing Sunday Morning Comin’ Down. It kept my mind off the tedium. And when I couldn’t remember the words, making up new ones gave me something semi-creative to focus my brain cells on.

Of course you can do this for any day of the week – I Don’t Like Mondays (Boomtown Rates), Tuesday Afternoon (Moody Blues), She’s Leaving Home (Beatles), Friday on My Mind, (Easybeats), It’s Saturday Night (Proclaimers). Thursday’s a bit of a problem though. One problem with this mind game is that you can give yourself an earworm that will last for days. (I’ve had a Beatles Real Love ear worm for a few days. The recording is speeded up and they sound like the Chipmunks. Thanks a lot, Jeff Lynne.)

Another mind game that I use, especially near home, is the Leave It To Beaver license plate game. As I recall, the Beave got in trouble one evening when he didn’t come home for dinner. He was counting out- of-state license plates out on the highway near town.

If the Beave had lived near DC he’d never have been late for dinner. Today, for example, on a 31-mile ride, I spotted 31 state license plates: NH, VT, CT, MA, NY, NJ, PA, DE, VA, NC, SC, GA, FL, AL, LA, TX, MO, KY, WV, OH, IN, IL, IA, MI, WI, NM, AZ, CO, WA, CA, and AK. For what it’s worth, Alaska and Hawaii plates are more common around here than Wyoming and Arkansas. Go figure,

The abundance of license plates hereabouts is probably related to three things: tourists, Congress, and the military. Ride near the National Mall in DC and you’re sure to bag a half dozen distant plates. I live about 15 miles from Capitol Hill so I suspect the large number of distant plates around my neighborhood is related to Congresspeople and their staff. (Every so often you walk into a store and see a Congress person. I once bought a TV with a former House majority leader. My friend Klarence once bought booze with a Supreme Court justice.) I can easily find Alaska and Montana within a short ride from home. Ride in neighborhoods with apartments near the Pentagon and you’ll find plenty.

When Fort Belvoir, about six miles south of home, was open to civilians, I’d go riding there. They had some exotic plates. The Panama Canal Zone, American Samoa, and Guam.

I don’t count DC because it’s not a state (it’s a gimme anyway). Nor do I count Canadian provinces but I’ve bagged Ontario, Quebec, and Manitoba this year.

The license plate game is a special case of the list game. Top ten rides ever. (I’ve written a blog post or two about this one.) Names of people who have ridden the 50-States Ride with me. (I really should write one about this. I think Michael B. and Kevin W. have the done the most states with me.) Best people to ride with. (I’ll never tell.) Worst people to ride with. (Ditto.) People (good and bad) I’ve encountered on my tours. (2019 included a coffee fiend, road raging Kansans, and French people back to back.)

I’ve tried meditating while riding but it seems redundant. (Nothing says Sa Om quite like a day riding across the prairie.) Praying can come in handy especially on epic climbs and fierce descents. (Going down Hoosier Pass I was praying not to die – that is if you consider “Holy F” bombs prayers.)

Most of the time I’m riding I let my mind go. There’s a video online where a teacher holds a glass of water out and asks his class “How heavy is the glass?” The students guess various weights. The punch line is the glass gets heavier the longer you hold it. It’s a metaphor for life’s worries. Don’t hold onto the glass or it’ll weigh you down and make you miserable. Set it down. My bike rides are my way of putting down the glass.

Here’s blood in your eye and other mysteries

I went to the ophthalmologist the other day for a routine check up. Over the course of the last 30 years I hit an eye disease trifecta: detached retina, cataracts, and glaucoma. (I also have myopia and astigmatism so maybe it’s a quinella.) With the help of surgery and medication I see fine under all conditions. I have floaters that make close work like bike mechanics a pain.

My eye exam was going fine until the doctor shined a bright light to look at my optic nerve and retina. He looked at the right eye (the one without the retinal detachment) and all was well. When he looked at my left eye, he stopped and looked again. Then again. I have an intraocular hemorrhage; a blood vessel inside my eye is leaking. I haven’t noticed any change in my vision because the hemorrhage is close to the dead spot on my retina. (We all have one. The brain compensates for it.) Sometimes this is caused by diabetes or high blood pressure. I have neither (although the machine at the drug store today said my BP is ever so slightly elevated). Otherwise the hemorrhage is regarded as ideopathic – medical speak for “dunno”.

So I go back in a month and have my blood pressure checked before hand. (I’ll just go back to the drugstore and take several readings.) I am hoping this doesn’t delay my tour. Stay tuned.

Today I finished with the winter maintenance on my three upright bikes. The rehabilitation of my Bike Friday was something of a miracle. With drop style handlebars, I couldn’t ride it more than a mile without serious lower back pain. I switched to H-bars, a flat bar with upright posts at the ends. Voila. I can now ride the bike in comfort. More than eliminating the back pain, the bike actually decompresses my lower spine. Another mystery.

My CrossCheck came home today. I had a shop do a tune up, change the chain and cassette, replace the aged front wheel and hub, and put on new bar tape. All was well until I was stuck in my ring finger by a frayed shifter cable. It was a new cable. Today Beth the mechanic said it was seriously frayed. How the heck did that happen? Mystery number 3.

The Mule came home a couple of weeks ago. Beth built me two new wheels (nifty Velocity rims), changed the chain and cassette, installed new bar tape, and did a tune up which involved servicing the hubs. It rode very nicely with two exceptions. The front brake didn’t so much squeal as it shrieked. Think Godzilla. And the front derailer refused to shift into the granny gear. So I took it back. I had them install a slightly bigger chainring. They also cleaned the rims. Tim, the shop owner, took it for a ride and all was well.

I rode it home and took it to a hill near my house. The brakes were quiet and the front derailer shifter perfectly. Yay.

Today I rode it to Friday Coffee Club. For the life of me, I couldn’t get the front derailer to shift into the granny. I have no idea why it worked fine yesterday and not today. Mystery number 4. Tim suggested that the front shifter felt “crunchy” and that maybe I should swap it out. Since that part costs $100 I’ll try cleaning and lubing the spring in the derailer and dialing the barrel adjuster out a tad first.

Oddly, the chain will shift if I first shift up onto my biggest chainring then down to the granny. I think The Mule is messing with me.

Otherwise the bike rides like a dream. Between the mild winter which allowed me to ride over 2,500 miles already this year and my lighter “engine” I am tour-ready.

Big Nellie is feeling neglected down in the basement. I’ll bring it up this week and see how the gears and brakes work. Hopefully there will be no more mysteries.

Marching out of wimper 2023

Well, we didn’t have much of a winter around these parts. March felt guilty and gave us many cold, rainy days as compensation.


The bike fleet physicals continue. The Mule has been serviced, but needs some re-work. No matter who works on the bike, the bike just does not want to shift into the granny gear. I am taking it back to have a slightly bigger granny gear installed. I will swap it out for the CrossCheck tomorrow or Sunday. Meanwhile, I have been having a ball riding The Mule and Little Nellie. I did four rides to view cherry blossoms. The weeping cherry tree in the front yard is on the verge of blooming too.

I rode 800 miles in March, an average of 25.8 miles per day. My long ride was 46.5 miles (to take in the cherry blossoms in the Kenwood neighborhood of Bethesda, Maryland). I rode 219 miles on Little Nellie which is more than I rode in it all year in 2022 or 2021. And, as an added bonus, riding Little Nellie is making my back feel much better. I am even considering switching to a flat bar for the CrossCheck next winter.

So far this year I’ve ridden 2,362 miles, including 389 miles indoors. Big Nellie will be coming out of the basement soon.


I read the remaining two books by climate scientist and bicycle tourist David Goodrich.

A Hole in the Wind is mostly about his ride from Delaware to the Oregon coast. I say mostly because he goes off on tangents that, to be honest can be depressing. His side trip to South Dakota explored the events leading up to 1890s Wounded Knee massacre. He also touches on the Underground Railroad and the Nez Perce Wars. But mostly he talks of the effects of climate change on the lands through which he rides. Much of his route coincided with that of my 2019 and 2022 tours. Many years ago I read somewhere about a narrow passage through the Rockies from the Front Range. It goes from Boulder to Walden north of Breckenridge. I didn’t ride it and I am glad I didn’t. It sounds pretty hairy.

A Voyage across an Ancient Ocean is his chronicle of a bike ride from the tar sands of Alberta to the Bakken fracking oil fields of North Dakota. He makes depressingly clear that the extraction of the vast oil reserves in these two locations will bring hell on earth to our descendants. A rapid pivot away from fossil fuels is the only hope. Even then the effects of burning fossil fuels will linger for centuries. Ugh.

The Great Bridge by David McCullough. I guess it is odd that I read this 560-page detailed history of the building of the Brooklyn Bridge since I’ve never actually crossed it. I’ve did ride under the approach to the bridge on the Brooklyn side during the Five Boro Ride back in 2018. The bridge was built over 14 years from 1869 to 1883, thanks mostly to the tireless efforts of chief engineer Washington Roebling. It’s quite a tail of political corruption and interference, perseverance, engineering brilliance, death (including that of Washington Roebling’s father John who designed the bridge, debilitating illness (caused by the bends) that kept John Roebling sick and housebound for a decade, all the while directing the work. McCullough delves into far more detail than I cared for but the book is a masterpiece none the less. Next winter I will tackle his book on the Panama Canal.


Chris Rock – Selective Outrage. We watched the live Chris Rock show on Netflix. He’s really not my cup of tea and he can’t hold a candle to Robin Williams, Richard Pryor, or Eddie Murphy. Funny. Profane. Sometimes gross. Then there was the Will Smith takedown. An interesting hour, to be sure.

World Baseball Classic – This was a baseball fan’s dream come true. So many star players. Flawed only by the fact that pitchers were held to restrictions in anticipation of the start of Major League Baseball at the end of March. Very much like Olympic hockey and World Cup Soccer. What a shame we don’t see more of Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani during the regular season.

Normal People – A mini series based on the Sally Rooney novel of the same name. I was surprised at how much I liked the book, especially in light of the fact that I am decidedly not the target audience. It’s about fitful romance between a pair of high school/college friends set in Ireland. Daisy Edgar-Jones and Paul Mescal are quite good as the flawed but quite realistic leads. As in Rooney’s books, the sex scenes go on for so long as to become tedious. (It’s a pity the leads are so damned good looking.) It captures the turbulence of college social life incredibly well. The supporting cast is grand too.

Where the Crawdad Sings – A movie based on the book by Delia Owens. The book was a mixed bag. I thought it captured the atmospherics of the swampland, but the courtroom drama aspect was by the numbers. The movie dragged. There was little chemistry between the romantic leads. I didn’t buy Daisy Edgar-Jones as the North Carolina Swamp Girl. A few of the supporting cast members were very good, especially David Strathairn as her lawyer, a role he could have done in his sleep.

Opening Day at Nationals Park – It was a chilly day so I stayed home despite the availability of good seats. I was glad I did. The Nationals are going to be awful this year and their play on Day One did nothing to dispel that prediction.

The Donald Gets Indicted – I spent an entire night watching talking heads rehash the news of his indictment. It is astounding to me that so many people buy his con. I doubt a jury will. And this is only the beginning. Ugh.