Getting to Liftoff

It’s about 8 p.m. the night before the start of my ride to Maine and beyond. I have been buzzing around like a madman trying to get ready. Here’s a recap of my last five days of normal living.

Last Wednesday I drove to Albany to attend my 50th high school reunion. Along the 400-mile way, I stopped at Hyde Park to see the FDR house. It was a bit of a pain to get to but I did get to drive over the Mid-Hudson Bridge which is a state-of-the-art span built in 1925. The winding approach goes through a gash in rock. As I drove across I could see the Hudson River Walkway, part of my tour route, to my left.

Hyde Park was interesting. I thought it was on the Hudson but the view of the river is obscured by trees.

The ride from there to Albany is mostly on the roads that are designated as New York State Bike Route 9. I expected it to be hilly but, other than being a bit trafficky, it looks quite rideable.

I arrived, ate dinner, and went to bed.

On Thursday I drove to my brother Jim’s house. Jim and I did a 22-mile ride, mostly on the new Helderberg Hudson Rail Trail. The trail goes from the Port of Albany to the village of Voorheesville, west of Albany. Along the way it passes by the neighborhood where I lived for the first five years of my life. On the way back we swung by the old house, which looks remarkably unchanged but for an enclosed breezeway between the garage and the house.

After returning to Jim’s house, I drove to my sister Margaret’s house near the University of Albany (known to old timers like me as the State University of New York at Albany or SUNY Albany). My sister and I went to lunch. At about 3 p.m. I left her place and drove to a cemetery to see my parents’ and my younger brother’s grave. They are right where I last saw them but the pin oak tree that was planted in my father’s memory in 2005 is now enormous. He’d have like that.

Next, I drove up a hill to another cemetery to see President Chester A. Arthur’s grave. Ooh. Exciting. He was such a big deal that I had no idea he was buried in Albany until Margaret told me over lunch.

Back to the hotel I drove to clean up for dinner. I drove about and hour into the Adirondack foothills to have dinner with Jim and my other sister Roo and their spouses. The restaurant in the town of Galway was The Cock and Bull. It was a steak house in a barn. I had jambalaya and it was quite good. A quartet called Corner House played on a very small stage after we ate. They describe their style as influenced by Irish, Scottish, Appalachian Stringband, and Bluegras music. The space is so small that they interacted with the audience and even left the stage to play an impromptu acoustic encore sitting practically in our laps.

I arrived back at the hotel at 11. Too tired to sleep.

The next morning at the lobby complimentary breakfast I ran into a couple of classmates. Oddly the three of us are all born within 48 hours as I recall.

Then it was time for the main event. I drove to the school to meet up with about 15 classmates (our class had 40 graduates, all boys. 35 are still alive.). How strange it was to see people I haven’t seen since 1973. I didn’t recognize three of them at all. Some of my classmates didn’t recognize me. Touche.

After lunch I wandered around campus with Dave, a classmate that I had lived with briefly in college in a dilapidated old warehouse on the Boston waterfront. (The building has since been properly modernized and now probably costs a fortune to live in.) We were stunned to see the new indoor athletic building which included a very impressive indoor track. And we also saw the new swimming facility, a major upgrade from the musty old pool crammed in the back of the 150+ year old main school building. (I learned that the elementary school boys swam in the nude back in the day.)

After the tour, we attended an awards ceremony for the school’s Arts Hall of Fame. One of our classmates was inducted but we arrived late and missed his part of the event.

Next up was a playoff high school baseball game. It was a tight contest. The good guys won on in a walk-off, on a bases loaded walk.

After that came the reception in a tent outside the school. I met some classmates of my oldest brother, Bill. To be honest, despite being five years older, they looked better than my classmates.

After drinks (actually a beer for me) we had dinner in the open air outdoor pavilion which was paid for by the class of 1970, which included my brother Joe. Twas a lovely repast. We were joined by some 50-year celebrants from the girls school across the street. The separation by gender is being phased out as was the mandatory military program at the boy’s school.

After dinner we all decamped to a bar where some of my classmates had reserved a room for us. We hung out and chatted. A nice time for sure. And thankfully not nearly as alcohol intensive as my 25th reunion. (I had a single beer. What a lush.)

On Saturday I drove home in a driving rain. Ugh. Lucky for me the storm had bypassed my place so I mowed the lawn. By the time I was done I felt exhausted. My daughter had come home from law school to attend her 10th high school reunion. She warned us that she might be calling us to come pick her up if she had too much to drink.

Before she left, I opened some early Father’s Day gifts. Shorts that actually fit (I was stunned that I am now a size 36. No wonder my old pants kept falling off) and an Ottlight for reading.

At 3 a.m. we got the call from our girl and drove the half hour to DC. After tracking her down using an app, we retrieved her car and drove home arriving around 4 a.m.

Are you exhausted yet? I am. By now my sleep cycle was completely screwed up. On about 3 1/2 hours of sleep I started assembling all the stuff I’ll be taking on my trip. Then I went for a 30-mile on Big Nellie, because that’s what I do.

Sunday night we drove in to DC to see Crowded House perform. They put on a stellar show as usual. We arrived back home at 11.

Today, I finished packing and took The Mule on a loaded 2 1/2 mile test ride. It felt a bit like I was riding a buffalo but I’m sure I will get used to it after an hour tomorrow. Then I went for a 28-mile ride on Little Nellie.

When I arrived home I saw my daughter off then dealt with a medical billing issue that I’ve been dealing with. I am being charged a “facility fee” for my December colonoscopy. I never had to pay one before so I’ve been going back and forth between the doctor’s billing office and the insurance company. Somehow my procedure which heretofore had been termed “routine” was now defined as “diagnostic”. (Aren’t all colonoscopies diagnostic by definition? Oh well.) There difference in this one word could cost me $320. The insurance company has promised me a review. I am not optimistic.

And there your have it. Five days of mayhem. Just what I needed to get in the mood for my bike tour. To be honest I am not feeling all that good about this one. Hopefully, my attitude will improve after a couple of days in the saddle. Tomorrow I ride from Mount Vernon, Virginia to Linthicum, Maryland just inside the Baltimore beltway where I will stay at Mark and Tracie’s house. (Marc and I rode half the Trans Am Trail last summer with his lifetime pal Corey.) It should be about 55 miles with near perfect weather.

I hope to hit the road around 9. Judging from how tire I am at 8:45 p.m. it will be a minor miracle if I make it out of here before noon.

Stay tuned for daily updates. I will be posting fewer pix on the blog in the interest of saving some memory but any others will be posted on my Instagram and Flickr accounts. (Both under my goofy nickname Rootchopper).

A week until liftoff

It’s been a hectic month so far with no let up in sight.

A week ago my wife and I went to see KT Tunstall play at a small venue. KTT was terrific as usual. Her opening act, Martin Sexton, was super entertaining. Ya gotta love a singer who’s not afraid to yodel.

After the concert I spent a bunch of time rounding up more things for the tour, and getting my wife some Mothers Day goodies. I think I passed the audition.

Today I drove 400 miles from Mt Vernon VA to East Greenbush NY outside Albany. It occurred to me after growing up around here that there is no West Greenbush or even a plain, vanilla Greenbush. What’s up with that?

On the way here I stopped in Hyde Park to see FDR’s home. It’s a lovely place, not nearly as posh as I was expecting. The house has a manual (as in pull on a big rope) elevator that he used to get upstairs to his bedroom. Dang.

FDR and Eleanor are buried in the rose garden near the house. It’s only the fourth presidential gravesite I’ve seen. And amazingly Grant’s Tomb isn’t one of them. I could have stopped at Martin van Buren’s grave today but one dead President a day is enough for me. (Can you guess the other three?)

Why did Eleanor get a flag?

As it turns out I’ve now seen two presidential birthplaces. (Guess again!)

Hyde Park is very close to my planned route. It’s actually on New York State Bicycle Route 9 which, despite being on somewhat busy roads, looks like a decent place to ride. New York State highways have big shoulders that somehow seem free of debris.

Tomorrow I’m doing a rail trail bike ride near Albany. Tomorrow night I am having dinner with siblings about an hour away.

Friday I go to my 50th high school reunion. I had planned to ride to it but had to drive instead. It turns out that with temperatures in the 30s overnight I’m rather glad to be riding my Accord rather than The Mule.

Sometime between all these events I’m going to meet up with one of my sisters and visit family gravesites nearby. I’ve never seen my great grandfather’s grave. His name is Sylvester. He was married to Hattie. If nothing else this proves that Americans have lost their baby naming mojo over the past 200 years.

Saturday I drive home in the rain. Ugh.

Sunday I start packing for the tour, mow the lawn, and go see Crowded House.

Monday I finish packing.

Tuesday is liftoff.

Packing List for 2023 Bike Tour

This packing list is mostly the same as last year but there are a few changes. In the clothing department, I’m bringing my Showers Pass rain pants instead of my REI pants. The Showers Pass pants are a bit heavier but will come in handy if it gets cold. I’m bringing two lightweight Buff neck gaiters. I actually wear a Buff over the top of my head to protect my bald spot and forehead from getting sunburn, as well as to keep sweat out of my eyes. Buffs tend to wander off in the night so I’m assuming I’m going to lose one along the way. Bandanas have multiple uses and typically don’t survive the trip.

Rain boots are another possible item. They will keep my feet warm on cold mornings and dry in the rain. Alternatively, I can just bring some plastic supermarket bags. They weigh less and take up less space.

My sleeping bag is new and much heavier weight than the sleep sack that I froze in last summer in the high mountains of Wyoming. My new sleeping pad is much more compact and infinitely more comfortable than the one I used last year. The air valve on the old one stopped working so a new pad was in order. I am also bringing a little inflater gizmo that only weights a few ounces.

I am only bringing flat bungie cords this time. Corey convinced me of their general usefulness in Canon City, CO last summer. I am not bringing a cargo net as I have in the past.

In a concession to my spinal stenosis, I am bringing a collapsible cane that I bought at REI recently.

I haven’t decided what lock to bring. I usually bring an Ottolock but mine froze in Fort Scott, KS last summer and had to be sawed off. The company sent me a new one but it did not work properly so I am bringing a Brinks cable lock. A U-lock is much more secure but it’s a bit useless with bike bags in the way. With the cable lock, I can lock my bike to a picnic table in camp which has the added benefit of keeping the bike from falling over.

Finally, it is a time-honored tradition that after about a week, bicycle tourists send a box of stuff home. I plan on mailing home my used maps once I get clear of the mountains. That will save me about a half pound. When touring out west, I have to plan for long stretches, even entire days, without food or water. That won’t be necessary in the east. It’s still a good idea to bring some food along just in case, hence the PB&J and such.

I managed to break the power pack I bought for last year’s tour. It had a charging connection that was flimsy. It broke off. I’m glad it didn’t happen during the tour. The new power pack uses a cable to connect to a power source.

On Bike

  • Large Ortlieb roll top panniers (2)
  • Small Ortlieb rol top panniers (2)
  • Medium Ortlieb handlebar bag with map case
  • Helmet with light mount
  • Bell
  • Mirror
  • Saddle cover
  • Maps
  • Water bottles (2)


  • Iphone
  • Headphones
  • Power pack
  • Light and Motion headlight
  • Taillight
  • Chargers/cables for all lights, camera and phone


  • Sandals
  • Rain jacket
  • Rain pants
  • Rain boots
  • Shirts (2 synthetic, 2 cotton) 
  • Bike shorts (2) and shell
  • Bike gloves
  • Cool weather gloves
  • Off bike shorts and belt
  • Floppy hat
  • Sunsleeves
  • Swim trunks
  • Bike shoes
  • Buff (2)
  • Bandana (2)
  • Socks (3 pair)

Personal Items

  • Dr Bronners soap
  • Microfiber bath towel
  • Microfiber washcloth
  • Toothpaste
  • Floss
  • Comb
  • Tooth brush
  • Razor
  • Shaving cream
  • Bug spray
  • Sunscreen
  • Prescription sunglasses
  • Backup prescription glasses
  • A book or magazine
  • Covid mask


  • Duct tape
  • Zip ties (4)
  • Flat bungies (6)
  • Clothes pins (4)
  • Chain break
  • Spare link
  • Wire for holding chain
  • Multitool
  • Fiber Fix spokes (2)
  • Spare tubes (3)
  • Patch kit
  • Tire levers (3)
  • Pump
  • $1 bills for tire boot
  • Spare tire
  • Lube (2 kinds, wax based for the chain. Oil based for everything else)
  • Chain cleaner
  • Rag
  • Spare brake cable
  • Spare shifter cable
  • Lock

Camping Gear

  • Tent
  • Stakes
  • Ground cloth
  • Sleeping bag
  • Sleeping bag liner
  • Camp pillow
  • Sleeping pad
  • Pad inflator
  • Spare AAA batteries for pad inflator (2)
  • Dry bag
  • Rope
  • Swiss army knife


  • Brio
  • Latanoprost
  • Ibuprofen
  • Ibuprofen PM
  • Albuterol
  • Antihistamine
  • 81mg aspirin
  • Collapsible cane


  • Clif Bars
  • Electrolyte tablets
  • PB&J
  • Rolls (or something similar for PB&J)
  • Spare water bottle
  • Lightweight utensils

Otherwise my preparation for the tour is pretty much complete. I have ridden over 3,600 miles this year which is more than I rode prior to my 2018 tour when I averaged over 70 miles per day. I have also done some deliberately hilly rides without killing my legs or lungs. So the engine is in pretty good shape. Typically, I get stronger as the ride progresses which is good because New Hampshire and Vermont promise to be pretty challenging.

Ten days until lift off. In the meantime I have Mother’s Day, a Nats game, dinner with siblings, a high school reunion, 800 miles of driving, and a Crowded House concert to deal with.

Mule Droppings

Spring continues in fits and starts around here. One week it’s unseasonably hot, the next cold and rainy. I continue to ride nearly every day. When I was working I rode no matter what the weather but now that I am retired I can time my rides to avoid unpleasant precipitation. The other day I rode in the rain anyway, just to keep from getting cocky.

The Eye Has It

In early April I went for a routine eye exam and found out that there is hemorrhaging in left eye. It was having no effect on my vision, but it was enough to give the doctor (and me) pause. I was told to come back in a month to have it re-evaluated. Last week I went back and the ophthalmologist said that the hemorrhage was still there but hadn’t worsened. He told me to carry on and come back in six months. Of course, I am to make a bee line to an emergency room if I notice any flashes or if my eye stops working normally. Get in line behind the hematologist eye man.

Buying All the Things

There are all sorts of things, mostly little, that I need for my bike tour. After Friday Coffee Club last week, I rode to REI and bought me some stuff: three small plastic squeeze bottles, some oil-based lube, and some Clif Bars. The lube will be used on everything but the chain. (I use wax lube on my chain.) I’ll use the small bottles for degreaser, castile soap (multiple uses), and sunscreen. This will save some space in my panniers. Today I bought some ear plugs – necessary for camping and motels with thin walls – and wet wipes (multiple uses).

I still need to buy a travel-sized shaving cream and a jar of PB&J (a boffo food idea from Corey from last year’s tour). I won’t need to carry much food and water since most of the ride is through populated, if not urban, areas. Just before I leave I’ll buy something to spread the PB&J on.

Making a List

I need to dig out the list I made from last year’s tour, modify it, and make sure I have everything I need. I have already selected this year’s chain rag t-shirt. I will wear it during the first week then relegate it to bike maintenance use. I don’t have to do this but it gets another worn out piece of clothing out of the closet. Last year, Mark scavenged rags from the side of the road to use on his chain. I ask for old rags at motels.

Cotton t-shirts are a necessity because technical fabrics are unpleasant to sleep in. Somewhere along the way I’ll buy another cotton t-shirt for sleeping and off-bike use.

One day each week for the last three weeks I’ve done a ride of 50 miles or more. Last Friday I signed up at the last minute for the Bike How You Like Ride in DC. It’s the spring ride of the Washington Area Bicyclist Association. WABA used to have a June ride called the Sweet Ride. I did it once. 50 miles of which about half were up short, steep hills. It was hot and I was not. I swore off riding it again.

When I showed up at the start of the BHYLR event, I discovered that it was nearly identical to the Sweet Ride except for the fact that it was a clockwise route and that it was only 70 degrees outside. I used Little Nellie and had only minor difficulty on the steepest hills. My thighs were hurting but they didn’t give out. I was pleased to find that my lungs never came close to bursting. Funny how thick sea-level air will do that for you. The ride turned out to be a good test of my fitness level. I know the hills on my tour are going to be really hard but I’m as ready as I’ll ever be. Better still, although my hill riding is pretty lame, I am much better at riding hills on The Mule than Little Nellie.

Call Me a Tourist

I’ve lived in DC for over 37 years and still haven’t seen all the sights. Last week after my REI shopping, I stopped at the Old Post Office Tower to check out the view. The tower is located at the back of the Waldorf Astoria Hotel (formerly known as the Trump International Hotel). The tower has a separate entrance and is staffed by helpful National Park Service employees. With clear skies the views were quite good. It’s a good place to get your bearings if you are new to DC. And, like so many other DC attractions, it is free.

Old Post Office Tower views
The Pencil

In the before times, I visited the Smithsonian Museum of the American Indian. I didn’t have time to see everything. Now that I’ve ridden out west, I need to go back and see what the Museum has to say about the places I saw during my tours.

One Concert Down, One to Go

My wife and I saw KT Tunstall perform the other night. She was terrific as usual. Martin Sexton was the opening act. He was a pleasant surprise. I had never heard of him. This is probably because he doesn’t fit into one of the music industry’s marketing boxes. He plays blues, country, rock, Americana, and folk music, often in the same song. And he yodels. He’s a talented guitarist and has an amazing vocal range. Although both Tunstall and Sexton play piano, they both stuck with guitars. No complaints.

In a couple of weeks we’ll go see Crowded House. This concert was re-scheduled from last September. That week will be a bit crazy. Drive eight hours to Albany. Do a bike ride or two. Have dinner with my siblings. Attend my 50th high school reunion. Drive back to DC. Attend the concert. Hit the road on The Mule.

The Mule Abides

The Mule is all warmed up. This happened last week

The Mule kicks ass. #odometer #nodecimals #specializedSequoia

Dave the Lizard approves

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.