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New York City to Washington DC, 19-23 May 2012

by

Jonathan Hine, the Cville Climate Rider

Charlottesville, Virginia, 7 March 2012

Climate Ride 2012: why am I riding it? 
Those of you who received my requests for donations have inklings of my reasons for tackling a series of 5 metric century rides in as many days. The main reason is probably that I am insane. So be it. But the fact is, it’s fun. Not happy-glad-grinning-stupid-smiley-laughing fun but real fun. Deeply-satisfying-meaningful-looking-back-with-pride fun. 
Officially I am riding for bicycle advocacy. To focus my effectiveness, my donations are going to only two of the 31 beneficiaries of Climate Ride: the League of American Bicyclists and the Washington Area Bicyclists Association. I heartily support the others, but I want to generate as much impact as I can, and I have chosen the League and WABA to do that.

Charlottesville, 22 March 2012

Overhaul and checkout. 
Last weekend I got my Bianchi Volpe back from the wrenches at Performance Bicycle (Kenny, Paul and Warren). I was so happy, that I rode two GDR’s (glycogen-depleting rides: for me, that’s 68 km each) to check it out. We had to tweak the rear brake and the front derailleur, but everything else is sweet. Tomorrow, I will drive to South Texas for a Conference, and I am taking the bike with me. Be back just before Easter, with only five weeks until the Climate Ride.

Nashville, Tennessee, 23 March 2012

How my bicycle saved my life – again and again. 
When I read Lance Armstrong’s book, It’s not about the Bike, I could empathize on my own modest level. In my case, however, it is about the bike. 
I am riding the Climate Ride for bicycle advocacy. I am also riding for the doctors, nurses, therapists, chiropractors, masseurs, trainers and other professionals who encouraged me to keep riding through cardiac surgery and prostate cancer. 
Here are some of those doctors: Daniel Sawyer, Charles Myers, Gordon Morris, Christopher Friend, Julian Fagerli, Frazier Fortenberry, Cindy Spaulding, Scott Wagner. And the wonderful people who work with them: Kelly, Jacqui, all the K’s in Radiation Oncology, Kim, Lili, Erin, Kelly, Gayle, Jack, Lauren, Lizzie, Mo, Teresa, Carol, Gayle, Marie, et alia. 
Most of them agreed that the bicycle saved my life at least twice. First, the vascularization around my heart from riding gave me a margin of performance that allowed me to back off on a steep hill climb (I did not recognize the angina, because it did not hurt) and avoid a heart attack. Second, riding in all kinds of weather has given me an immune system that has speeded my recovery from the various procedures and therapies of the last six years. Yes, it is about the bike, and what it can do for us individually and as a society.

Keller, Texas, 25 March 2012

Clear, brilliant sunshine, temperature 35 degrees (100F). Used sunscreen for the first time this year and rested (Starbucks) at the half-way point. First time out since packing up the bicycle three days ago for the trip. This was a GDR (glycogen-depleting-ride) to get back in shape. Drank three liters of water, and covered 62 km in three hours. North Texas is awesome: so flat, so straight, so well-paved. Looking forward to Georgetown/Austin area on Tuesday. Going to sleep well tonight.

Georgetown, Texas, 27 March 2012.

Pleasantly warm and overcast, so no sunburn or heat stroke risk. Another GDR (73 km) north to Florence, Texas. I usually train in a loop so that the scenery will stay new, but this time, I was running late, so I took the GPS recommendation to retrace my outbound route. The flat plains are so vast in this part of Texas that returning was like riding through completely different geography. I especially liked the scintillating golden dust covering the fields, shining in the afternoon sun. Actually, they were little yellow flowers, but my line of sight was directly across the top of the grassy fields. Beautiful.

South Padre Island, Texas, 30 March 2012.

It was almost midnight. I was all settled in to my hotel room, but restless from sitting in the car all day. An hour later I was following the pencil beam of my headlight straight into the darkness. Swinging the beam to the west, I saw twenty-foot high dunes. Only one car passed me on Park Road 100. Six km after the lights of town ended, I began to wonder how long my light would last. With a toenail moon, it was too dark to chance getting stuck, so I turned around. Later, I learned that I was almost out of road anyway. 
The next day I lathered on the SPF 50 and rode the entire length of the island, all 20 km of it. Where the road ends under the sand dunes, I met a retired logger from Wisconsin living in a trailer and we chatted. Then I rode into the afternoon sun, getting back in plenty of time for the opening of the translation studies conference. 

Flat, smooth, hot. Very different from home, but isn't that the point of going somewhere else to ride?

Brownsville and Port Isabel, Texas, 31 March 2012.

We had “lunch on your own” today at the ATISA Conference, so I decided to ride to the nearest Starbucks, partly to re-stock my packets of Via coffee. I stopped on the way out of Port Isabel for 6 kg of water (two 3-litre jugs), which I put in the panniers. This was how a loaded touring bike should feel next summer. 
My GPS put the nearest Starbucks in Brownsville, but when I got there, it had disappeared. So had the other one in the system. Discouraged, I had lunch at Luby’s Cafeteria, where the cashier told me that the two Starbucks locations had been replaced by a new one 12 km closer to Port Isabel and S. Padre Island, so I circled the town to get there. 

 

On the way back, I rolled over 1,000 km for the month of March. My old record (January 2012) was only 746 km. I also rolled over a rattlesnake, but something bigger than my bicycle had already rolled over it much earlier. 
I did not even miss the afternoon sessions at the conference, so deciding to take an 80-km ride in the desert was worth it. The South Texas desert is indeed beautiful. It reminded me of the suburbs of Muscat, Oman, which also have some hardy green things.

Charlottesville, Virginia, 21 April 2012.

Since returning from Texas, I have logged another 300 km staying in shape. This week (Tues-Sat), I plan my final set of training rides: five 100-km (metric century) rides, spending each night at home. It should duplicate the riding effort on the Climate Ride and expose any problems with me or the bike that need attention. I plan to reward myself with lunch at five distant restaurants. That, too, should duplicate the Climate Ride.

Charlottesville, 24 April 2012.

First day of my "Climate Ride milk run": 114 km round trip to Nelson County. Lunch at Vito's in Lovington. Excellent practice for the hills, because US 29 rolls endlessly for 56 km, with never a sight line farther than the next ridge, usually less than 500 m away. Now I realize why I find hilly country tedious. It's not the physical challenge. It's the fact that I feel like I'm not going anywhere. At least in the South Texas desert, Tidewater Virginia, or Miami, Florida, I can see where I am going getting closer for hours before I get there. 
Front derailleur needed adjustment, so I could not head straight home. Warren at Performance Bicycles shared the secrets of my shifter controls, so I can change a cable on the road if I have to. 
Came home and laid out the routes for the next four centuries. To bed early. Recovery is as important as the exercise.

Charlottesville, 25 April 2012.

Second day of the "Climate Ride Milk Run": 92 km through Albemarle, Greene, Orange, Louisa, and Fluvanna Counties and back to Charlottesville. Scenic, gently rolling farmland with vineyards, horse. Lunch at a wonderful, authentic French restaurant in Gordonsville, the Pomme. The chef owner, M. Gérard Gasparini, was impressed that I had ridden from C'ville to have lunch at his establishment. I sent my CR card back to kitchen to explain why I had ridden such a long route to his place. He came out again, and donated my lunch to Climate Ride! I left a cash tip for the server and took his business card so I could mail in a check for the value of my lunch. Now that was the most surprising donation I have ever received. 


Today was ideal weather. Tomorrow, thunderstorms and cooling temperatures, so three days of wet-weather training ahead.

Charlottesville, 26 April 2012.

Third day of the "Climate Ride (CR) Milk Run": 100 km to Culpeper for lunch (It's About Thyme on Davis St.) and back. Packed for thunderstorms and steady rain, but the day stayed overcast and dry, because the front went through more quickly than I expected. 
Instead, today was devoted to training for saddle sores in the field. What I thought was a burst blister on my butt surprised me going into Culpeper. After experimenting with various bandages, I found a large waterproof one that would hold in place, and rode the 50 km back much more slowly than on the way out. It turned out that using petroleum jelly as recommended may have been a mistake. It softened up the well-developed calluses on my butt, and one came off! 

My objective was the restaurant It’s About Thyme in downtown Culpeper. Great stop for carbo-loading!

 


I can still ride 100 km in seven hours favoring the sore spot, so this is not a show-stopper, but tomorrow, I expect to learn even more about what else I need to be ready for.

Charlottesville, 27 April 2012.

Fourth day of the "Climate Ride (CR) Milk Run": only 25 km. I rode the hospital for some prescription-strength salve to hasten the healing, and then ran errands around town, testing what I could and could not do. The wound is healing already, and I can pretty much return to normal around town, but I am going to call off the rest of the training week to make sure that my butt can stand the CR. I know the rest of me can.

Charlottesville, 1 May 2012.

The balm the hospital gave me was made by Elves from Middle Earth for healing dragon bites! In two days, the wound had healed and I could ride normally without compensating. Today and yesterday, I ran errands and tomorrow I will roll out into the countryside for a short, sweaty spin. Have to keep hardening the butt for the next two weeks.

A serious moment to make you aware of how this Climate Ride has changed for me already. I started out selfishly needing to get ready for solo endurance riding this summer. Then I was delighted to combine that with good causes (bicycle advocacy, in my case). Now that I am less than $400 from my fundraising goal, and as donations and well-wishes keep coming in from all over the world, I realize that I am riding not for me or the cause, but for my friends and sponsors. I feel humbled and encouraged by their support. 
To all who donated, "This one's for you!" 
(To those who meant to donate, they won't count the totals until 9 May, so there is still time - thanks in advance).

Charlottesville, 3 May 2012.

Rode 61 km today in between appointments and errands, including hilly interval training where the Transamerica Trail (Bike Route 76) starts climbing the Blue Ridge. A hot, sweaty day -- perfect for testing how well my rear end has healed. Not a problem. We are good to go!

I am delighted to report that Nancy Brockman wrote the check that took our fundraising to its goal. A public thank you to Nancy and all my friends and supporters. 
You can still contribute, if you meant to. Climate Ride is completely tax-deductible and donations made as late as 15 December 2012 will get you a tax receipt.

Charlottesville, 9 May 2012.

Oops! I thought Nancy Brockman put me over the top, but I miscounted the number of checks still in the mail. Actually, it was Tullia Lynch who just chipped in the latest donation. A big, public thank you to Tullia, and all those who remembered to contribute in time. 
You can donate anytime and the money will support my beneficiaries, so please contribute if you meant to do so. Thanks in advance.

Enough money talk. I am really excited -- and feeling the pressure. Not about the physical challenge, but the mass of little details to get ready. I just got the tent I need, and I still need to lay out everything to see if it will fit on the bike – or will I need to rush out for new panniers?

Princeton, New Jersey, 12 May 2012.

In Princeton for Daniel's graduation (Master of Music, Westminster Choir College). Nice not to having to sweat parking. While Daniel went to a friend's concert tonight, I rode to dinner at Olive Garden, completing a metric half-century for the day. These are the roads of the first day of the Climate Ride. Easy.

Charlottesville, Virginia, 15 May 2012.

OK, folks, this is the last day before the Ride for me. I have one translation job to deliver, a final trip to Seminole Total Health, a final stop at Performance Bicycle (the old rack trunk died and my panniers were too small), and then pack again. I packed for the Climate Ride before going to Princeton, just to make sure everything would fit on the bike and be transportable on my shoulders/back. 
Tomorrow, I take the bike to the Amtrak station and send it off. It should be waiting for me Wednesday at Penn Station. 
Still time to donate, if you were meaning to. Thanks to everyone who has.

Charlottesville, 16 May 2012.

Today I rode my bike to the Amtrak Station, boxed it up and turned it in. It left on the Cardinal, and is already at Penn Station waiting for me. I just sent off the last translation, and am repacking my panniers. Not much sleep, and shaking a chest cold that hit me in Princeton, but I can catch up the sleep on the train and in the hotel. I am glad that I planned to stop work and go to NYC early.

Jersey City, New Jersey, 17 May 2012.

The bike had an easier trip to NYC than I did. This morning I gave up trying to sleep after two hours and got up at 0430. To get to my cozy hotel, I used my own car, a taxicab, a subway, several escalators, an Amtrak train, two ferries, a bus, a PATH train, and, of course, my fully loaded bicycle. In between, I walked several miles in bicycle shoes! 
I am grateful that I have the next three nights to work on shaking the rest of this chest cold.

Jersey City, New Jersey, 18 May 2012.

Happy news: the weather forecast for the Climate Ride is outstanding. Essentially, all sunny and no rain, except for some possible showers on Monday or Tuesday night (we will already be bedded down). Today, the sun is blazing and I can't wait to take the ferry to Manhattan to ride around my favorite bicycling city before turning in the bike at registration tonight.

How I am organized, finally. 
By opting to stay in a hotel in Princeton, I was able to leave the tent behind, which took the strain off my panniers and made room for my computer. It did not make sense to tote the tent for just one night. This is the format I plan to use this summer anyway, carrying my office with me as I ride. 
For those who care about numbers, the panniers weigh 14 Kg. (actually, 14 lbs and 17 lbs) and the rack trunk only 4 Kg. for a total load of 18 Kg. (41 lbs). It feels very steady and solid back there. I almost forget the load, until I try to squeeze between two taxis in traffic!

The Cville Climate Rider is pleased to salute Amanda Poncey, Heather Higgins and all those people in government and the bicycling community who helped make Charlottesville, Virginia, a Silver-level Bicycle-Friendly Community this year! The League of American Bicyclists passes out these awards carefully, and I can attest to the changes our little town has made over the years. 
A public thank you to Kristin Szakos, a member of City Council, who chipped in to sponsor the Cville Climate Rider on this event.

Jersey City, New Jersey, 18 May 2012.

CR Day 0 (39 km): I pedaled around Manhattan, checking out the bike and at 1730, turned it in at DCTV on Lafayette Street. DCTV actually occupies the former bunkrooms and offices of Engine Co 81 of the NYFD, now a historic building. Our bikes are being stored in the large bays where the fire engines used to park. 
Got back late, because it's a hike to the subway and the van with the check-in materials was two hours late. 
Starting coughing heavily while waiting for things to start, but the fits became less frequent and shorter as the evening wore on. No sleep last night; I really hope tonight is not a re-run.

New York, New York to Princeton, New Jersey, 19 May 2012.

CR Day 1 (80 km): Only dozed a little last night, but it was well that I decided to get up early, because I was surprised by the PATH weekend schedule. I would have been late if I had missed the 0718 train. 
Warm sunny day, with an early chill. By the time we rolled out of DCTV for Pier 11 on South Street, we were shedding our jackets. M/V Seastreak was a catamaran, which I have never ridden. It tore across NY harbor at 38 knots and moored in Atlantic Highlands in just 30 minutes. I was really impressed. This is the best-kept secret about travel to New York. If one does not need or can figure out how to do without a car, it's not expensive to take the ferry and lands right in the middle of the Financial District, where all the subways start. Only a buck for a bike, so this is a win-win for someone like me! 
The experienced Riders were very careful to stop for new riders with various troubles, and no one who stopped was ever passed without the passers checking to be sure everything was OK. I started at the back of the pack, because I was one of those who had little things like chain oil, tools, etc. on my bike. We could stop and adjust derailleurs, fix flats and give advice on how to shift gears while the "wrenches" (the three mechanics) could move on to help others. Very effective, and by lunch the new riders were confidently pumping along with the pack. 
Funny as it seems, I got the first flat of the ride, while waiting for the start back at DCTV. The valve on the tube just failed from old age, which it could have done any time on the ride, if I had not just checked my tire pressure and pumped it up. Good practice to see how fast I could fit the spare tube and check everything out without missing the ferry. I was back on the sidewalk long before we left. 

Waiting for the start outside DCTV in New York City

I am skipping the really wonderful talks at Princeton University tonight, so I can nurse this cough. It seems to be tapering off, but it is still enough to wake me up. I am going to lie there and rest while awake if I have to, and be back at 0700 for breakfast, ready for the longest day of the CR: 117 km into Pennsylvania (lunch in Doylestown).

Princeton, New Jersey to Spring City, Pennsylvania, 20 May 2012.

CR Day 2 (130 km): At last, I got some sleep. Only woke up once last night and it added up to almost seven hours. This was the longest and toughest day of the entire week. Not only did we cover more distance, the elevations were grueling, with some hills at 11% grade. Nothing a good dinner, a massage and a good night's sleep can't fix. Water break in Lambertville NJ, lunch in Doylestown PA and water/ice cream break at a farm/dairy on the way to Camp Innabah in Spring City, PA. My rear fender started falling apart on the rough roads in NJ, so I removed it in Lambertville. Wonderful scenery, but why does everyone have the lawn mowed on the same Sunday? The flying grass from the industrial mowers of the lawn services triggered more coughing, but I spent most of the day breathing comfortably. 
It is supposed to rain tonight, but I have a bunk in one of the lodges, and expect to sleep well.

Spring City to Holtwood, Pennsylvania, 21 May 2012.

CR Day 3 (97 km): Camp Innabah was a pleasant facility, but my cough kept me and most of the lodge awake all night. Others had trouble adapting to the bunks, so there was a lot of moving around in the dark. If Day 2 was the longest, today was arguably the most difficult for unplanned reasons. It was the shortest day, but we had six crashes that were bad enough to send to the hospital. All are OKnow, and four of them are back in the Ride. The drizzly rain on the very steep back roads took down new and experienced riders alike. 
I missed the worst stretch, because I left the route to run to a pharmacy for something better for my cough. My leg from one point on the route to where I came back in proved to be quite safe: it was PA Bikeway S, a wide, dry shoulder on Rte. 23. 
The rain eased up by lunch, and things settled down. There was a lot of growth today and many lessons learned. At the Rite Aid, I found a homeopathic cough syrup without the dyes and preservatives of the other brands. I have five roommates in a cabin here at Camp Andrews, and I think keeping other up worries me more than the strain on my system of not resting after all this riding.

Holtwood, Pennsylvania, to Reisterstown, Maryland, 22 May 2012.

CR Day 4 (110 km): This day determined what kind of a rider I am, because now I am riding farther than I ever have continuously. Most important, the homeopathic cough syrup worked! It had a sleep aid formula, which is what I needed. No one else woke up when I coughed, and I went back to sleep. 
Waking up rested and reassured made today a success. No sores on the butt, and I rode up all the insanely steep roads carved into the hills between Amish country and Reisterstown, Maryland. 
Today I was usually one of the last riders to the rest stop and to lunch, but that was because I was one of the last to leave in the morning. 
We have hotel-like accommodations here at the Pearlstone Retreat Center. I hope to be better organized tomorrow, because we have to keep to a schedule, riding through Reisterstown, Silver Spring and DC. 
If you want to watch the news coverage, we expect to be joined by a large number of local riders on the National Mall between 1515 and 1600 (around 3:30 PM). It might be on your evening news. 
I won't post again until I return to Charlottesville. Thanks again to all who supported me on this ride. If you still want to donate, you can still do that, and I will get the credit and it will all go to the beneficiaries I chose (LAB and WABA). Thanks.

Charlottesville, Virginia, 23 May 2012.

CR Day 5 and our Triumph into the Capital (104 km): Refreshed by clean, comfortable accommodations, eight hours in bed (four in a row with no coughing!), I was out promptly this morning. The pressure was on for everyone to make the rest stops by certain times, to be sure that all would be at the gathering place in DC in time. There were still plenty of steep climbs, but the general trend was downhill, so we made very good time. Including stops, the whole group covered the 100 km. from Reisterstown to DC in about six hours! 

 

We gathered at Thompson’s Boat Center near the Watergate.


The ride to the Capitol Reflecting Pool was arguably the high point for almost all of us. We had a parade permit, so we could have ruined the DC rush hour. Instead, we moved together in a long column, using only the right lane or two, stopping for all lights and stop signs and helping the terrified motorists make their turns. Because we did not have a police escort this time, we ended up in several block-long groups, which increased our exposure to the crowds of pedestrians cheering on the sidewalk. They got to talk to us as we paused at each red light. 
The PA system failed and a thunderstorm drenched everyone during the speeches. No complaints here: I was working the "baggage brigade" unloading the luggage truck in the rain by 1730 and on my way to Arlington two hours sooner than I expected. 
Ruth and Dave Schwartz had let me park my car in front of their house, and they took my panniers home with them. I had planned to ride back to the car, but Tom Kelly had an extra place on his bike rack, so he took me to Arlington. I joined the last of the DC outbound rush hour and got home at 2145. 
Seven days on the road and five days in the saddle. I have learned a lot over the last 553 km, but that will be the subject of another article. Stay tuned.

Charlottesville, 27 May 2012.

Epilogue
The Climate Ride has given me a new respect for Charlottesville, Virginia. It is hilly enough to maintain general fitness for all kinds of challenges on a distance ride, but none of the hills are as dangerous as the ones we conquered during the Climate Ride. Having ridden through so many different towns this week, I can see why Charlottesville is a Silver-level Bicycle Friendly Community. I am grateful that I live here. 
The cough turned out to be asthmatic bronchitis, caused by the organic solvent in the heavy perfume of the woman sitting next to me at Daniel's graduation on Saturday before the Climate Ride. Now I am on an antibiotic and an inhaler, and was even able to sing in the Oratorio Society concert this evening without coughing.

 

Many of the Climate Riders had their pictures taken holding their bicycles up in front of the National Capitol at the end of the ride. The person taking my picture must have hit the wrong buttons, because the frame was empty. So I had my victory shot taken in front of the Blue Ridge Mountains the next day.