Don's Bike Across America
Astoria, Oregon to Portsmouth, New Hampshire
June 19 to August 7, 2006
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Don’s Blog: August 2: Empire State Wilting

 
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Another Wednesday, another challenge. So it seems to go on this trek across America. For whatever reason, coincidence surely, Wednesdays have been tougher days on the bike than most other days of the week. We had the “Capitol City Meltdown” in Pierre, South Dakota three weeks ago, and biblical thunder and lightning on “Thunder Road” Wednesday two weeks ago in Rochester, Minnesota. We can call today’s ride “Empire State Wilting,” as draining heat and humidity dogged us for the second consecutive day today.

The conditions did not seem as bad as yesterday at first, but slowly crept up on us, until we were overheating like old cars with broken down radiators. I did not realize how bad it was until we stopped to get hosed down by a kindly gentleman who was offering free “showers” to our struggling cadre of cyclists. I took him up on the offer, getting the full drenching from head to toe. This would not be my last of the day, although the second was courtesy of Mother Nature.

Ted, Steven, and I stuck together until the second sag stop at mile 64, at which point Ted suggested we go ahead. The lead pack of riders, or “the peleton” as I like to call them, was also departing the sag stop (they had gotten lost earlier in the day and added an extra 13 miles) so the two of us fell in with the group and enjoyed the fast-moving pace line for several miles. We were covering ground at close to 20 miles per hour, despite the heat. Steven even lead the pace line for a few miles, and did an excellent job at the front.

With a few miles to go we stopped at local eating establishment for lunch. Not five minutes there, the skies darkened the wind picked up, and then violent thunderstorms ensued. Shortly thereafter, the restaurant lost power and we ate by candlelight. Steven and I slogged the last several miles to the hotel in the rain, as even after the worst of it had passed through, the rain continued for several hours. What can you do? At least we did not have to cycle 60 miles in it, as we did in Minnesota. The storms took down some trees and many traffic lights were inoperable.

Once at the hotel, I checked in and was given my room key, only to find another cyclist already ensconced in the room! Back in the lobby, the clerk “could not understand” how this happened and several minutes of furious paper shuffling ensued. Still soaked to the bone, I waited while she consulted her boss and searched for an available room for this wayward cyclist. I finally reached the promised land of my room at about 4:00 p.m., after starting the journey more than nine hours earlier.

 

A few side notes: We are in Liverpool, New York tonight, very close to Baldwinsville, where we spent a night in the FANY ride I participated in last year across the state. I recognized some of the roads, as the routes overlapped at a few points. Also, we saw our first Boston Market after seeing our first Dunkin Donuts yesterday. All signs we are getting closer and closer to New England.