Written by William Turner Wednesday, 03 April 2019 00:00
Well 3,874 miles of cycling and 113,329 feet of climbing has come and gone. I managed to ride with my own two feet from the beaches of Astoria, Oregon all the way to the finish line at Portland Head Light, back home in Maine. It was pretty amazing that my 68 year old body still held up pretty well on the whole trip, despite my best thrashings attempts. You never know when starting out on something this daunting if things will hold up or exactly how much trouble you might run into along the way. Thankfully my major troubles besides the usual aches and pains were largely relegated to wearing out parts: two chains, one cassette, six flats and one very worn out rear tire.
Thank you, thank you, thank you, to all the individuals, family and friends near and far who partnered with me! You enabled the opportunity and adventure to happen and in the process we raise some significant funds the help those in need. With your help and support we managed to reach 95% of my goal and raise $23,896.40. Over 90% of those funds will go directly to fund home builds in the USA and across the globe!
Now let’s recap some of the highlights and trip specifics:
With the mountainous west behind us we continued on our way across the mid-west. The accommodations on the trip were varied greatly; ranging from very small local grange halls, a church with a roller skating rink, to a church with 500 person seating capacity and 7,000 members. However regardless of the size of the organization, the hospitality of the churches we stayed with was a joy to experience. So many different kinds of people, foods, sights and smells! The riding team as a whole had our ups and not so ups, but it remained a compassionate and carrying community through and through.
On July 4th, we road with lots of red, white, and blue added to our normal garb. We ended a short ride day in a wonderful tiny Mid-West farm town of 400 people, with an outdoor community pool complete with a water slide and music to celebrate the 4th. We had hot and sunny weather to play in for several hours and for a picnic with grilled food afterwards in the local Lions Club pavilion.
In Maumee, Ohio we had a build day that consisted of lots of yard work and interior painting and door replacement on the home. My 89 year-young aunt Eleanor, who lives in Toledo, drove over to meet us in Maumee and we snuck of for dinner together. Eleanor is a pretty amazing independent lady who is still piloting her PT wagon. As a parting gift she presented me with a wonderfully done route map of the journey this year.
Several times we have had wonderful strong westerly tail winds allowing us to roll at 20 to 24 MPH on the flats and occasionally we had crosswinds that were a bit too challenging, or the rare semi-truck that buzzed too close…but thankfully no one was clipped by a vehicle. During much of July and August we had mostly cloudy and very humid mornings so we shifted our ride schedule to getting up as early as possible to avoid the hot afternoons and an occasional thunder shower and much of the rest of the trip followed this path. One of the highlights of Western New York was a short ride day that then allowed us to spend lots of time at Niagara Falls a place I had not been to in decades!
The ride through Vermont and New Hampshire was also better than anything I could have ever imagined. The weather was reasonable and cooler than the Midwest and the riding mostly on back roads and many rails-to-trails bike paths. A five mile climb over the Green Mountains led us to a 12 mile downhill ride complete with warm sun, some light rain showers, and rainbows. In eastern NY and NH we had some spouses and friends join us and on our final ride day I was blessed to have my son Kirk and his girlfriend Alyson, and my daughter Kate and her husband Brent join the team and ride the last day into Portland Head Light. The final day was an emotional whirlwind, to finally see my wife, family, and friends again was indescribable, but this thing that a rag tag group of strangers had been working toward for so many days and weeks together had come to an end. I was so happy to see my new granddaughter and our 18 year-old Pup Annie, but it was also just a little bitter sweet, no more rainy days, no more snoring neighbors, inside jokes, and or third helpings of well earned ice cream…
Switching gears just a little, Lily and I know from our travels to Haiti that just being born in the USA is an incredible blessing; however many areas of the USA are struggling and helping older folks to upkeep and stay in their homes is a very much needed and a worthwhile endeavor that needs more attention and effort. Each community may have silent suffering that goes un-noticed, this can and will change with more dedicated and caring people like those from the Fuller Center for Housing.
To anyone out there who might be considering a smaller section or a bigger trip like this, but the daily mileage is concerning, here is a little food for thought. This ride had been a lifelong dream and although I trained in the winter beforehand, I was a little anxious too. However each day the pace was left up to every individual and many different informal ride groups formed according to speed desires. If you are accustomed to riding 20-40 miles on a regular basis, you can absolutely handle 2-3 times that amount with good rest and a well prepared snack and support team. Each section has a daily sweep duty so no-one is ever left behind either, all for one and one for all.
Some Post Ride Thoughts: Living with a group of twenty five folks for ten weeks was a daily lesson in cooperation, understanding, tolerance, compassion, and loving; and all that on top of getting lots of serious exercise for 6 hours a day or more. The whole experience turns out to be one of the best and most memorable of my lifetime so far. The build days were highly rewarding and I was amazed when we pulled together just how much true work we were able to accomplish as a team and for others in need. I have no real idea of what heaven is all about and don’t care to find out too soon. However, I think I have had a little taste of what heaven on earth can be and I am very thankful for the generosity of my donors, my current health, and experience that the FCBA 2018 Port2Port ride has provided me with. At this point I do not know what further reaching significance this experience will have in the long-run, however there will be time to ponder this in the next few months.
Thanks for reading and sharing this journey with me,