This summer I'll be retracing the last 3 weeks of the Coast to Coast ride in 2002. I had a fantastic time in 2002 and expect the same this year as well. Below are daily collections of my experiences with photos. Hope you enjoy reading the blog. - Brian Cox

Monday, September 3, 2012

Final Ride Thoughts

Just a quick set of paragraphs to sum up what the three week adventure meant to me. I've figured out from previous rides, that it takes a while to let the experiences and memories for a while until I figure out what stood out from the trip.

I've now been home for two week, almost done unpacking and putting everything away. I received my bike, shipped Federal Express, last week and have ridden it several times already and will likely be riding it to work tomorrow.

I lost about 6 pounds in the three weeks that I was gone and lost a couple more since I returned home. I'm trying to cut my meal size back to human size again, and have eliminated the daily consumption of ice cream and beer.

I miss the daily routine of the ride and only wish that I could have somehow been able to enjoyed the ride a bit longer.

I had the chance to ride with some old friends and meet and ride with some new friends. I hope to be able to share more rides in the future with my biking buddies.

I returned to JPL to find that the glow of the very successful landing by Curiosity permeated the lab. With everyone following the preparations for the ground operations very closely. With the successful landing, we had visits by government officials including the Governor, Jerry Brown, and US Senator, Dianne Feinstein. The president also held a video conference call with the lab.

I've uploaded all photos for each day now, but take a moment view some of the photos and links to other riders on the panel to the right.


Happy Trails,
Brian

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Week 3, Day 6 (Aug 18) Durham, NH to Gloucester, MA

Final day and then it’s over. Last night, about 3AM, I heard the rain hitting my tent, stop, then hit my tent about 60 seconds later, then the whole cycle repeated. It took me awhile, but I realized that it wasn't rain, but the lawn sprinklers!! Somehow even with the repeating noise I was able to fall back asleep.

The morning was overcast as I rolled up my tent and headed downtown to the University of New Hampshire cafeteria. That’s also where we had dinner last night as well. In the years since I went to college, cafeterias have changed!! The cafeteria is like a mall food court without the cash registers. As we were finishing breakfast, it started to drizzle outside. I tried to put off leaving as long as possible, but finally left as the drizzle slowed and stopped.

The ride was going to be only 62 miles today. Cycle America requested that we try to reach the Gloucester by 1PM or so. Once we all arrive at the Gloucester High School, all the riders are to head to the ocean en mass and all dunk our front tires into the Atlantic Ocean. As the Coast to Coast riders left Everett Washington 9 weeks ago, they dunked their rear tires in the Pacific Ocean and dunking the front tires will complete the ocean to ocean journey.

I had my eyes on the first stop of the day at the 15 mile mark. In the town of Exeter, NH there was a coffee house that was having a grand opening today. Would it be great if we could make their first day, a busy day?

Somewhere between the start and the coffee house I ran into Holly and Dennis. We all stopped at the D2 Coffee House a bit before 9 and were on the road before 9:30. Both the coffee and pastry were well worth the stop.

Before too long, we cross the state line into Massachusetts. We came into the picnic stop at 11 AM and had a bite to eat. I may not be remembering correctly, but I think that they were serving shrimp quesadillas.

It was just over 20 miles to Gloucester as we left the picnic stop. Just long enough to squeeze in on more stop. But before we made our stop, we had made a right hand turn onto a busy road, I think it was SR133, as shortly we were overtaken by a police escorted pack of women motorcyclists. I think that there was a vehicle with the name of the club on it, but I don’t remember it. I do remember cycle after cycle where either the cycle was pink, the rider wore pink or both. We managed to get our last stop in at Marty’s Donut Land. They were supposed to be closed, but hadn't lock the door when we entered. I didn't matter much, they still had coffee and home style donuts. It was real nice chatting with them, talking about where we were coming from and going to as well where we lived. Holly and Dennis from the San Luis Obispo area of California and me from the Pasadena area of California.

With only about 10 more miles to go, the rest of the ride went very quickly. Dropping down along the busy coastal roads with marinas, restaurants and wetlands lining the roads. We were met at the entrance to the high school with cheering spectators. We felt as if we had just won some race or something.

After the last of the riders arrived, we all headed to the ocean for the tire dunking and photos. It was a great way of wrapping up a trip.

Cycle America had also arranged for a evening harbor cruise for the group, so that we could all have a couple of drinks together a say our final goodbyes.


Friday, August 17, 2012

Week 3, Day 3 (Aug 17) Fryeburg, Maine to Durham, NH

At the Fryeburg Fair Grounds we had the chance to sleep inside on of the exhibition buildings. The building was large enough to set up my tent so that I could dry it out from getting wet in the rain last night.

We had our breakfast at the fair grounds at a place called Fandangles. Like all of the breakfasts on the trip, there was plenty of food, coffee and juice. The mileage was going to be on the high side today, 83 miles, when compared to the recent days, but the climbing was going to be minimal, less than 3000 feet.

Most everyone was out of Fandangles and on the road by 7AM, but Greg, Holly, Dennis and myself were lingering over some extra cups of coffee until 7:30.

I rolled out with Greg. Greg, like Holly and Dennis are from California and I haven’t really had the chance to ride with them before. Greg is a pretty fast rider and we must have been doing a pretty fast pace, because by 8:45 we had already traveled 20 miles. Wouldn’t you know it, there was a donut shop just over the bridge in Porter. The shop had some great donuts and pretty good coffee. We pushed off about 30 minutes or so later.

As you can tell by the photos below, the skies were clear and the temperature was just right for cycling, just on the cool side.

The picnic stop was at 46 miles and we rolled into it at about 11:45 and were out on the road again by 12:15.

The goal after lunch was the Lone Oak Ice Cream. We were warned not to order a large cone. I’m not so sure how big a large cone would have been, but a regular size was a triple dip cone.

After Lone Oak Ice Cream, the traffic started to really get busy. Remember the nice quite roads this morning? For the next 10 miles or so, the cars were zipping right past us at a pretty good rate. Cycle America does a great job of trying to find quite routes for us. About 10 miles from Durham, they found some nice side roads to get us to the destination.

We arrived at the Oyster River Middle School by 2:15. Plenty of time to put up the tent, take a shower and head into town to find a nice cold beer.




Thursday, August 16, 2012

Week 3, Day 3 (Aug 16) Littleton, NH to Fryeburg, Maine

As I when to sleep last night, it started to rain again. On this trip we've had several nights where it rained, but by the morning the rain had stopped. That’s what also occurred this morning. When I woke up, the rain had moved on and only the morning overcast had remained.

Headed out from breakfast about 7:30. there wasn't much climbing today, but there was a nice climb into the town of Bethlehem. We pretty much reached the top and found a golf course on the top.

The next couple of mile or so was a really nice downhill coast. As I was on the shoulder of the road flying down the hill, about 30 MPH or so, I heard a large truck approaching me at about 55 MPH off my left hand side. He wasn't giving me much room, maybe only 2 feet away as he passed. The issue with that is the draft of the truck was drawing me in closer as he passed. Had the truck been much longer, I might have been run over by his rear wheels. Though many drivers and truckers normally give us a wide berth, some other folks seem to intentionally try to see how close they can get to us.

By 9AM we had reached Mt Washington Inn, a historic grand hotel from an earlier era. We just had to stop for coffee. The lobby was huge as we walk in and we made our way one floor down to the pastry shop where I ordered up a latte and a muffin. As you can see in the photos below, we sat out on the veranda on the mountain facing side of the hotel and had some moments to relax.

As we were heading out, other cross-country riders were coming in. We directed them to the pastry shop and headed to the notch.

Crawford Notch was to be the highest point of the ride today. The reach the notch, it’s a bit over 10 mile incline. You could feel that we were climbing, but overall it wasn't a significant effort. The backside of the notch was a blast to ride as it stretched downhill for miles.

The picnic stop was in the parking lot of the Attitash Ski Resort. I had the chance to catch up with some friends from the 2002 Coast to Coast ride, Tom and Marianne. Tom and Marianne had met on the coast to coast ride in 2002 and have now settled in New Hampshire, only a couple of miles off the tour route.

After the picnic stop, I took a optional climb to Cathedral Ledge. I don’t know the altitude gain to the top, but it must have about a 1000 feet. I don’t know if I have ever biked up a road as steep as this one. I have a bike computer that measures the grade of the road. At times the grade was 23% and spiking to 28% on occasion. Though I dropped it into my lowest set of gears, twice I had to get off my bike and push it up the road.

The rest of the ride was uneventful, though I got caught in a shower before the end in a the Fryeburg fair grounds. I waited out the shower at the most natural place possible, a Dunkin’ Donuts, where I found several other riders keeping dry as well. When the showers past, we all heading to the end where we rolled in at about 2:30 having covered 68 miles.


Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Week 3, Day 3 (Aug 15) Stowe, VT to Littleton, NH

Woke up the the sound of rain last night. Two or three times I think. Before heading off to bed last night on of the riders had used her smart phone to check the weather map. It showed two large storm cells heading our direction with clearing weather trailing. I guess that the map was correct, because we woke to clearing skies with cool temperatures.

The breakfast was in town at the Green Mountain Inn. We left breakfast at 7:15 and hit the road. The cool air felt really refreshing and I pretty much scampered up most of the hills in front of me. Though the ride was going to be over 4000 feet for the day, most of the hills were of short enough duration that the climbing wasn't a big factor in the ride.

At 9AM I hit the 25 mile mark in the small town of Hardwick and stopped in a cafe for coffee and english muffins and was on the road again by 9:30.

Did I tell you that landscape was gorgeous? Big rolling hills covered with green trees so thick that it looked like green rolling carpet laid out in front of us.

I was moving pretty quickly today and hit the picnic stop (39 miles) at 10:30. the picnic spot was located on the shore of a lake called "Joe's Pond". Though blue sky was visible most of the day, there were times where rain threatened. At the 55 mile mark, shortly after passing under I-91, the road was soaking wet, but it wasn't raining any longer. I bet if I was just 15 minutes earlier, I would have been drenched. Then it was downhill across the Connecticut River into New Hampshire.

As I climbed up away from the river, I came across a grave yard. I spent 30 minutes or so, wondering around, reading about the deceased and enjoying the view of the valley. The military veterans were marked with flags and plaques indicating the wars that they had served. I found on from the war of 1812 and several from the Civil War.

I came cruising into Littleton and pulled into the Oasis bar where I found Greg, Dennis and Holly having burgers and beer. Heck, dinner was over 2 hours away and this would be just the snack to hold them over. Plus the Oasis had wireless internet. After I get to the high school and set up my tent I would return to upload my previous days trip blog and photos.




We're NASA and We Know It (Mars Curiosity)

I've been out of wireless contact for several days, but just stumbled across this video. Being part of JPL, I'm really proud of landing Curiosity on Mars.


Week 3, Day 2 (Aug 14) Burlington, VT to Stowe, VT

Week 3, Day 2 (Aug 14) Burlington, VT to Stowe, VT

With today being a short day, we didn't leave the cafeteria until after 8AM. No ferries to catch, no time constraints. Just riding through beautiful countryside. The one. We did have one roadside attraction today, Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream Factory. It was located shortly after the lunch stop at 36 miles into the ride.

I had heard of the grave yard of retired flavors and wanted to see that as well as the tour. The tour included a movie and a tasting and cost $4 per person. Once in town we found a coffee shop called, "The Black Cup". A nifty place that we found many other riders inside as well.

The dinner was a BBQ and tap house located a couple miles out of town. Great ribs, chicken and cake.

Happy Trails,

Brian



Monday, August 13, 2012

Week 3, Day 1 (Aug 13) Lake Placid, NY to Burlington, VT

Today and tomorrow are fairly short days, both under 50 miles.

Being a short day, breakfast wasn't served until 7AM instead of 6:30. I think that I didn't leave the Northwoods Inn until after 8AM. The only time constraint was the ferry schedule. In order to get into Burlington, we were to take the ferry across Lake Champlain. The ferry leaves Port Kent approximately every 90 minutes and I was aiming for the 12:10 departure. 40 miles in 4 hours, a piece of cake.

The day was overcast and by the 8 mile mark started to drizzle, so I had to stop and put on my jacket then proceeded on. At 13 miles I spied a cafe that we had stopped in on the 2002 ride (link) and pulled in to have a raspberry muffin and cup of coffee. Dennis and Holly were already inside. The waitress mentioned that she had seen the parade of bicycles going by and was curious about what we were doing. Like most people, she couldn't believe that we were biking the distance in one day never mind that we were going all the way to Boston.

I then jump back on the bike and sped on. With the new wheel on my bike, I was shifting up and down frequently trying to verify that the shifting mechanism was properly adjusted. The road was nicely rolling, a bit up and a bit down with the occasionally needing to shift to the lower gears to get over a hump.

The most dramatic scene was the Ausable Chasm, check my photo below. The river drops from rock ledge to rock ledge, flowing beneath the roadway bridge disappearing around a 90 degree bend of the river. Just breathtaking!!

The ferry was only 3 quick downhill miles to the lake. The ferry took close to an hour to reach Burlington and the remaining two miles were uphill to University of Vermont.

Happy Trails,

Brian




Sunday, August 12, 2012

Week 2, Rest Day

The ride is set up with 6 days of riding and 1 rest day. The rest day was today.

The rest day allows the staff to transport the riders leaving to the airport and also pick up new riders for the upcoming week. It also allows the continuing riders to get ready for the next week. For me, I had the chance to have breakfast with Jim, Lauri and Andy before Jim and Lauri left to return home.

I had a chance to do my laundry at the local laundromat. I also needed to pick up my bike from the shop. I was one happy guy riding my repaired bike back to the school. It should be all fixed now, but I'll give it a careful shakedown ride on the way to Burlington, VT tomorrow morning.

The ride is going to be fairly quick, only 42 miles long. Gee most days it's longer than that to the picnic stop. The ride is also mostly downhill with some modest climbs.

Happy Trails,

Brian

Week 2, Day 6 (Aug 11) Star Lake to Lake Placid

Fairly short day today, only 71 miles. However the day started off badly. The rear wheel of my bike had been acting up for the past couple of days and this morning, as we were leaving the school it completely failed. The diagnosis from Peter the mechanic was the wheel had just worn out and and sealed bearings were shot. So my bike was out of commission. One of the staff members, Olga, was not riding today since she was manning the picnic stop. Peter pulled out her bike from the trailer, swapped out the seat and replaced her petals with mine and we were ready to go. The wheel repair would have to wait until this evening at Lake Placid.

We finally rolled out of the school at 8:15 vs. our typical 7:30. We were kinda in a rush to get caught up with the group. The three of us, Jim, Lauri and me pushed it a bit on the hilly roads. We reached the water stop at 23 miles, finding Greg and Andrew waiting for us to pass so that they could pick up the water jugs. They let us know that the next rider in front of us was a couple of miles up the road, so we filled up quickly and were on our way.

I wanted to make it a fairly quick day so that I would have time to have my bike wheel taken care of once we arrived in Lake Placid.

We pulled into the picnic stop at 10:45 at mile 40. Lauri checked her cycle computer, we had averaged 17.1 MPH. For us, 17 MPH is flying. We normally average 15 or 16 MPH.

We were out of the stop in about 30 minutes and pushing on to Lake Placid. In a hurry or not, Jim had spied the town of Saranac Lake at the 60 mile mark, just 11 miles from the end. Saranac Lake is a mountain resort town and we found a cafe call "Blue Moon" where we and several other riders pulled in for coffee and pastries. One of the customers took our photo for the local paper. Maybe we'll be famous some day.

The final miles into Lake Placid were more climbing but thankfully went fairly quickly. We arrived at the Lake Placid High School at 2:45. Where I quickly put up the tent and showered. I then found my bike and swapped seats and petals with Olga's bike, putting her bike back into the configuration it was before I had ridden it.

Jim and I then walked my bike to the nearby bike shop to see if anything could be done to get my bike repaired. The bike mechanic came to the same conclusion that Peter had earlier in the morning, the wheel had just worn out and needed to be replaced. This bike shop had the Campy freewheel assembly that I needed but not a wheel. As second shop had the wheel but not the freewheel assembly. So after a couple phone calls, I bought the freewheel assembly at the first shop and then brought it to the second shop to have the two parts mated and assembled on to the bike. I'm lucky the Sunday (Aug 12) is a rest day because I'm scheduled to pick up the bike a 1PM, ready to ride out with the group Monday morning to Burlington Vt.

Happy Trails,

Brian


Saturday, August 11, 2012

Week 2, Day 5 (Aug 10) Watertown, NY to Star Lake

Last night I woke to the sound of rain hitting my tent. It was about midnight and only lasted 30 minutes. The morning was overcast with a 70% chance of rain. After a very filling breakfast, we were off, leaving about 7:30.

The routing of the ride was excellent riding quite back roads with rolling hills. The rain held off until the 8 mile mark where we pulled into a convenience store / gas station to put on our rain jackets and get plastic bags to protect our cell phones and cameras.

The route was often along Highway 3 today. Highway 3 had a wide paved shoulder that made it possible for 3 bikes to ride abreast. We started our 2 mile rotation, meaning that one bike would take the lead for 2 miles with the other 2 bikes trailing behind it, taking advantage of draft of the first bike. On 2 mile intervals, we would rotate counter-clockwise with the lead bike rotating to the rear and the second bike taking the lead. We rotate for two reasons; one, it's more efficient from the energy stand point and second, it make to ride a bit more interesting.

By 9 AM we had covered 21 miles. We had our eye on a suggested coffee spot called "Bear Claw Bakery and Cafe" in the town of Natural Bridge at the 25 mile mark. We hit the cafe in a light rain at 9:15. The small cafe was swarming with our cycling buddies, we took the last open table and ordered coffee at the counter. Sara, one of the other riders had ordered too many donuts at her table and offered us her extras. The cafe also had cinnamon buns that looked delicious as well. With it continuing to rain outside, we had a second cup of coffee, followed by more donuts. When we couldn't delay any longer, we reluctantly walked outside in the drizzling rain, got back on our bikes and headed to the picnic stop, only 10 miles further.

We took only 30 minutes for the picnic before heading out. By this time, it was pretty obvious that the rain was going to be with us all the way to Star Lake. The climbs to get to Star Lake were still ahead of us. At the 52 mile mark we turned on to Ridge Road. A series of stair-stepping climbs started immediately. Several times we saw the % grade to exceed 14-15%, which is pretty steep. Just when you got to the top of one climb, another appeared. This when on for 10 more miles to the end of the ride. When we were about 2 miles out, the rain started to come down in buckets, as if we weren't soaked enough already.

If the temperature had been cooler, it had been about 68 degrees all day, or if the rain was cold, then it could have been a dreadful day, but got in pretty early, 1:45. Showered up and headed to a nearby lounge for a couple of beer and to watch the Olympics. The US men basketball team were playing a semi-final game.

Tomorrow is a new day. The forecast if calling for more showers in the morning followed by clearing the the afternoon. The destination is Lake Placid.

Happy Trails,

Brian




Thursday, August 9, 2012

Week 2, Day 4 (Aug 9) Oswego, NY to Watertown, NY

The mileage for today was pretty short, only 68 miles. When they announced the short distance last night, everyone gave a short cheer. After a couple of longer days, it nice to have a day of less miles. As a result, Jim Lauri and me didn't leave the school until 7:30. I think that we were almost the last to leave. We just don't see the point of departing so soon when with there is no real good reason to get to the end and just hang out at the school.

We found a place for coffee a bit early today at the 21 mile mark at a small cafe called "The Breakfast House". It could have had more than 8 tables inside, but the coffee and pastries were well worth the stop. The remaining 18 miles to the picnic stop went pretty quickly and we arrived at 11:15 and we took our time eating and talking for an hour, finally leaving the lunch stop at 12:15.

We had gone only 15 minutes to Sacketts Harbor (the site of a battle during the war of 1812) when we spied some of our fellow riders at a coffee shop. With only 15 miles to the end of the ride, we had plenty of time to stop for a latte, so much time that we lingered over our coffee for an additional 45 minutes.

Finally we go back on the bikes and road another 10 miles where we found "Jodi's Dairy Bar". So of course we had to stop for an ice cream cone. For me, I had a rainbow sherbet cone.

Finally we got back on the bikes and headed into Watertown, arriving at 3PM.

Happy Biking,

Brian Cox


Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Week 2, Day 3 (Aug 8) Seneca Falls, NY to Oswego, NY

Week 2, Day 3 (Aug 8) Seneca Falls, NY to Oswego, NY

Today was shorter than the 90 plus mile distances of the past two days, only 77 miles, so we had some time to stop and play a bit.

Up to the 25 mile mark we had a bit of climbing to do. First part of the ride heading East, then turning and heading North.

In the town of Skaneatales (pronounced skinny atlas) we found a small bakery slight off the route where we stopped at 9:45. We must have been there for close to 45 minutes before we headed off again. The coffee shops have really been the last couple of days.

The lunch stop today was at the 48 mile mark. We arrived at 11:45. When we arrive at the lunch stop, we're required to cross off our names from the list of riders. We start so late and take so many breaks, that often we are close to the last to arrive. Today the stop was along the Erie canal, in the town of Baldwinsville near one of the canal locks.

The later part of the ride started to heat up and at that point the ride starts to drag on a bit. A water stop was at the 60 mile mark, just 17 more miles to the end. Then we road through the town of Fulton, making a number of twisty turns. On the far side of Fulton, a couple of garage mechanics directed us to an Ice Cream stop called; "Sweep Inspirations". A 50's themed ice cream stop. I ordered a regular size cone and got a triple scoop cone!!!

Following that stop, it was about a bit more than 10 miles to town, finally arriving at 3:15.

Happy Riding,

Brian




Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Week 2, Day 2 (Aug 7) Geneseo to Seneca Falls

Week 2, Day 2 (Aug 7) Geneseo to Seneca Falls

This morning we woke up to the chillest temperatures of the trip. Not too bad, but it made you want to put your jacket on at the start. The first turn of the ride brought us to the foot of a hill that seemed to go on forever, only getting steeper, at the top we were riding through the center of town.

The rest of the ride also had many steep additional climbs throughout the day. The views on the ride are impossible to describe. Thought the coast to coast riders have seen many breath taking views, the views today are of green rolling hills and farms dotting the landscape.

We had a pretty steep descent at the 20 mile mark and on the way down I could feel the bike feeling a bit squirrely, not tracking down the hill as it normally does. At the bottom I checked the rear tire and it was completely flat. If that had happened to the front tire, I could have been in real trouble.

We were able to find a coffee stop called "Debbie's Cafe" a bit off the route in the town of Wayland. The coffee was unlimited and the pastry was some of the best of the trip.

All the hills slowed our progress a bit and we didn't hit lunch a the 49 mile mark until 11:45. When we left the lunch stop at 12:30, it was up again as we had to climb one of the longest hills of the day. The bike's gears started to misbehave with the chain skipping and jumping around, but a couple of adjustments of the cable by Jim pretty much fixed the issue.

Our Ice Cream stop for the day was at the 69 mile mark at "Mr Twisty's". After we had floats and sundies we jumped back on the bikes for the remaining 25 miles to the end. We pulled into the school in Seneca Falls at 4:15. Enough time to get the tent up and showered before dinner at 5:30.


Happy Biking

Brian




Monday, August 6, 2012

Week 2, Day 1 (Aug 6) ; Niagara Falls to Geneseo, NY

My day started really early, 1AM to be exact. The MSL lander, Curiosity, was to plunge through the Mars atmosphere and land at 1:32 AM (10:32 Pacific Time). So I woke up a carted my computer to a hotel to access their WiFi to view the landing. It was really exciting to watch the landing perform so successfully.

To view the landing click on the following link: http://goo.gl/IxBLd

Most of the folks on the ride know that I work at JPL and have heard about Curiosity, so I was quizzed first thing in the morning about the status of the landing. I was really happy to report the success!!

Back to the Ride

Breakfast was down near Niagara Falls in a tower that overlooks the falls. From the 26th floor, the view was spectacular!!!

The ride was going to be a bit long today, over 90 miles and we were on our way by 7:30. The many turns and getting through American customs put us behind in miles. By 9AM we had only covered 15 miles. Typically 17 miles or more is considered minimum. We hit the lunch stop by noon and I think that we were likely to be one of the last ones to arrive.

Our goal for today is the SUNY campus at Geneseo, NY (http://www.geneseo.edu/). The campus is located high on a side of a hill with a view of the valley below. It looks like a nice place to study.

We came rolling in by 4PM and had to rush a bit to put up the tents and take showers.

I was also asked to do a quick 10 minute talk on Curiosity. If I had access to a projector, I could have shown a presentation that I have shown before to groups. But it worked out just fine and everyone seemed to express interest.

Well that all for now, Happy Biking,

Brian





Sunday, August 5, 2012

What's the story with all the Windmills???

As you may have been noticing in the photos; we've been biking through miles of windmills (wind Turbines). There were some windmills in Michigan, but since entering Canada, we have been biking through miles and miles of the slowly turning blades. I don't know the exact dimensions, but they look like the size of jet plane wings.

Canada has also has a lot of solar panels as well. It would be interesting to know what percentage of Ontario energy is generated from renewable sources.

Happy Trails,

Brian

Sunday; Aug 5th, rest day


I'm catching up on the blogs today and posting photos. It takes longer to upload a batch of photos and do some minor editing, so I need a good strong wireless connection. It may take a while longer to complete the task, but look forward to complete it. If you don't see the daily photos, I'm working on it.

This evening the new JPL Rover lands on Mars, 10:31PM PST or 1:31AM EST. I'll be doing a quick talk for the bikers this evening about the project. All of JPL is really excited to see this rover succeed.

My presentation is on line at: http://goo.gl/kzUaA

The talk also includes a information on the JUNO mission to Jupiter.

Happy Biking,

Brian

Week 1, Day 6 (Aug 4):

Today was a cruiser ride and final ride of the week. Many of the riders will be leaving after today's ride and new riders the new riders will join us. We'll miss many of our new biking buddies.

We departed from breakfast at about 7:30 following a filling breakfast of sausage, eggs and fruit. Much of the ride followed a road along the lake. We really enjoyed the ride as it twisted and turned along the water. Edgard and Mike joined our little group and we traded turns at the head of the line. I figure that we were traveling at 16-17 MPH. We hit the 22 mile water stop by 9AM, filled up with water then headed on looking for coffee.

Fourteen miles down the road we found what we were looking for in the town of Dunville. We stopped at Bakery / Coffee shop that was packed with the Saturday morning crowd. I some of use had the cranberry lemon muffins and Jim and Mike had the artery clogging Cheddar Butter Buns. Did I mention that Jim is a doctor?

A quick 12 miles further, we were at the lunch stop. I needed to change my rear inner tube, because of slow leak. As always, the lunch was just what we needed to keep going.

It was only 22 miles to the end of the ride, but the day was starting to heat up and the air was muggy. Often we were just covered drenching in sweat as we rode along. There really is something weird about us I'm sure.

We did have a goal in mind. In 2002, when we traveled coast to coast, we stumbled across a biker bar called "knuckleheads". We wanted to see if it still existed and have a cool one before riding the final 10 miles to the end. We found the bar. It's name had changed to "Tricky Mickey's" , but it was nice to get out of the out of the heat and enjoy a draft.

Happy Trails,

Brian

Distance: 71 miles
Time: 4 hours and 38 Minutes
513 miles since the beginning of the trip
867 feet climbed




Friday, August 3, 2012

Week 1, Day 5 (Aug 3):

Week 1, Day 4 (Aug 3):

Today is was pretty long, almost 100 miles. Got up at the new normal time of 5:30, dragging my self into the school to wash up and brush my teeth before packing up my sleeping bag and tent.

By the time we completed breakfast, we were ready to depart by 7:30. We had a pretty good pace going, by 9 AM we had already covered 24 miles and made a quick stop at the water stop at 25.5 miles.

Water Stops:

Cycle America sets up containers of water every 20-25 miles to keep us hydrated. Without a constant source of water we would have a really tough time on the ride. Sometimes I'll forget to drink enough water and then that evening I'll be taking a another drink of water every five minutes. In some cases, if you don't drink enough water, you won't be able to complete the ride.

Making pretty good time, we made it into lunch by 11:30 and were on the road again by 12:15.

The temperature was starting to rise as we we went along. We planned on an Ice Cream stop in the afternoon, but were not sure where we might find it. We thought that Port Royal might have something, but we blew right through without a store in sight. Fortunately the next town of Port Rowan was quite a resort town with an Ice Cream shop called "Twins". Within a couple of minute of us arriving, the many other riders also found the shop as well. I ordered a vanilla malt that went down pretty fast.

The rest ride consisted of several rolling hills as we would drop down to a stream then quickly climbed back up out of the trough.

Blueberries

About 3 miles from the end we eased back a bit. We were rolling through blueberry country and Lauri spotted a blueberry stand about .5 Km off the road. When the owner and his wife heard about our trip, They offered the pint for free and some blueberry muffins to boot!! Riding bikes allows you to make friends very quickly in a way that isn't possible if you are driving through by car.

We rolled into the Port Dover Composite School by 4:00, put up the tent, showered and headed off to dinner. Port Dover is a resort town and it was a short walk to the lake for drinks at the "Beach House" as the sun was setting over Lake Erie.

Ride Stats:

Distance: 97 miles
Time: 6 hours and 18 Minutes
598 miles since the beginning of the trip
1637 feet climbed




Thursday, August 2, 2012

Week 1, Day 4, Good Bye Michigan, Hello Canada

Week 1, Day 4, Good Bye Michigan, Hello Canada

This morning we left Memphis Michigan with our destination is scheduled to be West Lorne, Ontario Canada.

The day was fairly easy with only 84 miles with a water crossing from Michigan to Boston at Marine City.

We departed at 7:20, that is a bit early for us. We were heading toward the ferry at a pretty good rate, arriving at Marine City at 9AM covering 26 miles. Typically any day that we can put in more than 17 miles by 9AM is a pretty good rate.

We stopped in a cafe where we had cinnamon buns. Each bun was almost large enough to fill the entire 12 inch plate. Boy were they delicious!!!

The ferry ride was pretty quick, about 20 minutes waiting for the ferry and about 10 minutes to cross. On the Canadian side, we showed the customs official our passports and answered some quick questions then proceeded on.

The land was very much like Michigan with farms as far as we could see. The roads were mostly pretty good, with some rough patches occasionally. The nicest part was the tail wind that allowed us to make some good time. We reached the lunch stop by noon and was back on the road by 12:30. We were on the road for only 13 miles when we stopped for Root Beer floats. Oh soo good.

Not much more to say, except that we rolled into the school by 3PM. If you look at the photo from yesterday and today, you'll see barns, barns and more barns. I grew up in the city and never really saw barn much, but it seems really nifty to be passing them on this trip.

Happy Biking,

Brian


Ride Stats:

Distance: 84 miles
Time: 5 hours and 28 Minutes
348 miles since the beginning of the trip
585 feet climbed

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Week one, Day 3 Frankenmuth to Memphis, Mi

I'm writing this blog while in one of 2 bars in Memphis Michigan, Boomers. The place is packed with riders, and it's only 5PM. We'll be heading back to the school for dinner. The perhaps we'll be back after dinner as well.

The morning routine is up at 5:30, taking down the tent and loading it in the baggage trailer by 6:15 and heading to downtown Frankenmuth for breakfast at 6:30. Frankenmuth has two large restaurants, both famous for their chicken. We had dinner last night at the Frankenmuth Bavarian Inn and breakfast at the Zenders, both across the street from each other.

A Trifecta Day

It was then off for our 80 mile ride into the cool air. We were very fortunate today because most of the ride we had the wind assisting us and the ride was pretty flat. We hit the first water stop by 9AM that was at the 21 mile mark. Then it was on to getting some coffee in a small town at about 30 mile mark. Followed by lunch only 10 miles later. We lollygagged for almost an hour before heading out again. The end of the ride was only another 40 mile more and if we kept up the pace, we would be there by 2PM, waaaay tooo early to get in, so there was only one answer, Ice Cream!! We stopped in a town about 10 miles from the end at a place called "Mr. R's" and I had a vanilla malt. It tasted sooo good.

With the coffee, ice cream and the beer we hit the cycling trifecta!! Here is to more cycling trifectas!!



Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Week 1, Day 2 - Farwell to Frankenmuth

Day 2 - Farwell to Frankenmuth

Last night, at 12:30, a thunderstorm came blasting through the group. For those of us who were outside in our tents, the rain came first, hitting our tents like small BBs followed by flashes of light then the booms of thunder. At times the storm was directly overhead. There wasn't much that you could do except wait for the storm to pass, then after about 30 minutes the worst of the storm was beyond us and I was able to get back to sleep.

By the time we woke up, the ground and tents were soaking wet but the skies were slowly clearing.

Today is a shorted day than the first day, 82 miles. We were on the road slightly after 7:30 carefully following the routing directions as we went. We continued on the bike path that were arrived on yesterday and except for some minor detours stayed on the bike path for 40 miles. Jim, Lauri and I were determined to find a coffee stop today. We pull off in the town of Sanford where we found a very nice coffee shop call Lanny's, We were planning on having simply coffee but were talked into toasted cinnamon buns with frosting. I guess we finally left in 45 minutes or so.

We got back on the bike path and stayed on it to the 40 mile mark, where it ended. The it was on some quite city streets until the lunch stop at 43 miles. After a quick fuel up we were on our way, Less than 40 miles to Frankenmuth.

The remainder of the trip was primarily south through farm lands. The roads were very quite crossing railroad tracks occasionally. Being farm roads, the surfaces varied from OK to pretty rough, but overall was a nice scenic ride.

As we got closer, we started to discuss Ice Cream and decided to get Ice Cream in Frankenmuth even before setting up the tents. We arrived at the Middle School pretty early (2:20), signed in and headed down town for some quick scoops. before heading back to set up the tents and taking a shower.

All in all, a very nice day.

The stats for the day:

Miles: 82 miles


Happy Biking,

Brian Cox

Monday, July 30, 2012

The first day...

Great first day,

94 miles, 2000 foot climb. A great day for a ride.

Got up early, 5:30 to wash up, pack the sleeping bag an taking down the tent so that it could be loading into the baggage trailer by 6:15, then off to breakfast by 6:00 and on the road by 7:30. The temperature was a wonderful 70 degrees F, perfect for a bike ride.

The sky was overcast and just a bit threatening but within an hour or so, became blue sky with some wispy clouds.

It was Jim and Lauri Young and my self and we were making pretty good time, by 9AM we had already traveled 20 miles. We blew into lunch at the at the 42 mile mark by 10:30.

The lunch was at a very pretty lake that we may have lollygagged a bit longer that we should have. After lunch we continued East spend several miles on route 10 that's a pretty busy state road. At the 58 mile mark, we entered into a bike path that took us all the way to Farwell. The trail was straight and flat, since it was built on the right of way of an old railroad line. Imagine 40 miles of bike trail without stop lights or car traffic. We did stop at Evart, a small town, for ice cream at a soft-serve.

Back on the trail it was only another 20 miles to go. The flat pavement made the ride pretty fast, but we were all ready for the end of the ride. We rolled into the Farwell High School by 3PM. I quickly popped up the tent as was in the showers by 3:20.

Tomorrow promises to be a nice ride as well.

Brian





Sunday night, close to 10PM and it's just a bit past twilight here in Michigan. Long story short, my bags arrived on the 12:30 flight from Dallas to Grand Rapids. I met up with the Cycle America Group and all is well.

The tent is up, the bike assembled and breakfast is from 6:30 to 7:30 in the morning!! Yikes, that's a early start and I'm still on west-coast time, so it's time for me to brush my teeth and head off to the sleeping bag. The day will be a pretty long day, 94 miles or so.


Sunday, July 29, 2012

Ya gotta remain flexable

The plane was late leaving LA. The problem was with the lavatory in the rear of the plane. I guess we must of departed almost 45 minutes late. By the time we touched down in Dallas, for my connecting flight to Grand Rapids, it was already boarding time for the connecting flight.

Sprinting down the terminal and jumping on to the tram to get me to the correct terminal I got to the plane just in time before the door closed. It would have been a miracle if my bags and bike made the connection. At the baggage claim I found that they did not.

The guess is that they will arrive on the 12:30 flight. I plan on picking them up there and then Cycle America will pick me up at the airport. I can only hope that it works out, it would be a bummer not to have my bike at the start of the ride. But as I've found out from previous trips, you gotta remain flexible!!!


Saturday, July 28, 2012

The Trip Begins...

I'm sitting at the airport (LAX), boarding will be in 55 minutes. The preparations for the trip are now complete and my bags and bike needs to meet me in Grand Rapid Michigan at midnight tonight.

Since the first of the year, I've put in over 2000 miles on the bike. About 40 % of the miles have be done while commuting to work, about 10 miles each way and the remaining miles have been weekend rides. I guess I could have trained harder, but I expect that it will all work out in the end.

The two weeks prior to my departure became a bit crazy. My refrigerator had unexpectantly stopped working, it must have been more that 25 years old, so I guess it's time had come. Many hours then were spent researching different styles, manufactures and dealers. Being an engineer, it wasn't until I had created a spreadsheet comparing efficiency, volume and price did I make up my mind. When I went to purchase it, told me that it was out of stock. So for the last week I've been without a frig, but don't worry, they should have it stock by the time I get home from this trip.

I also pulled out my camping equipment, this trip we'll be staying in tents. I decided that my 10 year old tent needed to be replaced as well as the sleeping mat. If you ever have been to REI, you know that it's impossible to not come out with more equipment that you had planned on buying.

Two days ago, I started to assemble everything I needed in one place just so I could figure out what else was worn out or missing. I took my last ride yesterday with the Rideon Cycling group just to get some last miles before the trip. Then it was time take the bike apart and pack in the cardboard box. One or two more errands needed to be run, plus a couple of loads of laundry needed to be done. But by late evening I was pretty much done packing, except for some minor items that could left to the morning.

There is always a bit of tension before a trip like this. I find it difficult to relax until the aircraft doors finally close. After that happens, if you forgot something or made some kind of error, there is nothing that can be done about it. Long as you have your credit card, all can be fixed.

My plane flies to Dallas then I get a connecting flight to Grand Rapids, Michigan, arriving about midnight. Cycle America (the tour company) picks me up at the Comfort Inn at 1:30 tomorrow afternoon and drives me and the rest of the weekly riders to the ride start in Luddington Michigan. Ride check-in, dinner and ride briefing will follow.


The plane boarding:

I was just standing by the window as saw them load my bike into the plane. I just hope that the bike makes the transfer in Dallas with me. It would be a bummer to get to the start of the ride and not have a bike to ride.

I just can't wait to start the ride Monday.

Brian

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Southern California is a great place to ride


By this time next week, I'll be in Michigan preparing to start the ride. But between now an then I'll still be putting in additional training miles.

One of my training rides took me past an industrial park in Duarte. One of my biking friends, Tom Estabrook told me about a car museum in the industrial park. Turns out that the museum is located in the corporate headquarters of the Justice Brothers Co. They make chemicals for cars and industrial uses. The brothers that founded the company were involved in post World War II racing scene and have a wonderful story (link).

The museum was filled with midget racing cars, motorcycles, dragsters and antique cars. below are some photos.






  

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Tour de Starbucks

Last Friday Starbucks was having a promotion to introduce their new drink called "Refreshers". Between noon and 3PM they were handing out free drinks. On alternating Fridays I ride with the Ride On Cycling group in Monrovia. We completed the ride by 11AM and I continued on to a car museum that I had heard of, more of that stop in a later post.

By noontime I was about 12 miles from home with about 6 Starbucks between where I was and home. I decided to stop at each Starbucks and sample the new beverage. But by the fifth and stop, my stomach was sloshing with way too much of the stuff. Maybe it was the Green Coffee Extract, but I was pretty buzzed. Free or not, I decided to skip the final and sixth Starbucks and head home.




Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Links to the tours, 3 weeks

7/29 - 8/4: Thundering Falls - Michigan & Ontario - http://cycleamerica.com/cc7-thunder.htm
8/5 - 8/11: Empire Strikes Back - New York - http://cycleamerica.com/cc8-empire.htm
8/12 - 8/18: History Maker - New England - http://cycleamerica.com/cc9-history.htm