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Andy just sent me the photos from our weekend in Avalon – I think Mac took these?  Thanks, Mac!

 

Uncle Lee with a K, Andy, and part of ken... outside the ice cream shop.

Uncle Lee with a K, Andy, and part of ken... outside the ice cream shop.

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heading to the beach

heading to the beach

 

such an awesome moment.  we conquered!

such an awesome moment. we conquered!

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I was writing someone about our trip yesterday and was going back through the blog… I really miss exploring a new place every day and riding so many miles all the time.  I just rode from Atlantic City to Avalon this morning… a whopping 26 miles.  Still loads of fun, though – especially with the wind at my back.

These photographs were taken by Edwin Jimenez.  He is another awesome photography friend of ours  - you can check out his work here.

 

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Our friend Halston Bruce took these before and after shots for us.  Thanks again, Halston!

 

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Before and After headshots coming soon…

Check out this video from our friend Trudy.

 

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This might be a little bit of a late notice, but our great friend Trudy, the brain behind the moniker acronym of “Team QAK” is having a welcome back party for us tonight at her apartment in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. If you’re in the city and haven’t already gotten the email from her or from one of us and you want to come welcome us back, we want to see you.

And now that I’m finally back in front of a fast computer with photoshop all day long, I’ve been able to stitch together the panoramic photos I’ve been taking during the trip. Another great friend, Halston, loaned me her Canon G10, which is a fantastic camera that I wish I didn’t have to give back. It’s got a spiffy function that makes taking panoramic photos like this somewhat easier. You can click on them to view a larger image. They’re also up on my flickr account.


This was the Columbia River Gorge in Oregon, on the very first day of our trip. Looking at these photos again reminded me that I’d almost forgotten how many beautiful things we passed by and how long ago it really was.


This was between Malta, Idaho and Snowville, Utah. Flat.


On the way up & over the Rocky Mountains.


At the top of Logan Pass, where we crossed the Rocky Mountains. It was one of the most spectacular views of our trip, and it was absolutely freezing up there. The couple to the right side of the photo was huddled beneath a blanket.


Bear Lake, from the bottom. It’s the lake you can see in the photo above, from the top of the mountain.


The Needles, one of many things from our favorite state, South Dakota.


The Badlands. Also in South Dakota.

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These are photos from our ferry ride into the city.  It was a perfect day and a nice windy ride home.  

Our first stop was Trackstar, our local bike shop where Andy works and then we went to Neighburrito and were treated to a fantastic lunch!  Then we hugged and went our separate ways.  

I met my brother and his girlfriend, Bri at my favorite local cafe, Southside Coffee where their daily sign read: 

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It was awesome!  (they didnt know my last name other than the sham part… so a scribble worked great) They even gave me free coffee!!  …and then went to my bri and brother’s place to take a shower and relax.  I had sublet my apartment until August 1st, so i’m still sleeping on a floor for the next couple of weeks.  Bri and Jarrett had organized a small dinner with a couple of my friends and after rushing to take a shower before heading to the restaurant.. i walked out of the bathroom and there was my MOM!!  She drove up from Stamford, CT to join us (and treat us) for dinner.  Thanks again, mom.  What a great surprise!

Today I went through boxes to find some clothes to wear and i’m sitting in Southside Coffee on my laptop looking for jobs.  If you know of any great outdoor jobs in NYC or 30-40 miles away, please let me know.  I’m hoping for a long bikeable commute at least a few days a week so that I can stay in shape.

Thank you again to everyone for your support and generosity!

We’re home!  i’m writing this from the computer at Trackstar.

We’ll write more and post photos soon…. but WE’RE HOME!!!!!!!

WOOOOOO HOOOOOO!!!!!!!

4, 404 MILES

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It has been a perfect weekend in Avalon.  The weather couldnt have been better – okay, maybe a little less wind..but it was fantastic.

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My two youngest sisters are living and working in Avalon this summer.  Our first stop apon arrival was for Ice Cream – this is my youngest sister Rory at the ice cream/candy shop where she works. 

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Later that day we went and visted my other sister Wesley, who works at the pizza shop down the street. 

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The ice cream shop has a 10 scoop ice cream challenge where you eat 10 scoops of ice cream and try to beat the times of the winners.  You can choose any flavors you want and its covered in whipped cream and a cherry.   those are cups of warm water to help with the brain freeze. The guys both beat the winning time by a minute!  Jarrett came in with 4 minutes 3 seconds and Andy with 4 minutes 15 seconds.  and then, when it was all over – they ordered more ice cream!  they said they couldnt actually taste the ten scoops as they were just shoveling them into their mouths, so they felt they needed to eat a couple more scoops in order to enjoy the taste.  the owner said that it was the first time anyone has ordered ice cream after eating 10 scoops of it! 

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The guys had never really surfed before, so I tried to give them some basic instruction and send them into the ocean.  My dad is a big surfer and I tried it for a while when i was younger… I helped as much as I could from the shore.  Not the best waves for surfing, but they did really well for their first time.

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They finally decided they had enough and just jumped in the ocean.  It was a really beautiful evening.p1040167

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Between Waynesboro & Easton are several Pennsylvania locales I’ve heard a lot about but never really been to. Lancaster, for instance, is supposed to be the Amish capital of the world (even though the largest population of them is in Ohio). We didn’t come across any Amish until we were near Kutztown.

a bit blurry, but there's an amish girl back there who rode with us for about a mile near Kutztown. She was on a comfort bike with Time Trial bars

a bit blurry, but there's an amish girl back there who rode with us for about a mile near Kutztown

We did hit up the recommended “Lancaster Dispensary” where the bartender played Yankee Hotel Foxtrot in it’s entirety, making us nostalgic for our iPods, and the waitress invited us to pitch our tent in the sprawling 1/4 acre backyard of her historical landmark home.

This backyard extends all the way to the next street over. It's HUGE!

This Lancaster back yard extends all the way to the next street over. It's HUGE!

Out of place “on the wrong side of the tracks” next to tenement-style brick buildings, Susannah’s wood sided 1.5 floor bungalow’s property extends way back until the next block. As sleep crept closer, the arbitrary outbursts of her neighbors became less & less startling, and we slept like babies.

The next day, we stopped in Reading, where I’ve only been once before to buy some unstylish stonewashed jeans from the city’s famed discount outlet stores when I was a teenager. From there, I called Mike Fegley at the Allentown Brew Works to tell him I was going to be there in a matter of hours to say “hi”.

Allentown, Bethlehem & Easton make up the third largest metropolitan area in Pennsylvania behind Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. The Billy Joel song is about that Allentown, but it was based more on Bethlehem, where the factories were being torn down and have recently been turned into sprawling casinos. Easton is famous for Crayola Crayons, Larry Holmes (who beat Muhammad Ali back in the early 80′s), and being the second place that the Declaration of Independence was read publicly.

Allentown doesn’t have all that much going for it, and Mike was disappointed in his attempts to attract the Bicycling Hall of Fame to the unused storefronts across from his brewery. Still, in spite of the perceived disinterest express from his community, we boldly encouraged him to continue the Tour De Brew – the only USCF sanctioned event that goes THROUGH an occupied building before continuing on to the streets. A while ago, I had screened a youtube video he had cobbled together of the race after my Mom had saved a clipping from the Morning Call to show me last Christmas. It’s open to amateurs, and if he does this event again (which runs concurrently with a beer fest), I’ve promised to come & drag some New Yorkers with me.

I was going to lead twoarmparty into Easton by the Lehigh River Canal bike path, but we were already a few beers deep and on the last 20 miles of an 85+ mile day, so I skipped the scenic & went for the direct, which brought us past two Blockbusters I used to work at, my High School & Middle School, a Laneco I got caught shoplifting at, the Dixie Cup factory, and some of the less lovely parts of downtown Easton. Then we rolled up on Pearly Baker’s where my Dad was waiting for us with several empty seabreezes in front of him. Apparently he thought we might get there quicker. Family & friends rolled up and we had a great time beginning a relaxing day in Easton. Quinn did a great job recapping that in the last post.

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Someone else’s photo of the bridge we illegally rode over. There was no other way! The best part was how I got a flat tire at the very base, by running over a drainage grate. There are few things in life I’m afraid of. I am, afterall, fearless. But of those few things (Tornadoes, opening car doors, wet metal construction plates, and expansion joints on bridges), I pretty much ran into two of them crossing this bridge, because having a flat tire makes you just about as stable as riding over a wet metal plate. And yes, as Quinn mentioned, we stopped on the other side of the bridge to take that Jersey State sign photo (impressive sign, New Jersey!) and fix my flat. That took a good 15 minutes, and nobody did anything about it. So the moral of the story is IGNORE THE LAWS, KIDS! I wish I had known this when we were at the Crayola Factory the day before….

Instead of heading south from Pittsburgh straight to the jersey shore, we went the QAK way and headed north for a bit up to see Ken’s family in Easton Pennsylvania.  After many exhausting, but beautiful days of climbing, it was nice to ride through the still scenic, less steep, hilly PA.  On our way to Easton, we stopped in Allentown to have a beer with the head of Marketing at the Allentown Brew works, Mike Fegley.  Mike has put on a criterium through the pub for the past couple years.  A criterium, if you dont know, is a loop of some kind that the racers go around a number of times (20ish usually) and its all very technical.  I personally like these races, but i’d like them a lot more if they all went through pubs like Mike’s race.  We all encouraged him to continue this, in hopes of participating some time soon.  

Also, Andy’s dad Mac has been trying to meet up with us somewhere along the way, and finally we were all in the right place at the right time.  Well, Mac drove 10 hours to be in this place, so..that’s not exactly true.  Mac met us at the Allentown Brew Works, had a beer and got directions from Ken to Easton.  We all met in easton at yes, another bar… where Ken’s dad was sitting waiting for us.  It was a great little Stanek/Knepshield get together.  Ken’s mom and an old friend of Ken’s all joined us for more drinks and a nice dinner.  

So, I feel like i’ve learned a lot on this trip, about loads of things – including ken and andy.  but, seeing them with their fathers and talking with Don, Patti and Mac a bit more about their perspective on our experiences and such.. well, i learned a lot more.  We stayed with Ken’s mom, Patti and she made us an incredible breakfast in the morning.  Ken’s parents both had to work, so Mac took us around all day to see the sights in Easton.  We saw the Crayola Factory and learned that you’re not supposed to go in there unless you’re 6yrs old or have a 6yrd old, but it was still fun.  Then to counteract this, we went to the Yuengling Brewery in Pottsville and drank and learned about beer.  It is the oldest privately owned brewery in the country.  Then we all went to Don’s house for a lovely dinner and grappa tasting.  Have you had Grappa?  No… well, its an experience, that’s for sure!

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The next day we had coffee with Mac and got back on the road.  Thank you for everything, Mac, Don and Patti!!

In easton, we were only about 75 miles from home sweet home, but none of us wanted to go back to the city without a nice weekend on the jersey shore…so we headed south.  The ride along the delaware river was beautiful and we stopped at Ken’s friend’s place on the way for a delicious, very filling lunch. Ken’s friend John really wanted us to stay with him, and if were weren’t so determined to get to the beach, it would have been a perfect place to stay!  We continued on to the Burlington-Bristol bridge into NJ… no bicycles aloud..  that didn’t stop us.  Nor did it stop ken who got a flat tire the moment we started sprinting over the bridge.  We gave the bridge guards/police plenty of time to ticket us, becuase as at the bottom of the bridge was the welcome to NJ sign and ken sat there and changed his flat.. so it couldnt have been too big a deal for us to cross there.  We rode a few miles further into Mt. Holly (no, not a mountain, there is a hill that goes up about 4 feet, thats about it) and found a bar to sit and have a beer.  At the bar, I asked our bartender if he had any idea where we could camp… anywhere at all, even behind a gas station would do.  We were tired and this town was not one that would have camping.  Well this guy, James Diamond, generously offered his backyard and boy were we thrilled.  He still had to work, but we went to his house and knocked on the door to meet his parents Carolle and Joseph Diamond – they gave us a very warm welcome.  Insisted that we come inside, offered the shower and opened up their house to us.  We set up our tent inside and when i came in to say thank you and use the bathroom, they explained that they had to be at work at 6am, but they would leave coffee and breakfast for us and please do not go out and spend money.  Geees, so nice!!!  We woke up, drank a pot of coffee, cooked some eggs, cleaned up and got back on the road.  Thank you so much, Diamond Family.  It is so nice to experience such generosity on the east coast.

We were all anxious to get to Avalon and so we made great time, even into a pretty strong headwind.  I grew up in Syracuse, NY but have been spending my summers in Avalon since I can remember.  After a few years of renting, my parents bought a perfect little house near the beach and we have been coming here since.  My brother and I have lived here together over past summers and this year, my two youngest sisters live and work in Avalon.  So when we arrived at 1:30 in the afternoon, we went straight to my sisters ice cream/candy store to say hi and of course, eat ice cream and candy.  As we’re standing there talking to my youngest sister, Rory, Andy gets a call from his dad saying that he and his Uncle Lee are 4 blocks down the street!!  What an awesome surprise.. they met us in Avalon and thankfully took photos when the three of us ran down to the ocean and jumped into the water (in full cycling gear).  It was the greatest moment.  Felt soo good to jump in the water and to know that we have officially made it to the other side of the country!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Another 150 miles to brooklyn, but that’s just some extra… ‘cus we MADE IT!

The rest of the evening was spent drinking beer on my porch with Mac and Lee and my two sisters.  Umm, my sisters were definitely not drinking because they are not 21!  And we ate another incredible, grilled dinner made by Andy.

 

Thanks everybody!!  We’re going to relax in Avalon for the weekend and then head home.

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