Awesome People

We tried to enter our bikes under the category of “special interest” in the 4th of July car show in McConnellsburg, PA, figuring that we’d be a shoe-in for the top three spots, but the judges didn’t buy it.

bikes, cars, mountains

bikes, cars, mountains

Still, we got to browse the rows of beautiful cars we’d seen pass us all morning long on the way to Waynesboro, where we were going to stay at my friend Scott’s place. You may remember Scott from such previous posts as “Dang, I look good in a tux”.

This guy.

He’s on his honeymoon right now, but during his wedding last week, he gave me the keys to his house (with his new wife’s acknowledgement, I’ll have you know) so that we could crash, do laundry, watch fireworks, watch TV, and veg out along our way. The Buhrman’s also left a kitchen island full of snack food and Jim Beam which we blitzkrieged as soon as the door creaked open. Thanks again Scott & Liz. I hope we remembered to turn the toaster off. 🙂

Even when the weather doesn’t agree with us, it agrees with us. That’s what I was going to write about how the persistently poor Pennsylvania weather works in our favor when we’re pedaling up the biggest hills since the rockies, burning up inside, but cooled by the clouds and an intermittent sprinkle. The mountains out here have nothing on the Rockies. That’s also what I was going to write until we hit three big climbs in one day on the way to Waynesboro. 50 miles seems like a lot more when half of it is steeply uphill. Of course, the downhills are a blast, but like I said, sometimes the weather didn’t really agree with us.

On our first day of tackling Appalacia, a spritz here & there cooled us off. Then an extended shower kept extending until it poured on us during the entire climb over Laurel Pass into the Highlands. 2,600 feet in the sky is truly nothing for twoarmparty, but when you descend another 1,000 feet then go back up a few times, in the rain…that begins to suck.





So we stopped in Jennersville, a small town just past our first pass, and had some ice cream while we drip-dried. An older lady who we asked about camping said that her daughter was at Camp Sequanota up the street with her grandkids, and maybe we could set up under a pavilion there, or at least in an unused campsite. She made a few quick phone calls, and by the time Andy’s Sundae came out, we were hooked up with a place to pitch a tent at the camp, which happened to be a Lutheran summer camp. And this was family week.

We rode back up the road a bit to Camp Sequanota, and found our way to the main offices, where Linda, the woman’s daughter, came out to greet us and direct us where to go. Shortly afterwards, Pastor George came out, and as we all looked at the darkening skies above the mountains to our west, feeling mists of future downpours drift past our faces, our place to stay was negotiated. What was once a spot on the ground became a spot on the ground under a pavilion, then an unfinished, dusty cabin, then cabin six with twelve beds, electricity, and two bathrooms.


dang...i forgot to rotate this get the idea

dang...i forgot to rotate this get the idea

“Why don’t you join us for dinner,” Pastor George asked. Twoarmparty never turns down an act of generosity. So we walk into the dining hall where teenage counselors are frantically setting dozens of tables, families are chasing around kids who have fallen ill with cabin fever (it’s been raining all of family week), and the staff poured pitchers of Kool-Aid. We stood around a table with Linda, Pastor George, a counselor and another couple while a camp leader lead the room (with more people in it than the entire population of Philip, South Dakota) in the “Johnny Appleseed” grace. It involved lots of hand motions and gutteral sounds that none of us understood and seemed somewhat cultish. But that’s probably just because we’re heathens. Nonetheless, Andy and I had some Kool-Aid and came back later for the puppet show. It was a delightful reinterpretation of classic 50’s songs set in a diner, based on the gospel of Mark, chapters 4, 5, and 6. Even the 18 year old counselor with tattoos, piercings, and a torn Misfits shirt who Andy said “That was me, when I was at Bible Camp” was getting into it. Hanging out with the Lutheran Family camp in the Laurel Highlands of Pennsylvania was just like hanging out with the guys at Pactola lake, way back in the Black Hills of South Dakota, except this time, they were drunk on the love of God.

It has been a long time since we have had access to a computer and I rarely notice it when we do.  Usually it takes Ken to spot it.  Big surprise.  Nerd.  Anyway, here’s a re-cap of my week in Dayton…alone…just team A.  It was a long week and a half in Dayton, but it is still Dayton so here are just a few highlights.

In Indianapolis we had two options:  either take a rest day there and partake in Karen-oke on Tuesday night or not take a rest day and make it to Dayton by Wednesday night for karaoke at Blind Bob’s.  Of course, with my persuasion we opted for an early arrival in Dayton.  Ken performed his staple Brother Love’s Travelling Salvation Show, which brought the house down.  The only other act that came close was my good friend Jon Gassett’s rendition of Material Girl.  Both fabulous in their own respects.

The next night we grilled out on Emily’s back patio.  I made up some bleu cheese stuffed burgers, Nathan’s hot dogs, grilled corn on the cob, potato salad.  Delicious.  I regret not having my camera around but don’t mind being distracted by great company.

Friday night we went to see the Dayton Dragons play the Michigan minor league team.  Dayton blew it 0-6.

Saturday was Brett’s big day.  Again, thanks to EP maggie and emily we all looked pretty decent for the occassion.

Sunday afternoon was supposed to be spent bridge jumping in Pleasant Hill with Brett and the rest of the wedding party.  That didn’t happen.  Instead Emily, Noelle, Casey, Ken and I all went to Yellow Springs to swim at Glenn Helen National Park.  It was beautiful.  There are two waterfalls and one emptied out into a deep area that allows you to jump off the top of the waterfall.  Although, you have to shimmy up a fallen tree to get back to the top.

After the weekend I lost track of days.  It’s a miracle I remembered which day to leave for Columbus to meet back up with Ken and Quinn.  The rest of the trip was awesome, though.  We finally did end up going bridge jumping in Pleasant Hill.  That is where Eric grew up and bridge jumping is how he spent his childhood summers.  It was Eric, Maggie, Emily, Martin, Martin’s daughter Penelope, and myself.  The bridge is only about 15′ high but you have to go up to the roadway and make sure you don’t get seen by any passersby or they might call the police.  It’s not neccessarily legal.  There was also a swinging rope hanging from the bridge into the creek.  It was only about 5′ long but still fun nonetheless.  And just to ease the nerves of the parents, every year the kids move rocks to dam the creek to make it deep enough to jump in.  No worries.  There was also another waterfall further downstream we could stand under.  I never knew Ohio had such magical places.  Later that night I even experienced my first Drive-In movie.  We saw Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.  It was pretty entertaining and made me wish NYC had drive-in movies.  Or bike-in movies.

For me, this trip has been the first time I’ve met a lot of babies of friends and family.  In Milwaukee I met the adorable Mabel Steffeck, Roxanne’s daughter, and Miles Divozzo, my nephew, I also got to meet my other nephew Peyton Allen, my sister Rachel’s little girl.  To all the new (and experienced) mothers, your children are beautiful and I’m glad this trip has allowed me to meet them because who knows when I’ll get another chance.

One of the last nights I was in town my friend Eric Hoyer took me on a bike ride.  Just about the only time I used my legs while in Dayton.  There is a group ride every Thursday night around 10pm that he organizes.  In all about a dozen people, maybe a couple more, showed up.  We rode with the pack for a bit but then we broke off and he took me up into some of the only hills Dayton has to offer.  It was real fun and I’m glad he reminded me Dayton can be fun to ride around.  He was pretty upset that I wasn’t winded though, given his competitive nature.  But Hoyer, I’ve been doing this for 2.5 months now!  Don’t be mad.  When we were on our way back downtown the skies opened up and began to pour.  It was great!  Nothing I love more than sweet summertime rains.  That about does it for Dayton.  I thank the whole of Gem City for being so awesome.  Always a hole in my heart for ya.

In our idle hours over these past eleven days, I vowed not to let all of my 3,500+ miles of hard work come to naught as my body withered and weakened from disuse. An accumulated half-day’s worth of time at Dayton’s Pacchia cafe, shocking my muscles into jittery flexion from overdoses of caffiene was the first step. Thanks again to all the baristas and pastry chefs there who facilitated my fixation.

A second step was a return trip to the refreshingly bike-savvy town of Richmond, Indiana, our last stop before Dayton. My rainjacket had been misplaced at Chris Hardie’s place and seeing as there were six days to kill in the city where flight was born (the Wright Brothers began their aviation-destined entrepeneurial ventures with a bike shop in Dayton), I took off one morning on a 90-mile round trip to collect my coat. By 8:30 in the morning, I was on the road already once traveled, averaging a solid 22 miles per hour with a disparaging tailwind. Disparaging only because tailwinds work just one way. By 10:30 I had made it to Richmond in time to witness the celebratory parade in honor of their selection as an all-American city. Congratulations, Richmond! By 1:30, I was back in Dayton, 90 miles more not-atrophied, relishing in the celebratory accolades of the baristas & pastry chefs at Pacchia who thought I was nuts for riding so far by so early in the afternoon.

Later, Andy and Emily picked me up and we went hiking deep into the excruciating woods of Ohio to jump off waterfalls in Yellowsprings, kicking ferociously against the deadly undercurrent to reach salvation at the surface of the frigid waters below. Then we checked out a Birds of Prey sanctuary, where all these badass birds who’ve lost wings, legs or eyes are cared for. It was adorable and sad.

All of these activities were meticulously planned so that I could ride to Columbus in an indirect fashion along old railroad trails on a hot, humid day with headwinds. Furthermore, I logically started at noon so as to ensure I rode during the most oppressive parts of the day.

Twoarmparty was now officially split up. Quinn was in Syracuse, Andy was still in Dayton, and I was on my way to help one of my best friends get married in Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania. It wouldn’t be until Sunday (as I write this) that we’d be back together again.

During my flight to Philadelphia, I kicked the seat in front of me constantly for the entire duration of our 90-minute trip. It was ok because it wasn’t a very crowded flight. The people on the flight back to Columbus weren’t so lucky. Sorry about that, lady. Had to keep the legs in shape.

Once in the ill-nicknamed City of Brotherly Love (have you ever met many Philadelphians? They hate eachother. And everything) I demanded that Jon, my friend of 27 years, ferry me by motorcycle so that in my high-speed, two wheeled terror, I would try to crush his pelvis as I held on for deal life with my phenomenal thighs. Route 611 from his home in Furlong to the wedding in Stroudsburg was hilly, massively scenic, and full of blind curves Jon took at breakneck speed with me behind him. My legs were sore and his hips were so collapsed, he could barely dance. But not before we took our blushing groom-to-be out for a night on the town. Rampant chicanery ensued, I promise you that. Details will not be explained here. Let it be known that some members of the bridal party are not allowed in certain bars and may owe the city of Stroudsburg some money after the tickets are processed.

Getting back to dancing, it is now a well known fact that all Staneks love to dance and are great at it. Michelle (the little sister) has been a better dancer than you since she started studying at Miss Pat’s on Greenwood Avenue 20-mrrmmmphhh years ago. Patti (the mom) couldn’t be torn off the dance floor. Don (the dad) had hip replacements a few years ago which were apparently bionic. And I, of course, pledged to not stop shakin it all day and night long, singing “She’s a maniac” and running in place even when Scott (the groom) and I went hiking in Jacobsburg park three hours before his wedding. All of the following photos from the wedding are from my sister. Thanks, Michelle.

The groomsmen. From left: “Hutch”, Jon, “Silent” Ken (the best man), Scott (the groom), Joe, myself

OMG, I look good in a tux!

Me & Mom

The whole fam.

From left, Me, Jon, Scott, his bride Liz.

Through this intense, well planned training regimen, I feel quite ready (not to mention seriously anxious) to re-begin our trek tomorrow morning. It’ll be two long days to Pittsburgh, then some grueling days through Pennsylvania. Having flown over the state in less than a freakin’ hour, I’m psyched to do it the hard way, over the better part of a week. Easton, I’ll see you again just after the fourth of July!

Gary, Indiana was a horrible industrial pit of hell, but I do think its great that we went there right BEFORE Michael Jackson’s death.. because somehow it seems more meaningful (this is not to imply that I would ever go there again).

I’ve spent the morning watching Michael Jackson videos, some are very awesome and nostalgic (tho i think i was 3 or 4 when thriller came out) and some great but really creepy.  Like the one with the Marlon Brando cameo… one of the later videos i think, as Michael Jackson was in his really creepy looking faze, one of them.

Last night we watched Jackson’s body be transported from place to place – because there was nothing more important happening in the world.  CNN’s headlines were horrible and funny at the same time and all very abrupt with fewer commas than necessary.  MICHAEL JACKSON, KING OF POP DEAD.  Just doesnt read well.  Interesting how both Jackson and Fawcett had wayyyyy too much work done and went from very beautiful to disturbing and creepy.


farrah-fawcett-anal-cancer 51950045FB011_net

Oh and my mom’s neighbor’s cat died too.   Very sad, but way to make history!

Syracuse is great.  I road my moms craptastic bike over to my dads place yesterday in hopes to jump in the pool when i got there.  There are two hills on the way to my dads place, one is pretty big and steap, so i figured i’d get some excersize even tho my moms bike was too small and far from comfortable to ride.. but when i got there, my hopes of jumping in the pool dissapeared when the pool was green.  So i hung out with my sister for a bit and then planned to ride home.  but that’s when the major thunderstorm started.  whoops.  best not to ride in this and tho i dont mind the rain, the lighting was far too close for comfort.  so my mom came and got me. thanks mom!


that's Brett's dad in the middle..

that's Brett's dad in the middle..

Everyone riding to the reception

Everyone riding to the first party spot


the married mobile

the married mobile


Eric and Andy (andy rode Eric's BMX bike all day)

Eric and Andy (andy rode Eric's BMX bike all day)


after the wedding we went to this bar, then the reception, then eventually back to this bar.

all the single fellas

all the single fellas

It was a blast going to Brett and Janell’s wedding.  Congratulations!   Janell looked soooo beautiful.  Brett was very handsome – i love the beard.    It was really nice to get out of my one outfit and feel like a lady again.  We all made our way out to the dance floor at some point and showed off our moves, none of which compare to those of Brett’s dad.  He was amazing!!

During these next few days, team QAK splits up.  Andy’s hangin in Dayton, I’m flying to Syracuse to see my family, and ken’s headed to his home town to be in his friends wedding.  I was anxious to get to Syracuse so I scheduled an early monday morning flight.  This meant that i had to get up and ride to columbus today to catch my flight tomorrow.  Didnt actually get to sleep till 2, but felt good in the morning and was siked for my solo ride…and i made pretty good time considering there was no one to draft off of.  Got into Columbus at 3 and met Lee who rode with me back to his place.  Ken, Andy and I will meet at Lee’s place on the 28th and get back on the road the following morning. Hopefully our muscles won’t disappear in the meantime.

The ride to Columbus was much nicer than I expected – I had high expectations as there were bike trails the whole way, but it was really a beautiful ride… very quiet, with loads of wildflowers and wildlife.  And the bike trails took me all the way to London, about 25 miles outside of Columbus.  On my ride, I passed a friendly older couple that said hello and then caught up to me a bit later when i stopped to stretch and call my dad, HAPPY FATHER’S DAY!… well, i rode with them for a few minutes and told them about the trip and they insisted on taking me to lunch.  More amazing people.  Phillis and Bill Evans have toured all over the country and ride the Ohio bike trails frequently.  Thank you again!


Two awesome shirts found by Eric's talented girlfriend, MAGGIE. Dorothy, we thought of you when looking at the shirt andy's got on.


a bit confused.  trying to fix a hole in ken's pants - i went over and took care of it after laughing for a bit...  love this photo.

a bit confused. trying to fix a hole in ken's pants - when i saw the photo op, i couldn't stop laughing. Â i eventually tagged in and fixed the pants for them.

Getting all dolled up.   The bride on the left with Maggie to her right.

Getting all dolled up. The bride on the left with Maggie to her right.

Emily doing a beautiful job on Janell's hair.

Emily doing a beautiful job on Janell's hair.

A little tooo tight...

A little tooo tight...

We’re going to a wedding!

Dayum, do we clean up nicely.

Dayum, do we clean up nicely.

And the shoes! It's gotta be the shoes!

And the shoes! It's gotta be the shoes!

Quinn, getting all gussied up by a bridesmaid. The bride is in the photo, with her back to the camera.

Quinn, getting all gussied up by a bridesmaid. The bride is in the photo, with her back to the camera.

Brett Wayne Barker and Janell Kathleen Broering, congratulations!

It’s good to know we’re making progress towards the Atlantic Ocean once more. Indiana is a flat, mostly gridded state – at least in the North. We’ve heard that the Southern part of the state is far more hilly & scenic. Not as hilly as Kentucky, which we regretfully did not travel to, even though there’s an allegedly spectacular Creation Museum there. (They have Dinosaurs AND Jesus!) But hilly and much more worth seeing than the north. Even Torrey Dawley, our host in Indianapolis and an AIGA colleague of my sister’s (thanks, Chelle!) said that if our requests for interesting things to do in Northern Indiana pan out, we should let him know because he couldn’t think of anything. It’s a shame we didn’t get to spend a bit more time in Indianapolis, because good things have been said about their museum. And their bike path (the Monon Trail) really was great. Tuesday was a dismal day though, and touring a town of any size would’ve been something only the most hardiest of travelers would do. Twoarmparty, on the other hand, likes watching action flicks on their days off.

One thing we missed – or at least *I* missed – was Karaoke night. In Indy, we would’ve gone to Karenoke hosted by a lady named Karen who happened to be sitting immediately behind us at a local brewpub as I said something like “if there was a town called Karaoke, even if it was in Gary Indiana, I would move there and be mayor just so I could be the mayor of Karaoke.” Eavesdropping, she told us about her show, which was a bit of kismet because I had just stumbled across Karenoke on a quick Indianapolis Karaoke google search. Even though we’ve missed it, perhaps we’ll try to make it to one of her NYC performances of “Assholes & Aurioles” in late July as part of some kind of Manhattan Theater Festival. I have no idea what the show is about, but since that random information just fell in my lap, I might as well check it out. (there’s no website for their show).

After Indianapolis, we turned left and finally started heading directly east again towards Dayton Ohio, where we’re going to spend the next week or so. Prepare for excruciatingly bombastic and dramatic blog updates. There are weddings, amusement parks, barbecues, airplanes, rain days with DVDs, and big hills in our future. And there better be Karaoke too. I’ve been promised.

On our way to Dayton, we stopped in Richmond. Richmond Indiana, where we’re the proud first warmshowers guests of Chris Hardie ( ChrisHardie on Twitter). We got in before he got off work, stashed our bikes in his garage, and promptly took naps in his spacious home. His friends, avid cyclists who are very active in the well developed bike culture here in Richmond (bike maps AND bike polo! Again, Richmond INDIANA – not Virginia), cooked us a carb-happy vegetarian dinner as we watched their 16-month-old toss pasta everywhere.

Thank you to everyone out here, our last stop in Indiana. We’re leaving momentarily, and in the last 6 miles of your state, we expect to see a few more fireworks and antiques shops. That seems to be the thing to do out here…as if when people die anywhere on the east coast, all their old crap gets shipped to small towns in Eastern Indiana, and someone else tries to blow it all up. It seems like an incendiary combination….

Rest days seem to be our best friends right now. We took a long weekend in Milwaukee, even though it hurt Quinn and me, and wasn’t always that *restful*. Since Tuesday, we’ve been in Chicago. What day is it? Friday? Yeah. I guess it is. We’ve cranked out a stellar 100 miles over the past six days and spent most of yesterday watching movies or old Simpsons episodes.

Is twoarmparty slipping? Are we giving up? Balderdash! How could you possibly suggest we give up? After we’ve pulled off multiple back-to-back centuries, climbed the rockies, braved the perils of South Dakota, roughed it out in Iowa, and navigated the woody mazes of Wisconsin? It’s not US that gives up when we get to Chicago. It’s those OTHER friends of ours from last summer, and they started on the EAST coast. That’s the SHORT way to Chicago. We’re just hanging out. It’s been tough.

It’s also been inclement. It’s like April weather out here. Yesterday, we had to cancel the barbecue at Dumptruck’s place and go to the brand new Art Institute Modern Wing instead. Blech! Art! (It’s free on Thursdays & Fridays from 5-9!)

Dumptruck. This is the name he goes by. Image from Gus Legit.

This is a good time to give our thanks to Brean. Hey Brean, thanks. For letting us stay at your place for three nights, watch all your roommate’s DVDs while it rained, and meeting us in Kenosha to guide us into Chicago. We’ll never forget you. Come back to New York. Don’t just say it, do it finally. And good luck with the kids you’re coaching out at the track.

Goodbye, Chicago! Nice lake.

Goodbye, Chicago! Nice lake.

Oh wait! I totally forgot to explain why we’re wasting so much time. It’s because we’ve got time to waste. The next place we have to be is in Dayton, Ohio, and we need to be there by next Friday. It’s less than 300 miles away, and we can easily make it there by Tuesday. So instead of pushing boring, 30-mile days through cornfields and Gary, Indiana (which is not nearly as nice as the song from the Music Man leads one to believe), we figured we’d hang out in the windy city and visit our friends. So there you go. That’s why we’re here.

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