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The Route


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.

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

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.

we’re now over 4,000 miles.  wooo hooo!

Our brief venture into West Virginia included such hilights as ... lunch.

Our brief venture into West Virginia included such highlights as ... lunch.

Eastern Ohio eased us into the brutality that awaits us over the next few days into Pennsylvania. FYI, if you’re ever traveling out of Columbus to the East, route 40 in Ohio has a wide, paved shoulder that is OFFICIALLY a bike lane. Go Ohio! We also now know, thanks to Andy’s Uncle, Lee witha K, that route 40 is one of the oldest commissioned roads in the nation, surveyed on the east coast by none other than George Washington himself. So thanks for those bike lanes, George Washington. We can’t say as much for Pennsylvania so far, having already rolled over the hills of route 19 into Pittsburgh with no shoulders & heavy traffic. Ohio: 1, Pennsylvania: 0.

On the other hand, Pittsburgh, the City of Champions and the Pirates, had the Mattress Factory – a modern art museum, and we took some neat pictures in one of their installations.
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It is amusing to note here that there’s a pitch black exhibit in one of their rooms. Like, pitch black. Put your hands in front of your eyes, and you can’t tell the difference. Black black black. There’s a railing, some chairs, and some sort of big room, based on the way our voices echoed. When Andy leaned over the railing to try & figure out if there was anything out there, his passport & bundle of cash fell out of his shirt pocket and onto the floor which, by the sound of it, was well below our feet. Light never came on in that room.

Pittsburgh is where we managed to run into half of the riders from the Bicycle Film Festival 42Ride! Three of our friends from New York are on this northern half of their cross country tour, and it just so happened that they arrived in the Steel City earlier in the afternoon than we did. There’s a photo floating around in an iPhone somewhere between here and Indiana right now, and as soon as we get our hands on that, we’ll post it. It’s adorable. Swear to god. Ohio: 1, Pennsylvania: 2.

Now, we can’t forget that near the end of our journey through Ohio, we got some fantastic, unsolicited advice from a gas station patron at our final destination who had passed us twice during the day. “I hope you’re not taking route 40 tomorrow…it turns into an awful gravel road.” This was good advice, because we didn’t really know where we were going. At that point, route 40 and route 70 were the same, and route 70 is one of the most major interstates in the world. His advice took us along some well paved, quiet roads and back to route 40 once it was passable again. Also, this guy negotiated with the gas station owner so that we could camp on his property, as long as we kept out of sight. That gets at least 2 points. So, Ohio: 3, Pennsylvania: 2. This of course doesn’t take into account anything but the last few days of Ohio, so it’s a bit skewed.

Here’s a tip about cooking: we’re getting a bit more creative at it, after having eaten nothing but couscous while camping for a good month. This time, we got some elbow pasta, which cooks quickly, and a small jar of tomato paste. Toss the tomato paste into the water after the pasta is done and voila! Spaghetti Sauce! But wait, there’s more. Gas stations are full of ingredients you’d totally add to pasta sauce if you were making it from scratch. And I’m not talking Pop Tarts or potato chips. Beef Jerky. It’s good for a lot of things. Just look at the ingredients. If it’s got stuff you’d love in your spaghetti sauce, chop it up & toss it in while cooking.

I wanted to put up some photos, but figured I’d write a little too since Ken does most of the writing.  Andy and i are a little lazier about this, especially since ken really loves to do it and is a great writer.
Thanks again to Brean for letting us monopolize his apartment for several days in Chicago.  The guys did their own thing for a good part of it, and Brean was nice enough to show me around a bit… we went to see “The Bean”.  I’ve been to chicago twice before, but both times the bean was not yet there.  finally, i got to walk under this thing, and i didnt move because it was so weird and kinda creepy.p1030967

i'm waving!!!

i'm waving!!!

Brean also told me all about the architecture in Chicago and why its, generally, a lot nicer than  the most of the buildings in NYC.   Standing in Millennium park, it really was much classier than standing in Central Park.  and though i miss my friends and occasionally other parts of the big apple, i dont miss it much.

Day 2 in Chicago.. we watched movies ALLLL DAY!  Ben Schults on the left (one of Chicago's BEST polo players) and Brean on the right.

Day 2 in Chicago.. we watched movies ALLLL DAY! Ben Schults on the left (one of Chicago's BEST polo players) and Brean on the right.

So, as Ken said… last night we stayed on Bass Lake and it was way too expensive and completely packed.  I fear that we will find this more in our future.  Ugh.  Hopefully we can still find nice remote spots to camp where its quiet and the kids aren’t obnoxious and annoying.

BUT!! the lake WAS beautiful and it was really nice to sit and eat dinner on the beach.  We had a really incredible sunset.

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Today we rode to Kokomo…. thaaaaats where you wanna gooooo.    Well, along the way we went through beardstown.  As the guys have um, reallyy awesome beards now,  i thought it necessary to stop and take a photo.

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So, now i’m writing from a bar in Kokomo.  Yep, a bar.  Already drank 1/2 a bottle of vodka ON MY OWN.. and i toasted to you, mom!  Not really, but after a beer and not enough to eat, i can feel it – so, sorry if i sound ridiculous.

i’m excited to hang out in dayton, visit my family in syracuse and ride through pennsylvania.  because, even if PA is maddening to ride through, its gotta be a lot nicer than northern Indiana!

That’s right, we’re writing to you from the present again! No more one-hour time delay between our current events and you’re reading of them. As soon as we left Bass Lake, Indiana, where they charge you far too much to camp for a night and the little kids yell late, the dogs yip all the time, the Indianan’s wake up early and don’t bother keeping their voices low because, you know, someone might be sleeping in that tent over there, but hey, whatever, it IS Saturday night, the time leapt forward an hour.

So far, the present is a bit nicer than the past. It’s sunny, warm and Gary, Indiana is behind us. The roads mostly have a well paved shoulder, and the cornfields are uh…pretty, in their ubiquity.

Of course, if you’re reading this anywhere west of Indianapolis, we’re writing to you FROM THE FUTURE! I hope your internet connection is fast enough to download all of our photos. Not much has changed here in the future. I don’t know if you’ve got androids yet, but they still haven’t turned on humanity in general, and the alien spaceship hovering above earth continues to provide a limitless, clean energy source for 98% of the planet. Hope you’re all doing great. We’ll be in Indianapolis tomorrow night.

Michigan was only 10 miles away, and about 5 miles out of our way, so we figured we’d just go!

I stopped standing in holes, to make it look like I'm bigger than Quinn & Andy

I stopped standing in holes, to make it look like I'm bigger than Quinn & Andy

Harumph, Indiana.

Harumph, Indiana.

Then we turned back south into Indiana and promptly took a wrong turn, so we’ve gone close to 30 miles, but we’ve only advanced something like 12. Also, it’s raining and Indiana roads are terrible. We’re at a diner now, and they take American Express. Thanks, Dave.

It’s a good week to totally screw up. We’ve got plenty of time to kill.

I try to make it hard to daunt my positive outlook. In the most adverse of situations, I always know an end is imminent and this minor suffering will soon cease. Challenges are things to relish. When I absolutely must bear through an awful situation, I do it with the knowledge that this is something I know I can deal with, and can only be stronger because of. Having said that, I couldn’t wait to get the f*** out of Gary, Indiana. What a f***ing s***hole.

Every minute we spent trudging through the poisonous air of that town, I felt worse and worse about life in general. The overwhelming stench of industry permeated not just every gasp of air I sucked into my lungs, but tarnished my soul as well – nearly irrevocably blackening it to any positive account of my day and this trip.

Our past week in Madison, Milwaukee, and Chicago recharged our zest for the vibrancy of the city and reaquainted us with the connections of friends and family that make life worth living. This second half of our trip was rooted in a refreshed physical and mental state. We felt great. Gary, Indiana almost killed that.


Ron Howard as a little kid, you’re out of your mind.

That’s all I’ve got to say. For now.

chombo's luggage tag

chombo's luggage tag

no privacy in los marcostan

no privacy in los marcostan

Zack, Adam and Johnny won the most improved team award..and got some sweet wheels.

Zack, Adam and Johnny won the most improved team award..and got some sweet wheels.

The RVA polo guys.. (richmond, virginia)

The RVA polo guys.. (richmond, virginia)Â I love these guys!!

my awesome teammates and jill from madison, hiding from the photo

my awesome teammates and jill from madison, hiding from the photo

me and bro

me and bro

a solid weekend of laughing..  nearly peed my pants laughing a few times

a solid weekend of laughing.. nearly peed my pants laughing a few times

packing up the polo bikes and saying goodbye to our nyc friends.  sad to see them go.

packing up the polo bikes and saying goodbye to our nyc friends. sad to see them go.

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