Bike Across USA 2011

Addendum – Plastic SUCKS +Fun Trip Facts

I dedicated this ride across America to raising awareness about plastic bag and plastic bottle consumption and recycling.  In the next few months I will be creating a non profit organization called Bike Against Plastic                                         ( http://www.bikeagainstplastic.org).  The main goal of this organization will be to  raise awareness about the dangers of plastic pollution and to help organize and raise funds for plastic reduction/elimination programs at the local level. For all of my blog readers who think I am crazy and obsessed with eliminating plastic bottles and plastic bags from the American , I encourage you to read the following article from the latest issue of Rolling Stone magazine on the “plastic bag wars.”  It is so exciting to see this topic finally being addressed by the national media! The article can be found here: http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/the-plastic-bag-wars-20110725 You may also want to visit http://www.bagmonster.com for AMAZING plastic bag facts! Fun Facts from the Road: Total Days on the Road : 48 Total Miles Ridden:  3501 Total States (including Ontario, CA): 12 Widest State:  MT ( 630 miles – the 4th largest state in the US) Narrowest State: VT ( 80 miles) Total Miles Ridden By Biking Partners: Tyler:  399 Jessop: 2043 Jeff: 2183 Total Liters of Coke Consumed: 50-55 liters Total lbs of fried food Consumed: 20 lbs Total Plastic Bottles Used:  12 Total Flat Tires By Cindy: 5 Total Flat Tires by Jessop:  7 Total Flat Tires by Jeff: 1  

Bike Across USA 2011

Day 47- Day 48 I’m on a Mission to Maine

Day 47 – August 8.  Keene, NH -Manchester, NH 56 miles


Another day of hilly, rural riding on back roads through NH.  New Hampshire is just an extenuation of Vermont:  it is massively forested and as green as Vermont.  And like Vermont, it is filled with small towns that were settled before the American Revolution.  The highlight of the day was passing through a town that was settled in 1771 and was deemed to be the highest “village” in New England.  Unlike the rest of the country, New England is rich in “American” cultural history.  New Hampshire’s roads are horrible ( massive pot holes) but an absolutely spectacular place to ride!  Jeff’s sister drove up from Boston with her three kids to visit with us and that was such a special treat!  Always so wonderful to see her and my nieces and nephew.  Tomorrow we ride to Maine and finish the trip!  I can’t wait.

Day 48 – August 9.  Manchester, NH – Kinnery Point, ME ( Fort McClary State Park)   55 miles


Navigating out of the city of Manchester New Hampshire took over an hour and involved some pretty crazy urban riding ( riding on one way streets against traffic, running traffic lights, riding on roads with no shoulders, etc) but we eventually made it out and spent the next few hours riding north-east on hilly, rural roads to Maine.  We rode to the large town of Portsmouth, NH and then crossed a a very old fool bridge to enter Kittery, Maine ( the oldest settlement in Maine – settled 1690!).  After crossing the bridge we biked another 3 miles to the State Park where I was able to officially dip my feet in the Atlantic ocean.  Jeff ran into the state park ranger and told him about my journey and how I had started in Washington.  The ranger was so impressed he asked me for my autograph so that he could inspire his grand children to ride.  I felt like such the celebrity.  Jeff was so humble and for some reason did not mention that he had done at least 2000 of the miles with me.  Thank you Jeff for giving me the spotlight!  Please check my next blog for fun trip facts!

Bike Across USA 2011

Day 46 – Vermont – It Does Not Get Much Better Than This!

Day 46 – Bennigton, VT – Keene, NH  60 miles

There is nothing one can say about Vermont other than that it is spectacularly lush and absolutely beautiful.  In 2009, National Geographic Traveler rated Vermont as the most beautiful travel destination in the United States and ranked it 6th out of the top 133 travel destinations in the world! There is a reason for this. Vermont is literally jam packed with every tree imaginable and is in fact so lush that it truly resembles a rain forest.  Its small towns possess the same charm and architecture they had when they were constructed in the 1700’s and 1800’s.  These small towns are so popular that there is an organization/club called the Vermont 214 which provides a listing of ALL of the small towns in Vermont.  People come from all over the USA and the world just to see the towns published on the list that is provided by the club.  Vermont is simply spectacular.  We rode through southern Vermont today, the narrowest portion of the state. We spent the day climbing up and over the Green Mountain range and had to deal with at least 4-5 12% grades going both up and down.  I actually got up to 35 mph on two different occasions today.  This had not happened since I had ridden through the Cascades in Washington!  Needles to say, the ride was very strenuous.  We took a long lunch break on the top of a ridge known as Hogpot Point which overlooked Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Northern VT.for over 100 miles.    With 20 miles to go , we crossed into New Hampshire and then spent the next 18 miles dealing with more “mini” mountain climbing.  Although rain was in the forecast, the weather gods spared us from horrible weather and we were treated to glorious sunny skies and magnificent views.  Overall one of the best days of riding we have had in a long time.  One more day in NH and then one more day until we reach the Maine coast!  Yahoo!

Bike Across USA 2011

Day 43 – Day 45 – Goodbye NY – Hello Vermont!

Day 43- August 4. Rochester, NY to Syracuse, NY. 87 miles.


Spent a fantastic night at the Courtyard by Marriot in Rochester ( thank you Jeff for your points!) and started the day with clear skies and no rain!  We rode the Erie Canal Path until the town of Palmyra ( about 5 miles) and then had to exit the bike path once it turned into dirt.  The weather cleared up perfectly…low 70’s and not a cloud in the sky.  We followed a two lane highway called NY Route 5 which wrapped through endless small towns through the New York countryside.  This part of the state of New York is very rural and dotted with small farms and very small towns.  The unique thing about these towns is the fact that they are very old – like settled in 1750 old!  So as we rode through the small towns it was fun to read the plaques stating when the areas were settled.  Most of the towns also had very elaborate Baptist churches, some of which were the original structures from the mid 1700‘s!   At around mile 60 I noticed a clicking sound coming out of my tire.  Within minutes of noticing this sound my back tire was completely flat.  I large staple had actually punctured the side of the tire and had gone right through my supposedly tough Gatorskin tires. My 6th flat of the trip!  Continental Gatorskin tires SUCK!  I digress…We were riding along a small, quiet rural road when I got the flat and Jeff, who was oddly riding within earshot of me, told me to walk the bike up to a nearby mailbox where we could rest the bike and he could fix the flat.  The stretch of road that we were on was lined with small farms as well as small houses and mobile homes.  We both rested our bikes against the “rural” mailbox and,  within seconds, three small children emerged from their house/mobile home and ran across their front lawn screaming “Who are you?  We have a pump!“  The three children ( two boys and one girl ) ranged in age from 4-7 and the two boys were positively enthralled by our presence.  The mom ran out as soon as she heard the commotion and we were literally surrounded by this small family.  You would have thought a small UFO had landed on the lawn of this house the way the entire family came rushing out of the house to greet us at the mail box. The boys asked if we were “famous” and wanted to know if we had been in any movies.  Jeff showed the two little boys how to change a flat tire while I chatted with the mom about her miscarriage of two out of her three triplets ( an odd conversation to say the least). Within 15 minutes Jeff had fixed the flat and much to the dismay of Noah, the youngest of the boys, we were forced to continue our journey.  As we started to ride away, Noah and his sister ran down the street screaming, “Will you come back next summer?  When you come back we will take you to Duck lake so we can ride bikes together.”  It was priceless!.  We arrived in Northern Syracuse a few hours later and were lucky enough to use Jeff’s hotel points again to stay at a Holiday Inn Express When we arrived at the Holiday Inn, we were greeted by the maintenance man who was so amazed with our journey that he asked if he could take my picture.   Ate at the worst restaurant on the planet – Cracker Barrel.  Sad how on these trips one will eat virtually anything to stay alive!

Day 44-August 5th-Syracuse, NY to Fultonville, NY.  103 miles


No rain today and very hot and humid ( 90’s with 90% humidity).  Halfway into the ride we had to navigate  through the city of Utica NY.  This involved riding on “parkways” full of cars and with no shoulders.  Not fun!  After leaving Utica we once again rode on small rural roads filled with endless farms.  Unfortunately the flat roads have given way to massive hills and so we spent most of the day going up short, 10-12% grade hills ( steep) and then down again.  The hills were short but steep. Most of this region has been settled by Amish people so there are Amish carts and Amish families everywhere.  At one point I was actually passed by an Amish family in their buggy!  Around mile 80 I was tired and totally dehydrated. I was completely out of water, Jeff was at least half a mile in front of me and nowhere to be found, so I decided I would stop for a basket of peaches and hopefully a water re-fill at small Amish farm.  A young boy dressed in a straw hat and overalls greeted me at the fruit stand and graciously took my bottles to the house to refill them.  While he was in the house his little brother ( a small boy around 4 years of age)  ran out of the house and spent the next 5 minutes standing next to my bike and staring at me.  I honestly think he thought I was from Mars.  Four peaches later and with full water bottles I left my Amish “friends” with a new respect for these hard working families.  When we arrived at our small motel in Fultonville we were greeted by an older man who had ridden from Sacramento and was finishing his trip in Albany, NY.  The cool thing about this guy was that he was 66, had competed in 6 Ironmans, and was riding a new Specialized rode bike with aero bars that he had outfitted to put bags on his front handlebars and shoes on his front forks.  Unfortunately Jeff invited him to dinner and we learned there that he was a Born Again Christian and he spent the evening telling us how all non-Christians were going to hell.  His heart was in the right place but being preached to for an hour over dinner is really not my cup of tea.

Day 45-August 6th- Fultonville to Bennington, VT. 78 miles.

The day started with a knock on the door by Terrence, the 65 year old triathlete, saying goodbye and yelling we are always welcome at his place in Pittsburg, PA.  Unfortunately the day’s forecast called for a 90% chance of rain so we knew that it was going to be a wet day. By 11:15 am we were on our way. We meandered our way back to the Erie Canal trail and followed this for a few miles until it turned to gravel again. We then rode on a small, two lane highway until we reached the heavily populated city of Schenectady. Once there, we stopped for a sandwich in a small sub shop.  While there, we were joined by an eager new friend named Bump who told us that he biked across the country twice twenty years ago. If you saw Bump on the street you wouldn’t have guessed he had biked across the country two times, and was a bike enthusiast at one point in his life.  Bob was super nice, and had lots of stories, but had gained a lot of weight, so one would never think he was a biker.   Instead of following google maps, Jeff thought it would be a good idea to follow Bumps directions to our next destination of Bennington, VT. This was a bad idea! As we left Schenectady it began to rain quite heavily.  As any dedicated biker would do , we kep on riding and spent the next 45 miles riding in the rain. Unfortunately Bumps directions for the first 15 miles had us riding through very large suburbs of Schenectady and for over 1o miles we were riding on roads filled with strip malls filled with every store from Home depot to Target.  Because this was a Saturday, the roads were jammed with cars.  But worst of all, it was necessary for us to navigate through all of this chaos in the pouring rain. There is nothing more nerve racking than riding on a road with no shoulder in the rain with cars going by at 50 mph.  BAD NEWS! Both Jeff and were thankful that we made it through this stretch of the journey unscathed and both of us were a bit annoyed with his decision to trust Bump’s directions! Once we left the “urban scene” we were once again riding on very rural roads  lined with farms and lush forest. Unfortunately the hilly topography continued today and as a result the ride was very challenging.  We ended up arriving in Bennington Vermont just as it was getting dark ( around 8 pm).  Both Jeff and I were physically exhausted form the hill climbing and mentally exhausted from having to deal with “rain” riding.  Although the temps were in the mid 70’s, we were both soaking wet and cold but agreed that it was still better to ride in the rain than in the 115 degree heat we had experience a few weeks prior. More on Vermont in tomorrow’s post….

Bike Across USA 2011

Day 40 – Day 42 – Hello New York!

Day 40 – Aug 1. Dunnville, Canada – Clarence Center, NY  65 miles
Today we left lovely Canada and biked back into the lovely USA!  We spent the first half of our 65 miles traveling along the lake again.  It was very hot again but the wind was at our backs again so we biked fast.  I was on a mission to get back into the USA so that we could once again spurge on fountain drinks ( Canada did not have any mini marts with fountain drinks – all drinks were served in the bottle or can!)  As we rounded the eastern side of the lake, the city of Buffalo loomed in front of us.  We crossed over the massive Peace Bridge ( luckily there was a special foot bridge), spent a few minutes with a border control officer exchanging passports, and soon we were smack dab in the middle of Buffalo.  Unfortunately this was like being dropped in the middle of downtown Los Angeles.  From the bridge we had to navigate another 30 miles to the upper class superb of Clarence Center.  But to get there we basically had to navigate through the ghettos of Buffalo.  Not a good scene. We did not see one white person from the moment that we exited our border check to the time we landed in Clarence Center we did not see one white person.  We would later find out that the distribution of races and people across Buffalo is homogeneous.  Unlike large cities like New York, or Los Angeles where there is a large mixture of races and nationalities, the inner city of Buffalo is inhabited by black people only.  Unfortunately, 50% of all of the black males in Buffalo is out of work and 3 out of 4 middle school students in inner city Buffalo FAIL their state science and match exit exams in 8th grade. It was a very scary riding experience as we were forced to ride through some very low income, corrupt neighborhoods.  I kept screaming at Jeff to keep riding and to ride fast.  At one point we rode past a black dude who was being handcuffed on the side of a police car and he screamed at us, “Hey.  Where is the marathon?“  Marathon?  Wrong sport pal! The roads were BEYOND BAD and in fact were worse than the roads we had traveled in Michigan. They were littered with large potholes and it was obvious that there was NO funding being put into the roadways by the state or local government.  The roads were crowded, narrow, and filled with cars.  At about 10 miles shy of our destination ( we were scheduled to stay with a friends who had moved from San Diego in 2006) we came across a Panera bread and could not help but stop!  It was so exciting to see a Panera!  We filled up on sandwiches, cookies, brownies, frozen lemonade, and soda. We left with HUGE bellies but we were happy.  We arrived at the Yerricks ( our family in Clarence Center) at around 5 pm and we were treated to a spectacular, 5 course home made meal.  The Yerricks lived in a massive, 5 bedroom house in a very ritzy gated community.  Randy Yerrick is a science education professor at the University of Buffalo and he sold his house in San Diego in 2006 and used all of the money he made on that house in SD to purchase a mansion for his family in Buffalo.  It was amazing to see how much more house one could get for the money in the Buffalo area.  The Yerricks also treated us to a beautiful queen bed in our room.  It was like staying in a five star resort!

Day 41. Clarence Center, NY/NIAGARA FALLS  – Day off with the Yerricks.


Randy and his wife drove us 40 miles north to Niagara Falls Sate Park.  The pictures should speak for themselves.  We were able to take a small boat ( Maid of the Mist) that put us within feet of the both the Canadian and American Falls.  Need I say more than WOW!  After our excursion, the Yerricks once again treated us to another home cooked, gourmet dinner. The Yerricks are an amazing family and I could not help but wonder if there was a halo hanging above their house.  It was such an honor to be able to spend time with them!

Day 42 -August 3. Clarence center, NY to Rochester NY.   70 miles


We got a late start because the Yerricks provided us with a HUGE breakfast, too many comforts of home, and not many reasons to leave.  It was raining outside when we woke up so we decided to wait a few hours before starting in order to give the weather a few hours to clear up., Randy went to the store this morning and came back with a huge mug of gourmet tea for me as well as bananas, apple sauce, and apricots which he insisted I take with me for the rest of the trip so that I would not be malnourished.  The man is truly as angel!  We left around 11:30 pm hoping to get to Rochester without getting slammed by the new storn system that was moving into the area. We were able to ride on a great bike path and took the path north east so that we could hook up with the Erie Canal bike trail that was recommended by the Adventure Cycling Maps. The Erie Canal trail is a bike trail that runs for 90 miles west to east along the Erie Canal.  Unfortunately, by the time we got to the trail it was pouring rain and we were shocked to find that the trail was DIRT and not paved!!  Yuck!  Every bike trail the AC maps had put us on are paved so we were very bummed to say the least.  We ended up riding state route 31 for over 20 miles until I decided that it was just too dangerous to to continue to ride on a major two lane highway in the rain!  So, we opted to ride on the muddy erie canal trail.  WE slogged along for over 20 miles on this path and went only 9-10 mph.  Al of this was done in pouring rain.  By the time we reached our hotel ( Jeff treated us to a Courtyard Marriot with points) we were covered in mud and our bikes and gear looked like they had been dropped  into a mud bath. The amount of dirt we left in the tub was embarrassing to say the least.  We spent the rest of the evening rinsing our bike sand gear in the hotel bath tub and doing laundry.  What a procedure!  We decided tonight that since we were not going to be able to follow the Erie Canal bike path that we would have to create our own route to the coast.  Hello Google Maps and major highways!  We will also no longer be finishing in Bar Harbor ME but will instead try to finish in York, ME.

Bike Across USA 2011

Day 38 – Day 39 – An “Environmentally” Confused Ontario Canada

Day 38 – July 30th. Marine City, MI – St. Thomas  Ontario Canada  106 ( ½ mile on ferry)

We crossed the St. Clair river into Sombra, Canada by way of a small ferry.  The journey across the river was only ½ of a mile and cost only $1.  We needed to cross this river going from west to east so that we could continue our eastwardly journey towards Buffalo, NY.  Oddly there is a sliver of Canada that borders the USA in a U shape just above Lake Erie and below Lake Ontario.  Once we left our ferry town we rode almost 30 miles south to get to the coast of Lake Erie. Unfortunately for us we hit this region of Ontario on the eve of a holiday weekend.  The small towns that dot lake Erie are major tourist destinations for the people that live inland.  So, unfortunately we were not able to find any place to stay in these small coastal towns.  We had called many of these motels a few days prior so we knew what to expect.  As a result, we were only able to ride along the lake for a few miles before we had to ride a west-east road that was about 8 miles north of the lake. The roads that we traveled were rural and once again lined with beautiful farms and farm houses.  We were exceptionally pleased with the conditions of the roads which were newly paved and were free of major potholes and ditches! Unfortunately the heat was severe again today ( high 90’s ) and it was very humid.  This made the ride a bit more challenging.  At one point we were able to stop at an organic fruit farm where I ate 8 peaches in one sitting!  They were the best peaches I had ever eaten!  As we rode we noticed that the entire countryside was dotted with massive wind turbines.  After talking to a few local people we found out that these turbines were quite controversial.  Apparently , there is a large constituency that the believes that these wind turbines are causing people to have headaches and that the turbines are causing severe health problems in livestock and humans.  There is, of course, no scientific evidence for this but who needs evidence when you can simply create mass hysteria with a few billboards and lies.   As we passed the magnificent turbines we noticed small signs in front of farmhouses that exclaimed “Wind farms kill! Stop the Wind Farms.” There are apparently 800 turbines in Ontario which provide 17MW of the province’s 20,807MW demand, or 0.08%. Ontario is projected to build an additional 6000 turbines in the region but this is very controversial as Ontario won’t even hit 1% of demand and they will still need to keep all of their coal plants operational in order to meet demand.   It would seem to me that Ontario should be focusing on trying to at least decommission some of their coal plants as we were able to see just what these coal plants can do to the surrounding environment ( see next days’ post).  Although most of the farms that we rode by looked like they were in good condition, most of the small towns were a bit old and run down.  We ended up staying in the small town of St. Thomas, which was once the railroad capital of Ontario and currently houses the oldest rail road terminal in the country.

Day 39 – july 31. St. Thomas, Ontario Canada – Dunnville Ontario Canada   103 miles


After yesterday’s long day of biking, I was hoping that we would be treated to a quick, uneventful day of riding.  I always hope for days like this because they usually mean you can get to your destination quickly and without “incident.“  But today proved to be eventful in many different ways.  We started our ride still riding west to east on small, rural roads that were approximately 8-10 miles north of the lake.  We decided  that we would meander our way back down to the lake and so chose a south easterly course.  We were about 30 miles into our ride when we passed several different crops that looked different from the agricultural crops we had seen the previous day. I had been riding though farmland since eastern Montana so at this point had gotten pretty good at identifying food ( corn, wheat, soy, kale, etc).  We passed a farm with plants that had absolutely huge leaves and I recognized these as being tobacoo plants.  I was a bit unsure of my analysis of this plant so I stopped to ask Jeff what he thought.  He immediately pointed to a woman on her lawn mover who was about 100 feet behind me and said “Why don’t you ask her? Well, I asked this woman my question and within seconds she invited Jeff and I to meet her husband and to take a tour of their farm! We biked back a few hundred feet to her farmhouse, she pulled her truck around to the entrance of her driveway, and within minutes we were barreling down a dirt road into a massive corn field to find her husband.  We found the husband, who introduced himself as Big D,  in their strawberry field on board his tractor.  He was beyond excited to see us and after talking about the details of corn and soy harvesting he decided we were “special” enough to be treated to a tour of his tobacco harvesting facilities.  Little did Jeff and I know but we had stumbled upon the tobacco growing capital of Canada, otherwise known as “the tobacco belt.”  Although Dee no longer actually grew tobacco, he explained to us that his grandfather and father were known as the “tobacco barons” of the region.  He further explained that in 2008, tobacco farmers in this region were basically “bought out” by the Canadian government.  Unfortunately, the farmers had to sell at the price per bushel that the Canadian government was offering and this was well below the market price that the farmers had expected to receive when planning and planting their crops for the season.  Rumor has it that the CA government somehow “partnered” with the three of the major tobacco companies to end production in this region to further monopolize  the market price of tobacco.  The three major companies now purchase the majority of their tobacco from farms in Indonesia and China where labor is cheap! The deal ended generations of tobacco farming for most families in the region, including D’s family.   Most tobacco plantations are lined with small buildings that to the untrained eye resemble outhouses.  In actuality, these small building are actually called “kilns” and this is where the tobacco leaves are sorted, cut, folded, and hung for many days so as to fully dehydrate them and create what we know as tobacco. D showed us one of his old kilns and spent over an hour describing the entire tobacco harvesting process to us.   After our farm tour, D and his wife invited us into their home where they served us fresh watermelon, pasta salad, and iced tea! Before we knew it, we had spent over 3 hours with this family!  Unfortunately, we still had to ride 75 more miles in order to get to our next destination so by 3:30 pm we were back on our bikes peddling as fast as we could peddle. Normally, we would have not attempted so many miles in such a limited amount of time ( it would be dark by 8 ) but the winds gods were with us on this glorious day and gave us 25 mph westerly winds! We spent the rest of the day “flying” along the small roads and the small towns along the shore of Lake Erie.  This region of Ontario is not horribly crowded so although the very small towns along the lake were crowded, they were only overflowing with hundreds of people vs. the thousands of people that would surge upon a typical southern California beach town. Unfortunately, the Lake smelled like rotten sewage and was not something that we wanted to swim in.  At one point on our ride I noticed a thick brown slime covering the water near the shoreline.  Lake Erie was actually declared DEAD in the late eighties due to the fact that it was so polluted.  The pollution was the result of sewage and fertilizers being flushed into the lake by the farms and factories along the lake.  In the 1970’s, the lake was deemed a “gigantic cesspool” since only 3 of 62 beaches were rated “completely safe for swimming.” Apparently, Canada has worked hard to clean up its manufacturing industry ( although most “cleanup” is simply the result of major steel plants along the lake closing and sending their manufacturing business to China) and so many of the beaches have now been declared safe for swimming.  But jeff and I were not going to risk it so we opted against taking a quick cool down dip in the lake on this trip.  Towards mile 70 of our ride we were forced to ride past another massive coal plant that was spewing its polluted” guts into the atmosphere.  with the winds blowing from west to east , all of the particulate “garbage” spraying from the effluent towers was being carried downwind along the river.  This created a horrible haze that permeated the air over the lake for over thirty miles east of the plant along the lake.  Hey Ontario! Here’s a thought!  Maybe it’s the crap spewing from your coal plants that is giving you headaches and NOT your wind turbines!

Bike Across USA 2011

Day 35 – Day 37 – Welcome to Canada

Day 35-July 27. Clare, MI to Caro, MI. 94 miles.

When I opened the door this morning I was greeted by a lovely Amish buggy parked in our hotel parking lot.  This was quite a site to see as the buggy was positioned between cars and UHauls.  The cart contained a young wife cuddling a small baby, two small boys, and a husband.  All were dressed in traditional Amish clothing ( boys wearing suspenders and the woman wearing her long dress and bonnet).  Very strange. I did wake up feeling like I had been hit by a car and I suppose my rendezvous with the gravel road the day before was really starting to show its effects. My entire left leg from my thigh down to my knee was littered with quarter-sized bruises and my left arm from my elbow to my wrist was still extremely swollen.  Jeff fixed my bike by re-alligning the front handlebars and the front tire and then had me take a test ride to see how I felt.  I was able to at least prop myself by gripping my aero bar pads so we decided to push on with the journey. We were able to ride an amazing bike trail for the first 30 miles from Clare to Midland.  It was sheer riding bliss!  We decided it was the best trail we have ever been on with the exception of the river trail in Sacramento.  Unfortunately the roads in Michigan really began to show their age and ended up being horrific to ride on.  Endless potholes caused by harsh weather had not been fixed and so we spent the day riding on roads that made riding miserable.   Another storm was predicted and so we spent the day riding under cloudy skies trying to outrun the impending storm.  We unfortunately got lost in Bay City and spent two hours riding in a circle before we realized we were going nowhere and needed to stop and get a handle on our map reading skills. Needless to say both Jeff and I were quite frustrated with each other after this mishap, each one of us blaming the other for this severe waste of time and miles!  We met an older cyclist ( a man in his late sixties) who was also riding across the country and we rode with him for a few miles towards our final destination.  We could not ride with him for long as his bike was fully loaded ( front and back panniers) so he was going at least half of the speed we would normally travel.  We reached our small motel in the town of Caro just as the storm was closing in on us.  The motel was one of the most rundown motels we had ever stayed in ( on any bike trip) so we quickly nominated for our honorary “Worst Motel” award.  Little did we know that this hotel would have some strong competition in the towns to come!

Day 36-July 28-Caro, MI to St. Clair, MI. 95 miles.

Another day spent riding on the worst roads in the country ( narrow, no shoulder and full of pot holes).  These roads were so bad that I was forced to wear two sports bras for extra support! Road bikes are just not built for absorbing shock so all of the bouncing is absorbed by the body rather than the bike and this is quite stressful.  We also spent the day riding under stormy skies in very, very high humidity.  The winds were at least at our backs but it was just simply a long, unpleasant day of riding. Michigan is pretty and full of a million tress but it is apparent that the economy in this state is in the toilet.  Most of the small towns we went through today were VERY rundown and apparently there is no money to fix the roads! We chatted with almost 6-8 different people today during our stops and met some of the nicest people yet on our trip.  At one point I commented to Jeff that we could no longer take snack breaks because every time we did we were accosted by groups of people who wanted to help us navigate or learn about our journey. The people from Michigan are almost as nice as the people from North Dakota!   SO, MI gets an A+ for people but an F for its roads! When we arrived into St. Clair we were surprised to find out a huge power boat racing festival was about to take place.  There were boats everywhere and vendors setting up thier wares for the extravaganza that was to take place the next day. About 20,000 people were expected to invade this small river town in the days to come.  St. Clair sits along the St. Clair river, which runs north-south from Lake Ontario to Lake Erie and forms a water barrier between the US and a small sliver of land in Canada.  The river is actually one of two rivers in the US that flows south to north.  We stayed in a fantastic historic inn on the water and spent the evening planning our bike route through Canada!

Day 37 – July 29 -St. Clair, MI – Marine City, MI  12 miles

We ended up having to basically take this day off in St. Clair as Jeff had to spend over 5 hours on the phone with teachers from his HS conducting interviews for a new position at his school.  I spent the day touring the festival.  At 6 pm we rode 12 miles south to the small town of Marine city where we were to catch the small foot ferry the next day.  This ferry was to take us across the St. Clair river into Canada. It was in the town of Marine City that we found the winner for our Worst Motel contest!  Shag carpeting on the floor and on the walls!  It does not get much worse than that.  We also passed a massive coal-fired power plant that was spewing endless streams of thick poison into the atmosphere.  Seeing sights like this really make you realize how sad it is that we are using a technology to power cities and towns that is over 200 years old!  Coal is simply awful and just so depressing to see the toxins being released into the environment..