Day Ninety-Nine (16/08): Hazlet, NJ to NEW YORK, NEW YORK!

Hazlet to New York City: 22 miles

Total Distance: 4360 miles (and some; official final stats to come)

Days in the saddle: 78

Quote of the Day: “This man has just cycled from Los Angeles for charity. Can we have everything for free?”

– paraphrasing local press man, Will Jones

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At the end I was greeted by friendly faces and milkshakes. What more could a gal ask for! Thank you Leah, James and Will for the warm welcome.

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Day Ninety-Eight (15/08): New Hope, PA to Hazlet, NJ

New Hope to Hazlet: 66.5 miles

Total Distance: 4338 miles

Days in the saddle: 77

Quote of the Day: “Are you f***ing nuts?”

Said by a policeman to my Dad. Apartment we had cycled into a not too hot part of town. And when I say ‘not too hot’, I mean that two police officers had been shot there this morning, and we wouldn’t be seen as very popular amongst the locals.

I have never seen Francies Senior move so fast.

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Day Ninety-Seven (14/08): Pheonixville, PA to New Hope, PA

Pheonixville to New Hope: 56.5 miles

Total Distance: 4271.5 miles

Days in the saddle: 76

Thoughts on today: Today I happen to turn the wrong way twice. Once riding with parent A, once with parent B. The first meant that we unnecessarily cycled quite a substantial downhill. And therefore resulted in having to cycle quite a substantial uphill. The second meant that we unnecessarily cycled quite a substantial uphill. This therefore resulting in having to cycle quite a substantial downhill.

Life.

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Day Ninety-Six (13/08): Columbia, PA to Pheonixville, PA

Columbia to Pheonixville: 58 miles

Total Distance: 4215 miles

Days in the saddle: 75

Thoughts on today: Back in the saddle, back on track.

It rained all night. Poured down. I woke to the sound of thunder. I grinned to myself. This will test them. It’s all well and good cycling in bright sunshine, or fair weather. It’s another more unpleasant prospect having to start the day in a downpour. You know that, whatever the rest of the day has in store, you’re going to spend it damp.

“It’s raining. So, when do you want to get going”

They’re obviously made of tougher stuff than I gave them credit for.

After breakfast we set off, my mum taking the first stint (I told you there was a pattern!)

And to be honest, there’s not much to say about today, except for how impressed I’ve been by my parents’ cycling abilities. In very different ways. They are two very different beast.

My Mum: the pro. She seems to glide up hills. She never wants to go in front, I suspect because if she was ahead she would soon be half way to the horizon leaving me far behind. Seemingly never to of breathe or flustered in the slightest, rolling up hills like they aren’t there. Almost like saying, “what’s all the fuss about?”. At one point today, going uphill, she overtook me, apologising for her speed whilst doing so. I’ve been on the bike for three months. I’m big. I’m strong. I know what I’m doing. And I still can’t keep up with my mum.

My Dad: the tortoise. Slow and steady may not win you the race, but it’ll finish it. He may well be the slowest cyclist in Pennsylvania, but he does his stints. I’m never worried that he’s going to make it to the top of that next hill. However big it is. He’ll be there. I like cycling behind my dad. Because he goes slowly, I can talk to him. Which is a new experience on a bike in the main. I mainly natter on about Watford. Or cycling and gears and stuff. It’s nice. He’s also got a stash of jellybeans. ‘For energy’. Like you need an excuse for jellybeans!

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Day Ninety-Five (12/08): Baltimore, MD to Columbia, PA

Baltimore to Columbia: 35.5 miles (cycled)

Total Distance: 4157 miles

Days in the saddle: 74

Thoughts on today: The day I re-named my bike Darren

Tomorrow is an 80 mile day. Let’s see how they cope with that one.

Adam Francies, yesterday’s blog post

Maybe one of the classics.

Today was going great. My mum did the first split. This has become the custom (two days out of two. One day is random, twice in a row? A pattern is emerging!). Nearly 20 miles from my mum and my dad was a good 13 or so miles in. And then BAM! Or rather, and then bam. It wasn’t really a BAM. I lost concentration (I wanted to wave at the guy on his lawnmower) and crashed right into my Dad’s back wheel. We were going relatively slowly but the impact threw me into the pavement and did in my own back wheel. Spoke broken and, as it turned out, axel bent.

So, it ended up that it was me who was holding back my parents. We drove to the nearest bike shop, which just so happened to be less than two miles from where we were staying for the night.

The whole incident threw me off track a little (metaphorically speaking. But also, well, yea.). I guess I didn’t know whether driving to the next town was ‘cheating’ or not. Was I taking advantage of my parents being on the trip and having a car.

I decided a number of things, but the primary one: It doesn’t matter if I do take advantage of my parents being here. That’s what they’re here for. For us to be together, and cycle, and have a good time, and drink milkshakes. There’s no cheating, there’s nothing to cheat at.

So no 80 mile day. Which is a shame. There’s no doubt in my mind we’d have made it. No doubt. But hey, I had two milkshakes at lunch. Beat that!

Bonus Stat: New State! Pennsylvania. This was the first state I hadn’t cycle into, my bike firmly in the back of the car as we swept North. But still, that’s eleven and counting!

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Day Ninety-Four (11/08): Potomac, MD to Baltimore, MD

Potomac to Baltimore: 54.5 miles

Total Distance: 4121.5 miles

Days in the saddle: 73

Thoughts on today: Goodbye independence. Goodbye alone time. Goodbye Little Debbie pastries. Goodbye gas station stops. Goodbye wondering how much a small coffee is and how much a medium is. Goodbye tent. Goodbye stove. Goodbye lugging all my stuff around on my bike.

Hello dependence. Hello time with parents. Hello croissants in the morning. Hello cafe milkshake stops. Hello not having to worry about how much that second milkshake cost. Hello hotel room. Hello restaurant. Hello car, with all my stuff in.

Well this is different.

So, this is the situation: my parents – A and B – have one car and one bicycle between them. They tag team in and out of cycling duties along side myself. The car carries the luggage, the bicycles carry the weight of expectation that comes with adventure.

Having had a lovely few days site-seeing around DC, being spoilt by Ann and Morrie, and being reunited with my parents, it was time to hit the road. My parents split the mileage pretty evenly. I was very impressed with both of them. At times I was thinking, “why are they making this look so easy? They’ve come to show me up!”.

A different experience. A luxury that I’m lucky to have. Tomorrow is an 80 mile day. Let’s see how they cope with that one.

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Day Ninety (07/08): Spotsylvenia, VA to Potomac, MD

Spotsylvenia to Potomac: 93.5 miles

Total Distance: 4067 miles

Days in the saddle: 72

Thoughts on today: Goodbye Virginia. Hello Maryland! With a quick wave to Washington DC as I went through. That’s nine (nine? Or ten?) states.

California, Arizona, Utah, Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Virginia and Maryland.

TEN!

Wowzers, double figures.

AND, over 4000 miles. It always seems that I go into another thousand on a new-state day. Something to ponder perhaps.

In other news, I’ve been taking full advantage of my brother marrying an American. Thanks Helen for having such a welcoming family! Last night I was staying with my sister-in-law’s Aunt, and tonight (and for a few nights) it’s the turn of the parents. Who welcomed me into their home with open arms. This is me, drenched in rain, sweat and God-knows what else.

Now, bed.

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