Days 2-4: June 30th-July 2nd: 189 miles: Conshohocken, PA to Susquehanna, PA to Butler, MD

3 07 2011
            Day two of the journey definitely tested us. We woke up with sore bodies, specifically in the lower back and butt regions! The sun, head-winds, and riding from day one took a bit out of us; the biggest factor is the weight we carry…an extra 45 pounds each. We carry a tent, sleeping bags, clothes, and equipment in panniers (waterproof bags on the back attached to our racks) that really weigh down on the back of the bike. Getting up hills can be a burden because of the extra weight. We were in for a shock as we traversed through Pennsylvania: monstrous hills unlike anything I’ve encountered. Some were too steep to climb on the bike and some extended for over a mile.
             We spent most of the day in the lowest gear climbing hills and feeling like we were getting nowhere. The few downhills we got, however, produced the same adrenaline-inducing effect of a roller-coaster. Around mile 20 I had to pull over for a power-nap. Dusk found us at mile 53 where we pulled over to the side of a back-road, pitched our tent and spent the night. The area was completely desolate and eerily quiet. Other than being scared straight by a nearby falling tree and by a possible deer or person walking by, the night was somewhat peaceful.
             On day three I felt a bit initiated by a night in the woods and felt 100% committed to the trip, having realized that it will be challenging with unpredictable circumstances that we will have to adapt to- and not just a “fun” adventure. Maintaining water and food intake has been crucial; due to the 85-90 degree temperature and humidity, we have been drinking a minimum of six liters of water a day- while we ride- through Camelback backpacks with accessible valves. On day three the only food we could access on our route was pizza; we got two large pizzas, ate half, and carried the leftovers with us and ate them for dinner. At one point we climbed an intense hill to find homeade root beer on a bench; James and I left $1.50 in a can and split the glass bottle. On another occasion I clocked 37mph on a downhill, and on another descent on a major roadway I hit a bump and went airborne. I have since been using my breaks more wisely to prevent future stunts!  We hit 66 miles this day dealing with the same factor of extensive, frustrating inclines. As night descended on day three, I asked a friendly couple along the Susquehanna River about camping locations, and they happened to also be cyclists. They let us camp out on their front yard, a front-row seat to fireworks on the other end of the river- and they let us stock up on water the following morning- thanks Joe and Roberta!
              By day four (today), we each had a total of six flat tires; we will soon be getting rugged “touring” tires to prevent this problem from reoccuring- the heat of the roads and our extra weight can not be handled by the thin racing tires we have been using. Days three and four were dominated by farmland and friendly encounters with Amish people. Today we logged 70 miles and got a friendly wave from an Amish man in a horse-drawn carriage. We were also served delicious frosted cinnamon bread and blueberry pie by two Amish girls running a road-side homeade goods shop. Escaping the mind-blowing hills of Pennsylvania will go down as one of the happiest moments of my life; today we entered Maryland which thus far has consisted of friendly, smooth rolling terrain. A chance encounter with another cyclist again helped us out big time. We met a cyclist named John while we were riding around dusk; we had a chat, and he continued biking while we made a fuel-stop. On his way back, he told us that we were welcome to camp behind the Butler Fire Station; he had inquired on his long bike-ride while we ate. Big thanks John! When we got there, we met Dale and Mike. Mike is letting me use the laptop from which I am currently writing this blog. Dale was beyond welcoming and awesome- he has allowed us to sleep in the large, air-conditioned dining room of the station equipped with a television, 50 cent drink machine, and showers. Here is a big shout out to these guys for helping us get reinvigorated for tomorrow’s long ride to Washington, DC. Thanks so much to Dale, Mike, and the BUTLER VOLUNTEER FIRE DEPARTMENT IN MARYLAND for hooking us up!
              Much love to every back home for the donations to our charities and for your encouraging words; this is helping to keep us upbeat and positive. We will blog when the opportunities arise; the unpredictable nature of the trip could make it sporadic. Our bodies are adjusting to the workload and we are 100% ready to make this dream happen- stay tuned and let’s roll!

with Dale @ the Butler Fire Department- best hotel ever


a free hotel in PA


never has food been this amazing


long way to the top if you want to rock n' roll: James climbing in PA this morning


an Amish man in a horse-drawn carriage



4 responses

3 07 2011

you’re amazing

4 07 2011
Jorge and family

Hey how r u guys doing

4 07 2011

good we are in d.c.! check out the photo on the main page

5 07 2011
John U

J & J,
There is the Tour de France, nothing like the ‘Tour de JJ’ I guess you aren’t getting lost with the GPS!

John U

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