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Fordham/CitySquash Cross-Country Bicycle Ride  

Day 34  Flanders, New York to The Bronx, New York

Fordham University Coach Bryan Patterson and several players cycled from San Francisco to New York in June and July of 2011 to raise money for CitySquash.

Coach Patterson sent the following 34 reports to from the road.
 July 9, 2011 
- Day 34 – the END!!!

Man we are all up really early. I think Sandy was up by 5.30am. So I guess that yes we want to get on the road and make it back as quickly as we can. We pack up and get onto the road, only we are going the wrong way!! We do about a mile and a half and realize this! Back to square one and start again. 

We have debated about our route into New York, thinking that we might find a bike route or take the smaller side roads. If we take the side roads we know that it will take a really long time to do the remaining 60 miles. So we plump for Route 46 again, knowing that there will be loads of traffic and certainly lots of intersections. 

Sandy is a little concerned and is heard to say “You guys are crazy”, but we really do want to get back.

Route 46 is busy and we make sure that we are all safe, Felipe and Angel are sharing this last day with Angel riding first. So we have 5 on the road, with Andriy driving and Felipe waiting his turn to ride.

Still some long hills and lots of drink stops. We have also made the van stop every 5 miles rather than 10 miles, which we feel is safer.

There are one or two other bikers on this route, and one points out a huge pot hole under an underpass, which I don’t see and hit at speed. Literally 100 yards later I have a puncture – my fourth in the last two weeks. 

Unbelievably there is a bike repair shop 4 miles on. So I get into the van and we drive there. It takes 45 minutes to get this repaired. A pretty busy place. We catch up to the group who are in a gas station. 

The decision about keeping going on Route 46 has to be made, as it’s getting extremely busy and there are now major interchanges. We take the decision to drive through the Holland Tunnel and then ride the West Side Highway back up to the Bronx. 

We all think that this is a smart decision especially Jack and Sandy who now don’t have to ride the George Washington Bridge! So we pile into the van and drive into New York.
The West Side ride is really great, no vehicles, only people out to enjoy the day. Under the GWB and over the Broadway bridge, and we are into the Bronx! 

It takes us another 40 minutes to safely ride through traffic and to Arthur Avenue, where we are met by CitySquash parents, Felipes and Angels. Joe Di Bari is there to meet us, he’s from Fordham and has come to take pictures for the Fordham University paper. 

We go to Michael Angelos restaurant to celebrate this epic journey and the fact the we made it back. 

We really can’t believe that we did this. 2,700 miles give or take a few. 

We have a party form 5 – 7pm in Michael Angelos, and we have parents, students from Fordham and some CitySquash kids and supporters of CitySquash there. Congrats all round, no speeches, just lots of stories about the Ride.

For me, I am amazed that we have done this, but it’s been a fantastic experience, one that I will never forget. Hopefully memories will come back about places, people, the group that I rode with, the mountains and the vicious hills that we all rode. Right now it’s great to be back.

I want to take this moment to thanks everyone who supported, donated, sponsored us, and  encouraged us – A HUGE THANK YOU – we, BP, Jack, Andriy, Raymond, Felipe and Angel all appreciate this.

I also want to say to those who doubted that a) I would ever get this Ride organized, b) that I would actually do it, and c) that we’d finish it too – now you have to donate! 

We organized, we rode AND we finished, so please put your money where your mouth is. 

Thank you. 

This blog isn’t finished yet – I still have to present the jerseys (a la Tour de France), and there are quotes that have to be told. So let me rest up and I will have these for you all.

To Donate To The Fordham/CitySquash Cross-Country Charity Ride:


Day 33
  Towanda, Pennsylvania to Flanders, New York

 July 8, 2011 
- Penultimate day and we are getting excited about Riding into the Bronx tomorrow. Over the George Washington Bridge, with its spectacular view of Manhattan. 

Wonder what it will feel like when we ride it? Anyway we are meeting up with Sandy today, he’s arranged to meet us around noon, somewhere in NJ! Man NJ is a big place so I hope that we do meet up!!??

Well we do meet up in Milford and earlier at around 11am at the local diner – we are having breakfast when he arrives, courtesy of Shrubb who has driven him to meet us. Well done Shrubb and thanks. We’ve ridden about 25 miles to Milford from our camp site. Sandy settles in and enjoys a breakfast with us.

Sandy is kitted out the full cycling gear, bike shorts, snazzy top, glasses, water bottles the lot and ready to go. He’s excited to be here and doing the last two days into the Bronx with us, although, like Jack, he’s afraid of heights and not looking forward to the George Washington Bridge! 

We are on our way and doing well. There are still lots of hills and they are pretty long. We’ve been told about these very early on in this Ride, but now we are getting to experience them. Sandy says we are all looking fit and well, and believe me we are very fit. I think that it’s something to do with biking nearly 3000 miles, and hitting the hills! 

Anyway we, I think surprise Sandy with our biking, and leave him on the hills.
Small towns are getting more frequent and traffic is certainly getting a little more dense. Not good breathing in those fumes!! I guess that we are getting close to the big Apple, well relatively speaking!

We are definitely getting nearer as we cross over into New Jersey. Pics taken then on we go, just one more State to go! We are on Route 46, quite a big highway, so we’ve been making sure that we are safe, even with the big shoulder.

It starts raining and we also hear some thunder in the distance. Sandy reminds us all just what to do if it starts to thunder and lightning. Good advice, however no lightning but the rain does keep coming down. We do the miles and finally get to our destination, Stephen State Park, our last camp site, wooppee! 

It’s in a really wooded area and one of the first signs that Felipe sees is about BEARS! And not aggravating them. Now who would do that! Also there’s plenty of mosquitoes too, not good, so out comes the bug spray. 

Tent up, tarp over the top so all good, we decide to treat ourselves to a meal, Applebees restaurant in the nearby town. Actually Sandy does the honours and treats us to this meal, thank you Sandy we all appreciate it. 

Back to the camp site and sleeping bags, although I don’t think that there was much sleep as we are all getting excited about the last day and getting back to the Bronx. 

Day 32  Towanda, Pennsylvania to Blooming Grove, Pennsylvania
 July 7, 2011 
- Nearly there guys !! 

So Again off bright and early, Jack and BP on the road. We actually find a bike shop that repairs Felipe’s tire and also repairs Angels’ front handlebars, but we also find out that Angels gears are really messed up, so his bike is still a problem. 

Still Towanda is left behind and we are into the Pennsylvania rolling hills and man do they rock and roll! Too much – they are not long, but they are frequent. Seems like there is a lot of German influence here, with farm buildings and other buildings having that Northern European look about them. 

Certainly names on farms and businesses are very Germanic.  We have a change and Felipe and Andriy are out and on the road, for their stint, “Go boys”. We are getting into practice for Friday when Sandy arrives we are looking to work him hard other the last two days! We also have riders trying to come and join us on Saturday, Lee Rosen and possibly Chris Walker, which would be terrific. 

We’ll let you know if this happens.

Another change and its Jack and BP back on the bikes – we are both determined to do as many miles over these last days as possible. I think we are in Pocono territory, with lots of lakes and definitely getting more RV sites and camp sites too. They all seem to be by lakes, which look great and very clear, as opposed to the muddy waters that we had been seeing in Mid-America.

Angel and Raymond are taking it easy in the van I think that they are steeling themselves for the last two days and it’s now Scrabble instead of Monopoly on Jack’s iPod!!! Not sure who is winning at this! We do try to keep the van people entertained, what!! Other than the driver that is!

It’s a tough day, plenty of down hills but always those up hills, and there is ,more traffic on the roads now too. Plenty of CO2 into our lungs! But we are making good time and taking water breaks every 10 – 15 miles. I love the Gatorade powder in mine just makes the water taste better!

Also we are working out the party for Saturday and it’s going to be at Michael Angelos at Arthur Ave., and 189th Street in Fordham, so come on everyone make the effort to be there and we’ll tell you the alternate blog of this Ride, and there are some good ones too!

Into the town of Hamil, nice little town, reminds me of the actor, although I cann’t remember his first name – anyone help me here? A huge lake called Wallenpaupach, which has some terrific beaches around it, and Angel wishes that he could get out and swim. No can do Angel. 

Still more lakes and camp sites, and finally route 402 East, to Blooming Grove. We take this and end up at a cross road with a Church on one corner and workmen building a small bridge on the other corner! This is it Blooming Grove, we cann’t believe it, that’s it nothing else, no real village even. The van meets us there, they have been lagging and playing Scrabble, but catch up with us.

So we find a camp site, as ever we do this last thing, but we’ve never been let down or disappointed – google is a terrific way of finding anything!

The camp site is on a wonderful lake, and Angel and Felipe wander off to see what’s happening. They have two rockets, and they are determined to set them off tonight!
Count down and two days to go. See you Sandy tomorrow. 

Day 31  Wytheville, Virginia to Towanda, Pennsylvania 
 July 6, 2011 
- A drive by day, so a good rest before the last three days. We were up and off pretty early, none stop to get on the road, as it was a longish drive by. We had to make Towanda PA before dark. 

Jack was going to start the driving, but decides not to so BP is driving, which always scares Felipe, not sure why you’d have to ask him that! Now Jack has an iPod which has the Monopoly game on it, and this is the start to vicious Monopoly games, wheeling and dealing and trying to bankrupt each other! Just a game lads! More later.

I ask Felipe to take a pic of a truck with the initials PFC on the back.  I’ve asked him to do this because my son John supports Portsmouth Football Club, so he at least might appreciate this pic! Pretty much of a muchness the scenery, although it’s starting to change to rolling hills and not as near as densely wooded as yesterday. 

We roll into Roanoke, which in fact is a really great little city and has a wonderful old area, which we park in and decide to eat the local BBQ food at The Blues BBQ Company restaurant. Great spiced lunch, but Andriy and Raymond have pizza – not as good as the Bronx boys! Stoked up we move on.

We’re on the road again and I’m seeing signs that maybe indicate that once again I’m back in the Old Country. You just cann’t get away from UK place names! First up are New Market and Edinburg, both close enough spellings for me. Then Winchester, which is very close to where I hold my Camps on the South coast of England, at Lee-on-Solent. 

Winchester was once the capital of England. Also we’re still in the bible belt, churches and crosses everywhere, hey whatever grabs you. West Virginia comes and goes pretty quickly, as does Maryland. Then the Mason Dixon signs which indicate that this is where the North and the South were divided at one time. 

PA welcomes us, and by this time Angel has won three games of Monopoly, much to Andriy and Jack’s annoyance. These game seem to last forever! He’s just been crushing them, along with a little help from Felipe though. They trade properties, and wheel and deal, apparently just like the real world Jack says. But there’s no stopping Angel.

In a least one of the games  Jack and Andriy literally give up in disgust, losing all to Angel. He’s really just too good at this game. Go into finance Angel, I’m sure you’ll do well. Felipe plays to annoy Jack and is always making “ridiculous trades” as Jack says.

Carlisle is next to show up, this is a town on the opposite side of the country from my home town in England. Berwick-on-Tweed is on the East coast of England and on the border with Scotland, while Carlisle is on the West coast of England on the border. Just how many more UK place names will there be?

The Susquehanna river is pretty wide and we are now following this river for quite some time, and it’s getting late, and getting dark. Very dark by the time we get into Towanda. Everywhere is full, even camp sites. There is a huge oil and gas industry in the area and they literally take all the available space in hotels, motels and camp sites. 

We do find a camp site, but the first one we went ot Felipe was really terrified “Hey this is in the middle of nowhere, we might get killed!” He’s very touchy about stuff like this and trusts no one especially late at night. We do find a camp site and settle in for a good sleep. But before going to sleep Angel reminds us all that he’s the KING of Monopoly – sorry Jack!      

Day 30  Berea, Kentucky to Wytheville, Virginia
 July 5, 2011 
-Did the tyre stay up? Yes it did, wonder of wonders. Pack up, but Felipes flip flop was wrapped up in the tent! Oh man he’s heading for the MVR (Most Valuable Rider) of this Ride! 

Anything else to sort out other than the van which gets more and more filled up with personal “stuff”. The comment of the Ride will be “It’s in the van!”, so when anyone asked if we’d seen anything the reply was always the same – “It’s in the van”!!! 

Everything was “In the van” we were on our way to Hazard, an eighty mile ride, which we all felt good about. Andriy, Angel and BP up first and out of the camps site and out of Berea. Good roads with decent shoulders, so we got up some speed, rode through a rain downpour, which was refreshing to say the least and made the twenty miles to the van pretty quickly. 

Seems like we are in little England again, we were going through London, then Manchester to get to Hazard! At the van we were all gung-ho so we decided to keep going and again the pace was fast, Angel was doing his bit trying hard to keep me at the back of the three man pack! 

At twelve miles into this twenty ANOTHER puncture! Angels back wheel was gone, man were we stunned    - AGAIN, eight punctures on the trip so far, please no more! We call Jack in the van and he has to come back to get Angel and his bike and take him into Manchester, but can you believe it no bike shops in Manchester! 

Plenty in the region, but a hike to get to any of them, and as Manchester is half way from Berea to Hazard we decide to bike on with Angel in the van. Too bad.

The country side is actually interesting, Again trees up to the road, and as faras the eye can see, but there were vines wrapped around trees, telegraph poles, electricity poles, buildings and anything that these vines could wrap themselves around. Looked pretty surreal, and maybe out of a movie set!

Onward we go and looking forward to seeing Hazard because of the “Dukes of Hazard”, TV series, and the movie. Wow what a disappointment, nothing like anything in either the series or the movie. 
What we wanted most of all was to see a sop that sold Hazard Ts, but not to be. In fact nothing in the town at all about the shows. 

OK so tomorrow is a drive by day, and quite a big one, so we have driven into Virginia and are now at our favourite camp site KOA in Wytheville. It cuts our drive down tomorrow and we love KOA.

Sandy coming to ride with us Friday and Saturday, so looking to him riding with us, and into the Bronx. Should be fun.

Not long to go people, then parteeee time in the Bronx. 

Day 29
  McDaniels, Kentucky to Berea, Kentucky

 July 4, 2011 
- Happy 4th July America! Jack has his American bike top on and it’s impressive. There’s a $3 breakfast at KOA so we all take this, and it’s served by an Essex woman, been in the States for a long time but still has the accent!

So this is the last week, and I’m not sure that we were glad or sad to be finishing.  I know that we all were saying that it would be great to get back, but I also think that we would be sad to finish this awesome trip – The Ride X America. 

One tent, one van and 6 people means that we all live pretty close, and this can get a little intense at times, but we seem to have got along well over the five weeks.

So we drive back to Bardstown and start the 80 mile ride to Berea, nothing special, same old same old country side. Probably wish we were all back in the Rockies with the tremendous scenery, but here we are in the rolling hills of Kentucky. I drive first, with Jack, Raymond, Andriy and Felipe all biking, man that’s impressive that they all got out there! 20 miles and then a change, I’m up and  it’s me and Jack, he’s still going and we are doing 24 miles to Danville, easy peasy! 

Danville is a pretty historic town, so we stopped for lunch then some of us rode around the town spotting the various historical sites and buildings. The first successful abdominal surgery was performed here on Christmas day 1809, and get this, there was on anesthesia so the woman sang hymns all the way through the operation! 

That was the first piece of historical information, then there is the Presbyterian Church one of three founded in 1784. With all this e-mail now can anyone remember actual mail? Well we have the first Post Office West of the Alleghenies built pre-1792! Off course how could I forget the first tavern in Danville, built pre-1800 and used by the Danville Political Society. The town also has the Center College, a liberal arts College with a really wonderful campus.

Onwards to Berea, or so I thought. I get 2 miles out of Danville and lo and behold a puncture!!! I shout to Raymond that I have a puncture, no cell phone and the van is now on its way to the 20 mile away mark! Great! 

So I down the bike, take a drink and wait for Raymond to get to the van and the van to return to get me! What a wait, over two and a half hours. But I get to talking with two neighbours, on opposite sides of the road who are cutting their grass. A retired Naval Officer, and a local born and bred in Danville. 

Two very fascinating people but so very different. They offer drinks and whatever I would like, but I’m afraid to move from the side of the road incase the van goes by and misses me! Finally I get picked up and off we go to Berea! 

Guess what the camp site is a KOA, with kitchen, so we are all pleased as this means that we can actually cook our food tonight! Oh and I repair the puncture, well I hope that I have, we’ll see if it deflates overnight!?

Everyone on the camp site has the Stars and Stripes out, bunting, and other red white and blue decorations and are getting ready for some fireworks. 
Hope that you all had a terrific 4th July.

Day 28
  Rest Day -  McDaniels, Kentucky

 July 3, 2011 
- We’ve taken the rest day today instead of Wednesday. It’s Wimbledon and we want to watch Rafa v Joko.

Wow, Joko played well, what a match, although we all thought that Rafa would pull it back. So a new Wimbledon Champ., well played Joko. I have to say that watching the match was pretty great as we were in the only AC room on the camp site, and man it was hot even mid morning, 85+. 

Now off into Louisville, Jack’s found the Louisville Slugger Baseball bat manufacturer and so off we go to visit. Louisville is a big city on the banks of the Ohio river, and the old city, which is where the Slugger factory is, is really fascinating, very much in a renewing programme, with buildings still just shells but which would, I’m sure, be wonderful.

The Louisville Slugger factory was terrific, basically the history of the “bat”. It has a huge bat outside the entrance, with lots of bats hanging up in the main area. Wx figures of the famous baseball players – Babe Ruth included. Sayings on the floor by various MLB players, history on the walls of the World Series (never did get the World bit as it’s only played in the USA, so how could it be a World Series?) 

Oh and there was a bit about the Cincinnati Reds and their winning years of the 70s. I had to take a pic for Tim as he’s from Cincinnati! It seems that Mr Hillerich had the market tied up with about 80% of baseball bats used made here – MLB, Minor League, Little league, and any other league you care to mention. 

Most of the MLB Teams buy their bats here for their players! And we were told that most players used anywhere between 60 – 100 bats per season! Go figure that out! The factory was really a factory and a museum, so it was very interesting and the tour to see how bats are made even more fascinating. 40,000 trees are cut down to supply baseball all the bats used each year. The forests are self sustaining, managed, and mainly in Pennsylvania and New York States. 

It used to take 20 minutes to hand make a bat whereas now it takes 40 seconds with the computerized machines. Each player has his own computerized software to make his own bat, and there are over 20,000 combinations. At the end we all got our miniature Slugger bats to remind us of our visit.

Down to the river side, and again this is a huge river, very wide and lots of bridges over it. The streets of the old town have various sculptures of some of the various events and places that are here. The Kentucky Derby horse, Kentucky University horse, the KFC Center which is the home of the Louisville University and would grace any NBA team’s stadium! 

On the riverside walk I found another map to Lewis and Clarke, across America route, and a statue to Fox who was Clarkes slave but went with him to discover the route across America.

Finally we gave in to food and went to the BBC restaurant which served pulled pork and other such great Kentucky food. Once refreshed we made our way back to the camp site to relax and to get ready for the last days of the Ride X America. Tomorrow here we go!!! 

Day 27
  Cave In The Rock, Illinois to McDaniels, Kentucky

 July 2, 2011 
-Cave in the Rock to McDaniels KY – another State. But I biked down into Cave in the Rock and just sat outside the café, which even at this early time was packed. 

I got funny stares from everyone when I went in to get milk. But a ‘Good morning” to all made them wonder even more who the hell was this foreigner with the Northumbrian accent?!  

Took a few pics of the town, seems like we are following Lewis and Clarke backwards, they had been through Cave in Rock, but apparently very cautiously! The sat outside the cafe and literally just watched the world go by. Wonderful.

The van came and down to the ferry for our river ride to Kentucky, and it was free, amazing and joy oh joy! Great little ride over, with Felipe wondering what would happen if we sank! Come on – we’d swim to the bank and hitchhike home, what else.

Kentucky, not a great State sign! Then the rolling hills, actually really beautiful, covered with dense trees, almost encroaching to the road, interspersed with rolling meadows. 85 miles to McDaniels, so we did a relay, although Andriy was on the bike much of the time, with myself, then Raymond did a stint, with Angel and Felipe doing their bit too. 

A good ride, nothing exciting, until I got an e-mail (on a break) from Tim telling me that my cousin had donated. Tim lets us know all the time when people donate, which is great. Thanks Ian, he lives in Dallas I think, certainly Texas.  So come on John, my son, the beards staying on so just accept that and make the donation, and sis, in Berwick-on-Tweed, Northumberland, come on. 

A little excitement later when we pass a Harley Davidson three wheeler with the Confederate flag on the back, and Dixie House restaurant, which was for sale – anyone? It was hot 90+ degrees, so we sweated lots, but the relaying helped, and plenty of water. 

We got to McDaniels, but couldn’t find a camp site with showers and we needed laundry, all of us! No kidding! Plus camp sites seemed to be full, something about celebrating the week-end. I guess that as a Brit I just didn’t know what was going on!

Yea right! Google camp sites with shower and laundry facilities. 

The nearest was a KOA and we had used these before on the Ride, and they were always pretty good. However it was 62 miles, so a quick decision was made that we would take our rest day tomorrow, Sunday, instead of Wednesday. 

I think that Andriy and Jack wanted to watch Wimbledon men’s final, which just happened to be Sunday! Also it was decided that we should also visit Louisville, which was 20 miles North of the camp site, and visit the Louisville Slugger baseball bat manufacturer. 

So off to the Shephardsville KOA, showers and laundry – heaven! A huge KOA which stayed open late, just as well for us!

As ever the tent up first, then everything else follows. I can tell you the showers are great. 

Day 26  Murphysboro, Illinois to Cave In The Rock, Illinois
 July 1, 2011 
- Actually let’s start with the night and the camp site - Murphysboro Lake State Park. 

A really off the beaten path site by the side of a lake, and pretty spooky! We had pitched the tent earlier in the evening and had gone into Carbondale to get the puncture repaired. We also had dinner and then went to watch “Transformers” not a bad movie with lots of action. 

Naturally the good guys win, what’s new? We’d all decided to relax, hence the movie, then back to the camp site in the dark, and lo and behold a raccoon had raiding the trash bag which Jack had hung up on a pole. 

Van lights on and mosquitoes, insects and other such bugs were all around the van. Andriy and I went to the tent but in the meantime a group of raccoons came back to the trash! Jack, Felipe, Angel and Raymond were in the van, and were actually a little scared. I think the theory was that if they got out they would be attacked by the raccoons, be bitten and die from rabies. 

So now a plan to scare off the raccoons! Lights on high, van engine on and revving, then back and forth with the van, headlights flashing, but to no avail, The raccoons were no doubt enjoying themselves! Meanwhile Andriy and I were watching all this from the tent, talk about comic antics! 

The comments were the best – “they’re leaving, not they’re not!”. “Yes they are”. No they’re not”, “Oh come on raccoons what have we done to you?” I could just imagine a raccoon saying “Well you left the trash out, thanks”. Then the great escape and the run to the tent all of 10 yards, in and “Close the zippers, don’t let them in!”. So we were safe, or were we? 

The noises in the night were loud and many, we tried to work out what they were – bullfrogs for sure, ducks (not sure), dog howl or was it a coyote, fox, or whatever? Definitely had moseezes (mosquitoes) in the tent too!! Raccoon type noises again. Back for more no doubt! Finally sleep.

Caution in the morning incase the raccoons were there to attack us and our food! I think that this might be the fastest that we have packed up. Felipe showed us his bites! Man they must love him, the mosquitoes! We were very quickly on the road to Cavenrock or Cave in the Rock. A fascinating place name which we were looking forward to getting to, to see exactly what this was about. 

A 75 mile ride, so not too bad and we were on the road early, well earlier than we had been for the past few days. Long inclines through rolling country side, very green and lots of trees but you know this by now! Route 13 the Lincoln Heritage Trail, we were in the land of Lincoln, Illinois. However this turned into the Ohio Scenic Byway route, so we were obviously very close to the mighty Ohio river. 

I was very curious as to where this was taking us, and we were now on route 1, still the Ohio River Byway. Well Cave in the Rock, and what a terrific little river village/town, not sure which, where route 1 came to an abrupt end  right on the banks of the Ohio river – yes full stop. The only way over was by a small car ferry! Wow. 

The main street was fascinating. There was a Grand Opry House, a wonderful café, and murals on an old wall of the cave in the rock. Also a banner telling a little of the history of Cave in the Rock – the cave was discovered by the French in 1729. It was used as a hide out for river pirates, robbers, killers counterfeiters and pioneers headed West. What history. 

Our camp site was in fact very close to the cave. So tent up, and down to the cave which was right by the river. A great place to explore and to see the river and imagine the river pirates marauding the boats that would pass by. I love this town, it’s a place that everyone should visit. 

It’s so out of the way, but a really neat place. This could be one of my favourite places of this Ride.

Food, a beautiful sunset (red sky at the night shepherds delight) and sleep, without the raccoons! 

Day 25
  Chester, Illinois to Murphysboro, Illinois

 June 30, 2011 
- Getting these guys out of bed is not getting any easier! Still while they were getting sorted I went to see the Fort Kaskaskia cemetery, a fascinating place. It had been moved from the city to the higher ground when it was realized that the city would be flooded by the change of course that the Mississippi made over a number of years in the late 1870s.

Angel and I rode out of the camp site while the others took the van into Chester. The camps site was on the West side of Chester so it was a 6 mile ride into the town. We past a great log house which was wood and plaster built and looked pretty authentic. Then into Chester and man anyone love Popeye, Bluto, and Olive Oyl and all the other characters? Well Chester is where they were all “born”. 

They were brought to life by E. C. Segar right here in Chester. There’s a small park that has been built, and it’s bounded on two sides by buildings with the characters painted onto the walls – Angel loved it, as did I. Obviously pictures were taken, then onwards on route 3.

Route 3 follows the mighty Mississippi for a long way and as we traveled along this route we could see the flooding that had occurred. In fact the water came right up to the road that we were on, and if it had not been for the fact that we were a little higher we’d have been under water too! 

Finally into a plain that was between us and the river on one side and on the other side rolling hills with masses of trees and small holdings.

Bang – damn puncture time AGAIN!!!! What’s going on, for three weeks we are fine then the three arrive on Saturday and leave on Tuesday, and we have 4 punctures and a spoke break. They leave and we think we are fine, but their mojo is still with us!! Now since they have left three punctures!! 

Please please no more! It’s my turn for the puncture, thankfully I was not in last place at the time! Jack goes by and I tell him, Raymond goes by and I tell him. Now I’m on my own pushing the bike along. I call Angel – guess what no reception! I txt him hoping that this might go through, we’ll see. 

Keep pushing the bike, with cars pick-ups, trucks going by, After what seemed like an eternity Andriy arrives in the van and in I get to laughter, which is not appreciated!

Raymond and Jack are left to ride to the camp site, Murphysboro State Park. Another terrific State Park, next to a lake. We pick tent and drive into Murphysboro to get the puncture mended. 

Pizza for dinner and we have decided to go to a movie, to relax. And that’s where we are right now, debating which movie to see!! Let you know tomorrow.

Day 24  St. Louis, Missouri to Chester, Illinois
 June 29, 2011
 - Tough to get out of a great bed! But had to be done, so that we could get a good breakfast before starting to Ride East. We wanted to get onto the road by 8.30am., but as usual certain bodies were not ready!

However we did get going and first thing first we drove through St Louis and before we realized we were going over the great Mississippi and into Illinois – our next State. 

Over the bridge and onto the bikes, except Felipe started to pump up his front wheel and bang, he broke the metal part that goes into the tyre and into inner tube!! So we find a bike shop in Columbia and he gets it fixed, what a start! 

We had gone maybe two miles when Jack gets a puncture again! So back to the bike shop, that’s after waiting 45 minutes by the side of the road for Andriy to come back! Finally we are set to go and go we do. 

Route 3 is pretty pleasant, it called the Great River Road, Illinois, and I guess that it kind of follows the Mississippi, although we cann’t see the river. The ride today is not long, in fact just over 50+ miles, so we are not in a rush, which is great.

Into Red Bud – no it’s not a red Budweiser – I’m guessing that at some point the trees have red buds on them, or maybe in the past? It’s a decent road, although some of the time the bike path is narrow and there are some big lorries (truck for Americans), that seem to get close, but then the path widens again.

We did the 10 mile system with the van waiting for us, this worked well today and before we knew it we were at our camp site Fort Kaskaskia – which had once been the gateway city to the West, but was no more as it had been flooded by the Mississippi as it changed it’s course in 1881. An historic site, and as you entered the site the old Fort was on your left. 

Not really a Fort as we would know it, more grassy mounds that made a square and I guess protected the garrison that once lived there. Kaskaskia had been given royal status by Louis 14th of France, and as I’ve said became an important city when traveling to the West. 

You could see the Mississippi once you were onto the site. It was huge and very broad, and in flood. With fields on either side under water. You could see a huge barge struggling against the flow, and it didn’t seem to be making any headway at all going up stream.

Tent up and we went into Chester, the town that was our stop for this leg. The only place open for food was a Mexican restaurant. We went in and tucked in to some good grub.

Matches were the order of the night as we left the Mexican – Felipe and Angel always have a fire going at night, to keep the bugs away.

Sadly on hotel tonight, it was the ground for us. Back to reality! Which was the way that it would be for the rest of the Ride.

Good night.

To Donate To The Fordham/CitySquash Cross-Country Charity Ride:


Day 23
  Rest Day - St. Louis, Missouri

 June 28, 2011
 -Rest day yahoo, and woke up in a great bed in the Marriott Springhill Suites, Chesterfield, St Louis – beautiful.
Everyone down for breakfast as this was included and really would Felipe turn down the chance of a breakfast – no way.

Jack, who had stayed with a friend, came to take Raymond, Andriy, Felipe and Angel to the Budweiser Brewery, which is actually a listed building, and a historic land mark. Me IU stayed at the hotel trying to catch up with the daily blogs, and this is the catch up for Day 23!

We all met up In Blueberry Hill at the Dart restaurant – a great place, and off course it’s called Dart because it has part of the restaurant with dartboards. It’s a fascinating place as the owner owns a theater just blocks away which is a terrific gig venue and goes back to the mid 80’s when he renovated. There are literally hundreds of pics of him with singing stars over the last 25 years plus. Really great history of music over the last ¼ century. Felipe and Angel learnt how to play darts, and boy have they both got different styles!!

From here to the Arch and the old St Louis, right by the Mississippi – the divide, East from West. It’s where people really started the long journey to the West. The river is high and is still flooding paths along the side of it. What a spectacular sight the Arch is, and the ride up is interesting. You get into a 5 seater pod, very small, and tight. There are 8 pods which start off going diagonally up and then I think you end up one at the top with the others hanging below going up! Really very interesting, and some screams from other pods!

Wow once at the top, 630 feet above ground, what a sight – oh Angel had declined to come up as he really didn’t like the idea of the height!  No kidding! You could see for miles and I swear that we could see our last camp site.

We returned to terra firma and met Angel who had visited some of the Museums that are at the bottom. I took a picture of Rainbow Arch which is in Bryce Canyon and we didn’t get to see! 

Jack had got one of his friends who owns a string of pizza parlours, Cecil Whittakers, to donate dinner so off we went to collect it. Collected this and then back to the hotel where we really just relaxed had dinner. 

Angel and Felipe went off to the hot tub to enjoy a soak. Me I’m finishing up these last three days blogs, and wishing that I had had a hot tub too, my body needs it.

This is the last night in a bed, sadly. Tomorrow we are back in the saddle and off Eastwards.

Cheers all. BP

Day 22  Summersville, Missouri to St. Louis, Missouri
 June 27, 2011
-Oh yea another storm in the middle of the night, and what a beauty, thunder, lightning, loads of rain, wind that was ferocious and once again we had not put the tarp over the tent. 

Hey it looked great as we sat round the fire and looked at the stars, only hours earlier!! Jack and Felipe were the men, actually it was Jack who summonsed Felikpe to get up and out and help him with the tarp. Well done lads great job, although by now we were all awake and listening to the storm. 

The wind was pretty rough and I do remember thinking OK so where will we land as literally the tent rose from the ground – but it’s a great tent PJ and it clung to the ground. PJ Watson and family who had loaned us the tent for this epic journey, and we want to thank them, it’s kept us pretty safe and pretty dry in the two storms that we’ve been through.

Holly in her own tent, was apparently praying to stay alive and make it back to the Bronx, all the way through the storm! The rain didn’t stop and it was belting down when we ventured out of the tent, pouring big cats and dogs. We took refuge in the last evenings Church service open barn hoping for some divine intervention! 

Now you have to understand that for the last 21 days we get up, pack up and get on the road to ride, so when Shrubb produces bacon and eggs this completely throws us! What - breakfast?!!! And yes he’s even going to cook it for us. Well divine intervention didn’t stop the rain, but manner from heaven – YES!! Thank you Shrubb a wonderful gesture and please do it again – he’s actually leaving tomorrow, sadly.

Breakfast in the rain, pack up in the rain, load the bikes in the rain - we had decided to drive the 12 miles into Rolla to the local bike repair shop, Route 66 Bikes, to get all the bikes repaired. Still raining on the way in, but as we get to the shop it stops and definitely starts to brighten up – whoopee! 

So the deal is Jack is going to stay with the bikes that need repaired and we will ride on, on the bikes that are good. My bike’s tyre has been repaired very quickly so I am able to ride too. The three ask about the route, and they unanimously decide to take the scenic route!

Hey they are only here for two days so let’s keep them happy! Actually it’s a great route and really beautiful, have I described it before, rolling hills, open fields, trees for as far as the eye can see. Yes I think I have.  But none the less a terrific ride. First 10 miles and guess what sod’s law – my new tyre punctures!! 

Jack’s a stalwart and drives back ot the bike shop and they repair it again! On we go into Jesse James country and Meramac caverns. These are where Jesse and the gang hid when being chased. Apparently these caverns are huge and spacious, where you can hide with your horses and literally anything. They stay pretty much at 60 degrees most of the time, which is more than can be said for the temp we were riding in – high 80s to low 90s. We sweated loads as you can imagine.

Some terrific old wagons on the side of the road, and off course signs that maybe suggest that maybe the English had been here before – St Albans!!
Angel gave me the low down on the Lewis and Clark trail, explorers who had crossed America trying to map out a route across this huge country. Angel told me that they had an Indian guide helping them, and this was one of the reasons that they could pass through Indian territory. He seems to know what he is talking about that’s for sure. 

The three were doing well, Tim was on the charge, Shrubb was riding the Blue machine and doing well and Holly was keeping the pace. I think the camelback helped.

There was some confusion about half way through the day, when we all took off in different directions, much to Shrubbs amazement. Once we had all met up again, it was viewed as a miracle by Shrubb. 

For us it was the second miracle the first being breakfast! The third miracle was Andriy’s driving. He’d taken a “No through road” while driving ahead, and had stopped thinking that we would all take this! The bikers all stuck to the correct route, the old Route 66. He did figure it out and came back and made the correct turn – so you see miracles do happen!

The final part of the ride into St Louis was pretty easy, going through some very beautiful and expensive areas.  To our hotel, the Marriott Springhill Suites in Chesterfield, St Louis, which had been donated to us and boy we were ready for a good night’s rest. 

Before this though, Michael Puertas the Director of Squash at the St Louis Downtown Club, had kindly found sponsors for a meal at the Pii – the best pizza restaurant in St Louis. President Obama had had pizza from here and had also flown the chef down to DC to make pizza at the White House – so really good pizza. 

Great to catch up with Mike I had not seen him for some time, and was actually the England BU19 Assistant National Coach way back when with Mike in the squad and he made the team too, quite a player.

So a good day, and now we had a rest day tomorrow In St Louis and a definite visit to the Arch.

We want to say thanks to all the help in St Louis that we got from Mike and all the donors who made sure that we were very comfortable in a real bed and enjoyed great pizza – Cheers St Louis.

Day 21  Springfield, Missouri to Summersville, Missouri
 June 26, 2011
 -So the three CitySquashers arrived at our camp site, outside Girald, just before midnight. They were pleased to be with us and excited to be doing two days riding with us, although I don’t think that they realized just what they had let themselves in for!! 

They had flown into St Louis and borrowed two bikes from Michael Puertas, and they were great bikes. The last bike was really a disaster – a blue mountain bike, which was really not a Ride X America kind of bike. 

The tent situation was another interesting situation. We had been sleeping two in the van (Angel and Raymond) and the rest in the tent (BP, Jack, Andriy and Felipe). Now we had two more in the tent – Tim and Michael Shrubb. From four to six!!
Holly had her own tent which she was very pleased about, and her own miners head lamp just like Charlie, very thoughtful. Our tent was a seven person tent, but now no real room! We all made our mark and settled down for the night, with wake up call for 6.30ish!

UP and at it with everything packed and we were ready to go. Tim and Shrubb were on their bikes with Jack and BP, and off we went. We were actually riding out of a town called Republic, just as well it didn’t have the AN on the end as Tim is a Democrat! 

It was a 20 mile relay and pretty fast, then the next riders were up, with Holly as one of them. The new comers were really enjoying themselves so far! Little did we know that this was going to be an eventful day ahead – was it coincidence that we had three new comers on board?

Again the scenery was typical, rolling hills with open fields, but lots of tracks of trees, some of which are National Parks. The three are determined to ride as much as possible, and we are very happy to let them. First signs of a sore butt is when a rider gets up off the seat and then takes time to readjust his/her seating position, and yes this was now happening but I’m not saying who!

All along the route there are huge billboards, advertising just about anything, plus off course, something that I haven’t mentioned, churches, churches and more churches. The group reminds me that we are in Middle America and the bible belt, off course.
The ride is going well until a puncture on my back wheel! One down! 

As we rode on we could see the storm clouds building, and man they looked vicious dark and ominous. Our three riders were not happy with this and did not want to ride if it started to rain! Another puncture, this time Angel, two down, and within miles Jack gets a puncture, so we are now down to 4 bikes and a blue mountain bike!  On we go, but at the next 15 mile stop another bike dies! 

One of the borrowed bikes has a spoke out and maybe a buckled back wheel! Is this the curse of the three? We all think it is, in fact we know it is.

Jack and Andriy and others, have now drove on to find the camp site and set up the tent, which they do and then send us the address of the site. Remember we are basically out in the boonies right now on bikes, and with one back up vehicle. 

Talk about trying to find the camp site! Basically we went around the site with the cars GPS telling us that we were there. Finally we are talked in by Jack, relief.

Now I’ve been on quite a few camp sites in my day, but never a one where there is a religious gathering going on, in an open barn (no side walls – I guess that this is used for shelter on site if the weather is bad), right next to where we have set up – good placement of the tent guys! 

So we have finished our first day with the three. I went to the washroom and lo and behold a framed cartoon of a frog with the West Ham United theme tune underneath – “I’m forever blowing bubbles”.

For the uninitiated West Ham as a football (soccer) team in London that have this as their tune. Just thought that it was funny to see this hanging in a washroom so far away from the East End of London!!  

Food time and then smors around the fire that Felipe and Angel have built, but again little did we know what was to come that night!!    

Day 20
  Girard, Kansas to Springfield, Missouri

 June 25, 2011
 -Up early but I have to say it’s getting harder to get these students up and on the move – they are like zombies when they wake up, and seeing them trudge to the washroom is funny! 

Tent packed up and on the road and it's a relay day today 15 miles on 30 off. We start from the middle of Girald and Andriy and Felipe are up followed by Jack and BP and then Raymond and Angel. 

The morning is cool and slightly overcast so not too hot yet! Within 20m miles we are into Missouri, our 6th State and we are psyched. It’s getting hotter and the day goes to 92 degrees! But we are doing well in relay and stacking up the miles, the 15 miles each pair is working really well. 

I love it when the route signs say East on top, 96 East is good, any other direction is never good! Through a little town called Avilla. I had to take a pic as we have two members of CitySquash who’s last name is Avila – OK so one more L in the town’s name, but close. 

It’s rolling hill time as ever, lots of cattle, plenty of corn and great horses. Green fields rolling hills and long straight roads, oh and it’s the old Route 66 so let’s get some kicks here. We turn into a gas station and wait for Angel and Raymond. 

There is an incredible Coca Cola shop with loads of old Coke memorabilia dating back years. Old bottles, ice machines, signs, just about everything that you could imagine about coke really cool!

Jack bought a lamp and Andriy bought a checker board - nice.

We change our plan and decide to stay in Springfield, rather than go on the extra 35 miles to Marshfield. It’s a KOA camp site and we have not stayed in one for a few nights, plus we have visitors – Tim (CEO of CitySquash), Holly Alderman (Middle School academics), and Michael Shrubb (Righthand man to Tim). 

They have flown in to St Louis and driving to the camp site, and then riding three days with us. I guess that they’ll say that they did the Ride X America once they’ve done the three days!!!!

Right now watching “The Longest Yard” in the lounge of the KOA and waiting for our guests.

They are in for a big surprise when they hit the road tomorrow, I’m not responsibly for sore legs, sore arms OR sore butts!!

CU tomorrow.

Bryan Patterson Discovers Mysterious Squash Relics 
In Southern Missouri Campground   

June 25, 2011 
-Fordham University head coach Bryan Patterson led his exhausted charity-bicyclists into a rural KOA campground in southern Missouri Saturday after a tough day on the road, only to discover vintage squash memorabilia prominently displayed in the campground lounge.

Patterson asked the campground owners and anyone else who could understand his Northumberland accent if they knew the history of the display, but no one had any idea how the racquets got there or, for that matter, what they were.

The coach tried to ascertain if there were, or had ever been, squash courts in the area, but again his curiosity was met with blank stares.

Bryan finally gave up trying to figure it out and sat down to watch the campground feature film, “The Longest Yard”.

Day 19
  Eureka, Kansas to Girard, Kansas

 June 24, 2011
 -Bad start we slept in! I guess that we were actually getting tired! Also Angel had sat upright in the middle of the night and started talking to Raymond about broken glass – what was that all about!!

The last two days had seen some good biking, fast and long, maybe this had hit us! We had around 98 miles today and starting late – not good! 

Same old same old country side, open plains, big skies and pretty hot! But we kept going and I teamed up with Angel at the back. It’s actually not to bad hanging and seeing what’s to see. 

Angel found a dead firefly which he hoped he could get back to NYC! Very optimistic, but he hope to set it and hang it in a frame. Across the Verdegris river where we saw turtles swimming, and diving, again this was Angel who spotted them.

He also noticed that there were lots of dead animals on the side of the roads, especially armadillos. Sad really that so many animals die on the roads.

The day went well and we made the State Park Camp Site, which was huge, and just outside of Girard. Set around another lake, actually I think it was a damned river, but the lake was pretty big with lots of boats and jet skis, and off course fishing – go Angel!

The lads’ bike once again had a loose back wheel with the tyre hitting the brakes, but this time an easy remedy, release the back axel and line up the wheel again – fixed.

The ground that the tent was pretty stony so not a good place to sleep, but hey beggars can’t be choosers!

Girard to Springfield tomorrow. Good night.

Day 18  Nickerson, Kansas to Eureka, Kansas
 June 23, 2011 
-Nickerson to Eureka – what names, but very appropriate for the great plains. 

Plains they are too, as far as the eye can see, but whoever said that Kansas was flat was wrong. Yes it looks flat but I have to say that going East there are some might long inclines, which just keep going and going. 

The scenery was changing from really open brush to more arable land with crops, corn fields, cattle and horses, so very much a mix of agriculture.

It was another good day as far as biking. We hit the road early and made good time and miles. El Dorado was the first large town that we went through. We biked on the pavement (oops that’s sidewalk for the Yanks), for some time as the road was actually busy. 

Stopped at Memorial site with a huge bronze Eagle and “Freedom’s not Free” etched into the wall surrounding the memorial. Cool. Then Angel spotted a bike route which took us off the main highway and through some terrific woodland and river scenes, nice one Angel. 

Turtles in the river we crossed, which was fascinating and an old man fishing. Angel asked him what he was fishing for, but I think the drawl baffled him. 

We made Wichita relatively quickly and into Subway – Jack’s favourite eatery! Wichita is a very smart city, with new buildings and a terrific city center. We were impressed. But onwards to the East with reminders that this is oil country, as could be seen by the rigs and derricks in various yards, with the oil companies signs hung on fences.

Angel changed with Felipe and Jack retired to the van, and on we went. We finally arrived at another State Park again right by a lake – seems that that’s where most of them are, by lakes. Pretty spectacular, we picked tent and with thunder in the background we also put on the tarp! Just for good measure.

In fact we needed it as it did rain hard, but no lightning this time, thank goodness.

In the morning we found that something had mooched around and found our cooler and had a good tuck in – so much for leaving the cooler out and below the van! 

Day 17
  Alexander, Kansas to Nickerson, Kansas

 June 22, 2011 
-On the road again, just can’t wait to get on the road again – there’s a song there somewhere!! Up and raring to go, as we have not ridden for the last two days. 

We are getting lazy! We quickly drive back down to Alexander, bikes out and off we go. It’s Jack, Raymond, Angel and me to start. Man it’s a beautiful day, cool and the sun coming up, not a cloud in the sky (which may not be good for later!). A great road very smooth, and off course FLAT! 

The van’s at the 10 miles and we reach it in a very fast time. Jack has set the pace and is flying. The land is golden, with the wheat and corn ready for harvest, actually some of the fields are already done, and combine harvesters are either being transported to other farms or are in use, as we can see. 

Every occasionally there is a small oil rig in the field (not sure that you can call them fields as they are huge unfenced areas), pumping oil from the ground. I’m sure that the farms out here are self sufficient in fuel. Also gas (that’s petrol for everyone else) is selling at the pump for $3.35. Eat your heart out New York, oh and Europe!
The van has gone 20 miles this time and we seem to be there In no time again. As Angel says “this feels like we’ve done only 5 miles!”

 But in fact it’s 30 miles that we have done. Out at 8.15am and at the 30 mile mark just before 11am. Very good going, I’m sure that it’s the very flat roads that we are on. The scenery is as ever flat as the eye can see, and it’s not looking like it will change any time soon. Another 20 miles fly by and we’ve done 50 already, before 1pm. Rest time and we can now feel the sun, it’s getting very hot.

A great little park which is just off the road that we are on, shaded, and relatively quiet and a good place to refuel and get a few zzzz in. Which we do. Angel’s done and Felipe takes over – Mr Fasty and he’s ready to go too. So back onto the road and only another 46 miles to go. 

The van goes 20 miles and waits as usual, for us all to catch up. Lots of trucks, but not sure what they are transporting, maybe the harvest? With the truck the road is still a little dangerous, but they do seem to give us plenty of room as they pass, which we appreciate. Again 20 miles goes fast and we are at the van which has water and munchies. 

We do carry water with us, but always nice to get a cool drink at the van. Our water on the move literally heats up with the sun. On we go and in Sterling we see the van. Andriy makes sure that we have the correct way to Nickerson, we wouldn’t want to get lost now – which Jack promptly does taking a wrong turn and not seeing where we had gone! No one is really aware of this until the end when Jack comes in quite a while after us telling us that he’d taken a wrong turn!

So we are in Nickerson, but this is not camp site country, so we google and ask where the nearest camp site is! Another 15 miles away, these camp sites are just not helping us one bit. Another State Park which are in fact very good value, and this one by the side of a huge lake. 

No need for the van lights, so we pitch the tent and prepare for food, but you sods law, there is a wind off the lake and our grill takes forever to cook. Man, thank goodness for bread and peanut butter, and jelly. Jack, Andriy and Raymond take off to Haven to find a café and food, while Angel and Felipe, having had bacon sarnies, are more into the lake and what they can catch.

 Believe it or not the spear a fish!  Me I’m catching up on the blogg, it’s two days now since I got this out there and still no internet. Hopefully there will be access tomorrow and I can get this to you all.

When  they arrive back from Haven Felipe, Angel and Andriy are into the Lake for a dip to cool of. It’s been a hot day and we are all tired.

OK over and out. Remember if you have any questions please let us have them and we will try to answer. Do it through

By the way ½ way through tomorrow, Thursday we will be ½ way through Ride X America. Cheers.

Day 16   Pueblo, Colorado to Alexander, Kansas
 June 21, 2011 
-Now if you’ve seen our route you’ll know that we have two drive by days. Today is one of them. 

No need for an early start so a leisurely up, shower, pack up, and then down into Pueblo to collect the bikes. Jack’s, Felipe’s, Raymond’s and mine had all been in for repair, now they were good to go. Bikes on board and headed out of Pueblo to Alexander, Kansas.

We drove and the scenery became very flat and non-descript, just flat. The Rockies were now becoming small specks on the horizon, and just flat, and we were still in Colorado. You don’t really think of Colorado as flat but sure enough it is on this side of the Rockies. 

I have to say that this particular road was not great with a very small bike path on the side and more vehicles than we had seen for some time. So maybe that’s why it’s a drive by route.

Kansas and here we are. The scenery stays the same and we are unimpressed, just flat as far as the eye can see, and hot too. We pass through small towns and I mean small, maybe 6 or 7 houses, with some other houses boarded up and dilapidated. Seems like small town America is suffering.

We finally come to Alexander our stop – wow even smaller than the other towns we’ve passed through. Now for a camp site and we are told that the nearest one is 30 miles away North of Alexander. OK so that’s it! Onto the dusty back roads and off we go to the Kansas State Park camp site, 30 miles! 

We get there late and have to use the van headlights to see to put the tent up and to cook! Not good, but what else could we do? We get everything done and finally it’s sleep time. We have a long ride tomorrow, Alexander to Nickerson, some 96 miles. But we know that we are in flat lands.

Let me tell you about the van – Jack bid for it on a government site. The van was being sold by Kentucky Tech and Jack finally got the last bid in to get the van for just over 5k. A good buy, it’s a 15 seater and in good nick. A 2001 Dodge 3500 Maxi with under 100k mileage. Jack goes and collects the van and then drives it to San Fran where he meet us there on the 4th June. 

He actually does a road trip with his dad for part of this, which is pretty cool. Vegas and the Grand Canyon are some of the places he visits – not sure just how many miles Jack puts on the van though!! She’s still going, but I think we need to get an oil change soon.

Day 15
   Rest Day - Denver, Colorado

 June 20, 2011 
-Actually let’s talk about the night going into Day 15!! The Mac and Cheeses was not spectacular, in fact anything but, so not a great dinner!

Went to bed, sleeping bags and all. 

THEN – rain, heavy rain, like you’ve never heard, pelting the tent, and we hadn’t put up the rainproof sheet over the tent!! Silly us! Plus high winds, really high winds!

I was at one end of the tent with Jack at the other and Felipe, Andriy and Charlie in the middle section. Andriy was the first to feel the rain just coming through the tent roof (if that’s what you call the top of the tent!). Then Charlie and Felipe caught some, next up was Jack. I seemed to be in the one dry place in the tent.

Suddenly thunder and lightning, which was absolutely right above us, and loud and noisy as could be. Literally every few seconds, boom then the lightning, and the heavy rain and the hjigh wind that was bashing the tent. 

The lads were getting hysterical, with Jack’s nervous laugh, each time the thunder and the lightning happened, and Andriy getting up and screaming for someone to help him place the tarp over the tent. It was getting to be a little like Comedy Central inside the tent. 

Charlie who had a miners light around his head, got up to help Andriy, and the rain eased a little, so out they went into the rain and driving wind, to get the tarp and place it over the tent. Now you know sods law – just when you think things are getting better they get worse!! 

So just as Andriy and Charlie exit the tent the rain and wind intensifies! They get the tarp out of the van, but they are not in unison, and the wind is blowing it all over the place. So it’s hard to control and they get it wrapped the wrong way trying to straighten it out. 

Shouts and screams with Jack’s nervous laughter in the background each time there is a crack of thunder. Felipe has his torch on and this looks like an alien ship floating around the tent!

Andriy and Charlie get the tarp over the tent and secure it, but little do they know that the zip entrance on the tarp is on the opposite side to the zip entrance to the tent!! Now how to get in? Crawl up under the tarp and find the tent entrance, with the miners light all over the place and Felipe’s torch trying to help, and Jack’s nervous laughter and me giggling in the sleeping bag!

Everyone get’s in but the rain is relentless, fast and pounding the tent, with the wind almost lifting the tent of the ground! More thunder and lightning and we all wonder just when we are going to get hit and fried. Rain has gotten under the tent and makes it feel like a water bed. 

We are all now searching for a dry place to put our sleeping bags, quite hilarious when we all end up in a corner of the tent in the only dry spot! The night is long, but I think that we do get some sleep, but every so often you are getting feet pushing you, arms all over the place, and generally moving each other with limbs.

Oh and all this time Angel and Raymond were safely sleeping in the van, not realizing just what was going on!!

Morning and we have managed to stay relatively dry, the tent is still in one piece, and attached to the ground which really is a miracle. The wind has subdued a little and the thunder and lightning long gone, but the rain is still coming down. 

We manage to shower and get dressed and into the van. We have placed most of our luggage into the tent to give it some weight so that it doesn’t blow away, which we still think it might. Bikes into the back and we drive into Pueblo to the Ski, Hike and Bike shop to get the bikes serviced, repaired and anything else that may need. They will have the bikes ready for tomorrow, Tuesday.

Charlie is leaving today, from Denver. So this is a chance for us to drop him off at the DIA and look around Denver. It’s a two hour drive and we say goodbye to Charlie who I think would have liked to have continued on this Ride. He takes the miners light with him, safely packed away, and not on his head, although there have been times when he’s forgotten that he’s wearing  it and has wondered around during the day with it on!

We are sad to see him go. But into Denver to see the City, and it’s a pretty new modern City.

I was here in 1998 with the Men’s U19 World team to train before playing in the World U19 Championships. Changed a lot since then.

We meet up with Eric Eijteljorg, the CEO of Mile High Urban Programme here in Denver. He’s literally just got back from the Urban Individual Champs. He and his team landed at 3am this morning. We talk about Urban squash, and the developing programmes. He’s from Philadelphia so we talk about squash there. Eric was a member  of the Merion Club way back when, but still remembers his time there. 

More walking around Denver, then we see the Denver Athletic Club, and I know the Pro there – John Leskoe. He’s been in Denver a long while, but I first met him when I came to New York to be the Head Pro at the Heights Casino way back in 1993! Thomas Hercule the squash coach for the Mile High programme was at the Club too so really good to see him and chat about squash.

Finally we were going to have a fantastic meal. Andy, Audey and Gabriella Garr had told us a few days previously that they would donate dinner at any stop that we made. So we told them Denver would be good. Andy took care of it all and text us that he’d booked the Denver Chop House for 7pm. 

We didn’t know what awaited us! We all met up again at the Denver Chop House, went in, and what a terrific restaurant, and I mean terrific. We sat and drooled over the menu, appetizers, main course and deserts. We really didn’t know where to start, and it took some time for us all to decide just what we were ordering. Starters were delicious, a triple deck with calamari, onion rings, jumbo shrimps wrapped in bacon, portobello mushrooms in asparagus sauce, and corn bread, a feast in itself. 

Then the main course where we all chose steaks, New York Strip, Fillet Mignon, and Porterhouse and some included shrimp too. I don’t think there was any talking while we enjoyed the main course! Finally the sweets, with Felipe and Angel’s eyes lighting up. They both chose icecream, while others had raspberry sorbet, crème brulee, and lava cake. Me I enjoyed a coffee! What a wonderful meal in a great restaurant. We all want to thank the Garr family so much for making this possible. Cheers all.

Back to Pueblo and the camp site and wonder of wonders the tent was still there, only half blown away!

Day 14
   Gunnison, Colorado to Pueblo, Colorado

 June 19, 2011 
-Gunnison KOA was a really good camp site, all mod cons and even a lounge area where we watched two James Bond movies, Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace.

Very relaxing. But Day 14 was looming!

We could sense it, this was the day that we would ride over the last of the Rockies. We were not sure just what that would be like. We knew that this was going to be a long ride, and one where we used the leap frog relay, which was working for us, and making us time.

Up and at it by 7.30am., out on the road. We were still at altitude and you still had to take deep breathes every now and then. Through the Gunnison valley which had great farms and pastures with lots of cattle in them, but still surrounded by the awesome Rockies. 

The going was good, pretty flat, early morning not too hot so good biking, until the Monarch Pass! You know when a sign says 7 miles to the summit that this is going to be a tough climb!!!!

Raymond and Andriy were the riders, and as we traveled up to a mile before the summit we all felt very concerned and sorry for the both of them. We were above the snow line again with snow still on the mountains, and it was chilly.

We met two riders who were cycling to a wedding in Wyoming! Then they were going on to Maine, and we thought that we had a long way to go. 

The wait was long, and the second rider, BP, took off before Raymond and Andriy arrived. The mile climb was tough but nothing like that which R and A were going through. The summit – 11312 feet above sea level! 

The top of Monarch Pass. Now the downhill, and boy what a downhill this was 10 miles of no pedaling, just awesome. In fact I reached the 10 miles before the van caught up with me, so on I went. 

At 12 miles I stopped and the van caught up to me with Raymond and Andriy exhausted in the back. They had made it up most of the way, but finally had to get off and push the bikes. The van, in fact, went back for them and got them on board.

We were now on flatter terrain and another turn and a farm with the sign “Home of Hi-Altitude Cattle”, not sure what this meant – would the cattle be fitter that low-altitude cattle, would they out run them? Or would they taste better?

We’ll never find out I guess.

We were now traveling along the Arkansas River valley, with steep cliff sides and gorges. The river was  fast with lots of rapids, which made for great White Water Rafting, and sure enough we saw our first rafts.

Angel was distraught as he wanted to get onto the river, not to raft but to kayak! Sorry Angel no can do! There were lots of rafts on the river and it was fun to watch as they navigated the rapids and rocks. 

Throughout this time we were getting reports, from Tim and Esteban, about how the Urban Individual Championships were progressing at Williams College. Esteban had bet the CitySquash kids that if we won all the divisions he would cut all his hair off – Go CitySquash! Not to be, CitySquash won 6 of the 8 titles and had finalists in the other two. Not a bad week-ends haul though. 

The Arkansas River Valley was a tricky ride as the bike lane was not very wide and there seemed to be lots of vehicles on the road, especially huge trucks. So we had to take it easy, and be aware of the traffic, but this was a beautiful valley with some gorgeous cliffs and overhangs. 

Finally out onto the desert plains of Colorado. We had “done” the Rockies, but I have to say that the scenery now was basically desert, relatively flat with lots of brushwood. It’s amazing just how fast the terrain can change. Looking back you could see the Rockies and although we were glad to be over them, I’m sure that we will miss the beauty and grandeur of them.   

The modern world – texting, what a marvel, and what would we do without it? 

A text from the Garr family saying that they would host a meal in Denver for us, and that they had found a restaurant and we were booked in for 7pm Monday.

Fantastic, and what a surprise. Good food and not camp cooking!

Not that Andriy’s cooking is bad it’s just that this will make a wonderful change.

Monday is a rest day and we had planned on visiting Denver. It’s only a 2 hour drive away from our KOA camp site.

OK Andriy’s Mac and cheese!!

Rest day tomorrow – YES. 

Day 13   Telluride, Colorado to Gunnison, Colorado
 June 18, 2011 
-Check out from our camp site and Angel and I are first on the road to Gunnison.  

Good start to our ride no real hills or mountains. We see early morning hot air balloons just as we leave. They must have a great view of the country side from up there. One is landing not too far way. 

The morning is cold in the shade and warm as you hit the sunshine, so we are biking cold and hot! Felipe and Andriy are ready to go as we get to the van, and off they go. 

They are the team for speed, I’m not sure why as I like to see the views! Jack’s up and off he goes. 

Andriy is bugging me to buy a grill with propane gas, and we see a Home Depot in Melrose which looks like a town that was just built yesterday, so new and spike and span, and traffic light too!! We call in hoping to be out before Jack passes us, but we debate what to buy and by the time we are out Jack has gone by.

 We drive on and come to Route 50 East – yes the loneliest road in America, our friend is back! It’s right in Melrose Main Street, but we are not sure if Jack has turned. We turn right and go about 3 miles and no Jack. 

So we go back and drive North to see if this is where Jack went. No sign, so just as we go back into Melrose we get a call from Jack saying where are we!! He’d gone the right way and was over his 10 miles. 

We catch up and Angel and I take over 3 miles later the 4 mile mountain! We make it to the top and the run downhill was worth the effort. It’s definitely getting more mountainous, and we can still see the Rockies, they seem to never leave us! 

Fun stuff by the side of the road, an old stagecoach, metal Mexican man playing the guitar, and other interesting things.

We hit the Blue Mesa which is a huge lake which stretches for miles, really beautiful, with quite a few people enjoying the sun, boating, sailing, fishing and just hanging out, looks great. 

Then the Gunnison River Valley which really confuses me as it’s flowing into the Blue Mesa, but the valley is easy biking, but the ride has taken its toll on Felipe’s bike – a buckled back wheel, so now out of action.

Ray has been biking and is going well. We cycle into Gunnison and look for a bike repair shop. We find one but it’s too late today to get anything fixed and all our bikes need servicing, so the decision is made that we have three bikes and tomorrow that’s it for the ride to Pueblo. 

Monday is a day’s rest and we are about 2 hours from Denver, so we intend to take the van there and get the bikes repaired, while looking around Denver. 

Also Charlie is leaving us and is flying out of Denver so we are all going to see him off, we will miss him, his pics, his fun, and keeping Jack in order!! 

Day 12
   Dolores, Colorado to Telluride, Colorado

 June 17, 2011
-The Rockies are looming!!

We left our San Juan National Forest camp site, Dolores, pretty early. Our camp host was left with a CS Ride X America T which he was really proud of.

We actually packed up quicker than we had ever done on this Ride. Did this mean that we really wanted to get into the Rockies as fast as we could, are we crazy – don’t answer that! 

Jack was first up, and off we went for 10 miles. We are following the Dolores River valley, which is spectacular. 

High mountain side which are covered in forest, with the Dolores River running the opposite way to the way we are going. It really is amazing scenery. 

There are some terrific properties by the river, wherever they can build, which is not often. We can always see the high Rockies and are getting deeper into climbing. Higher and higher. 

Felipe and Andriy are next to go, and they start on an uphill, which we in the van have a sly laugh about! Another spectacular 10 miles and it’s BP and Angel’s turn. More uphill biking, with the altitude ever getting higher.

I can’t remember who hit 10,000+ feet first, but there we were staring across to Sheep Mountain, 13,188 feet high, beautiful.

We were all starting to B and moan about the up hills and who had the steepest, let me tell you it was definitely Angel and me.

Met a couple of Harley bikers who were now retired and literally just cruising the West – man they have the life. They were from Detroit and were leisurely making their way to Phoenix, but in no rush.

It wasn’t getting any easier, but on we went. Spotted a yellow belly Marmot, just chilling on the rocks, next to a water tap sticking out of the ground, miles from anywhere I might add, so kind of unusual.

Jack rides to within 7 miles of Telluride and BP and Angel take over for the ride in.

Telluride was in the grip of a Bluegrass festival, the place was packed and we were given a ticket for the van that allowed us to stay in the town for 3 hours – what’s that all about?!!

We parked, and strolled around the town, getting lunch, and basically taking in the scene. Sadly Mumford and Sons were playing on Sunday. It seems that we timed our Ride to Telluride badly, we would miss them, and they are English you know.

We drove up to Mountain Village in search of the highest squash court in N America it was at The Peaks Hotel. We drove right up to the front door and asked the doorman if we could go to the squash court. Sadly the court has been converted into a pilates studio!!! And we were ready to play too!!

However our trip was not wasted, we rode the gondola back down into Telluride. It’s free and you have to change gondolas once. The second one went over a vertical drop that scared the living daylight out of Angel and Jack. 

But some absolutely awesome views down to Telluride, across the valley and to the high Rockies, we could even see the Telluride airport perched right on the top of a plateau with no room for a mistake when landing!

Provisions bought we headed to our camp site which, because of the festival was a good 15 miles out of the town, but hey who’s worried.

Tent up and fire lit we were now ready to relax and recharge.

Day 11
   Blanding, Utah to Dolores, Colorado


June 16, 2011 -After the disappointment of yesterday, we felt that we could make the 82 miles from Blanding to Dolores, especially doing the leap frog relay. In fact we knew that we could make the 82 miles. 

So goodbye Blanding, and it was Jack who started us off. 

The going was pretty flat once again, which we always appreciate, although he did finish with an uphill!! BP and Angel were next up, and again another flat ride with one or two slight up hills but no bigees. 

Following BP and Angel were Felipe and Andriy, the fast team, and this was the system all the way through Utah and into Colorado, yes Colorado, our fourth State. The scenery did change in Colorado, it was more arable with more green to it, which we hadn’t seen for a long while. 

Plus more animals, horses, herds of cattle, and the occasional dead deer by the side of the road. First town in CO was Dove Creek, a little sleepy town but obviously a farming community as was seen by the farm machines. 

The one constant were the high mountains in the distance as we rode towards them – the Rockies! Not nice. We knew that we would be up against them in a few days. Right now we were literally enjoying the Colorado scenery.

One thing that we also notice was that there was more traffic on the road, by the last few days’ comparison, when we had hardly seen any vehicles at all. 
So to Dolores 6956 feet elevation, a sleepy small town. 

Our camp site was on the East side of Dolores just outside in the San Juan National Forest. Very basic but very beautiful. We picked a spot in a shaded area, with a river running by. Angel and Felipe were off the river, followed by Charlie who immediately immersed himself into the running water but came out screaming “Hell that’s cold!”

 Man the water did look great, so next in was Angel and Felipe, and again screams of how cold it was! Angel and Felipe were really loving this camp site and were making spears to try to catch fish – good luck guys! 

Once again Andriy was the chef making pasta which was guzzled down by the team.

One of Andriy’s funny traits is that once the meal is over he nearly always makes himself a toasted cheese sarny (that’s sandwich to the uninitiated). Yes another one tonight.

The entertainment is usually Andriy beating Jack at chess with the group looking on. It was no different tonight another beating for Jack. 

Our camp site host was a guy named Brian, who had actually come out to the West some four years ago. He pointed out the humming birds that were migrating to South America. 

He hung sweet water for them outside of his cabin. They really are fascinating birds, very small, and very territorial.

Telluride tomorrow and apparently the highest squash court in the world is there, or so we are told. Not sure that we will be playing squash when we get there though!

An uphill ride most of the way, so the relaying should come in handy again.

Day 10
  Torrey, Utah to Blanding, Utah

 June 15, 2011 
-The long and winding road to Blanding.

We knew that this was going to be a tough ride, and one that we might not make. So we decided to do the leap frog relay – this is where we have two riders on the road and the others drive 10 miles. After 40 minutes the next two riders take off from the van while the van waits for the two to arrive. 

Once they have arrived the van takes off for 10 miles and waits for the second two riders. The wait is 35 minutes this time, and the final two riders take off. The van keeps leap frogging the riders and this way we can keep going, eat while traveling, and keep up the pace. 

Felipe did a 36 minute 10 mile ride, which was not all downhill! At the same time we were all doing somewhere between 12 – 15 miles per hour. It also meant that we got a 20 mile break before riding again. The route was pretty flat too which helped.

Before we set out Angel shows us his wonderful leg tan! He’s definitely after a tan. So out through the Capital Reef National Park, still pretty awesome scenery, and on into the desert, literally.  Our leap frog relay seemed to work and we were doing some good mileage. 

The scenery was desert but still with the  canyons which are very impressive. ON one of my rides with Angel (I was tagged with him), we literally rode all the way though a canyon with a river running on the side of the road. Angel wanted to go and sit in it for a while, but no we had to keep up the pace, so on we went. 

Jack did stints on his own as one of Raymond’s spokes had broken. Felipe and Andriy were THE men, they really helped us keep a very good pace and were definitely the fastest two. Thank you both. 

Little communities went by and again we wondered who lived there and what they did, although I guess that many work on the land.

The river, which had been by the side of the road, disappeared, but within minutes turned into what looked like a huge lake, although we weren’t sure if it was. After rounding some bends and seeing a bridge in the distance, we went over the Dirty Devil River. 

A few miles later we went over another bridge with the Colorado River beneath – how cool was that? 

We had to be on the boundry of the Grand Canyon. However more importantly was that we had to keep going, although by now we knew that we wouldn’t make Blanding by dusk, we were still too far away. 

Plus the terrain had become more hilly with some steep inclines. However we kept going, but in the end with the two strong men riding the last leg that we could do, we finally succumbed, put the bikes into the van and drove 54 miles to Blanding.

We had however ridden 118 miles doing leap frog relay. So now we knew that our system worked at least for the 100+ miles that we would have to do on some of our routes. 

We were disappointed that we had not ridden the full distance of this leg of the X America Bike Ride. We hope that you are all not too disappointed either.
Cheers BP  

Day 9
  Bryce Canyon, Utah to Torrey, Utah

 June 14, 2011 
Early start on the road from Bryce Canyon to Torrey.

It really was a beautiful ride and mainly flat with some good down hills. A terrific ride through Black Canyon, I think that’s what it was called, with a river running by the side of the road. 

Still a lot of water in the river and it seemed much of the surrounding land was saturated by the overflow of this water. Rounding bends you’d find a small house totally isolated and wonder who lived there and why they lived there? 

Got caught by a herd of cattle on the road being driven somewhere by two cowboys. I guess either to other pastures or to be transported to market.

We finally hit an horrendous up hill, which would take us up to the top of Parker Mountain. On the first hill, which we were half up, a pick-up truck pulls up next to us and the driver says “easier going down”. We agreed, and he asked where we were going and told him the Bronx, New York. 

Amazed he then proceeded to tell us just how steep this was going to be!! Great, but to our surprise he said put your bikes in the pick-up and hop in – now seriously what could we say, “No”. So sorry all but this was a hill from hell and about 5 miles long! 

The drivers name was Jack and his wife was Laura, and they were going to Fish Lake, near the top of Parker Mountain to celebrate their anniversary. A fascinating couple who had worked in Russia, in Leningrad, teaching English for 19 months. 

They had also worked in Africa in South Africa, Botswana, and Mozambique as teachers. He, Jack also had fought in the Korean war. He was born and raised in the valley that we had just passed through. So all in all a very worldly husband and wife couple, very generous and very kind. 

So really how could we have missed such a ride up Parker Mountain? Jim what do you think? We wished them a great anniversary dinner and looked down on the fast ride to come. Boy it was fast and long which was great for us. 

I got to ride and talk with Angel for a while and find out that he really loves to fish, and for the Fall semester he is going to do canoe and rod at Berkshire School. I told him about my Uncle who was a fisherman off the East coast of England, and Craster kippers which are the best kippers in the world.

We passed some bison grazing and thought that we saw Elk in the distance; well at least Angel thought that we saw some. We were making great time due to the fact that most of the ride had been downhill.

Would you believe that we went through a town called Greenwich, yes another Greenwich, nothing like the town in CT though. 

Jack and the van people drove on to Torrey and the camp site, and when we did make it to Torrey we would have ridden right by if it had not been for Charlie screaming at us to turn in. 

Home for the night, and what a great little camp site looking straight out to red canyon walls on the one side and open country side on the other.

A big thanks to Jack’s dad Brien, who insisted that Jack buy steaks for the evening dinner man did we enjoy them. Cheers Brien O’Brien we love you.

Day 8  Rest Day -  Bryce Canyon, Utah
 June 13, 2011 

No one up early well at least before 10am.

But we wanted to get to Bryce Canyon, which was about 7 miles away. 

It’s amazing that you actually don’t see the canyon system until you are literally on the edge. The drive up through Dixie Forest was leisurely, and we were all asking “where’e the canyon?”.

 Into Bryce National Park and still nothing. We parked the van and a shuttle bus took us up to a drop off, still nothing to see. 

We walk about 20 yards and boom, there’s the canyon. 

Absolutely breathtaking, and as a backdrop the Aquarius Plateau at 10000 feet+, the highest plateau in the US. Spectacular.

We walked some of the canyon walks (not much of a rest day!!), one was the Sunrise to Sunset canyon walk.

About 5 miles but down to the bottom and then back up to appear at another ridge of the canyon.

Suffice it to say what a rest day.

Back on the road early tomorrow.


Day 7
  Cedar City, Utah to Bryce Canyon, Utah

 June 12, 2011 
-Out of Cedar City, and by the way just so you all know we ride city limits to city limits – OK. 

Also we now had Charlie White with us who had flown in on Saturday night from Chicago. He’s a friend of Jacks and is here with us as back up and a good photographer with a camera that takes panoramic pics!! Wow, watch out for his pics.

Decent road out for Cedar City, but then into Cedar Pass. Tough going, but as per usual every 5 miles there is the van, our saviour. 

Great views and a river by the side of the road which was in full flow, definitely because of the late snow. Don’t think the rivers would have had as much water in them if it were not for this. Water drains of the sides of the passes, and it’s really clear, meanwhile the river, dark brown, is carrying loads of sediment.

Felipe is preoccupied by the NBA match tonight, he’s a Miami fan, sad really! But with the new bike man he’s out there ahead of the pack following up at the back is BP as usual. 

Jack and Andriy are swapping each 10 miles and this is working well for them. 

Raymond is not feeling well so is taking a break in the morning in the hope that he can get back on and ride later. 

Charlie loves the views and is just taking pics and encouraging us all. 

Angel is now good to go after yesterday, when a little too much sun got to him. Although he does try to put his helmet on back to front!

Raymond is back in the saddle and feels much better. We are up on a beautiful plateau, with the canyons way in the background, and it’s an easy ride. But we are up in the snow so it’s cold.

We pass what looks like volcanic rocks with snow covering. Pretty spooky. Then a flat upland with a flood plain but again views to die for. 

We literally stumble into Duck Creek a small town on the edge of a flooded meadow. 

Most houses and shops are built of wood, so it’s lunch break. I get a text from Suzie Pierrepont which says keep on pedaling – what’s new Suzie and what the hell do you think we are doing!

We are now on Route 89 and headed towards Bryce Canyon which apparently is spectacular. Lots of biking, but now we turn right at Byway12 – Utah’s first All American Road. 

Man and there’s Red Canyon the first of the canyons, still 17 miles from Bryce Canyon. Lots of tourists and we get one to take a group pic, and then another tourist takes a shot of us all from his camera. Where upon Felipe gets incredibly worried about this stranger taking his pic!!?? 

On we go and there is a terrific bike route by the side of the road so we are all on this. Jack is looking out for snakes, as he seems to think that they are after him and him only!
Our Camp site, Bryce Canyon Pines, is up on the right and we bike in. Relief, sore butts, that don’t seem to get any better, tired legs, but a great days riding.

I get a pic with a couple of Harley Davidson bikers and think that maybe I’d just take the Harley and ride back! 

I thought that we would not have internet or any conveniences, but there is internet and a TV. We see the last of the NBA final, and poor Felipe is devastated by the result, a win for Dallas and the series. Will he be able to ride on, even after our rest day?

Pitch the tent make a fire and sit and chat and remember what we have done today. Tomorrow is a rest day and we plan on visiting Bryce Canyon, although there is so much to see there.

Day 6
  Beaver, Utah to Cedar City, Utah

 June 11, 2011 
-We drive into Milford to start our ride, we are not going to ride the extra 12 miles from Beaver!! No way. 

Definitely more lakes and rivers. In fact most of the rivers are running high, I guess with the late snow that is still on the mountain tops.

 It’s Felipe’s turn this time and the chain comes off while he is riding THE bike. Ray is on hand to see that everything works and with some handy mechanics Felipe is on the go again. 

We are in High Plains territory, or so it seems. I can imagine Clint Eastwood riding (sorry) into the small town up here and helping the towns folk  against the bad guys. 

Certainly reminded me of some of his films.  We are headed to Cedar City, and although the roads are not steep, they are very long, and even going downhill the wind is into our faces, so it’s a hard ride. 

Cedar City is an old mining town, but it seems to be a busy place and they do call it the Festival City. Sure enough in the first park that we come to there is a group playing – sounds like rock and roll.

KOA is another great site, but no electric cooker and the wind is really bad, so much so that we cann’t get the water to boil. 

No comments please, just not doing it. Peanut butter sandwiches, granola bars are the order of the meal. 

We also decide to trade Felipes bike and so to Trail Cycles, we get a decent deal and Felipe now has a road bike which will make him even faster still. 

The question is will I be able to keep up?

Tomorrow we ride to Bryce Canyon, and there is absolutely no internet there, we will be camping in the wilderness, so sorry all but no report for you, plus Monday is a rest day, so you will all have to wait until Tuesday for the next report.

Have fun all as I’m sure that we will. 


Day 5
  Ely, Nevada to Beaver, Utah

 June 10, 2011
-Day 5 Lovely Route 50  - get your kicks on Route 50!! 

Then we leave it!

Well we made it to Day 5 which some people predicted that we wouldn’t. Go Team. Climbs and valleys- and this is some of the most beautiful scenery that you could wish to see. It just goes on and on. 

Our system of the van going 10 miles and we ride to it changed to 5 miles which was a good move. Was just more encouraging, and really did make for better riding. It’s amazing just how we depend on water, water and more water. You really need to drink loads, and as they say a little often is best.

Raymond was the man today, he’s like a machine and just rides on with Jack the lad encouraging either Felipe or Angel – who he has now named Rafa after Nadal. Angel does look a little like him. 

Nevada seems to be a very dry State, and once we hit the Utah border it was quite strange just how many more lakes and rivers there are. Pictures at the State line, is always a must, plus we gain an hour,  then on we go. The scenery is more lush, but only just, and we wave to cowboys and cowgirls rounding up their herd.

A terrific site and they and we appreciated the wave to each other. Another site was an entrance to a Ranch which had an arch made entirely of antlers probably from deer or buck, an awesome site but one wonders just how many animals were killed to make this.

But on we ride passes and valleys – one moral of this ride would be that “to go down you first have to go up” and boy did we know that. Rafa’s chain came off at one of the summits, just as he was about to pelt down and get up some speed. Too bad, we thought, but Jack came back in the back up van and fixed the problem and Rafa was off down the pass. 

Most of the passes are around the 6000+ feet mark and although we don’t  do all that altitude they are all tough climbs. So seem to go on forever, and  I’m pleased that we all give each other encouragement to keep gritting our teeth and make it to the summit. 
Finally we leave our beloved Route 50!!!

On to route 21 and on into Milford, our overnight stop. We realized that once in Milford our camp site was actually about 12 miles away in Beaver, so of in the van on this one. 

Good site with pretty good amenities, an electric cooker was terrific and Andriy cook chicken BP had an omelets, so really good food, then tent up and then to bed – yippee.

Day 4
  Austin, Nevada to Ely, Nevada

Fordham Coach Bryan Patterson and several players are cycling from San Francisco to New York to raise money for CitySquash, a not-for-profit after-school enrichment program based in the Bronx at Fordham University. 

Coach Patterson is sending reports to from the road.
 June 9, 2011
-Day 4 Still loving Route 50!!

Getting tired of saying that we are up early (care of Jack O ‘Brien), packing all the equipment, and on the road. Out of Austin on Route 50 headed East, and into Eureka making good pace and using our 10 mile system, with a 5 minute break. 

We carried water with us so were good there. Eureka is an old mining town, really quaint, not very big – sneeze and you’ll miss it!. But it does have a Opera House, much to our surprise! Not a lot open at the time that we passed through other than a great deli.

Downed some food and on our way. Dropped down into Smokey Valley and a long stretch of flat oh and boring scenery,, then a tough climb up to Pinto Pass 7376 feet high! Another great ride down into a valley and then up to Pancake Pass 6359 feet, hey another great drop down. 

Jack’s Pass was next, followed by Petite Lawrence, and then the long haul up before dropping down into Ely. No real mishaps, sadly, although Jack was sick and drove all day which gave Andriy the chance to ride a full day. After which, surprisingly he said that his butt was sore – join the club mate.

Met two bikers who are doing the West coast to S Carolina, and they were amazed at what we were doing – quite right. Ely is a great little town, and we are now camped at KOA just outside the town. So not too exciting a ride.

Angel and Felipe are in charge of cooking, well lighting the electric cooker! Angel took a while to work that one out! And ever ready Andriy is our chef again. It’s me cooking breakfast so watch out guys.

Cheers all. And good night. 

Any questions or comments, please e-mail

Day 3  Carson City, Nevada to Austin, Nevada
 June 8, 2011
-Day 3 Or how we learnt to love Route 50 – the loneliest Highway in the States.

Woken up early by Commandeer Jack!! Everything down and packed and ready to go by 6am!!! Not nice! So out of Carson City and onto Route 50, our companion for much of this day. Not much talking at this point, just head down and ride. 

We took some side routes through Fallon and around the Naval Air training base, which is huge, and saw a dozen planes take off. Once round the base we were back onto Route 50 and headed towards Austin. Pretty flat at this point, so a good pace. On the bikes were, me, (BP), Jack, Felipe and Raymond, with Andriy driving and Angel the co-driver.

Man this was a boring part of the Ride flat – which I like, but the scenery becoming more and more desert like with just scrub and sand and the occasional horse. The backdrop were mountains which were kind of foreboding as we were never sure if we would have to ride over them. We didn’t but we were now being treated to long inclines, which were tough. 

Our first bike problem, Felipe lost the front nut that keeps the wheel intact, and although we went back to look for this, but unsuccessful. So his bike was out of action and Angel took over on his bike. At this point I have to say that both CitySquashers are riding Mountain bike and putting us all to shame, man they can ride.

Andriy set up his camcorder on the front of my bike, he showed me the start stop button and we were on our way. We were now ascending and coming into higher passes, the riding up was tough but man the riding down was terrific especially from two passes - Mt. Airy which is 6679 feet high – what a descent, I think that Andriy, who was now on a bike with Jack driving, achieved 35 mph going down. 

At one of our frequent pitt stops, which were usually for no more than 5 minutes we saw the shoe tree! Yes a shoe tree with lots of shoes wrapped round the branches. Very unusual to say the least. At a gas stop which was in the middle of nowhere, a great bar and what looked like a café, with cowboys in their boots, cowboy hats, looking just like cowboys, We gassed up, and went on our way. 

At another stop we met Bruce who was the driver for another X America Ride. We had overtaken his 4 riders earlier. They are raising money form a Catholic Church in Russia in an area where Stalin had whipped out the entire Christian population. We gave Bruce one of our CitySquash X America Ts and were on our way.

We had a terrific system going on with the van driving 10 miles and waiting for us to catch up. What was annoying was having Jack lounging in his folding chair, as we arrived, playing Regae music. Still this kept us going at a good pace.

One final long incline into Austin, that really was tough for me. Andriy eat it up and Raymond was kind enough to ride with me into Austin. We found our Camp site just East of Austin in the Tiomay Forest Park, and put up the tent, collected fire wood (Felipe and Angels job) and set about cooking pasta – and now to bed. 

Another long Ride tomorrow, starting on – yes you’ve guess it – Route 50 our favourite Route.

Right now my reflections on Nevada, so far is why do people live here?


Day 2  Placerville, California to Carson City, Nevada
 June 7, 2011
Jack wakes us all early again which is great because if he didn’t we’d never have gotten up – “Wakey wakey ride and shine – 5.30am!!

Breakfast and tents and all stuff packed up and we are off on Day 2. 

Man out of Placerville is a grinned. It’s all up hill for around 5 miles, not steep, but just that tough cycle which you know that you can do. Quote of the day comes from Jack “Now those are the kind of hills I like” – WHAT!! Who Likes hill? The only ones that I like are down hills. Both Angel and Felipe have decided to Ride. They have now found their second legs.

 Our back up van is terrific and always there for water and snacks. We pitt stop in Pine Valley, and get to talk with Pam Hosking who is definitely a cyclist. She’s just done Portugal and is about to do Scotland coast to coast, and then doing the Alps Loop. She’s also a cardiac nurse! Sadly she tells us that our route is closed due to late winter snows, and boy you can actually see the snow, lots of. She really is great and advises us to drive – sorry all but we had to do it – to detour round to the Carson Valley gap. But as she said once at the top “it’s all downhill” to Carson City.

 However she did advise us to make a detour and see Lake Tahoe, in fact she insisted that we do this. Going up one of the passes we encountered a wagon train, thankfully going the other way otherwise we would have been screwed! They were going so slow. 

Snowballs at over 7000 feet was the order of the days for Felipe and Angel, and  I got the worst of this, actually maybe Andriy did.  At Echo Lake we took Pam’s advice and all got into the van and drove to see Lake Tahoe. She was right, what an incredible Lake, so beautiful and blue. I think that we were all awestruck. Quick turnaround and back to Echo Lake. Then onto the Carson Valley Gap and what a gap, but she was also right in that once at the top “it’s all downhill” Great ride down fast, and as Jack said a little scary! But hey you’ve got to live a little.

 At the bottom it literally was  straight on, on hills into Carson City. We crossed the State line into Nevada and can now gamble (kidding). Man the difference in altitude and scenery was immense, snow just a few hours earlier and altitude over 7000 feet, and now a pretty flat valley, scrub land with scatterings of households. What a difference. 

We finally made Carson City and detoured around the City, spotting the Carson City State pen. A huge facility so I stopped and took a quick pic, where upon one of the guards in a corner tower shouted for us all to move on!! I get the feeling OR ELSE!! Not sure what that black thing he was aiming at us was though. 

So we finally made the camp site and food and sleep. We were all proud of both Angel and Felipe who had ridden so much of this route, but the dark horse is Raymond, he just keeps going, taking as many photos as he can and then catches us up!!

Tomorrow is a huge day and I’m not sure that we can do the distance – it’s a long way from Carson City to Austin!! 

Day 1 Rockville, California to Placerville, California
June 6, 2011 -First Day Ride Across America. Actually not the first day, the night before the first day. The last supper with Lauren Patrizio who started Squash Drive In San Francisco and is the CEO of this programme, Gareth Webber who is the new Director of Squash at the Olympic Club in San Francisco and Jack O’Brien, rider and fundraiser extraordinaire. Pasta seemed to be the order of the meal, with thoughts on how squash can develop in the Bay Area, and how the urban programme can develop too. Great banter. Then back to Preston Comey who kindly hosted the team for Saturday and Sunday nights. Have known Preston for a long time, going back to junior squash tourneys. We tried to get to bed early but to no avail, and sharp 5am Jack woke us all up. Were we ready, can we do it, who knows?  We will see on July 9th.

Off to our start point in Rockville, a suburb of San Fran, and at 6.50am we hit the road. Mind you it took us two goes as Jack sent us the wrong! Adding a couple of miles to our journey. So Felipe, Angel, the two CitySquashers, Jack and Raymond, the two Fordham students and the old man set off to see America, and get back to the Bronx.

It was not the greatest of days, windy and overcast and cold and we are in California where it should be warmer to say the least! We dragged each other on with Raymond definitely looking like a yellow jersey man. Andriy Kulak was our driver and back up man, and kept in constant touch meeting us at all various places along the way. Past Vacaville, onto Dixon, then Davis - what a terrific university campus which we cycled through as this was where our route took us.

A cycle path going against the traffic on a highway but with a barrier between us was interesting as we headed for Sacramanto and a good hour's lunch break. The topic of the meal was definitely our butts! We all had cycle pants, but still it was a long sit! We strung out the lunch break but knew that we had to get going to Placerville, our overnight stop on a KOA campground.

Into El Dorado hill country and man if this was a preamble to what was to come later in the ride, I’m not too sure that I wanted to go on. By this time Felipe was back in the saddle having taken a break, while Angel who trained by playing baseball was sleeping in the van, although he had done a fair amount of the route.

Hills are not my favourite cycling terrain, but we all kept pushing up this very long and extremely steep hill, and half way up we literally all got off together and pushed to the top. Mind you the hill down was great, taking us into Placerville, and a definite well deserved rest. Felipe and Angel were given the help with the cooking chore, noodles and add hot water – wow, meanwhile myself and Ray had to put up the tent – sorry Ray but not my forte!

So now I’m plugged into the electrical outlet next to our tent and sitting in the van with Andiy and Ray both on computers and Angel and Felipe trying to stay awake.

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