Today was another tough one...mentally, emotionally and physically! Plenty of really tough climbs...a few in the 12-15% grade. Our legs are really tired! We really tried to soak it all in today! We laughed and talked about all of things we have seen...and about how incredibly fortunate we are to have been able to be a part of such an amazing adventure!
We rolled out of Keene,NH pretty early...and were greeted by our first set of 15% hills. Not the way you want to start a ride after a full breakfast!! I know I was dragging about 5 pounds of pancakes up that hill! The weather was again...spectacular! Not a cloud in the sky all day and temps in the 80's! More beautiful country roads...then a few fairly busy highways into Salisbury,Mass. We passed thru our final series of wonderful small towns...many with American flags all along their Main Streets.
I will certainly miss starting my days like this.
Iain's wife, Liz, drove up from Boston...to cheer him on thru the final leg. After a quick hug and a kiss (and a photo-op) the "I-Man" was back on his bike...not wanting to lose "his inner climber"! He's done a great job getting thru this on minimal training! I've used the "find your inner climber" joke...as encouragement when he's struggling. Be proud "I-Man"!!!!
The last 40 or so miles were pretty tough. The early climbs (combined with the previous 15 days without a rest)...had begun to take a toll on me. I could tell I was "done"! There was a series of rollers near the end that made me start to wonder of I'd make it! Mentally...I was ready to be done! I wanted to get on a plane right then and there and get home to my Katie! But...I had to get this done...so I kept rolling. The plan was to gather the entire group at a stop on US 1....about 3 miles from the beach. From there we'd roll as a group into Salisbury Beach and the "wheel dip" in the Atlantic. "A.J." and Dave had taken another wrong turn and were a few miles back...so we had extra time to eat ice cream and talk until they arrived. It was a lot of fun! Finally, Mike came along with "A.J." and Dave in tow...and off we went. We rolled as a group along Rt 1A out of New Hampshire...and into Massachusetts...and Salisbury. Cars were honking and people were shouting from balconies as we passed! As we turned east at Salisbury Beach we caught our first glimpse of the Atlantic and a good size crowd of family and friends who had all come out to welcome us! It was pretty cool! We all did the wheel dip and then took the final group photo.
It wasn't until I called Katie that the emotions came over me. I couldn't speak for the first minute or so. (It's even hard to sit here in the airport and type without getting teary-eyed!) I am so fortunate to have such a supportive wife. I SURE DID MISS YOU KATIE!!! Thanks for making this dream of mine...a reality!
After the wheel dip ceremony, we got a Police escort back to the hotel in Amesbury,Mass. After a frantic bike packing session, it was off to get a shower and get ready for the banquet. They did a great job! Everyone had a chance to get up and speak about their adventure. Some were funny...some were emotional...all were heartfelt! It was really a nice way to finish off the ride. More than a few of us (me included) had trouble holding back the emotions.