Monday, August 6, 2012

Day 46 Sea 2 Shining Sea

It has been a week since we finished our S2SS ride and my blog says we are just leaving PA. After many request, I am playing catch up with my blog. Here goes.

Today we had our one and only ride start in the rain. I love riding in the rain. I know, a little strange. But with almost two months of sun and heat, a cool wet ride was just great. It was a bit chilly, I wore my arm and leg warmers and a vest. I felt good. Larry on the other hand started cold and never warmed up. We pulled the plug on the days ride at mile 45 of a 70 mile day. No problem for me. We had a couple good hard efforts during the day for fun and by this time in the ride my legs are way tender and staying tender.

The big stop of the day was at Walter Reed Hospital in Bethasda. Our riders were able to visit some of the men and women who are going to rehab. Great day.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Day 45 Sea 2 Shining Sea

Rain, rain and more rain. I love to ride in the rain. Really! Lots of hard riding, hills and chasing people. We got our workout today. We did have to sag for about 9 miles to lunch because of a huge crack of lightning at the top of the hill that I thought hit right beside us. Waiting 2 hours was very cold when wet, we almost cancelled the rest of the ride, but I am so glad we continued to ride.

Day 44 Sea 2 Shining Sea

Our travels took us the site of Flight 93 Memorial in Shanksville. I really wish they would celebrate life instead of mourning life. That is all I have to say about that.

The ride was lots of fun. Big rain storm after dinner. More monopoly in the evening. Great fun.

Day 43 Sea 2 Shining Sea

We were lead out of Pittsburgh the same way we came in, by police escourt. It is the only way we could have negotiated rush hour traffic. Our escourt dropped us off on a bike path running along the Monongahela River. It was a great fine crushed stone flat bike path for 30 miles. We had a water stop in West Newton then turned left and went straight up hill. These are the big hills of Pennsylvania that we have been wiating for. At least I've been waiting for them.

We had a great reception in Mount Pleasant at their war memorial, color guard and servicemen. Afterward they feed us at Leo's and Sons' Grille 31. Some of the best food of the whole trip.
With the climbs came the threat of thunderstorms. As the first rain of the trip started, I've been wanting rain I like it, so came lightning. We all got picked up and shuttled to the end of our day. We rode the hard part so we really didn't mind shuttling.

After dinner the games began.... Monopoly!! As I said before, I hang out with the interns the most. And today they invited me to play monopoly with them. I was honored. I kicked their butts.

Rest Day 9

A day for laundry and a day to relax. So I went for a bike ride around downtown Pittsburgh with Paul, Nora, Jeanna, Simpson and George. Very relaxed ride around the ball parks and over the rivers.

Dinner was at Claddagh Irish Pub. They had the best fish and chips I've had in years.

Day 42 Sea 2 Shining Sea

Another state goes by. Honey! I'm Home!! Back in Pennsylvania. Well the wrong side of the state but Pennsylvania all the same. We entered Pa so quickly that I missed the photo op. Oh well, we are here.

Today we were treated to lunch at Eat & Park Dinner. Good food, great pie but it is not advised to show up with 40+ people and expect fast service. We waited close to an hour and a half for our food to arrive. But the peach berry pie was awesome.

After lunch we were lead into downtown Pittsburgh by police escourt. That is the best way to get to downtown because Pittsburgh can be the easiest city in the country to get lost in. Back in 1991 I got lost there several times over and over again. Crazy tunnels and hills. Our guides got us to the hotel without a problem.

Dinner was hosted by State Farm and the great people of Pittsburgh at Hofbrauhaus. The beers were flowing and headed to my room early to catch up on my blog.
Rest day tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Day 41 Sea 2 Shining Sea

Another state goes by. Bye bye Ohio.  Hello West Virginia.
Very good day of rolling hills and fun roads in the eastern part of Ohio before lunch. We rode highways to the a Stuebenville gas station to meet with a police escourt to get over the bridge. West Virginia might be a very nice state in the middle but on this little sliver between Ohio and Pennsylvania it is not very nice. Lots of tobacco/ liquor stores with drive ins.






Indy Crit and Day 40 Sea 2 Shining Sea


While the rest of the S2SS riders were making their way east across Ohio, a group of five of us drove three hours west to Indianapolis for a bike race. Since we left San Fransico Paul and I have been looking for a bike race to go race.
Well, he found a good one.
A flat figure eight course


The first race for us was for Hunter and James in the Cat 5 race. The field was sold out but with the magic of email and knowing the right people Paul was able to get them both into the race. This was James first race and Hunter had only done a couple training races before. They started off great. Both comfortable in the middle of the pack. By lap two Hunter was at the front pushing the pace and James was still hanging in the pack. A couple laps later Hunter had pushed the pace hard enough to get a gap of a few seconds with a two other riders. James was riding great in a chase group. Mid race Hunter won a $25.00 prime for the leader of the lap. Now with one lap to go Hunter decides to leave his two breakaway companions with a hard effort thru a corner. Sadly it had just rained a few drops right before his effort and he slide out and went down quickly. The guy in second ran right over his leg and kept on going for the win.  James finished strong in his chase group.
It was so great to see these guys race so hard and have such a fantasic time. Even with the crash Hunter was smiling from ear to ear. He won money in a race where the winner only got a medal and he had his first crash at speed and he was alright. James found out how fast fast is and can do it just fine.
 Hunter Pinnell leading the Cat 5 race
 James Sheehan in his first bike race



Paul and I raced the 40+ Masters race together. I lined up in the second row and Paul wiggled his way into the front row. Pretty funny. Needles to say this was my first race in two months and my first 40+ race in a long time so I was a little concerned if I could hold the speed. Right off the line I was able to go straight to the front and sit second wheel. Cool. I can do this. I settled to the middle of the pack where I like to be.
As in all 40+ races the testostrone levels are super high and the speed is fast and crashes follow from everyone needing to be in the front at all times. This race was no different. We had three big crashes. Each time I was able to get around with no problems. Just had to do some work to close some gaps. Each time I looked around for Paul to make sure he was still upright. To find out later he did go down slightly in one crash and had to take a free lap.
About half way thru the race my ability to close gaps started to dwindle. When I found myself at the back of the pack I just sat up and didn't fight it and dropped out. I was very happy with my race and my speed for now. Paul looked great sitting in the top 10-15. With a couple laps to go he was fighting to keep in the top 5-10 in his group. There were three riders off the front. Paul sprinted and got fifth in the field sprint which got him 8th overall. Pretty darn amazing for a 57 year old guy riding with a bunch of 40 year old. Very impressive indeed.
 Paul Curley in the 40+ Masters Race
 Greg Hoffman in the 40+ Masters Race


The premier race of the day for us all was the Tandem Race. This is why we drove all of this distance and missed riding with all the guys at S2SS. To race a tandem on a figure eight course in the middle of downtown Indianapolis in front of a great crowd was incredible.
We lined up with nine tandems including Larry and myself on one and Paul and James on another. It was just a four lap race so it started off very fast. The favorites for the race was a local tandem who won Tandem Nationals last year. They went right to the front from the gun. Another strong tandem got right on their wheel, Larry and I sat in third. Two laps in we had Paul and James on our wheel so I came around the second place tandem and kind of pushed them out wide off the front tandems wheel. This put us into second and Paul came right in to third.
With one lap to go, I came around the lead tandem and Paul came around too. Larry and I nailed it with everything we had to get a gap and Paul made the other tandem chase us down. The other tandem was not too happy with this move. With two corners to go both tandems came around Larry and I squeezing us very tight inside. My hand hit one of the cones marking the course, it came back and hit Larry's leg.
In the final sprint Paul and James held on for a photo finish to win. They even dropped their connecting chain in the sprint.
We all had so much fun!!! Larry's first race. My first Tandem Crit. And we got first and third!!!
 Lap 1 of the Tandem Race
 One lap to go in the Tandem Race
 Paul Curley and James Sheehan winning the Tandem Race!
Greg Hoffman and Larry Gunter getting 3rd Place in Tandem Race.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Day 39 Sea 2 Shining Sea

Today we rode from Cincinnati to Circleville Ohio, 82 miles. Since I have been dealing with my sore knee I only rode the first 48 miles. I took a couple motrin for the swelling and just took it easy at the start. We spent most of our day pacing Henry at about 14-16mph, so it was a nice easy pace. Great thing for me. It allowed my knee to spin stress free and loosen up the crap inside. It feels much better now.

We had a surprise rider join us again today. Tom from York, England who is riding around the world is back! It is so good to have him back riding with us. With all the craziness that has been going on Tom will lighten the mood for everyone. Welcome back Tom.

Tomorrow 5 of us our taking a day off from our S2SS ride and going to Indianapolis to race a criterium. Larry/ myself and Paul/ James will race a 4 lap tandem race. Paul and I will race the 40+ race and Hunter and James will race the cat 5  race. More info tomorrow night.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Rest Day 8

Very very restful day. Ice, Ice, Ice! And many many blog post. I'm now done. Now time for dinner hosted by GE Aviation.

Day 38 Sea 2 Shining Sea

Well it is Day 38 of riding but not for Larry and I. We took the day off. I am dealing with my swolling knee. And we have a broken spoke on our rear wheel. But most of all we just needed an extra day off. With all of the planned activites today it was a good day to take off. We were greeted at a fire station for lunch and shuttled over an hour to a huge reception at GE Aviation.

At the hotel GE Aviation treated us to dinner and spa treatments at the hotel. I had a hair cut and a massage. Thanks again GE Aviation.

Day 37 Sea 2 Shining Sea

Today had the best roads in a while. Not the best surface or the best traffic but the roads actually went up and down and turned left and right. Not just arrow straight and flat like the last couple thousand miles. I can't wait to get back home to ride loops on curvy roads. Soon enough.

Because we were having so much fun on these roads we got to lunch way early. I knew we had well over an hour to wait for the last group. So like an idiot I played basketball with the staff in the church parking lot where we were having lunch. We started with a simple game of H.O.R.S.E., not good enough for me, I suggested we play 2 on 2. Not bright at all. My 46 year old rebuilt knees can't take that at all. Idiot. Now two days later I'm still icing the day lights out of my knee trying to get the swelling to go down.

After lunch my Garmin computer battery died. Rats, only getting credit for 44.5 miles of an 80 mile day stinks. Honest we rode the whole ride to Seymour. Plug in the Garmin nightly!

Day 36 Sea 2 Shining Sea

More wonderful people and food followed by more rider mayhem. Today we entered Indiana at Vincennes. This is the home town of one of our staff members Brianna. She makes our lunches everyday on the USO. Brianna's father hosted us for lunch at his car dealership. This was the best lunch for me yet. Great salads, grilled chicken sandwiches, fruit salads and chips.

Dinner was hosted by Brianna's grandparents at an Amish restaurant. The best lemon maringue pie. This ride has become all about the food. Over and over again.

Tonight I played ultimate frisbee with a bunch of the staff. Running was never something I was good at but wow that was a whole bunch of fun. Playing with a bunch of 20somethings makes me realize that I'm not 20 anymore. Ouch but FUN. I like fun.

After dinner we had a rider meeting to talk about how the ride was going for everyone. It was heated to say the least. I think the people at the pool could hear all of the yelling. I don't respond well to yelling so there were a couple times I almost walked out, but I stuck around. Alot was said but I'm not sure about what was really accomplished. (I am keeping this blog as P.C. as possible and not saying names or talking about the events in any detail. Maybe after we get to Virginia.)



Day 35 Sea 2 Shining Sea

Still going east. But today we had a great lunch in Flora, Illionis. The whole town showed up once again. It is amazing. At the start of this trip we were told how great the midwest people are. Oh so right. But I also know why I call it the waist of the country. I lost 10 pounds during the first few weeks of the ride. It has all come back and then some. Great meal after great meal is to blame. Ok, really it is up to me to push the plate away. Not happening, the food is too good.

The town of Olney pulled out all the stops. Is this a competition to see who is the nicest town with the best food? It may be. After dinner the nicest town's nicest state trooper invited a bunch of us over to his house to meet his family, do laundry and shot guns. Crazy I know, but we had so much fun. I have not shoot a gun in many many years and here I am standing looking over a corn field firing a shotgun at clay pigeons. Again way fun. Thanks again Will for a great night.

Day 34 Sea 2 Shining Sea

After all that time off the bike we were excited to be back on the bike and on our way east again. We rode across the Mississippi River where we met our police escourt across the whole state of Illionis. Even with police escourt it was a good thing we were riding thru East St Louis early in the day. Not the best looking part of town. Scary even. We made it.




Not far up the road we were greeted to the real american midwest. People came out with flags waving.
It is wonderful to see all the people in these small towns come out in the heat to greet us.

4th and 5th of July Rest Days

After so many days riding in the heat at was nice to have a couple days off the bike hanging out in St Louis in the heat. The heat was still with us. Also returning for a repeat performance was my friend Jill. She flew in yesterday afternoon to hang out with all of this crazyness called S2SS. The guys love having her around. And of course I love having Jill around too.

We spent the day having lunch with a bunch of the guys and then walking down to the river and the Arch to watch the AirShow.

I have some great video of the Harrier Jet but I can't seem to figure out how to get it off of my smartphone. Again, my smartphone is much smarter then me. Go figure.

The fireworks at night were great too. The amazing part was how calm and controlled such a huge big city crowd was for the fireworks and the concert before. No nonsence at all. Cool.

The highlight for the whole St Louis stay was City Museum. I can't even come close to explan how cool this place is. Think of a guy who got a welder for his birthday and went crazy. It has some of the coolest art made from all recycled stuff built around a maze of cement and rebar. I was climbing and crawling, sliding and swinging, jumping and flipping with all the rest of the kids in this place. It is a place where you can bring your kid and lose him for the afternoon. But since I don't have kids and I'm a kid myself anyway. I lost myself in there all afternoon. Way, Way, FUN!!!

Day 33 Sea 2 Shining Sea ***4th of July Parade***

This is a big day! We stayed at a hotel by the St Louis airport so we would have a short ride to the parade start instead of a 50+ mile ride that we would have had to start at before dawn. We rode 12 miles to the parade start all together as a group. That is something. We lined up 53rd out of 150 parade groups. Big parade. We got there at 8:15am for a 10:00am parade start. More hurry up and wait. Many people were on edge by the start of the parade. Not sure if it was all the waiting in the heat or just the thought of riding in a parade with 200,000 people watching. Crowds and noices can ready get to people.

With the parade rolling it started very slow, like slower then walking pace. Way slower then I was willing to ride so I started riding in circles at the end of the block. I think I was starting to make Larry sick. When we started rolling a bit I started weaving and riding more circles around our whole group. I was having fun. Paul got the great idea to do 50 meter sprints in the middle of the parade. 4 or 5 of us would line up, let the group get some distance ahead and we would sprint. I was riding in flip-flops so Larry would do all of the pedaling during our sprints and I would just hang my legs away from the pedals.

We were playing with everyone on the sides of the parade and everyone in the parade. We were even trying to get into the Shriner scooter bike figure 8 loops. They had some crazy patern so I kind of messed that up. We were having so much fun. I think I may even have seen the other tandem having fun. Now that is crazy.









Day 32 Sea 2 Shining Sea

Again it has been a long time between blog updates so now I'm sitting my hotel room in Cincinnati Ohio on a rest day trying to remember all the rides and experiences we've had over the last 10 days. Well here goes.

The name of the game on this day was hurry up and wait. It took us over eight hours to finish a three hour ride. And hurry up we did. We raced a 10k time trial in the beginning of the day. Paul found this perfectly flat section of road with darn near no traffic at all for all of us to race on. We started in one minute intervals with the slowest starting first and the fastest starting last, just like in the tour. Larry and I started last. Let the trash talking begin. Joe was our minute man and Hunter was our two minute man. Larry and I told them both to watch out behind them because we were going to catch them. Not likely.

Larry and I went out at very stead fast pace trying not to go too hard in the beginning. We started out at 27mph and settled in at 29mph in the middle and picked it up to 31mph at the end. The finish line came up way faster then we thought. We almost caught Joe at the end. We finished in 11:52 something like 30.5 mph average speed. Wow, we are very happy with that. All most all of us competed in the time trial. At was way fun. We hope to do another race before the end of our trip.

From there we rode in small groups having fun and playing games all the way to lunch where we hung out waiting for the rest of the group. but that was not the big wait for the day. That came at the edge of the town of Hermann. We sat in the parking lot of a gas station for well over two hours just waiting for time to past so we could ride into town with a police escourt over a bridge into Hermann with townspeople waving flags all the way down the main street in town. Well worth it.

They treated us to a great dinner of pork roast with all the fixings. It was in their local winery. But no wine was had. Strange? Not that I cared.

After dinner we loaded up all of our bikes for an hour and a half drive into St Louis airport hotel. I got to drive one of the bubble buses. It made my day. I like to drive.



Monday, July 2, 2012

Day 31 Sea 2 Shining Sea

Funny how a 67 mile ride can become an easy day. After all the miles that we have done over the last month anything less than a century is easy.

In spite of more drama on the road we had a great day. I don't feel like writing anymore about that.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Day 30 Sea 2 Shining Sea

Great day of riding on the best roads so far of the trip. Yesterday we ended on 15 miles of the crappyist road, so having good roads were much appraicated. We had a great group to ride with Paul, James, Jeffery and Larry and myself. Western Kansas is rolling, not bone ass flat like eastern Kansas. ( I think some of the state line are in the wrong places. Denver is in Kansas because it is flat and no one told the people of Denver. And western Kansas is actually in Missouri because the flatness ends and the rolling hills have begun. Anyway....) We had lots of fun with the rolling hills, it took away the bordum of the flatness. Maybe someday soon the roads will start to turn some, so we don't have to see where we are going to be a half hour away.

Today was a nice long ride of 102 miles. Another century and another state line in the books. I can't tell you how excited I am to see Kansas go into the rearview mirror. We broke the bike ride into nice bite size sections for our own sanity. First water stop, second water stop, first lunch, water stop, second lunch, water, water, water. You get the idea. We drink alot of water. With all that water comes a lot of pee breaks with those water stops. The miles just flow by today. Before we knew it we were in Warrensburg, Missouri.