Update 1 - July 19th
Day 1- Total Mileage: 75
I left Somerville Monday morning at 9:30 and started riding west. Then I spent about 7 hours riding my bike (surprise!). Good, that’s out of the way, and probably the last time I’m going to tell you about riding because it happens every day and frankly it’s not very interesting. I’ll try to keep this as entertaining as possible.
A few people asked me before I left where I was planning on staying for my first night in Mass. I just shrugged it off and said I was sure I would find something. Towards the end of day one I decided it was about time to find a place to sleep and checked google maps for campgrounds (turns out they are pretty scarce in south central Mass.) There was one though, about ten more miles down the road in the direction I was going. Unfortunately when I got there it was shut down and looked as if it had been for about ten years. I was feeling pretty bad and a little bit stupid as I continued to ride, trying not to think about the possibility that I’d get stuck in some hotel on my very first night. Then I noticed a cop car sitting at a stop light and decided to ask for some advice. It turned out I got a lot more than that. I met officer Pat Swain of New Braintree PD who (after running a quick background check to make sure I wasn’t a criminal on the run) called his friend, the Fire Chief, and set me up with a whole yard to myself. I even got a cool white plastic chair to sit in.
I was just on the verge of passing out around 8 when Johanna, Pat’s girlfriend and coincidentally the town manager, came by to check on me. She talked to me for a while and recommended that I keep asking in at places like Police stations and churches when I’m looking for somewhere to stay. Then she gave me $20, which I adamantly refused until she literally threw it into my tent and at that point it was just too awkward to try and fight with her anymore. It was comforting to have met such nice and helpful people on my first day and I fell asleep feeling much more confident than I had only a few hours before.
Day 2-Total Mileage: 75 (150)
I started riding much earlier Tuesday, around 5 am, to avoid as much of the heat as possible. I made it to CT well before lunch time and spent a good part of the afternoon sitting in a river (trying to “ice” my legs and feet which were hurting pretty bad). Two 15 year old kids floated by in an inflatable raft that looked like it was from KMart (this is worth noting because although this section of river was very slow they were taking this thing through some Class 1 whitewater) and we had a short conversation about what I was doing. Their jaws dropped when I said I was riding to California. A while later they passed me on the road (must have been picked up down river somewhere) and became the first people to yell anything positive at me out of a moving vehicle. Almost all yelling comes from jacked pick-up trucks and drunk 18 year-olds. Western CT is very hilly and I was hurting pretty bad so it was good to have some encouragement. The rest of the ride was FTK (hope you’re reading Brian).
Tuesday night I set up camp in a small park in Riverton, CT. There was no police station so there were no police to ask but luckily this also meant there were no police to kick me out of the park. Unfortunately I must have been very close to the den of a family of foxes because they spent all night walking around my tent barking at me (if you’ve never heard a fox bark it’s a very strange sound.) Again I woke up at 4:30 am and made some coffee before hitting the road for day 3.
Day 3 - Total Mileage: 84 (234)
Rode into NY on Route 44. Day 3 was hot, extremely hot. Around lunch time I stopped at a small sandwich shop to get out of the sun for a little while. I met another cyclist from Poughkeepsie, NY who was out for a ride. He was pretty full of himself and immediately started telling me stories about how he rode cross country when he was 16 with nothing but a backpack and some cut-offs. He did give me some good directions though and later I felt sort of bad about how much I disliked him. There weren’t many highlights from day 3 except that I got to ride over the longest pedestrian walkway in the world, called the Walkway over the Hudson, in Poughkeepsie. The same cyclists from before described it as one of the wonders of the world which also annoyed me because he built it up far more than it could live up to in real life, though it was pretty cool. Check it out.
Day 4 - Total Mileage: don’t know yet.
Day 4 is only half over but so far I’m making good time. Ian, you were right, I’m sorry, pop-tarts and coffee are an incredible combination of fuels if you want to ride really far. I’m in Port Jervis, NY (very close to New Jersey border, hence the title of this post) where they seem to be eerily proud of their eviction of an entire race of people. There is a sign about every 1/2 mile noting the site of either a “failed raid” by Native Americans or a “victory” over those Native Americans by some group of Settlers. About to get back on the road and head down into NJ along the Delaware River. Thanks for reading if you made it this far, I’m not sure when I’ll update again but it will probably be a few days (it takes time to accumulate a reasonable list of things worth talking about…)