Saturday, August 3, 2013

The Finish Line - Washington DC

I am writing this blog from my room at the State Plaza Hotel in Washington DC.  My tent is set up in the room drying out so I can pack it and load if in the truck for the trip back to Seattle.  Charlton and Lynn are driving the cargo truck back to Seattle so I am having them haul my gear and bicycle with them.  I crossed the finish line in Freedom Plaza around noon on Saturday August 3rd after a 40.7 mile ride from Poolesville Maryland.  All 14 riders who started the ride in Seattle finished today.  One by one we entered Freedom Plaza to a cheering crowd.  When we got to the finish line we dismounted our bikes, took off our helmets, and were presented a medal from Charlton and Lynn and a Certificate of Achievement from Tom( our mechanic).  The ride capped a 48 day, 3332.4 mile adventure across our great country.  The friends I have made and the experiences we shared together will not be forgotten and will become part of the fabric of who I am.  Special thanks to Charlton, Lynn and Tom for keeping us safe and helping us along the way.  And thanks to everyone who supported my dream of cycling across America.  The dream has become a reality.  I will be flying home on Monday August 5th on the direct flight from DC to Seattle.  What took me 48 days and countless calories will be 'undone' in a mere 5 hours and 40 minutes.  I look forward to going home and being with Kirsten, seeing my kids, and going back to work again.  But the adventure will continue on...I will be meeting on Monday morning with one of the riders who competed in the Race Across AMerica (RAAM) this year to get the scoop on the race and start planning for 2015. 

Charlton DuRant - Ride Director

At the Finish Line in Washington DC

Friday, August 2, 2013

Day 47 - Maryland

Friday August 2 is the second to last day of the Big Ride.  We entered our 12th and final State today, Maryland.  Only 8.8 miles after leaving Gettysburg we reached the Maryland State line along SR 134.  The roads we busy but in excellent condition.  The terrain was hilly, but nothing like what we saw the few days before Gettysburg. The total distance traveled today was 62.6 miles.  The weather was cool when we started out at 0630 and warmed to about 82 degrees by the time we reached Poolesville.  We arrived in plenty of time to take advantage of the county pool and even out our tans.  Tomorrow is a mere 40 miles to DC and the end of the Big Ride. 

Lynn Petrotte, Assistant Ride Director

Tent City Outside the Poolesville High School

Maryland State Line

Thursday, August 1, 2013


Ok, it is really hard to imagine that we have ridden our bicycles 3,229 miles from Seattle to Gettysburg in 45 days, but we have.  Day 45 was one of the tougher days of the ride, 102 miles and over 7300 feet of climbing.  And that is after a 90 mile day with 7,800 feet of climbing.  Pennsylvania is definitely the toughest state we have had to cross.  Now all we have to do is ride 100 miles in 2 days to arrive in Washington DC on August 3rd.  Thanks to the Hannover Bicycle Club for providing dinner to us on Wednesday night and for the guided bicycle tour of the Gettysburg Battlefield on Thursday (our last rest day)!  We were once again blessed by good weather on our ride to Gettysburg, cool weather and a light tailwind.  The forecast looks good all the way into DC!

Hannover Cycle Club Tour guides!!

Pennsylvania Memorial at Gettysburg

Gettysburg Battlefield from Little Roundtop

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Mt Davis and the Flight 93 Memorial Park

Tuesday July 30 was a day of jubilation of climbing to the highest point in Pennsylvania and somberness of visiting the Flight 93 Memorial outside of Shanksville.  The ride started out from Confluence climbing through the beautiful  hills/ mountains of southern Pennsylvania.  The weather was perfect after climbing out of the fog of the Youghigheny river valley.  Some of the riders decided to continue on the Youghigheny River Trail to avoid the climb over Mt Davis.  I really wanted to add one more state high point to my list that now includes Alaska, Hawaii, Washington, Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Pennsylvania.  Not that going to the highest point in every state is on my bucket list, but if it is there for the taking, why not.  The riders who rode over Mt Davis rejoined the riders who continued on the YRT in Meyersdale.  From there the we had some long climbs and rolling hills on our ride to the Flight 93 Memorial.  Everyone visited the Memorial.  The ride continued over Bald Knob Summit followed by a 6 mile descent with speeds reaching 45+ mph. The total distance rode was 83.2 miles which includes the 7 mile round trip to the Memorial. Total climbing was 7,800 feet.  We are camping tonight at the Friendship Village Campground in Bedford PA.  Tomorrow is our last 'Big Ride' of the trip, 101.8 miles and over 7,800 feet of climbing (again) into Gettysburg!!

View from the Climb Up to Mt Davis

On the Summit of Mt Davis

Flight 93 Wall of Names

Flight 93 Crash Site

Monday, July 29, 2013

On The Youghigheny River Trail

Today we rode over 50 miles on crushed limestone along the Youghigheny River Trail (YRT) in southwestern Pennsylvania. To get there e had to ride busy roads filled with Monday morning rush hour traffic including many dump trucks and fracking related traffic.  After 35 miles of that, it was great to get onto the YRT.  The total mileage for the day was 87.4 miles.  We started in Washington PA and ended in Confluence PA.  We are camping again tonight at a State Campground in Confluence.  The weather was absolutely perfect again. High temps in the low 70's, no humidity, and crystal clear skies.  It seemed like a fall day in October.

Youghigheny River 

Monongahela River

Sunday, July 28, 2013


On Sunday July 28 we rode into Pennsylvania.  Upon reaching the unmarked Pennsylvania State line, I knew that it meant getting close to the end of the Big Ride, and that reaching my goal of cycling across country was now within reach.  That doesn't mean that the next few days wouldn't be difficult, but we only have a handful of days left.  The terrain was similar to what I remember about New England, short steep hills, lush river valleys and busy & rough roads.    We rode only 61.8 miles from New Waterford Ohio to Washington Pennsylvania, but with the rolling hills and over 4000 feet of climbing, it seemed longer.  Even though the state line was not marked, we knew we reached Pennsylvania when we crossed the Ohio River in Midland and there were 2 nuclear power plans within view.  The weather once again was perfect for riding, cool temps, cloudy and a slight tail wind.  The forecast for the next few days is more of the same.  How lucky can we get?  Tonight we are camping at the Whispering Pines campground.  The weather cleared up when we got into camp giving us the opportunity to dry out our gear from the dousing we had last night in New Waterford.  

Looking Down Ohio County Road 430 into Pennsylvania 

Nuclear Power Plant in Midland Pennsylvania 

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Pennsylvania Here We Come

Saturday July 28 will be our last night in Ohio.  We are currently camped at the Terrace Lakes Campground in New Waterford Ohio.  We rode only 59.4 miles today through the Amish country of Ohio.  We saw quite a few horse and buggy and had to keep an eye out for the hockey pucks along the road.  The weather was cool and the rain started to fall as we reached the lunch checkpoint at about mile 42.  I arrived in camp early enough to set up my tent and shower before the thunderstorms started to roll through.  This is the first rain we have had in quite awhile.  The forecast for tomorrow is for  a 30% chance of rain, cool temps, and winds from the west.  Perfect for our 62 mile ride into Washington PA.