Friday, July 13, 2012

Joining the 4H....Michigan

On to of the Wolverines..... land of the "Don't give a damn about the whole state of Michigan"......

Being a graduate of THE Ohio State University, it seemed only appropriate to stop in Toledo to revisit those years with my college friend and sorority sister, Leslie.  As college coeds, we didn't exactly get into trouble, but we did have a whole lot of fun.  Interpret that as you may......

Pulling in at about 1 pm, we picked up exactly where we stopped thrity years ago.....with a drink in our hand. Over many hours of visiting, we sipped Clamdiggers, savored Mijitoes, and languished over wine. We laughed as we reminisced of our college antics, (asking the kids to leave to room before doing so), cried for friends no longer with us, and shared events that had passed, but forever changed us.  We giggled like schoolgirls, reveling in a sisterhood unchanged by the years, planning a future Thelma and Louise getaway.  After many hours of talking and drinking, we finally retired at the late hour of 11 pm.  (We'll need to work on extending our hours if we are to be Thelma and Louise!).
Leslie in the car we cruised in during college. It still runs! What fun we had in that car!!

Dressed to ride Michigan, I came down the next morning. Leslie was slumped in a chair, with a cup of coffee, reading.

"Leslie,"  I said, "I'm hungover!"

That's the first 'H'....hungover

"Oh, thank goodness," she laughed, "So am I!  I was afraid you'd be fine and I'd be like this...."

"Nope....I just can't do that anymore and not suffer.  Guess we're getting old....older.",  I returned, wondering briefly why she thought I would be fine..... Things that make me go 'hmmmm'.

We drank our coffee and ate pastries in a post-drunken stupor, laughing at our inability to process alcohol and stay up until even midnight.  All too soon, it was time to go.

As I drove away, I was feeling poorly....very poorly. Knowing that dehydration is a big cause of post-alcoholic suffering, I sucked water from my water bottle every few minutes, but it was a lost cause.  I would suffer for yesterday's merriment. That's when the mental arguments began:  

Voice One: You don't have to do one would know.
Voice Two: I would know.....
Voice One: No one will know if you only do 10 or 15 still did it.
Voice Two: I would know.....shut up and drink your water.

A short drive later, I crossed over into Michigan....the voices started again.

Voice One:  You don't have to drive all the way to the Irish Hills to ride.  You can do it right here.
Voice Two: Now, that's the smartest thing you've thought all day.  That's a good idea.

So without a route in hand, I found an almost empty parking lot at a mega church, parked and went inside.  {{Ugh....I don't feel well.}} Ahhhh.....the air conditioning felt wonderful.  It was hot already---pushing 90 and the day was still very young.

That's the second 'H' ........'hot'

Finding some people working there, I told them what I was doing, got permission to park there and left an emergency phone number in case my car was still there tonight. (meaning I didn't make it back). With water bottles filled with ice cold water, I dropped in the electrolyte tablets and went to unload my bike.

Emerging from that wonderfully cooled building was like stepping into the hot, damp cloth of a barber.  The humidity was stifling; it felt like I was breathing the air of a sick room, with the vaporizer running full steam.  Beads of water collected on my face, sliding down like tears and my cold water bottles dripped with condensation.  

That's the third 'H' ........'humid'

Ready to go, I pedaled towards the exit, noticing another cyclist geared and ready to leave also.  I rode over and introduced myself.  After talking a bit, she, Denise, invited me to ride with her.  She was a triathlete out for a training ride.  {{Gulp... Hope I can keep up with her!}} She was only riding 25 miles, so the second 25 would be by myself. 
With Denise at a country store.
Off we rode through small town America.  It felt like a step back into time--a time of simpler pleasures and a slower pace.  The towns were still decked out in the patriotic finery from the Fourth of July and children cycled and played freely, without being tethered to an adult.  

Stopping at a country store, I purchased my favorite refueling drink--V8.  It's full of sodium and potassium to replenish that which I was losing through sweat and is also  full of good, healthy carbs for energy.  Because it isn't a sugared drink, the carbs will be absorbed more slowly, giving me a sustained energy boost instead of a big sugar spike.  As I purchased the juice, I asked the cashier if she had any vodka to go with it.  She howled with  laughter..... had she known of the previous day's imbibing, she might have not have found it so humorous.

Twenty-five hot miles later, we were back at the church; it was time for me to say good-bye to my new friend and continue the final 25 alone.  Waving a final farewell, I headed north.  

It was hot; it was humid; I was still hungover. The roads were in horrible condition and a strong headwind started blowing, causing me to have to work harder and harder for each mile. 
Horrible roads.
What does Michigan do with their tax dollars?  Not road repair!
Notice the flag...headwinds strong enough to keep it straight out and snapping. And it was a big flag!

That's the fourth 'H' ........'headwind'

The voices started again...... and this time, Voice One was very convincing. Shushing the conversation, I pedaled.....and pedaled, but yesterday's fun was bearing down on me.  I had to quiet my mind and be present just in that moment.  Stomach rolling, head pounding, I focused, internally coaching myself.
"Can you go one more mile?"

Then I'd ride the mile.

"Can you go one more mile?"

Then I'd ride another.   ...and so it went for the last 10 miles.  I pulled into the church half a mile short of fifty. Being a large church, it had an enormous parking lot; so large, in fact, that one ride around its circumference made up more than the half mile I was lacking.

Tired, hot, but pleased with finishing, I was done.  I had ridden the 50 miles despite how I felt physically.  The toughest part of the ride was not one of the 4 H's; it was the battle I had with myself.  

Fields and fields of  golden wheat
This was a huge grainery. 
Look at this countryside, then see the sign below
'Island Resort'........where the heck are they going to get an island?
The flatness of the land contributes greatly to wind.  There's nothing to block it.
Flat, flat,flat.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Masses in Massachusetts

As already discussed in  What Would Duane Do?, the Cape Cod rail trail was swarming with people eager to ride, walk and run.  So many people were utilizing the path that it was reminiscent of the Oregon trail during the Great Migration!  There were people of every size, shape and age on vehicles of the same ilk. Even in the rain, the crowds did not diminish. So many people using this resource was wonderful sight to behold, yet one that presented hazards, as any high traffic situation.

The planners of the trail obviously anticipated such usage, as the trail was designed like more of a mini-highway than a rustic roll through the woods. Crisscrossing the many intersecting roads, riders and walkers had the right-of-way.  Road traffic had stop signs at these intersections, allowing the hikers and bikers to cross unhindered, (though it was wise to stop and check before crossing....not all drivers heeded the signs). There were even rotary circles...... ROTATORY CIRCLES.....on a bike path(!), with arrowed signs pointing to the various towns and sights. This signage reminded me of those in small European towns.  Pubs and restaurants advertised their establishments, with paved off shoots leading to their front doors and valet bike service.  The smell of frying seafood was tantalizing.

The trail runs 22 miles, ending at the beach.  Bikers with boogie boards and floats strapped to their bikes and backs flowed in that direction, like spring melt-off rushing down a mountainside. Ladened with their oversized burden, many were ungainly on their bikes as they pedaled in flip flops and swimsuits.  Children were plentiful, learning to ride with training wheels, as parents guided them. Older citizens rode adult trikes, often porting a small dog in a basket.  Fresh water beaches interspersed the trail, offering lockable bike racks and a cool respite from the riding.  And yet, despite all of this traffic, small bike groups, in full kits, raced up and down the trail, weaving in and out of the clumps of weekenders.

Awestruck is the word I would use to describe my reaction to this trail. There is much talk about the sedentary lifestyle of Americans, but this proves that the public will support and use resources like this...if available.  We need to see more of it!
Riders hitting the trail at one of the many trailheads...despite threatening weather
On the trail at last.
Audrey and Lisa from RI, who ran into me and provided comfort as I received the news about Duane.  Thank you.
Bikes parked as riders take respite at a restaurant.
Taking a break from riding.
Historical cemeteries.....
More cushioned dirt path for runners and horses.
What would a high traffic area be without advertising ?
Groups regathering and socializing.
Almost had the trail to myself....
Drink and ride??  Don't think so.  One of many pubs.
A rotatory circle!!
I kept thinking this said "Smile."  I was!
Pretty freshwater pond
Need a bike repair?  This trail-side bike shop can help.
Riders stop to chill and eat clams.
Lemonade for sale.....rain or shine.

What Would Duane Do?

Saturday morning in Massachusetts held the promise of humidity and heat as I searched for the trail head of the Cape Cod Rail Trail, a paved 25 mile railroad conversion.  Poor planning had brought me to the Cape on the Fourth of July weekend, and traffic was a nightmare.  It appeared as if everyone from the city was now headed to the beach.  Being safety conscious, I changed my plans from a road ride to riding on the trail. Little did I know that the traffic on the trail would rival any found on the road.

Eager and anxious to ride before the day's heat became intolerable, I found myself growing increasingly impatient with the stop and go traffic, as it was mostly other words, road rage was beginning to develop.  I felt it in the pit of my stomach, slowly bubbling up as traffic crawled, then abruptly halted as someone tried to make a left hand turn against the long stream of oncoming traffic. My right hand moving reflexively to the horn.

{{Sigh}}  "Calm down, " I told myself, "the trail will still be there when I arrive....enjoy the moment, find the positive....I will never pass this way again, nor will I ever live this moment again.  Do I really want to live it in a haze of anger and frustration?"

....My hand eased off the horn and hid in my lap until I found the trailhead and claimed the last parking spot. The place was packed and it wasn't even 9 AM yet!

Unloading quickly, filling water bottles and slathering on 70+ sunscreen, I was ready to ride in record time. Wanting to get verification about the trail, I rode over to two women, who appeared to have just come off the trail.  Meet Audrey and Lisa from Rhode Island; they were friendly, confident and a great source of information.  Taking in their advice and information, giving them hugs, just because it felt right,  I  was soon on my way.

Pedaling at a brisk pace, I was enjoying the rush of the ride, when my phone did it's little 'de-de-de-de-de" scale run, alerting me to a new text message. Normally, I wouldn't read it until I stopped for a break, but today, for some reason, I read it immediately.

It was from a friend of mine, Mark, with whom I ride. He texted that a serious accident had occurred during the Saturday morning bike club ride that I typically ride when I am home. My stomach flew to my mouth. Fingers flying, I returned the text....... "what did serious mean.....who was it...what happened?" 

As is typical in these situations, the details trickled in...each one carrying worse information than the previous. The downed rider was Duane....a strong and skilled cyclist, who has promoted the sport, embraced and looked after the newbies and was an icon in addressing safe cycling.  It seemed unfathomable that he was involved in the accident. Another rider had gone down in front of him, and Duane was catapulted over top of him, landing on his head. It happened so quickly, he never had time to even react.  Duane would not recover from his injuries.

I stood on the edge of the trail, straddling my bike on a bridge overlooking a tranquil pond as I received the news.  Tears streamed down my face, mingling with the sweat.

The biking community is a tight one; the love for the sport binds us, creating a camaraderie unlike one I have ever known. We are a family.  Though I did not know Duane well, I had ridden with him on several occasions. A strong, proficient cyclist, he took care of those with whom he rode. He would block the wind for me when he saw my strength failing, give me pointers on being more efficient or  shout some words of encouragement as he passed me on a hill.  He was like that for everyone; he was a big brother.  He embraced life and lived it on his terms.

Part of me wanted to turn around and quit my ride, but a voice in my head said 'What would Duane do?"  Duane, of course, would have said  "Ride your ride and enjoy the moment!"  and I did...riding it for Duane.

The line between life and death is so tenuous....  it is imperative to live each moment to its fullest; whether momentous or seemingly unimportant, savor it.  Savor each breath, the taste of your coffee, the warmth of the sun, the pinch of your new shoes. Savor your relationships, savor the love, savor the fights.....drink in where you are in that moment because the next may not come.... don't wait.  Live your life today, whether it is riding a bike across the country or standing in line at the grocery store, live your life and give gratitude for that moment.  Find the beauty and revel in it. Live passionately; live deeply.

That's what Duane would do.

Rest in peace, my friend.  Thank you for the final lesson.

Friday, July 6, 2012

The Road I Rode in Rhode Island

I have to say that despite the high population density of the area, it is nice to be able to drive from one state to the next in 45 minutes.  In Texas, that wouldn't even get me from Dallas to Ft. Worth!

After the frustrations experienced in Connecticut, I was glad to get in my car and depart.  I can't say that I was sorry to leave.  Roads were clogged with holiday traffic as I made my way to Rhode Island. causing me to worry a bit about finding a place to stay.  Additionally, I planned to visit and stay in ritzy Newport; I had heard so much about this old and well-heeled town that I wanted to spend some time exploring it.  I did NOT have a reservation, but if it came down to it, I would camp.

Now, my idea of camping is opening the back of my SUV, pitching a tent over the tailgate and putting the bikes in a pup tent. They could spend the night on the ground, not me.  With dark rain clouds lurking on the horizon, camping was not an ideal option.  However, this was the consequence of not adhering to the PPPPPP theory, so I'd camp if I must.

Driving to the campground that Manny (from New Jersey) suggested, I passed a motel....yes, I said motel.....with a red vacancy sign flashing.  I stopped to check it out; after inspecting the room, which was old and worn, but sufficiently clean, I decided to stay. Upon exiting the motel office, I happened upon a tatted woman/child bouncing a baby on her knee; the baby had more teeth than she did....  She said she lived there all summer and it was 'real nice.'  Hmmmm......   If the cost reflected that proclamation, I would have been inclined to agree; I guess everyone has their own definition of  'real nice'. Expensive for what it was, I would be grateful for a roof over my head if the weather produced the storm the skies advertised.

A ride down into town offered an explanation for the exorbitant price for the motel room; the Tall Ships Festival was taking place.  I have to be honest....I wasn't sure what a Tall Ship was, but a ride around the wharves offered an explanation.  The ships were beautiful; the area was teaming with tourist.

The houses there....oh my!  They were all so old--1700's and preserved beautifully.  The looked like they could have been built yesterday.  It was such a treat to admire them, and so humbling to 'feel' their history.

I will add, here, that many of the big estates and summer homes were for sale.  Estate after estate had "For Sale' signs posted in their yards.  Surely as sign of the times.....

The next morning's ride was fairly uneventful, so I won't spend much time on it.  It was hot and humid, as usual. And, as usual, I got lost.

I don't know why I am so directionally challenged, especially with all the electronic aid I have.  I just can't seem to go the right way!  If the map says, left, I always turn the wrong direction........(that would be right, which isn't right).  I just don't get it, and probably never will.

I was sitting at an old Grist Mill, that had been converted into a coffee shop, trying to figure out where I was and the route back, sweat pouring off me as it was another sweltering and humid day.  A motor scooter pulled up, ferrying a mother and her daughter.  They were kind enough to give me verbal directions, also adding 'don't turn here, don't turn there.'  After a long and pleasant visit, I was off and they went into the Mill for refreshment.  I had pedaled 10 miles or so, up some steep hills, when I realized I wasn't seeing the things they said I should pass.  Stopping, I was consulting my Garmin when I heard the 'putt-putt-putt' of an under-powered motor bike.  Turning, there they were, Frappucinos in hand.   My saviors...... they were checking on me, suspecting that I would miss the turn.  Laughing, they redirected me, leaving their phone number.....just in case.  I made it back to my start point, with no further detours.

I will leave you with pictures..........other than my constant 'detours', this was an uneventful, though beautiful ride.
Buzzer at the clam house where I ate a massive mound of fried clams....cute, huh!
Wait for it......
Geese, not ducks.....To-mae-to, to-maa-to...
Fields and fields of breathtaking hydrangea

A real well!
The ocean....knew it was there, somewhere

Proof that I did find the ocean~
Waving proudly.....

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Can't in Connecticut

'Can't' isn't in my vocabulary.  'Challenged'....yes, but not the word 'can't'.  In Connecticut, however, the phrase "I can't" seems to be part of the venacular.

Checking into a national chain hotel, I requested the room rate shown online, which was $30 cheaper than the rate the young lady was quoting me.  Showing her the rate on the small Iphone screen, she shrugged her shoulders, smacked her gum and said,

"I can't".
"But it is published right there."  I countered.
"I don't care.  I can't do it."  she sniveled, cracking her gum again.

Now, it wasn't so much that I couldn't get the lower rate that irked me, but her apathetic, "I can't"  attitude. After such gracious hosts the last several days, this smacked me in the face like a wet tuna.  It stank!

"Well,"  I said, trying to enroll her to help me, "How do we go about getting this rate?  Surely others have come in using this site with this rate.  What can we do to make this work?"

"I don't know. I can't do it",  she answered, never looking up from  her computer screen.

"Is there anyone here that can?"  I queried.
"Ok.  Do you have availability for tonight?"
"Oh, yes.  There aren't too many people staying here tonight."


"If you have empty rooms, does it make sense to rent me a room at this price rather than letting it stand empty?"
"No....I can't."
"Why not?"
"It's not in the computer."
"Ok, thank you."  I replied, and left.

Out in my car, I fired up my netbook, and jumped on the internet.  Finding the booking site, I made a reservation, closed the computer, then re-entered the hotel.  After a brief wait, the same girl, smacking the same gum, emerged from the back office and took her position in front of the computer screen.

"I have a reservation,"  I said, handing her my drivers licence.

Consulting the computer screen, she checked me the lower rate.

"Enjoy your stay," she said handing me the keys as if our previous conversation had never transpired.

After stowing my gear, I went next door to a restaurant. Ordering, I requested that the french fries be substituted with broccoli, which was also on the menu.

"I can't,"  answered the young waiter, "It comes with french fries."


Not wanting to go through the whole "I can't' thing again, I took the french fries.

Early the next morning, I parked far out in an almost vacant strip shopping center parking lot.  As I was preparing to ride, someone walking by came over.  I greeted him with a friendly "Good Morning", to which he replied "You can't park there."   Not wishing to argue, I moved across the street, parking in an equally empty shopping center lot.

Once on the road, I enjoyed the sights and sounds of the area. Surprised to discover that tobacco was a big crop, I watched the migrant workers toil under the hot sun while teenagers splashed in a pool next to the fields.  I wondered if the workers felt any resentment.  I also wondered if any of them fell out of the transport vehicle, which was a school bus that had the all of its sides removed and rows of benches fastened to to the floor.  I suspect it was hidden somewhere when OSHA came to inspect.

Powering up a steep hill on a somewhat busy road, I shifted wrong and dropped my chain.  Unable to get it to catch while still riding, I stopped, moved off the road and into the edge of a yard.  I had done a good job of jamming it, and was diligently working to fix it, sweat pouring down my face, when I felt someone's presence.

Turning around, a middle-aged man, drinking a Coke, was observing me.

"You can't do that here", he said, pointing at my bike with his Coke can and walked away. There was no explanation....just that word again...."can't".   I watched him retreat, finished setting the chain and left.  I was starting to feel as if someone was pranking me.....

Hot and tired, I stopped about 35 miles into the ride at a convenience store.  A cold drink sounded very refreshing! In fact, a Slurpee sounded even better!  Filling a small cup full of Wild Cherry Slurpee, I went to the register and pulled out $2 to pay for the $1.50 charge.  Sucking on the straw, the cold, sweet fluid tasted like Ambrosia, instantly bringing down my body temperature.  MMMM--it was good!   Wincing from the brain freeze that also instantly hit me, I put money down on the counter.

"I can't take that,"  said the older lady at the register.

I looked at her expectantly, thinking she was going to show mercy on me and just give it to me. but she continued to explain:

"The computer is down and I can't ring you up."


"I've already had some of it."  I acknowledged.
"I can't ring you up."
"Then, what if I just gave you the money, and you keep the change?",  I offered.
"I can't"
"Then, may I just have it?  I've already started drinking it.", I pleaded hopefully.
"No, you can't.  I can't ring you up"
"Then, what should I do?",  I asked, drawing more of the wonderful coldness through the straw.
"I don't know.  I can't ring you up."
"Well, here, let me leave my money, and ring it when you're up and running again.", I again offered.
"I can't"

Now, a local man in line behind me was listening to this Abbott and Costello exchange.  Stepping forward, he intervened....

"Look, Betty, just let her have it and I'll pay for it the next time I am in."
"I can't"

He tried to convince her for several more minutes, but to no avail.  Finally, he said
"You've got to be able to do something.  She's already started drinking it....let one of us leave some money."
"I can't ring it up.", the woman again said, then turned an got a smaller cup, "but she can put it in this and drink it. I won't charge her."

Bewildered at this 5 minute ordeal, I accepted the small cup, poured the remaining Slurpee into it and thanked both of them.  The gentleman then put his purchases down and pulled money out to pay.

"I can't." , the woman began again, getting quite agitated.

He and I just looked at each other, chuckling at the insanity of it.

I still shake my head at that whole's one of those things that make me go "hmmmm".

I heard the word 'can't used so much during my brief stay in Connecticut, that I wonder if the nearby University of Connecticut, also known as UConn, shouldn't be called UCan't instead. pictures.  My camera broke.....I think it had a case of the "I can'ts".

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

The Big Bang Theory.......New Jersey

I entered New Jersey with a host of assumptions about its residents, based primarily on hearsay of that wonderfully educational show, "Jersey Shore".  I expected a rude, self-centered population; when my Warmshower hosts called, cancelling my stay with them so they could attend a party, I was not surprised. It aligned with this perception. 

As the sun set, I found myself looking, unexpectedly, for a place to sleep. On this hot holiday weekend, I had little hope of finding a hotel that:

  • had availability 
  • was not outrageously expensive
  • was clean.  
I was an hour from New York City, 40 miles from Brooklyn and 30 minutes from Staten Island......that close to the city, I was concerned.  Pulling out my trusty Iphone app, I repeated the process I had gone through two days earlier....letting the app guide me to the perfect place at the perfect price.  Call after call confirmed my fears; hotels were full and they were expensive.

Continuing to drive towards the start point of the morning's ride, I passed a posh-looking, independent hotel in a small, but obviously wealthy community.  With nothing to lose, I stopped.  Travelling comfortably, I was not exactly presentable; donned  in a tshirt, (that might have had Cheeto crumbs clinging to it), gym shorts and that ever-present blue baseball hat, I would have fit in better at the Texas State fair, where fried Twinkies are considered a delicacy.  By all appearances,  this was a hoity-toity establishment, filled with wonderful antiques, and feeling very much like an  'old money' institution. Expecting the worst, I approached the well-groomed older gentleman behind the mahogany reception desk.  I truly anticipated a snooty, condescending attitude, with a price tag on the room to match.  I got neither!

**BANG**  Assumption number one shattered!

The place was inexpensive and the man was very cordial. When he told me he did not have laundry facilities onsite, he offered to wash my dirty, smelly bike clothes in the hotel's commercial machines, suggesting I grab something to eat while he did so.  At one time, this would have mortified me, but I accepted his offer with great appreciation, warning him of the unpleasantness of the laundry bag's contents.  Unruffled, he took the bag, and sent me to a nearby restaurant. Upon my return, the laundry was done and neatly folded.  Wow!

Ensconced in my very fine room,  I attempted for the second time that day to contact the ride leader of tomorrow's ride.  I had arranged to ride with a local bike club's, the Central Jersey Bicycle Club, Fourth  of July century (100 miles) ride. Other than an email from Manny weeks earlier, acknowledging my request to ride with them, I had heard nothing from him.  Receiving no answer, I left another message,  assuming I was being stood up and on my own tomorrow.

**BANG**  Assumption number two shattered!

With in minutes, he returned my call, welcoming me to New Jersey, confirming that he was expecting me and gave details of the morning's ride...... 7 am, rain or shine, at the Brookdale Community College, Lot 7.  He even had a support vehicle and SAG spots set up.

Morning arrived with black clouds hanging ominously in the pinkish-red morning sky.
"Red sky at night, sailor's delight; 
red sky in the morning, sailor take warning."
Heeding this warning, I packed my rain gear and headed out.  Gentle droplets bounced benignly off the windshield as I made my way to the start point. Upon arriving, others were already dressed and ready to ride in the rain. In the half hour that followed, the sun played hide and seek and we, in turn, put our rain jackets on, then took them off; it was just to hot and humid to leave them on if it wasn't raining.  Introductions made, I was welcomed into the group as if I had always been a member.  Then we were off.

Riding abilities varied widely and I soon found myself riding with the front runners.   Knowing I was only riding half of the century, I could afford to pick up my pace. Being New Jersey, I expected heavy traffic and a densely populated urban area.

**BANG**  Assumption number three shattered!

Most of the ride took us through small towns, past cornfields and by enormously large horse farms and homes.  The pavement, though wet, was smooth and traffic this early was still sparse.  At one point, the skies opened and dumped rain on us as though a pipe had broken.  Very warm at that point, no one bothered to don rain jackets, reveling instead in the wonderfully cooling bath.  
"Raindrops keep fallin' on my head...."

I rode with Marianne and Chris.  Marianne is a scientist for a big pharmaceutical company and is training for an Ironman.  Chris is from Kenya and relatively new to cycling.  Both are very strong riders.  My suspicions that they were lowering their pace for me were confirmed at the 25 mile SAG stop.  Knowing that I was returning, they planned the remainder of their ride....

Chris:  "I'm ready to pump this up a bit"  (in his accent twinged English)
Marianne: "I am, too.  What did you have in mind?"
Chris: "Why don't we average 20 mph and take turns pulling."
Marianne:  "Sounds good to me."

**BANG**  Assumption number four shattered!

HA!  I actually thought I was 'hanging' with these two super athletes....that'll teach me to give myself high fives!

Chris, from Kenya
Marianne, the Ironman
Despite numerous request to continue the ride and stay for lunch, I had to say good-bye to all my new friends from the bike club. I needed to complete my mileage, then head on to the next state, Connecticut.  

As they refueled their bodies, I thanked them for the wonderful ride and fellowship, then departed. Waving good-bye, I knew they were the true representatives of aptly named New Jersey....the Garden State.  

Because, after all,  it is the Fourth of July....

Central New Jersey Bicycle Club, and one happy Texan
SAG stop at mile 25
This ambitious soul is riding all 100 miles on her elliptical cycle!
Horse farms galore.  Big money!! (Bad pic, sorry)
This house needs a haircut.....
Pretty lakes

More horse farms.
 These stores made me you think they are 7-11 knock offs!