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Arriving Home

Posted by on September 13th, 2012 13 Comments

Our last post here was almost four months ago when we were just a few days ride from arriving home in Hamilton after over a year on our bikes. During those last days in the saddle, we talked about writing up our arrival immediately and getting it up on the blog the day after we got home – after all, those exciting moments are best conveyed while fresh in the mind – but that did not happen. In fact, writing clearly fell by the wayside after our return, and boy has time flown since then! We busied ourselves with home life and settling into our city and community, and we avoided thinking about the end of our trip for quite a while. Maybe it was a defense mechanism to allow us to escape coming to terms with our journey coming to a close. However, the final days of our trip as well as our experiences upon our return are filled with important events and emotions that are worth documenting and sharing. It may take some time for us to catch up to the present time – but by all means, lets pick up where we left off!


After our rest in Geneva on the Finger Lakes, we quickly reconnected with the Erie Canal trail, blasting through Rochester without realizing we were in the city at all (off-road trails are great!). We crossed paths with four other touring cyclists within a few hours of each other, including Peter – who, at an inspirational 69 years old, has toured the world throughout his life, recently retiring and off on a cycle trip towards the Maritimes in Canada.

May 30 2012 DSC 9072 548x314 Arriving Home

Peter heads out down the canal trail.

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Along the Erie Canal

Posted by on June 26th, 2012 2 Comments

May 28 2012 DSC 9039 548x284 Along the Erie Canal

From Massachusetts, we rode through some lovely New England towns on our way back into New York state. It seemed each little village was featured up on a hill with a tall church steeple you could see from miles away. The roads were beautifully empty of traffic – it was a bicyclists dream. Except those hills. We had more hills and climbing on this day than most days of the entire trip. Up and down we went with few breaks in between, ascending 780 meters (2560 feet) in only 60 kilometers (37 miles) or so. It was a lot of work with the weight we pull! We made camp at an RV park on top of the last hill of the day, and slept well despite the lumpy, uneven grounds of the tent sites.

We looked at the map the next day and didn’t know what our destination would be, or where we would stay. The city of Troy was about 70km away, and if we made it there, we’d have to make it out to the other side to find camping – and that would make for a bit of a long haul. If we stopped before Troy, we would have to make up the lack of mileage later. Normally, we pretty much know where we will stay each night – and even when we don’t, we have had a lot of success staying in people’s lawns. In built up urban areas, this type of camping is a bit harder to come by than out in the country. We have, however, gotten quite comfortable living within the ‘unknown,’ and in fact, it seems that it is in these situations where something miraculous usually happens, like how we first met up with Hob and Deb back in Virginia.

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A taste of New England

Posted by on June 7th, 2012 2 Comments
May 17 2012 DSC 8922 548x316 A taste of New England

Springtime in the north east

After we said goodbye to the Atlantic Ocean and were officially headed home, we realized we were only one days ride from Hob and Deb, whom we had met serendipitously a few weeks earlier in Virginia. We called them up, and despite the short notice, they insisted we come stay at their place (even though they had just returned from their own tour a few days prior). Hob had warned us that central Connecticut was hilly, and of course he was right – after 30 years of bike touring, he knew his state pretty well. We arrived exhausted as we hadn’t really battled many hills since leaving Panama a few weeks earlier. Hob gave us a tour of his wonderful 200+ year-old house and property that he and Deb have worked on tirelessly for years to restore to the beauty that it is now. Deb prepared a wonderful meal and the kids fell asleep easily when bedtime rolled around.

photo1 548x394 A taste of New England

Hob and Deb on their Santana touring tandem.

After the sun set, we talked for hours with Hob and Deb. Despite our differences in age, it felt like we were old friends – we had a common level of understanding of kindness and generosity in the world, of risk taking and adventure, of stupidity and mishaps that lead to learning in a whole new way. There are things you can share with a fellow bike tourist that they understand only too well! We learned more about their 100,000 miles of bicycle touring – what started it all, and how the cycling actually took a back burner to their interest in long-distance hiking. Over the years, these (now retired) school teachers have hiked every long trail in America, as well as thousands of miles spent tracing old pilgrimage routes in Europe. Their stories were inspiring and led us to dream about what a lifetime of adventure could look like. We said goodbye the next morning, but are certain our paths will once again cross as this amazing couple are a wealth of knowledge on biking, hiking, and pilgrimage walks around the world.

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The origins of a bike-touring family (Part 1)

Posted by on May 29th, 2012 9 Comments

After realizing we wouldn’t be able to make it out to Boston due to time restrictions, we were pretty bummed. It wasn’t because we would be missing out on visiting that city, although we were interested in exploring its transit system and bike culture. We were disappointed because we wouldn’t be able to visit with our college friend Gabe, who now lives there with his wife and daughter. We haven’t seen or really even spoken to Gabe in over five years, but he plays an interesting role in our trip. Whether he knows it or not, he was instrumental in our decision to take this crazy adventure in the first place.

It started out a long time ago (okay, 10 years feels like forever sometimes). Reuben, Gabe and I all went to the same college in northwest Iowa. We noticed that Gabe was doing something unprecedented in this tiny Midwest town. He was riding his bike. Every day. 12 miles or more. And not for just for recreation – he was riding to his work and back – in all kinds of weather! He also did some bike overnights. He would pack his two small rear panniers with gear and ride to a campground 30 or 40 miles away, sleep there, and return the next day. I remember one night we drove out to meet him on one of these trips and were surprised that he did not want to take any of the extra food we had brought along. The self-sufficiency aspect of the trip was important to him and he didn’t want to use anything that he hadn’t brought along on his bike. It was all very interesting to me.

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NYC with Friends, Family, and 32,000 other cyclists

Posted by on May 27th, 2012 1 Comment

For most of this year, we enjoyed waking up with the sun, or when our bodies told us we were well-rested. However, there have a been a few times when we have had to use an alarm clock: a 4:00am wake-up to tackle a few mountain passes in Colorado, or 5:00am alarm calls to beat the late morning heat in Central America. While we are now far from the Rockies or the heat of the tropics, we once again found ourselves bleary-eyed at 5:30am the morning of May 6th. With snacks, toys and camera gear loaded and the bikes prepared the night before, it took us a mere 15 minutes to go from bed to saddle and roll down the hill to catch the 6:15am train from Scarsdale, NY to Grand Central Station in Manhattan.

May 06 2012 DSC 8769 548x317 NYC with Friends, Family, and 32,000 other cyclists

5-boro riders in Central Park

Coffee and tea in hand, we squeezed our unloaded bikes and trailer onto the train, stuffing them into seats and along the aisle near the doors. Reuben’s Surly Big Dummy longtail made this a little difficult with its extra 18” of length – not to mention we weren’t the only people with bikes on this train. With a pile of bicycles behind us, we sat down and ate our breakfast, arriving in downtown NYC an hour later. We quickly navigated the elevators and stairs of Grand Central Station and rode out onto the eerily empty Sunday-morning streets of Manhattan towards the Westside Greenway, a dedicated bike path that was already teaming with riders. Most of the cyclists we saw were wearing bright green vests that matched our own, emblazoned with the Bike NYC logo. We were about to join 32,000 other riders for a 40-mile bike tour of New York’s five boroughs – and it seemed like every cyclist in the city was on their way to the starting line.

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