Stars, Stripes and Humble Nights

Flying with a bike can be a little awkward due to the size of the box, even with the bike dissasembled. From the hotel in Lisbon we had to walk about 2 streets down to the airport shuttle bus stop. The bikes weigh a ton with all the gear on and now we had to carry all that gear to the stop, imagine a strongman competition where for very short bursts they lift and waddle as fast as they can before dropping the weight, that was us. After getting to the stop and have to wait for a quieter bus to get the boxes on we got to the airport and get checked in, SATA airline even waived the sports baggage fee for the bike!

The plane landed early at Boston Logan International and we made our way towards customs anticipating the usual grilling. After a few tense moments and probing questions I eventually got my 90 day stamp which keeps me good in the US until Oct 2nd, although our flight to New Zealand is Oct 1st. We had arranged to stay with Norma and Bob in Jamaica Plains, a neighbourhood in Boston through a website for touring cyclists called warmshowers (I know, the name could be better). We cross the river by water taxi and navigate away from downtown to their lovely home where they greeted us on the front porch.

Bob offered up a beer called ‘Heady Topper’ an 8% double IPA that was unbelievavly refreshing for its strength, shame its only available in Vermont where they drive to get it, I think I’m going to email the brewers and see if I can’t get a box shipped out somewhere. That evening and the following morning Bob and Norma totally spoiled us with good food, we were especially humbled to try Bobs amazing signature waffles. The perfect start to the USA section of the trip and a huge thanks to Norma, Bob and the Ferris Wheels bike shop which gave us a quick turnaround on my cassette and Eals rear wheel. We have fun galavanting around on these bikes but all these people combine to make it more worthwhile and possible.

An uneventful first 60 miles ride followed as we adjusted our eyes from the old european towns and countryside to the more familiar yellow striped US roads, huge wood panelled homes and red barn farms. Another 70 mile ride followed to the town of Windsor Locks through crossing from New Jersey into Connecticut along the way, 3 states in a few days, as the heatwave from the previous week in the US began to ease from around 105F to a more comfortable 93F.

One thing we have loved since getting back to the US is the amount of options we have for food and drink, spoilt for choice at every turn often over doing the sugar and taking timeouts to let the food babies settle down. Heading out for food that evening however we had a problem, one thing that annoys me about certain towns like this one in the US is that the commercial areas have no sidewalks. A double lane road runs through past all the stores and chain food places with turns direct to parking lots, completely inaccessible by pedestrian. This isn’t the case in an around the cities and major towns but these smaller ones (and this occurs all the way across) have been setup in a way that can only be detremental to public health not to mention the environment as nobody walks anywhere! (Not to mention the drive-thru banks they have here, SERIOUSLY) We have bought beers from a liquor shop round the corner of a motel only to have the liquor store owner marvel that we have walked offering us a lift back in his truck and then see the motel owner on the walk back remark if she knew we wanted beer she would have drove us, it was a 2 minute walk. Alas, as usual we end up lumbering across the grass by the road and cutting through parking lots.

Riding through Conneticut has been a series of reasonabley long rolling climbs. That night we were heading toward our second warmshower stay with John Lynch, he had offered some great route advice along the way which took us on a bike path from Avon to Farmington. It was a glorious smooth ride and being a Sunday there were plenty of walkers, runners and cyclists making use of the paved trail that ran for about 20 miles. I thought about how logical the path must be for the local economies and what a contrast it was from the Windsor Locks commercial area. We stopped for food and drink along the path and I’m sure most people out that day would have. Thats about $7 x hundreds of people, makes sense.

John greeted us at the bottom of his driveway and gave us another great night of warm hospitality and wonderful food in their beautiful log cabin home. It was great looking over googlemaps with John tracking out a route for the next 3-4 days and again we can’t thank them enough for hosting us. Following John’s route the next morning over pleasant ridge gave us a nice climb and great descent at which point we crossed the Appalchian Trail. Right on que several thru-hikers came out of the woods beards, backpacks and all. I crossed the Appalchian trail in Virginia 2 years ago and stayed at a hostel in the legendary AT town of Damascus, VA called “The Place”. The afternoon saw us crossing over more rolling terrain toward the Winding Hills Lake campground which unsuprisingly was at the top of a very long winding hill. We had to bin our stove gas cannisters for the flight which we havn’t been able to resupply yet so it was a 2 mile cruise back into the town of Montgomery for some long overdue pizza.

2 Years ago I met a guy on the road whilst riding in Idaho called Siemen from Belgium. Last summer Siemen met and rode with Jeffrey Odolski in Spain. Our days riding from Winding Hills would take us through the Delaware Water Gap area where Jeffrey lives, so with that connection in place we had arranged to stay with him at the family home. It would be about a 70 mile ride in total with the last 30 being a real treat riding along ‘Old Mine Road’, almost no traffic 2 deep and chatting the whole way. When a car finally did pass us it stopped in the road up ahead and a bunch of girls stuck heads out of the window and sunroof toward the edge of the road. We pulled over with them to see a black bear walking off in the bushes that had just crossed the road. 20 seconds earlier and we would have had to ride around it. After getting to Jeffery’s we exchange stories of Siemen and bike touring, devour a phillie cheesesteak and hit the sack.

14 Replies to “Stars, Stripes and Humble Nights”

    1. ‘Heady Topper’ an 8% double IPA.
      You can always ship it to me. I can’t promise it will still be here upon your arrival.

      Great following your adventures.

      Cheers, Stef and Tara

  1. Brilliant update, hope there,s no bears about when you set up camp…your both very brave, its lovely that you,ve been staying with some very kind people and do know that you will both be extremely appreciative of there hospitality ,loving the pics, keep safe ,luv mum xx

  2. Hi Ryan,
    I am a work friend of your Uncle Mike’s over in the Toronto area……Also a cycling Brit from SE London (Herne Hill track )
    Try and get the Long Trail beer for as long as you can …i only get it when in Vermont .
    Another great brew is Fat Tire.
    Have been following your progress since you set off and am very impressed with the way your have carved your way down thru Europe.
    I laughed when i read your commentary on “non walking” US citizens…i had the same experience in Utah where people were looking confused to see someone walking down a street !

    Safe travels across the US.

  3. If they won’t ship the beer to you, I’m in Vermont every week, could probs arrange something. But they should. Local brewers around here, cider, beer, even the vineyards, are pretty darn nice and friendly.

    Hope you get more bear experiences.

  4. Hello Ryan and Matthew! It sounds like you two are having a wonderful time and I love seeing your pictures and reading your posts. It is true about many Americans not liking to walk. My five-year old niece visited from a small, picturesque Connecticut town and after an afternoon spent with us here in Boston she said, “You have to walk so much here!” Bob. Rosie and I really enjoyed having you stay with us and your parents should know what thoughtful, interesting young men they raised. We think about you two often and hope you stay safe and continue to enjoy our country. I’m still planning to follow your example next spring and I’m learning a lot from you.
    We’ll lift a Heady Topper to you both tonight.
    Al my best,

  5. Looks And sounds like your lovin being back in the states, but stay away from those bears and continue to treat those wonderful beers with the love and care that they so richly deserve.take care.,

  6. No pic, so pretty sure the bear didn’t happen:-) The Double Bag looks nice, but I did like the Three Sisters even better!

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