Day 50: 54 miles from Brattleboro, VT → Portsmouth, NH

I made it to the Atlantic Ocean in Portsmouth, and the ride is over! Here are some notes and photos from the eventful last day and some closing thoughts.

The first photo is me holding my bike in the air over the Atlantic surf, a little seaweed clinging to my wheels.

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The Atlantic Ocean!

The last ride was exciting partly for the wrong reasons. After crossing the whole continent with just one flat tire, which flattened overnight at the hotel, I had two flat tires on the road on the last day! What’s more, the first of these was a complete blowout: we were moving at maybe 15 mph when I heard a “pop” like a gunshot, and my rear tire went instantly flat. I was able to stop quickly enough to save the wheel, but the tire looked like it had been gashed with a knife (photo below).

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The blowout: the tire and inner tube both looked like they had been slashed.

I don’t know what happened, but my best guess after asking around is that the inner tube had been pinched between the tire and the wheel—ever since I installed the tire several days earlier—and it gave out explosively when I ran over a small sharp object just the right way. After calling the mechanics to install a new tire and tube (Robyn did it because he’s so much quicker than I am), I started rolling again, but only to have the new tube go flat within 5 minutes! This time the problem was a small imperfection inside the wheel that needed to be covered with tape. Problem solved, although why that imperfection didn’t cause a flat days earlier is unclear.

The rest of the ride went smoothly, and we reached the coast just a little later than expected. I rode with Matt and Scott, and we stopped to take photos when we first saw the Atlantic (two photos below).

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Our first clear view of the coast.

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A nice woman took our photo with the Atlantic in the background. As you can see, we were happy!

When we reached Wallis Sands State Beach, our final destination, we were greeted by cheers and applause from friends and families of several riders who had not yet arrived, including my own brother Jeff, his wife Barb, and their son Andy. Jeff had made a great poster using images from my website, and he and Andy held it up as we approached. I was so happy to be there and touched by their thoughtfulness that tears welled up in my eyes.

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Andy, Barb, me, and Jeff with the poster Jeff made. The text on the left summarizes the ride (50 days; 3,695 miles) and the fundraiser ($13,700+). The total funds raised will still grow, I hope, because it doesn’t include all of the per-mile pledges or donations that came in or might come in late.

After some hugs, we carried our bikes to the water and posed for photos.

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Matt, me, and Scott, sometimes called the Three Musketeers by other riders, in the Atlantic.

We then threw our bikes in cars and rode to the hotel in Portsmouth, where Ann arrived a couple hours later. We had dinner that evening with Matt at a place overlooking the Piscataqua River, literally a stone’s throw from Maine. We went home the next morning, and I’m home now as I write.

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Dinner on the river at Lazy Jack’s. The river was just to our left.

The last images below you will recognize: Josh Wesner and the logo of St. Luke’s Hospice, representing my inspirations on this trip and in my life. At the closing dinner, all of the riders on the trip got a chance to say a few words to the group about the trip. I said that above all I was grateful for the love and support of the people in my life who took an interest in the ride, that is, YOU who have read this blog now and then, sent words of support, and/or supported the fundraiser. I can’t thank you enough for your kindness and generosity. It surprised me and has meant the world to me, and I will never forget it.

Thanks especially to my training partner and roommate Scott, my frequent companion Matt, the very professional staff of America by Bicycle, the Wesner/Greer family (please read or re-read the blog entry for Day 42 regarding this special group), and my own family Ann, Sam, Rachel, Sarah, Barbara, Kurt, Jeff, Barb, Ben, Andy, Laura, and the entire Priester clan.

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