My latest adventure down the west coast is now over. Posts are listed by date on the right. In a departure from previous years, I am not asking for donations. Instead, I will be making a sizable donation on behalf of my father-in-law, father, and all the wonderful people who have supported me over the years.

My rides will continue to make a difference in the lives of families fighting lung disease and to increase awareness about the importance of lung health. Follow along … Together; we are improving life, one breath at a time.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Day 50 -- August 9th -- Arrival at the Atlantic Ocean -- 3,700 Miles in 50 Days!

Miles Ridden: 52.7
Avg Speed: 15.6 mph
Avg Heart Rate: 112 bpm
Climbing: 2,122 ft
Calories Burned: 1,788 (so says my Garmin ... it's higher!)

Wheel dipping in the Atlantic Ocean ... amazing reception with family and friends ... good bye to new friends ... an engagement

Today' route and map --

Our final day together.  Time to look back.  Time to laugh.  Time to cry.  We left Manchester early with lots of time for easy pedaling, fun conversation, and a few food stops.  So many emotions and thoughts were running through my head.  It seemed like only yesterday that my adventure had begun, yet it seemed like I had been riding with my new ABB family forever.  I was sad to leave them behind, but excited to see my family and friends.  I rode with great anticipation and great contemplation ... for what was behind me and what was ahead of me.

The Geldings and our Filly rode closely together most of the day.  It was like the champion team riding into Paris on the final day of the Tour de France.  No thoughts of racing ... just celebrating our accomplishments and friendships.  The rolling New Hampshire hills seemed like seaside flats as we cruised to the first SAG stop in Kingston.  So many riders were together on the road and at the SAG.  We enjoyed more homemade cookies, this time from Fred's family.  Kim managed to kidnap Nan's "Cuchaloo" ... not once, but twice.  Lots of handshakes, congratulations, and hugs.

The Geldings Head Out For One Last Ride

A Red, White & Blue Peloton
A short 10 miles later we rode past Exeter Academy and into town.  There was still plenty of time before our police escort to the beach, so most of us stopped at a bakery for drinks and pastry.  We got a nice surprise visit from Bob Shaw (VA).  Bob had ridden with us from Astoria to Casper and was also a donor for my ride.  It was great to see him.  It seems so long ago that we had ridden together, but it also seemed like yesterday. 

Ellen in Exeter ... You Inspire Me #16

Is Getting A Lot of Flats a Crime in Switzerland?
By 11:00AM most of us had arrived at the Rye Junior High School.  At 11:30 we posed for our final group photo and were quickly whisked into formation for our police escort to the beach.  I knew the roads, I knew the beach, but I did not know what lay in store just a few short miles away at our destination.  My emotions ran high we pulled into the parking lot of Wallis Sands Beach, I could hear the noise.  Those familiar hand clackers, the cowbells (you can't get enough cowbell!), the cheers ... was I finishing the Trek Across Maine?  No, something much greater, much longer, much more important, but all for the same cause.  As the first few riders made their way through the crowd, I could see so many of my family, friends, and American Lung Association staffers.  The celebration was on!  Leah was first in line for hugs, kisses, and lots of my tears.  I had done it ... 3,700 miles.  A life-long dream ... a life-changing event ... all for me, my father-in-law, my Dad, and the families I had met fighting or impacted by lung disease.

The Team Photo ... Thank You Geldings and Filly
The Entire Crew ...

Hugs and Tears With Daddy's Little Girl
It was a whirlwind of hugs, tears, and celebration.  After Leah, came Karen, my mom, my sister Amy, my mother-in-law Jane, my sister-in-law Carol,  ... then my friends Dawn, Eddie, Cheryl, Dave, Amy ... still more ... my support crew from ALA.  Wow!  Lots of final goodbyes to fellow riders, the traditional wheel dipping, and our bikes held high.  I even ran out into the water (up to my waist anyway). 

I Did It!

The Geldings and Our Filly ... Thanks For A Great Trip

My Girls

The ALA Crew ... Thanks for all Your Support

Amy ... After 30 Years ... Thanks for Being There

Family & Friends ... Wow, Did I Feel Special

The Koltz Gang
As I write this a few days later, the enormity of what I accomplished and attained has not really sunk in.  The people, the friendships, and challenges fill my thoughts.  I was blessed to find people to share the experience with ... 50+ riders, all wonderful in their own special way; 6 amazing crew who devoted themselves to us and our dream.  Yet five people stand out ... the Geldings and our Filly.  We spent so much time together.  We became so close.  I will never forget my riding mates.  Thank you Dave, Mark, Joe, Jeff, and Alex.  Your friendship helped define my trip.  You made the adventure even more memorable. I could list so many others, and perhaps I will do that in a future post as I look back on the ride, the people, and the experience.  Thank you all!

The day did not end at the beach.  After heading back to the hotel, my family and friends, along with Dave and his daughter went out for a great lunch at the Portsmouth Brewing Company.  Karen and I bid farewell to the group and headed back to the hotel for some rest.  The celebration continued that evening and included a nice surprise.  Katie and Terrence got engaged!  Mark, Susan (the Duchess), Karen, me, Michael, Matt, Joe, Katie, and Terrance went out for a great dinner at Pesce's.  We raised a glass of champagne to the happy couple and our wonderful adventure.  In the morning, we said a few last goodbyes to Todd, Bill, Shirley, Howard, and Katie.

No Buffet Food For This Crew

Congratulations Katie & Terrence

One More Celebration
I will post more pictures and thoughts soon.  The ride was everything I thought it would be, nothing like I thought it would be, and everything in between. So many people to thank ... my family, my friends, my donors, and the American Lung Association.  Thank you all.  I could not have made this happen without your love, support, encouragement, and guidance.  Your emails, comments, visits, and pictures brought smiles to my face and helped make each day along the way truly special.  You rock!

Good night moon ... good night ride ... good night family ... good night friends ... good night donors ... good night ALA ... good night Leo ... good night Dad ... good night all ... I DID IT!

A special thanks to my wife Karen and my roomie Dave ...

I Love You TC

Thanks Dave ... So Glad We Shared This Experience Together

1 comment:

  1. Wow, how wonderful, yet tear jerking. You are a truly amazing person, Mark. Your family looks very loving, beautiful wife and daughter. I thank you for sharing this experience with so many people. I wish I had the energy to do 1/4 of what you accomplished ! Thanks for a great ride, best of luck to you, your family, the geldings and filly, ALA, and all of your other riders.
    Please keep posting.
    Patiently waiting on a Liver in San Antonio !
    Your Friend,
    Jill Hickerson-Bowman