Monday, September 1, 2008

Arrival to Liberty State Park August 30

Well, the day has finally arrived when it will be our last day of biking with the group as today we will complete our tour across the country. It was again an early start as we needed to be in Jersey City by 12:30 to gather as a group before being completing the last 10 km under police escort. Before we left a group photo was taken which I believe will be posted on the C2C website soon. It will take 3 police jurisdictions to get us to our destination. What a site seeing 200 cyclist biking, taking up the whole lane of traffic escorted by police. It is a site that I will always remember. I was going to take some pictures while riding of the procession and the New York skyline, but I did not feel comfortable enough to do this riding 3 to 4 abreast and having to slow from time to time. Once we arrived at Liberty State Park the emotions kicked in. Here I had completed two weeks of cycling, up and down some might hills and I had done it. There were times that I thought, I can't climb this hill. People were lined up along the way cheering and then I saw Jean. I stopped and we embraced, then continued on to the tire dipping ceremony. Soon it was time to pack up our bikes and get ready for the evening celebrations. The church here had sold 700 tickets for supper. The food was again amazing. After supper a time of celebration, with singing, with testimonies and a closing message. It was time to say good bye. I met so many people who I consider friends and there will always be this tie of having biked so many km together. It was good to get to the motel and sleep on a very comfortable bed. On Sunday Jean and I, Scott and Linda, Gayle, and Heather and Ben, took a bus to New City and did the City tour loop. This is an interesting way to see the sights of New York City; being able to get off at different stops and then getting back on at a later time. It was a great time. We had supper together and then walked back to the Port Authority Bus station through Times Square. It was almost too much. People everywhere. We held on to each other so as not to get lost.

Now it is Monday morning and time to head back home. I know that I have not been able to update the blog each day, as I was not able to have a wireless connection. This will most likely be my last post. I look forward to getting back home and meeting all of you who have prayed for and supported me.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Day 8 (58) August 25 Crossing into USA

Map Distance - 123.1 km
Distance Travelled - 135.64 km
Total Time 8 1/2 hr
Time in Saddle 6 hr, 20 min, 08 sec
Avg Speed 21.4 km/hr

Set the alarm for 5 this morning but was awake before it went off. Got up and got myself ready, packed my tent belongings, had breakfast, packed a lunch and was on the bike by 7 a.m. We were all asked to get up early and be at the border by 9:30 for a scheduled 10 a.m. crossing.
At 10 we all left on our bikes across the bridge by Bill on his Harley. At the other side the officials were so impressed by the orderliness of the cyclists that we were all allowed to drive right through customs. It helps when our logistical team had everyone's passport information registered with border security ahead of time. We were asked to cycle together through the US Niagara Falls area. This we did and once out of the city each cyclist found his or her own pattern.
Arrived at the RV Camping site, secured my possessions and put up my tent. Showered I was ready for supper. Lots of spaghetti and I had two helpings. After supper we had a campfire and smores. A couple camping near by played for us at the campfire. They had a guitar, large bass and a fiddle. Lots of fun and laughter and singing around the fire.

Day 7 (56) Sunday August 24

Woke up at 6 am as I did not sleep well last night. Breakfast was again being served at 8 by one of the local churches. Nothing officially scheduled until 1:30 p.m. Some went biking, some went shopping and others attended local churches. Lunch was again served and at 1:30 we were on the buses to the celebration event at Brock Memorial. On the way to the park it poured. Fortunately for the meet and greet function we were in a pavilion being served local peaches and were able to stay dry. A number of people from London including Irene Vandersteen, Jean Talsma, Elly de Vries, and Ed and Lennie Lammers all drove together. There were many other local people who came to support the riders. By 4 p.m. when the celebration rally started the rain stopped and the sun came out. It was a miracle of sorts. Brian Walsh was the guest speaker. After the service all cyclists were asked to come forward for acknowledgement and a BBQ supper was served. We said goodbye to our spouses and the we boarded the buses at 6:30 back to our tent city for the night. I went to bed early as we all need to get up early tomorrow for an early start crossing into the USA.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Day 6 (55) Ancaster to St. Catherines - August 23

Distance Travelled - 77.76 km.
Average Speed 22.4 km
Total Time 5 1/2 hr
Time in Saddle 3:28:06
Today I do not think to many cyclists packed any snacks or lunches as we had 5 stops scheduled along the route by the many churches in the area. Left Redeemer at 6:45 About 20 km in along the top of the Niagara Escarpment Fruitland CRC had out there welcome mat. From there it was a short distance as we travelled down the escarpment on the way to Grimsby. My top speed on the way down was around 65 mph, before I began working my brakes. One of the female cyclists was doing over 80 mph. On the way I met Max & Liz Meijer (parents to my son-in-law). I spent some time with them before moving on first to Shalom Manor (Seniors Residence) and then on to Grimsby CRC where the welcome mat was out as well. Other stops along the way today were in Beamsville, Pereboom Residence, and Providence CRC where I met Mike Fluit (one of our worship leaders) parents. In Port Dalhousie a number of us stopped by a local watering hole for some cool ones and some food. Arrived at the school in St. Catherines around 1:30 p.m. Quick set up the tent, showered and relaxed under a shade tree. Tomorrow our day of non riding is set to be a busy day with celebration rallies and other activities. Tonight a number of riders have been taken to see Niagara Falls.

Day 5 (54) London to Ancaster - August 22

Distance Travelled - 130.21 km
Average Speed - 21.4 km
Total Time 7 1/2 hours
Time in Saddle 6:04:27

Got up at 6, gathered my clean laundary, had breakfast and had Jean drive me back to LDCSS. Arrived there at 7:30 and was out on the road by 7:45. There were a number of stops scheduled today so did not bother to pack snacks. Fifteen minutes into the ride the Spoelstra's had the welcome mat out with coffee and snacks. Less than a block away Grace Ann Huygen was out waving everyone on. The first stop on the tour was Ingersoll CRC. From there to Woodstock the De Jong family had out the welcome mat. Then it was off to Woodstock for there welcome. At this stop I came across and old friend Fred Eringa. We had a good chat. From here it as onto Brantford where the Cambridge church had the welcome mat out. From here a slight detour on Jerseyville road to the Brantford CRC welcome. Here I met Fred Reitsma (friend of the family through marriage). From here it was a short hop to Redeemer University College. Our kitchen staff have the whole weekend off as all of our meals through to Monday morning are all being served to us. We were served a wonderfull supper. After supper a number of ladies from the area began a conversation with me and I did not see the lady behind me. As she got up and moved into my line of vision I realized that it was my Aunt from Hamilton. I went to her and tapped her on the shoulder and you should have seen her eyes. She said to me: You look just like your mother. We connected and shared information on our families. I also met Mike and Anne Wynands (formerly from London) as well.

Day 4 (53) August 21 "Chatham to London"

No Statistics as my computer has a dead battery.

Got up at 5 a.m. to be ready to help with breakfast. By 8:45 most things were packed away and Scott and I were given permission to begin our ride as they had enough cylclist back as sweepers. It was quite windy today and Scott stayed with me to the first SAG. He did not want to stop and I did and I had encouraged him earlier to ride on without me as he sets a faster pace than I can handle. I took my time and got to Mt. Brydges (lunch stop) at about 1 p.m. I was met by Gary Aalbers, and Jake and Marg Bulk. The area churches had prepared beef on a bun and it was delicious. I also took notice that one of the sponsors for this event was one of my companies retail locations. "Belmont Farm Supply" Thank you Graham and staff for the support. Before I left I called Jean to let her know approximately what time I would be arriving at the Forks of the Thames as that is where she would be with Kayleigh, Makenna, and Jaelyn (granddaughters). As I arrived into London on the bike path was welcomed by Keith and Frances Anjema, Jerry and Donna Kuiken and Paula Robertson. As I left them to head for Jean and the grandchildren, I teared up a bit, knowing that I was coming home to those who support me and love me very much. After spending some time with the grandchildren and the others there welcoming cyclistst to London, I detoured to the bike shop to get my computer fixed. Arrive at LDCSS about 4:30. As I was going to spend the night at home I quickly put away my bike and gathered some clean clothes as well as some laundry. As it was Marvin's (my son) birthday today and since they live close to school, I went there for a shower and a cool one. Came back to the school for a wonderful feast of corn on the cob, sausage on a bun/hamburg and all the desert one could eat. Upon our arrival we were aslo blessed with cold chocolate milk and ice cream. Stayed for pelaton and then left for home to sleep in my own bed for one night.

Day 3 (52) August 20 - Border Crossing

Mapstance - 90 km.
Distance Travelled - 92.41 km.
Total Time - 7 1/2 hours
Time in Saddle 3:41:57
Average Speed 21.2 km.

Today was the day we would return back to Canada. We had all been instruced the night before that it would be an early start. Everyone needed to be in Marine City (Lighthouse) before 9:45 a.m. That morning John Vandersteen, Thea Hiemstra and myself (Connections Crew) rode together into Marine City.
We were there about 8 a.m. We were not the first to arrive and a local coffee/breakfast place was already packed with cyclists. We went in and ordered our coffees and home made cinnamon buns. It was suggested that perhaps they should call in extra staff as as many as 200 cyclists would most likely be coming in while waiting for our ferry crossing.
Also took a picture of the cyclists from First CRC London while we were waiting.
Finally we were ready to move to the Ferry Terminal for our crossing into Canada. What a Canadian welcome. For me it was very emotional seeing upwards of 300 plus waving flags and welcoming all the cyclists into Canada. There was Tim Horton's coffee and pastries/tarts with Canadian flags. From London were: Irene Vandersteen, Cora Fledderus, Heather Fieten, Heather Wallace, Jody Andody, Alice Winters and Christine Vandendool. Scott Fletcher's parents and in-laws were also there.

Soon it was time to go, and a steady stream of cyclists left for Chatham. I arrived at about 2 p.m., helped unload the gear truck and set up my tent. Scott and I are on SWEEP tonight but we may be freed of our duties as the food is being served by the Chatham churches. However tomorrow morning we need to be ready to work at 5:30 a.m. to help get the breakfast ready and after that is finished to clean up the area and load up the gear truck. That night Peter and Marianna Hogeterp dropped by. While our hosts were busy preparing our supper I noticed a familiar face and found out my cousin Cathy Vandersluis (Bouma) was helping to serve the meal.