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Aug 5, 2012

Michigan to Ontario

Clicking the week’s summary chart will bring up a detailed route map for the week including elevation gains. After the summary and overview of the week and Sheila’s op-ed piece, you’ll see the posts in order starting with the first post of the week.You can view any week of posts by clicking on the week in the sidebar.

Click to see week-7 overview summaryAnother milestone week as we crossed from Michigan into Ontario, Canada. We passed 3000 miles and three-quarters of our tour and completed a Lake Erie century. We had fun riding fast a few days and got cranky at the end of the week. We had a visit with Seattle friends Sean and Heather from Toronto area who rode their tandem self-supported from Seattle to DC. And we’re spending our rest day with our friend Grace in Buffalo. The border crossing was too crazy to get a photo of Niagara Falls but we’ll capture one on Monday when week 8 begins.

This week’s op-ed from Sheila


Greg with staff in signature yellow shirts.

Jean & VIcki

Some of you have expressed curiosity about the inner workings of Cycle America. I’ll do my best to describe what I know. First of all this company is 25 years old and the current owner, Greg Walsh, has run it for the last 17 years. So he has it down to a science. The Coast to Coast is run on even years and in odd years he runs week-long tours instead. There is an office in Cannon Falls, Minnesota with an administrative staff person named Tracy who we got to meet when we passed through town. On the road there are two crews of volunteers. Each crew works alternate days and rides on their off days, so M-W-F or T-Th-Sa, then everyone works on Sunday, our rest day. More about that later.

There are 2 bike mechanics, Andrew and Peter, both from Texas. On their work days they are on the road checking for folks who need mechanical assistance, hang out at picnic and then drive the picnic trailer into camp. Then they’re both available until dinner for any mechanical needs.

There are 2 routers, Dan and Ed. On their work day they drive a scout car and check and mark the established route and finalize our cue sheet for the next day. They use yellow spray paint to put arrows on the pavement for us to follow. If there’s unanticipated construction it’s their job to find an alternative route. At each night’s meting the router goes over the next day’s route with us. Then they get to ride their own route on their day off.

Coast to Coast riders

Tim, England

Marty, Minnesota

Beth, Minnesota

Theo, Netherlands

Gregg, California

Johanne, Canada &
Ineke, Netherlands

There are two teams of two as the picnic crew, Heidi and Shuli work together and Tom and Anya do as well. They are responsible for putting together the daily picnic menu including shopping, preparation and clean-up.

Then there are the 2 drivers each day, Matt, Olga, Jean and Vicki. We’ve described the sag process already. In addition to watching for riders in need of help, they first drop off the water stops, maintain them during the day, and deliver our bags to the school and off load them. I think they also act as floaters as needed. And Jean is the massage therapist. She sets up appointments in the afternoons. Like everyone else, these folks ride alternate days.

We are basically a traveling circus! Greg is the ringmaster and doesn’t get to ride at all. He’s the facilities contact person. So he’s the last one out in the morning, making sure all the areas are left as they should be, picking up lost and found, etc. And then he’s the first into the campsite each day as well. He determines which rooms will be used for what purpose and then posts pre-made color-coded signs designating such things as:

  • No Entry
  • Massage
  • Meals
  • Indoor Sleeping
  • Men’s and Women’s showers and rest rooms

On Sundays while we rest in a motel and do laundry, the entire staff are extremely busy. There’s usually some kind of transportation run to a nearby airport, dropping off and/or picking up riders. All the vehicles (3 vans with trailers and the car) must be washed and maintained. Food supplies must be refilled. And preparations for the coming week made. By 4 pm on Sunday they are registering the new arrivals, we have dinner at 5:30 and a group welcome orientation meeting follows. A shorter version of that happens every night after dinner. They do a remarkable job of keeping things flowing smoothly and meeting special needs as they come up including the injuries that have required trips to ERs.

I hope I haven’t left anyone out or misrepresented anything. I haven’t run this by anyone on staff. Suffice it to say they ALL do a fabulous job and work their butts off. Thank you!

Jul 30, 2012

3,000 miles (almost)

What a gorgeous day off we had. What a gorgeous day to ride today was. Pretty near all the stars have been aligned for us since we got to Michigan. We’ll see how long that takes to change. But we are enjoying it now. We had a lot of extra time last weekend because our […]

Jul 31, 2012

Flying Wheels

Another gigantic lightning storm last night. We were tucked in our bed in the school so we didn’t have to fret about it, but it woke us both up with the crashing and flashing. At least one of our intrepid group abandoned her tent and came inside because it was enough to give her the […]

Aug 1, 2012

Three-fourths done

Last night we had a beautiful full moon. We decided we should take advantage of it and sleep outside for the first time since Wisconsin. It was a lovely night, not too hot, not too cool. As a matter of fact, the last few days of riding have been Goldilocks kind of days, not too […]

Aug 2, 2012

O Canada!

These last few days have had an unwritten theme: get through Michigan as quickly as possible. I’m not trying to insult all the Michiganders out there. It’s a lovely state with great riding. But every day has been blazingly fast for us. We’ve covered an average of about 85 miles a day. Zip! So now […]

Aug 3, 2012

Lake Erie Century

When I wrote that we’d been averaging a high number of miles per day yesterday, I didn’t know that today would be even longer. We pretty much did a century (100 miles). Again the forecast dictated our riding schedule. We opted to get up early, break camp, and skip the formal breakfast at 6:30. Instead, […]

Aug 4, 2012

Niagara Falls….and cranky

We had such a pleasant time with Heather and Sean and their two children last night. We even got more tips on cross-country travel by bike. They both reported that after they finished their two month trip, their muscles ached for a week or two longer. Something about not being accustomed to not being used […]