I’m getting so close to the end that I just made plans with Rob and Chuck (one of my NJ biking buddies) to cycle with me to the coast in a few days – the last day of the ride.
Today’s Route: Coburn to Elysburg, PA
To beat today’s jungle heat, we left at 7am when it was a perfectly beautiful 69-degree morning. I started my ride while Justin went to get the RV checked (all good, just a fluke!). For most of the day, I rode on Route 45, a smooth, roller-coaster road with bicycle-loving shoulders and not too much traffic (but enough to make a dent in the road kill count!). And it took me through a valley between two mountain ranges, through more adorably quaint towns and Amish communities, and over the Susquehanna River. Still loving gorgeous Pennsylvania!
Scott from Penn State
A shout out to Scott from Penn State! I met Scott at the Sheetz Gas Station (yes, that is the actual name) when I stopped for ice cold water in the town of State College. Being an avid cyclist, Scott inquired about my ride and then offered me an alternative route around the insane traffic in town. Thanks to Scott’s benevolence, I safely rode to the other side of town on bike paths.
Of course I had to ask Scott about his job. He works at Penn State University (ready for this?) “on the guidance and control of underwater vehicles.” He also teaches occasionally for the mechanical engineering department in the areas of “dynamics, control systems, vibration theory, and finite element analysis.” (Holy brain power!) What he loves about it all is staying technically challenged and solving technical problems (instead of finding them). And he loves to bike to work.
- Have a rock-solid support team. I could not have made this trip without Justin supporting my success on the bike every day, Cindy and Sue supporting my success at LifeMoxie every day, and Rob keeping the rest of my life in order at home every day. I’m sure I could have done it all by myself, but I couldn’t find a good reason to do so. They allowed me to experience the moment without worrying about a different moment.
- Training happens on the ride. I was a little stressed before leaving that I did not do enough training. (Of course I blamed it on the NJ weather.) I discovered that the training happens in the saddle on the ride. I am stronger now than I have ever been, but there is nothing I could have done beforehand to prepare me for the day-after-day-after-day of riding up and down mountains. I just had to jump on the bike and go. (I will definitely apply this lesson to other adventures…)
- Call mom every day. I’ve called home every day after finishing my ride. I always knew my mom to be my biggest champion, but there is something extraordinary about calling home and having her gush night after night after night. (Of course my husband does that too, but he has to!)
- Talk to anyone, but suspend assumptions. I didn’t realize how much people would love talking about their jobs when I conjured up the “what do you love about your job?” question. And what surprised me most were my own assumptions about whether they’d want to share or whether they’d have anything worthwhile to contribute. And each time I intentionally suspended my assumptions, I relished in what I might have missed had I kept my question to myself. (This one I’m going to apply daily!)
- I can tolerate a lot of dirt. I have lived in an RV for 4,000 miles, 10 states, and 65 days. It is small, dusty, disgusting, and disorganized, and usually has a few dead bugs on the floor. My toothbrush has dropped on that floor, and I’ve picked it up, rinsed it off and kept brushing. I’ve even taken a shower (in my biking clothes) outside using a garden hose when the showers in one RV park were broken. The bar is at an all-time low these days.
Day 65 Stats
Total miles: 4,038.75 miles
Day 65 ascent: 3,743 feet
Day 65 descent: 4,275 feet (wow! no wonder my knees were loving today – I went downhill more than uphill…)
Total interviews: 104
Road kill count: 1,933
(Added 108 today, including porcupine #4 for the trip! Scott the cyclist from Penn State was right – he predicted I would see at least 1/mile in these parts, if not more.)
Destination for Day 66: New Tripoli, PA (just West of Allentown, our last night in Pennsylvania)