Sunday, August 5 Manchester, NH to Portsmouth, NH
I MADE IT! I WENT THE DISTANCE!!
Touch down at Wallis Sands State Beach Atlantic Ocean today at 12:00 PM. What an emotionally charged moment for all of us. We had to leave the motel this morning and ride our bikes 49 miles to the group meeting place which was in the parking lot of Rye Junior High School.
As we waited for everyone to get there we were snapping those last pictures of each other. I wanted a picture of the four recumbent bikes that made the trip. I managed to gather up Bill, Chris, Mark and Marty and asked them to get their bikes and line up for a photo moment. Goodness! They sure were a popular shot as everyone with a camera rushed to get this picture of our ‘bent buddies.
Then the shout from Doug finally came to line up two by two. We picked up our bikes and the line stretched out in a colorful scene of red white and blue because we were wearing our official America by Bicycle jersey. The Portsmouth local police came to the front of the line to be our escort. When the flashing lights were turned on my heart leaped again in excitement and we went forward out on the road pedaling to the beach. Other patrol cars held back traffic at intersections allowing our long line to proceed as a group. We were going at a pretty good clip. My speedometer was reading 15-18 mph.
Then we caught the smell of the sea and knew we were very close to the water. I felt like I was in some sort of dream – it was hard to believe this was really the moment I was pedaling toward for these last 50 days. There were people waving and cheering as we passed by. Three miles down the road on Route 1A we made a right turn in toward the beach. There were people with signs and banners welcoming us. Many of these were friends and relatives of our group who had traveled to witness this moment. There was a sandy sidewalk we rode our bikes on up to the rock wall that separated the parking lot from the people lying on the sandy beach. A few started to take their bike shoes and socks off. Most of us just left them on and walked our bike down the four or five steps to the beach. The fine sand can get in the hubs and bottom bracket of the bike and cause big problems so we lifted our bikes up and carried them. There were people everywhere on the beach and we were weaving our way in between the bodies sitting and standing around. I was so happy and I was sobbing at the same time. I walked right into the water, shoes and all, and touched my front wheel in the water. I hoisted my bike up high in a sign of victory!
For all those who have made a donation to Habitat for Humanity, I thank you so very, very much. I “hammered it home!” all the way from the Pacific to the Atlantic. Thank you for cheering me on. What a celebration for me. I am thankful to God for restoring my good health so that I could do this difficult journey on a bicycle and be here today. It was my dream and it came true. For those who started out and could not make it because of those unfortunate accidents, I am thinking of each of you and carried you in my heart to the end. I hope you are all healing completely and will come back to finish the miles you had to miss this time.
After we took pictures and visited with the people for a while we started to leave at different times. Three of us left together and went up to a water hose at the beach house and rinsed off the sand from our shoes. We turned back on Rte 1A and made our way to the bridge that lead over into the state of Maine. We walked our bikes on the walkway to the other side and took pictures at Kittery point. I could see a lot of lobster traps down by the water and lobster fishing boats. There was seafood restaurants lining the water on both the New Hampshire and Maine shores. It was about 1:00 then and I was pretty hungry and would have liked to eat at one of the places. But those of us who wanted our bikes boxed and shipped home had to be at the motel by 2:00 so that we could be transported to Bicycle Bob’s Bike Shop to check in our bike for them to professionally box it and ship it.
I loved cycling through downtown Portsmouth. What a grand historical town. Established in 1612. There were hundreds of Sunday afternoon tourists out and about on the sidewalks of the town. Stores were open, and people were eating out doors and enjoying the lovely warm day. The streets were narrow so it meant taking a lane behind a vehicle instead of being able to ride along to the ride side of the cars. The motel was about three miles from the downtown.
When I got to the motel there was a pretty long line of us waiting to check in. When it was my turn and reached the desk the gal said, “ I bet you now have a bicycle you want to sell real cheap!” I couldn’t believe she said that. I looked right at her and said, “Are you kidding?! This bike is priceless. This bike just rolled more than 3,600 miles from coast to coast. How many can make that claim about their bike? Oh no, it won’t be for sale, in fact I just might have this bike bronzed!”