Mercy Riders

Pushing pedals, pushing hope

July 29, 2014
by Emil McCauley
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mercyRIDERS – One Year Later

I’d would absolutely do a cross country ride again, but at a bit more leisurely pace.  And I probably need to win the lottery to be away from work for that amount of time again.   There is so much beauty in this country, both in landscape and people, that I’d like to take more time to immerse myself in it. And what advice would I give to those that want to do a similar feat; if you’re thinking of doing something epic, think outside the bucket and figure out how to help a worthy cause. Pray every morning. Don’t go into it to say “look what I did”, but “look what we did”.  With what you get in return, you’ll need another bucket.

Bill and Claire have reflected on parts of the ride recently, and pack an awesome punch into a couple sentences.  What a gift.  I share their feelings.  What a gift and honor it was for me to ride with them and Greg, Keith, Mark B,  and Jim, and be supported by Liz, Barb, and the huskies.  My joy alone that Michelle drove and our boys Mark and Matthew participated in and witnessed all the good in the country could speak volumes. In a short year I have already seen seeds bear fruit in recent decisions made by the boys.  A longtime friend of the family emailed a short note my mother after the ride. She ended with “Don (my father) would be pleased”.  That is one very humbling remark.  I have been changed by this event in ways that I can’t fully articulate.

We set out to help others, and I know we did.  Our financial goal was achieved and surpassed.  The blueprint for the ride wasn’t perfect, but it wasn’t expected to be.  Frankly imperfection increased the amount of encounters with strangers, and time after time we ended up being on the receiving end of unconditional kindness and generosity.  It was major contributor to keeping our spirits up.

There are so many to thank, from mom and pop stores to campgrounds and hotels that gave us a break.  Farm stands that just gave us food knowing what we were doing.  Churches that gave us cupcakes and shelter.  Family and friends, and people we encountered on the ride who contributed out of their pockets. Our many sponsors who allowed for all this to happen and to those that simply followed along and prayed for the cause and our safety.  I’m sure there were some bruised and broken angels that watched over us, but that allowed us to break open the first aid kit for only one purpose; vitamin I (ibuprofen). THANK YOU.

Like the 42 days of the ride last year, this reflective exercise has come to an end quicker than I thought. I had a great time looking through the pictures that I hadn’t had a chance to go through during the ride. It brought back great memories. Riding for Mercy Housing was and is a perfect fit for me. It parallels my spiritual involvement with St Vincent de Paul and my professional journey as an architect.  It’s hard to imagine to have ridden for anyone else. Adventure is out there. Find yours.  And share it. Emil

July 27, 2014
by Emil McCauley
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July 26, One Year Later

 

We woke to a simple breakfast at The Lutheran Church of Our Savior, who allowed us to stay an additional day to rest before going home.  Those of us that didn’t need to leave for home right away went to the beach and milled around Cape Henlopen State Park.

Cape Henlopen State Park

Cape Henlopen State Park

Pat

Pat

Pat with her family and friends.

Pat with her family and friends.

Special thanks to Pastor Schaeffer and staff, including Pat for her welcoming ways and awesome dinner.

July 25, 2014
by Emil McCauley
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July 25, One Year Later

We aren’t allowed to bike across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, so we are dropped off in Chester, MD and start the days ride there. Jim and Greg got some extra miles in on an early morning ride.

In Georgetown, DE we ate at the Brick Hotel, a colonial looking building in the town square. We were seated at a long table with fancy dishes and place settings. I felt a little out of place because I didn’t have a monocle and a white wig. The food was great and the staff couldn’t be nicer.

As we ride in a paceline out of Georgetown via rt 404, we are filmed from a helicopter by Fox News, who was alerted of our ride by the brother of the gentleman we met at the Flight 93 memorial.

Within a few miles of the end of our day we rode along rt 1, then finally end at the boardwalk in Rehoboth Beach. We get off the bikes and walk them down to the Atlantic Ocean to do our front wheel in the water. There is a reporter from Fox News there and she interviews Greg, Jim, and Claire.

After the dip

After the dip

A deep sense of satisfaction washes over me as I look East over the water.

Matt vs the Atlantic

Matt vs the Atlantic

That would be a great ending to the day but we are granted yet another gift in the way of lodging. The Lutheran Church of Our Savior answered the call from Mark’s friend Jean who was tasked to find us a place to stay. The church allowed us who didn’t have to stay two nights! And they fed us, as well as the people they feed on a regular basis through the great outreach they normally do. I can barely think of a better scenario to end our journey.

July 24, 2014
by Emil McCauley
3 Comments

July 24, One Year Later

One of the reasons for riding to DC was to be in DC for a rally on the lawns of the Capitol Building. Bill spoke and made us all very proud to have done what we set out to do.

Rally for the Homeless

Rally for the Homeless

After the rally we went on a tour of the Capitol Building. Later in the evening we had barbeque and prepared for our very last day of riding, to Rehoboth Beach, DE. Late in the day on the eve or the last day of our ride across the country, we have just found out that we have a place to stay.

July 23, 2014
by Emil McCauley
2 Comments

July 23, One Year Later

Ready for DC

Ready for DC

The roads are just a little wet from the storm the night before.  We make our way mostly south, and within a couple of hours are in Gathland State Park where we spend some time brushing up on the American Civil War. It’s quiet. And green. We head south on Rt 17 over the Potomac into Virginia where the road turns into the Berlin Turnpike. We take a photo at the sign indicating we’ve arrived. First one we’ve encountered since …. the Mississippi.

Virginia

Virginia


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July 22, 2014
by Emil McCauley
7 Comments

July 22, One Year Later

The day starts off foggy and overcast. We break camp for what will be the last time we use our tents. The fog lifts but the overcast sticks around. The last time we were rained on was the day before we rode into Denver. Seemed like forever ago.

It’s hot, but there’s not much in the way of climbing. We can tell we’re getting closer to sea level. Rides of 100+ miles are left in the rear view mirror. Along the route today the mechanical bug bites again, this time with my handlebar shifter that controls the front derailleur. I’m stuck in the big chain ring. This would be unacceptable in mountainous riding, but is more of an annoyance.

There is a short rain delay. We seek shelter for about 20 minutes at a gas station.  Total strangers offer a place to stay just down the road.  While it’s tempting, it would lead to more miles for the next day, so we politely pass. We are beginning to head in a SE direction so we’re on different roads the whole day, starting in McConnellsburg. We’re off route 30 and on 16, then 416, then missed a turn to stay on 416, so a couple miles are added. I missed a sign that we’d passed into Maryland. I would have like to know… Anyway 416 turns in to Maryland 58 and we take that straight into Hagerstown, MD.

The decision is made to stay at a Days Inn mainly because of impending rain. And it rained hard all through dinner at the local Texas Road House. Good call. And this will be our last day in a hotel, and one last wash in the hotel laundry room

Jerseys washed and ready for DC

Jerseys washed and ready for DC

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July 21, 2014
by Emil McCauley
4 Comments

July 21, One Year Later

We stayed on route 30 all day today.  The early stretch was literally on the highway, and not much fun.  Things settled down after about 20 miles, then a huge hill over 5 miles long. Hills here rival some of the relentless mountain regions through Colorado.  The entrance to the Flight 93 National Memorial is right off route 30, and we made a planned stop.  You have to wind your way through a paved road flanked by wild flowers.  The monument is simple but striking.  There are marble slabs stood up on end, each with a name of a passenger lost. On one slab in particular, a womans name was engraved, and next to it, very faint, it read “and unborn child”.  Slabs are arranged in such a way that if you look down all of them, in the distance you see a stone, which is where the plane came to rest.

Flight 93 National Memorial

Flight 93 National Memorial


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July 20, 2014
by Emil McCauley
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July 20, One Year Later

Long day today made longer by the fact we don’t have clear directions again.  Did I mentioned my frustration with that?  If not, I soon will.  Ask anyone within a mile radius of a little gas station on south side of the Monongahela River after I was asked if my phone call was important.  The acoustics are perfect there.  Better than a tile shower.

I always expect a big sign as you cros the state line.  Not so since we crossed the Mississippi.  Pennsylvania kinda crept up on us.  We knew we were close as the hills became more and more a challenge.   Late morning we cross the Ohio River.  Over the bridge is a power plant, and Jim decides to go for his camera.  His front wheel decides to go for the expansion joint in the road, and Jim’s bike becomes possessed; but Jim doesn’t fall and doesn’t run into the curb and into the river.  The more I looked at it the more I see he tempted fate.  Check this link out.

Jim vs the Bridge over the Ohio River.

The hills here are steep.  Very steep.  Sometimes you wonder if you’ll fall backwards steep.   Early afternoon we’re in Pittsburg.  I look at the map a year later and see that we’re only supposed to cross one river.  This day we seem to be crossing rivers at will, and there was a dead end that I’ll never forget.  Someone at Google needs to update a map.

About 5 miles from Greensburg, PA (our destination) we’re back on route 30.  No side roads to take.  It’s getting dark so we decide to live to ride another day and get picked up by the van.  It was great to have Matt back back with the pack this evening.  Camping with his cousins was over, and Michelle’s sister-in-law Jill brought him to us this evening.  He’ll be a big help going forward.

July 20, 2014
by Emil McCauley
4 Comments

July 19, One Year Later

On this day we ride through Wooster and Canton, OH. Along the way we happened upon the Shenandoah Bike Shop, run by an Amish family. We pass many buggies, the sign of simpler times.

Passing on your left!

We planned our end of day resting place better than most days, but as we arrive, we find our plans have fallen through. Directly across the street from where we were to stay is the Mount Zion Church. A few of its members are still around, and allow us to camp on their lawn. We’re a good distance from any dinner place, and we’re in need of supplies. Keith spots a sign for a golf course and the music minister of the church and he drives the 3 miles to it to see if we can shower there and maybe get something to eat. He comes back and they don’t have showers, but they will stay late for us and feed us all we can eat fish and chips! This trip just seems like it was arranged to show each of us how there are so many good people in the world.  It really keeps our spirits up.

July 19, 2014
by Emil McCauley
3 Comments

July 18, One Year Later

On this day we stay in Ohio, taking the historic Lincoln Highway for most of the hot and humid day. It parallels route 30, weaving north and south it, which means we’re not in heavy traffic. We enjoyed some tail winds again.

A Drive-in.  I haven't seen one   of these in a LONG time.

A Drive-in. Wouldn’t it be ironic to watch ‘CARS’ here.

I looked back at the original post for the day, and I mentioned the movie “Cars”, where little towns are bypassed by an expressway. This whole trip so far has been like the movie in a sense. Because we value our lives and aren’t allowed on the expressway anyway, we’re taking ‘back roads’ to get from point to point. Being on a bike, you can’t help but take time to look around and if we stop, we always seem to be greeted with genuine courtesy.

We finished the day at the Auburn Lake Park with 100+ miles ridden. In years past Greg and I would talk about the number of century rides we have done in a year, and 10-12 seemed to be a good year. Given that, this year is AWESOME.