Mercy Riders

Pushing pedals, pushing hope

July 23, 2014
by Emil McCauley
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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
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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
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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.

July 17, 2014
by Emil McCauley
5 Comments

July 17, One Year Later

It was ridiculously hot and humid outside the hotel in Rochester IN at 7am. We got some limited relief in the form of a paved Nickel Plate Trail running south-east out of town until we get to county road W1000N. We cross Meridian St at some point and the road changes to county road E1000N. I’m actually better at remembering numbers than names. There’s heavy traffic on the Jane Adams in Chicago? No clue where that is.

Just west of Roann, IN we all needed water, and we see a woman in a driveway and ask for water. She doesn’t live at the home but gets the owner, who gladly gives us ICE and water. Ice, yet another commodity we take for granted.

Carol helped us out with water when there was none to be found.

Carol helped us out with water when there was none to be found.


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July 16, 2014
by Emil McCauley
4 Comments

July 16, One Year Later

With a generous two day rest, we’re on schedule and back on the road.  And it’s hot and humid.  It was hot and humid coming out of Denver, but it was more of a gradual buildup.  Here, after enjoying some civilization and air conditioning, it’ s a little bit of a shock.

I am the holder of the map, a mostly made up route based on lines on a computer.  The satellite view is not quite there yet in terms of knowing if the route you picked is all pavement or if you’re in gravel.  Today is all pavement, beginning at the point on the Old Plank Trail we ended a few days earlier.  I’ve navigated half of the route before on trips out to meet Michelle blueberry picking in Indiana.

The scenery today is traditional midwest.  Corn and other crops.  But there are some gems, a few depicted here.

No Caption Necessary

No Caption Necessary

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July 15, 2014
by Emil McCauley
6 Comments

July 15, One Year Later

On this day, we drive up to Chicago and visit some of the Mercy Housing facilities that we’re helping. The first stop is in Englewood, with 99 single‐room occupancy apartments and on‐site social services.  A few of the residents join us in a ride to Lake Michigan, talking about their stories along the way.  We ride up the lakeshore and cut over to Wabash to the South Loop Apartments, a 207 unit facility. A small reception is organized where we each talk about our experience on the ride thus far. Additionally, some residents are taking up a fitness challenge, and talk about their experiences. It was a great event to be part of.
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July 14, 2014
by Emil McCauley
4 Comments

July 14, One Year Later

Sunday, a day of rest. Literally.

A big reason I wanted to be home the day before was to be able to participate in the St Vincent de Paul food pantry, which is hosted every month at my parish, St. Anthony Catholic Church. I joined at the charter’s inception 4 years prior, and it’s gotten me out of the comfort/complacent zone and out into my microcosm of the world to help the poor. It very much has played the important role of me not riding across the country to say ‘hey look what i did’, but to involve others in a great cause and say “HEY, LOOK WHAT *WE’VE* DONE!” The community “WE”.

I am getting as much out of being part of SVdP as the people we help. People in need asking for help, now there are some strong people. Having to put your pride aside and ask for help can’t be easy. As Bill observed during the ride, it’s easy for us to cloak our perception of things on a situation, only to find it’s not a good fit. SVdP has helped me in this area to focus on the person and their situation; to see Christ in them. I’m not there yet in every case, but like this ride, it’s a journey, and I know God has patience with me.
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