Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Through New York and Pennsylvania

Last week was busy and a lot fun. I spoke to over 1000 students across New York, at 7 different schools and the TV news showed up 6 times to interview me. I was also able to speak at the Rochester Latino Rotary Club, attend a gala for the Buffalo Rotary Club, and the Rochester AM Rotary club held a dinner party so I could meet their members.

Right now I am in Cleveland and trying to salvage a week in Ohio where the AHA was not able to help me out. But thankfully the Rotary clubs have come to my rescue and got me into a few schools in Toledo on Friday. Next week in Michigan is also shaping up to be really busy.

The rain has softened a bit, but it seams to be on an every other day schedule. Thankfully the roads are flat, and the prevailing wind has not been too strong.

Riding along Lake Ontario through apple and peach orchards was fantastic. And it smelled almost as good as riding along Lake Erie through Concord Grape vineyards. That smelled like I was riding through grape jam or jelly.

As always, I ride past our country's history. By chance, the place I decided to touch the water in Lake Ontario also happened to be the home of Samuel Cuyler, who was the northern terminus of the Underground Railroad for the southern slaves. And only a mile or so away from there was the Enchanted Forrest and home of Joseph Smith, who wrote the book of Mormon.

But one of my favorite parts last week was a interview by a FOX news affiliate in Rochester NY. It is so far the best story a news cast has done on Cycle For Heart:

Probably one of the most unique state houses in the country, this is the New York Capitol in Albany.

On the shore of Lake Ontario, my first great lake.

Niagara Falls. I know that the view is better from the Canadian side, but I don't think they get to see the rainbow.

Rochester Latino Rotary Club, they donated $100 to the American Heart Association.

Sprinting with the Students from French Road Elementary, the American Heart Association's #1 school in the country for fundraising, over $1 million in 13 years.

When it's not raining, and the sky is not gray, I see the most amazing parts of this country in all it's beauty

"Know who you are, Know who you want to be, and Follow your dreams..."
-Antonio Figureida

Location:Cleveland OH

Friday, September 9, 2011

2 weeks in.

I don't think I have ever been home sick before, but the first two weeks of this ride had me wrestling with my emotions as the hills and weather pounded me into the ground. So far I have done about 760 miles with 33000 feet of climbing in the past 15 days, rode through 2 tropical storms, and lost 10 pounds.

I shipped the bike to Fort Kent Maine. The bike is 25.8 pounds and my pack weight is 28 pounds without food or water.

It was a honor to speak to some of the freshman class and staff of the University of Maine in Fort Kent. The students are so full of energy for the coming year, and they have so many ideas and goals for what they want to accomplish. It was great to share with them my first ride across the US with all the hardships I faced while never letting go of my goal.

Fort Kent sits in the St. John Valley. A place where a lot of people's first language is French.

In Presque Isle Maine, I was lucky to catch one good day of weather for the balloon festival. The highlight was watching the kids run around inside an old balloon. The shape and color of the space it created was truly inspiring.

On my third day, Irene finally made land fall in Maine. At first this was no big deal as the warm air and rain, was pleasant to ride in. But in the afternoon the rain stopped and the winds picked up. By late in the day I was fighting to keep the bike going straight while crawling across the ground at 4.7 miles per hour. But when the storm passed, it sucked away the humidity and clouds and for the next three days the weather was perfect.

I got my first flat tire on a new rails-to-trails along the coast of Maine. It was a beautiful ride void of any major hills. The path went way off into the back woods, through wildlife areas, and far away from the hands of civilization. The only down side was the dirt and gravel, which made the going slow and rough.

The Bucksport Bridge. At 42 stories, I think it is the tallest structure in Maine.

The original Ft. Knox.

I spoke at St. Michaels in Augusta Maine. They donated $100 to the American Heart Association!

Camping in New Hampshire. Live free or die.

In Vermont I came across the destruction of Irene. Vermont can be so beautiful. Roads that wind through trees, with emerald green seas of ferns flowing across the ground. Giant slabs of slate stacked like stairs with water flowing down like a backyard fountain and the water sparkling like a chandelier. But then I came upon homes ripped apart, people digging their belongings out of the mud, down power lines, children using their toy dump trucks to shovel mud, and more destruction than I would like to remember.

Now the roads get flat and hopefully a calm Fall will welcome me to the next section of my trip, the great lakes.

"Know who you are, Know who you want to be, and Follow your dreams..."
-Antonio Figureida

Location:Albany, NY