As Forrest Gump’s mother says, “Life is a box of chocolates, you never know what you are going to get” and that was Day 6.
Heat, What Heat?
The ride from Matamoris, PA to Bridgewater was 84 great bike miles, lots of climbing with all of them being manageable except two vicious hills. We were so concerned about the heat, the miles, the climbing and what was in store for us on Day 6, that we were at the truck by 6:25a and on the road by 6:45a, simply incredible for us!
We rode through Sussex and Warren counties in New Jersey as we traversed south. There were lots of woods and some pretty busy roads. For about two miles on 206 South in Sussex, going uphill was the most unnerving as we worked our way around Stokes Forest. Unfortunately, this is the only way to get from point A to point B. With the trucks and cars are screaming past us and the white line abutted right up to the waist high guardrail, your job as a biker is to keep moving and get through it as quick as you can, which is exactly what we did.
The heat materialized mid-way through the day but we were under tree cover for at least 70% of the ride so we were not sapped. In addition to that, we lots of what we call “rollers,” which is a type of riding where you gain speed on a downhill and the momentum propels you over the uphill and it makes for pleasurable riding.
The other thing that exemplifies a great day of riding is when you can ride two or three abreast on the road, since you are in the country and just cruising along on the roads. That also encompassed Day 6, with that being said I had a lot of great conversations with my teammates Chris and Steve, plus nice chats with other riders. Being able to do this makes the day go by a lot quicker. So, you could say I had “salted caramels,” “jelly filled chocolates” and some “cream filled chocolates,” just a lot of everything!
Making a Difference
Thursday night is always a highlight of our ride as all the riders gather to celebrate the week. The best part is when they bring in a “graduate” of the program and honor their accomplishments. This year, the honoree was a kid that became homeless and was taken in by Anchor House. He was headed toward a bad outcome before Anchor House landed its amazing hand. Now he is a student at Montclair University majoring in IT. He will graduate in two years, is holding down a job at Shop-Rite (30 hours a week) and manages it all as a dean’s list student with a 3.86 GPA. This is what Anchor House does and the reason why I hold this organization near and dear to my heart. When I ride each year and raise money for this amazing organization, I look at stories like this and know the difference we make.
My Knee is Not So Happy
Four years ago, my orthopedic Saint, tailgate brother and my friend, the great Dr. Dave Eingorn, injected my knee with gel to get me through my ride across the country. It was supposed to last six months but instead it last over four years!
Unfortunately, on Tuesday my knee started to show true signs of not working and by Thursday I knew it was not very happy. The swelling was just getting worse after each ride. At the banquet on Thursday I spoke to another rider, Karen Fanning, who had her knee tapes with KT Tape.
KT Tape, for those not in the know, are the strips you see on athletes. I thought this stuff was just more of a fashion statement. How could strips of tape in different patterns do anything?
Well, about three weeks ago I decided to give it a try as I had strained my left hamstring pretty badly prior to this ride. I went to a PT to have it taped and it was phenomenal. I picked up my own tape believing that I would need to reapply my left hamstring. Again, the box of “chocolates” appeared during the ride. I never taped my left hamstring but on Tuesday my right hamstring started talking to me. So I figured what the heck, I had the tape with me, let’s tape it up. A YouTube tutorial for Steve and that’s all he needed to become a KT Tape expert!
The ride on Thursday went great and my right hamstring was awesome but the knee was in big trouble. Enter Karen Fanning and her sister Jen Burke. Jen apparently is a KT nut and knows how to do knee applications.
At the Anchor House banquet Thursday, Karen explained how Jen applied it to her knee, so the game plan was for me to try myself but bring extra tape along with me. Then I would see Jen at the first rest stop to inspect my work.
I did a pretty good job but Jen reapplied the tape. I cannot imagine what my day would have been like without it. My knee felt fine during the ride, after was a different story but it will be good enough to get me back to Lawrenceville.
Almost Home — Here Come the Wives!
Being in Bridgewater the night before the final day gave us an opportunity to get the wives together for dinner. So Tina (Steve’s wife), Laura (my wife) came up and Niall (my injured teammate) and his wife Jamie drove over from Chalfont. A quick walk to Maggianos and we had just one super night telling lots of bike stories and having a wonderful time. All in all, a great way to end the week.
It should be a breeze with only 44 miles. We will see what type of “chocolate” we get today!!!