Day 2 & 3 Birthday Day, Lots of Miles, Great Stories and 147 miles, We Are Penn State!!

Day 3 is in the books and we have arrived at State College, PA, home of Penn State University, with a host of stories and lots of miles under our belts. Where do I begin? Do I start with Tim’s American Café? Nettie the amazing manager of the Altoona Fairfeld Inn? Steve-O’s Pizza? Ranger Rick? Shanksville? The horrible Yellow Cab Company in Altoona? My awesome 55th birthday ride or somewhere else? WOW, what a fun two days, I am exhausted just remembering it.

Cow to Human Ratio of State College & Otto’s Pub

So let’s start somewhere else! The amazing cow to human ratio of State College and the surrounding area. Once you get inside the 5 mile radius of PSU/State College, the cow to human ratio goes way down, at least according to our new local friend Morgen with an “e.”

We met Morgen at our last rest stop of the day, another amazing church that opened up for us. Not only did Morgen enlighten us about the cow to human ratio and the rednecks outside of the 5 mile radius, she also is an exclusive member of Otto’s Pub.

To get reservations at Otto’s you need to be a member, so of course our reservations for the night were under Morgen’s name. Otto’s was the host for my birthday dinner and came recommended by Morgen, my friend Todd Baker along with some others. So to Otto’s we went where the human to cow ratio is in favor of the humans!!!

Let’s Stay with the Food Theme

Food is, of course, very important on this ride. As many of you know, I was anointed the member of the team to be in charge of food. On July 4th I spent a good part of the day figuring out our food plan for the week. I worked it pretty hard and on Monday night in Altoona our 6p reservation was for Tim’s American Café. If you are ever in Altoona and like a down and dirty bar with amazing food, this is the place. Bottom line the food was solid, portions outrageous and the service was great. Two porkchops, some of Chris’ turkey dinner, a side salad with blue cheese and some wings for the table along with a Yuengling and you have a great end to the day.

We Almost Did Not Get to Tim’s, Thanks Nettie

If you are in Altoona, you better have a car because their taxi service, the Yellow Cab company, is brutal (I have stronger words for them). When I called for a pickup they told me they would be there “as soon as possible.”

“What does that mean?” I asked.

“As soon as possible means when we get there,” was the response.

OMG. When I asked the front desk at the Fairfield if there was any other cab service they said no and when I explained what happened they replied, “Oh that must have been Leroy, he is never nice.”

OMG again.

Now Uber was not much better, the reason I called the cab service was because it was 30 minutes for an Uber pickup. I tried Uber again after the Yellow Cab fiasco, by now it was 6:15, our reservation was at 6p and my teammate Beth was about to bust a gut from being so hungry with no lunch.

Step into the picture Dave from Uber and Nettie, the manager of the Fairfield.  Between the two of them they got us over to Tim’s. Then to put the icing on the cake after our amazing meal, Nettie picked all of us up (she had already finished work) and took us back to the hotel.

BOO to Yellow Cab and Hooray for Nettie and Dave!

Shanksville and 10 More Miles

Yesterday we rode right through Shanskville and had a chance to stop at the United 93 memorial and the crash site, which is now a National Park.

Somber, overwhelming, memories and never forgetting are the first things that come to mind. When you enter Shanksville, which is really just a small town with farmland, there is a church which they turned into a memorial. The memorial, while simple, remembers all of the lives that were lost and the monument pays tribute to the flight crew of UA93.

As we traveled down the road we, were supposed to make a detour at mile 29 to the left but of course no one on our team was paying attention. It was at mile 32.5 that we realized our error, actually Ken Carlson, another rider, pointed out to us that he also missed it and was headed back.

We tried to have a “team meeting” but Beth and Niall wanted nothing to do with a “team meeting” or turning around. They went forward. Steve, Chris and myself along with Ken headed back. It was definitely worth the 10 miles (3.5 there, 3.5 back plus the miles into the memorial) we added.

Ranger Rick and Memories Flood Back

As we entered the Park, we came across a National Park Service Ranger, who we dubbed Ranger Rick.  This guy was awesome and was totally into his job, the park, the events of 9/11, UA Flight 93 and the surrounding memorial. We never realized that only 8% of the remains of the people lost that day in Shanksville were recovered. The debris field is hallowed ground and can only be accessed by family members of the deceased.

If you are passing near Shanksville, which is only about 15 miles from the Somerset, PA turnpike exit you should go. My heart was heavy as we made up the ground we lost as I remembered 9/11 and why we should never forget.

Steve-O’s Pizza

Finding great photo moments is always a plus for these rides. As we got close to Altoona we stumbled into Steve O’s Pizza and on the side of the exterior wall is a picture of “Steve” flipping a pizza with his restaurants name next to him. Well, we could not help but take a picture of Steve Preville, my wingman on the ride, next to Steve-O, and of course since we occasionally call Steve, Steve-O it was worth getting off the bike. To Steve-O!!!

7/11 – My 55th Birthday

My day started with a nice surprise as Laura, the love of my life, left a hidden birthday card in my luggage. What a nice way to start my birthday day. Then the text messages started flooding in from family and friends. Good news, I juggled all the messages and still got out in time.

Ultimately, it had been a busy day and so many of you have sent wonderful birthday wishes on my 55th birthday. I never take for granted that my birthday lands on 7/11 two very lucky numbers. No, I do not go to 7/11 for free Slurpies, although many of you think I am making a mistake. I simply enjoy the good luck that 7/11 brings each year as I enjoy this special day.

My teammates took great care of me as well as taking me to Otto’s for my enjoying to my birthday dinner. I needed it after the arduous riding of yesterday. While Day 3 was much easier, the legs needed it as they were totally gassed from Day 2’s tough 87 mile day.

The good news is that my knee is holding up. I am taking Turmeric capsules (per Steve’s wife Tina), using my bio-freeze, rolling out my quads, hamstrings and IT band with my roller and the combination is working. A few Advil to also keep down the inflammation and we seem to have a working combination.

Day 4 is our ride from State College to Lewisburg home of Bucknell University. Even though I am a graduate of the The George Washington University, and adopted fans of the University of South Carolina (Samantha) and the University of Colorado, Boulder (Andrew) for today I will adopt Penn State.

We are Penn State!!!!!