The tour wrapped up with a bang on Saturday. I’m going to just give an overview of the riding day itself and will write a bit more as far as reflections on the tour as a whole are concerned at a later date… probably within the week. I’ve switched time zones so it’s past midnight according to my internal clock and have to move my stacks of junk from Calgary to Edmonton tomorrow (Monday) so do hope to get to bed sometime soon.
Saturday we awoke to misty conditions and I headed out of camp with Eritia Smit expecting to be quickly caught by Nathan Beach and Josh Nyenhuis once again who were waiting up with Jim Amels who was joining us again for a final day of riding (he rode Denver to Grand Rapids on the Tour). Setting off in the mist wasn’t bad at all as it kept things cool once again and probably knocked down a bit of pollution from the air as well. True to the pattern of the tour Eritia suffered another flat tyre within the first bit of the ride. This one broke the nice even number of 25 for the summer as she padded her record (most flats by one rider) with yet another notch. While we sat at the side of the road and pumped it up again I fully expected the others to catch us… maybe we’re just too fast.
We had our first of four noteworthy climbs for the day and cruised along a beautifully paved road on the downhill before meeting our first locals out with snacks and drinks for us. It was here that Josh, Nathan and Jim caught up and we climbed “climb #2” and began the long descent towards the Stumblers Inn. It was curvy, lined with trees and went awfully quick. If you know me or have gotten to know me via my writing this summer you’ll know those are synonyms for fun, fun and fun. From there on out we were basically in one city or another one for the rest of the day. Another church had refreshments halfway down a really steep hill and after stopping for watermelon and cookies we opted to climb back up and do the whole hill in one shot. The cheers were great when we went by as they all knew what we were doing. I once again didn’t have my speedometer but Eritia clocked mid seventies on hers as she followed me down the hill. Now that’s not all that impressive considering the pitch of the hill but consider first that this is in town on a small street so the speed limit was 30 miles per hour. We were speeding by nearly 25 kph or 50% over the speed limit!
The houses proceeded to grow in size as we climbed the last hill of the day and up top there were some fantastic mansions that must have overlooked something, but I didn’t see it. More city riding and another stop for refreshments were crammed in there before we were to approach the “staging ground” for the day where our police escort would start. Having 2 hours of time to cover the next 3 miles we stopped for pizza as was pretty much commanded by one of the locals when he said “New Jersey’s Pizza is way better than Chicago’s Pizza”. I have to admit it was pretty fantastic pizza for 11 o’clock in the morning and did actually compare quite closely with the deep dish pizza we had in Palos Heights Illinois.
After gathering all the cyclists together in a parking lot in an industrial park on the outskirts of Jersey City we were to be police escorted for the final 10 miles to the beach at Liberty State Park. I filmed this video of the mass while waiting to get going; there are a lot of us there in case you forgot how many 200 is.
The ride into the State Park and the beach was great fun and while we weren’t rolling at a very quick pace it wasn’t painfully slow either and the 10 miles seemed to be over in a flash. I filmed 4 videos over the course of the ride. One part as we made our way out of the industrial area. One part as we entered town and all ran a red light with the Policeman’s permission. Another video as we entered the park and I pulled off the path and filmed almost all of the cyclists roll past. The final video is of us at the beach gathered together before hitting the water. Len made a few remarks and we said the Lord’s Prayer together just as we did on the shore of the Pacific 9 weeks prior.
That’s it for tonight. I also stocked up the final photo gallery with shots from the final ride as well as added a couple more photos here and there throughout other albums from the summer. Here are a couple highlights from the beach: