Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Skipping Ahead into Baltimore

I promise to update you on all the events that have taken place so far, but as we have the time today I want to give you the latest now.

We had the show in Newark, DE on Saturday night, which was just incredible. The power went out just before the show was supposed to begin which made an excellent opportunity for the drummers to strut their stuff while waiting for the re-boot. After it seemed like the power was out for the evening, Michael Edward Young got the show started with his acoustic banjo blues stylings, he played some originals and some southern blues covers which kept the crowd entertained and in good spirits until the power, quite incredibly, came on just as he finished his set. Two full bands followed, Barcode Youth and Control who both have loads of talent and are forces to be reckoned with in punkrockandroll, take a look at their myspaces and websites, you will not be dissapointed. The Attica!Attica! set was a rare treat with the addition of a piano to the instrumentation, Eric the promoter secured the hardware and Aaron made excellent use of the opportunity to play some songs that usually don't get played live. I think in terms of excitement, this was the best show yet, all of the performers and the crowd were into the whole evening.

The most important thing to come out of the show however, was in the form of advice. I was told that the Rt. 40 Bridge over the Susquehanna was not open for pedestrian or bicycle crossing. Which was exactly the route we had planned on taking after spending the evening at Elk Neck State Park. Quick changes to the route were made and we switched directions inland to head over the Rt. 1 bridge at Conowingo and toward Aberdeen, MD for the night. The decision to skip the park was hard, but the scenery in rural Maryland made up for it as did the view crossing the river. We even saw the State Trooper who was working on the bridge the next day while riding into Baltimore, I think he was more surprised than we were to see him again, he wished us luck and told us we were really moving, which was nice motivation while slowly pedaling up a hill.

It has been really interesting to note the number of times we have seen people on the road more than once as our paths cross, diverge and somehow come together again for a brief moment. Its those small moments, and the many kind people who wish us luck that make me realize how small the world is and how great it can be when we work together and support one another.

On the way to my friend Colin's house, it started to downpour with about 2 miles to go, we were able to hide out in a roadside pagoda and wait it out with some bagels before continuing. Which turned out perfectly as we pulled up to his house at the same time he returned from work. We spent the evening eating delicious food at the One World Cafe, having some good local beer and generally laughing and having a good time with him and his roommates. Today it is time for internet updates, eating, getting some repairs done on the bikes and a show at the Charm City Artspace. I can't wait.

Thanks for reading.

Friday, September 25, 2009

NYC Shows

Both of the Brooklyn shows were great! Aaron played with great heart both nights, especially on the first night after he discovered the pickup on his guitar went out on the ride into the city and sang without a PA for around 50 people. This was truly impressive and greatly appreciated by both the crowd and residents at the Stolen Sleeves Collective, many thanks guys!

We fixed the guitar for the second show and the PA worked great, Chris Antal got in on the Attica!Attica! set with Aaron and added in his voice and smooth guitar lines to complete the excellent musical evening.

All of the bands at the second show donated their part of the door money to World Bicycle relief and with additional donations, we raised over $300! It is inspiring to have such great bands, Bomb The Music Industry, Summer People, Bridge & Tunnel, The New Dress, Ghost Robot Ninja Bear, Stolen Parts and Rejouissance do such a great thing for the cause. I must also say that all of the bands impressed with musical talent and style, if you get a chance to see any of them you will not be disappointed.

I would like to thank everyone who helped us and made the NYC stay so memorable, Thanks especially to Matt, Claire, Jay, Melissa, Oscar and Al for letting us stash our belongings with them and sharing their homes. We could not have done this without you.

Day 7 - Into NYC

Day 7:

Riding into Queens made the questionable roads of the day before look like country roads in Connecticut. We were routed onto Rockaway parkway at one point, which if you are going at 30mph might seem ok, but at 12mph it feels like being in a small car while a mack truck rolls by doing 80. The best point of this adventure was the sidewalk we gratefully found which turned from a full width bike haven to a 6inch wide concrete path through jungle overgrowth which left a huge smile on my face and plenty of brush debris on the bikes and trailer.

Getting to the east side of the Williamsburg bridge brought contact with the best motivator we have had this trip. On the last turn before the bridge, we were stopped at a light when he asked us if we were going camping, to which we replied affirmatively and told him of our trip. This brought a huge smile to his face and caused him to talk about his love for the "free spirits who are still out there". It was great to meet someone so enthusiastic for our journey, especially when as we departed he told us "you boys have fun, I've been stuck in traffic my whole life".

Day 6

Day 6:
A light rain on the ride from Blydenburg County Park to Nickerson Beach, the sun peaked through the clouds just long enough to say hello and remind us of the previous days weather. We rode on some questionable highway-esque roads until we pulled into the town of Seaford which has in our collective opinion, some of the best bagels that we have tasted, the pumpernickel being the overall top prize. We took a dozen or so to keep the memories going as long as possible. The ride into the beach was uneventful and the Nickerson Beach Campground staff were very helpful, one of them had seen us earlier in the day on the questionable Highway road and we chatted about camping and riding and the previous weeks events.

The campsite, mainly set up for RV's, is right on the beach and offers easy access to the wide sands leading to the Atlantic. The other pleasant surprise, was the recently emptied beach cabanas which would have made an interesting place to crash if we had seen them sooner but still gave us a good time of exploring and photo taking, they even came with new rides!

It was great to sit by the ocean with Aaron and Jon, swap some more stories, talk about the trip ahead and listen to the waves roll in.

Day 5, Into Long Island

Cookies for breakfast and a surprisingly smooth climb, last nights downhill memories must have been aided by tired legs and fearful minds. We watched the scenery change from hills and fields to concrete and steel as we rolled into Bridgeport, CT on some streets that are definitely being affected by the downturn in the US economy. Shuttered buildings and empty storefronts brought a reminder of the realities facing many that can be easy to forget while out in the woods.

Waiting for the ferry a nourishing meal of Bagels, mustard, chips and cola was consumed to tide over my belly until dinner could be made on the other side in camp. The trip across the long island sound was sunny and gorgeous, we looked at the beaches, recharged our GPS guidance system and shared a few laughs and stories of the road so far.

One of the moments that has occurred to all of us is the re-occurring notion that we are not going the right way. More than once a conversation has gone in this manner. Stranger: “you boys going somewhere”, Rider: “we are riding our bikes to Florida”, Stranger:”That's great, but you are going the wrong way, what you need to do is (insert street we have never heard of and garbled words trailing off as they pull away)”. Never mind that we have a GPS, which has been absolutely great for planning new routes and keeping me from constantly wondering if I have missed a turn. Also forget that all you really need to do is head south and eventually you will get to Florida, with few peninsula exceptions. Forget all of that, what I want to know is why someones first reaction is to insist that you are doing something wrong, it just doesn't make sense to me, maybe next time just ask if we know where we are going.

I don't think that there is a whole lot of love going on for cycling in the northern central Long Island area. There is more wooded areas than I expected and I was definitely surprised when I found campsites, but that has more to do with my lack of knowledge about the area, which I am happy to improve upon. All of that is great and in its own way, the reactions we have gotten are as well. My personal favorite is the sideways, horizontal, palm down hand wave which seemed to indicate the question “why are you on my road?” “this is for driving, doing nails and checking my hair in the mirror”. The other favorite was the honk that interrupted a very energetic Billy Joel-Uptown Girl sing along right at the chorus where Aaron and Jon's vocals were definitely putting the rock in our ride. We are taking it all in stride and enjoying the laughs among ourselves.

Friday, September 18, 2009

We made it to New York! Whoo! Biking through Long Island and Brooklyn was NOT FUN. Actually, it was a lot of fun. But it was NOT SAFE. Still, we are alive, and we are, more or less, healthy. Except for my many complaints about various joints, tendons, and muscles, I think we are doing okay. Jon doesn't like hills. Blake doesn't like flat tires. I don't like pain. These are all rather trivial when surrounded by the good people of NYC.

As you may have noticed, we haven't been posting a whole lot. Internet is sparse out there in the woods. I guess that's the point of camping and riding through the countryside. But it makes it hard to tell much about the tour, since Blake is mostly posting via text message. But there are other ways to keep up with us! I have two tour diaires, on Punknews.org and on the Willamette Weekly's Local Cut. I'll be posting new diaries every week or so. Also, there's a sweet audio postcard covering the tour that appeared on central NY NPR affiliate WRVO. It was produced by Jasmyn Belcher and you can listen to it here.

Now I'm going to say goodnight to the computer and go to the Slingshot Dakota show. Brooklyn!
- Aaron

Monday, September 14, 2009

Day 4

Day 4, First day of our re-route. Starting out from the town of Torrington, in central Connecticut, we headed south through the urban country towards Kettletown State Park. Stopping at Riders Edge bicycle shop along the beginning of our route, I was informed of the “vicious” nature of the hills in front of us for the day. True to the owners word, I don't think that I have ridden on many steeper hills, certainly not with a loaded bike and trailer, not exactly the most enjoyable wake up, but certainly effective. After the mornings jagged profile, we settled into a much smoother ride on some of the most pleasant roads I have had the pleasure of spinning my wheels on. If you happen to be in the area, take a side journey off 220 and take the side road of lake st to white wooded rd, a well maintained road of low rolling hills through the lake strewn countryside has definitely been the highlight of our journey thus far. As we neared Kettletown, the hills of Connecticut open up to lush green valleys and fields of flowers with small houses dotting the landscape. I never imagined that parts of CN were so picturesque, as I have only previously been to the city's which bear no resemblance.

Just in case we were feeling a bit too strong, the road pitched up for our final ride into the Park, with a rewarding downhill to the registration booth and the sparkling Lake Zoar. Our campsite overlooked one of the wider sections of the lake which provided the backdrop for our clothes drying and planning for the following days ride.

Around dusk we were treated to our first camp site visitor of the trip. My dad had been hiking in the area and stopped by to share dinner and camping for the evening. It is hard to explain exactly how good a home cooked meal is when you have been riding your bike and camping for a few days, but the fact that the dinner table carried little conversation other than light mm's would seem to explain it best. Putting home made cookies into the mix and you have a meal fit for any table and a kingly feast for the campsite. Thanks Mom!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Off Track But En Route

Day 3

Headed out of the campsite towards the city of Windsor Locks Ct, along some flatter country roads, which were a welcomed reprieve from our previous days and the mornings leg testing hills. The CVS/Subway combination was used to the best of its services for nourishment and tube replacement. A second flat of my rear tire has initiated me to cover the tube in Talc, in the hopes of reducing friction. A flat later in the day while crossing the INSERT reservoir was pumped up before heading down hill, which was about the worst decision I have made thus far on the trip. If you can imagine how your bike rides with a flat unloaded, think about throwing 40 pounds or so extra on the rear wheel and adding a trailer that likes nothing more than to pull your limping steed from side to side, making your rear tire feel more like walking on an under-inflated yoga ball than carving a turn on iron rails.

After the second flat change of the day and the longest hill of the trip thus far, the realization that we would not make our days goal, began to set in. We lightly discussed the options and generally hoped for the best, but the lost time and quality of the hills were too much to ensure that we would arrive before dark. The decision was made at about 5:30pm in Winsted, Ct to forgo the final 7miles of the day and look for a hotel to rest and re-plan the ride.

We decided to skip the western jaunt of our CT/NY/NJ route to head south towards Bridgeport and the Port Jefferson Long Island ferry. This will allow us to arrive in Brooklyn a few days before the show and allow us to reduce our daily ride miles from 50+ to just under 40miles. A route was mapped, sandwiches and pizza were consumed and sound sleep was had as best as possible.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Day 2 began in much the same way day 1 ended, under rain and gray skies. We had a breakfast of re-hydrated hash-browns which taste a lot better than you think, although the lack of flavor did lead to a much used purchase of hot sauce and salt/pepper later in the day. This ride can be best summed up by more hills than I ever thought Connecticut had, the addition of peanut butter to our gear (which on a bagel is about the most durable packed sandwich you can have) along with more plastic bags to take care of any pannier leaks we discovered on day 1. It is hard to describe riding up steep inclines with a loaded bike and trailer, but I feel I understand what it must be like for tractor trailer engines as they drive over mountain passes a bit better.

The additional campsite feature for the day was our first campfire of the trip which was well used for gear drying and general pagan firebug enjoyment.

Ride Day 1

I woke up in the morning at Dave and Lisa's to find my rear tire at less than optimal pressure as I headed to the post office to send a package back to my house and forward some World Bicycle Relief materials for the shows in New York to my grandparents house in NJ. Feeling hopeful I pumped the tube back up and set out for mailing and some breakfast. As I returned to my bike from a delicious bagel and coffee at City Feed, I found the tire to be in a declining state and pumped it up for the ride back. At least the tube had the good nature to go out while I still had access to a floor pump, which made the change quick and relatively painless, the same can not be said for our packing and departure. As with any first day, getting organized after a late nite provides a unique challenge. Panniers are secured, checked and re adjusted, loads are shifted, in our case, the trailer is agonized over so as not to strew guitars all over the road and the decision on proper attire changes by the minute

Loaded up and ready to head out, mother nature decided to remind us of her disposition by shedding a few rain drops on our party. Still fairly warm we headed out from Jamaica Plain towards Sutton. Rain gear changes were made an easier decision during a quick stop to re-secure the guitars and make minor saddle adjustments before heading up our first hill of the journey. Following mostly smaller roads we did have a few run-ins with the infamous New England traffic circle, which if you think they are difficult to navigate in an automobile with 200 horse power, I recommend you try it with an 80 pound bicycle plus a trailer with motorists doing 50mph around you and not being too pleased that you are in their way while out for a late lunch and afternoon late'. As the roads contined, the rain did likewise at an increasing rate throughout the afternoon, and into the evening as we all found our loaded legs and settled into a maintainable pace. One stop for coffee and a sandwich along the way was our last bit of sunshine which was much appreciated.

On a side note: it was very cool to follow much of the Boston Marathon Route albeit backwards out of the city. I was reminded of all the times I have ridden it the other way to cheer on my friend Shaun, definitely brought a smile to my face and made the darkening skies less foreboding.

We rolled into camp about dusk with the rain becoming steadier and our hands and minds becoming less useful. The highest campsite was picked in the hopes of staying dry, which doesn't work out too well if your tent works more like a sieve than an umbrella. Fortunately we have 2 tents along for the ride, so the wading pool became an elevated gear storage while the three of us settled into the other tent for a cozy night of listening to the rain and hoping for sunnier skies in the morning.

Ride notes. I sending the notes from my phone, I will update fully asap

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Trains Trains Trains

Left Chicago with Jon for the tour start in Boston. There are certain things about the trip that stuck out for me, one is that the larger the train station, the friendlier the staff. When I left Minneapolis/St Paul I felt rushed and like everything was a big deal. Chicago and Boston, they couldn't have been more pleasant and helpful, so thanks Chitown and Beantown Amtrak employees, you made the trip, that much easier.

One other thing that was interesting is that I happened to wake up as we passed through Jon and My hometown of Rochester, NY. Perhaps it was some of that hometown connection making me feel bad for missing out on the NY fall weather, my family and friends, or just a strange coincidence? Either way, the train does provide a different view of the country. From small towns, to industrial parks, to the middle of nowhere it can be a beautiful ride if you don't mind the wait.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Visit To WBR

Stopped into the World Bicycle Relief Offices today in Chicago, which was great, didn't take any pictures, which was dumb, but I did get to meet some of the wonderful staff of WBR and get some information, stickers, a banner and a wonderful tour of the office which they share with SRAM. They have bicycles that people can borrow on lunch break, a test track for indoor riding, a beer vending machine and a fantastic view of downtown Chicago. Hopping back on the Amtrak tonight for the slow ride to Boston, hope to see you all on the 10th at the house show tour kickoff.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Day 1, leaving Minneapolis

Day one of the tour for me started at about 5:30am this morning, the sun was not yet up, and the air had a little humidity induced warmth to it. I packed up my bike last night with all my supplies for tour, plus some extra gear and panniers for Aaron and a backpack for the train ride to Chicago, not what I would call lite, but manageable.

Got on the bike at about 6:15 to head over to the Amtrak station in St. Paul, the first ten mile ride of the trip! Even in the early dawn hours, there were a few people out riding and jogging on the Greenway and River paths that took me most of the way there.

If you plan on taking your bike on the train, show up as early as possible, I thought I could just roll it on to the car, but with the trailer setup it was a no go. Packed quickly into a few boxes, my bike and my trailer are currently located on another car of the Empire Builder now pulling slowly into Milwaukee.

That's how it starts, with a day in Chicago to get Jon's bike set up and visit the World Bicycle Relief offices, tomorrow Jon and I take the long ride out to Boston to meet up with Aaron and get the show on the road. Come and see us Thursday the 10th at Josiah's house for the first Attica! Attica! Show of the bike tour.


Saturday, September 5, 2009

The Schedule

This is our daily schedule for the next few months, subject to minor changes. Please come and hang out if you can! For campsite or specific location info, just send an email. (Please note that these are not all showdates, just the places we will be each night. All show info is listed on the right side of this page.)

Wed 09/Sep 09 Boston, MA
Thu 10/Sep 09 Boston, MA
Fri 11/Sep 09 West Sutton, MA
Sat 12/Sep 09 Tollbrook, CT
Sun 13/Sep 09 Cannan, CT
Mon 14/Sep 09 Staatsburg, NY
Tue 15/Sep 09 Otisville, NJ
Wed 16/Sep 09 Wallpac Center, NJ
Thu 17/Sep 09 Pottersville, NJ
Fri 18/Sep 09 Brooklyn, NY
Sat 19/Sep 09 Brooklyn, NY
Sun 20/Sep 09 Brooklyn, NY
Mon 21/Sep 09 Brooklyn, NY
Tue 22/Sep 09 New Brunswick, NJ
Wed 23/Sep 09 Trenton, NJ
Thu 24/Sep 09 Philadelphia, PA
Fri 25/Sep 09 Philadelphia, PA
Sat 26/Sep 09 Newark, DE
Sun 27/Sep 09 Elk Neck State Park, MD
Mon 28/Sep 09 Baltimore, MD
Tue 29/Sep 09 Baltimore, MD
Wed 30/Sep 09 Washington, DC
Thu 01/Oct 09 Washington, DC
Fri 02/Oct 09 Leesylvania State Park, VA
Sat 03/Oct 09 Fredericksburg VA
Sun 04/Oct 09 Richmond, VA
Mon 05/Oct 09 Richmond, VA
Tue 06/Oct 09 Surry, VA
Wed 07/Oct 09 Norfolk, VA
Thu 08/Oct 09 Currituck, NC
Fri 09/Oct 09 Kitty Hawk, NC
Sat 10/Oct 09 Waves, NC
Sun 11/Oct 09 Hatteras, NC
Mon 12/Oct 09 Sea Level, NC
Tue 13/Oct 09 Newport, NC
Wed 14/Oct 09 Jacksonville, NC
Thu 15/Oct 09 Wilmington, NC
Fri 16/Oct 09 Wilmington, NC
Sat 17/Oct 09 Oak Island, NC
Sun 18/Oct 09 Ocean Isle Beach, SC
Mon 19/Oct 09 Murrels Inlet, SC
Tue 20/Oct 09 Moncks Corner, SC
Wed 21/Oct 09 Walterboro, SC
Thu 22/Oct 09 Garnett, SC
Fri 23/Oct 09 Statesboro, GA
Sat 24/Oct 09 Reidsville, GA
Sun 25/Oct 09 Screvn, GA
Mon 26/Oct 09 Atkinson, GA
Tue 27/Oct 09 Folkston, GA
Wed 28/Oct 09 Gainesville, FL
Thu 29/Oct 09 Gainesville, FL
Fri 30/Oct 09 Gainesville, FL
Sat 31/Oct 09 Gainesville, FL
Sun 01/Nov 09 Gainesville, FL
Mon 02/Nov 09 Gainesville, FL
Tue 03/Nov 09 Gainesville, FL