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05/30/2003 Entry: "Conclusion to Road Show USA"
It's been just over two weeks since we rode into Boston and already seems like a world away. When we first started talking about Road Show USA, we thought it would be quite an adventure. It was. The preparation and planning for the trip took a tremendous amount of time, but nothing can quite prepare you for the inevitable issues that come up during a long distance tour. Road Show USA had many aspects that made it quite a challenge: long distance self supported bicycle touring, street performing, raising money for a charity, and the fact that none of us were experienced in bicycle touring or street performing. Add a very tight budget to the list of constraints to make things interesting.
This combination of constraints, along with mechanical problems and weather, made the trip very difficult at times. Nevertheless, Road Show USA was a success. We rode 4,300 miles starting from Astoria, Oregon on June 5th and finished in Boston on time on August 15th. We started and finished on schedule, but much of the schedule in between was adjusted as needed.
We certainly gained plenty of mechanical experience along the way. While some mechanical problems were expected along the way, we were not pleased with our rear wheels made by Ritchey. We went through many spokes, had problems with the rims cracking, and in the last week the bearings started to grind. Additionally, the staff at Ritchey was not pleasant to deal with when addressing these issues. We do not recommend Ritchey products.
On the bright side, we raised over $3,000 for the Shriners Childrens Hospitals. We got the opportunity to stay at the Shriners Childrens Hospitals in Erie, Pennsylvania and Boston, Massachusetts. There we were able to do some juggling shows for the kids and see where the money is going. Our evening at the hospital in Erie was one of the highlights of the trip. The Shriners Childrens Hospitals are a very worthy cause.
When planning the street performing part of the trip, we were pretty much guessing as to how to put things together. None of us were very experienced in this area, but we all had an interest in jugglng and wanted to give it a shot. Some of the riders picked up a particular skill just for the roadshow. For most of the trip, the performing we did was for small groups we met along the way. It is difficult to round up a crowd in most places. On RAGBRAI, however, there is always a crowd. We took advantage of the festive atmostphere on RAGBRAI and did several shows a day. After a couple shows we had worked up a formula for a good performance. We look forward to doing performing on RAGBRAI in the future as a sort of roadshow reunion.
Obviously, we saw a great variety of scenery along the way and much of it was beautiful. Some of the memorable parts of the trip include the beaches and lush forests along the Pacific Coast, the lava fields of McKenzie Pass, the high desert of Oregon, the heat of Hell's Canyon, following the Salmon River and Snake River to Lolo Pass and over to Missoula, the geysers at Yellowstone, the five times that we crossed the continental divide, the jagged Grand Tetons, the wastelands of central Wyoming, the sandhills of northern Nebraska, the rolling hills of Southern Iowa packed with 10,000 RAGBRAI bicyclists, the flattest, the flattest and straightest road we have ever been on through Indiana, the shores of Lake Erie, the magnificance of Niagara Falls, the calm trail through the quiet towns of upstate New York along the Erie Canal, and the finish in historic Boston.
Even more memorable than the scenery we saw along the way or the many hours in the saddle, are the people we met along the way. One thing can certainly be said for bicycle touring, it is a wonderful way to meet people. When you roll up on a bike piled high with gear (including juggling clubs), people are bound to ask where you're coming from, where you're going to, and why the heck are you doing it. This provides you with the perfect opportunity to get to know the people along the way. For almost all the trip, we did not make sleeping arrangments ahead of time. We would roll into town and ask around until we found a place to stay. Almost every night, we found a free place to stay. Whether it was in a town park, in a church basement, in someone's backyard, or even in someone's house, we always found a place to stay. There were several times on the trip where strangers helped us out in emergencies and kept the trip going. Amazingly, there was always someone to help when we needed it most.
All the roadshow folks have now parted ways and returned to "normal" life of school or work. Road Show USA is something that we will all remember for the rest of our lives. Thanks to all the roadshow guys for taking part in the trip and thanks to everyone who helped along the way.
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