by Max Feldman
— Part Three
ED. NOTE: Max Feldman, 29, and his dad, Ken, 64, of Mt. Airy, rode their bicycles from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean, 3,756 miles in all, from June 24 to Aug. 15 of this year. This is the third and final installment of Max’s record of the extraordinary journey:
• 7/15/14 Day 21 – Richardton, ND to Bismarck, ND (83 miles): We entered Central Standard Time today and lost another hour. We are staying with a friendly couple in Bismarck through WarmShowers, Ron and Joyce. They made us a taco dinner, gave us places to sleep, and Ron drove us all around Bismarck to show us the capitol. Their house is in a large development that just two years ago was open field.
Bismarck has grown tremendously in the last few years due to the oil boom in North Dakota. Ron says Taco Johns is paying its employees $20 to $25/hour because it’s so hard to find enough workers to fill demand. But with the economic boom comes lots of traffic, so while we enjoy yet another amazing display of hospitality, we also look forward to being back out in the middle of nowhere.
• 8/14/14 Day 51 Lancaster, PA to Philadelphia, PA (72 miles): Today’s ride left the city of Lancaster and immediately entered Amish country, where I was reminded again that Pennsylvania is a beautiful state, even if many overlook that aspect of it. As we rode through rolling hills of farms, we passed horse-drawn carriages carrying men and families, and line after line of clothes hung up to dry in perfect order, a week’s worth of clothes for each member of the family hung by size and style (usually 7 pairs of pants for the men, 7 similar dresses of different colors for the women).
I got my second flat tire of the ride shortly before we left PA Bike Route S in Phoenixville, making my total flats just two for two cross-country rides. (Yes, I made it across the first time with zero flats.) In Phoenixville, we felt at home.
Just another 20 miles of flat, tail-wind riding, and we were coming up the hill in Manayunk to my house. (I stubbornly chose to ride up The Wall because I felt it was the right thing to do, while dad rode up the hill nearest my house.)
We met at the top and then rounded the corner to my house, where Kati and my mom were both waiting to welcome us home. It was a wonderful feeling, and though the ride was all but over at that point, we still had to ride to the ocean the next day to truly call it a coast-to-coast ride. (Who ever heard of riding from the Pacific Ocean to just plain old Philadelphia?)
• 8/15/14 Day 52 Philadelphia, PA to Ocean City, NJ (86 miles): I felt a sense of accomplishment once we got to the causeway to Ocean City and saw the ocean, remembering that the last time I’d seen an ocean was nearly two months ago, and that was a different ocean.
The ride was led by our friend and riding partner, Richard, who met us at my house in the morning and designed a route to take us to Ocean City, NJ, via the Kelly Drive path to the Art Museum, through Center City and across the Ben Franklin Bridge, through back roads in New Jersey all the way to the ocean.
I’d like to skip writing about this, but I suppose I should for the sake of full disclosure, and I won’t be ruining the feelings anyone from Pennsylvania already has towards the state of New Jersey. We had our first true run-in with a real asshole and potentially dangerous person on the road today, on the very last day of the ride.
A man in a car was SO mad at us for being on bikes (and for having the audacity to ride two wide on a quiet country road) that he actually stopped his car and got out of it to yell at us and threaten us. While he didn’t seem to genuinely want to fight but more to prove that he was tougher than we are (which I will concede, with the addendum that he’s also more stupid and a worse person than we are).
It was a temporary drain to the positive energy of the day. After he nearly got in an accident by going through a red light to pull over and “wait for the police to come,” we turned the opposite way and didn’t see him again. Richard noted correctly that the man resembled pro wrestler Lou Albano, if you need a point of reference.
When we reached Ocean City, we took lots of pictures on the boardwalk and dipped our front tires in the ocean. (Remember, the rear tires had been dipped in the Pacific, so our bikes literally travelled from ocean to ocean.) Then we ate a lot of pizza, had ice cream and drove home, this time for good.
It’s been an amazing trip that I will never forget. I’m guessing few people get to spend an experience so long and so intense — 52 days for 24 hours a day — with their father or son at either my father’s or my age. I consider myself very lucky to have the time and the father to do it with.
• Statistics: Total distance: 3756 miles. Average miles per day: 81 (Does not include rest days or mileage on rest days). My weight was 185 the day we left Philly and 166 when we got back 52 days later.
The following observations are from Ken:
• The greatest sights: Entering the Cascades. The Field of Dreams. All the “towns” of Montana. All the cafes of North Dakota. The Mississippi River. The Big Sky. The transitions from coastal plain to lush mountains to high plains to rocky mountains to high plains/prairie wheat farms/ranches, etc.
• The best sounds: All the people who thanked us for staying with them; how remarkable. Train whistles; probably 200 at all hours. The silo fart.
• Dogs: Very few problems. Maybe 5 or 6 run-outs by smallish dogs in all states but Indiana. Indiana had at least that many by itself. No close calls.
• Wildlife: Bear cub in Montana (only Max saw it). Moose in North Dakota field. All the white pelicans in eastern North Dakota. Many, many deer. Lots of waterfowl and lots of babies.
• What to do now: Eat, eat, sleep, Sit on the couch, Learn to focus again. Remember to appreciate it all.