Thursday, August 15, 2013

Day 42- August 15 - Done and dusted in Ocean City, NJ

Day 42 - August 15 -   Hammonton NJ to Ocean City NJ - 36.7miles (59.1 kms) - FINAL TOTAL 3356.7 miles  (5402.1 kms)

Distance:36.7 miles (59.1 kms)
Total time: 2hrs13mins (including lunch stop) 
Average Moving Speed: 18.0mph (29.0 kph)
Maximum Speed:24.8mph (39.9 kph) 
Calories burned: 
Elevation gained: .... ft (meters)

Weather:Another beautiful day,  with moderate temperature and low humidity.  Wind was very light from various directions.  Temperature rose to 75F (25C) by the time I finished at the beach in Ocean City.  

Powered by:   Breakfast - 2 bowls of Raisin Bran, banana, bagel, and yogurt.  Finished by noon.  Celebratory lunch later with my friend Hank.

It was a strange sensation waking this morning knowing that it would be the end of the ‘mad journey’. I actually woke before the alarm which is rare for me and even unique on this trip.  Sub-consciously I must have been excited to finish at the beach, about 30 miles (50kms) away.  I had arranged to meet my longtime friend at the beach about noon and take the usual picture of the bike at the water’s edge.  I left just after 9am and arrived in Ocean City just about 11am, leaving about an hour to explore the town, see the boardwalk, and get to the meeting point.

Nice fast ride to the beach through the piney woods on a flat road

Today it is; thanks for asking

The ride to the beach was the easiest 30miles of the cross-country trip as the road was flat and empty, the shoulders wide and clean, the wind was light and variable, the temperature was moderate and comfortable, and my legs were recovered and energetic.  I took the back roads as much as I could and passed through pine woods, brackish inlets, a couple of small towns, and some second-home developments as I neared the coast.    I was traveling over 20mph (32kph) for most of the two hours and could have pushed up the speed if I had wished.  I was a little chagrined that the coast came up as soon as it did as it was one of those effortless rides that should continue for a longer time.  Even a detour around a bridge construction was welcome as it extended the ride.

Nice new causeway of bike and pedestrian path to Ocean City

First glimpse of the Atlantic Ocean beyond Ocean City  - from the causeway

Ocean City is on an island separated from the mainland by an inlets and connected by some causeways. A new pedestrian-bike path stretching over a couple of miles was quite busy and since it rises over the water, it offered nice views over the flat landscape.  There were many people fishing, lots of kids and parents biking over the causeway, some runners, and of course, day traffic heading to the beach.  The center of Ocean City was quite crowded with tourists strolling and browsing at the many shops selling typical tourist stuff. I moved much faster than the cars stuck in jams.  Ocean City sells itself as “America’s best family resort” and was founded by some temperance religious organization over a century ago with a strong anti-alcohol stance that persists to this day.  Not only at the beach but throughout the town are numerous diversions for children in the form of carnival-type rides, playgrounds and wheeled-vehicles for rent.  The boardwalk runs for over 2 miles and was quite busy even in the late morning.  Not really designed for riding with a bike with thinner tires, I rode the full length dodging small kids weaving off-kilter and strolling pedestrians rubber-necking at the hundreds of small retail stall offerings.  The smell of pizza, fried dough, popcorn, coffee, sunscreen and some undecipherable odors that suggested rapid weight gain upon consumption of the respective foods accompanied me all the way south along the boardwalk.

Boardwalk, Ocean City NJ - I rode it from one end to the other. Interesting but not to be repeated

Road construction delayed my friend but she arrived by 12:30 and we schlepped the bike with heavy panniers up and down the steps to the beach.  We pushed it through the soft sand to the water’s edge between the sun-worshippers who were looking quizzically at us.  We took the requisite photos and hurried to lunch.  There, a middle-aged gregarious waitress caused me to turn red-faced by remarking (positively, I hasten to add) on my build, tan and legs.  Her exact words will be left to the reader’s imagination.  My fortune cookie at a Chinese restaurant last night read “A man who trims himself to suit everybody will soon whittle himself away”.  I’ve whittled myself a bit but to suit myself.    

Front wheel in the Atlantic after 3356.7 miles (5402 kms) from Netarts, Oregon

After lunch, we dropped the bike off at a shop in Cherry Hill where it will be packed and shipped back to Boulder, arriving later next week.   I stressed to the staff that they need to take special care with this ‘long haul trucker’ as it had taken such good care of me for the past 6 weeks.  There was not even a hint of any problem with its components or structure over sometimes very rough surfaces, a compliment to Surly, the manufacturer. 

I had mixed feelings when I reached the beach.  It seemed strange not to expect to get up tomorrow morning and go through the packing ritual for the day ahead.   I would be wearing non-biking shorts, running shoes, and a t-shirt – and no need to grease up with bag balm before I leave the hotel room.  That will be different.   I felt a sense of accomplishment but also, a little underwhelmed by the ride since the cross-country ride did not seem overall difficult to me.  Of course, there were some hours when I was fighting a strong head-wind that made for unpleasant biking and times when the roar and close proximity of traffic in suburban areas were annoying and even dangerous.  But I think that with some planning, some training, some money and time, and some determination, this is a journey within reach of anyone who wants to do it.   It’s obviously a lot more difficult and riskier to cross the country unsupported and alone but it’s tailor-made for certain personalities who don’t need much human contact.  And if one has an ego along for the ride, it’s a piece of cake.

Some other final statistics: 

Total Elevation gain - 108,486 feet =  33067 meters (almost 4 times the height of Mt Everest)
Total calories burned: 161, 564.  (If 3500 calories = 1 lb, this would mean I would have lost 46.1lbs=  21 kilograms in weight if I had not eaten so much.  That would not be a pretty sight.) 

I did a radio interview later in the day with National Geographic radio and  the link and lead-in is below.

 Historically, sixty-fifth birthdays have been for retirement parties and relaxation. But as older generations live active lifestyles for a longer portion of their lives, what was once an occasion to sit back is now a celebration of vitality. John O’Loughlin celebrated his youth by hopping on his bike and riding3,356.7 miles across the United States in just 42 days. Because of his professorial duties, he was on a tight schedule and had to ride as many as 120 miles in a day, while heading from Oregon to New Jersey. His chat with Boyd happened just hours after he finished the demanding ride.