"out of gas." There was big hills right off the bat but I believe the big day yesterday just had me tired. My legs felt great but I was fatigued. My riding friend Sam from Vermeer was kind enough to back off and ride with me most of the morning. This helped tremendously and is part of the sport of cycling, you drop back and help others because one day you will need help. It's what makes long distance cycling different that any other sport.
Our first break was again with church ladies and another structure with a tree from hurricane Matthew on the roof. We'll miss the many church ladies we met who were so gracious and welcoming to our group. The church had a huge tree on top of one of the buildings and we all wished we could help.
The road was hilly all the way to lunch which was at Andrew Jackson State Park. Evidently he was born near by. Our catered lunch spread was out under the trees and it was awesome to dine amongst the trees.
The ride into Charlotte was beautiful as we rolled past stately trees and beautiful homes in some of the neighborhoods. As traffic increased there were a few close calls as motorists hurrying home on a Friday afternoon really didn't want to yield to cyclists. We rolled in unscathed back to the place it all started. 592.65 miles later.
So many people put in tons of time to set up the tour. The team at the Tree Fund is amazing. Paul Wood, our tour director and owner of Blackbear Cycling Adventures is an outstanding cyclist and knows how to organize a ride. This ride had challenges and adventures. It was safely routed and very well marked. Few, if any, got lost on this tour. We had folks who schlepped our luggage from city to city. We had volunteers in cars and vans out on the road lending assistance. We had a professional photographer, Jet Martin who is world class, and Canadian. By the way, all the Canadians are just so nice. We Americans could learn a thing or two from them! Joanna is the queen of support and the most wonderful person to have helping you. Ya, eh, she's Canadian also.
And so it comes to a close. Most people will do a ceremonial ride tomorrow, but for me, I need to get home to my supportive wife Diane who packed in may bag, a card to open each day giving me inspiration. You see it isn't just doing the ride that takes time, it is the entire year of training, away from loved ones, on the road, spinning those cranks. You can't ride a ride like this without all kinds of support--here and back home. Let me also add how supportive my company, Bartlett Tree Experts, has been with this Tour. We had the largest group of riders and also the largest amount donated as a team. Last time I checked Team Bartlett had raised $61,000 of the $360,000 that had been raised for this event. This is possible because of the culture of giving back at Bartlett and the belief by Robert Bartlett, our CEO, that it is important to participate in such things, in our industry that provides so much to us. Without a supportive culture at Bartlett, we all would not have been able to take the time to ride. Lastly, I think of my Bartlett teammates and friends Todd Nedorostek, Brian Maxon and Derrick Wells who trained so hard for this ride but were unable to participate fully due to hurricane Matthew. They were back taking care of our clients while we were riding and we thought of them everyday. Tree people. We don't just take care of trees. We do it for the people.
Team Bartlett. We work in a wonderful organization that supports our profession like no one else.
OK, some people in back country North Carolina don't like dogs. We got chased by several but none of us in my group got bit. We were too fast.
The end of the Tour brings a chocolate milk toast at the hotel bar.
(LtoR) Karen Jenkins from Savannah, Doreen Crenshaw from Indianapolis, me and Sam Van Maanen from Pella, Iowa.
Andrew Jackson State Park in South Carolina.
What a cool place to rest our bikes.
Old church cemetery and my ride.
Another tree on a church building from hurricane Matthew.
Lunch under the trees!
Paul Wood's birthday cake. Today was his birthday!
Sam and me after a tough morning ride. Staring down the cemetery, moving on.
Another view of the big oak that fell on the church.