On June 15th, I embark on a 75 day tour of Adventure Cycling Association’s (ACA) Northern Tier bike route. The route is almost 4,200 miles long, with more than 111,000 feet of climbing, through eleven states and hopefully two countries. The ride starts off north of Puget Sound, Washington and cuts through the northern reaches of this great country until we arrive Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park on the coast of Maine. To read the daily blow by blow report of this adventure, click Here. To navigate to the next or previous blog post, look for the tiny “NEXT” and “PREVIOUS” links that follow the “Published by Eileen Hardy” paragraph at the bottom of each page.
Before I get into the details of the ride, I need to explain why I have not posted another epic ride since 2018. In 2019, I had planned to ride either the Atlantic Coast or Northern Tier. But that all took the back seat when I married the gentleman I met while riding the Pacific Coast route (you can relive that moment here: 9/22/18 – 9/23/18 – Leo Carrillo State to Long Beach & Rest day in Long Beach). Well actually, we met online (ahem) several months earlier, but not in person, until I rode into Long Beach, where he was recuperating from a serious cycling injury.
Eight months later, we were married, and my 2019 plan to ride up the Atlantic Coast, which was now OUR plan, was replaced by a second attempt at the Pacific Coast route, because the hubby was waiting on an important construction project to begin. No need to keep a blog of that, as I had already been there and done that in 2018. In 2020, we had all the details worked out to cycle the Atlantic Coast from Key West to the Canadian border, when Covid hit. All travel plans were off for at least another year, and sadly, that’s when reality set in. Being cooped up during Covid; catching and surviving Covid; living through the very short, tragic endings of a couple of friends lives, due to cancer; the craziness that came out in people (no names) before the presidential election; and many other factors led to marital difficulties and divorce. It was a rough year, and some people get counselling to help them through years like that. I got on my bike.
In 2021, I was hoping to ride up the Atlantic Coast with Bike the US for MS, an organization that raises money for research and does work projects for victims of Multiple Sclerosis–the disease my Aunt Betty died of several years ago. Due to Covid, the ride was cancelled, so I decided to shelve that plan for another year and look at riding the Northern Tier. I ordered up the maps and put out some feelers to my cycling friends whose plans had also been cancelled due to Covid.
My first taker was Ed Craft of Georgetown, California–my most frequent cycling partner on the 2017 Southern Tier. He had signed on for the Northern Tier tour in 2020, which of course was cancelled. So for 2021, Ed and his wife Dianne lined up a really cool RV tour of eastern Canada to celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary, but that too was cancelled, as Canada was still not allowing leisure travel from outside the country. And that is when Ed got the go ahead from Dianne to ride the Northern Tier with me. On August 15th, Ed and I will celebrate my 65th birthday and his 40th wedding anniversary at a campsite in Booneville, New York. Let’s just say up front–while this will no doubt be a momentous day for both of us, there won’t be a big party.
Also joining us for our non-party, will be friends Erwin Wieringa of Amsterdam, and Chris Demetre of Wisconsin, who rode the Southern Tier with us. On day 44 of our ride, they will be meeting up with us in Manitowoc, WI for the last almost half of the trip. Chris will pick up Erwin at the airport in Chicago, then it will take them 3 days by bike to get to our rally point. Both fellas are strong cyclists with great senses of humour, so we look forward to doubling down on our laughs when they join us.
On past bike tours, I was often approached by local folks and asked if I was cycling to raise money for a cause (I mean, why else would someone do something like this?), and my answer was always ‘No’. But this year is different. Many non profits have been seriously impacted financially by Covid, and Bike the US for MS is one of them. Even though I am not on one of their official rides, and possibly never will be, I am all in on helping raise funds so they can continue their important mission. If you would like to make a small or large donation to them in my honor, click “Support Me” after you click here:
And finally, here is our current itinerary. It will change starting on Day 15, if Canada opens its borders to vaccinated tourists. We have our fingers crossed and a solid plan B in case they do.