Here's the story of why I'm riding across america

Hello, I’m Dave Nowlan. I cycled from Encinitas, Calif., to Cape Cod, Mass. from April 22 through May 28, 2012 in an effort to raise awareness of Multiple Sclerosis (MS), and to help fund research for a cure. My wife, Claire, and daughter, Julia, both have MS. I broke my back in a sledding accident almost three years ago; I’m the luckiest guy in the world to have recovered without being paralyzed and was able to ride this long cross continent adventure. Click on this link to “my story” for more information and why I continue riding. Here is a link to Information about MS

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Day 37 - Finish Line (May 28)

Today I completed the ride at Old Silver beach, in Falmouth MA.  My dear friends (two carloads, and a motor scooter) met us on Route 28 in Wareham. We stopped at a diner for coffee and received a round of applause from all the patrons.  Our dear friends Margee and Vinnie presented us with beautiful medals inscribed with "2012 Bike Across America for M.S.-  San Diego to Cape Cod".

We received a police escort from the Burne police department over the Bourne bridge. Patrolman Wallace J. Perry made it possible to ride over the bridge on the road, in grand style.  Rolling over the top and down to the rotary on Cape Cod was such a welcome sight.  We were home again after 7 weeks (5 weeks of riding).  There were several bicycle riders (friends and family) waiting for us and we rode the 11 miles together to Old Silver Beach.  This was one of the most beautiful parts of the entire ride.  The warm weather, springtime flowers, water views along Shore road, seeing friends along the way, and the group of riders all made this a very special 11 miles.

Arriving at Old Silver Beach was awesome, there were at least 75 cheering friends and family there as I rode down the final hill of this cross country journey.  I've never felt more welcome.  Lots of hugs and congratulations from all.  Then I removed my bike shoes for the last time, welcomed the feeling of the warm Cape Cod sand between my toes, carried my bike to the water's edge and dipped the front wheel in the Atlantic  (Buzzards Bay) while listening to the cheering crowd.  This officially completed the adventure.

Arlyn White, Steve Sookikian, and Liz Strawn from the New England Chapter of the MS Society came to Old Silver beach to support me as well.  Here's a link to their MS Society Facebook post with some great photos.  Thank you for your support!

This as been an awesome journey.  It was extremely challenging, difficult, fun, and a rewarding experience, which we will cherish for all time.

Thanks to my loving Claire, who has been incredible with her unending work and support, I could not have completed this ride without her, and I can't think of a better person to have by my side for this Journey and forever,  Also a special thanks to Mark Slomba, the "Ride Commissioner" who provided daily consultations, rulings, and offered many suggestions to problems encountered.   Also many thank to my family and friends who remained in touch with words for support, visits, and hospitality along the way.  You made this trip much more enjoyable, and provided much needed encouragement when the chips were down. Thank you! thank you!

I will be updating this blog with additional pictures, videos and information as it arrives.  Donations in support of this ride to cure MS may be made at the link to the right.

I leave you with this quote from Ghandhi:
"If I have the belief that I can do it, I shall surely acquire the capacity to do it,
even if I may not have it in the beginning"

Claire and Dave Arriving on the Cape

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Day 36 - Can Taste It

I rode from West Springfield, MA to Middleboro, MA. today and logged in 105 miles.  Here's the link to the map of today's ride.  Claire, the SAG manager deluxe, helped navigate today's route which brought us through Connecticut and Rhode Island and back into Massachusetts. We started out on US route 20 through Sturbridge MA then we switched to Rt 131 bringing us into Connecticut and we transitioned to Route 12 to Route 44 East, through Providence to Middleboro, MA.

While going through Sturbridge, MA we came upon some forest devastation from last year's tornado.  Seeing the extent of the devastation first hand amazed us.

In east Providence my daughter, Julia, and granddaughter, Sage, surprised me and drove along until the end of today's ride providing cheers and support.  This provided a real boost, as I lost 2 pounds to the Berkshires yesterday and I was dragging a little this afternoon. We then met up with Julia's girlfriend, Jenny and her kids and shared a meal together.  It was so nice to see family again and we celebrated my grandaughter, Jura's, birthday.

Today's ride set me up for a shorter mileage day tomorrow to enjoy.  Similarly to last day of the Tour de France,  I'll ride leisurely and savor the last day of this 5 week adventure.  We're still on schedule to arrive over the Bourne Bridge between 12:00 PM and 1:00 PM, then we will ride to Old Silver Beach in Falmouth with anyone who would like to ride with me for the last eleven miles together.  Here's a link to the route from the Bridge to Old Silver.

You may call Claire, the SAG manager at 508 274 8247 after 10:00 for an update of the time expected over the Bourne Bridge.


Julia's Decorated Car

Our Reunion With Sage

Family at End of Today's Ride
Post Ride Icing (Precautionary)

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Day 35 - Massachusetts! (May 26)

My wonderful sister, Therese, drove up last night from Manhattan to support us and spend the evening in Albany.  She experienced our daily evening and morning routine, including meals, with us first hand. Thank you Therese for everything! We love you.

Some of the final milestones were achieved today.  Reaching our home state of Massachusetts was a great feeling. Climbing over the Berkshires was also completed and we reached the shores of the Connecticut River in West Springfield.  I rode 98 miles today, here's the link to the map of today's ride.

We took a couple of video's at the Lebanon Valley Speedway for my good frield Mark, the ride commissioner,  who is a racing fan. Claire is correct, we did have an old Pontiac Grand Prix.

I went over "Jacob's Ladder"  which was one of the first mountain roads ever built (1910), planned to cross the Berkshires.  The Berkshires were definately a challenge but I was able to climb over them and enjoy a many mile downhill on the east side.  The area is extremely beautiful.

I'm estimating that I'll be coming over the Bourne bridge in the early afternoon (1:00 to 2:00) on Monday, Memorial Day.  NOTE: This is an estimate and is subject to change based on how tomorrow's ride goes. I'll provide an updated estimate tomorrow evening

Albany Bike Rack - Very Cool

Friday, May 25, 2012

Day 34 - Mohawk River

We're getting closer to Massachusetts.  I rode happily to Albany today, 90 miles. Here's a link to the map of today's ride.  I was rained on this morning for a while, but it stopped before I could get to the rain gear.  The remainder of the day was dry. 

This was the first rain since Arizona! We've experienced great weather on this journey.  The theory about taking advantage of prevailing south west winds held true for the first two weeks. For the remainder of the trip I experienced mostly easterly head winds.  I'll have to speak with a meteorologist about this after we get home.

Today's ride was much better than yesterday's as I traveled Route 5 and various side road options losely following the Mohawk River.  This route eliminated multiple long, steep climbs.  I also made use of the Erie Canal bike path for several miles, where a very large deer was foraging.

The Berkshires are ahead for tomorrow, should be a good challenge. I can't wait to see how they shape up. I'm found myself feeling sad this awesome adventure will over in a couple days. I must be going slightly mad.

New York has been a beautiful state to ride across, and challenging too from a climbing and navigational perspective.

Over the next couple of days I'll be leaving more information on the blog about our expected time of arrival on the Cape on Memorial Day.  I'll be coming over the Bourne bridge and then riding to Old Silver Beach in Falmouth for the wheel diping ceremony

Erie Canal Lock 16

Kateri Shrine

Day 33 May 24 - Bones

Today was a successful but difficult riding day.  We made it to Utica, NY riding 92.3 miles.  I decided to travel south from Weedsport in order to ride on US Route 20 as it is a fairly direct route toward Albany.

On the way to Route 20 we stopped to sync up.  Claire noticed some beautiful flox flowers off the road. She went over to take some pictures and noticed some bones among the flowers.  She wasn't sure if they were human or animal, so she took a few pictures.  When I got to Marcellus, NY I went to the police station and reported that Claire found some bones. Officer Len Richer helped us out and called the State Police to investigate.  The State Police called Claire back and informed her that these were deer bones, not human.  Case Closed.  Len has a few friends who have MS and was supportive of my ride and glad I was riding for MS. Thanks Len!

When I arrived at US Route 20 I was greeted by several long, steep climbs coming right behind each other.  It was very slow going so at lunch I conferred with a local, Betsy, who said I would do better to head north to Route 5 east, which happens to be the road I started on in Weedsport, before heading south to Route 20. I took Betsy's advice and rode back to Route 5 and had a much better ride to Utica to finish for the day.

Here's a link to the map of today's ride.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Day 32 - Weedsport NY

Every day brings its own flavor and today we had two appointments to squeeze into our day.  We met the folks at the Upstate NY Chapter of the National MS Society.   They tried to establish a meeting with the press. However, it wasn't meant to be.  We were fontunate enough to meet several of the chapter's staff and they even provided us with a nice magnetic sign for the SAG vehicle. Thank You all!

We also had lunch with our family, Mark and Margee, on the Erie canal.  This was very cool and it was a blessing to see them.  Mark has been my ride surgeon for the journey.  Thank you!

Mark also informed me that there was a bike path on the Erie Canal, which goes all the way to Albany.  So I tried it out for about 10 or 12 miles, but it wasn't paved and really slowed me down.  So I jumped on Route 31 and this turned out to be a very good cycling route. 

So today's ride was split because we started on US Route 20, then hopped in the car for the appointments, then continued the ride from our lunch spot on the canal. This added a few riding miles but made a nice variation vs. heading straight east on Route 20. Today's miles totaled 87 and was tracked in two sections, pre-appointments and post-appointments. Heres the map link for the first section, and here is the map link for the second leg.

Today was a varied, fun, and long day.  I rode until almost sunset this evening.

Nice Magnetic Sign for the SAG Vehicle

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Day 31 - Shuffle Off to Buffalo

Another great day, 95 miles to Alexander, NY.  With a bit of a tail wind I passed by Buffalo quickly taking US Route 20.  Here's the map of today's ride.

In Brocton, NY, this morning a courteous driver allowed me to pass before she made a right turn.  This is unusual as most drivers try to take the turn before the cyclist gets to the corner and many times the cyclist needs to brake.  We both ended up in the gas station store a few minutes later, and I thanked her for her courtesy.  Tina said she is also a cyclist so she understands.  When I told her I was riding for MS, she said this part of New York state has the highest MS rate in the country.  She also made a donation on the spot and will tell her friends who are living with MS I'm riding for them.  Thanks Tina!

A little later this morning in Spring Creek, NY while I was refueling in the SAG vehicle, Ivar Lupkin and his dad, Igor came by to meet us after reading the sign on the back of the car. They also were very supportive and then Dave Notaro, from the bank also stopped by. They all made donations to the MS Society, in support of my efforts.  Igor who was an opera singer in his younger days sang Carmen for us on the sidewalk.  Ivar, congratulations on celebrating your 25th wedding anniversary.  Thank you Igor, Ivar, and Dave!

My colleague from Buffalo,Vince Connors, reached out to meet us but I was moving too far, too fast.  I had already blew past Buffalo and was heading east at a good clip.  Sorry I missed you Vince, but thanks for reaching out.

Very Nice Pink Elephant
Throwback Ice Cream Parlor
The End Point for Today's Ride

Monday, May 21, 2012

Day 30 - Two State Milestone (May 21)

We left Ohio behind us today, crossed into Pennsylvania and ended up crossing into New York at the end of the day.  I followed US Route 20 for most of today but split off to Route 5A in Erie, PA to take advantage of a bike path along Lake Erie. I stayed on Route 5 into New York where we ended today's ride at Ripley, NY. Rode about 93 miles today.  Here's the link to the map of today's ride.

Had lunch at the Girard Dinor in Girard, PA.  Tammy warned me about a big climb before getting to Erie.  Tammy, it was pretty big, but I was able to handle it fine. 

We also stopped at Penn Winery. I only has 5 miles left to ride so we did some tasting and purchased a couple of bottles.

We ended up on a small motel on the lake with no WiFi. So I can't upload the videos today.

I'll add to this blog when we have better access.

Girard Dinor

Dave in Penn Shores Winery

First Rainbow on the Ride

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Day 29 - The Ride to Painsville

We began today in Wooster, OH with Claire noticing a quote on plaque, which was hanging on the hotel lobby wall. It read "Everyday is a Gift".  This became our motto for today's ride.

A few days ago I had painstakingly navigated today's route, selecting Painsville, OH as the target based on its location.  This morning I reviewed the route and thought there may be a better way.  I plugged Painsville into Google maps and selected the cycling route.  Voila'! Google's route was completely different, including a couple of bike paths, and was 10 miles shorter.  I decided to change to this route at the last minute.  It was a great decision!

This route set us up for one of the best days of the expedition.  The weather was ideal and the pace was a little slower for various reasons.   The sights and the variation kept things fun and interesting all day. Claire and I had to split up due to the bike paths and side roads.  Claire drove the highways and we planned meeting points along the way for my refueling, etc. I rode about 93 miles today. Here's the link to a map of today's ride

We arrived in Cleveland during the afternoon and there was a 1/2 marathon underway.  Cleveland rocks!

While we ended the ride in Painsville today, (a very nice town).  Today was anything but painful. 

Everyday is a gift..

Cleveland "The Emerald City" (high road)

The Fountain of Eternal Life (War Hero Memorial)

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Day 28 - Back in the Saddle, Completing Week 4

We had a very good day to complete our 4th week of the journey. I rode from Columbus OH to Wooster OH, which was 86 miles. Here's a link to the map of today's ride. The saddle sores are in check and after a cool start, the weather was a bit warmer, in the 80s.  There was a headwind from the east but it was minimal at approximately 6 MPH.

I switched from US Route 40 to Ohio Route 3 for today.  This heads northeast and brought us through Centerburg, the geographical center of Ohio.  So we've got that going for us!

In the morning I happened upon a couple of great bike paths, which provided a welcomed break from the traffic. Route 3 was in pretty good shape to cycle with a paved shoulder for most of the way.  Once we reached Mount Vernon the road follows the landscape bringing lots of rolling hills into play for the second half of today's ride. There were several steep climbs, but nothing terrible.

We saw a couple of working oil wells today. I didn't know Ohio was an oil producer.  This is an Amish area and we had their great strawberry rhubarb pie and zucchini bread. I also saw an Amish horse and buggy but I couldn't get a picture of it. Maybe tomorrow..

It felt great to be back riding again.


A Working Oil Well in Ohio

Amish Transportation

Friday, May 18, 2012

Day 27 - Not So Fast..

It was inevitable that something would cause me to take a day off.  We spent the day in Columbus OH, no riding.. I have developed saddle sores and as a precaution I decided to take a day off the saddle.  I consulted with my ride surgeon, Dr. Marc Berliant, for suitable treatment (It's amazing what an iPhone can do).  I still have approximately 10 days of riding and taking a day off now increases my chances of finishing this journey within a reasonable timeframe.

This was the first day off from riding since April 22, and it felt very strange not to get up and go. I had to tell myself to slow down and relax. With this day off I had a chance to interview Claire, my VP of SAG operations. She also had a chance to get her hair done and we did some sight seeing in Columbus, on beautiful spring day. 

So I'll be back at it tomorrow..Thanks for all your support..

Twin Elephants on a Cake
Clair Sporting a New Doo, Nice

Fish Fountain

Bench in the Park, Excellent Rest Stop

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Day 26 - Slow Going

Today was a challenge out there.  I had stiff headwinds all day which slowed me down significantly but I was determined to make Columbus OH and did it.  I ran into a detour after 13 miles, this wasn't as bad as the last one (47 miles) it was only a few miles.  I decided to stop the GPS tracking and restart it because I has to put the bike on the SAG vehicle for one highway exit.  There are two map links of today's ride. Here is link oneHere is link two.  I rode a total of 96 miles. 

Happy birthday to my brother Mike.

All is well, enjoy the videos, some interesting tid bits of a long day.  Good night..

Cool Old Car on US RT 40

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Day 25 - Buckeye's Anyone?

We've made good progress over the last few days.  Today started out warmer with a tail wind and then  the wind direction changed at 12:30 p.m. to a north-east quartering head wind (argh). 

I happened upon a horse-drawn wagon moseying down the road.   I think it was a chuck wagon (or maybe a Conestoga wagon) I immediately got a hankering for some beans.  I had some for dinner, yup.

We were able to make it to Ohio today, crossing the state line at 5:00 p.m. I rode 89 miles today,  here's a link to today's route map.  We should be in Ohio for a few days, continuing on US RT 40 to Columbus.   Then heading northeast diagonally across the state. 

All is well with no machanical problems or getting lost. A good day.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Day 24 - Indianna Wants Me

We broke into Indiana today and we've also transitioned into the eastern time zone.  This was a great feeling and feels like progress.  I did 94 miles today, mostly atributable to the lack of a head wind.  Here's the link to today's route on US 40.   I also passed the 2,000 mile mark, a very good day. The weather was beautiful.

The road surface on the shoulder was difficult today, especially in the afternoon.  The road surface included cracks, bumps, and overall rough surfaces. After about 4 hours of banging around my rear end was feeling the brunt of it all.  So I decided to invest in a new bike saddle.  After today's ride we ended up in Plainfield and Claire, my SAG manager, found a great bike shop called "Gear Up".  So I rode in and Jeff Kindom worked with me to ensure I got just the right seat.  Thanks to Jeff and all the great staff for cushioning the ride.

Then we had the best meal of the trip at Sal's Italian restaurant, where Lucas did a great job serving us great authentic meals.

Terre Haute IN City Hall

Monday, May 14, 2012

Day 23 - In The Groove

Today was a very good day in Illinois, the weather was perfect, except the persistent headwind which kept my mileage in check, We started in Greenville, IL and ended in Casey, IL for a total of 88 miles for the day.  Here's the link to the map of today's ride

We said good bye to Route 66 yesterday and picked up US Route 40 today.  It is similar to Rt 66 as it existed before the interstate highways were built and follows along I70.  Rt  40 in this area is straight and mostly flat.  I'll try to follow this route through Indiana into Ohio if possible. 

Many folks have requested how many miles I have ridden and how many are left to go.  In fact, you even got me wondering how I'm doing for a big picture point of view.  So I went through several days where I didn't report the miles due to various bike problems, wrong turns, detours, and back tracking, which throw off the numbers tracked by the GPS.  To total miles ridden to date is 1,940.  Estimated miles yet to cover is approx 1200.

Last night I was quite tired when updating the day's activities and beside my grammar mistakes I forgot to mention that while we were at a gas station in Missouri Matt Christiansen, who read the sign on the car's rear window, approached me, offered me some Cliff bars, and Gatoraide to help my on my journey.  Then he made a generous donation to the MS Society on behalf of my ride.  Thank you Matt!

Also, Keith Walston met up with Claire and I in Missouri.  Keith is a team captain for a local MS ride and we were able to get acquainted.  We discussed the Bulhead City climb, his brother did it :)

Today I also came up on another cross country rider on Route 40.  Alex is riding from LA to Washington DC.  He is carrying all his gear on his bike.  He is riding at a slower pace so we rode together for a few mins and exchanged information about our routes, times, etc.  Then I accelerated to keep on my own pace.  You really have to respect those guys who ride with all their gear on their bikes.  Maybe next time...

Greenville IL is Where the Buffalo Roam

Claire Wants This Truck

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Day 22 Illinois

Happy Mother's Day to all the mothers reading this. Being on this journey has left Claire without seeing any children or grandchildren or her mother today, which was disappointing.  She was understanding  and we decided to shouldered on to get us one day closer to the finish.  This ride should be over in a couple of weeks so we'll be back to our family and friends again soon. 

On this theme, in the second video below my granddaughter, Ada, explained my cross country trip on a large map of the USA to her friend. It's a little hard to understand but I think she actually gets it.

We made it to Illinois today, getting to a new state is always a big deal.  I rode in to St Louis as close as I could before the traffic and roads became too congested and dangerous.  There were six lanes of traffic on these roads with no shoulder or bike lane.  So I decided to put the bike on the SAG vehicle and to get through the city.  Then we entered IL and rode on.

I traveled a nice bike path which was the scene of another spoken broke, this time on the front wheel.  So we back tracked to The Cyclery bike shop, which I stopped at earlier in the day to get some directions.  Andy took great care and replaced the spoke, and I purchased a few extras in case of more spoke problems in the future. By the time we finished with the spoke replacement it was 5:00 PM and we then returned to the breakdown spot to resume. This made for a late day and I rode until sunset when we arrived at Greenville, IL for the night.  I ended up riding about 80 miles today.

Andy from The Cyclery Fixing a Broken Spoke

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Day 21 - St. Clair MO

Today was one of the better days of this journey.  No breakdowns, not even a flat tire!  James Wilson did a great job on my bike yesterday. The weather was good, and the north east headwinds are still hanging on for most of today.  This morning we did take a wrong turn and got a little lost and had to back track.  Lots of hills today as we went through the National Forest.  Missouri actually has some mountains, which I wasn't expecting.  We have lots of videos and pictures from today's ventures.  Enjoy! 

I did about 83 miles today. Here's a link to the map of miles tracked after we got lost. I haven't totaled the mileage traveled overall yet, just too busy.  "They'll be time enough for counting when the dealing's done".

I met Tom Skinner, who is riding his bicycle across the country, from San Diego to Vermont to raise awareness for veterans with PTSD.  He is carying all his supplies and gear on his bike, inlcuding his PTSD dog!  What a huge load.  He's obviously going slower than I, and is expecting to reach Vermont by July 4th.  We chatted for a while, this is a very different type of bike riding vs. how I'm riding. Check out his photo below.

We ended the day in St. Clair, which is fitting for mother's day.  How did that happen?
Claire took the pucture of a 1956 Ford on Route 66.  We'll miss Route 66 with all its ups and downs and craziness. 

Navigating and Drinking Coffee
World's Largest Rocking Chair

Arlington Road

Tom Skinner - Veteran Riding Across America for PTSD

'56 Ford on Route 66

Perfect End to a Perfect Day