The third day of the trip is over and I’m starting to feel like by the end of this ride I won’t be able to tell you what the best part was. Each and every day has brought more and more joy and excitement to our lives.
The day started off in Brick, New Jersey. Jesse’s father made us some of his famous scrambled eggs served nicely with a side of fruits and dipping yogurt. Anyone who has known me for a while could tell you how much I like eggs in the morning. This strong desire for pre-birds (…or future birds) in the morning most likely stems from having a father who lovingly spoiled me to death and cooked me breakfast every morning growing up, but that’s a different story.
After a very delicious breakfast at the Tyler home, Dakota did it up right with some strong coffee to wash it all down. We purchased a coffee press for our Jetboil (portable stove) just before the ride and today was our first day putting it to use. It works pretty well.
With our stomachs full of protein and caffeine, we began to plan our day carefully. We had checked the forecast the night before and it looked like today was going to be a rainy day. The sky was gray and the air was humid. We were definitely about to ride through rain. The questions were how soon and for how long. Stuffing our dry bags with all of our electronics, deciding on where to place our rain jackets, and whether or not to wear shoes covers, we were on our way west towards Burlington, New Jersey.
I’m not sure about the other guys, but I was dreading the idea of riding through the rain. I had been involved in a few bike accidents in the past and all had been either in the rain or during rides after. Needless to say, I wasn’t pumped. About 15 miles into our 45 mile ride it started to pour, first a light drizzle then a complete downpour. To my surprise, today’s ride in the rain was some of the most fun I’ve had on a bike ride to date. The others guys seemed to share the same excitement. We were cruising through the rain and loving every bit of it; flying past tall pine woods on the open road with far less stops than any of our last two days, it felt like nothing could stop us. While the first two days of riding took us a bit to get used to, today we looked like a whole new team. We were fired up and full of energy. The rain and extra light traffic was the perfect change of pace.
For lunch, we stopped about halfway into the ride in a small town named New Egypt. Our goal going into the New Egypt was to find some sort of diner to sit down and recharge. The first place we stumbled upon was called Tooties. It looked like some sort of small town mom and pop. Jesse was especially excited to try this place out. We walked in with high hopes, only to be met by a very kind waitress who sadly informed us that the restaurant would soon be closing for the day. Bummer.
Although, what seemed like a complete failure actually resulted in a wild chain of events that would become the highlights our entire day. Jesse, Dakota, and I had entered this small restaurant fully dressed in cycling clothing, matching jerseys, and soaked rain jackets. We drew some serious attention by the guests of the restaurant with our tight shorts and polka dotted jerseys. On the way out of Tooties, a man, who we would soon come to know as Jim Schwinn, approached us and began to ask us questions about our ride. He too was cyclist and had one time owned a bike shop in New Egypt. While Jesse and Dakota spoke with Jim, I was explaining our cause to another gentleman who was with him at the time.
During the conversation we were briefly interrupted by a women who had money for Jim because he had fixed her bike recently. She handed him the cash and walked away. None of us thought anything of it. Still hungry for lunch, we asked Jim where would be the best place to eat in New Egypt. Without hesitation, he directed us to Anthony’s Italian. I handed Jim some stickers and our interaction with Jim was over… or so we thought. Just as we were about to make our way over to Anthony’s Italian, Jim came walking back and said, “My friend said you guys were raising money for a cause. I just thought about this, but how about you keep the money that lady just paid me. It’s seventy-five dollars.”
We couldn’t believe what just happened. We went to a restaurant that was closed, ran into a man who had a love for cycling on the way out, who at the same time received extra money from a lady who just happened to spot him walking out of the restaurant, and ended up with a seventy-five dollar donation. Surely this was day three’s highlight, but things continued to get crazier.
At Anthony’s Italian, we sat next a very nice couple by the name of Steve and Phyliss. They too began to ask us about the ride. We gave a quick overview and without hesitation they also donated. We continued to tell them on the details of the ride and they continued to ask more and more questions. Little did we know that they weren’t the only ones listening to what we had to say.
I stepped outside for a moment to take a phone call and when I walked back in Jesse and Dakota said that our lunch had been completely paid for by a gentleman that had been sitting behind us. His name was Art and none of us even realized he was there until he approached the other guys about paying for our lunch. You never know who’s going to be listening.
Day three was a pleasant surprise. What we initially thought would be long day filled with obstacles and pain turned out to be another amazing day filled with surprises and generosity. We should have known. A rain shower became a refreshing ride. A closed restaurant became a three donations and even as I write this, I’m sitting in comfy bed with a full stomach (Thank you Mr. and Mrs. Kalapuch!) Everything has turned out better than we could have ever imagined and only three days into the ride we have memories that will last a lifetime.
Photo by Tommy Sisbarro. Thanks Tommy!