Our Book!

Yes, it’s true, we’ve turned our blog into a full blown, 118 page book. It’s for sale on Blurb as a soft cover, hard cover with dust cover or hard cover with image wrap. Just follow this link to purchase your copy.

Kissing With Helmets by Brett Cleaver & Edie Perkins

If you’re visiting to read about our adventure digitally, start here and work your way forward- rather than backwards.

Grand Finale

Day 58: Pipersville, PA to Brooklyn, NY- 85 miles, Total 3577.6 miles

We couldn’t have found a better place to spend our final night. Chris Shaw’s home proved nothing short of an oasis and such a great closure to our sleeping away from home. Thanks again, Chris!

Eager to hit the road, we did a number of our daily routines for the last time (though quicker than usual): consumed breakfast, did a final check for our stuff and locked the door on our way out. Already somewhat familiar with the roads in the area, with our short drive to the grocery store last night, we knew what to expect for the early part of our day. Up and down on crazy backroads with plenty of amazing stone house scenery, things felt very much like New England (home to us both). Wooded roads, with barely enough space for two cars, twisted through tight corners and fast descents.

Once we emerged into a more commercial area, we happened upon a McDonald’s. Many days of the trip, we flirted with the idea of an Egg McMuffin breakfast, but it wasn’t until today, our final day, that it became a reality. To make our endeavor count, Edie and I both consumed two each. We left having used most, but probably not all of our taste buds (current billboard marketing reference).

We now found ourselves very close to New Jersey. The towns on both sides of the river that separated PA and NJ were extremely cute and full of old world flair. Upon crossing said bridge (well, walked it, as instructed by signage and a pedestrian), we entered New Jersey. Lambertville marked our first sights within the state that bordered our very own. The original plan was to have spent the night here with Jed, but the mileage hadn’t worked out to do so. We’ll get the mileage right for the next trip and hopefully Jed’s offer will still stand.

A hill lied just outside of the main street area and we climbed out of town and up into New Jersey. Atop the hill we passed Wheelfine Imports, but they weren’t open yet. We had looked forward to checking it out, but our sights were now set on a 4:30 ferry out of Highlands. The weekend schedule lacked the regularity of the weekday, making it 4:30 or 7:30. The 7:30 would put us into the city well after dark, a scenario far less than ideal.

Regardless, we pressed on to this road and that road and a series of turns. Some of the roads were a bit sketchy and full of traffic, though we were never on a road for too long, so our attention was mainly paid to finding the next road. We continued to turn and turn and turn. With some confusion over where Ridge Road did and did not merge with another street, a wrong turn backtracked us. Ending in a five to six mile error, we managed to correct it soon enough to stay on schedule.

As we continued with the turns and constant checking of the iPhone (for fear of another wrong turn), we drew nearer to the beach. We began to make a step like pattern with the streets until it stepped us all the way to the water. There it was, Atlantic Highlands and just across the water Brooklyn lingered in the distance. Sure, we’d have to go into Manhattan first and then back out to Brooklyn, but, regardless, we’d be home via the 4:30 ferry. Though, we still had another two miles to get to our ferry. This location only ran during the week.

The distance between the two wouldn’t have been an issue if the bike/recreation lane to take us there wasn’t closed. But alas, it was closed and no one seemed to have a good answer as how to get us to our actual destination. We headed back to the multi lane road that brought us in and took it from there. With the iPhone’s help, we mapped a new route and made it in time. We headed onto a floating vessel for our tickets and even had time to spare for a sandwich.

Not enough time to enjoy the sandwiches anywhere other than on the ferry, though. We boarded an undersold ferry with our bikes at our sides. I don’t think I would have been as calm if they were anywhere else. After we ate, Edie set out for photos from the deck, but the Noreaster high winds lingered and she returned photo-less and damp from ocean spray. The high speed ferry really was just that, we were going under the Verrazano Bridge before we knew it. Edie recounted various NYC Marathon starts as she gazed up at it. It really is a massive structure. The scenery was now extremely familiar, there it was- our beloved city. We were home, not home to our actual home, but home none-the-less.

We rolled off the ferry and I’m still not sure what we felt. A mix of excitement, fear, conquest and uncertainty lumped together with nearly every other type of feeling. As we stood there in a daze of sorts a man approached us and Edie seemed to know him. Before I knew what was happening, Edie’s co-worker and dear friend, Meghan ran up to Edie. Having pulled off one of the greatest non planned surprises in the history of ferry arrivals, Meghan and her husband were off nearly as fast as they appeared. It turns out they were New Jersey bound on the same ferry we had just arrived on. The same ferry they were about to miss, but didn’t after a quick goodbye.

Ok, back to just the two of us again with our overwhelming feelings. Naturally, we decided to take the Brooklyn Bridge for it’s scenic value and, naturally, it was crowded with tourists (once we found it, that is, our NYC navigation skills were a bit rusty). Happy to have made it over the bridge without any serious incident, our home grew near. We began to pass one familiar restaurant, store or deli after another until we hit Prospect Park. We now rolled car free in the park taking in the bustling area of physical activity. Some finished up runs, some walked and we even encountered a cyclist. We briefly recounted our journey for him to which he responded “you two look as fresh as daisies.” Edie and I both smiled at each other, said farewell to the cyclist and turned out of the park. A neighbor greeted us on our street welcoming us home and then there home was, plastered with a welcome home banner. It was all surreal, but we were home and our cross country honeymoon cycling adventure was over.

Coming Soon

We’re home, our final day post is coming soon.

We’ve been running around to various states to collect our strewn belongings. Please check back, as we plan to move into another phase with the site.

House in the Country

Day 57: Lancaster, PA to Pipersville, PA- 72.29 miles, Total 3492.6 miles

With yesterday’s unforeseen rain delay, we decided on an early start. Somehow, we rose to our 6am alarm. Partially excited for Amish country in the sun (versus the deluge) and partially excited to get to Chris Shaw’s house (which he graciously offered up). Our motivation was evident and we departed the hotel as the sun was still rising.

Though, the reality of the end of the trip made our morning a quiet one. It’s hard to describe the plethora of feelings going into our second to last day. It felt nothing short of absolutely bananas. The Amish surroundings on our way out of town also added to mixed feelings. Their lives seem so interesting- simple and also so principled. To adhere to such a life when nearly everything around you screams the opposite is bold and commendable (at least in my eyes).

We made great time cruising through Amish country. With a great tailwind and lovely scenery, we traveled almost 50 miles by noon. Our progress slowed somewhat post-Amish roads. Things became a bit congested and the shoulders on the roads shrank. Regardless, we still enjoyed the lovely fall day we found ourselves with.

As we headed northeast, the wind gusts picked up and, unfortunately, became more of a crosswind. The majority of our daily mileage was behind us, so we took it all in stride. We even scored a great lunch at a small cafe in Souderton. One wall displayed photos from Univest. I’m unsure of the year, but it seemed recent. We didn’t know anyone in the photos, but did spot an Independent Fabrications team rider.

From the cafe, we had 14 miles or so. Just enough time for Edie to make friends with a horse and miniature pony. At this point, we hit some serious backroads to get to Shaw’s. The country hills had just started to wear on us when we spotted the house number. We arrived in record time- 3:30!

I wasn’t sure what to think of our house for the night based on Chris’s description (he spoke of “all glass” and “one side built into a hill”), but Edie and I flipped out when we arrived. What a spectacular house! In for a treat, we fired up the hot tub and took the Jeep to get groceries. We planned to spend our last night with a home cooked meal and Edie was really excited to cook. I can’t blame her after our most recent hotel stint.

Now we’ll eat some dinner and get another early start tomorrow for our last day of the trip (if we actually leave this amazing house). I can’t believe I just had to type “last day of the trip.”

Civic Duty

Day 55: Chambersburg, PA to Lancaster, PA- 82.37 miles, Total 3419.6 miles

Thanks to our new friends from yesterday’s diner, we knew the lay of the land. One climb faced us today- South Mountain. Though, nothing like it’s predecessors in terms of grade, we should have a nice gradual slope. We made it out pre 9am, which is early for us, as of recent.



Edie and I covered some amazing farm roads to start and resumed on them post climb. Apple orchards abounded and we even managed to get a few apples for ourselves. Most of the trees had been plucked clean, but plenty of pristine apples found their way to the ground below. So many, in fact, that we had our pick of hundreds of apples. As we progressed, some trees still carried a few apples. Doubtful that anyone would be going back for them now, we grabbed some for ourselves.



The quiet backroad through orchards brought us upon a man in lawn service. His mower appeared stuck in a ditch and he attempted to pull it out with a second tractor. From the look of it, to no avail. Edie asked if we should try to help him in order to scoop up some karma points. I agreed and we turned back to assist him. The task- drive the tractor to pull him out on the mower. Edie nominated me and I rose to the occasion. We saved the day.



All the while we rode just north of Gettysburg. The farms and houses we all very unique. Crafted of stone and brick, each one seemed to exude history from it’s being. We even came across a field of horses. We stopped to say hello. The young ones were very interested in us and came to the edge of the pasture to investigate. We entertained them for a bit (no wonder we never make it to our daily goals).

The terrain mellowed out, as promised by the locals. The mountains were behind us, but we still found ourselves in the motion of up and down. The towns grew closer together- all full of brick and stone houses and unique main streets. York, in particular, showcased an interesting path through town. Plenty of historic buildings and businesses kept our eyes wandering.

Shortly after York, I heard the sound of flat tire number four of the trip (two for Edie). Our Conti Gatorskins are beginning to come undone. I blew out a spot on my sidewall, but we only need them to last 2 more days! With a new tube and a bit of Tyvek as a boot, we set out for our final push.

It became another grind to get to town and in trademark fashion, we arrived in the dark. We discovered that the Courtyard lacks some of the qualities that we’ve come to adore of the Hampton Inn and Fairfield Inn. Though, tomorrow’s rain storm remains at the forefront of our minds.

The Devil’s in the Hills

Day 54: Bedford, PA to Chambersburg, PA- 63.74 miles, Total 3337.2 miles

I’m not going to write about our breakfast, a late start or revisiting certain routes today.



Though, I will write about the torture chamber that is Pennsylvania. Up and down and up and down and… Edie and I cursed the state for most of our ride. Edie did pause periodically when her prettiness proclivity took over, but she’d revert back and join me in anger.



Locals in McConnellsville were both informative on the terrain and thoroughly amused by what I’m sure they perceived as our stupidity. I hope, deep down, they admired our tenacity and found our adventure impressive. They did admit that some people (I’m guessing themselves on various occasions) call Pennsylvania, “hell.”





One may find it hard to believe (we did), but we gained more elevation today than yesterday. In total, we climbed 5,022 ft. Two main climbs (2,195 ft and 2,123 ft) comprised the majority of our efforts. AND, they both came with the reward of a sign. The iPad went a bit haywire with our last batch of photos, so we lost the previous summit signage. Two today makes up for it, I suppose.



After another intense day in the saddle, we wouldn’t make our hoped destination of Gettysburg. We’d settle on Chambersburg and cut our losses. On the up side, Edie and I found a Panera bread. We haven’t had it once yet on the trip and it trumps any other chain. Somewhat out of our way, we made a loop around the city to indulge. Our nightly shower, food and TV ritual ensued and we both went to bed.

Up, Up and Away

Day 52: New Stanton, PA to Bedford, PA- 78.04 miles, Total 3273.5 miles

I realize that most posts start with a mention of breakfast, typically at a hotel and involving waffles. This morning, however, left Edie and I scratching our heads. First, why vomit in the hallway on the way to breakfast? Second, why were there twenty or more people in a breakfast area that was designed for ten, max? Third, why were the majority of said people from India? We’ll probably never know the answers to these questions. We do know that if ever in New Stanton, PA again- avoid the Days Inn like the plague. It’s no wonder the Fairfield Inn was booked solid.

We cut breakfast short due to the crowds and poor waffle maker (undercooked). Today marked our finale into a rest day, making tomorrow our last rest day. We plotted a 71 mile route for the day, knowing that we would be facing some serious hills. Our route took us over the “mountainous” climbs that the S Route avoids with a very off trajectory bike path. I doubted I could coerce Edie back onto a crushed limestone bike path again. After her distaste for the Katy Trail, I knew we’d better stay on pavement. Besides, they couldn’t be that bad, we already conquered the highest pass on the trip and all the tough stuff was out West.



Wrong, the past few days already had us doubting these statements enough. Today sealed the deal. We hit our first climb leaving Donegal that took us up 750 ft in two miles. It was intense! From there we lost about 400 ft followed by nearly 1,200 ft of gain.



We worked up quite the appetite and broke for lunch around the half point in Somerset. Edie and I found a great independent sub shop and sat down for our meal. The whoopie pies for dessert made the stop and we left all smiles.

A brief tease of rain nearly killed the positive whoopie vibe, but it passed and we rolled on. At lunch we decided to follow the S Route again, as the mileage was the same as Google maps. The route is very well marked with signs and takes some of the guess work out while riding. It mainly followed Route 31, a fairly straight shot. We continued to encounter numerous climbs, but none as devastating as the first two. All in all, we climbed 4,536 ft, with a max elevation of 2,716.



The S Route took us off of Route 31 briefly and much to our surprise (and approval) was all downhill. Even when it deposited us back onto 31, we kept going down. You weren’t going to hear any complaints from us, though. We’ll take it.

Before we knew it we passed the Cannondale factory and landed in our destination of Bedford. We entered on the street the town was built around to reveal plenty of historic buildings and a quaintness. Google steered us 3 miles south of our hotel, but luckily a friendly (now a rarity) local pointed us in the right direction.

Of course, the direction was up a hill for the entire time. We reached our interstate community of commercialism and it felt all warm and fuzzy. The glow of fluorescent signs and corporate logos holds a degree of comfort for us now. After a stop at Sheetz, we checked in to the Fairfield Inn ordered Papa John’s pizza and turned on HBO. Products of our environment, I guess (get us home soon).

Trifecta

Day 51: St. Clairesville, OH to New Stanton, PA- 87.22 miles, Total 3195.4 miles

This morning was a first on the trip. We shared the continental breakfast area with a bunch of pro racers. The same motorcycle racing event this weekend that the Olive Garden guy mentioned. Though, as we found out at dinner last night (from our new humble friend Brian), “quads” are also racing the event. Though, I’d imagine the racers, mechanics and whoever else was present were probably more curious about us in our matching Rapha kits. What, who doesn’t show up to breakfast in their kit?

Clothing aside, Edie and I proudly made it out the door by 8:30. With a three state venture ahead of us today, we wanted as much time as possible. Especially with our uncertainty regarding the days terrain. We anticipated the hills would kick up again, and we’d be doing some more climbing.

It didn’t take long to prove our theory correct. We swooped down the driveway and back onto the road we can’t seem to shake, Route 40. As soon as our descent was over, it was back up. Repeat and throw in a few downtown areas and you basically have our first 20 miles. By this time, however, we traveled out of Ohio into West Virginia and, finally, Pennsylvania.


We crossed paths with a tricky bridge in West Virginia. I have a strict aversion to heights- subcategory: bridges. I usually deal with them by going painfully slow in hopes I’ll adjust during that time. Edie likes to get them over with, so when she yelled for me to hurry up this morning I shouldn’t have been surprised. The bridge merged Route 40 with Interstate 70 and had a sign prohibiting cyclists, so I could see why urgency was on Edie’s mind.

We did get to climb a monster hill in historic Wheeling (home of some truly amazing houses). The grade must have been 12-15%, though that became a common theme for the day. Especially once we hit the S Route in Pennsylvania. It began on Route 40 and then wove us all over creation, mainly up and down. It became one of those days when you begin to yell “why” or various profanities aloud. The route was well marked and did contain some picturesque roads here and there (including a great park), but direct it was not.


Edie and I began to panic at our 4pm lunch. We wouldn’t get to the town we hoped, the Fairfield Inn was sold out (we have free stays there), and the S Route would take us on an indirect route to a series of small, hotel-less towns. Google walking maps? Yes, please.

Our research landed us on New Stanton. They had hotels (though we couldn’t use points) and within a 20 mile radius. Our panic turned to a determination as we set off on a now direct route. Sadly direct doesn’t always mean easy. We faced three of the hardest climbs of the day. As a local put it we had some serious “sled pulling” to do. Pull we did, but managed to get in before dark and find ourselves on the scene of a wedding. It kind of makes me wish Edie and I got married at the Days Inn in New Stanton- classy.

Who Knew?

Day 50: Zanesville, OH to St. Clairesville, OH- 72.02 miles, Total 3108.1 miles

I think we woke up in a Fairfield Inn… it’s all getting very confusing. The terrain, rooms and continental breakfasts are blurring together. I do know we rode on Route 40 again, though it got quite hilly. In fact, surprisingly hilly. So much so, that I distinctly remember it.



To switch the day up, Google took us on a series of back roads. They proved the prettiest we’ve seen since out West. My wife (is that the first time I’ve called her such on the blog?), loves her New England. Trees, landscapes and the changing leaves produce no shortage of comments from her. A series of “so, pretty” emerged from behind me today more times that I can recount. That’s an indicator that the scenery was top notch. Well, her statements along with the multiple stops for photos knocked the “pretty” ball out of the park.



I’ll even admit, I had no idea Ohio could look so good. We even saw a horse and carriage en route. While on a roll with cheesy baseball phrases, Google walking directions did throw us a curveball with some loose gravel dirt roads. The descents reminded us of the time we got a ride from Pat down the mountain and the climb had me back in Litchfield at this spring’s Rapha Gentlemen’s Race. We narrowly made it safely back to Route 40. Though, this time, happy to see it and be back on pavement headed towards chain hotels.

Destined for Wheeling, WV, we fell short. The days are getting shorter and our end of the day pushes don’t get us quite as far as we hope. Luckily, the town we stopped in for a brief moment to rest had a free hotel. We booked it and rode the additional two miles to get there.

It was a huge Hampton Inn piled high with fresh cookies. After some small talk at the front desk, we hit the showers and took advantage of the Italian restaurant located upstairs in the hotel. The adjacent sports bar had a live act- “Captain Cover-song of the Worst Top 40 Crap You Can Imagine”. If his name didn’t spell out how bad it was, maybe the fact that he started to cover Eminem’s hit from his movie does. I don’t know the title and even if I did, I wouldn’t admit to it.

Our attention wandered to the conversation behind us regarding mountain bikes. Hoping that those telling it would know something about the S Route we’d be on in PA tomorrow, I butted in. They didn’t know anything about the route, but knew lots about racing 4 wheelers or “quads” (as they called them). Both were in town for a big national level race being held at Powerline Park tomorrow. One of the guys, Brian, even frequents NYC as a gemologist for work. We had a great conversation and then parted ways back to our rooms. Now we need rest for our triple header of states tomorrow.

28 Pounds

Day 49: Columbus, OH to Zanesville, OH- 64.12 miles, Total 3036.1 miles

Edie and I realized that the chances of us camping again for the remainder of the trip are slim. We haven’t camped in some time and the nights aren’t getting any warmer. Why, then, would we continue to carry around our camping equipment? We’ve been asking ourselves that since Indiana (at least we camped once in Missouri). Well, this morning, post Hampton Inn continental breakfast, the stars aligned and a UPS store appeared dead in our path. I looked at Edie and we both knew it was time to shed that extra weight.

28 pounds later and lighter we rolled away from the UPS store. Our goal was Cambridge, but due to another late start at the hotel and our shipping excursion, we found ourselves already at a loss for time. This morning Edie so aptly expressed that she was “tired to the bone”. A phrase that is becoming too commonplace on this trip to escape the blog any longer. I concurred and one snooze button led to another and so forth. With this in mind, we re-calibrated our goal to Zanesville.




Already in the hole, we stopped for lunch in Columbus proper with only 10 miles under our belt. The Thai peanut noodles proved to be a Thai peanut bomb in our stomachs. Added to yesterday’s cheese pizza lunch devastation we chastised ourselves for two poor lunch choices in a row.

We trudged on with full bellies and the most commercial sprawl we’ve encountered on our trip to date. After ten plus grueling miles of stripmall business wasteland, we stopped at Jolly Pirate for a donut. The surly donut keeper kept us so entertained that we didn’t even question the one and a half donuts each we had (yes, I realize my previous paragraph contains poor food choice content). The only thing that kept us going was the new found information that the sea of capitalism would subside in six stoplights.



We would then encounter “nothing”, which turned out to be a subsequent string of pumpkin patch farms with cute little barns and goodies for sale. Edie managed to photograph them all. Our now hilly terrain added some excitement (we didn’t miss the extra weight, that’s for certain) and a helpful tailwind even made the riding somewhat carefree. We also broke the 3,000 mile mark today!



We took a few nature breaks, but no snacks. We haven’t been consuming candy bars, soda or snacks at our gas station stops lately. Edie and I both remarked on the oddness of this, but can’t put a finger on why we don’t snack. The miles do go by quicker, though and we ended up in Zanesville via a ten mile bike lane.

We quickly located our hotel and decided on the Olive Garden. In hopes of bed by 9:30, we mapped it all out. Too bad our plan was foiled by some dude that heard us mention Pittsburgh. He picked up not a single hint of our disinterest and we ended up edging ourselves out of the restaurant. Now 10:30, I can finally go to bed.