43 mph down the side on the mountain into St. Marys at the base of Glacier National Park. I have done it twice, both times passing cows along the side of the road. 

At the base I thought briefly “ If I had  hit a cow I would have been dead.” And then I went off to get ice cream.

My first ride there were 28 of us, half younger in college, half my age. We called the young ones the

‘Invincibles” because they thought they could never suffer any harm. The older group tried to warn them to no avail.

Every ride has some “Invincibles”, this time there were three. That’s just the nature of age and life. There is a reason old generals send 19 year olds to war…mostly for that bravado streak.

The last 10 days of the ride became harder and harder for me day by day. The distances seemed longer, the cold and hot temperatures more extreme, the pot holes bigger, the climbs and descents steeper, the food less appealing, the people less interesting, and at the end of the day the fatigue worse.  I became more isolated even in our small group.

These rides are 85 % mental and 15 % physical. We are all in good shape before we start with proper training …the physical part has been built up. 

Something obviously happened to me to start the downhill mental descent.

Riding home yesterday I had time to do a postmortem on my ride and it became clearer and clearer what  had happened to me.

My own invincible bubble had burst. We all have to have some sort of thick shield  to risk these rides….there are no real “Invincibles” or “Non Invincibles”…we are all unrealistic  with varying degrees of thickness of our shields.

When mine burst reality came crashing in and no thickness of railroad tracks, no forced optimism, no wishful thinking could put the shield back.

And what burst it?

Staring into a dead bike rider’s eyes and knowing that that could have been me. 

I rushed to him thinking he was having a grand mal seizure but only when I got within inches of his face did I realize he looked back at me with fixed dilated pupils and the foam at his mouth had no life. 

My invincible shield burst that very moment…

I’m not sure that shield can ever be put back in place…I’m not sure I want that shield back …

My family and friends have been worried about me on these rides and only now do I see why.

Yesterday I felt like a failure, a quitter, a loser…today those feelings are starting ever so slowly to fade to be replaced by a gratitude that I did what I did over the years and somehow survived.

As an aside I should have seen other earlier warning signs about the dangers but the shield blurred my vision…

Two days ago at breakfast at a deli by the side of the road my bike suddenly fell over and the handle bars came off…surprised I reattached them. Them getting back on the bike I looked down and the soles of my riding shoes had come off…

I looked over at Angel with bike grease on hands  and Flossie with part of my shoe in her mouth…I should have realized they were trying to tell me something.

A 16 degree hill full of potholes finally became the mirror in front of my face.

God Bless all the “Invincibles” still on the road and may they find safety as they ride forward in their lives…



My thighs are burning and I’m in granny gear even on small hills. I get lost going 10 miles up towards the Poconos. I don’t even realize I’m nowhere near the Delaware River.

I remember watching the Tour De France when riders would just suddenly give totally out usually on climbs.

I’m there…my thighs have given out with 4500 feet to climb still today and 3 more weeks of similar climbs.

When I was younger I followed baseball and usually tracked star pitchers. They would do great for 10 years then begin to reverse their win loss records. Suddenly a 23 W 5 L season would become 10W17L season. The next even worse 5W/15L …then off the team.

This is my ninth year of riding. My legs though in good shape are not what they were when I started these treks. Like a baseball pitchers arm the muscles are aging out.

Reality tells me to play it safe and call it quits. I’ve seen too many accidents and deaths on this ride to let my tired state add to the statistics.

And so it now ends.

To all my readers …thank you for all your support. You have been wonderful over the years.

Now I’ll be in my way home… to other non biking adventures.

A Flowing Stream


I recall sitting once in a series of lectures on Personality Disorders when I was a psychiatric resident in training. The teacher went through the different types with theories as to how each developed. All of the newly graduated MDs recognized traits in themselves and felt a little paranoid at having a “ disorder” .

There ensued an extensive discussion about what mental heath is… one theory is a perfect balancing of all these disorders.

As time went on I left Psychiatry for Internal Medicine and Rheumatology but before doing so thought long and hard on “ mental health “.

I finally decided the developing soul was akin to a free flowing stream going from Mountains to Ocean … encountering impediments and blockages along the way…which each of us must remove ourselves or get professional help in doing so.

Yesterday I decided to cut my trip short letting it end three weeks from now in Middlebury Vermont. I will complete the Atlantic Coast Ride and do the first week of the Northern Tier, then take an Amtrak home stopping by to spend time with two little ones on the way.

By then I will have ridden 5000 miles in training and actual riding this year …a number close to my “All in one sitting” limit in the past.

I don’t want to wear myself out, get too tired to enjoy the trip, or hurt myself.

By that time I will have circumnavigated the world twice at the equator for Bike the US for MS…once in training and once riding. In addition I have raised more than 30,000$ for the organization. A completion feels at hand.

Common sense is also part of mental health and common sense is telling me it time to graduate from this particular type of adventure.

Today I rode along the Delaware River and stopped to watch water flowing down from the rocks above into the moving water headed to the Ocean.

My decision feels right…

This wise old tree agrees…

Mothers Day


Happy Mothers Day to all. Today is a rest day at a wonderful fire station outside of Philadelphia. I actually am sleeping in a bed for tonight ( and last night too). And my horse manure covered bike , clothes, and body all got clean!

Below are pictures from yesterday through Lancaster County and to Valley Forge.

Flowers From The Past


The air shimmered as if I were engulfed by a desert mirage. Down to my left through deep gray rocks flowed a beautiful creek from the Pennsylvania hills way up ahead. I had finished my morning rollers and was on a gravel path North.

I sat very still alone in the morning sun as I heard whispers from down below. Hidden by thick green leaves she dared to peep out scanning the woods with her large deep dark eyes. Suddenly I could see them all…a young mother and three little ones camouflaged by the rocks behind.

Escaped slaves…

I sat wondering “ How did I get here?!”… but Time has no boundaries in my world…

The little ones …frightened, hungry and tired …pleaded with their mother for food…

“ Wes lost lil uns…Wes on ours own”.

She looked up to see me standing there next to a bike all decked out in my bright orange garb. Of the three I’m not sure what scared her the most. Before she could dive back into the woods I placed one hand on my heart and with the other pointed forward … North…

Exhausted she seemed to understand…she nodded her head and slowly crawled up the bank with the three little ones behind.

Onward we moved …slowly so slowly …

Dog barks would lead her to scurry down the bank to wade in the stream throwing off the scents. Sometimes all 4 would just disappear for days as I pedaled on… who am I to understand how my travels work…

For a good while I saw none of them but wondered at intermittent shimmerings in the woods to my left.

I finally reached the border and sat down on an old wooden bench. From behind me whispers again and there they were hidden in the creek.

I looked to my right and up ahead could see an old Quaker couple frantically waving a white kerchief. I looked in front of me… a shadow…but the best possible from their time…from a tree marking the Mason Dixon line.

I looked again beneath the branches over the creek and motioned her forward with all due haste.

All 4 stepped out drenching wet and rushed North to freedom at last.

She turned one last time as did the three little ones who now brave enough in safety asked what I was…

“ Dats an Angel of God lil ones”…

I turned to see Angel and Flossie there… they had been leading them all along.

I placed my hand on my heart, she did the same, and we nodded to each other…and both went North …more than a century and a half apart.

Along the way I found the “forget me nots” she had left for me for this very day…seeds planted so long ago…maybe just yesterday.

Todays ride is dedicated to all mothers…

An Orange Blossom


She held my hand to the bus stop and waited …me all in orange with face covered in zinc oxide. Her friends stared in amazement. Along came the bus…

she got on …we each waved …she headed south to school while I rode north. Some goodbyes are memorable.

The day before I left the Lincoln Memorial and headed out on the Crescent Pathway along the Potomac. Crowds of cyclists past me going to work in the other direction. Finally reaching Bethesda after a 12 mile trek I was suddenly lost among skyscrapers and busy traffic. I could not figure out where to go to find the next bike path leading to a spot near my son’s home.

Some 5 miles back I had inhaled a cloud of dust and was still coughing on and off. I tried to stop pedestrians to ask for help but as soon as they smelled me …wearing yesterday clothes… and heard my coughing…they all backed off 10 feet and scurried away.

I finally realized I was on my own. After 15 minutes of searching for a path ,which I later learned was closed , I gave up and decided to take the metro to near my son’s house. I sat in a handicapped seat in a middle car where bikes go …next to an actively hallucinating young man… I suspected drugs but it could have been schizophrenia. The rest of the passengers not politely stared but stayed clear …the two of us… an appropriate handicapped pair… me spewing what I’m sure they thought was TB and him spewing his bizarre rapid moving ideas…

I got off at the last stop and navigated to my sons town but decided to stop at my granddaughter’s school to surprise her.

I arrived and walked in the office asking for the principal who I knew. Out she came… looked at me… jumped back 10 feet … and said “ Who are you and what do you want?!!!” holding her nose…

I reintroduced myself to her surprise and told her I ridden from Florida on my bike to see my kin.

Her jaw dropped… she stared… stammered… and turned to her secretary and told her to go find my granddaughter “ You can see her in the hall not in the classroom with all her friends!”

Our union was less than desired… she was pouting and upset at an assembly they had had…me being there as I was… was just not much out of the ordinary to her.

I kissed her, sent het back to her classroom and peddled to her home… where her mother greeted me with a stare… a jump back 10 feet …and a distant hello.

Ok I realized …first things first… a shower and a washing my clothes.

The rest of the visit was as wonderful as today’s flowers I passed.

For those wondering it was a very difficult day of riding with more than 4300 feet of climbing on endless rollers some with grades of 10%.

We have left the flatlands behind…

Back in Time


I knew it was there.I had seen the impact. I searched through the sands while my fiends hooted I owed them each a dollar. Considering there were five of them and that I only made 4$ a month on my paper route that was a huge amount of money for a 15 year old.

Just 2 minutes before lounging on the summer banks of the Rappahannock River on a weekend fishing trip I had spotted a fly on the tip of my great toe partially poking through my worn out sneakers. With BB gun in hand I had bet them each a dollar I was good enough to kill that fly.

I aimed and shot and was sure I hit my mark.

Scouring the nearby dirt I let out a whoop for there was a BB with half a fly attached. I showed them …and they angrily paid up.

Not dealing with anger too well I went inside the old abandoned plantation home belonging to the family of one of my friends. Down creaky stairs I went to a basement lit by high tiny windows. And on the wall in front of me…shackles which had not been moved in 100 years. I was stunned and suddenly my visions were filled with slaves attached to the walls, even little ones with shackles closer to the floor. Suddenly the 5$ in my hand was meaningless.

Today I pass over that River and look to the southeast and recall those shackles on the wall.

All throughout the South there is debate now about Confederate statues, name places, buildings, military bases,roads etc. I have always had a great respect for History and wonder about the changes being made. Yes they were painful times which still leave scars but I am not wise enough to know if we should change what still stands. We need to learn from our mistakes and then there are still our present countrymen who lost so many souls in that War. I leave that debate to others…

I ride on North.

I know there stood a sign post with a torn sweatshirt sleeve attached…I put it there when I was 14. I was allowed to pedal 8 miles out to the Occoquan River for herring run fishing…again with my five friends. Somehow on one trip my sweatshirt got torn and I put the sleeve there…as a teenage Memorial. It sat there for 2 years…

Suddenly I am in Occoquan and I cross over the foot bridge…it is all on our route…and there not 100 yards away are the rocks from where I fished. I have not seen them in 55 years. The beauty and teenage memories overwhelm me and tears fill my eyes…those of pathos replaced by those of deep joy…

I ride on to Alexandria for my nights stay. It was been a 90 mile ride with a cold rain most of the day but crowds along the way cheered me on.

I find there that the pastor of our night stay church is “to be a sister-in-law” of a good friend, someone who has one of my paintings in her home.

The Möbius strip of time has struck again.

Today I have yet another special treat. The route, 6 miles beyond from our stay tonight goes within 6 blocks of my sons house, within 1 block of my youngest granddaughter’s school. I have been given permission to ride on and tonight I will spend the evening and night with family. Tomorrow I will just be 6 miles ahead of the group as I head towards the Mason Dixon Line and the North leaving memories of slavery behind…

The railroad tracks worked…

Dante’s Nose and Railroad Tracks


He looked in the mirror, but was disappointed at the result. The surgeon had assured him that his nose would be beautiful following the procedure. “It’s just a temporary swelling….give it a few days”. Three weeks later he returns ecstatic at his new face and pays the surgeon in full.

As a child, I moved several times usually every nine months due to my father’s job. My mother assured me each time that after a few weeks a new place would feel like home….and to to worry about friends… family was more important. The word “house” or “apartment” in fact, was replaced at about 21 days with the more comfortable “ home”.
Most amputees at about three weeks, develop a new body image and begin to adapt. College students feel more comfortable away at about 21 days. A new habit takes about three weeks to become entrenched.
Repeatedly, three weeks has been shown to be a magic number for any transition in self image or circumstances.
Today as I begin my ride, I approach the 21st day of this trip. I marvel at the change in the way it feels to ride. It’s easier, more fluid, and even rollers in the hills offer little in the way of a challenge.

Suddenly I recall the magic number of three weeks. I have transitioned from someone in training, someone starting a ride, to actually being a long distance cyclist.
The past three weeks have not been easy for me. I think I’ve had more emotional and mental distress than in any of my previous 11 rides. The Pathos at times has been overwhelming.
As a child I was often on a bowling team and learned to draw railroad tracks after a few bad frames… a starting over point…
I begin my ride today mentally drawing railroad tracks and saying I now leave the pain and suffering behind and go forward for beauty, challenge, adventure and fun.
As a sign I pass over parallel interstate lanes leading to my home.

Not much further along I cross the Amtrak line which leads north to my son and south to my home.

Today we intersect with the trans American route which goes from Yorktown to San Francisco. I stand and look at the sign and remember my previous rides and move North towards Maine to repeat the fun.

Just south of Fredericksburg ,my night’s stay , I cross the Amtrak line again and lo and behold see my usual train going home.

Angel and Flossie appear and watch it disappear down the tracks, turn to smile at me and say yes, leave the Pathos behind.