Dick Willy

Dick Willy

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Another dinner with old friends

On the Wednesday after The Ride, Mary & had dinner with college friends near our hotel in Arlington, VA.  Karen & John Burnette live in Herdon VA, a few miles north of Arlington.  Bev & Bob Smithson drove up from Chapel Hill, NC -- 270 miles south!

The ladies are sorority sisters from Kappa chapter of Alpha Xi Delta, University of Illinois.

John, Karen, Bob, Mary, Bob, Bev, Dick 

Bob & Bev

John & Karen

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Another night out -- Coal City, July 24

Out on the town two nights in a row with friends & family!  Coal City is just 40 miles east of Ottawa, where I grew up.  Ron & and Barb Dodd, Stan & Ruth Gaul, and my sister-in-law Norma Willy picked me up at camp.  Ron & Stan are high school classmates of mine.  Ron & Barb live in Joliet, Stan, Ruth & Norma live in Ottawa.

One of the local "delicacies" when I lived in the "hood" was a pork tenderloin sandwich.  We went to a restaurant in nearby Morris that still serves them.  Yum!

Stan, Ruth, Norma


Norma, Ruth

Barb, Ron, me, Stan, Ruth, Norma 

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Dinner with the Diserio's -- July 23

Our route went through home territory -- northern Illinois, where I grew up and went to college (U. of Illinois).  Our first stop in Illinois was Garden Prairie, near the home of John & Vivian Diserio, college friends of Mary & me.  They met me in camp and we went to dinner in Marengo, about 10 miles east of our campground.  Catching up with old friends was special, and the food was great, too!

Meet Ruby -- the best cook in South Dakota

So she claims.  From the taste of her bread pudding, Noel, Bernie & I agree.

We met Ruby in an unlikely place, a bar & grill in Midland, SD, one of those small towns whose business district, as  common in the upper Midwest, has been decimated by the gas station convenience store on the highway.

Noel & I would often look for local places to have a mid-morning “second breakfast”, so we detoured into town in search of a spot.  The bar & grill was not an obvious choice.  Noel inquired at the hotel whether there was someplace to get coffee & a snack.  As it turned out, the left door of the bar & grill was for the restaurant.  We entered and met Ruby.

Every day she works, Ruby uses the day-old bread to make her bread pudding.  Otherwise, it gets thrown away, which upsets her.

Bernie arrived after Noel & I had eaten.  We convinced him to try it.  He was sold, too.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The finish line

The Big Ride is over, but in the coming weeks I'll be posting pictures and stories of the trip and people we met.  So, keep looking from time-to-time.

Noel Gilbrough & I were privileged to cross the finish line first.

We were presented with commemorative medals -- very cool -- made of bike chain & a rear cassette sprocket.

Thanks to our ride director, Charlton Durant, for his leadership, dedication and support.

It's been a long ride.

We later hoisted bikes over the Reflecting Pool in front of the Capitol Building.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

The finish....

Well...it's over.  Part of me says "Thank God!", but another part will miss being part of an incredible adventure and the company of new friends, many whom I'll never see again.

I'm sore & tired, and need some rest.  Sleeping in is wonderful -- no more standard 5:15 alarms.  My bedding & clothes are no longer damp.  These are very good things.

Re-immersion into a "normal" life is an abrupt change from our Big Ride cycle of eat-ride-eat-sleep and total focus on  riding the day's route.

The last two days of riding were fairly easy: 60 miles, and 40 miles.  On Saturday everyone was riding strong & fast, anxious to meet up at our lunch destination -- a Greek pavilion in the Old Post Office food court owned by a 1998 Big Rider.  We made great time, and were all there by 10:30.  Food was great & portions were huge.

From there, we paired up and rode to the finish line at the Capitol Building end of the Mall.  Noel Gilbrough & I were privileged to be the first pair to cross.  Mary, Kate (daughter), Spence (son-in-law), and grandsons Jacob & Tom were there.  Some ALA ceremonies followed, of course.

And, then the Big Ride 2011 was over.  But, it'll always be indelibly printed in the minds of 26 Riders, three support staff, and Cindy Gilbrough, our informal fourth staff.  We are forever changed.

Thursday, August 4, 2011


Paxton Hall, our dorm in Gettysburg.        

 Gettysburg College.

 View north from Little Round Top along Union battle line to Gettysburg.

Confederate artillery on Seminary Ridge, looking  across the path of Pickett's charge on the Union forces atop Cemetery Ridge -- a confederate disaster and a turning point in the Civil War.  Lee's push into Pennsylvania failed here on Jul 3, 1863.

The top of the Alleghenys.