Tuesday, October 28, 2014

A Goal Reached

Well the last major preparatory ride of the year is finished. In 2 days I covered 142 miles and crossed the state of Maryland twice over. Before setting out on Thursday morning I had butterflies in my stomach. My sleep was poor quality and too short. I imagined getting a flat tire near Mt. Airy or Damascus or having some kind of run-in with a car or just having no energy left to keep pedaling. This was an ambitious goal for myself. My last significant ride was in August when I went to Baltimore; that was 2 months ago and almost 25 miles shorter than the ride I was attempting on Thursday. Nevertheless, I got up, put my cleats on and set off down the road. It's funny how starting to do something takes away a lot of the fear of doing it. Within 5 minutes of setting out I had a smile on my face and was pedaling away down Beck's Mill Road toward the Maryland state line. That's a lesson I'm learning both on a small scale and a big scale. I often find myself approaching hills on the road and thinking really intimidated kinds of thoughts like "This hill is way too big. No way I can make it to the top without a little bit of walking." But often by the time I've actually started the ascent I look upwards and the sight is so much less frightening than it was at the bottom. Sometimes I look up and it hardly looks like I'm ascending at all or I'm halfway finished with it a mere 15 seconds after starting. I think there will be many moments like this over the coming months.

Anyway, I arrived in Westminster, MD after what felt like about 45 minutes or an hour of riding and thought to myself that there's no way I was already close to getting on the main route I was taking down through Maryland (Rt. 27 to just north of Germantown). I've found that it's so easy to lose complete track of time while riding. I arrived in Mt. Airy where I was planning to eat a peanut butter and honey sandwich I packed for myself but decided to postpone that as I'm just so in the zone and hate to take a break that I really don't feel I need. So I wait until I'm just north of Damascus to pull off the road, get some more carbs to burn and take a bathroom break. At this point I was just feeling so "in the zone" it's hard to explain. I was in bicyclist heaven plowing uphill and downhill with a light wind blowing against my face.

Eventually, I reached White's Ferry to take me across the Potomac River into Virginia. At this point, I was about 30 minutes from my friends' home at this point and was jubilant that I made it to Leesburg! I didn't even mind that the last leg of the trip was on (the often congested) Rt. 15 going right into town. Fortunately for me rush hour hadn't started yet and there weren't *too* many cars headed my way. Thursday night was spent visiting with the good friends of my family and watching Sandra Bullock dodge one catastrophe after another in Gravity. Great movie if you get a chance to watch it.

Sleep was slightly less than I'm used to although the bed was very comfortable. Grabbed some cereal and milk, visited a little while longer, packed up my bags and hit the road. Friday was a *much* nicer day for riding with blue skies and warmer temperatures. Apart from this, the ride back was very similar to the ride down. There was one close call at an intersection just outside of Westminster where a lady did not see my bike as she was making a left turn. She saw me at the last second, slammed on her brakes and almost got hit by a car a few yards behind and to the left of me. Thankfully, nothing came of it and hopefully she'll be a little more vigilant in the future.

One last thing. And this is what is going to stick with me for a long time. Making the last few turns to reach home, a sensation came over me that I'd never experienced before. A sense of real accomplishment. As a matter of fact, I got a little misty-eyed. I'd made it. I had made it. I'd finished. All 142 miles. Done. And I hadn't walked at all. It was hard. It was a lofty goal. It wasn't a walk in the park. But I kept going. I'd planned it, prepared for it, started it and finished it. As I rode down Beck Mill in the opposite direction as I'd done the day before I had misty eyes but a big smile on my face. I just felt awesome. My arms were aching. My legs were burning. But I'd made it. And I just thought that if I felt like *this* after 142 miles what am I going to feel on reaching San Francisco Bay next June?

Monday, October 20, 2014

What I've been up to lately...

Well on Thursday I'm taking the (probably) last major preparatory trip before leaving next April. Here's what I've been up to since the last update:

1. Learning about bicycle maintenance. I'm not at all a mechanical guy so when I first got my Trek 2.1 (now named Fledge) I had no idea what an investment I was getting into. Especially considering I'd bought it for a measly $150. Modest estimates would bring the value of this bike up to around $2000. So for a long time I was treating it like a $150 bike. Read that "treating a Lamborghini like a Plymouth Sundance." It gradually came more and more to my attention that doing this was recklessly irresponsible and foolish. So I started taking much better care of the bike learning how and how not to treat it and what and what not to use for maintenance and cleaning.

2. A lot of short distance trips. On my ride to Baltimore, my host told me not to underestimate the preparatory value of short rides. Longer, of course, than to work and back but not so long as Baltimore. So I've been riding to Littlestown, Taneytown, Manchester, York, Abbottstown, and a few others within a 25 mile radius of my base of operations. Manchester has become one of my most common rides. I love it because of the hills on the PA side of the border but hate it because of the monotony. I have to keep reminding myself that such rides are indeed preparing me for longer and more interesting ones.

3. Winning a YouTube contest for a $423 Visa gift card! On October 8, I was on YouTube and a banner at the top had an ad from Liberty Mutual Insurance asking how I would spend $423. I typed in a brief blurb about next year's ALS awareness trip and thought nothing more of it. When I first received the email telling me I was selected as one of the winners of the contest I was incredulous. "What contest? I never entered a contest! Oh wait... I'm remembering something." So I'm now perusing tents, cooking gear, sleeping bags and the like. Still can hardly believe I won a contest!

So that's about it! I'll post a new blog entry next weekend after my 70 mile trip to Leesburg, VA where I grew up!

Saturday, August 30, 2014

The Twelve Dollar Experiment

Everyone loves stories about underdogs. They're classics! Shire-raised Frodo destroying the ring, little orphan Harry Potter defeating Voldemort, non-militarily trained David cutting Goliath's head off, and on and on and on! We love hearing about how the little people doing little things accomplished something huge! Why do we love hearing these stories? Well because we are little people. At least the vast majority of us are. We don't have any real claims to fame. We're fathers, mothers, retail employees, office workers, graduate students, teachers and friends. None of us sets world records or competes in Olympic level athletic competitions. We're pretty ordinary. That's what this new fundraising initiative is meant to celebrate...

There are about 200 of us who have liked my Wes Across America Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/WesAcrossAmerica). If every person on there were to donate $1.50 per month for the next 8 months to my cross-country fundraising trip next year, that would get me well on the way to affording this trip. Since it's hard to remember to send $1.50 every month and since $12 isn't really that much money, I'm challenging everyone in the group to give $12 sometime during September to my traveling fund. This way, I can focus all my fundraising efforts on the point of this trip: ALS research! If you want to give more than $12, that's fine! I'm planning to give all excess money to my good friends, the Trasks (whose husband/father Paul has been struggling with Lou Gehrig's for the past 6 years).

So that's it! Go to www.paypal.com and send $12 to me at wrosselet@yahoo.com or mail a check or money order for $12 to:

Wesley Rosselet
10 Lafayette St. Apt. H
Hanover, PA 17331

If you don't have $12 upfront, get a jar or container and simply put loose change in it at the end of each day. If you use cash enough, I can guarantee you'll have a good bit more than $12 at the end of the month. If you live in Hanover, you can even take that jar or container to the Woodforest National Bank inside the North Hanover Walmart and tell them you'd like to deposit it into Wesley Rosselet's fundraising savings account, the special account I opened just to raise funds for this trip.

If you are hesitating because you think of this as helping to send me on vacation, remember that I'm going to be living on the edge during this trip. If I get just $30 towards ALS research in each place I stay during this trip, everything will be more or less paid for! You're not sending me on vacation so much as helping me reach a wider audience. And don't be fooled! The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge may have raised a lot of money and awareness but I guarantee that there are a LOT of people who still don't know what Lou Gehrig's Disease is. Thanks everybody!

Monday, August 25, 2014


Well, I don't have that much to say about the ride to Baltimore last week. I left my place around 11 am Wednesday morning and had no trouble finding my way. The scenery was breathtaking from time to time, though:

Farmlands and rolling hills
The texture on this road was really bump. Makes a guy who's had as many flats as I've had pretty paranoid.

I arrived at the inner harbor a little after 3 pm. I swung by my dad's place of employment to say hello and relax for a few minutes. Somebody had baked cookies that I soon found out were meant as a prank for someone in the office. The sugar had been replaced with salt. Argh!

Next, I took off for Barnes & Noble right on the water. I hung around there for a while waiting for my host to finish his work for the day. Eventually, though, hunger got the best of me and I walked over to Moe's Southwest Grill for an awesome Homewrecker burrito! After the long ride I'd had, that burrito was probably the best one I'd ever tasted from Moe's!

My host met me right around 7 pm and we rode the 2-ish miles to his place. I took a quick shower and then we walked over a bridge to the very artsy district of Baltimore. Turns out, there are several Korean restaurants within a small radius of where I was staying. I lamented having gotten that burrito. We stopped in at a bar with live jazz playing, had drinks and got to know each other. Upon returning home, we hung out watching a little TV with my host's roommate and then I headed up to the room where I was sleeping about 11 to check emails and then go to sleep.

After an okay night of sleep, I hung around the house until about 10:45 and then hit the road. The first 20 minutes or so were bumpy navigationally speaking. It seems that Google maps has problems with big city infrastructure. It was beautiful riding weather literally right up until I finally arrived in Hanover. About 2 minutes from my place, the rain started coming down and I was a little wet by the time I hauled my bike indoors. So that's it! Next big trip is to Greencastle, PA in late September!

Friday, August 15, 2014


I just want to say a big thank you to the people who have given of their financial resources to get my fundraiser to where it is and who have lent me a hand in getting ready for this long ride ahead of me. I'm not going to name names as some wish to remain anonymous and some don't even think they've made a significant contribution yet. There are a couple people who have taken time out of their lives to give me a hand training for this bicycle ride. One guy has driven upwards of an hour to give me a lift when my tires have popped. Another great friend took me out for a tutorial ride back when my new bike was foreign and a little frightening. Numerous people have given me advice and recommendations on how to prepare. The research fund hit the $650 mark this past week. That's roughly 22% of the goal. Another $100 and we'll be 1/4 of the way there! After about 4 months, we're almost 25% there! I know the economy is bad and right now many people don't have expendable income that they can give even though they want to. That makes that $650 so much more significant. Others of you have given funding for the trip itself. Maybe you don't see yourself as having contributed much but I truly believe that what you have given will be compounded so much as I travel! $50 will easily turn into a couple of hundred as people across this great nation get connected with what the ALS Association is doing. Thank you for your contributions to end ALS forever.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

There and Back Again!!!

As hard as my last couple attempts for 50+ mile rides have been, they were made up for by today's ride. I'm almost positive that the flats I had last week were the result of the tube not being adequately inflated, the added weight of the cargo rack/bags and improper riding techniques. Today, the weather was perfect. I was almost a tad chilly during the first 20 minutes to just outside of Hanover. The sun was perfect and the scenery (while I wouldn't use the word beautiful) was nice. The route wasn't overly complicated and I didn't make any wrong turns. When I told my waiter at IHOP that I'd ridden my bicycle down from Hanover, PA he was thunderstruck and brought me about 6 glasses of water. The burger and fries tasted so good after riding that distance! Just after leaving IHOP, I happened upon a very interesting sight which I think my former English professor, Dr. Prior, would be excited to see:
On the way home, I took a more straightforward route (a straight shot on route 30 right into Hanover). I had a couple scares, though. One driver wasn't watching me come up the road and started making a turn right into my path. I was able to brake in time, though, and I was in such a good mood that I let him off with an "Idiot!" instead of something a bit more descriptive. About an hour from home, *I* was the one not watching closely enough and hit a 2x4 wooden board on the shoulder of the road. The tire didn't go flat, though, and I chalk that one up to grace. So that's my story! This was the farthest I've gone on bike in a single day (with the possible exception of when I got lost coming home from Carlisle). 58.7 miles! The 50 to Baltimore next week won't even be such a big deal. But I'll get to see how doing 50-ish miles two days in a row feels!

Monday, August 4, 2014

There and [not] Back Again: A Cyclist's Tale

Rough day today. It's the day before my birthday so I thought I'd treat myself to lunch at an awesome burrito place (Roburrito's) and browsing at Books-A-Million in York, PA. The day started out really well. I got on the road at about 10:15 this morning and made it up to my dining destination a few minutes before noon. Great lunch. Had fun browsing at an actual legit bookstore and drinking a caramel frappe. Then came the ride home. It started out well enough but once I hit one of the main roads running through York, I got a sudden flat tire. It was okay though. It happens. Getting upset doesn't reinflate the tire. So I asked Siri where a bike shop was and she points me to one about 3 miles away. I start walking and arrive there after about an hour or so of walking. The staff in the shop are very friendly and knowledgeable and they equip me with an inner-tube and some tire levers. I start dismantling my rear tire and trying to get the thing on there. It's not going so well. After about 15 minutes of trying to get the task finished, I'm hot and sweaty with grease on my hands and still not making good progress. I ask the guy for some help and he does it in a matter of about 30-45 seconds. Internally, I wave goodbye to the last little bit of confidence I have about my ability to handle anything mechanical. I pull out my credit card but the guy says "Don't worry about it. This one's on me." I reply "Are you serious??" "I sure am." "Thank you so, so much! I really, really appreciate it!" I hand him one of my cycling business cards and say "I'm definitely going to have to get better at changing tires but let me give you this. I'm riding across the US next year to raise funds for Lou Gehrig's Disease." So I'm back pedaling and thanking God for such an amazing thing to happen as a free inner-tube, set of tire levers and installation job. I'm shaking my head that it took so little to make me angry and upset and huffing and puffing. Then came the icing on the cake... POP Believe me when I say a couple of f-bombs were dropped upon discovering my SECOND flat. I had checked the tire and frame for debris. For good measure, I had checked them again. And then I thought "What the hell! Let me check it one more time." Nothing. A single pebble had fallen inside the shop when I was working on the tire and I'd thought that was likely what did it. But no. Apparently there was something I'd missed. I'd missed it three times apparently! I was about ready to fly off the handle and just start screaming and cursing like a madman. But instead I called a couple of my friends and described the situation to their voicemails. My mentor was the guy who answered my phone call and volunteered to drive the 40-ish minutes to York to pick me and my cycle up. All that to say, I know this is all part of the process and there will be grace for each step of the way. Maybe I'm getting all these flats because that's what I need to get this practice in *before* I find myself in Nowheresville, Kansas with an empty tire. This is all a part of the journey to do something significant. It's often incredibly sucky but Lou Gehrig's Disease victims are worth the struggle.