August 6, 1999 - Day 56 - Torrington, Connecticut to Providence, Rhode Island

103.5 miles - 14.5 mph average speed - 3886 total miles - 41.3 mph max speed

Roadkill: 14

    Well, the site loaded fast today, didn't it.

    In the Civil War movie "Glory", the story of the Massachusetts 54th Colored Regiment, when Robert Gould Shaw returns home to Boston after the battle of Antietam, he is greeted at a reception by Governor Andrus, who says, "Antietam, a great and a terrible day."

    Well, I don't even want to begin to compare this trip with Antietam, the bloodiest single day of fighting in our history, but the line kept coming into my head today.
    It was a great day. Lois caught up to me about an hour or so west of Providence, where we are staying tonight.
    It was a terrible day. The camera was stolen in Hartford.

    It was my fault. I had the one mental lapse I haven't had the entire trip. I had just finished taking the picture of a couple of Samaritans from the Hartford Public Works Department, named Steven Kardys and Steven Larkum. They had pulled their truck over to help me when I was stopped by the curb looking at my map.
    After I took their picture, I went to set the camera down on a planter, but it was so dirty, I set it down on the ground. I turned around and saw that my map had fallen out of the mapholder on my front pack. It took a minute or so to struggle it back in where it belonged.
    I left and traveled about 10 minutes before it hit me. I raced back to the spot, another 10 minutes.
    I'm hoping for the miracle: that someone found it and will call the school since the name and city and state are etched into the top of the camera.
    But I'm not expecting that to be the case. And if not, I hope whoever got it is someone who uses the proceeds to feed their family and not their habit.

    I was just sick about this. I went up into downtown Hartford to find something to eat and drink, and met two really nice guys. One, especially, Abe Krisst, the bicycle courier, really helped me out exactly when I needed it. He and another cyclist named Dave who just came up and started talking with us, chatted for about 20 minutes.
    Both guys felt terrible that this had happened in Hartford. I told them I held no animosity toward the city. I was just upset with myself.
    Abe said that when things like this happen, sometimes it helps us to focus on the blessings we DO have. That was just such good advice; I spent the rest of the afternoon thinking about all the things that matter. Lois was on her way, my daughters and one of my stepdaughters had both traveled recently and were home safely. I was safe. And healthy. Etc. Etc. Etc.
    Abe led me away from the Burger King (good move) and took me over to a place where I could get some chocolate milk (it salves the pain) and watched my bike while I went in. While I was inside the store, he turned down a job so that he could escort me over the Connecticut River safely non-interstate (it's a little tricky - I wouldn't have figured it out).
    Abe was another one of those just nice Americans I've run into constantly on this trip. I sure wish I could have taken his picture.

    Coincidence? About 30 miles east of Hartford, I was chugging up a hill and saw another cyclist coming up behind me in my 'third eye' mirror. He caught up with me and we chatted and rode together for a few miles. He was about to turn off onto a side road, so as he pulled up I stuck my hand out and introduced myself, "Bob Graham". He said, "Virgil ___." I didn't even hear his last name. Do you think my grandfather paid me a visit? There aren't too many Virgils around these days. This guy was about 25.

    After meeting up with Lois on the road, she went ahead to get a motel in Providence while I kept riding into Providence. It feels really good to have done a century today. It may be the most difficult one I've done. Connecticut is quite hilly, but the hills do get smaller the farther east you go. Just west of Providence, they flatten out almost completely.
    It would be lovely if that's how the remaining 60 miles of the trip are.

    And so, Route 99, God willing, will crash into Plymouth Rock tomorrow around 4:00. I've heard from a couple of people who have been following the web site (Vince Walsh-Rock's brother, for one) who are going to try to be there, or maybe ride in the last few miles with me. Lois brought her bike and will do the same.
    Lois brought two bottles of champagne: one for spraying and one for toasting. Great move, Lois. She also brought her 35 mm camera, so it may take us awhile, but we'll get pictures of the Atlantic Ocean festivities onto the website.
    I wonder what tomorrow's ride is going to be like. I want so much to be done and home. At the same time, there hasn't been a day that I haven't looked forward to getting on the bike just because I was going somewhere I hadn't been yesterday. I loved the constancy of the new horizon. Physically moving.

    I have several observations to make about the trip as a whole. I've jotted some notes down as I've gone along. I have the choice of climbing into bed with Lois now or sharing my 'deep thoughts'.

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