[VIDEO] The COA Sings On TV and experiences a Wardrobe Malfunction

In what was America’s biggest musical-television ratings smash since Glee, the Cycle of America team threw a musical fundraiser in Austintown, Ohio that was captured by two local TV news crews.

O’Donold’s Irish Pub kindly let Rob “Yossarian Lives” Shiels from Irish band Brazen Lungs play a set to raise money for the Livestrong Foundation. Watch the video to see him and young troubadour Mark Leonard in action!

Plus, stay tuned to the end to witness a sartorial error on the part of the COA’s wardrobe department.

Watch the video

For more on Yossarian Lives, visit Yossarian Lives on Bandcamp

For more on Brazen Lungs, visit BrazenLungs.com

[VIDEO] Rob Does The Mississippi

Ever since he read the book Huckleberry Finn, it was Rob’s dream to swim in the Mississippi River.  On August 31st 2010, the Cycle of America took him there at La Crosse, Wisconsin.

Did his 4 hours of swimming lessons serve him well?  Did he get attacked by a shark?  Watch the video to find out!

Watch the video

Cycle of America 2010 Finishing Celebration.

On the 18th of September, we arrived at the Doyle Dupont Hotel in Washington DC from the waters of the Chesapeake Bay – travel-stained, weary, fatigued but also bouyed up by the growing realisation that we had done it! We had cycled thousands of miles across the continental United States, from Seattle on the west coast to Washington DC in the east.

We were received a great welcome thanks to our gracious hosts at the Doyle Dupont, particularly manager Scott Dawson. The celebratory bash was organised by Irish businessman Shane Young and was also attended by representatives from the Irish Embassy in DC, Myles Geiran and Martina Monaghan. There was also an old friend in attendance – Carol Rascon, who we had first met all the way back in Butte, Montana!

Food and drink was complimentary so the famished Irishmen ate and drank their fill most gratefully! Speeches then followed, from Shane and Scott, praising the whole team for their achievement in cycling across the country and raising well over $30,000 for cancer charities. Myles from the embassy followed up with a speech of his own and presented the cyclists with green jerseys from the Irish Embassy!

The generous guests also donated to the charity and $500 were raised, which was a pleasant surprise! All in all it was a great welcome for the team and it was especially gratifying to get official recognition from the Irish Embassy.

We’d like to thank everyone who helped to organise the night and those who came out to support us, and everyone who supported us before and during the trip. Your generosity made this endeavour possible.

Thank you,

Mark, Eoin, William, Rob and Donal.

Steeling Myself for Pittsburgh.

We reached Cleveland on Friday the 10th of September, where we would be spending the next two nights. Accommodation was kindly organised by Mark and Marie Owens. Saturday, our rest day, was in fact when the Pittsburgh Irish festival was taking place two 130 miles down the road. So intrepid travllers that we are, we got up early on Saturday and drove to Pittsburgh to raise money at the festival, where a stall had been organised for us by the Pittsburgh Irish Center.

After some horrendous traffic and spectacular views of the city, we reached the festival and spent a few hours fundraising there. Thanks to organiser, Nan and the band, Scythian, we got up on the main stage to plug the cycle! Eoin gave a great speech about the cause to get people to come to our stall.  We also bumped into Ruaidhrí Makem, a son of the famous Tommy Make, who Rob had also met back at the Irish Festival in Butte, Montana. A nicer fella you couldn’t meet!  Unfortunately we had to leave to head back to Cleveland for the next morning’s cycling. As this was proving to be a great event for us, I volunteered to stay in Pittsburgh and keep raising money until Monday, when the guys would cycle into town. Matt and Beth Carroll of the Irish Center very kindly agreed to put me up until then, and they would also be accommodating the lads when they next arrived. After saying goodbye to the lads I stayed on at the festival and managed to raise lots of money for the Livestrong Foundation, thanks to the generosity of the public at the Pittsburgh Irish festival.

I met some great people there, such as Alisha from the Irish Center and Mary Conroy of the Burke Conroy School of Irish Dance, who really took me under their wing and made me feel welcome. Things started to wrap up around 9pm, helped by a sudden downpour, so I hightailed it over the the Harp & Fiddle for the afterparty!

The pub was packed and absolutely hopping, with a great atmosphere in the place. I met Matt Carroll there and he introduced me to the band, Corned Beef and Curry, so called because it’s composed of two Irish lads and an Indian fella (Bob, a fantastic musician!). The lads kindly invited me up on stage where I made a speech about the cycle, which seemed to go down well! Afterwards I was bombarded by people throwing tens and twenties at me, I couldn’t believe it! Altogether I raised $831 that day, which is our best result ever from a single fundraiser in the USA.

The next, Sunday, I hit the festival again, although it was very quite that day, partly due to the fact that a Steelers game was on! Mary Conroy managed to get me up on the main stage in the middle of the Irish dancing so I made a quick speech. The crowd were friendly, thankfully! After that I ran around the audience with the bucket and people contributed quite kindly.

On Monday the guys rolled into town, after some serious, ahem, detours, which included a jaunt through West Virginia, a state hitherto not technically part of the Cycle of America. They were met at the Carroll’s House by Joanne, a reporter from the local paper who interviewed us and took pictures. We had a lovely evening, entertained by Matt and Beth and their friends Larry and Posey who cooked an exceptionally tasty dinner for us. Thanks guys!

On Tuesday we headed to the Map Room Bar and Grill for our music night fundraiser. It’s a really cool bar decorated with prints of old maps on the wall. History nerds like me would love it! I also recommend it for the great food and ambience.  Music was provided by Brazen Lungs, Guaranteed Irish and Michael Gallagher. Andy Stewart from band Silly Wizards also joined in. The music was really excellent, making it a thoroughly enjoyable evening. People donated generously in whip-rounds and also bought tickets for a treat-filled hamper provided by Marjie, the owner – who gave generously herself I might add, on top of everything else she did for us. She also gave all the proceeds from the sale of “Pedal Pale Ale” directly to the charity. We raised over $800 that night, bringing our Pittsburgh total up to $1776, a whopping and auspicious figure indeed!

Thanks to Matt and Beth Carroll, Gavin, Posey and Larry, Alisha, Mary Conroy, the Pittsburgh Irish Center, the Pittsburgh Irish Festival, Guaranteed Irish, Corned Beef & Curry, Mike Gallagher, Marjie at the Map Room and everyone else who helped us! Pittsburgh rocks!

We also bumped into Ruaidhrí Makem, a son of the famous Tommy Makem, who Rob had also met back at the Irish Festival in Butte, Montana. A nicer fella you couldn’t meet! Things started to wrap up around

18 September (Final Day!): Frederick to Washington D.C. – 60 miles

So we had our final day in the saddle pencilled in as a 45miles procession into D.C. Unfortunately D.C. is the nation’s capital and not so conducive to cycling from a long way out.

Out came the maps and we had a look at our options. We decided to aim for the Chesapeake Bay by taking a route between D.C. and Baltimore to the north, hopefully avoiding the two big centres.

We set off and despite being so close to water, we met similar rolling hills to the past few days. We met the support team to have an ice cream in Ellicott City and figured out directions for the rest of the day. We got lost a couple of more times but eventually made it to Chesapeake Bay by 4pm. We dipped our wheels in the saltwater of the Atlantic and popped some champagne to celebrate our achievement.

We then jumped in the car to take the 30mile trip south to D.C. where we were met by a great reception in the Doyle Dupont Hotel, organised by Scott Dawson the GM of the hotel, and Shane Young of EirChamber – an networking group for Irish-Americans.

The party when on until the wee hours and it was surreal in many ways to think of how far we had travelled to get to where we are. Nearly 6,000kms in 7 weeks. What started as a casual idea had come to reality thanks to a lot of hard work and the help of hundreds of people.

On behalf of the Cycle of America 2010 Team, I’d like to say a massive thank you to anyone involved in our journey, no matter how small a role you played. Every contribution made a difference. Go raibh mile maith agat!

17 September: Bedford to Frederick – 90 miles

17 September: Bedford to Frederick
We rolled out of Bedford at 7am ready for the 90miles of hills ahead. We grabbed breakfast at a local cafe where we found our Bedford Gazette article.

Once we got on the road, it was easy going until about 10miles out of town. From there on, it was dozens of 8/9/10% climbs that last 2miles at a time, followed by the equivalent downhill. It was torturous slow going at times but at least it was dry and we could enjoy the downhills. In the back of our minds we knew that this was the last big day of the cycle and all the effort was going to be worth it in the end.

We arrived into Frederick and found the delightful Hollerstown BnB run by Betty and her husband Phil. It was a Victorian-style house with pristine rooms. We had the place to ourselves and made good use of the complimentary pool table, water, beer and snacks. After some power-napping, we went to dinner in a local Italian recommended by Betty. When we went to pay, our bill had been paid by Betty herself. What a legend!

To celebrate our last big day in the saddle we hit the town centre for some late night protein shakes. Tomorrow we roll towards the Atlantic coast and it’s starting to really get exciting,

September 16th: Greensburg to Bedford – 80miles

September 16: Greensburg to Bedford

We awoke to a hearty breakfast provided by Pat, and set off to meet Jeff (our Pittsburgh/Greensburg cyclist) who had agreed to ride some of today’s route also. Unfortunately before we left, the weatherman announced a ‘80% chance of thunderstorms’. This weatherman is good at his job.

Today was a washout. We got soaked through. Absolutely drenched. Drowned. Get the picture? Just to add to the torture, the hills we encountered after Jeff turned back for Pittsburgh were the toughest we’d encountered since the Rockies. There were relentless ups and downs. But the rain was so heavy that we had to tiptoe down anything steep. The result: all the work for none of the reward!

One uplifting part to the day occurred when we stopped for lunch at the top of our first big hill at Jennerstown. In a tiny cafe the drowned rats got talking to a family at only other table in the place. We explained our story and when we went to order, the family had kindly paid for our meals. It’s just another example of the humbling hospitality we’re receiving as we progress.

We eventually rolled into Bedford close to 630pm with the rain having subsided somewhat. We found Judy’s Motel together with it’s owner – the grumpiest man we have encountered to date. After a quick interview with Elizibeth from the Bedford Gazette we got our eat on at Eddie’s Steakhouse – a local recommendation. Very disappointed with our meals there – defo didn’t live up to it’s reputation. Ye shouldn’t have to take a trip to Subway after your dinner!

15tt September: Pittsburgh to Greensburg

September 15: Pittsburgh to Greensburg

After another great night’s sleep in Posie and Larry’s house (friends of Beth and Matt), Will and I rendez-voused with the others early.

A local bike-mapping company called Bob’s maps had kindly given us detailed directions to downtown Pittsburgh where we had arranged to meet Jeff, a cyclist from Pittsburgh who grew up in Greensburg and who agreed to ride with us from one to t’other. After we got lost using the detailed directions (we’ve perfected the art of getting lost), and had a puncture, we eventually met with Jeff at the Pirates baseball stadium.

We rode out of the Pittsburgh labaryth with Jeff’s help crossing some steep grinding hills to warm the legs up.  The traffic was light thankfully enough. It turned out to be a short enough day – only 40miles long. We arrived into Greensburg at approx 4pm, and went searching for our house for the night. We had arranged to stay with Jerry and Patricia Sheridan – the parents of Beth from Pittsburgh. They lived on a road called Mohawk Drive. We stopped at a gas station to ask directions and were told it must be Mohican Drive. We knocked into the correct house number on Mohican and were met with bewildered looks. Turns out we had the wrong road. Luckily Mohawk was just round the corner and we found the Sheridans.

Pat and Jerry couldn’t have been any nicer to us. They took us in at such short notice, fed us a home cooked meal and had beds ready for us all. We spent the evening chatting about Ireland and other things, and Rob’s guitar made its customary appearance. Pat was kind enough to pass on a U.S songbook to Rob as a momento. She also gave us all small notebooks as presents.

Pat and Jerry – you are legends!

Date 13th September Youngstown to Pittsburg Distance – Meant to be 100km, did 150km

Today was to be a nice handy day, the cycle was only 100km so we decided we would treat ourselves to a little lie in and didn’t get up until 8 o’clock. Savage lie in!! Our usual time is 6.30!

So we were on the road for around 9 o’clock, it was a bit of a tricky route with numerous turns onto different highways and that’s where the fund began! I was designated navigator ( apparently) so the lads were happy to lay the blame at my door! We were on highway 170 and we were suppose to take a left on the 351, well we missed the turn by about 15 miles! And we went on a little tour of Ohio, we went through East Palestine, East Liverpool and Calcutta. We couldn’t work out why we hadn’t passed into Pennsilylvaina  yet! Turns out we weren’t going East on the 170 we were heading south, so far south that we ended up cycling into a completely different state! The state of West Virginia! I argued that the cycle was too easy and I always wanted to visit West Virginia but the lads weren’t too happy!!

We stopped in small town of East Liverpool and got directions back to Penselvania and on towards Pittsburgh! So what was suppose to be a hand 100km cycle turned into a 150 km cycle all because I wanted to see West Virginia!! It was totoly worth it! So instead of the original 13 states we were meant to be cycling through the revised figure is 14!!

We arrived in Leetsdale just outside Pittsburgh at nearly 6 o’clock that evening! How I love these short days!

12th Sept Cleveland to Youngstown,Ohio Distance 145 km

We had an absolute beast of a breakfast this morning, it was a buffet and after Leonard and Big Mac had finished with it there wasn’t much for anyone else!! We were on the road for around 8.30 and it was a really nice clear day! We were cycling through a lot of built up areas on the way out of the Cleveland suburbs but as it was a Sunday it was really quite was it was a nice relaxed start to the day!

It was built up most of the way between Cleveland and Youngstown and there appeared to be a McDonalds on every corner! So we eventually gave in and succumb to our desires! I have  a Mcchicken sandwich, Macker had chicken nuggets but our Leonard never disappoints! After Ordering his Big Mac meal and was informed that he can get a 2nd Big Mac for 49 cent! Leonard didn’t think twice, we actually had to persuade him not to get a 3rd Big Mac!!

We went at a very slow pace so we didn’t arrive in Youngstown until after 5, which appears to be the norm at the moment. All our legs are feeling heavy at the moment and personally I can hardly sit down anymore due to the pain and aches of my bum! But we are nearly there now!!