Cycling Across America Blog
So Here's The Deal
posted Feb 8, 2016, 11:16 AM
I first fell in love with cycling the day I figured out that it took me the same amount of time to ride my bike to the University of NE at Omaha as it did to drive there. I was not earning very much income in those days and saving that money that I would have spent on fuel helped me drive to my internship. The internship, my sole source of income, paid $7.50/hour at about 15-20 hours per week. That added up to about nothing at the end of each pay period :). I had recently returned from the war in Iraq and was living in a friends dormer. That is when I started dating my wife who upgraded my bike from an old heavy mountain bike to a lighter Trek 7000 aluminum model. I have had that bike for many years now and that is the bike I intend to ride across America. I have since upgraded every component on the bike through wear and tear over the years but the frame is still the same.
My wife and I recently purchased a Rockwood A122BH camper and we are going to make the trip together. I will ride and my family will make camp everyday. I am no stranger to long days on the bike as I have ridden across Nebraska and Iowa in the last two years. I enjoy the peace that it brings me and you get to take in so much more when you are passing it around 14Mph instead of 60 to 75.
So if you are interested, take this journey with me through this blog. I will update it often once I depart and irregularly as I prepare.
I am so pumped
posted Feb 24, 2016, 2:00 PM
I can not begin to express my excitement for this trip. I have been starting to research products online that we may take with us:
- New light- I found this awesome website to help me pick the light that would work best for my application, middle of nowhere dark.
- Tail light- I upgraded my tail light to one that you could see from afar and attach to the rear rack.
- Cycling computer- I am going old school on this one based upon all of the reviews I have gone over. The newer GPS models do look like they would be the most useful but the battery life on them leaves a lot to be desired. Not to mention they are on the higher end of the price spectrum and my smart phone could fill in for them in a pinch.
- Chain oil- I put this stuff on every 70 miles and have been so much happier with my rides since I started doing so. I use the dry version in the summer and the wet in the winter. I found the wet slows me down in the summer so I clean it all off in the spring before I apply the dry. I used another brand, a wax version, on my ride across NE because of a quick need and regretted it. This stuff works great.
- Chamois Pads... Yep, I am not one to use these even on 500 mile week long rides but I have never ridden farther than that in one stretch. I figure that I might just be very very very happy that I had them going into month two.
- Dry goods- I have never planned a 90 day expedition with 4 people and a dog. This was my best guess at what we might need based upon some help from online threads about prepping for disaster and conversations with people over the last several months. We would pack at least 25%-50% of these items and either replenish in KS or some where else along the route as needed. We plan on purchasing local produce along the way as well.
- Electrolyte drink mix
- Rear Panniers- There is no way I am hauling everything on my back.... absolutely no way... nope, not going to do it.
- Water storage- We have a 30 Gallon fresh water tank in the camper but a jug of potable water that is easy to fill from whether the camper is deployed or closed up will most likely come in handy. Did I go too big...
- Maps- We purchased the TransAmerica Trail and the last 2 Lewis & Clark Trail maps. There is something about the Adventure Cycling maps that serve as a portal from the imagination to the journey. I just love them. My only wish would be that they made a reverse set that went from East to West. It is a little bit of a pain to read through them backwards but hey I enjoy pouring over them.
- RV Club Membership- Brianne had heard about this membership about a year back when we first started to seriously plan this ride. I found that they had a large presence on the route we were taking and so we bought in. If the membership is as good as it claims to be we will have saved a significant amount of money on RV site overnights. I am willing to plug them so far as the process of signing up and booking our site to see the Sand hill Cranes return this spring went well. If you sign up for a membership and use our number, 674658, they will send us a check for $20. We will gladly accept your generous assistance ;)
- Cotton/polyester blended clothing- I have never been a big fan of all polyester so I try and find a blend of cotton and polyester. The feel is more natural and the moisture wicking and quick drying features are there as well. We will be doing all of our laundry the manual way on the trip and these types of clothing will help with the size of the loads, drying time, and our comfort in the heat. Brianne makes her own detergent and I love the way it smells like clean linen in the summer.
- Bear Spray- For when nature seeks you for a change! :)
- Human Spray- For use against aggressive people/animals.
- Spare bike parts- I am packing like a boy scout in regards to bicycle repair. I know that I will most likely not need all of these parts but hey, I have replaced them before for a reason and know that odds are good that some of them might come in handy:
The list goes on and on...( I will come back to this post and add the items as we go) We are trying to keep a budget in mind so I need to ensure we get the biggest bang for our buck.
A Great Opportunity
posted Mar 23, 2016, 10:51 AM
We had a very satisfying lunch filled with great conversation and I was able to share my long time wish to cycle across America. There were some great questions ranging from about how many days I had planned on taking to how I was preparing for the altitude in the mountainous parts of the journey. I generally start getting fatigued around 70 miles and set the bar at 65 miles per days where I was not steadily climbing any elevation worth noting. I had the great fortune to have a spin class at the YMCA this winter to give me a head start on the muscle tone and cardio needed to climb mountain ranges. I imagine I will look back and say from the top of the Blue Ridge Mountains that I could have trained a lot harder though...
The experience of being able to share my story with them really made my day. My family and I wish to use this trip as an opportunity to help show other families about the great opportunities that await them in their local, national, and federal parks/forests. We hope that our submersion of our children into nature over this summer makes a lifetime of memories for them and helps shape their future.
I would also like to thank KingsWay PEP Club for their generous gift and their valuable time.
posted Apr 24, 2016, 1:29 PM
Brianne suggested that I ride out to the river on the Keystone trail today as I used to do to train for long distance touring. She surprised me by
waking up earlier than she is accustomed to on the weekends and we got the boys ready for a day out on the town.
I had spent an hour the night before putting on my new tires as the old ones were starting to show the yellow inner rubber warning of future flat tubes to come. I also changed out my tire pump for a water bottle holder. The bolt had rusted itself in the threads and stripped out quickly. I ended up tapping it with a hammer after soaking it in WD-40. I learned never to do this again as the inner threads detached from the frame and it was hack saw time! I now have a new inner rattle but hey the bike has character.
We packed up the boys and the bike and headed out for the 90th and Fort entrance to the trail. Along the way I may have used a expletive as I realized I had left my helmet at home. Brianne quickly suggested that we call my mother who lived along the way. She had a helmet we could borrow for the day and we were saved the long drive back and forth from home again to the trail!
Earlier this morning I was awoken by Gabriel, our 104lb black lab. He insisted that I let him out in the back yard and I complied as I know just how insistent he can get if I try and sleep through his progressive assertiveness. It was around midnight and there was a storm starting in. I figured that it would most likely let up by morning as they storms usually do this time of the year around here. The storm had lifted but it was still sprinkling out by the time we arrived at the trail head. I was a little annoyed and uncomfortable with the cool raining weather upon my departure. About a mile in I remembered that the cool misty weather was my favorite compered to the harsh summer sun and humidity. I started to ride with a smile on my face about until I reached the outer part of the city. The wind was blowing pretty hard as the storm moved out and it was a head wind. The only consolation was that it would most likely still be there when I turned around and would be my saving tail wind on the way to lunch in Aksarben Village.
I made it about 20 miles before I had to turn around. I wanted at least 5 more but lunch was at 11:30AM and it was 10:52AM. I was meeting Brianne and the boys for lunch and I was not going to be late! With the wind at my back I went from 12Mph to 18Mph and it felt good to be moving with minimal effort for a change. I zipped along the trail slowing only for the mud wash outs under the bridges. I did overdue it a bit though as my longs became fatigued at not having been worked for over 2 hours on the bike since last season. I developed a nagging dry cough for the first 30 minutes after hopped off the bike at Aksarben village but than made a fun recovery :)
Aksarben village was alive with people and the main street by the park was barricaded off for a spring time event featuring local police and fire fighters. I hopped off my bike and waded through the sea of people and met up with my family at Voodoo Taco. Unfortunately, they were all out of avocado and that was no bueno for me! We headed over to pickle mans and I had a spicy pepper deli pizza while everyone else had toasted sandwiches. Brianne asked me if I was going to ride the rest of the way back and to my parents place from there and I declined :) I have some more hard training ahead before we leave for Yorktown in a few weeks but I know I am in a good place to be ready for it.
Why I Resigned To Ride My Bicycle Across The US
posted Apr 27, 2016, 11:35 AM
The Planted Seed
About five to six years back I was sitting in a small Italian diner in Pittsburg, KS catching a much needed break after a week of deploying the front end and network infrastructure for my companies Linux terminal server farm. We had just added the organization out there to the family and they had needed a complete network infrastructure installed before we could get them on-line with our server farm back in Omaha, NE. I really enjoyed these crazy projects with early starts and working into the early morning hours just to early start again. No, I am not being sarcastic. I really did love the feeling of accomplishment at the end when we had come together as a close knit team to do great things over a short period of time. But I digress... back to the dinner. I love this diner. I always eat there when I am in Pittsburg, KS. It is called Napoli's and it is awesome! Now please do be sure to visit the fried chicken establishments, Chicken Annie's and Mary's, that Pittsburg is known for while there too as they are just as awesome.
So there we are at Napoli's and I see this guy sitting all by himself at a booth just putting away loads of pasta. Now, I can put away some pasta but this guy was eating the family sized order. He looked rugged like he had been living outdoors for quite awhile which I know something of having been in Iraq living in the desert sand. I know it is not for everybody but I do recommend living outdoors for a year of your life. It really rounds a person out. I would normally strike up a conversation with such a fellow but he looked dead tired and was busy refueling so I left the diner without satisfying my peaked interest. Outside was a touring bicycle fully loaded with panniers and gear. I had been just getting into longer distance cycling at the time and spent the evening looking into what kind of tour goes through Pittsburg, KS. Wow, only the famous Trans American Bicycle Route! Yes, I still kick my self for not bothering that tired and hungry gentleman about the what he was up to that night. Well, I have spent some years now watching youtube videos and following blogs of others who have made the trip and by God now its my turn!
Now I love working in the IT field. I have a bachelors in Computer Science, Masters in Management Information Systems, graduate certificates in Project Management and Systems Analysis & Design, and have become certified as a Project Management Professional. I have worked on all sorts of cool crazy projects like designing the user interface, to include the hardware, for our companies Linux terminal server farm. I brought Meraki to our company to assist with the management of hundreds of networks and locations across the US. I designed systems and processes for the IT services at our company and negotiated the purchasing for over millions of dollars in equipment and licensing over the years. I have also sourced and deployed both Asterisk and Cisco based VOIP phone systems across multiple locations. First and foremost I would like to say that I worked with my colleagues as a member of a great team and they all played a pivotal roll in my success along with the great outcomes of our projects.
My favorite part of my work centered around the mission such as an interactive sensory wall I built for our school for autistic children in Axtell, NE. I really had wished I could have directed more of my efforts to applying technology to the mission of our company, the people we served.
I had built a successful career and was doing well in both salary and position. I should have been happy with my daily life by all accounts but I had reached the end of my development and grew to care less and less about the trinkets that money buys. My experience is that once you make enough income to house, feed, and clothe your family then happiness really comes from outside of money. Sure you can go see all of the new movies and eat at the nice restaurants but those are only fleeting moments of happiness. Real happiness is a feeling that grows within and can wither before bearing its fruit if you do not feed and water it. For me that nourishment comes from adventure, family, and applying emerging technology to directly effect the mission I work for.
I began to get an inner calling to make a change in my life a couple of years ago and had planned to ride the Trans American trail from the East to The West this summer. I am going to fully push myself and search within for what comes next.
My family and I will leave for Yorktown, VA in a few weeks. I will start pedaling from the York River to Astoria OR. My family and I will be exploring the national forests, parks, and monuments along the way and we plan on making the most of the summer. It was time for a change and that time is upon us. We will be documenting the journey at gooseeknature.com and there will be more to come after the pavement ends at the Pacific Coast...
posted May 2, 2016, 7:55 PM
I have done a little research into how I would like to capture the raw experience of my journey and have landed on travel journaling. I will keep most of my writing in this space brief, in the moment, random, and more poetic than complete:
The sun came out after two long days of rain and chill. I missed my ride this morning to trek with the family to the dealership for our tow vehicles transmission service. We have reached 174,000 miles and it needs to be done. The mechanics took an interest in my upcoming journey. One cycled and the other wished to cycle more. I envy their work with bare hands, grit, and machine. I can see myself lost in hours of mechanical work drifting with the day and enjoying a silver bullet.
I have become a little surly at work in my last week. There is so much to finish and I hand over all with my advice on how to execute with success. I know it will run as it always has before and after me. I miss those whom I consider dear old friends and I leave behind the stress. What a crazy life. Another chapter closing before my eyes and I know there is so much more in store.
Conor and I sneak a DQ cherry dipped cone after school. My mother used to take me a long long time before and it reminds me of the begging of who I am. I find it hard to set down my phone but force it to take in my son and his vibrant energy. I don't want to miss any of it. We weave through the rush hour traffic on the way to pick up brake pads at the outdoors store. I wore out a pair on the rear wheel after only 200 miles and it concerns me. Conor wants to ride the ferris wheel but my childhood memories of a terrible accident holds me back from finding any joy in that. We head home.
My wife and son Aaron are resting from their day. Aaron looks sleepy and I head into the garage to replace the brake pads on my bike. The wheel shimmies as it spins. I don't like the play in it... not one bit. Wrenching off the cassette I unscrew the hub and inspect the cones. I have seen this before. Torn mettle and worn cup. Ground bearings and my despair. Good by sweet hub. I really did like that one...
Dinner with the family at a burger joint. Yes, I am still a vegetarian. The cook says, "Mile high veggie burger!" I say yum. The family is happy and I am worried about the hub... I always spend more time with worry than I ever should. The mechanics at the outdoor store are great. They wait with me as I finally decide to purchase another wheel. Prebuilt is nice and after we get home I listen to down tempo electronic music while I put my bike back together. I will worry about parts for the old rim tomorrow... So much to do before we leave.
Journal Entries(Omaha to YorkTown)
posted May 15, 2016, 6:08 PM
Block of metal in the road. Locked trailer brakes. 1st scare of the trip. All good.
Car notification... Tire pressure system failed 1st car trouble.
Tired, pitch black, windy grades, an old church in the middle of nowhere, rough gravel road, just us... Hot, muggy, sweaty, camp all set up.
Nature, box turtles in the road, purple flowers, Daniel Boon Conservation.
No AC, part froze up... literally frozen solid. Melted and all cooled off!
Camper storage insecure. Door flapping in the wind. Bolt worked free. Tightened and made whole again. Long day of driving.
Daniel Boon National Forest. Beautiful lake at sunset. Steep windy roads. Turned off for boon docking but the way was blocked. back out and turn around. Found a wonderful spot with hookups, hot showers, and plenty of trees. Hot Skillet breakfast in the morning!
Tolls in West Virginia. Family reunion in Graham, NC! Love seeing family and they were most welcoming. Fresh hand picked strawberries and home cooked meals.... mmmmm
posted May 21, 2016, 4:39 AM
God smiles down upon our journey with morning light. A full brilliant rainbow the evening before. The kids run around shirtless and barefoot in the wet grass. Aaron playing in the grass in front of the camper. Conor requesting ghost story after ghost story and I am learning to tell them. Kindness from strangers. Home away from home or just home. The monument was a great place to start as it towered over like the journey ahead. A sushi restaurant on the beach and took a pic for Steve. Took a wrong turn and discovered a bamboo forest. I have never seen a bamboo forest. Another wrong turn and a red brick bridge. A dark tunnel so I went around and found myself in colonial Williamsburg. Peddled through old streets with horse drawn carriage. Ended up where I started facing the tunnel. Lights on and away I went into the dark. Lunch with the family at a park by a large river. I was ravenous. A trail replaced the highway for 34 miles. I was happy. The smell of pine and the wind in the trees. A small town post office to rest and off again. The ride was harder through the early afternoon as I began to double my usual miles and then the hills to the church. Willis church road repeated through the mind as I cranked out the final strokes of the day. Ahhhh family again. I am home.
posted May 21, 2016, 4:45 AM
The morning air was brisk and stung the skin. I could see my breath as I peddled through the dawn. An early start and no wind pushed me far with ease. Mile 17 a broken spoke. The old wheel needs rebuilding or this will be a daily chore until the new one is rebuilt a spoke at a time. I have become most proficient at changing them out though and this makes me happy. Morning rush hour is light out here and the road feels safe. Dunkin doughnuts for coffee and 1,000 glorious calories of raised dough topped with sugar. The map looks off and then I find I have ridden onto another l, a pleasant surprise. The halfway point is a park in Charles city and I ril in around 10am. My family is out getting supplies and I nap on a picnic table as the sun moves in and out of intensity behind the foliage of the trees. Lunch was grand! A coke, fritos, peanut butter with honey sandwiches, blueberries, pickles, and bananas. Aaron and Conor play on the playground while Brianne and I catch up. She has begun to settle in well to our new way of life and this makes me happy. I am off again ready to tackle the afternoon. I ride along train tracks and take many turns out of town. Then I am in the back roads and they are dotted with mean spirited hills. I find my easiest of gears bring me no comfort and this is a dark finding as the Appalachian mountains await me in a day or two. I am exhausted as I reach a giant and beautiful lake. My lungs complain with every breath and still I climb up and down these hills. I find an old park to sleep awhile and dream of the days when I first returned from the war. I was younger then and in better shape for such a hilly adventure. I grimace as I hip on the saddle and ride off into the late afternoon . my pace has slowed to 8 mph and I find there is not much left to give. At 80 miles I am ready to be done but still I ride on past abandoned homes and burning trash fires. My lungs scream at me as I climb the final evil sets of hills into mineral where my family has set up camp. Up the hill up the hill stomp stomp stomp. I cross a Mexican restaurant on the way to the park and smell tacos. Oh boy do I want a taco! I'll also have a pitcher of margarita... Lime please with salt all the salt ya got porfavor. My family is down by the main stage of the vacant bluegrass festival park as I limp in on the gravel. The camper invites me to sit awhile and I say yes. There is a half finished bottle of water inside and I am happy to report it is done and so was I. Hugs and kisses, sweet and sour stir fry, Turkish coffee, ghost stories, candy land, rest and relaxation. Amy, a woman we met at the starting point, rolls in after dinner and we all catch up. I can tell Brianne enjoys the other adult company and I am happy for her. We speak of the day to come and find it is another 70 plus mile day to stick with our schedule. We reschedule and now it is a 56 mile day. I sleep. We all sleep and Gabriel wakes me at 5am like clock work.
posted May 21, 2016, 4:55 AM
The morning started grey and wet with drizzling rain. The rush our cars and school buses past me by as I meandered through the increasing intensity of what would soon be a downpour. The road turned off into the backcountry and I was lost in time as the rain completely soaked me and the trees closed in. The smell of wet pine filled the air and I breathed it in deep. There were small cottages and homesteads along the path with smoke wisping from their chimneys I'll nto the deary cold and rainy day. Lunch was gas station nachos with a warm cup of Joe. It hit the spot and I was on the way to Charlottesville. The city reintroduced me to congested traffic and I soon took a wrong turn down a long hill... Perhaps it was meant to be though as I caught up with Michael, another rider from Washington that we had met on the evening of the first gday. He was in the middle of the street in front of a grand statue to something or other and we talked for about 15 minutes before moving on to a starbucks at the university. I ladled on the heavy cream and poured in ounce after ounce of sugar. We decided to move on to Afton, the cookie lady's house. It was to be a grouling up hill climb but hey what else is there to do. I met up with Brianne and the boys at a tractor supply operating outside of Charlottesville and received an 8mm Allen wrench to fix my wobbly left peddled. Bit had been causing me to stop every mile or so to kinda tighten it with a 6 Alan wrench. I ate peanut butter and honey and restocked on water. It was really good to see my family and then I was off again. It did not rain much in the evening but became colder and colder as I climbed. The hills became unkind and just as I completed what was to be the last of them for the night I took a left when I should have gone right. I rode down hill at 30 mph for 2 miles before I realized what I had done and slammed on the breaks. I just added another 30 minutes of climb to my day... It was divine to resubmit and limp into the cookie lady’s home. Brianne had made vegetable barley soup and it warmed my soul. I fell asleep holding Aaron and the light of morning awoke me for what will be a day of nothing but climb as I ascend the blue ridge mts.
posted May 21, 2016, 5:44 AM
We started the day with breakfast and hot showers. It had been a few days and I was happy to clean the boys and myself up. We all spent a long time getting clean and I notice that the trailer was dripping water upon our return. I thought it had rained until Brianne opened the door and we realized that it had flooded from Gabriel turning on the faucet and not being able to escape the chaos pooped all over the bed. Well we found out that all you need is a couple of towels and a jack to unlevel the trailer to clean up such a debacle. You would never be able to tell we had a flood as it was very simple to clean up. It was stressful though and added several hours onto my ur start for the day. The riding was much tougher asy legs were saturated full of lactic acid from the day before and I could not maintain any pedaling for the entire day. I really limped along and found something down deep inside to carry on. I really would rather not relive this day. It was hard, stressful, and demoralizing. I wanted to hang it all up a couple of times throughout the day and ended my riding 16 miles earlier than I had wanted to. It was really good to be back with my family and things gradually returned to better as we drove all around looking for a place to stay. We found a Walmart but did not feel the area was safe for the boys and pressed onto a different Walmart. It was high up on a hill and we parked the door of the RV to overlook the surrounding mountains. It was a quiet and beautiful place to spend the night. We had only the 10 volt and did not turn on the propane furnace as we covered up with blankets. The night was frigid and I felt like my skin was on fire as my spent body recovered as I slept in the cold. I have not felt so completely wiped out since Basic training back in my youth during the summer of 1999. It is part of the journey and I embrace it fully.
posted May 22, 2016, 9:01 AM
The morning was rushed as we awoke from the frigid night in the wall Mart parking lot. A heavy fog had settle over the rolling mountain side and Brianne made oats for breakfast. I made my coffee too strong and sipped the bitter concoction as I slowly came back to life. We finished up the dishes and packed up. We shopped at Walmart before we departed for my starting point at the budget in parking lot on the edge of Lexington. I made sure to pack my rain jacket in my paniers and that did a great job of warding off the rain through the day. My ride took my out of the blue ridge mountains and into the foothills which spilled out into a smallish valley full of warm sunshine, colts, and downhill runs. I had my legs back and it felt good to go fast again. Lunch with Brianne and the boys was very pleasant and then I was off to cruse 25 miles in no time. Then I began my ascent into christansburg which was steep, endless, and grouling. The city was most welcoming though and had even posted a sign with a number to call for cyclist services. It was another 14 miles to Radford and I had planned on going on the another town or two since my legs felt good but then I came across a brutal accident on a steep windy downhill. I braked as I rode through glass and debrie until I came across an SUV buried on a tree on the left side of the road and another car with its hazards on. I looked for the injured to see what I could do but found the SUV empty and the occupants of the car fine. They were two young men who had just witnessed the horrible accident. Another young man had been driving the SUV at a high rate of speed and rolled it before plowing into the tree. He had broken his arm at the forarm and the female occupent told the witnesses that they did not need help. A van drove up and picked them up leaving the caps behind. I was a bit taken aback as I could have been in their path had I been there just minutes earlier. I know that there is risk to this adventure and I am willing to take it but it is sad that some people do not consider their actions and what they might do to themselves or other around them. I called Brianne from an empty lot.in Radford and decides to call it a day at 56 miles. We met a nice couple who owned the lot as we were packing up the bike to head to the RV site. The told us the history of Rock Road that were on and the it had been used by Daniel Boone to explore and Lewis and Clark had an outpost out here. There was a farm that dated back to the 1700s that people going west would work at to afford a ticket on the ferry to cross the river. We had Madras lentals with peppers and rice for dinner. I then had a half of a box of pasta with taco seasoning. I am still hungry... There are hills in my future tomorrow and I am going to need my legs!
posted May 22, 2016, 9:05 AM
It was another day of climbing endless hills. We got off to a late start too. We packed up camp by the river at 10:10 and then drove to the spot where I stopped off the day before. I reassembled my bike, we partially take it apart in order to put it in the rv, and we said our goodbyes for the day. My ride went well at first as I traveled through Radford with ease. I was glad to feel strong in the legs again but it would not last as the hills got the better of me around 35 miles in. We met in Max meadows, atop of another big climb. I was so warn out I did not want to eat lunch but forced it down. Brianne had parked by the train tracks and the boys lit up as the crossing arms came down for the train to blow through town. After lunch I begrudgingly peddled on but it was hard going. I could not put anything into the climbs and had nothing in the tank to take advantage of the descents. The wind was steady in my face at 8mph and it just sucked the joy out of the day. Oh but it gets worse! It started to downpour as I left some town down the road which I don't care to remember as it was all hill. The rain was cold and I stopped to pit ony jacket and lights. It was getting darker out and the lights would be a must soon. The path turned onto highway 11 which was nice because it did not have such steep climbs like the back roads but it was heavily trafficked and that is no fun in the dim cold rain. I had to start walking up the big clbms and I had no idea how I was going to make it another 25 miles to suger Grove where we had planned on meeting up for the night. As luck would have it Brianne called me at about 50 miles in and told me it was too rainy for me to push onto suger Grove and we would call it a day in Rural retreat which put me at 55 miles for the day. I was more than happy to agree. Unfortunately, in-between were I was and where inmet my family some good old boys in a beat up old SUV thought it would be fun to try and whip me with some type of rubber hose. Luckey for me I always hug the white line to the side of the road as I hear a vehicle approaching from the rear and I did so this time causing them to miss me. I was pretty lit up after that and found the hills and rest of the 5 miles in the cold rain not such a bother as I wanted to be rid of this place for the day. I was happy to meet up, in one piece ,with my family and I told Brianne about my run in with evil back up the road. We decided we would take a pass on this 18 mile stretch of America and drove on the Troutdale were we are staying at a church hostel. You can call me a cheater for skipping 18 miles but I would rather ride another 18 on the end of the trip than back through that place. Hope my legs work better tomorrow ad the morning is full of you guessed it... Hills.
posted May 22, 2016, 4:51 PM
The morning was filled with hot grits, coffee, pancakes, and family. I took Aaron up the hill to the bathrooms and we met up with some Appalachian trail hikers. Aaron was delighted to meet new people and we walked down the hill, Aaron on my shoulders. I said my goodbyes and started out for the day about an hour earlier than the last couple of mornings. I was greeted on the first turn by an very large and muddy dog who chased me for half a mile threatening to knock me off my bike if I made a move towards his property. I soon found myself in Jefferson natio AL forest and it was a tranquil work of beauty. The ride was uphill but you didn't even notice becuase it was along a creek and wound through a little piece of heaven. The air was forest fresh and there were smoldering campfires where horseman sipped their coffee before heading out on their rides. I really needed this start to my day after yesterday and the day stayed just as nice until I arrived at Hayters gap. I ran across another cyclist coming the other way. Steve and two other guys were riding across the coutry to lay a wreath at the grave of a fallen comrad in Arlington national cemetary. We spoke of Iraq and exchanged some tips about the trail behind us. It was good to run into another vet on the trail. A bit later down the road I skipped the famous Virginia Creeper Trail as I was heading downhill to Damascus. I had heard it was beautiful and shaved a mile off of the day but the sweet banked downhill turns of the highway begged me to speed on by. I am so glad I did becuas that extra mile was at 40mph. There was no need to break at every turn becuase this road was made for cars to fly down at 55mph. I arrived in Damascus 25 miles from the start of the day in no time flat. It was 10 miles of up through the national forest and 15 miles straight down. I hit the ice cream and fudge shop as I came I to town and had French fries, grilled cheese, and coffee. What no ice cream or fudge? Not sure what went wrong there but I was happy. The town was packed with Appalachian trail hikers and it was my kind of place. No need to worry about rubber hoses in this part of the country! I was only a little sad that I had shaved my winter beard because I was the only guy there without a full one. I spent some time there and hit the road again. I passed a sign the said route 76, the TransAm route, left to YorkTown and right to Astoria. I missed a cool coffee shop some how that Brianne told me she thought she would find my at when they went through. I really loved Damascus. I was on my way to Meadowview where we were to meet for lunch. Yes, I can put away two lunches without even feeling full these days. Brianne and the boys spent some time in Damascus hiking on the Creeper Trail and they caught up with me at a construction site in Meadowview. Lunch was great and I pit away half a bag of salt and vinegar chips.... Mmmmmm. Conor had to use the restroom so we half opened the camper and set up the porta potty for him. He was so concerned that some one would see him it took some time. Aaron had no problem with the local. After lunch I had about 18 miles left and thought what the heck I could go another 30 for sure! Then came Hayters gap. Now, I have climbers the blueridge mountains so what could one 3 mile mountain be to me... This was the most switched back nasty climb I have ever made in my entire life. The false summits never ended and I was lost in a purgatory of never ending climb. Time stopped and the pedaling went on for eternity. At one point I was completely drenched in salty sweat and the sun made the skin on my back crawl. After forever came the dark storm clouds and then the rain. I summited at 3,000 feet above sea level after coming from 1,692 feet below. The clibm, I think, was over 3 miles and I wish I could tell you how long it took me but my mind is a bit foggy on the one. I dawned my jacket and zipped it up tight to prepare for the cold rainy descent. This was not like the descent of the morning as it was switchbacks and wet pavement. I hit the breaks on the straights and hugged close on the turns. I made sure not to lean to far in as the tires might come out from under me on the wet road and that would not make for a good.end to the day! My right rear break was pressing in further to the handlebar ad I burned through the rubber. The front break began to screech a little as it heated up. I was cold and wet! The hills of the other end of the mountain opened up and it was Green, rocky, and full of steers. I came across some cowboys wrestling there cattle into pens... Hheya hooo hot hot.hya! One cowboy watched on at the fence in jeans with cowboy hat. It was cool to see and I was close to the church were Brianne and the boys were waiting for me. 57 miles into the day I pulled up the the church and was greeted by Conor running up to hug me. The kids had been playing on a cool playground full of toys but for the imagination. Brianne put dinner on and here I sit now in the camper with the family as another storm rahes on outside. So glad I made it here when I did and not an hour later during the worst of today's weather.
posted May 26, 2016, 6:51 AM
Sweet! We have arrived in Kentucky! I was under impressed with the sign that announced the change but overly impressed with making it here. I hurt my left knee today on one of the many climbs. I think I have been overusing them in these mountains. Brianne saved me 15 miles from our stopping point for the day and that was truly a blessing as I was walking up the steep inclines now, unable to put to much torque on my knee. It had been aching before it sharply hurt. I am resting and have sucked down 3 advil with a coke in order to ward off swelling. I hope it allows me to ride tomorrow as we have to be in Mammoth Cave by next Saturday. The day was full of beautiful mountains and ended with the breaks which was a canyon dug out of the mountains complete with roaring water and deep treed awe. It was great to see. We had lunch earlier at Haysi in front of the library. The shade was nice and I put down pickle spears and salt & vinegar chips. Brianne and the boys had made use of the library playing with the toys and updating the website. It was such a nice library. I have learned that these places are little havens from the sun and bordom. I will try and make better use of our library when we get home. The rest of the day was a bit of a drag with the knee injury though and I did not know what to think of the Eastern edge of Kentucky because it was riddled with trash along the roadsides. It felt like stepping into another world. The people have been very nice though and the homes are all dotted along beautiful moutown streams that seem to run endlessly in and out over and under the homes, roads, and rocks. Another thing I need to say about these people is that they know how to garden. I have learned so much from them just by passing through and I am excited to use their techniques when we are home and the growing season is upon us once more. The night came quickly deep in the draw of the mountain in lookout Kentucky. We slept well.
posted May 26, 2016, 7:06 AM
We met Alice at the Baptist Church community center when we woke up. She let us into the center and we got to talk with everyone there. They run a clothing and food donation center for familys in the area. I was so impressed by ith their generosity. They had me sign the cyclist ledger and I saw that Micheal had been there two nights ago. I don't think we will cross paths again but I glad we got the chance to meet. I can remember when he showed up at the door the the church we were staying at the first night. He was interested in our family and Conor got along great with him after digging into Michaels chips. We ran I to each other again in Charlottesville and had coffee at the Starbucks at the university. I hope his journey is Swift with the wind at his back as he wanted to be done in 71 days. I am starting to think my 90 day estimate was crazy. I am starting day 11 tomorrow right on schedule but I have developed a left knee pain that is not readily going away. Brianne iced it tonight when I got into Dwarf Kentucky after a 67.8 mile day. It felt good to rest it. I am hoping it does not prematurely end my ride or cause me to have to take a few days off. I will do what I can and leave it all on the road either way. The mountains are beginning to get a little nicer as we are getting closer to the end of their range. I was under the incorrect impression that I had concured them after the Blueridge but boy was I very wrong. They have been something out of this world for me and I am not to proud to say I have walked up a couple now that my knee hurts. The day started nice and we deployed the pepper spray to the load after the church goers warned us of the dogs on the other side of the mountain. I picked up on one of the ladies recollection of another man who had come from the other way and stayed the night there. He had used a alpha voice with them and told them how good they were as if he were their owner. I have to tell you that he was right on the money. I was attacked by six sets, yes sets, of dogs today and it worked on every last one of them. No bites for me and I still have a full can of pepper spray! Well the day had two good sized mountains but was mostly a gradual up and down. I was baked under the harsh sun on a mountain top and got to experience the cool of the evening as I pushed in further than I thought I would be able to with my knee pain. At one point I sat under the shade of a post office watching the sun begin to set over the ridge line of trees. I like Kentucky so far. It is not as clean as Virginia but it feels less worried about the little things. We had Mac and cheese for dinner accompanied by olives and a coke! I am tired and ready to sack out. I am going to dream about mountains.
posted May 26, 2016, 7:09 AM
The morning started off a bit earlier than the last few days. I wanted to get a move on the day to beat the heat. I packed up the RV and helped Brianne get things ready to go for the day. The first part if the morning was a steep climb but it went well in the cool of the morning. I found a McDonalds 6 miles in and stopped for some coffee and an egg with cheese biscuit. The news was on and they were talking about the Democratic party's primary. I am glad to be out of the political news cycle for a change. I rolled out of there and turned off down the next county road. It went instantly up, they all seem to, and I was attacked by several dogs. I used my technique from the day before and it works on every aggressive dog exept for one. I know this was the dog Steve had warned me about because he was especially vicious. I saw one large dog along the path on an uphill climb and girded myself for his attack but he cowerd off down the mountain side. I thought that was strange and then this middle sized dog came barrelling out of the forest and made a vline for me. He was trying to bitey legs and I was saved by my rear panniers. He sunk his teeth I to them and tore holes in each ad he tried to rip and gnash at my legs. I out peddled him after a quarter mile but man he was aggressive. I have been attacked by 9 groups of dogs now and Brianne reports 6 have gone after her while she has driven by too. Kentucky let's their dogs roam and there are a lot of dogs here. I soon got into the heat of the day and began to run out of water. The steep climbs caused me to walk many miles today in the still dry sun. I ran out of water twice today in-between refills and I am going to bring another 32 ounces with me starting tomorrow. I am also going to get up at 5:30am and make sure I am on the road well before the heat can turn me into the burnt out mess of anperson I was today. By the time I had made it into the last town, Boonville, I was patched and stopped into a local grocery store. The lady behind the counter treated me like a homeless wanderer. I always offended at first but then found the humbling experience that was offered to me. I will make sure to be kind to those who look as worn out as I did today. Brianne had found a local church that we could stay at and they had a shower! It was super cold but we are all clean now. Brianne is also going to do our laundry at the local laundry mat. While she was cooking super a man was dropped off at the church too. I went out to strike up a conversation with him and found out he was from Scotland here for a year to wander the US. He told me about the places he had been and that he could stare at the Rocky Mountains for days on end they were so beautiful. That he really like the people who lived in Montana the most and that their motels were the most reasonably priced. He also suggested I make my way up to the Dakotas as they were flatter and would make for easier pedalling. I did not ask his name and he did not offer but I wish him well on his travels.
posted May 26, 2016, 6:42 PM
The morning started early as Aaron was raren to go around 5:30am. I was glad to get a move on though to skip the heat of the day unlike yesterday. Well. Boy was supprised when it starting downpouring 15 minutes in and has been raining since. I am at a gas station sipping coffee about 21 miles into the day and have 11 more to go before I reach our lunch meet up. Brianne and the boys are at the laundry mat in Boonville and I imagine it will take them some time to catch up with me. Finally a day were I am waiting on them! I saved a baby turtle in the road today and missed the opportunity to save a grown one. There is less trash on the side of the road in this part of Kentucky and I was only chased by two dogs so far today. I ended up being lated for lunch again by about 20 minutes as the laundry mat Brianne waited at never opend and I dallied at the gas station for a good hour. I got the opportunity to speak to the previous owner who stopped in for coffee and he told me cyclists like myself had been stopping there ever since he was young. I spoke with another gentleman about his travels across the us on his motorcycle and we related our experiences. He does not have the same trouble with the dogs around here like I do though. Speaking of the dogs I was chased down by some more putting the total around 11 now. One pair was so fast that I could not outrun them at 22 mph! One got out in front of me while the other chased from behind. I will be happy to be rid of the unleashed free range dogs as I leave the state in a week or so. I met up with Brianne and the boys and we headed of to Berea to do laundry, get the oil changed, have a pizza dinner at a place called Married, and get set up at an RV site. It certainly is a treat to have full hookups and a little patch to call home for an evening. The water tank is full now and I spent a couple of hours building the new wheel to replace the other rear wheel when I run out of spokes for it. I have it all lased up but have not tightened and tried it yet. I am off to sleep now as the next couple of days promise to.be wet and then hot and muggy.... good news though! I am on map 10 now and the elevation bars are measured by the 200 foot instead of 1,000 as they were on map 11. There are more hills to come of course but they are not like the never ending ones in the Appalachian Mountains.
posted May 28, 2016, 6:01 AM
Met a nice rancher who built a shelter for cyclists bon his farm before Harrisburg. Bad accident between a garbage truck and an SUV. I walked through the scene and out the other side. A guy called out from his truck in the long line of vehicles to tell me I was the lucky one. I thought to myself that he was the lucky one sitting in the air conditioning. It is hot and sunny out with a small breeze that seems to be in my face on the uphills! It has pushed me up a few big ones today to though so I should not be too harsh with it. I am currently under a shade tree in Birgin. It is only 4 more miles to meet up with Brianne and the boys but I am hot and need the rest at a subway on highway 27. Met a guy there who puts cyclists up at his farm house. There are so many cool people around here doing that. The day was way too hot for me. I had to throw in the towel around rose hill about 58 miles in. We drove to the home of president Abraham Lincoln's parents and spent the night in the parking lot by the pavilion. They put up cyclists there too and had bathrooms and a place to charge our phones. The night was hot and the kids and I passed out from the heat around 10pm. When it got really dark the fire flies came out in number. They lit up the night like I remember summer evenings as a child. There was a storm off into the distance that tried to compete with them bit they surly out performed the storm.
posted May 30, 2016, 10:44 AM
I rode off at 7:00am this morning an hour behind when I really had wanted to leave. The state of Kentucky had put down a different route on their 76 signs than my map which put me off course for about 20 minutes as I tried to figure out my bearings. A gentleman at the golf course nearby told me that it was a new route to take cyclists to makers mark distillery. He helped me on my way and I started churning out the miles. The sun stayed hidden and I made it a good 22 miles before I stopped at a gas station for a packaged cheese Danish and a cup of coffee. People still steer clear of me as I look a bit like a we wanderer now. I have chosen to grow out my beard as it is easier to maintain on the road and I like my beard oil ;) I have been. Getting to know the people who know what I am up to though. They seem to seek me out. At the end of my ride a motorcycle passed me while rested under the arch entry of the first Catholic Church I have seen since I started me travels. He flew by and about 1 minute later came back and parked behind my bicycle. He had the look of a traveler too. He walked up the steps to me and introduced himself, you will have to forgive me throughout my recounting of people meet along the trail because I am a fave person and seldom remember a name. We spoke of the trail and he let me know he has been putting people up for years in his home down the way. The last guy was from China and he exclaimed that it was the first Communist that had ever stayed in his home. He was a cool guy and you could tell he like talking to people about where they have been and where they were headed. The gentleman from China was passing through west to East in December and it was getting cold out at night. I can't imagine the weather gotuch friendlier as he got to the Appalachian mountains of eastern Kentucky... the man stayed 4 days and they got up to talking about all sorts of things like how they don't like Trump much in China and you could tell they had both gained something from their talks. Brianne picked me up and I was glad for it as the sun had come out and that was my witching time! 48 miles down. Many many many more to go. I am getting closer to 1,000 though! We will celebrate with some sparkling grape juice we have brought from home. The boys can join in with that. I also have some 18 year old Glenn Levet scotch too :) we drove down the Mammoth Cave loop and met up with some of the families who had come for our Ohtahara Meetup. They were staying at an rv park with a playground and all sorts of fun stuff for the kids to get up to. We enjoyed some frosty brews and good company. From there we headed to the Hampton Inn to meet up with another family and enjoyed stuffed crust pizza and more good company. The boys and I went for a swim and the hot tub eased away the pain in my overworked muscles. The night concluded with me doing some minor wood repair work to the RV in the truck stop across from the hotel. We boondocks there and might have overstayed our welcome by an hour as we noticed the other RVs were out by 7:00am and we were getting out around 8:00 when a sheriff drove up and parked next to us. Either he was there for something else or he saw we were almost all set to take off because he did not get it out to speak with us. I am going to make it a point to.be out by 7:00am next time though as that seems to be the right time and was the time the last Walmart we stayed at gave us.
posted May 30, 2016, 10:47 AM
Mammoth cave day! I only biked a mole today and with no panniers. I will never forget the difference between my bike loaded with gear and empty. It really glides when I am the only weight on it. My morning rides back in Omaha are going to be fast as lighting when I return! We got some fuel and coffee at the truckstop on the way to the cave. The cave was not far away and the day was a rest day which I was in in sore need of. The coffee was good, I got a medium size instead of the small I usually have to get to keep on schedule. We arrived at the park entrance and all took our picture outside of rhe sign. We then moved onto the park and there was tons of parking. We spent the next hour trying to get the keys to our shelter and find everything. After we backed out RV I to a great spot outside our shelter the parking lot filled in to capacity right before our eyes. We found out later that over 40,000 people had been there that day! People from all over the world were there and we knew why once we were in the cave. This cave system lives up to its mammoth name. They head of the park and the Public relations manager took us on the first ride of their new elevator. Thus made the cave accessible for the children with us who were I n wheelchairs. The ride was 270 feet down and it was cold and dark down there! We walked through cave looking at the crystalline ceiling that only forms in dry cave systems. There were names written in black soot from the 1800s everywhere in one of the caverns. At another point they shut off the lights and you experienced total darkness. I carried Aaron on my shoulders and held Conor's hand. The rangers showed us a point in the cave were certain octaves of humming caused a vibration in the cave walls and your humming washed back over you and around you for some time after you stopped. It was really cool and to got to offer the bass. Aaron leaned into my cheek from above and delighted in the sound. He hummed along a little with me too! On the way out of the cave we encountered some cave crickets! These things looked a bit like spiders. I was glad to be on the surface after the long ride up the elevator. It was hot out but wide open sky. What a great day. It was fun to spend time with everyone and to see people we have not seen in years. The boys had a great day and we drove through the forest to our camp site in Nolin state park. Full hookups tonight!
posted Jun 2, 2016, 7:37 PM
The day started off early in the Fordsville park. Brianne, the boys, and I had power and water hookups in what used to be a stadium long ago. It had been converted into a campground and hiking trail. There was one full time resident who showed us the bathrooms and hot showers! We met 3 other riders there too. Katie who was riding with Amy before she had taken a few days off to be with her family. Brianna and Noah who were riding to Colorado springs to see family. It was fun to meet other cyclists. We all ended the day at the first Baptist Church in Sebrea too. The day went fast as it started out with a few climbs but melted into flat wide open road. I put 25 miles away before stopping to refill my water and then 46 before stopping again. I poppedy eighth spoke just as I was headed into town.Brianne flagged Mr down at the house across from. The church were she was having Tea with Violet who was the retired pastor's wife. She gave me a towel to dry off the rain and a warm cup of coffee. The boys were at play with her grqndchildren's toys. She opened up the church to us and we had hot showers, laundry, a kitchen, games, and internet. It has been one of the best overnights yet. We all had dinner with her and her husband in the evening and it was awesome. After dinner there was homemade lemon pie and ice cream. Violet showed us her scrapbook of all of the riders who had been through there and corresponded over the last 30 years. Bob prayed for our safe journey and we were off the bed to dream sweet dreams.
posted Jun 4, 2016, 11:42 AM
I headed out early again today and the morning was filled with wide open flat farmland. I killed 21 miles and stopped for coffee and my new favorite breakfast, egg and cheese biscuit. the coffee was surprisingly great at Jeri's in clay Kentucky. I rode another 30 and met Brianne and the boys in Marion. From there we headed into Amish country and stopped at a general store. I love those stores because they are chalk full of good things to eat! The ferry across the Ohio River was down the road and I was really excited to put another state under my tires. I met an Adventure Cycling tour guide in the ferry line behind Brianne and the boys. we had a great conversation about epic touring and how I might crack into the guided touring industry. they had had several run ins with cars in Kentucky and one dog bite. I knew those dogs were after more than my panniers!!! Once across the river I sought out the welcome to Illinois sign and it did not disappoint. I missed a short cut though as I followed the route and all of the other cyclists went left. Brianne said they spilled out in Elizabethtown about 30 minutes before me. I also had to stop and change my 9th spoke of the tour but hey I ordered 50 more to pick up in Colorado and I finally rebuilt my other wheel if I need it before then. It was fun trying to true a hand built wheel with my break pads but it worked after several hours.
posted Jun 5, 2016, 8:37 AM
The day started off with a light mist and 3 miles of the route in Rosiclair. We were off of the Ohio River and the barges crept by silently as we slept all night. The day started off with my cycling computer not registering my miles, all of the rain has corroded the contacts on it. Then came 20 miles of hills. I was worn out by the time I reached the gas station in Eddyville. The clerk asked me what I was looking for while I was wondering around the store in search of a cheese Danish. She said we ain't got much. I did find a cherry cheese bear claw and a cup of coffee. I sipped the coffee and enjoyed the pastry outside as I was soaking wet. Katie arrived and we sat outside the gas station for a bit to recover. I was not thinking too highly of the rest of the day since my strength was sapped so early on. I added a coke and some salt and vinegar chips to my meal and finally set off again. Another adventure cycling tour guide caught up to me and we chatted for about 20 minutes and then he peddled ahead to chat with Katie. I caught up to them on some down hills and we had a group ride for another 20 minutes before my spoke popped and I landed in someone's driveway to repair it for awhile. I am down to ten reserve spokes for that wheel until I reach Frisco Colorado where 50 more await me. I am getting really quick at replacing them and trueing the wheel now. I like it better when they break on the hub side as it does not require removing the tire. I got back on the road and found many more hills. I was thoroughly burnt out and out of water by the time I reached the point where there was to be a gas station a few miles short of Horrible, our lunch stop. Well, it was closed and boarded up... the next 3 miles were rough and I called Brianne when I finally got into town. She was fifteen minutes out and I rested on the curb of subway. The driveway into the restaurant was not good for campers so I headed across the street to where Katie ended up at the Family dollar. Brianne pulled in and we all headed over to subway. I got a huge veggie delight sub with every veggie they had! It was awesome and I was renewed. We headed back to the SUV just as it started to downpour. We sat in the SUV and rested for an hour as the storm passed. Then it was off to hit some rolling hills which I have become good at. After a long run of those I entered Crabtree National Wildlife Refuge. The ride through there was heavily shaded by trees and it was mostly flat. It opened up to a large lake called Devil's Kitchen and I went airborne over a huge bump in the road on a downhill! I enjoyed it but I imagine some spokes said a little prayer as I hit the pavement with my tires. I hit rock bottom on my energy once more and was ecstatic to see the turnoff to the campground Brianne had secured. Katie is staying next to the camper under some trees tonight and will part ways with us for the last time as she heads up the Lewis and Clark trail through Omaha and over to the same ending point in Astoria. I wonder if I wouldn't lingure too long in Omaha had I picked that route. We rested out of the rain in the camper tonight and Brianneade Shepard's pie for dinner. It was the vegetarian version without an oven and it was just what my body needed. Warm nourishment and rest. Tomorrow we reach the border of Illinois and Missouri.
posted Jun 6, 2016, 8:31 AM
I awoke around 6:00am after sleeping in an hour later than normal. It felt good to just sleep. Aaron was cuddled up to me and I snuggled him. The light began to slowly pour in through the sunroof over the bed and I felt happy. Brianne began to stir and we all started to get out of bed. I went with Conor to the restroom to brush teeth and get ready for the day. Brianne cooked farm fresh eggs for us on tortillas with cheese and salsa. Katie had breakfast with us and we wished her well on her journey. She was heading North through Omaha and we were heading west to the Ozarks. The morning ride was dry, a first in a while, and cool. I loved it for about 2 miles and then I was on the side of the road replacing yet another spoke... getting low on this wheel. I took a wrong turn on the way into Carbondale but Google maps set me down the right path again. I skipped the McDonalds in Carbondale thinking their would be a Starbucks in Murphysburrow but that was as a mistake... the Starbucks was in Carbondale. Oh well... I pushed on 32 miles to Gorham and waited in the shade of the post office. I have found the small town post offices to be refuges from the sun. There was a soda machine nearby and I sipped on a mountain dew. I had data coverage f or my cell phone here in the middle of nowhere but failed to find it in the evening when we arrived in Chester. There were no services for about 25 miles so Brianne and I met up there in front of the post office to eat lunch. She had plussed up our supplies at Walmart in Carbondale and there were fresh chips! Salt and carbs, mmmmmm. After lunch I filled up 3 32 ounce bottles and headed out into the sun. The afternoon was flat but the wind was in my face or flanking my from the front. I met a Eastbound cyclist on the route, Dante who had started in California. He was almost done with his journey. I let him know about Bob and Violet in Seabre and what great hosts they were. He said he had heard stories of how great they were from other Westbound cyclists. I warned him of the dogs past Berea and we went on our ways. The route I picked for the afternoon was an alternative route through the Mississippi River levee. It was very flat. Has the wind been at my back I would have soared through the afternoon. Alas, it was not and it was a chore to peddled into the wind for several hours. At the end of the levee there were a few mean hills into Chester. I was thoroughly worn out by the time I topped them and I rested in someone's front yard under a shade tree. But it was another mile and a half from there to the Eagles lodge where Brianne and the boys were waiting in the cool Air-conditioned camper! The Eagles lodge had built a tiny shed house with bunks and Air-conditioning. There were electric hookups for us and Noaha and Brianna came into town behind me to use the bunk house. I had a pitcher of Summer Shandy at the lodge and it really hit the spot. We unhooked and drove to Dominoes for some cheese pizza and then hit the laundry mat. The laundry mat was hot and humid. I felt like I was going to pass out chasing Aaron around I. The heat. He took me outside and across the street to the little memorial park in honor of Popeye the sailer. I did not know this until today but Chester Illinois was the birthplace if the creator of the popular TV show. We are back at the camper now and I am beat. I am not looking forward to the Ozark mountain range tomorrow. It will be 4 days of epic hills. I will enjoy the scenery and try and remember that what goes up must come back down.
posted Jun 9, 2016, 6:37 AM
Today was a late start as I slept in an extra hour. I heard Brianna and Noaha leaving and thought I should probably do the same as it was the first day of the Ozark mountain range. I got everything packed up and headed out to find the route from our overnight spot at the Eagles lodge. The streets of Chester are hilly and I had some climbs to get onto the main street. I found a Hardy's and decided it was time to try their egg and cheese biscuit. I was not disappointed. The coffee was a bit off but hey the food was good. I google mapped the directions to the bridge over the Mississippi and quickly learned the error of my ways on that idea as I ended up under the bridge with a climb to the top of it. Popeye was waiting at the top though and with a tummy full of biscuit and a send off from Popeye I was over the river and into Missouri! I was into the wind on a flat for a good hour. It was slow going and I could see the foothills of the Ozarks ahead. I knew there would be less wind under their cover but the climbing would begin. Well the first hill was steep and long. I kept thinking that I had to pay my dues in elevation to get into the mountain range. The hills became more rolling after that and a was excited to find a gas station where my maps had said there was none. I sat there for an hour enjoying Gatorade, mountain dew, and the good company of the owner along with a clerk. I found that Micheal had been there in the 1st to rest as I was. Steve and his group had been through and Brianna and Noaha were an hour ahead of me. I met a couple heading Eastbound while I rested. Mark and Sue were on their way to YorkTown from California and had followed route 66 for a good chunk of their journey. I warned them about the dogs in the Appalachians but they had a wrap around their tandem recumbent bike with a windshield in the front that looked dog proof if you did not get caught on a steep uphill. The day got hot from there on out and I climbed steep grade after steep grade. The SPF50 sunblock stopped protecting me from the sun at some point and my arms burned. I caked it on white but it was no use. I met up with Brianne and the boys at a distillery at Crown valley and I wanted her to spirit me into town the rest of the last 13 miles but I filled upy water bottles and gulped down some pickles along with their brine to keep the water in. I peddled in the heat and popped a spoke 2 miles before Farmington. I was too hot and burnt to fix it. I just moved on with untrue wheel. I finally came across Brianne and the boys at a park and pulles in exhausted. It was great to pack up the bike and ride on to the St Joe State Park. This was the best RV site we have stayed at by far on this trip. I we as thrilled with everything about this place from the personal greeting by the camp host to the low cost laundry. I wanted to stay here a couple of days! There was even two sand beaches and lakes to explore. The best park was we dropped trailer and went into Farmington for Pizza and what ever else we needed. But unfortunately, Conor got sick though.and we called it a night early.
posted Jun 9, 2016, 6:42 AM
It was a lazy morning. Conor fell asleep early last night after getting sick. We gave him Tylenol to break his fever and I cuddled him all night. The alarm woke me at 5 and I let Gabriel out but I got right back into bed. Brianne awoke about an hour later and wanted to know why I was not up and at em. I told her I wanted to rest and we looked at the maps and discussed what it would do to the schedule. We settled on a really late start and I went back to sleep. It was great to get up around 7 and be with my family for most of the day for a change. We went into Farmington for some spokes at the TransAm cycle shop and stopped at Walmart to buy some athletic calf high socks to cut into sun sleeves for my sunburnt arms. They worked pretty well today. At 3:00pm Brianne kicked me out on the route and an began to peddle my way onto Centerville. The ride started at a slight uphill into the wind. I was sad to have to go 46 miles so late into the day but after an hour in I was in my groove. I found Brianne and the boys playing in.a park by an old battlefield at Pilot knob. I said hi and hit the rode again passing by a cafe that I would have stopped in had it been earlier in the day. I turned off down road into a good headwind and the pedaling became slow. There was a McDonalds up in the distance and I promise myself an egg and cheese biscuit. Well apparently they don't serve said breakfast so late in the day. I passed on dinner and made my way to the next turn out of the headwind. The road began to go up and down now and I got back into mountain climbing. There were some great downhills and I even got into a self propelled roller coaster for a decent stretch as i peddled hard down hill and coasted up tbe next. There were some bad ones that felt like walls as I approached and leaned back. I can see the tops of them though unlike the Appalachian mountains which switchback endlessly over miles. The day ended well as I pulled into Centerville faster than I expected around 7:00. We are boondoccked in front of the courthouse and pasta was on the menu tonight! Tomorrow is the worst of the climbs ending with a town around the highest elevation. From there on it is just the upper gaps and then the sweet descent into Kansas.
posted Jun 10, 2016, 6:36 AM
I skipped breakfast today to get on the move. The forecast called for heat, open sky, and wind in the afternoon. Brianne called out to me for the car keys as I started to ride off. I am glad she caught me because it would have been a long day riding back and forth. The morning was cool and the hills were mere shadows of the mountains I had climbed through yesterday. I put 26 miles behind me by 9 and the only downer was a motorist yelling at me to get out of the rode from their window as they zoomed by me at 60 mph. I found it amusing that my presence bothered them so much as it did not impede their driving. I popped a spoke as a heavy gravel truck passed me. They shake the ground and the up and down motion causes my spoke issues. I have found that this and poor road surfaces kill the majority ofy spokes. I waited the last 6 miles of the ride into Houston before I fixed it. There was a McDonalds a little of route and it was egg and cheese biscuit time! I enjoyed the hot coffee and the wifi too before I sat outside and fixed the spoke. I trued the wheel up and saw Noaha and Brianne go into the Walmart across the street. I headed out down the road again and saw a sign that read 32 miles to fort Leonard wood. This is were I was sent for basic training in 1999 when I enlisted into the Army. I passed underneath the base today an might have stopped in if it had not been a days ride of route back and forth. The afternoon was hotter but I was riding fast and the wind was mostly blocked by shade trees grown along the road. I pulled into BenDavis and stopped at the store on the side of the road. A young man opened the door for me and handed me a cyclist journal. I looked for familiar names but found none. I signed and went to the restroom to wash my hands and face. There were all sorts of sodas, teas, and good things to pick for lunch. I sat down at the table near the windows and people started to come in filling the store. I picked a great time to stop in as a group of neighbors from around the area were gathering to have lunch and talk. I really enjoyed the conversations and was offered hot homemade scones and stories about the area. Brianna and Noaha stopped in and Noaha took my picture with everyone. I rode out with a full tummy and high spirits. Brianne and the boys were waiting for me a mile down the rode at a church and I stopped in for hugs, kisses, and second lunch! I took off for the last 26 miles into Hartsville. There were more aggressive hills but not too bad. I caught back up with Brianna and Noaha and we formed a pack as we did yesterday for the next last part of the day. Hartsville has a beautiful city park on a lake with RV hookups for $10 per night. AC and a nice view goes a long ways. I washed my Jersey and pants and then took Brianne to the library to update the website. The boys and I had ice cream and talked with Grandma and Grandpa before we picked up Brianne and headed to the next town over to have dinner with friends we have spoken to but never met. They were very kind and bought us dinner at a Mexican restaurant. We love Mexican food and the night was very fun and relaxing. I also scoped out where my next egg and cheese biscuit was going to come from tomorrow! There is also a doughnut shop which I will not neglect. Tomorrow we head to AshGrove where the kind woman at city hall has promised a place to stay and a pool!!
posted Jun 11, 2016, 11:47 AM
Today I really got off to an early start. Their was a fog in The Ozarks and it was a beautiful morning. There was a climb out of hartvile and a dead fox in the road at the top it was sad and beautiful curled up on the road where it had been hit by a car. There were a lot of fast moving cars on the way to Marshfield. I ended up in the morning rush our but made it through safe and in good time. I had my egg and cheese biscuit but was too full for the doughnuts. I topped my water bottles of with ice water and hit the road on the way to Fair Grove. The day started to get hot fast and I cooled off with a icee. I met a retired sheriff who's son had riden across the US and he told me that he was working for a program in Philadelphia that puts together tours which work on habitat for humanity builds along then route. Brianne and the boy met me for lunch and we had egg salad sandwiches. I am getting tons of protein today! Then it was off to conquer the remaining hills and heat of the day. The hills proved to be formidable and they kept coming the rest of the afternoon. I was very happy to pull into Ash Grove where there was a pool waiting for us! They also have a home for cyclists and we made full use of the showers and kitchen. We are hooked up to the 20amp at the light post outside of the parking lot of the pool tonight. I met some more cyclists at
The house too. A young woman from Israel had started on the 9th of May and had taken some rest days for knee trouble. I can relate to that. We are on the way to Pittsburgh Kansas tomorrow where a friend from my old job is arranging for us to park. Brianna and Noah will head there too and I am taking my family to Napoli's! The restaurant where my dream of this trip was sparked. I am stoked!
posted Jun 11, 2016, 7:47 PM
I kicked off the day right as the sun was coming up and I am glad I did. It has been getting warmer out sooner as of late. The morning had the last dieing gasps of the Ozarks and they faded into the dust behind my tires as I spilled out into the plains. The flat open roads gave me a crusing speed of 20mph with a slight breeze at my back. I zoomed into a golden city on empty water bottles and searched out a nice place to refill. I was pleasantly supprised to find a cafe with an awesome breakfast! I ate until I was satiated. My only regret is that I did not save room for pie which apparently this place is famous for on the route. Well the rest of the food is top notch as well I am happy to report. The rest of the 33.5 miles was tough. I had just enough water to make it to Pittsburgh Kansas but the cross and head winds slowed me down considerably. I still averaged 14 mph but it took its toll ony body in the heat and I ended up falling asleep behind a farmer's shed. After a it 40 minutes I awoke and willed myself back out into the sun to finish the last 14 miles. I caught a second wind as I came across the Kansas but order which was good because I had several more miles to bike inside of the city before I came across an awesome coffee shop. I stopped in and ordered a large chocolate shake and a double espresso. It was a real treat. I sat outside in the shade and uploaded some pictures to the site and waited there for an hour. Brianna and Noaha arrived and told me Noaha had broken another spoke. I can relate to that issue. They headed off to the bike shop and I went to Walmart to meet up with our friends Venessa and Isaac. We talked in the shade at the back of the Walmart while we waited for Brianne to get there from see I ng relatives in Joplin. While we talked a gentleman by the name of Ernest walked over and we found out he had a passion for cycling as well. He likes hybrid bikes like mine for their comfort and I have to agree that it does have that advantage. He had been on many long rides and we spoke of the dangers of the heat and dehydration. I really enjoyed meeting him and was very thankful for the money he gave us to stay at an RV park in town. The watet tank is full again and my family is sleeping in comfort thanks to Ernest. Another gentleman stopped over and he told us of his journey across America on his bycicle. He had been living from town to town on it and I found he and I share the same strategy for hot days. Get up really early and be done by 3 at the latest. He had been a marine and was living outside now. He recalled a town that took him in for awhile on his travels. I wish him well. The evening ended splendidly at Napoli's! I drank 3 to 4 pitchers of ice water, 3 pieces of pizza, and an order of cheese ravioli. It was everything I had dreamt it would be. Tomorrow is yet another long milage day.
posted Jun 13, 2016, 6:34 AM
Pizza for breakfast. Mountain dew slurpy for a morning snack at the gas station in Girard. Some crazy guy on a bike went down a one way into traffic and crossed into a closed road in front of the town sheriff. Said guy waved good morning and said sheriff returned the wave. The morning was hot, humid, and I was coated in sweat. I had started before 6 though so I was making good time in the least hot part of the day. I met up with Brianna and Noah after Girard and rode with them most of the day. We separated in Chanute as I met up with Brianne and the boys at Walmart. Lunch was awesome. Egg salad on tortillas with fresh tomatoes. The sun really started to beat down on me after lunch and I came across a dust devil on a lonesome dusty rode. I watched it for a few minutes and it passed through me swirling dust up everywhere around me. I pressed on into the endless and shadeless void keeping my arms tucked in close to my body to keep them as out of the sun as possible. I heard a twang and then felt the wobble of my second popped spoke of the day. I let the other one ride as is for the last 30 miles and now I had two to replace and a tougher trueing job. It took me about 15 to 20 minutes and the sun really baked me as I worked I. The heat. I was careful not to make any mistakes as I wanted to be back in my own self propelled breeze asap. Brianne met me in Benidect and I refilled on water. I felt good ebough to push on to the Toronto area so so headed back out into what I thought would be the scorching end to my day. The temperature dropped immediately and strong winds flanked me from the left. I had to lean into the wind to stay upright. Large bowl lots of lighting started to strike off into the distance and I peddled on as farmers rushes to harvest their winter wheat. The air was full of dust from the harvest and the wind kept coming. Brianne had posted up the road at my next turn and I jumped in the car with her. She drove me up a few miles out of the storm in its edge. We spent the next hour with her driving up ahead and me peddling to meet her as we tried to find a good place to spend the night. We ended up in cross timber state park which was nice. There was electric and water hookups and two spots available next to each other for us and my parents who were on their way to meet us. We got laundry done and hiked a bit around the area. My parents came in the evening and we had a great time catching up on things. We transfered over our resupply and I got to sleep later than normal. I am going to see if I can get my legs to push me through Kansas in 3 to 4 more days. The Rockys are in my future!
posted Jun 14, 2016, 7:32 AM
I passed through the Flint hills this morning. The gradual grades went on and on into the distance as far asy eyes could see. The plains are like a vast sea of cattle lands, wheat, and corn. I ended up at a Sonic for breakfast and put down a very large cherry line aid. It hit the spot. From there the day went on into the sun and then under cloud cover. I rested at a post office 19 miles from Cassidy where we were all going to meet. The lady who operates it let me use the faucet out back to filly water bottles. I almost fell asleep in the shade of the overhang. I noticed the flag across the street blowing briskly in the direction of my travels. I smiled as I picked myself up and hopped back on the saddle. I shot out into the plains under the hot sun carried by a nice tailwind. I was doing a good 19 to 22 mph and it was as an amazing change of pace from the slower speeds I was accustomed to. I flew into Cassidy and rested in the shuttered downtown main street. Cassidy had seen busier days in the past I am sure but now it is quite. We met up and made camp in the old city park. There were a lot of ticks and it made for an evening of pulling ticks out of everyone and from everywhere. Brianna and Noaha stopped in for the night as well. I slept like the dead and will need to check myself over again for ticks.
posted Jun 15, 2016, 8:59 PM
No ticks to speak of this morning. I did take a wrong turn out of the park but self directed a block down the road. After that it was nothing but cross wind and slow peddling as I woke up over the next 40 miles. After that endless stretch I came across a Braums ice cream and realized I had been here before on business. I got a kick out of that as I polishes off two breakfasts, a pot of coffee and a double dipped mint chocolate chip sugar cone! Then I was off to Heston with caffeine in my blood!!! I cried through the rest of the late morning and made it to Buhler were I rested under a tree waiting for Brianne and my parents. When they arrived it was lunch time in the AC of the camper van. I decided I was going to go another 19 miles to Nickerson and that turned out to be not so much fun. Super hot and a nasty head wind. I am sitting inside of the quick shop in Nickerson now but it was no fun getting here. The evening was fun filled. We swam in the Sterling pool and had dinner outside on the picnic bench. Full hook ups tonight and a dryer air make for a comfortable evening. Another long ride tomorrow.
posted Jun 17, 2016, 3:15 PM
We had a half rest day today. Brianne and I did laundry and the boys played in the rv parks park. I was up at 6am to let Gabriel out and ended up staying up talking with my father and then mother. My legs appreciated the rest but the day promised to be really hot and I missed the cool time to ride. We packed up and headed down. The road back to the route in Alexander. There was a rest stop there that made a good starting point and I lathered up on sunscreen before striking out into the 100 degree plus heat of the day. There was a southern Wisconsin at about 17 mph and some heavy gusts. Thus made the heat a bit more tolerable but the ride was slow going into the cross wind. My bike computer rad 112 at its highest. The pavement gets really hot out there in the middle of no where. I made it through the first town on the route and then the 20 miles into the next one. The dryer climate of the area made me feel better than the humid parts u had passed through but I had to down water to stay hydrated. My water became super hot and was not much of a comfort. I forced it down though and had an egg salad sandwich at a gas station. I bought a cheese Danish too but the heat robbed me of my appetite. My family met me another 16 miles down the road and we enjoyed some ice cream in the shade. After that there was another 16 mile push on to Dighton. The wind was so strong at some points that it got caught in my helmet which I then used for a kite to pull me along at 8 mph. I drifted into thoughts of what I would do when I arrived back home and then into the effort of the pedaling in such heat and wind. It was a long hard push but I made it through. Tomorrow we will be in mountain time oat the end of the day and the next day will put us well into Eastern Colorado.
posted Jun 17, 2016, 3:19 PM
I glided with the wind today. There was barely a moment that I was not going 19mph with the exception of the almost unnoticeable elevation changes on the way towards the mountains. I have at least 2 more days of no elevation changes worth noting. Soon I will be in the foothills of the Rockys though and things will get more difficult after that. I am excited to cross over into Colorado tomorrow morning. I am on mountain time now and will be getting up at 4am instead of 5 but it will feel the same. The sun has gotten slower to rise with me in the mornings. The dry heat out here is kinda nice but I look forward to the cooler yr temperatures at the higher elevations. Now I just need to warn them through some pedaling.
posted Jun 19, 2016, 1:11 PM
The breeze from the cold front blew the through the camper all night keeping the air inside chilled and blanket comfortable. The boys snuggled next to me and I slept well once I fell asleep. The birds woke me up about an hour before sunrise as they need normally do now. It was nice to ride in some chilly morning air for a change. It felt like an eternity though to go the 15 miles to the Colorado border. I was excited to leave behind another state but will miss the lack of elevation changes. The small towns of Eastern Colorado do not have very much in terms of services. A woman in Eads told Brianna and Noaha that a cyclist who was riding in the middle of the lane deserved to die. We laughed about it at dinner. Haswell was our stopping point for the night. It had the best well water I have had yet on route. It was cold and tasted great. There was also a playground for the kids and the nation's smallest jail house!
posted Jun 21, 2016, 6:20 PM
The day started out in the magic moonlight of the full harvest moon. It shown reddish orange in the sky over the semi arid high plains. Ithe air was cool and the ride through the barren moonlit landscape was surreal. The sun began to break over the horizon and day came upon me quickly. The temperatures began to rise all day long and I just rode and rode. The terrain began to rise a little and I caught my first hazy glimpse of the Rockys as I crested a hill. There were train cars resting along tracks for miles as I rode on to boon were we met for lunch. Lunch was quick as everyone was excited to get to Pueblo were we would have RV hookups and some much needed rest. It was father's f ay and I wanted some Mexican food as well. I rode on a couple of more miles and popped my 20th spoke which was the last of the ones I had brought. I had 8 more that I bought in Missouri but they were in the camper miles ahead of me. I rode on it and just hoped for some luck. I came upon a weird place were they had erected a large fence, covered it, and put up video cameras all over the place to watch over some type of crops they were growing in there. I imagine a too secret marijuana science project! I rode on to the outskirts of Pueblo and Brianne and my parents met me to take us to the state park. I ran over a nail in the parking lot of a gas station and experienced my first flat of the trip. Not bad for 2,000 plus miles! The park was awesome but super hot. Our camper AC could not keep up with the heat and we all suffered for hours before the sun started to descend. I changed out my tires, rear wheel with the one I built, chain, and rear cassette. The big rides like it did on day 1 now of the journey! No more slipping of the chain for me as I get up to speed. The night at the restaurant was nice but they were pretty much anti-vegetarian. Brianne and I found some good choices though and enjoyed the meal in the end. At the campsite the kids played at the park in the dark and i ate half a tub of ice cream, bunny tracks mmmmmm. Tomorrow starts the Rockys.
posted Jun 21, 2016, 6:25 PM
The morning started out warm with some climbing. My legs had forgotten how to climb while I was in the flats of Kansas and they ached a bit. I met one of the TransAm racers from Italy and we swapped pictures and chatted for a moment. I also ran across another TransAm rider coming Eastbound. It is so much fun to run across other riders and share details about the route ahead of us both. The rest of the day was a mixed bag of two flat tires, extreme heat. Our SUV overheating, waiting in a city park for the temperature to go down, having overheating trouble in the cooler temperature going up elevation, I had to get a ride out of an aggressive storm with quarter sized hail, and we could not make it to the place we had intended to spend the evening. We did get to Guffey though and the gentleman who runs the bull mouse bar put us up in his back parking lot. It was nice and cozy in our camper as we listened to the hail pound our roof for 30 minutes. I was thankful for the ride into Guffey from my parents and the kindness of the bar keep. The night was chilly and that was blessed.
posted Jun 21, 2016, 6:27 PM
What a beautiful day to ride! We started in Guffey and I rode through some of the most beautiful parts of the route to date. There were great climbs into views of mountains, treeless rises, and snow topped peaks off into the distance. The scene took my breath away both metaphorically and physically. I felt the air begin to thin as I ascended and I will worked constantly and slowly through the climbs. The rises were not as steep as the Appalachian mountains but they were at a higher elevation and that added to their difficulty. Brianne said the SUV had no trouble pulling the camper to the top of each rise in the cool of the morning and that made me glad. We will get the coolant serviced in Frisco still just to make sure we have fewer overhearing issues. The sun proved to be stronger up at this elevation than bellow in the high plains. I got a little burned as the cool air fooled me into feeling fine. I was excited to arrive in Hartsel 3 hours later and to meet up with Brianne and the boys. We ate in the café and it was great! Two Great Divide racers also stopped in and we had some fun talking about our journeys. The rest of the ride to fair play went well. It was slow going but so beautiful I could care less about the grades. There were mountain streams and even more peaks. Brianne had secured a spot at a rv site by a stream and it was good to be home for the day. It was slow going today and will be tomorrow too as I ascend hooser pass but we are taking two rest days in Frisco after tomorrow and I can't wait to see my aunt and uncle there. My parents moved on ahead to Frisco today and we are resting in Fair Play tonight.
posted Jun 23, 2016, 9:59 PM
I helped Brianne and the boys pack up the RV before I headed out. She had a long climb to the top of Hooser Pass and I wanted to make sure that she got out of the camp site as early as possible to drive in the cooler temperature. The ride started off on a grade and the. Went down hill for a ways before returning to a smaller grade into Alma. The air was getting thinner and I needed to labor f or breath as I peddled. Brianne can called me to see where I was as I was entering Alma. She was not used to me taking so long to go 6-8 miles. I rode up to the coffee shop where her and the boys had been waiting for me. They had ordered me a breakfast burrito and I got a 16 ounce Mocha too. It was good and I needed the nourishment for the ascent ahead. Brianne and the boys left and I lingered on for a bit more. At some point I saddled up and started the 5 mile climb. The first mile was we easy but the grade quickly became steeper. I kept peddling. The miles went on for ever and the air was difficult to breath. I was sucking in the air now and quickly exhaling as I tried to find the oxygen in it. The snow capped mountains that had been far off into the hazy distance where not right I n front if me. I could smell the ice in the air. After a long time I began to hear what I thought was moose or elk calling out in the woods.but it became clear that it was Brianne, the boys, my parents, and my aunt and uncle cheering me on! I was elated to have reached the highest point in the TransAmerican trail! All if the future climbs should be easier now in comparison. It was great to seey aunt and uncle
We all took several pictures at the pass and then I headed down to Breckenridge
The descent with as at 42 mph and I loved it. There were some hairpin turns but they were fun too. As I rolled into Breckenridge I found Starbucks and got a Mocha. I was happy to be there. The rest of the family came into town and we had Crepes at the little crepe shack on main Street. Later my uncle rode his bike down to.Frisco with me and we stopped by a distillery and brewery. I bought a bottle of bourbon and had a coconut oatmeal stout. The bike path to Frisco was great and downhill most of the way. It felt so good to be back in the higher elevation of the mountains. I slept like the dead every night we spent in Frisco.
posted Jun 24, 2016, 5:12 PM
posted Jun 24, 2016, 5:15 PM
posted Jun 27, 2016, 2:49 PM
I started the morning off early enough but there were still things that needed some tending to and we had breakfast too. It was really great to see my aunt and uncle. The boys got to drive a pontoon boot and Brianne and I got some much needed rest. The mountains of Colorado proved to be the most bike friendly area i have rode in yet. There are paths to keep you out of congested areas and paths in the streets to separate you from the motorists as well. You can practically live up here without a car during the warmer times. We really enjoyed the Crepes at Breckenridge, the outdoor lifestyle of Frisco, and the great time spent with family. It was difficult to leave but the adventure is not over and I rode out of Frisco at 8:00am. I took the bike path through the park and spilled out onto main street. A sheriff was pulling over a motorist as I turned left onto summit boulevard and mingled with traffic until I past the Starbucks and turned right onto the Damn rode... From here I was on bike path until Silverthorn. The Damn rode offered breath taking views of Dillon lake and the snow capped mountains souronding her. Rode 6 took me down hill through Silverthorn and past the last Starbucks I will see for a spell. It was really all down hill from there to Kremling. 6 became 9 and I rode around 22 mph until I hit the end of the paved rode. There has been some construction on 9 out here for at least a year now and the rode is just mud, sand, and dirt. The going was rough for around 7 miles. I had several things bounce off the bike and made several stopa to pick then up. At one point the gravel was so soft and deep that I almost spilled the bike but we stayed upright. Kremling was not far down the rode from the start of the pavement and I visited the gas station Brianne, the boys, and I stopped at last summer to get a refreshing lime aid and licorice. I waited there fro Brianne and we as happy to see my family once they arrived. We ate a light lunch and I was off again to finish the day. Brianna, Noah, and family met me on the rode about 3 miles from Hot Sulfur Springs. It was nice to see them again after have met them for desert at the Frisco park yesterday evening. They offered me food and water before we said our goodbyes and then I was off to finish the day. Brianne and the boys had found some public land for us to camp in and I am sitting f in the camper now. It shifts outside from hot to cool pretty quickly around here and right now I am hot. Conor is working on mazes and Aaron is napping with Brianne. Tomorrow is out last night in Colorado. We are staying in Walden and then we will be in Wyoming!
posted Jun 27, 2016, 3:54 PM
Today was an uphill ride that ended in some strong winds. It was frigid as I awoke. I quickly dawned my jacket and prepped my bike for the days journey. The ride out was cold and my fingers and face did not appreciate the down hill coasts through the back country. At one point the cold air on my temples madey head ache as if I really did have a brain freeze. I rode into the Arapaho National forest and began to climb. The scenery was strikingly beautiful with a river that snaked through the mountains flanking me from both sides. I rode like the river winding up against the current. The cool air did not warm up until I reached the steepest grade on the way to summit Willow Creek Pass. I was both tired and happy to see the top of the pass where the continent divided again. Brianne and the boys met me at the top just before I was about to descend into the North Park. We had a filling meal and a rest before I headed out. Of course I popped a spoke about 10 miles down the descent but I am good at fixing those and the time spent on the side of the rode paid off as I got to meet Rick who was also West bound. He had spoke with Brianne in Sulphur Hot Springs after I left and now we got to talk for a spell too. He was taking his time and enjoying the days. I would probably take some more time too if the boys did not have school in August. Who knows though as I like to cover a good amount of ground too though. After we parted ways the wind turned into a gusty head and cross wind. My pace slowed down and I had to really work for the last half of the day. There was a wild fire burning off in the distance that I continued to ride closer to too. It's smoke rose and spread out across the park. By the time I rolled into Walden I was covered in sand from the wind. It circled my eyes and made my lungs feel heavy. I was spent. The town had a really cool park with bathrooms and watet though. The fire fighters f from the forest service were encamped around the school and we watched helicopters dropping bags of fire retardant throughout the evening as we ate dinner, played at the park, and crashed in our beds. The night was cold but not as frigid as last night.
posted Jun 27, 2016, 4:07 PM
Conor, my mother, and I had French toast for breakfast in her camper van. It was nice to have a big breakfast before heading out for the day. The morning was cold but not as cold as yesterday and Conor snuggled in a sleeping bag as we ate. Brianne and Aaron slept in and I kissed them all good bye for the day as I left. The riding was all downhill with a slight breeze at my back. I made it to the Wyoming border in no time flat. My top speed coming out of North park was 51.2 mph, my fastest yet. The Alpine flags whipped in the wind on both sides of the road as I tore into Wyoming and said goodbye to Colorado. I am excited to see the Tetons but will miss were I have come from. The rest of the day was not so easy as I turned into the wind and had some climbs to go along with the flats and downs. There was no joy in the downs too as the wind pushed back at me. I did meet several East bound cyclists along the way. One was Roberto from Milano Italy. He wanted to know where to sleep and find water up ahead. There was a slight language barrier but we understood each other well enough to laugh about the thin air of the passes and to enjoy each other's company. With a chow we were on our ways. I popped a spoke about 8 miles from Saratoga but let it ride and won that bet. We are staying at the Saratoga lake tonight but we hit the library and are about to take a dip in some hot mineral springs first.
posted Jun 29, 2016, 10:35 AM
Brianne made cinnamon oatmeal for breakfast accompanied by a latte. The mosquitos were thick and I hurried to get on the road. We slept well with hookups and the heat pump made the cool night just perfect. The road out of Saratoga lake was so terrible that the sand shoulder offered a better surface for riding. I rode nonstop past the first gas station around 20 miles and then merged into I80 traffic on the way to Sinclair. It was a first for my riding on the interstate. The shoulder was wide though after the construction and it felt safe enough. Sinclair was kinda cool. It had an oil refinery and reminded me of Kuwait a little. The town looked closed up since the main street was blocked off for construction. I rode around the barriers and made my way over the crazy post apocalyptic rode. There were huge bulges and dips all over it. Wonder what went down there? I made a wrong turn and ended up on the on ramp to I80 going east... I turned around and found the correct side street that took me to Rawlins. The old route was without traffic and I liked it. Once in Rawlins I made straight for the McDonalds for and egg and cheese biscuit but guess what... another non egg and cheese biscuit after breakfast McDonalds. This afforded me the opportunity to have a 7 layer burrito with Brianne, my mother and the boys ad they pulled into town. Lunch was great and I applied sum screen and hit the rode. I pushed on over abother Continental divide and down into a beautiful valley surrounded by red rocked peaks and big sky. I got yelled at by some guy on a motorcycle as he passed and I waved at him not knowing what he said. His return gesture told me that it was not positive whatever it was. I rode on for an eternity down terrible shoulders with heavy traffic zooming by my left shoulder for hours. At one point a wide load semi came really close to me and I decided that this rode was not the safest for cycling. There were storms brewing in small cells around me and the wind got brutal. I was exhausted and very low on watet when I came across the closed restaurant were I would have been able to fill my water bottles. My mother pulled in though and she had ice water and ice cream for me! I rested with her and set out to go up and over abother devide before exiting out into Muddy Gap. Everyone was waiting for me there but they had decided not to camp at the service station. I had met a cyclist named Colin I'm Rawlins who said it was not the greatest place to spend the night. He had rode until the sun set and then he stealth camped on the side of the road. He looked tired. I let him know there was a free hot spring in front of him in Saratoga. He told me to carry a lot of water as there were no places to fill up really for long distances. He was rifht. I filled up with Brianne and my mother though. I put down more water today than any other I can remember. The road to Jeffery City was windy as all get out and there were hills to climb. I rode around one large mound of earth into a straight line wind that felt like climbing an Appalachian mountain grade. I grit my teeth and smiled as I worked through it. The wind finally died down a bit and I hit a century ride day. I limped the next 10 miles to Jeffery City and rode into the dirt parking lot in front of where Brianne was parked waiting for me. The dirt was too soft and deep though and I spilled the bike. I had my fist wreck since leaving the East Coast. I was fine though and the bike looks OK. I am tired and the day is done.
posted Jun 30, 2016, 9:12 AM
I slept in until the sun woke me. Gabriel wanted to go out for his morning rounds and I noticed my mother had found us and parked in front of our SUV. I had Cheerios and coffee with her as Brianne and the boys began to stir. I helped Brianne move Conor over to Grandma's camper and then packed up for the day. The ride out of the place we stayed was soft gravel and I took it easy after yesterday's spill. I crossed the interstate to the rest area and filled my water bottles there was a nice couple from Germany who were headed Eastbound at the rest area and we swapped stories of the roads ahead. I set off down the road and was treated to some awesome views and downhill grades. It took a long time to cover the 40 miles to where I was meeting everyone for lunch but it was beautiful and there were very few cars. We ate lunch at a pizza hut with which was a nice treat. My mother went to a clinic to see what they could do for some sinus pressure she was having and we all met back up at the library. The library was nice and I read two books on trains to Conor as he sat in my lap. Brianne worked on the website and my mother worked with Aaron on speech. The rest rejuvenated me and I was on full power as I left town for Fort Washakie. I entered the Wind River reservation and got rained on for 10 minutes. I wish it had been longer as I have been so dry for so long now. I was complaining about being drenched before and now I am too dry, such is life. The reservation was cool to ride through. I picked up a metal wire in my rear derailleur but stopped before it could damage anything. I pushed on past Fort Washakie and told Brianne I would meet her at Crowheart. The ride just kept getting better after that. There was a small tailwind and a dark cloud that just hung over me providing shade without the storm. I glided up and down the hills which turned into a killer steep grade going down down down. I feel pretty safe at speeds above 40mph now and relishwd the free miles. I soon came upon a rest stop where everyone was waiting for me. I rested there and had lunch number two. Brianne told me to get a move on though as the sun was starting to get lower in the sky and we had no place to stay yet. The next ten miles were easy and I thought about putting in another century but to my surprise and delight camp was set up at the volunteer fire department in Crowheart. It was a great place to stay as there were mountain views and storm cells in the distance to watch as we ate dinner and played Yahtzee unyil we were tired and headed to bed. Two more long days of riding are ahead of my but the payoff is Yellowstone and the Tetons!
posted Jul 3, 2016, 9:11 PM
The last day of June provided an exciting ride. The ride out from Crowheart was a gradual climb to Debouis. I left the reservation and eventually made it into town. There was a small coffee shop and I.enjoued a Mocha with a cinnamon roll. I stopped at the Napa store next to try and pick up a lug nut for the camper to replace a cracked one but they had too many thread options for my to pick from without having the bad nut on hand. Brianne met me on the side of the road just out of town and. We all ate lunch together before I headed out to climb Togwotee pass. I ran into Tom from Tasmania after that and then Aaron from Omaha, NE. It was fun to talk to some one from our home town riding the TransAm! We wishd each other well and started to pedal off as black clouds began to form ominously around the mountains. The storm started as a down pour and I became drenched. The road started to leach out some white foam and I rode on. Then the thunder started off in the distance echoing across the mountains. I could not see the lightning yet because the mountains masked it. I passed by the last gas station before the serious climbing up the pass began and the storm started to get more intense. There was a sign on the side of the road flashing a warning of bears on the road up ahead. The air became thinner and colder as I ascended. My arms prickled with goose bumps and I kept moving to stay warm. The temperature dropped to 46 degrees and I could see the lightning strikes. The booms came quicker and quicker as I climbed. I must have looked crazy riding up the pass as a stopped truck videoed me as I climbed by them. I became a little dizzy as I came within a mile of the summit. I rested just for a little while as I did not want to loose the heat my body generated from pedalling. I worked through it all an summited the pass. It felt great to overcome the obstacles in my path and the storm subsided. The mosquitoes set in but some deep woods off took care of them. A couple from Switzerland were waiting at the top to descend and I spoke with them for a moment. They had rode here all the way from Switzerland minus the flight across the ocean. The descent was spectacular. I rode down out of the pass for mile after mile at 46 mph. There were great views of the mountain sides, up ahead the Grand Tetons rose out of the earth like jagged teeth, and the epic ride down belonged in a dream. The air became warmer as I rode down further and further. I dried out and felt a peace come over me. Camp was waiting for me just as the terrain flattened out. Brianne, the boys, and my mother were in Jackson Hole but I had a spare set of keys for the camper. I hung up my things and deployed our solar cells. Then I fell asleep totally spent from an epic day. We had dinner when everyone returned and the night started to become cold. The mosquitoes were thick and ruthless so we stayed inside when possible. I cuddled the boys as we all drifted off to sleep.
posted Jul 3, 2016, 9:16 PM
Our phone batteries died last night and I slept in which was good because it was cold out this morning and I snuggled Aaron and Conor. The sun and Gabriel eventually got me out of bed and I took him for a walk. The morning was still crisp but not as bad with the sun. The mosquitoes of last night must have been sleeping off a blood hangover because they were no were in sight. I had coffee and cereal with my mother and then started to get on the move. The ride into the Teton National Park was beautiful. The Tetons were jagged, snowy, and magical in the morning light. I rode up to the ranger booth and found that bycicles cost $20 to get into the park. At least the money goes to something cool. I rode into the park and found the views of the Tetons just kept getting better. I eventually passed a majestic lake where they appeared to rise out of the crystal clear blue water. Later down the rode I enjoyed coffee with a cheese Danish. Brianne, the boys, and my mother explore the park and found another great place to spend the night as I rode up and up to another continental divide. And the the sky darkened and poured out cold rain on me for the second day in a row. There was a great drop off to my right that had a river rushing through it and the shoulder was nonexistent. The camp site was another 4 miles down the road and my riding was done for the day at about 49 miles. I love rolling rest days! Brianne and I cooked dinner as my mother entertained the boys. After a relaxing meal we took a hike to Lewis Lake. It was so clean and wide. I took of my shoes and walked into the water. It was cold and it felt great. The boys threw rocks into the water and we began to attract very very very large mosquitoes. After our hike we went back to the camper to bed down for the evening. Tomorrow I start very early to beat the heavy traffic.
posted Jul 4, 2016, 7:55 PM
I got up a lot earlier than normal. The morning air was crisp and Gabriel wanted to walk about. Our neighbors had a good fire going and were tending to it. It smelled great. They had put up a rain flap and had slept near the fire under it. I admire that kind of camping! I road down the hill and past the lake entrance and out onto the main road that goes through Yellowstone. The route offers a lot of climbing but with very cool features. I detoured into Grant Village to see what was over there and met a nice couple from Germany. We spoke of things to come for each other and our love of hot springs. They looked like they were really enjoying themselves. Next I headed towards old faithful. There were some clbs and the.riding went by slowly. I crested one click to find a small pond filled with water lilys. I cruised down the road and onto flatter terrain. At one point I passed a pedestrian walkway and regretted not taking as a mile down the road I realised that it was a shortcut to old faithful. Oh well. The area around old faithful is super touristy. Once you get op n the boardwalk though you are treated to several geysers. Old faithful goes off every 90 minutes or so but I was lucky enough to see one called bee hive go off as I waited. It was worth stopping to see for sure. Brianne, the boys, and my mother arrived and we had lunch. After lunch we all watched old faithful go again. The boys loved it! I held Conor on my shoulders and lifted Aaron up in front of me. It was time to ride again and I made for West Yellowstone. Along the way I got to see a really cool hot spring, a crazy landscape created by the cauldron environment, and more geysers. The forest rangers had to go out and get several tourists back onto safe ground as they had ventured out into the open landscape to get a closer look at some geysers. A man had recently met a bad end doing the same thing not too long ago. The ground around the springs and geysers is not always solid and can be just a crust covering an acidic boiling pool of unfriendliness. The ride to West Yellowstone was beautiful as it curved through streams and canyons. The wind picked up and I began to have some trouble with my bike wanting to whip left and right a little too easily. There were people wading in streams and the sun began to set creating a shine across the wind spun waters. I rode on and passed a tiny Woden sign that said entering Montana. I guess I should have captured the moment because that was the only sign I found. I exited the park and rolled out into the town. I checked the RV park for everyone but they were not there. Next I headed to Dairy Queen for a large Monster Cookies Blizzard. As I wolfed it down another cross country cyclist came up to me and struck up a conversation. He was Eastbound and was riding his own route which comprises of the TransAm route as well. Shawn was his name and he enjoyed DQ as much as I did. He was kind let me use his phone to call Brianne. Mine had died and the cord to charge it was with Brianne. She didn't answer but I figured that we would find each other eventually. After that I headed over to the intersection where I had come into town and waited. After trying that I headed to the library and found everyone on the way! There was no where to stay in town but a forest service campground down the way had a spot open still if we hurried and were lucky. We did get the last spot and it was an awesome campground. My mother said we should have stayed for a few days and she was right but my mind is always telling me to keep moving forward. We had pancakes and eggs for dinner, played Yahtzee, and fell asleep.
posted Jul 4, 2016, 8:06 PM
I ended up staying at our camp site until almost 10AM. The morning was beautiful, we were surrounded by trees, and it was good to have breakfast. The morning ride was supposed to be all downhill and it was but into the wind. The going was slow and my bicycle was acting funny still in that it turned left and right way to easily. I eventually stopped and got out my wrench to give the fork a good tightening. It helped a little but not as much as I had hoped. I will try a higher air pressure in the tires tomorrow to see if they were low enough to cause some trouble. I rode through an area were the lake was tilted by an earthquake. It was so cool. The skeletons of long dead lodge pole pines stuck up out of the lake. The scenery was beautiful. There were an overabundance of campgrounds but no service stations for miles and miles and miles. I found some rest at a rest stop along a stream where fly fishermen were casting. Storm clouds began to roll in as I lay on a cement park bench. Brianne and the boys pulles in just as I was leaving and she made me a pb&j sandwich for the road. With kisses for all I was off to beat the storm. Silly me bikes don't tend to go fast enough to outrun mother nature. Two fronts collided where I was riding. The fronts created a massive tailwind for me that propelled me at 27mph down the road for a good 10 miles before I was hit by just as massive cross winds. The rain stung as it pelted me and the wind threatened to knock me off the road but I rode on and eventually the storm calmed and riding returned to normal. I passed by a group of cyclists taking shelter and waved at them. On I went until I reached Enis which was to be our stopping point for the evening but there was no room at the inn there. After a long rest in the park we all pushed on. I met two cyclists heading to RAGBRAI and they gave me homemade chocolate chip cookies. Mmmmmm. Then it was up the hill and out of town. The grade started as challenging and then became brutal at 7% over time. This pass had no relief until I had weaved in and out of the mountainous hills for a good hour reaching the upper parts. After one false summit I reached the top after a 2200 foot climb. The down was just as steep but didn't last as long as the up. I raced down throw Virginia City and out the other side. I had a good head of steam that lasted all the way until I reached camp just before Alder. 92.5 miles of riding some awesome terrain. Dinner was ice cold beer, carrots, fruit, rice, and beans. We all ate and enjoyed the beautiful scenery as the rains falling from clouds in the distance lit up pink and red as the sun began to set. Tomorrow will be a short day or as I like to call them, a rolling rest day.
posted Jul 9, 2016, 12:43 PM
Today started early as the sun began to rise. The temperature was in the 30s and I was cold and stiff. My blue jacket kept my core NB ice and warm and the climbing that started right away turned up the heat. I rode up a very long stretch at a slight grade until the sun had risen enough to offer some more warmth. I removed my jacket and felt the crisp air on my damp skin beneath my Jersey. The dry air eventually madee more comfortable and the temperature crept into the 60s for most of the day. I climbed two passes and ended up in a park that was semi arid but cool. The two towns I went through did not offer me much of a reason to linger as they were very small and had few services. I rode through some broken glass between the two of them and cursed the moron who though it belonged there on the rode. About 5 miles later I was changing the tube on the front tire... the mosquitoes let me know they were there in number as I worked on getting back on the road. I did visit a small grocery store in Wisdom to eat Fritos with bean dip along with a coke. A dust devil whipped up in front of the store and let me know that I was in for a windy finish to the day. There was 16 more miles to go but it was into a strong headwind and up some more hills. I chugged along at 8 to 10 mph for a very long time. The road began to head into some more mountains along with a pine forest that is just breathtaking. The trees are tall and the wind lost some steam in them. It was so peaceful and the wind sounded soothing now that it was no longer hindering my progress. About 6 miles into the forest was our campsite for the evening. It is nestled into the forest with very few souls around to share it with. After dinner we all took a hike through the trees by a stream. The water is so clear you can see every stone under its babbling current. What a wonderful wonderful ending to a day of climbing passes and fighting the wind! Tomorrow we make for Missoula whish is a century ride away. One pass in the morning called by a decent from the park and then a slight downhill into a flat valley. If the wind is with me we will make it.
posted Jul 9, 2016, 12:48 PM
The morning was cold. My bike said 35 degrees but it is hard to tell how accurate that thing is. I wore gloves and my jacket. I fixed a spoke that had loosened up and the back wheel spin true as I lubed the chain. I filled the tires to 70 psi and packed up my riding gear for the day. There was 108 miles between me and Missoula and I was ready. I had yogurt with blueberries and a cup of coffee with my mother before hitting the trail. There was one pass ahead of me and a day of down hill into the valley. There were dear and birds out in the crisp morning air. I saw bear sign but no bear which made me glad. The ride up into the pass was beautiful as the lodge pole pines surrounded me and my mind recalled Christmas with the cold smell of pine. It began to drizzle cold rain and I was glad for the jacket and gloves that kept me warm and somewhat dry. The pass was not so bad and it ended with a steep descent. My head began to ache in the frigid air as I climbed up to speeds of 45 mph. I had to stop at the Idaho border and tie my bandanna around my head to protect it from the wind. I took the opportunity to snap a photo of me at the Montana welcome sign since I had missed the one in West Yellowstone. The ride down the mountain was awesome. I stopped in at a cabin rental and service stop to get some candy or a pastry. The woman behind the counter told me to eat breakfast first and then candy. I turned toward the back of the shop and there was a gal cooking up short order eggs and hashbrowns. I had some with a cup of coffee. The eggs were great but the hashbrowns and biscuits were rewarmed. I was happy to eat it though and.yhen I stocked up on candy for the long day. The ride down the steepest grades took me through towering mountains studded with lodge pole pines. The rocks poked out at the rode and I weaved around them. About ten miles later I rolled out onto a flatter down hillby cabins and a stream. The air warmed a little into the 50s and I kept the jacket on but packed up the gloves. The air warmed up gradually throughout the day but never go over 70. I stopped in Darby for an egg salad sandwhich. I ate outside on a bench using my bike rack as a table. The wind picked up and the temperature dropped a bit. The flags at the park across the street told me that a moderate headwind awaited my departure. When I rode on it was heavy. The rode slanted slightly down hill most of the rest of the day but the wind made it feel quite the opposite. Brianne and my mother passed me about 50 miles into the day and I met up with them further down the road. I added some oil to the SUV once i got there as it slowly losses some over time. We ate pea it and jelly sandwiches and then I was off again into the wind. I passed by another fire area where helicopters came and went with bags of fire retardant. I couldn't see the smoke through the clouds as a storm front was moving in. I battled periodic rain and heavy winds through most of the rest of the day. The traffic was super heavy VB it I had a wide shoulder to ride on and at one point a very long bike path. The bike path wound up and down along with side to side making it a longer way to get to Missoula but it was safer for sure. I traded it for the rode on occasion to speed things up. I met some cyclists from NewYork City at a gas station and another member of their party on the bike path. Mike, Elsa, and another gal. They had spent an evening with Michael at one point and I enjoyed hearing that. We ended up talking more at the McDonalds in Lolo as we all waits for the latest downpour to pass over. The winds jumped back and forth from tale to head in-between the storms. I tried to.stay in the tail wind part of the pattern for the.remainder of the day. The rode into.missoula was heavy with traffic and it got worse and worse as I entered the city. One truck rolled coal on me and the rest of the cars rode a foot away from me. There were no shoulders in the city and the storm drains caused me to need to ride out into the lane Everytime I came across them. Brianne was at the Chevy dealership getting the fan fixed on the radiator and my mother was with my cousins Laura and Tim. I rode to the adventure cycling office to find it closed for the day. I called my mother for a pick up and Tim came out to get me. We all met up back at their place and had a great meal. Tim had me sample some local beers which were great. The pizza was NewYork style and tasted brick oven fired. We stayed up late to talking about everything and had a very nice evening. Seeing family was a much bettet treat then getting to see the adventure cycling office. I decided that I could pass on the office as it would be out of the way to return the next day. We spent the night at Jellystone RV park which the boys loved the idea of but I feel was not worth the price and it was not very kid friendly. The next day was a rest day as we ran around town to prep for the journey ahead. The boys got to play at a very nice local park and once we were all ready we headed back to the route around Lolo. There are about 5 days of riding in Mao number 3 and I am excited to get them rode but starting to feel a little sad that the journey is coming to an end in the next two to three weeks.
posted Jul 11, 2016, 8:39 PM
The morning started off with blueberry pancakes at mom's camper. They were so good. We had all slept in and I was ready to hit the road. My bike needed some work though as my rear derailleur was not shifting right. Not sure how it got messed up but it needed some attention. I got that all set and loaded up for the day. We were going to finish in Oregon and I was very happy of the prospect of being in the final state. The morning ride took me out of the lodge pole pined mountains and into a semi arid valley. From there I turned down hell canyons road and wound up at a slight grade for an hour. I met an Eastbound cyclist along the way who was excited for the help journey ahead. We spoke for ten minutes and then he was ready to get a move on. I wish I could have told him more about the riad ahead but he probably wanted to experience it all for himself as I would have. The canyon rode summited and bent severely down for 7 miles. I was traveling so fast down the winding rode that I passed a car! The first overtake of a car traveling at speed down the road. I probably should have taken that as a warning that I was traveling too fast for the grade and curves but I was in fire and shot down the canyon at top speed! At the bottom Brianne, the boys and my mother were waiting for me with a hand spun chocolate milk shake. The ice cream was delicious and I was ready to ride the rest of the 7 miles into Oregon. The canyon opened up down the rode revealing a surreal landscape of sharp dry canyon walls holding a large lake between them. The late day sun turned the walls gold and a bright light reflected off if the water below. I have seen so many magnificent things in this journey and this was among the best of them. I can not I imagine living my life without experiencing all of this now that I have lived it. My family awaited me at the other side of the river that spilled out if the lake through the damn. I was in Oregon and it felt great to be in the last state. We took photos at the Oregon sign and then it was off to oxbow for the night. The road to oxbow was lined with wild cherry trees, huckleberrys, and many other berry bushes that I think were not edible. I picked some ripe cherries and ate up! I pocketed some for everyone else and rode on. There was a sharp climb and the. Quick descent into oxbow. We stayed at the rv park next to the river and tomorrow we finish map 3. There are only two maps and about 670 miles left until Astoria. We should arrive on the 20th or 21st of July.
posted Jul 12, 2016, 10:11 PM
The climb out of hell's canyon was a bit brutal. I did have a little assist from the weather being uncharacteristically cooler than it should have been though. The morning started out overcast and I slept in. After sleeping in Conor and I took Gabriel for a walk and then we had breakfast with my mother in her camper. Spinach and cheese scramble with toast! Coffee warmed me up and then I started getting ready for the day. I left really late. The weather was cool and I was good with that. Unfortunately, the rode out of hell's canyon consists of gentle climbing until halfway town and then a long steep grade over a pass. After the long climb I.rolled into Richland where I stopped at a cafe for a huckleberry milkshake and a large basket of curly fries. The waitress told me the rode to Baker City was not bad from there but I beg to differ. The wind pushed back at me and the sun came out. I started to climb some hills which led into a canyon. A large number of Eastbounders passed me in the road as I worked to keep my momentum going down the canyon into the light wind. The sun hid again and the clouds took on a darker tone. I reached the bottom of this canyon run and began to ascend the.ither side. The sound of thunder echoed off if the canyon walls as a light rain began to fall cooling me off even more. I had to stop and wait behind a line of cars at a construction check point as the crew packed up for the day on account of the rain. I was soaked by the time we all started moving again and the rain began to fall harder. Brianne passed me and waved that she would be back around. I peddled on as she passed me again and waited for me at the next turn out. She had lunch for me and I ate it in the car. It was nice to be out of the rain.and to have a bite to eat before moving on. I downed two cans of coke along with my lunch. The windows of the SUV began to fog and I knew it was time to finish the last 25 miles of the day. They turned out to be pretty epic. The storm let up as I started out sgain. I dried out in about 30 minutes and was feeling great. The sunshine didn't last though and another storm began to pass through the area darkening the skies once more. The road began to become one climb after another and as I was cresting one climb into the dug out hill side the worst storm i have ridden in bore down on me. The wind threatened to toss me from the road into the mud to my right. The down pour turned to salty hail that battered my body and the lighting shot out around the hilltop followed by loud claps of thunder. I pulled off the road and opened my paniers to whip out my jacket for shelter from the onslot. I was glad to have it as it offered up some amount of protection. The cars and trucks blew past my as they hurried to get out of the storm. I bore down on the pedals and moved slowly through the storm. Once it passed I was left cold and drenched from head to toes. I did have the hill I was climbing to warm me up though. My body was tired from the exertion and I started to brew a headache. I kept soldiering on though up the hills and into the sunshine again. The hills finally ended around 5 miles outside of town and I found some fuel left in the tank to push the mph up a notch to finish strong. Brianne and the boys were waiting for me at the RV park playground. Conor ran up to me and hugged me. I needed a hug. We had pizza for dinner and went shopping for fresh fruit. Later the boys watched a movie with my mother and Brianne updated some online media. I ache all over and hope the morning btings some renewal as I have three passes to climb as I ascend I to the Cascade mountain range for my last range in the trail.
posted Jul 15, 2016, 8:14 AM
Today was a hot one. I started the day with an off stomach and a headache. Not sure if it was the water at the campground or the really long day of riding before but I was not in a hurry to hit the road. I took Gabriel out for a walk around 5:45 and then snuggled with the kids until 8. We all had breakfast together and I started to feel good enough to head out. The first 26 miles were flat for the most part and 80 degrees. I stopped in Dayville for some snacks and Joe and Gail, we had met them the day before, stopped by to say hi. They wanted to know if I would like any water but I was all set at 4 32 ounce bottles today. I packed heavy for the heat of the day that was coming. They took my photo and were on their way. I rode on to John Day Fossil Bed and entered the canyon there. The day started to really heat up. I also started to climb some steep grades and decided I needed to start leaving before the sun comes up in these parts just like Kansas. I don't do as well in the heat as I used to. I did pass by a tree full of shoes though and found a sign at the base that stated a bunch of old souls were hanging around. We stayed in Ochoco national forest for the evening. I made Shepard's pie and the kids watched a movie with my mother. Brianne and I mapped out the remaining days of the trip and found we should be in Astoria on the 19th if all goes to plan. I am super excited to complete this journey but also a little sad it is coming to an end.
posted Jul 18, 2016, 9:09 AM
Enjoying a cup of coffee before turning onto historic highway 101. The ocean is dead ahead!
19JUL2016 (day 66)
posted Jul 20, 2016, 7:44 AM
Over the last week and even before I began to get lost in the days. The cross from the steep hills in and out of river canyons in Idaho into the semi arid lands of Eastern Oregon set myind adrift. The summits where lower in elevation but kept coming. The ride out of Baker City lead me over three summits in one day. I had brought enough water to.make it to a store in-between the second and the third summit but it was closed on the day of the week I crossed paths with it. I waited to see if Brianne or my mother would pass by and was sad to see I had to make the last climb of the day sans water. I sunscreened up and put on my sun sleeves to neat back the hot sun. I breathed only through my nose to conserve the moisture in my mouth and i churned out the miles to the top. I knew that I could go down the other side into the next town without much energy but that required me getting to the top. I crossed paths with creek after creek and did not give into the temptation to fill my bottles from their suspect waters. I would have if it came to it but I was not there yet. Just a mile short of the top I saw Brianne coming down the hill and was elated to see her. She had set out to find me and give me support. I downed her soda and a great deal of water. The rest if the day was easier after my belly was water logged. That night met a nice couple who had passed me at the closed store. They were driving a camper van like my mother's and I had walked out to them as they rode by. They must of thought it strange that a man in the middle of nowhere was approaching their vehicle! We also met a gentleman who had rode the first Transamerica ride when they started the whole thing. He was so happy to meet someone doing it after all of those years since he had. He shared his old maps, guide books, Id card, and panniers with us. I was on Cloud 9 to have met one of the original riders. The next day I passed the tree of soles which kinda gave me the creeps as I came upon it in the shimmering heat. It is a tree full of old shoes with a sign at the base saying that they were a bunch of old soles hanging out. We spent the night at the summit of ochoco pass. The camp site was well shaded but had no water. The evening was cold and I awoke extra early to stay out of the heat of the day which I have little tolerance for these days. I made up a little song about hashbrowns that I sang for 30 miles down to town. I got Starbucks first and then some hashbrowns. I rode far as I do most days now. I made it all the way to Sisters which is at the base of McKenzie pass. I rode through a sea of traffic down main street and stopped for BJs Ice cream. Strawberry malt please! Then it was on to our camp site at Cold Springs five miles down the rode. My mother watched the children as Brianne and I got to go on auch needed date in Sisters. We had Mexican and a lovely time
We stopped for Sisters coffee and BJs ice cream! Mint chocolate chip please! The evening was cold... so cold I turned on the furnace in a rare moment of weakness. I awoke early as the sun was comimg up to climb that last summit alone. It was long and steep in some parts but nowhere as bad as the Easbounders had it. They have to climb 3 hours from sea level to 5,000 feet. I only had to climb it for 10 miles from the interior of the country. The top of the pass treats the climber to spectacular views of the Cascades! The best part was riding through an ancient lava field. It was just me and the mountains in the cold morning air. I love the solitude of moments like these. The descent was what I dubbed squiggly road. It took a very long time to wind my way down but it was a free ride for sure. The rest of the day really wore me out as a headwind took a toll me. We stayed at a super expensive RV park in Coburg but they had a pool. The next day I met another westbounder at McDonalds. We bonded over egg and cheese biscuits. He was from Switzerland. We spoke at length about everything from the journey to the time I spent in Iraq. He looked as ready to be finished as I was. We parted ways and I rode 90 plus miles to RondeMonde. The ride there was long and I arrived spent. It was nice to be out of the semiarid climate and into farmland again though. I did notice that a lot of stores in Oregon don't believe in public restrooms. I decided that I would only spend money at places that did. The day after RondeMonde took me to historic 101 where I found myself in a berry enchanted forest riding through the soft morning rain. The forest gave way to a brighter coastal treed area as I came through the last off the hills between me and the ocean. It took around 10 more miles and then I saw the Pacific! I was high above it and it would be several more hours before I got to the first beach front but I sat there on a rock wall and watched it for a good hour. Brianne, the boys, and my mother showed up and we celebrated! Then it was on to Tillamook for ice cream and cheese curds. It took me three hours to get there. I rode along the coast from beach to beach and closed some very large hills as I did. I rode right into a cloud whipping up the coast and into the outcropping of the road. I have always wanted to know what it was like to pass into a cloud and now I know. It was a unique experience that I highly recommend you seek out. I went down fr there again and reset on a rocky beach. I was exhausted. I had been fighting a cold for several days and it was taking it's toll on me. Tillamook was awesome. We stayed there for a long time and the dairy was soon good. Then it was on to an RV park off of the coast in Brighton. My mother and the boys had fresh crabs and Brianne and I had sweet corn as we watched the sun set over the ocean. I slept well and I knew the next day was to be the last. This morning was a victory lap of sorts. I went through coastal towns and watched people enjoying life on the ocean as I glided past. I saw haystack, a rock formation that Oregon is known for, and got to ride up some big hills that spilled out over ledgeside views of the Pacific. I passed into Seaside knowing I had done it. I had ridden across the entire US and taken the scenic route to boot. I had seen soany glorious things that I will remember the rest of my days. What an experience.... iet everyone at the beach and we walked into the Ocean together. The boys and I stood up to the crashing waves and all was well with life. Later I rode the traditional ride into Astoria and was treated to a few more steep hills and a line dog chase courtesy of a chihuahua. He was kinda mean but I warned him that a truck was going to hit him and he gave up the chase. The evening was spent on the beach at Fort Stevens state park overlooking a ship wreck and the setting sun. Gabriel took a dip in the ocean too. The bike is on the roof rack now. I am with my Family.