HAL'S CROSS COUNTRY BLOG
I’ve decided to ride my bicycle across America. I’m doing this because I want to lose weight and get back in shape. I’m retired Army Reserve and always exercised regularly in the past. Lately I’ve slacked off the exercise which has also caused an unfortunate weight gain. I’m not a candidate for the Biggest Loser but my extra 25 pounds has got to go. I see people that can’t look over their shoulder when driving. I really do believe intense regular exercise is important. I’ve always done this and don’t feel good about myself now that I’ve stopped. Retirement is fun but I‘ve lost all sense of a schedule. I enjoy spending my retirement with projects. I guess the best thing you lose in retirement is a schedule but it’s also a bad thing. If you watch the biggest loser then you can guess that I plan to let the road be my Bob and Jillian. I’m not completely out of shape because my wife provided me a lawn that always needs to be cut. I think 50 miles a day on a bicycle is a doable goal for the beginning of the trip. Modern bicycles with 27 gears are a big help.
In preparation for the trip I started out reading “The Bicycle Traveler’s Blueprint”. This book gives a good overview as what is needed for long distance bicycle touring. I also read bicycle blogs and gleaned lots of information from other bicycle travelers. I learned there are different ways to tour. I decided to take a route called the Southern Tier, which is a series of maps sold by Adventure Tours. This is tried and true route ridden by thousands of other bicyclist.
I need to thank four people that have helped me get prepared. Ken Vance, a neighbor who loaned me Adventure Tour map set. He’s part owner of Oconee Outfitters, the local bicycle shop. The bike shop manager, Adam Heagy, rebuilt my bike into a long distance touring bike. His expertise and advice have been instrumental in my preparation for this trip.
I have sleep apnea and traveling without electricity is more than an inconvenience. This could be a major medical problem and a show stopper. Dr. Larry Tilley provided me a dental device to help with this problem. This device is the final piece of equipment without which this trip might not be possible. Dr. Tilley’s spent years and his own money to develop a successful device. Finally, I want to think my wife, Sherri, whose support makes this vision possible.
HAL’S CROSS COUNTRY BLOG 1
December 6, 2010: I spent this morning going through our bicycle lights. I’ve done a poor job of keeping these lights up. Some had batteries left in them, fortunately there doesn’t seem to be any permanent damage. I cleaned all of the lights with contact cleaner and stored them back in the garage. I have three lights that I can’t get to work. I’m going to use a front/rear/blinking light on my trip. We have enough quality lights for two bicycles to ride at night.
I’ve been working with our pumps to see which one would be best for my trip. We have 5 bike pumps. I could only get two to work with Presta vales (I cannot understand why all expensive bicycles come with this valve). The CO2 pump would only put 20PSI into my tire. I looked on the internet and this pump is supposed to go up to 50 PSI. This type of pump is for emergency use only since road tires need 80PSI. Since I need 80 PSI for my tires, this pump is a no go. The other pump had a maximum 60 PSI (all pumps come with a max PSI). Another problem is I don’t have a gauge (except on the hand pump) for the Presta vales. Since I need to check my tire pressure daily; I reluctantly spent $40 for a new portable pump. My new Topeak Road Morph Pump with pressure gauge will be a reliable pump for repair. This pump has several good points. It has a built in gauge will keep me from having to carry a separate gauge and therefore save space, a foot stand and a hose with a flip device to hold the hose onto the valve.
I’ve packed my trailer for the first time. It weighs 27 pounds and I think that is pretty good. My goal is not to exceed 70 pounds total. Trailer with two additional saddle bags and a handle bar bag makes this seems attainable.
I have two bicycles. One is a road bike (Cannondale) and the second bike is a hybrid (Gary Fisher). Pulling a trailer 3,700 miles puts a lot of stress on a bicycle. The Cannondale is made out of aluminum and the Gary Fisher is steel so I decided with the GF. My local bike shop is Oconee Outfitters. Adam Heagy is the manager and has extensive knowledge of bicycles. He told me I needed two-sided rims. So I ordered new rims. He found two sets: one was $180 and the other was $350 (quite a bit more). At first I decided on the cheaper set but after two months I still couldn’t get a delivery date. So I bit the bullet and bought the more expensive set.
It’s important that I be able to fix any mechanical problems I will inevitably encounter on my trip. With this in mind I decided to take my bike apart and put it back together as a learning exercise. As long as it’s in pieces I decided to have the frame pained. This cost about $25.00 as I had the car repainted also.
My goal is to have the bike back together by the 10th of December. A lot will neede to come together for this to happen. I’d like to complete two camping trips before leaving for California.
HAL’S CROSS COUNTRY BLOG 2
December 28, 2010: Getting my bicycle ready for a cross country trip has been expensive. That being said Santa was good to me. Santa (aka Sherri) brought me a Biologic battery ($131.00). This battery works with the Shimano generator hub so I can charge my USB devices.
Other gifts from Santa include:
2 double-walled wheels w/shimano generator hub ($360)
Shimano gear shifters/cassette/cables/ ($450)
Bike pedals ($70)
Bicycle lights ($45)
Blinking Lights ($15)
Bicycle pump ($40)
Kick Stan ($10)
New paint job for frame ($85)
Kool Stop bicycle touring trailer ($180)
Kool Stop Pannier brackets ($43)
Shimano mountain bike shoes ($89)
Shoe cleats ($18)
Handlebar mount ($30)
Yakima keys/lock ($28)
Sierra Designs Lightning XT1 tent ($163)
Waterproof phone case ($26)
Camera Tripod ($11)
Pepper Spray ($11)
My sister-in-law gave me a handlebar bag ($70.00). I already had a new Brooks seat ($120.00). Everything is ready except bicycle fenders.
That’s $2149.00 dollars, with dentist $2699.00. Wow, isn’t it sad that so much was spent to go on a bicycle ride and that’s before any of my travel expenses.
I’ve been agonizing over what to pack and what to leave behind. I look forward to starting the trip and moving past the planning and packing stage. I haven’t planned any time for training but fitness will come one mile at a time. We’re going on a cruise from January 13 to 16. Once back in Florida we’ll drive to St. Augustine. January 17th I will leave Sherri and start my journey.
HAL’S CROSS COUNTRY BLOG 3
Saturday, January 01, 2011: Today I took a 38 mile New Years training ride. It was 57 degrees and cloudy but warmed up quickly. As the ride progressed a cold front came through and it got really windy. The wind will be murder when I get out west and have to cross the desert. I went out Hwy 212 to Twin Bridge Rd and visited Lake Sinclair Campground in the Oconee National Forrest. I arrived at this point by 10:30 and 17 miles into the ride. After that I headed toward Hwy 441 for the ride back to Milledgeville. As I approached Milledgeville I took a lunch break with Sherri at McDonalds. The head winds were very strong on the Hwy 441 leg of the route which made that part of the trip difficult.
Map of trip: NEED TO FIX
I had decided not to use my iphone mount but just my new waterproof sleeve holder. I found this to be awkward. I constantly use my phone to take pictures and check on my location so the mount goes on. I’m also worried about being able to following the map directions. I can see that I will constantly have to be comparing the map directions to street signs. Many of the directions are similar to: go two blocks turn at Snider St. then 2 miles to hwy 13. I might get some post-it notes and write the turn directions then peel them off as I get to each intersection.
My new fenders come within 5 inches of the ground. I will have to be careful when going off sidewalks not to scratch them on the curb.
I have everything that I need except two spare tires, and a few small fixes to make.
I can ride 50 miles a day without too much trouble. On this ride I had reached Flatrock, GA by 11:30 and a distance of 24 miles. For planning purposes I figure that if it gets dark at 5:30 I would have six hours to cover 26 miles. This means I need to plan more breaks into my day. I don’t want to complete my 50 miles before dusk every day. And I don’t want to do more than 50 miles a day for two reasons. The first reason is I still need to work on fitness (getting in better shape). One mistake I’ve seen people make over and over again is that when starting an exercise program they start too hard to soon then get sore or hurt. Then the mere thought of exercise becomes a negative thing. I don’t want to hurt myself. I realize I’m 62. The second reason I want to slow down and take more breaks is that if it is getting dark around 5:30 then there won’t be much to do after camp set-up but go to sleep. I anticipate getting up at first light; ride for an hour or two then stop for breakfast. I plan to eat mostly fruit, soup, bread, and peanut butter. I do plan for coffee, after all I’m an American.
DAILY DIARY AND STATS
DAY 1 – JAN. 16, 2011
St. Augustine to Rice Creek Conservation Area, Palatka.
My first rest stop was at roadside park in Riverdale, FL. Passed over the St. John’s River. There was little traffic until I reached Hwy. 17. The terrain is flat with temperature of 70. Nice day for the beginning of my trip. Camped at Rice Creek Conservation Area in Palatka, FL (found spot not too far from road).
Started my trip in St. Augustine, Fl at 10:47 am.
Stopped for the day at 5:47 pm.
Ride time - 4 hours 40 minutes
52.3 miles completed
DAY 2 – JAN. 17, 2011
Rice Creek Conservation Area, Palatka to Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park, Gainesville.
It was raining when I woke up today. The rain stopped for a while but started raining hard around 12:30. The rain finally stopped around 3 pm. I rode to Gainesville, FL via Hwy 100 and the Gainesville Hawthorne State Trail. Beautiful view from Sweetwater Overlook.
Started at 8:25 am.
Stopped at 4:47 pm.
Ride time – 4 hours 27 minutes
42.32 miles completed
DAY 3 – JAN. 18, 2011
Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park, Gainesville to O’Leno State Park.
Heavy traffic but lots of wide shoulders for a bike. Light rain with temperatures in the low 70’s. Best day yet. I arrived at O’leno State park around 3 pm. My first shower of the trip felt soooo good. Made myself soup and coffee for supper. Still trying to get everything dried out.
Started at 7:48 am
Stopped at 3 pm
Ride time – 4 hours 58 minutes
48.12 miles completed
DAY 4 – JAN. 19, 2011
O’Leno State Park to Suwannee State Park.
Went to bed last night to clear sky with a full moon. It started raining at 4:30 am. At first it was a hard rain but seemed to slow down around 5:30 am. It was a long, hard day. Rain continued most of the day. Temperature cooled down to 60 and I had moderate head winds.
Started at 8:08 am
Stopped at 7:04 pm
Ride time – 6 hours 44 minutes
59.7 miles completed
DAY 5 – JAN. 20, 2011
Suwannee State Park to Monticello, FL.
Another best day yet. Hwy 90 had rolling hills and heavy traffic. What was good about today was I was on the road by 7:30 am. Biked through Lee, Fl. My father's family is from Lee. While in Lee I stopped for breakfast at Andy's Cafe and met Robbie Gail Porter. She was interested in my trip and asked to see my blog. Tomorrow I meet up with David Crawford in Tallahassee.
I got to Monticello, FL, it was late and just starting to rain. I saw the Jefferson County Fire Department guys. I asked if they would let me camp next to their fire station. They were very nice and said sure. I was really lucky because they had a cover for me to set my tent under.
Started at 7:19 am
Ride time – 5 hours 13 minutes
51.7 miles completed
DAY 6 – JAN. 21, 2011
Monticello, FL to Tallahassee, FL
Today the ride kind of sucked … pouring rain and 50 degrees. Hwy 90 to Hwy 59 to Hwy 27. Very many rolling hills (Henry – heads up). When I got to Tallahassee I stayed with David Crawford and his wife, Martha Cunningham. I also met JaneAnn and Jim Mann. Jim has done this trip before so got good info from him. Went to bike shop for some minor repairs. Jim biked me out of Tallahassee which made getting out of town much easier.
Started at 6:13 am
Stopped at 12:15 pm
Ride time – 4 hours 14 minutes
39.1 miles completed