Friday, August 11, 2017

The Finale

Day 69 - 8/11/17 - Near Jamestown to Yorktown, VA - 29 Miles

Lori - In my arms

Average Speed - Between 10 and 11 mph the whole trip

Lodging - HOME


More than 4000 miles

More than 400 hours sitting on a bicycle seat

Around 2,000,000 pedal strokes

70 nights away from home, sleeping in campgrounds, city parks, county parks, fairgrounds, behind stores, fire stations, jail houses, hostels, churches, houses and motels.

More than 300 bottles of water/gatorade

Crossing 10  states

Being chased by too many dogs

10s of thousands of feet of climbing

Enduring cold, heat, wind, humidity, hail, sleet, snow, rain

...I awoke on the morning of the final day of this incredible adventure.

I invited folks to join me on this final day, but when I was awoken by rain falling on my tent, I really wondered if anyone would show up.  It was awesome when Bob, Dean, Tom and Greg met me at the campground.  When we got to Jamestown, Tim was waiting and joined us.  Between Williamsburg and Yorktown, Joann (Greg's wife) joined our group.  It was really nice to be riding with friends.  Their support really meant alot.

When we got to Yorktown and we crested the final hill and turned toward the finish, I was overwhelmed to see the number of folks that showed up to cheer me to the finish.  I can't begin to put into words what it felt like.  I was overwhelmed and humbled by the show of support.

From the bottom of my heart I want to thank everyone that rode with me...everyone that showed up at the finish...everyone that followed along on the blog...everyone that left comments, sent messages, called and prayed.  I am truly blessed to have such a great family, friends and coworkers.

So how do I bring this thing to a close?  Well, it's a Finale, so what does that look like???

The final camp...
It's Back to my Real Bed After This

The final sunset...
Over the Chicahominy

The final breakfast...
I Miss My Smoothies

The final prep...

The final ride...
Colonial Parkway

The final destination...
The Pacific

The Atlantic (well The York River, but close enough)

The final post...thanks for following!

Thursday, August 10, 2017

I Just Gotta Do 60 Miles

Day 68 - 8/10/17 - Ashland, VA to Near Jamestown- 64 Miles

Lori - 28 miles away

Average Speed - With this kinda terrain you would expect it to be up there

Lodging - Chicahominy Riverfront Park - $31

I just gotta do 60 miles.  That's what I kept telling myself day after day after day...  To face over 4000 miles was too overwhelming.  Well, as I sit here in my campground on the final night of this journey, I'm ecstatic to be able to say that I don't have to do 60 miles anymore.

I'm less than 30 miles from finishing!!

I started riding early this morning and spent the first half of the day  working my way around the outskirts of Richmond.  I rode through numerous civil war battlefields and stopped often to read the historical markers.  The last half of the day I rode on the Capital Trail.  It was nice to be on a bike path and not have to worry about looking in my mirror to monitor the traffic behind me.

For dinner tonight I rummaged through my food bag and ate everything there was minus what I will eat for breakfast.  Tomorrow my gear will be the lightest its been on this trip.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Portrait of a Bike Tourist

Day 67 - 8/9/17 - Mineral, VA to Ashland, VA 44 Miles

Lori - 90 miles away

Average Speed - I almost passed my first cyclist, but he turned into his driveway

Lodging - Americamps - $11

I like this picture, because it captures pretty well how I see myself as a bicycle tourist.  One would think that toward the end of a long journey that the picture would be more clear, but I'm finding quite the opposite to be true.  So many many much much exposure...all in such a short period of time...too much to process!

In the beginning and it's all so new.

I'm in the middle and just focused on a day at a time.

I'm toward the end and the whole experience catches up with me and blows by me like a loaded logging truck on a narrow mountain road.  It's hard to hold a straight line.

I could go on, but this is a blog about bike riding, not philosophy, so let's focus on the ride.

I woke up this morning to nice cool temperatures.  After a cup of coffee and a sandwich from the nearby convenience store, I loaded my bike and was off.  The ride today took me through some nice Virginia countryside...

My original plan was to ride to Mechanicsville and stay in a motel, but they were crazy expensive, so I made the day a little shorter and stopped at a campground.  I was a little frustrated with not doing the miles I originally planned until I noticed this across the street...

To start out so deep.  To end so shallow.  Wecome to me!

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Winding Down

Day 66 - 8/8/17 - Charlottesville, VA to Mineral, VA - 58 Miles

Lori - 135 miles away

Average Speed - Calculating this everyday makes my head hurt

Lodging - Camping at Volunteer Fire Station - Free

Today was an uneventful day.  I bid Sonny farewell this morning and rode away on a bike fully laden with gear once again.  The mountains are done, but don't think for a second that the climbing is over.  I climbed over 4000 feet today over undulating hills. 

I rode at a relaxing pace, with no sense of urgency.  I'm trying to process the fact that this is my final week.

Speaking of my final week, let's talk a bit about the end of this ride.  I'm expecting to ride into Yorktown on Friday (8/11).  Thursday night I will be camping at the Chickahominy Riverfront Park.  I plan to start riding at 8ish AM on Friday morning and ride the Virginia Capital Trail to Jamestown.  I will be in Jamestown around 9ish AM.  I will ride the Colonial Parkway from Jamestown to Williamsburg.  I will be in Colonial Williamsburg around 10ish AM.  I will continue riding the Colonial Parkway to Yorktown and expect to conclude the ride at the Yorktown Victory Monument at around 11ish AM.

If you would like to ride with me on the last day for all or any part, I would love the company.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Mountains...I Bid Thee Farewell

Day 65 - 8/7/17 - Vesuvius, VA to Charlottesville, VA - 61 Miles

Lori - 195 miles away

Average Speed - One Word...Vesuvius

Lodging - Hampton Inn, Charlottesville , VA

Today was an epic day.  After more than 4000 miles and The Cascades...The Bitteroots...The Rockies...The Appalachians...I coasted downhill and finished the mountains.  However, before then I had to square off and face the climb out of Vesuvius.  It's not the tallest pass.  It's not the longest pass.  BUT, it's the steepest pass by a long shot.  Turns out that today was an absolutely horrible day from a weather standpoint...rainy...cold...foggy!  If you want to envision that climb, think wet...from rain...from sweat...from tears...from drool...think wet!

It was only fitting.  My first major pass of this trip was McKenzie.  If you'll remember, I was met with cold...rain...sleet...snow.  Why should my final pass be any different?

My friend, Lee, drove up from Newport News, parked at Afton mountain and then rode the Blue Ridge Parkway south to meet me.  We intersected just as I crested Vesuvius.  We rode the rest of the day together.  They say misery loves company...I'm here to tell you, it's true!

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Familiar Ground

Day 64 - 8/6/17 - Roanoke, VA to Vesuvius, VA - 67 Miles

Lori - 255 miles away

Average Speed - I wish it would make up it's mind

Lodging - Hampton Inn, Lexington, VA

This morning the temps were in the mid 50s.  I had to add a layer for the first couple hours.  Temps in the 50s and low cool (no pun intended) is that?

This morning I rode into Buchanan, the gateway to the Shenandoah Valley.  I crossed the James River...

I passed through Lexington and crossed the Maury River...

...and for the first time on this trip, I found myself on roads I've ridden before.  Every Summer, my friends, Steve and Bob, and myself spend a weekend riding in the Shenandoah Valley.  These roads are our pedaling grounds.

My ride today ended in the little town of Vesuvius.  I am happy to report that my name now decorates the walls of Gertie's Country Store.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

A Dream Realized

Day 63 - 8/5/17 - 32 miles west of Christiansburg, VA to Roanoke, VA - 64 Miles

Lori - 329 miles away

Average Speed - Maybe the fastest yet

Lodging - Hampton Inn, Roanoke, VA

This trellis is part of the New River Trail, a 50 mile rail to trail that parallels the New River between Pulaski and Galax.  A few miles into the ride this morning I came to the little town of Draper.  This is where the New River Trail and the Transamerica Trail intersect.  A few years ago, I was riding the New River Trail and stopped in Draper to buy some batteries in the small country store across the street.  It just so happens that there were some riders on road bikes that were fully laden with panniers front and back.  I struck up a conversation with them and they were riding across the country.  Here I was riding for the weekend and they were riding across the country.  I was envious.  After they rode away and I continued on the New River Trail, I kept thinking about how I would like to ride across the country someday.  Well that someday is today.  It was a moving moment.

The ride today was very pleasant.  I enjoyed amazingly cool temps, low humidity, minimal traffic and beautiful mountain views.

After a ride like today, what could make it better?  How about visiting a brewery or two...

Friday, August 4, 2017

Sag Support is Sweet

Day 62 - 8/4/17 - Abingdon, VA to 32 miles west of Christiansburg, VA - 71 Miles

Average Speed - Decreased by plus 40 lbs

Lodging - Hampton Inn, Christiansburg, VA

I left Abingdon early this AM after a difficult goodbye to Lori.  To get back on route, I took highway 11 almost the entire day.  It was a direct route, with minimal traffic and gentle grades.  It was a pleasant ride.

My friend Sonny met me in Wytheville, relieved me of my gear and I finished the day  pannierless...This kinda treatment could spoil me!

Thursday, August 3, 2017

No Burden

Day 61 - 8/3/17 - Breaks, VA to Abingdon, VA - 74 Miles

Average Speed - Increased by minus 40 lbs

Lodging - Quality Inn in Abingdon

his morning it was back in my work clothes and pedal away.

If you study the above picture closely, you'll also notice something different about my bike.  NO BAGS!!!  With Lori being there, I was able to ride bag free.  It took me a while to get use to the handling of the bike minus the bags, but given the fact that I climbed in excess of 6000 ft. today, it was a welcomed relief.

The first 41 miles on Route 80 were absolutely splendid.  Big mountains and beautiful views. 

The last 33 miles, I went off route and took highway 19 to Abingdon.  Highway 19...a 4 lane road...a debris laden, piddly shoulder with a rumble strip down the center...traffic beyond measure traveling at speeds beyond measure...inconsiderate drivers...Those 33 miles were a ride from hell.  Enough said!

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Taking a Break in Breaks

Day 60 - 8/2/17 - Breaks, VA - 0 Miles

Average Speed - N/A

Lodging - Lodge at Breaks Interstate Park

My 2nd zero day of the trip.  I should take more.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017


Day 59 - 8/1/17 - Hindman, KY to Breaks, VA - 70 Miles

Average Speed - GRRRR Mountains

Lodging - Lodge at Break Interstate Park

It doesn't get any better than that...oh wait...I forgot to mention...Lori was waiting for me at the VA line.  Now that's as good as it gets!!
View From Balcony of My Room

Monday, July 31, 2017

So Much for an Early Start

Day 58 - 7/31/17 - Booneville, KY to Hindman, KY - 67 Miles

Average Speed - Slowest day yet

Lodging - Hindman First Baptist Church Youth Center - free

I had a long day ahead of me in the mountains.  So I decided to get an early start.  As you can see by the above pic, the weather had other ideas.  These narrow, winding mountain roads naturally limit visibility, the fog exacerbates that.  I did the only thing I could do...adapt...I rode to a nearby cafe and enjoyed some french toast, sausage and coffee.

It was still foggy when I started out, but soon enough the fog cleared

As I suspected, today turned out to be a long day in the saddle...67 miles...over 7 hours riding time...8 climbs...countless hills...5918 feet of climbing!  While I am tired, overall I feel good.

I lost count of how many dogs chased me today.  I've gotten to the point that I don't fret it.  I just deal with each one as they occur.  There was one encounter that I found particularly troublesome.  I was on a small, winding county road waaayyy back in the sticks...

I was worried that maybe I had missed my turn.  I passed by this house, which was right on the road.   The owner was sitting on the front porch.  As soon as I passed by I heard him say, "go boys" and his two dogs lit off the porch and headed for me at full speed.  I stopped pedaling and yelled at them to go home and they both stopped in their tracks.  I guess I spoiled the fun of the owner, so he whistled and called them back.  Unbelievable!

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Reunited with Mountains...NO DOG!!!

Day 57 - 7/30/17 - Berea, KY to Booneville, KY - 51 Miles

Average Speed - See below pics of mountains

Lodging - Camping First Presbyterian Church - free

My breakfast this morning started with this.

There was a row of blackberry bushes just 50 feet from where I pitched my tent last night.  I helped myself to a handful and this morning I added them to my frosted mini wheats.  Delicious!

They say that Berea is the gateway to the Appalachians.  5 miles outside of town this morning, I found out why.

I've been out of the mountains since I dropped down from Hoosier Pass in Colorado.  It's good to be back, kinda.  I much more prefer long climbs where I can find a comfortable gear and get in a zone; versus the short, choppy rolling hills I've been enduring in MO, IL and western KY.

Before closing, let's talk a bit about dogs.  All along the trip, I've run into folks that ranted about the dogs in KY.  I've been riding in KY for 5 days and I hadn't been chased by a single dog.  I was beginning to think all these folks were exaggerating the issue.  That is...until today.  Not only is Berea the gateway to the Appalachians, it is also the gateway to dogs gone wild!  I was chased by half a dozen dogs today.  I was prepared for them...

My dog strategy is:
- do not participate in the chase - that's what most of them want anyway.  I simply stop pedaling.
- with a firm voice yell NO DOG!!!
- if they continue to pursue, I blast them with my horn.
- as a last resort, if I feel endangered, I reach for the mace.

Today, the stopping pedaling and firm voice worked everytime.  Let's hope that trend continues!