Sunday, May 30, 2010

Gateway to...

Where to begin... We have ridden a total of roughly 1,284 miles in 15 days plus a few rest days here and there. We have entered our 7th state and crossed our 8th north-south interstate. We are on the other side of the Mighty Mississippi River. We have crossed the Gateway to the West.

Recent mileage...
5/28 to Lawrenceville, IL 89 miles
5/29 to Salem, IL 79 miles
5/30 to St Louis, MO 98 miles (Luke's first flat)

If ever in doubt, ask a fireman. We crossed paths with the first cross country cyclist we've seen this trip in front of the courthouse in Salem, IL. The crazy Canadian was doing a crazy figure-8 route across the US and was drinking Diet Dr. Pepper out of a 2-liter. Back to the firemen... so Lee rolled up to the station and asked if they ahd any ideas of where we might camp. After a quick call, we were informed that Terry would escort us to the fairgrounds. Well, Terry apparently has some kind of ownership or power over that land because he called the Sheriff to let the department know that we were camping there and not to bother us. Clean restrooms, running water, electricity.. what more could you ask for? Well, we did go to Dairy Queen that night. I still have ice cream on my fenders from that cone melting while I was riding with it in my hand.

If you'll notice from the pictures, we have adopted the new radio as our mascot. Lee hasn't named it yet, but I'm sure it'll come in time.

We were somewhat nervous approaching St. Louis seeing as how we've heard how dangerous of a city it is and that we had no place to stay. We had some possibilities but they all fell through at the last minute. Don't worry, we didn't go through E St Louis. We went through Troy, IL, along a greenway to the river, over the McKinley bridge and into Missouri. While we had already passed thru a somewhat slummy area in IL, what was to come was shocking. We followed another greenway alongside the river next to the levys. The greenway ended where a future proposed trail started. We instinctively followed the gravel which seemed our best option. We suddenly came upon a slew of tents with a sign at the entrance reading "Hopeville USA." Out of desperation for still not having a place to stay that night, Lee said, "We could camp here if we need to." Well, I'm sure we could have but it had not yet dawned on us what we were looking at. I saw a couple bickering about something as we strolled by. When we were clear of the tent town, we shared our shock with eachother. Well, Lee claimed not to be so shocked. But I just could not believe what I had just seen. I felt like I was looking at a 3rd world country. These people have been given tents, no doubt for free, to live in a secluded area where no one else goes so as to not bother anyone. They sleep next to the levys. Not even a quarter of a mile later, we rode right through the middle of a wedding photo shoot. On one side of the street were the grrom and groom's men and the bride along with her maid's on the other side. The all look so lovely and well kept. Brand new expensive suits and dresses topped with gallons of hair gel and hair spray. The juxtaposition was startling. The road we were on led on straight to the arch. We took some pictures, got disgusted by the tourism, finally landed a place to stay that night, and left. We got a hold of our friend Drew's mother and she met us in the city and drove us out to the 'burbs for the night.

We decided we'd stay a day, see St. Louis, and hope to see Drew. Well, Drew should be here late tonight, bonus! And St Louis was a lot of fun. However, it is empty... amazingly empty. We rode up and down Olive St (a main street right to the arch) both today and yesterday with almost no cars at all on the street. St Louis seems to be a bit of a dead city. That aside, this city does have some pretty unique things about it. Apparently it has the longest graffiti wall in the world. Saw it. The St Louis Zoo is FREE, that's right, FREE. Amazing. Saw it. Saw lions, tigers, and bears... OH MY! We actually only spent 33 minutes in there as we were on a bit of a time crunch and actually jog through the last bit searching for the polar bears and elephants. And lastly, the CITY MUSEUM is phenomenal; well worth the $12. It is like a playgrounf for adults. Not only is it fun, but it's smart. Every city should have one. It's a great way to reuse construction material that would have likely otherwise been wasted as well as utilize the labor of skilled workers. Win win. Plus, it is a space where families or any groups (there was a wedding party in there while we were there) can go rain or shine and get some energy out and have some fun. So much for our "rest day." By the way, what is the deal with everyone getting married this weekend? Seriously, I think we saw at least 10 weddings.

Maybe it's about time to report my condition. Well, I'd say that all systems are normal. I will now admit that I had a nasty cough when we left Asheville that lasted till about Bloomington but has since passed. No biggie. Unfortunately, saddle sores are real people. Lee seems to be immune; I guess his ass is made of leather. I, on the other hand, have had developments since the first week. Any how, suffice it to say that this is about to get serious. Bag Balm and Vaseline, here I come.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

We're not in Appalachia anymore...

We're not in Appalachia anymore. That was apparent when we could see
the thunderstorm from miles away. Here we sit, in Bicknell, IN under a
covered picnic area waiting for it to pass. Another other clue was that I have not seen a trash sale for days. I know that sounds harsh, but that's what it is: people hanging out on either the side of the road or their front yard selling whatever they have that they don't want.

We stayed in Bloomington, IN an extra day. Not only did we love it
there, but we also justified it by doing some MacGyver work on his
bike. His panniers had been swaying into his rear wheel the whole
trip. He tried flipping them around but that only caused them to run
his heels. A visit to Lowes with Adam's creativity and $17 later, we
had constructed an extension from his frame that solved it. IT looks
pretty awesome. Now we just need to decorate the bumper that we put on
it. If you know Lee, you won't be surprised that he gasped at each
zip-tie, tube strip, and strand of electrical tape we used. He is a
bit of a weight-weenie. The next story might surprise you though.

After walking back from icecream the first night, we ran into to
Ginelle's friend, Andrea. When she heard of our trip, she offered to
let us take her handlebar radio along with us. Lee got thrilled St
this prospect. I simply do not have room as I aleady have a GPS and
cycling computer mounted (thanks Gine for the new computer!). Lee, on
the other hand, could stand to add more weight if you ask me. Maybe IT
would slow him down on the climbs for me. So we've already enjoyed
that radio tremendously. We thinking about having a dance party in
Lawrenceville, IL if we can only find another covered area like this

Why did we love Bloomington? Well, my sis' and her fiance live there
and I do love visiting them. But if that's not enough for you, we saw
a Gutenberg Bible, an original Monet and Picasso, a letter from Ernest
Hemingway to his parents signed 'Ernie,' a 1st edition Big Book, and
several other awesome things. Also, we got Lee's rear brakes finally
working for free in BikeSmiths, a LBS owned by a transgendered

Our second day, we feasted at an Indian buffet. I stuffed my face in
spirit of the bird Ginelle told me she recently learned about that
gets fat before crossing the ocean on a 9 day journey in which it
never stops to eat or sleep. Nom nom nom!

Sent from my mobile device

cont (later that day)...

There we were, bewildered on the street corner as the winds began to roar, the thunder cracked, and some locals told us that we could camp down by the river... as long as it didn't flood? I retract my comment about seeing a storm miles away. We hustled up the hill hoping to find a fire department. While looking confused and lost, Ed who just happens to be the director of tourism 'round these parts, spotted us. Apparently we looked like we were from out of town. He took one look at us and said "you guys gotta get out of this right now!" Well, we couldn't have been spotted by anyone better. Ed told us to go straight to his house and to meet his wife, Diane, there. We shoveled spaghetti down our hatches and they treated us to Dairy Dee's afterward. The kindest of strangers is amazing. We did not have to try to camp is this absurdly unseasonable storm thanks to this family. By the way, this was not just a little rain. Thank you Lawrenceville, IL for the hospitality.

We have crossed our first timezone!

Monday, May 24, 2010


After 12 days of riding, we are officially in the Midwest. After 108 miles from Louisville->Bloomington, IN, we have concluded our second 6 day stretch of riding. We were both more than ready for a rest day and couldn't have landed in a better spot. Bloomington is a lot of fun, it's a pretty hip town. It's different experience when the other half of the town's population is away on summer break. Our hopes for tomorrow's day off include bike shops, Soma coffee shop, book stores, Blue Boy Chocolate Cafe, The Kinsey Institute @ IU, possibly a fire tower hike, and maybe the Bloomington Community Band.

"Those goats are totally into us."
"Look at that bridge! Oh, those are power lines..."
"Wanna see a live snake?"

We have toyed with the idea of opening L&L RR & Saloon (Lee and Luke's Roadkill Restaurant and Saloon). It is disturbing how much roadkill we see in a day. We figure we could market it as all organic, free range "happy" meat. Our overhead would be nothing.

If you're wondering what people in Indiana call themselves, it is not Indianians. They are "hoosiers." Why? No one knows yet they all go along with it.

Going through Louisville was surprisingly painless for a Monday morning. We crossed over the Ohio River on the 2nd St Bridge, lots of fun. Riding the back roads of IN was incredibly uneventful. It was uncommon to see a car. Rural, very rural. We stopped in Salem, IN for lunch in the middle of town. We were literally in the middle of town. There was some kind of government churchy looking building in the middle of a roundabout that we rested near. Why placing a gigormous gun in the lawn of this building makes sense, I will continue to wonder. But we decided to take some cheesy pics of ourselves on it anyway. SE Indiana is beautiful. Full of fields of wildflowers.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Louisville Luck

A followup story from yesterday...
Lee was retelling me a story of the discussion between he and his brother about how to handle a bear encounter. Apparently, the most effective personal protection when bicycle touring with a partner is a pipe. Lee asked his brother why. He responded that all Lee would have to do was stick the pipe in my wheel and pedal away. Clever. We were riding on a back road (well, it was actually the main hwy running through Liberty to Lebanon) when Lee was telling me this story with little to no traffic. He felt the need to demonstrate the placement of the pipe on his own front wheel with his left hand. I heard a "click, click claccccck!" Miracously, Lee's hand came out of his wheel that was spinning at least 15mph with all 5 fingers, no broken bones, and no open wounds. Not so clever. Lucky.

Speaking of luck, we have had so much. Our friends in London connected us with some more cycling fanatics in Louisville who just happened to live 2.5 miles from Sue Wulf, a relative of mine, whome we are staying with. We pedaled over to their house after arriving at Sue's and showering to get a new crankset and bottom bracket. What better luck could we have? Tim just happened to have a near new crankset and BB that fit. We had some bike talk for a while and walked away, pedaled rather, with one less problem. The final bike issue, rear brakes. We have a lot of miles till we get to our next mountains range so we're not too concerned. We're going to try in Bloomington or call ahead in St Louis for some wide-profile cantilevers.

We had a lovely ride for the most part. We were nearly run over by a woman backing out of her driveway on our way out of Lebanon though. I looked up and saw Lee braking so I braked and nearly hit him. Then I realized why he was breaking... she was oblivious. I yelled as loud as I could hoping that she'd hear me through her SUV windows. She didn't hear me but her husband sure did. I dodged around the tank only to look back at her husband who was stomping towards us yelling at us to get back there. You can bet that Lee and I both kept looking over our shoulder for the next few minutes. Happy Sunday morning. We had 3 exhilarating county line sprints. Lee: 1, Luke: 2. Of course this is the first day I have blogged about who won the most county line sprints... I am in the lead. You can conclude for yourself who usually wins those.

The road we took out of Lebanon was apparently a part of a century route that locals ride. We hit some grueling hills which taunted us with their spray painted messages such as "ARE YOU LAUGHING YET?"

Lee gets angsty about big cities. I get excited. I tried to assure him that Louisville wasn't that big (I had only seen it from the interstate, but trust me... I know what I'm talking about). We passed a sign at the bottom of a hill which read, "WELCOME TO LOUISVILLE, THE 16TH LARGEST CITY IN AMERICA." I explained to Lee that this meant that there were still 15 cities that were larger... this didn't seem to settle him much. Fortunately, we had no trouble. Apparently those stats reflect the inclusion of the surrounding county... I may be mistaken.

We had a lovely evening visiting with family. As I regretfully told them, I didn't know about their existence prior to this trip. What I didn't clarify is that my ignorance is no fault of my family! I am sure my Grandfather has told me numerous times about our family here. I blame my short term memory. Nonetheless, we had great conversation, good food, and a warming experience. Tomorrow morning, Sue will take me to the home that my grandfather lived in before our departure. I hope whoever lives there now won't mind me posing for a picture on their lawn at 6:30am because it's going to be an early riser!! On that note, it's nearly midnight. I need to cut this off to get 6 hours. Tomorrow, ~108 miles to Bloomington, Indiana! Hola mi hermana, vengo a usted!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Kentucky Knobs

It was when we were going through the "knobs" that I kept running through different ideas to name this blog entry. "Beauty vs Misery." "When Beauty does not outweigh Misery." "The Tortoise, the Hare, and the ..." There was another animal that I cannot remember. After going through the Daniel Boone National Forest (pronounced "Dan-uhl" like "flannel"), we entered what we were later told were the "knobs." It was misery. Once we peaked one knob, we could see the next two. It seemed to never end. The area around Science Hill was particularly annoying. I paused to put on my iPod to make the undulations (a word Lee loves to use) more bearable. I started off listening to an album buy John Legend but couldn't keep it on because each subsequent song seemed to give further justification for having an affair. It drove me mad. The tortoise and the hare came about because Lee saw a rabbit and he also picked up a turtle for a while in DBNF and carried it on his handlebar bag. I concluded that this was a test of his stability. Fortunately, it didn't last long... not his stability, the test. Speaking of, Lee generally rides relatively straight. I, on the other hand, frequently seem to veer left or right. It reminds me of walking to the pool in the summer when I was young with my sisters and causing them frustration because I would frequently veer into their path. It's not that I intended to, I just sort of naturally gravitate towards people I suppose. Odd, I know. Nonetheless, it is frustrating as a cyclist as you obviously aim to ride in a straight line.

This business of misery is a perfect lead-in for an old story that should have already been told. When Lee was at urgent care in Asheville, he was being seen by a Russian female doc with a very thick accent. When she asked him to describe how his sickness was affecting him, she asked (saw it in a think Russian accent now...), "On scale from 1 to 10, how would you rate your misery?" Thenceforth, misery has been our gauge.

Another old story that needs telling... I was trying to read Lee's ever so artistically written directions and said, "It says here that we're supposed to take a left on Huey lo?" He replied, "Oh, Highway 10." All highways have been referred to as "hueys" from thenceforward.

Topics of conversation to make this stretch more bearable, or not, consisted of a)is man good or evil, b) can man trust his senses, and c) is love real? It's a good thing I didn't have room in my panniers for my noose. Otherwise, xxx... kidding.
I think this all was born out of the fact that Sam and Beverly were so good to us for absolutely no reason at all. They received nothing in return for taking us in. The best we could offer after a tiresome day was some stories and a few rounds of chicken (a game they taught us to play with dominoes).
No really though... I remember learning all those theories that we discussed with Prof. McClain in Humanities 324. I hadn't thought about them much, if at all, since then. Now I know why.
My conclusions... a)man has evil (or I like to think of it as selfish, dishonest, and inconsiderate behavior) innately within but has the ability to live an infinitely more comfortable and satisfying life if he/she chooses to serve others rather than self. b)yes. do we have any other choice? c) absolutely, if we allow it.

We stopped in Liberty where they had a bell in the middle of town. Lee and I have seen bells throughout this whole trip and have agreed that we need to make a point to ring as many bells as possible. Unfortunately, we always seem to be in too much of a hurry to do so. Well, not in Liberty. I took the liberty to jump the fence and give that bell a ring. Unfortunately, the damn ringer (whatever you call it) inside the bell didn't move. Fake. Fake bell.

The final 30 miles to Lebanon weren't too bad. Our host, Mary Ann, rode past us on her motorcycle and waved, pleasant surprise. Again, our hosts, Mary Ann and Blake, were friends of Bill. Another fortunate connection. We arrived without anyone home having never met them with a note instructing us to enter, make ourselves at home, and raid the fridge. So, we did. Their home was absolutely magnificent. It was once an infirmary and has some very interesting architecture. Lee commented that the places we stayed the last 3 nights must have been the best places we could have possibly stayed at. We have been so lucky. We ended the day with a feast at a Mexican Restaurant. Today, roughly 95 miles. Tomorrow 60-65 miles to Louisville.

Friday, May 21, 2010

A Muggy Kentucky Day

We started pedaling at 6:45am in order to make our long day in a reasonable time. We were amazed to be in the town of Cumberland Gap by 11am. Riding on Hwy 58 was amazing. The traveled along a ridge all the way into CG. Today was our first taste of rain but it made for a lovely ride. The clouds climbing over there can hardly be described. Thanks Mish for the camera; I don't have to try! Lee threatened to stay in SW VA because he loved it so much. Lee described them as looking like waves abut to crush down upon us. The clouds climbing the mountains brought me back to years ago when I lived in the Hominy Valley and would watch this same wonder at the base of Mount Pisgah.

We had been forewarned that crossing the Cumberland Gap would be a challenge as cyclists are not peritted in th tunnel. We stopped in the local outdoor store where we were told that we would not be able to cycle over the gap. Well, we did. I did not predict that we'd be mountain biking on our touring rigs but there was no other way over that gap without catching a ride through. Crossing into Kentucky was like entering another world. The first person we spoke to at the visitor's center was Brit named Alan. We were also chased down by a few who wer eager to give us free healtcare. Lee put it best,"I feel like we just entered a Socialist Union of sorts." Not to mention the fact that we were heading for London, KY. There happened to be a mobile unit called Rural Area Medical (RAM) that was offerg free car to anyone who showed up without even asking for ID. What a revolution. If we had another day, we could've each gotten our teeth cleaned, gotten any necessary dental work, and eye exam with free glasses! Too bad we couldn't stay... Lee cannot read road signs to save his life. This illusion was smashed as soon as we go back on the road and the first thing we saw was a KFC. Yes, we still in 'merica, ya'll. The clerk at he Dollar General asked me "where yenz is headed ta?" I have always heard of this "yenz," today was my first encounter. Eastern KY is full of abject poverty. It's right frightenin' to cycle through it in full lycra.

Lee's crankarm held till 2 miles outside of London. Locktite is amazing. However, I'm going to push for us to find an old crankset in Bloomington that we can snag for free/cheap and pickup a new BB. We'll see what Bloomington has to offer.

We are now at a friend of Bill's house in London KY, Sam and Beverly G. I have no doubts that they'll treat us "right nice" as dinner is cooking now. We arrived at 4:45... a shockingly early end as we planned on arriving around 7pm.

Thursday, May 20, 2010


---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Luke Heller <>
Date: Thu, 20 May 2010 21:58:07 -0400
Subject: SW VA

I need to remember to ask Jeff for his granola recipe. What a
wonderful way to start the day. The Daniel Boone Trail treated us well
minus the few areas wher IT misled is. We saw some beautiful mountain
streams and mountain views. The climbs towards the Cumberland Gap were
neverending. In fact, we are not yet to the gap. A fellow cyclist
stuck his head out the window of his car and asked if we needed
anything. So we stopped short and are now just east of Jonesville.
Apparently davie crockett's son was killed here. IT is nothing but
shear luck that 1 of the 5 cyclists in this town offered their home to
us. So we ended with plates and plates of baked spaghetti and ice
cream followed to the Tour de California. Who would've thought...

Tomorrow will be long. We will have to make up for the miles we didn't
make today. Tomorrow's estimate is 105. And IT was just last week when
we claimed that we wouldn't do any more 100 mile days.

Lee had more trouble with his crankarm bolt. We finally got some
locktite. If that doesn't work... ? We may need to consider a new BB
and crankset. At his crankarm, he said "I wanna go home." Lee's only
problem is his bike. These issues are frustrating but we will have to
be over them soon. Anyone know what BB will fit a mid 80's centurion

We have friends in London KY for tomorrow night. Still no rain, yay!
We crossed our 4th north-south interstate today. 95, 85, 77, 81. IT
would be 5 if you count I-26 because if you are from AVL, IT does run
north-south. Sleeping under the stars tonight. Likely rain tomorrow.

Sent from my mobile device

Sent from my mobile device

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Crossing Borders

Lee called me last night to report that he got dizzy after riding for 10 minutes through a cemetery nearby. We had a brief talk and I was beginning to think that I would be leaving him behind. In fact, I was considering my alternatives. I expected to see Lee under the covers on the couch when I knocked on Emma and Keith's door. While he wasn't necessarily raring to go, he was actually packed and ready before me. We made a stop on the quad at UNCA so Lee could say farewell too Keith. I was not expecting Lee to perform much and was happily surprised. He continued to surpass me on all the climbs as he always does and seemed to have no trouble whatsoever. My friend Eleanor rode with us about 26 miles to Mars Hill ad turned back for the ride home. I was expecting to have to leave Lee on the side of the road with Eleanor as they lie and wait for a ride. Fortunately, Eleanor rode home alone. Thanks for the backup, Eleanor.

19W into TN was a beautiful ride. It wasn't nearly as challenging as I recall it being when I rode it two winters ago. On the side of the ride, we saw a sign that read "HEY LADIES, 555-5555." We concluded that this was the backwoods method of internet dating. I wish I had stopped for a picture of this. Later,we stopped and took a picture of ourselves on a suspended bridge. There were many of these along the climb. We were both shocked at how quickly we made it to the top. I knew we were at the top because of the AT sign. Lunch was had on a log over a creek along the Appalachian Trail. We encountered a thruhiker whom I offered some food to who was surpisingly indifferent. You'd think he'd be half-starved and ready to eat a cow. Instead, he responded, "mmmm, whattya got?" We cruised down 19W thru Spivey Gap and stopped to admire the lovely waterfalls. Oh how I miss being in Asheville for the summer. The descent into TN was chilly! We got some fun photos by the state sign to flaunt the crossing of our first state.

We've been welcomed into my friend's Martha and Jeff's home in Johnson City. Oh how we will miss all of our friends when we get out West. It has been such a treat to be welcomed by so many. We'll do at least 80 miles tomorrow and probably stop just shy of the Cumberland Gap.

Overall, a much welcomed uneventful day. I am thrilled to still have my riding partner and I think that he is equally thrilled to still be riding. When we leave tomorrow, everything will be new territory for Lee. He has not been further than Johnson City.

Monday, May 17, 2010

and then we rested...

for 3 days. Lee woke up on our 6th day and said he felt sick but I saw little evidence of it during the 80 miles of riding into Asheville. However, the following day he showed up at my graduation wearing a fleece while the rest of the world was sweating. He later said, "I must be dying." Needless to say, he went to the doc and got some antibiotics. We've been waiting out his sickness for 3 days and are going to try to ride to Johnson City, TN tomorrow morning.

So day 6...
The EMS station treated us well. We were able to get a full night's rest without any disturbance. Lee got a second flat as we approached Morganton. At this, he was fully convinced that Angelo, the guy he bought the wheel from, obviously does not know how to install rimtape. While Lee changed his tire across from a used car lot, I saw a red karmann ghia. It was then that I realized that if Lee would ever own a car and operate a motor vehicle, it would have to be a car with as much character as that purdy red karmann ghia. He agreed.

As we approached Morganton, we stopped to inspect Lee's bike because something was clicking on each pedal stroke. We found that it was a loose crank arm. If you know anything about bikes, you'll confirm that crankarms are pretty important. They are those things that the pedals are attached to. Fortunately, a nice guy named Rusty who previously operated a local bike shop stopped to help us. Unfortunately, he wasn't able to do anything for us. We continued to pedal, loose crankarm and all. It was refreshing to pedal through all these little towns that I always see from the interstate. Morganton had a pleasant downtown with a cute coffee shop on the corner that had sweet treats calling my name. We caught our first glimpse of the mountains from downtown Morganton. Funny story... you can we passed a young boy, no more than 10 who clearly should've been in school who was digging in the dirt on the side of the road next to a junkyard. I asked him, "what are you digging for?" He responded, "metal" while lifting a large metal bolt to prove his success. I just couldn't help but wonder why one would waste time digging for metal while there was a hole junkyard full of old metal cars. This was a stunning cultural moment. Another good one was when Lee looked over his shoulder at me in disbelief at the sight of a man carrying a toddler on his lap on a riding mower. I shouted to Lee, "free child care!"

Back to the crank arm. Apparently, Rusty foresaw doom in our future. He caught us on the other side of Morganton after having made a phone call to his girlfriend inquiring whether or not she had seen some cyclists ride by on 70. He brought a bag full of crank bolts and directed across the street to a bike shop that could help us with the rest. At this point, Lee had removed his crank arm and decided to pedal the last 200 meters to the shop with only one pedal. He did an impressive job until he hit a steep uphill section. While waiting for the shop to open, I was able to get the crankarm back on with the new bolt but was unable to tighten it because I didn't have the right size hex tool. We asked a man who was leaving from breakfast who directed just down the street to a man who would tighten those crankarms up and send us on our way.

Climbing old 70 was a treat. No cars, smooth road, well shaded. Just crank and go. My roommates and another friend were having a party at a park to celebrate graduation and they were all expecting us at 4pm. Sure enough, we arrived just at 4pm. Lee yelled, "RIDE BIKES!!!" which seems to be the motto of the UNCA cycling club. It was the warmest reception we could have possibly gotten. Many friends were there to cheer us in from the 6th day of riding and arrival in Asheville from the coast. Then, we ate good food.

I graduated from UNC Asheville. College, did it. I was well adorned in a golden bike chain that draped over my shoulders compliments on UNCA cycling club President, Lateef Cannon. This is hopefully the start of a longstanding tradition. Thanks to all friends and family who supported me not only at graduation but for all of my years. There is no doubt that my life would not be what it is without all of you. Thank you.
We also went back to Biowheels and got Lee a bombproof wheel that should hold strong as well as some new rear brakes. I now have 5 water bottle cages, very exciting! Hydration is everything.

I have posted some pictures of our travels so far on facebook. You should be able to look at them even if you don't have facebook...
Coast2Coast photos

Day 5: 87 miles
Day 6: 78 miles

Thursday, May 13, 2010

5: Winston->Hildebran

We planned an 85 mile day to Hickory but my contact fell through. We
anticipated a fairly rough day approaching the foothills. We had a
late 10am start which was necessary for Lee to maximize on family
time. In the early afternoon, Lee rear wheel failed. He was stopping
to check on directions and didn't even notice he was going flat. After
Lee changed the tire under a gorgeous tree which I have a picture of,
I noticed that he had busted a spoke on the drive-side. We didn't have
a chain whip or cassette tool so I called the LBS in Hickory and they
hid it for me to use after they closed. After making the wheel ridable
for the next 15ish miles, traveling 10 miles out of the way, and some
luck from asking the right people for help, we followed a another
rider out of town and drafted on him for a bit... I think Lee was
happy to chase someone else around for a change. So our 85 n mile day
easily turned in to about 100. We had some real problems but made it
thru them with good attitudes. We have resolved to get Lee a new wheel
somehow in Asheville. It's not worth risking to ride on a wheel that
has needed to be trued 3x in 2 days.
We jolted outta Hickory and we camped behind a fire station in Burke
County on the east side of Morganton. Tomorrow, early rise to try to
get to Asheville early enough for an afternoon graduation celebration
with friends.

Sent from my mobile device

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Raleigh->Chapel Hill->Winston-Salem

Day 3, Raleigh->Chapel Hill, ~40 miles
Day 4, Chapel Hill->Winston-Salem, ~84 miles

Day 3 was a bit of a relief for me. Getting through Raleigh sucked but getting out was a little but easier. We hit some nice greenways... but they weren't complete. The American Tobacco Trail section we were on was only 1/2 paved. Google bicycling maps continues to prove to be untrustworthy. While day 3 was good for me, Lee struggled through it. We are predicting/hoping that we'll see a pattern of us taking turns having bad days. Day 4 was good for him while it was a struggle for me. I poked into the Mobil gas station in BFE with a fool's hope for an espresso. Neither of us slept well the night before. Lee had some allergic reaction and got hives at the house we were at and I felt like fleas were in the bed I was in. A good night's rest would have helped.

This being the only blog I've ever done, I am mildly conscious of my writing. I say mildly because I don't really care about my writing style at the point. For one, I am graduating at UNC Asheville this Saturday. I have done enough revisions for a while. Further, after riding what we have been riding, my mental capacities begin to diminish a bit.

Day 4 Highlights
A man dressed as Steve Martin in "3 Amigos" riding a horse to Chapel Hill holding 2 ears of corn. This was a shocking site.
Existentialism. Suffice to say... I'm damn glad my life has meaning. Lee's philosophical rants would easily upset an ungrounded individual. Kant, Rousseau, the failure of the Enlightenment, rationalism, etc...
And finally, we got lectured by a man at a gas station about how great bikes are because he had to ride a bike for 4 years after getting a DUI. Then he drove off.

Lee's Bike
The fenders continued to rub so I pulled them out further and trimmed the rear fender a bit. We should finally be past this issue.
At the start of the day, his rear brakes were rubbing so much that he decided to just disengage them altogether. He rode with just front brakes all day, no problems. He plans to go back to Biowheels and grab the other set of cheapo Shimano canti's that sorta fit his old road frame.
We were so happy when Angelou at the bike shop in Kill Devil Hills had a wheel ready when we needed it. However, we now think that Angelou must have still been half-baked from the night before. I trued his wheel early in the day and again in the afternoon. He rode the final mile or two with the wheel rubbing his chainstay. This factory built Wienmann rim laced on a shimano hub seems to have a been a waste of money. It was $80. When you're local shop suggests buying a handbuilt wheel for touring, you may want to listen to them. The entire non-drive side was so loose that I could hand-twist the nipples. I suspect that we'll have to continue truing the wheel all the way to Asheville. We may be looking for a new wheel when we arrive unless we can whip this wheel into shape on a truing stand.

We have been discussing the rest of the trip. We want to cut our 100 mile days and we are willing to skip San Fran. As long as we get to the coast, we'll be thrilled. San Fran was just an added bonus ride down the coast anyhow. We'll see.

We ended with a hearty meal at Lee's mother's.... and now sleep.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

just because you can doesn't mean you should

Yesterday was hellacious. Let me explain the cause of our misery. Some how we planned our first week wrong... all wrong. I have to be back in Asheville on Friday for graduation on Saturday. Our planned route had us arriving on Saturday... a day too late. So, we decided to skip the "off the beaten track" roads of the outer banks and ride Hwy 64 all the way out of the first day. Consider this: Hwy 64 seems to be the main road going in and out of OBX. Further, we were riding it on a Sunday afternoon when all the weekend beachnuts were driving home. Genius.

Needless to say, we were thrilled when we were able to ride Alternate 64 the next day almost all day. So 95 miles on the first and we knew that day 2 would be roughly 100 miles. Seemingly unfortunate, my cycling computer stopped worked after 5 miles on the second day so we had no idea what our mileage was. We passed through numerous towns with little more than a sheriff's department, a church, and a service station. Tarboro, NC was a surprisingly nice town. We had lunch in front of the courthouse by a pretty water fountain where I got some nice shots. We filled up out water supply in the courthouse and shook it up a bit. 2 guys in lycra with clicky shoes walking on a marble floor stand out a bit when everyone is in a coat and tie or dress. I politely told them that I forgot mine at home. I was shocked that neither of us had to take of our shoes for the metal detector.

64A was the easy part except for the hills. Someone told Lee the Raleigh was flat; wrong. We started hitting some heavy rollers in Wake Forest that were killing us. We each took turns taking longs pulls for each other in the front. How Lee managed to damn near sprint out of the saddle up those hills... I don't know. Apparently he has become very comfortable on that rig. I am just lucky, I suppose, that my bike and I weigh more than he does so I always caught up with him on the downhills.

We got to Wake and promptly lost our sense of direction. I stopped in a Storage facility and bothered a nice old man to let me use his computer. Even with directions, the finally 15-20 miles of our trip to Sarah's house was ridiculous. Riding through the suburbs kinda sucks. We never actually got lost; we always stopped and asked for help before that happened. The problem with that was that no one seemed to know anything about the town that they were in despite that fact that they lived there. We were hoping to connect to some of the greenways in Raleigh but it really was not that simple. The W&Od trail system in DC is amazing, Raleigh should model after it.

So we finally arrived at Sarah's house after dark. Before we started this trip, Lee said he would never ride after dark. Needless to say, we will be picking up his tail light in Winston tomorrow night. Sarah, the awesome host the she is, set us up with a chow down meal and some arnica gel... ah legs. I was so delirious that I was unable to speak well. The beginnings of my sentences were mush. Before we retired for the night, Lee suggested that we ride straight to Winston-Salem tomorrow... 120 miles. Yeah, no...
We will be heading out to Chapel Hill today, only 35 miles or so down the road.

So, just because you can ride 220 miles in 2 days does not mean that you should. I am glad we are on schedule though. We plan to reevaluate our itinerary and cut some/most of our 100 mile days.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Day One Recap

Done. Not an awesome start. We got off 3 hours late due to a busted
wheel and tire. We hoped to get to greenville but ended up in
Williamston. Tumultuous winds coupled with Lee's discomfort on a new
bike caused a rough start. We met some people when asking for some zip
ties. A few hours later, I was resting flat on my back after snacking
at a stop sign. A couple pulled up and asked where we were going and
said they had just left their father's who coincidentally gave us zip
ties. Small world.

Lee bonked around mile 85. He chugged a soda and kept pushing. We
pulled into town just at sundown at mile 95. Being so late and so
tired, we chowed down on pizza.

We are camped out near the river. Raleigh tomorrow.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

The final preparations

Well, we either head east late tonight or early tomorrow morning. 

The good news is that Matt Johnson at Biowheels was able to make Lee's brakes work beautifully! I was growing increasingly anxious about this lack of stopping the closer and closer we got to our departure. We had issue with the brakes because Lee is riding a mids-80's Centurion ProTour15 frame we found in West Asheville off craigslist for $25. The issue wasn't the frame; the frame is perfect. We switched the old 27" wheels for modern 700c wheels and the bosses for the brakes just didn't quite match up. With a little bikelove and  know how, Matt made Lee squeal when Lee felt the power of the brakes!

The bad news... well, there really isn't any. I have one more carload of things to put in a basement for the summer and I am RTG (ready to go)! Lee on the other hand has 2 big papers today and a final. So we may get crazy and leave late tonight or just leave in the a.m. Regardless of when we leave, we'll be making a stop in Winston-Salem so Lee can kiss his mama bye-bye before riding coast to coast. Lee has not seen the ocean in... something like 10 years? He has also never been further west than Tennessee. We are stoked for an amazing trip!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

May 9, Sunday, Depart Atlantic Coast
Day 1 – New Holland. Left on Outfall Canal Rd. 66 miles
Day 2 - Greenville. 92 miles
Day 3 – Raleigh 83 miles
Day 4 – Chapel Hill 35 miles
Day 5 – Winston-Salem. 86 miles
Day 6 – Lenoir. 88 miles
Day 7 – Asheville. 77 miles
May 14, Friday, arrive @ Asheville. Rest Sat, depart Sunday.
Day 8 - Johnson City, TN 81 miles
Day 9 – Cumberland Gap, VA. 102 miles
Day 10 – London, KY 59 miles
Day 11 – Springfield, KY - 84 miles
Day 12 – Louisville, KY – 78 miles
Day 13 – Bloomington, IN 95 miles
May 21, Saturday, arrive @ Blomington. Rest Sat, depart Sunday
Day 14 - Lawrenceville, IL 82 miles
Day 15 – Salem, IL 71 miles
Day 16 - St Louis, MO 91 miles
May 25, Tues, arrive @ St. Louis. Rest day. Depart Thurs May 27.
Day 17 - Louisiana, MO 72 miles
Day 18 - Canton, MO 70 miles
Day 19 – Queen City, MO 83 miles
Day 20 - Eagleville, MO 90 miles
Day 21 - Clarinda, IA 79 miles
Day 22 - Bellevue, NE 75 miles
June 2, Tues, arrive @ Bellevue, NE. Rest day. Depart June 4.
Day 23 – Onawa, IA 81 miles
Day 24 – Hartington, NE 101 miles
Day 25 – Bristow, NE 78 miles
Day 26 – Mariaville, NE 53 miles
Day 27 – Fremont State Recreation Area, NE 50 miles
June 10, Thursday, arrive @ Fremont, NE
Day 28 – Norfolk, NE 83 miles
Day 29 – O’Neill, NE 76 miles
Day 30 – Ainsworth, NE 67 miles
Day 31 – Eli, NE 98 miles
Day 32 – Cactus Flat, SD 83 miles
Day 33 – Folsom, SD, 73 miles
Day 34 – Newcastle, WY, 85 miles
Day 35 – Teckla, WY (Thunder Basin Nat Grassland), 77 miles
June 18, Tuesday Arrive @ Teckla, WY. No rest.
Day 36 – Midwest, WY, 73 miles
Day 37 – Casper, WY, 45 miles
Day 38 – Moneta, WY, 85 miles
Day 39 – Dubois, WY 117 miles
Day 40 – Jackson, WY (Teton NP), 91 miles
June 23, Wednesday, arrive @ Jackson, WY. Rest day. Depart June 25.
Day 41 – Lewis Lake, WY, 73 miles
Day 42 – Grayling Arm, MT 68 miles
Day 43 – Bozeman, MT, 87 miles
Day 44 – Helena, MT 99 miles
Day 45 – Drummond, MT 83 miles
Day 46 – Missoula, MT 55 miles
July 1, Thursday, arrive @ Missoula, MT. No rest.
Day 47 – Bigfork, MT 101 miles
Day 48 – Nimrod, MT, 72 miles
Day 49 – Rising Sun, MT, 69 miles
Day 50 – Apgar, MT, 42 miles
thanks eje… get pie at the Park Cafe, in St. Mary's. Can't be beat. Sprague Creek campground in Glacier was lovely. Take the bicycle restrictions in Glacier seriously -- they really do enforce them (bikes only allowed before 11 am and after 4pm on certain roads that you can't avoid). save yourself some miles, you can just take Route 2 through Browning, and then 89 North to St. Mary.
Day 51 – Whitefish, MT, 73 miles
July 5, Monday, arrive @ Whitefish, MT. Rest day. Depart July 7.
Day 52 – Libby, MT, 77 miles
Day 53 – Sandpoint, ID, 83 miles
Day 54 – Orin, WA, 90 miles
Day 55 – West Fork, WA, 70 miles
Day 56 – Okanogan, WA, 52 miles
Day 57 – Lake Entiat, WA, 66 miles
Day 58 – Ellensburg, WA, 72 miles
Day 59 – Rimrock Lake, WA (via Yakima), 73 miles
July 15, Thursday, arrive @ Rimrock Lake via Yakima
Day 60 – Swift Reservoir (past Mt St Helens), 96 miles
Day 61 – Portland, OR, 65 miles
July 17, Saturday, arrive in Portland, OR
Day 62 – DAY OFF
Day 63 – Cape Lookout SP, OR, 92 miles
July 19, Monday, arrive Pacific Coast!

To San Fran…
<800 miles along the coast. We’ll probably do this in about 10 days. Stop in the redwoods for a bit.
August 1, Arrive in San Francisco (give or take a day).

Tentative Itinerary

Lee and I will be arriving on the Atlantic Coast in Manteo, NC next Friday to spend a day at the beach prior to our departure. My family is meeting us there to celebrate my graduation from UNC Asheville. We are making our final preparations during finals week!