Sunday, June 29, 2008
Sri Sathya Sai Baba
I'm really ready to be home but I know there will be another adventure. This was a fun ride and I'm ready to plan the next one.
We were awake before the alarm went off at 4:45. Breakfast at 5 and rolling at 5:40. We averaged 17 mph for the 28 miles to Green Cove Springs where we were meeting Jesse to ride the last 30 miles to St. Augustine.
A quick ride took us to St Augustine where we headed straight for the beach. We get there and who do we find sitting in the lifeguard tower but Clark. Sweet duty.
It is great to finally be here.
Saturday, June 28, 2008
Friday, June 27, 2008
Thursday, June 26, 2008
During breakfast of a nice spinach and feta fritata we chatted with a couple from Wales. They mentioned they had used exchangehomes .com a number of times. Maybe that will make a bike trip through southern France and Spain next year more likely.
Todays route took us through Santa monica, Laguna Beach, Panama City, and Tyndall airforce base, to our destination at Mexico beach. Hot, humid, scenic coastline. The pine and oak trees on the coast are unexpected.
We went to dinner at the pub and oyster bar next door expecting pub grub. The menu was all oysters except for steamed shrimp, french frys and fryed oakra. They were out of french frys. Even fryed oakra is still slippery. Apalachicola oysters and the local shrimp are both great.
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
A 3 foot shoulder with a steady stream of cars at 65 plus made for a nerve wracking 12 miles. It eased up after the turn to Niceville and the 4 mile mid bay bridge which had us worried had a 6 foot shoulder and light traffic. From the bridge my provincial outlook was confirmed. I had visions of small coast towns while the view from the bridge showed hi rise resorts up and down the coast.
After the bridge crossing we pulled into a strip mall to check our route. A cold stone creamery guy stopped to chat with us. He used to own a bike shop and he recommended Robins bike shop just down the road. While rolling down the coast between condos and large homes Hughs rear derailer began acting up so we did go to Robins. After a cable and housing replacement we were good to go. We had only gone 35 miles but it was time to eat already. Stinky's fish camp "with a name like stinkys - it better be good" appeared around the corner and we pulled in. I had the salad with crab and Hugh had his with catfish. Both were great. Being concerned about the cost of accomodations in this very upscale resort area I asked the owner - Jim if he knew of any reasonable places on the coast. As we were leaving he said he found us a place at the Hibiscus B and B 5 miles down the coast. It was early to stop but it was also too hot to ride so we headed to Grayton beach and the Hibiscus.
Cheri at the Hibiscus greeted us warmly. Robins bike team rides out to her café on Saturdays so besides Stinkys we had another connection and she gave us hugs just as she gives hugs to Robins bike team. She gave us great cookies from the café and comped us the room. Wow, people are nice. Grayton beach is a true small beach community with smaller older homes - just the kind of place I like.
Early to bed at 8:30 with the plan to leave Monroeville by 6 before the heat did not go as planned. At breakfast we chatted with an ex husky bball player who played on the team with Bill Walton. We did not leave until almost 7.
It was unusual riding this morning, there was no wind and the road had no hills or rollers. We made great time until our lunch at 11. The heat had continued to build while we cooled off for lunch. From here we hopped from one convienience store to another. We would grab a cold drink and hang around inside cooling off.
Soon we were in Florida riding through the black water rivers state park. Here the road turned into 30 miles of sweat inducing rollers. Eventually we rolled into the town of Crestview where we checked into a super 8.
Instead of following the planned route of hiway 90 due east from here we've decided to head the 30 miles south and follow the gulf coast east. If things work out as projected we should arrive at Clark and Jesses Sunday afternoon.
Sunday, June 22, 2008
This morning changed things. While filling water bottles at the local gas station after breakfast a group of locals asked us where we were headed. After a brief description of our route one of them explained that if we stayed on the road going through town the trip would be 40 miles shorter. It did not take much for us to change our route. We did the same miles as planned but now are closer to Florida. Divergence from the cycle America route for the rest of the trip is now being considered.
Hot and humid, with lots of rollers and green roadsides pretty much describes the day.
Our motel is just outside of Monroeville and all but the Huddle house is closed on Sunday. Also, it is a dry county.
The humidity makes riding different. The only way to keep cool is to keep moving to create a breeze. It is important to ride just fast enough to get a breeze but not too hard so you
The welcome to Alabama road sign greeted us before noon. It is not much different from Mississippi as mostly we see pavement and lush green forested roadsides. Much looks like native forest but there are also numerous pine plantations that are planted in orderly rows. Occasionally from the top of hills we get territorial views that show a rolling sea of green forest. Often everything trees and all are covered by creeping vines which I assume is mostly kudzu. The low points often have a sluggish brown creek or marsh.
With all this water it is interesting that there has been no turtle road kill in either state. Seeing more armadillo kill however.
Linden (pop 2400) our destination for the night had a nice motel but Churchs chicken was the option for dinner and breakfast. We stopped at the market for grapes and grapefruit to compliment the 10 piece family pack.
Friday, June 20, 2008
Over eating last night slowed us down this morning. We had planned a short day so it was ok to get a late start. Mostly flat roads and very light headwinds made for fast rolling. The route has been following the Tombigbee waterway. http://www.tenntom.org/
A quick easy day, but tomorrow looks to be more challenging. More rollers as well as thunder showers may make the planned 118 miles more interesting.
Wow, another state already. Breakfast in Savannah took us to to a small café tucked behind the Save a lot. The Worleybird café as we heard it is named after a big country singer ....Worley? It seems his ex got the café but I guess he is still singing.
A few miles down the road we entered Shiloh national military park. Gun emplacements and battle plaques covered this historic site. Hard not to get goose bumps.
Tennessee has got chip seal really down. There is no chip in their seal. It is all large rock. Go too fast on a downhill and the bike vibrates so much it is difficult to see. I would guess riding is at least 3 mph slower on this surface.
It's getting so I just can not ride with Hugh any longer. His sheet metal rear fender rattles so much it sounds like he is towing tin cans. I thought about fixing it the other night, but then I realized it was to my advantage to let him keep rattling. There are lots of loose dogs on the back roads here. I've learned that if I keep about 75 to 100 yards ahead of him, I wake the dogs up but Hugh catches their attention so he does most of the dog sprints. He is getting real fast.
Saw the first timber clearcuts on the road today. Mostly pine plantations though there may have some hardwoods on some of the many logging trucks that zoomed by us.
Sleepy hollow and red neck lane were on our route today. Fortunately no pumpkins were thrown our way. Drivers have been very courteous. They wait to pass and give enough room. I think country drivers just are not in the same hurry that city drivers are.
We rolled into Fulton Ms and checked into the Sands motel. Dinner was a half slab of ribs each at Rick's BBQ. Another great rib dinner. Rickey and his wife were extra nice people. He treated us with a new dessert concept that really has potential. Chocolate covered frozen cheesecake on a stick. We really over ate tonight
Thursday, June 19, 2008
Reviewing our miles to go shows about 1100 remaining, which is further than my google route map. The adventure cycling map seems to have more squiggles than I accounted for. Secondary and tertiary roads just are longer, but they also usually have less traffic.
Tennessee from what we've seen so far has less cultivation and the farms seem to be smaller than elsewhere. Our route has taken us through lake and river recreation areas. There seem to be more mobile homes though sometimes mixed with very large estate type homes. This like most of the center of the country seems to be the land of the riding lawn mower. Not a day has gone by lately where we have not seen someone mowing their large expanse of lawns.
We started the morning in Waverly and spent the night in Savannah. The rack of ribs from the bbq place next to the motel were great.
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
The ride through the twin rivers area was disapointing since the road though went down the center ridge and the rivers were never visible. It was trees and rollers all day. From the route sheet profile I counted 25 rollers between 100 and 300 feet high for the day. We arrived in Waverly after 7. It was a long but good day.
Monday, June 16, 2008
Our day was again dictated by motel availability. From one small town motel to another. Tonight we are at the Cinderella Inn in Gillbertsville. There is no store, gas station or café in this town. Did I mention this was a small town? It is the best $40 room we've had however.
Hugh and I both got new tires today at Bikeworld in Paducah. Martha and all the staff were all very helpful and friendly. Devin was able to get a new spoke as well as rear wheel trued while we waited. For lunch we went across the street for some real Paducah BBQ. The pork sandwich for $2.35 was very nice.
We got the word from Clark and Jesse that it will get warmer as we head south so we headed for the post office and mailed home our wool long johns and other winter gear. With our weather luck a late frost will now probably decimate the Florida citrus crop.
Tomorrow we ride through the Land between the lakes national recreation area. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Land_Between_the_Lakes
Sunday, June 15, 2008
8:05 AM, 86 degrees, and there is a 10 inch turtle in the middle of the on ramp to hiway 60. A short day is planned since the next bike shop is in Paducah and we can ride that 30 or so miles in he morning before 10 while it is still cooler. The only diner in town is closed on Sunday so dinner was gas station chicken. To make matter worse Wickliffe is in a dry county so no beer tonight.
After a nice breakfast with our hosts we left the normal Trans America route to head for Paducah to pick up the underground railroad route to Mobile. We rode south and picked up hiway 60 heading east. This interstate though not as scenic did provided a wide shoulder and more gentle grades. Our destination town of Dexter
Was much anticipated since we had heard that the Hickory log served the best ribs in the Midwest. My arrival was delayed by first a tire blowout. The new tire I mounted on top of Monarch pass 1100 miles ago was worn down to the cords. I put on the spare tire and in less than a mile my front fender bracket failed so I had to remove the front wheel and brake to take off the fender. A few miles further down the road I hit a rock and got a snake bite flat. Hugh and Devin were waiting for me at the Hickory log. A beer and some excellent ribs and I felt much better.
Saturday, June 14, 2008
During our free beers last night at the Wild Horse the owner said it was all down hill to Eminence and then the longest steepest climbs of the route would begin. As we worked the steep rollers out of town thinking if this is downhill the hills are going to be serious. After 23 miles of forested rolling hills we stopped for second breakfast of Sardine cheese and onion sandwiches in the town of Summersville . We had not had sandwiches for quite a few days mainly because it is difficult to find real bread. Strange to realize that were not eating these sandwiches because we are bread snobs.
The 23 miles to Eminence was more rollers many of which were full effort to get over the top. Head and cross winds have been welcome in Missouri since it helps keep the heat down when climbing. The occasional tailwind climb becomes oppressively hot. Along the way to Eminence we did stop and take a dip in Alley springs http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alley_Spring,_Missouri Which gushes over 80 million gallons of water per day.
We stopped for lunch at a diner that offered a buffet. We seem to always select the buffet when it is offered. Catfish, hushpuppies, 2 kinds of French fries and salad bar. 3 passes through the line makes me wonder if I am gaining weight. Hope we find good bread soon so I can lose weight with sardine sandwiches again.
Hill climbing after meals is a challenge. But up we went out of Eminence. Very steep but I did make this one. Along the way we met and chatted with a number of riders that were going cross country with an organized adventure cycling group. Soon we were taking a swim in the Chambers river. Hugh and Devin decided to hike the 2 miles to Blue spring while I opted to begin grinding up the steep grade out of the river valley. The sun was shinning warmly when we were in the river and 10 minutes later when I was climbing be first grade the sky darkened and the lighting and thunder provided accompaniment to the heavy rain. I was as wet when I was in the river but it was warm ran so I continued up hill. Since Hugh and Devin were not there to see me I walked the steep sections. Less than an hour later the rain had stopped and soon I rolled into Ellington which was our stop for the night. I quickly toured the town and peddled back to the main hiway to find Hugh and Devin waiting. Our warm showers stop for the night was just over a mile away but a band of black clouds appeared and was traveling so fast that we sprinted for a restaurant to get out of the impending storm. While we had coffee and pie the rain and winds hit. 45 minutes later it had calmed so we headed out and of course the heavy rain returned. We were dripping wet when we arrived at the home of Wayne and Betsy. Salads and grilled chicken and steak awaited us. Biking and ironman conversation on the porch afterwards topped off the evening.
Thursday, June 12, 2008
I jumped on my bike and started to chase and also to wonder. I was maybe 15 feet off the road and with the yellow flag and white tail box and me standing there in a white shirt I should have been clearly visible from well over a hundred yards and yet Hugh just blew by. Hmmm, now as I'm trying to catch him my mind wanders and I come up with three possible reasons why he did not stop:
1. Hugh does not like television and he was mad because I was listening to political news while writing the blog late last night. Maybe it was the fox network that got him. Nah, that is not the reason he is too mellow to get mad.
2. Maybe his endorphin induced state of riding meditative bliss is much greater that mine. Ommm, I resolve to work again on becoming one with my surroundings. Maybe I should ask him if I can become a student of his.
3. And now the probable real reason he missed seeing me turns into a shameless plug for recumbents. He is riding a wedgie as we bent riders occasionally call regular bikes. Wedgie riders have a narrower field of view which mostly takes in the pavement infront of the bike.
I did not catch him until Hartville where he had stopped for a snack. For 26 miles Hugh though he was chasing me. He had never seen me at the side of the road.
The heat and climbs made us take rest breaks every 10 miles or so. Just before our stop for the night the Big Piney river looked inviting so we took a quick swim. Our motel in Houston for the night is the Horse Creek inn. It is a very cyclist friendly place, free beer at checkin.
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
The day began on the floor of an empty apartment. One of the servers at Cookies restaurant has an empty rental that she lets cyclists use for 10 dollars a person. No beds or toilet paper but a shower and airconditioning
offset the negatives.
We wanted to start early so we were at Cookies for breakfast at 6:30. We worked together against the south wind that hit us right after breakfast. Soon we turned east and the crosswind was with us for most of the day. The countryside is mostly forest with scattered pastures. Homes are mostly prosperpus looking though the small town centers are mostly past their prime.
The hills are steeper and longer than yesterday. It seems like the countryside is a collection of steep hills since whatever direction you ride it is one uphill after another. Picture zoo hill with 4 or 5 good downhills and then repeat all day.
Oh, to get the full effect do it in what feels like a steam room.
The most common roadkill in both states so far has been turtles. I had stopped twice in kansas to move them off the high way. There have been a few armadillos, some skunks and some unidentifiables.
The grades have gotten steeper and more frequent though from our route sheet it's going far hillier and steeper as we get further into the state.
The streams and creeks in Missouri have been running clear rather than. Muddy. Rivers have been muddy in both.
Kansas seemed to be mostly under cultivation. While Missouri is mosty trees with some pasture. Lots of oak and walnut and others I do not recognize.
While in Kansas this morning we ignored a road closed 10 miles ahead and had no problems. In Missouri that same afternoon we ignorded a road closed in 10 miles and had to walk 200 yards though water that at times was above our tires.
We had the best dinner and pie in the small town of Golden City. Definitely worth a stop if you are traveling through Missouri.
Monday, June 9, 2008
I had biscuits and gravy for the first time ever. Of course I still had an omelet and hash browns. Feeling full we rolled out at 9 for a later than normal start.
There was no wind. It felt strange to ride in calm weather. We rode through the flint prairie which is the largest unplowed natural prairie in the US. We've also recently ridden through the
Salt marsh wildfowl flyway. 8 million geese plus other species fly through a narrow belt of Kansas on their north south migration. The many treelined rivers and streams are flooded from yesterdays rains.
Along the route we stopped to chat with 2 solo riders and one couple heading west. It is a rare day that we don't meet some other riders. The consensus about Missouri which we should enter tomorrow is mixed. It is going to be very difficult or not.
Sunday, June 8, 2008
Slept in to 7, we must have been tired from battling mosquitos the night before. 10 miles to breakfast in in the town of Nickerson. Headwinds all the way of course. Strange weather in this part of the country. The forcast for today is winds from the south in the morning shifting toward the west by mid day and ending the day blowing from the the northwest. Winds make it difficult to predict where we will end up
The first couple of days in Kansas was the high plains with horizon visible all around. Lately it has been gently rolling hills with lots of trees and low places with rivers or wet areas. It has been mostly amber wheat fields though as we head east more and more knee high corn is appearing. I've been surprised by how green and developed everything is.
Another storm sprint took place this afternoon. A large band of dark clouds began to cover the sky from the SW horizon to the NE horizon. These SE to NE storms fronts slide toward the east.
This front grew and darkened as it gained on us for for the last 3 hours this afternoon. Big dark black clouds with lightening kept us peddling hard.
Actually it was so big that both Hugh and I kept an eye on the storm in our rear view mirrors and watched for culverts in case we needed a place to hide from the storm. The storm was almost on as as we approach El Dorado our destination for for the night. I sprinted ahead and stopped at a motel to wait for Hugh. Devin came up a moment later and told me Hugh had a flat. And then the sky opened up.
I checked in and a few minutes later a bedraggled Hugh shows up. A pickup driver had pitty on him and gave him a lift to the motel. The TV has been issuing severe storm and flood warnings. 70% chance of rain tomorrow.
We were looking forward to having a beer with our sardine and salami sandwiches though this is still Kansas and the minimart guy said there was no beer sales on Sunday.
Saturday, June 7, 2008
From there the winds fought us all the way to Great Bend where we hoped to spend the night. No rooms were available so we had to head south directly into the wind for 9 miles. After
checking in we went for a swim in the community pool and then out to dinner
Clear cloudless blue skys greeted us as we left the motel this morning. A quartering tailwind blew us to Ness city. While riding the white line and watching the horizon I made an interesting leap of awareness. I had been picturing Kansas as being flat, and I'd been visualizing myself as being in the center of a 7 mile radius disc. That concept did not talley with what I was observing. There has always been the feeling that I was going up a slight grade even though my exertion level told me it was flat. The perception of going up a grade comes from observing
Cars and trucks on the highway. When they recede into the distance they don't continue to get smaller until they disappear. As they near the horizon they appear to sink just as if they were going over the crest of a hill. I realized that I'm observing vehicles going up, over,and down the curvature of the earth. Kansas is not flat; Reality is not always what you think it is.
For the first time ever I broke 3 hours for 50 miles. Actually I rode 54 miles in 3 hours. Since we had made such good
Distance before 1 we decided to stop by the community pool for a swim. We had heard that all towns in Kansas over about 1200 people have pools and that cyclists are free. The water felt great, however by the time we left the wind had gotten much stronger and had shifted to a true crosswind. We managed to fight the wind for 20 miles before deciding to camp at a rest area.
Tomorrows weather forcast is for winds of 20 to 25 with gusts up to 50 from the south. Guess which way the road turns tomorrow? It is what is is.
Friday, June 6, 2008
go quickly. The sky is full of small clouds so the sun only occasionally gets to peek through. The Colorado roads we've been on are chip seal and for some reason every 25 to 50 ft there is a crack that goes across the road. So the ride is a constant bone rattling thump thump thump. Sometimes it is smoother to ride the white line at the right side of the road. Focusing on the white line in 7 mile horizon circle is a mind freeing or possibly a mind numbing experience. It just depends on how you perceive it.
The Kansas border brings on immediate improvement in the road surface. Also the small clouds are small no more. To the south a massive black clould is raining on the plain. Behind us another cloud is blackening. I've always been good at dog sprints but storm sprints motivate me even more. I outraced Hugh and Devin to the town of tribune. The picture above shows Hugh with the storm gaining. We all made it into our lunch stop moments before the rain and hail hit. That storm did trigger a tornado warning and even though we didn't see it we later heard it spunoff a tornado to the north of town. After lunch the weather had cleared so we headed out for Scott city. 10 Miles later another large storm line was crossing our path. We slowed down and let it cross the highway ahead of us. This was a huge black storm that covered the sky and yet it passed by very quickly. Things cleared and with the tailwind I averaged 24 mph for the remaining 25 miles. The winds of 20 to 30 and the thunder showers made us opt for a motel. The sky was clear when we reached our motel and yet within an hour black clouds covered the sky and the rain and hail dumped.
Rain and tornado warnings on the weather channel for tomorrows route.
Thursday, June 5, 2008
Up at dawn and at breakfast before 7. It looks like another headwind day, but at least there won't be any more passes to climb. The ride today was all about the big horizon. Not much to see but the Horizon. Without visual distractions there is more time to become one with the surroudings. I think that in some eastern religions the ability to free your your mind of all thought is considered a state of enlightenment. Not much to see but the horizon seven miles distant in all directions. Without visual distractions, the other distractions like chaffing shorts, cracks In the chip seal, passing trucks, and headwinds all make freedom from thought more difficult. There have been brief moments when it has felt like I'm aware and almost ready to waken.
It has been a long headwind and crosswind day. So much so that my shirt has flapped so much that it has rubbed my nipples raw.
At a brief rest stop we again heard stories of a british guy about a week ahead of us riding the original fixed gear. He apparently has been around the world and has logged over 17000 miles on a penny farthing.
We made camp in the Eads city park and took advantage of the sprinklers for our showers. The winds contued to build and by midnight the trees above us were swaying like hula dancers on on caffine. Just before dawn the sky was lite with rapid fire lightning flashes. The rain started soon after. The rain cover Cora made kept me dry.