Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Last round of pics...

Ahhh...nothin like the Blue Ridge Mtns to greet you upon arrival
I'll def have to make a trip back up to her house once she's better....Lookin thru window could see good bit of biker memorbilia and the sort...
A view of Rockfish Gap (where I was biking just a few minutes earlier)...on my way to Crozet
Finish at Sugar Hollow
The infamous "dinosaur egg" as climb up the last hill towards the dam

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Post Bike Tour Withdrawl

So here's some random blurbs of statements regarding statistics about trip and other random information no one really cares about...

Total Trip miles: 4, 148 miles
Total days of trip: 41 days
Total days of riding on velo: 38 days
Zero days/days off: 3 days (1 in Missoula, MT and 2 in Boulder, CO)

Avg miles per day for the 38 days of actual riding: ~110.5 miles/day

Most miles in one day: 161 miles (Larned, KA --> Cassody, KA)
Least amount of miles in one day: 72 miles (Lexington, VA --> Sugar Hollow Dam, VA)

Avg pace: 13.4 mph

Avg calories consumed/day: dont' have official number, but if I had to guess by the types of food and amounts of food....between 5,000 and 7,500 calories/day

Number of flats: 2 (1 in Idaho while winding down the Snake River on a long hot day...most likely d/t underinflated tires...2nd one while biking thru Yellowstone Park...small piece of glass found to be culprit...damn those litter bugs!)

Number of times changed tires: opted for being lazy and kept the same pair of tires on for entire trip....I should prob change them now though

Mechanical/bike issues: seat-post rack broke in Eastern Colorado, bike hit by lightning

Number of times crashed: 1 time..thank goodness....descending down Lolo Pass into Montana when caught the rear wheel of Stephen's Bob trailor....cause me to go sliding down middle of the road for a good bit resulting in injuries on left lower leg, both sides of hip and left elbow...

Favorite Part(s): all the folks I met along the way, scenery, obtaining a better understanding of small town America, learning a lot about what I'm able push myself to do physically and mentally, biking on Trail Ridge Road and being up over 12,000 feet elevation...basically everything

Least Fav Part(s): rednecks who yell at you randomly....mainly in Missouri and Virginia, crappy roads of Wyoming, crappy road construction in Wyoming, washed out roads in Kansas, not having music/guitar/banjo with me

Gear I wish I didn't bring: I really think I planned things very well with this trip and I felt I had packed just the right amount of stuff and didnt' find I was lacking in any gear (well, a guitar would have been nice...but other than that...)

Toughest Part of trip: biking thru Missouri until got out of Kentucky....climbs were tough along with the humidity and crappy roads/increaed car/trucker traffic, headwinds of Kansas

I also want to thank all my family and friends for puttin up with me as I chase this "crazy" goal of mine...also, thanks to East Coast Bicycle Academy in Harrisonburg for helping me out pick out gear and answer all of my rambling questions from week to week prior to departure. Thanks to all the great folks I met on the trail and helped me out with food, shelter, friendliness, and companionship.

Though I've only been back for a couple days I've already learned how odd it is not to be sleeping in a tent and actually have been having some trouble in sleepin on a mattress...in a bed...with pillows...with a bathroom...with variety in foods to eat....with a computer with dial-up connection..My legs still seem to think that I'm just taking a few days off and will be gettin on the velo in a few hours.....it'll be tough to tell them the news that I reached trails end a few days ago...Part of me really wants to get back out there and just keep riding on and on and on...but the other part of me is glad to have time to relax and pursue some other interests...I've learned a lot of lessons that will carry me far through life and will def carry over to my next goal/adventure I plan on doing.

As of now my post-touring plans include: spending a week up in Maine with Loretta and relatives, starting first nursing job on Aug 20th, and after a week or two of no physical activity I"ll start up training for my, hopefully, first marathon (Philadelphia Marathon) which is sometime before Thanksgiving hoop-la festivities....The Appalachian Trail still becones for me to come, but I think I need a couple years of work experience under my belt first, money saved up, and Loretta may want to hike parts of the trail with me as I work way up the trail, so waiting for her graduation before that can start...but, there's a lot I can be doing in the meantime to occupy my restless mind....how cool would it be to kayak down the entire lenght of the James River watershed..ending up in the Chesapeake Bay? or maybe the Shenandoah River? I think it'd take only a week or so, but would be cool....so yeh, stuff like that.....wow, just rambling now about things things.....anyways, that's what one does early on a Saturday morning when there's no more biking left to do....at least for the time being.

Friday, August 3, 2007


I'll do a page in a day or two with some random stats (i.e.: avg miles/day, avg pace of trip, total miles, et, etc)...and i'll get some more pics posted when using a computer that isn't using dial up internet

Day 41(8/2): Lexington, VA --> Sugar Hollow Dam, VA (72 miles)

Days mileage: 72 miles

Another 5Am start. Another morning with my gear soaked with dew. The last morning, I might add. Surprisingly it was really chilly (mid 60's, hands down). I knew such favorable riding conditions would soon vanish with each degree above the horizon the sun rose...I made haste.

I was breaking down my last day into segments to, hopefully, make things a little easier to think about...first stop Vesuvius. I just rode on Route 11 for 18 miles and got their when the things were still cool. I stopped in a local convenience store, talked with the lady that's been running the place since the beginning of time, and rolled on towards the greatly anticipated climb up to the Blue Ridge Parkway...I had been warned by millions of people throughout the trip that this climb was a "tough one." The twin brothers that lent me their backyard last night looked at me like I was nuts when I told them I had to climb up that...."Our car can barely make it up that climb man...I think it's like 12 or 13% grade...something like that..." I wasn't too concerned seeing I had nearly covered the entire U.S. and my legs should be able to handle one last major climb...also, I knew that those two climbs in eastern Kentucky were about as steep as steep could be without being classified as a cliff. I knew I'd be fine.

...well, the climb was tough, but it def wasn't as tough as it was talked up to be...I just took it slow and steady and avoided making eye contact with the cars that passed in opposite direction as to avoid seein their odd facial expressions at the sight of me...

It was just great gettin up on the Parkway. I knew it'd be no traffic, or little if any, cooler temperatures, more shade, amazing views of the surrounding valley and Blue Ridge Mountains, and familiar biking roads....I had riden this same stretch of the parkway dozens and dozens of times and knew it better than the back of my hand. If I were a bit more crazy, I would even go as far as saying I could have biked it while blindfolded....

I was cruising down a hill towards Reeds Gap and thought about the time Jordan Vitt and myself rode up the Wintergreen hill to the Parkway the summer prior and how grand of a time that mountain climb was...good times. There was then a lady who was riding the same direction as myself and I decided to ride with her for a while seein some company up the climbs would be fine by me. We chatted about bike touring, the Tour de France, the Parkway, organic food, etc, etc. Talking with someone def helped pass the time, which in turn, turned into mile markers going by unnoticed. Hurrah!

We parted ways before the long descent towards Humpback Rocks and I knew I was almost near Rockfish Gap. I started hammering away at the last climb and took a 10 minutes break at the Afton Mtn. Overlook. It's the first overlook one comes to when going south on the Parkway and a place I would often sit and watch the mountains in evenings when passing thru the area, or park the car when I wanted to go running on the Appalachian Trail, or just take a nap. It was a good place for me....I looked at my map and realized I only had 23 miles left of my trek across the country. Just like that...all of a sudden...23 miles left and I'd be finished.

I stood up to stretch my legs and gulp down half a waterbottle of water. Took one deep breath, exhaled, and started the long and winding descent towards Crozet.

I stopped at the infamous Cookies Lady house right when start going down Afton Mtn but there was a sign sayin she was wheelchair bound for the time being d/t some illness.

It was odd the ride over such familiar roads...roads I used to train on when I was a more race/training-minded individual. I used to really force myself to suffer while riding up some of these climbs..trying to get faster and faster with each attempt. Now was different. Now I was nearing the end of what proved to be a long, yet very rewarding, trail. No need to increase the pace of a 6 minute interval with a 1 minute rest inbetween for recovery. No need to feel my leg muscles burn themselves to shreds with lactic acid buildup.

No need for any of that.

Just the need to soak in my surroundings, at least to the best of my abilities. I cruised past Chiles Peach orchard, Mint Springs park, the Crozet library...ah, the feelings of being home again. It felt like I had never left. It was the same old traffic patterns, construction workers, dust settling on the horizon....and just like that I was back in the middle of it all.

I called Loretta to inform her of my arrival and eventually started my way towards Sugar Hollow. It was gettin near evening time and I was ready to get the last part of the trip over with....

As I made a left at Wyants Store and rolled down the hill that would drop me down into the Hollow I didn't have any special thoguhts in particular. I know that most people at the end of a trek/voyage/etc have thoughts racing thru their heads about all they've been through. People they've met. Highs and lows of the trip.

I def didn't have any of those thoughts.

My thought process was more like..."Hmm...the Moormans River appears to be flowing with less water than when I last saw it back in may..." or "...I wonder if there's going to be a caddis fly hatch tonight.." and then "...even if there was a hatch the trout are prob too cooped up in shallow pools to really exert efforts towards swallowing them..." and then "...ah...I remember when I did a long run out here while training for the C'ville 10 miler...man..that was a tough run, but good." Thoughts like that were rolling around in no particular order...I was gettin closer and closer...

When I rounded the last bend of the road and then saw the dam sitting where it has always sat (thank goodness no one moved it further upstream on me) and then the Blue Ridge Mtns, and then that big ol' cracked "dinosaur egg" (there's a big boulder that really does look like a "dinosaur egg" right near the dam)....I clicked into the easiest gear my bike would permit and started the last short climb up to wehre family and friends waited for my last push of the pedal....

And just like that it was over...like I suddenly snapped out of a trance and it was over. There I was, standing right where I wanted to be standing. Even then my mind was wandering through past memories I had of Sugar Hollow...thinking about a time I went fly fishing up the North Fork the summer prior and almost got caught in a huge thunderstorm and had the pleasure of having a front row seat in the car while the storm rolled on over....As I got some pictures taken it was all odd to think I had started my trip on the other side of the country....41 days had passed between the two particualr points in time...I was now on the other side of things...I had seen the entire country in a manner that not many people will ever be able to see the country. It was a priceless experience that I would not trade for anything....something that will stick wtih me forever and another memory I can always let my mind drift back to when I need my spirit to be stirred by soemthing adventurous again...when things get too routine again I can always pull out some memories....

I slowly unloaded the gear from my bike...piece by piece...into the back of the truck...and then the bike, which now felt light as a feather without having the burden of having to transport me across the country strapped onto it....and as I got Loretta to snap picture of me next to teh giant "dinosaur egg" it was rather comforting to know that even though the entire country was now behind my back there was still a world of endless possibilities waiting for me to pass over...

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Day 40 (8/1): Whytheville, VA --> Lexington, VA (131 miles)

Days mileage: 131 miles

The game plan was to start early, again, and just shoot on up Rt. 11 and see how close to home I could position meself. So I started pedaling through fog and humidity...

It was great shooting up Rt. 11 b/c I was able to get through some familiar towns that served as good landmarks...i.e.: Radford, Christiansburg, Salem, Troutville, etc, etc...

Ended day in Lexington and some random guy at gas station offered to let me pitch tent in his backyard...real nice folks, him and his brother, they just bought a house in Lexington and were busy renovating it...one of them used to ride bikes and do some small tour trips. So, yeh...it was odd when it finally hit me that this night in me tent would be the last night of my trip...tomorrow it was a clean shot up Rt11 to Vesuvius, up onto the Blue Ridge Parkway, down to Crozet at via Rockfish Gap and into the good ol' Sugar Hollow....

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Pictures...or course....

Finally...some home turf to tred upon
Some Appalachian mountains, naturally.
So yeh...this long and steep climb lacked much of a shoulder and had quiet a drop down if one were to stumble or something of the careless sort.....

Day 39 (7/31): Elkhorn City, KY --> Wytheville, VA (118 miles)

Days mileage: 118 miles

I got up at 5am and was pedaling by 615. I wanted to beat some of the potential coal truck traffic that the local yodel had warned me about the previous night. I strapped on the headlamp again and put on my shredded neon-orange vest and started what was the first of a long serious of steep and rolling climbs that took me closer and closer to my home state.

Fog, again, was heavily set in all the knooks and crannies of the mountains. Visibility was sketchy in some spots, but manageable. Traffic was scant and scattered, if present at all....so things were going well.

That's when I looked up while working my way up another climb and saw it...faint at first...I adjusted my headlamp to get a better view....closer and closer...I pedaled a few more times....higher and higher I rose...closer and closer...and then....there....around a bend in the road...was the state sign of Virginia! The last state of my trek was right infront of me. It was about time and it had been a long time since last I stepped foot, or pedal, inside of VA.

I stopped to take some pictures and used the guardrail as a means of gettin some poorly aimed self-shots with the state sign.

I then continued on as a light drizzle meandered down, down, down....The first town I went through was Haysi. Good deal.

Around 930 am the fog was lifted and the surrounding landscape was made a little bit more clear for me to see....Tall and staggering peaks with small mountain streams wandering around as if lost between ranges and struggling to find a way out...luckily I had a road to follow and didn't get too lost in such efforts of escapes from such terrain.

Before I knew it I was out of the region of VA and heading towards Route 11 and I-81. Two very familiar roads for me seeing how my apt in Harrisonburg was right off of Rt 11 and how I-81 ran right thru JMU campus. I was gettin closer and closer to home and decided I'd hop on Rt. 11 and just start heading north up the backbone of Virginia.

I ended the day in Wytheville, VA and stopped in some Mexican restaurant for dinner. That's when a very nice couple (Lynn and Joe) came over and said they had seen me biking up Rt. 11 a "goood ways back". We chatted a bit and asked about where I usually slept during the nights, etc, etc....long story short. Lynn was able to call their local church and arrange for me to sleep in there for the night. It was perfect. A night of not having to sleep in the infamous Virginia humidity....and sleep on a sofa, with a super clean restroom, and AC....a great nights sleep.

Thanks again Lynn and Joe for helping me out there!