Coast to Coast for the FFB: THE ONLINE JOURNAL

Welcome to our online journal brought to you by PocketMail!

Check back here daily to read about our progress in our cross-country bicycle tour to benefit the FFB.
Recent postings will appear at the top of the page. All posts have links on the right.
Please feel free to leave comments for all to read!

Be sure to check out www.biking4theFFB.com for more information about
the FFB, our motivation, retinal degenerative diseases, and more.

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Day 18: Still House Hollow Farm, KY to Berea, KY (17 miles, 814 total)


Anne Katherine and I got a great night's sleep at the Snowden's. They have super comfy beds there and it really makes a difference to sleep somewhere where you feel at home. We slept in a bit (7:30) and awoke to the smell of breakfast. Jamie was preparing bacon, eggs, bagels, fresh fruit, hot tea, and juice. It was wonderful!

After breakfast, we reluctantly packed up and got ready for the day's ride. We thanked Jamie (Hiram had gone fishing), left her some money to pay for the cleaning of the room we used, and were on the road by 9.

The ride to Berea was fairly easy with gentle rolling hills and light traffic. It was nice to have an easy day as compared to our past few days. I did have to spray another dog today, but the story is quite similar to the others... Pack of three dogs looking like trouble... blah blah blah.

We arrived in Berea just before noon. Berea is home to Berea College and is known for its handmade crafts and woodworking. In the old downtown district, there is the historic Boone Tavern hotel that was been around since the early 1900's or so.

We stopped in the visitor's center to learn about our hotel options and the location of the laundrymat. It turns out that the Boone Tavern hotel is the only thing near anything interesting. About five miles down the road (near the interstate) are the typical motel chains. Since we were practically on their doorstep and would ultimately prefer to be in the historic portion of town, we stepped into the Boone Tavern to ask about rates. Well, Anne Katherine must have spoken to the right woman because she ended up offering us a $110 a night room for 69 bucks. That is a bit out of our usual hotel price range, but we decided to go for it; besides we are supposed to be resting today, right?

Anyway, the room is awesome. There is huge four-poster king-size bed, a sitting room, a plush bathroom and the usual continental breakfast (one of the perks of any hotel). We are really glad we decided to stay here tonight. Since we are here for more than just a night's sleep, it is great to have a nice place to relax.

So the first thing we did when we got in our room was shower, and build our pile of laundry. We had to get creative with what to wear to the laundrymat since everthing was dirty. The frontdesk told us that the laundrymat was a mile away, but we know better than to trust a non-bicyclist with mileage so we took the bikes.

The laundrymat was uneventful except that I had a chance to indulge in a bit of culture. Across the street was a Sonic, so I decided that since I've never been there, I needed to try a Sonic burger. It turns out that this place has car-hops on skates delivering food to cars. It was sort of in American Grafitti style, except it wasn't a woman in a mini-skirt on skates. It was a dude in jeans on rollerblades. I ordered by walking up to a box, pushing the button and yelling at it. "A double bacon cheese burger, onion rings and a coke please," I yelled. The response I got back was delayed and sounded a bit like the adults in a Peanuts cartoon. I assumed they got it right. Minutes later the dude on the blades showed up with my food and did a triple-cow-tow. Well, not really, but he did bring the food. The final report, a decent burger for fast food standards, and the onion rings were of high quality.

Speaking of culture, I have also been making an effort to try all sorts of regional soft drinks. The other day I had my first Mello Yellow which strikes me as a corporate reaction to Mountain Dew. A few days later I tried a Sun Drop which strikes me as a corporate response to Mello Yellow. Brilliant. Still, of all these new sodas, the Ale-81 is the best by far.

After we finished the laundry and a nap, we took a walk through town. We walked down to "old town" which is home to all sorts of stores featuring handmade items. The furniture and woodworking stores were by far the most interesting to me.

Dinner was next in order. We had heard that this local Itallian place was good and decently priced. I was looking forward to some pizza and beer. It turns out that this city is "dry" so that desired combo had to be without one crucial item. I really don't understand the idea of a dry county or city in this day and age. It seems to me that the end result is just a displacement of revenue to other cities or counties. But being from Southern California, I really don't know much about the "dry" idea.

In the lobby they have the coolest old-fashioned wooden game. It is called "skittles" and the goal is to knock down small wooden pins with a wooden top. The top is spun by pulling a string wrapped around it and points are earned depending on which pins are knocked down. It is tough to describe, but I'll post a photo later. It is surprising how addicting and fun the game is for how simple it is.

Well as far as riding goes, we should be all clear of the coal trucks and the dogs should be thining out. Additionally, the trash on the roadside that we saw for miles and miles near the VA-KY border has reduced as well. Another bonus, we got a view westward today and the terrain looks much tamer that anything we have seen in almost two weeks. I just hope it will actually be as tame as it looks.

Well, we have made a mess of this hotel room with all this laundry drying. It will take us a while to pack up, so we best get on it.

Until tomorrow,
Jeff

Day 17: Buckhorn Dam Campground, KY to Still House Hollow Farm, KY (60 miles, 796 total)


Well, Anne Katherine and I have been riding for several days straight (everyday since Waynesboro). Since you all got to loaf around on the sofa eating nachos for Memorial Day Weekend, we are going to take a bit of a rest tomorrow. We are less than twenty miles from Berea, KY. Tomorrow, we are only going that far and then we are going to stay in a hotel and do some laundry! I think we have been saying we need to do laundry for about three days now; well, we still have not done it. Stinky.

Today was as hot as it has ever been with lots of steep climbs. At one point, we climbed what I would call the steepest hill to date. It was only about 75 yards long, but it was so steep that in my absolute lowest gear I had to pedal out of the saddle and I was dying (from AK - I called it quits about halfway up, but the problem is that I then had to PUSH the dead-weight of the bike and trailer up the rest of the way. I don't know which was worse!). Exhausted, I reached the top to find five angry dogs charging me. Searching for my breath, I had no energy to yell at them, so I unclipped my Halt and aimed (but didn't spray) for the big one. Instantly, the big dog skidded to a stop and ran away with his smaller accomplices. It seems as though this dog had been sprayed before and knows when to back off.

Later on in the day, on an empty farm road, I did have to spray another dog. This one saw us from what must have been 500 yards away and started charging. I saw him run down the hillside, through the side street with the boarded up buildings, through some thick brush, through the creek and up an embankment to us. Since he was barking viciously the entire way, I was in no mood to toy with him. As soon as he set foot on the road I let him have it. It did the trick, he turned tail and went back the way he came. I hope he has learned his lesson like the previous dog did. Maybe that lesson will keep him from getting hit by a car someday too.

Anne Katherine seems to have the ability to attract the dogs more than I do. On these days with more hills, I tend to be a bit further down the road than Anne Katherine, but if I spot a dog that looks like trouble, I circle back and try to let A.K. know what to expect. However, plenty of these dogs seem to be fine letting me go by unbothered, but for some reason get the urge to charge at her. Maybe they don't like her bike or maybe in the dog world it is now uncool to be a chaser all the time. Modern dogs are all about the casual chase, I guess. Anyway, all this adds up to the fact that Anne Katherine had to spray a dog that put her in danger too. So, now I guess we can feel comfortable knowing that we have experienced the famous dogs of Kentucky. I hope there are no more.

Early on in the day, just outside of Booneville (where we stopped for our usual grocery lunch), we came across our first cyclist going the other direction. His name is Allen; he plans to cycle through all 48 continental states! He started back in March by cycling down the entire Atlantic coast. Now he is on his way back north. He said he hopes to be done by the middle of October. Hmmm, perhaps that can be the next epic?

The interesting thing about today was the fact that between Booneville and here there was practically nothing except for farms and a few homes. There was a small market a few miles outside of Booneville, but after that (for about 30 miles) there was nothing. That combined with the heat put a drain on my water. We showed up here and I had just a few sips left. Had we needed to go any further, I would have knocked on the door of a house and asked for water.

Anyway, so the best part of the day has to be our destination. Last night A.K. and I were deciding where to go today. Our guidebook suggested we go to Irvine, KY for the night and stay in a hotel. The problem is that Irvine is more than 5 miles off route. We've decided that unless there is something interesting to see, we are not going off route unless we have to (i.e. Waynesboro). So our other options were to bike all the way to Berea (just shy of 80 miles total) or call these two Bed and Breakfasts listed on the map and see if we could afford them. They were both just past Irvine on the route. Outside of Booneville A.K. called the closest one and they were booked for the night. She tried calling the second one but got no answer. We started to prepare ourselves for a long day.

In Booneville, A.K. called again. This time she got through and spoke with Jamie Snowden. Jamie gave us directions to the house and told us not to worry about the rate. After many more miles of pedalling we finally arrived at the Still House Hollow Farm. We were greeted by Jamie at the door. We put our bikes in the back and met Hiram, Jamie's husband. After some chatting, we learned that this was not really a B&B, Jamie and Hiram just welcome TransAm cylcists into their home. They siad that they spent two years travelling on a boat and were treated so well by so many that they like to return the favor. Amazing people.

A.K. and I both took hot showers (I shaved for the first time in days) and came downstairs to the smell of dinner. Over dinner, we had a great time chatting with them about life, travel, cats, their beautiful house and farm and Hiram's experiences with learning to tend to cattle. It also turns out that Jamie spent a few years in Mobile, AL (AK's hometown) and knows many of the same families. Small world. We dined on chicken, bread, beets and salad (both the beets and the lettuce came from their garden and they were delicious). While we ate the Snowden's cattle grazed in a nearby field. They seem to float through the tall grass at that distance. For dessert we had homemade angel food cake topped with ice cream, whipped cream and blueberries. I ate like a horse and had two servings of dessert.

After dinner, A.K. and I took a little walk around the house. The kitties, Sara and Wolf, follwed us as we expolored the garden and yard. This home and area is really beautiful, and the history to the house is very impressive. It was built around 1830.

Anyway, we are now up in our room getting ready for bed. Both A.K. and I are very happy to have stopped here. The Snowdens are very special people, they are so very generous and we have really enjoyed our time with them.

Ok, off to bed. As I said, we are going to take it easy tomorrow. We need it.

Jeff

Monday, May 30, 2005

Day 16: Pippa Passes, KY to Buckhorn, KY (59 miles, 736 total)


After such a long day yesterday, waking up early this morning was really hard to do. We reset the alarm twice just to get a few more minutes of rest. What finally dragged me out of bed was the desire to avoid the afternoon headwinds and heat as much as possible. The hostel kitties helped us get things in order and the little black one kept biting at my toes when I neglected my petting duties for too long. (Note from Jeff: The plump kitty runs funny.) We finally pushed off around 7:45. It was time to face the steep hill we'd accidentally done the day before.

As Jeff was waiting for me at the top, a truck pulled over and a man got out. It was Mr. Ed Madden, our host for the night whom we'd never gotten the chance to meet. (He and his wife, Charlotte, were out late at a wedding and just left the house open for us.) He told us to stop by the Dairy Queen a few miles up the road and breakfast would be on him. What a treat! It seemed that this DQ was the local Sunday morning hangout for many of the members in the community. (Note from Jeff: In the parking lot there was a war memorial for the members of the community that had been killed in action in every war since WWI up to Vietnam. Remember Mr. Slone? Well 5 Slones were killed in WWII and 1 was killed in WWI.)

After breakfast, we enjoyed miles and miles of very gentle rollers - a welcomed change of pace from the steep climbs of the day before. The air was fragrant with honeysuckle (I love that smell), but the roads were full of dogs. These weren't strays, but they came charging whenever they could. I unholstered the Halt many times again but never used it. Jeff did though and it worked! At this particular house, there were three dogs hellbent on charging with teeth bared. Jeff sprayed one dead on in the face and stopped it in its tracks (you have to spray them in the face or it doesn't work). When I came through a little while later, only two dogs charged and this time we were able to out run them. The third had learned its lesson. When there is a house with a potential dog problem, Jeff always circles back to make sure I make it through ok. It helps me be on the lookout when I see him circling ahead and it gives me peace of mind knowing he is there if something should go wrong.

We made another wrong turn today. Funny how the lack of the 76 signs and any road signs whatever can do that to you. (Note from Jeff: All througout VA, signs with a bike and the number 76 regularly marked the route, but there are none in KY.) Fortunatley, we figured it out within a few miles and corrected it. Thank goodness we hadn't gone up any steep climbs for no reason!

Back on track, we headed for the town of Dwarf, KY. Jeff was looking forward to it all morning. He wanted a picture by the town sign. Not only was there no sign, but there were no dwarfs around either and he was really bummed about it. (From Jeff: I went to Dwarf, and I didn't see a single one!)

Oh, crikey! The evening is starting to cool down and I just realized that I must have left my long-sleeved sweatshirt thing at the hostel this morning. That is a double blow because I also use it as my pillow. I swear, when I get tired, I would lose my head if it weren't attached. Well, the wallet was recovered but the sweatshirt may be a loss. Maybe I can find something else to replace it soon.

Anyway, the simple pedaling of the morning had to give way at some point. Soon we were back to giant rollers and slower paces. They were made even harder because, though there was a shoulder, it was adorned with rumble strips. These groves cut into the pavement are a great way to let the driver of a car know that he/she is running off the road, but they are a bone shaking nuisance for bikers. We had to work hard to avoid them, the gravel and coal on the shoulder, and the cars wizzing past. We were thankful many times over that we have hit this coal rich land on the long weekend that the giant coal trucks are not running. By tomorrow night, we should be almost out of their range. That will be a relief!

Finding somewhere to stop for lunch was the worst. We pulled into a huge Walmart/strip mall and I was amazed that there wasn't a single place to eat there. Several miles later, and closing in on our big climb of the day, we finally saw a small country store on the right. It boasted of sandwiches and pizza on its sign but there were none to be found inside. We settled for hot pockets and cereal sitting on my opened Crazy Creek chair in the parking lot. This has become the picnic lunch routine in the last few days. Raid the grocery/convenience store, pull out the Creek, eat in the parking lot, rest for a few minutes to digest, reapply sunscreen and get back on the road. What a life. (Note from Jeff: Remeber those country stores in VA I mentioned? Well they have similar ones here, but remove the kitchen and replace it with a tanning bed! I am not kidding. In this state, you can pump gas, get a tan and snap into a Slim-Jim all at the same store. At one of these tanning salons I !
also tried a soda from Kentucy. It is called Ale-81 as in "a late one" (not sure why). Anyway, it tastes simliar to ginger-ale and is better than the Cheerwine I had back in Glendale.)

Our major climb of the day was last and it was a long one. I clocked it at just over 7 miles with a few drops in between. It was a brow wiper for sure. The rumble strips also continued. After our descent, while we were searching with peeled eyes for our campground (no more getting lost or wrong turns!), we came across a small roadside ice cream shop. I asked for directions and Jeff eyed the menu. He settled in on a milkshake and sucked it down fast. I did have a taste and it was good stuff!

Our campground arrival was next and it is the nicest we've been to so far! It is called the Buckhorn Dam Campground. The family that runs it is extremely gracious and even invited us over to partake in their Memorial Day feast. I love Sundays in campgrounds! For the last three Sundays, we have eaten until the popping point because of generous people who take us in. This route is full of wonderful people all along the way. (Note to bikers: Stay here! It is very nice. Ask to be put in overflow, $10 for soft grass)

Jeff has been working hard on bike maintenance while I type this and now it is time to hit the sack. We don't know where we're going tomorrow night, but we are planning to stay in a motel wherever we end up. After only one rest day in 16 days, my sore legs need a soak in a hot bath. We also really, really need to do some laundry. We're almost as smelly as the through-hikers, minus the boots though.

AKB

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Day 15: Breaks Interstate Park, VA to Pippa Passes, KY (69 miles, 677 total)


We are both really tired tonight, so this is a group entry. Jeff will start the writing...

Today was rough! By far, it was our longest day of saddle time. By saddle time, I mean the total time that we were on the bikes and physically moving. Our cyclo-computers measure it for us, and today A.K. clocked in 7 hours of saddle time! We had three pretty major climbs today, and they really took their toll on us.

But anyway, we are in Kentucky! We are both very excited to have finished our first and toughest state. So far, eastern Kentucy has been a lot like western Virginia. One big contrast, sadly there seems to be a lot more trash on the side of the road. The number of dogs around has certainly increased, but so far most have been tied up or behind fences. We hope it stays that way! (I unholstered my halt several times today but never had to use it. I pointed it right at one black dog and he stopped on the spot. He must have been hit before! -AKB)

The people here are super friendly as well. We spoke to a nice family today just outside of Pippa Passes. They offered us water and took photos of us, very friendly people!
We wished we could have stayed longer to talk with them.

Oh, one great thing, it turns out that we may have lucked out as far as the coal trucks go. With the long Memorial Day weekend, we may be able to get past all of the trucking zones while the truckers are off for the weekend. That is well worth the circus camping we endured last night. We saw maybe three coal trucks today, must be over-timers. There certainly was a lot of evidence of ther coal business on the side of the road though.

And know A.K. writing...

First, though let's go back to last night. The night in the campground wasn't as bad as we thought it would be. I (AK) had my best night of ground sleeping yet. The sorority girls were loud but I just tuned them out eventually.

We were definitely some of the earliest up and out of the area in the morning. The three of us all went to the park restaurant for breakfast buffet and really chowed down. Our waitress was super hovery and quick to clear things. At one point, she started clearing James' plate as he was taking the last bite! She took all his silverware and we to get him a new set. What really pushed us to hysterics was that she cleared his coffee cup when she had just brought it out! (They bring a mug and then a small pitcher of coffee for you to pour from yourself. Anyway, Jeff was gone from the table at this point, but James and I were trying to flag down the lady for a while to get a new mug. So here is how the conversation went:
James: Could I get a new coffee mug please?
Waitress: What was wrong with your first one?
James: Um, nothing...but it just isn't here anymore.
Waitress: pauses...I took it, didn't I?
James: Um, yeah, but it's ok. I just need another one.

It may not be funny to any of you as you read this, but we were laughing so hard I had tears rolling down my cheeks. Jeff and I have also laughed about it several times today.

So back to today's ride. This was the longest, hardest day of riding I've had in my entire life. The mileage is longer by 7 or so than my longest total before this, but the saddle time was the toughest. I can't believe I spent 7 hours on that thing, and yes, all of those parts hurt right now. Even my tailbone is tender!

Back to Jeff...

So we started riding a bit late today. We finally got pedalling at 9 AM and we paid for it at the end of the day. It was sort of raining this morning, so we were slow to get rolling. Once we did, we got to Kentucky in just a few miles. We took a few photos at the state line and had a brief celebration.

The morning portion of the ride was very scenic. We pedaled along an amazing cliffside that paralleled the river; it was rather impressive. We turned up road 195 which haunted us with the barks of dogs and resulted in a tough and unexpected climb. At one point we came across a hen with at least 15 chicks crossing the road. There was a lot of "peeping" going on.

Eventually, we stumbled upon an IGA market and stopped for food for lunch and dinner. They had a small deli that offered up lots of good food. Apparently our eyes were amazingly bigger than our stomachs, so we packed up the leftovers for later (which was a good call considering our late arrival tonight). While eating our picnic-style lunch in the parking lot we overheard another man using the expression "bad fer it". It must be the real deal.

After lunch, we felt the usual sluggishness but pedaled on toward two big climbs. The first one was long, but not terribly steep. The second one was quite steep. It is what I would call a "drooler"; it takes so much out of you that you cannot even find the energy to keep the spit in your mouth.

From there we just had rolling hills to Pippas Passes, but it was getting late. We finally made it to Alice Lloyd College in P.P. at about 6:45! Now all we had to do was find the Madden's home (they run a small hostel for cyclists out of thier home). Well, we made a wrong turn and went about three miles past where we needed to be.

We didn't get going the correct direction until we met Mr. Slone (Mrs. Madden's cousin). He is a very interesting man with a huge interest in bikes (he has about 20 in his living room). His biggest passion is bluegrass music. He used to travel and play music, but now retired, he is building a small venue in his backyard!

Anyway, we finally made it here! The Maddens are out, but we were greeted by a dog and several cats (one is really plump). We scarfed our left over food, took showers and now we need to sleep! So it is time to kill some z's...

Jeff

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Day 14: Elk Garden Methodist Church, VA to Breaks Interstate Park, VA (45 miles, 608 total)


I've never slept so well in a church. Well, before last night, I had never slept in a church, but I still killed it! We were in bed by 8 (partly because we were so tired and partly because we could't find any light switches for where we were sleeping) and I must have been fast asleep minutes later. I slept straight through the night and woke up ready to roll at 5:30. Anne Katherine wasn't so keen on the early wake up, but it helped us get pedaling by 7AM. Seriously, the carpeting in the Church was so comfy.

We made some oatmeal in the church kitchen, chowed it and rolled. We spent some time on some busy roads early on, but soon found ourselves on a less busy road with a market. We stopped for some snacks for the day. We've been killing the Snickers bars; I have at least 2 a day but usually more, AK manages to eat one but is already getting sick of them. I'm also into the Slim-Jims and Fig Newtons, and I've just started experimenting with Pop-Tarts. By the way, the most interesting ingredient in a Slim-Jim has to be the "mechanically seperated chicken". I think it is second on the list, and it gives me a mental image of a chicken through a wood thresher.

Anyway, on we went. We started climbing a big hill and the skies opened up and gave us a brief shower. The hill was rather steep and because of the trucks on the road, there was no safe place to stop and put on rain gear. Finally, I made it to the top just ahead of A.K. and I took the opportunity to pull over and put on my rain jacket and put my camera in my dry bag. By the time that was all done, the rain was pretty much done. That figures.
On we went and the skies cleared and it became quite warm. We rolled through Council (no obvious sign of a campground), Davenport and Bee. I like the name Bee for a town.

Just before the town of Birchleaf, we came across a man removing the transmission from a truck on the side of the road. The odd thing was that the truck was laying on its side! He had used another truck and a chain to pull the old truck over! I suppose that makes it much easier to get to the underside of a vehicle. I asked him if it took a lot of pulling from his truck to do it and he said, "Nah, she just rolled right ova'." I guess the biggest problem would be pulling the truck too far onto the roof. I snapped a photo of it; I'll post it later.

In Birchleaf, we found the best grocery store we've been across in days. They had a very nice selection of fruits and veggies, and roasted chicken. The people there invited us to sign their logbook for bikers and asked us to send them postcards from the road. We bought food for lunch and dinner, and had a pinic lunch in the parking lot. A little stray cat came to investigate us and we let her make off with a little chicken and some turkey.

Then we were off to Breaks Interstate Park (right on the border of VA and KY). Right after Haysi (pronounced Hey-sigh) we hit some steep hills congested with big coal trucks. The first part was super steep, but it leveled off a bit and we pedaled on up. Soon most of the trucks turned off, and we were gifted with light traffic and few trucks. Although at one point A.K. made the right decision to ride off the road and get clear from two large trucks passing in opposite directions on the narrow road. She was fortunate that there was enough of a "shoulder" to ride into. In that case the shoulder consisted of the white line, a shallow drainage ditch (about 8inches deep or so) and a lot of shrubery (is that a word?).

Finally, we saw a sign for the park, but it was up a big hill. It was a steep climb and it kept going up and up. After a while, I arrived at a beautiful overlook onto Chimney Rock. At the lookout, I chatted with an older couple from Richmond; they were quite fasinated when I told them that my girlfriend was on her way up behind me. They cheered when she came into view and then asked her for a ride when she reached the top.

From there we biked the rest of the way (uphill) to the campground in the park. The woman at the campsite registration office told us that there was another cyclist waiting for us. It turns out it was James! He had arrived this morning and secured the last campsite for this Memorial Day weekend. Knowing that we planned to be there today he generously told the woman to look out for us and that we could share his campsite with him. It turns out that he was able camp in the city park at Council, and then he took a short ride from there this moring to enjoy Breaks Park.

Since arriving, we took hot showers, cooked our Tuna Helper (that stuff is pretty bad) and corn. All in all it was a cheap, filling meal. The campsite is a bit of a zoo being Memorial Day Weekend. It is amazing how many tents there are and what mansions some people call tents! We are also situated next to what strikes me as small sorority party. A good night's sleep is looking (and sounding) unlikely.

We are looking forward to advancing out of Virginia. It has been a beautiful state, full of very friendly and generous people, but the hills have been brutal! Speaking of friendly people, one man told us today that we "have a long paddle" ahead of us.

Anyway, Susan at the FFB has told us that we are up to $15,005! That is very exciting, but we are gonna keep fundraising and aiming high! Keep spreading the word about our efforts for the FFB and our journal!

Jeff

From AK - For all who have been asking, my dad is doing much better everyday. He has started short days at work again and is sort of sleeping better, though still not in a normal bed. Thanks for your concern and well-wishes! It certainly hasn't been easy on him but he is making the best of it.

Also, my friend Alecia read off some of the latest days of comments to me tonight. Glad to hear that we have new followers from the trail - Hi David!

Friday, May 27, 2005

Day 13: Damascus, VA to Elk Garden Methodist Church, VA (34 miles, 563 total)


When measuring by miles, today was short, but when measuring by elevation gain, today was rather tall.

After a noisy night's sleep in the Damascus Hostel ("The Place"), we woke up at 6:30 and tried to quietly pack up. Our "roommates" (James and Eric) got up soon after, so we didn't have to tip-toe around too much. We were packed up and ready to find some breakfast by 7:30. I think the lingering stinkiness of some of those hardcore hikers was a big motivation to get out of there ASAP!

We stopped by Kenny Fritz's "Cowboy's", the local market/diner at the Exxon station in town. We bought a few snacks for the day, some breakfast sandwiches, and some blueberry pancakes. Kenny stopped by to say hi as we ate and he reminded us of something we already knew: we have some serious climbing to do before we get of Virginia. D'oh!

If all goes as planned, our last night in Virginia will be tomorrow at a campground that is on the border of Kentucky and Virginia. Once we are in Kentucky we will see just how bad the famous stray/farm dogs of Kentucy are. So far the dogs have been manageable. Most of the time harshly shouting "No!" or "Down!" stops them in their tracks. Luckily, most of the large dogs have been tied up, or behind a physical or electric fences. We did have one pitbull that seemed to come out of nowhere. Since he surprised us and we were headed downhill, the best action was to accelerate. I remember hearing the scratching of his claws on the pavement to keep up. That is the last we heard or saw of him, thankfully. Comically, we get chased most often by little dogs with tiny legs; they have no chance of keeping up with us. Despite that, they still bark and run with all their might. I ususally respond with a Nelson-like "ha-ha!"

Except for the one episode when A.K. tried to gas me, we still have not used the Halt spray. We are told that without a doubt we will need it in Kentucky. Eric and James were both without Halt. I had two extra bottles, so I gave them each one. Sadly, Eric told us that a dog came racing out into the street to charge him and got hit by a car. Eric said the dog got up quickly and ran away, but he was clearly hurt. It surprises me how many people let their pets run free with such roads right in front of their houses. Not all the roadkill we have seen has been wild animals.

Anyway, we left Damascus and were subjected to rolling hills all the way to Meadowview. Blue skies dotted with a few clouds covered us. We were subjected to some gusty winds, but overall the weather was very nice as compared to previous cold and wet days.

We rolled a bit more into Hayters Gap and then began our climb of 1500 feet over four miles. The road was rather narrow for two-direction traffic, full of gravel, and very curvy. We took a few breaks on the way up, but we had to choose our rest locations wisely as there were not many safe places to stop.

Finally, we crested the top and began the descent. The descent was not the best due to the gravel and the narrow road, so we took it rather cautiously. I did manage to sneak up on a small bear on the side of the road. When I first spotted him, he was about 100 yards away. As I braked, he took one look at me and bolted into the woods. I was hoping to stop far enough away from him so that A.K. could see him, but he was not interested in being looked at. That was the first bear I have ever seen that was not in a zoo.

We continued on down the hill into an open valley. I noticed that we have travelled far enough now that the trees and terrain are very different from a few days ago. We stopped to take a snack break next to a pen with three young horses in it (they wanted nothing to do with us). We were a few hundred feet from a cattle farm where there was a lot of "mooing" in the air.

At that point, James caught up to us. He was now travelling alone because Eric had gone south into Tennessee. Once again he mentioned he got a bit of a late start on the day (about 11AM). He does ride rather fast though and apparently climbed the four-miler without stopping to rest his muscles or his '97 Stumpjumper M2. He said he planned to make it to Council tonight where there is a campground. We shared a few cookies with him and off he went.

Soon, a cowboy on horseback came over and asked us to move as they were about to herd a bull across the road. He told us the bull was "bad fer it" (meaning he would charge us if we were too close) so we best move. Knowing that our Halt spray would probably just infuriate a charging bull, we rode on.

Down the road about 100 yards was a pen full of bulls. They were making quite a commotion and if you asked me they all looked "bad fer it."

From there we road a few more rollers. I was a bit ahead of A.K. when I arrived at at a busy intersection. I decided to wait for her there, and when she arrived she pointed out that I had blasted right past our first overnight option.

We pulled out the maps and decided that although this is a short mileage day for us, it is best to stop for the night rather than subjecting ourselves to an 80 mile day and some brutal hills or having to cough up some dough for a hotel.

So, here we are at the Elk Garden United Methodist Church. Yet another fine Methodist establishment that welcomes TransAm cyclists for a small donation. The pastor, Paul, told us to make ourselves at home, so we have. They have very soft carpeting in here and it looks super comfy. We plan to cook some dinner in the kitchen, and I'm hoping to be in bed by 8!

Paul did mention that the campground at Council is closed, so hopefully James will find a decent place to rest tonight.

Jeff

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Day 12: Wytheville, VA to Damascus, VA (61 miles, 529 total)


What an awesome, awesome day! I am so excited to finally be able to say that! Today's ride still involved a fair bit of climbing (12 miles or so) but it was mostly gradual AND we finally got some decent descents. Woooohoo! Most of the day was still cold and I have only taken my leg warmers (combine with the bike shorts to make tights) and arm warmers off one day in the last 8 days or so. Brrrrrr.

The Sleep Inn where we stayed last night had free breakfast so we downed that and headed out. After not really eating a meal yesterday until dinner (we snacked all day), I was adamant about getting real food at regular intervals.

The first town we came to was called Rural Retreat. We pulled off for a "nature break" and per Rebus' suggestion Jeff got a cup of coffee. He said it is only the 5th cup in his life but it did add some energy to his ride so I may be following suite tomorrow. Can't make it a habit though. I also doubt that a steaming cup of coffee would be wanted in the 100 degree temps we are expecting to get in Kansas.

We passed through Cedar Springs and 8 miles later, Sugar Grove and then I pulled over for a snack and some horse petting time. There was a super friendly and inquisitive young white horse just begging for attention. She wasn't interested in a peppermint at all, just played with it for a while and spit it out. Back on the road, it was time to start working for our lunch. I've said many times that Virginia has made us work for every meal and mile we've done. We climbed a mountain for lunch in Troutdale.

The place where we ate was called the Troutdale Trading Post. It was the strangest place we'd ever been in. It was a jack-of-all-trades store in that it served as the town restaurant, market, and thrift store. The food was good and hot, and the inside MUCH warmer than the air outside so we didn't really care that we were sitting next to a box of used women's clothing.

We climbed for 6 more gradual miles after lunch, never an easy thing to do and soon ran across the cutest, sweetest looking dog. She was just sitting by the side of the road, but off a little in the bushes. We noticed her mostly because she didn't come charging out after us. She wore no collar and, without having any way to do anything with or for her, I didn't allow myself or Jeff to stop. I am just sure she'd been hit by a car but knowing that for sure would have broken my heart. Where is my friend Virginia Costa when you need her? She'd help to get the little dog to safety for sure. The little dog looked like a cross between a beagle and a pointer (where beagles are white, she was grey with black dots). Anyway, it still makes my heart ache so I have to move on.

Soon we started our great descents. We passed a log church called the Laurel Valley Community Church. It is a log church and boasts pews and an outhouse all built from logs too.
I was feeling so good at this point, and was so happy about it, that I made up my own song to sing. Jeff said it was the worst song ever but I didn't care. I was just enjoying feeling good.

We leveled out for a while, started a very slow climb up a super windy road, then got to zing down into the last mile before Damascus. At that point we were only about a mile from the Tennessee border and Jeff really wanted to go down there just to say he did 2 states today, but I wasn't interested. I gave him the option of going on while I just sat and waited but in the end he decided that getting to the hostel was more important than heading off route.

Shelter for the night is called "The Place." It is a hostel house especially for Appalachian Trail hikers and TransAmerica cyclists. The Damascus United Methodist Church runs the hostel and for $4 a night, you get a hot shower and wooden bunk. We've met up with James and Eric again. The four of us are sleeping in the same room together. They are splitting ways tomorrow. Eric is going south to Tennessee and then west and James is heading in our direction. I think he'll be going quite a bit faster than we will so who knows if we'll run into him again. (a note from Jeff: As far as Hostels go, this place is really nice and quite clean. Some of the hikers' boots tend to stink a lot, but we can deal. A local, Kenny Fritz, told us the place was originally set-up for the first TransAm cyclists in 1976, but since then it has been taken over by hikers and "smells a bit mildewy now.")

Talking to the through hikers has been fun tonight. There are some guys our age who are definitely making things fun with sparring bats and night hikes (Lightning Rod and Snack Master - through-hikers get nicknames to use on the trail). They seem to be the most normal hikers we've run across so far. There is also a group of four boys through-hiking with their grandfather. That man must have a lot of patience.

I guess that is it for tonight. Tomorrow is going to be a shorter day because we start going over the next set of mountains. Neither of us was aware that there were two sets of Apps, the old and the new, but we have to cross them either way.

AKB

P.S. (from Jeff) Damascus kicks asscus!

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Day 11: Christiansburg, VA to Wytheville, VA (58 miles, 468 total)


Rain! Well, I've discovered something that smells worse than a rotting corpse of roadkill... a WET roting corpse of roadkill! The water adds a sort of wet-dog element to the stankiness (if that's not a word, it should be).

We left Christiansburg at about 7:30 and all weather reports were indicating a dry, yet cooler day. Workday morning traffic was a bit stressful for us, but as we neared Radford it thinned out. Sadly though, as we neared Radford it begain to rain too.

We had just came down a steep descent in which I would have plowed right through (well, maybe not through) an unsuspecting deer that did not see me coming (he was looking in the other direction). Luckily, I saw him. The squeal of my wet rims as I applied the brakes startled the deer, he darn near crapped his pants and then bolted into the woods. Anyway, at the bottom of that hill it started to rain. We were less that two miles from Radford, so we just headed for town with hopes of finding a market or something to take cover in.

Soon we arrived at a little market that provided exactly what we wanted, cover for our bikes and hot food inside. For those that aren't familar with this part of the world, many of these tiny towns have these roadside "country stores" that carry the basic groceries and also have a kitchen that serves hot food (burgers, grilled sandwiches and greasy breakfast options). Some seem to be more known for their food while others tend to be more (or sometimes just) a market. Anyway, Radford is a bigger town than most so this one was a bit like a convenience store with a kitchen.

We ordered some breakfast sandwiches and bought some milk (chocolate milk for me). The restroom had an awesome sign on the door. It read, "Dear customer, please close the door while using the bathroom". Umm, yeah, it's amazing they really need a sign for that! It reminds me of a favorite Homer Simpson quote: "I'm wizzing with the door open, and I love it!"

We stayed in the store until the weather calmed a bit, checked out our maps, put on our rain gear and headed out.

Putting on the rain gear seemed to work; the skies cleared within miles. With decent cycling weather, we biked on.

On the outskirts of Newbern, the skies turned dark. Another storm was headed our way. As we pulled into town, droplets begain to fall. We stopped at the post office to mail home our first fully completed map! Woohoo! In the post office we learned that a market a few miles down might provide decent shelter while the storm passes.

We biked in light showers a few miles to a store which is run by a very friendly man. He was very interested in our trip an invited us to take cover as long as we wanted. We snacked on peanuts, Gatorade and a late season Cadbury Cream Egg (awesome). Meanwhile the rain wasn't quite sure what it was doing. It sprinkled mostly until the temperature started dropping and it really begain to rain. After about 20 minutes of waiting for it to pass (it did not) we decided to put on the rain gear and go for it.

Luckily, we have the right gear. Our biking rain pants, jackets and helmet covers work really well. We stayed realatively dry and rather warm. I must say that my REI Randonee rain jacket is awesome. The best feature, the little flap in the back that can keep water from draining off your back and down your backside; it velcros away when you don't need it. A.K. was jealous that her Burley jacket didn't have that flap. Our fenders also worked really well; they are a must for a trip like this.

We biked for miles in the rain; in one section it absolutely dumped. During the downhill sections the rain drops stung our faces. Soon we hit a clearing of brilliant sun and we took off the majority of our rain gear about a mile later. From there we were about 20 miles from our destination. The sun soon faded to cover us with dark skies, a stiff cold headwind and some light showers. This all equaled a tough day when combind with the rolling hills through many scenic valleys.

By the time we hit Max Meadows ("Max Power"), it was quite chilly. We struggled into Wytheville and arrived a soggy mess. Although it is a bit beyond our budget, we decided that a hotel was a must. We needed hot showers and a chance to dry out all our gear. So here we are in the Sleep Inn in town. Our stuff (tent included) is spread all over the room drying out. Since the rain washed all the lube away, I relubed the chains on both bikes.

We are headed towards the second major section of the Appalachians, so we best get some rest. This hotel has a free breakfast that looks quite good. I can't wait to kill some Fruit Loops. Take that Toucan Sam!

Jeff

Monday, May 23, 2005

Day 10: Troutville, VA to Christiansburg, VA (50 miles, 410 total)

Every night we spend time looking over the next day's route and try to plan out what our "short" and "long" destination goals are. For the last two days, I've really wanted to get to our long goal but have run out of steam and called it quits at the short goal. Still, 50 miles of pedaling through rollar coaster mountain land with fully loaded bikes is no small feat. I'm trying not to be too discouraged by the lower mileage we are turning in and I do hope we aren't running out the time clock early.

Anyway, today we woke up wet, well, we weren't but everything else was. It rained twice during the night so the tent was packed away wet. I'm very glad we bought the bike covers as the bikes and everything on them stay dry. We did a better job of getting out of the park faster than yesterday, and by 7:00 we were rolling. We did the same breakfast drill as yesterday - woke up, had some fig newtons, and got on the road. We stopped about 10 miles down the road at a place called Nanny's for a good, hot breakfast. No low-fat foods there and it was good stuff!

Once again, we were pedaling the back roads of rural Virginia on smaller county maintained roads. The scenery is always beautiful and the traffic is usually light. There was a stint first thing this morning where we were riding on a two-lane road with no shoulder while giant trucks charged past us. I am so tense during those times that I can feel my whole body going rigid. Luckily, that didn't last too long.

Most of today took us up and down at an even rate. Getting as much of a run down one hill to help get you up the next is a must where possible. At one point, Jeff was circling the road ahead of me (thank goodness I wasn't too far behind). Going across the road was a very large black snake. We have no idea what kind it was, but it was definitely around 5 feet long! I wanted to get the camera out but about the same time a truck rolled up and made that impossible. At least the guy swerved to avoid running over it. I sort of thought he was going to aim right for it. It was nice to finally see something alive in the road. We are both very tired of the stench of rotting carcasses. We were keeping a roadkill list for a while but it got way too cumbersome too quickly. Suffice it to say, we pass more than 15 dead things of squirrel-size on up every day. Today we also saw two smashed deer. Those are the largest to date. Live wild animals make appearances too. We have seen a few deer !
crossing the road (Jeff saw a few leap the road in 2 bounds and then fly over a barbed-wire fence). Today we also saw a smaller animal, a woodchuck? A groundhog? We have no idea, but it is cute, it waddles, and it doesn't hang out very long.

About 20 miles into the day I decided that I was tired of lugging around so many clothing options. The small town of Catawba appeared shortly and right on the corner was the post office. We both did another shake-down of what we have and mailed back another 5 pounds of clothing. Minimalism rules. Though it did technically lighten my load, I cannot really tell any difference.

The afternoon was spent battling a serious headwind. By serious, I mean that on a flat stretch I was going all out and only reaching 7 mph. Then a gust would come up and litterally shake my bike and push me around. Even as I type this, the wind is keeping the flags outside laid out and whipping the flag pole back and forth. We are talking serious wind.

Along with the headwind came a harsh sun. Today was the first day that we felt like we really needed sunscreen. We wear it everyday, but today I reapplied more than once. Sunburns are not welcome on this trip.

Harsh headwind, hot sun, and hill after hill had me dragging into town. Our destination was a place called Interstate Park Campground. We'd read that the place had showers and after three long riding days with nothing but babywipes for "showering," they were a must. But picture an interstate, then picture a gravel pit full of RV's, then picture a square of grass about 2 or 3 football fields away from the bathrooms. Now throw in the $20 charge. Yeah, I wasn't all that excited to set up camp. Instead, I walked across the street to the Super 8, where, for $40 we got beds, showers, and AC.

We ate dinner at the Crackle Barrel a little walk down the street, and when we walked out, everything was wet. Now I'm 10 times happier to drop the extra money. Two nights of rain in a tent is one to many for me. OK, time to turn in for the night! AKB

Day 9: Mallard Duck Campground, VA to Troutville, VA (52 miles, 360 total)


Today was all about feeling sluggish. I think we are still recovering from our stint in the mountains yesturday. We had big plans to try to make it to Catawba today (another 20 miles down the road), but we just didn't have it in us.

We slept rather well at the Mallard Duck Campground, despite the barks of Bubba, the campground dog. Bubba didn't like me much, that's fine though, I'm not his biggest fan either.

We packed up as quickly as we could. We decided to skip a full-on breakfast and settle on a few Fig Newtons and a "real" breakfast 10 miles down the road in Lexington.

It was a bit chilly at 6:30 in the morning, so we donned our cold weather gear (full arm and leg warmers and our rain jackets). We said goodbye to some fellow cyclists we met the night before (James and Eric, on their way to Salt Lake City, and Burbank, CA), and we were on the road by 7:30.

The first five miles of the ride were extremely cold; the tips of our fingers first burned, then felt numb in the breeze. By the time we made it to Lexington the weather turned warm and we stopped for a nice hearty breakfast.

Lexington is a nice little town, Home to both the Virginia Military Institute (VMI) and Washington and Lee University.

After breakfast we quickly made a wrong turn and ended up off the route. Correcting the problem was easy since the road we were on (Highway 11) intersects the TransAm route several times down the road. However, I have a feeling we were subjected to more hills than need be by getting off route.

Once back on the route, we headed towards Buchanan for groceries. A few hills stood in our way, but most tended to be the rolling type where you could charge down the backside of one gaining enough momentum to almost crest the next. Once in Buchanan, we bought some food for a meal for tonight and some ham, cheese, and bread for lunch.

Buchanan at was about mile 35 for us and although I felt fine rolling into town, we both seemed to hit a wall on the way out. It took a lot of effort, but we finally rolled into Troutville about 15 miles later. We had heard that cyclists can sleep in the city park for free, so we headed there to investigate.

We were flagged down by Cecil, the park manager. He was very friendly and gave us all the insturctions we needed. We rolled into the park and practically collapsed in exhaustion. Immediately, I started getting the allergic sniffles and eye burns.

In a nearby pavillion-area of the park about 50 people were busy celebrating something. After about 20 minutes, a nice woman named Carol came over and invited us to eat. It turns out they were having a graduation party for Carol's grandson who is headed to Randolf Macon College next fall to play football. We were treated to a huge spread of food including veggies, potato salad, baked beans, country ham, cheese, cake, soda, and something they called a "peetro" which was odd, but quite good. They described it as "redneck food", but I describe it as an open bag of Fritos with a scoop of chili, sour cream, cheese, and chopped tomatoes. They serve it with a spoon and you eat it right out of the bag. They told us they eat them at football games all the time.

After eating our fill and thanking them many times we returned to our camping area to set-up our tent. Tonight's camping is free as well, but there is one problem with that, no showers AGAIN!. Now, I am pretty sure I smell like roses, but Anne Katherine could really use a shower! Seriously though, the last time we showered was in Waynesboro and we are super ripe. Showers are a must tomorrow, so is a beer.

Ok, we are off to figure out what the plan is for tomorrow. Hopefully we can blast some miles and not feel like slugs.

Oh wait, quick story... Yesturday we had a few speedy downhills. At one point my cyclo-computer marked the my max speed at 40 mph. I was shocked and a bit proud of myself, so I mentioned it to A.K. and she checked her computer. Hers had peaked at 41 mph!

By the way, it looks like rain...

Jeff

P.S. Depending one when we come across a phone, so of these entries may get posted a bit late.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Day 8: Waynesboro to Mallard Duck Campground - 46 miles (308 total) Saturday, May 21


Holy cow! We knew we would be climbing today but we had no idea it would be this much. Of the first 31 miles of the day, I think we climbed about 28 of them. Granny gears were used all around.

We woke up around 6:00 to get an early start on what we thought was going to be around a 70-mile day. We are desperate to get more miles logged since we had the unintended rest day. Temperatures this morning we so cold (low 40's) that we were actually looking forward to the climb out of W'boro. The roads were all closed to cars outside of our hotel as the town was getting geared up for a big soapbox derby run. We decided to chance a run-through on the bikes and only got yelled at by one older man. Not too bad. At least he yelled at Jeff more than he yelled at me. It is usually the other way around.

The climb out of the "boro" (as we called it) took us up to the Blue Ridge Parkway. And then we kept going up and up and up. It was a bit rough seeing nothing higher than 4mph on my bike spedometer. However, since every downhill turn meant that the wind sliced through to my bones and rendered my fingers numb, I had a hard time wishing for them either.
We peaked around 3100 feet or so, dipped to 2600, and then climbed back up to 3000 several times - brutal.

The views were spectacular and we had many of them. Though we never really leveled off, we were riding along the ridge of the range after the initial climb - though I can't really tell you where the initial climb ended and the middle climbs began.

After about 31 miles, we came to a stretch of road that we were ready for but also apprehensive about. It was a 3 mile downhill at 13% and you have to stop every so often to let your brakes and rims cool down. We decided to stop every mile and were still amazed at how hot our rims were. There were several cars going down that left a trail of burning brakes behind them too. At the bottom of the descent was a small town called Vesuvius. I knew there was a cafe here and I had been looking forward to it all morning. It didn't disappoint! Gertie's Country Store was serving thier special BBQ and we both had BBQ sandwiches, fries, and Powerade. Good stuff. We talked to three local cattle owners and I learned that a heffer is a cow that hasn't had a calf yet. Good to know.

After Gertie's, the road finally leveled out and we got to hit double digits on the computers. Yee-haw! I had to detour off-route to give a peppermint to a friendly horse by the road. Shortly after that, we came across the Mallard Duck Campground. After paying for two nights in a hotel, we really need to hit the cheaper campsites. It was either stop here or try to make it 30 miles and more climbing down the road to the next camping facilities. I called it and we stopped here. In the end it was a good choice wallet-wise as the owner let us stay for free since we'd donated to the Cookie Lady. What a deal!

Clouds are rolling in and they don't look so friendly so it is time to wrap it up and water-proof the gear.
AKB

P.S. (written by Jeff) We are both wishing Kang and Joe the best of luck in their upcoming qualifying exams at UCSD. Just remember to keep the cap on the dry-erase markers!

Friday, May 20, 2005

Day 7: Rest Day (Waynesboro)


Today was a bit of an unplanned rest day. The bike shop took a bit longer to respoke A.K.'s wheel than we had hoped. We called the shop at 11AM to see if they were done yet; it turns out they had not started yet. At that point it had been raining all night and continued to rain. It wasn't exactly prime cycling weather.

We took a look at the maps and noticed that no matter what we would be camping out once we pulled out of Waynesboro. Leaving late (after the wheel gets finished), cycling in the rain and arriving late to camp in the rain wasn't the most motivating idea. So, we called the shop and told them to just finish the wheel by closing and we booked ourselves another night in the hotel. In the end, this was a great idea; it is really cold out there right now.

We walked in the rain to a local market to buy food for the day (we have a fridge and a microwave in our room). The walk there was so cold and wet that we actually asked for extra bags to wear on our heads on the way back. It looked funny, but I was a lot warmer with that bag on my head.

We spent the day relaxing, running errands and writing thank you notes to our donors. We have also been speaking with many hikers of the Appalachian Trail which intersects our route for the next several miles. Most of these hikers take at least 4 months to complete the trail from Maine to Georgia! I'm very happy to be on my bike.

Tomorrow we are going to get up early and blast some miles! In an effort to make up lost time, we are going to try to make it 70 miles down the road (on the Blue Ridge Parkway) to a campsite. There will be a lot of climbing and one very famous steep descent (13% grade) for 3.5 miles!

Ok, off to eat microwaved food! Hopefully we will get some good weather tomorrow. By the way, A.K.'s wheel looks good to go, it should be solid now. Keep your fingers crossed for strong spokes and good weather!

Jeff

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Day 6: Charlottesville to Waynesboro (37 miles, 262 total)


Yesturday we got our first view of the Appalachian Mountains and today we got our first taste of them. Climbing ahoy! When viewed from afar, the Appalachians look small compared to the Rockies. Make no mistake about it though, when it comes to cycling we've been told that the Appalachians are much worse than the Rockies. The difference lies in the total elevation gain (i.e. counting only the elevation gained and not the elevation lost in downhill sections). When one considers that, there is actually more elevation gained when crossing the "small" Appalachians. This is because of the brutally constant up-and-down in the Appalachains whereas the Rockies are more of one big long up and a big long down. All things considered, we did quite well for our first mountain day.

I have noticed myself getting a lot stronger on the bike. Most pains have subsided, and I find myself powering up hills more than I did in previous days. Although I don't think she believes me, Anne Katherine is growing a lot stronger on the hills too. Everyday I wait a little bit less time at the top of the hills for her. She is doing really well.

After getting to bed late due to all of the chaos of yesterday, we got a late start on the day. I blame part of that on the fact that Maggie has one of the most comfortable beds ever (it was certainly the best thing the two of us have slept on in what seems like a really long time). Anyway, we finally got on the road at about 9AM.

By the way, we won't be out of the Appalachians until we are out of Virginia, and typically most cyclists spend more time in VA than any other state on the route (about 14 days on average).

After getting about 15 miles out of Charlottesville, we stopped at a coutry store for some tasty grub. I killed a BBQ pork sandwich, a Slim-Jim, and some Gatorade. On the way out we ran into a group of French-Canadian cyclists, very cheery people. They were excited about our trailers and cycling maps. After a few photos, we were on our way again.

Next up, was June "The Cookie Lady" Curry in Afton, VA. For those who don't know, June is an amazing woman who owns a home at the top of a famous hill in Afton. She has been offering her generous hospitality to TransAm cyclists for 30 years now. Last year June suffered a stroke and she recently broke her wrist, so she can't get around much. Depsite that, she stills welcomes cyclists enthusiastically to stay the night in the famous "Bike House". June's Bike House is a shrine to the history of the TransAm route (once called the Bikecentenial route, set up in 1976 in celebration of our country's bicentenial) while still being a functional place for cylists to stay for the night, cook, and rest all for a small donation to keep the place clean and stocked with food.

...and when I say shrine, I mean shrine! The walls of the Bike House are covered with postcards, newspaper clippings, thank you notes, notes to other cyclists... It is really hard to even describe. I'll post some photos of the place when I have a chance.

We were about two miles from June's place (about to start the climb) when we stopped for some snacks and a "nature break" (and I don't mean looking at the view). As we got set to ride again, we heard the famous "pop" from A.K.'s rear wheel. She had blown another spoke. Son of a...

We decided that the best thing to do would be to get that wheel rebuilt. Once spokes start to break, a wheel is typically going to continue to break spokes, especially a machine-built wheel like hers. We decided that we'd be a lot more confident through the trip with a wheel that was completely respoked by hand. We called three bike shops from the road before we found one that could accomodate us. The shop is in Waynesboro, 4 miles off route. They closed at 6 and it was 3:30, so we had to get the move on.

A.K.'s wheel was working well enough to limp to the shop, so off we went... up the hill to June Curry's house. We've read so much about how tough that hill was that in the end it didn't seem that bad to me. (Um, it was to me -A.K.) June's house came up much faster than I expected. We were pressed for time, but we knew we had to at least stop in and say hi.

We rang the bell and June came to the door. We chatted with her for a few minutes about her health, and then she gave us the key to the bike house. She told us to look around, have something to eat, sign the guestbook, and stay the night if we like. Inside the bike house, we found the shrine I don't have the words to describe. There are binders of folders with photos of every cyclist that has stopped by. There was a tandem bike that allows both riders to steer and photos of some serious 70's cyclists.

We had a snack, signed the guestbook and left an FFB card and a donation.

June insisted that we come back for a photo before we left. We chatted with her some more about some of her most prized bike related memorabilia left by cyclists, and her recovery from the stroke and her broken wrist. She took a polaroid of us and had us sign the bottom for her photo albums. After some more chatting, we had to get going in order to make it to the bike shop before closing.

It was really a pleasure to meet June Curry. We've read so much about her and she is even more generous and sweet than we had heard. I think she really appreciates the visits of cyclists.

We climbed another 2 miles to the start of the famous Blue Ridge Parkway. The road was busy and shoulderless, and the climb really reminded me of Torrey Pines Hill in San Diego. It just kept going up and up; everytime I thought I was getting to the top, I'd turn the corner and it would keep going up.

The sad thing was that once getting to the top we had to go four miles down the mountain (on the other side) to get to the bike shop in Waynesboro. That means we get to climb out of here tomorrow. That is going to be really tough.

The guys at the bike shop said they can finish the wheel by lunch. That puts us in a tough spot for biking tomorrow. We still are not sure what we'll do yet. We still have to bike out of this "hole" and then the next place to stay is a haul away. There is a storm rolling through now, so hopefully it will blow over while we are waiting for the bikeshop to finish the wheel. Now we are off to bed.

We have really enjoyed your comments on the journal. Keep'em coming!

By the way, the best place for dinner in this town, Scotto's Italian.

Jeff

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Day 5: Mineral to Charlottsville, 57 miles (225 total)

First, thanks to everyone who has been posting comments. We can only see them when we get to a computer with internet connection, but it was fun reading through them all tonight from Maggie's. Keep them coming!

So, yesterday we got lost. Today, blows that out of the water. In a nutshell, I broke a spoke, left my wallet in the bathroom at Monticello, and as we were recovering in Maggie's very cute house, we realized that the whole thing was filling up with smoke. 911 was involved in a big way.

Let's start at the beginning, which would be where we left off last night. Free camping doesn't always mean an ideal situation. Though we didn't have to pitch the tent last night (and then put it away this morning), sleeping on a concrete floor has its drawbacks. Sleeping on a concrete floor in a Firehouse/EMT station has even more drawbacks. First, the entire building is wired with speakers connected to the dispatch office that keeps you updated on all calls made in the county. It also updates all stations on training coming up in the next months and just keys in every once in a while to let you know it is there. Throughout the night we woke up to various training updates and then the EMT calls for people having strokes, asthma attacks, and the inablity of one guy to keep any food down for three days. Though I felt sorry for all of these people, I also just wanted my rest. There was also an ice machine that sounded like a diesel engine everytime it started up. All in all, Jeff got more sleep than I did as I often laid awake listening to his snoring (allergies), the announcements, and the ice machine. I was VERY tired when the alarm went off at 5:45 this morning.

The good news is that we got off to a very early start. We were rolling by 7:15 and were back in more beautiful country-side shortly thereafter. The terrain has been increasingly more rolling in the last two days but today included some good climbs. Still, by 30 miles into the day, I was feeling great and still ready for more. We were rolling through Palmyra, VA at this point and I knew from the maps that it had a small restaurant. Still having a 30-mile stretch in front of us, I thought it would be a good idea if we stopped in for a bite to eat. We felt like we could have ordered everything on the menu! We ate all we could and for a total (not counting tip) of just over $12 we didn't think it was too bad.

Getting back on the bikes after breakfast #2 was hard. We were both feeling super sluggish and had to take a few breaks just to get back in the swing of things. By the time we hit Monticello, I was at my limit. Though only a few miles outside of Charlottsville, my legs felt like jello with no power left in them. I was also not too mentally alert. As I only carried my wallet and water bottle with me to the visitor center, you'd think I would be alert enough to carry both of them back. Nope. Left the wallet.

We arrived in Charlottsville earlier than expected, and thought we had to wait for a bit to meet Maggie after her appointment. We made our way to the pedestrian mall and just tried to keep our legs moving as we walked around pushing our heavily loaded bikes. Maggie called almost right away and we loaded our trailers into her Grand Cherokee so we would have a trailer-free ride to her house. It is a good thing we did! Jeff noticed right away that my rear wheel was out of true. When we got to Maggie's house, we called a bike shop right away to see if they could fit my wheel into their late-afternoon schedule. It was at this time that I noticed my wallet was gone. I'm not carrying a big wallet, nor is there much in it, but everything that is in it is VERY important. My heart sunk. The last place we remembered me having it was Monticello so out came the phone book again. Thankfully, someone had turned it in but we only had 20 minutes to get there before the gates closed. Thank goodness we were traveling by car now (our first time in a car since the previous Friday, today is Wednesday).

Everything was in my wallet, including the cash. Phew. On to the bike shop. Not only was my wheel out of true, but somewhere along the way I had broken a spoke. I knew my brake was rubbing, but I didn't feel out of control or anything so I hadn't checked the spokes. I'm sure it will happen again as other Cannondale owners have lamented the same problem, and the bike shop guy said their wheels aren't that great. Super.

Now we could go back to Maggie's for dinner, showers, and rest. WRONG! We got our showers but as we pulled dinner out of the oven, we both noticed that the room was filling with smoke and our eyes were really burning. The source of the smoke was somewhere in the basement so I had to call 911. They really responded! Five firetrucks (including a ladder truck), the cheif's van, a cop van, cop car, and ambulance all showed up for what I described on the phone as smoke in the house. It all turned out ok in the end but it certainly provided for some excitement! Turns out it is just the way the water heater is vented. The whole thing is shut off and Maggie's house will be just fine.

Now it is well past 10pm and we are truly exhausted. I'm pushing for a shorter day tomorrow but Jeff is worried about our finishing the trip on time. Who knows where we'll be tomorrow night!

Day 4: Addendum - an episode with Halt!

This is AK writing. As we were going to sleep last night we realized that we had forgotten to include one of the most hilarious (sort of) episodes of the trip to date. As we were pedaling along somewhat late in the day (a few miles away from our destination), a giant (to me, but Jeff says he was medium sized) brown dog came tearing out of his yard right for us. My legs were weary and I knew I couldn't out run this one. Jeff is usually in the front so he has learned that the dogs will typically go away if you shout at them. He had told me this, but it was my first time in front with a dog kicking up dirt behind him as he ran so I was quite shaken. I grabbed my Halt! dog spray and pressed the button. There were two problems with this, 1) I had never sprayed the stuff before, and 2) Jeff was pedaling like mad not too far behind me. Instead of spraying a stream, the spray was more of a cloud (I obviously didn't push it hard enough). I heard commotion behind me and later got a very gentle reprimand from Jeffrey about NOT using the Halt until it was crucial to do so. He said he had to swerve hard to get out of the way of the Halt cloud while he was trying to get away from the dog at the same time. And to think people wanted us to bring a real weapon on this trip!

As no one was harmed, the incident goes down as a humorous one. Had the cloud actually hit Jeff, this would be a much different story and I would owe him a thousand more apologies (without laughing) than I have alreay offered.

Just to make a point, he did take my holster of Halt and spray it at our next pull-off site. Stream it did, smoke cloud it did not. I've learned my lesson on this one!

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Day 4: Ashland, VA to Mineral VA (60 miles, 168 miles total)


Today, we got lost. It was supposed to be a nice 40 mile day, but we somehow made a wrong turn and ended up in the wrong county! Despite that, we still had great day. All morning we kept saying how beautiful everything was. The sounds and smells are the best, definitely not the experience you get from the confines of a car. That has also led to an overabundance of mucus. Both of us are allergy sufferers and we are feeling them out here. Nothing too major though. We are also really glad we aren't doing this ride west to east. The temps right now are in the 50's and 60's. August would be quite a different story.

We woke up at about seven, and scrutted some free continental breakfast at our $40 hotel. By the way, the hotel was way worth 40 bucks. We showered, slept on a real mattress with pillows, I washed some clothes in the sink, and we ate free breakfast... not bad for a couple of twenties.

We rolled out of Ashland a little past eight and quicky found ourselves cycling through some beautiful farmland. Wheat fields surrounded us on all sides, and traffic was extremely light.

At one point we passed a farm house with two young horses in the yard. I stopped and whistled at them. They approached hesitantly until Anne Katherine road up and called to them. They came trotting up to the fense eagerly. I guess I don't know how to speak horse. She spent a few minutes petting them and scratching their ears; all three loved it! As we rolled on, the horses followed us along the fence. It was as if they wanted A.K. to stay there all day.

On we went, and I guess we were enjoying the scenery too much and somehow missed a turn. In our defense, we've discovered many crossroads are without signs. But anyway, we rode ten miles out of our way before it became obvious that we were nowhere near Bumpass, the next town on our route. We flagged down a Virginia Department of Transportation crew. They stopped their trucks and shared their maps with ours. "You're in the wrong county!" they said. We got going the right direction and with the help of a few more friendly drivers we finally joined the TransAm route again in Bumpass, after a 20 mile detour.

We stopped in a local market for water, Gatorade, ice cream and a slim-jim beef stick (the slim-jim was snubbed by A.K. and she made me drink Gatorade because she said my breath smelled so bad), all good stuff for tired cyclists. While I wasn't paying attention, a local woman noticed our little signs about our ride for the FFB and slipped a 20 dollar donation into the gloves hanging from my handlebars. She almost snuck away before I was able to thank her. That is our second on-road donation.

The last 16 miles to Mineral took us past Lake Anna. The lake was big and very empty; it looked like it offers some prime, glassy waterskiing.

Exhausted, we pulled into Mineral. We had heard that the local volunteer fire department lets cyclists camp in the field behind their firehouse for free. When we showed up, the place looked empty, but soon a fireman named Brandon arrived and invited us in. He welcomed us and told us we could camp in the yard or sleep in the firehouse. As far as I am concerned, if we don't have to pitch the tent, we don't have to put it away in the morning, so inside it is. He told us we were welcome to use the kitchen, and he showed us the way to the local market.

In minutes, we were off to the store. We came back with green beans, chicken pot pies, pork 'n' beans (for me), and a can of beer (for me)! We just chowed down all the food and it feels good to be full.

The firehouse is really impressive. The have just added on to it and have begun to renovate the inside. Brandon took a few minutes to tell us about their three trucks and wagon. I guess it has been a long time since I've seen one up close, but those trucks are really amazing.
As we were typing this, a call came in and we ran outside to watch one of the trucks pull out. It was pretty exciting!

Tomorrow we have a 60 mile ride to Charlottesville. Maggie Beights, A.K.'s good friend from college is in Charlottesville and we are excited to see her. The plan is to stay with her, get a shower and maybe do some laundry. It will be a nice rest before we attack the major mountains of Virginia. Plus, tomorrow's ride will have some decent hills as well. Hopefully we can stay on the route!

Jeff

From A.K. - Just to update you on the physical side, Jeff said this morning that he could feel his rump - not normal for him. I, on the other hand, am worked. The Aleve regimen is working to relieve the pain in my back, but my legs are super weary. Though I am stretching a lot, the tightness and fatigue just don't let up. I'm worried about the mountains ahead, but I know I'll get over them somehow!

My dad is still hanging in there. The docs say they only see upper ribs broken in a severe car accidents or a fall from several stories up. As he broke 5 of those upper ribs, understandably, every move he makes is excruciating. We still expect him to be in the hospital for a few more days.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Day 3: Glendale to Ashland (42 miles, 107 total)


Today started out late after we both slept through the alarm. No more watch alarms! My cell phone will have to do from now on. Thankfully, the rains had cleared and left behind cool and sunny weather. We donned our super yellow wind vests which also add visibility to passing cars and headed out. I expected traffic to be a little heavier today as it was Monday. That does not bode well for two cyclists on shoulder-less roads.

Around 16 miles into the day we pulled off into another Richmond National Battlefield Park, this one commemorating the battle of Cold Harbor. I was super excited about the clean bathrooms there. We also met a great local guy named Gary who goes out to the park frequently with the hopes of getting into shape for the Army Reserves. He was so interested in our trip that he gave us a donation on the spot! We gave him a card so hopefully he will check in on our progress.

While Jeff was inside checking out the exhibit, I turned on my cell phone to update my parents on our progress. Instead, I learned that I hadn't been the only one in my family on a bike on Sunday. My dad had had a crash of Tour de France proportions. He hit a patch of water at a high rate of speed, spent the rest of the night in the emergency room, and will spend the next several days in the hospital. He broke 5 upper ribs, his collar bone, got road rash on his left leg and arm, and may have some ongoing damage to his left arm. According to the doctors, had it not been for his helmet, he would not be here today. Please, everyone reading this journal, ALWAYS wear your helmet!

The shock of that news put quite a damper on the day for me but we did get back on the road. In Mechanicsville, we made a much needed detour to a post office to ship home every piece of extra gear we had. I shipped the most, having totally overpacked "off bike" clothing.

The tough thing about biking on a tight budget is that campsites are not convenient to our schedule. Right now they are either 30 or 40 miles apart. Given my back pain, 70 to 80 mile days are only ideas for down the road, but 30 mile days won't work with our schedule either.

We decided to go past the campsite for this night in order to get a few more miles down the road. Ashland was our destination and it is a great town! We biked down Center Street, a street split in half by railroad tracks. After stopping by the local bike shop to inquire further about campsites (non-existent), we biked on to the town information center. As we stood outside the center, a very long train came rolling through. The sound is deafening and shakes everything around, but it is fun to see! Back in the center, we learned that there were many options (with coupons) for hotels just down the road. Good news for us! We decided on a Days Inn that surpassed all expectations. First order of business was showers, the first since Friday night, then it was off to dinner. After the news about my dad, I didn't have much of an appetite during the day. That all changed after I was clean. I was starving! We walked to the Pizza Hut at the corner, stuffed ourselves, then headed to the!
grocery. I needed some Aleve and a hot Epsom salt bath and Jeff wanted a cold beer. We got my stuff but I had forgotten that Ukrops doesn't sell any alcohol. Thankfully, a nearby gas station provided Jeff's favorite Pabst Blue Ribbon in the big can.

Now we're totally relaxing, watching TV, and rehydrating. I cannot wait to sleep WITH a pillow and WITHOUT bruised hips from the hard ground!

Day 2: Jamestown to Glendale (40 miles, 65 total)

Today has been a fantastic day. It amounted to a bit of a shorter ride than planned, but that was not without good reason.

We woke up in Jamestown (after a noisy night of scouts and cars zurning down the dirt road near our tent) at about 6:30. We broke camp and were all loaded up to roll by 7:45. We should get a bit faster at packing up as the weeks pass. Anyway, after a breakfast of PB sandwiches we were ready to roll. We ended up having to wait until the campsite office opened up again to refill our waterbottles. After a short wait, it was down the John Tyler Memorial Highway (Highway 5) where we passed several old and beautiful plantations.

Many of the plantation homes are open for tours, but most were closed today (Sunday) or for the season. We did pull into the Sherwood Forest Plantation for a water break. This plantation is famous for being the home of our former president, John Tyler. Since the place looked closed, we just rolled right up to the front gate and parked. From there we had a view of the house down the tree lined walkway.

We were just about to leave when a man rolled up in his car. His first words, "You guys look awesome!" After speaking to him for a few minutes, we learned that this man was Mr. Harrison Tyler, the owner of the plantation home and direct decendent of President John Tyler! He was very friendly and was sure to tell us several times to be safe. He was very proud to tell us that the Tyler family is the only presidential family to still take up residence in a home where the president once lived. "Not even the Kennedys," he said.

Next, we planned to go to Charles City for some food that didn't have peanut butter on it. The only problem was that Mr. Tyler told us that there hasn't been a city there since 1621. The place was still on the map, but it turned out to be nothing more than a gas station. I think Mr. Tyler was trying to tell us that pre-1621 Charles City had a lot more to offer than it does today. We continued on in search of food, chomping on sports bars along the way.

Later down the road we stumbled upon a tortise crossing the road. He was making good progress until we startled him and he stopped in his tracks right where a car's wheel would pass. We figured we had to help him now. Either that or he'd end up like the big dead snake we saw earlier. Besides, if a car drove by right then we would probably be wearing him!

We snatched him up and he went for cover in his shell. We sent him on his way, but after the move he wasn't so eager to pop his orange and black spotted head out of his shell again.

We did have one unpleastant driver honk at us today. It was sort of random and very uncalled for. We have been working hard to ride single file on the shoulder (not that there was much of one today), but I guess this driver didn't think we were far enough over. I'll never understand why some people feel a need to honk at cyclists. Despite that, every other driver has been very courteous. We also got the encouraging "beep-beep" type of horn, so that was nice.

Today's route took us passed Malvern Hill, a site of a large Civil War battle. We stopped in for a few photos with the cannons and rolled on to Glendale.

We have read that the Willis United Methodist Church in Glendale takes in cyclists for free, but a small donation is appreciated. It was a bit early to end the day (about 1PM) but the next available stop is 25 miles down the road at Mechanicsville. Mechnaicsville is a large suburb of Richmond, so there is no camping there. Since we are not yet ready to pay for another hotel, and we heard a storm was about to roll in, we decided to stop at the church and investigate.

We were welcomed by several friendly parishioners, the Pastor Joel, and his wife Kristen. They all were just finishing their big Homecoming celebration and invited us in to help eat some of the food that remained. After what has seemed like too much PB and the disappointment of Charles City, there was no way we could turn down this spread of fried chicken, rice, bread, pasta salad, potato salad, bean salad, deviled eggs, lemonade, cakes, pies, banana pudding... It was fantastic! We ate like royalty and chatted with the friendly people. They all told us that we certainly came on the right day!

After eating to the point of popping, they insisted that we take leftovers to enjoy tonight and tomorrow. The Pastor and his wife showed us this building behind the church that we could call home for the night. A.K. thinks Joel looks like a friend of ours from San Diego, Michael Hubbard, so that makes it feel even more like home. I think the building is used for Sunday school, but it is a very comfortable place to stay when the clouds darken.

We both decided that after that huge meal, and with the oncoming storm, we couldn't resisit the chance to stay the night with a roof over our heads. We moved our stuff in and got comfortable.

After a bit of rest, we biked down to the small grocery store in Glendale (one mile down the road) and bought a few things. It was small, but it was nice to see a store that is not boarded up.

We got back from the store just before the skies opened up and dumped. Since then we have been relaxing and listening to the thunder.

Anne Katherine spotted a tick in her stuff that she luckily noticed before it latched on for good. She must have picked it up at the campsite and carried it all the way here. That is my second tick encounter in two weeks... Lori, how is yours?

Ok, I am off to relax and clean up a bit. Sorry for the lengthy post, but a lot happened today! Be sure to leave us a comment below!
Oh, and the church website is www.willischurch.org - check it out!
Jeff

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Saturday, May 14, 2005

Day 1: Yorktown to Jamestown (25.2 miles)


Our first day of riding! We were able to get orgainized enough to start riding one day early. Since we did not get started until after lunch, we made it a short day.

We woke up at about nine this morning (we have really enjoyed these last few days of sleeping in), and packed our bikes up with all of our stuff. Once again we were reminded of how heavy all this stuff really is. All the little things really add up.

After getting the bikes loaded, we took a little ride around town. I have discovered that my bike does not handle the loaded BOB trailer very well. The bike develops a "shimmy" anytime I am out of the saddle. I think I'll be able to reduce it with some more careful packing, but I also think that ultimately I'll just have to learn to ride with it. Once we come across a post office (that is open), I'll mail home some clothes and tools that we no longer need. That will help reduce the load and hopefully the "shimmy".

We had lunch at the Yorktown Pub, right on the water. Burgers for all and then it was off to the Yorktown Monument to take some photos. The monument not only marks the start of the route, but it also commemorates the victory of the colonists (led by G. Washington) over the British.

Despite the "shimmy", we had a great ride today. The route took us along the York river, through Williamsberg (watch out for the Red Coats), along the Colonial Parkway, and into Jamestown. Virginia so far has proven to be very scenic. The tree lined roads are fantastic, and I really like the red-brick bridges.

Many people are very interested in what we are doing. We've had at least five groups ask us, and we have handed out a few business cards. I feel a bit funny telling them it is our first day! Most people just want to know how far, how long and how much.

The campsite leaves a bit to be desired, but the people here have been very friendly too us. A friendly couple with two young children and a dog named Zack have offered us our fill of Nilla Wafers and Sun Chips. Another woman across the way would really like to give us some Italian sasage, but we are already full from PB sandwiches and Nila Wafers.

We "showered" in the pool at the campsite (like I said the campsite leaves much to be desired, including showers), but it was quite refreshing... even without soap.

Tomorrow we aim for Glendale. We have read a free church hostle is waiting for us there. Free stuff is our favorite.

Jeff

Friday, May 13, 2005

Yorktown - Putting it all together

What a great day! We slept in, took our time getting ready, and both felt odd doing it. For so long now, everything has been rush here, quick do this, hurry up to do that, etc. There was nothing to be done until we picked up the bikes and gear from UPS at 2:00. Grayson suggested we go to lunch at the No Frills Bar & Grill in Norfolk. After such at great dinner at Cora's the night before, how could we refuse? It definitely lived up to its recommendation. Fabulous sandwiches and I really loved my side of sauteed spinach.
After lunch, we headed off to the dreaded Walmart. Normally, Jeff and I avoid giant establishments like the plague, so I cannot tell you the last time either of us has crossed through a WM doorway. Armed with food for camping, camp fuel, and a few other last minute items, we made our exit as quickly as possible.
Off to UPS we went with our fingers crossed that 1) the packages were really there even though the website said they were, and 2) there wasn't any significant damage to any of the boxes, and therefore, the delicate cargo inside. Our fears were quickly relieved even though it was blatantly obvious that the "This side up" signs were completely ignored. Oh well.
Then it was on to Yorktown and the Duke of York Motor Motel. What a great place! Every room has a water view. We hauled all of the boxes into our room and got to work with the reconstruction. Apart from a misaligned brake pad on my bike and some damaged cable housings on Jeff's, there really wasn't any damage to be seen.
Grayson and Beth called a little while later. They had generously offered to shuttle us back to Yorktown after we dropped the rental F150 back at the Norfolk airport. Dinner was also on the list and we settled on a great pizza/beer place called Cogan's.
Now it is time to hit the sack. Though we have scheduled a short day for tomorow, there are still many details to take care of. Not the least of which is that the phone # of the campsite where we wanted to stay tomorrow night is incorrect. We'll figure it out, I'm not worried about it.
We cannot say enough how fun it has been to hang out with Grayson and Beth. They have gone WAY out of of their way to be sure that we are all ready to head out. Thanks a million, y'all, and we will gladly return the favor anytime!
AKB

Travel Day - San Diego to Norfolk

After many months of anticipation, travel day finally arrived! After a (thankfully) short night's stay at a motel near the airport in SD, we boarded the plane with all leftover gear and clothing that had not previously been mailed or stored. We arrived in Norfolk in the evening, picked up our HUGE F150 from Budget, and drove downtown to meet our friends Grayson and Beth Bryant. Grayson is the reason Jeff and I met so it is fun to see them again. They treated us to a fabulous dinner of Southern fare - shrimp & grits (my favorite) and buttermilk fried chicken. We all stayed up late into the night talking, not a problem for Jeff and me, but we felt sorry for them when the alarm went off at 5am! We're now off to run errands and hopefully pick up damage-free bikes from UPS. Oh, and our total fundraising amount as of this morning was $14,835!! Wow!

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Our last few days in San Diego

Time is ticking away and A.K. and I are scrambling to get packed up, say good-bye to everyone, visit our favorite sites and eat our favorite foods in San Diego.

We started to day by heading out to the San Diego Zoo for one last stroll around the park. We are both members, so it is "free" to go, and it is always a great place for a walk. We recommend going in the morning because the animals tend to be more active. We saw a black leopard tearing at a leg of lamb, a baby colobus monkey, the tigers stalking each other, two baby cheetahs still in the nursery... Ah shoot! I just realized we didn't see my favorite, the Galapagos tortoises. They say that some of the tortoises in the zoo have been there since it opened way back in... whenever.


Fishin' for Ants.


Anyway, from the zoo we went to In-N-Out Burger, a favorite among Southern Californians and then back home to pack. The we met a bunch of friends out at our favorite pizza joint in San Diego, Filippi's Pizza in Pacific Beach. Good Stuff.

Tomorrow is all about getting out of this apartment, having one last dinner in San Diego, and then we are off to Virginia early the next day.

The tracking numbers indicate that our bikes are on schedule to meet us in Norfolk. Let's hope it stays that way.

Jeff

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Thanks for coming!

Thank you all for coming to our little party down by the bay. We both had a good time and plenty of hot dogs too.

We lit the fire a little earlier than planned after Scott went swimming after his soccer ball that got swept out to sea!


Scott discovers the joy of the off-shore breeze.


Anne Katherine is currently driving to Colorado to drop of her car for the summer. I think she is surviving the drive with books-on-tape. I'm supposed to be packing right now, but updating the webpage is more fun.

Anyone want to help me haul stuff to storage?

Jeff

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Party Details...

Well, I am back in town and I'm still super busy. We shipped our bikes and trailers today via UPS; I hope they arrive in one piece. Additionally, moving out of my apartment has really enforced a new personal belief that I have too much junk.

Anyway, so it is time for some fun... Our party is on Friday and we are celebrating the start of the ride, our last few days in San Diego, the confirmation of my Masters Degree, and (most importantly) our generous donors (may we have many more!).

So here is the deal...

When: Friday, May 6th at 3PM until...
I know many of you have "real jobs" and cannot come to the party at three. Not to worry, the event is really intended to be an after work event, so come when you get out.

Where: Crown Point Shores in Mission Bay Park
I have had gatherings here before, but if you do not know where that is, use the directions that I've included at the bottom of this entry.

What I'll be bringing: Paper plates, plastic forks and knives, condiments, a gas grill, a small cooler, some firewood, croquet, wiffle ball...

What you should bring: Beverages and Food
We can't really afford to bring food and beverage for everyone, so please team up with a few people and bring some burgers, dogs or whatever you would like to grill and something to drink.

Please keep in mind that alcohol at the park is allowed, but it must NOT be in a glass container and can only be consumed between the hours of noon and 8PM.

If you have any of these, please also bring: Firewood, beach chairs, any food you'd like to share, games or balls, and anything else you think would be fun or useful.

Directions:
1) Go to Pacific Beach and go WEST on either Grand or Garnet.
2) Make a Left onto Lamont.
3) When you arrive at Crown Point Drive, drive straight down into Crown Point Shores.
4)Follow the course of the road to the farthest parking lot.(The farthest parking lot is your last left before going back up the hill to Crown Point Drive.)
5)Park you car, and come towards the water.

It should be fairly easy to find us from there.
Call me if you get lost.

See you there,
Jeff