Bike Across the US - August

Biking the Katy Trail again on August 1stSaturday, August 1, 2009Today we start to travel home to collect rent and pay bills. Since we are flying on frequent flier miles we have to fly to Dallas, spend the night, and complete our flight home at 6:00am tomorrow. Luckily we found a Ramada at DFW for $49 - yeah!August 2 – 4th, 2009

This trip home was much less dramatic than our previous trips home. We were able to spend most of our time at home with the grand kids and were able to take them swimming. On the 4th we flew back to St. Louis to claim our bike and replace both the front and rear tires. We now have 2,100 miles on both tires without any flats and our history has shown that around the 3,000 mile mark we start to have flats and slits in the tires so we decided to change them out now instead of waiting for a blow out.   

Also on the way back to St. Louis we had a two hour layover in Chicago so you know what that means… plenty of time to run out for that famous Giordano’s stuffed pizza. As we hit the ground we called for the pizza and by the time we pulled up in the taxi we only had to wait two minutes. We zipped back to O’Hare, went back through security, ate our pizza and still had to wait 30 minutes to board our plane. No worries!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009 Pedaling Day # 48 Miles today – 82.0 Daily ride time – 6 hrs 39 min Average – 12.5 mph Daily Climb – 4,793 feet Total BRAA mileage – 3,305 Weather leaving Chesterfield, MO @ 0425 hrs– Fog, 67‘F wind 2 – 5 from N Weather arriving Farmington, MO @ 1:55  – partly cloudy skies, temp 83‘F wind from NW @ 5 mph Our earliest start ever due to the forecast of high heat and humidity. The one factor we had not counted on was the dense fog. The nice thing is that there were hardly any cars on the road at 4:25 am. At 5:05 we were pulled over by a city police woman who was concerned about our safety in the fog. She suggested we go back a half mile to a 24 hour diner and eat breakfast, and then the sun would be coming up at 6am and the cars could see us better. (Our thinking was that there were NO cars out yet and we wanted to get out of the metropolis of St. Louis before they were out) Anyway we did not put up a fight since we were hungry and ate our first breakfast for the day. At 6:15 we hit the road again and yes there was some light but the fog was still pretty thick and now we had traffic on the road. But we only had 8 miles to go until we were freed from the high traffic of the city and would be out on the less traveled country roads. As luck would have it they had nice 8 foot wide shoulder for us to keep our distance so we continued. We then rode 32 more miles without stopping and were getting hungry again so we stopped at another diner for our second breakfast. Harvey’s restaurant came to our rescue and to our surprise they had my 4 egg omelet for only $380. Pam got a two egg omelet for $3. (When you are eating as much as us the cheap food is very welcomed!) They also had good coffee too which accounted for the local “coffee club” of farmers who had a field day with us and after a very entertaining breakfast we had farmers lined up to be pulled to Virginia on roller skates, wagons, and other means behind our bike. By the time we finished our second breakfast the fog was starting to lift. Then when we were only 8 miles from our destination we had a bridge out on our road and we had to divert. This diversion caused us to go way out of our way and we ended up doing an extra 5 miles on today’s ride. We arrived in Farmington MO just before 2pm and even though the air temperature was only 83’F my thermometer on my bike was reading 98’F in the sun and with the humidity felt even hotter. We checked into our Super 8 and after the cold showers started feeling human again. Knowing that tomorrow is a shorter day will keep us going but they are now predicting high 90’s for the weekend so we may have to deviate from the plan a bit…. We will see…. BrianThursday, August 6, 2009

Pedaling Day # 49

Miles today – 27.7

Daily ride time – 2 hrs 5 min

Average – 13.4 mph

Daily Climb – 1,274 feet

Total BRAA mileage – 3,333

Weather leaving Farmington, MO @ 08:30 – Clear skies, 70‘F wind 5 from NE

Weather arriving Saint Genevieve, MO @ 11:30  – clear skies, temp 78‘F wind 7 from NE


Today we needed to change our route form originally planned. We were going to cross into Illinois and stay in Chester but luckily we called ahead to find all the hotel rooms within a 25 mile range were filled for the next week due to the “Grand American Trapshooting Championships” in town. Lucky for us because now we got to divert to Ste. Genevieve.

Photo Left: Finally cresting a ridge today.

Photo Center: A sunflower field just off our road.

Photo Right: "Surprise Lillies"

Today’s ride seemed more like one of our daily rides we do at home.  We started out late in the morning (for us anyway), and rode for two hours completing our “normal” day’s ride (just like) when we’re home.  Exceptions:  High humidity, lots of hills, plenty of greenery, trees lining the road with plenty of shade on our side, and of course let’s not forget the weight of our bags!  What a great way to start the day with plenty of rest and a good breakfast of cantaloupe, cottage cheese, yogurt and blueberries to fill our tanks for the hills.  As we crested each hill we looked back and admired the scenery and enjoyed the wildflowers and trees along the way.  Half way through the ride we stopped at a new, family owned convenience store called Midway where we found delicious honey/salt cashews and cinnamon almonds.  Yummy!

Photo Left: The herb garden at the Bolduc House

Photo Right: Today's winner for the most unique mailbox

We were both in better spirits today since we knew the route remained on Highway 32, and it was such a short ride.  We’ve come to realize that when Map My Ride says there is 1,000 feet of climb you should expect at least 1,500.  Yesterday was a trying day on the body not only with lots of climb, but the heat and humidity really took it’s toll by the time we rode into Farmington…

After arriving into the town of Saint Genevieve, population 4,476, we were pleasantly surprised by the historic downtown area.  The town is an original French built city pre Lewis and Clark era.

After the original town flooded in 1785 it was moved two miles to its present location. The receptionist at the Microtel was quick to supply us with maps and information for the area.  She graciously let us check into our room early, and off we went in search of lunch and the information center.  Lunch was delicious at a wonderfully quaint café called Stella and Me.  The food was delicious!  The café itself was in historic downtown, and used to be an antique shop.  After lunch we went to the museum, which offered plenty of items to study and then walked next door to take a look at the beautiful Catholic Church.  Afterward, we toured La Maison de Guibourd-Valle, built in 1806 for Jacques Jean Rene Guibourd de Luzinais.  The tour led us through the rooms, then up to the attic to admire the hand-hewn and numbered Norman truss system.  Quite impressive!  Most interesting to us about this home is that one of our friends Doris Siewert, who lives in Paderborn, Germany, has a beautiful home in Paderborn with this same construction. This was one of six historic homes that are available to tour in the downtown area. 

The second home we toured was the Bolduc House, constructed in 1785 by Louis Bolduc.  The home itself was interesting to look at, but more awesome was the 18th century French herb gardens and grape arbor.  Wow!  They have rebuilt the kitchen (which was constructed as a separate building as the French were frightened of kitchen fires) and turned it into an herb drying house.  It smelled wonderful in there as you walked through the door! After all this excitement it was time to eat!  Brian decided on the Lam’s Garden. Great Chinese food!  After filling up once again, we headed back to the motel to review tomorrow’s ride.


                                                                                             Pam and our bike crossing the Mississippi into Illinois PamFriday, August 7, 2009

Pedaling Day # 50

Miles today – 55.9

Daily ride time – 4 hrs 37 min

Average – 12.3 mph

Daily Climb – 1,527 feet

Total BRAA mileage – 3,393

Weather leaving Saint Genevieve, MO @ 05:55 – Clear skies, 62‘F wind 5-7 from SE

Weather arriving, Murphysboro, MO @ 12:55  – few clouds, temp 88‘F wind 10 - 12 from SE

Wow! 50 days of pedaling, I guess we are committed to the project. We were off to a late start this morning as the ferry crossing the Mississippi into Illinois does not start operating until 6am. Well we missed the first ferry (should have got up earlier…) so we ended up crossing the river at 6:40. But since we were captive on the banks of the Mississippi we were able to witness the best sunrise we have seen in a while and decided to put the video camera on the bank of the river and record for 10 minutes as the sun rose and plan to do one of those time lapse sun rises for our trip DVD. Should be cool.

Photo Left: The sun rises over the Illinois bank of the Mississippi.Photo Center: Pam waiting for the ferry.

Photo Right: The moon setting on the Missouri bank of the Mississippi River.

Once in Illinois we followed the Mississippi River most of the day and most of it down in the river valley so we had a nice flat day. And half of the day was on tree lined roads so the high winds were muffled. Nevertheless the other half of the day was amidst the corn and bean fields with a direct head wind so it did impact our speed today.

Photo Left: Our hosts and their 2.2 children. (well 2 anyway)

Photo Right: Our escort to our apartment for the night.

The most memorable part was when we rode from St Louis two days ago we saw so many goldfinch birds, then yesterday we saw none. Yesterday we saw around a hundred dead armadillos squashed on the road, but none the day before and none today. Then today we saw the goldfinch again. Strange.

At 7 miles to our destination we had a “road closed” sign. Upon investigation they were replacing the rails on a rail road. With the help of a rail road employee we picked up the bike and carried it across the tracks. Thanks guys!

We arrived in our overnight town just before 1pm and to our hosts house. We dropped off our bags and went to visit the local museum for an hour (or so) and eat lunch. Then we returned back to Tabatha’s house to socialize. It turns out Tabatha and her husband manage rental properties along with their ‘real’ jobs so we had lots to talk about. Tabatha also just had her second baby three weeks ago so they have their hands full. Tomorrow we have a long day and we plan to start much earlier. Until then!


Saturday, August 8, 2009

Pedaling Day # 51

Miles today – 93.3

Daily ride time – 7 hrs 19 min

Average – 12.9 mph

Daily Climb – 4,293 feet

Total BRAA mileage – 3,490

Weather leaving Murphysboro, IL @ 04:30 – Clear skies, 72‘F wind 5-from SE

Weather arriving Elizabethtown, IL @4:30pm – Clear skies, 88’F wind 10 – 15 from SW

Special thanks to Tabitha and her husband for providing us with comfortable accommodations last evening!  They had an open rental apartment near their home, and offered it to us for the night.  We had a nice time chatting with both of them yesterday after arriving in Murphysboro, and enjoyed afternoon tea as Brian wrote the report.  They have two adorable children!  Tabitha’s husband rode with us on his Rans Tailwind (a similar recumbent bike as ours, only built for one), over to the rental home.  He put the linens in his bike trailer, and off we went!

Upon waking, rested and refreshed, we set off extremely early again this morning.  Thank goodness we did!  We ate our first breakfast at the Denny’s in Carbondale before sunrise, and started pedaling again as daylight approached.  We rode along for a while, and as we were cresting another huge hill we had to stop for a photo of the largest Texas longhorns that we’ve ever seen! 

The bull was actually posing for the photos.  We were so excited after the pics (actually experiencing heat and exhaustion by this time) that we tipped the bike again… Not quite letting the bike hit the ground this time, and we were at a complete stop.  Who knows, but we broke one of the two welds on Brian’s seat mount.  SO, we stopped at the next home about a half mile up the road and asked the guy on his ATV in the front yard if he knew of any welders in the area.  Fortunately a half mile up the road there lived the local handyman who also has a welder.  Unfortunately he had just left 15 minutes prior to complete a job.  His wife told us to ride into Goreville, about six miles away on our route, and visit the Napa store before noon.  Off we went to Napa.  When we arrived one of the mechanics told Brian to go in and ask for Wayne and was told he was so good he could “mend a broken heart”.  This brought on hilarious laughter in the shop, and Wayne proceeded to fix Brian’s seat in no time!  He also would not accept payment, and one of his co-workers gave us two baseball caps too!  Wayne recommended the restaurant two doors down from Napa, telling us it’s a favorite of bicyclists with photos under glass at each table.  Sure enough Delaney’s was an awesome eatery for our second breakfast!  We ordered a fresh baked peach pie to be delivered when it was finished baking to the Napa store for all the staff.  What nice people!

Photo Left: The root cause of my seat weld breaking.....Photo Center: An interesting menu

Photo Right: Brian resting after 93 miles - remote in hand.....

By 10:00 we set off once again pedaling our way toward Elizabethtown.  We kept looking at the planned route at the huge hills we would encounter before and after Eddyville, yuck!  About ten miles from Goreville we came upon an awesome “rails to trails” route know as Tunnel Hill.  Brian actually looked at the route on-line two nights prior, but we weren’t planning to take it.  We stopped to use the facilities there at the trail and wet our heads with the cold water, and reviewed our map.  We decided to take this trail for ten miles, then take Highway 146 and intercept our route after the town of Golconda.  What an awesome bike trail!  Beautiful scenery, extremely cool temp through the tunnel and along the route as it was shaded most of the way.  Once we got on back on the highway, we stopped a few miles later to cool off and eat a snack at a McDonald’s.  When we set off again, we were really in for a challenge with the heat and hills. 

We did stop along side the road at one point to cool off in the shade, but found we couldn’t sit comfortably as there were plenty of ants and other critters in the fresh mown grass.  Fortunately there was somewhat of a tailwind for us most of the time after this, but after we stopped in the town of Golconda to cool off with an ice cold beverage we were in for a huge hill…  After we were finished with this climb it felt like we’d never cooled off or rested!  Oh well, there were only 16 miles to go… Oh my!  Thankfully the hills after this were more forgiving, and we made it into Elizabethtown (population 348) late in the afternoon. We found our accommodation quickly, the River Rose Inn, located right along the banks of the Ohio River.  Beautiful!  Located in an historic old home, the owners Sue and Bruce have done an outstanding job renovating and decorating this home!  The Heritage Days Festival is today, so Sue and Bruce were in a play that took place at 1 Main Street directly in front of their home!  Brian and I enjoyed part of their performance, then retired to our room to rest, and of course write our report.  So here we are ready for bed after a grueling 90+ mile day mostly in the heat and humidity.  I have to say I enjoyed myself even though we fought with heat exhaustion. Until next time,                                                        Sunrise on the Ohio River PamSunday, August 9, 2009 Pedaling Day # 52 Miles today – 61.3 Daily ride time – 4 hrs 50 min Average – 12.7 mph Daily Climb – 3,095 feet Total BRAA mileage – 3,551 Weather leaving Elizabethtown, IL @ 05:45am – Clear skies, 72‘F wind 5-from S Weather arriving Madisonville, KY @12:15pm – Clear skies, 89’F wind 7-10 from S Today we slept in until 4:30. The B&B owner, Sue, said she could get up at 5am to get us breakfast, which she did. Since She and her husband were in the play for “Heritage Days”, which was followed by a live band, Pam and I opted for bed instead of socializing last night. Now that she had our full attention she was very curious about our trip so we were on the road at 5:45. The forecast was for HOT again so I wanted to get out early but what can you do???? At 6:40 we arrived at the Cave Rock ferry to cross the Ohio river into Kentucky. Since there were no other cars we ended up not getting across the Ohio until 7:15. But that gave me time to oil the bike chain. Once into Kentucky the hills again grew steep. The good news is that Pam and I now can go up 8 and 9% hills with our full load which was unheard of at the start of our trip. The bad news is there were plenty of them, in fact most of the hills were 6 – 9% for the first 22 miles of Kentucky. One hill was even 17% - what are they thinking???? Not biking for sure! Today we had a small issue of finding lodging along the Adventure Cycling Route – again. So I had jumped on the internet and found a hotel in Madisonville which is off the route quite a bit – but the good news is there is a relatively flat section of land that runs through central Kentucky that we rode into for the last 20 miles of our ride. As my bike computer thermometer was reading 104’F it was a welcome surprise not to have to climb those hills in that kind of heat.

Photo Left: Brian in Kentucky

Photo Center: A coal barge moves up river on the Ohio River

Photo Right: Brian's 6 egg omelet - the cook/owner said it was his first.....

Photo Left: A roadside pond

Photo Center: A LARGE mushroom outside our hotel

Photo Right: A LARGE spider web.

We arrived on Madisonville just after noon and the heat was getting pretty intense. The girl at the front desk of the Days Inn must have felt sorry for us as she has been

taking very good care of us giving us free detergent to wash our clothes, check in early, giving us a bigger room for our bike, and other helpful travel needs. Our plan is to re-plan our next two days of our route to follow this flatter terrain across Kentucky until we reach the Mammoth caves. Ironically it looks like we will be shaving a day off our original schedule and allow us more time to explore the caves and area. The weather has been phenomenal since we left St Louis so we keep plugging on! Until tomorrow! Brian  Monday, August 10, 2009

Pedaling Day # 53

Miles today – 86.4

Daily ride time – 6 hrs 50 min

Average – 12.7 mph

Daily Climb – 3,619 feet

Total BRAA mileage – 3,638

Weather leaving Madisonville, KY @ 04:10am – Clear skies, 76‘F wind 5-from S

Weather arriving Bowling Green, KY @12:55pm – Partly cloudy skies, 90’F wind 11 from W

The past four days has felt like we’re training for an Iron Man event!  Our daily mileage is still up there, and we’re experiencing the intense heat and humidity - so our bodies are ready for a couple days rest.  I recommend Kentucky in August for anyone who wants to work on endurance training!  Brian keeps looking at the topographic maps, but the hills don’t seem flatten out…  Oh well, we’re still having a great time.  Thank goodness we started pedaling today at 4 a.m.  Well worth getting up early to beat the direct sun. And Brian pointed out after 5 miles into today’s ride we had less than 1,000 miles remaining on our trip.

We ate a great breakfast of fruit, yogurt, kefir, and cottage cheese before leaving this morning.  We pedaled down Highway 70 toward our first stop in Center Town, and were quite surprised at the large quantity of traffic.  There are numerous coal mines in Kentucky, and I guess we experienced shift change traffic.  Not so bad really until the coal trucks started up about 8:00.  We didn’t experience too many trucks today as our route left the busy coal travel area. We stopped in Center Town and purchased cheap bathing suites in anticipation of the cool swimming pool awaiting us.  As we rode on I kept imagining how wonderful the water would feel!  We stopped once at a BP station for a little snack, then once again in the small town of Hadley. There was a couple who owned and operated a small convenience store there.  We walked in to cool off and grab a drink.  The lady said, “I don’t think we have anything healthy here for you to eat.”  We proved her wrong though.  They had home grown ripe tomatoes for sale, so I ate a whole tomato!  Brian drank a diet Sprite, and off we went for the last 15 or so miles of the day. When we arrived in Bowling Green there was an awesome  paved bike lane following our route for a couple miles.  Better than a narrow road with no shoulder!  We rode through town about five miles, and stopped for lunch at a Mexican Restaurant.  After lunch we only had another couple miles until the hotel.  Boy did the pool feel great! Adios!


August 11 – 12th, 2009We needed to take a day off and we also wanted to see the Mammoth Cave here in Kentucky. We had searched around the area and found that 25 miles South of the caves was the town of Bowling Green and the hotels were almost half price of the cave area hotels so we opted to pedal the extra mileage to save a buck (or two). We found a great deal on Hotwire for the Drury Inn and the best part of the deal was they offer a free full breakfast so they are taking a bath on us. Since we eat two breakfasts a day, and based on our average breakfast cost, we are almost staying for free. Suckers! On Tuesday we did get a $31 car from Enterprise and drive up to see the caves. The caves are, well, Mammoth.  We also drove around the area to see the sites and the great town of Bowling Green. They have many streets with large houses – incredible - where did all that money come from?? On Wednesday we went to see a movie, Julie and Julia, which had its moments. We also laid around watching TV and plotting our next few days on the map. Both our calves were still aching today which was strange but given the hills we have been climbing not misunderstood. Well the forecast for the next 3 days is sunny skies so back on the road!Thursday, August 13, 2009

We are now in tobacco country!

Pedaling Day # 54

Miles today – 82.8

Daily ride time – 6 hrs 37 min

Average – 12.7 mph

Daily Climb – 3,406 feet

Total BRAA mileage – 3,721

Weather leaving Bowling Green, KY @ 04:00am (CDT) – Clear skies, 64‘F wind calm

Weather arriving Hodgenville, KY @1:05pm (EDT)– Partly cloudy skies, 84’F wind 7 from NE

Our earliest start today due to the hot forecast. We started off at 4am in to the darkness and to our pleasant surprise for some reason it was only 64’F which is 10 degrees below what the mornings have been for the last week. On Monday when we rode it was so humid by 5am (an hour before sunrise) I had to wear gloves to shift gears (my hands we sweaty and slippery) and Pam was complaining about the sweat dripping off my neck. All that before the sun even cam up.

By the time the sun rose we had already logged 24 miles and had stopped for coffee at rural general store and started the usual argument with the locals about the best route to take. (Boy that will get them going!) Now that the sun was up we could enjoy the slowly changing scenery. Another very nice fact about our first 24 miles was the terrain was more flat then normal Kentucky. All in all a nice start for the day. Once the sun was up we started seeing the school buses out on our route. We made the comment, “You know you have been out on the road a long time when school was in session when you start the ride, and now school is back in session and we still have 16 more pedaling days remaining!” We also came across “Kentucky Down Under” which had kangaroos and emus. At 42 miles (our half way point) we stopped at Cave City and Michaels Café and had one of the best omelets on the trip. Pam agreed. Too bad about the coffee…… At 68 miles into our ride today we crossed into the Eastern Time Zone. Thus the difference in our ending time today. About that time we also started getting into more farm fields, more hills, and a 7 mph head wind. The farm fields make a difference as we have found since when we are in forest areas the wind can be blowing and we never feel it. When all we have is fields the winds make a difference – and Pam and I can forecast the winds better than NOAA or the Weather Channel. If we are pedaling North the winds will come from the North…. Etc…. At least we don’t have rain…..The Wm Bell Inn – destroyed by fire in 1860. It was a popular place for people to disembark the train on the way to Mammoth Cave. Just after 1PM Eastern time we arrived at our destination, Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Park. This has an old log cabin home, enshrined in a marble building, which was supposed to be the actual home of Abraham Lincoln, here in Kentucky. We toured the facility and then went across the street to our hotel, the Cruise Inn. Lets just say you get what you pay for…. For $29 a night you get the shower that drains slowly, the scent of a cheap hotel room, the window that does not close…. you get the picture….. We chose this so we would not have to ride 4 miles off our route (and then 4 miles again in the morning to get back on our route) Oh well, we were looking for adventure! Until tomorrow! Brian

80% of Route Completed!

Here are the stats from the first 80% of our BRAA: (Bike Ride Across America)

Flat tires – 4

Time spent pedaling through the rain – 5.7 hours (2.0% of pedaling time)

Miles – 3,721

Days Pedaling Time – 12.0 (based on 24 hour day)

Days in the saddle – 54 (Average miles per day 68.9)

Overall Route MPH – 12.9

Total Climb – 117,889 feet       (Highest Manned balloon flight –only  113,740 ft May 4, 1961)

Pedaling Day # 55

Miles today – 85.7 Daily ride time – 7 hrs 5 min Average – 12.1 mph Daily Climb – 4,504 feet Total BRAA mileage – 3,806 Weather leaving Hodgenville, KY @ 05:05am – Clear skies, 66‘F wind calm Weather arriving, Harrodsburg, KY @ 2:10pm – Clear skies, 84’F wind 5 from NW Leaving our lovely (smelly) motel room at 5:00 a.m. eastern time, we pedaled in the dark again for a couple of hours.  Nice chilly morning, best time to do hill climbing!  Brian wrote the first two hours worth of directions on his palm since today we traversed many various small county roads all within the first 35 miles.  I actually got out the pepper spray this morning as two large dogs started chasing us a little too closely.  Several more dogs chased us in this area around twilight, but as Brian looked their way with his helmet headlamp they shied away.  One of the little a-holes almost ran into a garbage can while chasing beside us!  Quite the morning of entertainment. On our way into Bardstown, the planned breakfast stop and half way point of today’s ride, we experienced a high volume of commuter traffic.  Turns out Bardstown, population 10,000+, has a huge bourbon distillery on the outskirts of town.  Most of the traffic passing us this morning were on their way to work.  We stopped to take photos of the huge buildings that looked like an old prison complex before we passed the office buildings and signage.  I guess there’s lots of money in bourbon!  Needless to say, we didn’t stop for the free tour and tasting… After a good country breakfast, we set off again to tackle the remaining half of the ride.  The heat, humidity, and hills were on in full force by this time.  We stopped for a break 20 miles later at Lincoln Homestead State Park.  This is a very beautiful place with old buildings and relics to look at, and an awesome golf course if that’s your thing.  We stopped again five miles away from Harrodsburg to have a cool drink and rest a bit in the air conditioning. 

We rolled into Harrodsburg (population 8,014) around 2:00 p.m., and found a nice, cheap, mom and pop motel the Bluegrass Inn.  After checking in we went to eat at the first restaurant we found called the LaFonda Mexican Restaurant.  They have awesome fajitas!  Afterward we went to the Old Fort Harrod State Park.  Unfortunately by this time we only had a little over one hour to look around.  We didn’t spend much time in the living history part of the old fort area, but spent most of our time looking through the mansion/museum.  Lots of interesting information indeed!  If we’re ever back in this area again I’ll definitely go back for another tour.

See ya!                                        Kirk and his "passenger" PamSaturday, August 15, 2009Pedaling Day # 56

Miles today – 44.4

Daily ride time – 3 hrs 48 min

Average – 11.7 mph

Daily Climb – 2,797 feet

Total BRAA mileage – 3,854

Weather leaving Harrodsburg, KY @ 07:10am – Cloudy skies, 68‘F wind calm

Weather arriving Berea , KY @ 12:00pm – Clear skies, 84’F wind 3 from SW

 Today we started out late thinking we had an easy day. We were looking at the mileage thinking 45 miles would be easy….. we did not pay enough attention to the hills. We ate breakfast at the Huddle House, a Waffle House type establishment but since they are open 24 hours we thought we could give it a try. And if we are desperate we might eat there again. After our breakfast we hit the road at 7:10, shortly after sunrise, to cloudy skies for a change.

Within an hour after our start the sun came out to “full on” heat and we found that Eastern Kentucky hills are worse than the Montana hills. We have conditioned ourselves to be able to go up 8 – 9% grade hills now – there were four occasions that we had to walk our bike as four times we had from 11 – 17% up grade. This went on until we were at the 36 mile mark when we entered Kirksville. At Kirksville we met up with our dear old buddy Kirk. (how appropriate, Kirk in Kirksville) Kirk drove up from Panama City Florida to ride with us for the day. (only a 9 hour drive….) After a nice recovery period talking to Kirk in the shade and a nice snack we all took off for Berea.Photo Left: Many farmers build stone walls out of stones found in their fields.

Photo Center: "Black Jack" road

Photo right: Kirk drafting behind us.

The last 8 miles into Berea we much nicer to us as it did not exceed 6% grade until the hotel driveway. Once at the hotel Kirk Pam and myself jumped in the pool to cool off. After a great Mexican lunch we toured the historical downtown area.

Berea is a shoppers mecca with many shops that have artists making rugs, pewter items, glass blowing, chocolate, and other artsy shops. Very cool if you can actually buy stuff and take it with you but since we are biking and don’t want to take it with us we just looked. Kirk brought up a DVD played and some movies so we spent the rest of the day watching movies and doing a bike modification to my bike that Kirk had made up. Thanks Kirk!  Until Tomorrow!BrianSunday, August 16, 2009

Pedaling Day # 57

                                                                                    Linda's Victorian Rose Bed & Breakfast ($55 - yeah!) Miles today – 64.9 Daily ride time – 5 hrs 38 min Average – 11.6 mph Daily Climb – 3,432 feet Total BRAA mileage – 3,919 Weather leaving Berea, KY @ 05:55am – Clear skies, 70‘F wind calm Weather arriving Booneville, KY @ 12:00pm – Clear skies, 86’F wind calm When we woke up this morning refreshed and ready to go, Kirk got up with us bright eyed and bushy tailed to see us off.  Thanks to Kirk we’re able to make it through the next two weeks of riding with ALL of our gears!!!  Last evening while Kirk and Brian were putting the “Kirk Mod” on our bike they noticed that one of the shifter cables was frayed at the top…  Bad news if we weren’t able to locate a bike shop with extra long cable…  and not very likely in this neck of the woods.  Kirk offered us one of his cables from his bike, and it works great!  THANK YOU KIRK for everything you’ve done!!!  You are awesome!  We definitely needed each and every one of our gears today (and then some) to ride all these hills (more like mountains).  The Rockies have nothing on the Appalachians!  Boy, I’m sure glad we didn’t start in Virginia because I don’t know if we’d have made it!  Sure am glad for the 4,000+ miles of conditioning we’ve had so far… Today’s ride was absolutely gorgeous over this hills and through the hollows.  The creeks (or licks as they’re known locally) are so beautiful with the limestone carved out in different patterns, and all the foliage to view along the way.  We noticed that there are pockets of kudzu that covers everything!  The panoramic views today were outstanding, but unfortunately the camera battery was dead this morning as I’d left the camera on last evening after taking photos of Brian and Kirk doing bike maintenance.  Oh well, I got a couple photos of the huge preying mantis on Kirk’s truck this a.m., and one more of a hollow along the way.  I’m definitely going to double check the camera after each use from now on!!! We arrived in Booneville at about noontime, and ate a home cooked (style) meal at the local café.  Yum!  After filling up there, we headed over to the grocery store to pick up stuff for dinner and breakfast before heading toward Linda’s Victorian Rose B & B.  This is the only place to stay within forty miles, so off we went with directions that Brian had received from Linda the previous evening.  When Linda called last evening we were eating dinner with Kirk, and didn’t have our map with us to mark down the exact location.  WELL, we misunderstood her directions, and ended up ten miles away from her home!  Thankfully she came to pick us up in her truck and haul us back up the hill to her home.  What a wonderful lady!  We found out that she has refurbished this old school house/church that was built in 1915, and is now her B & B.  She has also redone the three bedroom home up on the hill right next door too.  What an incredible job she’s done with her property!  She has lots of bicyclists stay at her place in the summertime.  It is so peaceful here!!! Time to rest up, there’s a big day of hills awaitin’  ;-) Pam

P.S.  We did learn one more tidbit from Kirk yesterday:  The name Kirk means church in Irish.  Who’d a thought?Monday, August 17, 2009Pedaling Day # 58 Miles today – 59.9 Daily ride time – 6 hrs 58 min Average – 10.1 mph Daily Climb – 4,977 feet Total BRAA mileage – 3,919 Weather leaving Booneville, KY @ 05:35am – Clear skies, 70‘F wind calm Weather arriving Hindman, KY @ 1:34pm – Clear skies, 86’F wind 5 – 7 NW We started earlier today due to the HILL forecast. We are now into the foothills of the Appellation mountains. The hills mountains are getting more steep. Today we had six really steep mountains to climb that had 8% - 13% grade. Starting an hour and a half before sunrise is nice for the heat, butt since the bottom of the valleys (along the rivers) have fog, and since the turns down the mountain have 15 – 25 mph speed limits we can not benefit from rolling down the hills like we can in Iowa or other hilly states. When you go 4.5 mph up the hills and can only go 15 – 25 mph down you do not average out.

The "Kentucky Way" is obvious in so many places. The bridges have multiple weights for different trucks. The "coal" trucks are either excluded or extended - since the former governor owned the coal trucks.....

We made Buckhorn 22 miles into our ride just after sunrise and found a gas station/ mini store/ restaurant for our second breakfast. Just after we ordered four other bikers from London came in. They had camped across the street and we getting ready to start their day. They too complained about the steep grades and said Europe was nothing like what we have here. They too agreed the Rocky mountains were easy compared to the Appellations.

The first mountain outside of Buckhorn was 11 – 13% grade for almost two miles. We walked the bike up… again. When we walk the bike we only do 2.5 – 3 mph walking so that too impacts our average. Also outside of Buckhorn the coal trucks started being on our road. They hate bikers. You can tell by the way they drive. Around 10am we turned onto state highway 15 and finally had a shoulder to ride on. That was better so we could live in harmony with the coal trucks. We ended up altering our route for the last hour so we could stay on a highway with a 10 foot wide shoulder instead of going back on the skinny roads with no shoulder. At 11:20 we stopped on the outskirts of Hazard and stopped at Arby’s for lunch. When you can get 4 roast beef sandwiches for $5 it is a great day for a biker! Yum! At 1:34 we found our hotel which turned out to be 3 miles outside of town – but this time it was on the road we were riding in on so we saved three miles. I know it does not make up for the extra miles we rode yesterday but we will take it! The hotel does not have internet but a guy showed me if I go up to the 2nd floor on the end I can get a signal form next door. Nice! Until tomorrow! BrianTuesday, August 18, 2009

Pedaling Day # 59

Miles today – 90.7

Daily ride time – 8 hrs 4 min

Average – 11.4 mph

Daily Climb – 3,990++ feet

Total BRAA mileage – 4,067

Weather leaving Hindman, KY @ 05:05am – Clear skies, 70‘F wind 6 from S

Weather arriving Breaks, VA @ 5:45pm – Cloudy skies, 81’F wind 3 from S         Brian & Pam make it to Virginia.... finally!

Hallelujah, I made it to the room and am able to write the report!  Today was a record setting day for us in many ways.  First off, we accomplished 90 miles with an enormous amount of mountain climbing.  These are no longer “the hills” of Kentucky to us any more.  I guess we haven’t thought of them as hills since we left the town of Berea.  The good new is we are planning an alternate route.  Ironically this afternoon we received a phone call from our new friend Art Birkmeyer from Longview, Washington.  He was our first “warm shower” host on the very first day of the journey.  He just finished this same route last week, and is now home safely.  Thankfully he is going to e-mail his alternate route, where he left Adventure Cycling’s Trans Am map in Breaks, Virginia, which is where we are staying tonight and tomorrow.  We have time to examine other routes via the internet and our Virginia map.

Photo Left: A pre sunrise view of what we have been seeing for the last few days.Photo Center: We pose at the 4,002 mile mark after breakfast.

Photo Right: One of the many phonetically correct signs we see along the way.

The 4,000 mile mark for our BRAA ride happened 2 miles before our breakfast stop prior to the town of Dema, KY.  Also around this milestone we racked up 15,000 miles together on the tandem.  Pretty remarkable the more I think about it.

Just after our second big climb this morning, we decided to find some type of cable or cord to hook up to the drum (drag) brake that I can activate from the back seat.  We stopped in the town of Melvin at a hardware store, and the owner helped us rig one up using picture hanger wire and a lawn mower pull handle.  It worked fine, and we definitely used it on some of the down hill runs.  I guess it does look a bit “hill billie”, but who cares! Photo Left: 50 years later after the mountain was strip mined for coal.  Photo Right: Kudzu vines take over the hills. During our lunch stop we decided to take another route in order to avoid two of the huge climbs remaining for today.  We examined the Adventure Cycling map, and figured we’d veer off the route, and remain on a four lane road that looked to be about five to six miles more than planned, but with less climb.  We learned an extremely important lesson:  Do not trust the Adventure Cycling map when they show roads that are not part of their trail (even if they have them on their maps).  We ended up traveling 12 more miles than planned, and the four lane road we diverted to had a brutal and lengthy climb.  The up side was once we turned off the four lane road, the next 23 miles were basically down hill following the Elkhorn Creek.  Everything was going along fairly well throughout this part of the journey, and we stopped in Elkhorn to have a bite to eat before pedaling the last 8.5 miles of the day.  Thank goodness we did!  We found another mistake on the Adventure Cycling map, and this one was on their route…  We climbed another mountain for five or so miles at an excessive grade once we crossed into Virginia, up 500 more feet!  By the time we rolled into the Breaks Interstate Park we were beyond exhausted.  Well, we do have a day to recuperate! Here’s to better days ahead! PamWednesday, August 19, 2009Today was a day of (mostly) rest. After a nice breakfast we gathered our clothes to head the one mile to the laundry shack. Half way there it started to rain – then it rained for the remainder of the day. It was a good excuse to sit in our room all day and watch Starz, nap, and plot our alternative route through Virginia. We think we found a route that will cut off over 11,000 feet of climb from the Adventure Cycling map route. We have determined the people who found the routes for the map were looking for some of the best views along the way – which is also the most mountains and hills. Our bike is not designed for hill climbing which is why we chose the Lewis and Clark Route to cross the Rocky Mountains. (We should have done the same for the Appalachians…)   Well our clothes we wore to do the laundry are almost dry now and it is time for dinner…..

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Pedaling Day # 60 Miles today – 67.3 Daily ride time – 5 hrs 36 min Average – 12.0 mph Daily Climb – 3,815 feet Total BRAA mileage – 4,140 Weather leaving Breaks, VA @ 05:55am – Cloudy skies (fog), 70‘F wind 3 from SSW Weather arriving Tazewell, VA @ 1:15pm – Cloudy skies, 84’F wind 8 from SSWThis morning we were off a half hour before sunrise – being up in the mountains there is almost a perma-fog with the clouds forming on the mountains. It’s really cool to watch the clouds come up the mountain at you then you see nothing for a minute or so then it goes by. Well trying to get out of the forest (national park) in the dark was no easy task with the fog. We pedaled 3 – 5 mph for the first mile through the park, then once we were on the highway we could see the lines on the road – and the trees were cut back to allow the twilight onto the road to help us as well. Once we were 3 miles into our ride the clouds moved out and we had full visibility. Yeah! We changed our route so today the first 9 miles was on a different two lane highway leading to our new adventure, the four lane highway.  The ones we had been traveling on so far this trip have been very nice roads with nice big shoulders. The biggest clincher for us though was how they chop through the mountains and make the grades up and down less steep. Our first hill of the day on the two lane road was 9 – 11% upgrade and was 10 – 17% downgrade. We ended up applying brakes the whole way down and kept the speed below 10 – 15 mph. (booo!) As expected, once we turned on the 4 lane highway they kept the grade to a maximum of 7% but most of it was 4 – 6% which is doable for us. The first big climb on the four lane was 12 miles long so by the time we finished we still were whipped, but we did not have to walk up like the two lane road. (yeah!) At 8:30 we rolled into a Hardies for breakfast. Just after we ate we came across our first rescue mission of the day, a turtle had crawled out on the highway and was dodging traffic. We pulled over and picked him up and put him back in the ditch. Could not figure out why he wanted to leave the creek/forest side of the road for the steep mountain side but I guess he thought the grass was greener over there.The weather forecast (and weather radar we watched before we left this morning) showed a huge storm coming from the West and was to arrive around 11am(ish). We opted to skip our lunch and keep pedaling to hopefully avoid the rain. Because the route had less climb, and less grade(s) we felt ok for the remainder of the ride. We rolled into Tazewell at 1:15 and found the first restaurant and pulled in. We did beat the rain so we were happy about that. This afternoon I also finished our route since we were happy with four lane travel today. We now will travel to Virginia Beach to dip our tire into the Atlantic. We called our friend Judie who lives there and she said we can stay at her place while we box up our bike. We also were able to buy new one way tickets on US Air for $89 one way to PHX three days sooner. Our new route shaved off two days of the original route as well as 50 miles. Going home sooner, 11,000 feet less climb, 50 less miles, free place to stay in VA Beach - moral has been improved amongst the troops!!!

Until tomorrow!


One thing I forgot to mention on my report from the other day:  Thanks Kirk for swapping me the new foam for my bike seat!  My bum hasn't felt better in months!!!  Pam


90% of Route Completed!

Here are the stats from the first 90% of our BRAA: (Bike Ride Across America)

Flat tires – 4

Time spent pedaling through the rain – 5.7 hours (1.76% of pedaling time)

Miles – 4,134

Days Pedaling Time – 13.5 (based on 24 hour day)

Days in the saddle – 60 (Average miles per day 68.9)

Overall Route MPH – 12.8

Total Climb – 151,128 feet       (Highest Jet plane flight 123,523 feet by a MiG-25M 8-31-77)

Friday, August 21, 2009

Pedaling Day # 61 Miles today – 50.2 Daily ride time – 3 hrs 20 min Average – 15.1 mph Daily Climb – 1,139feet Total BRAA mileage – 4,192 Weather leaving Tazewell, VA @ 07:25am – Cloudy skies, 68‘F wind 3 from S Weather arriving Pearisburg, VA @ 11:30pm – Cloudy skies, 78’F wind 5 from S We decided to leave late this morning to avoid a bit of rain.  The wireless internet at the motel was inoperable early this a.m., so we looked at Weather Channel’s local info and decided to wait another hour or so to depart.  We ended up with about five minutes of light rain after our first five miles of pedaling, but it was kind of welcome since these first five miles were up hill and we were already warm.  We waited under cover of a tree for about 15 minutes for the rain to subside, then off we went down hill for the next 40 miles.  We stopped at a the only convenience store in the town of Rocky Gap, which was our half way point, and had a snack.  The terrain changed a bit after this town, no longer quite as much kudzu and the creek widened as we rode along.  The hills of Virginia are a lot nicer to look at as there are fewer abandoned homes and trash along the roadside (unlike the eastern part of Kentucky). The last four miles into Pearisburg were mostly up hill, but we really can’t complain because we know what we’re missing!  After lunch we discovered that there is a lack of wireless internet service around town, so we’re struggling to plot out tomorrow’s route.  We’ll finish one way or another!

PamSaturday, August 22, 2009Pedaling Day # 62 Miles today – 51.2 Daily ride time – 4 hrs 18 min Average – 12.0 mph Daily Climb – 4,113 feet Total BRAA mileage – 4,249 Weather leaving Pearisburg, VA @ 07:15am – Cloudy skies, 68‘F wind calm Weather arriving Roanoke, VA @ 11:55pm – Cloudy skies, 78’F wind 5 from S Yesterday we ended up traveling 1.7 miles from our hotel to find internet service at a Wendy’s restaurant in the afternoon. The town was 0-3 on hotels with internet. The Subway restaurant said they had internet but no longer offered it. It is incredible how we went from Iowa, where everyone had it, even the rest areas, and for free – to where you cant find it – even if you wanted to pay for it. (this tidbit of info becomes relative later….)Our route today takes us through some very remote areas of the Appalachians so we figured we better eat breakfast before leaving town. The first restaurant that opened was the Friends and Family Restaurant that opened at 6:30 so we loaded up the bike and biked over so we were there at 6:28. There was one other fell’r (as they say here) that was waiting for them to open and as the waitress saw us pull in stared out the window and flipped her sign to open. The other fell’r sat at the table next to ours and was real inquisitive about our bike and where we were traveling - So much that he (unbeknown to us) paid for our breakfast. He had left the premises before we had finished and never got to thank him. So at 7:15 we were off – only today not only did we not have our internet to check the weather, but the weather channel was not working on TV as well. So into the mountains we ride with no knowledge of what we would endure. At 8:17 it started to rain so we donned the full rain gear and restarted our journey. Riding in the rain is not that bad but for the first 45 minutes we were on a 4 lane divided highway with no shoulder and the cars did not seem to want to get over and their rain/wind from their tires was bad. That’s when Pam’s fun meter went to pegged – or overload. The hills are getting to here and now the traffic is turning sour as well.  We then turned off the main road (as pre-planned) onto the two lane road for the remainder of the trip and had a better (riding in the rain) experience. The two lane road winded around the hills and was like a roller coaster ride and kept Pam and myself shifting, climbing,, shifting, braking down hill, and repeat as necessary. At 11:12 the rain stopped, just as we were starting to come into the Roanoke area. At 11:55 we arrived at our hotel, the Knights Inn. The Knights Inn is part of the Wyndham Rewards program and the only other one we stayed at was in Iowa and it was very nice. This one is trashed. They claim they have wireless and HBO, both of which are false in the rooms. Most of the hotel is being remodeled (and needing it) so there are construction materials everywhere. The water was off to the motel when we checked in so we went to lunch and after we were back the water was back on. Oh well, you get what you pay for ($45) and the bed seems ok……

Until tomorrow! (by the way... if we had internet and knew...... and left around 11am..... we would not have been rained on.....)


Sunday, August 23, 2009

Pedaling Day # 63

Miles today – 55.3

Daily ride time – 4 hrs 5 min

Average – 13.5 mph

Daily Climb – 2,843 feet

Total BRAA mileage – 4,305

Weather leaving Roanoke, VA @ 06:40am – Partly Cloudy skies, 67‘F wind 7 from NNE

Weather arriving Lynchburg, VA @ 11:47am – Partly Cloudy skies, 81’F wind 6 from ENE

Photo Right: We say farewell, adios, salaam, ciao, adeu, good-bye, Auf Wiedersehen, Farvel, Poka,  and see you later to the Blue Ridge Moutains and Appalachians.

We started off our day with a fruit and yogurt breakfast in the room to boost our energy for another day of riding through the Blue Ridge Mountains.  The route Brian found was SO much better concerning the mountain climbing.  Several times we stopped to take photos of the mountains to the north of where we rode, knowing that we were supposed to climb them.  They really are much more beautiful when you are viewing them from miles away!

Seems as though people here in the hills are in such a hurry… even on Sunday!  If the state of Virginia wants to know the opinion of a bicyclist, they should observe the roads and vehicle driver’s behavior in Oregon.  Virginia roads are definitely NOT biker friendly offering little or no shoulder and narrow winding roads…  We did see several vehicles hauling their road bikes with them to who knows where.  Maybe there are some paved roads where one can enjoy a bike ride.  Oh well, we only have four more pedaling days! We stopped about half way through our day’s ride in the town of Bedford to eat and rest a bit.  As we rode into town the “Welcome to Bedford” sign announced that they are the Christmas capital of Virginia.  Whatever that means, never saw anything remotely related to Christmas there, but we did meet some very nice people. When we were about ten miles away from Lynchburg the highway did improve a bit with four lanes vs. two, and a one foot shoulder most of the time.  The things we take for granted riding at home!  After we rolled into our motel, Brian noted that we actually climbed twice as much as “map my ride” indicated.  We’re getting used to it by now!  Our average was amazingly at 13.5, even with the mountain climbing and our fatigue.  Impressive! We will spend one day here in Lynchburg to rest and take in a museum and maybe one of the mansion tours.  The downtown area is quite interesting, so we definitely have plenty to see tomorrow. Ciao, PamMonday, August 24 2009

We took the day off and started out touring the downtown area. The old courthouse was converted into a museum and, as we found, has 146 steps leading up to the entrance. (see photo right)  After the museum we found the bus depot and caught a bus to the opposite side of town to a bike shop so we could buy more chain lubricant. After that we rode back and caught a movie before heading back to complete our day of rest.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009Pedaling Day # 64 Miles today – 50.6 Daily ride time – 3 hrs 38 min Average – 13.5 mph Daily Climb – 2,391 feet Total BRAA mileage – 4,356 Weather leaving Lynchburg, VA @ 06:40am – Clear skies, 64‘F wind calm Weather arriving Farmville, VA @ 11:05am – Clear skies, 87’F wind 5 from NE This morning we started off with the (lately) usual cantaloupe, cottage cheese, and other ‘healthy’ snack items before heading out at 6:40am. It was a good thing too as we had our two biggest climbs within the first 9 miles of our ride – thankfully though as the sun had not risen above the tree line and it was still nice and cool out. Once we did those two climbs there are no more big hills for the remainder of our journey! (yeah!!!) Once we got 15 miles out of the Lynchburg area the traffic went way low on our 4 lane divided highway we were on and they actually gave us a two foot paved shoulder to ride on most of the day which was also very pleasant. Around 8am we stopped off in Appomattox for breakfast. Appomattox is the famous sight where General Lee surrendered to General Grant. They have a whole tourist re-created town set up but since we are too early were not able to partake in that touristic activity. The school cross walk guard was very pleasant and helpful and guided us to the best local breakfast restaurant where we met a tub boat captain, similar to our friend Gray who goes out 3 weeks to work and is off 3 weeks. He and his wife were especially curious about our bike and trip and we enjoyed their company for breakfast. The remainder of our ride we were surrounded by trees so our photo opportunities were low today. The trees were appreciated, especially with the clear skies and hot weather, they provided us with shade, many times while climbing the small little hills we encountered. Around 11am we rolled into Farmville, our overnight town, just in time for lunch. It is a cute little city but the downtown area is extremely congested with car traffic. As we found out the traffic lights are not programmed very well and we could ride a block over from main street and wiz down the street at full speed as opposed to moving a block every minute on main street. We asked around and found a great lunch spot with fantastic salads called Macados. We then found our Super 8 motel and checked in to start plotting tomorrows ride. Today we felt real good after having a day off and only 50 miles to ride. Moral is high….. Until tomorrow! BrianWednesday, August 26, 2009Pedaling Day # 65 Miles today – 69.8 Daily ride time – 4 hrs 35 min Average – 15.3 mph Daily Climb – 1,813 feet Total BRAA mileage – 4,425 Weather leaving Farmville, VA @ 05:50am – Clear skies, 64‘F wind calm Weather arriving Petersburg, VA @ 11:35am – Clear skies, 89’F wind 10 from WSWPhoto Right: Much of what the days scenery was like... a parkway.

Woo-hoo!  Day 65 seems like a breeze now that we’re back to reasonably flat biking conditions.  The ride today was smooth sailing, as you can see from our average.  We left about half an hour before sunrise this morning, and the highway offered us one of the widest paved shoulders that we’ve encountered in Virginia (almost a full lane in itself).  Once the sun was up, and oh what a beautiful sunrise we had this morning, there were a couple areas of road construction so we ended up with our own coned off lane of the highway for those few miles.  Much appreciated!  After 08:00 the traffic calmed down quite a bit with only a car or semi every few minutes.

We stopped in the town of Burkville for breakfast at the only café within miles, and enjoyed a terrific meal with the locals.  Of course the first question was, “What kind of gas mileage you get on that thang?”  The answer, “The best.  We only have to eat enough food to keep the energy flowing.”  Our waitress was also the cook.  She made a very presentable six egg omelet for Brian, and she was impressed with herself. We only stopped along the way for a break one other time along side the road since we didn’t spot any convenience stores or picnic tables… or really anything else but trees!  We had shade most of the time today, and we loved it.  The last ten miles were quite nice through a residential area, and a few miles of it was flanking the Petersburg National Battlefield, National Park.  Plenty of shade along the way through here, and with the temperature reaching 89 degrees Fahrenheit by this time we definitely appreciated the treesJust as the motel sign was in sight, we spotted “Nanny’s” restaurant.  They had tasty southern style cooking with a buffet too.  Very nice staff, who had many questions about our bike and journey.  Oh the looks we get when you tell people you’ve ridden from Oregon.  It takes a while to comprehend, and then they unload with the questions and comments.  Funny!

That’s it for now.  Tomorrow is the big day, and I can hardly wait!  It kind of feels like the day before a competition…

Until tomorrow,

PamThursday, August 27, 2009

Pedaling Day # 66

Miles today – 111.7

Daily ride time – 7 hrs 5 min

Average – 15.8 mph

Daily Climb – 907 feet

Total BRAA mileage – 4,540

Weather leaving Petersburg, VA @ 03:48am – Clear skies, 71‘F wind 1 from WSW

Weather arriving Virginia Beach, VA @ 12:15pm – Clear skies, 93’F wind 7 from NW                                                       Pam and Brian Dip the front tire in the Atlantic Ocean - finally!

This morning we started extra early due to tomorrows weather forecast – cold front from the NW bringing bad weather and a possible tropical depression coming from the SE. The squeeze was on to try to get the ride completed before the weather went sour. Our route today would take us on highway 460 which mostly would not have any shoulder and during rush hour would get pretty busy being a main artery into the Norfolk area. We rigged two flashing red lights and one flashing white light on the back of the bike and Pam’s helmet so we would ensure the vehicles would see us. The plan worked great! At 5:15 we pulled into Wendy’s for our first breakfast. We already had 19 miles on the day and the sun was not even in sight. We then made it into Suffolk by 8am and started looking for our second breakfast spot. We were unable to find a sit down breakfast spot and ended up riding out of town in hopes of finding something down the road. By 8:45 we started to get into the greater Norfolk area.

We found another day biker and flagged him down to ask him the best way to get to where we were going. As it turned out David (photo left) was a history teacher and was glad to accompany us for a few miles to make sure we could take some very nice back roads, with no traffic, until we knew where we were going. David was gracious enough convey some of his knowledge of the area regarding the history. It was a very informative ride. After riding with David for a good 30 minutes we pulled into a convenience store to find our second breakfast – we were running low on fuel! David kept going to finish his ride. After our second breakfast we started riding on the outskirt roads of Norfolk and Virginia Beach to avoid the main traffic arteries. Finally at a few minutes before noon we arrived at our beach tire dipping spot and where we wanted to eat lunch. We had picked this spot because we had jumped onto the beach at that location for a couple of demonstration jumps for the Oceana Air Show the last couple of years, so we were familiar with it. After a fantastic lunch we rolled the bike down on the beach and took the ceremonious photo of us dipping the front tire in the Atlantic Ocean. The rear tire was dipped in the Pacific Ocean May 18th West of Astoria Oregon, and now 4,540 miles later we are dipping our back tire here at Virginia Beach.

Photo Left: A peanut field outside of Suffolk

Photo Center: The edge of "The Great Dismal Swamp"

Photo Right: Glad to see this sign!

  It is hard to believe we have actually completed our bike journey. In some ways it feels like we have only been pedaling for a few days and in other ways it feels like we have been gone for a long time. We have definitely seen more of the United States than we ever have before

. At 12.9 miles per hour you see a LOT more. We also have learned more about US history, touring the museums and national parks, than we ever did in school. (of course we wanted to learn now…..) We have also met some of the nicest people we never would have met. The hosts we encountered along our route were all so special and felt as if we had already known many of them. Will we ever do something like this again??? Time will tell…. It was not a bad experience by most accounts but at the same time it may just be something we put in the “been there, done that” column. There are other quests to be conquered…. We will see what comes up next…… Until then….. Brian

100% of Route Completed!

Here are the FINAL stats from the BRAA: (Bike Ride Across America)

Flat tires – 4

Time spent pedaling through the rain – 8.7 hours (2.5% of pedaling time)

Miles – 4,540

Pedaling Time – 21,112 Minutes   –or-   351.9 hours   –or-   14.7 days

Days in the saddle – 66 (Average miles per day 68.8)

Overall Route MPH – 12.9

Total Climb – 162,993 feet       (Highest Jet plane flight 123,523 feet by a MiG-25M 8-31-77)