Trans-Am 2004 Weblog

The following text is a compilation of the weblog entries we made during our 2004 Trans-Am crossing and a few entries leading up to the departure. It is by no means a complete record of the experience, but it does record the general feel of daily life on the road. Links will cause images to pop-up in a new window with the intent to offer images at the reader's discretion and keep this page simple and quick to load. High quality versions of all photos are available ... just ask.

Wednesday, April 21, 2004
Welcome to our WebLog!
Karen and I are about to embark on our 10 year anniversary celebration and you're welcome to tune in. We're going to cross the USA on our recumbent tandem bicycle (a Rans Screamer) from San Francisco to Yorktown Virginia. We're both experienced long distance touring cyclists, but this trip is clearly the biggest adventure either of us have ever attempted.

When we married on June 25th of '94, we celebrated by taking a tour around the perimeter of the Finger Lakes Region of upstate New York ... our "backyard", so to speak. We rode our brand new custom road touring tandem, a "Sterling" built by Steve Bilenky.

Although it's a beautiful ride, (our favorite of 3 tandems we own) we have always thought that being on the road all day, and eventually getting tired and sore would cause us to droop our heads and stare at the asphalt miles rolling by, instead of looking UP at the beautiful country we're riding thru. What a WASTE!

So, for THIS trip ... Here's the bike we're using.

Ok ... kinda weird, kinda heavy, and for us ... kinda slooooow climbing up the hills. But, no matter how tired we get on that thing, we always have our heads up, and we don't get the aches and pains from riding all day ... just tired, and that's to be expected anyway.

So the plan is to load up everything on this monster and it's "Beast of Burden", the Bob trailer, and head out from San Francisco on May 28th on Adventure Cycling's Western Express Bicycle Route. We'll climb the Sierra's near Lake Tahoe, head straight (or as straight as we can go) across the Nevada basin to Utah and Colorado, and connect to the original TransAmerica Trail at Pueblo. From there, we finish out the trip by crossing Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, and finally to Virginia and the Atlantic coast at Yorktown. 3800 miles.

Just one month till departure!
Brian
(- posted from home - Rochester NY)




Wednesday, April 28, 2004
4 Weeks To Go

This last weekend, we gathered up our gear and started weighing everything. The Bob trailer is only rated for 70 pounds (isn't that enough?) and we REALLY want to be on the "lighter" side. Everything was looking OK, till we loaded on the two one-gallon jugs of water which we KNOW we will need out in Nevada and Utah. That put us over the top and we had to start looking at what to skim off.

Looks like the laptop is staying home after all. As nice as it might be to have it along for communication and writing, it's NOT an essential piece of gear. In fact, not having it along would probably ADD to the quality of the trip by avoiding the complexity of hauling technology along with us.

This IS a vacation you know! :-D

Since the laptop is staying home, that means that once we hit the road, the blog at TandemTransAm on Blogspot will be the place to go to check up on our progress. Unlike this blog which I can only edit/update with software, we can edit blogspot from wherever we can get a web-based connection to the net, like public libraries, or maybe police stations? ;-)

Brian

(- posted from home - Rochester NY)




Thursday, May 6, 2004
Now it's THREE!
Karen's thoughts as we go under three weeks before leaving ....

Less than 3 weeks left! So much to do yet, so little time! In reality, looking at our "to do" list, we are actually doing ok getting ready ... then why do I feel so overwhelmed?

It was only mid January that we even thought we could pull this off this year. It seems like so long ago and yet here we are down to the final phase now. All the arrangements have been made for being gone, contacts established, and we have both turned over our duties in the bike club to others. We spent this past weekend, well ok ... Saturday (it rained Sunday) doing a trial run fully loaded, even carrying the 2 gal jugs of water we will need through the desert! Now the bike is disassembled and sitting in a bike box waiting to head west!

A huge thanks to our many friends and neighbors for helping us out in so many ways, and the many soon to be friends for their help while we are on the road! We are looking forward to meeting them ("TCA" - Tandem Club of America members and many others) and hope in the future we get a chance to return the favor!

Karen

(- posted from home in Rochester New York)




Thursday, May 13, 2004
Two Weeks!
The Screamer has a big head start!
We've been getting a bit anxious this week. Not just because we're so close to leaving, but more so because we shipped out the tandem, trailer, and gear to San Francisco on Monday via FedEx. We got tracking numbers but .... FedEx hasn't been scanning the boxes and updating their website showing exactly WHERE everything is quite as frequently as we would like.

When I came home from work today, the last we'd heard from the trailer was in Columbus Ohio on Tuesday, and the TANDEM had NOT been heard from since Monday. Alas .... this evening, everything has shown up in Sacramento California! Right on schedule .... whew!!! So, we guess the bike will be in Frisco in the morning, and probably at the bike shop by Monday. And WE are only two weeks behind it!

Brian

(- posted from home in Rochester New York)




Fri - May 14, 2004
Screamer in Frisco
Pretty fast bike ... all the way across in 4 days. Safe and Sound! Our tandem and all it's gear has arrived at the bike shop in Frisco. That was pretty quick! I REALLY LIKE Fed-EX!!! These guys don't mess around.

We're next! Now it's Air-Trans' turn to deliver ... 11 days from now.
Brian

(- posted from home in Rochester New York)




Thursday - May 20, 2004
Five Days Till We Leave Rochester, and ...

The Excitement is Almost Unbearable!

Karen finished her last day of work last night, and I just said buh-bye to my cohorts @ MCC (Monroe Community College) this afternoon. When I got home and checked email, I found a message from Clay, the owner of City Cycle in SF, that the bike was assembled, and in fine condition ... ready for the trip!!

(Thanks again Clay!!! You're a HERO in our book!)

We're headed down to Potter County Pennsylvania in the morning for our annual "Spring Training" weekend in the mountains at Susquehannock Lodge. Three days of hard hilly riding with RBC club members down there will be a nice "gentle warm-up" for what's to follow just a week later in the Sierra Nevada's of California.

Everyone says that the long gentle slopes in the mountains out west are no match for the steep climbs of the East. We'll let ya know what WE think! ;-)

Brian

(- posted from home in Rochester New York)


Sunday, May 23, 2004
Time To Go!

We just returned this evening from our annual "Spring Training" weekend with the bike club in Potter County Pennsylvania at the Susquehannock Lodge. Three days of mountain riding in North Central PA is just what we need to get our legs warmed up for what's to follow starting Friday of next week when we saddle-up and head out from Frisco.

Tomorrow, we're moving out everything of value out of the house and into safe keeping. Friends have the keys, and we're hopping the plane Tuesday morning @ 6am.

We're just about there now. 33 hours from now, and we're on the plane to Frisco. Our tandem is already there, assembled and waiting to roll. We'll spend a couple days sightseeing the city, and then hop on the bike on Friday (5/28/04). We've been scouring the maps for our route, as well as reading the logs of others who have done the route before us. We are VERY excited, but ... a bit apprehensive as well. We'll be pulling a VERY heavy load over some VERY hot and dry country with lots of climbing and w/o food, water, or shelter for VERY long distances. There's only one way to find out if we have what it takes ...... (Better get some sleep first.)
(- posted from home in Rochester New York)


Wednesday, May 26, 2004
We're in Frisco! Left Rochester at 6am EDST and arrived Frisco @ noon (Pacific). Great views of the mountains and deserts coming across. Caught the BART train to downtown and rode the cable car to Fisherman's Wharf and hiked over to the Hostelling International (formerly AYH) hostel in Fort Mason (National Park). Hiked over to City Cycle and picked up the bike and gear, then rode back to the hostel to pack everything in storage. Had dinner at the hostel ($5.00 each) then went out to stroll the wharf and hike to the summit of Hyde and Lombard to see the twisty street. Back to the hostel, and writing this on computers available for guests. Great day ... great weather .... BEAT! Off to bed!
(- posted from the hostel at Fort Mason, San Francisco California)


Thursday, May 27, 2004
Thursday afternoon ... foggy and cool in SF. Weather reports for starting the ride tomorrow are looking really good. It will be cool starting in Frisco, and a bit warmer in Vallejo after getting off the ferry, but once we head inland, it warms up to the mid 70's with 15-20mph ... ahem ... TAILWINDS!!! :-D

(Is this a sign?) ;-)

Anxious to hit the road after hiking, bussing, and cable-car riding all over Frisco to see the sights ... Lombard Street, Fisherman's Wharf (and the Sea Lions ... video on hand), Haight-Ashbury, Cable-Car Museum/Powerhouse (very cool!!) Coit Tower, and Union Square (including the SF Apple Store, of course).

Staying @ the Hostel has been an interesting visit too. People from all over ... I think we're the ONLY people there w/o a foreign accent. Good fun, cheap dinners and free breakfast. Made up for it by eating at a great East African (Massawa) restaurant in Haight-Ashbury. Good and spicy ... GREAT stuff for right before a long ride, 'eh?

On the road at 6am tomorrow! Let's hope the GG Bridge isn't socked in w/fog when we do the traditional "wheel-dip"!
(- posted from the Apple Store, downtown San Francisco California)



And the trip begins ......



Friday, May 28, 2004 - On the Road ... Day 1 - 80 miles!
We left Frisco in cloudy and cool weather on Friday May 28th. We caught the ferry across the bay to Vallejo and hit the ground running (uh ... biking) at 10:00am.

That was a beautiful day of riding, relatively easy, considering it was mostly flat after crossing the coastal hills, and we had GREAT tailwinds pushing us most of the way to Davis. We stayed with a wonderful family (Don and Margaret, and their children Peter and Emily) that evening. Hit a couple local bike shops to pick up a few items (including replacement brake shoes for the hydraulics) and grabbed tacos for dinner. Back to Don and Margaret's house for the evening, a shower, and a wonderful night sleep in a real bed!

Thank you SOOO much Don and Margaret! It was great to meet with you and the kids! Hope you can swing by OUR neck of the woods sometime! Our doors are open ANY time!
(- posted from an internet cafe in Carson City Nevada)




Saturday, May 29, 2004 - Day 2 - 76 miles
Followed the American River Bike Trail thru Sacramento all the way to Folsom (about 30 miles of Flaaaaaat riding). After a short break, we started the climb into the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains. We got as far as Placerville and did a bivvy.
(- posted from an internet cafe in Carson City Nevada)




Sunday, May 30, 2004 - Day 3 - 26 miles
A "one-half" rest day
After a couple long days, and after having just a little trouble with my knee (that one - from the skydive boo-boo), we decided to call it an early day and hold up at Pollock Pines ... Sly Park Recreation Area. Uh-Oh ... no campsites available due to the Mem-Day weekend. So here we are, sitting at the general store/grocery/bar/gas station across the road from the park entrance. And a lady comes out to ask the "Top 40" questions and says: "Are you looking for a place to stay?" Yup! So, she goes inside, talks to the bar owner, and the bar owner comes out and says "I have a spot over here right next to the -->SHOWERS<-- ... will that be OK for you?"

Sure is!!

So we set up, get showers, (after really hard riding - all uphill) and THEN a local guy walks up and asks if we are looking for a place to stay. He has a million-dollar house at the top of the hill that his son the basketball player (some guy name Sayer or Sayre from a pro team) bought for the family. He offered to load us up and take us up there. Oh well ... the hot tub sounded good, but we were already set. Thanks anyway!!

Since it was still early afternoon, we decided to take a ride (unloaded) around Jenkinson Lake (very hilly park!), and even took a semi-dip (up to the waist - BRRRR! Cold mountain water!). Back to the "camp", and stocked up on food and water for tomorrow's big climb, hung out at the bar and tipped a brew w/the locals and hit the sack early.
(- posted from an internet cafe in Carson City Nevada)




Monday, May 31, Memorial Day, 2004 - Day 4 - 39 miles
On the road early. Today, we had to climb the big stuff in the Sierra's. Taking the Mormon Emigrant Trail, we climbed a steady 39 miles to Kirkwood. Elevation change was a total of 6,500' including a couple dips where we lost precious altitude! Absolutely BEAUTIFUL, but certainly the hardest day so far. Kirkwood is a really cool mountain town/ski resort and we ate at a really fun little cowboy bar/restaurant. Only "meal" of the day ... we snacked on apricots, bananas and beef jerky (power-food) all day. Camping was at a USFS campground (Caples Lake) at around 8000' and MAN did it get COLD that night!
(- posted from an internet cafe in Carson City Nevada)




Tuesday, June 1, 2004 - Day 5 - 65 miles
Too cold to start early! Finally climbed out when the temp got over 40 degrees or so. Climbed the final 5 miles to the summit of Carson Pass at 8573', and started the WILD descent into Nevada. Maxed out at 48.9mph ... only because a turn was coming up fast and had to hit ALL brakes. Got into Genoa and had to stop at "The Oldest Thirst Parlor" in Nevada. We believe it. The DUST on the light fixtures, the walls, the bar, and ... well ... EVERYWHERE had to be at LEAST 100 years old! I'll bet 1/2" thick in places! (Neat!) ;-) So, we're writing today's entry from an internet cafe in Carson City across from the casinos, and heading out now to visit Dale and Denise just 15 miles north of CC.
(- posted from an internet cafe in Carson City Nevada)




Wednesday, June 2, 2004 - Day 6 - 104 miles
We spent a wonderful evening with Dale (Denise was out on biz) at his oasis at Washoe Lake, 15 miles north of Carson City. We did a pizza (and Dale likes anchovies ... whatta guy!) and checked out his outdoor entertainment/exercise complex. Very cool!! Thanks a lot Dale! BTW .. we already miss Hamlet! He slept w/us for a while. ;-)

On the road early this morning and did 15 miles to get back on route in Carson City. Stocked up w/food and water to start out across the desert. Stopped at the reservoir by the road and rinsed out some riding clothes. Hope the EPA doesn't bust me for "hypersalinating" the reservoir. Jersey and shorts were getting a bit crusty from all the salt. 62 miles after Carson City @ 2:30pm and we're already in Fallon! Tailwinds, downhill, and beautiful sunshine. Stopped at a coffee shop to get fluids and found a free access computer. Ain't technology great? We're going to head out soon after letting the afternoon sun settle just a bit and unwinding as well. At 2pm, we saw a sign indicating 88 degrees. (But it's a DRY heat!) ;-) Karen's getting a little red around the edges even after bathing in SPF50 sunscreen. We're gonna find some zinc oxide before heading out. Over 100 miles to the next "real town". See ya'll ... sometime!
(- posted from a coffee shop in Fallon Nevada)


We last updated the blog from a coffee shop in Fallon. After eating and getting supplies, we continued on into the afternoon/evening by heading east into the desert. Outside of Fallon, we passed thru the area used by the Naval Air Station that trains fighter pilots. Movie buffs know the area as the home of the "Top Gun" school. And yes, we DID get to see (and videotape!) some planes doing touch-and-go exercises. We eventually ran out of steam near the base of the first ridge climb, and camped at a BLM (Bureau of Land Management) site known as "Sand Mountain". This area features a huge naturally occuring sand dune that is used by dirt-bikers, atv's, and equestrians. We were treated to a desert lit by a full moon that night (eerie yet beautiful), as well as a fireworks display provided by the ATVer's who rode up to the top of Sand Mountain at night.
(- posted from Ron and Nancy's home in Cedar City Utah)



Thursday, June 3, 2004 - Day 7 - 86 miles
After an early start and a climb up Sand Mountain Pass, we arrived in Middlegate and had breakfast at an interesting bar/cafe/kinda general store/motel. Met Shane, a lone female cycle-tourist who had been on the road for quite some time, touring the Northwest, and now in Nevada. Shane was "killing time" by doing an out-and-back across Nevada.

The waitress shared news of the "Mormon Crickets" invading Austin down the road, which freaked out Shane. We eventually arrived in Austin, and true enough ... the place was INFESTED with these crickets as big as the palm of your hand. So many, that the road in town was SLICK with squashed crickets! They were in the stores, in the laundrymat ... everywhere!!! (Except in our motel room!)
Temp in the 90's.
(- posted from Ron and Nancy's home in Cedar City Utah)

Postnote: We found out later that Shane ALSO made it to Austin this evening but found shelter from the crickets in the motel just up the street from ours. Later on that evening, we saw two more cyclists going up the street who camped up the road.



Friday, June 4, 2004 - Day 8 - 73 miles
Left Austin, climbed a set of 6 swithbacks to get overtop Austin Pass (over 7500' elevation) and enjoyed another day of "Basin-Ridge-Basin-Ridge" - the mantra of cycling across Nevada. ("Rush Hour" traffic is hell!) We met with Shane again in Eureka, and decided to camp together at an RV site with showers for $5 a tent. Eureka turned out to be our favorite Nevada town. Very cool place. Temp in the 80's.
(- posted from Ron and Nancy's home in Cedar City Utah)



Saturday, June 5, 2004 - Day 9 - 81 miles
We hit the road before Shane even woke up. Good thing ... the ridges were getting tougher, but at least we still had tailwinds till early afternoon, when things started to change. At the top of one of the summits, we met the two other cyclists who were traveling from Frisco to Massachusetts on a fund-raiser ... the same two we saw last night coming into Austin. Shane caught us on the last climb of the day, but true to tandeming, we dropped her on the downhill side (about 20 miles of downhill!) We arrived in Ely in the early afternoon and stopped for an early dinner at a cafe. I was starting to feel really burned by the sun and wind. Shane arrived in town right after us and we flagged her down. We agreed to have her run ahead to get a place at a campground while we finished dinner, and she already had a beer in hand by the time we arrived. ;-) Sunshine, tailwinds, and 90 degrees.
(- posted from Ron and Nancy's home in Cedar City Utah)



Sunday, June 6, 2004 - Day 10 - 77 miles
We split up with Shane here. She was taking a rest day in Ely, and we continued on to Baker. The winds started to pick up and get a LOT hotter. By the time we reached Baker (2pm), it was in the mid 90's and getting really windy. We camped out on a shady porch and had a nice chat w/the locals (and the Porchasaurus) till 5pm, when we decided to try moving on. It was 84 miles to the next town (NO services in between) and we wanted to shorten tomorrow's ride, knowing that we would be facing strong headwinds. We crossed into Utah around 6pm Pacific (7pm Mountain) and finally quit for the day by camping in "Snake Valley". We discovered the name of the valley AFTER finding two rattlesnakes sunning on the highway. Hmmmm...

Nobody bothered us at night. In fact, we decided that Utah Route 21 is the REAL "Loneliest Highway in America", not Nevada 50 as every tourist trap along the road claims.
(- posted from Ron and Nancy's home in Cedar City Utah)



Monday, June 7, 2004 - Day 11 - 64 miles
It was windy all last night, and we had nothing but crosswinds all day. We figured this to be our toughest day yet. (We eclipsed THAT the next day!) We got snagged in a big dust storm in the Wah-Wah Valley, and had a couple really long and steep passes to cross as well. By now, we had begun measuring our days in the number of passes we had to summit, and not by miles. Finally stopped in the old mining town of Milford and crashed in a motel because the campground was closed. Temps in the 90's.
(- posted from Ron and Nancy's home in Cedar City Utah)



Tuesday, June 8, 2004 - Day 12 - 57 miles
We figured an early start (at the crack of dawn) would help us avoid the stronger afternoon headwinds as we approached Cedar City Utah. Well, it was a good idea anyway. We faced 30+mph headwinds all day and even using the granny-gears to pedal DOWNHILL! I think our average speed over the day came to a whopping 6mph. We reached Cedar City (after yet another assault by a dust storm) and called our new friends to get directions to their home ... at the top of a huge hill, of course! We finally arrived at Ron and Nancy's place, had a wonderful dinner, great conversation, and a REALLY wonderful and badly needed night sleep! Temps @ 86 degrees in Cedar City, and brutal winds all day. One of our two toughest days ... EVER!
(- posted from Ron and Nancy's home in Cedar City Utah)


Wednesday, June 9, 2004 - Day 13 - rest day - 0 miles
We're hanging out in town today to avoid the -->50mph<-- winds hitting the area today. Climbing up the road to Cedar Breaks (from 6000 feet to 10,500 feet) in 20 miles in those conditions would be suicide. So, we're doing laundry, email, updating the blog, and will visit a bike shop this afternoon. Weather reports are for a calmer, cooler day tomorrow. Much better conditions for what we expect to be our toughest mountain climbing stretch on the trip to date.

From here on thru the rest of Utah, we don't expect to find any net-access, as we are moving into high mountain/canyon country that is sparsely populated and, well ... not exactly "modern". Our next update might not happen till at least Telluride Colorado. I hear there are real "coffee-shops" in that trendy touristy town.
(- posted from Ron and Nancy's home in Cedar City Utah)



Thursday, June 10, 2004 - Day 14 - 61 miles
Ron and Nancy escorted us out of town on the bike trail leading into Cedar Canyon. Thanks a million Ron and Nancy!! We had a WONDERFUL time staying with you! Don't forget to visit US when you're in the East again!

So, we headed up the canyon toward Cedar Breaks. 6 hours, 26 miles, and 4500' gain in elevation later, we arrived at Cedar Breaks National Monument. Temp was 43 degrees, winds were blowing up to 30mph, and we were FREEZING while trying to capture the view on video and stills.

Postnote - As we were approaching Cedar Breaks, we encountered a large number of cyclists who appeared to be in some organized group. Imagine our delight to discover the group was an Adventure Cycling Tour of Utah! Better yet, they invited us to join them for lunch at their sag stop! The tour leaders generously filled our tummies with hot soup, fruit, and sandwiches, and absolutely insisted we take more with us! They were WELL stocked. I'm sure we will be well taken care of anytime we decide to take one of Adventure Cycling's supported tours. Thanks gang!!

From 10,500' elevation, we dropped to 6000' in 30 miles to arrive in Panquitch in only TWO hours! (Max speed hit over 50mph!) We found a campground, pitched the tent, and endured a very cold sub-freezing night. Karen's shorts (which she washed in the showers) were frozen to the tent in the morning!
(- posted from Ruby's Inn/campground, Bryce Canyon Utah)



Friday, June 11, 2004 - Day 15 - 25 miles
A "one half" rest day
We got a late start (waiting for the sun to thaw our bones) and rode thru "Red Canyon Trail" ... an inspiring ride thru a magnificent red-rock (Navaho sandstone) canyon.

We arrived at Bryce Canyon around noon, found a campground, and spent the afternoon visiting the sights. Unbelievable!

We'll spend the night here and hit the road for Tropic and maybe Escalante tomnorrow. Forcast temps for tonight at Bryce: 25 degrees. Tomorrow should be warmer ... we hope!
(- posted from Ruby's Inn/campground, Bryce Canyon Utah)



Saturday, June 12, 2004 - Day 16 - 75 miles
Utah's been a very tough state ... from Bryce Canyon, we descended to the little town of Tropic outside of the park (a couple THOUSAND feet lower) and on to Escalante. After Escalante, we discovered a road that can only be described as a biker's Disneyland! The wild ride thru big canyon country, ended at the Escalante river (lowest point in Utah to this point) and this is where we hit the scariest toughest climbing so far on the trip. Getting out of the river canyon required a 2 mile climb that pegged the inclinometer at 14% grades! Just to make things even more interesting, that was followed by the climb over the "Hogback" ... a three mile section of road following a narrow spire with no shoulders, no guardrails, and drop-offs of more than 1000' on both sides! Good thing it wasn't too windy!

We finally burned out in BoulderTown in 90+ degree heats. Found a neat little "Bunkhouse" at a grocery/gas station that had showers too!
(- posted from Blanding Utah public library)



Sunday, June 13, 2004 - Day 17 - 50 miles
Since all of yesterday's climbing only got us 1/2 way up the mountain range, we started early and spent 4 hours climbing the remainder of Boulder Mountain (9500' summit) and flew down to the valley on the other side in no time (hit 50+mph again). But ... we ran smack into headwinds in the valley before reaching Torry Utah, and had to take a break there before continuing DOWN to Capital Reef National Park. Yes ... REALLY down! We were "forced" to endure strong tailwinds and a 1500' drop to get to Capital Reef, thru a gorgeous red-rock canyon that was so deep (and hot!) that you'll just have to see the VIDEO Karen shot while riding down!

We camped at Capitol Reef, after checking out the Fruita orchards (only the cherries were just beginning to come into season). Shared the campsite all afternoon/evening with mule deer (and bugs) who seem to own the place.
(- posted from Blanding Utah public library)



Monday, June 14, 2004 - Day 18 - 73 miles
Left Capitol Reef early to beat the desert heat, as we were bound for Hite Recreation Area at Glen Canyon as our campsite for the evening. The downhill continued out of the park for many miles before flattening out and leading into Caineville. We stopped briefly there at a coffee/bakery/farm produce store hosted by Ron and Randy. Great folks, great chat.

We reached Hanksville shortly after, had breakfast, stocked up with water (including a gallon jug of ICE given to us by the waitress) and headed out. We were feeling pretty safe about this hot dry stretch until we saw the sign of horror for all bicyclists:

ROAD CONSTRUCTION AHEAD - 48 MILES - CHIP SEAL

Ohmygawd!

About ten miles before reaching Hite, we pulled over at Hog Springs rest area to rest, and ponder the upcoming dilemma. A wonderful angel named Vicki stopped next to us with her van and we chatted about the road construction ahead that would certainly ruin the next day's ride. Between 50 miles in the 100 degree heat, a climb of 3000' and hot tar and loose gravel, we were sure that after getting started from Hite in the morning, we would have the worst possible day any cyclist could imagine. Well, Vicki just says "Why don't I give you a ride to Natural Bridges at the top?" So, we piled in! Bike, trailer, and everything managed to barely fit in her customized van, and off we went. We stopped at Hite for supplies, and drove on up to Natural Bridges, set up camp, had dinner, and even took a loop drive of the park w/Vicki.

Wonderful woman ... we made a great new friend here, and Vicki ... thanks again! You saved us!!!

I didn't sleep much last night. Got up for a while to view the Milky Way (no moon) and it was plenty bright enough to see the campsite just fine.
(- posted from Blanding Utah public library)



Tuesday, June 15, 2004 - Day 19 - 62 miles
We got started a little later than usual today. Did a quick 10 mile downhill into the Comb Wash (STUNNING!) and a 20 mile climb back out to reach Blanding where we are at the moment. Had lunch, and are just about to head out for Monticello for a campground, laundry, and SHOWERS (for the 1st time in 3 days!). Should be in Delores Colorado tomorrow and then we start climbing ... again!
(- posted from Blanding Utah public library - Tuesday afternoon)

Last night, we got to Monticello and stopped at a pizza joint to eat, and someone comes in and yells "Hey, can I buy you a beer?" It was Vicki! She spent the day shooting photos at Natural Bridges and caught up with us on her way to pick up a mail drop at the Monticello Post Office. So, we found a campsite and spent another evening chatting (after SHOWERS and doing laundry!). That was so cool! Unfortunately, Vicki is heading a different direction from here. See ya later pal!
(- posted from Delores Colorado public library - Wednesday afternoon)



Wednesday, June 16, 2004 - Day 20 - 87 miles
Made it to Delores Colorado in short order today. 62 miles from Monticello to Delores, and it's only 3pm. We're about to start the climb to Lizard Head Pass (10,200') in just a few minutes. We hope to knock off at least a few hundred feet from the 3500' we have to climb before mid-day tomorrow, in order to reach Telluride by nightfall. We'd like to hang out there for a while.
(- posted from Delores Colorado public library - Wednesday afternoon)

We left Delores and headed uphill toward Lizard Head Pass, getting about a 20 mile head start that afternoon. We found a campground about 1/2 way between Stoner and Rico.
(- posted from Gunnison Colorado public library)



Thursday, June 17, 2004 - Day 21 - 51 miles
We got an early start and crested Lizard Head Pass (10,222') by noon. Waited out a passing storm going thru the mountain pass before heading down toward Telluride, and saw some of the most beautiful snow-capped mountain scenery so far this trip. When we arrived at the junction to Telluride and tried to call around for a room to stay in at Telluride, we discovered that Telluride was having it's biggest event of the year - an annual Bluegrass festival that draws about 20,000 visitors a year. So ... the cheapest rooms available were running $200 a night! Well, I guess I didn't REALLY want to see Telluride THAT much. So, off we went in search of camping further down the road. And lucky us ... we found a FREE BLM (Bureau of Land Management) campsite just a mile off the highway about 9 miles downhill from To-Hell-U-Ride.
(- posted from Gunnison Colorado public library)


Friday, June 18, 2004 - Day 22 - 77 miles
Left the camp at Sawpit and started another climb up Dallas Divide (8970') and had a terrific ride down into Ridgeway. This is one very cool old western town that has been revitalized w/o getting hokey with the western theme. The streets are all dirt, the buildings are all original, but everything is VERY nicely done. We agree this is our favorite town on the whole trip. (So far!) We followed a storm from there into Montrose ... pausing and timing our speed so as not to get CAUGHT in the storm, but just watching it pass. Worked! To get just a few more miles out of the day, we did "just one more pass" over Cerro Summit to arrive in Cimmaron late in the day. The owner at a small grocery called ahead and got us a tent site at a campground just 3 more miles down (UP) the road. Nice place, hot SHOWERS, ... ahhhh.
(- posted from Gunnison Colorado public library)


Saturday, June 19, 2004 - Day 23 - 76 miles
Left the "Pleasant Valley" campground a bit late (9:00am) and got over yet another pass (Blue Mesa Pass 8500') and picked up GREAT tailwinds from there thru the Black Canyon of the Gunnison River, and all the way to here in Gunnison where we pigged out at a pizza joint and stopped here at the public library. We plan to go a few more miles today before resting prior to tomorrow's climb: Monarch Pass - 11,312' - our highest climb on the entire trip, and over the Continental Divide! Wish us luck!
(- posted from Gunnison Colorado public library)

On Saturday (Day 23), we finished the day in Sargents, just at the base of the climb to Monarch Pass. About 76 miles. It was nice having the tailwinds, but it was an uphill grind most of the day.
(- posted from Eric and Nancy's home in Pueblo Colorado)



Sunday, June 20, 2004 - Day 24 - 61 miles
Woke up to find our first flat tire (rear, of course). A wire from a blown truck tire has just barely scratched the tube causing a slow leak. (Perhaps explains why we were slowing dramatically at the end of yesterday's ride?) Patched that up and took off for the pass. It took three hours to climb ten miles (3000' elevation gain) to reach Monarch Pass and we took the opportunity to ride a cable car to the mountain top to view the panorama of mountain ranges. Leaving the summit, we had a motorcade of cars and trucks following us down the sweeping turns and switchbacks ... at 40-50 mph for over 10 miles before it started to level off!!! (That was fun!) :-) We had lunch in Salida (old historic mining town) and finished the day in Cotopaxi.
(- posted from Eric and Nancy's home in Pueblo Colorado)


Monday, June 21, 2004 - Day 25 - 84 miles
First Day of Summer!! But you'd never know it here! It was a beautiful morning to start, but as we began our LAST climb in the Rockies to get over the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Range, the clouds moved in and we faced headwinds, crosswinds, and eventually ... thunder and lightning storms. As we did before, we paused for a spot to allow a big one to pass by us, but we still got a bit wet (and VERY cold) going down the eastern slope. We hit the grasslands at the base and continued toward Pueblo, only to get caught in a much bigger storm (with VERY threatening lightning) that DID get us. We arrived at our next host's home looking like drowned rats at about 6pm, after 84 very tough miles. Hot showers saved me (bcm) from mild hypo, (Karen runs a bit hotter than me) and the temps here were VERY unusual for June. We were only in the 50's, but we're told that 95-100 degrees is "normal" here this time of year, and that June has been the coldest June here in recent memory. Just our luck?
(- posted from Eric and Nancy's home in Pueblo Colorado)


Tuesday, June 22, 2004 - Day 26 - 8 miles, rest day.
So today, (Tuesday), we're taking a layover day to warm up, do some bike maintenance, hit the post office and run other errands. We're staying with a wonderful family (Eric and Nancy and their gang) right now, and will go to visit Don and Nancy later today. We'll be back on the road tomorrow to take on the next phase of the trip: the plains of eastern Colorado and Kansas. Temps and humidity will start climbing from here on, but the flatness of the plains might actually be a pleasant break from the constant grinds in the mountains of the west. Tailwinds! (we hope!)
(- posted from Eric and Nancy's home in Pueblo Colorado)


Sorry for the long disappearance. We've been moving across eastern Colorado and western/central Kansas with little net access availability. Backing up to Pueblo ... We last wrote from Eric's house. We took a rest day in Pueblo, did some errands, and Eric escorted us over to Vance's Bicycle World, where his buddy (and now OUR BUDDY) Vance did a bang up job getting out bike's drive train cleaned up and freeing up the rear shifting which got totally clogged up in the sand and rain from the prior day's downpour. Vance ... a MILLION thanks for squeezing us in and getting us back on the road. It's working better than new after another 400 miles! After leaving the bike shop, we moseyed over to Don and Nancy's place for our second night stay in Pueblo. Don and Nancy built a beautiful retirement home and were very kind to share their home, dinner, and the next day ... an escort out of Pueblo! Nancy also did a great job on sewing up a tear in my seat cover right before we left. Thanks again gang, and be sure to look us up when you swing up east!
(- posted from Steve's home in Buhler Kansas)



Wednesday, June 23, 2004 - Day 27 - 120 miles
We started out from Pueblo around 9am and had mostly tailwinds all day. Eastern Colorado was pretty barren, but we enjoyed the WARM AND DRY air and the miles the tailwinds helped us cover: 120 miles by the end of the day ... our best day on the trip to date. We started meeting a string of cyclists doing the Trans-Am trail and/or the Western Express today. Every time we saw a bike coming the other way, we stopped to chat and exchange notes/tips on what lies ahead. As we will find in later days, people are leapfrogging each other, telling stories about other cyclists ahead or behind them on the route. This is turning into a really interesting part of the trip. We also found out that the tandem we've been chasing since Middlegate Nevada, and closing in on, has decided to take a turn off-route. Looks like we'll never see them. We finally crashed for the night in a town park in Eads, just east of the Kansas line.
(- posted from Steve's home in Buhler Kansas)


Thursday, June 24, 2004 - Day 28 - 82 miles
We had tailwinds all morning till we stopped for lunch in Tribune Kansas, but the winds turned to headwinds, crosswinds, and a t-storm ahead of us, which slowed us down to doing only 20 more miles that day. We met 4 more cyclists coming from the east that day (including "Popeye Jim"). We stopped in Leoti after 82 miles.
(- posted from Steve's home in Buhler Kansas)

Postnote - When we met Jim in Leoti, we didn't realize that Jim is ALSO from Rochester! I only discovered that after visiting his weblog and exchanging email with him. THEN I saw that his domain was "rochester.rr.com"! Small world, 'eh? And by the way ... Jim shares the answer to everyone's question about WHY a cyclist would want to ride across the country.


Friday, June 25, 2004: our 10th ANNIVERSARY - Day 29 - 114 miles
Karen saw her first funnel cloud today, but it didn't materialize into anything. (Whew!) We met a tandem-riding family (husband, wife, and two pre-teen daughters - "Team Davis") who are doing the entire Trans-Am! When we reached Rush Center Kansas, two Trans-Am cyclists (Andrew and Nathan) rushed out of a Pizza joint when they saw us pull into town. They had been given the key to the local firehouse by the owner of the pizza joint (also the Fire Chief) and had us join them in there for the night. Free showers, dry shelter (threat of rain that night) and great company. Karen and I went to a bar/grill next door to celebrate our 10th, and found only 3.2 beer and coolers ... no Chateau d'yQuem!
(- posted from Steve's home in Buhler Kansas)


Saturday, June 26, 2004 - Day 30 - 76 miles
More headwind most of the morning, but not as bad as the last two days. Chuck and Bev, our hospitality hosts for that evening came out to greet us and we finished the day at their place around 3pm. After dinner and refreshments, we shared bike stories, cat stories and lots more stories before calling it a night. We woke up the next morning with two kitties sharing our bed, and we felt right at home! Thank you Chuck and Bev, and best of luck on getting a bike-friendly hostel running. We'll be back!!!
(- posted from Steve's home in Buhler Kansas)


Sunday, June 27, 2004 - Day 31 - 48 miles
We got started around 9am after waiting out some rain. The weather started to look like it was going to turn in our favor! We actually started feeling the first mild tailwind since Tribune and it was warming up into the 80's again. We pulled into a little corner town called Medora and noticed that our hopes of big miles today were likely to get squashed ... a BIG stormcloud was headed our way. We stopped to evaluate the sky at a western antique/collectables shop on the corner and the owner stepped out to chat with us. He invited us in for cold drinks (on the house no less!) and we got to look around while inside. Cool place, lots of great items in there, including some bone-handle knives that caught my attention. Beautiful. I asked if he might have a riding crop that we could take to fend off the dogs in Kentucky that everyone is telling us about, but no luck ... he only had long bullwhips!

We continued on, risking an "interface" with the stormclouds, and I remembered the shop owner's advice about a park in Buhler, just 4 miles away, that had some cover in case we got snagged. We did!! We dove into a baseball dugout just in time to keep from getting soaked. After sitting there for about an hour, a red truck pulled up and a familiar face appeared about the end of the dugout ... it was the store owner coming to see if we made it! We told him (Steve Beckman) that we planned to wait out the rain till 6pm. If it cleared by then, we would continue on to te next town, and if not, we would pitch the tent right there in the dugout. Steve offered us a better alternative: he would come back at 6pm, and if we were still there, he would take us to his home for the night.

Well ... 6pm arrived and so did Steve and it was still raining! So here we are spending the evening with Steve and Sarah at their farm in Buhler Kansas! We just finished dinner, Karen has pulled our freshly washed riding clothes from the dryer, and a warm bed is awaiting us again. It's TRUE folks ... the legendary Kansas hospitality is no mere legend ... it's a fact of life out here, and we couldn't be more thankful!
(- posted from Steve's home in Buhler Kansas)



Monday, June 28, 2004 - Day 32 - 104 miles
Left Steve's home around 7am in quite a bit of fog. Good sign that we're finally moving from the hot dry plains, to the hotter humid east end of Kansas. Of course, we get to keep the headwinds that have pestered us all the way across the state. We met two more westbound cyclists at breakfast and that chat held us up from a quick munch-and-run. No matter .. we've enjoyed meeting and exchanging notes with all the cyclists we've crossed paths with across the state. We also met "Beau" in Cassoday and had a late lunch with him. Sorry we had to share the bad news of the chip-seal ahead of him and 20 miles of very rough road. But he seemed ready for the task. That evening, we met an English gentleman in the town park of Eureka where we pitched camp for the night after 104 miles. Karen slept little that night due to the kids with noisy cars and fireworks going off all over town. I however, slept thru it all.
(- posted from an internet cafe/juice bar in Pittsburg Kansas)


Tuesday, June 29, 2004 - Day 33 - 89 miles
We awoke to a sticky-wet tent (humidity going sky-high now) and a flat rear tire again. A victim of yesterday's chip-seal, no doubt. We finally caught up and passed a group of van-supported eastbound cyclists that we've been leap-frogging with since Sunday morning. In Rosalia,we stopped at a country store that has a log-book of cyclists who've passed by and signed in since 1992. It was fun reading the notes of all the westbound cyclists who we've met in passing. We camped in Walnut and again signed a logbook of cyclists who've visited the "Boots and Saddle" country store where we grabbed drinks and snacks before pitching the tent in the town park. A few more fireworks kept Karen up (but not me) and we're really feeling the effect of the humidity all night long now. Everything we touch seems wet and clammy ... particularly after no SHOWERS for three days!
(- posted from an internet cafe/juice bar in Pittsburg Kansas)


Wednesday, June 30, 2004 - Day 34 - 71 miles
Stopped here in Pittsburg to hit bike shops, pick up laundry soap, do the net thing, and call ahead to the bike hostel that we plan to stay in tonight after we cross the border into Missouri and finally say bon-voyage to Kansas!

Today, we finished the 6th of 10 sections of the Adventure Cycling trail maps that we're using. We've covered 2300 miles to date, and figure about 1600 miles to the Atlantic coast.
Can't believe we've come so far so fast, and we're already beginning to miss what's behind, while looking forward to what's ahead.

One special note about Kansas ... all along the way, I've been hating the thought of crossing the barren flat lands of Kansas and fighting the headwinds, but to Kansas' credit, we've enjoyed this part of the trip far beyond expectation due to the hospitality and friendliness of everyone we've met here. It's been terrific!!
(- posted from an internet cafe/juice bar in Pittsburg Kansas)

We left Pittsburg Kansas and crossed the state line into Missouri under the constant threat of rain/thunderstorms. We managed yet again to skirt by the big stuff and only get damp from sprinkles and road spray. We met a group of 4 cyclists (westbound) who had heard about our coming their way. The Trans-Am Trail grapevine moves fast. We were told that when we arrived in Golden City Missouri, that we should check in with the staff at Cooky's restaurant and they would summon the owners of the bike hostel that was just around the corner. We did, they did, and we ended up in a really cool old stone house with SHOWERS, laundry, warm and dry beds, and even an air conditioner that served well to dry out our tent and sleeping bags that were still damp from the humidity from the prior night's campout in Kansas.

Postnote - I just realized after working on this at home that we actually went through 3 straight days of hot sticky weather in Kansas without showers. Can you even IMAGINE how wonderful this place is to Trans-Am bikers?

BTW ... the pies at Cooky's are GREAT!!!!!
(- posted from the Marshfield Missouri public library)


Thursday, July 1, 2004 - Day 35 - 53 miles
We awoke to pouring rain and thunderstorms (not that we cared much ... we were DRY for the moment!) and decided to get up late, go have breakfast at Cooky's, and hang out till it was safe to leave. That didn't happen till 10:30am! No matter ... it was going to be a short day anyway, since our destination was only 53 miles away at the home of Tommy and Rene ... members of TCA (Tandem Club of America) who offered hospitality for the evening. The weather improved in the afternoon, and we were greeted by Tommy on the road, who rode out to escort us to his home. At his home, we met Rene, Scott, and the kitties, one of whom (the kitties ... not Rene or Scott!) who loves to play fetch. We had a great meal, SHOWERS, and a wonderful evening of chat with Tommy and Rene. They own a BEAUTIFUL Co-Motion tandem in a silver/green fade that I absolutely LUSTED over! Hmmm... perhaps the next paint scheme for our Bilenky/Sterling? Thanks for the inspiration Tommy, and thanks for the WONDERFUL hospitality. Are you originally from Kansas, or has the Kansas hospitality spilled over into Missouri?
(- posted from the Marshfield Missouri public library)


Friday, July 2, 2004 - Day 36 - 60 miles
We left Tommy and Rene's place at 7am and immediately noticed big storm clouds in our path. We arrived (still dry) in Fair Grove and got the news from the folks in a c-mart that a BIG storm was headed our way. Well ... what can we do but ride on and take our chances? We did, and by staying just behind the storm, we managed to get into Marshfield still dry. Had lunch, stopped in here at the public library to update the blog, and we're only planning to do another 26 miles to Hartville today, because there's a loooooong stretch to the next town after Hartville with camping available. After that, opportunities abound and we should be able to pick up daily mile totals if the roller-coaster hills and rainy weather don't stop us first.
(- posted from the Marshfield Missouri public library)


Saturday, July 3, 2004 - Day 37 - 78 miles
We arrived in Hartville MO yesterday afternoon, quite early actually. We managed 60 miles before calling it quits for the day due to limited camping availability in the next 30-40 miles. We stayed dry all day until we got here, then the skies opened up on our little tent all night long. We were OK, but the tent was almost floating on a river. As we're in the public library here, the tent is flipped over like a turtle getting dried out. Interesting ... we camped on the courthouse lawn, and inside is the sheriff's dept, the library, jail, and restrooms. When we pulled in last night and asked about camping, we were told that bikers camp here all the time, and if we liked, we could sleep inside the hallways of the courthouse. Quaint, 'eh?

We'll see how far we get today ... weather radar looks OK for the moment, but pop-up showers and t-storms are the norm. Missouri is known for it's huge aquifers, caves, and natural springs ... one of which pumps over 80 million gallons a day into the Jack's Fork River ... and it's all aimed at US!
(- posted from the Hartville Missouri public library Saturday morning, before leaving Hartville)

We left Hartville Missouri after updating the blog, and immediately started to hit the big hills of the Ozarks. Up/Down/Twist/Turn/Up again/Down again/Twist and Shout! Wheee! We met more westbounders (mostly complaining of the hills in the Ozarks ... go figure!) but not much more happened today. Just up/down all day long. We arrived at Ally Spring (81 million gallons a day!) in the late afternoon, and caught a slight rain shower. The old mill and the spring are really beautiful. You'll have to see the video. We went to the campground nearby, and met another westbounder and shared stories/notes, and were treated to brats and beers by our neighboring campers who were fascinated with our adventure.
(- posted from the Carbondale Illnois public library, 7/7/04)

Sunday, July 4, Independence Day, 2004 - Day 38 - 63 miles
Karen found that blackberries are growing along the roadsides! Otherwise, another hot, humid, and very hilly day. We had breakfast in Eminence, a cute little touristy town w/Bed and Breakfasts, arts and crafts stores, and a good buffet at the diner. We stopped early today to camp at Johnson's Shut-Ins State Park, Missouri's 3rd most visited park ... for good reason. The Black River runs thru it, and a series of geologic events created a natural waterpark/playground in the river. We didn't get into the tricky part (Karen's fragile ankles, ya know), but we DID enjoy the river a bit upstream. I chased tadpoles and crawdads, while Karen enjoyed just cooling off. Oh ... we actually started detecting TAILWINDS again for the first time since Tribune Kansas!! We did laundry, had SHOWERS, and enjoyed a mostly quiet evening at camp. Nice place!! Highly recommended.
(- posted from the Carbondale Illnois public library, 7/7/04)


Monday, July 5, 2004 - Day 39 - 85 miles
Started the day in moderate spinkles (not real rain yet), and have started moving out of the tough part of the Ozarks, and down toward the Mississippi river basin. We met several other westbounders today, including a father/daughter team riding another Rans Screamer. We crossed the Big Muddy into Illinois at Chester ... home of the creator of Popeye the Sailor, and camped in the town park under a pavilion ... the storm that passed just north of Chester provided a brilliant light show, but no rain for us.
(- posted from the Carbondale Illnois public library, 7/7/04)



Tuesday, July 6, 2004 - Day 40 - 56 miles
We left Chester and headed for Murphysboro ... the end of our 7th section of the trip. We're about 2/3 of the way across the country now. After lunch in M-boro, we did a short stint over to Carbondale Illinois, which is the biggest town we've seen since Pueblo Colorado, and the home of Southern Illinois University ... a college town w/BIKE SHOPS! We stopped to pick up pepper spray for the canines in Kentucky, and to pick up a spare rear tire. It's been 2700 miles now and the rear tire is starting to fall apart. We did a few errands/laundry and got a motel next door to a Chinese restaurant, which we indulged in. Avoided a HUGE storm system going thru all of southern Illinois.
(- posted from the Carbondale Illnois public library, 7/7/04)


Wednesday, July 7, 2004 - Day 41 - 60 miles
We're in the public library doing the blog before heading out. Karen's going to get a haircut b4 we take off ... and I'm looking for breakfast!!! Tailwinds! (10-15mph today ... FROM THE WEST!!!!) :-D
(- posted from the Carbondale Illnois public library, 7/7/04)

Karen didn't get her haircut before leaving Carbondale, and I couldn't find a decent diner to get breakfast. We couldn't find anything on the way, and ended up getting out of town around 10:30am. We passed thru the Crab Orchard Wildlife area just outside Carbondale, and had a wonderful cruise down Tacoma Lake Road ... one of the quietest, sweetest pieces of asphalt we've been on so far. The rolling hills in southern Illinois bear a STRONG resemblance to much of the Ozarks. We also discovered the "Tunnel Hill State Trail", a rail-trail that runs about 40 some miles and features a wonderfully preserved rail tunnel that we HAD to visit, of course. We called it a day at the Bear Branch horse camp outside Eddyville, which is close to the Ohio river. Hot and humid, and tailwinds are WITH us!
(- posted from the Berea Kentucy public library, 7/12/04)


Thursday, July 8, 2004 - Day 42 - 72 miles
Broke camp early and headed for the river. Cruised into the Tower Rock Recreation Area in hopes of finding easy access to Tower Rock (160 feet above the water) but no luck. Required a hike up a trail (a no-no for Karen's ankles!). Getting OUT of the park was a task ... Karen measured a climb of 16% on the road out. Later that day, I started noticing problems with my hip. Hmmmm.... We visited Cave-In-Rock State Park in the town by the same name, and I tried getting photos of the cave entrance that has a history of murderous river pirates using it to steal cargo from merchants on the river. Interesting place. After a nice vanilla shake (hey, this trip isn't ALL health food ya know!), we boarded the ferry and crossed the Ohio River into Kentucky. The roads here are GREAT and VERY hilly in this section. Great fun. We made it to Clay Kentucky that evening and locals pointed us to the minister of the local Methodist church who offers shelter (and SHOWERS) for bikers on the trail. Another DRY night! Another hot and humid day, but we got 72 miles even with the delays in Illinois.
(- posted from the Berea Kentucy public library, 7/12/04)


Friday, July 9, 2004 - Day 43 - 97 miles
Hit the road out of Clay at 7am with the plan to stop for a rest day in Sebree, which has a reputation among cyclists on the TransAm Trail as a Cool Place® for staying. There's a bike hostel operated by a local church there that has everyone going westbound talking about it. We got into town VERY early, and between no libraries (no net access), great tailwinds going that day, and nothing to do in Sebree, we decided to move on after buying a little napkin dispenser made up to look like an old Coke machine. No, we're NOT carrying it! Karen walked around the corner from the fountain store and mailed it home from the post office. Continuing on, we found more rolling hills, beautiful scenery, and cookin' tailwinds that blew us all the way to Rough River Dam State Park ... 97 miles from the start of the day! Still hot and humid, and I've taken to riding shirtless these days. I'll be scorched, but we're moving better!
(- posted from the Berea Kentucy public library, 7/12/04)


Saturday, July 10, 2004 - Day 44 - 65 miles
Another early start ... more tailwinds and hot (90+ is the norm). Nothing spectacular today .. just more fantastic riding in Kentucky. We got into Hodginville (birthplace of Abraham Lincoln) after the library closed. We MIGHT have made it, but had to sit out a rainstorm under a tree just long enough. Decided to hole up in a motel this evening due to stormy weather (a GOOD decision, we found later!) and met 4 more westbounders, the "Gang of Four", who decided to stay in the town park. We briefly considered taking a chance and joining them, but ... after we visited the Lincoln Historic site and arrived back at the motel, the skies dumped a whole day's worth ... on them, but not us. Whew! Weather has been volatile this whole week, but we've STILL not been caught w/o shelter.
(- posted from the Berea Kentucy public library, 7/12/04)


Sunday, July 11, 2004 - Day 45 - 62 miles
Left Hodginville around 7:30am and today really got stormy! We were having lunch in Bardstown and the storms hit. We waited it out, took off, and got only a few miles out when another storm rolled in. We found shelter at a C-Mart (again w/o getting caught), and after waiting for an eternity, got rolling again towards Springfield. Just as we were getting into town, ANOTHER storm blew in and it was soooo bad, that a car across the road (from the gas station we took cover at) lost control in the rain and went into the ditch. We waited that one out and decided to eat at the Mexican joint across the parking lot. Karen hiked across the road to the scene of the accident to ask the cop who was attending to the mess if he knew about camping in the city park. Sure! Just pitch under any pavilion if ya like, and he'll make an entry in his log that we're staying ... just so that no one locks up the restrooms. Cool! We watched yet another HUGE storm blow thru before we crashed for the night. Karen was up THREE more times during the night because of storms. I think I woke up once! ;-) Even with the delays ... we got in 62 miles.
(- posted from the Berea Kentucy public library, 7/12/04)


Monday, July 12, 2004 - Day 46 - 77 miles
Tough call on what to do in the morning ... we were still getting sprinkles, but headed downtown to get breakfast anyway. At the diner, we chatted with the waitress who says she get's cyclists in all the time, and she has sometimes taken them home when the weather was bad. Another Trail Angel! Even with a threatening start, the weather cleared up for a while in the afternoon, and we logged some great miles even under the heat and humidity. Just as we got into Berea, we were overtaken by a surprise storm and got under shelter ... JUST IN TIME .. again! (Our luck HAS to run out sometime, don't you think?) We found a GREAT little B&B to hole up for our first full rest day since Pueblo Colorado, had dinner, and a great chat with our hosts Neil and Mary.
(- posted from the Berea Kentucy public library, 7/12/04)


Tuesday, July 13, 2004 - Day 47 - 10 miles - Rest Day
We're in Berea Kentucky! Sorry for being offline for so long, but we've had difficulties finding libraries that we're open when we pass thru town. We've made good time however ... we're at the base of the Appalachian Mountains and we think we have about 2 weeks to go to reach the Atlantic.
(- posted from the Berea Kentucy public library, 7/12/04)

Today is a rest day - the first full day off since Pueblo Colorado. We slept in late, actually getting up and about around 9am. Neil took our laundry home with him last night and we found it clean and folded at our door when we got up. We did the blog (see below) and headed into the town square to finally find a hair dresser for Karen to get her haircut ... nearly a whole state later than she had wanted. I had a cappucino in the coffee shop next door while waiting. So nice to sit in a fully upholstered chair to have a coffee, instead of the concrete slab outside a convenient mart. We moved on from there to the Kentucky Artisans Center where artists and craftsmen from around Kentucky can display and sell their works. We found a display there that included work from our hosts Neil and Mary. More on them later. We found a replacement tire for the Bob trailer ... and just in time. The poor thing had a huge stone stuck in it that was scratching the tube, and the rubber was starting to peel off the casing, just like the Screamer's rear tire had started to do 1000 miles ago. After one and three quarters of transam crossings (this tire did a transam crossing for Hank Walck a few years ago), I think it has served well. So now, all three tires have been replaced on this trip.

We had dinner at a pizza joint that had a buffet, and headed back to the B&B. The weather channel reported big storms coming our way, and good thing we were inside again... it was a monster that caused considerable damage around Kentucky that night.

A note about Neil and Mary :
They operate a wonderful business called Weaver's Bottom in the Old Town section of Berea, and I would really encourage anyone to go visit the shop and see what Mary and Neil create. They are warm and friendly people who love to share the joy of their work. In addition to the business, they operate the Morning Glory B&B where we stayed (upstairs from the shop) and it's a beautifully decorated, yet comfortable and relaxing place to stay. Mary calls it a "safe lily pad" and I couldn't agree more. Look them up if you're ever in the area. Mary and Neil ... THANK YOU!!! We enjoyed our rest more than you can imagine, and it was great meeting you and sharing time with you. Thanks for the "concert" as well!! ;-)
(- posted from the Hindman Kentucy public library, 7/15/04)


Wednesday, July 14, 2004 - Day 48 - 90 miles
After reluctantly saying goodbye to Mary and Neil, we hit the road under somewhat gloomy skies that later sprinkled just a tiny bit on us. No matter ... the sun later came out and we had super tailwinds (left over from last night's storm) blowing us all the way to Buckhorn Lake Dam State Park ... 90 miles into the mountains from Berea! The roads are getting more exciting (if that's even possible), are in WONDERFUL condition, and the mountains and knobs are beautiful! (Now ... about those dogs ...) In our tent at night, we started to reflect on how far we've come, and how little time we have left to go before reaching the coast. We can't believe we've done so well and had so few problems. Well ... two weeks left for that!!
(- posted from the Hindman Kentucy public library, 7/15/04)


Thursday, July 15, 2004 - Day 49 - 56 miles
Wow! Nice place!! We're in Hindman Kentucky, county seat of whatever county this is, (Knott, I think) and they have a beautiful public library/college here, just around the corner from the downtown full of old stone block buildings. Cozy! We had a late start this morning, but we don't have far to go today. We're writing this in Hindman, just 8 miles from Pippa Passes, where we've made arrangements to stay in a biker hostel. A few of these places have sprung up along the TransAmerica Trail in response to a real need for safe and comfortable (and INEXPENSIVE) shelter. They really are a treat, and many of them are the talk of the trail among cyclists who pass each other (westbounders and eastbounders sharing notes). We're looking forward to getting there in an hour or two. Tailwinds! (for REAL!!!!!)
(- posted from the Hindman Kentucy public library, 7/15/04)

Our stay in Pippa Passes was pretty cool. The hostel we stayed in is run by a couple who has hosted cyclists all the way back to the original '76 crossings! Thank You!! Another warm and dry night when it COULD have been "something else" (rain?). Short day ... 56 miles ... since it would have been a long way to the next available stop.
(- posted from the Wytheville Virginia public library, 7/19/04)


Friday, July 16, 2004 - Day 50 - 65 miles
Only 50 days, and we've gone 3300 miles already? Not bad for a couple old "...."'s.  ;-)
 
More and bigger hills/mountains today. We're having to work a bit harder to get around now. Things are getting steep and curvy. (translation: Fantastic biking!) As evidence of how tough some hills are getting, we blew up the drum brake today. Tore the Pac-Man (the stop on the frame that mounts the stationary arm of the brake) off the frame on a downhill. Bummer. We've still got the hydraulic Magura's on the rims, and we're not really worried about overheating big fat tires on big fat rims, but it would be nice to have the backup anyway. Oh well ... we'll just have to be over-conservative on the twisty's.
 
Arrived at Breaks Interstate Park after crossing into Virginia ... the LAST state line crossing! Breaks is a beautiful state park co-operated by the state parks of Virgina and Kentucky. It's not quite as dramatic as Cedar Breaks in Utah, but the geology is similar. Only here, you can't really see as much since everything is covered in green. We've decided that east Kentucky and western Virginia are a virtual rain forest. (No water shortages HERE!) Had dinner at the lodge overlooking the gorge, did laundry, got SHOWERS, and we managed to get the LAST tent site available in the park! Because the park is celebrating it's 50th anniversary, we're told that the campgrounds are full every weekend this year. (Irish luck? I'll TAKE IT!) It rained during the night, and Karen continues to wake for every storm, and I continue to sleep right thru them. 65 good hard miles.
(- posted from the Wytheville Virginia public library, 7/19/04)


Saturday, July 17, 2004 - Day 51 - 46 miles
Started riding today in off-and-on sprinkles that turned into a downpour by the time we reached Council, about 30 miles away. We sat out one rainstorm earlier while having breakfast at Haysi and having a chat with the fiddle/guitar-maker at the store. He showed us some of his hand-crafted instruments, including a beautiful Appalachian mandolin. He plays, but his real love is simply making them. We have his card (and web address) and maybe someday ....   ;-)
 
After sitting out the second storm in Council for about an hour, we decided to face the music and head out over the BIGGEST hill to date in the East : "Big A Mountain". No kidding ... that's the name! And it was tough. By the time we reached the top, the rain had nearly stopped, but as soon as we crested ... it let loose again. Wet day. Reached Rosedale, had dinner, and headed toward Elk Garden, only 2 more miles, where the local Methodist church offers bikers a dry place to stay.  Pow! At about 28 mph on a downhill, we had a front blowout. Man ... on a fully loaded recumbent tandem, that's an experience I wouldn't wish on anyone. I managed to get pulled over w/o dumping it, but my heart rate was certainly over my doctor's recommended max. Once repairs were made, we cruised into Elk Garden and emptied the Bob trailer to dry out everything, and crashed for the night. You can tell the hills are getting bigger and the skies are less friendly today.
(- posted from the Wytheville Virginia public library, 7/19/04)


Sunday, July 18, 2004 - Day 52 - 59 miles
We got an early start today and the 1st order of business was getting over Clinch Mountain. After about 4 miles of warm up thru wildly rolling foothills, we ran into the base of the mountain and started with a switchback that almost stopped us dead. I kinda swung it wiiiiiide across the road to keep from hitting the front wheel with my heel on the tight turn. Recumbent riders with minimal heel clearance understand the difficulty here at extremely low speed (about 2mph!) This had me thinking about what everyone says we have to look forward to on Vesuvius Hill (to get up onto the Blue Ridge Parkway).  :-(
 
But I can't complain. After finally summitting Clinch Mountain (about an HOUR later), we got to see what those poor Westbounders have to face. At the top of the mountain, we saw a sign that indicates a curvy road ahead, 20 MPH speed limit, for 2.6 miles!!!! No kidding .... Westbounders have to CLIMB  that far, doing switchbacks the WHOLE WAY UP! (Hey folks .... EAST BOUND is the CORRECT way to do the Trans-Am!)  ;-)
 
Postnote - even after coming down the east side for two miles through really tough switchbacks, we eventually "leveled-out" to a more gentle section of descent for another 4 miles before getting to Hayter's Gap.

Well ... it was FUN for us! We enjoyed one of the coolest descents of the entire trip here, and it dumped us into a valley at Hayters Gap ... one of the prettiest little places we've seen in the East. We headed on to Damascus, where there's a hostel everyone has been telling us about that is shared by bikers on the Trans-Am and hikers doing the Appalachian Trail, which intersects here. Very cool town (4 bike shops!), but we decided it was too early in the day to quit, and headed on to Troutdale, on the top of the mountain range topped by Mt. Rogers ... highest point in Virginia! Great idea, right? Well ... I can read topo maps, and even though it's a climb to a HIGH spot, the grade looked pretty easy. Off we went, and the gamble paid off. We reached Troutdale JUST BEFORE a storm passed thru. We stayed at the hostel run by the Troutdale Baptist Church, which included laundry, a bunkhouse, and ... (tah-dah!) SHOWERS! GREAT night sleep! Not bad!!! 59 miles that included two of the biggest climbs we have to do in the Appalachians.
(- posted from the Wytheville Virginia public library, 7/19/04)


Monday, July 19, 2004 - Day 53 - 70 miles
We're in Wytheville at noon after a rolling downhill from Troutdale. Easy riding so far, with tailwinds! Not sure how far we'll go today as weather threatens us still, but we're getting close to visiting our buddy Linda in Blacksburg. Ironically ... she's on her way HOME from Rochester as we write. More later! Tailwinds! (and big whoppin' downhills!)
(- posted from the Wytheville Virginia public library, 7/19/04)

After leaving Wytheville's library, we stopped at a truck stop along the interstate and had lunch, then headed toward Draper - our planned destination for the day. After about 30 more miles of rock-and-roller coaster roads, we arrived in Draper around 4:30pm. Too soon to quit, we motored on to Newborn with the revised plan of camping at the State Park at Clayton Lake. But, after dinner at another truck stop near the entrance to the park, we spotted a bargain motel and decided to indulge ourselves with a hot SHOWER and TV - to check the weather channel! Karen shows signs of sleeping MUCH better in real beds than on a thin camp-pad. ;-) Even with a later start, an hour off in the library, incredibly slow service at the truck stop, and quitting early, we still managed 70 miles today. Amazing what a little downhill, tailwinds, and adrenaline can do!
(- posted from the Wytheville Virginia public library, 7/19/04)


Tuesday, July 20, 2004 - Day 54
Up late, of course, but that was planned, as today's target was only as far as Blacksburg VA (42 miles) ... home of the third fastest (at time of writing) super-computer on the planet (at Virginia Tech - and based on a cluster of Macintosh CPU's by the way) and our buddy Linda's home. Linda is a former (and honorary CURRENT) member of the Rochester Bicycling Club who moved back to VA a few years ago. Once  we started nearing town, we were located by our other buddy Kathy, who escorted us into town. THEN ... once we got in, Linda managed to twist our (mine) arms and talk us into staying for a rest day and going to her bike club's "L'Alpe d'Huez Time Trial" party tomorrow night. For non-bikers - "L'Alpe d'Huez" is the name of a stage in the Tour de France going on right now. America's Lance Armstrong is currently in the lead and is expected to win this stage - a time trial UP the mountain. This should be a pretty cool party - not to be missed.
 
So, we're enjoying some badly needed time off before attacking our own little L'Alpe d'Huez in Vesuvius in a couple days ride from here. Once we clear that hurdle and the Blue Ridge Parkway, we'll be cruising into the Tidewater region of Virgina ... and a finish to this adventure. More later!
(- posted from Linda's home in Blacksburg Virginia, 7/20/04)


Wednesday, July 21, 2004 - Day 55 - 0 miles - Rest Day
A "rest day" means no biking, but it doesn't mean no fun or exercise! Kathy picked us up and we went hiking at a wonderful park not far from Blacksburg called Cascade Falls. It's a 2 mile hike up the gorge to a beautiful waterfall that's about 66 feet high. Reminded me of a lot of places at home in the Finger Lakes Region. Sunshine and warm temps made for a great day. After the hike, Kathy drove us up the road which is the final climb on the "Mountains of Misery" ride that her bike club hosts. It leads up to the top of the mountain where there's a beautiful hotel and a lake that you might remember from the "Dirty Dancing" movie. Tough climb!! So of course ... I have plans to go participate in next year's event!

After hitting the post office and grabbing some Chinese take-out, we went to the party and watched Lance kick some serious butt on the L'Alpe d'Huez again. I was energized!
(- posted from our home in Rochester New York, 7/30/04)


Thursday, July 22, 2004 - Day 56 - 90 miles
With Linda and Kathy escorting us, we hit the road with the "plan" to do a short day. After saying bye to Linda and Kathy in Catawba about 25 miles down the road, we continued on thru the rolling hills in the valley toward the Blue Ridge. Rain started coming down hard as we entered Buchanan, but it was warm enough, and it was early enough that we decided to go for broke and head for Lexington. We met a group of 4 Dutch cyclists westbound for Oregon and exchanged notes. Still surprised to see people starting so late, but I'm sure these guys will do fine. After much more rain and our second front flat, we made it to Lexington and ditched into a motel as soon as we pulled into town looking like drowned rats. Tailwinds are great, but I could have done w/o the rain!
(- posted from our home in Rochester New York, 7/30/04)


Friday, July 23, 2004 - Day 57 - 56 miles
We got an early start today because we positioned ourselves yesterday to make the distance from Blacksburg to Afton in two days instead of three as originally planned, and we figured today would be the TOUGH day. After a 20 mile warm-up, we arrived in Vesuvius and hung out at Gerties Country Store for breakfast. We "signed" the ceiling like thousands of other trans-am cyclists have, (remember "Team Davis" who we met back in Kansas?) then headed over to the climb we've been hearing about for hundreds of miles. The goal today was to arrive at the "Cookie Lady's" Bike House in Afton and that would require doing the 4 mile climb up onto the Blue Ridge Parkway, rolling another 30 miles up and down on the parkway, and safely descending the other side of the Blue Ridge into Afton ... without the assistance of the drum brake that blew up a few days ago.

Well, we think everything went our way. I made a deal with the sky-gods. I asked that if we could get ONE DAY of no rain while we climbed over the Blue Ridge, I would happily accept another 3 days of torrential rain all the way to the coast once we cleared the mountains. The sky-gods accepted my offer and granted us a hot and hazy, but DRY day today. Well fed and feeling healthy, we started the climb up Vesuvius Hill, and to our surprise and delight, the switchbacks never got any tighter than anything we've already done before. There were still some stretches hitting 12 and 14 percent grades, but with not carrying extra water (like out west) and both of us having lost about 15 pounds each, we were able to handle anything the hill tossed at us, and we finished the climb in about an hour!

Onward! The next 30 miles on the Parkway was a treat. Lot's of ups and downs, swooping turns, and SUNSHINE! We chatted briefly with a Park Ranger who knew our destination ... EVERYBODY knows where bikers with trailers go to around here ... The Cookie Lady! Leaving the parkway, we bombed down the mountainside and arrived in Afton. Karen knocked on the door, and we finally got to meet her ... June Curry, who has operated the Bike House and offered hospitality to bikers ever since the original Trans-Am tours in 1976. The Bike House is a museum of experiences of Trans-Am bikers and I'll only say that you HAVE to see the video to understand how extensive June's collection of biker memorabilia is. Words can't describe it.

Words also can't describe how wonderful, how generous, and how thoughtful June is to the cyclists who pass thru here. Last year, Adventure Cycling awarded her the first "Trail Angel" award and I'm sure no Trans-Am cyclist could argue that anyone else deserves it more.

We spent the night after staying up late wandering around the house looking at all the items on display, and I even woke at 3am and wandered some more with a flashlight (so as not to disturb Karen who was sleeping VERY soundly!). 56 tough but fabulous miles!!
(- posted from our home in Rochester New York, 7/30/04)


Saturday, July 24, 2004 - Day 58 - 83 miles
The Sky-Gods are more than fair. We not only got yesterday's ride on the Blue Ridge in sunshine, but we also got thru today without rain. Rolling hills are slowly turning into smaller bumps as we leave the mountains of Virginia. We started out with tailwinds, but as we approach the tidewaters, we are getting into headwinds. Arrived in Mineral in the mid-afternoon and had dinner, ice cream, and did laundry before checking in with the local fire department that offers camping to Trans-Amers in their backyard.
(- posted from our home in Rochester New York, 7/30/04)


Sunday, July 25, 2004 - Day 59 - 77 miles
Remember that deal with the sky-gods? It's payback time! We woke up to a mist that developed into full blown rain that kept going till about 2pm. We had planned to stay with a couple in Mechanicsville this night, but when we called, the broke the news that they had water pipes broken and some damage that they had to deal with. So, we altered our route to put us into the outskirts of Richmond, near the airport, where we could find yet another motel to hide from the wrath of the sky-gods ... at least during the night. Nice riding roads and pretty country today. Seeing lots of historic markers and battlefield cemetaries ... but man, when it rains here ...
(- posted from our home in Rochester New York, 7/30/04)


Monday, July 26, 2004 - Day 60!!!!! - 78 miles
YORKTOWN!!!!!!!

We left the motel in Richmond around 7:30am in the pouring rain, fully accepting the fact that we would likely arrive at the coast in Yorktown totally soaked. When we got to Charles City, we saw the signs for a detour around a bridge out 13 miles down the road. Since we REALLY don't want to chance having to ride 26 miles round-trip PLUS do the extra miles of a detour, we started asking around if bikes can get across. We lucked out ... there was a DOT office in town and they assured us we COULD get across. When we arrived at the bridge, we found it was a swing-bridge across the Chickahominy River ... but it was open ... meaning that we couldn't get across. The workers eventually closed the bridge about 1/2 hour later, just after it stopped raining at noon, and we were able to continue. We got onto the Colonial Parkway and rode it into Williamsburg where we had lunch and contacted our "escorts", Natalie and Mike, who rode out from Yorktown on their tandem to meet us about 1/2 way between Williamsburg and Yorktown. Upon arriving at Yorktown, Mike and Natalie showed us to the Yorktown Victory Monument ... the eastern terminus of the Trans-America Trail!! After they took our picture there, we headed for the beach and dipped the front wheel.

3974 miles
60 days.
A Lifetime of Memories.
(- posted from our home in Rochester New York, 7/30/04)

Epilogue
After arriving in Yorktown, and dipping the wheel, we took a room in the Duke of York hotel, across the street from the beach, unloaded all our wet gear, and spread it out on the open lawn outside our door to dry out in the sun that eventually broke thru in the late day. We called our friends in Rochester, Bob and Liz, who were driving our car down from Rochester to deliver it to us so that we could transport the Screamer back home on top our roof rack. They planned to leave Rochester Tuesday morning, stay overnight at their daughter's home a couple hours north of Yorktown, and drive down to get us Wednesday. That gave us a free day in Yorktown to see the town, the historic sites, and even go for a swim and collect seashells. Tuesday was a hot but dry day, and we enjoyed every minute wandering around Yorktown. We didn't bother to go to the library to update the blog. We figured that could wait till we got home. No harm in letting the world have no idea where we were for a bit ... this is OUR vacation.

Wednesday afternoon, Bob and Liz arrived, we drove them back to their daughter's home, and stayed the night after having dinner with them in a nice local place in Alexandria Virginia. Thank you Thomas and Aimee Thursday morning, we hit the road for Rochester and got home in the late afternoon, July 29th, 66 days after this whole adventure began with a plane flight leaving Rochester at 6am.