Clyde's Photograpy - Cross-country Bicycle Ride

Clyde & Joelle's bicycle ride from Oregon to their home on the Eastern Shore of Virginia, May to September, 2010.

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Cross-Country Bicycle Ride

Clyde and Joelle's bicycle ride from Oregon to their home on the Eastern Shore of Virginia from May 24 to Sept 5, 2010: Photos and Journal. Add your comments on the Guestbook Page.

1990 Ride

In 1990, Joelle and Clyde married. For their honeymoon, they rode their bikes X-country from Anacortes, WA to Bar Harbor, Maine. Because of limited vacation time, Joelle had to stop at Havre, Montana. She didn't want to stop and swore that she would ride the entire route next time. This 2010 ride is our 20th anniversary ride, riding together across the entire country. Our friend Ken Wild rode a large portion with us in 1990, and will join us again for most of the 2010 ride. See photos from the 1990 Honeymoon Ride in the slide show below.

1990 Ride

Getting ourselves to the West Coast: May 12-May 23

First we had to drive our 20-year old cat to stay with "grandma" (Joelle's Mom) in Chicago while we were away. One of our other passions is birdwatching, and early May is migration across the eastern US. We stopped northwest Ohio at a birding festival along the way.......


May 13-16, Downpour of Warblers and Dancing Woodcocks

The Biggest Week in American Birding Festival in Port Clinton Ohio lived up to its brag. After seeing 22 species of warblers during a 2-hour walk on our first day birding the Magee Marsh boardwalk (below,right), the evening lecturer from Black Swamp Bird Observatory (BSBO) warned: “Don’t even think about sleeping in tomorrow morning; tomorrow’s going to be the ‘big one’.” We’d just experienced our best spring migration ever, including spring birding at more famous places like High Island, Dauphin Island, and Point Pelee, and didn’t think it could get much better. But, on May 14, low pressure systems, winds, time of year, and birds all aligned to make it seem like it was raining warblers and other migrants. The festival bird checklist stood at 37 warbler species by the end of the day, including a very cooperative male Kirtland’s warbler (below,left).  Best of all, the birds were easily seen at eye level as they hunted bugs to fuel the next leg of their journey across Lake Erie. The festival was well-organized by partners at the BSBO, Ottawa NWR, Magee Marsh State Wildlife Area, and Tropical Birding, whose professional guides led each field trip. Evening entertainment was provided by speakers such as Ken Kaufman and by the woodcocks behind the BSBO which performed their aerial dances at dusk. Warning to our birding friends: You’d be crazy to miss this festival in coming years. (Below center: Protonotary and Magnolia Warblers)


Chicago May 13-16 Downpour of Warblers

May 17-20 Chicago

We took a drive down memory lane, to the neighborhood where Joelle grew up and went to high school. The latter is next to a migration hotspot on Lake Michigan called the "Magic Hedge" (bottom,right). Formerly a military installation, the Magic Hedge is now a bird sanctuary where Clyde took pictures of a Connecticut Warbler (below,middle), usually a very elusive bird, and a Yellow Warbler (below,right) building a nest. Joelle's dad was also into long-distance bike touring; a Chicago newspaper article was written about his bike tour around Lake Michigan before Joelle was born. In fact, Joelle's parents met at a bike club, so it was important for us to visit dad's grave and get him on our side for the big adventure.


Chicago May 17-20

May 21-23 Getting to the Pacific with a little help from our Oregon friends

From Chicago we flew to Portland where dear friends Dick and Lisa Norris helped us with last minute preparations. They picked us up from the airport, fed and housed us, drove us to the Gresham Bike Shop where we'd had our bikes shipped from the Salisbury (MD) Bike Shop, comforted us when we whined about the rain, turned us onto an evening of fantastic acoustic music by the Portland guitar duo, "Tim and Jim", and finally drove us to the coast. We spent the weekend with them at Neskowin, OR, our point of departure, where we had ocean views from our lodge (below,left) and watched dolphins, seals, and seabirds. We dipped our back wheels in the Pacific and smooched like we did on our honeymoon. Lisa and Dick smooched too, before heading back to Portland.

start ride

Day 1: Oregon; May 24

Day 1: Neskowin, OR to Monmouth, OR over the Coast Range. Miles: 60, Elevation Gain: 2,660 feet. The overlook at Basket Slough National Wildlife Refuge (below, left) was a nice rest stop after the ups and downs of the Coast Range.

Day 1: Oregon

Day 2: Oregon; May 25

Monmouth, OR to Harrisburg, OR. Miles: 45. Elevation Gain: 935 feet. Willamette Valley was wet and beautiful. Filled with farms, nurseries, flowers and clouds. Corvallis even has live flowers planted in its park trash cans! We passed another National Wildlife Refuge near Corvallis: Finley NWR. Even though we left our good friends a day ago, we are getting reaquainted with our western feathered friends: it's been delightful hearing (and remembering!) the songs of winter wren, Townsend's warbler, lazuli bunting, black-headed grosbeak, and western wood peewee. Cummlative Milage: 105 miles, Cummlative Elevation Gain: 3,595 feet.


Day 2: Oregon

Day 3 Oregon; May 26

Monmouth OR to Vida. Miles: 44. Elevation Gain: 866 Feet. Don’t strain your eyes trying to find Vida on a map. It’s a wide place in the road, just after the white covered bridge. But it’s big enough to have an Inn with four rooms above a restaurant that serves delicious dinners. After Eugene, we began climbing out of the Willamette Valley,  following the lovely McKenzie River as it wound past farms and finally into the foothills of the Cascades. All the trees were covered in moss, which means it rains a lot, and weather predictions called for rain all day. But a patch of blue sky followed us until the last 10 miles when the rain finally caught us. During the worst downpour, we took refuge under the eaves of a Veterinary Clinic. The receptionist invited us in and served us cookies and jokes. We thought about renting a kennel for the night, the place gave us such a warm, fuzzy feeling. But we had reservations in Vida, where we arrived soaking wet. We unpacked our panniers and hung them up to dry; even though they were 20 years old, they’d done a good job keeping our gear dry.


Day 4 & 5

Day 4 & 5 Orgeon; May 27-28

Day 4: Vida to Clear Lake. Miles: 45. Elevation Gain: 2811 feet.

Day 5: Clear Lake to Sisters. Miles: 34. Elevation Gain: 2293 feet. It took us two days to cross the Cascades.

The flashing road condition sign warning of snow at the beginning of the climb turned out to be greatly exaggerated. The mist-filled air dripped songs of hermit warblers and varied thrush, but little precipitation fell on us. Our slow pace (4-5 mph on the 5-6% grades) gave us plenty of time to appreciate the flowering Pacific dogwoods, Dutchman’s britches, and other wildflowers.   How the heck did Clyde almost manage to run over a Western gray squirrel at that speed? Temperatures in the low 40s and a brisk wind (from the west; yeah!) at the summit made us put on all our warm clothes for the long downhill ride into Sisters. After the “no frills” accommodations of the past two nights, we splurged on a nice motel. Our room overlooks bird feeders, so we added Pinyon Jay, Pygmy Nuthatch and Red Crossbill to our Oregon bird list.


Day 4 & 5

Day 6 Oregon; May 29

Sisters to Prineville, OR. Miles: 41. Elevation Gain: 1131 feet.

Day 6: Don’t you just LOVE the East Side??? We do!!!  East of the rainy Cascades we found sun, beautiful vistas (like the one below of the “Three Sisters” – 3 Mountains from which Sisters, OR draws its name), and species that reminded us of eastern California. Nothing says “eastern Oregon” (or California) like the juniper, ponderosa pine, sagebrush, ash-throated flycatchers, black-billed magpies, and sage thrashers that were our companions for the 41 mile ride through flat and gently rolling plains between Sisters and Prineville.  Before leaving Sisters, two new friends – Natalie and Maren – helped Joelle put on her reflective safety vest. Maybe the next generation of X-country cyclists?  Prineville, a classic western town that hugs the long and narrow Main Street, is in the geographic center of Oregon.


Day 6

Day 7 Oregon; May 30th

Prineville to Mitchell.  47 miles; 2387 elevation gain.

After Week 1, we have ridden a total of 316 miles and climbed 13,083 feet

Western Kingbird and Golden Eagle tied for the 101st spot on number of bird species we’ve seen in Oregon so far. Western Meadowlarks belted out encouragement as we made the 30-mile climb through the Ochoco Mountains. The grade was gentle and when the slight head wind we’d bucked for the first 10 miles turned to a tail wind, the climb along meadows and babbling streams became most enjoyable. The 15-mile ride down (whoopeeeeee!!) led us to a landscape more dominated by rock and canyon features – and a singing canyon wren voiced his approval. In Mitchell we stayed in the Historic Oregon Hotel, where the manager’s kids “helped” us update our web-site in the parlor. 


Day 7

Day 8 Oregon; May 31

Mitchell to Dayville, OR. 42 Miles; 1946 foot elevation gain.

A steep 7-mile uphill climb of almost 2,000 feet right after breakfast was rewarded by over 20 miles of gentle downhill through stunning and colorful rock formations. We followed the John Day River, which seems to be a migration corridor for Western Tanagers; they were everywhere! For our non-birding friends who wonder what a W. Tanager looks like, males are yellow with orange heads, resembling Joelle’s rain outfit: yellow rain jacket and red helmet  (see Day 2). We added a bunch of mammals, to our list (albeit extinct) during our stop at the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument Visitor Center, including bear-dogs, saber-tooth tigers, gomphotheres rhinos, and oreodontes. The latter are related to camels, not oreo cookies.


Day 8

Day 9 & 10 Oregon; June 1 & 2

Dayville to Prairie City, OR. 43 Miles; 1502 feet elevation gain on June 1. Layover day on June 2.

June 1st was our 20th Wedding Anniversary, but we woke up ready to ride, and exchanged gifts that we didn’t have to carry. Clyde fixed Joelle’s flat tire, bad brakes and carried her sleeping bag all day, knocking 5 lbs off the weight she has been carrying. In case you are wondering, Joelle’s gear weighed 40 lbs. and Clyde’s weighed 45 lbs. when we left the coast. We bypassed the camping option at Clyde’s namesake State Park, opting instead for beautifully renovated rooms at the Historic Prairie City Hotel. It is a special place to spend our anniversary and for Joelle to give Clyde his gift of a massage. We were lucky to have such a nice place and a town full of friendly people to pass our layover day (June 2) waiting for the rain to stop.


Featured pictures

Day 11 Oregon; June 3

Prairie City to Sumpter, OR. 44 miles; 4,078 feet elevation gain.

After a one-day rest, and fueled by a yummy pancake breakfast at Chuck’s Diner where we’d become regulars after eating 3 meals there, we were ready to attack our highest elevation gain for the trip so far: 4,000 feet up and over three passes. We congratulated ourselves on waiting for the rain to stop, making it possible to enjoy good views of the snow-covered Blue Mountains.  We stayed in Sumpter, a 3-mile detour from the TransAm route, to see the impressive restored gold dredge, now a State Park. The dredge, built at a cost of $350,000 in the 1930s, stripped away over 6 miles of tailings with 72, one-ton buckets that rotated on the dredge’s bow like a chainsaw blade. The landscape it left behind reminded us of the huge rock piles we used to see along the Yuba River in CA. The dredge produced $4.5 million of gold when it was worth $35/ounce.


Day 11

Day 12 Oregon; June 4

Sumpter to Baker City, OR. 39 Miles; 305 feet elevation gain.

Last month was Oregon’s 3rd wettest May in history, and it’s rained every day since. This morning was no exception, so we had to fit our short, mostly downhill ride to Baker City in between showers. During a rare moment of sun, Clyde adds Sandhill Crane and White Pelican to our bird list at Phillips Lake in the photo below. Unfortunately, it made us think of those poor Brown Pelicans getting oiled in the Gulf’s BP spill.  The short riding day gave us time to do laundry, buy groceries, get Joelle's bike tires rotated at a bike shop, and learn how to bathe a ferret. The lobby of tonight’s Oregon Trail Motel has two large cages housing an iguana and a pair of ferrets, respectively.The object in the lower right photo below that looks like a wet rag is the female ferret getting shampooed with “Ferret Sheen” (per the bottle’s label). After the bath, the ferrets rolled and rubbed themselves dry on a towel and then curled up together for a nap.


Page 12

Day 13 Oregon; June 5

Baker City to Halfway, OR. 55 Miles; 2713 feet elevation gain.

The day began following the historic Oregon Trail through gently rolling sagebrush plains (below left). For most of the morning our route paralleled the Powder River, the landscape alternating between lush meadow valleys and narrow, rocky canyons rimmed with wildflowers (below middle). The Powder R. and most of its tributaries were running high, furious, and brown due to days of unusually high rainfall. Flash flood warnings had been issued, so we consulted local experts before riding through Eagle Creek, which stood between us and lunch (below, middle).  Breathtaking views from the pass at the top of our final climb (below, right) had yellow flowered bitterbrush (good deer food) and snow-covered peaks in the background. It was our finest day of riding so far. Was it because this was our first day of sun, or just the beautiful scenery?

 

 


Day 13

Day 14 Oregon/Idaho; June 6

Halfway, OR to Cambridge, ID. 57 miles; 3090 feet elevation gain.

We crossed the Snake River, which is also the Idaho border, and shortly thereafter we were christened by a rain shower - it made us think we were still in rainy Oregon. Being creative cyclists, we found a parked backhoe to hide under from the storm.

 

Oregon Totals over 13.5 days of riding: Miles = 555; Elevation Gain = 24,160 feet; Bird Species Seen = 143; Days with Rain = 12.


Day 14

Day 15 Idaho; June 7

Cambridge to New Meadows, ID. 47 Miles; 2545 feet elevation gain.

Today proved the (paraphrased) adage: April and May showers bring tons of flowers, like these yellow mule's ears and other wildflowers that blanketed our route today (below, left). This part of Idaho is ranching and logging country (timber mill, middle). For the past week we've been leap-frogging tandem riders from Salem, OR – John and Shanna (below, right). We enjoy short conversations whenever we run into them, like today in Council, comparing notes on our trips. While we are staying in motels and eating in cafes, they are traveling to Maine at a fraction of the cost by free camping and cooking for themselves.


Day 15

Day 16 Idaho; June 8

New Meadows to White Bird, ID. 64 Miles; 805 feet elevation gain. 

We’ve been traveling north for a few days and this morning crossed the 45th Parallel, where a sign informed us that up until today we’d been riding closer to the Equator than to the North Pole (below, left). When the early morning fog cleared, we found ourselves riding down a beautiful piney canyon next to the roaring and roiling Little Salmon River; May and June showers also bring lots of waterfalls (below, middle). After lunch in Riggins, the historic site where our 2004 road trip came to an abrupt end when our VW van’s engine was pronounced dead, our route followed the scenic rocky gorge formed by the Salmon River (below, right). Despite being closer to the North Pole now, this was our hottest (and longest) riding day so far, with temperatures in the 80s and no rain.


Day 16

Day 17 Idaho; June 9

White Bird to Grangeville, ID. 22 Miles; 2830 feet elevation gain.

See if you can pick out Joelle in the left photo below, as she “races” the approaching storm uphill. Despite a brisk 4.5 mph average speed up 12 miles of switchbacks, we reachd the top before the rain.  Just.  As we were donning our jackets and Lycra tights for the long ride down, we heard thunder and felt the first drops. Ten downhill miles later at our “lunch stop”, Joelle warms herself by the open mesquite grill (below, middle), while our rain jackets dry in the foreground and her riding tights dry in the restaurant’s clothes dryer.  Meanwhile, Clyde begs another cycling group from Las Vegas to let him join their group because he prefers their traveling style: While Paul and Dan ride bikes, Dan’s wife drives SAG, hauling their gear and scoping out the best places to eat. Luckily, we followed them to Ernie’s Steakhouse! With such over-the-top customer service, we decided to stay at the Grangeville Super 8 (rated tops in the country) overnight. Don’t know where Grangeville is? You should! It’s the County seat for Idaho Co., which is larger than the 5 eastern states of RI, DE, CT, NJ, and MASS, combined!


Day 17

Day 18 Idaho; June 10

Grangeville to Lowell, ID. 50 Miles; 735 feet elevation gain.

Grangeville is perched on a high prairie, so early in the day we had a steep, winding 10-mile descent to the Clearwater River, which we followed most of the day (below, left). The Clearwater did its best to live up to its name, despite the swollen, muddy creeks pouring into it, some pouring over the road (below, right). We’re getting better at timing our daily rides so that we are passing by cafes or other shelters when the rain showers hit. Even though this café (bottom, middle) was closed, they graciously let us pull up a chair under the eaves and tap into their WIFI. This part of our route follows the historic Nez Perce and Lewis and Clark Trails; it also seems to be a major movement corridor for RVs, trucks, motorcycles, western tanagers, and other birds. 


Day 18

Day 19 Idaho; June 11

Lowell, ID to Lochsa Lodge. 70 Miles; 1790 feet elevation gain.

The beautiful climb along the Lochsa, a Wild and Scenic River, is essentially unchanged from when Lewis and Clark passed through (below, right). When Joelle and Clyde came up the Lolo Trail 204 years to the date later, like Lewis and Clark, they ran into several showers of rain, each lasting about an hour (below, left). At least it didn't hail! But like L & C, we had our hardships: Joelle had a flat 6 miles short of our destination, her bike pump wouldn't work, and the patches wouldn't stick to the tube in the wet weather. Also like L & C, we had to rely on the natives to survive: A local family in their pick-up truck gave Joelle and her bike a lift to a gas station with an air compressor, and we warmed up and filled our stomachs with a delicious dinner at the Lodge before retiring to our tent. Its our first camp-out on the trip!


Day 19

Day 20 & 21; June 12 & 13

Lochsa Lodge, ID to Missoula, MT with an overnight in Lolo, MT. 61 Miles; 2185 Elevation Gain

After a 13-mile climb we crossed the border into Montana, our 3rd state, and computed the

Idaho Statistics over 6 days of riding Miles=293; Elevation Gain 13,143 feet; Bird Species Seen=100; Days with Rain= 4

The birds obey a different boundary system, and throughout Idaho we were intrigued to see an intermix of what we think of as traditional "western" with "eastern" species. For example: varied thrush and gray catbirds singing from the same patch of forest; western kingbirds and eastern kingbirds playing leapfrog on a fenceline; cinammon teal and blue-winged teal swimming together in a little pond. Montana is Big Sky and Big Elk country (below, middle).

No matter how adventurous we imagine ourselves, there's always someone bolder or older to make us humble. Ann Wilson (below, right) from England falls into the bolder category. Ann is 11 months and over 7,000 miles into a 'round the world cycling adventure and it was fascinating to hear her stories as we crossed paths throughout these two days up and over Lolo Pass. Read more of her adventures at http://crazyguyonabike.com/doc/annsbikeride


Day 20 & 21

June 14-17: Missoula, MT Layover

Lewis and Clark found Traveler’s Rest, about 10 miles south of Missoula, a good place to spend 4 days recovering from their mountain crossing and preparing for the next leg of their journey (below, left). Likewise, we are spending 4 days in Missoula enjoying the SUN, checking over our equipment, doing domestic chores, catching up on journaling, and waiting for our friend Ken Wild to arrive. L & C had a similar view of Lolo Peak from their camp as we do from our kitchenette motel (below, right), although the ongoing archaeological dig has yet to find evidence of a swimming pool.

Statistics after 3 weeks of riding, and about 1/4 of the ride completed: Miles = 900; Elevation Gain = 37,607 feet.  


June 14-17

June 18-20th: Change in Plans!

Joelle's mother was hospitalized earlier this week in Chicago. Joelle has flown to be with her and Clyde has remained with the bikes in Missoula. It seems that her mother is making a strong recovery and may be able to go home before the end of June.  In anticipation of a rapid and full recovery by Mom, Joelle and I plan on resuming the cross country bike ride on June 28th.  In the mean time, Clyde is enjoying the beautiful natural areas within bike riding distance of Missoula.

 

Friend Ken Wild from the state of Washington was planning on joining us in Missoula for the rest of the ride to Virginia. With our change of plans, Ken is coming to Missoula anyway arriving June 20th to start the cross country ride ahead of us. If the rain gods cooperate (not looking too good right now), Clyde will ride with Ken for a couple of days toward Yellowstone National Park and then return to Missoula awaiting Joelle's return. We will keep you posted.


June 21, Missoula, MT

Joelle's Mom is making real progress towards recovery. She has been moved to a rehab unit and seems to be thier Allstar. Joelle is seeing her improve every day. We are hopeful that she will be home soon and we will resume our ride on June 28th.

 

In the mean time, Ken Wild has been delivered by his kind in-laws, Dianne & Gay Engelson from the state of Washington. We are all set to ride but, you guessed it, it is another day of rain. We are spending it getting Ken's biking gear organized and visiting Adventure Cycling's office. Adventure Cycling is the non-profit that promotes bicycle touring and supplied the bike maps for our trip. If you visit their office on your bike tour, they take your photo and offer you a free ice cream. The office is filled with photos and stories of adventurous cyclist biking around the world.

 


June 21

June 22-24, Bitterroot Valley, MT

Joelle's Mom continues to be the star pupil of her Rehab Unit in Chicago so we are still on schedule to restart our cross-country ride next Monday.

In the mean time, Ken and I started his ride east. We rode three days toward Yellowstone National Park. One day to Hamilton, one to Sula and half a day to the top of Chief Joseph Pass. From the Pass, Ken continued toward the Park and I returned north to meet Joelle in Missoula.  It was a beautiful ride through the Bitterroot Valley following the Lewis & Clark Trail and admiring Big Horn Sheep. It was the first time since the trip started that we had two days in a row without rain! Ken must be our lucky no-rain charm. It was very sad to see Ken head east without us though we hope to catch up with him soon.


Bitterroot 1

June 25, Lee Metcalf NWR

Joelle's Mom passed all the test the Rehabers threw at her so she is back home. Our cat is very happy to see Mom as further evidence that she has fallen in love with Mom since we left her under Mom's care at the start of this trip. Joelle is scheduled to fly back Monday for the restart of our cross country bike ride.

I stopped by the Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge on my way back to Missoula. A fine Refuge with dedicated staff and plenty of wildlife including White-tailed Deer and turtles. There was no vacancies in the nearby town and a mean thunder storm was brewing. I cycled into Lolo to get the last room in that town before the rain hit: 67 miles for the day even though I took most of the afternoon off at the Refuge!


June 25, Lee Metcalf NWR

Riding Days 21-23 Montana; June 28-30: The Journey Continues

Missoula - Jackson, MT. 143 Miles and 5350 Elevation Gain (over 2-1/2 days).

With Joelle's Mom almost fully recovered, Joelle flew back to Missoula on June 28, re-packed her panniers, and we resumed our cross country bike ride together later that day. We spent the night at a historic B&B (below, left), that was a gorgeously restored hospital, ironic since Joelle had spent most of the last 2 weeks with her mom in a real hospital.  We re-traced Clyde and Ken's tire tracks through the beautiful Bitterroot Valley,with its conservative Libertarian leanings and admonishments to "preserve your right" (you can fill in the blank). After climbing the 7,000+ foot Lost Trail & Chief Joseph Passes on June 30, Joelle realized just how much Clyde loved her to do it twice! (Or was it Ken he loved?) Big Hole Valley, on the other side of the passes, is full of wildflowers and Big Sky sunsets (below middle and right). A bumper crop of mosquitos has hatched in the warm, dry weather that followed the months of rain - we're using the "bug defense" as our current excuse for not camping. 


Days 26-28

jackson

Riding Day 24 Montana; July 1

Jackson - Dillon, MT. 48 Miles and 1925 Elevation Gain

Today was a killer, even though it started out gently enough with momma robin sitting on her nest outside our cabin window (below left). The problem was the 20 mph head wind, which seemed determined to delay our stay in the beautiful Big Hole Valley (below middle) as we fought our way up the first 7,200' high pass. Foregoing our usual pancake had left us low on energy for hill climbing. We got a picture of the horses in the meadow where we had lunch, but weren't quick enough on the draw to snap the unusual silvery-black-colored "Red Fox" (species) that sauntered across the road. At the top of the 2nd 6,850' high pass, friendly Californians Dan and Gail stop and save Joelle's life by offering her a soda and a snack, while Clyde opts for the beer (below right). OK, slight exageration - but they probably did save her from an embarassing whining meltdown. Note to self: don't skip the pancake breakfast before a major hill climb.


Day 25

Riding Day 25 Montana; July 2

Dillon to Virginia City, MT. 60 miles and 1900 feet elevation gain.

Today was a breeze. We were pancake powered (below middle; don’t worry, Joelle shared breakfast with Clyde) and aided by a tail wind that followed us no matter which direction we went. We made a birding stop (below left) at a restored wetland below Beaverhead Rock (below right), which lends its name to the valley. The Rock held significance for the Shoshone tribe, whose most famous member Sacajawea used it as a landmark to guide Lewis and Clark.  After lunch, we finally veered off the L&C trail and rode uphill to Virginia City, a historic mining town with lots of national landmark buildings to stroll past before retiring to our campsite.


Riding days 26-27

Riding Day 26 Montana; July 3

Virginia City to Madison River, MT. 51 Miles and 2520 Elevation Gain.

Today started on a high note and just kept getting better. The nice man in the RV camped next to our little tent gave us 2 steaming cups of coffee, saving us from yesterday's worst fear of camping: having to climb the steep pass out of Virginia City without coffee. We don't carry a stove and the restaurants were all downhill in the wrong direction. After several days without AT&T cell phone service, Joelle reconnects with family and friends at the top of the Pass, and admires the view (below left) of the Madison River Valley. This Valley, which we followed for most of the day (below right), is ranching country. Some of the ranches are so isolated that the only signs of them are mailboxes at the end of a dirt road (below middle). Text messages sent from the Pass allowed our good friends from California, Henry and Glenda Corning, to find us at our campsite along the Madison River. We enjoyed a wonderful buffalo steak dinner, breakfast the next morning, and got to meet their new German wirehair puppy, which they picked up in MT (bottom row).


Featured pictures

Corning

Riding Days 27-28 MONTANA & WYOMING; July 4 & 5

Madison River, MT to Yellowstone National Park, WY. 88 Miles and 4,350 feet elevation gain.

Signs, signs, everywhere signs (first row, below). Today we crossed into Yellowstone NP and a few miles later entered Wyoming. During two days riding through Yellowstone, we crossed and re-crossed the Continental Divide so many times; we’re not sure anymore which direction we’re flowing.  We camped in the Park July 4th and 5th so we missed fireworks, but caught the Independence Day parade in West Yellowstone (lower row, left) before entering the land of thermal features and bison (lower row, middle). Clyde in his “waiting for Joelle ---again” pose in front of Heart Lake (lower row, right). We canoed this lake in the mid-80s, with Clyde shouting, “paddle faster”! Today he reminded me to, “pedal faster”!

MONTANA STATISTICS over 8 RIDING DAYS (does not include Clyde's ~250 Missoula layover miles) Miles = 390; Elevation Gain = 13, 418 feet; Bird Species = 127

 


days 28-29

Parade

Riding Days 29-30 WYOMING, July 6 & 7

Yellowstone NP to Grand Teton NP to Dubois, Wyoming. 99 Miles and 4345 feet Elevation Gain.

On July 6 we finally caught up with riding companion Ken Wild, who had been waiting for us in the Coulter Bay, Teton National Park campground – hiking and finding the best places to pitch a tent, do laundry, and eat. We immediately started planning the next phase of our trip through windy Wyoming (below, left).  With the Tetons over our shoulders (below, middle), the next day we climbed the second highest pass of our trip – Togwotee (9,658 feet), and (you guessed it) – we crossed the Continental Divide again!  Even though it was sunny and scenic, July 7 was one of our most challenging days. After 25 miles of well-graded but unrelenting uphill, we were robbed of our anticipated downhill by a stiff headwind into the painted desert-like hill country of Dubois (lower, right).  Six miles of the pass were under construction and unpassable to bikes. So, we had to hitch a ride with our bikes on a truck through the construction and over the pass. With the stiff head winds we would not have made it to Dubois without the truck's help. 


riding days 30-31

Riding Day 31 Wyoming; July 8

Dillon to Fort Washakie, WY. 67 Miles and 1510 feet Elevation Gain.

Today’s ride, with lots of low rolling hills, was generally downhill, and with the only a light wind it really felt like we were going downhill. We passed through stunning red rock canyons (below, left) that reminded us of southern Utah.  Eventually we climbed up on the sagebrush plains where we saw lots of pronghorn; none were close enough to the road to photograph, but Clyde managed to snap one of this elk made of antlers (below, middle). It’s an interesting art form that makes use of the local natural resources. For almost the entire day we rode through the Wind River Indian Reservation. Sacajawea is buried in Fort Washakie, which is where we camped for the night (below, right).  


Riding days 32-33

Riding Day 32 Wyoming; July 9

Ft. Washakie to Twin Pines Campground (outside Lander). 19 Miles and 655 feet Elevation Gain.

By morning we felt like family to Louann and Joe, the owners of the Ray’s Lake Campground where we spent the night. Louann (hugging Clyde in the below, left picture) cooked us a wonderful dinner of Indian tacos last night and this morning did an encore with sourdough pancakes and steel-cut oatmeal. It was only 10 miles to Lander, and only 10 miles beyond Lander to our intended stop for the night. We had planned such a short riding day to give ourselves some time in the “big city” of Lander to shop….. You know, for things like groceries, a replacement ground cloth, batteries…. So how the heck did Joelle end up with a brand new Surly touring bike?????? She walked into the Gannett Peak bike shop to get some work done on her 25+ year old Fugi touring bike’s gears and brakes, and practically tripped over this “Long Haul Trucker”, which just happened to fit her perfectly (below, right). Clyde’s happy too, because now his wallet is a lot lighter, and having less weight to carry is really important on a long distance tour!


bike

Riding Day 33 Wyoming; July 10

Twin Pines Campground to Jeffrey City, WY. 51 Miles and 2,075 feet Elevation Gain.

The nearest cafe in the direction we were heading was 50 miles away, so breakfast was dry granola and a banana. We were saved from a coffee-less morning by our camping neighbor, Brian Brown from New Zealand. He fired up his "Billy" and made us a great french press coffee (below, middle). Wide open spaces filled with sagebrush and far-off Wind River Mountains filled our views. We learned from an interpretive sign that the Wind Rivers have 53 peaks over 13,000 feet high. How is that possible? Traffic was light so Ken and Clyde had time to push this young rattlesnake off the road (below, right). Today was easier than most, in spite of the elevation gain. Joelle was too preoccupied with her new bike to notice the hills. Also, we were blown the last 20 miles to our destination by a 20 mph tail wind - advancing before the storm front - (below, left). We made it to the Cafe for a delicious bowl of chile and a beer minutes before the rain hit.


Riding Day 34

Riding Day 34 Wyoming; July 11

Jeffrey City to Rawlins, WY. 70 Miles and 1,853 feet Elevation Gain.

After a night in Jeffrey City, a town that has been abandoned by almost all living things except the mosquitoes, we enjoyed it more through the view in our rear-view mirrors (below,left). Ken poses with the 'real McCoy' grandma of Grandma's Cafe at our halfway lunchstop; Ken's on his best behavior to ensure he doesn't end up in the white jar containing "Ashes of Problem Customers" (below, middle). Pleasures of cycling include noticing the subtle roadside beauties, such as wildflowers (lower row) and a male pronghorn guarding his territory (below, middle). Displeasures of cyclying include headwinds. When the US and WY flags began flapping like crazy (lower, right), we knew we had a tough remaining 6 miles into Rawlins. 


Riding day 35

Riding day 35 a

Rawlins, Wyoming Layover; July 12

After pouring over weather forecasts on the web, we decided to give the predicted 25 mph winds (gusting to !50 mph!) a day to abate. While Clyde puttered around the motel room, Ken and Joelle hit the bars - taking a guided tour of the historic Wyoming State Penitentiary (below, top row). This Frontier Prison housed inmates from 1901 until 1981 in tiny cells (lower row, left). Fourteen prisoneers were executed: nine hung in the custom-made Julian Gallows and six dispatched with cyanide in the gas chamber (lower row, right).


Rawlins

Rawlins prison

Riding Day 35 Wyoming; July 13

Rawlins to Riverside, WY. 60 Miles and 1,847 Elevation Gain.

For the past few days, including today, we’ve been in Carbon County, a name no doubt inspired by the oil and gas development here. We passed by this Sinclair Gas Refinery (below, left) early in the day and the steel and chrome complex looked surrealistically pretty in the morning light. A female pronghorn with her twin youngin’s made the scene even more bizarre. Carbon Co. has the highest density of pronghorn anywhere, and it’s their county mascot –pronghorn silhouettes decorate signs and public buildings, and life size, colorfully painted pronghorn are popular lawn ornaments in Rawlins. We stopped for lunch at this lovely picnic spot along the North Platte River in the small town of Saratoga (below, right), which looked nothing like Saratoga, CA where Clyde grew up. In case you’re wondering what we chow down on, the middle photo below shows a typical picnic lunch: tuna fish on bagel, baby carrots, and potato salad. The latter is a special recipe made with a leftover baked potato from yesterday’s dinner, a hard-boiled egg from the motel’s breakfast bar, and an Italian salad dressing packette.


Riding day 36

Riding Day 36 Wyoming & Colorado; July 14

Riverside WY to Walden, CO. 53 Miles and 2,575 feet Elevation Gain

We began our day at the Bear Trap Café in the pretty little town of Riverside, where we ate breakfast underneath a giant grizzly bear trap as tall as Clyde. The pancakes and a tailwind powered us up to the pass at the Colorado State Line, where there was an impromptu cyclist’s reunion (below, left). We were enjoying our picnic lunch under the shade of the “Welcome to Colorado” sign, when Jim and Cathy (a couple around our age from So. CAL who we hadn’t seen for weeks) arrived. Next to pull up were the two sweet 20-something lads we’d been calling “the young studs” for days- whose real names are Ted and Davis. Mary and Dermot from Ireland followed shortly, barely squeezing into the shade. It was fun to catch up on the TransAm gossip. The more Ken and Clyde ride together, the more they look alike (below, middle). Ranching is the main land use; the irrigated valleys produce a lot of hay (below, right); Also visible in the photo, if you look close at the mountains in the background, are a lot of dead trees. Mountain pine beetle have killed off huge swaths of lodgepole pine in this part of Colorado, and we were passed by a lot of logging trucks working at salvaging the timber.  Walden, Colorado has beautiful sunsets (below, right) and is a town we’d like to return so we can visit the nearby Arapaho National Wildlife Refuge. We ended our day with dinner at the Moose Creek Café.

WYOMING STATISTICS over 9 Riding Days: Miles = 445; Elevation Gain = 16,871 feet; Bird Species = 107; # of Continental Divide Crossings = 6.


Riding Day 37

Riding Day 37 Colorado; July 15

Walden to Kremmling, CO. 62 Miles and 2,083 Elevation Gain.

Ken found a route off the Adventure Cycling map, which we followed, taking us over a much lower pass and saving us miles (below, right). Since we were off the TransAm route, we didn't see any cyclists on the way. But we did see plenty of wildlife including a nest of Swainson's Hawks, White-tailed prairie dogs which alerted us with their high-pitched squeals, and Sandhill Cranes (below, left). Taking the road less traveled also took us past Rabbit Ear's Pass (background in photo below, middle), which Joelle tries to pantomime.


Riding Day 38

Riding Day 38 Colorado; July 16

Kremmling to Breckenridge, CO: 55 Miles and 3,067 feet Elevation Gain

Getting up and on the road early, we see wildlife when they are most active; Like this bull elk courting a motorboat (below, left). Good thing their offspring are infertile - otherwise we'd be in trouble when those pick-up trucks towing big boat trailers pass us on the narrow winding roads! The pink hotel behind the elk antlers is where we stayed last night - in a simple room with a shared bath for $25. Luckily, we were able to avoid the heavy tourist traffic between the popular mountain towns of Dillon and Breckenridge on a nice bike path through the aspens and meadows (below, middle). Riding 25-year old "retro bikes" allows us to contribute significantly to the economy of small towns; we patronize many bike shops. In the below, right photo, Scott and Mike at Pioneer Sports in Frisco replace Ken's rim, allowing us to continue on to our upscale accomodations at the Beaver Run Resort. We called the resort shuttle to pick us and our bikes from the market in downtown Breckenridge because after our 12-hour day we were too tuckered to ride up an extra hill. We were grateful for this and the hot tub!


Day 39

Riding Day 39 Colorado; July 17

Breckenridge to Fairplay, CO: 23 Miles and 1,900 feet Elevation Gain.

Since we had stayed last night at 9,700 feet, we had “only” a 10 mile climb to the 11,542 foot Hoosier Pass. With frequent rest breaks at this altitude, we had plenty of time to admire the views of even higher peaks; McCullough Peak is one of over 50 peaks that exceed 14,000 feet elevation in this part of Colorado (below, left). At the top of the pass we met Mike and Stephanie, who had left Yorktown, VA (our destination) heading west on the exact same day (May 24) that we left Neskowin, OR heading east.  (below, middle). This area of Colorado is the fly fishing capital of the world, so we had to include a photo for Clyde’s fishing family members. We’re getting so good at sneaking up to wildlife that Clyde was able to photograph this porcupine without waking it up (below, right). We missed Fairplay’s “Burro Days” by one week, so we’re making a mental note to return someday during the last weekend in July because it sounds like great fun.


Day 40

Riding Day 40 Colorado; July 18th

Fairplay to Royal Gorge, CO. 68 Miles and 1,780 feet Elevation Gain.

As one of our Guest Book entrants promised, the ride between Fairplay and Canon City took our breath away. We descended from 10,000 to 6,000 feet, with a small climb up a 9,400' pass mid-way; it seemed like the minor leagues after Hoosier Pass. The big difference in elevation meant we started the day in piney forest and ended in pinon-juniper woodland, with the Rocky Mountains receding in the distance (below, left). Traffic was light and we counted more mountain bluebirds than cars. We hit the bicycler's homerun (downhill, tail winds, lovely scenery and good food) with a brunch stop at Dorothy's (below, right), voted  the best homemade tamales in the state. 


Day 41

Riding Day 41 Colorado; July 19

Canon City to Pueblo, CO. 61 Miles and 1,795 feet Elevation Gain.

Today's ride also took our breath away .... but not in a good way. Headwinds, temperatures above 100 degrees, and a late start because of Joelle's train ride (below, right) were ingredients for our hardest day so far; we guzzled gallons of ice water (below, middle) just to survive. The morning started out pleasantly enough at our "wilderness" KOA camp site (below, left), where we thought fondly of our blog followers looking up at the same stars -as a couple Guest Book subscribers have suggested. The 2-hour Royal Gorge train ride was the best train trip in Joelle's memory (lower row). The scenery was stunning and the towering rock walls made the Royal Gorge Bridge - the highest suspension bridge in the world - look teeny. I marveled at rafters shooting the Class III rapids, and at the disintegrating wooden aqueduct that paralleled the canyon's entire length. Who could have built the rock abutments, blasted the tunnels through rock walls, carried all the wood and metal bands through this rugged country ..... and why? ANSWER = Prison labor in the early 1900's, for Canon City's water supply..... Makes one appreciate that glass of ice water even more!  


Day 42

Day 42a

Layover Day Pueblo, CO; July 20

After yesterday's grueling bike ride, a day of sleeping in and ignoring the bikes is just what we needed. I'm sure that Pueblo has lots of attractions to offer tourists, but we found everything we needed within the confines of the reasonably priced Guesthouse Inn and Suites. For $50 a night we had a large enough room for 3 people and 3 bikes, WIFI, continental breakfast, and FREE guest laundry. Oh yeah, and a pool where Ken played "Where's Waldo." Give up? He's the only kid in the pool that's under 12 and not a mother. There was a great Japanese restaurant next door, a Mexican cantina down the street, and Wendy's on the corner. So we tanked up on all the ethnic and chain restaurant food we'll be missing on the Colorado and Kansas prairies coming up.

Pueblo was a milestone: It's the halfway point on the TransAm route, and time to do some Statistics after 42 days of riding: Miles = 1,978; Elevation Gain = 79,142 feet; Bird Species = 204; # of Continental Divide crossings = 9


Pueblo

Riding Day 42 Colorado; July 21

Pueblo to Ordway, CO. 51 Miles and 314 feet Elevation Gain.

We are in the flat lands now, and this is the first day of the tour that we weren't inspired to take a picture of the scenery. Maybe because our eyes were focused on our odometer to make sure we were awake  when we passed the milestone 2,000 mile mark (below, left - you'll also note it was 95 degrees at 11:31 am and our average speed is 11 mph). What eastern Colorado lacks in scenic views, it makes up for in hospitality.The Counties and Communities along the 140 miles of the TransAmerica Bicycle Trail in SE Colorado have come together to create the "Prairie Horizons Trail" (PHT). Upon entering the first community, we received a colorful and helpful brochure (below, middle) with a map, some history, and list of ammenities and services available in each small town. The PHT vision is to create a welcoming atmosphere and make this part of the TransAm Bike Trail the most memorable and enjoyable segment for riders. They are doing a great job - businesses have "Welcome Cyclists" signs in their windows, and logs to write comments. The historic Ordway Hotel offered beautifully decorated rooms (below, right) for a reasonable price, and welcomed us to their cheery lobby with large glasses of ice water (below, middle). We're feeling like mainstream America instead of some weird subculture here on the PHT!  


Riding day 43

Riding Day 43 Colorado; July 22

Ordway to Eads, CO. 64 Miles and 695 feet Elevation Gain.

If you've noticed that we haven't posted in a few days, don't worry, it isn't because we were blown away in a tornado ... although we came close! We got up while the night critters were still out and about (below, middle) and rode an hour before stopping for breakfast in an attempt to beat the heat. The grain elevator of Ordway fades in the distance behind Joelle, who amused herself by figuring out how many rail cars were parked on a 16-1/2 mile section of unused track (Answer = 1,000). The 100 degree temperatures caught us by noon, so we decided to nap on some nice shaded picnic tables. By the time we awoke and began pedaling the last 23 miles to Eads, dark clouds were quickly forming (below, right). Soon the lightening and thunder began behind us, and we were racing the storm to Eads. As we were trying to remember if the dark, ominous clouds approaching were the type that spell REALLY BAD STORM, we were stopped by the County Sheriff driving in the opposite direction. He he was going to investigate a tornado reported 6 miles behind us, and told us he'd come to pick us up if it was coming toward us. In the meantime, he advised us to pedal the remaining 5 miles to Eads as fast as we could. We did, and immediately went to the County Courthouse basement until the Tornado Warning was lifted. Later, the Sheriff told us the road where he had first stopped us was coated white with 1" hail. Another excuse not to camp! In our motel parking lot, we saw car roofs dented from the hail storm that just missed us!


Day 44

Riding Day 44 Colorado - Kansas; July 23

Eads, CO to Tribune, KS. 60 Miles and 364 feet Elevation Gain.

 We entered our sixth state, Kansas, where the state flower is the Sunflower (below, middle). The native shortgrass prairie of Western Kansas has mostly been converted to winter wheat, which is stored in these grain elevators. Entertainment during our picnic lunch was provided by this truck filling up with a load that will be taken to a cattle feedlot (below, left). The sub-culture of cross-country bike travel through Kansas involves camping at the City Parks of small farming towns, enjoying a swim in the adjacent pool, followed by a shower. Tribune's City Park had a nice gazebo where 4 other cyclists besides us gathered to share tips on eateries and other stories of the road before retiring to our tents (below, right). 

Colorado Statistics: 8 Riding Days; Miles= 453; Elevation Gain= 12,903 feet; Birds = 118


Riding day 45

Riding Day 45 Kansas; July 24

Tribune to Dighton, KS. 73 Miles and 200 feet Elevation Gain.

Only the three western counties of Kansas are on Mountain Time (bet 'cha didn't know that!), so shortly after leaving Tribune, we crossed another milestone and entered our third time zone -Central (below, left). We arrived at the Scott City festival just in time to chow down on some of the fresh, grilled corn that we had been riding through for miles. It was delicious and the carbo-loading allowed us to push on to our highest daily mileage so far. We camped in Dighton's City Park, where we were enjoying the beautiful sunset over the pool (below, middle), when Clyde realized he'd lost the key to the bike lock that cabled all three bikes together. So, we called the Sheriff on ourselves, hoping that he'd have bolt cutters. He didn't, but assured us that he'd find us "a redneck" (his words) with something to cut the cable off. It took 3 Sawsall blades, 2 cigarettes, and 20 minutes of hard work for this redneck cum savior to cut through our 25-year old Krypto bike cable (below, right)..... Another "retro" piece of equipment bites the dust.


Day 46

Riding Day 46 Kansas; July 25

Dighton to Bazine, KS. 44 Miles and 175 feet Elevation Gain.

Kansas is truely an interesting state once you get over the flatness. It really multi-tasks when it comes to energy production. Windmills spin on top of corn crops that are possibly used for ethanol production (below, left), and oil pumps are a common site in central Kansas (below, middle). Did you know that George Washington Carver homesteaded near Ness City (our lunch stop for today)? Not a surprise, since Kasatonions (a word I made up) are the most welcoming people we've met along the route. Elaine and Dan, who run the cyclist-only lodging called "Bicycle Oasis" where we spent the night in Bazine(below, right), epitomize hospitality. They let cyclists camp in their yard or stay in their house, use the washing machine and shower, and cook guests a heathy breakfast in the morning. Sometimes they serve dinner, but tonight they invited us to accompany them to a pot luck "pool party" at a neighbor's house 15 miles away. So we met even more friendly Kansas families while eating yummy homemade ice cream (below row), and Ken talked "shop" with a retired Kansas school teacher. After the party, Dan demonstrated his equipment for cutting and baling hay (below row).  


Day 47

Kansas farm

Riding Day 47; Kansas, July 26

July 26 Bazine to Larned, KS. 54 Miles and 440 feet Elevation Gain.

It’s a good thing that Ken’s motto is, “Pain is temporary; joy lasts forever,” because the less remembered about riding in the scorching heat and fighting 15-25 mph head winds, the better. We had a hard time finding shade, other than our shadows (below, center). We stopped at Fort Larned National Historic Site because we knew there would be a nifty NPS informational movie in a dark, cool, air conditioned visitor center. After we cooled off, it was interesting to wander around the restored barracks, hospital, and officer's quarters. The Fort was built in the 1860s to protect the Santa Fe Trail, a vital artery of commerce.


July 26

Riding Day 48; Kansas, July 27

July 27. Larned, KS to Quivara National Wildlife Refuge. 48 Miles and 100 feet Elevation Gain.

Spending some time at Quivara Refuge was a must if we are to have a chance of reaching our goal of seeing 100 bird species in Kansas; we’ve met this goal for every state so far, and don’t want to get skunked. Ken had another goal of buying a new pair of bike shoes (below, right), so he pushed on to a bike store in Hutchinson, riding over 70 miles today. Now whenever Ken wants to see Laura or his kids, he can close his eyes and click his heals together 3 times while chanting, “There’s no place like home;” He's keeping his Verizon plan as a back-up.  After birding on the Refuge, Joelle and Clyde stayed with Chuck and Bev, who provide “Cyclist Only” lodging in their house at the edge of Quivara NWR, which was built in 1890, and homesteaded by Chuck’s grandfather (Chuck and his favorite kitty, Chico in middle photo below).  It was fun staying with a Kansas family having a long connection to the land, and getting our own “kitty fix” (below, right).


July 27

Riding Day 49; Kansas, July 28

Quivara NWR to Newton, KS. 70 Miles and 330 feet Elevation Gain.

An early morning start, combined with the increasing frequency of trees as we enter eastern Kansas (below, left), made the 30 mile ride to Hutchinson, where we reunited with Ken, very pleasant. In fact, by the end of the day, we had forgiven Kansas its winds and heat because the atmosphere just seems to bring out the best in humanity. Take the Newton Fire Department, for example. We spent the night in the fire station because Captain Roger Perkins found us wandering around downtown at 7pm looking for a restaurant (below, middle). He invited us to stay at the fire station, drove us to a Chinese Restaurant, and later Battalion Chief Jerry picked us up from the restaurant and brought us back to our quarters for the night. We took showers, did our laundry, and checked e-mail before turning in on comfortable mats in the air conditioned “training room.”


July 28

Riding Day 50 Kansas; July 29

Newton to Eureka, KS. 76 Miles and 1,300 feet Elevation Gain.

Our route today took us through the Flint Hills; rolling hills covered with bluestem grasses. The topography may look flat in the below left photo, but our leg muscles knew there was a thousand-plus feet of climbing today. This rich tallgrass prairie is good for prairie chickens (we didn't see any) and for making hay. We learned today that rain is neither good for cyclists nor hay-making, if it falls between the time the hay is cut and when its baled because it will mold. Our friend Gina Barton, who is attending graduate school in Manhatten, KS, drove 2-1/2 hours to stay with us in Eureka. She brought us locally brewed Tallgrass Ale, cold watermelon, and female companionship for Joelle (below, right). Common nighthawks perch on fenceposts during the day, and patriotic clouds light up the sky at sunset (below, right).


July 29

Riding Day 51 Kansas; July 30

Eureka to Chanute, KS. 65 Miles and 1,230 feet Elevation Gain.

One of the most enjoyable parts of the trip is meeting the locals. While waiting for Joelle, Clyde asked Jack Daniels (that is his name though he claims not to drink the stuff anymore) if he could wait in the shade of his yard. Jack welcomed Clyde with a tour of his many car restoration projects. As a former professional auto mechanic he is most proud of projects like the pickup in the below left photo. Seems like folks in Kansas are into old cars and NASCAR. It was a pleasure to spend time with him.

More rolling hills, more trees, more green, and - oh yes - more humidity. The bird chatter is sounding more like home, with Northern Cardinals, Carolina Wrens, and Indigo Buntings beginning to mix with the ever-present songs of the Dickcissel. We keep scanning every waterhole in hopes of adding a new shorebird, but mostly we just see cows trying to keep cool (below, right). We liked staying at the Newton Fire Station so much, that we called the Chanute Battalion Chief Andy Moffitt, who invited us to come on down (bottom row, left). We pitched in for take-out Mexican with the crew Kyle, Tim, and Luke (bottom row, right) following a tour of the beautifully renovated and well-maintained station - which includes a brass fire pole. After showers, laundry, internet, and ESPN on the big screen TV, we slept on the training room floor.


July 30

July 30a

Riding Day 52 Kansas; July 31

Chanute to Pittsburg, KS. 62 Miles and 1,150 feet Elevation Gain.

With the temperature and humidity creating heat indices in the triple digits for more than a week, we've been drinking tanks of pop, as its referred to in the Midwest (below, left). We knew the answer to this week's "Trivia Question" at the Pittsburg Public Library (below, middle). We've become loyal members of the Firehouse Frequent Freeloader program. Last night when the Chanute Battalion Chief learned we planned to ride to Pittsburg, he said we had to stay in the "Taj Mahal" of Kansas fire stations, and called his buddies to make arrangements for us! Pittsburg Battalion Chief Jim Radell (below middle), and the rest of his crew (below right), welcomed us, making us feel like one of the gang (except that we didn't have to jump out of bed when the fire alarm rang). We pitched in for Chinese take-out and since this is a brand new fire station with a lot of space, we had private rooms! 


July 31

Riding Day 53; Kansas - Missouri, August 1

Pittsburg KS to Golden City , MO. 36 Miles and 731 feet Elevation Gain.

Early this morning we rode out of the sunflower state but we'll reflect for many years to come upon our fond memories of Kansas (below, left). On crossing into Missouri, we immediately re-set the bird-o-meter; Joelle spotted purple martins flying over the sign at the state line (below, middle), and Ken picked off a pileated woodpecker flying across the road. In the gas station/deli at the state line, Missourians demonstrate that they can be every bit as friendly as Kansatonians (below, middle), and corrected our pronunciation of the state – MISS-UR-A. We decided to stop short of our original 60-mile goal because a head wind zapped our energy, Golden City had a nice City Park (with showers) to free-camp in, and we’d finally arrived at Cooky’s Café (below, right). We’d been hearing about this local eatery since Wyoming, and it lived up to its brag – great pies of every imaginable variety, fried chicken, and other dishes; reasonable prices, and friendly service. There was a waiting line of locals when we arrived for Sunday lunch, including a bike club that had done a 50-mile round trip day ride to eat at Cooky’s. We ate lunch, dinner, and breakfast the next morning there. 

Kansas Statistics in 8-1/2 Riding Days: Miles=515; Elevation Gain=5,057; Bird Species=102


Day 54

Riding Day 54 Missouri; August 2

Golden City to Fair Grove, Missouri. 69 Miles and 3,940 feet Elevation Gain.

This part of Missouri is one, long self-propelled roller-coaster ride in the 113 degree heat (below left and middle). Underestimating how long it would take to ride hills again (Gee, we’re not in flat Kansas anymore!), we rode from sunup to sundown. For What It’s Worth (pun intended, but you’ll probably only get it if you’re our age and remember your rock music), at the end of the day we found a road sign that memorialized that 70s rock band...There's something happening here.......


Day 55

Riding Day 55 Missouri; August 3

Fair Grove to Hartville, MO. 45 Miles and 2,155 feet Elevation Gain.

Southern Missouri is very scenic. Interspersed in the Oak-hickory forests that cover the rolling hills are hay fields (below, left). The hay is cut with one type of machine, wind-rowed with another, and then baled into these giant rolls with another piece of equipment. Strategically placed bales also make good shade for our frequent breaks in the (still) triple digit temperatures (below, middle). We passed through a bit of Amish Country today, so we weren’t the only slow-moving vehicles on the road (below, middle). Joelle got her first flat on the new Surly bike, after over 1,200 miles of riding. It took 3 people to change the tire: Ken had the important job of keeping the horses from eating the apples in our bike panniers – we had to lean our bikes on their pasture fence because it was the only shade around.

 


Day 56

Riding Day 56 Missouri; August 4

Hartville to Summersville, MO. 64 Miles and 3,140 feet Elevation Gain.

Our elevation gain total these days is so high due to multipe short, steep climbs and descents. Whenever we hit bottom, we cross a pretty little stream (below, left) and whenever we crest a hill it seems like we are on top of a world carpeted with green trees. One thing that we love about cycling is that it simplifies life; Clyde has boiled it down to the three things that he worships most: tailwinds, motels, and downhills(below, middle). Add to that, the kindness of the local people: We were passing by this yard and the family invited us to join in the sprinkler fight with the kids (below, right). Ken and Joelle also cooled off in a swimming hole at one of the stream crossings.


Day 57

Riding Day 57 Missouri; August 5

Summersville to Ellington, MO. 49 Miles and 3,525 feet Elevation Gain.

By the dawn's early light, the Veteran's Memorial flag walk in Summersville's town square is a place to remember (below, left). This town of 544 people honors its veterans and takes good care of its people - us included: it has a Senior Citizens Center, a well-stocked grocery store that's been owned by the same family for 40 years, a couple of restaurants, and a Family Youth Center - A multi-purpose building used as a skating rink, basketball court, meeting place, or exercise classes (all free) - depending on the day. We stayed in the Youth Center's clean, comfortable cabins for a very reasonable price. About 15 miles east of Summersville, we left the state of Missouri and entered the state of Misery (below, middle). The roads in the Ozarks must have been laid out by 'coon dogs since they go straight up and straight down. We concluded there are either no civil engineering schools in Missouri, or else the students skipped class to go hunting during the units dealing with road design and Cut and Fill 101. We stopped at Alley Spring, which pumps out 60 million gallons a day, and toured the historic grist mill built a century ago to put all that water to work. Ken passed his 2,000 mile mark today, going up some God-awful hill and Joelle got stung by a yellow-jacket. On the positive side, it was a lot cooler today and we stayed in an air conditioned motel room in another nice town.  


58

Riding Day 58 Missouri; August 6

Ellington, MO to Johnson's Shut-Ins State Park. 30 Miles and 2,004 Elevation Gain.

Fifteen rolling miles from Ellington, we hit the "21 Diner", with its snappy red, white, and black Coca Cola 1950s decor. We ordered the Friday catfish special, which came with three sides and hush puppies (below, left) for $6, and then went to digest it while checking e-mail in the town's very nice library. Another 15 miles of steep up and downs, and we were at our destination for the day - Johnson's Shut-ins State Park. "Shut-ins" is a geologic term which describes the narrow channels eroded in the hard volcanic rock; the rushing river waters are "shut-in" by these rock features, creating potholes, plunge pools, and small waterfalls. We spent a few hours enjoying this natural jacuzzi (below, middle), trying to even out the lines of our crazy biker's tans. In 2005, the Taum Sauk Reservoir dam several miles uphill from the Park broke, sending a ba-zillion gallons of water, mud, and huge boulders cascading down into the Park. You can still see the scour channel (grassy area between the trees in the below, right photo) and the boulders on the grounds of the brand spanking new Visitor Center. We stayed in the relocated campground, just re-opened this year. We talked to a lot of nice people from St. Louis here for the day or week-end; the State Park and the Ozarks are only a 2-hr. drive away.  


59

Riding Day 59 Missouri; August 7

Johnson's Shut-ins State Park to Farmington, MO. 45 Miles and 1,830 feet Elevation Gain.

The locals we met at the Shut-ins advised us to stop at Elephant Rocks State Park, so we did. The Park is named after the unusual granite rock formations that are said to resemble a line of elephants; I thought they looked more like giant petrified elephant dung (lower row, left). Ken taking a picture of me taking a picture of him in "Fat Man's Passage" (lower row, middle), and Ken trying to follow Joelle's instructions to, "hop up on that rock that looks like a dinosaur egg so I can take your picture," (lower row, right). Granite from the quarry (below, left) was used to pave the streets of St. Louis and shipped as far as Baltimore; views of the Ozarks from here were fantastic (below, middle).  We spent the night in jail! The historic Francois County Jail has been restored as an upscale cyclist hostel (below, right). It's more comfortable and well-appointed than most hotels we've been staying at, complete with bedding, showers, laundry, computer, flat-screen TV room, and a kitchen.  


Day 60

Day farm

Riding Day 60 Missouri - Illinois; August 8

Farmington, MO to Chester, IL. 50 Miles and 2,670 Elevation Gain.

One reason we bicycle is so that we can eat mass quantities of food, and all-you-can eat buffets are our favorite! Perhaps Ken overdid it at our lunch stop - don't you think (first row, below)? We made several milestones today: Clyde and Joelle passed the 3,000 mile mark, we crossed the Mississippi River (lower row, middle), and entered the state where Joelle was born and raised (lower row, left). About 10 miles before the border crossing, we topped our last Missouri hill and cheered when we saw the flat river plain below. Chester's claim to fame is being the home of Popeye because the cartoon character's creater was born here (lower row, right). Funny that spinach was not an option on our pizza tonight. Can you believe that Ken actually ate dinner? Can you believe that Missouri had more elevation gain than any western state except Oregon? Rumors of the flat midwest have been greatly exagerated!

MISSOURI STATISTICS over 8 RIDING DAYS:  Miles = 380; Elevation Gain = 19,679 feet; Bird Species = 95; Days over 100 degrees F. = 4

Totals After 61 Days of Riding: Miles = 3,033; Elevation Gain = 105,431 feet


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Riding Days 61-62 Illinois; August 9-10

Chester to Carbondale to Vienna, IL. 97 Miles and 3,345 feet Elevation Gain.

Joelle's fascination with riding through her home state faded quickly in the triple digit temperatures with humidity (below, middle). Southern Illinois University (below, left) is where Joelle wanted to go to college, but her parents wouldn't let her because of its reputation as a party school; not much partying going on at 6 am when we left town. It was a pleasant, shady ride through Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge (below, right), but duck and shorebird migration hasn't started, so we didn't see many birds. Soybeans (lower row, middle) and corn -  the major agricultural crops here - flourish in this weather, but our bodies needed some pampering to revive. Ken and Clyde got haircuts from friendy barber Daryl Poe during our lunchstop in Goreville, which meant more time in the A/C; Joelle got a spa pedicure upon arriving in Vienna (lower row). Don't you think those toes are too pretty to be crammed back in those bike shoes tomorrow?


Day 62

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Riding Day 63 Illinois; August 11

Vienna to Cave in Rock State Park, IL. 40 Miles and 2,244 feet Elevation Gain.

Southern Illinois in the Ohio River Valley is rolling hills covered with hardwoods and limestone bluffs, pleasant to ride through at dawn (below, middle). Gently graded roads dipped down to cross rivers, and we were surprised to find a cypress swamp in one of them (below, middle). One of the most frequent questions we're being asked by the locals when we duck into an air conditioned cafe or store is, "How do you ride in this heat?" Today we asked ourselves that question at lunch after riding 40 miles, and decided we couldn't. The Shawnee Queen Water Taxi (below, right) plies the Ohio River along with the other barge traffic (lower row, middle), and made us an offer we couldn't refuse - $8 for us and all our gear. Clyde enjoys "riding" the last 10 miles of our intended route, while scoping our our next state - Kentucky (lower row, left). The Water Taxi took us to Cave In Rock State Park, named for the cave that is in the limestone river bluff (lower row, middle). The view of the Ohio River from the balcony of our spacious cabin in the Park (lower row, right) was a treat after the budget motels and city park free camps we have been frequenting.

Illinois Statistics in 3 Riding Days: Miles=137; Elevation Gain=5,589; Bird Species=93 (includes May/June Chicago trips). Days over 100 degrees = 3


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Riding Day 64 Kentucky; August 12

Cave in Rock, IL to Sebree, KY. 58 Miles and 2,590 feet Elevation Gain

We caught the first ferry of the day and crossed the Ohio River (below, left) in time to watch the sunrise over our 9th state - Kentucky (below, middle)! It was nice to see a live skunk (below, right) instead of the dead ones we see on the road. One depressing thing about cycling is that it makes you more aware of how many birds, snakes, frogs, and furry critters get squished on the road.

When a thunder and lightening storm overran us in the afternoon, we took refuge in the "Built-Rite Portable Buildings" shop, run by a Mennonite business, Jake (holding up a brochure in lower row, center). During the short T-storm Jake, told us about his business, various Mennonite communities in Latin America, and explained some differences between the Mennonites and Amish. The latter don't have electricity or own cars, and their horse and buggies pass us occassionally on the road (lower row, left). When we left, we thanked him for satisfying our curiosity about his lifestyle and he thanked us for satisfying his curiosity about those pack-laden cyclists he sees laboring up the hills! Sebree's First Baptist Church cycler's hostel is a beacon for cross-country riders. Besides air-conditioned and WIFI-ed lodging in the church basement, pastor Bob and his wife Violet serve up dinner and conversation in their home next door. 


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Day 65 Kentucky; August 13

Sebree to Falls of Rough, KY. 52 Miles and 2,100 feet Elevation Gain.

The scenery in eastern Kentucky reminds us of a hillier version of Virginia's eastern shore, with corn, soybeans, and chicken farms (below row). Solutions for dealing with the extreme heat vary from the bizarre to the conventional (top row). Chatting up a local farmer and cyclist- Ralph Reicz- in a air conditioned store around mid-day, we got directions for a short-cut that saved 5 miles. Next, Ralph offered us a ride on his flat-bed truck (lower row, middle), shaving off another 20 miles. Some may say this is this cheating, but if you over-analyze it, you realize that the U.S. is about 3,500 miles wide and the TransAm Bike Route is over 4,000 miles because it wanders north and south to take in scenic attractions and backroads. So, we see our hitchhike as  just taking up some of the slack in the route!


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Riding Day 66 Kentucky; August 14

Falls of Rough to Sonora, KY. 48 Miles and 1,800 feet Elevation Gain.

Tobacco farms entered the picture (lower, right). Ken dubbed today "Tour de Mini-mart," because we stopped at every small gas station/ grocery-deli to buy a cold drink, snack, or sandwich to seek air-conditioned refuge from the heat. They all welcomed cyclists (below, middle).

Talk about welcome - Microsoft Word's dictionary should add "Blanchard" as a synonym. At 5 pm, a downpour and broken gear cable on Clyde's retro-bike stopped us in front of Blanchard's Family Salvage Grocery in Sonora, about 12 miles short of our intended destination. Since Sonora doesn't have a motel or campground, Al and Ann Blanchard invited us to stay at their home and served us a great dinner, which included vegetables from their garden. So yummy, we forgot to take a picture before devouring (below, left). Al's a retired tool and die maker, with a shop in his garage, so he was able to un-jam the broken end of the cable from the housing so Clyde to replace the cable with the spare he always carries in his tool kit. Joelle's dad was a tool and die maker, and you remember we visited daddy's grave before we left on this trip and asked him to be on our side. I can't help thinking he helped put Al in our path...... Which just proves the point - It's never too late to ask your parents for something!


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Riding Day 67 Kentucky; August 15

Sonora to Lebanon, KY. 48 Miles and 2,100 feet Elevation Gain.

We got a later than usual start because it was hard to leave the hospitality of the Blanchards - who are celebrating their 60th wedding anniversary this year - and their delightful dachshund dog, Patches (below, right). That's OK because it "cooled" down today to the mid-90s, after a week of above 100-degree temperatures. We stopped at Lincoln's Birthplace National Historic Site in Hodgenville, where Abraham spent the first 2 years of life (below left and middle). The log cabin memorial is closed for remodeling but there was plenty of photogenic split rail fence, and the "Sinking Spring", from which the farmstead drew its name (and water), as well as the inevitable informative NPS movie.


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Riding Day 68 Kentucky; August 16

Sonora to Danville, KY. 35 Miles and 1,438 feet Elevation Gain.

Though Clyde had replaced his broken cable, the bike gears weren't  shifting properly. So we rode slightly off the mapped route to a bike shop in Danville where they adjusted the gears within seconds but found a few more issues with Clyde's "retro bike": Broken rear axle, rear and front bearings were shot, wheels out of true, seat not adjusted properly, new chain and rear gear cluster, front middle sprocket worn out. Because the shop owner, Ernst, had riden cross country before, he dropped his other work to address all Clyde's bike issues. Because he had sold Clyde's brand of bikes before which are no longer made, he had all the replacement parts and knowledge to do the job perfectly. Another lucky encounter for the cross country trio because with all those problems, the bike would never had made it to Virginia.

The local custom is painting quilt pattern on barns such as this bear claw design. No two patterns are the same. Note that the barns are painted black to increase the heat for drying tobacco that is a major crop around here.


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Riding Day 69 Kentucky; August 17 & 18

Danville to the Owl's Roost at McKee, KY. 43 Miles and 2,332 feet Elevation Gain.

We made it to the pretty college town of Berea for lunch, and entered a scenic area of the Appalachians known as The Knobs, which is self-explanatory from the below, left photo. Just when we thought that the people of Kentucky couldn't get any more welcoming, Mark and Cheryl Martin (below, middle) invited us to spend the night at their home, sight unseen, beause we were friends of Henry and Glenda Corning (who we rendezvoused with in MT). Since their home is 6 miles off the TransAm Route, and up a bunch of hills, Mark had offered to shuttle us and our bikes to the  home they built - Owl's Roost - when I called them last night. Both are extremely talented and do all sorts of good things. Mark is a dry stone mason (standing by an example of his work, below) and Cheryl uses the arena (below middle) for therapeutic horseback riding for handicapped veterans and children with developmental problems. Besides the horses, they have chickens, pigs, and goats - guarded in the below, right photo by Maybelline and 2 other Great Pyrenees guard dogs.

Next day, we did our first layover day since Pueblo, CO because it was raining and because we wanted to spend more time with the Martins (and eat another of Mark's dinners prepared from vegetables from their garden and animals they raise). We enjoyed helping with the farm chores (two bottom rows). Clyde was assigned the task of feeding and watering the rabbits since he earned a boy scout rabbit-raising merit badge 45 years ago. Joelle and Ken cleaned out horse stalls, weeded the garden, and collected eggs. And we all helped with chores we didn't even know existed like "cobwebbing" the barn (removing cobwebs). 


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Riding Day 70 Kentucky; August 19 and 20 (layover).

Owl's Roost to Jackson, KY. 51 Miles and 1,125 feet Elevation Gain.
One of our best experiences of our trip - our stay with the Martins - was followed by our worst. The day started out fine, with several of Mark's delicious goat-milk lattes and a few farm chores as a way to say goodbye to the farm critters. The streams we passed in the Daniel Boone National Forest were running clear and high after yesterday's rain, making for a scenic ride (below, left). Since Wyoming, we'd been warned about the mean Kentucky dogs, and this morning Joelle had her first nasty encounter when a bulldog rammed her front wheel broadside, damaging her pannier. Luckily, she was able to keep the bike under control and upright. Ken wasn't so fortunate when his front wheel went off the road just past the "Regular" Baptist Church (below, right), and just 9 miles from our intended destination. Before he could say, "son-of-a-beetch," he was shoulder over heels down the bank with a broken collarbone. The nice people cutting the church grass and passing motorists offered aid, and we improvised a shade shelter with an insulate pad until the amubulance came (below, middle). The ambulance hauled Ken to the nearest clinic in Jackson, 35 miles away off-route. Unbelievably, Clyde and Joelle were able to hitch-hike to Jackson with 3 fully-loaded bikes in two separate rides, thanks to good samaritans, Duane and Danny.

A few hours in Jackson was enough to convince Ken to seek medical care elsewhere. So the next day we found another good samaritan - Leo Coles (lower row, middle) willing to drive Ken to the Lexington airport - a 180 mile round trip -stopping at UPS and bike shops to mail gear back home, and the thrift store so he could buy this $2 jaunty Hawaiian shirt. Leo also provided the best medicine possible for Ken on the drive - his humor.  While Clyde rode to Lexington and back, Joelle stayed at the motel - located next to this scenic limestone bluff -(lower row, left) and made Ken's travel arrangements to Seattle. Ken's safely back at home now with his family, but we miss him and feel his presence everywhere (lower row, right).

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Riding 71 Kentucky; August 21

Jackson to Hindman, KY. 51 Miles and 1,125 feet Elevation Gain.

We rode south to rejoin the TransAm Bike Route in the town of Dwarf, which was named after an early settler named Shorty. We didn't have much to whine about today, with temperatures in the 80s, relatively flat terrain, and roads with nice wide shoulders (below, middle). Kudzu, an invasive weed, was draped over everything; it looks like it grows so fast the drivers have to be careful where they park the school buses over the weekend (below, left). We've seen lots of butterflies on our journey through Kentucky; maybe they come close mistaking Clyde's bike for a flower (below, right).

We stayed at the Knot County Historical Society Cyclist B & B tonight. Host David Smith (lower row, right) took great pains to insure that nobody went away hungry, making us huge banana splits for dessert, in addition to snacks, beer, and baked potatoes. David asked for our help in naming his kitties (below, left), so we gave them “bike names” and they are now named Surly (Joelle’s bike), Bridget (feminine version of Clyde’s Bridgestone bike), Trek (calico with the "T" over its eye) and Novara; the latter are brand names of the two other guests’ bikes. Joelle is holding Surly. 

 


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Riding Day 72 Kentucky-Virginia; August 22

Hindman KY to Breaks Interstate Park, VA. 46 Miles and 2,550 feet Elevation Gain.

As we continue eastward in the Appalachians, the hill climbs are steeper, longer, and come more frequently. We were lucky it was Sunday, which meant the mines (below, left) were closed and the coal trucks parked (below, middle). Traffic was light. We have found the coal and logging trucks in the eastern U.S. to be very bike-friendly, pulling well over into the other lane when they pass, and staying politely (if noisily) behind us when it’s not safe to do so. A driver told us that they all have radios and tell each other when they see cyclists on the road. Jim, Clyde’s brother, drove 400 miles from the Atlanta area to visit us, so it would have been impolite to refuse a ride (below, right). He drove us and our gear just over the Virginia border to the stunning Breaks Interstate Park, where we enjoyed scenic vistas and the bottle of Bicycleta wine that our sister-in-law Jo-E picked picked out on our deck overlooking the gorge (bottom row). We just LOVE visitors, so if you are along our route and want to drop in, leave a note on our Guest Book or call our cell.

KENTUCKY Statistics over 9 Riding Days: Miles=433; Elevation Gain=16,024; Bird Species=78; Days over 100 degrees F.= 3


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Riding Day 73 Virginia; August 23

Breaks Park to Elk Garden, VA. 46 Miles and 3,710 feet Elevation Gain.

Our home state treated us with near perfect riding conditions today (except for Ken not being here to enjoy it with us). Comfortable temperatures, no wind or rain, beautiful scenery, and some challenging hills that didn’t kill us off (yet!). After saying goodbye to brother Jim, we rode through the rest of Breaks Interstate Park (below, middle). Virginia is one of the few places where we’ve seen the “76 Bicycle” route markers (below, left), which commemorate the original Bike Centennial route. The route was established in 1976 to celebrate the nation’s bi-centennial, and its fun when we talk to the old timers that share memories of the “hoards of cyclists” that came through in the summer of 1976. Biking this route gives one a sense of community, and it’s always a thrill to run into cyclists we haven’t seen for awhile – like Todd, Tim, and Peggy (below, right). We first met their group in central Oregon, shared a campsite in Idaho near Lolo Pass, but haven’t seen them since Missoula, MT. That is, until they turned up at a mini-mart today! They rented a SAG car in the Midwest to deal with the heat, and take turns driving so each rider has every 3rd day off 


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Riding Day 74 Virginia; August 24

Elk Grove to Damascus, VA. 34 Miles and 2,905 feet Elevation Gain.

We started our ride 3 months ago today from the Oregon coast. To celebrate this milestone, we stayed at this well-appointed B & B, and Joelle got a hair cut (below, right). Many of the hillsides and valleys have been cleared for small farms and we saw some tobacco drying in one of the barns (below, left). Damascus is a re-supply point for Appalachian Trail hikers, and offers shuttle service for the Virginia Creeper Bicycle Trail, so there are more choices for lodging, groceries, restaurants, and other services than most towns its size. We put it on our "Let's come back here" list.

Trip Statistics after 3 Months on the road and 74 Riding Days: Miles=3,683; Elevation Gain=136,250 feet; Bird Species=270


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Riding Day 75 Virginia; August 25

Damascus to Wytheville, VA. 60 Miles and 3,608 feet Elevation Gain.

Today was one of our favorite riding days of the trip. We'd mentally prepared for a much tougher ride weeks ago, when we'd realized that today we'd be riding in the Mount Rogers National Recreation Area (below, left), which contains Virginia's highest mountain. The hearty breakfast served by our B&B hosts, relatively humane grades, and beautiful scenery and wildflower/butterfly diversions all combined to power us up the hill with energy to spare. We stopped to make a picnic lunch at a campground, and met Karen and Jim Meister, who taught Joelle how to use Skype (below, right). For 2.99/month they have unlimited calling from their computer, so Joelle talked to her mom (and learned that our ATT cell phone bill was $170.00 this month; I think we'll be switching to Skype!).

Some churches along the TransAm route offer cyclist lodging, and we've slept on a few church floors. The churches in the bottom row were not among them, but the stone church incorporated a rock from each state and Canadian province in its walls. The name of the state is inscribed on the appropriate rock; e.g. lava for Oregon and limestone for Kentucky (Clyde made me leave before I could find Virginia or California). Betcha didn't know that President Woodrow Wilson's 2nd wife was born in Wytheville!


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Riding Days 76/77 Virginia; August 26/27

Wytheville to Christiansburg to Buchanan, VA. 128 Miles and 7,055 feet Elevation Gain.

We're riding through the Great Valley, which lies between the younger and older Appalachians. Silly us! We thought that "valley" meant the terrain would be flat, so we planned two back to back 60+ mile days. Now I'm reading the notes on the back of our map which describe the beautiful Roanoke Valley (top row) as, "broken up by numerous steep knobs." There are almost as many ways of doing this ride as there are cyclists on the road. We missed the west-bound uni-cyclist and high-wheeler, but have met several riders towing trailers. On the opposite side of the spectrum is Wayne (bottom row, right), who averages 150 miles a day on his Titanium-frame road bike, packing only his water bottles and an energy bar. His wife is driving a camper with his gear. We look like the Beverly Hillbillies in comparison, with our drying laundry bungied to our orange garbage bags (they cover our sleeping bags and tent). Still, Joelle passed up Wayne like he was standing still ........Hmmmm he was, talking to Clyde. Wayne amazingly has the energy and humor to blog about his month-long bike ride; see triwayne.blogspot.com.  


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Riding Day 78 Virginia; August 28

Buchanan to Vesuvius, VA. 45 Miles and 2,640 Elevation Gain.

After a serene morning riding along a stream full of birds and butterflies (below, left), we found ourselves in Lexington for lunch. Its a town full of Civil War memorabilia, such as the tombs of Gen. Stonewall Jackson's (below, middle) and Robert E. Lee. We thought we needed to put a tiger in our tank for the big climb up to the Blueridge Parkway (tomorrow); Joelle is holding her can of "HALT" dog repellant in case the feline gets unruly (below, right).


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Riding Day 79 Virginia; August 29

Vesuvius to Afton, VA. 35 Miles and 3,600 feet Elevation Gain

Dawn found us camped behind Gertie’s General Store (below, left), at the base of the dreaded 4-mile, steep climb to the Blue Ridge Parkway, which follows the ridgeline of the “older” Appalachians. It’s ironic that the mountains described as the most eroded and gentlest in geology textbooks have the steepest (10-14%) grades. Once on top, we gave a cheer for erosion, washed the sweat off in a cool spring, and enjoyed the scenery as we rode for 27 miles along the Parkway. One thing we like best about X-country touring is never knowing what surprise lies around the next bend. As we approached the Park Service Visitor Center, the sound of falling acorns was overpowered by a mountain music melody. We stopped for an hour and listened to a live band playing at the restored farmstead; the chickens walking on stage added authenticity to the scene (middle row). Another favorite thing has been meeting unique people. One was the man who dresses his dog in a tortoise shell helmet and goggles for a Sunday motercycle ride (middle row).

Talk about unique. We stayed the night at the “Cookie Lady’s” cyclist hostel (bottom row). June Curry, a TransAm Trail legend, has been providing water, food, and shelter for cyclists since 1976. At 89, and even after a stroke and several falls and broken bones, she still eagerly chats with visitors who stay in the hostel. Its walls are decorated with postcards, newspaper clippings, and bicycle memorabilia from the 14,000 cyclists that have stopped there. We've signed logbooks at many places along the route, but adding our name to the Cookie Lady's was poignant (lower row, left). 


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Riding Day 80 Virginia; August 30

Afton to Charlottesville, VA. 24 Miles and 1,302 feet Elevation Gain.

We planned a short ride today so we could spend time with our friends Mike and Virginia Erwin at their lovely home, and meet their graceful dog Keelie (below, left). Don’t worry, we didn’t kick Keelie out of her bed; she always sleeps on the floor of the kitchen with her head on a pillow (lower row, middle). Such wonderful hosts, Mike took us to lunch at a white table cloth restaurant, drove us to Jefferson’s home at Monticello (lower row, left), and Virginia sat through Clyde’s narration of our blog site during a delicious home-cooked meal(below, right). Mike also gave us a fascinating tour of the University of Virginia campus, where his office is located. UVA was founded, and many of the buildings designed by, Thomas Jefferson (lower row, right).


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Riding Days 81-82 Virginia; August 31-Sept. 1

Charlottesville to Mineral to Mechanicsville, VA. 119 Miles and 3,996 feet Elevation Gain.

Are we there yet? We passed the 4,000 milestone, and yes the heat has returned. At least the hills are disappearing as we move from the Piedmont to the Tidewater landforms, and we passed pretty Lake Anna (below, middle). Are we feeling like we can do more miles because the terrain is flatter, or because we are inspired by Charlie Clarkson (below, middle)- who we reconnected with at UVA? Charlie is ranked #1 in Virginia and #4 nationally in endurance mountain bike racing. He's studying colonial wading birds in Chincoteague Bay for his PhD.  We sometimes spend an hour or two mid-day in air conditioned libraries to escape the heat; maybe its so hot because we are at the center of the universe (below, right)???


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Riding Day 83 Virginia; September 2

Mechanicsville to Williamsburg, VA. 68 Miles and 1,332 feet Elevation Gain.

Plan A was a leisurely 2-day ride through the "Tidewater Region" of Virginia, to enjoy its rich history. Instead, another weather event dictated Plan B. We wanted to get to Williamsburg today, to avoid riding in the rain and winds that are predicted to accompany Hurricane Earl tomorrow. So, we only stopped briefly at a few sites in the Richmond National Battlefield Park (below, left), and had to forego a Plantation Tour (below, middle). Crossing the Chickahominy River felt monumental because it was our first tidal river since leaving the Pacific Coast (below, right). With it came our first Atlantic bird species - a Laughing Gull.


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Layover Day; Williamsburg, VA Sept. 3

While Hurricane Earl passed us by heading to the northeast, we found all sorts of things to do in our motel room that avoided going out in the rain. We talked to Ken about yesterday's 1-1/2 hour operation involving a plate and 9 pins to repair his collarbone. He's feeling fine despite the confining new sling (below, middle) and is looking forward to riding again. We caught up on e-mail, and found that brother Jim had sent us the only picture we have of us riding together (below, left). Joelle computed some "trip statistics"......

State

#Day

Miles

Alt. Up

#Birds

Highlight

OR

12.5

  555

24,160

142

Habitat & bird diversity

ID

  6

  293

13,143

102

Pristine countryside

MT

  8

  390

13,418

127

Big sky vistas

WY

  9

  445

16,871

107

Mtn scenery; new bike

CO

  8

  453

12,903

117

Downhill; wildflowers

KS

  8.5

  515

  5,057

102

FireStations;friendly folks

MO

  8

  380

19,679

  95

Swimmin’ holes;  Parks

IL

  3

  137

  5,589

  93

Water taxi & ferry

KY

  9

  433

16,024

  78

Home stays; scenery

VA

13

  663

31,100

  97

CCC  bike club welcome


Layover Day, Williamsburg

Riding Day 84 Virginia, September 4

Williamsburg to Yorktown to Machipango. TRIP TOTAL at Victory Monument = 4,180 Miles and 160,251 feet Elevation Gain. 

The Trans America Cross-country Bicycle Trail officially ends in Yorktown at the Victory Monument (lower row). An extraordinary monumental end to our trip was sharing the last 15 miles from Williamsburg (below, left) to Yorktown with Chincoteague Cycling Club (C-cubed) members (from left to right): Diane, Bear, us, and Sue. They'd been planning the logistics of getting 5 bikes and 5 riders in one car (bottom row right), to shuttle them around bike-unfriendly bridges and onto the southern tip of the Delmarva Peninsula, for weeks.


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Riding Day 85 Eastern Shore VA; Sept. 5

Machipongo to Greenbackville. TOTAL TRIP: Neskowin OR to Greenbackville VA = 4,266 Miles and 160,734 feet Elevation Gain; Average Miles Per Day = 50; Total Bird Species Seen = 280.

Our 86 mile ride along up Virginia's Eastern Shore yesterday afternoon and today was broken up by a wonderful overnight at Sue's delightful home, which overlooks a tranquil arm of Chesapeake Bay (below, left) and many eating events. C-cubed planned and executed a delicious welcome home dinner served on Sue's deck. Bear's banana splits, served on his new screened porch (lower row, left) insured that we wouldn't starve during our last 12 miles. C-cubed member Kim (lower row, middle) joyfully drove down from Chincoteague so she could ride this gorgeous last day with us. And we were joined for 10 miles by an in-line skater who wishes to remain anonymous. It was the perfect way to celebrate and end our trip! The scenery of the journey is etched in our memories, but the many people who showed us kindness along the way will remain in our hearts. THE END


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4/24/2014 4:52:07 PM