Monday, April 13, 2009

Marty's PS

I was having so much fun making fun of Jake I forgot something. As mentioned, Jake and I have spent hours talking about life, family and friends. Without getting to much into the repeat business I have to mention the "grinder" that raised me. If there are any attributes that people like about me, they come from this guy, any thing you don't like - he gets partial credit for that too. He was the best man at my wedding and the man who drove from Tennessee to see me finish this thing. He's the best dad anyone could ask for, my dad.

He is a great man. He'll likely have no parks, bridges or buildings named after him, but he makes a point of making this world a better place by being nice, kind and funny to every one he comes in contact with.

Think of a world where everyone did that ..... just try.

Marty's epiblogue

I've been told, and I agree, that Jake's epiblogue will be hard to beat. I'll not try, but I do have some thoughts.

As Jake mentioned, we spent a good amount of time talking about family and friends and what they mean to us. I share all of those thoughts, but of course the names would be different. For me this trip was just all about the fact that we have just one life, and one chance to experience all that we can. I'll do everything I can to not look back and say "I wish I had...." Like Jake wrote the trip was life affirming and it also affirmed how nice people are. We were regularly being cheered on, encouraged and prayed for. There is little doubt that all that positive energy was wind at our back. It was pretty cool how often complete strangers would engage us in conversations about our trip and get truly excited about what these 2 smelly guys in goofy shorts (sometimes tights) were doing.

Sadly, at the same time Jake and I were ending this 43 day odyssey, about 115 people who have been cheering us on at my work, were being told they no longer had jobs. These are people I have known for years and care a great deal about. To all of you, I'm now cheering you on and I'll be praying for you. Remember, this too shall pass.

Back to the business of this last note: Jake talked about the lesson he hopes his kids get from this adventure. He and I had many conversations about this and it might have something to do with us actually getting this thing done. This was a hard trip. I knew it would be hard, but I didn't know how hard. It was really hard, but fun. As far as that "strong man" stuff ... really. This guy rode for 5 1/2 days sick as a dog. Stuff was flying out of him in every direction and he lost about 10 lbs in those 5 days, and yet we rode. When my knees blew up he took on extra weight on his trailer and he kept it until he got sick and he took it back once he was well. So, I'm not gonna say Jake's a strong man, I'll just leave you with a thought. The next time you're sick as a dog, throwing up, not eating and those other sick things are happening to you, think about getting on a bike for 6-7 seven hours, sometimes in the rain. Now that I write that, I think maybe he is crazy.

So beating Jake's epiblogue can't be done through normal means and I don't have the writing skills. I am however very talented at making fun of people and pointing out little items I notice and locking them away for just such a time. I hope that those who know Jake will get a good laugh. I hope those that don't know him have picked up enough from his writing to enjoy this. Here goes.

Jake and I are alike in many ways and way way different in others. One way we were different is our thoughts on what to bring on this trip. I packed thinking "will I need this for sure". Jake's packing thought was "Is there any chance that in the next 45 days I might, maybe wish I kinda had this". I should have known this. One year on our annual Mt Bike trip, the first thing he excitedly showed me was a combination chainsaw - flamethrower - flashlight - NOAA weather radio - ice cream scooper - tire pump - fingernail clipper - dart gun - floor jack. Lucky for me, all the other campers and probably the whole county, Jake had failed to get the jet fuel required for operation.

I hate technology and electronic gadgets. The only thing I packed for this trip that required power was a flashlight the size of an almond and weighing that much too. Jake brought the laptop, the GPS locator, solar panels, Ipod, gorilla charger (A battery pack use to charge other items), laser hair treatment thickener, an around the neck air freshener, under water video camera, a Garmin GPS, a rechargeable nose and ear hair remover, an electronic snore stopper thing (that didn't work), a 20 language talking translator (which was no help in the backwoods of Mississippi - obviously not an official language), a rechargeable blow up Kelly doll, and a battery operated talking garden gnome with eyes that lite up. (Okay, the talking gnome I made up.) I have to admit it was kinda fun watching the local news, in the real small towns, reporting on the roaming brown outs that seemed to start when we got to town and end about the time we packed up in the morning. Just the weight of all the cables Jake had to connect all his doohickeys to his doodads was more that my whole bike.

You might notice that I didn't mention his cell phone. That is because it holds a special place. I hate cell phones and really don't know how to use one. I can I only tell you my cell phone number if I've just happened to look it up in the last hour. Jake's cell phone is an appendage. I think he thinks he is getting points for how much he uses it. For the first 10 days of the trip, every time we stopped anywhere, Jake would pull out his cell phone and remark on whether or not he had coverage, and every time I got to hear one of the following things. 1 - "Unbelievable, I've got coverage .... here in the middle of no where". I'd give him my best "why are you telling me that, I don't care" look. Or 2 - "I've got no coverage here. Why the hell don't I have coverage here when I had coverage back in ______ , the middle of nowhere", to which I'd give him my best "why are you talking to me at all, don't you know I don't care" look. This went on for 10 days and we stopped 7-8 times per day. That means I heard one of those 2 saying 70 -80 times in just the first 10 days. It also means Jake got my best "why are you ......... ". you get the idea.

As Jake mentioned, he loves Kelly and these two are joined at the .... well, the cell phone. Here is my parody of our normal lunch stop: All of the following is Jake on his cell phone - "Hey honey, we just stopped for lunch in _______(enter any town between San Diego and St Augustine) at the local Burger King. Had a pretty good ride so far, we've done about 50 miles. Ya, the wind died down. Okay gotta go." end. "Hey baby, just standing in line. Think I'll get a number 3 combo but not sure, I'm not that hungry. Okay gotta go." end "Hey honey, I went with the number 5 combo cause I got hungry standing there. What was that thing you mentioned about Pepsi One the other day? Okay " Marty, Kelly said she read on line that Pepsi One has more chemicals than regular Pepsi" I give him my best "why are you telling me this?" look. (I've never drank Pepsi One.) "Okay gotta go, my food is here" end. Phone rings "Hey honey, Oh Jeff, sorry man, thought you were Kelly cuase we were just talking -. Blah blah blah divide the net revenue by 1.74 to give you that number. Okay gotta go, having lunch. "Hey honey, ya just finished lunch. Ya it was good but you know what they did to my burger? Yep, all the pickles were right on top of one another. Okay gotta go, Marty is riding away from me."

I make fun of Jake for a few reasons. For one, it's easy. For two it's fun. For three he can take it. But Jake made this a great trip and I truly could not have done it without him; he could have done it without me. Jake is the only person who I asked to do this trip with. If I had it to do again, Jake would be the person I'd ask again. (Don't worry, once should do it)

Folks, that's it for me. This was a great experience and all of the support, prayers and well wishes are so appreciated. People have asked "what's next"; well nothing like this. There are other things that I want to see and experience, but none of those remaining things will cause people to say "Are you crazy?", well maybe one of them, but that's years away.

Life is good, make it better.


Saturday, April 11, 2009

Jake's Epiblogue

First of all, thank all of you for following our trip via the Blog and the satellite tracking (the SPOT is very cool). I really hope you have enjoyed the trip!

This post will do it for me. Marty will probably do his Epiblogue Monday when he gets back to VA. As an aside, someone enter "Epiblogue" in Wikipedia for us, okay? I think it may be an original term! Anyway, I will post some more pictures of the welcoming party and probably annoy folks with a fund-raising reminder e-mail, but after today, and I will part ways.

The Blog became of labor of love. We didn't necessarily love the Blog, but we definitely love you guys (at least those we know!!) and know that some of you made this part of the morning routine. Some days were easier than others to create your coffee reading, I assure you. There were days when hooking up the PC and penning an entry was not what the body screamed for, but we did our best.

Before, during, and after the trip, people asked me if this trip was "life-changing". I can happily answer that question, but you will have to endure the ramblings of Jake (or scroll to the bottom) to discover my answer.

Nearly one million pedal strokes per rider carried us across the USA. That is a lot of saddle time and a lot of time to talk as long as the wind and the riding conditions allowed.

I am a talker. Marty is a talker. This worked out well as we kept the time moving by stretching the bounds of humor at every Seinfeld-esque observation that presented itself. We definitely passed the bounds of humor many times, but on a trip like his, quantity trumps quality. We also shared a lot of funny stories reaching all the way back to early school days. Even religion and politics were fair game. Fortunately we are pretty much on the same page there.

Many, many discussions were centered on family, past and present. These conversations often tailed off into silent reflection as we pedaled along to the sound of our under-lubricated chains dragging the chain rings of our bicycles along.

I cannot speak for Marty here, but in the many hours when talking was impossible, or words were just worn out for the day, family and friends dominated much of my thoughts. I am sure Marty did not notice, but I will admit to being emotionally overwhelmed several times just pedaling along some rural road lost in crooked, twisting corridors in my head.

Not wishing to slight my friends and coworkers individually, I will have to risk slighting them all by keeping the following observations to my immediate family. Rest assured, I truly miss all of you and can't wait to see you. However, I guess I HAVE to say something about Marty!

Marty Dunstan is a strong man. I did not say he was the fastest cyclist in the world, nor does he have the most durable joints in the country - he is, however a very mentally tough, strong man. He is also a great read of people, or at least of me for sure. When I was really sick, despite being one of the biggest blabbermouths this side of me, he seemed to know that SILENT encouragement was what I needed to keep going. Silent encouragement is hard to describe, but it was effective. Marty also freely and regularly shows a truly deep love for his family - another mark of a strong man and a trait I really appreciated. My father had a very high rank for men like Marty Dunstan: Marty is a "GOOD EGG".

Speaking of Dad, my trip and my general love of cycling is riddled with painful, yet poignant irony. Each time I double-checked traffic and potential obstacles, that man would rattle around in my head. Then, as the potential danger passed and the rhythmic pedaling resumed, I would think with a rueful smile about how tough he had to be to support a brood of nine children throughout three tumultuous decades of massive social and economic change (within and without our family). He wasn't the easiest guy but Dad was a grinder and he persevered through some very tough times. I am proud to be a grinder too.

My Mom was an accomplished artist with a creative streak a mile wide. She also had an adventurous spirit that really came through later in life. I do not think I could have considered this trip without having that piece of her running through me. As for the art... each time I looked at an amazing rock formation, a beautiful pastoral setting, a dilapidated farmhouse, or just the sunset on the darkening clouds, she was there. Green was not green, nor was the orange of the sunset orange - you cannot count the hues she could see. Her vision and spirit moved me forward in deep appreciation of the beauty of our country.

The aforementioned "brood", my siblings, all have left their mark on me. Susan, Vinnie, Barb, Julie, Kate, Joe, Joan, and Patrick popped into my head at various times and left me smiling in the knowledge I took a piece of each of them along as I cranked out another mile. Joan and Pat -I want you to know that I learned, and continue to learn, as much from the younger as the elder.

My children, Caitlin and John, probably do not know this, but I would not have been able to do this without them. They are good, strong young adults growing in self-reliance every day. But it is not the comfort of knowing they can live without Dad for a few weeks that makes this possible or even worth doing. I do these crazy things in large part to show them that with a little planning and preparation and a ton of perseverance, an ordinary guy like their Dad can do extraordinary things. Kelly and I are proud to have replaced ourselves on this earth with "upgraded versions" of ourselves and cannot wait to see the ordinary AND extraordinary things they will do in life.

That brings me to Kelly. I am 46 years old and when I met her a few weeks after her 18th birthday and just a few months after my 21st, I knew we would be together, build a family, and create those "upgraded versions" -- must have been that vision my Mom gave me. Anyway, in the solitude of my thoughts on this trip, Kelly was the one person who came to mind not just as specific memories and thoughts - she was almost a concept unto herself. She was a nebulous feeling of complete support and encouraging love that cushioned me and carried me along particularly in my toughest moments. Once again, I find words inadequate, but I know she knows. I love her.

So the answer to the question?

This trip was happily NOT "life-changing". Traveling across the country on a bicycle was life affirming. The memory of the trip and completing it will be a lasting reminder to Jake Scully to be grateful and show gratitude for life as it is.

And it's pretty good, if I do say so myself.

Thanks, and all the best!


Friday, April 10, 2009

Finale - Lake Kerr to Crescent Beach 206/A1A

Yesterday, Marty and I rode our final 56 miles ending our 43 day odyssey at the Atlantic Ocean.

The day began with late start from the lake and a brisk ride to Palatka.

Palatka is probably known for other things, but it is also the home of Florida's Oldest Diner, Angels. There we had a late lunch and waited for the arrival of Big John Sathe and Ron and Cheryl Adams who rode all the way up from Palm Coast to escort us in the last 26 miles.

For those unfamiliar with road cycling, this was a huge favor as we were able to ride closely behind them (draft) and thus really take it easy on the last leg. Mark and Anne
Betourne also joined us near Hastings so we had an even easier time of it the last 15 or so miles in.

Both of us felt like a milion, okay maybe a hundred, bucks as we crested the last "hill" of the ride -- the bridge over the intracoastal waterway on Route 206.

As we turned biefly South on A1A and then East onto the beach access road, we saw a bunch of our family and friends cheering us on. Upon rereading that last sentence, I realize that much better writer than I may have to be enlisted to pen an adequate description of the feelings of that moment.

Marty and I then made a valiant attempt to ride across the beautiful sugar sand of Crescent Beach, but had to walk the bikes the final yards to ceremonially dip our front wheels into the Atlantic.

Thus ended our ride, but not the day. We joined our welcoming committee at The South Beach Grill for a drink and some food.

Marty's Dad, Bob, and his wife Betty came down from Tennessee for our arrival. Lee and Chuck, of Kerr Lake fame were there as well. My family, including the entire in-law contingent of the Echelbergers, Fosters, and Sheppards as well as two of my sisters were present. The Daytona Beach Bike Club, the Flagler County Board of Education, and Nicole from the Ed Foundation were there in force to welcome us.

PC Bike actually closed early so James, Diane and young James could be there as well. Todd from work, Matt Haugan, Lynne Opelka, and the famous LESAER Of course, my daughter Caitlin, son John, and my wife Kelly were there - seeing them... well... you can refer to the "writer better than I" comment above on that one.

Many, many thanks to all of you who turned out to see us in (oh yeah, Matt and Lynne, thanks for the beer - I guess you know they will not go to waste!). All of your support is truly appreciated and gladly accepted. If I missed anyone, I apologize.

We have some pictures yet to post and probably a blog entry or two summing up the trip, but we are back, safe and sound and this little bicycle trip is over.

Big sigh.


Thursday, April 9, 2009

Gainesville to Lake Kerr

A great day for the penultimate day of riding. I've wanted to use that word for years which makes it an even better penultimate day. We did 66 miles of which over 20 was on bike trails, which is always nice. It was a very nice day of riding through central Florida's lake country. To top off the penultimate day, my sister Lee was waiting for us at the lake house. We had a great visit, a great dinner and a glass of wine or 5.

This morning Jake successfully threw a line hook and worm into a fish filled lake without so much as a bite. He blamed it on Lee, who had said because of the the full moon the fishing would be bad. He blamed it on the worms which were playing dead and he blamed it on the luck of the Irish, which is probably closest to the real issue.

So, we will shove off at around 1:15 and take our sweet time getting to Palatka where one of Jake's riding buddies will meet us to ride with us the rest of the way in.

Lee will be taking almost all of the rest of our stuff in her vehicle, so this last 55 - 60 should be easy.... oops did we say easy?

See you all soon. We would say more but the excitement of finishing this trip is kind of clogging up the brain.


Itchnetucknee Springs to Gainesville

This is the Blog from Monday.

Our third to last day was by far the easiest. 36 miles of really nice countryside and more great roads. Gainesville gets huge high marks for its Bike Lanes. We didn't ride more than a mile without being in a nice, wide, well-marked lane.

But the best part of the trip was staying with my sister Joan, her husband Dan and my nephew Jacob.... oh yeah, Buster too.

Then as an added bonus, Kelly decided to drive over and have dinner with us -- what the heck, it's only an hour-and-a-half drive.

Joan made and excellent lasagna, we watched some Spiderman with Jacob and had an excellent night's sleep.

Many thanks to Joan and Dan for their hospitality - it was a great day.


Tuesday, April 7, 2009

The Last of the Lists, but not the last of the Blog

Lessons Learned

· You are not as strong as you think, but that is okay.

· You do not need all that stuff… it is amazing just how few articles of clothing are needed when the weather gets better. Oh yeah, that peanut butter jar?

· Never ever declare an “easy” day in advance. Still learning that one.

· When riding in the rain and a loaded livestock truck pulls up next to you, close your mouth.

· Some stereotypes are largely valid.

· If you ask a waitress about a menu item and she tells you, “only one other person has ordered it, but we have had no complaints”, don’t be adventurous, go with the cheeseburger.

· Even though people in the South wear a lot of camouflage, if you really concentrate, you will find you can still see them.

· Don’t mess with the RV Park “lifers” or their rules – they are serious about the coffee fund.

· If you win a free trip to El Paso, just El Paso! Trust us on that one.

· You are not as fast as you think, but that too is okay.

· If you are going to make eye contact with strangers, have something to say. In addition, have an “out” from the conversation, like, “my bike is on fire, gotta go”.

· Mental toughness trumps physical toughness – always.

· Climbing hills dragging 50 pounds of stuff, feels just like climbing hills with 50 pounds of stuff.

· Convenience Stores in the boonies are Necessity Stores – not just convenient, they are often “IT” for dozens of miles. Makes the canned Thai Pepper Flavored tuna really appetizing so don’t be too picky.

· Almost all Motel and Hotel rates are negotiable – have a good line ready.

· Some Motels do not have door knobs, some do not have coffee, some do not have windows, some do not have telephones and some don’t have walls or a roof…. Avoid those.

· When people in Texas are talking about how windy it is, double up on your tent stakes.

· People still pan for gold.

· The idea of “wrong side of the tracks” is very much still alive and well out West.

· There are places in this country, mostly in AZ, that don’t even look like they would be on earth. It is worth seeing.

· You will get there – eventually.

· It is a big country but it is a small world – be nice to people, there are a lot of nice people out there.

The Lists Part Three

Scary Moments – theses are moments we left out of the blog on purpose or soft-pedaled, so to speak.

· Interstate 8 out of San Diego County – the Bob Trailers are rated to 25 MPH – 38 is a low estimate of this plummet along side Interstate Traffic. Forearms were looking quite Popeye-ish as we had to squeeze those brakes for all they were worth.

· Marty’s Knee – it was really flipping bad. Kelly’s timely arrival and ride to the Doctor was great, but it was still touch and go for a couple weeks after that. Though some do it, this trip would not be fun solo.

· Dogs In Fort Hancock, Texas – These sons-of-bitches (HA we can use that with impunity) were nasty, mean, relentless and almost got the Bear Spray in the face. We never encountered anything like it anywhere else.

· San Antonio Highway Interchange – Jake has a weird penchant for dicey travels in close quarters with motor vehicles, but it was even time to change his shorts after the I-10, I-35, I-37, US 90, merge/interchange/funhouse/deathtrap/roller coaster.

· Jake’s Stomach and regions South – It was just bad. Even now that we are done, we assume people still like to eat without feeling ill, so the details will go to the grave with Jake… a place that did not seem so far off a few days into the episode.

· The people at the Imperial Palace Casino – not threatening, just scary.

· The people at the Jesus restaurant – not threatening, just scary.

· Fire building at Itchnetucknee Springs – well… what had happened… uh… well we… you see, here is how it all went down. We have no matches and no lighter. But we are at a campground with a fire pit and well, you know, you have to have a fire in that situation, don’t you? We took off to the Springs and took a dip in the ever 72 degree water and proceeded to load up Jake’s trailer with firewood for our fire. We still had the dilemma of no source of ignition. Lucky for us, a fellow camper had been burning some big logs the night before and that fire had two big chunks of half burned logs just full of embers. We happily loaded them onto my trailer on top of some beer boxes we thought would protect the trailer on the 75-yard journey to our campsite. Did we mention the 20 MPH wind today? Oh… well there was that… and the flammable beer boxes…oh yeah and the spare tires for the trailer and bike zip-tied to the bottom of the trailer. As one with half a brain might imagine, Jake was soon towing a raging inferno of wood, beer box, and rubber through the campsite. Undaunted we hurriedly dumped the entire conflagration into our fire-pit and saved the trailer (which could use a coat of Krylon now). We were successful in starting the fire as you might guess. As you might NOT guess, Marty, instead of aiding the emblazoned Jake, was doubled over in laughter thinking Jake looked like a dog running from his own tail afire.. THAT was scary.

Quotable Quotes

· “I never been out of the state ‘cept when I went to my parents’ wedding in Las Vegas, and I hardly remember that” – young girl outside of the only store in Ripley, California.

· “Is that a trailer?” – Mensa member at Roadhouse in Bastrop Texas.

· “Better not get too much tanner, there are some real rednecks east of here.” Woman in general store in Independence Texas.

· “Are you guys crazy?” – many people in multiple towns.

· “Don’t you have anything better to do?” – The chain-smoking drunk guy (around age 25) downing Natural Lights one after the other, sitting next to his pregnant wife in the bar in Defuniak Springs at 5:20 PM.

· “If I were any better, I would be you” – enormous blow-hard to anyone with the misfortune of catching his eye at that whacky restaurant in Chattahoochee.

· “What is the deal here, are these guys all Jesus-freaks?” – Jake right before he noticed the plastic three-dimensional depiction of the last supper directly above his head in said whacky restaurant.

· “Marty, are there any beers left?” – Jake.

· “No” – Marty.

Stupid Signs

· Limited Sight Distance

· Texas State Law – you must observe all warning signs.

· No diving from bridge – seen often on dry creek and river beds in Arizona, NM, and Texas.

· No fishing from bridge – seen on a 10-yard bridge in Florida.

· “CHURCH” – that is it, not crossing, not warning if you are evil, in-session, just Church.

· All Traffic must stop for school buses – come on now.

· Absurd Church Signs – Okay, this may be sacrilegious, but once in the South.. and we mean the SOUTH… the marquees outside some denominations are just silly. I had no idea that Life without Jesus was like a Pizza without a bicycle Pump. Okay, so I made that one up… but seriously folks, let’s keep it relevant, shall we?

Marty and Jake's Lists Part Two

Motor Vehicle Drivers as they relate to Cyclists (ranked 0 to 5 stars)

· Professional Tractor Trailer Drivers – 5 stars – when they had the chance they went all the way into the other lane to the point of occasionally running on-coming traffic off of the road in our favor. Hats off to those folks.

· Cheapo Tractor Trailer Drivers – driving stuff like gross container trucks, logs, and sand and gravel – 2 stars – basically suck-city with some exceptions.

· Older Folks in La Sabres and such – a surprising 4 stars – they really seemed to take their time getting around us.

· Motor Homes (the big ones that run about 100k with the Cherokee dragged behind) – 4 stars – these people know they are rolling death-traps and try to give some room.

· Motor Homes (medium to small) – 0 stars, they think they are driving a Corolla and forget the car they are dragging behind on the U-haul Trailer is wider than the Motor Home.

· Drag Behind Campers – 2 stars.

· Pick-up Trucks/Standard – 4 stars – no problems

· Pick-up Trucks/Modified Exhaust and Big Ole Tires – 0 Stars -- These idiots seem to signal their disapproval of cycling by revving their engines as they are right besides us – no exceptions.

· Pick-up Trucks Dragging 4 Wheel Vehicles – 0 Stars – same as above, but with the added fun of the trailer swinging to and fro.

· Box Trucks – that would be everything from U-hauls and Ryders to Charles Chips, Toms Chips, and Frito-Lay to EX-Rental Trucks – negative one stars – totally oblivious and stupid and dangerous and rude and… well they suck.

· High School kids driving anything with the windows down – 0 stars – they cannot resist the urge to scream at us. I had no idea Marty and I were F-‘ing Q’s!!!

· School Buses – As a disclaimer, this is based on one unfortunate but prolonged bad and scary experience. On a scale of 0 – 5 stars, minus 28.7 stars. In nearly 3000 miles we have been run off the road one and only one time. This was by a line of School Buses as we approached Gulfport Mississippi on a 4 lane road. In the rain, with flashers on, hugging the side of the road – unbelievable.

Marty and Jake's Lists Part One

This is the first of a few sets of lists and observations we have compiled in our trip. Enjoy... we hope!

Scenery by State

1 – California – some crap, but San Diego County was amazing.

2 – Alabama* only 70 miles, but the Redneck Riviera was sweet.

3 – Arizona – diverse, challenging and sometimes scary.

4 – Texas – Again a bad rap on some, but we were there for over two weeks, there is some “crap residue”.

5 – Florida – Would rank higher, but we know it really well, so there is nothing that new for us except the dang hills we did not expect.

6 – New Mexico – Nice until we headed south of Silver City.

7 – Louisiana – Not their fault, Jake’s ailments kept us off course a lot.

8 – Mississippi – hey, sorry.

Road Quality by State

1 – Alabama* only 70 miles, but fantastic.

2 – Florida – great pavement good route.

3 – California – surprisingly beaten by Florida due primarily to the rugged terrain and that run into El Centro.

4 – New Mexico – Pretty good stuff but the recycling effort there seems to be chucking beer bottles onto the road.

5 – Arizona – Same recycling effort, but scarier roads especially from Superior to Globe.

6 – Texas -- Texas gets a bum rap as we were there forever, but there was enough bad stuff to rank them low.

7 – Louisiana – another bum rap because we were off the route for many miles, but that Huey P. Long Bridge was horrible. I would sooner ride the FDR Drive from the George Washington Bridge on a bike in rush hour than go there ever again.

8 – Mississippi – by far and away the pits, the worst, the bumpiest, the crappiest, the most flooded, dismal, excuses for roadways in the country. And we were on the adventure route for most of that state. YUCK.

People by State

8-way tie – people are really great. No baloney; we tested many of them, we promise.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Monday's Ride

Sorry about the lack of a blog post yesterday. We road 93 miles from Chattahoochee to Itchetucknee Springs Florida where we found we had no cell service at all. No cell service means no internet unless we are able to cheat off someone's unsecured wifi, which we finally found this AM... very very slow connection but enough to post. We promise to upload and caption pictures when we get to Gainesville.

The Springs is a beautiful area and well worth a visit if in Florida. The actual springs are crystal clear and a constant 72 degrees all year long. Despite the chill and wind, both of us took a dip.

So that was our last "long day". It was not a tough day as the wind was mostly at our back. There have been 50 mile days that felt like 100, but yesterday was 93 and it felt like 40. Could it be we are actually getting into shape? Nahhhh.

Today will be a chilly 40 or so miles to Gainesville where we will visit with Joan, Dan and Jacob! Then it is off to Lake Kerr where we might see Marty's sister Lee. Then it is a 55 miler to end it Thursday. Can't believe it.

We will be posting a series of lists of various conditions, people, places, ideas and things we have picked up as we road along in the next day or so. Some of it is actually funny.

All the best



Again, barring any unforeseen major issue, we will try to roll up to A1A and 206 between 5:30 and 6:00 PM Thursday.

As a courtesy to the South Beach Grill, Kelly wanted to give them an idea of how many extra people might be descending upon them that evening. Please e-mail Kelly at if you are planning on being there and patronizing the restaurant. If you are just going to pop by and say hi, no need to drop an e-mail.

Please remember, we are not making reservations (can't) or anything like that, we just want to be nice to the folks at the restaurant and give them a heads up.



A Sunday Ride

We left Chattahoochee and the weirdest restaurant ever at 9 AM today. I make it a rule to to keep religion out of the blog, but this was an over-the-top Christian themed restaurant complete with a Gospel performer with a band! All I wanted was some food at the end of the day. As it was the only game in town, we had breakfast there this morn - OY!

Do not let anyone tell you there are no hills in Florida. We have been rolling up and down all day. Nothing too brutal - but hilly nonetheless.

Our internet connection is so bad I am sitting outside the hotel to type this, so pictures will not be posted until possibly Tuesday when we will be at my sister Joan's place (yahoo, and thanks, Joan).

When we post them, you will see one of the Florida State University Stadium which I have renamed, Tim Tebow Field.

I failed to mention that Robby Mott of Bikes Plus in Pensacola helped us out a bunch - cool guy. Thanks to Norm for hooking us up.


Saturday, April 4, 2009

How did we end up in Georgia?

Hi all,

We had a very uneventful 87 miles today, until the very end.

We crossed over the Apalachicola river into Chattahoochee, home of the Florida State Mental Hospital. We then traveled just 2 miles north to a really nice campground on Lake Seminole, which I promptly renamed Lake Tim Tebow. Poof we are Georgia!

Another state under our belts.

Tomorrow we are back in Florida... three 80 milers and two short days and we are done! We are very excited at the prospect of seeing everyone.

As today was a snoozer, adventurewise, I thought I would mention that Alabama's Redneck Riveria is really a fantastic place. I suppose everything looks new due to the fact a Hurricane wipes it clean about every ten years, but still. I would definitely visit there again.


Rest day then big day

Because of some very bad weather, and the fact that it was about time, we took a rest day Thursday in Gulf Shores AL. Early in the day the sky was falling and we were very glad not to be on the road. We got some laundry done, shopping done and Jake got a hair cut.

It cleared a bit and we walked to the beach area, about 2 miles away, to check the place out. The town is a very nice beach resort location. When we got to the beach the weather started turning bad again and we ended up stranded (if you can believe this) in a bar on the ocean. These places have people whose only job is to serve you drinks. It was good to be out of the rain and lightning. We saw lighting strike the water just at the edge of the beach, pretty wild.

Friday we got a early start and headed to FL. The weather was great and we had a slight wind in the back. We road through a very nice part of Pensacola over high bluffs overlooking the bay. It was surprisingly hilly for FL.

We did have a mishap in the City of Pensacola. We made a wrong turn that took us just a couple blocks off course. We took the opportunity to have a snack and get our bearings. When we rolled away from the stop, I went the right way on a one way street and Jake went the wrong way to get to where we had to go. As soon as I noticed Jake wasn't with me I went back to where we last saw each other (survival tactic). Jake thought, "we just talked where we were going, so I headed there". So Jake road a few miles ahead and waited and I stayed where we were just knowing he would come back.

I waited about 25 minutes and thought "Maybe he can't find his way", so I rode to try and find him. As you might expect we past each other on side streets as he did come back and I went to find him. I asked a jogger if he had seen a goofy guy pulling the yellow trailer. He had, going the opposite direction from which I had came. Then we found each other. About 45 mins lost

What is funny about this is that each strategy (Go to where you were going or go to the last place you were) makes sense and would work, but they don't work if employed at the same time.

As we cruised down a country road in FL we came to the Blackwater river that had swollen it's banks and was now running across the road we needed to take. We took off our shoes, put all the bags on top of the yellow dry sack on the trailer and headed in. About 100 yards later we were out and the dry sack lived up to its name. The sack was actually floating and trying to pull Jake and his bike down river. Yes this is an adventure.

We spent the night camping right on a lake. It was a full day of riding and we set up camp in the dark. 130 miles is my biggest single day of riding and one of Jakes biggest.

All in all a great day with big miles that takes some pressure off for getting in on Thursday.