Monday, September 30, 2013

Bike Trip Wrap Up

KI've been home a week now.  It's fabulous to be back in Middlebury and at work at the Swift House Inn.   For almost 4 weeks my entire time was spent riding, planning, eating and looking for lodging to sleep. So now it's adjusting to a normal schedule and trying to not eat all day.  The trip turned out to be 1730 miles with 24 days of riding.  My average day was 71 miles per day and if I drop the 4 short days caused by weather, mechanical problems I averaged almost 78 miles per day.  That's plenty of time in the saddle.  I've been asked why, it was a personal challenge to test myself, more mentally than physically.  The time alone was wonderful but still would rather have company along the way.  I was surprised by the friendliness of the people of the southern states.  Each time I stopped at a country store in the middle of no where, both employees and others stopping there were very friendly and always asked where I was headed.  Once into Virginia and north that stopped.  The country stores turned into chain convenience stores and people really showed no interest.  I am also amazed at the number and denominations of small churches in the south.The Adventure Cycling Atlantic Coast route and maps were outstanding, sometimes difficult to follow but had great back roads and limited high traffic roads. Routes through the big cities were fun.  Bike trails were always a challenge as they are never marked well. Being alone on the routes and most of the time in the middle of no where, I always felt safe and had no incidents.  I did'nt even have anyone in a car yell or honk in anger or to scare me.  That is a first on these trips of me.  Off the bike at night there was never any problems. I have and still have great faith in people. Now dogs along the route are a problem but none caught me, in fact I never was really threatened. When I needed information or help people always responded.  I had dozens of people wish me well and safe riding. I met 6 other solo travelers either on the route or crossing and 3 were solo females.  There always was a spirited and  encouraging conversation.  We shared information about the route ahead and the experiences behind us.  There was an instant bond and understanding of the craziness, someone of the same spirit.  This type adventure can be addictive.  It is mind numbing vigilance and awareness that keeps you safe.  Constantly pushing the peddles and watching for what is up ahead.  Heat, cold, rain, wind, doubt and miles of road challenge you and the goal ahead motivates you.
    I did my ride alone but I never could have done it without support and help, I never was really alone. My wife Michele had to endure the planning and training and the 4 weeks of running the in by herself. If not for her I could not do these trips.  My friend Jim who crossed  the country with me 5 years ago, followed with his route maps, and his knowledge of having done this trip last year with Mary.  Jim called twice a day with encouragement, advice and in a few instances saved me with calls to find lodging and bike shops.  I very much appreciated those who sent me e mails and responded to Facebook and the blog.  I did not have time to answer those but your encouragement was really appreciated.  The I had my help along the way, Amber and my Grand Daughters before I started in Jax, son Aaron for 2 great days off the bike, friends Ray and Lisa for hosting me a night! Michele 's sister and husband Marica and Marty and parents who each picked me up for the night.  My great friends son Will and his wife Anne who rescued me from a storm for the night and great Innkeeping friends Frank and Julie owners of the Inn at Manchester, who hosted me for my last night on the road.  All of you took part in my adventure and I really appreciated your hospitality and help.  
     That wraps up this adventure, thank you all for following me.   Now with winter coming I will have time to figure out my next adventure........

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Manchester VT to HOME 65.5 miles Sep 21

I'm home, it's done and I'm happy.  After a really great dinner, good sleep and a fun evening with Julie and Frank, owners of the Inn at Manchester, I was on the road at 7:00. A beautiful and cool morning, not cold.  It was to be. A 66 mile sprint up route 30. What a beautiful ride in the souther part of the state. Then riding along the lakes and finally the hills from the lakes into Middlebury.  The great help was a very strong wind on my back which really pushed me along.  One of my fastest days rides at 12.5 miles per hour, pretty fast for day 24. I arrived at the Swift House Inn at 2:15 with a large group of friends to greet me, great banner and cake.  It was very exciting arrival.  Took a shower and a nap.  I am very happy to be home and the trip was made easier by a group of great friends and family.  I'll make another post in the next couple of days to give some of thoughts

Day 23 Hillsdale NY to Manchester VT 84 miles

After waking up in the smallest motel room and having slept in my sleeping bag it was another chilly start.  I trusted my sleeping bag to be clean.  Anyway this was to be a big day and I was concerned.  Just not sure what the terrain and winds would be like to get me the 84 miles.  So after 17 miles in 2 hours I was more concerned .  I figured I needed to average about 11 miles per hour to make it at a reasonable time.  The first 17 proved to have the biggest hills.  The next 2 hours I covered 25 miles, so now I was making time.  I needed to nit Bennington VT, yahoo VT, by 4:00 and then have 21 miles to go to Manchester.  Well I arrived Bennington at 1:30 and I eased up to make  a little after 4 arrival.  I had only been off the bike 3 times the whole day.  I am staying with Frank and Julie the owners of the Inn at Manchester, a really fabulous Inn.  We've had a great evening catching up and Frank actually did a solo cross country ride with similar route to my previous ride, so we exchanged stories.  They also made a much appreciated steak dinner.  I've had a great evening. Tomorrow is a 68 mile ride to home.  I am so ready to see Michele and be back at the Swift House Inn!   I'm ready!,
Last nights cozy room.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Day 21 Stroudsburg PA to Pine Bush NY 73 miles

Wow, probably my best day yet.  I slept in an hour since the temp was to be 38 at 7:00 and outside my comfort zone.  So I pushed off at 9:00 with the temp at 47.  I'm on the road with an under sized new front tire and some patched tubes!  I'm more comfortable now that I have gotten rid of that tire!  Still struggling some with gears and a little concern that maybe it is the rear wheel causing some of the flat problems.  I'm off the Adventure Cycling route, avoiding the hills on the NJ side and taking the 33 miles direct on route 29 to Milford where there is a Bike Shop holding my favorite and correct size tire and 2 tubes. Arrived at 12:15, and T.C. at Action Bikes and Outdoor went to work.  He was fabulous, very competent, professional and thorough, he explained everything and gave advice.  He moved my somewhat worn tire to the front, and put the new one on the back.  The rear tire takes the load and wear.  Almost all flats on a loaded bike are the rear.  T.C. replaced the cassette gear, the chain, the middle chain wheel , the shifter cable and repaired the shifter cable housing.  He worked on the bike for 2 hours, I got lunch and Jim found me a motel that was 40 miles from the shop.  I can not say enough about Action Bike and T.C., my bike felt new, no noise, perfect shifting, more efficient ride and worry free tires. I was very happy and was cruising.  Leaving the shop at 2:15 I road the 40 miles in 4 hours with about 20 minutes of stops, I averaged 11.8 miles per hour for the day.  I am 20 miles further than I expected today.  Happy, Happy.  We'll see what I can do tomorrow!
Pictures:  my favorite stop but not yet open, a magical comfort in tonight's motel and my $8.95 dinner at the Diner across the street.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Day 22 Pine Bush NY to Hillsdale NY. 83.7 miles

Big day today, this is part of my push to catch up on a day and get home on Saturday instead of Sunday.  This day and tomorrow with an 86 mile ride are needed.  It's late in the trip and the route is hilly so these distances are hard.  I really made great time in the AM getting to the Hudson River Walking Bridge by 10:30 via a bike trail.  Of course getting off the bike trail I missed the exit so ventured off the rout again for several miles.  Actually saved a mile riding. I picked up a rail trail in Amenia Ny to Millerton and that would be the end of the Adventure Cycling trail as I headed north on  NY route 22.  A 17 mile push to Hillsdale, and it was hard.  The route was great I was just getting very tired.  I am in an interesting motel, probably the worst I've been in.  Bike and I barely fit in the room.  It is my last motel night as I'll be staying with friends tomorrow.  A short blog tonight I'm exhausted and the biggest day is tomorrow!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Day 20 Reiglesville PA to Stroudsburg PA 34 miles

Well to start, the plan was to end up in Port Jervis NY, for about a75 miles ride.  So here is the story....
After a great night with Michele's parents, they dropped me at the pick up point at  7:30. I was a little worried about how the gears would act and sound but the cleaning and adjustments of the night before paid off and they sounded great!  It was a cool 47 degrees and I was in the shade, chilly! I peddled 11 miles to Philipsburg, NJ and then consulted with my great friend Jim Mower.  I am riding solo but I have not been alone, Jim has been a hugh help and today was his biggest day! Jim rode across country with me 5 years ago and last year he and his wife Mary rode this same route from Bar Harbor to Key West. he has called me every day and he encourages me and I get route advice.  I was looking at the most hilly day of the trip for the next 50 miles.  So he and I came up with an alternate that would parallel the Cycling route but be less hilly, great for me.  Except for a big nail in the rear tire, the one that is acting up, a detour that I was able to walk around, the first 20 miles were great. After a quick lunch I was off again while Jim checked the next 40 mile alternate route.  Going down a hill a hand a rhythmic bumping feeling like road bumps. It was to rhythmic for me so I stopped mid down hill, I never do that.  About 3 inches of my rear tire was off the rim and the thumping was when it hit the brake.  I started to reach for it and the tube exploded. So while Jim looked for a bike shop, I moved the good front tire to the back, the crappy back tire to the front and all I had was patched tubes now.  It took  4 try's with tubes and 1 hour and 45 minutes, I was limping off route to a bike shop Jim had found. I  was lucky there was one within 7 miles.  They told Jim they had the right tire and tubes.  Well they did not, so right now I have a smaller tire, a couple of patched tubes and have called a shop 35 miles ahead and they have the right sizes.  So with luck I will limp there and get it fixed in the AM.  So I am in a Stroudsburg hotel, now having to plan different stops than I have already planned.  This will add another day.  Oh we'll,it did not blow when riding. I'm getting ready for for a short 55 mile ride tomorrow, it's that or 85 and hills and a bike shop stop will prevent that.  So I'll sleep in a little!  The Swift House Inn, middlebury Vermont and Michele are still 360 bike miles away or 5 days ridding.
Pictures are; Parents, the nail that caused the flat, a rider best find and the Delaware Water Gap in the distance

Day 19 Valley Forge PA to Riegelsville NJ. 82 miles

After a fabulous evening with Marcia and Marty , Marty dropped me off at the Valley Forge Park where they picked me up the day before.  Then he helped me to fix another rear flat tire, geez!  I check the wheel and tire each time and I'm finding nothing so it must be pinch flats.  So I pushed off a little late and head out to a pick up by Michele's parents about 20 miles from their house in PA.  I want to make good time to have a longer visit.  Well that plan immediately got more difficult with the start of a steady rain.  The first 9 miles of the ride was on a bike trail and another rider road part of the way.  He pointed me on the trail and left, a few minutes later he caught up and realized he sent me the wrong trail.  He then road with me and this trail came out at an easy place to get back on route.  The next 20 miles of the route was numerous turns, through neighborhoods and suburban roads, some turns were for only a block.  So the tire, rain and turns were slower than I wanted, but no hills. About 10:30 the rain stopped!  The 2:00 lunch was in New Hope and then the ride went into NJ and followed the Delaware River north. I had 28 miles to the pick up point, the road was flat and fast, but just for a challenge the last 3 miles had some hills. Finished the 28 miles in 2.5 hours! My drive train was making a lot of noise which I hope is due to the rain but I know the chain and rear cassette are worn.  Tonight I spent time cleaning the bike and oh yes, changed a slow leak rear tire.  After a really thorough check of the tire, wheel and the tubes I can not see why the tires are going flat. I seldom have flats and this is 4.  I replaced the wheel spoke tape thinking maybe the older tape is causing the pinch flats, as 3 of the 4 tubes show leaks on the side of the tube next to the wheel and not the outside, road side.  So we'll see how it does tomorrow, which is going to be a challenging ride up the Delaware Water Gap.  It is great to be here with family!!!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Day 18 Marietta PA to Valley Forge PA 80.1 Miles

I was hoping for a day with fewer steep hills as my goal is  to arrive as early as possible at Michele's sister and brother in laws home. The day started very cold, 47 degrees and foggy.  I almost all my warm clothes and it was still cold.  Wish I had my full finger gloves.  It warmed up quickly, and the hills were mostly just rolling.  The landscape was beautiful through the Amish country!  Isis not know one of there major crops is tobacco, and now is all in drying barns.  The closer to Philadelphia I got the farms disappeared and was more forest and housing.  I did meet a young lady today heading south on he same bike  route I am using and we shared thoughts on our rides. I learned quickly while in Amish country  there is a new obstinate to avoid on the shoulders.  Don't want that stuff kicked up by may tires!  The day went pretty well although I felt I was really working hard, I think I was just not fueled we'll enough after a lousy dinner last night.  The day worked out and I arrived at 4:30 to a great reception, great meal, bed and  a visit to Dairy Queen.  It is very nice to be with family!  And I get to do that tomorrow when I ride to Where Michele's parents will pick me.  Very tired tonight.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Day 17 Owings Mill Md to Marietta PA 78 miles

I never want to ride the same route twice on these trips.  So after a great night at a new Hampton Inn and a great breakfast, breakfast cook Michael and I loaded bike and gear into his car. Michael drove me the 5 miles back over ugly roads to Reistertown.  I loaded up, road about a 100 yards to my restart point and was off.  The temp was 50 and I was wearing my sleeves and rain parka and was cold for the first hour.  The ride was through the Maryland horse country and it is beautiful.  Lots of rolling hills, beautiful farms and forest lined roads, and I did say hills! I wanted to get back on schedule with my plan of where to stay.  After the 2 short days and a great nights sleep I felt much stronger.  Early in the AM I started to get some annoying head winds, they stayed against me the entire day and did I say hills.  Throughout the day I met some groups of riders and has some fun talks.  After lunch and 44 miles I entered PA.  This location is where I was shooting for yesterday and it took 5 hours to ride to because of the hills so my decision to not try it yesterday was a good one! So once in PA the hills got steeper, higher and more.  I really do like hills and ride them every day in VT.  These PA hills were long and very steep! I spent most of the day climbing in my lowest gears and then flying down the hills at 35 mph for just a couple of minutes then climb again.  I was trying to make a bike shop in Wrightsville which closed a 5:00.  I thought there was no way however 5 miles out I called the shop told them I was on the way and got there 2 minutes before closing.  My shifting was very messy and frustrating.  I could try to adjust them myself but I like pros to do it if I can.  And there are very few shops along this route since I am usually on remote roads.  They felt that the chain and rear cassette were shot, but were not interested in fixing them.  I do not agree but a new chain would have been nice.  They did some magic and they worked much better on the 5 miles to my motel over yet another big hill.  Motel is scary, ordered delivery and it was terrible, I am tired, legs sore.  So tomorrow it is to Michele's sisters house.  They live a few miles from the route and will pick me up at Valley Forge National Park.  Looking forward to seeing them, and a good bed!

Friday, September 13, 2013

Day 16 Rockville MD to Owings Mills MD 50 miles

Well another disappointing day.  With great intention and well taken care of by the Cocos family I ventured back out to finish the Rock Creek trail.  I had done some on line research about the trail. Will dropped me off and this time the trail was much easier. Then it was back to the roads.  The goal was another 85 mile day.  The roads were Very hilly with steep ups and downs.  So I spent a great deal of time standing to push up the hills and a short time sitting on the speedy downhills.  Then there was the dreaded head wind!  My speed was only averaging 10 mph were as on the flat rides I have been averaging above 12.  At 2:00 I was in Reistertown at 44 miles and 44 to go.  After some consulting with Michele, actually was admitting defeat, I decided that it would be a risk to push on.  So I went 5 miles off route, on a somewhat scary ride to a brand new Hampton Inn.  This is were I had planned to stay last night.  So I am now a whole day behind.  The early arrival has given me the opportunity to get caught up and get to bed early.  I am very tired and need sleep. I have arranged for one of the employees to give me a ride at 6:30,  5 miles back to where I left the route.  This will save some unnecessary spinning. Sorry the camera was never pulled out today.  I need a good day tomorrow.

Day 15 Sep 12. Ft Belvoir VA to Rockville Md 43 miles

Well this turned out to be a day!!!  The goal was 80 plus to an off route stay in Owings Mill Md.  So it started great by Ray dropping me off at the Ft Belvoir Gate at 6:45. Then a ride through the Ft itself.  As I have said I was stationed there, however I recognized little of the Fort as there has been massive  development and is a now very busy and crowded base. Exiting the Fort  the route took me to Mt Vernon and on the Mount Vernon bike trail, a beautiful bike trail.  Once it entered Old Town Alexandria the trail went back on streets and unmarked.  Really slowed me down using my GPS to get back on. After struggling to find my way I was back on the trail near the airport crossing the Memorial Bridge to the Lincoln  Memorial, a fabulous ride. Then I struggled to find the Capital Bike path that parallels the river then up through Georgetown and pick up the Rock Creek bikeway.  Again I got off trail two more times.  Bike paths are great however they are slow, sometimes rough, always have many curves and impossible to find the way with all the branches on and off. There is plenty of riders, runner, walkers, bridges and few signs. At 12:15 I met Will Cocos,and  his two very young sons at a picnic ground on the trail. Will is playing Mr Mom until January when he starts a new job. Will is family to us and an outstanding young man. Lunch was fabulous and we said our goodbyes,  back on the road at 1:15. I never got out of the parking lot, flat tire.  A quick change and then the rain started, heavy thunderstorm rain. My bike, gear and I road the rain out in a larger size port a potty, 45 minutes!  Great fun.  So with 40 plus miles I was in trouble to get to the destination. Then the trail navigation got worse, in 7 miles I lost the trail 3 more times.  After the 3rd, I was on on a very busy street, hugh black clouds were rolling in.  I  ducked into a Church, called Will and he and the boys rescued me!  The storms were crazy with lightning and extremely heavy rain.  So Will and Anne put me up for the night with a fabulous dinner and fresh start the next day. it was a gift to spend time with them. What a great place to get stranded.  I have a very detailed plan where I was to ride and stay each day.  I have always said that these plans never hold up due to the challenges of the long rides.  This one held for 14 days and I was was way to confident. Now to see what I have to do to adjust!

Day 14 Fredricksburg KOA to Ft Belvoir. 78.1 miles

This was to be an interesting day for me at the beginning.  Great ride through the Fredricksburg Battle Field.  I was to early for the visitors center but it was to be a long day so there was no time.  The route avoided the busy highway 1 by going west out around Quantico Marine base, this added about 20 miles but was the safest.  Well supposed to be. I was amazed at the developments out ther, The Virginia suburbs keep sprawling.  It was the hottest day yet, we'll at least the mid 90 felt that way. The closer I got to the fort which is along route 1 the busier the traffic got.  Roads opened to 6 lanes and it was constant housing developments and  shopping centers.  Not an inviting place to be riding a bike nor were the drivers interested in giving me any room and traffic was very heavy.I struggled some with the heat and distance but was able to phone into an innkeepers meeting for an hour.  The blue tooth on my helmut is fabulous.  I can take calls over the  helmut ear piece yet still hear traffic noise which is very important. I was very happy to arrive at the first Ft Belvoir Gate, a base that I was stationed at 1994-96.  A New England friend Ray Erickson picked me up for the night.  I had a fabulous time with Ray, Lisa and Sam with a great dinner.  They even prepared home made energy bars for me to take which are better than any commercial ones I have ever tasted.  It was a great night and tomorrow it is the ride through DC!  This is the early start sunrise.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Day 13. 15 miles from Richmond to just outside Fredricksburg VA. 77. 4 miles

NoSleeping on the floor of the church Sunday school room was not very comfortable, but apparently I slept OK. I did not properly set my phone alarm so it did not go off at 6:00 and I woke up at 6:40, the time I wanted to be on the road.  It was to be a hot day and I wanted an early cool start and early ride through downtown Richmond, oh well so it was a 7:40 start. The traffic and road into Richmond was not bad and the ride through the city was very nice.  The routes Adventure Cycling picks through cities are great.  I road past the Virginia Capital building, and the out bound of Richmond also was easy and I was quickly on country roads.  Lunch was at a great cafe in Ashland and with the late start at 11:30 I had only 34 miles by lunch, 40 to go!  The next 40 had some great ups and downs and a couple of the ups got may attention and my lowest gear which I have not used in a few years.  The downs were fun and none of the hills were long.  I was in the forest the entire afternoon with very few cars or trucks and no place to get water!  The day was hot, in the 90s but in the shade and moving was fine, stopping was another story.  I had the opportunity to stop for 45 minutes to repair my first flat, rear of course. I could find no reason for the flat and I have 2 spare new tubes. I also use tires that are belted, not fast but they prevent most flats! I believe the only type tires to use on these trips.  With no places for water, my three bottles were about empty and I was not drinking enough as to preserve the water I had.  I contemplated just asking someone for water.  With 3 miles to go to the KOA campsite, the Stonewall Jackson Shrine was a half mile off route, a visit I could not resist.  Run  by the National Park Service and in the middle of no where ,this was the farm building on a now none existent plantation that Jackson died of his wounds.  I really enjoyed seeing a place I had read so much about and the bonus was a water fountain. Hydrated and excited about my visit I quickly finished the 3 remaining miles.  I am at the Fredericksburg KOA, again not near anything.  So dinner was 2 non frozen and micro waved dinners, chips and ice cream, which I ate in my now familiar KOA "Kamp Cabin" , with AC, a bed and a desk.  Tomorrow it is a ride to Fort Belvoir in Northern VA, a fort that I had a 2 year tour at near the end of my career.  The route goes through the Fort and onto the start of over 50 miles of bike trail through DC. I will be staying with some friends which is a great break and I am looking forward to seeing them!

Day 12 (riding days) Suffolk Va to 15 miles outside Richmond. 86.5 miles

So after the send off I immediately entered the back roads and stayed that way all morning.  The sky was cloudy, cooler and the back roads great.  It was a good thing that I picked up a sandwich just before starting because I only passed a country store at 11:00 and then another at 4:00. At 1:00  I road a ferry from Surry Va to Jamestown, a 15 minute crossing of the James River.  The ferry docks next to the Jamestown settlement.  I immediately entered a 7 mile paved bike trail which was wonderful. Then on route 5 for 15 miles and another 7 miles of trail.  This was along route 5 and the James River.  There were numerous historical plaques about the settlement history, the plantations and the civil war. It really slowed me down to read almost all the plaques. The last couple of miles was through the 7 Day Battle Richmond Civil War Battlefields. It was late, there were hundreds of plaques and battle placements, I love learning about the war and I had to ride on.  My route maps listed a church that hosted bike riders.  I arrived at the Willis United Methodist Church at 5:45 and was met by pastor Mark.  He gave me the tour and set me up for the night.  This church hosts about 160 bicyclist a year, mostly riding the Trans America route Yorktown to Astoria.  I'm here alone tonight,  there is a shower, I will sleep on the floor of a classroom and I prepared pasta which the church provides.  This is an amazing ministry that the church provides!  Very comfortable and comforting.  Thank you Willis UMC!!!!  Today's ride was by far the prettiest and most interesting. Tomorrows should be similar starting with a ride through Richmond at morning rush!  Then ending at a campground in Fredericksburg.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Weekend Off in Virginia Beach

  Oh how fabulous.  I spent Friday through Sunday with my son.  It was great food, hot tub soaks, nap and riding around in his "rat rod". Oh yea then an ultimate guy thing, going to the Richmond Raceway and seeing a Saturday   night NASCAR race.  Sunday was a bike cleaning day and getting packed again.  My son dropped me of at the same spot he picked me up at in Suffolk.  It was hard leaving which is always true leaving him but getting back into the biking mind took a couple of hours.  I am rested and muscles almost

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Day 11 Plymouth NC to Suffolk 88 miles

Big day today, heading to Suffolk to be picked up by my son,  for a weekend with him in Virginia Beach.   Looking forward to days of no riding but first had to ride the initial plan of 96 miles, with the only options to shorten it was to ride a highway.  This was my 11th day of riding and my body is feeling it. Really looking forward to the days off.  The plan was for a fast morning ride to get as many miles as possible before lunch.  Was a good plan but I struggled through the morning with energy but did get 43 miles  by lunch stop.  I was on he bike most of the morning with only standing brakes to navigate.  After lunch the route took me up 4 miles up one of the highways and quickly convinced me that  I would not take the short route on it.  No shoulder and traffic.  After returning to the quiet back roads there was a bridge out and a detour into who knows where and no phone reception for GPS for most of the day.  Winding my way through the detour and a couple of wild guesses I ended back on route. In fact the route I ended  up saving 8 miles.  So the long day worked out and after the 88 miles my son picked me up  and will return me Monday morning.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Day 10 Bridgeton NC to Plymouth NC. 66.5 miles

Tried to get a little earlier start but still left at 7:10 with fog.  The entire ride today was very quiet back roads with the fog staying until about 9.  It was about 30 miles to a ferry crossing and the ferry schedule had  it leaving at 9:45 or a 11:15 for me to make.  I thought I'd push to get to the 9:45 but did not feel I could make the 30 miles with the time I got on the road. At 9:00 I passed a sign that said 9 miles to the ferry.  Race on, that is 12 miles per hour for 45 minutes, not a problem.  Well after 4 miles the next sign said 7 to go now it would be difficult. Not sure how they measured the miles. The last 7 miles was a smooth road and I was clocking 15 mph and passing the worlds largest phosphate mine.  So out of breath and energy I rolled onto the ferry with 1 minute to spare!  I went up to the passenger lounge and laid across the seats for the half hour crossing.  4 miles after the ferry was the only local diner on today's route so it was an early lunch.   Two miles past lunch was my only country store on the route, so I picked up water and snacks.  So my ride was broken into  2 30 mile segments and I road both without getting off the bike. That made for an early 3:30 arrival in Plymouth.  Which is great because the push tomorrow to get picked up by my son Aaron is 96 miles!  Fortunately tomorrow is a cool day.  Some road biking observations:  obviously all the roads I ride are paved, but the type pavement makes a difference.  A smooth asphalt road is fast.  When flat I can easily ride 13-15 mph.  Then there is a pavement that is asphalt with a gravel in it and it will take more energy and slow me down. Next is asphalt with larger stone gravel in it and it chatters when you ride and is very hard to keep speed.  The worst are when either of the 2 above get rough, with cracks and infinite very small bumps and small ruts. It is almost impossible to get above 10 mph because it takes much more energy to push through and you are constantly unloading on the saddle because the bike is just rattling.  I am constantly searching the part of the road to find a smooth line.  If this is on a busier road and I have to stay near or on the side of the road, usually a white line and no shoulders, then it is painful!  Last which I have not seen much is the oiled road with the stone gravel on top, usually smooth just again very slow.  Then the dreaded roads which have the dreaded joints avery few feet, some big enough that you have to unload the saddle, slow and painful and usually on the busier roads, yuk! So the last 7 miles to the ferry was new, smooth and flat great for speed.  Well, at least with a fully loaded, heavy, steel framed touring bike speed!  I did get to watch tobacco being harvested today and asked to one of the farmers, very interesting.

Day 9. Camp Lejeune NC to Bridgeton NC. 54.7 miles

   Today was a planned short day due to the distance after Bridgeton to the next lodging.  So I took advantage of the short ride and great Camp Lejeune accommodations.  I slept until 7:30, took my time, did the blog, ate some breakfast and was on the road at 10:10.  Of course it was another almost 5 miles to bike off the base and I rejoined the route after 10 miles of riding.  So my journey through the base for  outstanding accommodations only added about 4 miles to my route.  The days ride was in the country side the whole day.  I was riding by tobacco, cotton and peanut fields.  I had a late 1:00 lunch and took my time to get to the New Bern bridge over the Neuse River.  The bridge had a wide shoulder littered with a lot of stuff, and the way the bridge was grooved and sides made it very noisy.  A couple of miles after the bridge I arrived at a very nice KOA campground, with a cabin.  There was no food available near the KOA so I stopped at a local dinner and took a Pork chop and grilled cheese sandwich, got soda, cookies and ice cream at the camp store for a fabulous dinner in my cabin.  It's bring your own bedding (sleeping bag), has a TV, refrigerator and AC with shower next door. Fabulous.
Skyped our grand daughter for her birthday  tonight.  Only 2 more days of riding to see  son Aaron for the weekend!  This is my cabin!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Day 8. Kure Beach to Camp Lejeune NC 92.5 miles

   The early morning ride off the Island was along a newly paved and very quiet roads. Once off the island I was on a road that followed the Cape Fear River all the way to Wilmington.  The road was a little busy but very pretty with nice shoulders and designated a bike route.  The route through Wilmington was  an industrial area, then through the not yet open down town then out through nice neighborhoods and back out into the wilderness.  My goal for the day was to stay on Camp Legeune Marine Base, which was along the route.  At 42 miles I had lunch at a subway and called for a reservation at the Bachelors Officer Quarters on the base.  The ride was next along 10 miles of ocean beach and I crossed the inland waterway twice, all with a tail wind.  I departed the route and went 3 miles to a gate at the Base.  The guard laughed and said I had at least 10 more miles to get to the Main side of the base, a ride which took me along nice roads through the massive training areas.  This base is Massive!  Since the Quarters were not near places to eat I stopped at an on base Wendy's for dinner.  This was next to a base shopping area that rivaled a mall and had numerous fast food options.  It was 5:30 and the traffic was heavy.  I am amazed at the size of this.  After almost 20 miles on the base I arrived at the Quarters!  A two room suite fit for a very tired retired Navy Officer!  Then the thunderstorms came and dumped the rain! Nice to be inside.  My ride tomorrow is only about 50 miles so I will enjoy this room and sleep in.  My legs are sore and fatigue has set it! Pictures of the waterway.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Day 7 Conway SC to Kure Beach NC 82 miles

    At night writing the blog it is difficult to think back of the days ride and remember what the ride was like. The days run together and getting more tired makes the day's terrain  seem a blur.  Things happen and people are what I remember. So, the weather was much hotter than forecast  at 93. My ride took me over to the beach and just skirted  Myrtle Beach then to the beach at Sunset Beach and back away until taking the ferry to Kure Beach. The roads were pretty god but I was in areas with lots of traffic, fortunately with good shoulders. I ran into a young lady who was from Australia, she had borrowed a bike and headed south from Philadelphia, without Adventure Cycling maps she was just picking her way not knowing anything of the US.  The only biking clothing or equipment was a helmut and stuff strapped to her bike.  She stayed using Warm Showers, people who open their homes. She was having a good time on her college holiday.  I ran across  the best Convenience store in the world, it had a Dairy Queen.  After the milk shake it was 3:00 and I saw a sign for the ferry 18 miles ferry departures  at 4:45 or 6:15.  Race on, next 9 miles in 30 minutes then 9 miles in 40 minutes, 20 minutes to spare to get the 4:45 ferry. I met a great young local couple and they helped me find a motel and gave some great advice!  After 7 days I fell pretty good, gaining on the saddle battle and just some tired legs. I'm at 525 total miles and on schedule to be in Virginia Beach on Friday for a weekend with my son! Possibly some rain tomorrow. Picture of bike has 2 saddles not for hitch hikers but Michele sent my old saddle down to see if it would help.  I'm good with the new one now.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Day 6 Monck's Corner SC to Conway SC 91.4 miles

   This was to be be a big day and long day.  This also was the first morning that was clear, so it was hot sunshine all day.  The first 25 miles were on back roads through National Forrest.  The roads were tree lined,  shady and cool.  So it was a fast 25!  After that 25 most of the ride was in the sun.  It never seems to hot to me while I'm peddling but stopping you can feel the heat.  I stop and get off the bike for lunch and usually 2 to 3 convenience store stops for more food and drink each day.  But I also stop  several times and just straddle the bike, mostly to check the route, put on sun screen, snack and always water.  This break just gets me out of the saddle for 1 to 5 minutes.  I carry the 2 water bottles and the electrolyte drink bottle and I'll take of drink out of these every few minutes while riding. I try never to feel thirsty.  I stopped in Andrews SC at 11:00 for lunch.  I choose a McDonalds not for the food but a cool place to sit. I was at 40 miles with a long 50 to go and was tired, I had not eaten enough in the morning.  Refueled and renewed I set out to push the afternoon and that worked. I made 2 short store stops for drinks and arrived in Conway at 5:00, at least an hour ahead of what I planned.  The last 17 miles motivated me. The road was 2 lanes, no shoulders and way to much traffic.  I pushed as hard as I could to finish, the cars were way to close.  I sprinted 3 miles, get of the road, drink and rest for 3 minutes then back on. My average speed today was 12.6   Which is great for me on the loaded heavy bike.  Sill struggling to with photo sharing between iPad an iPhone.  I'll try to figure it out!