Slept on and off last night somewhere inbetween Orange and Standardville. Hard ground get harder and the earth is very very cold. Which I did not know, and turns out does not soothe but intensifies aching muscles. The sky is foggy this pre-sunrise morning, it hangs low over the field, holding back the rush of daytime as we head towards Skyline Drive & the Shenandoah National Park. The crickets get quieter in the day but never actually stop… or maybe there are so many that you do not hear the new ones begin. One interesting thing was assuring an older woman who was kinda crazy and overly concerned in Standardsville (I think) at a gas station. She was asking for our names and numbers and address. In case we were ever in trouble. It sounds normal as we type this, but she was overly charismatic about getting our information and requested that we send her letters periodically. Kinda clingy right? Also crazy was this dog who chased us for miles! At first it looked mean and mad, like it was going to bite us. After a mile of us speedily trying to get away it caught up to us, but at that point it seemed way nicer! Finally after another mile we stopped and yelled at it to go home. It did not, it also crossed a major road to continue following us. It was quite the dilemma, finally it gave up. The dog ran out of gas after a while, But probably ran 4 or 5 miles just to be with us! It felt like we were very important, I guess dogs do not see people like us very often out in these parts. We made it up the 33 grade to Swift Run Gap, some 2,300 ft. change! Dustin and I are intrigued by the weird behavior of a butterfly. I think it is attracted to Dustin. With our bikes loaded heavy the climb to the top of the appalachians was pretty tough! The scenery today is… nice, mostly consisting of small (weak) trees and decomposing leaves. The most beautiful part is watching them fall as we ride through thickly wooded areas.I am laying here on a sweet patch of grass under I don’t know what kind of tree The kind with pretty leaves I guess. Judging by the sun its about 11:30am and Dustin is on the picnic bench next to me drawing. He is worried we are not making good enough time, and that is true, but I could not care less. After there mountains is flat sailing through the “corny” midwest.
It is now nighttime, and my pillow currently consists of my longjohns and riding gloves (yes, a pillow the ise of a softball) Want to know why? I’ll tell you! First let me take you back to this afternoon. Dustin and I we’re gliding up and down the ridges of the Appalachians stopping to take in each scenic vista overlook (in actuality it took us over 5 hours to go 15 miles) I am not going to lie, I am not in shape and there is sooo much uphill! But the breaks were perfect. Also, side-note, my hair is basically always in a pony tail now, its kind of bad ass. Anyway we finally fet to the campground entrance sign with relief, after grabbing a bite (DUstin got a cheeseburger and fries, I got a turkeywrap with extra veggies mmmm). Yes I am still telling the story of my pillow. To our shock and minimal anger, the entrance to the ground was 3 more miles straight uphill, steeper than anything in the last 50 miles of the day. Ahh! Making it to the top (experiencing a wild group of large deer running down the hill and back into the trees) before we reach the pay-booth which is the next turn I duck under a chained off “closed” road to discover an abandoned section of the camp ground (maybe an old spillover area) I go back to fetch Dustin, convince him that no ones coming through the gate, and if they do how will they actually punish us? So, we have a amazing campsite, free and to ourselves. Big grassy and beautiful with deer just around the corner. Its super overgrown and grass/weeds burst through the cracking asphalt road. The bushes and branches spillover… Where cars once roamed now only bikes, deer and feet can pass. So back to my dilapidated pillow. before we went to go shower for some reason we covered up our bike bags with rain protection, leaving the test sans rainfly we headed to our beloved warm shower stalls! 1 dollar for 5 minutes?! What the heck?! it was so good though and so needed. I used up ten minutes because I washed our clothes using the slats of the handicapped seat as a washboard (resourceful thing #3) Tangent: #1 resourceful thing was Dustin’s bike-camera mount. He was about to give up cause he couldn’t think of a way to mount it to take pictures to his side. (He original idea was broken) So, industrial me took a look around and the only thing in sight was the small metal handle on top of a trashcan lid. (I drew a picture of it in my journal) He thought it would not come off, but somehow I knew better. So we bent it out and mounted it to the crate on the back of his bike using zip-ties from my Uncles house, and now it works perfect! #2 was when Dustin’s Cargo crate fell off his bike because the bungees were fatigued. I had extra zip ties and we secured it very well at four points to his rear rack. Stronger than ever! End Tangent. So anyways, it had started raining while we took pictures of the blue mountain twilight from the shower building as our clothes dried in the modern drier. Suddenly realizing what was happening we both took off for our campsite (and exposed tent) and we quickly set up the rainfly and lay soaking wet in the tent. Dustin basically gets frostbite and I am left with shorts and the longjohns I threw in the test earlier as a pillow! End of story, sorry if it was not a very exciting ending.
The morning of our Fredricksurg departure, my Uncle gave us a ride to the edges of the city. Dropping us off near a church we were pointed in the direction of Lake Anna. Even a few minutes into the journey we got a couple people honking at us and giving us the finger on country roads. Now all we had for directions was our AAA road map. Which we were soon to find out did not post all country roads as connecting. In total we probably road 5-10 miles out of our way. One great stop was in front of a house where some lady was mowing her large lawn with a dog in her lap, and almost as soon as we dropped our bikes in the grassy swale to take a break the family that lives there rolls up, instantaneously offering us cold bottled waters. What a great first experience during our Virginia Travels! Arriving at Lake Anna around 9:30am we decided to have brunch on the Lake, after passing up the virtually empty lake beach we headed to the docks where we were able to decompress on the picnic tables, we had some trailmix and clif bars and we went into the water. In all we ended up being at the lake for 4 hours, leaving around 1pm we were behind schedule, but I never said there would be one. Oh yeah, do not eat the hotdogs at the lake anna food area, they had the hardest casings. it was disgusting. We passed through the town of Orange and ended up settling for the night behind some huge cylindrical hay-bails covered in white plastic in-between a dirt road and someones large piece of property. The house could not see us through the forest, and thankfully no one used that road that night. We we half a day behind, wanting to not camp in countryside but at the foothills.
I have finally found some time to finish this blog on my summer journey.
Leaving Washington D.C. made things real. Things were still comfortable there. We had old and new friends there, the city is surprisingly inviting for how cold and conspiring with justice it seems on television. Riding our bikes through the national mall, memorials & the capitol was almost surreal as there is no better way to experience a city than at sunrise on two wheels.
Nevertheless I was time to move on after 5 days at Tyler’s house. The first day would be 70 miles of riding mostly on a major Highway. The first place we passed through was called Alexandria and it proved to be a very quaint and friendly city, a guy at a bike shop near the harbor was really cool, along with a cool tunnel to ride through.By our first meal we immediately realized we would be eating 2-3 times more food than normal each day we ride. After the end of the Mt. Vernon Bike Path after Alexandria things got pretty terrible, even the occasional breaks of forest left us with 2 feet of room between us and the speeding cars down highway 1, one of the most notorious highways for traffic. Needless to say we could not wait to get into the country. After riding for nearly 12 hours we got a hold of my Uncle, and he met us about 5 miles from his house in Fredericksburg. We looked crazy, sweaty and super beat. The next few days we spend learning how to walk on rubbery legs, making preparations for camping off of our bikes and last minute important purchases.
So, Dustin and I are ready. Ready as we will ever be. After many adjustments and reorganizing My packout has been thinned down to (for those future riders):
1. my 2-person tent (cause i dont have a sleeping bag)
2. fleece blanket
3. small beach towel
4. spare tire, spare tube
5. 3 pairs thin socks, 1 thick
6. padded riding short
7. thermal longjohns, short pants, rain pants, 2 lightweight shorts
8. 2 dry-fit shirts, 1 tank top, 1 wind jacket
9. riding/running/hiking/river shoes
10. leisure shoes, bandana, hat, beenie
11. 2-WHICKING underwear, 1 cotton underwear
Dustin has everything else we need (tarp, stove etc.)
Whew, It’s gonna be above 80 degrees basically the entire trip with cooler nights in the 50’s. The rockies will be interesting, but thats not for a while. Out first/test ride from Washignton D.C. to Fredericksburg,VA was a huge learning experience. Finding roads with bike trails happens about 3% of the time, mostly spotty… it will be crucial to stay off any roads larger than one lane, never entering cities over a 1,000 people big. Dustin and I roade the highway 1 south for 60 miles and it was absolutely terrible, traffic in and outside of DC is really some of the worst in the United States, at least in LA you can ride around burbs. Here its freeway, highway or nothing. Experienced some road anger against another pair of cyclists and I actually fell when I went off of the sidewalk (avoiding sand) and my tire dropped into the deep grass edge… ribs still brusied (since my arm was to fatigued to break my fall).
Now that the bike is basically too heavy to lift with one arm, I am ready to experience the countryside, those good ole country folk, the blue ridge moutains (see fleet foxes band), endless corn fields to pick from, the rockies (again), to lose fat, to grow my beard and have hair to my shoulders. anyways, it feels good to see big ideas come to fruition, a motto I hope to foster as I gain some sort of responsibility in my life.
Glory be to the Father.
I have been on the road for nine days now,
the highlights have been transitioning from Vegas burbs to the solitary stillness of the desert bordering lake mead. The peaceful valleys near Zion, boulder Utah, natuita Utah, the national parks (Lake Mead, Zion, Bryce Canyon, Grand Staircase, Coral Reef, Arches, Rocky Mountain, Wind Caves with Buffalo) along with numerous national forests. It was great protesting Mt. Rushmore and alternatively swimming in a small lake and cliff jumping, carving through white river forest in the Rockies, creating a shelter from birch trees and pine bows which got the three of us through a 10,000 ft rainstorm. Along with finding out a tree = $100. Oh yeah, then there is the antique shops and abandon houses, windmills and Innumerable dirt roads.
Day 1: camped calville bay at lake mead
Day 2: just east of Zion national park in a valley a half mile south of Mt. Carmel Jct.
Day 3: an epic yellow flower meadow 18 miles east of boulder, UT
Day 4: agricultural valley a mile east of Naturita, Co
Day 5: Beer tasting in Telluride, CO with an overnight in a golf course home in eagle, CO
Day 6: chopped down 7 trees for an Epic natural shelter near eldora ski resort near nederlands, CO
Day 7: country folk, long trains and amazing dusk horizons on what fields in Lusk, Wyoming
Day 8: Random pasture off of highway 26 (20 mi. North of 90) right before Missouri river
if you know me, then you’ll know that most of all I have enjoyed the conversation I have been having on the ling or winding stretches of rural highway.
I realize my blogs never take on any disposition, try to grasp or surround an interest topic. My writing serves no greater end other than to fulfill it’s post. They always lose steam because something less interesting or more private happens in my life. I know now any good story ends, there is a rythm and reason behind story telling. This will be my third, the last two stand stangnant. I should probably memorialize those entries with a document of thier own, submit them to the writers of blogging for dummies for use as examples of how not to write. Writing blogs are not easy, you cannot forget that it is just a new, more accessible platform for the art of writing. An partIcular skill that is not easy. So I would like to preface the rest of this dialouge between me and my readers in the form of first person narration or storytelling of my life as: modern horse, to represent my chosen pace on a bicycle. This story ends when I unmount my bike in central Colorado or Arizona.
I’ll be writing you from this land cruiser,