Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Day 35 Another Day at Disney

This is most of the cast of the show we watched on Main Street. The dapper fellow on the right is Scoop Sanderson. You can see the fire cheif on the left and in the background on his right is the mayor. Two of the 1890s ladies are also in view as is one of the three sax players that accompany them. The show involves nice singing and (bad) jokes. It is a lot of fun,.

We were up early. I (Mel) did not sleep particularly well. We are now in the Bay Lake Tower Villas. The place is beautiful. We got ourselves together and ate breakfast. We wanted to make it to early opening hours at the Magic Kingdom. We walked from our building to the entrance and watched the opening show and then went in.

The place was pretty empty. We have observed that families with young children do not get them up and out very quickly so if you are in early you can do lots of rides with virtually no lines. We did about 6 rides in a couple of hours, watched a long show on Main Street, and did some pin shopping. All these things required walking to different parts of the park so by 11:30 it was hot and we were tired.

We had made an appointment to attend a member event for Disney Vacation Club members so we went back, and had soda until the time. We then spent a couple of hours at the event. This event was held on The Top of the World. That is an observation deck on the 16th floor of the Bay Lake Tower Villas. The views are spectacular. Florida is pretty flat so you can see Sea World, Universal Studios Park, and downtown Orlando, as well as super views of the Magic Kingdom itself. We have access to that room by virtue of staying here on points and may use it to view the fireworks on night.

 We are now back in the room, chilling. I worked a bit. Papers are coming in and I graded a couple.  Debbie is doing laundry and reading.

At about 4:30 pm I got a call from a writer for our hometown newspaper in Cortland, NY. I had emailed the writer for the Living section and told her about our trip and gave her our blog address. She called to do an interview by phone. We talked for about 30 minutes or so. I emailed her two pictures of our bike and trailer.  I have no idea what she will do with the information but I hope someone at home buys a couple of papers if a story appears about us.

At 5:00 there is a pin-trading session in the Towers and at 7:00 there is one in the Contemporary. We went to both.  We got a couple of good pins for our collection.

Today’s ride: No miles.

Debbie’s emotionometer:
Good spirits, although Mel was tired all day today. We had the morning at Magic Kingdom and the afternoon and evening at the hotel. Lots of good pin trading. We are planning to watch a movie DVD tonight that we borrowed from the DVC library.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Day 34 Bay Lake Towers and Animal Kingdom

We saw a lot of giraffes and one juvenile was nursing. We have never seen anything like this before here.

We were up relatively early. I worked a bit and Debbie did laundry. We did not bring much in the way of clothing and the heat down here requires frequent washes.

This was to be the day we packed and rode over to our new accommodations so we packed. We should have done that last night but we were too tired. We finally got on the road at about 8:00am and biked the 5.6 miles from Old Key West to the Contemporary, the sight of check in for the DVC at Bay Lake Towers.

We road up, parked the bike and went in to register. A woman came over to us. Her name  was Judy and she was  a “greeter” and facilitator. She was blown away by what we had done and had to see the bike. We took her out and were soon surrounded by a small crowd of onlookers including the hotel manager, Patrice, who gave us a balloon bouquet saying “Celebrate!”. They helped us through the process of getting settled. A bell person helped us with getting  our trailer into our room. Patrice even brought out a camera and took our picture. They were all very nice and very helpful and supportive.

We went up to our room. It is beautiful. We changed and got ready to go out. First we went down to the “cafĂ©” and got our refillable mugs and had a couple of sodas. Then we went out to grab a bus to Animal Kingdom.

It was hot. We did less at AK than usual. With no grandchildren with us we have no incentive to rush and burn the candle at both ends. We did the safari ride, the Nemo show, and the Lion King show. On the Safari we got a wonderful picture for my granddaughter Julia. We ate lunch. We also described our ride countless times. We had been given buttons that said, “ celebrating bicycling from NY’” and that was a conversation starter. One cast member was so impressed that she gave us each a free Mickey ice cream sandwich. We also did a bunch of pin trading, and were able to get a lot of the pins we were hunting.

We decided to leave about 3:45. It appeared that the afternoon storm was developing. It has not hit yet. We are back at the room. When we arrived, we found a little “congratulation” present, including the picture that Patrice had take in the morning, a photo album, and a disposable camera to replace the camera we lost. Thanks, Patrice, you rock! We did a bit of cleaning up, I worked for a bit, downloaded some pictures, and wrote this blog. I only have my cell phone for digital pictures so they are not all as good as they might be. We will go out to dinner somewhere in a bit.

Today’s ride: We rode 5.8 miles at 8.9 mph. We were on the bike for 39 minutes which give the heat and humidity was more than enough to get soaking wet. The trip stands at 1376 miles.

Debbie’s emotionometer:
We are pumped by the kindness and powerful reaction we got at check-in here.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Day 33 A Day at the Magic Kingdom

When we got back to the room today we found the following package on the bed with a note of congratulations on our retirement. The contents were fruit, tea, cups, and an alarm clock all in a Mickey-shaped basket. We we have not retired. I think they mean our ride down here. What a nice gesture.

Yesterday we returned to find a balloon bouquet with a discount photopass card attached. Also a very nice gesture.

Neither of these was in any way expected but very much appreciated..

We slept a bit later, not much. We got up and cleaned up. I got online and did a bit of work. Then we got our act together and set off.

First there was breakfast and a run through the shop to do pin trading. We had decided to go to the Magic Kingdom again so we boarded the bus bound for there. We got in about 9:15 and started pin hunting. We seemed a bit more rested than yesterday.

We spent the morning pin trading and doing rides. We made it a point to be on Main Street at 10:45 to greet one of our favorite characters - Scoop Sanderson. He plays a reporter for some local late 19th century newspaper. There is a cast of characters that sometimes appear with him including a “mayor.” Today it was just Scoop and a lovely young lady in 1890's garb. In addition to his comedy role, Scoop is a pin-trading expert. We traded with him of course.

After Scoop there were some rides and then lunch. After lunch we did a few more rides and wandered around talking to people. At around 2:00 pm we started to hear the rumbling and noticed that parts of the sky were darkening. We thought the afternoon storm was coming so we decided to go back to our room to sit it out. We left, took the bus, and just made it as the rains started.

I worked for a while. Debbie read. After a couple of hours we started to get hungry so we set off for Downtown Disney to eat at one of the Wolfgang Puck restaurants. It seemed to take forever for the bus to arrive but before too long we were at the restaurant having a very nice meal (Disney Dining Plan).

After dinner we “window shopped” at the pin store. We then went out to wait for the bus which took forever to arrive. The ride back to the room took almost 45 minutes. One reason was that we ran into a traffic light that would not turn green. The driver had to call in for help to get it fixed. We met an interesting couple on the bus and talked about grandchildren and digital cameras.  Finally we got back.

Tomorrow we check out and ride over to the Bay Lake Towers for the rest of our stay here.

Today’s ride: None, just many miles of walking.

Debbie’s Emotionometer: Disney is great. Nobody was Grumpy today.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Day 32 Old Key West At Last

We got up early at the Hawthorne Suites. Neither Debbie nor I slept well. No reason. The room was great, the bed was comfortable, the air conditioning worked well. I particularly slept very poorly. That might explain why I dragged all day.

We got up, did the usual. I got online and did a little work and checked to see if there were comments on yesterday’s blog. Debbie did the laundry because the machine had been busy the night before and since we were up at 5 and breakfast was not until 7 there was plenty of time. Then we packed and loaded the bike. One bad thing. We lost our camera. We have no idea how or where but it is gone. I will be limited to my cell phone for the rest of the trip.

We had the Hawthorne’s very nice breakfast, checked out, and road the 3.7 miles to Old Key West. When we got there, the folks out front that help guest were amazed at our trip. They said we could check everything if we could not get into a room right away and at 8:30 am we did not think a room would be available.

We went in to check in and the woman at that was helping us was also amazed. She did have a room but it was second floor. She then proceeded to juggle things and gave us a choice of first floor rooms that were immediately available. We took the one closest to the bus stop. What good luck.

We first took our refillable mugs out back and sat and had some soda. Then we rode over, put the bike in the room and unpacked. After a brief rest we took Disney Transportation to the Magic Kingdom where we spent most of the day. It was hot. We did a bunch of rides and a lot of pin trading. Then we went over to Epcot basically for dinner although we did two rides there too.

As we left Epcot we could see the storm developing. While we waited for the bus we could see lightening strikes that appeared to be 4-5 miles away. When we got off the bus back at Old Key West it was just starting to sprinkle. Within a minute or so of getting into the room, the skies opened up with a downpour you could almost not see through. There were also plenty of pyrotechnics and claps of thunder. I am glad we got in, just.

Back at the room,  I have done some more work and am writing this blog entry. It is not the last one but with the exception of the ride over to Bay Lake Towers on June 21, the ride to Walt Disney World is history.

Today’s ride: We rode 3.7 miles at 8.9 mph. We were on the bike for about 28 minutes. We are 1370 miles into the ride.

Debbie’s emotionometer: High spirits! Love Disney!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Day 31 We Did It!

We got out on time this morning at about 6:10 thinking we had about 48 miles to get to the Hawthorne Suites on the Palm Parkway. We did not want to take a chance on not getting to Disney today so when we added to our reservation, we just added two days. So we are here, about 2 miles outside one of the entrances in a nice two room suite.

The ride from Umatilla was difficult. The road was rolling and curvy. We could not seem to get the bike above 9 mph except when were going down hill.

We stopped for second breakfast at a Subway near Sorrento, FL. We also bought a lot of water because were unsure of what might be up the road. We had gone about 18 miles. That’s not a lot but we were pretty tired and hungry.

We cruised (or struggled) on. We stopped for lunch at noon a Sam’s Club in Ocoee (a suburb of Orlando). We had gone about 38 miles. It appeared that a thunder storm was imminent so we decided to sit it out there. We heard thunder but the storm never really hit so we left. The sky looked threatening and we even got a few sprinkles, but never the real storm.

The road after Ocoee was no easier. Just getting to the correct street was a challenge. There was major road construction at the intersection and there was considerable traffic. We just had to wait it out for our opening. Then it was more of the climbing the same 50-100 foot hill, over and over again.

We made a stop about 7 miles later. According to our best estimate, looking at the map, we had 7-10 miles to go. So off we went.

Something changes. All of a sudden (it seemed) we were cruising along at 13, 14, 15 miles an hour. We did most of the last 8 miles at that speed. It was really fun. Maybe it was a reward or compensation for the difficult ride earlier that day. Who can say?

We finally arrived at the Hawthorne Suites and got a room. The desk manager, Jason, was extremely friendly and helpful. He had no problem finding a safe indoor place for our bike.
We got a great suite, cleaned up, and ordered out food. I did my work. We feel great, if a bit tired.

The “end of the ride” is bitter sweet. On the one had, it is over and we have been successful. Success was always an empirical issue as I had gotten an injury on two of our previous long-distance tours. On the other hand we are not getting up early to ride a long distance tomorrow. The trip is over. Now we do Disney.

Today’s ride: We rode 53.1 miles at an average speed of 9.2 mph.  We were on the bike for5 hours and 43 minutes.  We are 1366 miles into our trip. If you want to be technical about it, we will not be to the first of our Disney destinations for another 5 or so miles. We will be staying at Old Key West for two nights and the moving to the Bay Lake Towers for six nights.

Debbie’s emotionometer:
Mixed. We are feeling good about having accomplished our goal, but feeling a little let down that the journey is over. However, there is Disney for the next week, and that is the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

An added note about the scenery today and weather today. It was cooler today because of the cloud cover much of the day. The down side of that was the threatened thunderstorms. In terms of scenery, we went by lots of horse farms and ranches, and saw lots of signs advertising pigs for sale. If anyone wants to buy a pig, we can tell you where to go. We also saw two large birds walking by the side of the road that were maybe 4 or 5 feet tall. They were brown with straight pointed beaks. There was a bit of red on the side of the head.  They had a crown of feathers on top of their heads. We had never seen anything like them before and wondered if they were wild or had escaped from a bird farm. We also passed lots of lakes. This part of Florida is quite pretty and more rural than we had expected given its closeness to Orlando.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Day 30 Through the Forest

After a rest day the world did not look quite so gloomy. We were up and into the breakfast by 5:45 am.  A quick eat and we were off at 6:10.

Sadly the initial half mile was uphill. That is a tough beginning for someone who warms up as slowly as I do. As it turned out, the road was not as flat as the previous several days. In fact it was rolling. The trouble is that on our fully loaded bike with the trailer, we don’t roll so well.

The ride from Palatka to Salt Springs was challenging. We had to climb over a couple of steep bridges as well as deal with the “rolling” terrain. The picture is a view from one of those bridges. We had been told that there was nothing between Palatka and Salt Springs and that was accurate. We were also told there was not much in Salt Springs. That turned out to not be too accurate. There was a resort which we did not need. But there was also a little restaurant that served quite good plate-sized pancakes. We had a nice waitress who kept bringing us water so we could top off our camelbacks. We talked to lots of people who were amazed at our trip. We met a couple who were on a Harley trike and who understood our wanderlust.

Finally we were off. It turned out to be a tough ride. The terrain was definitely rolling. There was nothing between Salt Springs and the end of the Ocala National Forest about 30 miles away. Well, there was a porta-potty at about the half way point. It was hot.

Finally we came out of the forest and there were several minimarts. We stopped and drank and ate a bit. We got information that there was basically one motel about 5 miles down the road in Umatilla. After our break we took off.

The next several miles were very difficult. The terrain was no longer rolling. It was consistently uphill and there was a pretty good headwind building up. It was miserable. Add to that, the usual late afternoon thunderstorm appeared to be arriving in the early afternoon.

We got into town, asked for directions and found the motel. The office was closed and there were phone numbers on the door. We put the bike undercover just before the storm hit. I called a couple of the numbers and got the owner who came over in about 15 minutes. We checked into a room. It was very 1950s but huge with a full kitchen. The woman upgraded us I suspect when she heard that we bicycled from New York. She said that her husband, an attorney was from Hornell, NY. We chatted for a while. She checked the modem to make sure the Wi-Fi would work. Then she offered to let us use her washer and dryer for free. Wow.

My son-in-law just sent me this link which I had managed to miss. It is a link to the article written about us by the reporter we met in Richmond Hill, Georgia.

Today’s ride: We rode 58.9 miles at an average speed of 9.4 mph. We were on the bike for 6 hours and 12 minutes. We are now 1313 miles into our trip and the end is in sight.

Debbie’s emotionometer: Good mood most of the day. Grumpy the last 5-6 miles as we desperately needed to eat, drink, rest, and cool off after 30 miles of no services. After resting, drinking, and eating the mood improved. There was also some anxiety about the approaching thunderstorm with us still on the bike. Fortunately, we won that race and got under cover before the storm broke.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Day 29 Our First Complete Rest Day

We got up and ate breakfast. We both had gotten up in the middle of the night, perhaps as a result of the raging thunderstorm outside. We both could not get back to sleep very fast. We were pretty tired.

We got the bike out and set up. The Inn’s breakfast opened early so we ate there. Then we got on the bike to ride. I (Mel) felt terrible. I am pretty sure it was profound fatigue. We got about a quarter of a mile, not even out of the parking lot and decided to turn around and take a rest day. We went back and the front desk person simply canceled our checkout and we stayed.

We went back into breakfast and had coffee. I got online and graded a discussion that had come due the previous night. Shortly after finishing we went for a walk and ate lunch at Sonny’s BBQ.
Debbie had checked out the movies so after lunch and a stroll through the mall, we saw The Karate Kid. It was a pretty good remake.

After that we went beck to the room and watched a movie, ordered a pizza, and chilled.

That’s all folks!

Debbie’s Emotionometer:
Tired and grumpy (Mel) until we called a rest day. Then we were in good spirits. What does that tell us about this bike trip? It looks like two more riding days to Disney World. We will hopefully land there on Friday.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Day 28 Too Hot to Handle

Do you remember McDonalds in the 1960s? They looked like this with no inside seating. This is a new one, with inside seating, but it was constructed in the style of the 60s.

While some of the bridges were a challenge to climb, the views from the top were frequently quite beautiful. This is an example.

We were out at 6:10 or so. We wanted to really get going because the weather report said scattered thunderstorms in the afternoon and we thought we might have a long day. We got to bed a bit later than usual because we were able to get together with Cathy and Mike Toglia. Mike has retired from Cortland to take the chairmanship of Psychology at the University of North Florida. We had a nice dinner catching up on school, kids, and grandkids.  We made our goodbyes at about 8 and went back to our room and settled down for sleep.

We started out just fine. We thought we had gotten lost because either we missed a turn or a street changed names, but it all turned out fine. The traffic got heavy and the shoulder was either very small of nonexistent. Having said all that, somehow we wended out way around Jacksonville and on to 17 south. Apart from the hills on the bridges, the going was ok although we were not as fast as we had been.

One of the things we saw in the first part of the day was some unusual looking cattle. Many of them had fat horns in the shape of the Texas longhorns but not as long and much thinker. One of the animals was covered in fairly thick but uneven hair or fur. We were surprised to see the cattle in what appeared to be the city, south of the airport.

We stopped at a McDonalds at about 8:10 almost 16 miles out for second breakfast. It was a short stop but we took too long. Our next stop was for lunch at a Wendy’s in Green Cove Springs at about the 38.5 point. Here we had to make a decision whether to go on to Palatka which was about 22 or so miles more, or stay in Green Cove Springs. Staying made it too short a day and going on seemed to make it too long a day. We considered going to St. Augustine which was a shorter distance and had a Disney outlet store but the description of the bridge over a water feature scared us out of that idea. Then we found out that Green Cove Springs basically did not have any place to stay, so our decision was made for us.

We went on. It was getting warm (Mel means hot - it was up to 100 today) but for a change we had a bit of a tailwind and we made pretty good time. Florida is supposed to be flat but this part was a bit rolling. They were not really hills but they were not totally flat either. None-the-less we made good time for the rest of the day.

It turned out that Palatka was a bit further along than advertised. When we finally got to a sign announcing arrival at that town we stopped at a convenience store to get information. We had ridden 62 miles and were roasting. We found out that there were in fact several motels in Palatka, but the nearest ones (Holiday Inn and Sleep Inn) were at least 5 or 6 miles further on.

No choice, on we went. Happily, it turns out that the information was wrong. The Sleep Inn was only a bit over 4 miles away. We arrived, checked in, did our usual, and went to dinner. Now I blog.

Oh yes, and the thunderstorm hit. There is a severe thunderstorm warning for the area in which we are staying but so far it does not look too bad. I did see a couple of impressive bolts of lightening and I am hearing some thunder.

Today’s ride: Today we rode 66.9 miles at 10 mph (our fastest day). We were on the bike for 6 hours and 38 minutes. We are now 1253 miles into our trip and we can almost taste Walt Disney World.

Debbie’s Emotionometer: We had a good day today until the last few miles with a head wind and some hills and bridges, both over rivers and over railroad tracks, which got Mel a bit crabby. The heat was formidable. We drank a lot. Some of the views from the bridges over the rivers were fantastic.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Day 27 Florida at Last!

We left the Super 8 in Brunswick, Georgia at about 6:05 and started out on a cool relatively wind-free morning. For some reason the warm-up was slow. We seemed to be moving at the speed of sludge. In part we were tired from yesterday’s 67.5-mile marathon. Eventually we did warm up and get up to a reasonable (for us) speed.

The terrain was very flat and the traffic was very light. The road was good. It turns out that Route 17 through South Carolina and Georgia is designated as an official bicycle route and is marked as (bicycle) 95. We did not learn that until it ended just before the Florida border. We also crossed a lot of water today.

This turned out (will turn out) to be a very cheap food day owning to the fact that there virtually no places to eat on route. Almost everything was over on the interstate which was usually a couple of miles off route. We chose not to do those extra miles. Consequently we made better than usual progress down the road. We pulled of the road after about 20 miles and had cheese sandwiches and split an orange. There were no services but we carry some food for such emergency eating.

Our first stop was in Kingsland, Georgia at the 32.2-mile mark. That is an unusually long way to go without a stop. The place was only a little minimart so we could only get drinks and crackers. Then were off again.

We did not stop again until Yulee in Florida. Again, it was a minimart but at least this place had hot dogs and we were starving. The woman who worked there had good information about the road ahead. We had about 12 miles to the turn-off for the airport.

The roads from route 17 to the airport area in Jacksonville, Fl where we are staying were not fun. There was no shoulder and there was a fair amount of traffic. In addition it had gotten hot. Weather.com said 97 feels like 105. Yes it did. We arrived at the area of the services and immediately popped into a McDonalds for some food, drink, and air conditioning. I (Mel) had pretty much used it up and needed the break.

I called a former colleague who is now a Chairman at the University of North Florida in Jacksonville hoping that we could get together tonight. He was at Cortland for a number of years before retiring to take on this new challenge. At this writing it appears that we will be able to get together for a bit.

It has been a good but tiring day.

Today’s ride: We rode 58.4 miles at an average speed of 9.3 mph. We were on the bike for 6 hours and 16 minutes. We are now in Florida!!! 1186 miles into our trip.

Debbie’s emotionometer: Jubilant! Goal 1 met: We bicycled from New York to Florida. Now for goal 2: Riding to Walt Disney World. Less than 200 miles to go (hopefully - maybe a bit more since we are not on the interstate.)

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Day 26 A Very Long and Successful Day

This is alleged to be the smallest church in America. A worker at a place we stopped  for a drink said it was built after Sherman did his march through Georgia. In fact, according to the sign out front it was erected in 1949. It has a pulpit and four seats.

We saw many trees like this. This particular one struck us because it sat out by itself. The others line on side or both sides of the road.This one's for you Carol.

We got out at 6:05 planning to try to get to Brunswick. The terrain was flat and the weather was cool and there was little if any wind. The conditions were almost ideal (would have liked a tail wind).

We were making pretty good time. It turns out that if we had gone on to Midway we would have found both a decent motel and places to eat. Who knew? We stopped for “second breakfast” at MacDonalds. We had gone 24 miles. It was about 8:15.

We stopped again for lunch in Darien at about 12:10. We found a Subway. We had gone 43.6 miles and were feeling pretty good, if a bit tired. We took an almost 1 hour break and tanked up on liquids. Then it was off again.

A lot of the scenery was just fields and tall straight trees, but we also saw a fair number of those moss-laden trees that remind you of an old movie about the south. As the day went on, we moved more coastally and saw lots of wetlands with reeds, crossed many rivers, and passed through some bird sanctuaries. I (Debbie) took lots of photos because we had been told the road was a scenic one. The landscape was so different that I got a bit carried away. Carol, I took a picture of a tree especially for you.

We knew we faced a choice about going on when we got to exit 36. There were lots of motels and restaurants there and the next place to find those sorts of services was around exit 29 (on I 95). We figured that the apparently 7 miles between exits would be a bit more on the secondary roads that we were riding (we were correct). It was not too late, we were making good time, we felt pretty strong, so, we on went.

It turns out that the lst bit, as usual, was tough. The roads were busy, there was no shoulder, and the wind was not friendly. By the time we got to the Super 8 we wanted we had gone 67.5 miles and it was almost 4:00 pm. That is quite a bit later than we like but we had a terrific day.

Debbie swam and did laundry. We showered. I worked. After a bit we went to dinner at a buffet (bad idea) on the other side of the highway called Country Market. Food was ok and plentiful and there was lots of salad. Unfortunately, as we were leaving the thunder started. We were in the parking lot when we saw some pretty impressive lightening which was only a mile or so away. We chickened out and went back inside and the skies opened up. We are now stuck in here waiting for the storm to pass.

Today’s ride: We rode 67.5 miles (our longest day) at an average speed of 9.9 mph (our fasted speed). We were on the bike for 6 hours and 48 minutes. We are now1128 miles into our trip, and weather permitting, we will be in Florida tomorrow. Yea!!!

Debbies emotionometer:
Spirits are high. Nobody was grumpy until the thunder and lightening started and we couldn’t return to the hotel. Not grumpy exactly, just somewhat annoyed.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Day 25 Georgia on my mind!

We were crossing a bridge apporachint Richmond Hill and saw the river view on the right. It was a kodak moment.

This was our welcome to Goergia. We must have found the only road into the state without a welcome sign.

We got off to a little bit of a late start at about 6:15 or so. We had some breakfast at the Days Inn. The desk clerk was a pain. The breakfast did not officially open until 6:00am. That guy would not even let us sit in that room to eat the food we brought with us and he was not very friendly about it. At the Hampton Inn a couple of days ago the said we could take whatever was out already even before the official opening. This did not leave a good taste in our mouths.

The start of the ride was great. The terrain was flat and the air was cool. There was only a slight wind. We rode about as well as we can. We rode though or right past the Savannah Wildlife Refuge which was quite nice. The scenery is very pretty with marsh and wetlands, and of course lots of birds. The costal scenery was beautiful and a change from the trees and fields of the past week. The terrain is very flat.

We rode on and crossed the first of two bridges across the Savannah River, crossing an island in the middle in between. The border to Georgia was somewhere along there but sadly there was no welcome to Georgia sign so we shot a picture of a route sign with the shape of Georgia as a background. Unfortunately I cannot post it today because I cannot connect to this motel’s Wi-Fi. I can connect to the router but there is no internet access. I just spoke to another guest who had the same problem with a different laptop. Yet another person’s machine was ok. It’s a mystery and a pain. When we leave Georgia we will snap a picture of the welcome to Georgia sign and edit our blog. Strange but it is the only way.

We’d managed 17 miles before we stopped for second breakfast around the Savannah airport. We then ate a bit more heavily than usual at a Blimpie. It was only about 8:15.

At about 10:30 we stopped at a Walmart in Richmond Hill to get some toothpaste, a comb, triple antibiotic, and nail clippers. Nails grow very fast in the summer when you eat well and exercise. We were approaching I 95 where most of the motels are located and decided that the motel in Midway, Georgia was a risky proposition. We were not sure about its quality and we had been told there were no eateries out there. So, seeing no benefit in going on, based on where the next reasonable accommodations would be found, we decided to stop at 34.7 miles at a very inexpensive Travelodge.

We pulled into the parking lot and “parked” the bike. We were approached by a man with a camera who said he had seen us on the road. He introduced himself as Jamie Parker, a reporter with the Savannah Morning News. He asked if he could “interview” us and took out a recorder. We chatted for several minutes and he took some pictures of us with our bike. I am hoping to get to see something in a paper if it appears very early and we are still here. That is the problem with bicycle touring. You have to start early so you sometimes miss things.

After this interview, we checked in and Wendy, the desk manager, was very pleasant, accommodating, and helpful. The rate we got was great and this place has a coin laundry and a pool. We chatted a lot.

As usual the first order of business after checking in and getting our stuff into the room was lunch. We went to a Waffle House nearby and had their grilled chicken salads and several diet Cokes. We chilled – I mean enjoyed the air conditioning.

We then walked around a bit. It had gotten very hot so we went back to the motel and I used the business center to do my school work. After that Debbie talked me into going into the pool. It was in the shade by this time and was very soothing.

I am blogging early since I have to use the business center because I cannot connect to the internet with my netbook. As soon as we finish, I think it will be dinner at a barbeque place nearby.

Today’s ride: We had a short day riding only 34.7 miles at an average speed of 9.4 mph. We were on the bike for 3 hours and 42 minutes. We are now 1060 miles into our trip and have finally gotten into Georgia.

Debbie’s emotionometer: It was a good day. Mood was happy, enjoying the scenery, not a crabby word or complaint heard.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Day 24 1000 miles and still going

Perhaps we should take a photography class to try to learn how to capture some of the natural beauty we see. As we rode down 17 we came to several places where the trees and moss were like a canopy over the road. In most places there did not seem to be enough light to get a good picture.

We left the Hampton Inn in Walterboro at about 6:15. We started by climbing the hill over I 95 to get to 17a. It was a little rolling at first but there was not too much wind.  The scenery was pretty nice. There were huge trees that looked like giant elms (they weren’t) hanging with Spanish moss (not Spanish and not moss).

We were making pretty good time partly because there was no place to stop. At about 15 miles we stopped at a church to use their facilities. The pastor was nice enough to let us in.

About 5 miles later, near Yamassee, we came upon a convenience store and got some Gatorade. At about 9:30 we stopped in Point South at about the 26.5 mile mark. We ate at a Subway. There was basically nothing to stop at until we got to Hardeeville at mile 52.5 on our trip. We stopped at Subway again. I have to tell you that going 26 miles in this heat was a beast. Well, this was really my fault. There were some things in Ridgeland but I decided there would be something more to our liking further on. Well there was, at 52.5 miles.

In addition, there was a stretch of Route 17 that was in sorry need of paving so that there was a bump every three feet or so. It was uncomfortable and it slowed us quite a bit.

After we ate, we rode the last 4 miles to the Days Inn we had planned to stay at. They were having a sale -$39.95 all rooms. They had Wi-Fi, a coin laundry, and a pool. Perfect.

But the adventure was not over. We were sitting in the room when the power went off. Fortunately I had finished my work online. We walked to the office to find that much of the town is out. Apparently a transformer on the other side of I 95 burst. We just got information that perhaps someone hit a power pole south of the city. We don’t really know. It is being replaced but for now, nothing electronic works. That means no restaurant for now. I hope they fix it soon, it is getting warm.

We have been extremely fortunate with the weather. In spite of the forecast of thunderstorms the past two days, they have been expected in the late afternoon and we have been off the road by then. Yesterday we heard thunder but it never rained at our hotel. Today it is still sunny out although thunder storms are still expected. We’ll see if they materialize.

Today was beautiful, past amazing trees hanging with Spanish moss that made a total canopy over the road, providing plenty of shade. In addition, there were swamps with forests of tall trees growing out of them that have adapted to living in an aquatic environment. We crossed rivers and swamps throughout the day. The afternoon became quite hot, with temperatures in the mid-nineties. YUCK! At times it felt too hot to breath. But we drank a lot and are surviving with the help of stops in air conditioning for meals.

Today’s ride: We rode 56.5 miles (1.9 off route) at an average speed of 9.6 mph. We were on the bike for 5 hours and 51 minutes. We are now 1025 miles into our ride with perhaps 350 or a bit more miles to go.

Debbie’s emotionometer:
The mood is good. We are feeling accomplished to have crossed the 1000 mile mark today.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Day 23 Almost through South Carolina

We got a bit of a late start this morning at 6:09. We were hoping for a couple of hours of calm like yesterday but the breezes had started already and were out of the south west. We had our usual long (5-mile) warm up and were going at a reasonable clip.

We crossed I 26 and stopped at a very nice minimart with a Subway inside. It was just in time. There had been NOTHING on the road up to that point. It was at about the 18-mile mark. We were tired, hungry, and in need of the facilities. We ate and had a fairly long stop. According to the locals there was nothing on the road until St. George, another 8 miles.

Well, we made the 8 miles to St. George. There was nothing in this town. All the services were over next to I 95. We stopped at a thrift store and bought water and Powerade and used the facilities. This was the 26-mile mark. We figured that we had another 26 miles to go.

We stopped at a convince store in Grover and Debbie got stuck in the bathroom (jammed door). We took off because we still had about 18 miles to go. We only made on more brief stop at another little convenience store on the outskirts of Walterboro.

Finally we entered Walterboro. There was a strip and traffic. It was a bit unnerving and we walked up one small hill just to get away from it. It turned out to be farther after entering the town than we anticipated and by the time we saw the Hampton Inn sign (on the other side of the highway) we were tired, thirsty, and starving. So we stopped at the Waffle House and ate lunch.

Then it was up over I 95 and into the Hampton Inn. First stop - the pool. It felt great. After that Debbie scouted out the dinner prospects and I got to work. I worked for about 2 or more hours.

We went to dinner at a Cracker Barrel nearby. I am blogging as we sit here just chilling. Tomorrow we would like to make it to Hardeeville, only a few miles from the Georgia Border.

We were asking directions of just about everyone in the place because there is a service road right next to the restaurant that looks as if I can save us some miles and be quieter. No one seemed sure of exactly where it went or how it connected to 17. I was paying my bill and the woman doing the credit card made a mistake and had to call over a manager. He fixed it and we asked him. He had no idea but he looked at my shirt and said that his daughter just graduated from Cortland as a Criminology major. He had just moved down here. Wow, one of the woman working the desk at this Hampton grew up in Cortland and this fellow’s daughter is a SUNY Cortland graduate. Small world story of the day.

Today’s ride: We rode 51.8 miles (about 1.8 miles off route)  at an average speed of 8.8 mph. We were on the bike for 5 hours and 50 minutes. We are now about 969 miles into our trip.   

Debbie’s emotionometer
: Today the mood was good; nobody was crabby!

For those of you wondering what happens on the bike:  Scenery today was more trees (loblolly pines giving off a wonderful scent in the heat of the day) and fields. The trees are great both for the shade they provide and for the wind break they offer from the angled head wind. The corn around here is already tasseled with ears developing, much more advanced than our corn back home. One of the crops seems to be beans of some sort; this crop is much younger and less developed than the corn. The broad leaf plant we thought might be sugar beets turned out to be tobacco (duh.)

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Day 22 It was a Good Day.

These two pictures were taken on the bicycle/pedestrian bridge over Lake Marion. They show the extent of the bridge (Old Route 301/15) and the size of the lake, and this was the small side of the lake. This lake is created by a couple of damns downstream.

We were out at 6 am. The road was flat and there was little if any wind (that came later). We were (for us) cooking.

Out first stop was in Turbeville at a place called the Chat and Chew for breakfast. It was a quick stop (Debbie is a hard taskmaster). And we were off towards Manning.

We briefly stopped in Aculo for a Gatorade and at 10:45 we stopped at a McDonalds for a chicken sandwich. We had come 35 miles in the morning, our best yet. We tried to make this a short stop also because Debbie wanted to make it to Santee which would be another 22 miles, give or take and by now the wind had begun to pick up a little.

We left and headed down the still flat road. It was really fun to have the bike rolling well, the wind not too strong, and the traffic light. We stopped in Summerton (at about 45 miles)and bought some bananas and two liters of water. It turns out that I had consumed almost all the water in my Camelback. It is fortunate that we noticed because running out of water on a hot day is not good at all and there is not much on the road between “towns” in this part of the world.

We still had about 11 miles to go and now the wind was getting stronger. The prediction has been for wind out of the southwest at 10-15 mph and it seemed like we were getting there. We were still able to maintain reasonable speed so that was heartening.

The ride was uneventful. We were looking for the place where 15 and 301 joined I 95, at which time we would take “old 301.”  What is nice about that is that this road crossed  Lake Marian on the old bridge which was closed - to all but bicycles and pedestrians. We stopped at a minimart just at the junctions to ask directions to be certain we took the correct road. The woman who worked there had grown up only several miles from Utica, NY. This was the second time we had run into someone from “back home.”

We left for the bridge which was as it had been described. It was quite and the view was quite nice, and, we did not have to worry about the traffic. We stopped and took some pictures.

Santee was only 1 or 2 miles past the bridge. When we got to the main crossroads we stopped to decide which motel to stay at. Of course we were brain dead by that time so the decision took 45 minutes. We have absolutely no frontal lobes by the end of the day and no capacity to make decisions. We ended up at a Super 8 because- both a pool and a coin laundry.  We checked in. Debbie swam and I worked.

We ate dinner at the Pizza Hut across the street partly because they have a salad bar and we both wanted some salad. I went back to work. Debbie went shopping for breakfast and tomorrow’s provisions. Now I am blogging.
Today’s ride: We rode 58.2 miles at an average of  9.1 mph. We were on the bike for 6 hours and 21 minutes. We are now 917 miles into our trip.

Debbie’s emotionometer: Today was marked by good mood and high spirits. We were feeling efficacious and that we were making good progress finally.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Day 21 Bike Fixed - Short Day

We stayed overnight at a Hampton Inn. It was beautiful after some of the places we had stayed. It had hot tub,  pool, laundry, breakfast, Wi-Fi and a Chili’s across the street. We knew we would not get away early this morning because the bike shop did not open until 10:00 am. So we lazed around, swam, did the hot tub, and  had a leisurely breakfast. It was nice rest as both of us had not really slept well for some reason. I even got in a little work on my course.

The bike was at Phil Murphy’s Bicycle World in Florence, South Carolina. The problem was that we found 4 broken spokes, the wheel out of true, and the brake was rubbing and causing a drag.

At about 11 or so the shop called and said that someone was on the way to pick us up. Alex showed up in a Subaru station wagon, we loaded up, and went to the shop. Phil (the owner and mechanic) had the bike ready (except for air pressure in the tires). He went over everything with us. He had changed 11 spokes. At least 4 were broken. The others were so chopped up by the chain over shifting and getting jammed between the spokes and the rear cluster. He had trued the wheel, adjusted the brakes again, and repositioned the brake shoes.  He suggested that the brake might be wearing the side-wall of the rim too much and perhaps a new wheel was in our future. He seemed pretty sure that we would get through this trip but we should get it checked out when we got home.

Finally we rolled the bike into the work area and he used the compressor to pump up all the tires to their proper pressure. We set up all our stuff on the bike,  hooked up the BOB trailer, and chatted some more. Then we remembered that we needed to take some pictures. The shop was great. They drove us to a motel and picked us up and fixed our bike. This was spectacular service.

It was great. We rolled out of the parking lot and down the road. The surface was uneven and the traffic was heavy but we were on the road. We stopped at about 6 mil es for a drink and to eat some cereal. We were off again. We were on 76 (crowded) looking for 403 south. We had to ask directions at a corner with very confusing signs. We finally found it and set off. There was a reasonable shoulder, a smooth surface, and little traffic. We got to a bridge over I95 and saw an Econo Lodge. To my complete surprise, Debbie suggested that we stop here at only 13.3 miles into the day. She reasoned that with perhaps 20 or more to go we were in for a late day with several miles off route. We should take this as basically a rest day. The only real downside was that the only restaurant in the area is a greasy spoon (local grill) across the street. We picnicked lunch and went to the grill for sodas and blogging. We will eat dinner here.

Today’s ride: We rode a princely 13.9 miles at 9.6 mph (fastest in quite a while). We were on the bike for 1 hour and 26 minutes. We are now 858 miles into the ride.

Debbie’s emotionmeter: Good spirits on a rest day. Happy 60th birthday Carol!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Day 20 A Tailwind and 4 Broken Spokes

We left South of the Border at about 7:20. Did we mention that we over-nighted at the famous South of the Border? We pushed especially hard to make it there for a night. The day was much too long and hard and as a result we slept in.

The experience at South of the Border was OK. I had been looking at the signs since the first time I saw them in 1956. We were completely beat after a very long and difficult day. The rooms could have used refurbishment but the accommodations were comfortable and the restaurant was fine.

We did have a tailwind and relatively flat terrain today. Even so were only able to go about 7 mph. Some of it was my terribly slow warm up. However, it turned out that the brake was hitting the tire which was out of true (again). Then were able to do 10-11.

Our first stop was the town of Dillon (8 miles). We had heard a ping so we checked the spokes and found one broken. I adjusted the brake at this point. We had breakfast there. Debbie bought some provisions.

We rode on uneventfully until we heard another ping. We stopped in Latta (14 miles). We found 4 broken spokes. We stopped at a minimart to get information and found that there were no bike stores anywhere near by. They suggested Marion to rent a car to get to a bike shop. After some consideration we decided to take our changes and push on to Florence.

We rode on. The going was pretty good with the tailwind and the pull on the brake was not too bad. We were a bit nervous because if too many spokes went, we would be stuck.  About an hour and a half later we came to the point where 301 joined 76. This was the run into Florence. Shortly after the turn we spied a Subway and decided to stop for lunch. It was about noon. We ordered and sat.

We were sitting there eating and chatting when I had a cocktail party phenomenon. At the table behind us someone said “post doc.” Let me tell you what you don’t expect to hear at a Subway on a highway in the middle of the sticks of South Carolina. There were three gentleman talking about their postdoc experiences. I was dying with curiosity.  When one of the got up and walked away, I turned and asked, “Did you say postdoc?”  It turns out the fellow had a Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry from Buffalo. All three of them were chemists at a local company. We chatted for quite a while. They told us there was only one bike shop in Florence and gave us instructions on how to find it. We told them about our trip and we had a nice conversation.

They left, we finished and hit the rode again. The rode had a nice shoulder for a while which was good because the traffic was moving at more than 60. However, after several miles, no more shoulder. We actually pushed our bike up a hill- on the grass. However, we could not walk all the way so I screwed up my courage and rode. The cars and trucks were very courteous. They pulled into the left-hand lane and left us alone. It was, none-the-less, very nerve wracking.

Eventually we got the shoulder back for a while but lost in again in the city. We did not actually know the address of the bike shop or their phone number so we stopped at a Red Cross Center for Blood donations and looked at a phone book. The folks there were so amazed as what we were doing that they gave us each a bottle of cold water and went out to gawk at the bike. We had a nice chat we them.

It appeared that we only have about 10 blocks to go, but that actually was almost 2 miles. Finally we arrived. The folks at the bike shop were great. We gave them the bike and explained our troubles. The mechanic thought that just replacing the bad spokes were be enough. I had thought to relace (rebuild) the entire wheel. The mechanic said he would do that if necessary so I left it in his hands. Pictures of this tomorrow.

Well, now without transportation, we had no way to get to a motel. One of the people there drove us and agreed to pick us up in the morning. He also turned out to be a biker so he gave us instructions on  the best way out of town in the morning. It turns out that his wife had just (last Thursday) given birth to their third son.

Today’s ride: We rode 43.3 miles at an average speed of 8 mph. We were on the bike for 5 hours and 22 minutes. We are now 845 miles into our trip. We think there are about 475 or so miles to go. We have 14 possible travel days left. That is 34 miles a day average but life is not that simple. Accommodations are not so conveniently spaced. We have now had 4 repair incidents, three of which have cost us time. Who can say what the future holds???

Debbie’s Emotionometer: Worried about the wheel self-destructing, nervous about the fast traffic and no shoulder on 76, and pride and a sense of accomplishment when we made it to the bike shop.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Day 19 South Carolina and 801

Debbie says that we don't look at the scenery enough. So we stoppped and she took a picture of an interesting swamp.

We left Fayetteville at about 6:00 am. The wind had already started to come up. That was very disappointing. It was between 75 and 80 degrees heading for the mid-90s according to the weather channel.

The first several miles were a bit hilly through Fayetteville. Nothing like Pennsylvania but not flat either.

Our first stop was in St. Pauls after several places being closed. We ended up at a Hardees (not our first choice) because the MacDonalds was a couple of miles off route. So this first successful stop was at 9:00 am 17.2 miles into the ride. We got the usual number of “You rode from where? You are going to where? On a bicycle?” Frankly, that is fun to hear. (The best part of Mel’s day and the true motivation for the trip!)

About two hours later we stopped in Lumberton for Gatorade and met a retired chief of police of that city. Then we learned that there was a Subway in a Walmart just a mile down the road. That is our first choice for lunch and we needed some more sun block. As we were leaving that Walmart, the chief pulled up with a map of the back roads that would get us around, rather than through, Lumberton. We took his route. It probably saved us a couple of miles and tons of aggravation.

By the time we left Lumberton the winds had come up with a vengeance. On flat level ground we could only make about 6 mph against that headwind. It was agonizing. The depressing part was that the distance to our preferred destination was still about 22 miles. We pressed on because it was either stop with very short day or ...  We chose ...

We finally got through Lumberton but we came to a “corner” where it was not obvious what do. There was a BP station and we went in and asked. The woman pointed to the correct road and said that it was another 14 miles (it was 15.5). After drinking we were off again.

After about 11-12 miles we came to the town of Rowland and stopped again for a Gatorade. The ride to this town was agonizing because of the wind. The people there  said we had about 3 miles to go. We were off. Inexplicably the wind seemed to have died off. We made the 3 or so miles relatively quickly.

We got to the South Carolina border and took our pictures and there it was in front of us: The famous South of the Border. A few hundred yards and we were at their motel. We ended the day at about 5:50 pm (way too late).

We have just eaten dinner at the Sombrero Restaurant and will soon shower and crash out. Well, Debbie will. I still have to do some work on my course. We probably will not get away super early tomorrow morning so I will do some more then.

Todays Ride: We rode 55.5 miles at 7.3 mph. We were on the bike 7 hours 33 minutes , with a total elapsed time of about 11 hours 30 minutes. We are now 801 miles into our trip and have reached South Carolina.

Debbie’s Emotionometer:
Coping emotionally better with the heat and wind conditions. Mel made comments about them but not so much complaining. It has been a long and difficult day and we are exhausted.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Day 18 Almost to South Carolina

Every time we cross into a new watershed there is a sign indicating the new river. This is the one in which we are currently located.

We left at about 6:24 after a very disappointing free continental breakfast. Oh well, the room was very inexpensive. The first 5 miles were unfortunately hilly. Consequently my characteristically slow warm up was difficult.

Our first stop was in Benson at about 11 miles. It seemed like a long 11 miles but the long day was yet to come. We stopped first at a gas station and then at a grocery store and bought the breakfast we should have had at the motel.

We left there and continued on. We crossed into another river basin and we had to climb into it but then it was not so bad. It seems as if we are in a different river basin almost every day. SO
Bensen to Dunn was reasonably comfortable. We stopped at a minimart and had hamburgers. I would love to know where they get their meat because these were tasty and not at all greasy. We also tanked up on Gatorade. We were at about the 18 mile mark and it had gotten quite hot.

We left Dunn and stopped in Godwin at the 25-mile mark. We went into a thrift shop for a restroom stop and met several interesting ladies who worked there. They were amazed at what we were doing. We got some drinks and Debbie bought two books. We stayed longer than we should have but soon it was on the road again. It was really hot now.

We rode on and stopped in Wade where there was a Founder’s Day celebration winding down. We bought some crackers and used the rest room. It was a pretty short stop. We had miles to go before we could sleep. Later on in Eastover we got a Gatorade and had a very short stop.

We were very close to Fayetteville (our presumed resting spot). We finally saw the city limits sign but we had learned that it could be several miles before actually getting into the city. We were hoping to bypass the downtown part of the city. We were going to bypass on 301 but the 301 bypass looked to much like an interstate and we got out the map and chose another (much quieter) route. When we finally got to the “strip” it was busy enough. We still had about 6 miles to go and characteristically the last mile was uphill.

We finally got to the Quality Inn on the south side of the city. We got a room. The woman who checked us in said” You’re from Cortland?” She was from Buffalo and had been to Cortland, Marathon, and Virgin, and knew something of the area. Wow, small world.

I realized when I was talking to someone that I met at one of our stops that some of the most interesting events on a trip like this involves the people that you meet. People you would never meet if you’re in a car. It is what makes the trip interesting.  I wish were could ride much faster so that we could spend more time chatting along the way. As it is, if we do not spend more time on the road we do not get to our destination. We are well over half way there now and expect to be in South Carolina tomorrow.

Today’s ride: We rode 46.2 miles at 7.8 mph.  We rode for 5:55. We are now 746 miles closer to Mickey Mouse.

Debbie’s emotionometer: Mood wasn’t too bad today. The usual complaining about the wind and the hills and the heat. We seem to be getting in the rhythm of the road. Always stressful at the end of the day if we hit very heavy traffic like we did going into Fayetteville this afternoon. We had a late lunch/early dinner at a Waffle House after we checked into our hotel.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Day 17 A pretty good day

We over slept. We were apparently very tired. So we got out at 7 instead of 6. Ok. Debbie wanted to do 50-70 miles. She lives a rich fantasy life. I didn’t think we would do that much, particularly starting out later. So, away from Sharpsburg we went.

We rode for about 1:22 before I needed a stop. We stopped at a MickeyD in Wilson  at the 11.1 mile mark and had breakfast sandwiches and I had a diet coke. We took a pretty long stop. We don’t much like having that much grease but choices can be limited and we had very little in the room for breakfast. Our motel did not have a free continental.... anything. Within a few tenths of a mile we stopped at a grocery store for some cheese (which the heat got later before we could eat it.

Then off we went again. We made it all the way to Kenly at 28.4 miles before we stopped for lunch at a Subway (a bit healthier). The road had been very flat until the last couple of miles leading up to this place. We were tired. We split a sub and each had a soda. We also split a yogurt. We took a long stop and felt much refreshed after. I though we only had about 12 miles to go.

At about the 45 mile mark in the town of Smithfield we spotted a Carrolls Pharmacy. Debbie wanted to get some generic  Benadryl because either she is getting eaten alive by something or she is getting hives from some as yet undiscovered allergen and I needed some more sunblock for my face. Several ladies were having some sort of a fund-raising out front so I chatted with them while Debbie shopped. They were astonished that anyone (I guess my age) would do what we were doing. Several of them went scampering for cameras to capture our “I have never seen one of those before” bicycle and trailer. It was a very pleasant stop just a few miles from our destination.

We rode on. At one point we stopped at a minimart for restrooms and information. It seemed we only had a quarter of a mile to go. It turned out to be half a mile and involved a bit of an incline over a little bridge. Finally, at almost 4:00 we arrived and got a room. It turns out to be our third consecutive cheap place. Of course some amenities are missing like food and a coin laundry. Drat, my job is to do the laundry in the sink when that happens.

After some difficulty with the internet connection, I worked for a couple of hours then we ordered from the only place that delivered. It was a pizza joint (big surprise)  so we had pizza for dinner. It actually was pretty good.

The two major problems today were the heat (90+) and the constant headwind. I think without the wind we might have been in an hour earlier. Without the heat we probably would have arrived a little less beat. But tomorrow is another day.

Today’s ride: We rode 47.7 miles at 8.1 mph. We were on the bike for 5:50. We are now 699 miles into our trip.

Debbie’s emotionometer: Tired and hot, but not too crabby. Reading over what Mel wrote I notice that we mostly talk (write) about stops and food, headwinds and hills. I guess some of you must wonder if we actually see any scenery. We see lots of trees, many pine forests, and farm land. Some corn and a crop we do not recognize that we think might be sugar beets. North Carolina informs you every time you cross into another river basin. We are currently in the Neuse River basin and about to cross over into the Cape Fear river basin. Lots of water features to cross.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Day 16 Hot and Tired in North Carolina

We have been lucky to find three wonderful bicycle shops and mechanics. Steve Luper is the most recent. His shop is at 401 S. Wesleyan Blvd. (Hwy 301 South) in Rocky Mount, NC.

Debbie the slave driver got us out early at about 5:47 am. We were 10 miles into our day in Halifax when we took our first break. We bought two sticks of cheese and some shredded miniwheats. We also rested.

During this first leg of our ride we saw hawks, a fox, and several deer and heard a bobwhite. The temperature was cool but humid. The wind had not yet come up much.

As we  rode on it got hillier. We stopped again in Enfield at a Hardees but they had no indoor seating. A kid who worked there said that there was a Subway down the road with indoor seating so we went to it for lunch. It was before 10 am. I needed the rest and the food and the liquid. We also looked in the phonebook for motels and bike shops. We found both on route which was nice. We wrote down numbers and addresses. We left Subway hydrated, caffeinated, nourished, and rested and were much stronger than earlier.

We stopped in Battleboro for watermelon and gatorade and information. We had just crossed the Rocky Mount line but the city was still 8 miles away. Not surprisingly, the traffic was a bit worse here. We also called Steve’s bicycle shop and he gave us directions.

We slogged on. We were both getting tired. It was hot and the headwind had been growing all day. About seven or eight miles later we found Steve’s. He trued the rear wheel and adjusted the rear brake. Wonderful, no more rubbing. Steve gave us some advice on motels in the next town. He finished the job and I asked him, “How much?” He said, “No charge.” Wow. He gave us his card and said if were got in a spot and were not too far away he could help. Wow again.

We left Steve’s heading for Sharpsburg. It was about seven miles to this stop. We stopped at a Budget Inn . They did not have Wi-Fi so we did not take it. We hit a Hardees and Debbie talked me into this greasy, caloric, grilled bacon and cheese thick burger. It tasted great but......     We tried the next motel but they did not have a nonsmoking room so off we went. Finally the last one had Wi-Fi and was cheap - but the only took cash. It was about 3:30. It was a long day.

I worked for a couple of  hours. Right now we are blogging after eating at a Chinese Restaurant across the street.

Today’s ride: We rode 48.5 miles at 7.9 mph. We were on the bike for 6:05. We are not 652 miles into the trip.

Debbie’s emotionometer: Mel was crabby about the hills, the head wind, the rear wheel ... until we had our stop at Subway. Better after that. We are both getting very tired.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Day 15 Flat at last and goodbye to Virginia

I am standing in North Carolina. the yellow line on the floor is the state line.

We left Stony Creek at 6:00 for our last day in Virginia. The road was indeed flatter than any we had been on thus far. We were making better time. Not so much because we were going faster but the ride was easier so the stops were less frequent. However, slowing us down is a back wheel that is out of true and rubbing a bit on the break with every revolution.

We stopped in Jarratt for a restroom and ate the yogurts we had with us and a banana.  We are having a brake rub in the rear wheel. I think the wheel is slightly our of true. We stopped in Jarrett to look in the a phone book for a bike shop but there don’t seem to be any of them on our route. Perhaps when we get to Rocky Mount. Two people we met told us about a place in Emporia that might work on bikes be we decided that the rub was little enough and Emporia was complicated enough that we passed.

We continued on until Skippers where we stopped at a run down grocery store/gas station (no rest room) where a woman told us about a Lottery Sale place a few miles down the road. We found it. Strange, the state line ran right through the building. Buy Virginia lottery tickets on one side and North Carolina tickets on the other. There is a yellow stripe right through the building marking the state line. We ate and drank and rested but bought no lottery tickets.

We now knew that we had 10 miles to go, so, off we went. Georgia Pacific was across the street so we could see where all the logging trucks were going. We rode on, and, 10 miles later pulled into Weldon, North Carolina. We stopped at a Dollar General to get the phone number of a motel in the area but they did not have Wi-Fi so we rode the two miles over to I95 were we found the Orchard Inn. We had a coupon for $32.99 plus tax. It was about 1:30, our earliest day in which we made real milage. We checked in but went to lunch at a Waffle House before unloading. We also went to a minimart to get some nibbles for the next day.

After getting our stuff into the room, showering, unpacking etc., I got down to work. Interestingly although I could connect to their Wi-Fi, it gave me no internet access, so I logged into the Days Inn next door. I would rather not do that.

Today’s ride: We rode 46.1 miles (2 miles off route). The average speed was 8.3. We rode for 5:30 hours. We are now 603 miles into the trip.

Debbie’s emotionometer: Today’s mood was pleasant and marked by a feeling of satisfaction that we made it to North Carolina. GOODBYE VIRGINIA!

For those nature lovers in our audience, we saw several deer, about four that ran off when they spied us coming, and heard bob whites in the morning. In addition, the magnolia trees are starting to bloom.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Day 14 We found some flat road!

This is a view of I95 from Virgina Route 301 just a mile or so from our destination.It runs parallel to I95 and is so close that you can easily read the signs.

We left the Hampton Inn in south Richmond at about 6:15 and immediately went the wrong way. We ended up going a total of 2.3 miles out of our way and it was up hill coming back. YUCK!

The real beginning of the trip was hilly again AND there was a pretty strong south westerly. We love headwinds (sarcasm in case you missed it). In spite of all that we persevered and made slow progress. We stopped at a Wawa for drinks and restrooms. I really needed the cold liquid. We chatted with some people. At least one of them warned us about stopping in Petersberg. It is supposedly dangerous with drug related incidents. He showed us a knife and said we should have one.

The next time we stopped it was in the southern  outskirts of Petersberg. We had gone through what seemed to be the bad section of the city. The main problem seemed to be that the roads had been patched and repatched but never really paved.  After climbing what we hoped was the last hill in the city (it wasn’t) we hit a CVS for restrooms and drinks.

Off we went again. When we got to our mile 30, it was about exit 45 on I95, we passed several motels and had to decide wether to stop or push on 12 plus miles to the next place with motels (for which we had coupons). So Debbie “convinced” me to push on.

At least it was mostly flat. There was that headwind which made our progress slower and more effortful that it would have been but were would end up farther down the road. The hope was to make this the last might in Virginia.

It took us 2:30 to make the 12 or so miles (one stop for drinks), but at about 2:30 we pulled into the parking lot shared by the Hampton and Sleep Inns. We chose the Sleep Inn because the coupons we had gave us a $10 better deal there. We checked in, put the stuff in the room, washed our faces, and walked to Denny’s for “dinner.” Mel had two.

Today’s mileage: W biked 42.1 miles  (2.3 off route) at an average speed of 7.9. We are 557 miles into the trip (of which about 17 is off route).

Debbie’s emotionometer: After a crabby “I hate the hills and headwind” period early in the day, Mel found his inner Lance for the last 8 miles and was totally awesome! We finished hot, tired, and hungry, but feeling like we accomplished more than we thought we would.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Day 13 Back to real mileage at last!

We left the hotel at 5:40 because their breakfast was not going to start until 6:30. We had to eat so we stopped at the ugh MacDonald’s next store. It was mobbed but we eventually got our breakfast sandwich and water, ate, and left. We were finally riding at 6:05.

We headed out on US 1 south hoping to get south of Richmond. It was hilly again but not quite as bad as the last couple of days.

We tried to make a potty stop at a rental center in Carmel Church (at 14 miles) . We pulled up to the place and almost immediately someone came running out of the place (the owner) with two bottles of cold water. We chatted. He and his buddies in the shop were quite friendly and amazed that we were trying the trip we were on.

We didn’t stop again  until 20 miles in at a little town called Doswell. It was getting hot. We got a Gatorade and chatted with the proprietor. She described the next miles into Ashland as hilly but flatter after that. She was right. The next 8 miles into Ashland were very tough and our overall speed dropped.

At Ashland we stopped at a Hardee’s. It was the only thing in sight. We each had a double cheeseburgers (sale)  and senior sodas. We cooled of considerably in the air conditioning. Too soon we were off.

As promised the terrain after Ashland was not as hilly as earlier. Out speed increased somewhat. Of course by now we were quite tired and our goal was still 24 miles away. In addition we were now fighting a serious head wind. We really wanted to get to south of Richmond to avoid the morning rush hour on Tuesday.

We had been told that the terrain was basically flat on the other side of the James River that tuns through Richmond. It was. We took pictures of the river (its muddy) and the city (as we left). What we had not been told was that we would meet a strong head wind and that many of the roads were in dreadful shape. The going was overall a bit easier.

Partway through this last part of the trip, I tried to shift into the lowest climbing gear and the chain jammed between the spokes and rear cluster. It took me at least 20 minutes to release it. After that the ride was uneventful but difficult against the wind. We finally came to the street on which the Hampton Inn was located, made the turn, and rode the mile to the motel.

My, my, the shower felt good. So did the dip in their little pool. We finally cooled off. I did a little work on my course and we went to dinner at the Subway next store. That’s about it.

Today’s ride was 50.4. 1 miles at 8.9 mph. We rode for 5:39 (total elapsed time was 9:30). Our total trip mileage stands at 515.

Debbie’s emotionometer: Good emotional overtones today, in spite of the hills and headwind. We were delighted to make such a good distance. North Carolina is now only about 70 miles away! Hopefully, we will cross the border day after tomorrow.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Day 12 More slow going over the Virginia hills.

We were in Stafford, VA opposite exit 143 on I95. Fortunately for us the breakfast was set up half an hour early so we could eat it at the motel and still be on the road by 5:55 am. And it was a good thing. It is US 1 and there was virtually no traffic. But there were hills. I think it is safe to say that there were almost no truly level patches. We were constantly climbing or descending.

There is no question that we are stronger than we were at the start of the trip. The number of times we must stop to rest on the hills is fewer and fewer, it’s just not zero yet. We stopped a couple of times to nibble on food we were carrying (you have to fuel the engines) but had no major meal stops. As a result of all this, our overall progress was only about 5 miles in each hour of travel.

Of note, we were going down a hill, trying to get up a head of steam to go up the next hill when we had to slow down for two goslings who could not figure out how to get out of our way, as mom and dad honked at us from the grass for daring to threaten two of their babies. We lost all our momentum and had to take our usual breaks up the hill.

We got to Thornburg, VA at about 11 am. We stopped at a 7-11 for a drink, bathroom break, and information. We knew there were motels over at I95 but were less certain of the road ahead. The next anything would be at Carmel Church about 14 miles away. Two problems: 1. That is very near where King’s Dominion is located, and 2. It could be so hilly (no one seemed to be sure) that it would take us another three plus hours to get there and we really did not want to be on the road that late. So, we wimped out and biked the half mile to I95 and checked into a Quality Inn. Funny, we walked in and asked if there were any rooms and the kid at the desk said, “No, we were sold out.” We were a bit surprised and were about to leave to go the Holiday Inn Express next door, when it became clear that what he meant was that the rooms had not been cleaned yet. So we used one of those coupons from the travel books you can pick of at MacDonalds etc and got our cheapest room yet.

We were about the chain up the bike and go to eat when the kid came out and said our room was ready so we put the bike in, changed into bathing suits, and went for a swim in their very cold pool. It felt great.

Right now we are at a DQ eating and drinking and writing this blog. We are about three days behind but I figure we will get as far as we get.

Today’s travels: We rode 25 miles (plus .7 off route to the hotel). Our average speed waws 8.8 mph. We are now 464  miles into the trip (of which about 15 are off route).

Hoping to get south of Richmond tomorrow so we won’t have rush hour traffic to contend with on Tuesday, but it is probably too far given the terrain.

Debbie’s emotionometer: Today was a good day. High spirits, happier with the decrease in traffic on US 1 and early finish.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Day 11 Another day, another breakdown (the bike).

We got out of the Roadway Inn in Woodbridge quite early. We were on the road by 5:55 am thinking to have a good mileage day. The roads were pretty empty which was a good thing because US 1 has little, if any, shoulder.

Shortly thereafter Debbie mentioned a vibration or bumping in the rear. I could not feel anything at the front but we stopped to examine the rear and sure enough there was a bulge in the sidewall of the rear tire. It would eventually blowout: when, who knows, but a new tire was mandatory. The next bike shop was still 10 or so miles away.

At about the 13-mile mark I shifted into the lowest hill gear and the rear shifter over shifted and the chain got jammed between the rear gear cluster and the spokes. This had happened before and I have been able to pry the chain out and go on. NOT THIS TIME.

I had been working on this for more than half an hour when a car pulls up and asks if help might be needed. It was a retired marine officer and her eldest son who just happened to be a bike mechanic. He looked at it and had the chain out in a couple of minute. He also looked at the tire and though it would last the 7 or so miles to the next bike shop, but avoid potholes. What a life saver he was. The chain had been so jammed that you could not even push the bike. The woman thought about carrying us someplace but she was driving a Prius and there was no room. After profuse thanks on our part, we were on our way being very carful.

We stopped for drinks and cup cakes at a 7-11 along the road. We had gotten the phone number of the bike shop in Dumfries so we called them and described our troubles. They could help when we got there. They said it was about 7 miles and gave us directions. It was not quite that distance.

Off went again being very careful to avoid bit bumps in the road and controlling our speed on the downhills. We made a potty stop and met a fellow who had biked the country (west to east). We chatted about the roads in VA and NC. Then were off again. The going was very slow due to extremely close heavy traffic, no shoulder, and hills. We could not coast down the hills fast because of a fear of the rear tire blowing out. We could not get up the hills without stopping for rests because of the tired old bodies pushing the pedals. Every time we stopped we were too intimidated to get back going again until the traffic behind us cleared. Did we mentions HEAVY traffic? So we pushed the bike up lots of hills and took many short stops. Consequently it took ages to go just a few miles.

Finally Debbie spotted the shop. Just a left and a left and up a little hill. Revolution Cycles in Stafford, VA. We got in, took off the trailer and the packs. They put it up on a stand and got to work. We got a new tire, three new spokes, rear-wheel truing, a serious derailleur adjustment and cleaning, check the chain, and I got new pedals. They were great! David Taylor and another technician whose name I did not get did a beautiful job. This is a four-shop family-owned chain in the DC metro area. If the other mechanics are this good, go there.

While I was watching the work, Debbie went to the Post office to finally put in the stop mail we forgot to do before we left. Thanks to son-in-law and daughter-in-law for taking in our mail. Then she walked up to the motel next store. It’s a Marriott Suites where we are right now. It’s a very nice place and is the first one with a pool that is open.

After the bike shop we found a soul food Restaurant called the Family Reunion Restaurant. The portions were large and the peppery flavors were great. We chatted with an interesting lady there.

The day: 18.3 miles at an average speed of 7.4. We rode for 2:26. We now have gone 438 miles.

Debbie’s emotionometer: Trepidation wins the day due to bike problems, road conditions,  and traffic.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Day 10 About to Leave Metro D. C.

We were out at 7:03 this morning. We headed for the W&OD trail and did about 4 or so miles on it looking for Route 7100. This highway actually had a bike path associated with it. It may have been a mistake to take it rather than being on the shoulder because the path was very slow going. Eventually we did get on the road at about mile 12 and made better time.

We do not have very good maps at all but despite this Debbie got us to the correct connecting road to go to Woodbridge. It turns out to be Route 123. The going was pretty fast until we hit the town. Towns are slow. They typically do not have shoulders but do have traffic. The traffic here was heavy.

For the most part this was an easier day than several of the past few. I think the main reason for this was that it was not hot. The highs were only in the mid 70s. The going was not fast but the scenery was pleasant for the most part.

We finally made it to Woodbridge, but were tired and hungry and thirsty, a bad combination. After a mile or so of stressful riding we decided we were starving. With less than 2 or so miles to go to find a hotel, Mel lost his courage when we lost the shoulder and wanted to walk on the sidewalk rather than ride on the road. His courage turned out to be found at a KFC, along with food, drink, and a rest in air conditioning. We had only had fruit and nuts during the day and it was 1 pm. We stopped at a KFC. We were good. Debbie had a sandwich and Mel had a piece of roast chicken with a couple of reasonable sides and of course soda. When we left there another customer wanted to take our picture, so we asked him to take one with our camera also.

We hit the road again feeling fed, hydrated, and cooled off (and with Mel’s courage back in place). We then went to US 1 and turned right (south). Now we were just looking for a motel. In just a couple of miles we found the Rodeway Inn at Potomac Mills. We checked in. The price seemed high, especially when we saw the room. It was a real dump (for the money). The carpet in the room looks 20 years old. The fan in the bathroom is broken/rusted/painted over. They have a coin laundry but no detergent for sale. They have a free breakfast but the woman at the desk said they only serve bagels and coffee. She would only give Debbie change for $2 even though the laundry would cost $3. They do have air conditioning and free internet which I need. The main virtue of this place is that it was in the right place when we needed it.
Today we traveled 34.5 miles in 4:10 for an average speed of 8.2 mph. We have progressed 407 miles in our quest for Walt Disney World. That is close to a third of the trip.

Debbie’s emotionometer: Cooperative and pleasant, then anxious, then courageous.