Bike Across USA 2010

Final Trip Numbers and Stats

COAST to COAST BIKE TRIP OVERVIEW:
Total Miles: 3581
Best Food: Mexican Restaurant – Carson City, Barbecue Competition, Yates Center KS Worst Food: Sonic – Carbondale, IL + Chinese Buffet, Madisonville KY
Best Hotel: Hampton Inn, Gretna, VA Worst Hotel – Yates Center, KS
Road Kill List: deer, antelope, owls, possum, raccoons,armadillo, turtles, raccoons, various species of birds( and yes these dead animals smell even worse on a bike!) Wackiest thing seen: Large yellow school bus filled to roof with watermelons driving down highway + swirling funnel cloud in Lamar, MO
Saddest: 1) 2 raccoons killed while crossing road at same time 2) dog being hit by car in front of me
Most “remote” state: KY Poorest State: KY Most Coal: KY and Eastern VA Most Corn: KS Wildest Weather: KS + MO Most Baptist Churches: MO + KY Best Baptist Church “Welcome” Signs: “And You think It’s Hot Here…” + “Lost? Try our G.P.S. Gods Path to Salvation” + Wireless access to God with no No roaming charges” ( all in MO) Best Quote: “Boy – the “skitters” round here are so big they will clog up your butt hole” – told to Jeff by a local somewhere in MO Best Bumper Sticker: Happiness is a belt-fed weapon – somewhere in KS
My synopsis of our country:1 – Smoking is a huge epidemic in this country 2 – Obesity is rampant in our country 3 – With Nothing but fast food and fried food restaurants everywhere it is no wonder that our country is so unhealthy! 4 – Our country is a sea of mobile homes and babtist churches 5 – Humans have caused severe environmental damage throughout our country.6 – Most people and most cities have NOOOO concept of recycling or being “green.” 7 – WalMarts, Sonics, Taco Bells, and MACD’s own this country!

THANK YOU TO EVERYONE FOR YOUR LOVE AND SUPPORT. Check out the pics that did not make it into the dailly posts… We will be biking across Canada next year so stay tuned!!!

Cynthia Nielson's photo.
Cynthia Nielson's photo.
Cynthia Nielson's photo.

 

Bike Across USA 2010

Day 49 – The Finish!

Day 49 – july 31 – Courtland Va to VA Beach, VA – 68 miles The first 30 miles of our ride today involved riding on flat back roads through tobacco fields. Unfortunately this beautiful ride featuring very few cars ended when we entered the city of Suffolk, VA. Once we got to Suffolk the Urban riding challenge began! We had to ride on a major 4 lane interstate for 10 miles and then had to ride on very busy city roads for the next 20 miles into the Chesapeake/Va Beach area. We got severely lost in the city of Chesapeake trying to find Jeff’s cousin’s house in VA beach ( our final destination. The google maps on Jeff’s phone took us in the wrong direction for over 5 miles so we had to backtrack another 5 miles to get to the house. Jeff and I were so frustrated that we of course began yelling at each other. Jeff was also yelling at his phone while yelling at me so it was not a good experience overall. After going our extra 8 miles and doing some extremely hairy and scary urban riding we finally arrived at our final destination at around 4 pm. The ending was a bit bittersweet as we were so frustrated with the last half of our ride. We showered and then drove the final 15 miles to the craziness that is VA beach. What a zoo. We dipped our feet and decided trying to ride the extra 15 miles the next day to the beach would be suicidal as the highways were beyond crowded and there were no sidewalks or shoulders anywhere. Our decision not to do the final 15 to the ocean was a good one as we would have surely ended up in an accident with a car. Happiness is not having to ride a bike tomorrow! What a trip! My best “of list” and more pics top come!

Cynthia Nielson's photo.
Cynthia Nielson's photo.
Cynthia Nielson's photo.
Cynthia Nielson's photo.
Cynthia Nielson's photo.
Photo

 

Bike Across USA 2010

Day 48

Day 48 – July 30 – Chase City VA to Courtland VA – 98 miles
Left Chase City around 9 am and stopped at a local mini mart for a quick breakfast of southern biscuits. Met a wonderful African American man who was retired military high ranking official and he told us that his son was in the North Tower of the World Trade Centers when they were hit on 911. He explained that his son was on a floor below the floor where the palne had hit and was told to stay on the floor until fire crews came. He made the decision to leave the building on his own accord and narrowly escaped before the tower fell. An amazing story. Turns out this military man was also a chargers fan so Jeff yapped with him for at least a half hour ( all the while we were being gawked and asked more questions about our trip by vistiors to the mini mart). We had to ride south to the town of South HIll before riding east so after 25 miles we stopped in South HIll and treated ourselves to a horriby greasy chicken and biscuit meal at Bojangles ( think KFC on steroids and southern style). The food int his region is SOOOO unhealthy and everyone is horribly overweight! After eating our heart attack food, we made our way east to the town of Emporia. We rode 30 miles through more tobacco fields, peanut fields, and watermelon plantations. About 10 miles before Emporia. Jeff’s rack broke AGAIN so we decided we would have to stop at a post office in Emporia to ship as much of Jeff’s stuff back as possible. We spent at least an hour in Emporia and then left to do our last 30 miles to our final destination of the day. In order to stay off of the main east-west highway ( a four lane nightmare), we of course decided to follow google maps which once again proved to be a horrible idea. After going north and then east again, google maps once again put us on a dirt road. We realized that this dirt road was going to be 13 miles so we decided thaat we were going to have to ride back south to the main highway in order to continue our trek east. On the way back down to the main highway Jeff was attacked by two pit bull dogs. As they charged him from teh side, jeff slid into the grass on the side of the road and fell off of his bike. just as the dogs were upon him he got up and started chasing the dogs! I could not beleive it. The owners came out and started yelling at the dogs. it was quite a scene. Another wonderful dog experience. I am really beginning to hate dogs. We ende up riding 21 more miles on teh main 4 lane highway. Think I-5 with a good shoulder. Not the most relaxing ride I have ever done. We made it to the only motel in this town right before dark. 1/2 mile before the hotel I pulled into the only mini mart for miles which also happened to be a 7-11. I was at the point of passing out and had to sit on the curb outside of 7-11 before continuing the rest of the 1/2 mile journey. Thank goodness they had bananas and banana slurpee! Made it to the motel and had to eat Dairy Queen for dinner. Eating in the south sucks! We will make the push to Virgiia Beach tomorrow – 70 miles to go!!!


Cynthia Nielson's photo.
Cynthia Nielson's photo.
Cynthia Nielson's photo.

Bike Across USA 2010

Day 47

Day 47 – July 29 – Gretna VA to Chase City, VA – 85 miles
After 11 hours of sleeping, a good complimentary breakfast, and a good discussion with a new friend and fan I met at breakfast (phil hester – thanks for the support!), we left at 11 am trusting our life to google maps again. When we left it was hot and humid as expected. This section of highway 40 had very few cars and was really nice to ride. The horrible hills of eastern VA have given way to flat lands of tobaccco plantations and corn fields. We are now pretty much in south central Virgina. We ended up spending the day riding on small backroads that meandered through tobacoo fields. At one poiint we stopped at a small country store ( this was ion a mobile home and consited of a few loafs of bread, some chips, and a few pepsi products – very small). We were greeted my 3 African American tobacco farmers from the area. They of course were astonished by our riding journey and we spent over an hour chatting with them and asking questions. We have moved into a region that is predominately African American. The confederate flags that we saw hanging in eastern Kentucky and Western VA are no longer present. It has been very interesting to see the transition from white communiteis into 100% African American farming communities. Google Maps “Biking” screwed us over twice today and at one point we again had to ride on a dirt road. This of course sucked! At a critical fork in one of our roads we ended up having to change our direction so that we would not ride directly into the eye if a fast approaching storm. So we ended up riding south east instead of northeaast. This put us in a small town called Chase City somewhere. At this point we are definately getting closer to the North Carlolina border and we seem to be going the wrong way! We used google maps to try to find the only hotel in town and google sent us 4 miles in the wrong direction! Google maps took us to someones house. I am really beginning to hate Google! So we then had to ride 4 miles back to down and into the storm which had been following us. We ended up riding 2 miles in the pouring rain before finding our small motel. Ate a local diner near the motel – fried food again. Only 2 more days of riding. This last week has been a beast!

Cynthia Nielson's photo.
Cynthia Nielson's photo.
Cynthia Nielson's photo.

Bike Across USA 2010

Day 45

Day 45 – July 27 – Wytheville, VA to Rocky Mount, VA – 98 miles
We actually were ready to go at 8:30 am but unfortunately for us mother nature was not cooperating. We woke up to rain and hoped that we could wait it out. When we checked the weather channel we noticed that a severe thunderstorm was getting ready to roll through the area. As a result we had to wait until 12:30 to leave! The roads were very wet as we began what was to be a very wet and LONG day. I was able to ride 7 miles on the wet roads before I severely “bonked” and started shaking uncontrollably. This is usually a sign of severe dehydration or lack of food. The nearest food joint was a McDonalds so we pulled in. I quickly downed a fruit smoothy ( yum!), a banana, and a chicken wrap and we were on our way. Unfortunately the weather did not want to be as friendly and it started raining as we began the ride. It rained for the next 10 miles. At about the time the rain ended Jeff got his first flat of the trip. So we spent another 30 minutes trying to fix this. At this point it must be noted that we were severely behind schedule. Our route for the day was to take us through more grueling hills of the Appalachians. In addition, we were going through VERY rural areas. Our target city was 80 miles from our start point and this was the only place on the route that had a hotel. So we really had no backup plan if we could not do the 80 miles. and keep in mind that by 3:00 in the afternoon we had only gone 30 miles! To make matters worse we were following a bike route provided by Google Maps. Anyone who has ever followed the “bike” directions on Google Maps knows this is a sure bet for disaster. After the flat, we continued to ride another 25 miles on beautiful roads but very tough terrain. The hills were steep and seemingly endless. At mile 55 we stopped at a small road side gas station to fill up on water. At this point it was almost 6 pm so we only had about 2.5 hours of daylight to make it 30 miles. We knew that the next 30 was probably going to take longer than the 2.5 as we were still having to cross the Apps and we were also heading to the top of the Blue Ridge Mountains ( part of the App chain). We continued to follow Google Maps ( using Jeffs phone) and continued the climb to the top of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Once at the top we were greeted by a spectacular 2 lane road called The Blue Ridge Parkway. It was actually quite cool at the top of this ridge and very foggy. And because it was so late in the day there were basically no cars! The only problem with this scenario was that in order to get to our destination we had to get off of the Blue Ridge Parkway and descend 1000 feet to our town that was still 20 miles away. We followed the BR parkway another 5 miles before Jeff realized that we had missed the turn for the small road that was supposed to take us back down into the valley. So, we backtracked 5 miles to the road only to find that the road was an UNPAVED, very rocky road. At this point it was just about pitch dark and we had no choice but to descend into the abyss of the Appalachian mountains down this road. So, we both put on our head lamps and began to ride down the road. It only took us a few feet to realize that riding down this road in the dark was going to be tantamount to suicide. So we both decided to walk our bikes 3 miles down this dirt road. So there we are – in the pitch dark, on an road that is descending over 1000 feet in 3 miles! Walking a bike holding 50 lbs of gear on such an incline is very challenging. And we are doing this in the middle of a forest in the dark! After the 3 miles of the forest road we hit a paved road. Now we are still in the deep forest at this point but now at least we were on a paved road. We rode another 3 miles in the dark down this road. This road was dotted with small houses tucked away in the trees. We were chased by dogs twice. I have now discovered something worse than being chased by a dog during a lightning storm. And that is being chased by a dog in the dark. It was so dark that we could not even see these dogs. We would hear them bark and growl and then hear their lovely feet pitter patter on the ground next to the bike. It was awful! After riding 3 miles in the blackness on this road we fianlly reached the main east-west highway. This was another 2 lane highway that would eventually get us to our destination. As we begain our trek on this road we were greeted by a sign that said “Rocky Mount – 17 miles”! Yes – we still had 17 more miles to ride in the DARK! At this point it was already 10 pm! We kept riding and about 5 mils down the road a car driving in the opposite direction slowed and crossed the highway to stop in front of me. It was the local Sheriff! Apparently he had received a call from someone in one of the few homes we had passed. The homeowner had said that there were “juveniles” in the area causing caos on bikes! We were apparently those juveniles! Turns out the Sheffif was actually a deputy and we was in a young guy that used to be in the military in Northern CA. He was a very nice guy ( thank you Ryan King!) and he decided that we were “lit up enough” ( bike lights, etc) to continue our journey of 13 more miles into Rocky Mount. I will say that I would have been quite happy had he decided to arrest us and take us in! In fact I was praying for this! But alas he told us we would have a nice, car free, moon lit ride into our next town! Gee thanks. We ended up riding into Rocky Mount at 12 am. Jeff called the only hotel ( a Holiday Inn express of all places) and the front desk clerk said that she only had a smoking room! EEk! We did not have much of a choice so we headed over to the hotel. We made a pit stop at the only food establishment open at that time of night -McDonalds! – twice in 1 day – can you say gross! We arrived at the hotel at around 12:30 am and we were told that we were going to get a King suite non-smoking for the base rate – apparently the hotel lady had made a mistake. This was the best news I had heard all day! We finally went to bed around 1:30 after spending over 12 hours on our bikes. What a day! Virginia you are not making this last week very easy!

 


Cynthia Nielson's photo.
Cynthia Nielson's photo.
Cynthia Nielson's photo.

Bike Across USA 2010

Day 44

Day 44- – July 26 – Lebanon, VA to Wytheville, VA – 70 miles .It was another very hot day with the humidity in the 80% range and the temps in the high 90’s. We had 2 very long climbs today as we went over the first section of the Appalachian mountains. We were able to ride on some very beautiful single lane roads through the mountain regions. There are of course a million trees in this region and within the trees are small communities of pre-fabricated houses and mobile homes. This really is a beautiful region. We did our first stop in Saltville, a small mining town which had a museum, and old trains etc. Still in coal country! We did a short soda stop, which then turned into a stop at a grocery store/subway, since it was baking hot! We then stopped in Marion which had great brownies at a gas station, and a woman who lived there that said they had 29 days of above 90 degree weather. The road at this point paralleled highway 81 so the scenery wasn’t that great, but the road was in good condition and easy to follow. We stayed at a best western near a steakhouse so we endulged in a great meal. When we came out there was a huge lightening storm happening in the mountains we had to go over tomorrow. The plan is to get up semi-early and hit the road…yeah right. The Appalachians are so far VERY grueling!

 

Cynthia Nielson's photo.
Cynthia Nielson's photo.
Cynthia Nielson's photo.
Cynthia Nielson's photo.

 

Bike Across USA 2010

Day 43

Day 43 – July 25 – Whitesburg, KY to Lebanon, VA – 70 miles The day started out around 10:30 am with the low temperature of 91. Again high heat warnings in effect. The first part of the ride was up a long hill to the Kentucky border. We had to unfortunately ride on the same highway that we rode on yesterday for the first 15 miles. The hill was an 8% grade for over 10 miles. It as so hot that we all prayed for a large truck to pass us just to provide a breeze! When we got to the top of the hill we were able to stop at a gas station for some much needed liquids. Tyler and I were so sweaty that Tyler and I both had to take our shirts off to wring them out! Jeff took a pic of Tyler doing this. So gross! When we got to the top of the hill I yelled at the top of my lungs,”I hate Kentucky!” At about the same time a car in the other lane going to Kentucky beeped their horn and yelled…”don’t come back”! So many nice people…but a few jerks too. The irony is that an officer in the gas station who is from kentucky bought Jeff and I drinks, etc. Turns out his wife is from El cajon high school! We ate lunch in another very small coal mining town where Jeff met a gas station owner who was a huge SD Charger fan. He was so excited to meet Jeff that he invited him to his house ( which was attached to the gas station) to take pics of his SD Charger memorabilia collection! We parted ways with Tyler about 10 miles after this. We chose to go more due East and he decided to go more north east. Bye Tyler. The free ride is over. I know that he wanted to keep staying with is but i told him that tonight he needed to begin camping again. He later texted and said he was “stealth” camping in a town 40 miles away. This mesans he pitched a tent in the bushes somewhere. A far cry from the loverly Super 8! The rode we took for the next 20 miles was absolutely beautiful. It was basically a one lane road ( only 1 car could really fit on this road). The rode wrapped through more of the Appalachians and was of course very steep. And did I mention that is was 105 degrees today? I go so overheated while riding this road that I literally pulled off of the road onto a small patch of grass, threw my bike down, and laid in the grass. I have never been so hot. Jeff was so concerned he took a picture! What a lovely husband ( hahah). A few miles up the road we found a small stream where we could cool off. Thank goodness! Lebanon is awesome…nice town near the mountains, etc. Much different than the coal towns we have had to stay in up until now. We have figured out that we may be able to get into Virginia beach by Saturday – approximately 400 miles of riding. We still have another tough day of riding through mountains tomorrow and it is supposed to be 105 again. Gee I can’t wait!

 

Cynthia Nielson's photo.
Cynthia Nielson's photo.
Cynthia Nielson's photo.
Cynthia Nielson's photo.
Cynthia Nielson's photo.

Photo