We arrived back home in Hanover County Virginia on July 23rd. Last Saturday, July 27th, Howard and his wife Jenny hosted a huge thank you picnic at their farm, Mica Mine. The purpose was to thank all of the Virginia Farmers who have contributed to the “Farmers Supporting Cancer Researchâ€ effort Howard spearheaded as a part of Ride For Jim. It was a grand affair with an abundance of food including grilled chicken, hamburgers, corn on the cob, tomatoes, potato soup, and pies of every variety. Special thanks for all the preparation that went into the event go to Howardâ€™s son and daughter-in-law, Josh and Crisa, and cooks David Carrol and Butch and Rebecca Bowles. That was just an amazing feast.
In order to complete our ride from sea to shinning sea we needed to ride from Hanover County to Yorktown and dip our front wheel in the Atlantic Ocean. I know, the York River is not exactly the Atlantic but itâ€™s close and a lot safer on a bicycle than trying to make it to Virginia Beach. So today we set out at 5:45 am pushing eastward greeted by a beautiful sunrise. Once again the weather was perfect for a ride in July, slightly overcast and not too hot and much of the ride was along Virginia Scenic Byways. Stops included one in Studley, Virginia at Studleyâ€™s Store for a second breakfast and a pre-lunch burger and chocolate milk shake stop in Williamsburg. Finally the last 11 mile surge along the Colonial Parkway brought us to Yorktown and dipping our front wheel in the Atlantic Ocean (York River). In all it was a great 84 mile final ride ending with, what else, a celebration lunch!!!
Lastly I want to acknowledge Howardâ€™s wife, Jenny, and my wife, Nancy, for their outstanding support and filling in for us while we were gone for two months. We promise we will not be doing this again anytime soon and thank you for loving us still. You are the best!!
Wheel dipping in the Atlantic ending our TransAmerica adventure.
We were up early feeding our engines at the McDonald’s by 5:15 and on the road again my 5:45 hoping to beat some of the Washington, DC traffic. Traffic on Route #1 heading south was constant but very courteous as rode on. Fortunately none of the Hanover Peddle Pushers decided to perform bicycle gymnastics today which may be due to the fact that the main gymnast departed from the group yesterday.
Since this was the last day of the ride a couple of us treated ourselves with two big chocolate frosted donuts at one of the stops, knowing that soon we will not be quickly burning those extra calories two hours later on the bike. The “eat anything anytime” will soon end.
As Howard and I approached his farm, Mica Mine, a group of family and friends was there welcoming us home. We covered a total of 3700 miles in 46 days of riding and had six rest days in Elmore, Ohio. It was a great ride but we are both happy to be back home and most thankful for the prayers and support from so many family and friends over the past weeks. We had no serious injuries, few days that were even in the 90â€™s, only a few days when it rained and never even saw a Grizzly.
Our thanks to all of you who have been following the blog. We hope to see you on August 24 for the Farm Fest at Mica Mine farm. Please register in advance at the website, form a team, ride with us that day.
The bicycle gymnastics today featured the Bicycle Carry up the stairs at Harpers Ferry in order to cross back across the river to the C&O bike path. We also were challenged with another bike carry across another fallen tree that blocked the path. Of course the downhill mud puddle slalom continued for the fifth day of riding as be weaved and bobbed on gravel bike paths hit by recent thunder storms. We are all quite proficient now at dodging every type of mud puddle.
After 350 miles and five days of bicycling on gravel, protruding rocks and tree roots we arrived in Georgetown at 2:00 PM. The first order of business was finding food and hydration at a local restaurant on M Street. The next challenge was getting across the Potomac river and onto the bike path that leads to Mt. Vernon. It sounded simple enough when our waiter described it but on the actual streets, not so simple. We made it across the Memorial Bridge and could SEE where we needed to be on the bike path but there was no clear access point. We ended up carrying our bicycles down two hillsides and ignoring the sign stating “this is not a crossing” and darting across two lanes of traffic. The bike path to Mt. Vernon is not clearly marked at all points which has been the case for all bike paths across the whole country.
Arriving at Mt. Vernon we found Griffin’s mother, Kelly, waiting for us and eager to rescue her son from the hazards of Washington DC. She and her friend Jill had Gatorade for us which powered us on for a few more miles to the Best Western. We are studying the maps trying to find the best to Beaverdam to follow tomorrow.
The bicycle gymnastics competition continued early this morning. As we left Hancock, Griffin and Casey decided to enter a pairs event doing a very difficult, never attempted before program called “sliding across the slick wet boards of a bridge in perfect synchrony.” It was executed beautifully with a magnificent dismount finish, meaning no one was hurt. The judges gave them a perfect 10 score and we hope to never see it repeated.
Later in the morning Alice tried her hand at the pairs competition by having a pair of flat tires simultaneously, admittedly a difficult undertaking. Unfortunately the judges disqualified her after learning that she had assistance with the repair. Howard added to the flat tire excitement with some slow leaks which are now repaired. His attempt however was not even worthy of a score from the judges.
The ride ended in Harpers Ferry, WV with all of us competing in Bike Carry events, first carrying them up a stairs to a bridge in order to cross the Potomac into West VA. Then up the stairs at the Super 8 to the second floor, oops no elevator. The fun never end on a bike ride.
Morning along the C&O canal
Dam number 3 on the Potomac
Four days of dodging and riding through mud puddles
Heading out today we rode on the tow path for the old C&O canal riding 63 miles tor Hancock, MD. Mid-morning we came to the Paw Paw tunnel built for the canal and the tow path for the mules that pulled the barges. The tunnel is over 3000 feet long and there are not lights so we used whatever illumination we could find from iPhones to LED camp lights. The walkway is only five feet or so wide so meeting cyclists coming from the other directions was interesting. It was pretty spooky with water dripping, and occasionally bumping into the wall on the side.
The excitement for the day came when we stopped for lunch and Griffin decided to attempt to take the lead in the Hanover Peddle Pushers bicycling gymnastics competition. His program included a reverse double axel maneuver which began using a steep uphill into the packing lot of Bill’s Place in Little Orleans. The first part of the act went beautifully as he soared like an eagle on a bicycle. After that things began to fail, especially his dismount which ended badly. The judges gave him extra points for creativity but it was not enough to unseat Calvin from the lead which he took early on with his spectacular bicycle mud slide followed by a backward double axel summersault.
Later in the afternoon Casey and Griffin did a bit of rock climbing. We are hoping this is not going to be combined tomorrow with something involving bicycles.
The world is watching the tour d’France but the real bicycling event that many are missing is the Bicycle Gymnastics competition by the Hanover Peddle Pushers.
The ride ended today with a nice cooling dip in the Potomic River.
Griffin riding strong
Rest stop along the C&O
Some of Bill’s regulars
Griffin and Casey, our cave people
look Mom, no hands!!
Howard supervising the laundry detail.
Howard says that a bad start always means a great finish and that proved to be the case today. As soon as Howard went outside this morning he discovered that he had a flat back tire. It was his first; I had my flat back in Ohio earlier in the week. We were beginning to think that we could make the whole trip with no flats, but only two flats in 3000 miles is still pretty good and we are hoping for no more.
After that bad start the day went perfectly with a sunny morning riding along the beautiful GAP. The highlights of the day came mid-afternoon when, after one and a half days of gentle climbs we reached the Continental Divide and immediately, after passing through a tunnel, we headed downhill for the next 20 miles into Cumberland, MD. Boy did that ride feel good as we probably averaged 16 mph. Shortly after crossing the Mason Dixon line we entered Maryland, another state to add to our list of states. Calvin gets the prize for the best quote of the day. He is celebrating the completion of his second 70 mile day and says that some parts of his body hurt so much that a case of hemorrhoids would feel good.
We will be leaving Cumberland tomorrow and passing from the Great Allegheny Passage bike path onto the C & O tow path into Washington, DC.
I have a couple additions and corrections to yesterdays blog:
The river that we have been riding along is not the Allegheny but the Youghiogheny which the locals just call the “Yough”.
The name Ohiopyle comes from an Indian word meaning “Whitewater” which it is as it passes through the town.
I also should have mentioned that Griffin, Howard’s grandson, is only 14 years old and is riding as strong or stronger that any of the Hanover Peddle Pushers.
The fearless Hanover Peddle Pushers ready to head downhill.
We are happy that we are heading east and not west.
A beautiful view from the GAP
The Hanover Peddle Pushers arrived last evening included Griffin Aderhold, Howard’s grandson, Casey Smith Howard’s niece, and friends Alice Noland, Calvin Stanley and Liz Shaw.
We pushed off this morning on the Great Allegheny Passage, a rails to trails bike path that goes from Pittsburgh to Cumberland, MD. The path is shaded by trees that arch over the top and follows along the Allegheny River.
The day started as the perfect ride. Soon however we discovered that recent storms made some of the fine gravel surface mushy and we could not control our bikes. Next we encountered mud puddles of increasing depth and viscosity so that we ended up half riding and half wadding in mud which resulted in one Peddle Pusher having a close encounter with mucky mess. Finally to complete the trifecta of hazards we came upon fallen trees blocking our path. First a small one we could lift our bikes over and then a whole tree with big branches requiring all hands passing the bikes.
The rest of the day was uneventful and we stopped in Ohiopyle – no idea what the name means- after riding 69 miles. We are on the way to find food and refreshment.
The Hanover Peddle Pushers heading out
Riding the GAP the hard way
On the road again
The route out of Steubenville seemed straight forward until we headed off into the fog at 7:00 AM. The expressway we thought we would take said “No Bicycles” and the street names were not what we expected. That lead us to Glenn at the nearby filling station who recommended taking the “No Bicycles” route since it was only for a short distance and at that hour traffic was light. We told him we were heading for the “Panhandle Bike Route” that started somewhere just across the river in West Virginia. Glenn offered then to wait for us at the exit from the expressway and to lead us to the trail head for the bike path which he did. We have marveled at how many times on our trip there is someone just waiting to offer the assistance we need. Thank you Glenn for you kind assistance this morning.
The Panhandle trail went on for 30 miles where we then turned to the Google Map the kind lady at the hotel had found for us last night. It was supposed to lead us to Homestead, PA, south of Pittsburgh where we are to rendezvous with family and friends from Richmond who will ride the remainder of the way with us.
Google Map seemed to be taking us in circles, each one having us climb the same long-grind mountain but from a different direction. Finally a postman delivering mail got us on the right track, even drawing a map for us. Another angel looking out for us. He told us to follow Noblestown Road all the way into the city. We asked him what city and he said, “the city”. We said, “but what is the name of the city?” and he finally said with some questioning look, “Pittsburgh!!” We thought we were still further from Pittsburgh and in some neighboring town. As we rode on we did indeed reach “the city” looking across the river at Three Rivers Stadium and finally arriving in Homestead.
Now we await the arrival of Howard’s wife, grandson, and several friends.
The beginning of the Panhandle Bike Path
Today was a rather uneventful day as we cycled from Canton to Steubenville, Ohio. It is a distance of only 61 miles but they turned out to be rather hard earned as there were many steep climbs, hear and heavy truck traffic to contend with. We learned that there is considerable oil exploration going on in this area which explains some of the trucks so we may be seeing the beginning of what north-west North Dakota has turned into.
Happily we did not lose anything today, well except for about 10 pounds of sweat; it was in the low 90’s. Howard’s Grizzly Bear spray also fell off his bike but it was retrieved. Are there any grizzles in Pennsylvania?
I forgot to mention one incident in yesterday’s blog. As we were riding along the interstate approaching Canton suddenly there was a State Patrol car pulled off ahead of us on the berm we were riding on. Two patrols were standing behind the car holding what looked like a gun as we approached. Maybe they didn’t like us riding beside the highway but this seemed rather drastic. As I approached them expecting them to stop me they just smiled and yelled out, “you’re going 16 miles and hour”. They were holding a radar speed detector.
Tomorrow we will battle our way into Pittsburgh and meet up with friends from Richmond who will ride with us home.
Breakfast number one was in Shelby,, OH at the McDs where the brain trust was meeting. One gentleman is going to contribute to the RFJ fund and another took our picture and is hoping to get it in the Shelby newspaper.
When we stopped for breakfast number 2 in Ashland, OH I discovered that I had lost my tent!!! Apparently it came loose when I went over some pot holes in Shelby. I wonder how many TransAm cyclists can make that claim to fame. Then as we were leaving the Dutch Kitchen near Kidring, OH where we had lunch I heard a funny squishy sound and discovered my rear tire was flat. Our good luck with no flat tires finally ran out. I’m holding my breath and hoping that my bad luck doesn’t run in threes. Arriving in Canton, OH mid-afternoon we headed for the Pro Football Hall of Fame and made it to a hotel without any more bad luck. I’m still holding my breath though.
As mentioned earlier in the blog, we were interviewed for the Mendota Reporter, check out the article here: Cyclists hit the breaks in Mendota
Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, OH
We’re on the road again. The day began by riding a nice rail to trail route to Fremont where we enjoyed breakfast at Billy’s Restaurant. One of the proprietresses, Pam Haas, asked about our ride and then made a nice contribution to the RFJ fund. If you ever are in Fremont and want a good non-fast food meal, go to Billy’s. Thank you Pam.
Mid-morning we saw a farmer, Gary Baldozer, just starting to thrash his wheat. We stopped along the road to watch and pretty soon Howard was running across the field and climbing up the ladder to get in the cab with the guy. H wanted to find out what the yield was. Gary stopped and we talked a bit. He said that when he saw H climb up that ladder he knew it was not the first time he had done that.
The big event of the day was getting to Tiro, Ohio where my wife, Nancy’s father, Vern Cahill grew up. Nancy prepared a wonderful moveable feast which became a family reunion with her father, brother, and sister and her family. A big thank you to Nancy for a great dinner and to the family I became a part of 42 years ago.
Howard in the combine cab.
How and Gary our new farmer friend
Family reunion on the Cahill farm
After starting the day by tucking into an Elmore Omelette at the Speed Trap Diner we we off for an aerial view of NW Ohio in the Comanche, owned and operated by my nephew, Mark Damchroder. It was a perfect morning for a plane ride as we swooped and glided over islands and sailboats in Lake Erie, Cedar Point amusement park and the small towns and fertile farm land. No wonder the brothers Wright gave up on bicycles and started building airplanes.
We set off tomorrow on bicycles to continue the journey. Our deep thanks to family and friends here who have shown us such outstanding hospitality.
Perry’s Monument on Put-In-Bay in Lake Erie
Cedar Point amusement park in Sandusky, Ohio
Haar farm in Elmore,Ohio
Nephew Mark with his plane
The big event for the day was an evening supper that my sister, Nancy Pries, orchestrated to thank the local farmers who have contributed to the Ride For Jim – Farmers Support Cancer Research fund. About 45 folks gathered for an excellent sausage and sauerkraut supper at the Historical Society Barn. The group included eight high school friends, farmers, relatives and many long time family friends. After all the rain here over the past weeks the weather was perfect which added to a wonderful evening which gave Howard and me the chance to thank those good people for their support and to share with them some of the adventures we have had over the past six weeks. Our thanks to all of the good people in Elmore.
The Elmore bicycle was manufactured in Elmore, Ohio in the 1890’s. This I one, on display in the Elmore library, doesn’t look a lot different from the ones we are riding.
Day 38 – Birthday!
Today is my 71st birthday which we celebrated at the family farm with abundant food. What better gift for a hungry cyclist.
In the morning Howard and I had to actually get back on our fully loaded bicycles and ride 3 miles into town from the farm to have our picture taken by a reporter for the local newspaper. It will accompany a story about our ride that she is submitting.
The total mileage for the day was 7 miles. Whew!!!
The photo that was taken of us to accompany the story that should appear in the Fremont News Messenger.
Mr. Birthday with his flaming apple torte. Yummy!!!
Day 37 – Rest Day
The Elmore bicycle was manufactured in Elmore, Ohio in the 1890’s. This I one, on display in the Elmore library, doesn’t look a lot different from the ones we are riding.
Today was the 36th day of riding. After passing through Bowling Green where we had our mid-morning donut break we arrived in Elmore, my home town, at noon after going 55 miles. What a weird feeling to ride a bicycle from Seattle, WA into familiar territory. Even Howard and I are amazed when we look at a map of the United States and realize how far we have ridden.
We still have to ride on to Pittsburg so we are not done but we are taking a break at the Haar farm in Elmore until Sunday July 14 when we head out again. We are wondering if we need to ride a day or two this week just to keep in practice. For now it feels good to think of a few days of not sitting on a bicycle seat.
Several farmers in the Elmore have contributed to the “Farmers for Cancer Research” that Howard created as a part of Ride For Jim. My sister, Nancy, has arranged a gathering on Friday evening of farmers, friend and family who have followed our journey and given their support. A good German menu of sausage and sauerkraut is being planned. We are looking forward to the event.
Jennifer, our waitress at the Village Inn in Elmore offering support for Ride For Jim.
The big event of the day was crossing the line from Indiana into Ohio, my home state. The day started off with scattered sunshine which became more scattered as the morning continued. After crossing into Ohio the storm clouds gathered and gave us quite a good washing. We were heading for Napoleon, Ohio, an 80 mile ride from Ligonier, IN, and almost made it before wash cycle #2 arrived. I guess Ohio wanted to make sure we were not bringing any contamination with us from all the states we have passed through.
Tomorrow we should make it to Elmore, Ohio, my home town where we plan to enjoy a few days of rest.
Yes!!! We have made it to Ohio.
Most of the day we rode through Indiana farm land. Many fields we suffering from too much rain. Mid afternoon we stopped to inspect a crop we could not recognize from the road. It turned out to be a field of string beans. While we were stopped a young Amish father came out of his house and asked if we would like some cold watermelon. Of course we said we would. He gave us each a nice helping of cold juicy melon and we had a nice conversation with him and his 20 month old son while we cooled down. What a kind thing Andrew did for two total strangers.
All afternoon we met Amish on the highway in carriages pulled by horses. It looks like a lot more comfortable way to travel than what we are doing. After 81 miles of peddling today we are in Ligonier, IN.
We really enjoyed seeing Charley last evening in Kankakee. He picked us up at the motel and drove us three miles to the restaurant. It is surprising how fast one can travel three miles in a car after going ten mph on a bicycle for a month. I felt like Marty riding in Doc’s Delorian time machine and expected to find myself as a 13 year old back in 1955 when we arrived.
Today we did a bit of time travel by passing a other time zone going from central to eastern time.
Several other notable items for the day:: the first corn we have seen in tassel. The sign said it was Pioneer PO933 in case you want plant corn that tassels early. We also saw FIELDS of mint. We are staying in North Judson, IN which claims to grow more mint than any other place in the world. We still are not sure what they do with it.
There were lots of flags flying everywhere today and the waitresses at the truck stop where we had lunch were decked out in red white and blue.
Happy 4th of July!!
Only this modest sign welcomed us to Indiana
Our waitresses, Michele and Fay, at the truck stop where we had lunch were decked out for the 4th.
The day started with gray skies and a forecast calling for 30 to 40% rain which proved to be pretty accurate. We rode in mist/rain most of the day. However, with no head wind to challenge us we made the 75 miles from Ottawa to Kankakee in good time. To brighten the day I changed the lenses in my sunglasses from brown to rose colored which made it look as if the sun was about to break through at any moment.
We ate lunch in Dwight, IL a town that is on the old Route 66 that ran from Chicago to LA. The diner had an assortment of memorabilia from that era.
Charley Nottingham is the medical student who did the TransAm Ride For Jim in 2009. He graduated from med school a year ago and is now in a urology residency program in Chicago. Since we are only 60 or so miles from Chicago Charley is going to drive to Kankakee to have dinner with us. We will have a good time sharing stories from the road. More on that later.
Charley Nottingham drove down from Chicago to meet up with us in Kankakee. A little reunion of Ride For Jim
Trans America cyclists.
A vintage filling station in Dwight, IL on old Route 66.
The day began with a stop by the boyhood home of Ronald Reagan in Dixon, IL. Mid-morning we met two clerks at a Mini-Mart in Amboy, Sandy and Jean, who were interested in our ride and posed for a picture.
The big excitement came when we stopped for lunch in Mendota and saw two heavily loaded bicycles parked outside the door. They belonged to Nate and Will, two recent graduates from the U. of Vermont who are somewhat following our route only heading west. They are raising funds for World Bicycle Relief, an organization that provides bicycles to third world countries. When we arrived, Jennifer Sommer from the Mendota Reporter was interviewing them for her newspaper. After talking a picture of all four of we cyclists she gathered some information from Howard and me about our ride to include in her article.
When we went to pay for our meal our waitress, Lutfije (an Albanian name) told us that she had paid all four cyclists’ meals as a way of showing her support for what we are doing. What an unexpected act of kindness. Thank you Lutfije!!
We ended the ride today in Ottawa after 70 miles. Does the wind anywhere ever blow from the west???
Ronald Reagan’s boyhood home in Dixon, IL
Sandy and Jean at the Minute Mart in Amboy, IL
Jennifer Sommer, the reporter from the Mendota Reporter, who interviewed us for a story in Mendota, IL
Nate and Will, two TransAmerica cyclists we met in Mendota.
Lutfje, the generous waitress who paid for our lunch at the restaurant in Mendota.
Leaving Galena, IL we headed south to Savanne, IL then south-east hoping to reach Dixon which happens to be the boyhood home of President Reagan. The strong head winds and climbs proved stronger than we are so we ended the day in Polo after 70 miles.
Another milestone was passed today; the corn here is tall enough that a man can be out standing in his field without being seen by passing motorists.
Late in our ride a man mowing the roadside flagged is down wondering where we were going. Tim Smith was his name and he wanted to know all about our ride since he did the 76 route from Astoria to Yorktown, the ride Howard and I have each done. We enjoyed meeting him and appreciate his encouragement.
A scenic view from north-west Illinois
What a roadside rest stop for bicyclists looks like.
The day always seems to begin and end with a steep climb into and out of town. During the climb this morning while I was having a conversation with my chain which had come off again resulting in hands covered with grease, this kind older gentleman, Russel Davis, stopped to see if he could help. He wondered if I had run out of gas. Actually I had run out of things to say to my chain. He offered to carry our bikes to the top of the hill we were climbing. It was a very kind offer but we explained that we had to ride up.
In the afternoon we rode through Dubuque, Iowa where I saw a bicycle shop that was open. Howard, who keeps a sharp eye on our bikes, noticed this morning that my back tire was beginning to wear. So we stopped at Bicycle World on Central Ave and Daniel, the nice young worker there efficiently put a new tire on for me. David the owner even gave me his cell number to call if we had any other issues while we are in the area. Another example of the generosity we have been shown by total strangers throughout the trip.
We traveled on with my new back tire and crossed the Mississippi into Illinois ending the day in Galena.
The fate of old farm equipment in Iowa
And you thought Iowa was flat????
Crossing another milestone on our journey.
The forecast called for rain and it turned out to be fairly accurate. We were in and out of light rain throughout the day. We decided to ride along scenic route 35 heading south out of LaCrosse, Wisconsin which hugs the Mississippi most of the way. About an hour into the ride there was an Amish road side stand selling pastries made at 2 o’clock this morning. Of course we were hungry since it had been over an hour since we had eaten anything. The sticky bun made with maple syrup was some kind of special. Boy was it good!!
At he same stop Gene was interested in what we were doing and generously made a donation to our fund. As we were leaving, Mavis, an older lady who was around 90 spoke to me and offered encouragement.
Mid-morning a big “road closed, detour” sign appeared on the road. The recent heavy rains have caused mud slides along the road. We decided to ride through hoping we could get by with our bikes which we did saving us several miles of extra riding.
When the scenic route ended in Wisconsin we crossed back over the Mississippi into Iowa to head further south along another scenic bi-way finally ending the day in McGregor, Iowa.
Found some great Amish pastries mid-morning and Gene made a donation to the fund
The first barge we’ve seen on the Mississippi.
Here we are in Iowa
The “Brain Trust” meeting at the cafe in Lake City had at least a dozen men this morning. I asked why the Mississippi was a lake in that area. One gentleman in a very authoritative tone said that it was a lake because it was too wide to be a river in that location. Someone quickly challenged him so who knows.
The morning ride was a thing of beauty, sunny, cool, wind to our back and great views of the mighty Mississippi. By noon some clouds rolled in with light rain. At lunch we met a couple, Daniel and Sherry, who wanted to know what we were doing and wished us well and offered to contribute to our fund. Mid-afternoon we met Andrew cycling with a fully loaded bicycle heading west. He is the first cyclist we have met heading the opposite direction. He had some interesting stories to share.
We have again headed off course and ended up crossing the Mississippi into Wisconsin and are spending the night in La Crosse. Tomorrow we should cross into Iowa. We rode 78 miles today for a total of 1859 miles so far.
How do they get that flag up on top of the water tower in Kellogg, MN??
Andrew fully loaded heading west
Welcome to Wisconsin !!!
Rather than ride through Minneapolis we rode along the west and south borders of the city. The city is known for its bike routes but finding our way to them proved difficult. Heading east to Hastings we saw the mighty Mississippi for the first time on the trip. Mid-afternoon we came to Redwing a bustling town that is home to the Redwing shoe company and in fact we saw a couple of the factories.
Lake City was our final destination, a pleasant little town facing what is described as a lake that the Mississippi flows through. I really don’t understand what makes it a lake. Maybe someone in the town’s brain trust that we will meet at breakfast in the morning will be able to explain. More on that later.
One of hundreds of Lutheran churches we have seen in Minnesota making me, with the middle name Luther, feel very at home.
Red wings are everywhere in Red Wing, MN
A view of the Mississippi in Red Wing.
Following the advice of our friends last evening we decided to modify our route and follow highway 10 toward Minneapolis. We also had a favorable tail wind which helped us make good progress. After two days of camping we found a room at a motel for the night in Savage, MN located in the SW corner of Minneapolis/St Paul.
The highlight of the day was meeting up for dinner with my nephew and his wife, Nick and Amy Solovey and our niece, Charlotte Cahill, all of whom are currently working in Minneapolis. It felt so good to see family after 25 days on the road and a long 109 mile day. They even had a care package of goodies for us as fortification to face the miles that still lie ahead.
Thank you Nick, Amy and Charlotte for your encouragement and support.
The Old train station in Bowles, MT, now used as a community center, that we camped beside.
Two Minnesota milestones were passed today. First I heard the first “OOff-ta” uttered and second I heard “Ollie” speaking at a farm supply store although the name stiched on his shirt said Wes. If you don’t know what any of this means ask someone from Minnesota to explain it to you.
After riding 67 miles with more head wind we are in Bowlus, MT camping in a village park next to what used to be the train station but is now a community center with rest rooms. The old rail bed has been made into a bike path. While we were setting up camp a couple, Julie and Merlyn, came to Bowlus after work for a bike ride. We struck up a conversation and they gave us helpful advice for tomorrow’s ride. After their ride they joined us at our table at the local cafe. We not only enjoyed the conversation with them but they bought our dinners as a contribution to Ride For Jim. They have been invited to come to Virginia for the Ride For Jim Finale on August 24. There are some wonderful people one meets on a bicycle. Thank you Julie and Merlyn for making our day.
Marilyn was at the diner this morning having breakfast with us.
Today was a ride through the countryside of Minnesota. The sky was clear but wind made progress difficult so we only rode 65 miles to Parker’s Prairie. While trying to get information about where facilities were in town a nice lady, Veronica, came up to direct us to the village park with a swimming pool where we could camp and shower. With further conversation we learned that her daughter and son-in-law live in Ashland, VA just east of 95. She was interested in our ride since she and her husband have considered doing such an adventure. Seeing two bedraggled wind blown cyclists at the end of the day’s ride probably was not particularly inspiring.
We are camping in the park just 50 feet from an up rooted tree that was taken down by a ferocious storm last Thursday. The weather looks pretty calm here this evening and there are no signs of grizzles or cyotes.
The “Brain Trust” gathered at 6:30 AM in Pelican Rapids. The mayor is in the far corner.
We have seen this caution sign frequently today.
Welcome to Battle Lake, MT
Heavy rain delayed our departure but we finally headed out expecting to get wet, however it never happened. Before departing we talked to some nice folks from Canada, Harold and Carol and John and Betty, who were interested in our ride and wished us safe travels.
Leaving Fargo we crossed the Red River into Minnesota and finally exited I-94 onto some much calmer and more scenic secondary roads. In Cormorant we stopped at the Roadhouse Saloon for the best burger of the trip.
We struck up a conversation with a very friendly couple, Artie and Stacey, and learned that their 25 year old son has been fighting Hodgkin’s lymphoma since ’09. On a very personal level they appreciate the need for supporting cancer research. We give them and their son our best wishes.
The weather turned sunny in the afternoon with wind to our back some of the time. So far Minnesota seems much more hospitable than North Dakota. Pelican Rapids, after 55 miles and a late, seems like a good place to spend the night.
The big accomplishment today was completing the march across North Dakota. At the end of our 92 mile ride we find ourselves in Fargo. I had visions of going to an old time saloon for some beers and honky tonk piano. Instead we have had to settled for pizza and beer at the local Old Chicago.
North Dakota has proven to be a state of contrasts. Eastern N Dakota seems much more Midwestern than the western half. The small towns are disappearing but the cities and small towns in the oil rich areas are booming at a frenetic pace. I feel as if we have missed much of the local color but the back roads and lack of services we need proved unmanageable.
We will will cross over the Red River into Minnesota tomorrow.
To break the monotony of the landscape Dakotans have frequently placed vintage thrashing machines along the roadside
Harnessing some of this constant wind seems like a good idea
Barn swallows have made their home under the beams of an I-94 overpass. They we none too pleased when we stopped for a rest and invaded their space
Our ride across North Dakota has been mostly along I-94. The official route goes on secondary roads but when we have tried to ride them we find that the roads are quite rough as a result of flooding in 2011. Also the towns that are indicated on the map have little to offer.
We rode 100 miles today to Jamestown, ND. Again we were lucky to avoid rain although it was cloudy with a few sprinkles on and off.
Whoever said the wind comes mostly from the west needs to ride a bicycle across North Dakota. We are still waiting for a day with a nice tailwind.
Forgot to mention yesterday that another milestone was passed as we went from Mountain to Central time zone.
Rain, thunder and lightening greeted us in the early morning. The weather looked threatening but we headed out after a breakfast sandwich at the truck stop. Fortunately we rode all day without a single drop hitting us.
At 52 miles it was lunch time so we took a back road into New Salem expecting to find a nice Mom’s Diner. However, we learned that there are no longer restaurants in town only at the interstate.
The all you can eat taco bar was a good choice for two famished cyclists. We caped it off with a huge carmel sticky bun. Howard says it was good AND sticky.
As we were leaving we had an interesting conversation with Gertrude and her daughter and son law, Carol and Bill. Gertrude has lived her whole life in New Salem and is sorry to see the town dying because all of the young people have moved away.
It is interesting seeing the contrast between the little towns like Dickinson fighting out of control growth due to the oil boom and others like New Salem in severe decline.
Hitting Mandam/Bismarck at rush hour is something I don’t care to recall or describe. Let’s just end by saying we are safe in a Comfort Inn and packed away four plates at the Chinese Buffet.
This is what we are seeing a lot of in central North Dakota
The story of the day was HUGE head winds gusting up to 40 mph. We struggled to ride 62 miles to Richardson, ND and hope the wind shifts 180 degrees over night. Even the locals say it is unusual.
The interesting feature of the day was all of the construction going on as a result of the oil boom in this area. One town grew from 800 people to 20000 in 6 years.
Dinner this evening was at the Cheers and Beers saloon in town. Vern bought a round of drinks for everyone including the strange cyclists. He is here from Florida building houses, as many as four in two and a half months. He does not like the ND winters so will go back to FL in Dec and come back in he spring.
We may try to ride early in the morning before the wind picks up.
The one and only buffalo we have seen this whole trip
The big news of the day is that we have passed from Montana into North Dakota. We have many fond memories of beautiful sites and wonderful people whom we met in Montana but we are ready to move on to the next state.
Skies were clear but strong head winds limited our progress to only 62 miles. At our lunch stop there were two college age kids hitch hiking from Boston to Montana. They didn’t think cycling looked like a good alternative to their method of travel. The girl might not be able to fit her huge teddy near on a bike either.
Goodby Montana, hello North Dakota
North Dakota looks a lot like Montana
We were up early with the sun and rode on to Circle, MT hoping to find breakfast since our last real meal was breakfast #2 almost 20 hours ago. Circleville, Ohio is a pretty bustling place and after cycling down both streets of Circle, MT I can understand why it is named just Circle, not Circleville. The first two places that were reputed to serve breakfast were closed, but we finally found a place that served a breakfast bagel and a very expensive coffee frappe.
The best part of the stop was having a good discussion with Jason Berry who was there with his young son Bo for breakfast. Jason farms 5000 acres of mostly wheat so Howard and he compared land and grain prices in Virginia compared to Montana. Jason may visit Howard in Virginia some day. Leaving Circle we seem to have at last outdistanced the long gruelling climbs up endless hills.
We are spending the night at a motel in Glendive, quite a contrast to the accommodations of just 24 hours ago. Glendive is getting close to the new oil fields of North Dakota and we are seeing the increased truck traffic already.
Since it was Sunday nothing was open in Saco for breakfast so we rode on to Hinsdale for coffee and a strange egg sausage roll cooking on a hot dog revolver. While talking to a local farmer we checked to see if an alternate route we figured out on a map would save us some miles getting into Circle, MT. He recommended the route.
After breakfast number 2 in Glasgow at the Oasis we cycled on using route 24 as an alternate shortcut to Circle. This turned out to be the worst decision so far and was actually a LONGcut. Along the way, with no services available, we asked a rancher who passed our way in his pickup for water. Out of the goodness of his heart, this kind man, Bob Waldon, went home and came back with several bottle of water for us. Isn’t that the most amazing example of generosity you can imagine? Thank you Bob and your wife if you are reading this for the kindness you showed to two total strangers. That was the highlight of our day.
I know no one wants to read about our difficulty but after 80 miles of climbs, narrow road, no shoulder and night closing in we ended the day in our tents at the side of a dirt road beside a hay baler having cycled 129 miles that day, a day that will live in infamy for us. Our night’s sleep was interrupted by the snarling of coyotes near our tents. When I sounded the air horn I carry as dog protection they disappeared into the night.
Beautiful scenery along a long lonely route 24 in east Montana
Our very primitive campsite beside a hay baler.
A hearty breakfast at the motel gave us power to push off at 7:00 am First stop was the Little Market in Chinock, MT. . David, who was in line with me to check out, was interested in our ride. When I went to pay for my power bars the clerk told me that David had already paid for them. David was taken with the idea that we are raising funds for cancer research and before we parted offered a prayer for Jim’s family and for our safe travel. Another example of the generous and caring people who make up the majority of the population in our country.
The day was perfect for riding; sunny, cool most of the day and a strong wind from the west. When we reached Malta for lunch we had gone 90 miles by 1:00 pm. Riding on to Saco,MT gave us a total of 118 miles for the day.
The Saco Motel is adequate as is the local saloon next door. Joe, the proprietor regaled us with more information than we needed but the food was good and the country music fit the setting of being in a saloon in east Montana on a Saturday night.
We have another day in Montana and hope to cross into North Dakota by Monday.
We are in cattle territory now
Downtown Saco,MT where we’ll spend the night at the Saco Motel hoping that the Mosquitos don’t carry us off.
After a day of gloom and drizzle yesterday, today began with sunshine and a STRONG wind to our back. Charley Nottingham who did the TransAm RideForJim in 2009 sent us a greeting yesterday wishing us “Strong wind to our backs” so I think we can give him the credit.
After good breakfast, compliments of the motel in Shelby, we rode fast and strong to Chester, MT for a light second breakfast of egg sandwiches and donuts made fresh that morning.
One has to experience the Big Sky of Montana to really appreciate what that means. It is possible to see for miles in any direction and observe multiple rain showers and multiple patches of sunshine all at the same time. It’s hard to describe.
The next stop was at a cafe in Hingham, MT that had lots of cars in the lot so we figured we should not pass it by. Two gritty cyclist walking into a cafe filled with local farmers having lunch is sort of like a skunk arriving at a picnic. There were no empty tables as we glanced around but two nice gentlemen said we could join them at their table if we wanted to. It turned out to be our lucky day. They were Don and David Miller, father and son, who together farm 5000 acres. Don’s great grandparents homesteaded in the area from Kansas in 1911 when his grandmother was 15 months old.
Don invited us to tour their farm operation which we did on our way through the next town of Gilford. Howard and Don had a lot to talk about comparing yields and equipment while I thought about how much farming has changed since my days on the family farm in Ohio more than 50 years ago.
Along the way we mentioned that we are doing the ride to support cancer research and Howard told them about the Farmers Supporting Cancer Research fund that he has created. Don told us that he is a cancer survivor and will contribute to the fund if we complete the ride.
Thank you Don and David for your outstanding hospitality today and for your support. We are so fortunate that you invited us to join you at your table.
Trains carry a lot of freight through Montana
Don and David Miller, our new friends in Gilford, MT
Howard and Don in the tractor shed
A blooming mustard field
Combines for sale in Havre, MT
Breakfast #1 was at the motel in Browning, MT. There had been heavy rain in the night and the sky was still brooding and weeping when we got on the road. Light rain turned into moderate rain some of the time. Traffic out of Browning on the way to Cut Bank on route #2 was mostly considerate of two cyclist trying to make their way.
At 25 miles Cut Bank was a great place for breakfast #2 at the only cafe in town. We arrived at 10:30 just as the Brain Trust was breaking up but a Jim and Dale, a couple of very friendly farmers, arrived while we were eating and filled us in on what type of wheat they raise, average yield, and the other types of crops they grow. It is striking how quickly we have traveled from the mountains and pine forests to the prairies and heavy duty agriculture, and we’re on bicycles. These farms are measured in square miles, not acres. For the first part of the ride we could still see the Rockies to the west but I think they are now out of site. With cold wet hands and feet and some other parts too, we called it a day in Shelby, MT after riding 57 miles. The Best Western was too good to pass by with a hot tub and laundry. Ahhh, clean cloths again.
This was our first day that began without sun. We are thinking about doing a cookbook for cyclists. In addition to peanut butter on pop tarts Howard invented huckleberry pie on pancakes at our breakfast stop.
Since the Road To The Sun in Glacier is closed for another week we could only ride partway into the park to see Lake McDonald. Then the rain began which lasted most of the morning testing all of our rain gear. Even with the clouds we enjoyed the scenery. At the lunch stop in Essex Kathy served up some high energy fare. The ice cream stop in East Glacier carried us through to Browning where we are for the night. The Rockies are behind us and we have entered the plaines of Montana.
Howard’s new energy breakfast….. Huckleberry pie on pancakes
Early morning at Lake McDonald in Glacier National Park
Interesting puff ball flowers along the road side.
Kathy at the Snow Slip Inn fixing our water bottles
Lunch break in Essex.MT
The day began at 6:00 am at the truck stop/casino in Eureka MT. We were waiting outside for them to open. Big breakfast to fuel us for the first part of our 73 mile ride to Coram,MT which is 7 miles from West Glacier. Grizzly bears seem to be on everyone’s mind so Howard bought an industrial strength grizzly spray bomb this afternoon at a hardware store where they had a huge display of the various choices. Our first goal for the day was Whitefish where we had lunch. After 10 days on the road our discussion has devolved into which one of us hates our handle bar bag the most and what we would like to do to the guys who invented them if we ever met them. Maybe we need a rest day. Tonight we’re in a motel which is safe from grizzlys plus it’s raining. Tomorrow we should be through the Rockies.
Early morning boat ride on a mirror lake in Montana.
The day started with a cold ride out of Libby Dam. With Temperatures in the low 40s we had to bring out three layers of clothes to keep warm.
Breakfast was a ham and cheese sandwich followed by carrot cake. We have left the Cascade mountains behind and can now see the Rocky Mountains ahead of us. We are getting reports that the Going To The Sun Rd through Glacier Natl Park is closed due to an avalanche. Also there is a report of grizzly bears in the area. This means that we may have to take an alternate route. The weather has been unbelievably spectacular. This report is being written from a very unspectacular laundromat in Eureka, MT
On day 8 we rode 70 miles to Libby Dam. Along the way we stopped to hike a half mile to see the Kootenai falls and a swinging bridge. Pretty spectacular. We’re approaching Glacier Natl park so are getting our climbing game face on again.
Just another beautiful morning scene
Big sky country for sure.
Great place for breakfast any time of the. Day in Troy, MT
Kootenai Fall Montana
Howard riding strong
This has been a big day, starting in Washington, crossing the panhandle of Idaho and ending 15 miles into Montana. We also completed the first map of our tour and entered a new time zone. The day began with a terrific breakfast at the Mangy Moose Cafe outside of Newport, WA. Lenore was the waitress and her husband the cook who made outstanding pancakes. The Brain Trust had only one member, Lawrence, showing since it is Saturday. He is 86 and lived in the area his whole life so was able to tell us much about the local history. Coffee break time was in Sandpoint, at a Starbucks, where two gritty cyclists stood out a bit from the hoitty toitty as Howard would say. Then crossing onto Idaho we stopped on to Clark Fork for lunch. It was too early in the day to stop so on we rode crossing into Montana. A restaurant seemed elusive but finally we arrived at the Herford 15 miles into Montana where Cindy served up some much appreciated pizza and beer, some of the best I have ever had. Now time for some rest.
Lenore and Lawrence at the Mangy Moose
Just another beautiful view in Idaho
Idaho is now behind us
We were up and on the road by 6:15 with scattered clouds but no rain. The highlight of the morning was stopping at Beaver Lake Campgrounds for a break and talking with Brook, the clerk at the camp store. She was a very pleasant young lady who was interested in our ride. When we told her we were riding to support cancer research she told us that she was a cancer survivor twice, the second time was when her son was six months old. She has been cancer free 15 years. Seeing her as the beneficiary of research and someone who has been able to see her son grow up brings special purpose to what we are doing. Thank you, Brook for sharing your story with us this morning.
We had some fairly long climbs this morning. At one point Gabe on a big Harley stopped us along the road to invite us to stay at his campgrounds in Ione but we were going further. It was very nice of him to offer though. You meet some wonderful people traveling slowly across this wonderful country. Tonight we are camping in Newport, WA, just on the boarder to Idaho.
One of our favorite signs. It welcomes to a long decent after a tough climb.
Day 5 of our adventure began at 4:30 with birds and a rooster singing me awake. A great breakfast was served up at the cafe across the road. When we arrived at 5:45 the “Brain Trust” consisting of about 8 retired (some said they were just tired) locals was already seated at their big round table and in serious discussion. The main topic today seemed to be about the 83 year old lady who won the lottery and what she would or should do with the money. They came up with some pretty creative ideas.
The daily entertainment for the group appeared to be the arrival of Curtis with his little dog in the pickup truck. As soon as he appeared in the parking lot all eyes were focused on the dog. It seems his dog tries to escape from the truck as soon as Curtis opens the door. If the dog gets out Curtis, with the help of the guy behind the counter, dashes about trying to capture it. Today Curtis was able to get out quickly, even though he moves none too fast, and slam the door before the pooch made his exit. That brought a great cheer from the “Trust”. Check out he pictures for today to see the Republic, WA Brain Trust. They meet daily at 5:30 if you want to join them.
After that excitement we got on our saddles and road for three hours averaging about 6 mph going 15 miles over Sherman Pass at 5,575 feet. Steve and Nancy on the tandem were on their way while we were eating and Arnie and Mary in the RV have not been seen yet today.
Coasting down the other side after the pass is always very exhilarating. This was our last big pass to cross in the Cascades of Washington. After lunch in Kettle Falls, WA we ended the day’s ride in Colville, WA at a Comfort Inn since the next reasonable stop is too far to go today.
The “Brain Trust” in Republic, WA
Conquering the last peak in the Cascade mountains of Washington
Perfect weather and beautiful scenery
We each had a large ice cream cone for to top off the day.
Oh look!! Another mountain to climb. This one up and over Wauconda Pass, 4300 feet. We were well prepared for the challenge by tucking into a robust breakfast at the local diner that was open at 5:45. Part of our growing “road family was there also. They are Artie and Mary from Davenport, Iowa riding in support of wounded warriors. Their friend Larry is following in an RV.
After 4 hours of climbing we reached Wauconda, basically a town consisting of one combo store/restaurant. That’s where we ate our second terrific breakfast of the day.
Arriving in Republic we stopped to assess the situation when Kate came dashing out of the auto repair shop to welcome us to her town. The ice cream shop seemed like a good place to start. Next door was a barber shop so after a large milk shake Howard decided to get a haircut, one task not done before we left. He said “she used a number 2 clipper and it looked like she was shaving poddle.”. We’re camping at the county fairgrounds which is also used for camping. Even a shower, hot water is 25 cents extra. Our whole road family Is here: Artie, Mary, Larry and a couple from Florida, Steve and Nancy who are riding a tandem around the circumference of the US. We first met them on the road Sunday.
Guess what we do tomorrow. A climb over Sherman Pass.
If you are ever in Wauconda and need a great breakfast this is the place to go.
Watering the hay.
Typical scenery along the climb up to Wauconda pass.
This was my second breakfast of the day, this one in Wauconda, WA. It got me over the pass.
A power breakfast in Winthrop WA sustained us for the 26 mile climb over Loop Loop Pass at 4000 feet. The weather could not be more beautiful. After the climb it was mostly gentle down hill until we ended going 73 miles to Tonasker, WA. Tomorrow promises another climb. Our bikes and equipment are holding up well. The big frustration is trying to remember where everything is in our bags. We both got a heavy dose of sunshine today.
Whoa!!! Today was quit a day. Up at 4:45 and out of camp be 6:15. We faced a 46 mile climb up to 5,800 feet averaging between 4 and 6 mph. No sevices of any kind so the salami and peanut better from supper last night was our fuel. The reward after cresting was a terrific downhill ride going up to 40 mph followed by a strong tailwind pushing us into Winthrop, WA a quaint old west kind of town. We are pretty exhausted but satisfied with riding 76 miles. The scenery was gorgeous when I wasn’t counting the pebbles passing under my bike going at a snail pace.
First Day of Riding
After a good nights sleep at a hotel in Anacortes, we cycled out of town leaving by 7 AM. Along the way we saw fields of tulips that of been harvested, potatoes, strawberries and other bushes for berries which we could not identify. Howard says that everything that grows here can be eaten by humans directly without going through a cow first.
We had a beautiful day of cycling going 79 miles with the wind to our back, gentle climbs and beautiful scenery along the Skagit river. We are camping tonight in a national campgrounds near Newhakm, WA.
There is no food available here so we feasted on salami, crackers, and cold Campbell’s tomato,and bean and bacon soup. Ummm, Ummm, good.
Our camping neighbors just invited us over for beer. A great way to end the first day on the road.
Jack wheel dipping in the “Pacific”
On the Road Again
A Roadside Repair Seminar
Howard dipping in the “Pacific”
The Ride Has Begun
The TransAmerica Ride For Jim, 2013 began today. We traveled 2930 miles AWAY from Virginia by air leaving Richmond at 8:45 and arriving in Seattle at 2:00 Pacific time. After some fits and starts we figured out how to get a bus to take us, our bikes and bags to Anacortes, the launch point for the ride. The dropping off point was a Shell gas station so we unboxes the bikes in the driveway and reassembled them. Only a few problems like me putting my fender on backwards twice and Howard discovering that his grizzly bear repellent was missing. The motel we’re in looks pretty grizzly proof.
We’re set to start riding tomorrow to reclaim all those miles that passed so easily beneath us today. Time for rest now after a long day.
Waiting for our flight to Seattle in Chicago
The bridge near Anacortes WA that was damaged last week.