TransAmerica Bicycle Route 2013

Departure Date: May 5th, 2013

Route : Adventure Cycling TransAmerica Route The bicycle tour is set with a departure to Newport News, Virginia on May 3rd and start bicycling May 5th by riding from Newport News to Yorktown, the beginning of the Adventure Cycling TransAm route.  

Transam Map

Getting Close

It is getting close to the departure now, less than a month to go, in fact it is 23 days out now.

Training is going well. 45 miles today with the bike at its “wet” weight of 74-75 pounds. Shaved a bunch of weight and then replaced it with food and cooking kit. Dropped the kickstand as it wasn’t really all that reliable with the heavy bike. Frame pump got dropped as it wasn’t as efficient or effective as the Air Tool micro. Also the frame pump tended to limit the size of the water bottle on the seat tube.

Taking the attitude “if I need it, I’ll buy it” with clothing as I will be taking little extra stuff.

Riding to conserve energy and increase endurance.  Seems to be working well as the hills are a constant but steady grind without “pooping out” before the top.

Built a shipping crate skinned with cardboard that FedEx ground will move to Newport News and hold for me. I’m shipping bike and gear ( one box). Don’t want to miss around with airlines and TSA.

 

Me and friends on ride.

Me and friends on ride.

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Packed

The bike and gear have been packed. Almost ready to ship next week.

The bike is in a home built crate framed with 1X2 and skinned with card board. The crate length 62″ X width 14″ X height 32″ is under FedEx Ground limits. Frame with racks and rear tire fit with room to spare.

All gear and panniers fit into a 20″ X 22″ X 20 ” box.

Smartphone

I have been considering just the Droid Razr Maxx as my only electronic device.

It can serve as my camera using this holder and tripod.

camera_1camera_2

 

As my GPS unit. I have also loaded CoPilot Live app with maps so that I can navigate without an internet connection. I also have converted the Adventure Cycling TransAmerica  GPX to the CoPilot format and loaded them on the phone as well.

Other apps I have loaded are AccuWeather and Camp and Tent for locating camping facilities.

The Google Nexus 7 tablet is still an option to take as it is better at website updating. It has a few more apps and it also has a “On The Go” USB hosting cable and SD card reader. It is wi-fi only but the phone has a hotspot capability for a wi fi connection.

I have had the phone for a while and really like it. Good battery life, nice pictures and it is some what weather proof. I have it an Otter Box Commuter case.

 

Newport News

A 5:30 am flight really wacks a day. With a three hour difference it’s almost the same as overseas jet lag. Not quite as bad but bad nonetheless. Flights were pretty much on time. Ron, a ACA contact who is also starting the same day has arrived too.

Bike and gear arrived via FedEx in good shape and the bike is ready to go. Did have my first flat without even getting on the bike. Punctured the front tire removing the zip tie holding it, Just a little knick but I know I have everything to fix a flat and the new pump works good too.

PS: I’ll take Southwest over US Airways anyday.

 

D Day – 1

Weather cold and cloudy but clearing late afternoon.  Tomorrow’s weather should be good, probably great given what is coming Monday and Tuesday, rain.

Ron’s bike computer wasn’t working so he went to Bike Beat to get another one. I took the motel shuttle over and met him for the first time. While the shop was installing it we did some shopping at Kroger’s next door.

We headed over to Hardee’s and had an early  lunch and got to know each other. I called for the shuttle and it picked me up at the bike shop. Ron had ridden down from his motel.

On the way back Ron had a slight disagreement with a motor vehicle. Long story short Ron will be riding a new bike tomorrow.

Pictures start tomorrow.

Day 2 Willis Church to KOA Ashland 32 miles

Leaving the Willis Church.

 

Simon and Ron getting ready to leave for a short 32 mile ride to Ashland. Great place to stay. Simon is from the UK and has 60 days to do the trans am. Needless to say we will be far behind from now on. Meeting lot of riders.

Short day as the forecast is for rain later today. Rained last night twice for about 5 minutes total. Just enough to get tent wet

Day 3 Ashland KOA to Zion Crossroads 57 miles

Rained most of the night and things were such that the single wall tent had a lot of condensation. We didn’t leave the campground until 10 am trying to dry stuff out in the workout room.

Had a good conversation with Simon, Emily who is riding from Philly to Raleigh, John-Marie from Beligum who is doing the trans am solo and Ron in the workout room last night.

The ride today started and ended in the rain. Sometimes it was a hard downpour. Ron an I left the trans am and rode US 250 heading straight towards Charlottesville. Heavy traffic in a couple places, mostly no shoulders. But it was one hill after another. Some long, some steep, and others long and steep.Not many short and not steep.

Motel tonight to dry out and miss sleeping in heavy rain tonight.

Day 4 Waiting out the rain.

This morning’s weather map showed us to be heading into bad thunderstorms today. Our goal is to make it to Waynesboro about 43 miles away. But in between is Mt Afton which we don’t want to climb in the rain. Especially if there is lighting.

Tomorrow’s plan is leave at daybreak and make it before the predicted afternoon thunderstorms.

Day 5 Misty Mountain Campground 34 miles

Up early and had motel breakfast then headed to Charlottesville on US 250 again. Busy road. Ron has been having Achilles tendon pain and decided to see a doctor before the major climbs.

The diagnosis was an Achilles tendon tear. That regrettably ended  Ron’s Transam  I am going to miss a great riding partner and discussing how to solve the world’s problems. It was great meeting you Ron and riding with you. Remember there is always another day.

Stopped early to have fresh legs for the climb up Mt. Afton . Also hoping the wind will drop overnight or not be on nose like it is now.

Sent a box home that didn’t meet the “three day rule” which if you have not used it you probably won’t. That’s for elective stuff of course.

Day 6 Misty Mt. to Stuart Draft 38 miles

Still had a lot of condensation in the tent plus heavy dew made for a late start. Still learning the drill of camping and not cooking.

This is a short post as I am on the phone’s hot spot using battery fast.

Could not get the legs to move on anything greater than level. Weird. Ended up walking Mt Afton but it was only three miles and I was prepared to do six. Did not go to see Cookie Lady’s place as the word is it is shutdown.

After Mt Afton I dove down to Waynesboro and headed for US 11 via 340. I am taking US 11 most of the way out of Virginia. Had heavy WSW wind on the nose again today.

Will get to the guest book later..

Day 7 Windy to Lexington

Wind and rain. What more could you want?

Rained off and on all last night. Tent condensation is a big issue.

Taking to long to break camp due to mud and water today. KOA’s not good for tent camping.

Heading for motel to dry out and fix the tent issue. If I cannot buy locally will have one shipped.

Research tells me that a new tent is not the solution. The ideal solution is probably some sort of CPAP machine to force the breathing exhaust outside. But for now the microfiber towel will be the best tool when I have to button up.

 

Route notes

For the first and second day we followed the TransAmerican route laid out in 1976. Since then we followed US 250 to Waynesboro . There I picked up 340 to US 11 which the Interstate route parallels. Today I had the finest ride yet in Virginia. US 11 was in places like an interstate with 4 lanes separated by a wide median. When it did narrow down it was with a center turn lane. There was very little traffic today while on US 11.

It is my intent to follow US 11 until it picks up the TransAm at 80 in Meadowview.

By not following the mapped route we probably have a lot more heavy traffic. But we also encounter more services too.

Day 8 Very Windy to Salem(Roanoke) 63 miles

US 11 remains a good road all the way. Never biked in winds like today. Coming through Roanoke 22 mph with gusts to 28.

Made it through Roanoke on a Sunday. That is suppose to make a difference! Traffic was heavy but not bad as the ACA hill route!

In motel tonight.

Day 9 Salem to Radford 38 miles

Another cold windy day. Nice hike a bike  to Christiansburg! Yes even on US 11. Windy again. And cold.

At Christiansburg picked up ACA 76 to Radford. Nice quiet road with some sharp rollers. Planned to make Newbern another 9 miles but a budget motel in Radford presented it’s self right next to the Mac D’s where I was scoping my options for the night.

I am hoping this wind changes soon.

Location, location. Motel next to Krogers and McDonalds and on route. Not much more needed. The price is right too, $40.00.

Radford Executive Motel. Very adequate.

Map #12 done. Working the way down to #1.

Day 10 Radford to Wytheville 38 miles.

Had great hopes today of getting to Marion at 57 miles. Followed 76 most of the day with lots of steep little hills with a big one tossed in the mix now and then. Around noon the wind came up and as I was shutting down had 16 mph gusts. Wind is SSW. Bet you can’t tell me which way I am going:(

It is an ordeal each day to see where you can get to and where to stay. Camping is first chose but not far off route. KOA’s are nice but expensive and not much cheaper than the “budget” motels.

Camping always involves food logistics too. Tonight I am at the Budget Host and it is much like last nights stay. Again very adequate. Waffle House and Cracker Barrel near by.

Hoping to see the hounds of Kentucky soon.

Did stop at the Draper Mercantile Store and the Junction bike shop. Nice place but Tom Hash was off today.

Parted ways with 76 to dive straight into Wytheville and the motel. Will pick it up again in Meadowview in a day or so. Till then I am back on US 11.

Day 11 Wytheville to Glade Spring 45 miles

I knew I was in for a brutal day just out of the motel and into the climb for city center ( always atop the highest hill) and the wind hit me square in the face. That was the story of the day, 11-14 mph wind with gusts 18 -22 mph. Although it seemed like a 18-22 mph wind with dwells of 11-14 mph. Just saying.

But still riding in that is better than moping about in a motel room. I had set the goal for this location as it is about the last motel option before turning towards Kentucky. Tomorrow will be a short mileage day too, about 40-45 miles. Big walking climb of about 3 miles. I think Haysi is the target.

Weather forecast for rain and T-storms. My friend, the wind, will be there right out of the west.

Day 12 Glade Spring to Haysi 56 miles

Out the door and on road by 7 am. Knew I had a long day of walking ahead. Hayter’s Gap and “A” mountain were the goal for the day. By the time I got through Honaker I was a whipped pup. Walking up “A” Mountain I came across a garage / service station. Three guys were working there and I told them I needed a lift over “A”. Bobby said he would do it and proceeded to put the bike in his pickup. No problem. Bobby was great to listen to on the drive up.

From the top of “A” it is pretty much a down hill drop to Haysi. My problem was there was no where to stay in Haysi. To camp meant riding on to the Breaks. I stopped a couple miles short of Haysi at Birchleaf grocery and asked about places to camp. That is when I was directed to the pastor for the church just across the street up a short sharp hill. I spent the night sleeping in the basement with kitchen and restrooms.

At Davenport talked to a couple of locals and one recommended taking 83 outside of Haysi down to Clintwood where there were motels, about 20-30 miles. From there ride to Hazard Kentucky and pick up the trans am. That roughly parallels an alternate From Elkhorn City to Hazard that I planned to do.

From Birchleaf to Hazard it is about 77 miles via the 83 alternate. So a short day would bring Hazard down to a reasonable distance for me.

 

 

 

 

Day 13 Birchleaf to Clintwood 20 miles.

The ride from Birchleaf to Clintwood is largely a long down hill run. Except for a couple of long walking hills. Funny how a hill or two can be forgotten:-) After resting today and doing laundry I should have a decent shot of making Hazard Kentucky tomorrow.

Update the front desk clerk is to haul me over the last huge climb in front of me. Everyone has a pickup and everyone is friendly and helpful. Good country!!

 

Today’s thoughts on the TransAm

After 12 days on the trans am, at least my version of it, I can say I am okay with the way it is playing out. It is anything but physically easy for me and sometimes wonder if I should have done the Continental Divide backpacking instead. I am doing that much walking up these long grades.

I resolved that to walk at 2 mph is easier than grinding in granny at 3.5 mph. Can tell how steep the grade is with the effort to push bike. The real bad about pushing a bike is all the pedal bites you get.

If I had gone with the ACA tour I would have DNF by now. I could not do all the climbing and stay on schedule. I miss not having a riding partner but I would be difficult staying in sync riding like I am.

But with the routing I am doing, even at my slow pace, I am staying ahead of the ACA itinerary for now.

 

 

 

Jarvis of Sleep Inn Clintwood,VA

Jarvis graciously offered to haul me over the last mountain in my way to get to Kentucky.
Felt like I have been the guest of Virginia far too long. I bid thee farewell now.
Thanks Jarvis and crew at the Sleep Inn.
You all are good people.

Day 14 Clintwood to Hazard 53 miles(?)

Jarvis picked me up at 7:30 am and drove me 11 miles over to US 23 & 119. Rode 119 to 15 then on into Hazard, KY. 15 was one of the best and worst rides so far. 4 foot shoulders and then just rumble strips. For the first time I walked not because of the grade but heavy traffic and narrow road due to rumble strips.

I hope I don’t have to climb back up what I came down today. Except for two or three hills it was downhill most of the day. I would not take this route west to east. It would be a full day of constant climbing. Some pretty steep long stuff too.

Weather started off with light rain but had stopped by the time I started riding. 10 miles later it was beginning to rain and by chance the golden arches appeared. It ha quit by the time I had finished the coffee.

Coming into Hazard again it started to rain and once again the golden arches appeared in the nick of time.

What looked like a raining forecast turned out to be a cloudy humid day.

I am staying at the Combs Motel, a local business, instead of a chain motel tonight. It is a good value albeit it has lot of road noise. This is the great thing about a smartphone, you can look at the reviews of everything in the area.

Day 15 Hazard to Booneville 45 miles

Lot of walking today. On Trans am route. The Hindman to Booneville segment would have been a bear of a ride which is the typical plan.

Weather is hot and humid Totally soaked with sweat. 10 miles or so out of Booneville rode through a thunderstorm. Did not bother to get the rain jacket out. Took off the glasses and rode it out. Wet but cool.

Stayed at Linda’s B&B, well drop the breakfast part, but it was a good stay. Picked dinner up at the Dollar General where Linda came and picked me up. In the morning had coffee and oatmeal en suite.

Linda’s place is on route which is nice. Cash only, cats, and ecclesiastical surroundings.

Day 16 Booneville to Berea 50 miles

Weather was clear hot and humid again. Hands feel like they have been in a bucket of water all day long. Sweat runs off arms into the gloves and they get really soaked.

More hills but I have the drill down. When about to drop into the small ring get off and walk. Everybody,knees, quads, feet, arms, and mind, are happier. I can do this all day long where as if I try to grind up the hills I wear out real fast. And no one is happy.

Camping tonight ($7.00 with full hook ups and a table)

May take a rest, more like a bike, day. Bike needs some TLC.

End of Map 11 today. Hopefully will be leaving the frequent big hills behind soon. Going off route to get to bike shop. Need some handle bar wrap soon.

 

Day 17 Berea to Danville 32 miles

Last might Phil, an RVer, stopped over and invited me to coffee at 6 am. Phil and Jan are from Texas and he is a retired truck driver and she a retired teacher. They are now a full time RV’ers. Phil had grown up around the Richmond area. Interestingly Phil had also worked for IBM prior to driving big rigs.

Earlier I met Jack, a traveling minister, who kindly gave me some detergent for laundry. Had an interesting story to hear.

After coffee, muffin and roll I broke camp and headed west towards Danville and a bike shop. It was like I took a night train to a different country. Riding more like Iowa than the mountain and hills of the last three weeks. My only issue was not stopping and eating on the ride.

Weather is still hot and humid but lest so in both cases. Wind was up with 18 mph gusts out of the SSW which was a quartering or cross wind most of the time.

The route was good to fantastic up to Lancaster then it was a narrow road with heavy traffic flow both directions. Kentucky do like its rumble strips for the white line and shoulders. About half the distance the ACA route takes to get the same distance west.

Found the bike shop and the owner and son did the trans am. New handle bar wrap and a chain with a general checkup. While that was being done ate lunch and checked the weather. Looked like T-Sorms this afternoon and all day tomorrow.

Decided to hunker down for a day and then do a quick dash down the road before the next larger cell moves through.

 

 

 

 

Day 18 Danville Kentucky Rest Day

Was up at 5 am for motel breakfast and laundry chores. Read three papers and watched the weather channel. Another smaller breakfast and back to bed :)

Spent a lot of time looking at the best way to get to St. Louis from here. The problem is trying to figure out the weather and what its going to be. For example tomorrow I am headed almost dead west and will have 10 to 20 mph winds out of (drum roll) the west. So 45 miles looks about right if that really happens.

Targeting Bardstown (45 miles) due to the wind. No wind then Elizabethtown(63 miles). Bike shop recommended not being on the road until 8:30 am to let the commute traffic clear. It will be US 150 all the way to Bardstown.

 

Day 19 Danville to Elizabethtown 65 miles

Left motel at 7:15am heading west on US 150 to Bardstown. Great road with wide shoulder to Springfield. From there a 30″ shoulder of new asphalt with a 4″ to 18″ right hand drop off. Thread the needle. Heavy truck traffic both ways. White knuckle riding into Bardstown. Last half mile walked bike as it was wall to wall 18 wheelers.

Ate lunch at Cracker Barrel in Bardstown and decided to try and beat the afternoon t-storm riding to Elizabethtown. Picked up US 62 which parallels the parkway. US 62 is a good and quite ride.

Then the “end of day hill.” I first learned about it at the Dollar General store 13 miles out. Cashier/manager/clerk and I were talking about the storm forming out west and I mentioned trying to beat it to Elizabethtown. She said I should be okay but there was one big hill on the way.

Somehow I figured I would climb the hill and then roll down into Elizabethtown. No, once the hill started there was  none of this “roll into town.” The town is up on “the” hill. Wind did kick up real heavy the last few miles.

The last couple miles it started sprinkling rain and just beat the downpour.

Overall the best riding day yet. Cloudy, cool and some good roads to ride. Wind seemed tolerable most of the day.

Tomorrow I am staying with US 62 down to Beaver Dam Hartford. About 61 miles. Hard to work in the ACA route. It would take a 91 mile day to sync up.

Day 20 Elizabethtown to Rough River State Park

Left the motel at 7:15 am after the standard breakfast fare they offer. Leaving town on US 62 was a PITA as it was the main route to the high school on the edge of town. Rode the sidewalk all the way out. Once out of town the road was good for the next 10 miles with wide albeit dirty shoulder. Then it was back to the basic Kentucky two narrow lanes and rumble strips.

15 miles south on US 62 picked up the ACA Trans am and followed it the rest of the day. Coming into the park was tense with campers and boats streaming in for the weekend. The only camping space available had a three day minimum stay. So ended up staying in the lodge.

Today crossed over into CDT and rode 50 some miles. Weather was cloudy and very cool today. Some head winds but also tail winds. One tough river crossing! Could have used a towline on that sucker.

It is a 71 mile sprint to Sebree. Just might be too big of a jump for me. Considering 45 miles to Utica and then 25 miles to Sebree. From there 45 miles or so to Marion or 56 miles to Illinois.

Day 21 RRSP to Sebree 75 miles

Out the door at 6:00 am. Breakfast in Fordsville 20 miles down the road. Hard long day with a mix of traffic, roads, hills and wind. Definitely getting flatter but still some sharp small hills to take the wind out of your sail.
At First Baptist Church in Sebree. It is everything that has been said about it.
Have not decided what to do tomorrow yet. Illinois?

Stopped in Utica and visited the fire station. Another awesome place to stay. It was just too early to stop but it was my plan B.

Day 22 Sebree to Harrisburg IL 65 miles

During breakfast,coffee and fig newtons,looked at the weather. Wind out of ESE pretty strong. Then I notice that the west bound notes that are handed out had a shortcut to Carbondale of 100 miles. Basically NWN. Took abount 10 nanoseconds to figure that one out. 56 to Ohio river then 13 into Carbondale. Good quiet roads out of Kentucky. Mostly flat. With strong tailwind :)
Illinois 13 has,in many cases, interstate quaily shoulder.
Compared to the ACA route it is pancake flat and a couple of days shorter. Then toss in a strong tailwind it was a dream ride.
It helped that it was a Sunday, especially Memorial Weekend. Only a few framers in the field.

Day 23 Harrisburg to Carbondale 36 miles

This was suppose to be an easy semi rest day. The wind decided otherwise. Excellent road except through Marion and construction. Flat except the wind made it a steady climb.
It was hot also and I am having hand issues. Doesn’t take long and my gloves and hands are soaked. Finally just took the gloves off. Had to constantly change hand position to dry off handlebar.
Still a short day and will spend the rest of day in bed.
Traffic picked up after Marion as the holiday wound down.
I am going to do some research on that fellow Marion. There are a whole bunch of towns named after him and I know next to nothing about him. Had to been highly respected or had a good agent.

Day 24 Carbondale to Belleville 86 miles

I am almost embarrassed to post the ride. I knew I wanted to get to Belleview to catch the Metro-Link to the St Louis airport to get on the Katy. That meant going northwest from Carbondale. Some go on over west to Chester and then north. But I had a strong south wind so I took 51 north a ways and then county 8 over to 13 which cut NW to Belleview.
Over the 86 miles I had a 12.8 mph moving average.
So I had good tailwinds for the most part. And the roads were great too. If it were not for trains there would not have been as any hills to speak of.
In the Belleview Super 8 which is close to the Metro Link Station. It is great for the price.

From Belleview to Sebree is a simple route: Illinois 13 to Kentucky 56. That’s it.

Tomorrow I should be on the Katy.

Day 25 Belleville to St Charles 20 miles

Left the motel at 8:30 am to catch the Metro Link to Lambert Field. Was in Terminal 1 in about an hour having no problems with bike etc.
Took an elevator down one level to ticketing and farther along another elevator down one level to baggage claim.
Used exit 16 and followed “bus port” directions to parking exit. Turned left until that road became Natural Bridge which I followed until taking a left on Fee Fee. Followed Fee Fee until Dorsett. Right on to Dorset riding to its termination at Marine. Dive down Marine and exit into the park parking lot on the left.
Hop on the bike trail going clockwise around the lake. Follow signage to St. Charles.
If I had it to do over I would try to decrease the distance on Dorsett as it is in terrible condition and heavy traffic.

Day 26 St. Charles R&R

Today’s chores are to re-pack and ship home stuff not being used. I suspect it will be a couple of pounds.
Then I need to refresh consumables like sun screen etc and get Katy maps and maybe a Missouri map too.

I have decided to forgo the Santa Feel Trail for another day. It is a ride that I want to do fully some day all the way to Santa Fe NM, not just parts of it.

With that in mind I will make the Katy in four segments;
Hermann, Hartsburg, Pilot Grove, and Clinton. Then catch the Trans am the rest of the way to Missoula.

Day 27 St. Charles to Hermann 65 miles.

Now I remember why I don’t like Rails to Trails. It can be a long ways to any sort of services. It was almost 35 miles before I found an open “cafe”. Luckily it was also where I sat out a thunderstorm. It was a real race to beat the rain the last 5 miles.
The trail was for the most part okay. A few down trees and places where it was littered with small sticks and branches. Then there were the soft surface stretches that were miserable. And then the few washboard areas.
The real killers for me were the washouts that I could not see in time to avoid.
Bike, panniers, and me are all covered in limestone mud!!
Looks like tomorrows weather more of the same. Hot, humid, windy and thunderstorms.
I am in a “motel” and am lucky as it is a weekend and things book up here. Otherwise I would be camping in thunderstorms tonight. Not sure how much I am going to get to see between rain sessions.

UPDATE Dinner and sightseeing squashed as we are under a tornado watch/warning for much of the night. Getting real heavy rains and winds. The Katy taking a big hit and will be miserable riding with downed trees and washouts. Tomorrow does not look any better rain and storm wise.
My options look like sit here another day and take to the roads or take the Amtrak Missouri River Runner to Sedalia. You can walk your bike on to that train.
The main issue is to get out of this weather junction as I don’t see things getting any better soon. If I can get west of here there may be hope.

Day 28 Hermann to Sedalia via Amtrak

Had bought a ticket to Independence as I thought I had a place to camp. But Campus RV Park has a no tents policy except they allow the Santa Fe Trek camp there en mass. So I am back to meet up with the trans am from the Katy. I am hoping I can avoid the mushy Katy and more rain by short cutting to Sedalia. By all looks, however, the ground here in Sedalia looks saturated as well. But it is higher and more open.

Got off train in Sedalia with partly cloudy sky and sunshine. Looked a lot better than this morning’s rain.
Went in to station waiting room and put on sun screen with great hopes of still making Clinton at about 35 miles. Didn’t happen. On the nose a 12 mph wind gusting to 20 took the life right out of me. So I am in Sedalia hoping for a better day tomorrow.
With the sun, wind and higher ground maybe the trail will dry out. If not I am taking to the asphalt.

Day 29 Sedalia to Clinton 40 miles

Stepping stones. They are rarely where you want on need them. So it was today. I would have liked to make it to Butler today but felt it was a bit much. So it is Clinton today Butler tomorrow.
The weather has me perplexed. Today felt like it could snow anytime. Did not see the sun and it stayed in the mid 60’s. I got chilled when I stopped with the wind blowing the way it is.
Rode the Katy for the most part and it was dry and firm
There were many soft spots which are real pain to deal with. Again lots of sticks and branches on the trail.
While the trail is the trail it was not wet nor was it dusty. Much more open country and was glad the sun was not out as it could be very hot out there.
From Windsor to Calhoun I rode 52. It was a great break from the trail. There definitely were some long hills today and they could be a grind. The wind played nice today with a small assist.
Am in the M (star) motel a budget place alternative. It is more than adequate for me.

Day 30 Clinton to Lacygne 60 miles

On the road at 7:00 am. Woke up to a flat so some delay get going. If you have to have a flat then fixing it in the motel room is pretty nice. Went ahead and patched the tube. Tire wire was the cause.
First 10 miles out of Clinton on 18 was flat and a tailwind too boot. Then it was rolling hills with a few topping out with steep peaks. About a mile from Kansas 18 dodges north and let’s Y run up a steep climb for a mile ending at the state line. It is then 3-4 miles of gravel before the road to Linn Valley Lakes road. All of this so I could find a members only RV park. It was scenic and saw a few deer too. But there was paved route that is a bit shorter to get to the “cabin” I ended up at.
Note: I stayed at Cabin Ridge. They have what they call cabins but they look like small houses and each one has two “cabins” Seems like they cater to workers and longer stays. I called and the manager said she had to leave but left a cabin open for me with the key. In the morning left the payment at the restaurant for the manager.

Day 31 LaCygne to Iola 71 miles

I threaded the needle today. Rode between two T Storms and only had a 30 min light rain.
Opened the Longhorn restaurant at 6 am.( don’t bother eating here) Out the “cabin” door at 7 am.

Jumped on to US 69 with nice wide shoulders going south. The wind was SSE so it wasn’t exactly a picnic. Got off on KS 52 to Mound City where I had a real breakfast at Ladybugs.

Rode KS 52 until it ended at KS 31. West on KS 31 through Blue Mound to KS 3. KS 3 for 13 miles to US 54 and then west to Iola. In motel as I just beat the rain to town.

KS 3 was really quiet with hardly any traffic. Did have some hills and a steep one up out of the Osage river crossing. Again KS 3 runs south and had a SSE wind.

US 54 is a nice wider two lane road with a 12 – 24 inch shoulder. Traffic was light and few 18 wheelers. It seemed that I had a strong tailwind as I was cruising at 17, 18, and sometimes 21 mph. The road is, to me, flat.

Tomorrow I’ll hook up with the ACA Trans am outside Eureka on US 54.

Dog Story
I have had little trouble with dogs and haven’t met one I couldn’t deal with. Today I had some chases but nothing to write home about. Except one. As I rode past the farm house I heard the dog coming to the chase. I also saw a pickup coming the other way so I figure the chase was ruined for the dog. Then I heard a thump and knew the pickup had hit the dog. I stopped figuring that I probably needed to go back and remove the body from the road. But the dog, a nice looking hound, was limping back to the barn.

Things learned so far.

As I wait out a thunder storm I thought that I would note some things I have learned along the way.

Paper maps are almost extinct and gone with the pay phone. And the ones you find have little detail. Also last about five minutes in sweaty hands.

Weather prediction. No such thing for longer than 4 hours.

I have worn the same biking clothes so far. I wash them out daily or at most 3 days. I have one backup set.

I have shaved every day and used most anything to lather up.

Rails to Trails are not for cross country touring. One they are physically tiring. Two they are dirty and do the bike no good.

Camping is a PITA. Finding one that is open, accepts tents, has showers, wifi, cell service, electrical, water and food near is a crap shoot. Top it off with a lot of rain and storms then camping becomes plan B.

Walking your bike is a natural part of bicycle touring.
Hill is too steep or long. 3-4 mph versus 2 mph. Your legs appreciate the change of pace.

Where there are no shoulders (most all roads to this point), heavy traffic, and poor sight line I walk the bike.

I walk the bike through complex and heavy traffic intersections.

In towns, in the morning, I will ride sidewalks if they are available. Slowly, very slowly.

Going off the ACA route has been a mixed bag. I have cut considerable distance and untold thousands of feet of climbing. But I have also had to deal with some heavy, heavy traffic.

I started out thinking I would take lots of photos and post them as I went along. But then I thought I would write more too. In the end it has came down to priorities. Stopping to take pictures or getting down the road. Washing and drying clothes or writing.

Day 32 Iola to Eureka 50 miles

Woke up to thunder and rain. Waited until the storm cell center passed. At 10 am left in the rain. Rode maybe 30 minutes in light rain then it stopped.
Traffic light and polite. Some long long shallow hills that seemed to go on forever. Wind NNE and riding WWS and W. Sweet.

Out in the middle of nowhere there is this rest area with spotless restrooms. On a two lane road. For about 30 minutes I had been looking for a “spot”as I had that urgent churning feeling. Then this rest area beyond all expectations pops up.

Day 33 Eureka to Newton 75 miles

Today was a tough one. On the road at 6:20 after a muffin and coffee at gas station. Needed to get in mileage before the wind ramps up. As it was had a strong cross wind out of the north until turning north for 18 slow miles to Cassoday. Then turned west again towards Newton with the wind out of NNW.

I didn’t expect the amount of climbing I did today. Some big long hills and never ending series of varying hills. Seemed more total up then down.

The only services I saw were in Cassoday which is midpoint. Two long segments to ride. I am glad it was cool and not hot.

Coming out of Eureka up a long long high hill I was overtaken by a Gary, Earl, and Mike(GEM). All pulling BOBs.
They had stayed in Eureka at the city park. Mike is 78 and has done the ACA route I couldn’t do. Amazing.

At Cassoday we had all stopped for lunch and I got out ahead of them for the rest of the day. Later down the road met Lisa and Paul headed east to St Louis having started at Hoosier Pass. They are credit card touring.

Sometime later passed another east bounder but traffic was such we could not stop and talk. He was totally non biker kitted out. Straw hat plaid shorts.

A few miles outside Newton stopped and talked with two who were coming from Colorado and headed to upper Pennsylvania. They were shooting for Eureka coming from Larned.

Will layover here and see if I can get a haircut and do major laundry tomorrow. I trying to stay on the ACA SC Tour itinerary to sort of pace myself.

Day 34 Newton to Sterling 60 miles

Woke up at 3 am and decided to move on because of the wind patterns. Sunday wind is out of west. Good layover day in Larned. Today wind out of NNW. Not ideal but maybe I can lessen the rain chance Saturday by moving west today. Saturday winds out of the south pretty hard.

Did laundry, fixed handlebar wrap and oiled chain. Haircut will wait. Now waiting for breakfast at 6 am. Should be on road by 7.

Was on the road by 6:30 am and it was a good ride all the way to Sterling. Wind was pushing or not and issue all the way and it was mainly flat. It did warm up a bit towards the end.

First stop was the Mustard Seed in Buhler and snatched the last cinnamon roll of the day. Second stop was a convenience store in Nickerson.

Sleeping on the ground in Sterling city park. Nice area next to pool for showers. Free tent camping. Free mosquitoes too.

Using public library to update this. Next is a shopping spree at the grocery store for tomorrows ride to Larned as there are no services.

Hoping the rain holds off tomorrow and the south winds are reasonable.

Day 35 Sterling to Great Bend 42 miles

In camp last night learned that Larned is jammed up with some event. Not good for a refresh day. Re-route through Big Bend so I could get a hotel. It turns out this will be a shortcut to Ness City. Also it will be a shorter day and have more services.

Going to bed last night the was a big weather cell hanging southwest of us and expected a thunderstorm and rain during the night. But woke up dry and with a good sleep at 5 am. Packed up and on the road by 6:20 am.

Headed north on KS 96 to US 56 west to Great Bend. Strong wind put of the south. A mole or so out Sterling the was a sign to Alden via paved county road. I looked at my state map and saw going that way I could almost get to Great Bend on back roads. The last three or so miles would be on US 281. So I went to Alden where I opened the cafe for breakfast. Then it was on to Raymond and then west to US 281. Very quiet roads.

As time went on the wind kept getting stronger and stronger. For while I thought turn the tires around to even the wear from leaning into wind. Towards he junction with US 281 the gusts were stalling me out.

Turned north on US 281 and it would put a smile on anyone. Wide butter smooth asphalt shoulder with a 20 mph wind at your back.

I hope there is some redeeming aspect to the ACA route besides quiet roads because my route today would be hard to beat.

Day 36 Great Bend Rest Day

Looks like there is a heat wave this week! But not to worry. It doesn’t stop the wind from doing it’s thing. On top of that it looks like the sun wants to come out and play too.

This is going to mean earlier starts and maybe shorter days. The big worry is carrying enough fluids in this kind of weather. I am going to try carrying 80 oz of Gatorade in addition to three water bottles.

Bought some heavy duty sunscreen and lip balm because I can burn up pretty fast. Time for the sun sleeves to come out.

Day 37 Great Bend to Ness City 63 miles

Up at 4:30 am and fixed oatmeal and coffee for breakfast. Packed and was on the road at 5:30 am with lights on. Fast ride to Rush Center with first a tailwind and later quartering wind pushing. Some hills before Rush Center but nothing bad with the wind assist.

After Rush Center the wind slowly turned onto a head wind and temperatures steadily rose to the mid 90s. Was done just around noon and checked into motel.

Made a stop at the Alexander rest stop. Otherwise did the 10 mile butt breaks but no cafe/gas station stops.

So far eight other riders in town so far and it is early in the day.

Tomorrow could be brutal with a very strong quartering headwind and 105 high. 55 miles and hoping for a 7 mph average. That is an 8 hour day. To get done before noon means a 4 am start.

Day 38 Ness City to Dighton 31 miles

On the road at 5:00am with lights running. 75 and steady wind blowing SSW. Wind continued to shift around to WSW as I rode west to Dighton 31 miles away. Speed dropped off continuously as the wind picked up. At the end I was stopping every mile to ease the arms and shoulders from fighting the wind. Stopping one time I fell as a gust (30 mph) hit the bike just right to dump me. The wind is now 21 out of WSW and gusting to 30.
The three “bobs” made it in but three others and myself were sweep up by a couple of pickups. I was out 4 miles and the others were picked up earlier.

Today was a day not to have four panniers hanging off your bike. The quartering headwind made it a billboard jib that with gusting winds just whipped the whole bike around. The three “bobs” had some of the side wind effect but nothing like those of us with panniers. BTW all the “bobs” rode the distance having started 25 minutes after me. That includes 78 yo Mike.

Tomorrow’s options are 32 miles to Scott City, 48 miles to Leoti, or 70 miles to Tribune. We’ll see what Mr. wind says.

Day 39 Dighton to Leoti 48 miles

Good ride today. “Camping” in Susan’s to be yoga studio. She and her mother painting. With Hank,  Lee, and Joyce (Lee’s wife).

 

Update

The yoga studio is on main street Leoti about a quarter block from a 4 way stop. Because there was no air conditioning we had the doors open most of the night. The trucks don’t seem to sleep and they were gearing up and down at the stop signs every few minutes. To me it seemed like the trucks were falling apart with all the noise they were making. Well the next morning I learned that they were cattle trucks and when they have to stop all the cows scramble to keep standing and from sliding around. Then its a repeat as the trucks start up again. Not much sleep that night.

Day 41 Eads to Ordway 62 miles

Hot and windy. Just another normal day of riding the TransAm. 106 noted on the bike computer temperature reading. We left at 5:30 am and had a tough ride against the wind and heat. Nothing to note about nothing. Few services.

Staying at Ordway Hotel which like the Eads motel is full of bicycle tourists.

Tomorrow Pueblo and a rest day.

Day 41 Ordway to Pueblo 55 miles

Easy day so no hurry to hit the road until 7:00 am. Wind did not help much today like it was thought to. None the less made good time. Seeing the mountains now so that is a great change form Kansas and eastern Colorado.

Rode with Hank and Dave into Pueblo. Hank is headed to Seattle and Dave is riding the Western Express and Sierra Cascade segments.

Tomorrow is a rest day and not sure what I’ll be doing yet.

Day 42 Pueblo Rest Day

Fixed handlebar tape, oiled the chain, and did an inspection of the bike. More laundry today.

We walked a mile and a half to Dillard’s and bought shirts that might be a bit cooler the the bike jerseys.

Met the “BOB’s” downtown for pizza using a cab both way. Good conversation and Mike’s wife Paula had flown in for the weekend.

Tomorrow will go off route and take US 50 to Canon City. A shorter, safer, flatter route than ACA’s route. Probably miss some good scenery and an awesome climb:(

Day 43 Pueblo to Royal Gorge 47 miles

Rode US 50 all the way. Heavy traffic and not scenic at all to Canon City. Heavy climb out of Canon City for about nine miles.

In cabin at Royal View RV campground. No Verizion service and no place to eat or buy much food. Looks like I better get use to peanut butter and bagels for the next few meals.

It was warm most of the day but no significant wind. Tomorrow it is on up to Guffey  for 23 miles. Farther depending on how I survive the climb to Guffey.

Was able to see the mountain ranges. Still have snow on most peaks. Pikes Peak to the north of us most of the day.

Day 44 Royal Gorge to Guffey 23 miles

Tough day as I had to walk up the big wall as the lack of oxygen is a real killer for me. 15 miles in I was resting on a rock in the shade when Bill from the Guffey Garage asked if I wanted a ride. At that point there was no other answer but “yes” and we loaded up his Camino with my bike and gear. If you don’t know who Bill is just do a journal seach on CrazyGuyOnABike and you will be enlightened. Arrived at the Garage and Bill gave me a cold one which really hit the spot at that point.

Everyone else was  way ahead of me so if not for the ride I would probably still be on the road. I am really hurting because I am not a great climber and the thin air is killing me. Hope tomorrow is a better day from that aspect.

Ate at Rita’s, another iconic place on the TransAm. We rented the Assay Office for tonight.

No cell service and doing the post at the nice Guffey Library.

Update about this segment. Theses images were cut from a RideWithGPS routing from Pueblo to Guffey. First there is almost a 4 thousand foot elevation gain over the course of two days. One possible mistake was taking a rest day in Pueblo or not taking a day off at the Royal Gorge to acclimatize at a higher elevation.

Second is the climb to Guffey has one wall that hits 10% for some distance. Too much for me to sustain on a bike climbing.

Mind you Mike at 78 of the 3 BOB’s pulled this entire segment off in one day and continues on. Pueblo-Guffey-2Pueblo-Guffey

End of the Trail

554px-JEFEndOfTheTrail

I feel like that warrior in the sculpture End of the Trail. Fought the good battle but lost the war.

The last day’s climb set me back on my heels to let me know that I’ll never be a bike climber and that what you do in life has consequences.

Once in Guffey I could hardly walk a block and have to stop and catch my byreath. I had told Bill of the Guffey Garage Gang that I might need a lift out if I wasn’t doing better the next day.

Then I do something stupid and fall hitting my head pretty hard. And having Bill patch me up. The head strike was a good solid blow and I had no idea what the internal damage might be. I decided that if there was a chance of serious injury I didn’t want to be in Guffey.

So I walked back up to the Garage and asked Bill if he knew of someone that could haul me to Canon City. He called Holly and without any hesitation on her part said she said she would do it.

Holly is an angel and drove me and my gear to Canon City. She wanted to take me to the emergency room and sit with me. I have a thing about emergency rooms and would rather make sure there is a real emergency first.

After a few hours I do have a large welt but no other negative signs. Morning should make things clearer I hope.

If I feel okay I’ll rent a car and drive home.

How I fell.

I had put my helmet in a rear pannier as I moving everything a block or so and just packed up eveything quick like. When I swung my leg to mount the bike I got hung up on that rear pannier and fell.

 

Smartphone Lessons

The Droid Razr Maxx become an integral part of the ride.

Every morning using the AccuWeather app I would look at the the days wind conditions and directions. I used that information to set the days goals and in some cases the actual route. For example in Harrisburg Illinois I awoke to find a very strong south wind. My initial intent was to follow the ACA route west to Chester Illinois and then cut north to St. Louis. Instead I went to Carbondale and struck north towards Belleville via IL 13. That ended up being my high mileage day of 86 miles and also the easiest day on great roads.

Also used the AccuWeather app once on the Katy trail to watch a storm cell move through and know when the heavy rain was over. A group waiting with me at the store took off during a brief lull while I stayed put knowing more was coming. They had some very wet riding while I stayed dry.

The Map app was used to find motels, restaurants, Walmarts, and such resources in towns. That proved to be a very useful tool. Especially in conjunction with the Local app. But there were some downsides to that too. Often the information was dated. It would show motels that were closed years ago. Or it didn’t show newer motels. So you couldn’t really totally rely on the data it presented.

Each day the next day’s area map was downloaded for offline use. This was mainly used to give some context as to where I was in relation to the end point for the day.

Also I used the Map app and the terrain layer to see what the route was going to be and set in my mind the number of climbs coming up. Out of Sebree Kentucky it is easy to see the alternate route of KY 56 and IL 13 to Carbondale is not only shorter, it is also much flatter then the ACA route.

I had a number of other apps that proved to be less useful.

Cue Sheet uses Ride With GPS routes to download the Cue Sheets and using the device’s GPS give voice navigation. I used it once from Newport News to Yorktown and it worked great. But I really didn’t need it. The one thing with the app is you must validate the RWGPS cue sheet before blindly using it. There is an art to drawing RWGPS routes so you don’t end up with false turns and subsequent U turns.

All Stays Camp and Tent this app seemed to be quite comprehensive but yet I found it incomplete in many cases. Once I routed to a campground only to find it a “club campground” requiring membership and central reservations. That left me hanging pretty high and dry that day.

CoPilot Live this app is quite nice and has offline maps and bicycle routing. I used when I wanted to see a route from where I was to some point as the Map app was harder to control avoiding highways. However it was not as useful as it could have been if it would let you set your start point somewhere else then where you are.

Text Messaging is not just a smartphone feature and actually predates them. However I found this to be a really great communication feature and in many cases much preferred to a phone call because it is convenient to use for both parties.

Adventure Cycling and the Smartphone

The ACA maps are great resources if you are following their route. It would be nice to have a smartphone app that would give you up to date resource information that you could use to call and locate the resources from the phone.