Monday, June 30, 2014

Location: - Still Charleston SC Miles = 0, Ave MPH = 0, Cum. Miles = 0, Cum. Ave MPH = 0

The adventure cycle maps came yesterday!! So in this blog I'll talk a little bit about the route that is planned. Adventure cycle refers to it as the TransAmerica Trail and it was established in 1976 for the Bicentennial. On the Adventure Cycling Overview Map the Trans Am route is shown in an orange color that starts in Oregon and ends in Virginia. 

So I need to clear up some confusion I may have created with some that I have talked to - and that is that the actual starting point is not Seattle or even Portland for that matter, but rather is Astoria, Oregon.

Also I hope to take the route to it's end in Yorktown VA however the ultimate destination is Charleston (the South Carolina one vs. the oops we got chemicals in our drinking water one) so I eventually get back home. This may mean I peel off of the route somewhere near Kingsport TN and head through Asheville NC and on south to Charleston. This route will be approximately 4050 miles. Going to Yorktown and then down the Adventure Cycling recommended route back to Charleston will be about 4600 miles.

But even more specifically the final final destination destination will be Folly Beach, a suburb of Charleston although don't let the residents of FB know I called it a suburb as that would surely be something close to blasphemy. As many will know, the tradition for these rides is to dip your wheel in the Pacific Ocean and then upon finishing dip once more in the Atlantic. Because Folly Beach is such an eclectic and funky place I am hoping to do my Atlantic wheel dip at FB. Please do not think the fact that Ed the proprietor of Loggerheads Beach Grill promised me a party upon arrival and said that he had specifically expanded the deck just for this event had anything to do with my choice of Folly Beach:):) I think I am going to approach the management at the Tides Hotel to see if they will comp me a room - never hurts to try!!

A few training days are left...

Thanks to my Sawmill Branch Trail photographer - Jennifer D.

It appears that I will be having a companion on my ride and in my next blog or two I would like to make an introduction. I put an ad in at Adventure Cycling a while back for companion riders. Six people responded and it looks like a rider from Toronto Canada is committed to the tour. I think you may find the story of how this evolved a touch funny.  Some additional topics before we blast off will be; Supported vs Non-Supported touring and a bit about and I also have an official coffee supplier that you need to know about as well.

And finally please remember the cause -  I will go into this in more detail and perhaps some level of haranguing later on, but for now here is the link .... and an additional link for donation   SoldiersBestFriend - Donate Please :):)  As you donate please enter my name ("Neil G" will do just fine) in the appropriate spot so the folks at SBF can tally the results to encourage me and let me know WE are getting something done together. Oh and I would be a lot more comfortable if you use the "honorarium" option vs the "memoriam" option - you'll understand when you click on the link:):).     I will be inserting this call to action in all of my blogs so I hope you don't mind.


The total TransAmerica map set comes in 12 sections as per below. Each of the sections contains 10 - 12 mini-maps that help to break down the larger distance into maps of a scale that is very detailed (1 inch equals 2 miles). The back of the maps have details about sights, restaurants, lodging, stores, and bike shops encountered along the way. The maps are laminated to increase their durability.

TransAmerica Trail
Astoria, OR to Yorktown, VA
12 Map Set (4232.0 mi.)
GPS | Overview | Buy
1. Astoria, OR to Coburg, OR (234 mi.)Detail |Addenda
2. Coburg, OR to Baker City, OR (333 mi.)Detail |Addenda
3. Baker City, OR to Missoula, MT (419 mi.)Detail |Addenda
4. Missoula, MT to West Yellowstone, MT (328.5 mi.)Detail |Addenda
5. West Yellowstone, MT to Rawlins, WY (350.5 mi.)Detail |Addenda
6. Rawlins, WY to Pueblo, CO (387 mi.)Detail |Addenda
7. Pueblo, CO to Alexander, KS (288.5 mi.)Detail |Addenda
8. Alexander, KS to Girard, KS (330.5 mi.)Detail |Addenda
9. Girard, KS to Murphysboro, IL (408.5 mi.)Detail |Addenda
10. Murphysboro, IL to Berea, KY (405 mi.)Detail |Addenda
11. Berea, KY to Christiansburg, VA (375.5 mi.)Detail |Addenda
12. Christiansburg, VA to Yorktown, VA (368 mi.)Detail |Addenda

The classic route to cross America by bicycle.

Grand parks along the TransAmerica Trail include Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks, among the best in the United States. One additional treat: because this route has been ridden by cyclists for years, many of the cafes, restaurants, and overnight accommodations along the route have kept journals consisting of entries written by cross-country riders from previous years, providing you with a cyclist's history of the route. Plan on around three months (give or take) for the crossing. Some traverse the route quicker, but this leaves less time for sightseeing.

Astoria, Oregon, with the hills of a miniature San Francisco, is the official beginning-of-the-road. The view from atop the Astoria Column is well worth the uphill pedal. Stretches of beaches, outstanding state parks, steep ascents and descents, and great seafood abound during your first days of riding before you turn inland to the Willamette River Valley. Eugene is the largest city along the route. Other sizable cities along the way are Missoula, Montana; Pueblo, Colorado; and Carbondale, Illinois. The lush, green western side of the Cascade Mountains is a startling contrast to the dry terrain you'll be riding into after McKenzie Pass. The road over McKenzie Pass literally cuts through an ancient lava field and offers spectacular views of the Three Sisters and other snow-capped volcanic peaks of the Cascades. Central and eastern Oregon is made up of dry, mountainous terrain and is good place to carry extra water. The National Historic Oregon Trail Interpretive Center outside of Baker City is a must-see, and after completing your trip crossing the country, you'll have no trouble relating to the experiences of the early pioneers.

Idaho offers a wonderful ride along the Salmon River, and some interesting Native American historic sites to visit. The route then follows the winding, scenic Lochsa River for the longest gradual ascent of the trip (around 70 miles). You'll climb up and over Lolo Pass, enter Montana, and soon reach the spur into Missoula. Missoula, a college town, provides one of the highlights of the route, featuring Adventure Cycling headquarters with its "cyclist's lounge" and other amenities, along with whatever services you may require in town. Beautiful panoramas, wide valleys and mountain passes await you in Montana.
The views in Yellowstone National Park and of the Grand Teton Range in Wyoming are incomparable, and memories will last a lifetime. It's worth an extra day or two off the bike to experience as much as you can of these two phenomenal national parks. Towns such as Dubois and Lander remind you that you're in the west, with their historic architecture and western-style cooking. Lamont is an oasis in the windy, desolate Great Divide Basin, and serves up a mean bowl of chili.

The scenery quickly changes from dry, high desert to alpine as you reach Kremmling, Colorado. Touristy Breckenridge in Summit County is another great place for a layover day. You begin a long climb to crest the Continental Divide at Hoosier Pass, 11,542 feet, up amongst snow-covered peaks. As the route leaves the Rockies, Royal Gorge Park offers a fun layover day, either for hanging out at the Arkansas River bridge or taking a helicopter ride over or a raft trip through the gorge. Pueblo offers bike shops and great places to eat; it also serves as the halfway point of the TransAm Trail (time to celebrate!). It's a good place to stock up - it's the largest city you'll pass through until Carbondale, Illinois.

Things start to dry out as you get into the eastern part of Colorado and cross into western Kansas. Carrying extra water is a good idea here - this is hot, barren country. Right around Haswell, Colorado, you'll see your last hazy glimpse of the Rocky Mountains. Overnights at city parks in Kansas are usually accompanied by cool dips in the city swimming pools. You might have to do some early morning and early evening riding to escape the midday heat. Don't miss the pies at Cooky's in Golden City, Missouri! The flat-as-a-pool-table terrain of the Great Plains will change quickly into the roller-coaster riding of Missouri. You'll find Missouri offers Civil War history, terrific canoeing at Eminence, and an excellent swimming hole at Johnson's Shut-Ins State Park.

The route crosses the Mississippi River at Chester, Illinois, and heads into Carbondale, another fun college town. A ferry takes you across the Ohio River into Kentucky, where you'll enjoy the evening fireflies at your campsites. Kentucky offers rolling white-fenced farms and woodlands until reaching Berea, the gateway to the Appalachian Mountains. A loop south of the route will take you to see Mammoth Cave National Park, the longest cave system in the world. Past Berea, you'll spend some time ascending and descending the mountains of the Appalachians, and riding part of the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia. The mountains turn to rolling hills and then flat riding through lush plantations and farmlands. The last stretch of the route is rich in the history of the American Revolution, with Colonial Williamsburg as the highlight. Yorktown, situated on the Chesapeake Bay, is the route's end

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Location: - Charleston SC Miles = 0, Ave MPH = 0, Cum. Miles = 0, Cum. Ave MPH = 0

Hi Neil here ....

this is a test run of my new blog. I've been fooling around now for about 15 minutes trying to get the voice recognition to capitalize the first word of the paragraph. I just want to point out that I know the word "this" should be capitalized but I am NOT going to fight it for the rest of my blogging experience:-) :-). (how in the world did it know to capitalize the word "not". Did it hear the emphasis in my voice?) Flynn had to help her Luddite father initialize the blog. It was a good bonding experience. Also this is my first go with a samsung galaxy tablet that I bought in order to be able to journal and blog on the trip. I'm forcing myself to use it rather than a MacBook that I'm used to. This is compounding the issue and I think Flynn believes we're doing just a little bit too much bonding at this point.

you may be wondering why I have decided to start a blog. Some have heard me talking about traversing the country on a bicycle. I got this crazy idea from a book called Life is a Wheel by Bruce Weber. Weber, a New York Times reporter, made this journey when he was 57 years old, replicating the journey he had made 18 years prior. The difference this time was he wrote a book as a result. I've only gotten halfway through the book but it only took the first couple chapters to get me thinking about doing this. But I have to say I have been waffling a bit so just to get the ball rolling I booked a flight to Seattle for July 9th. To further commit, and since I didn't have a real touring bike as all my bikes are carbon fiber light-weights, today I bought a bike from a Portland Oregon bike shop. Here are photos of the Kona Sutra.....

I decided to keep this one at home. Do you think I made the right choice?

I'm calling this "The find a job/stamp out texting while driving/use no chain oil across America cycling tour". I'll try to explain each element of this crazy title. Regarding finding the job - I have been out of work since late February. Efforts to find a job locally have not been successful. Plenty of opportunities to move north however :-) :-) While I am traveling I will be observing the companies/industries and opportunities along the way as well as evaluating places to live - will have resume in tow :-) :-)

now to the texting reference. As I thought of what I'm might fear in making this journey it wasn't really having the physical ability to do it, or the mental tenacity to stay with it,  but rather this issue of drivers being distracted with handheld devices. I have put the last few months to good work putting in a lot of miles training. However  these miles were mostly all done on a bike path near my house. Just to stay away from the traffic I would do reps back and forth on the path usually about 50 miles a day on a 7 mile long bike path - yes boring but safe!  I've done some hill work both in Virginia and New York recently as well,  and that was out on the roads but they were mostly rural. In New York I did climbs up to the wind farms around the ridges of the hills. There are hundreds and hundreds of these huge windmills generating electricity and it is now adding substantially to the New York power grid. Back to the texting thing - In the next few days I'm going to try to reach out to some anti-texting-while-driving organizations and see if I can partner with them just to create some sort of publicity. Here is a picture of some of the windmills in New York.

I have purchased maps for the trip from Adventure Cycling is an organization that works to put together information from many different cyclists about the best routes to get from point A to point B. They pride themselves in creating safer routes by using rural roads (this of course makes for the most beautiful routes as well) and roads with wide breakdown lanes.  They keep in touch with what's going on on the roads and modify as required. As an example they avoid routing through North Dakota currently because of all the fracking that's going on and the many trucks and heavy equipment that are taking up the road to accomplish that.

I will explain the "use no chain oil" aspect in greater detail later. Let it suffice to say that I haven't used chain oil in a long time. I have found a simpler way to keep the chain clean and durable for many more miles than using traditional petroleum oil.

I need to mention one other experience that helped get me motivated to make this trip. I was on my way back from Savannah to Charleston and I met a touring cyclist on the road. He was on route 17 and he was stopped so I turned around and went back to talk to him. He was so excited about being out on the road. We exchanged phone numbers and have kept in contact since. He was heading to Colorado to get residency so that he could purchase legal "medicine" there. :-) :-) Every time I would call him he would say "you gotta get out on the road man you gotta get out on the road". I called him today however and his phone was disconnected. Maybe that medicine made him forget to pay his bills. Here is a photo of Milton.

another inspiration for me regarding making this trip is young man named Brandon Smith from Canada. Brandon traveled across Canada from Vancouver BC starting on May 1 and ending in Halifax Nova Scotia on June 9. He took five or six down days during that period which left him with 34 cycling days. At a little over 4000 miles he averaged approximately 115 miles per day. Two of those cycling days he encountered snow. Many days were very cold also. He kept an interesting and fun blog with good photos and I followed with great interest. Brandon's secret which he never told anybody was being powered by Tim Hortons coffee. The best coffee in the world.

Photos of Brandon

So we are going to blame these three guys, Bruce Weber, Milton Gibson, and Brandon Smith. But you all know it's just because I'm crazy. 

I put an ad in about six weeks ago for cyclists to join me on the trek. 6 people responded and looks like potentially two folks will be joining me - one to Montana and the other to take the full trip. I will keep you posted and introduce you has this actually materializes.

For those old friends who haven't seen me in a while this is me:

the next days will go fast making lists of things that need to be included and then purchasing them and getting them shipped out west. I probably won't be blogging again until July 8th or 9th or maybe even the 10th. I will share more about the route that it Aventure Cycling maps will take me on the next time that I blog.

so this has been my dry run for learning how to blog and use a samsung galaxy tablet. I don't want to tell you how long this took so I won't. I still don't have it down yet how to properly use the voice recognition system and will have to make a trip back to the store for tutoring. And mum I just want you to know that this voice recognition has a mind of its own and it's going to make grammatical and spelling errors. I won't catch them all. Just let it go. In fact I left a few in here for you.