On the 12th day of touring…

wp-1464575031894.jpegToday is our 12th day out on the road. We have hit a few rough patches over the 700+ miles we have ridden in that time, but God has brought us through each one and hopefully we are stronger and smarter as a result. Embarrassingly, many of the interesting situations we have found ourselves in have been the result of a total lack of common sense on my part. Don’t worry, I have written them down, before the trip is over I will compile them so that we can cringe together.

But overwhelmingly, these past twelve days have been filled with wonderful experiences. Here are a few snippets…

wp-1464575000183.jpeg

This little bee was my buddy for about two miles, until he decided cycling wasn’t the life for him. Hey, if I could fly I wouldn’t bother with bikes either!

wp-1464574628390.jpeg

Travelling light means no excess junk…like bowls. Empty avocado halves work just fine.

wp-1464574747471.jpeg

Beautiful horses abound! There was a 15 mile stretch in Ohio where we passed by countless spotless Amish farms, even the birdhouses were in perfect condition.

wp-1464574985255.jpeg

I am becoming proficent at taking pictures while riding…this photo was taken at 18 mph. Yup, I am now officially cool.

wp-1464574891064.jpeg

Ohio has a wonderful network of impeccable paved bike trails. Bonus points for the shade and wind protection that the trees provide.

wp-1464574908636.jpeg

Lots of animals hang out on the bike trails. We saw baby woodchucks, rabbits, countless birds and this snapping turtle.

wp-1464574843126.jpeg

The bike trail also took us to a dirt path that went to the top of Fort Ancient. It was the steepest 1/4 mile hike I have ever been on. And we climbed it with biking shoes…not highly recommended.

wp-1464574829436.jpeg

The view from the Fort Ancient earthworks.

wp-1464578274628.jpeg

And today we crossed over the Ohio river into Kentucky!

Throughout this trip, Noah has amazed me. Before leaving home, his longest ride was 43 miles and now he is busting out 60+ days like he was born pedalling.

Yesterday was an especially neat day. In the morning, while we were riding side by side, he looked over at me and said,

“When did riding thirty miles become nothing?”

I swear, by the time we reach Colorado, I am going to be left in the dust. If anyone can give me tips on how to keep up, it would be greatly appreciated!

But that was just the beginning. We rode on paved trails all day yesterday and Noah decided that it was high time to conquer riding no-handed. It took me a year to become comfortable enough and skilled enough to ride no-handed, so you can imagine my consternation (and jealousy) when by the end of the day he was happily flying down the trail doing things like this…

wp-1464574861226.jpeg

I don’t think he has any idea how proud I am of him. It blows me away each day how blessed I am to be riding alongside one of my favorite-est people in the whole world.

In the past two years I have ridden 10,000ish miles and 99.8% of those miles I have ridden all by my little lonesome, believe me when I say that it is fantastic to now have a partner in crime. 

Advertisements

I can’t sleep!

I am discovering that sleeping on a bike tour is tough. The hardest part for me is sleeping in, right now it is 6:30 and I could still be asleep but I got up anyway. Why? Because everything is too exciting!

All it takes is a bike and two yellow panniers and I am free to explore wherever I please! Every day we get to ride to new places and meet new people and see beautiful landscapes and pet cute animals…

Just yesterday, we had the opportunity to talk to many awesome people.

We started out our day by meeting Bob, a man who had a mid-life crisis and began cycling as a result. Now he is seventy and he has been cycling everywhere: the coast of Maine, the Allegany Gap trail and he is heading to the Adirondacks very soon.

When we caught up with him he was cycling eighteen miles to a little diner for breakfast and then cycling back, of course. Seventy is the new thirty when you meet Bob! He told me a story about meeting Sheldon Brown, but before he had any idea who Sheldon Brown was.  But the coolest thing that Bob told me is that he repairs donated bicycles and gives them to the Salvation Army and other organizations in his spare time. What a guy!

I chatted to Karen, a teacher who wants to hike the Continental divide or ride across the country someday.

Jack pulled over and got out of his car to make sure Noah and I weren’t lost. (We were not lost, we were just looking at the maps to make sure we weren’t going to get lost. Preventative measures. We have never been lost and we will never get lost….it’s the truth, I promise!) He is a former cyclist and gave us some tips for if we ever have a flat tire. You are a great guy, Jack, now get back on the bike!

Tonight, we stayed in the same campground as two young guys, Chad and Dylan, if I am remembering their names correctly. They left Erie, Pennsylvania yesterday and are headed to Oregon on their bikes.

wp-1464097765360.jpeg

Meeting Steve

But the coolest thing that happened yesterday is that we met up with Steve, a cyclist who found my blog awhile back and has been a help and encouragement to me ever since. He has been riding from Chicago back to New York and we met in the middle of Erie, Pennsylvania. He rides FANY (a bicycle ride across NY) every year, I will definitely meet up with him again on that ride some day! It was so exciting to meet an online cycling friend for the first time, you totally made my day, Steve.

Well, come to think of it, maybe it was the friendly miniature horses that made my day. Noah put a photo on his Instagram of the cute little beasts. Sadly, I lost my camera’s SD card so I don’t have any pictures of them. But they were adorable and delighted to get some extra attention.

And now it is a new day with adventures and excitement just waiting to be uncovered!

Pedal Away!

wp-1463915638974.jpeg

Starting out. 

Four days.
Two hundred fifty two miles.

Our trip has been crazy fun so far. The weather has been a perfect backdrop for our journey, it doesn’t get much better then cool days, gentle wind and dry weather.

And the scenery? All the trees and fields are bursting with life and color, every bend in the road uncovers stunning foliage and beautiful flowers.wp-1463915899971.jpegwp-1463915548983.jpeg

I feel like Noah and I are becoming a solid team, every day I feel so blessed that we can do this trip together, brother/sister adventures like this are a once in a lifetime experience.

wp-1463915178820.jpeg

I removed five stitches from above Noah’s eye last night. Good trusting building exercise, I think. I didn’t stab his eye. Win.

We stopped at a bike store to buy some stuff and I found the prettiest bike I have ever met in my life. It was a Trek Madone 9.2 and I think I disturbed Noah by how excited I was. I dared to pick it up-I think feathers weigh more!wp-1463915435527.jpeg

The best part of our trip has been the people we have met. Along the Erie Canal Trail, we stop to chat with a dad and son who set off after the son’s graduation to cycle across New York.

We also visited with a couple from the Netherlands. They are completing their fourth major tour of the US. The guy was pulling a BOB so I immediately thought of Dan and his trailer. They passed us as we were sitting down to eat our second breakfast (or was it our first lunch? We are eating so much food that it gets confusing) and they took a picture of us. So somewhere, on a Dutch blog is a picture of us and our food.

And then there is Bob.
It was the third day and Noah and I were riding on the Erie Canal Trail through Rochester. The trail gets very confusing. Last year, when I rode here, I had to ask four different people for directions before I made it successfully to my destination. So I was pretty apprehensive about biking through Rochester-but then we met Bob.

We were riding along at a pretty slow pace when a guy caught up to us and asked where we were heading. When he found out we going to Holley for the night, he told us that he was going that way and he could take us through the city.

Suddenly, we found ourselves in the hands of a capable, friendly guide. Bob commutes this route several times a week, so he was a total pro, escorting us safely through each turn and intersection. We had been planning to spent the night at an RV park but he told us that we could  camp at the drawbridge in Holley. We are not the only touring cyclists Bob has rescued, he definitely needs an official “Guide of Rochester” title.

It was beyond amazing to be riding another cyclist’s commuting route alongside of them. Bob was a great, interesting person  to talk to and before Noah and I knew it we had made it past the city. Once Bob left us, Noah and I flew along the trail with wide grins spreading across our faces. Bob had saved us time and money. But most importantly, he had boosted our spirits and we reached our campsite that night feeling great.

When we got to Holley, I talked to the lady who was working at the drawbridge about spending the night. Jane was the sweetest lady we have met so far. We chatted about Colorado and in the morning, while we leaving, she called across the canal to wish us well.

Saturday night, we slept over at a friend’s house, which was a nice little break from camping. We hung out and skyped our brother out in Colorado, it is hard to believe we get to see him soon!

On our way to Colorado!

Sorry, this isn’t a real post, just a quick update, Noah and I started out yesterday. We weighed our loaded bikes before we left, his is 60 lbs total, mine is 54. That means I win! We traveled 78 miles yesterday and are just about to leave Oswego.

We are like newborn colts trying to figure out everything-setting up and taking down our campsite is currently taking us forever! So hopefully once we get used to the routine I will have more time to blog.

In the mean time, I will update our map which is on the Tour to Colorado page at the top of this blog and you can look up my brother’s instagram as well.

Life is good. And so are bikes.

Goodbye, Friends. Hello Adventure!

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

After work today, my dad asked me how I was feeling. I told him I was feeling sentimental. The past few days have been nothing but a series of goodbyes and even though I know I will be back home before long, I feel so emotional about leaving.

I got emotional saying goodbye to the people at my church, to my Sunday School kids, my coworkers, customers at work…I thought I was holding myself together well until I became emotional while biking my commute for the last time.

Logically, it doesn’t make sense for me to feel emotions for a road but for me this is not just a road. It has been my classroom. This is the road that taught me to love cycling. On this road, I learned how to ride in dark, how to ride in the snow, how to stay warm in cold weather and how to use clipless pedals without falling over, just to name a few things. I have learned about myself, grown in my relationship with God and gained so much confidence while riding to and from work on this road.

But that isn’t why I became teary-eyed on my commute this morning. The reason I started bawling my little eyes out is because winter threw a going-away party for me on my final ride to work. That’s right, there was snow. Oh, it didn’t really stick but for about ten minutes, the snowflakes were falling so furiously that I felt like I was transported back to February. It was beautiful.

And then, after work was over, the wind was strong and the gusts were overpowering and I took it as an invitation to ride home slowly and take time to enjoy the familiar river and the farms, fields and hills that make my commute so unique and beautiful.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

But surging past these sentimental thoughts, is an irrepressible excitement . On Wednesday when I wake up, I will do something rather ordinary. I will hop on my bike and pedal down the road. But this time something will be different. I won’t be back home before the day is over. Instead, my brother and I will continue to follow that road (and many other roads).

And if there are no major disasters…
And we remember the difference between East and West…

…We will end up in Colorado with our brother.

Only two days left until “GO!” time, the next time I post we will be on our way. Thank you to all of you for your encouragement and support in this adventure, it means so much to me.

 

 

Three Special Rides

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Going on a bike ride makes a day good.
Going for two bikes rides makes a day great.
Going on three rides?
Makes a day practically perfect.

Yesterday I had one of those practically perfect days.

The day started out crisp and cool, just above freezing and I had to take advantage of it. After all, there are not many cool days left, summer is dangerously close and so are humid mornings.

First, I went to a friend’s house and we prayed about the trip together which was a huge encouragement to me. I feel so much support from friends and family.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

On my morning ride I met some cows.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

It took some time, but finally this cow became curious and trotted over.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

What is it?

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

It tastes good!

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

We quickly became friends for life.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

But Mr. Bull did not want us to be friends for life. Uttering my apologies, I took my bike and left.

 Then I rode up the road which my and brother and I will be taking to leave to Colorado. After 10 miles though, I turned around and headed back home.

It was surreal to think that in a week’s time Noah and I will ride up this road but there will be no turning back. We get to ride new roads, mile after mile, day after day.

I almost broke down in tears as I flew down the hill into the little valley I am proud to call home. I feel blessed beyond belief that I am in a place in my life where a trip like this is possible. It is even crazy that this is something I want to do! Just a few years ago I despised all forms of exercise but now I have discovered the joy of exploring new places on a bicycle and everything has changed. And the thing I am most thankful for about this tour is that I get to share it with my brother Noah, it is so amazing that we get to ride to Colorado together.

Speaking of Noah, yesterday was his 19th birthday so for the second ride he, my youngest brother Jono and I went to a pizza place for lunch. It was great to ride with not one, but two of my wonderful brothers. My brother Jono, as always, kept us entertained. He brought along a Bluetooth speaker and at times instructed us to sing along with the music.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Then a few hours later, it was time to go for a group ride in Croghan. So I rode my commuting route, which always feels weird to ride during the daytime and met up with six other cyclists for a 16 mile ride. I really enjoy chatting on rides and finding out the story of how different folks began cycling. Sadly, this is my only time I was able to ride with the group, I am thinking that next Tuesday I will want to pass so that I can make sure I get a really good night’s sleep before my brother and I head down the road.

After the ride, I went home while the sun was setting and the moon and stars were making their return for the night. Once again the air became cold and I pulled into my parent’s driveway worn out but in the good “I had a lot of fun” way. And I got home just in time to eat peanut butter pie and sing “happy birthday” to my brother.

Days just don’t get better than this.

That Week Flew By!

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Oh my, is it really Monday already?

Here are a few things that happened during the past week…

Moving Back Home
With the help of my family I moved out of the apartment and back to my parent’s house. I am staying here until my brother and I leave to bike to Colorado on May 18th.

A New Commute
With the move, my commute increased by four miles each way, bringing the round-trip total up to 28 miles. The extra four miles are all downhill which is great since I only need to wake up a few minutes earlier to get to work on time. It has been exciting to try out a new commuting distance. Of course, I could have always extended my route if I really wanted to but for some reason I never got around to it.

Testing Out a New Tent
My brother and I set up our new tents (Big Agnes Fly Creek UL1’s) for the first time on Saturday. I was stunned with how fast and intuitive the setup is-if I don’t mess something up royally on the first try, you know it’s gotta be easy! I tried it out overnight, testing out my new sleeping pad and bag in the process. So far, so good!

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

 

Unearthing Historic Bike Computers
I poked around in my dad’s old bike stuff and discovered several interesting gadgets, among them a Cateye computer (still in the box), which caught my eye since I use a Cateye on my bike. This one was a bit different though-solar power, baby!

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

 

Hyperactive Gear Purchasing
I have been a touring equipment buying maniac and the majority of the stuff that Noah and I need for our trip is either here or on the way. My spending spree has been so epic that the bank called to make sure that my account hadn’t been hacked into.

Riding a Dream Bike
On Saturday, I visited a brand new bike shop that opened in the town where I work. When I walked in I mentioned how cool it was that they had a fat bike outside. I was instantly offered a test ride. Do you know how long I have been waiting to try out a fat bike? It feels like decades! So I rode that sucker around the block with a stupid grin on my face. It is not a question of if I will own a fat bike, but a question of when.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

 

Getting Pre-Trip Jitters
I have been thinking about this tour since last October and talking about it to friends and family since December, but now that I have moved out of my apartment and I am testing out all the new gear, everything finally seems real and a swarm of butterflies have made my stomach their new home. Today at work the new schedule was hung up and my name isn’t there anymore, what a bizarre feeling. My emotions are all over the place. I am so excited! But also so nervous!

I have a sneaking suspicion that I won’t be able to calm down until my brother and I actually head toward Colorado…maybe we should leave tomorrow.