TransAm Journal - Sat June 3, 2023

Day 25

Benton IL, 34 miles

Today was a shorter day because the heat was in the low 90’s again. I got a late start, 8 AM. Tomorrow I’m going to be on the road early and try and pull off 50 miles.

The day started out on two miles of gravel. I’m not really set-up for gravel, but Google Maps is trying hard to keep me off busy roads, so far I have no complaints. I really have no idea where I am most of the time when I am following Google Maps, it will even bypass towns occasionally, but the scenery is so beautiful, the riding is so relaxing, it doesn’t really matter.

I stopped for lunch and read the daily specials wrong… it wasn’t a brisket sandwich. It was a pork steak. A 2 lb. (at least) bone in, chunk of meat. I couldn’t eat it. I could barely even look at it. I am not a meat snob, but there are some things you can’t do when your on a long distance cycling tour, that is one of them. To be polite I asked for a to-go box… but it didn’t go very far…

Illinois is called the “Land of Lincoln” because he lived there for 33 years. He spent more time in the Illinois legislature than he did in Congress or the White House. He is for all intents and purposes “a Son of Illinois.”

Google Maps wanted me to take this road but that wasn’t going to happen! As it turns out, I stayed on black-top and the shortcut GM wanted me to take was a nothing-burger. My guess is it wanted to save me a hill, but the hill it wanted me to avoid was a nothing-burger too. All’s well that ends well.

TransAm Journal - Fri June 2, 2023

Day 24

Harrisburg IL, 59 miles

Fifty-nine miles doesn’t sound like a lot, but the temperature hit 93 degrees today. I had to work to keep hydrated and even then by the end of the day I was pretty exhausted. I have 135 miles to go to get to St. Louis. If the temperatures continue to hover in this range, that’s at least a three day ride. That won’t be a problem. My tickets for the Cardinals Reds game aren’t until next Friday, so I’ll be getting a few days of rest in St. Louis.

The good news today is that for the first time on this trip, I’ve had to use the small chain-ring on the front derailleur very few times! It’s been a good day. I actually have a lot of good news to share…

When I got to Smith Mills, about mid-day, I stopped in some shade to cool off. A guy from a block away yelled at me and told me to wait-up. (That was not really going to be a problem.) He walked over to me and we chatted for about 20 minutes. He was just a friendly guy and wanted to hear about what I was doing. (It’s pretty obvious I’m traveling, one look at my bike gives that away.) When I was getting ready to leave he pulled out his wallet and give me three dollars. I told him I couldn’t accept that but he insisted. It was a beautiful gesture and I appreciate it. I thanked him and got on my way but I will remember his generosity.

I crossed the Ohio River on the Shawneetown Bridge. This may not have been the best choice, but the route I’m following (back roads) doesn’t offer a lot of extravagant options for getting over the Ohio River. It was a two-lane bridge with barely enough shoulder on one side for a bike. Given that prudence is the better part of valor, I decided walking the bike across the bridge would be a good idea. I suppose that means I can tell people I walked across the Ohio River…

About mid-afternoon I stopped for water at a convenience store in Shawneetown. An old guy on a Pinion Drive bicycle rode up as I was walking into the store. I headed into the store without paying much attention to him, as I was standing in front of the cold drinks he came up and started chatting with me. We ended up having a long conversation. (Of course I mean no disrespect when I say “old guy,” because naturally, one of the reasons he stopped to chat with me was because I’m sure to him I looked to be about his same age.) He told me about his crossings of the U.S. back in ‘78 and ‘79. He’s made the crossing twice but he included Canada in his routes. We had a really nice conversation and he told me about his Pinion Drive bicycle. It’s a belt drive with all internal gearing. I don’t know if the concept will ever catch on, but it was a sweet set-up. He looked at my bike and asked me how I got there from Virginia with an 11-22 rear cassette. I told him there were times when I wasn’t sure myself…

When I pulled in to Harrisburg for another water stop a guy offered me a tube of hydration tablets. People have been so kind to me, it is truly impressive.

At the beginning of this post did I say I had “tickets” (plural) to the Cardinals Reds game on Friday? That’s because my Sweetie is flying out to St. Louis to meet me for three days and I’m taking her to the game! She’s also flying out with a new cassette and chain for the bike. The cassette she’s bringing is an 11-34. That will make the hills a lot more manageable. She went in to Davidson bicycles and talked to Bill Davidson and his mechanic Mark and they got her all set up with exactly what I need. They are great guys and they build awesome bikes. Their reputation precedes them far and wide.

After passing through Kentucky, the birthplace of Lincoln, I’m going to have to do some brushing up on my history to understand why Illinois is called “The Land of Lincoln.”

TransAm Journal - Thu June 1, 2023

Day 23

Henderson KY, 36 miles

A spent all morning wandering around Owensboro looking for bike shops so that added a few miles to my daily total. (I also found a good donut shop.)

Today is June 1, the first day of a new month, and also the first day of a new adventure within an adventure. Until the last 22 miles into Owensboro, I’ve been following the ACA (Adventure Cycling Association) route maps. They originally established the route back in 1976 to give people an “epic” route across the U.S. The first ride that year was made by some 5,000 cyclists. (That first ride became know as the “Bike Centennial.”) The ACA route follows back roads. You could probably count the number of miles on busy 2-lane roads the ACA route has traversed from Yorktown until yesterday on two hands. Yesterday the last 22 miles into Owensboro was off the ACA route. I followed Google Maps using the “Bike” option for routing. Out of curiosity I’ve been comparing Google Maps (GM) and ACA maps routing choices for the last several days. GM does a good job of keeping you off busy 2-lane roads. The last 6 miles using GM was a bit of a white knuckle ride, but in fairness to GM, I don’t think there were a lot of options. There was very little shoulder, heavy traffic, and about four miles out a thunder storm overtook me. I was happy to arrive in Owensboro only slightly worse for wear.

From here to St. Louis I’ll be using GM. The one thing ACA maps do well is provide camping and hosting information along the route. I may have to get a bit creative when it comes to where to stay at night.

Before leaving Owensboro I went hunting for a bike shop and I found a good one. I needed some new gloves and some CO2. I had the mechanic/owner take a look at my bike with an eye towards what he might be able to do to give me some more climbing gears. He was very complementary. He noticed the name Davidson on the bike and told me I had a really good bike. He was familiar with the name. He couldn’t say enough nice things about the build and told me there was nothing he could do to help me out. He told me the group-set that I have is top quality even though it’s maybe not the best choice for the hills of Virginia and Kentucky (that was my choice, so that’s on me). He said some people come into his shop and ask for help and he says he takes one look at their bike and has no idea how they made it from Yorktown to Owensboro. We both got a good chuckle out of that. This bike has been across the country once already, I have no doubt it will make it again.

Barge on the Ohio River.

TransAm Journal - Wed May 31, 2023

Day 22

Owensboro KY, 66 miles

It’s the last day of May, I’ve been on the road for 21 days now.

The time zone change to Central Time Zone takes effect right in the neighborhood of Big Clifty where I spent the night. My watch and iPhone are having trouble agreeing what time it actually is, I’m not really sure either. I’m confident by the end of the day things will resolve themselves (as I progress west).

I keep having “revelations” (see photo below). Actually, they aren’t revelations per-se, I’m just relearning things I’ve forgotten… For example, it dawned on me today that I can further reduce shimmy in the front end of the bicycle by putting more pressure on the pedals and relaxing my grip and pressure on the handle bars. It worked quite well.

As an aside, the folks here in Kentucky love their grass. Every house is surrounded by a large grassy landscape, and everyone has a riding mower. I go by at least twenty homes a day where the owner is cutting the grass on a riding mower. It’s an ethos that is completely unfamiliar to me.

I have arrived in Owensboro, I was chased the last 12 miles by a thunder storm and it caught up with me about 5 miles out of town. There was very little shoulder on the road and it was a while-knuckle ride into town. Tomorrow is bike shop day, that is, I need to visit a couple of bike shops. I need a tail light, a hand pump that works, some cycling gloves and maybe, just maybe I’ll find a shop that can switch-out my cassette for one with more climbing gears — although I’m not optimistic about that last one…

I had a “revelation” along the road today…

TransAm Journal - Tue May 30, 2023

Day 21

Big Clifty KY, 65 miles

I want to be in Owensboro in two days… that’s 130 miles from this morning’s starting point. That’s going to be a challenge.

Owensboro is not on the ACA TransAm Route. Strictly speaking, there’s no rule that says you have to follow the ACA route. In fact, I’m diverting because I want to go through St. Louis, Missouri. The Cardinals will be in town in a week, they will be playing the Cincinnati Reds. How can you say no to that opportunity? It will add a few miles, but from my point of view, it will be well worth it!

The first highlight of today’s journey was passing by the birthplace of Abraham Lincoln. It is a National Park and it is a must see. There is a beautiful memorial building which is similar to the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C., only smaller in scale. It is set into a hill-side and surrounded by beautiful grounds and majestic trees. There is also a recreation of the log cabin that is (as best historians can determine) very similar to the one Lincoln was born in. I was mistaken in my earlier post when I said he was born near Springfield, that was actually where his mother and father were married. I would like to come back to this park again, perhaps next year. There are beautiful walking paths and it is a simply stunning place to relax and vicariously soak up some of the most significant elements of our nation’s history.

I entered Amish country in the mid-afternoon. I saw a horse-drawn carriage pull up to the gas station where I was having lunch. I had no idea what was going on so of course I had to investigate. I went over to the horse and carriage and noticed that the Mother and her four daughters were selling some goods near by. (I don’t have a clue where the husband went.) They had quilts, honey, home made pies and some pot holders (made by the teenage daughters). I really wanted to get a pie and some honey, but that doesn’t work when you’re on a bike, so instead I bought a potholder. It’s bright pink. The mother was surprised I chose the pink one, which I thought was interesting. I explained to her that it would act as a sort of warning flag when attached to the rear of my bike. She was okay with that… Her daughter Melinda made it, I chatted with all of them a bit and asked Melinda what the significance of the pattern was, she said, “it’s a star.” I guess I expected something a bit more “Amish” (whatever that might mean).

After purchasing my new “potholder-flag” for my bike, I called “Lucy” at the “Double L Grocery Store” to see if I could camp there. (The ACA route maps provide information about places to camp.) There was no answer. A couple of hours later I got a call from Lucy telling me the store was closed but I could pitch a tent there anyway. An hour or so later as I came over the top of a hill known is “Big Clifty,” I saw a man holding up a bottler of water, I knew I had arrived! Arnold and Lucy took me in as their guest. We sat on their outdoor patio for several hours, in fact, until almost 9:30 PM, which of course is past my bed time on the road! What chatted about everything and they served me dinner, including strawberries grown by the Amish just down the road. The strawberries were excellent, as was everything about my hosts. I plan to return to visit then again, perhaps next year.

This is very typical of the road-side view here in this part of Eastern Kentucky. I don’t know what sort of grain this is… but I am close to the Bourbon Trail…

TransAm Journal - Mon May 29, 2023

Day 20

Loretto KY, 52 miles

Today’s 52 miles includes a nearly 8 mile side-trip to Maker’s Mark Distillery, just outside Loretto.

It’s 5:30 AM. I’m at the Marathon gas station in Harrodsburg having an egg and cheese biscuit and a cup of coffee, waiting for the sun to come up. The biscuit is pretty good, the coffee not so much. My legs are definitely feeling better this morning, at least so far (I’ve only gone 500 yards). The price of a gallon of regular in Virginia and Kentucky so far has been right around $3.25 a gallon. I’m sure there is a story behind that but I’m not aware of what that might be.

I’ve been experiencing a bit of shimmy from the front end. There has been much written about this subject and many opinions, just ask anyone that has ridden a bit and you’ll know what I’m talking about. There was even a university study in Milan Italy that looked at what might be the cause of this problem, with no conclusive resolution. Most bike engineers believe it comes down to frame size, stiffness, set-up in relation to the rider, and even the rider’s position on the frame. None of the information I’ve looked at talks about what to do when this occurs on a loaded touring bike. I was able to stabilize the bike somewhat at speed (i.e., going fast down hill) by pinching the top tube with my knees. That would tend to make you think it is a frame issue, but I have trouble believing that since the bike was built to my measurements (and I haven’t changed that much since I first got it, nor has my riding position changed significantly). That leaves really only one option, well, two: I could instrument the bike with load cells and hook them up to a Raspberry-Pi and look for torsional issues in the frame, or I could redistribute the load on the bike. I choose the latter. I took weight from the front panniers and moved them to to back and I moved the sleeping bag from the front to the back. The sleeping bag was mounted below the handle bars and perpendicular to the frame, in that position it created (it would seem) some wind deflection. The result? Things were much more stable today, but still not perfect. I think I’m using the wrong pannier racks. they are Nitto Campee racks and they are slightly cantilevered away from the bike, also there seems to be a good bit of flex in the racks themselves (they aren’t stiff enough). I’m going to have to ask the Mechanical Engineer from the U. of Maine I met back on day two about this. At any rate, the racks are what they are and the situation is better now, so that’s probably about as good as I can expect this to get on this tour.

It’s been a very good day. The terrain has become more civilized which I appreciate immensely. I’m also drinking lots of water, which reminds me, I need to go get some now before I write any more… The birds even seem happy today. I suppose they are glad (as am I) that it’s not raining today!

On the way to Springfield I passed the Abraham Lincoln State Park where the remains of the log cabin where Abraham Lincoln was born have been preserved. When you are on a bike, you can’t stop and see everything, so I’m going to have to return there some day to have a closer look.

Another dog bit my Panier this morning. I wasn’t pedaling so he could have had my ankle if he’d wanted it, but he went for the Panier anyway. I think the color yellow must be more attractive than my socks… I’m going to give Ortlieb credit for that one.

After I reached Loretto I checked into a B&B, my first ever! The host was very cool. It’s the “Hill House Bed and Breakfast” in Loretto (, 877-280-2300) The host is wonderful, and so is the Assistant to the Assistant to the Undersectary of Hospitality, one “Rudy James,” a very cute dog. Check them out if you pass through Loretto.

I was complaining to my host that I was disappointed that Maker’s Mark Distillery was 33 miles away and she laughed and said, “it’s 3.3 miles away.” That sealed the deal. I unloaded the bike and got back on and headed out to check it out. It’s a beautiful place. The grounds are exceptional and they have a tasting room there as well (smile). They have been distilling there since 1908, except of course during prohibition.

I’m really having trouble choosing a photo to represent today, I’m going to go with this one…

As a history buff, it’s really no-contest.

TransAm Journal - Sun May 28, 2023

Day 19

Harrodsburg KY, 0 miles (Rest Day)

According to what I am reading this morning about Harrodsburg, I have also crossed the Allegheny Mountains which apparently are part of the Appalachian mountain range… However, the hills now are no less challenging then those I first encountered back on day three of the journey…

Got in much later yesterday than I should have for the mileage covered. My legs are tired. I went right to bed and slept for 12 hours. When I woke up I was feeling rested, like I had gotten enough sleep, but my legs were still feeling tired. That’s a good sign the legs need a day off. I’ll do laundry and maybe scope out the town. Although it is Sunday and I expect there to be few businesses open today. There is an outdoor outfitter in town but I don’t expect them to be open either. I don’t need anything but you never know. I got a pair of awesome off-bike shoes back in Christensberg VA that are super light weight and, as it turns out, are some of the favorite shoes worn by hikers doing the AT, so they will also double as great hiking shoes. That was a score.

After all my BS the other day about not being an “electrolyte guy,” That could be a part of the issue with my legs feeling the way they do today (tired). I should also note, my water intake yesterday was low as well, not sure why that was. I think mentally I lost my focus and forgot to drink enough water because the weather was a bit on the cool side. (I could tell rain was coming in.)

Speaking of taking a day of rest, it’s raining today and it is supposed to rain all day with clearing overnight and better weather tomorrow, so today turned out to be a good day to take a break after all.

Harrodsburg was founded in 1774 as the first permanent settlement west of the Allegheny Mountains. It is also Kentucky’s oldest town! The city is in the heart of the Bluegrass Region, surrounded by rolling countryside, horse farms, historic stone fences (see below) as well as historic architecture. Downtown Harrodsburg is an Arts and Crafts shopper’s dream.

A perfect example of the historic stone fences you’ll see in abundance in this area.

TransAm Journal - Sat May 27, 2023

Day 18

Harrodsburg KY, 47 miles

I was only about two miles out of town and the U.K. couple pulled up behind me. We stopped and chatted for a few minutes. They were very kind and it was obvious they were surprised to see me. They passed me on the Blue Ridge Parkway back on day 7. I was having a bad day back then and I could tell they were concerned about me. That was the day my Trail Angle Tim came to my rescue on the Parkway. They are strong cyclists but somehow I had managed to more or less keep pace with them. Although, to be quite honest, this is the last time I expect to run into them on the route.

There is a very unique aroma in the air. It’s flora of some sort but I have no idea what it might be. I haven’t encountered it up to this point. It is very noticeable and appears to be unique to Western Kentucky.

My friend Terry called and we chatted while I was riding. I have the phone mounted on the stem and I can put it on speaker. It was great to hear his voice. He chided me a bit for being in Kentucky and not yet having sampled the great bourbons that are only available here. I explained to him that if I were to do that to my liking, very little riding would get done. That means I have to come back for a “bourbon tour” some day. I’ll make Terry my “Captain” on a Tandem and I’ll indulge while he pulls me across the state. (I realize it infuriates tandem riders, especially the Stokers, when people say things like that, but honestly, I think it would be fun to have Terry pull me through these hills…)

You see a lot of barns painted black in these parts, many also have quilt patterns painted on them. A lot of these quilt patterns are “family patterns,” some handed down for generations.

TransAm Journal - Fri May 26, 2023

Day 17

Berea KY, 66 miles

I finished map set 2 of 12 today. This is my highest mileage day so far. I have crossed the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Appalachian Mountains, I’m now in the Blue Grass area of Kentucky!

I’m not a performance athlete I started today at 6 AM. it took me 13 hours to go 66 miles. I may not be fast, but I am persistent. With an early start, you have to find ways to keep warm. I’m sure grateful that I have a light-weight down jacket for the morning rides. My sweetheart bought it for me. She told me I would need it on the trip. I’d be seriously cold at times without it.

I got chased by dogs again today three times. (Something about the number three, I seem to get three Rebel Yells a day and chased by dogs three times a day.) My strategy for handling dogs is to get off the bike and walk. I put the bike between myself and the dog, they aren’t smart enough to try and get around to the side of the bike that I’m on. One dog was so upset he couldn’t get to me that he bit one of my panniers as consolation. Left a nice set of teeth marks in the bag, but otherwise no significant damage.

I had a sit-down Breakfast in Boonville, it was, interesting. I’m still getting used to the bacon, for some reason it tastes different than what I’m used to. I can’t begin to speculate why that might be. For breakfast I ordered bacon, a waffle and hash browns. They all tasted the same, like bacon. To be on the safe side, I ate about 1/3 of each item on the plate…

When people find out I’m traveling alone, everybody says “you be careful.” So I asked a lady this morning why she said that and her answer was “well I guess I’ve just watched too many horror movies…” I think I’m going to have to keep asking. (I think when you boil it down, it’s mostly a custom to say that.)

I feel compelled to mention my beard the sprouting nicely, Those of you that know me are well aware that it comes in white like a typical old man. It fits in well down here. I don’t know if it gets me any respect, but it does help me blend in a little bit!

I’m not a purist when it comes to hydration. My motto is “drink early and often.” I don’t have a special sports drink that is my go-to. Frankly, Minute Maid Lemon Aid mixed half-and-half with water is very satisfying. Yesterday I was introduced to something pretty special, “Climax Spring Water.” Naturally filtered by Kentucky Limestone and Sandstone and bottled at the source. I have to admit it is very good stuff and I’ve been keeping my eye out for it in convenience stores along the way.

I stopped for a funeral procession today. It was a long one, about 30 cars or so. One of the cars gave me a wave and a thumbs up out of appreciation.

I was in a pretty remote area, a lady sitting on her front porch yelled at me, “where are you headed?” I yelled back “Oregon.” She said “that’s where most of them are headed.” (I wish I could make the text sound like her voice, the accent was about as back-woods as you could possible imagine — charming really.) It’s strange to think you’re not the only one to make this journey when you are passing through such a remote area…

Speaking of not being the only one to make the journey, I’ve been hearing about a fellow that is riding the TransAm to get into the Guinness World Records. He’s 78 years old. (There are some riders in their 80’s that have made the trek, they just haven’t performed all the documentation necessary to satisfy Guinness.) He started several days ahead of met, today five miles outside Berea he pulled up to me and I said “you’re the guy that’s riding to get into Guinnes!” I was correct. We introduced ourselves and had a nice chat. His name is Bruce. He had a reservation in town and encouraged me to make one right away since it is Memorial Day weekend. He also offered to buy me dinner, so I made a reservation for the night at the same hotel where he was staying.

That turned out to be a very good decision. The hotel is a landmark and a grand old hotel. Construction was started in 1907 as guest lodgings for Berea College, it was immediately expanded when the state put a highway, The hotel was ultimately finished in 1909. It’s named the Boone Hotel and Tavern. (I had also heard about this place from a few people along the route. Yes, it is named after THE Daniel Boone.) Incidentally, Berea is one of the top ten endowed universities in the country. Tuition is free but all students are required to work in some capacity on campus. It’s not easy to get in, they have a 30 percent acceptance rate. It was very progressive when it was founded and still is today.

Bruce and I had a beer on the patio, then after getting cleaned up ate dinner together in the Hotel’s Dining Room. It was a fun evening. We have a lot in common, I hope I see him again along the way. For the record, he rides a custom built Surly Disc Trucker. That’s a great touring bike. I did my first ever tour on one!

I’m Getting a little bit stronger.

A little “Kentucky Back Roads” ridin’.

TransAm Journal - Thu May 25, 2023

Day 16

Buckhorn KY, 54 miles

This is my evening ritual… at 5:51 pm. It’s been a long day 4,000 ft of climbing. I know I’ve mentioned this before, but the bike is not geared properly for me and this part of the country. I’m paying the price with long days as a result. Tomorrow will be wicked as well with more miles and about 1,000 ft more of climbing. I’m going to have to get an early start and hope for the best. There are not places to camp between here and Berea, my hoped for destination.

The physical and emotional exhaustion today was difficult at times to deal with. It’s tough to stay mentally strong when you body is protesting the effort you are forcing it to exert. But, here I am, writing my “story” too tired to say a whole lot. For the record. I did not take very many photos today, there actually wasn’t a lot to see. Lots of hills, and even though going up hill is when you are supposed to look at the scenery. I found that to not be the case, my head was down and I was concentrating on each pedal stroke…

I got the rebel yell three times today from passing cars. Dodge Chargers are a thing in these parts but you will definitely see more ATVs and “side-by-sides” on the road, most of them not licensed. that’s also a thing.

I’m going to put this up and turn in.

Makes me think of home!

TransAm Journal - Wed May 24, 2023

Day 15

Hindman KY, 67 miles

Today was my longest day so far…

The morning started out with a nice 12 ounce three shot coffee from the RFG Society Coffee Shop in Elkhorn City. Jerrica, the lady running the shop was kind enough to open up for me. She told me her coffee was strong and she wasn’t kidding. For the first hour of riding I was having troubling finding my cadence — I kept having to slow it down. There is a potter in town that makes hand-thrown ceramic mugs, they are very nice. Jerrica has a bunch of them for sale in her coffee shop, they say “RFG Coffee Elkhorn KY.” I bought one and Jerrica was kind enough to ship it back home for me. It’s going to be a really nice “souvenir” of my adventure! The coffee shop is named after the Russell Fork River that runs through Elkhorn City and the “Grand Canyon of the South” just East of the city. Jerrica informed me that there are some “Adkins” in the area, spelled correctly (or at least the same way I spell it). That’s the first time I’ve run into a location where potential ancestors live.

I trade off between riding with padded cycling shorts and without. My theory is that every other day my southern exposure can breath better without padding. So far my strategy is working fairly well. I will say though, that it is pretty tough to beat a Brooks saddle. The shape really goes a long way towards reducing friction between the saddle and the parts riding on the saddle. I used to ride a “B-17” (hence the name for this website) but because the B-17 is a leather saddle and Seattle tends to get wet at times, I switched a couple of years ago to a “C-17.” The “C” stands for “Carbon.” The advantage of carbon of course is that it’s impervious to moisture. The nice thing is it’s just as comfortable as its leather sibling.

I love riding a bicycle, it is such a joy.

I recently read that “having a daily ritual in our lives is very important to keep us connected to what really matters.” I believe those are true words. Of course the ritual does vary depending on circumstances. Right now it is sharing my daily experiences every evening (right here) and folding the tent and storing my gear for the day’s ride every morning.

Early this afternoon I stopped for a sip of water and a man pulled up and rolled his window down. He wanted to know all about my trip and what I was doing. We chatted for about 10 minutes and he gave me directions to Hindman. His directions were spot-on. He offered to give me a ride in the back of his truck, but of course I said that I couldn’t do that. I have a strict code when it comes to earning the miles. He wanted to follow along on the journey so I shared this site with him. If you’re out there kind sir, thanks for taking the time to stop and chat with me. As much as I like riding solo for long distance and long duration, it’s nice when you get to have a good conversation with someone.

The doe ran up the hill about 20 yards, then looked back at me to see if I was following her. The fawn stayed motionless.

TransAm Journal - Tue May 23, 2023

Day 14

Elkhorn City KY, 38 miles

Another beautiful morning, riding out of Council and through the little towns of Davenport and Bee.

I’ve been “gap riding” all morning. That’s my expression for when you have a mountain on either shoulder and the road is following the course of a river. Riding between the “gap” in two mountains. It can be a bit hazardous during the hour that moms are taking their kids to school, but other than that, it is glorious.

The mountains here are very different than out west. They are much older and “rounded” but the roads are steep nonetheless, I believe it’s because they were built at a time when less emphasis was placed on grading, just a guess. The climbing is difficult, with more curves and switchbacks.

I had a cup of coffee and a bacon, egg and cheese biscuit (BECB) at a gas stop just West of Bee. Talked to the man at the counter about his service days. He was in the Navy. He was stationed in San Diego, but he got up to Bremerton for Naval Days a couple of times. On furlough one time he hiked and camped around the Snoqualmie Falls area with some buddies. He said he likes Seattle a lot. I told him how pretty it was here and he said that he thought just an hour outside Seattle it was just as pretty. I have to agree with him, but with one caveat, it’s a different kind of pretty. The one here needs to be enjoyed and appreciated for its own sake.

I arrived in Haysi and filled my water bottles and bought a sandwich at Dollar General. A lady picking up trash in the parking lot encouraged me to go down to the city park and check out the brand new bike repair station the city just put in. I did just that. There was a crew there putting the final touches on the installation planting flowers. The lady running the show took my photo and told me I was likely the first person to use the new facility. I pumped up the rear tire to 40 lbs. and was on my way after thanking her for the wonderful new facility.

I arrived at Breaks Interstate Park. I’m looking out over what is called “The Grand Canyon of the South“. The Russell Fork River has Class 5 rapids in October. It’s a kayaker’s paradise in the fall.

I’ve seen more butterflies in the last 14 days than I have in the last four years. (Since my last bicycle tour four years ago.) I won’t be melodramatic and tell you that’s enough of a reason to get out there and do this yourself, but it certainly is one of the many reasons to consider doing this…

Good bye Virginia! Hello Kentucky!

TransAm Journal - Mon May 22, 2023

Day 13

Council VA, 38 miles

I appreciate Pastor John opening his Church to me last night. It is a tremendous service, even if it is to only one person…

This morning the ride has been stunningly beautiful. The greenness of the woods in this part of Western Virginia is breath taking. I can understand why people hike the AT. Experiencing that every day for days on end would be marvelous.

I’ve discovered I should be wearing goggles instead of simple sun glasses. I’m not acclimated to this part of the country and the Spring pollens are bedeviling my eyes and nose. The following should also go without saying, but I need to own it. I’m not a big glove guy when I’m cycling, but when you are cycling for ten hours a day your hands are exposed to a lot of sun if you are not wearing gloves — too much sun. I had to stop today and buy a cheap pair of cotton work gloves and cut the fingers off otherwise my hands would have been burned beyond recognition. So that brings us to the following.

Long Distance Cycling Rule #3:

“Wear goggles and gloves.”

I am realizing it’s not about how many days it takes. What it’s really about is what you take away from it…

…This journey is partially a challenge and partially a reflection. In order for the reflection to be valuable, I need to tell my story every day. If I don’t tell my story I will lose it. I believe this is true for everyone, not just me in particular. So my goal is to take time each day to jot down something and keep it somewhere (here for starters) where I can access it. Taking the time to do that will help me to better see who I am. It will help me to keep perspective, and at times even help me to stay sane. Not only will this help me to see who I am, but it will help me on my journey to what I want to become.

Somewhere out there is our destination.

TransAm Journal - Sun May 21, 2023

Day 12

Meadowview VA, 48 miles

I had breakfast this morning with the “Tandem Couple” (that’s what I call them) from Colorado Springs. I met them on the road yesterday. Let me tell you, they rock. They are riding a custom Co-Motion, belt drive, synchro, internal hub, all they bells and whistles. I can’t keep up, no way. They arrived in Wythville about two hours ahead of me, just before it started raining. I got all the weather they missed. After breakfast I said goodbye and told them it wasn’t likely I’d see them again. We exchanged contact info anyway. That would be a fun way to do the TransAm, but I don’t know anyone I could talk into doing that with me… (Smile.)

The start to the day was chilly again, good news is it doesn’t look like rain! I’m imagining a day when it will be warm and I won’t be adding and removing layers all day long. The “perfect” days are the ones to appreciate, but there are “perfect moments” in almost every day. That’s part of the magic.

I met a guy that had come down off the AT to resupply. we stopped and chatted for a short bit. He asked me for directions back to the AT. I laughed (not impolitely) and told him I couldn’t help him. I explained that we were on different journeys. We parted ways wishing each other the best of luck and safe travels.

It’s Sunday, traffic is light because all the cars are parked in church parking lots. As you might surmise, there is no shortage of churches down here. On a related note, I certainly like being called “Sir” everywhere I go… We need more of that back home.

I pulled into Marion at noon and there was a Starbucks. The first coffee shop I found that was open today (Sunday). I had an 8 oz. Americano with an extra shot and decided to write this post while I enjoyed a “home brew.”

Shane’s place. Since 1948. Not sure what it was originally. (The pencil probably wasn’t there in 1948…)

TransAm Journal - Thu May 18, 2023

Day 9

 Daleville VA, 49 miles

The morning started with threatening skies, but the rain never came, much to my delight. The temperature in the morning was in the low 50’s. By afternoon it reached 62. Temperatures in the 50’s feel much cooler than it sounds when you are cycling. Theres no good way to keep from sweating and still stay warm in those temps. It’s just part of the challenge of long distance cycling.

It was a good day. I pulled into Buchanan at the 28 mile mark. I pulled over to the curb to assess the town and a rider pulled up next to me, he was a local out for a ride, not a TransAm rider. We chatted for a few minutes and he asked me if I wanted to take a break. I said “sure,” because that’s what you do when a local makes a suggestion. He led me to the city park and we got off the bikes and sat down on a bench looking at the James River. This was my first view of the James River (that I recall anyway). We sat on the bench and chatted for fifteen minutes or so. It was a remarkably friendly conversation, we chatted about our retirement, our children, our partners, and cycling in general. This is going to sound very strange, but after just fifteen minutes of hanging out, I think I could almost call him my brother. We parted ways, he had to get back home, I was looking for a bite to eat. He was very complementary of my efforts, but I could tell he was a better cyclist then I am, so he was humble too.

I found a nice cafe and had a very good bacon, egg and cheese biscuit, then I was on my way again. Sometime during the afternoon I rediscovered the drops. The funny thing about not cycling for awhile is you have to learn stuff all over again. It’s coming back to me slowly…

When I’m asked by people how long it is going to take me to cross the country, my stock answer is 80 days, but I always qualify that by saying I really don’t know for sure. I’m not like Englishman Phileas Fogg that wagered his entire fortune on being able to travel “Around the World in Eighty Days.” I’m not wagering a single penny on how long it might take me, but maybe if I do it in 80 days someone will write a classic novel about me! (Sadly, I don’t have a French Valet traveling with me like Phileas did.)

The town of Buchanan was charming.

TransAm Journal - Wed May 17, 2023

Day 8

 Lexington VA, Rest Day

My three biggest fears:

  1. Sun Burn
  2. Road Rash
  3. Rain

So far I have been able to manage the first two, and dodge the third. I hope my luck continues with all three.

Today was a much needed day of rest. I sent home another 9 pounds of gear and managed a net savings of 6 pounds of carry weight. When I was in downtown Lexington I happened by an outfitter that had a one person 3 pound ultralight tent in the window. I didn’t intend to replace the one I was carrying, but that turns out to be exactly what I did. I think I’m now as light as I can reasonably get.

I have been dealing with the notion that my days of peak performance are probably behind me. Now it’s a matter of listening to my body and pacing myself. I’m not going to get there as quickly as I would have 5 years ago, and certainly not as fast as the several riders that have passed me so far, but I’m convincing myself to be content with that. A friend back home told me to pace myself and listen to my body. Do what you can do but don’t push yourself beyond your limits. Good advice indeed. Thank you Greg.

The trip so far has been steeped in history. Virginia has been an amazing historical tour. (Even considering the limited time I have been able to devote to that while off the bike.) I got another dose of history today while sitting in a coffee shop. I picked up a book about Samuel Adams (a New Englander, I realize) and was fascinated by the small portion that I read. He was a man of few accomplishments, but at the age of 40 he seemed to blossom and become one of the spokes-persons of the revolution. If there was a movement of note in New England he was typically behind it either with his writing or with his presence. I was particularly impressed by his belief that government should answer to the man in the street, not to wealthy interests. He also said the following that rings as true today as it did in his time: “To have a villainous ruler imposed on you was a misfortune. To elect him yourself was a disgrace.” We still have a lot to learn from our founders.

Yesterday on the BRP.

TransAm Journal - Tue May 16, 2023

Day 7

Lexington VA, 55 miles

Today I broke 50 for the first time. It was not easy…

I left the Cookie Lady’s house early and reached the Blue Ridge Parkway at 7am. I knew it was going to be a long day. I had a choice of starting with one bottle of water (normallly I start the day with three) or ride five miles down a steep hill to the nearest town to replenish my water and snacks. I chose not to add 10 difficult miles. I would pay a price for that decision. The map showed me there would be food and services just off the parkway in 20 miles, so I was fairly confident I could make that even though the parkway is grueling… When I arrived, there were no services. The map was incorrect, that meant I had to go another 10 miles and I was already finished at that point.

I had to stop frequently to rest. I was asking myself a lot of difficult questions, none of which I was in a mental state to answer. During one of my moments of rest (slumped over the handle bars) A kind man stopped to ask if I needed water. At that moment I realized what a “Trail Angel” is. I replied “that would be nice.” I couldn’t get out much more than that. He pulled over in front of me and got out and allowed me to fill my water bottle, I drank it in one go. He let me fill it up again for the road. As we chatted, he casually informed me he had a box of M&Ms, he would let me have them if I wanted them. That’s when I knew for sure he was a Trail Angel, and I told him so! His name is Tim Calloway from Harbor Springs MI. We had a nice long conversation (as I recuperated and gained my senses). Tim was one of 300 hikers out of 3000 to finish the AT back in 1975. He was on his way to Damascus VA for a trail reunion. I believe he said something like 20,000 hikers do the AT now every year. There will be almost that many in Damascus for the reunion. Damascus is a town of 2,500, so your can imagine there will be a tent pitched on every blade of grass! I very much appreciate Tim, as you can well imagine.

I had another 10 miles to go to get to food. I made it. It was actually fun. The descent off the parkway was a gas. I turned off and descended down a winding narrow 2-lane that dropped 2,000 feet in 2.5 miles! I have some brake pads left (I think). When I reached the hamlet of Vesuvius, I pulled into Gertie’s for some food. They were preparing real food on a large flat-top so I ordered a Gertie’s Burger. It was excellent. I filled up my water and headed out for the last 20 miles of my ride that would put me in Lexington. It was mostly flat until the last 5 miles, which was mostly uphill. I made it and found a Best Western at 7pm. Long day.

Long distance cycling Rule #2:

”Don’t forget the M&Ms.”

For those of you reading this story that are interested in such things, my BP at 2pm was 136/70/102. I try and keep the heart rate around that number, which does mean stopping from time-to-time. But I’m mostly Okay with that.

My Trail Angel

TransAm Journal - Mon May 15, 2023

Day 6

 Afton VA, 42 miles

I had a bit of a hard time getting out of Charlottesville. Traffic was heavy, I made two wrong turns, and I had one fellow wave at me and shout, “Astoria is that way!” He was technically correct with his advice, but it was not the road I was looking for…

I ate breakfast at Wyant’s Grocery store about 2 hours later in White Hall. It’s a small place, not much more than a stop sign. When I walked in there were a half-dozen locals chatting over coffee. One of locals came over to chat with me and asked if I would be going through Sisters Oregon. I told him that indeed I would be. He told me to be sure and stop at the Sister’s Coffee shop and ask for a friend of his. He informed me that his friend was an accomplished hat maker. It would not surprise me if I run into him when I stop there.

It’s only 30 miles to Afton from Charlottesville, but I got here before 2pm and decided to unload my gear at the Cookie Lady’s house and do a bit of side touring. I rode the Blue Ridge railroad tunnel at Rockfish Gap and then dropped down into Waynesboro for dinner. Going into Waynesboro was not the best decision. I had about 500 feet of climbing to get back up to Afton. I’m exhausted as a result of the additional 12 mile excursion.

The Cookie Lady is a famous stop on the TransAm. She has passed away but her daughter still runs the house. I’m here with three other cyclists, two are from the U.K. The walls of the house are literally papered with postcards, thank-you notes and memorabilia from almost 50 years of cyclists having stayed there.

I’m not sure where I’m heading for tomorrow. I’m going to see what the day brings.

The Blue Ridge mountains are really blue, even on an overcast day like today. This was taken about 500 feet above Afton.

TransAm Journal - Sun May 14, 2023

Day 5

Charlottesville VA, 24 miles

”Some days you feel good, some days you feel bad. Some moments you feel good, some moments you feel bad. It all depends on what gear you are in…”
— LifeOnaB17

Definitely a short day. My body isn’t ready for 50-60 mile days yet. I was following a couple on the internet that started the ride a month before I did. They were doing an average of 25 miles a day. We called them the “Christmas Couple.” (That’s when we estimated they would finish.) Sure enough, when they reached Illinois they rented a U-Haul, loaded up their bikes and that-was-that… At times I have a nagging doubt that I might be the “Thanksgiving Man.” I hope not.

I met a fellow back in Charles City (my first night out) that is a professor of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Main. He is planning to do the ride in under 50 days. He gave as his excuse that he has kids at home so he can’t be away for too long. He only did 80 miles the first day (he started a bit north of Yorktown). He said he would work up to 100 miles a day. He must be planning a couple of rest days because at the rate of 100 miles a day he would complete the ride in 42 days. One aspect of my ride compared to his made me very proud… He told me he was carrying the same solar charged battery bank that I was but he kept his in his pannier because he couldn’t figure out how to mount it on his handle bars, he was admiring what I had done to mount mine. Considering the source, you have to take that as a complement. That said, it will not be sufficient compensation if I end up renting a U-Haul…

Most cyclists (at least the ones I’ve run into so far) don’t stop to take in the historical landmarks. Virginia has no shortage of historical landmarks, that’s for sure. I’m going to have to come back and take in more! My objective today was to visit Monticello. Along the way I passed the home of James Monroe, I almost didn’t stop but it was early so I decided to pull in. (It’s a good thing I did, more on that in a bit.) I toured the grounds and remaining original structures. The actual home of Monroe burned down shortly after his death but the guest house he built while he was president is still standing. Monroe never planned to build there but he was good friends with Jefferson. When the 250 acres on the mountain near Jefferson came up for sale, Jefferson told Monroe to buy it and that’s how Monroe ended up there. On a clear days you can see Monticello from Monroe’s estate.

I wanted to tour Monticello but to do that I would have had to leave my bike on a bike rack at the visitor’s center and ride a shuttle a half-mile to the top of the mountain. There’s no way I was going to do that, so I will have to come back another time. Jefferson spent 40 years building Monticello, it was his life’s work (but not his only legacy). He referred to Monticello as “my essay in Architecture.”

Tomorrow I visit the “Cookie Lady” in Afton and reach the entrance (for this journey) to the Blue Ridge Parkway. I’m nervous and excited. It’s going to be some tough riding.

With some luck, I’ll be in the Shenandoah Valley in two days. I’ll have to get over the Blue Mountains first…

TransAm Journal - Sat May 13, 2023

Day 4

Palmyra VA, 46 miles

”Man is harder than iron, stronger than stone and more fragile than a rose.”
— Turkish Proverb

I’m feeling more like a rose than a stone after these first four days… But I’m just getting started, at least that is what I am telling myself. My health has been great, but I have a bitch of sunburn so it’s going to be cover-up these next couple of days.

It dawned on me today as I started to tire, why I was able to make 45 miles the first day, because it was all flat. I started getting into the hills today, It won’t be too long before I reach the top of the Blue Mountains and cross the AT! I’m actually looking forward to that. I shouldn’t admit this, but I had to get off the bike and push a couple of times today. You gotta do what you gotta do…

I was chased by weather all day. About a half-hour after arriving in Palmyra, the thunderstorm hit. Fortunately for me, I was safely ensconced in the Palmyra United Methodist Church. The folks here run a cyclists hostel and it’s a very comfortable place. A parishioner named Ann met me on the front steps and gave me the cook’s tour. After the storm blew over I was planning to go down to the E. W. Thomas grocery store and get some fried chicken. I heard the fried chicken there is excellent. I mentioned that to Ann and she informed me that her maiden name was Thomas and the store uses her mother’s fried chicken recipe! The bad news is the storm knocked out power to half the town and the E. W. Thomas grocery is closed until Monday. No fried chicken for me…

The Rivanna River runs through Palmyra. Thomas Jefferson played a major role in developing the waterway as a means to ship agricultural goods to Richmond. It is affectionately referred to here as the “Mr. Jefferson River.” Jefferson was born on the shores of the Rivanna. It is a major tributary to the James River which is the largest river that flows into Chesapeake Bay.

I was chased by weather all day.

TransAm Journal - Fri May 12, 2023

Day 3

Bumpass VA, 49 miles

The day started with a truly fine Southern breakfast at the “Love Shack” just outside Richmond. My breakfast included two perfectly poached eggs on Virginia Ham, both of which sat on top of a slice of toasted bread. On the side were dressed greens and a fruit assortment dusted with glitter. The menu listed that choice as “Bang Bang On The Door Benny.” To-go, I got a sticky bun. The menu listed that as “Knock A LIl Louder Sugar Bun.” (The names tell a story for sure.) I had a nice chat with the proprietor. He asked me how I like my breakfast. I told him I would be surprised if I had a better one between there and Oregon. He was pleased by that!

When I arrived in Bumpass I pulled into the Post Office and went through all my gear.

With my bike included I’ve been hauling 95 pounds. That’s too much. I saw a guy on the road today (he stopped to chat) that was maybe carrying 75 pounds, probably less. It made me very jealous. I’ve known since I left Yorktown that I’ve been hauling too much gear. All that aside, when I pulled into the PO I took everything out of my bags and mailed home 10 pounds of shit. I don’t think I’m going to miss any of it. (Except maybe the camp chair, but seriously who carries a camp chair on a cross-country bicycle tour?)

I ate dinner at the country store 2 miles down the road from the PO. I’m sleeping in the Catholic Church cemetery near there. I knocked on the door of the Rectory but there was no answer. I threw my gear down in a portion of the cemetery that has not yet been consecrated for the internment of souls… so with luck, I’ll wake up in the morning with no burdens to carry other those that are attached to my bike… now 10 pounds less than yesterday!

The Love Shack

TransAm Journal - Thu May 11, 2023

Day 2

Richmond VA, 37 miles

I was able to manage 37 miles today. I was slowed a bit when I lost my map. I had put it in the back right pocket of my jersey thinking it would be safe there and easy to reach. I was wrong. When I discovered it missing I turned around and headed back but soon realized that was a fool’s errand. So after a bit of consternation, it dawned on me to call the Adventure Cycling Association and ask for help. They are good people. They told me to download their app and buy the digital version of the map I had been using. That’s exactly what I did and it didn’t take me long to realize that solution was much better than the paper map, especially when your phone is mounted right on the handle bars.

The paper map is still useful for planning, but when I’m riding, I’ll be using the digital version. Oh, by the way, after all that I reached into my back pocket and found the map. I had looked in the right back pocket and the left back pocket, but not the center pocket. I have a new long distance cycling rule, no doubt it will not be the last…

Long distance cycling Rule #1:

Remember to check the center pocket.”

I had to stop here for my friend Terry.

TransAm Journal - Wed May 10, 2023

Day 1

Charles City, 45 miles

I reached Lawrence Lewis Jr. Park, a nice park and campground shortly after 2pm. I was very tired. No surprise. I shouldn’t admit this, but I didn’t train for this adventure. I’ve been a bit distracted lately working on identifying some “health issues.” Notice I didn’t say “problems,” because everything is treatable and my care team gave me their blessing to go on this adventure. (They might not have if they had know I was undertaking it without having properly trained.) It’s going to be slow going for awhile, if I stay focused I should be just fine, in a week or two. My goal is 78 days for the crossing. I shouldn’t talk too much about goals since it’s only Day 1, but I made my goal for today so I suppose that bodes well. Tomorrow will likely be more revealing…

Tonight’s Campsite.

TransAm Journal - Tue May 9, 2023


Yorktown Virginia

Tomorrow is the big day. It’s almost time to begin my journey. The question that I’ve been asking for some time now is, why TransAm. It’s time to put down into words something the resembles an answer. When you look at it deeply, you can’t really know the answer until you reach the end of the journey. Until then these notions are all likely candidates:

  • Insight
  • Health
  • Accomplishment
  • Satisfaction
  • Confidence
  • Challenge
  • Pride

I hope when I’m all done I will feel like I have achieved some of these. If I am truly fortunate, all of them. In either case, the journey will have been well worth it.

It’s time to begin…

Doctor’s Orders

Tuesday May 2, 2023 (Journal Entry)

In Japan your doctor can give you a prescription for a walk in the woods…

How does one stay healthy (besides walking in the woods, which by the way, is not an insignificant part of the equation…) Good physical health and good mental health, including the preservation of memory, are things we have a good bit of personal control over. To do that, there are five areas that we should focus on. These are explained in detail in Sanjay Gupta’s book “Keep Sharp.” I’m no doctor, but I’m pretty sure most doctors would agree with these things without hesitation, In fact, Gupta’s book was recently recommended to me (doctor’s orders) and I’m very grateful for that.


Physical exercise. Be active. Whatever it takes to keep moving the body.


Good sleep and stress reduction. I have started to discover meditation and I think it is going to be transformative.


Eat smart, all things in moderation. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.


Learn something new each day. Write it down, talk about it, use as many senses as you can.


Spend time socializing and connecting with people.

By the way, I’m not personally convinced that being active on Instagram and Facebook is what is really meant by connecting with people. I still have Instagram and Facebook accounts, but I no longer spend time on those apps. I’m not aware of any studies that have shown them to be healthy activities, I suspect they are anything but that in reality. Connecting with people means connecting fact-to-face, not Facebook-to-Facebook… For the record, I don’t maintain this website because it makes me feel like I am connecting with people, I maintain this website because I love to write, doing so brings me joy, and the act of writing here reinforces the learning and experiences I am gaining in my everyday life.