TransAm Journal - Thu June 15, 2023

Day 37, Katy Trail

Windsor MO to Clinton MO, 17 miles

Today is a beautiful day. I’m excited to be finishing the Katy Trail. It’s been a wonderful six days, but all good things eventually come to an end. As I put the Katy behind me, i’m looking forward to what will come my way on the next leg of my journey.

The Katy Trail is finished! I rang the bell at the Depot in Clinton!

I had coffee this morning at The Pour Poet in Windsor. I spent two hours enjoying my morning and talking to the proprietor. The coffee shop is also an antique shop and used book store. The books offered there are treasures. I found a biography of Gustavo Flaubert that I had to have. I told my host that I couldn’t carry it and she said, “why not mail it home?” She not only poured a good espresso, she was also a good sales person. I ordered an Americano to back-up my double espresso and sat down to read a few pages from the book that will soon reach home before I do…

Flaubert was the last of the great French Romantic Novelists. Although he was well know in the Paris Salons and he traveled widely in the Mediterranean, he spent most of his time at home caring for his mother and, in his words, “living like an oyster.” He wrote his works at the rate of 5 words per hour. That makes me feel good. I ride slower than most of the people that I meet touring. Now when they pass me I can just think of Gustave Flaubert.

The highlight of my visit to the Pour Poet Coffee Shop was the Papier-Tole framed on the wall of the shop. The proprietor (I do wish I had gotten her name) told me her mother made it. The shop is named in honor of her mother’s creation. Papier-Tole is a technique for recreating a painting using multiple prints of the original work. The end result is a 3-D rendering of the original. The painting her mother chose to recreate was The Poor Poet, a painting by the German painter Carl Spitzweg. The painting was created in 1839. Her mothet’s Papier-Tole version is a masterwork of Papier-Tole. If you go to Windsor, you MUST visit The Pour Poet to see The Poor Poet.

Going back to yesterday, I’ve learned that the turtles I’ve been moving off the trail are called Box Turtles. I also learned that Alligator Snapping Turtles are common in this area. They were described to me (so I could keep an eye out for them) and it was made clear to me that if I see one I should just keep rolling.

Also yesterday, I had someone ask me if I was wearing a “smart watch.” Someone else told me they liked the way I mounted my “smart phone” on the handle bars of my bike. Finally, someone asked me if I was wearing “Smart Wool” socks. (You can’t make this stuff up.) I’m going to resist the temptation to assume people are sending me a message about how I may be compensating in some way…

It crossed my mind that I haven’t tried writing a poem yet on this journey. I wrote several when I crossed the U.S. on the Southern Tier back in 2019. Those of you that have read my Southern Tier Journal are saying to yourselves “that’s a good thing.” Sooner or later I’m going to have to give it a try. (If you’re curious you can find those entries by clicking on the ARCHIVE link at the top of this page.)

I left a “blessing” on the “Blessing Board” at The Pour Poet Coffee Shop in Windsor MO for the next cyclist heading to Oregon! (In this case a “blessing” is a gift card.)

TransAm Journal - Wed June 14, 2023

Day 36, Katy Trail

Boonville MO to Windsor MO, 56 miles

I got to the cafe in Pilot Grove where I planned to eat breakfast at 7:15 AM. The sign said they open at 8 AM. It’s now 8:20 AM. I called to see if they were going to open today and the phone rang, as you might expect, inside the cafe. There was no answer. I hate leaving here only to spend the rest of the day wondering if I missed them by just minutes, but there is a point of diminishing returns and I think I’m approaching it…

Once you leave Boonville going west, there’s no more historical markers. The trail departs from the Missouri river and goes cross-country. It’s a bit up and down in places but it’s still a railroad grade so it’s not too demanding. It’s tree-lined almost the entire way. I’ve had to move two turtles off the trail today. They are very shy. My shadow was enough to make them pull themselves into their shells.

I reached the High Point of the Katy Trail today, 955 feet above sea level. Here the Missouri department of conservation is restoring the prairie grasses that used to exist in this part of the state before it fell under the plow. The Osage Indians lived here until the were forced to trade away their land rights, as was the case with all native Americans. That’s another story.

I met a cool dude today. He is traveling the country with his dog Mona. (She is a cutie.) He is currently on his way to Chicago to attend his daughters wedding. I gave him all the details on the Chain of Rocks Bridge since he will need to cross the Mississippi River into Illinois. You can follow him on his blog here:

When you are bicycle touring, there are no bad days, but some days are better than others…

I think I spent too much time today looking ahead instead of looking around. Looking ahead to my route through Kansas. I’m afraid much of my day today in the saddle was spent anticipating what is facing me, rather than enjoying what is in front of me. I’m making a mental not to avoid that tomorrow…

Nearing the end of my Katy Trail journey.

TransAm Journal - Tue June 13, 2023

Day 35, Katy Trail

 Cooper’s Landing CG MO to (Somewhere West of) Boonville MO, 45 miles

I love the way butterflies on the trail fly up in front of you, seemingly out of nowhere. Sometimes they even flutter right in front of your face.

I got a real compliment yesterday. I was at a trail head and a fellow rolled up and got off his bike, he looked at me and said, “you can always tell a real cyclist by the way they pack their gear and the way they stand their bicycle up when they’re not on it.” I thanked him and we chatting about bicycles for some time. The reason this turned out to be such a nice compliment is that he has worked as both a mechanic and as a trained tour guide for two major bicycling tour companies.

I try and read signs. Sometimes it’s not my fault. I saw a sign on the trail that said, “Bistro and Wine Tasting: follow the path to the top of the bluff, 0.3 miles.” I followed the path to the top of the bluff. It was very steep and partially washed out. They should not have even had a sign on the trail, it was irresponsible. I labored all the way to the top and what did I find? The Bistro is closed on Tuesdays. I have to admit the view up here of the Missouri River is beautiful, so I’m going to rest and enjoy the view for awhile.

Sometimes when I look at people around me, it makes me very grateful that I’m able to undertake this journey. Not a lot of people my age are well enough to accomplish this sort of undertaking. Sometimes people I talk to are shocked when I tell them I’m crossing the country. I just say, “you don’t have to be smart to do this, just persistent.” The truth is, everyone I’ve met along the way that is doing this is both smart and persistent. I think the two go hand-in-hand.

Sidebar: You never see skinny guys in a recumbent. (But good for them.)

For me, the nicest features of the Katy Trail (in addition to the scenery) are the Historical Markers documenting the Lewis and Clark Expedition and local history. There is a placard with detailed information about the expedition every five miles or so. I have found it well worth the stops to take them in. An interesting thing about cycling is that once you start turning the pedals, you don’t want to stop. It takes conscious effort. You have to tell yourself, “Oh, there’s an historical marker, I better stop.” If you listen to that voice, you’ll be rewarded.

I stopped for a double espresso in Rocheport. Since I’m not cooking in the morning, I’m not getting my morning ration of caffeine. When I find a good espresso it’s a real treat.

There are very few tunnels on the Katy Trail, this is one of the more picturesque ones.

TransAm Journal - Mon June 12, 2023

Day 34, Katy Trail

Bluffton MO to Cooper’s Landing CG MO, 65 miles

Due to a stupid mistake on my part, I ended up doing 13 miles out and back from Hartsburg to find some dinner. If I had just read the sign correctly, I would have discovered that the restaurant in Hartsburg where I wanted to eat was planning to open today. When I got back to Hartsburg and realized my mistake I decided to keep going, so I did another ten miles to Cooper’s Landing CG. It’s a cool place, but I got there late and the band was packing up. Everything worked out fine. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, and my legs got a nice workout today.

Doing the Katy Trail is not exactly the cake walk I had expected, at least after a good rain. The ground has some rolling resistance after it takes on moisture. It’s a bit deceiving. You don’t notice it at first, then about half way through the day you say to yourself, “this is not as easy as rolling on asphalt…”

Ever since I left Yorktown I’ve been thinking about the importance of training when taking on a challenge like this. My recommendation is to not approach this the way I did, which is to say, not train. Oh, I have my excuses, and some of them might even be considered good in some circles, but it was either wait and train, or just go. Waiting and training would have made the crossing much later in the year than is wise, so I made the decision to just go. You can bet before I do something like this again (and I hope I do) I will pay more attention to preparation. Now that I have been on the road for a month, here’s what I think would have been ideal — for me. Two months prior to starting, ride 20 miles a day taking a day off here and there. Interspersed with 20 mile rides, do a few 50 milers now and then. That would not only have prepared me physically, it would have revealed things like my bike not being geared properly and the seat not quite the right one for distance touring. Like I mentioned above, everything is working out fine, but I could have made it a lot easier on myself. All I’m going to say in closing on this subject is that life is about learning.

The view from Cooper’s Landing CG.

TransAm Journal - Sun June 11, 2023

Day 33, Katy Trail

Agusta MO to Bluffton MO, 45 miles

I don’t usually start my daily journal entry in the morning, but I’m up early and I have a few minutes before I need to be on the road. I’m three miles east of Augusta and if I leave now its likely there won’t be a cafe open for breakfast. (My editor has informed me there is no need to put a bang (‘) after the word its. So from now on I’ll try to remember not to do that…)

The campground last night offered me two options for sleeping, a nice patch of dirt with some blades of grass here-and-there, or a covered picnic table. While it might not occur to everyone that a covered picnic table is a great place to throw down the sleeping bag, I think it’s ideal. I don’t have to go to the trouble of setting up a tent or packing it up the next morning, and it gives me more time to read and write. It had started raining by the time I needed to make a choice so that sealed the deal. I inflated the mattress, threw down the sleeping bag and I was asleep within a few minutes. I suppose you might call that a form of “stealth camping.”

Today is going to be a bit longer day, but I’m getting a much earlier start, so there won’t be any need to push. It should be a very relaxing day. The sky looks like it could produce some rain at some point during the day. That will remain a mystery, until it occurs… Ah! just as I finished writing that sentence, the mystery was solved! I’ll just take an extra minute to dig out my rain jacket…

When the birds start chirping you know it has stopped raining…

I don’t normally finish my daily entry the next today, but yesterday is an exception. Shortly after I started down the road it started raining. So hard in fact I had to not only put on my rain coat but also get off the bike and hunker down under some trees to try and avoid the worst of the downpour. After almost an hour of relentless rain, I heard some chirping, sure enough the birds were informing me that the rain was letting up. The only trouble was the sky to the west was still dark and that was my direction of travel. I started out anyway and got one mile down the trail only to be engulfed again. Fortunately there was a trailhead there and I was able to get under some cover. By then I was so wet and cold I had to put on my light weight down jacket under my rain coat. I waited another hour and was finally able to get under way again.

I made progress enough, but a wet Katy Trail is not as easy to cycle as a dry one (although there is no dust). Along the way I stopped at the “Katy Caboose” in Marthasville. Jon the chef and proprietor made a nice sandwich for me. We got to chatting and Jon mentioned that he is running for president! “Running” is a play-on-words. He’s planning to shut down the Caboose in January and go down to Florida and try and set the record for the shortest time on foot traversing the Pensacola Trail. After that, he’s going to continue on to San Diego. His goal is to cover 50 miles a day on foot. He has documented his “running” campaign on his website:

His motto, “I Just Felt Like Running” describes his campaign and his upcoming cross-country journey. I admire him. I’m doing 50 miles a day, but I’m not on foot! If you’re on Facebook you can look for me there. He took my photo to post. Jon takes photos of all the cyclists that stop at his cafe that are going across the country. The page is called “Going All The Way.”

I’ll be following Jon on his cross-country epic starting early next year.

TransAm Journal - Sat June 10, 2023

Day 32, Katy Trail

St. Charles MO to Augusta MO, 33 miles

My three days of rest has come to an end, time to get out of town…

It’s been a great three days of rest. Got to Saint Charles for a late Brunch. This is where my Katy Trail Adventure will begin. In total between here and Clinton MO, I will cover a bit more than 225 miles of rail trail. The Katy is one of the premier rail trails in America, and the longest. It has been on my bucket list for some time and because I came north to St. Louis I’m able to check this box!

I started the day taking my bike into the Maplewood Bicycle shop for some TLC. Christopher the mechanic there did me a real solid. Not only did he remount both tires and add new slime, he also found the puncture in the rear tire, tightened the crank/spindle bolts and adjusted the rear derailleur. The shop had a high-pressure Silca Tattico mini-pump (these are hard to find) so I picked that up as well. It’s the next best thing to a real high-pressure frame pump (those are even harder to find). I can not recommend Maplewood Bicycles in Maplewood MO enough. Top notch people, top notch store!

I visited the History Museum and Art Museum in Forest Park yesterday. They are two of the best museums in the country. I had ribs a Pappy’s Smokehouse yesterday, voted best ribs in the country by Food Network and ate brunch this morning at Le Belle Vie in Saint Charles, voted the best breakfast/lunch spot in Saint Charles. The Cards won their game last night (even though the bullpen tried to give it away). Absolutely could not have asked for a better visit to St. Louis!

Before leaving Saint Charles I met a man that was curious about my trip. We chatted for several minutes and he recommended a book that I will have to read, ”The Oregon Trial” by Rinker Buck. It sounds like a fascinating read. At the end of the day I stopped into the Good News Tap House in Augusta for a beer. To my surprise I met a man there that grew up just a few miles from where I did. It is such a small world, truly!

It looks like rain is coming in. Tomorrow could be sloppy at times. Can’t worry about that, the trick is to take events one at a time as they present themselves…

Back on the road!

TransAm Journal - Fri June 9, 2023

Day 31

St. Louis MO, 0 miles (Rest Day 3)

”All you need to be assured of success in this life is ignorance and confidence.”
— Mark Twain

Preparedness helps too, but sometimes having the confidence to simply follow your nose reaps surprising rewards. I can’t count the number of times I have had no particular goal in mind and I ended up meeting an interesting person, being hosted by wonderful people, or simply having a pleasant conversation with a complete stranger. These are some of the things that make travel by bicycle such a pleasure. That, and the feeling of accomplishment you get at the end of each and every day…

As I was making my way to the west end of St. Louis on Tuesday, it was getting into late afternoon, I had been meandering very slowly. I decided to stop at a local watering hole situated on the edge of the Washington University campus. There was a fellow sitting alone outside the tavern, well dressed, we greeted one another and he invited me to join him. I went inside and grabbed a Busch Beer (I try to sample the “local” varieties as much as possible). After chatting for a few minutes I learned he was a retired attorney that had practiced law at a large firm in downtown St. Louis for almost 40 years. He probably was educated at WU, but we didn’t get into that. A bit later a Chef from the restaurant next door came by and sat down with us. The two were obviously friends. My new Chef friend lit up an eight inch cigar. I’m a bit sensitive to cigarette and cigar smoke but I didn’t say anything, the conversation was too entertaining. (Perhaps if wildfire smoke from Canada had been blowing into St. Louis, I might have moved further away.) The conversation progressed until the Chef asked me if I carried a gun for protection. I could tell my attorney friend suddenly became ever so slightly more interested in the conversation. There are many ways you can approach a question like that, but considering that I didn’t want to get into a long philosophical debate about guns, I just laughed and said, “No, they are way too heavy to carry when your riding a bicycle across the country.” My Chef friend seemed to understand that, he shook his head and took another long puff on his cigar, then he asked me, “well then, do you carry a knife?” I replied immediately, “You bet I do.” that ended the conversation… Something tells me a Swiss Army Knife was not exactly what he had in mind…

The reason for my diversion to St. Louis. That, and the opportunity to ride the Katy Trail.

TransAm Journal - Thu June 8, 2023

Day 30

St. Louis MO, 0 miles (Rest Day 2)

Rest Day 2 is literally that, a rest day. I went to a local grocery to get some fresh fruit. I’m not getting the nutrition I need to keep my legs strong, hopefully this will give them a boost. I’ve been cleaning the bike and getting my gear organized for the next leg of my journey, the Katy Trail. I’m very excited to be incorporating that into my itinerary. I hadn’t planned to do the Katy when I started out, but it became a viable option when I decided to divert to St. Louis for a Cardinals-Reds game.

Unless something unforeseen arises, I’ll be starting the Katy Trail on Saturday. I plan to take it leisurely, an average 38 miles per day. I’m planning 6 days of riding over about 225 miles. The surface is what is called “chat.” Chat is crushed limestone (not a virtual room for conversation). It’s a very smooth hard surface when it’s not wet. When it’s wet, progress can be slow. The biggest hazard on the trail are thorns that can find their way into your tires causing flats (reminds me of the Southern Tier). I’ll try to miss them whenever possible… Speaking of that, I haven’t had a single flat since I started the ride. I’m pleasantly surprised about that. I’ll see if my streak continues on the Katy Trail. Luck favors the prepared and the unconscious…

The Katy is a rails-to-trails project built on the now abandoned M-K-T Railroad Line. M-K-T stands for Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad, “Katy” for short. The Katy branch connected western rail lines to the east via St. Louis. It became a vital link in opening the west. The Katy began operation in 1892, and was in use for almost 100 years.

My first stop in St. Louis. The Gateway Arch. The Arch is modeled after what is know in math circles as a Catenary Curve. That is the natural shape a suspended chain takes when fixed at both ends. The Catenary Curve points down and the Catenary Arch points up. The Gateway Arch was built to commemorate the 1803 Louisiana Purchase and the opening of the west. St. Louis was considered the point of departure for settlers and explorers migrating westward.

TransAm Journal - Wed June 7, 2023

Day 29

St. Louis MO, 0 miles (Rest Day 1)

I’m putting today’s post up early. I don’t have a lot planned for today. Zero miles in fact. I’m going to clean the bike and get it ready to take in tomorrow for its’ new chain and cassette. I’m going to rest my legs and read as much about the Katy Trail as I can. For example, I know the trail is the longest “rail trail” project in the U.S. At 280 miles long, It takes its’ riders from St. Louis all the way to Kansas City. it is as long as the Colorado River. Unlike the river however, it is dry and mostly flat, unless it rains, then it becomes a mess to ride on, or so I’m told. Rain is in the forecast here for the day after I head out onto the trail, I suppose I’ll find out first-hand what that means for bike and rider.

I wanted to say a bit more about my crossing over the Chain or Rocks bridge. You can sense what an important structure it was back in its’ day. There is something majestic about the structure, nothing like today’s modern concrete bridges, it is actually quite dramatic to look at up close. It is also narrow, which is clearly shown in yesterday’s photo. It’s no wonder it was only in service from 1936 until 1965, less than three decades. What is amazing is that it is still standing today. The Army Corp of Engineers wanted to tear it down but the price of scrap steel at the time did not make the proposal feasible. That’s a good thing, because we now have preserved for our enjoyment an important part of our history. Hopefully future generations will be able to enjoy this early engineering marvel as well.

In the end we will conserve only what we love; we will love only what we understand; we will understand only what we are taught.”
— Baba Dioum, Senegalese Conservationist

During the last Ice Age, the Mississippi River was blocked by an ice dam and was forced to change its’ course. the new channel it carved exposed a layer of bedrock that the river has not yet been able to fully erode. The exposed layer of bedrock was up river from the bridge and referred to as the “Chain of Rocks.” To allow safe passage on the river, the Army Corp of Engineers built a low-water dam just below the bridge. You can see this clearly in the photo below. This raised the level of the river over the rocks enough to allow safe passage. In 1956 the Corp built and 8 mile long canal that shipping uses to bypass this stretch of river entirely. Also in the photo below, taken from the bridge, you can see a tower in the middle of the river. This was used from 1894 until 1915 to draw drinking water for St. Louis.

During the course of its’ 50 year history, Route 66 has crossed the Mississippi River between St. Louis MO and Madison IL over a total of five bridges. The Chain of Rocks bridge is the only one no long carrying vehicle or rail traffic.

Tower and low-water dam just below the “Chain of Rocks” bridge.

TransAm Journal - Tue June 6, 2023

Day 28

St. Louis MO, 42 miles

Today I was on the road at 7:00 AM. I wanted good light for photos when I crossed the “Chain of Rocks Bridge.” I was freaking-out when I arrived at the East end of the bridge and saw that it was gated and locked. I got off the bike to take a closer look and found a sign that said volunteers open the bridge every day by 9:00 AM. I only had to wait a few minutes and a fellow drove up to unlock and open the gate. We had a nice conversation. He asked me if I was riding across the country for charity. I had to admit that I wasn’t. Not being on Facebook makes it tough to raise money for charity.

After crossing the iconic Route 66 bridge, I rode the riverfront bicycle trail all the way to downtown St. Louis and the Gateway Arch. The ride in to St. Louis follows the Mississippi River and various canals built to support shipping and industry. The area along the river is a major industrial hub of America, not terribly picturesque, but vitally important economically.

After hanging out at Gateway Arch for awhile, and having my picture taken, I simply rode around downtown St. Louis. I was looking for interesting sights. After an hour or so, I ended up in West St. Louis. I stopped at a corner and three people started chatting with me. When they found out I was crossing the country they were excited to hear about my trip. One of them took my picture while another got me some water. After chatting for awhile I was asked if I liked BBQ? I replied, “I’m in St. Louis, right?” Well that got them laughing. They told me the best BBQ in St. Louis was just a half-a-block away! The place is closed on Tuesday so I’ll be back on one of my rest days.

I wandered a bit more until I found myself in Brentwood. That’s where I’m going to hang-out for the next three days. The bicycle trip will resume on Saturday after I go to the Cardinals Reds game Friday night. I’ve decided I’m going to do the Katy Trail before I drop back south to resume the TransAm route. More on the Katy to follow…

The famous Route 66 “Chain of Rocks Bridge.”

TransAm Journal - Mon June 5, 2023

Day 27

Granite City IL, 36 miles

Ride Summary:

  • 24 riding days
  • 1,208 miles
  • 50.3 miles per day

I’m pretty happy with those numbers. I think the average is going to go up after I get the new cassette and chain installed.

The iconic route into St. Louis from Illinois is to follow Route 66 over the famous “Chain of Rocks Bridge.” The Bridge was built to cross the Mississippi River in 1929 and was an engineering marvel in its’ day. Because of hazards to navigation on that stretch of the river (from which the bridge takes it’s name) the bridge had to be built with a unique 30-degree turn mid-way across the river. In the 1960s, the Army Corp of Engineers built a low-water dam, so you can’t actually see the “Chain of Rocks” in the river any longer. It has been closed to traffic for some time but it is open to walkers and cyclists. The bridge is listed on the national historic registry.

The first six miles out of Belleville I was on the St. Louis Metro Bike Link Trail. I could have caught the light rail and gone all the way to St. Louis, but of course that would have been cheating…

At my lunch stop I chatted with a local cyclist that has done a fair bit of touring. He asked me if I was planning to do the Katy Trail. He was asking me a fair question. It might be hard to divert all the way to St. Louis, only to bypass the opportunity to do the Katy. I’m going to have to give that some serious consideration.

You do miss your friends back home from time-to-time when you’re on a long distance tour. To be a bit more precise, there are times when you wish your friends back home could be experiencing the things you are experiencing. The reality is, that’s not the nature of the beast. A long distance tour is, to a large extent, discovering new things on your own. Taking those new things and making them a part of who you are. When everything is said and done, it just gives you more to share once you do get back home. There are other benefits. I think it makes you stronger and also a more tolerant person, not quite so quick to form opinions, and with luck, more gracious about those opinions you do form.

Tomorrow morning I’ll be going over the Route 66 “Chain of Rocks Bridge” into St. Louis. I stopped early today to get my bike cleaned up for the big day tomorrow!

TransAm Journal - Sun June 4, 2023

Day 26

Belleville IL, 78 miles

High mileage day!

So far, I’ve lost two hats on this trip and a pair of gloves. (I liked both the hats a lot, the gloves didn’t matter.) One thing I’m learning is that you really have to keep track of your things carefully. Whenever something is outside of a pannier, you have to keep it in hand. If it’s not in hand, it needs to go back inside your pannier. You would think that keeping track of the few things you carry with you on a trip like this wouldn’t be a problem, but apparently it is, at least for me.

For the second time on the trip, my right derailer downshift paddle quit working. It happened once on the Blue Ridge Parkway and happened again yesterday. There doesn’t appear to be anything wrong with the cable. The paddle just doesn’t engage. The funny thing about it is after a short period of time it starts working again. I can’t explain this. I would like to be a better mechanic so I could solve problems like that on my own, or at least understand them.

I went into a CVS yesterday to get some sunscreen and when I came out a fellow pulled up right next to me and started chatting. He asked me how far was I going and I told him Oregon. he looked at me and he said “I want to do that someday.” That led us into a very nice conversation about cross country touring, touring bikes, and the ins-and-outs of long-distance cycling. He was a cool dude. I hope he takes the opportunity to do an adventure like this some day.

I’m not sure how I’m going to get across the Mississippi tomorrow. More to follow on that…

I woke my friend early. He didn’t mind a bit. The dude abides!

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.