Sunday, July 4, 2010

Homeward Bound

The morning following the Christoff family reunion, I woke to dark skies painted in scattered showers and 100% chance of rain. Knowing that I had to get on the road soon, I woke up Evan who drove me off the dirt road and onto Highway 441. We said our goodbyes under the neon lights of the Kangaroo and parted ways from our journey though I doubt he remembers it, he was half asleep.

I got all my gear ready on the bike while a construction worker grilled me on my journey here. He bought me breakfast so I was good for another couple of hours on the road. As soon as I got to pedaling, the bottom fell out and the rains never stopped. I was sure proud of my waterproof panniers and gear because that day, I put it all to the test. It was weird riding alone down the highway, not having the sound of another bike behind you but it made hearing my flat very easy. Only 19 mile out of Ocala, I blew my last tire of the trip and changed it in the morning rain.

Once you're totally wet, the rain doesn't bother you anymore but it sure makes the people at McDonald's move away from you faster. Smelling like wet dog at 10 am, I stopped for my last time on the bike for my second breakfast north of Mt. Dora.

As I hit the south side of Mt.Dora, I saw in the on coming traffic, mom and dad honking and screaming at me. They had been tracking me on the Spot and met me along the way in to block cars.

It was great to see them again and from there, it was an all out sprint towards home. Once we hit city limits, I road past signs on the road they had put out that morning welcoming me home.

And finally, I crossed the tape into home!

Its good to be home! I thought that'd I'd be sick of the bike by now but I went for a 45 mile ride the next day. Its hard doing this everyday then suddenly nothing at all. You have a lot of energy stored up, its hard to sleep, and you feel like you need to be moving all the time. 

Its been an amazing summer and I'm ready to do it again. Maybe just around Florida for now, we'll see.

Evan and I are going to give our reviews of the gear we used later, hopefully it'll be useful to those looking to tour sometime soon.

Evan's Home

The night before we left for Ocala, we checked the weather and it didn't look good. We've made it this whole trip without really riding in rain. There have been occasional showers but nothing bad. The forecast said rain all day, 80% chance so it was fitting that it would rain on our last ride together.

Starting early, we biked most of the way before stopping at a small diner on the side of the road. The owner loved our story and made me a corn dog with sausage in it, tasty little treat there! Moving on from there, we rolled into Ocala without any problems until I got a really good flat three miles from Evan's house. Knowing we were close, Evan road ahead because after changing the tube, we found out that the replacement tube had a hole in it. With him gone to get his SUV, i proceeded to change another tube out and found it to be flat, thanks a lot Bell tires. That's three flats without moving anywhere, never seen it before.

Anyway, we got into Ocala, showered and did laundry, and headed out to the Lake House further south. Here we met Evan's parents and waited on his family to drive in from Ocala and Orlando. That night, we had a huge meal and viewed the pictures from the trip, narrating and reminiscing over the trip. Afterwards, Evan and I got a cool pie with our bikes on them, seen below.

It was a fitting end to the trip and great to hear that people were following our trip so closely. We would start telling stories and someone would finish it for us. Thanks to everyone who followed us and supported the trip!

Gainesville Bound

Its was sad leaving the Corrick's but we had to get back to Gainesville. Starting early, we knew we had a long day with some pretty good traffic to beat along the way. Also, since it's Florida, we had our fair share of bridges to ride over so the sooner we got on the road, the less tight the shoulder would be on the St. Johns.

With only a couple problems with cars and trucks, the roads we're too bad. Evan got good shot of the St. Johns here. The shoulder sucked but the traffic was low enough that we could take the lane.

We made some pretty good time, guess our legs knew we were close to home. Also, we found out that is exactly 2,000 miles from San Francisco to Wendy's in Stark.

We also got a chance to the tourist thing in Waldo like we've always wanted and somehow avoided the speed traps.

Soon after this, we reached Gainesville, riding into Evan's driveway. It was like we never left. Going through the same motions, seeing the same people, we got this weird feeling that nothing had changed and we hadn't biked cross country. We stayed in Gainesville for two nights, hanging out with old friends and visiting our favorite bars. I'll miss Gainesville next year but I'll see it on game days and look forward to the Auburn vs UF game in the Fall.

Here's a flattering picture of Ben!

Coast to Coast

Waking up from my coma of a sleep the night before, we waited for Evan's dad and we went to Angie's Subs in Jax Beach. I had the best sub there, wanted another one, but we had to get to the beach. Riding our bikes down the board walk we caught a glimpse of the ocean, something we hadn't seen for 49 days.

We'd finally made it! Thousands of miles later, 50 degrees hotter, and a couple pounds lighter, we walked our bikes down into the Atlantic Ocean and dipped our front tires. It was a very surreal experience and it was time to celebrate. Like little kids, we played in the ocean all day and relaxed on the Florida sands, knowing that we had made it across the United States!

Last ones a picture of Corey Corrick, our tallest fan. Thanks for making it symmetrical buddy.

Getting to Jacksonville

After a great weekend hanging out with Aly and friends, we made way to Jacksonville. From Tallahassee to Jacksonville is about 190 miles so we knew we couldn't do it in one day. Our original plan was to sleep at the Suwanee River State Park and get to Jacksonville the next day. The city is too busy to try to bike so we planned on calling for a ride in from the city limits.

The ride was pretty uneventful, a couple of ups and downs but those are Florida mountains. Riding next to I-10 the whole way, Highway 90 had a little traffic but mostly clear and with a great shoulder. To our surprise, the weather held off and the cloud cover made for a nice cool ride for once in the south but we could see rain coming.

After about 90 miles, we could feel the rain on us and settled into a rest top just east of Live Oak. Having already passed the Suwanee River and thinking about getting a hotel for the night, we called Stefan Hester who lives in Jacksonville and got a ride out of there. Good thing we did because the skies opened up and it rained for hours.

We really wanted to ride into Jacksonville but after seeing the road and weather on the ride in, we're glad we didn't. Stefan dropped us off at the Corrick's house right on Jax's beach and we finally unpacked the bikes and rested. The weather was still nasty so we waited to finish the ride the next day on the beach.

Here's a pictures of the Corrick's back yard and their pet gator. Its good to be home!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Resting in Tallahassee

After a couple of long days of riding, we got some good rest in Tallahassee. Thanks to Evan's cousin, Alyson, we have a roof over our heads for two nights and some good places to go out while we're in town. Hopefully we can get an early start tomorrow morning for the Suwanee River and can beat the rain but the campsite is a ways out. We'll be on highway 90 the rest of the way into Jacksonville to cap off our coast to coast journey then we make way for home.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Way Down Yonder on the Chattahoochee

On Wednesday night, we rolled into Dothan, Alabama to stay at Warren and June's house. Arriving tired, we both got a warm shower and laundry done while June prepared a great dinner for the both of us while we both talked bikes with Warren. June is very big on health food and knowing what you put into your body so we got try plenty of new dishes and found out that the rabbits on the back porch weren't just pets which is awesome! Using their back porch as our camp ground, we got some early rest to ride into Georgia the next day.

This morning came early and we headed for the first McDonald's we could find to plan out our day. The original plan was to meet Mrs. Christoff in Bainbridge, Georgia but we just couldn't swing it. Noticing how close we were to the Florida boarder, we opted to take the southern route following the Chattahoochee into Florida. We did run into some trouble when Evan picked up a large nail in his puncture resistant back tire. One thing we did notice is that people won't get over for bikers when they're stopped. They're move over when a car is stopped but love to buzz bikers changing tires. We quickly fixed that by Evan changing the tire and me spitting on the wind shields of economy cars, keeping it classy.

After a short Gatorade rest stop, we headed down highway 95 into the Chattahoochee State Park and we finally hit the state line. Feels a little weird being back in Florida already but it's good to be home. The road coming in was amazing. We had little to no traffic so we could actually talk on the bikes and the sky stated overcast all day, blocking out that famous Florida UV index.

Our plan from here was to find a KOA close so that we didn't go over 60 miles, wanting to save our legs a little. Also, the heat is ridiculous out here when the sun is out so we needed to stop before it got too late in the day. For lunch we hit Patty's Diner when we got a call from Mrs. Christoff saying that she could meet us closer to Tallahassee if we wanted a hotel with A/C. That sealed the deal. With what started out to be a short off day ending at a KOA turned into a longer day ending in A/C and pizza...a pretty good trade off for us.

With only a couple miles to go until Tallahassee, we can sleep in and still get there before noon tomorrow. We hope to stay there an extra night before our two day journey to Jacksonville. We got some great miles today and had a good time too. Its just good to be home!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Tonight, We Eat!

After a short three days of rest, we finally rode out of Montgomery. We forgot to open the blinds to the hotel room so we slept until 8:45, giving us a late start but a continental breakfast.

Thankfully, the skies remained overcast for the better part of the afternoon giving us nice cloud cover as we headed down Taylor Road. At first we had a nice average with a slight uphill, but because we were cycling in the afternoon, the winds started to pick up. The headwind from the Gulf held us up a bit but brought some cool air (smelled like BP).

In pretty good time, we rolled into town and hunkered down in a DQ for some Blizzards (can't forget the top part of the food triangle). It was here that we started to go through how much food we had left in our packs. After much debate and ever growing hunger, we found that we'd been stocking up non-perishables like it's hurricane season. Every time we go into a store, we go into survival mode, thinking that it will be days without food like it was out west. Predicting that we could shed a couple of pounds off the bikes by eating up, we hurried out the DQ an found our campsite down the road.

We quickly set up our tent and started cooking a feast full of noodles, protein bars, string cheese and trail mix in this open barn on the lot.

Today was pretty uneventful bit we're one step closer to home. Tomorrow is another 50+ day into Dothan where we have a warmshower set up and then into Georgia the next morning where we will meet up with Mama Christoff.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Hanging out in Alabama

On Thursday, we made our way further onto Alabama and made it to Tuscaloosa. Our hopes were to stay at the Kappa Sig house on the Bama campus but the house was closed for the summer. Wanting to look around the mansion of a house, we moved around the back door where Evan ran into the house mom's grandson who got us inside. Meeting the house mom, she found us some numbers of brothers still in town and Evan got to calling them while I looked for hotels. Just as I was ready to leave, the chapter president called Evan back informing us that we would have a ride in a few minutes.

Sure enough, a SUV swung around back and Brother Scott jumped out, ready to take us to his place where two empty beds awaited. After unloading our gear, we went over to a couple of other Kappa Sigs houses to hang out and do laundry. They were all pretty interested in our trip and we exchanged stories of parties and socials until we couldn't stay awake anymore. Knowing that our ride would start early we got to bed late for a few hours sleep.

Waking before the sun, Evan and I snuck out of Scott's house and made our game plan over hotcakes and sausage at McDonalds. Our original plan was to make it as far as possible to Montgomery, stealth camp, then bike into town the next day. We set up a warmshower in Montgomery with a couple, Dick and Anita. Dick offered to get us at our stopping point between Tuscaloosa and Montgomery. We made it to a small peach town named Maplesville and holed up in a Subway as we got our first rain shower of the trip. Thankfully, Dick got there soon and we chatted about touring while the wind and rain rattled the double pane next to us. The photo below doesn't really do it justice, it was raining pretty hard.

We soon found out that Dick and Anita were real cyclist, doing many cross country trips together. Dick had done eight himself and is planning to do the TransAmerica trip soon. We got to Dick's house while the rain continued and found that we had our own beds and a fridge full of more Gatorades than we could ever finish! We couldn't believe how nice this couple was, inviting us to dinner with their son-in-law Jack and his kids and giving us the keys to his house, van, and lake house for the next day.

Saving us a night in a hotel and a car rental, we took Anita and Dick's car offer and drove to Auburn to check out the campus and my apartment for next year. The campus had grown up since the last time I was there but the lemonade at Toomer's drug store was still amazing. Next year should be fun!

We got the van back to the house and we made Dick and Anita (mostly Evan) dinner. It was the first time we had cooked since home and had a real sit down meal, talking touring the whole time. That night, we checked out some of Dick's favorite cycling blogs and he gave us a good route out of town towards Troy.

Today, we found out the if we delayed one day, we could meet up with Evan's mom in Georgia so we got a hotel for tonight. Wanting to relax one more day, we cycled down to the movie theater and saw "The A-Team" and snuck into "Getting Him To Greek" for a movie marathon. The A-Team is definitely a must see.

Coming home we found some sporting stores to replace some tires. Coming out of Mississippi and into Alabama, I popped the front tire and slashed the back tire with a sharp metal plate on the road so we found some extra tubes on the way back. Tonight we packed up and are waiting for our ride tomorrow. We're heading down 231 to Troy which is only 51 miles. The shoulder looks pretty good here so tomorrow should be smooth riding. Only a couple more days until the Georgia boarder!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Crooked Letter State

After spending a couple of days in Arkansas, hanging out with friends and family, we finally got across the boarder into Mississippi this morning. Last night we holed up in a small park on the bank of Lake Village, resting up to battle the heat today. Getting there mid-day, we had sun light to burn, filling our time by playing horse on the neighboring basketball court and organizing our bags with all our new food.

The heat here is unlike Florida, I've never seen it this hot in this area. We found some cabins to hide under for a couple hours but you sit there and sweat pours off you. We probably drank over two gallons of water a piece just replenishing what we were losing and hydrating for today. After the sun went down, we got our sleep because today we were waking up at 3 AM to ride out at 4 AM.

Our route is on Highway 82 that crosses Mississippi from east to west and will take us into Alabama. This morning we hit the road with all our lights on but had the road to ourselves. After about 6 miles, we came up on the Mississippi River and a massive bridge. To motorist, bridges are cool. There's stuff to look at, it makes neat sounds when you drive over it, you watch the river run under your tires...its the bees knees. On a bike though, it means no shoulder, no divider, and a climbing sprint. The thing about the bridge crossing at Lake Village is that it turns so you can see trucks coming at you but they won't see you. So there we were, 4:30 AM, lit up like a Christmas tree, sprinting at 35 mph up this bridge and I spot a semi coming up behind us.

We both jumped off our bikes, stepped up on a foot wide walk way on the side and pulled our bikes towards us, flashing the truckers windows so they see us. We did this a couple times on that two mile bridge but it worked pretty well, the truckers give us some good morning honks.

Because we started so early, we got about 30 miles done before sun up and beat the heat. 82 is pretty nice for biking, the shoulder sucks but the traffic is low and slow so you can take the right lane for yourself. Our only rest stops were two Wal-Marts in Greenville and Greenwood to get drinks and escape the heat, I think the heat index is 105 here today.

Tonight we have a small camp site and a long day tomorrow. We hope to get to Mississippi State in Starkville tomorrow about 90 miles away. If we have the clear roads and zero wind like today, we can average around 21 mph and get there before the heat hits.

Since we haven't posted anything in a while, here's a couple of pictures from Arkansas. The first of of Cotton's house. Cotton bought this large piece of property and started filling it with random antiques that people drop off for him. Anything from pool tables to dishware, chess pieces to guns, this guys got it on his walls, and he still lives there! It was so hot and crouded but very cool at the same time. He said we're not aloud back unless we bring something to put up, see you soon Cotton!

The second photo is of Petit Jean Mountain. The story of Petit Jean started in France in the 1700 with Chavet the explorer. Chavet and Petit Jean were engaged to be married but Chavet was to explorer the Louisiana Territory before the wedding and had to leave Petit. Wanting to join in his adventure, Petit Jean disguised herself as deck hand on Chavet's own boat and made it all the way to Arkansas. After the party had hiked to the top of this sacred Indian mountain, Petit Jean became ill and her true identity was reviled. Her last request was to be buried on top of this mountain overlooking the new Territory and her grave still remains at the top.

The last photo is of our camp site last night in Lake Village. It wasn't much but we got creative and made a cool day out of it.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Southern Hospitality

Let me first apologize for not posting in a while. We have been a little busy hanging out with great family and friends. I guess that's what happens when you finally reach some southern hospitality, filled with more food than the last supper. People in the south tend to want to feed two boys when they see them show up on bikes about 15 pounds lighter since the last time they saw us.
After getting a nice home cooked meal from Heather we settled in for the night and Kevin's. We were awoken by a torrent of rain getting drowned out by the pounding of hail against the sun light in the roof. The onslaught of weather hit around 8 am, right about the time we would be riding our bikes into Tulsa that morning had Heather and Jordan not picked us up. We keep getting lucky with the weather so far.

In Tulsa we were introduced to some of the best Mexican food we had since the border in San Diego at El Tequila. We also got to taste the Slurpee's Rival the QT Freezoni. I gotta say its a close race. Tara, Jordan and Heather gave a great night tour of the Oral Roberts campus. Their campus puts UF to shame in the way of landscaping and meaning behind everything on campus. It was absolutely beautiful, everything was a well manicured as a Country Club.

Kevin, Will, Jered and Anthony were nice enough to let us stay at their house or should I say 'Bachelor Pad.' We didn't do much their but watch TV and rest, exactly what the doctor ordered. The guys were all interested with our story and Kevin wouldn't let us tell any stories until he got back from McDonalds with $20 worth of Dollar Menu items that first night.

Waking around 5:30 on Wednesday we hit 77 miles to our campsite in Natural Falls of Siloam Springs. It was a great site with plush grass...something we hadn't seen the whole trip. The falls were about as accessible as a Disney Attraction. The whole thing had signs and fences keeping us from cleaning off in the fresh cold water. Instead we opted for an ice cold shower after snapping pictures.

Corey, our fraternity brother located in northern Arkansas was 40 miles from us. All it took was a call and we had a ride into town for some dinner at the La Huerta. Since the restaurant didn't serve alcohol (probably the only Mexican restaurant that didn't have any cervezas) we found a bar close by to hangout and have a drink before Clay and I had to make like Ol' Folks and be asleep by 9pm.

Waking again bright and early we knew we had a hard day to Van Buren, Arkansas through the Ozarks. The 2 hour climb to the top was rewarded by a nice 11 mile descent to the valley below. We stopped for water at a random home and the lady informed us there was a convenient store just about a mile up the road. We settled in there for a quick meal before getting rained in. We were supposed to meet Clay's family, Richard and Ann, just a few miles up the road but opted to have them drive it instead of us sitting in their car soaking wet.

Clay warned me we would be fed more than we could handle, and mind you we can put down some food after this ride, and he was right. We have been stuffed to the gills at every meal. We went to Brown's Catfish house where seafood is on buffet. Now, I'm not talking seafood like Morrison's, I talking good home cooked seafood. After we were already full, Pop, Clay's grand dad insisted we have a Cinnamon Roll AND an Ice cream cone. We do need to fatten back up so doing it in style is not a bad option.

We will be in Russellville for the next few days and heading out to Greenville on Monday.

Monday, June 7, 2010


Yesterday, we woke late (7 AM) to breakfast and Moni ready to ride! Scrambling around trying to gather our stuff, we finally headed down the road to Tulsa. With Moni leading the way, we hit up Walmart for supplies then rode down Route 66 for the last time this trip. Reaching a town called Arcadia, we came up on a convenience store like we've never seen. Known as Pops, this place has over 500 different sodas to choose from, including a full restaurant and some outlandish architecture. This is where we parted ways with Moni who headed back home. Hope she enjoyed the tailwind!

This stretch of 66 was extremely hilly all the way out and with storms coming the next day, the headwind picked up all day (nothing new there). The up and down pace started to take a toll on our legs so we took plenty of rest stops, one at this in-and-out subway. The people in this state are really friendly. Here we met a girl named Emily who talked with us for almost an hour about the area and wondered about our ride, I think she was on duty the whole time. Hope she makes it to Tulsa, a personal tour guide would be fun!

From here we passed through little town after little town, people waving and smiling at us the whole way. It was like a redneck Pleasantville. Evan and I finally found a buffalo in Chandler and we also ran into the diner that was used as a model in the movie "Cars". This place was an old diner brought back from the grave. Had the best hot dog I've had since the Sabrett hot dog stand outside Home Depo. After ending more and more conversations short about our trip with the restauant patrons, we continued on.

Just outside Sapulpa in Bristow, we hit up happy hour at Sonic for some cherry limaids and decided that we probably we're going to make it much further so we found a camp site at Heyburn Lake. Cresting the fourth steep hill off of Route 66, we rolled into the town of Toothless, apparently. The air smelled like Bud Heavy and mint Skoal and each site had it's fair share of Jerry Springer hopefuls squeezed into bathing suits you could only guess were spray on. They didn't have shower so we fit right in using our water bottles to clean off and paracord to string up our clothes. Just as we set up for dinner, Evan got a call from Heather saying they were en route to get us! Like a fire drill, we tore down camp faster than ever and threw our gear in her car soon after.

Heather, and her husband Jordan, made us dinner and took us over to where we'd be staying for a couple days. These four guys, Jered, Will, Kevin and Anthony all live in this cool house in the middle of Tulsa and gave us a full room to use while we're here. After tearing through two sakes of McDonalds burgers and a couple episodes of Band of Brothers, we got some good rest. Good thing we were indoors this morning because around 8 AM it rained and hailed for two hours, wouldn't have been fun on a bike. Tulsa will be some good rest and we're ready to see the city when it finally stops raining. Below is our buffalo and the Cars diner.

The Amazing Triplete

In Weatherford, our camp site wasn't what we thought it'd be. We had ice cold showers and no water or power. They stuck us on the lake with high, really hot, winds and no shade so we wanted to get out of there as soon as possible. After waiting for the sun to set, we woke at a couple times that night to a family (set up about 50 yards away) walking back and forth saying, "oh look, their getting their camp on!" like we were an exibit, really annoying. The next morning we woke at 4:15 AM with our head lamps on singing "we're getting our camp on!" as loud as we could...wonder if they got the message.

Anyway, we rode out of there around 5:30 with every light we had on, taking the country roads, alone to watch the sun rise over the wind farms in the east. We got so close that we could hear the blades as they cut through the Oklahoma morning winds.

After 12 miles we reached the highway and went east toward Tukon, beating the heat and traffic. We had set up a warmshower in Oklahoma with Moni who was leading a ride out in Yukon. We got there with time to spare and holed up in a small diner called Millers, chatting with the locals. The people out here are truly nice, not the best drivers, but nice. Evan briefley spoke with a family in for some milk shakes and as we went to go pay our tab, the waitress informed us that that family had already paid for it! Thank you mystery family!

After Moni was done with her ride, we met here outside Millers, crammed the bikes and ourselves into her van and made way for Oklahoma City just a few minutes up the highway. At least it felt like a few minutes. I fell asleep holding onto the bikes in the back and rolled out of the van at her house when they open the door. There, we were greeted by Jerry, Moni's husband who was preparing for a triathlon the next day.

Moni and Jerry were the definition of the active couple. Moni has toured the United States 1.5 times and still continues to tour while Jerry competes in 5k's, marathons, and triathlons. Evan and I had a ton of questions and tried to learn as much as we could about their races and touring. We wish we could have stayed longer, just to learn from them.

That night, we all went to Maccaroni Grill so everyone could carb up for their day on Sunday. Jerry and another couple were part of a three person team on the Route 66 Triathlon and Moni had lead a ride early and planned on riding out with us the next morning. Evan and I welcomed the meal and listened to all the stories and tips they had about riding and competing.

Back at their home, Jerry showed Evan and I his triplete. If you can see it below, it's custom built for three individual people who have their faces on the ends of the drops, it's all gold leaf across the frame, and Jerry somehow got 16 spoke wheels strong enough to hold a three person load. It really was a piece of art and they've gotten it into the higher 40's on the road.

Moni had us set up with a great room to crash in, we finally got some laundry done, had our own bathroom and Moni made us muffins for the road the next day. We couldn't have found better people to stay with! Also, they knew more about the area than anyone so they gave us different camp grounds to stay in the next night and drew out our routes to them.

The next day, our plan was to get as close to Tulsa as possible so we'd have a short day riding into it. Tulsa is like our vacation from this vacation because we get to stash our bikes and explore the city on foot. Only two days until then!

Below is a the camp ground in Weatherford. Don't let it fool you, it was 103 degrees there! Also, the triplete is shown, enjoy!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Some crazy headwinds out here

After the long day yesterday, we looked forward to our off day of 50 miles. Waking to a cross wind of 20 mph from the south, our off day turned into an uphill battle to Weatherford.

Hearing that there wasn't any food in Weatherford, we stopped short in Clinton to eat and worried about our path to the camp site. Off of 40, we went up wind for 7 miles and back east for 3, taking us over an hour because the road went uphill the entire way.

The site is really nice though. It was cleaned up by Southern Oklahoma University and has a rope course and rock climbing wall, plus power and showers which is always nice.

It was a longer ride than expected, but they always are, so now we relax by the lake and enjoy the headwind that rocked us all day. Tomorrow is Oklahoma City and a warmshower (not to mention real food and drinkable water!). If you haven't been watching the weather, Oklahoma has record highs of 98 and 103 degrees so we're running through water pretty fast but staying cool. The temperature will be pretty hot for a while but it's nothing like Florida heat, we're ready for it!

Lostgator Century

Staying the night in Lake McClellan we woke at sunrise to a great view. The sun brightened the whole valley and it looked like we camped in a canyon. Because we coasted at 31 mph entering the camp site, it took us 25 minutes to get back to the highway and down the road.

Our first mark was Shamrock just 40 miles down the road which we reached before 9am. This was going to be our camp site today but we decided to trek on to Elk City in Oklahoma.

Shamrock is this little town that consists of just one road. It wouldn't exist unless Route 66 was there as an attraction. One place we had to see, strangely enough, was the Conoco gas station on the corner of the town. This station was the one that the cartoon movie Cars based their station around. It looks exactly like it and the people there were a bunch of characters too.

Leaving there, we moved on to the boarder and took some rest in a town called Texola where we found out just how far we'd been going today. The terrain was flat but we still had the headwind and highway 40 was our only option. Out here, the county roads run east and west while the Farm to Market roads run north and south. Using these for a while, we burned up our legs, serpentining around 40. We then crossed the grass divider and road on what turned out to be a great shoulder. Thank you Texas and Oklahoma for maintaining the roads better than New Mexico and Arizona!

We pushed on, switching off who was pulling every 15 minutes so we had fresh legs in front. After 6 hours and 56 minutes, we reached Elk City for a total of 108 miles riding today. Major races are held for light weight road bikes to ride 100 miles and we managed to ride 108 with 80 lb bikes, pretty productive day!

Reaching the KOA, we quickly unloaded the bikes, put up the tents, jumped in the pool, and ordered the biggest meals we could find at the RV park. Normal riding for this distance and pace, we probably burned close to 4,000 calories on-top of the usual 2,000 calories needed everyday. Food has turned into this tool to ride rather than a leisure activity. We've been reading the back of packages and stocking up on high calorie food but it's becoming close to impossible to take in 6,000 calories while riding for hours, we're trying tho.

With a stop in Weatherford tomorrow, we'll hit Oklahoma City on Saturday then Tulsa two days after that. The miles are coming easier and the country is flying past us but we're loving it the whole way!

Below is the camp site this morning, the Conoco station and us crossing the Oklahoma boarder doing the Snoopy dance in celebration.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Tour de Texas

Today, with the help of our favorite AAA agent, Mrs. Nana Robertson, we had a whole day lined up on Route 66. As we rolled out the door and guess what, I had another flat! Apparently we missed another razor sharp piece in the tire and it blew another tube. At least I could replace it with a puncture resistant tube for better luck. If I get one more before Oklahoma City, I'm getting a tire with a Kevlar lining. Since we've changed so many lately, we replaced the tube quickly and was on the road.

In Conway is the Bug Farm where they buried five VW's nose down just outside the town. We started taking pictures but started to attract mosquitoes, lots of them. Looking like a Hitchcock movie, we had to run to escape them, beating the ambush back with bike helmets and empty camera cases. I don't know how but they were able to keep up with the bikes! We raced over the overpass into a truck stop, still battling the mutant flies (more like small birds). We parked our bikes, waving around at the bugs in front of the glass window with everyone to see. Bet that looked weird. Two skinny cyclists swatting at the air in this podunk town of 200 people. They were probably saying, "bet they stopped at Bug Farm," as they knocked the heat off their black coffee with a blow, staring blankly through the window.

After itching over our lunch, we continued down 40 to a little town called Groom. Rolling up on this place, we see signs that say, "Cross, exit 101." Then looking over the sign stood the "largest cross in the western hemisphere." This thing was huge, you could see it from ten miles out. Having to double back on 66 to get to it, the cross grew further into the heavens as we approached. Surrounding the cross was the story of the cross portrayed in statues as well as a replica of the last summer and the shroud. It was all very tastefully done and didn't have the corny feeling most tourist attractions have.

Our last site to see along the way was the leaning water tower in Groom which we caught a glimpse of and Evan somehow got a photo of on the bike. We set up camp in a park named Lake McClellan, three miles down in a valley off the interstate in a grass land reserve. With the flat road of 66, we almost headed to Shamrock today but will save that for tomorrow. Given the good weather and fresh legs, we're hoping to pass Shamrock and head into Oklahoma tomorrow afternoon. Its about 90 miles but it's do-able without strong headwinds.

Deep in the heart of Texas Continued

Here are the pictures from the previous post. There is a picture of Clay on he bed of nails and of the Big Texan. Also, there's proof that Texas sells shit for $7.99!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Deep in the heart of Texas

Yesterday turned into a pretty interesting day. Getting up around 6:30 AM we got a great breakfast of oatmeal and Nature Valley bars while chatting with some of the locals interested in our trip. After we were on the road for an hour, I got a flat on highway 40 again and decided to jump the fence to get on Route 66. After losing an hour changing the tire with our last tube, unpacking the bikes and wedging our way through the barbed wire fence, we started to enjoy our ride on 66. I think we got passed by maybe two cars for two hours so the road was ours. Coming up on our halfway point in San Jon, we stopped to eat and fill up our water bottles. When we came out, we found Evan's back tire flat and we were completely out of tubes.
After failing to convence AAA to pick us up, I rode to the top of the exit ramp with Evan's front tire in hand, waving it around with a thumb out hoping for a ride. After 30 minutes, a blue mini van passes us, takes the median into the west bound traffic and crosses again to get back over to us. Lenyette and Gordon, two vacationers to Albuquerque, were on their way back to Amarillo and managed to fit Evan's bike in the back and mine on top. We're starting to get pretty efficient at this hitch hiking thing when we get in jams.
They brought us all the way into Amarillo and found a new bike shop that openned the next day but managed to buy eight tubes with cash. Now we have puncture resistant tubes for the back tires that, although heavier, may take the punishment of highway 40 better than standard tubes. Lenyette and Gordon then left us in the hands of their daughter, Lenna who was a regular at a local coffee shop named 806. We soon found out that the shop was a center for around town cyclist and it felt somewhat like a cycling gang. They spoke of the group like a pack, saying that they were "50 strong now". Apparently, Amarillo isn't very biker friendly and this group has taken it upon themselves to expose cycling to the community. We heard horror stories about bikers getting run off roads, thrown at and abused but suspected that we weren't getting the whole story. Amarillo, and the greater part of Texas, doesn't have clear cut laws for cyclist therefore the group tends to free ride all over the streets which is probably enraging the motorist and inciting abuse...just my guess.
Anyway, we were trying to set up a warmshower for the night but the only guy in Amarillo was out touring St. Louis. Without asking, a guy named Drew offered up his house for us to crash in for the night. After spending time at this shop, we could tell that this was a pretty safe environment and decided to accept Drew's invitation. After tailing Drew through Amarillo at break neck speed, him on his road bike and us on our weighted down touring bikes, we arrived at this small house on the edge of the suburbs. Welcomed at the door by his two pets, American Dingos, we realized that this was going to be an interesting experience.
Turns out that Drew is a side show act, like a "carney". After dating a fire breather for five years, he took up the art of laying on a bed of nails and having ice smashed on him, motorcycles driven over him...Key West Pier sort of stuff. Of course I had to try it and that thing kills! He further explained how he is going to attempt to have a SUV driven over him in order to make it big in the side show circuit. Not my idea of a five year plan. The whole house was strange and covered in crap but we found a "safe" place on the couch and waited out the day to finally sleep. Taking over the "kids room" in the back that looked like a preschool nightmare, we huddled up in our sleeping bags and waited for daybreak. I guess if we were looking for an experience, we found one but I'm happy to say we found a hotel for tonight.
Taking the day off, we taked around Amarillo for a while, catching a movie at the mall of only $1! Later, we had a limo pick us up from the hotel to the Big Texan, home of the 72 oz steak. The food was amazing but this was definitely a tourist spot. With more stuff on the walls than a Cracker Barrell, the place had a country trio playing music at the tables, gift shops and places to take that token tourist photo. Tomorrow we head further east to Lake McClellan making our way to Oklahoma City.

First picture is of me on the nail bed, not comfy at all. Others are of the Big Texan and proof that Texas does sell shit.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

(New) Mexico Blows.... No Really, It Does

Last night after setting up our tents after it didn't rain, we made
quick friends with our neighbors Justin and Marissa. Recent graduates
from Denver in chemical and mining engineering, the couple was in
Santa Rosa on a scuba diving escape at Blue Hole. We shared stories
about our trips and made smores as the sun set over the nearby New
Mexico mountain range. It was really nice to finally meet some people
our age and hang out like back home for a while. They had one more day
of diving then back to work. Hope it was fun guys, it was great to
meet you!

The next morning, we woke to a very brisk 15 to 20 mph headwind and
realized that this would be one of our longest days. Packing and
leaving the most uninviting campground in Santa Rosa, we started east
again but a much slower pace than yesterday. Averaging 11.8 mph for
62.13 miles, we were in the saddle for 5 hours and 15 minutes.

I have never rode in a headwind that strong in my life. You start to
hope for a semi to pass to give you a little nudge ahead and block the
wind for a second. We would get a little rest from the wind on the
uphill climbs when the hill blocked the wind but you still had to
climb. 62 miles was suppose to be our off day but the wind really
turned things around. Resting every two or more hours, we powered
through the wind gust into Tucumcari, the last large town on highway
40 in New Mexico.

It's apparent that we're heading back to The South. The people are
becoming more friendly, everyone speaks a little slower and they all
have their own way to give directions. Every place exist around a bend
and directions are as a crow flys. The best ones are the guys that
give you directions with their whole body and hands moving everywhere,
like their calling for a hit and run.

New Mexico was a great transition from Arizona. The air is still dry
so we can sleep without our rain fly but our tents are pitched on
grass instead of red rock. The country is beautiful with green plains
and towering ranges but as the plains widen, the winds increase. We
haven't quite had our fill of New Mexico but the northern region of
Texas will remind us of her. Tomorrow we are shooting for Vega, a
small town just within Texas but may fall short if the forecast is
correct and the winds continue.

Tonight we'll sleep like babies after we plan our route in Texas. We
hear that bikes aren't allowed on highway 40 in certain places so
alternate routes are being persued.

Hope y'all have a good night. Goodnight all!