Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Atlantic

Well, I didn't dip my tire at camp because it isn't technically on the ocean. It is on some river mouth that feeds into the Atlantic. (we are talking only a couple hundred feet away).

So we got up, and I ate breakfast with everyone. We then set up the closing ceremonies for the campers before they all headed off home. We hung out at the staff house for a while. I did a puzzle with Zach Miller. I hate puzzles. They suck. But I like Zach, so it was okie dokie.

We then got a crew to finish the trip. We got a good 10 of us or so. We all grabbed bikes, and then went on a 2 mile ride down to the ocean. I couldn't have asked for a better ending. We got there, I dipped the tire, we all cheered, I went and jumped in the ocean (which was silly to do, cause I was wearing the only clothes I brought on the trip), we got to pray, then we took a ton of pictures. It was probably the best ending I could have wanted.

The rest of my afternoon can be described in just a few words.

Slammer Quality Time.
Botany Island.
Squatter's Rights.
Fiddler Crab Hunting.
Catching two Fish.
Chariot's of Fire.

The End.

Seabrook Island

Steve and I woke up at 7. We made a delicious little meal of some oatmeal for breakfast. Like I haven't had enough of that on the trip...(every morning for breakfast).

We packed up camp and rode over to the gas station at the end of the road. We set up the bikes and rode out. This was one of my favorite rides of the entire trip for multiple reasons.

1.) I haven't talked to Steve in a long time, so it was good to catch up with him.
2.) The air was really cool, not too hot.
3.) Steve let me draft off him.
4.) It was on the outskirts of Charleston
5.) It was only 50 miles.
6.) Flatter than a pancake, so we were booking it. We averaged like 17 or something like that. If you are curious, that is flying when you are fully loaded down.

Steve and I rode about 40 miles together when he split off to get picked up by his brother. That meant only 10 miles for me to go to the coast. I decided to grab lunch at Crave International Food. I had a low-country Philly cheese steak. It was beef brisket, smoked provolone, and peppers and onions. And it was incredible.

I biked the last 4 miles to Seabrook Island. I could smell the salt in the ocean and it was a beautiful thing. I started to bike onto Seabrook Island. It is a gated island, so you have to have a pass to get on. I went by the guard, and he gave me the pass that let me "park" on the island/not get arrested. He said, "make sure you don't loose that, it is really important for bikers." He then started laughing like crazy. I don't think bikers ever get parking passes, so that was pretty funny.


I was so jacked. Seabrook Island is super pretty. It is the cleanest and lushest island I have been to on the East Coast. I love it there. I rolled up to the Welcome Center, and Charnise, Thomas, and Andrew Avent saw me from the lunch room. They came out and we had a big old hug fest. It was great. Thomas got me hooked up with my room. And by room, I mean resort lodging. I was in a super nice hotel-esque room over looking the camp and the ocean. I was pretty pumped about the arrangement.

I went to the beach to hang out with Slammer as he was life guarding. I got to see some fellow Clemson friends there as well. It was awesome just getting to hang out with all of them.

I went and took a nap, then headed off for the dining hall. I got to meet a ton of new kids, and have dinner with Charnise. Char, Walker, and Jessica (my two new friends), and I went down to Fairfields right off of Seabrook island. They do live music there every Friday night. We danced with about a hundred kids shorter than 4 foot tall. Acting goofy is all I wanted to do. It was a blast.

We got back, and hung out in the chapel. We got to worship a little bit. I helped Slammer make the rounds of the camp, to make sure everyone is asleep. We then went back and played signs with the rest of the staff. It was just fun.

And then I ate some Oreos. And then I went to bed.

I guess I still haven't technically finished the trip.a

The Eve of the Finish

I got up at the Matthew's and had a great breakfast. Nathalie gave me a short ride to the other side of the interstate so I didn't have to deal with the Columbia traffic. I got to riding. The day as a whole was really uneventful. I had the mind to try and bike all 140 in one day. This could have happened if I hadn't made a wrong turn. I was pretty mad at myself. I found the intersection where I was supposed to turn. I pulled into an old abandoned gas station parking lot for lunch on the left side of the road. From where I was standing, there were no other signs except for the 419 highway across the street. Looking at that from where I was, I didn't see that 419 also continued left as well. So I headed North instead of South. It took me about an hour, and 14 miles out of the way. I was livid.

South Carolina is still one of my favorite states to ride through. It is super pretty. Once I hit that line right out side of Columbia, it was the flattest part of my trip. It was straight. After that line, I think I may have hit two small hills all the way to Charleston.

Around 5 o'clock I hit some thunderstorms. I stopped for some dinner, then rode for another 30 minutes. I found an abandoned field in the woods, so I set up camp for the night.

I fell asleep, but my boy Stephen Powell ended up getting in touch with me. Steve came down for the night to camp out with me, then we were going to ride towards the ocean together in the morning. He got there, and came into the tent. That tent is meant for two people in size. And that is about it. It is not meant for two people when it is 80 degrees outside with a hundred percent humidity. At that point, I don't think it is even meant for one person. It becomes unbearable. It doesn't help that I haven't been able to clean it for a month either. So the smell and heat that was contained inside that tent was enough to kill an above average sized elephant. It was bad enough that Steve dropped out and went to sleep in the car. I just gutted it out since it was my last night in there.

I slept incredibly, but I did not enjoy it at all.

It smelled so bad. So so bad.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

This blog is about food.

Ok, so this blog isn't entirely about food. But it does contain the best meal of my entire trip.

I woke up and said goodbye to all of the roommates. It was already super hot outside, so that was a bummer in itself. I feel like the trip almost ended in Clemson more than it was supposed to end at the beach. I decided to go back roads through Anderson instead of taking the main highway straight through.

Dumb idea, I got lost about 17 miles from Clemson. That is pretty embarrassing. I had to call my dad. When I say I got lost, I actually was in the right place, the road names were not what Google had listed, so I got a little confused, OK? I got through Anderson, and took a lot of back roads on my way out to Saluda. I didn't stop for lunch, and I was just riding pretty straightforward.

I had plans for the night to stay at Nathalie Matthew's house, with her family. She was going to pick me up after I passed through Saluda, to take me to East Columbia. So that was one of the highlights of my trip. I came over a hill right outside of Saluda, and there she was, with her cousin. She was honking her horn like crazy. Then she swerved at me, and tried to hit me in the oncoming lane. (ok, so that last sentence was a lie) But she did pull off on the side of the road and came to give me a big old hug. It was great to see her.

On the ride back to her house, the three of us got checked out by some creepy guys in a Jeep. I think it was my beautifully caramel colored tan that was attracting them... or it was the girls. We couldn't really decide.

I got to the Matthew's house, and right when we walked up, Nathalie's brother Phillip was outside cutting the tongue out of a boars head. That was pretty awesome. Kind of gross, but still awesome.

We waited up for dinner by eating homemade dip and chips. We also pounded a batch of cookies between the four of us. I have never played the game Phase 1o. We played that till dinner, which I somehow won. It isn't really a game of skill, but as some people may know, I am freakishly good at board games. (excluding scrabble and bananagrams*)

Dinner. Best meal of my trip. The girls in this family are unbelievably good at cooking. I wanted to cry it was so good. It was straight home/soul food all the way. The are the Lance Armstrongs of HomeEc. Country style steak. Mashed taters. Fried okra. Biscuits. And fruit smoothies for desert. Pretty unreal. I had seconds on everything.

As soon as dinner was over, I went to bed. It was only 9:20. Overall, I biked 105 miles for the day. A pretty good day.

I finally found my first scale when I got to the Matthew's house. The weight when I arrived at their house: 139.

The weight when I left there house: 145.6

I only ate two meals. Whoops.

Friday, June 24, 2011

They should rename it, "Clemson, the Magic Kingdom"

This bloggy will be both of my rest days at Clemson, mushed into just one blog post. The only reason is I feel that I am running out of semi-clever titles for my blog posts.

I slept in.

I woke up Benjamin with ipod blaring and me dancing around like a crazy. I was so happy to be in Clemson. I got dressed and went to breakfast with Catherine, Sarah, and Anne. Cracker Barrel. That chicken fried steak is just wonderful. It was fun catching up with that apartment of girls. We then went to Goodwill. I got a really cool shirt. I feel this blog isn't about my bike trip at all. Which I wouldn't want to read about my day to day. So sorry if this is lame.

I just got to hang out around the Ridge. Kaitlyn gave me this new contact solution that made my eyes feel way way better. So no more eye soreness/light sensitivity. Right after I got back from Cracker Barrel, I went to Moe's with Benji, KP, and Bradley. I then proceeded to eat a burrito. If I don't stop eating so much, I am going to get real fat. Really fat.

That afternoon, I just hung out around the apartment like a lazy. It was great. I got to do some reading. Somebody signed me up for "Outsider" magazine. This in itself is awesome, cause that is a really really cool magazine. The problem is, I don't live at that address anymore. So I don't know how I am going to go about changing that. But it really is a cool magazine. That night, I ate a little pasta, and then went and played volleyball with the crew. I want to say that I still got the touch, but I was a little rough around the edges. Throwing up bags of rats. Eh, Jon?

I hopped on the bike and went up to Starbucks again. I did not drink anything this time. Smart choices right? I just went up there and read for a little while. I then rode the bike back to the apartment and crashed. I don't think I hung out much that night.

This day was a blur, I don't really remember a ton that happened. Benj and I started the day by going on a bike ride in search for fruit. There are fruit trees all over campus if you know where to look. Unfortunately, they won't be ripe for a couple weeks. But it was good to ride some of the soreness out of my legs. I spent the afternoon again just lazying around. I saw a ton of people by the pool. I got to hang out with Liz, Emily, Ashley, Josh Downey, Slammer, and Kenzie (for a few minutes). It was great getting to see them all. Slammer and I broke into Kenzie's apartment and wrote her a funny note. Illegal maneuver. But still fun.

I just kind of hung out until dinner. A whole crew of us went to Quaker Steak and Lube for all you can eat hot wings. What a great deal. 40 wings, 10 deep fried mac n' cheese bites, 10 mini corn doggies, and 6 dollars worth of frozen yogurt later, I was a happy and full boy. The wings there are splendid. They come out in batches of 4, so it is really easy to try a ton of the flavors. They are so good.The funniest part of the night was when Emily Lynch tried to buy my dinner secretly. Well that only works when the waitress doesn't mess up the order. So Emily ended up paying for Will Bolt instead. It was just a really funny situation. Thanks anyways Miss Lynch. Bye the way, Why did you ask if I had a girlfriend in the car? You interested? Matt, I am just wondering, don't get mad. That's a joke.

Anyways, I was so full. So I got home and went to bed. It was a great couple days to just relax and do nothing at Clemson. That is one of my favorite things to do. I am glad I don't have to be there for class sometime. And I can't wait to go back.

Rabley is the best fake crier I know. And I talked to him on the phone one day, and it was the highlight of my day, I just didn't have time to mention it in my blog that day. He is great, and I am glad he is living in my apartment.

Monday, June 20, 2011

A day of screaming and biscuits

I can not explain to you the joy I felt in this day. It is indescribable. It is beautiful. It was just great. I won't put a ton into this post, just give you the facts. But it was just one of the greatest days of my trip, without a doubt. I woke up to beautiful weather behind the movie theater. It was over 90 miles to Clemson for the night. My first thought was, "I gotta get to Lake Burton, so I can get breakfast." That in itself was a 40 mile ride. I was in Burton by 10. I got to Joe's before he ran out of biscuits for the day. Joe works in this little roadside gas station/convenience store. He makes short order biscuit sandwiches for breakfast, and barbecue for the other meals of the day. These biscuits are the best part of my entire trip. They are huge, greasy, and bring back more memories of hanging out in Clayton with friends than I even remembered that I had. That, and a glass bottle Cheerwine, and crumb cake, and I was about to cry I was so happy. I biked over to Chip's lake house to charge the phone and let my parents know where I was.

I took a short break for about 45 minutes and let my legs recover.

I then biked faster and harder than I have on the entire trip. It is mountains all the way back to Clemson. Including a stop at a local orchard for a muscadine slushie, I bike 50.7 miles in 3 and a half hours.

As I was pulling onto 93 down into Clemson, and could see Tillman and the high rises near in the distance, I may have cut a guy in a truck off so I could get onto the ramp. The guy pulled up next to me, and asked if he could talk to me. I thought he was going to be mad I cut him off, but it turns out that his son is biking across the country right now as well. I got to talk to him for a while about that, when my good friend, and RA, AJ (that is a lot of letters) AJ THE RA, was pulling off the road we were on. He parked, gave me a big ol hug, and we got to catch up. I was really happy. When I finally rolled down the final hill, over the bridge, and down from the dikes, I started screaming. I was just yelling like a psycho. I haven't been that jacked up in so long. It just makes me realize how much I love Clemson. I yelled almost the entire way to the Ridge Apts. By the time I finished, my voice was a little hoarse.

I went up to surprise all the roommates in the room, but nobody was there. So I went in, made a late lunch/early dinner, and took a nap.

As I was napping, Miles came in, he didn't know I was on the couch. He gave a," Hello? Anybody here?." I proceed to give him a very sleepy, "Wha?" (Not a typo, there was no "t" in what. It was pronounced like I wrote it.) He then yells OI! and then full on ran and jumped on me. He gave a super freak out. I think he may have molested me. That is a joke. But he was pumped to see me. See, I told everyone I would be back in Clemson on Monday, when really I arrived yesterday, on Sunday. So it was fun surprising people. I went and played volleyball with some friends, then went to Starbucks with Catherine King and Rabely and Kaitlyn Pahel to see Sarah Matthews. I had a pretty large cappuccino. Coffee at Starbucks sucks compared to little shops out West. Sucks for Starbucks.

I shouldn't have had that coffee at 9pm. I got to sleep until Benjamin and Bradley got back from the weekend. Once they woke me up, I was wired. I was up till 2:30 a.m. I couldn't fall asleep.

Then I just passed out with my face on the screenonioinnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn

Just got to get to Georgia.

This was by far one of my favorite days of riding. After waking up and biking for half an hour, I arrived in Cleveland, TN. The reason I loved it so much was this was my home turf. This is the first section of road that I know. I don't need a map, or directions, or phone calls to people accessible to computers to bail me out because I am lost. I know exactly how to get home. And that is a beautiful thing to me.

I started on the ride home to Clemson. Once I hit this point, my only thought was, "I want to get to Clayton, GA, so I can stay at Chip's lake house." I had my mind set on it. I followed the road, and it is such a great drive. It follows the Ocoee river for 20 miles or so. The Ocoee is where they held the Olympic Kayaking events in 1996. The river was running, and the weather was good, the the water was packed with kayakers and rafters. It was awesome stopping and talking to kayakers about how the river was running. I used to be a raft guide, and I still remember a few words that make me sound not ignorant when talking about the river. So it was cool just remembering that time in my life a couple summer ago, at the same time taking pictures of some kayakers getting trashed trying to surf a class III. Just great stuff. I stopped at the shop at the Olympic facility to get a glass bottle soda, but they were 2.50. I just walked out. Well, I filled my water bottles from their fountain machine, then I walked out. I had to get that cold water, you know.

I biked past the Ocoee, and hit that beautiful sign. The one that says, "Welcome to NORTH CAROLINA." Ahh, I got more and more excited the farther I biked. Once I got to Murphy, NC, I stopped in a McDonalds to get some Powerade and refill the water bottles. When I walked out, I somehow noticed a storm that I somehow managed not to notice for the last few hours of riding. It just barely started to rain, so my only thought was to get into Georgia. It was only a 12 mile ride from where I was.

And then the RAIN came. It was so brutal I could literally not see ten feet in front of me. The raindrops felt like I was getting hit with water balloons with every drop. It sounds like an exaggeration, but this was probably the most absurd rain storm I had ever been in. I peeled off onto a little side parking lot/road, and went and sat on a porch for an hour. Cars were either stopped completely on the side of the road, with blinkers on. Or they were driving at a speed that would have lost to the tortoise from the "tortoise and the hare."

I was pretty mad I couldn't bike at this point, and I was getting cold. And I still wasn't in GA yet. The main storm blew past, so I got on the bike and cranked out the last few miles to GA. I ended up at Lake Hiawassee. It is a little lake town. I saw a couple buildings, then a glowing sign for a movie theater. At this point, I pulled into the movie theater parking lot just to see what was playing.

I proceeded from this point to go behind the movie theater, climb up a hill, and put up my tent. Over the top of the movie theater, I could see the major part of the storm, all the mountains for a good 30 miles, and Lake Hiawassee. It was pretty beautiful. I put on some dry clothes, then walked back down to the movie theater. I ended up going to watch the movie Super 8. It was just a good alien movie. I would recommend it. It was funny in parts, a little suspenseful in others, and just a classic Spielberg/JJ Abrams flick. Good stuff.

I went up to the tent, and went to bed to one of the the more stunning sunsets of the trip.

I barely got to GA, and all I have is 93 miles till Clemson.

Oh, and all my stuff is wet from the rain. Great.

A little harder than I thought.

**First off, sorry I haven't posted a blog in a couple days. It has been not available, and I got lazy yesterday and today. Which will be explained in a blog or two.**

I woke up at the Borden's and made a good breakfast. Milk, cereal, fruit, chocolate pie, ice cream, and skittles. I definitely couldn't complain. I let the girls sleep in and finished up my route on the computer. When they finally woke up, I got to talk to them for just a little while, then packed up and headed out.

I thought the day would be super fast. The first 30 miles were bookin. I definitely made great time on those. The weather was super good and felt great as well. I got off of highway 111 and turned onto another road. That is where things got a little difficult. I started going into a lot of curvy climbs. It was incredible out. It was really really pretty. The mountains were clean. That is the only word I can use to describe them. It was just really clean. The smells, the air, the forests themselves. It was splendid. I ended up climbing for a solid hour to the top of this valley. I then hit 8% grades all the way down. That is so fun. These roads were super curvy too. Since there were no cars, it was just a really serene ride. It was down into the Sesquatchie Valley. This was by far one of my favorite rides. It was just cruising and great.

The climb out was a little rough. It was also an 8% grade climb. I made great time on it though for that kind of climb, since my hill crank was working.

At the top of the far side was a little truck selling tacos out of the back. A little portable taqueria. So delicious. I payed 5 bucks and ate a good amount in incredible tacos. It was one of the highlights of my day.

I went as fast as I could, hoping to get to Cleveland, TN for the night, but never made it. I found some awesome woods on the side of the road near Georgetown, TN. I slept so well. It was just a really pretty day. The only problem was I think I started to get an infection in my eyes. They became super sensitive to the light, so I couldn't get my contacts to stop freaking out. They also got really hard to see out of when I was wearing glasses, cause there was no UV protection. That was kind of bummer. They didn't hurt, but they wouldn't stay open. It was kind of funny.

Don't think you are better at riding bikes then you are, or old old old men will pass you while you are riding. It might be embarrassing.

Friday, June 17, 2011


I woke up with Dad yesterday morning, and we went to the continental breakfast downstairs. We got to spend another 3 hours together that morning. We bypassed the Nashville traffic by taking my bike and his car to one of the people he works with. While he was talking to them, I went and did some maintenance on my bike. I have been riding without front breaks for about 1000 miles. I decided to fix those for when it started to get mountainy again.

He took me down to Lebanon, TN and we went to McDonald's for some coffee and another bite to eat before I left. It was really good seeing him. Can't wait to see Mom either in a weekish.

So I left from some run-down old bar's parking lot. It was a 67 mile ride to Marianne's house in Cookeville. What a great ride. First, I did it in about 5 hours, so I finished WAY ahead of when I planned to be there. Second, it was so pretty. It was certainly one of my favorite days of riding. I was biking through these really small mountains with awesome views the entire way. I had lunch on a closed bridge over a beautiful little river with mountains surrounding me on every side. I saw a ton of cliffs, a bunch of dear. It was just a great ride. Not too hot, and pretty fast.

I got to Cookeville, and I didn't really remember how to get to Marianne's house. She met me at a local ice cream place, (which was super good, waffle cone, yah.) and we went and saw the trains in the middle of the square. It is apparently the only touristy thing to do in Cookeville, so now that it is off the list, I am going to consider myself a local.

We raced back to Marianne's house, she in her car and me on my bike. I would have won, but she swerved over the double yellow line and got right in front of me at a red light. That is called cheating if you are curious. Play by the rules.

I hung out at Marianne's for a while, and then her mom made such a good dinner. Barbecue chicken, veggies, rolls, fruit, and this unreal chocolate pie with ice cream. I thought my brain was giong to explode it was so rich. A homemade meal is a beautiful thing.

We went to Walmart so I could restock on a couple of things, then headed over to Poet's Coffee, the local coffee place. I got a Diablo, which is a coffee with steamed chocolate milk. Really great. Marianne and I played banana grams for an hour. All of a sudden, I feel these hands over my eyes. They were girls hands certainly. I was more than slightly confused. I turned around, and there was dang KELSEY MOODY. It was awesome. She had been texting Marianne the entire game of banana grams,(which is upsetting, because I thought I was playing well against her, but really she was just delaying to keep me there for Kelsey. Which means I actually suck at that game. Dang it)But she was in Knoxville and came to visit for the night. What a great surprise. It doesn't help that I was beyond tired, and felt like a zombie. But it was great to see them both.

We got back to the house, and I fell asleep on top of the covers on my bed. I woke up the same way. So I was pretty passed out. They are still asleep, so I should go wake them up.

What a great surprise.

509 miles from the coast. I am getting pretty close.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Who is your daddy?

Yesterday, Oh what a day. I woke up from crazy dreams, and the ticks. uuugh. Ticks everywhere again. I had a few on me, not attached, just on me. I do not like them.

Anyways, I was biking along, the weather was great, when I get a call from good ol' Uncle Bruce. He was just asking where I was, what my route was, etc. When he dropped this little nugget of gold on me, he says,"You know your dad left for Nashville this morning?". Hmm, I didn't know that. It turns out I was directly North of Nashville in Kentucky, and was heading towards Nashville this very day. So, I give the old man a call. Poppi, (my dad) says he is a few hours from Nashville, and says he can arrange a hotel for us through his work. I said delightful. I biked super hard for the next 6 hours getting to the border of Kentucky and Tennessee. I said Kentucky was the armpit of the United States. I got some crap about that from some people so let me clarify. Kentucky is really hot, and really moist. That is the reason I said that. The ride was actually one of the prettier ones of my trip. Not many cars, lots of rolling hills through huge forested areas. I saw a bunch of deer at a couple creeks. Overall, a really pretty section of the state. But... Super hot and super humid.

Well, I get in a little over a hundred miles for the day, and end right on the border of Tennessee and Tucky. Dad came and got me from the hotel (I didn't have to bike through the lightening storm, which was nice.) It was really great to see a familiar face since Denver. He said I looked crazy. I haven't looked in a mirror in a while, so I have a pretty windburned face, hair was everywhere, beard was splaying out all over the place. Quite a sight for the old man, I know.

We got back to the hotel and I had the most delicious shower I have ever had I think. It has been roughly a week since I have taken a shower. Yes it is gross, but the opportunity hadn't arrived. It took me three washings of my hair to get the matting and sweat out of it, and for it too be silky again. That is kind of yucky.

Dad took me to one of my favorite restaurants. It is in Nashville. It is called Monell's. If you like southern food, you have to go here. It is family style, so you sit at a table with complete strangers. I can boldly say that I out ate every person at the table by twice as much food. The menu was rocking. 2 types of salads, homemade peach preserves, fresh biscuits, cranberry relish, mashed potatoes, green beans, squash casserole, corn pudding, cornbread stuffing, pan fried chicken, baked chicken, fried pork chops, and banana pudding. I know I am forgetting somethings from the table, but that was roughly everything. If you imagine the Front Porch restaurant in Chester, but with all you can eat, that is what you have at Monell's. I felt terrible after I ate there, but was happier than could be.

Got back to the hotel and just crashed.

I should be in Clemson by Monday. Who is excited? ME!

All I wanted was a donut

Tuesday was another pretty uneventful day. I did another 100 mile day. I have just been cranking out high mile days so I can get to Cookeville by Thursday, where I am staying with my friend Marianne Borden's family.

Anyways, I woke up and a storm was looming. It had been raining all night. For the thirty minutes I was up, it wasn't raining at all, so I skipped making a hot breakfast and quiet time and packed up camp in the dry. Less than a mile of biking down the road, and I hit the rain. The rain isn't a bad thing anymore, because the temperature is in the 60's and not the 20's and 30's. It was pretty enjoyable. Yes, I was really wet. Yes, my sleeping pad was really wet. Yes, when I walked into the gas station to refill on water, I got semi-yelled at by the old lady at the counter for dripping water all over the floor she just mopped. No, I didn't feel bad because I needed water.

Again, the miles were uneventful. I crushed through southern Illinois with my new friend Peanut Butter and Jelly Cinnamon Raisin Bagel. I ate 4. I crossed the Ohio river, (which was beautiful where I crossed it, the the only structure around was the bridge I was on, so there were no businesses or anything. The Ohio wasn't super muddy either that day, like the Mississippi and the Missouri were. Really pretty). It stopped raining a while before I reached Kentucky so that was nice.

I met two interesting people that day. One was the owner of the cafe I stopped at for a burger for lunch. Pretty good burger too, for $2.00. She was telling me all the stories and showing pictures of the flood that had just passed through the area. It was up 6 feet on their house. It was nuts. I feel terrible for all the people that got hit by that. Just riding by, you could see how much damage happened to so many houses. It made me pretty upset. There isn't a lot you can do for them. Most of them didn't have flood insurance, so their houses were pretty wiped out.

The second person I met was at a gas station right as I crossed into Kentucky. "Phillips, they call me A.K. Phillips." Mr. Phillips was the old old old man, who was very bent with age. He had this crazy white beard that was about a foot and a half long. He walked up to me, introduced himself, and just started talking. I really had no idea what he was saying. He had a pretty thick accent. I stopped him and kind of just said, "I really have no clue what you just said." He started over for me. He was saying he used to be a teacher. He slipped a disc a few years ago, so he couldn't bike anymore, but now has a recumbent bike, so he bikes all the time. He told me he had knees of steel. He used to be a teacher, and on the summer breaks, would go for bike trips. He has biked to California and back, and has biked to Nova Scotia and back. He told me if I could get to Nova Scotia, I need to do it. It is beautiful.

Phillips, what a guy.

In the town I ended up in, there really wasn't a whole lot to choose from for dinner. I found a hole-in-the-wall donut shop. All I wanted was a fresh donut. I go in, see all the donuts, pick out the three that I want, and then my STUPID card doesn't work in their card reader. They don't do manual entry either. All I wanted was a delicious, hot, donut or three, which were laid out in front of me in a beautiful order, and could have none. If I worked there, I would have given me one. I was pretty upset. I used their wi-fi without paying for anything. Take that donut shop with a crappy card reader.

I biked to a little section of woods, and put up the old tent. No bugs. No rain. No problems.

Except I slept on a hump, and had crazy weird dreams all night.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Nothing Eventful

Yesterday was an uneventful day. I will keep this post short becuase not a lot happened.


I biked 100 miles, roughly.

I met a guy named Jamie doing almost the same route I am doing, but in the opposite direction. He is 26, and from Arizona. He shaves his legs.

I crossed the Mississippi, and it was beautiful.

Chester, IL is home of Popeye the sailor man.

The people in IL suck at driving.

I slept down a hill on the side of very steep road.

I got to talk to Miss Anna Nodvedt on the phone. She is doing awesome things this summer.


Too much chit-chat

Well, today I did not make the greatest time in the world. I only ended up doing 70 miles or so. I kept stopping and talking to people. I woke up to great weather, and started going. I stopped in a little cafe on the side of the Katy trail in a town I can't remember. They had an all you can eat country breakfast for $5.50. Such a great deal. I ate a ton of food. I ended up talking to the waitress and some locals for an extra 30 minutes.

Next, about 20 miles down the trail, I met two old men. They were out biking with their wives, who were currently going to grab the car. They were super interested about the trip, but I was the one asking all the questions. Skip, the oldest gentlemen, was alive during WW2. I spent a good hour listening to him talk about the blackout he used to be apart of when he lived up in Maine. He was super sharp still. He talked about how he was out skinny dipping with some friends when they heard all of the honks from people celebrating the end of the war. These guys were so funny. The younger man kept saying, "Well run me over." when I was talking about my trip. Hahah. I kind of want to start saying that.

I finished another 20 and came up to a bridge with two guys on it. They were doing an out and back tour through Missouri. As I was talking to them, over the course of 45 minutes, 4 other long distance bike tourers, none of which were riding together, came up on the bridge. It was the most random group meeting ever. We all exchanged information and are keeping in touch for the rest of our trips. Talk about the most random thing that has ever happened. I doubled the amount of bikers I have seen on the entire trip on a single bridge in the middle of Missouri. Weird.

I stopped at a McDonald's in St. Clair to get directions home. I talked to a couple there for an extra half hour.

So over all I just kept talking to people all day. The end of the day was me talking to a random guy on the side of the road. His name was Kelly Parke. I just asked if I could stay in his yard with my tent. He said sure. What an awesome dude. He ended up bringing me fruit, doing my laundry, giving me a few Gatorades, and even making me a delicious ham and egg breakfast. Talk about hospitality. Again, I am serious Kelly, if you are ever in the South, call me up brother, I am talking you out to dinner.

That was my day, just a whole lot of meeting people.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

The Katy Trail

Woke up today, biked 40 miles to the Katy Trail. Nothing spectacular about the ride, it was really easy. I got to the Katy Trail and got really moody right when I got on it. I didn't like it at first. I was going to find a place with wireless to re change my route. (If you don't know, the Katy trail is a Rail-to-Trail bike path across the state of MO. It is an old railroad grade, now covered in crushed limestone, that traverses the entire state.) I ended up really enjoying the ride. It was a cool day, and I was averaging about 14 miles per hour. The Katy trail has lots of beautiful views of the Missouri River, and is covered in huge trees, with lots of tunnels. I passed through this tunnel called the Martin Tunnel. The first half was stone blocks, the second half looked hand carved. It was crazy huge.

I met a guy named Bruce while riding. We rode for an hour together just talking. It was really cool getting to talk to a fellow biker, and hearing what he had to say on life. He was a nice guy. He is training right now to do the Katy trail in one day. It is 240-ish miles. That is a really long day.

The highlight of my day came at the end. I was really tired when I reached Mokane, MO. I hit their little section on the Katy trail, and there were a ton of people out in the streets of little downtown Mokane. I pulled up the main street to grab a bite for dinner and there was a huge car show. Tons and tons of old cars. More importantly than the car show was the free fish fry they were having. I talked to some old guys, and they said to go to work on the 6 tables worth of food. So I did. Fried catfish has never tasted so good. I probably ate a pound of catfish alone. It was awesome. They would just bring it out in batches on a cardboard box lid. And people would hurry up and grab it, then you would have to wait for the next batch. It was community donated, so I ate a little something from everywhere.

The top three things there. The fish. This spinach-cheese dip which melted my face. And the best blackberry pie I have ever had. The best PIE i have ever had really. It was the most delicious pie I have ever put in my mouth. I couldn't get over it.

This lady came over to talk to me for a while. This was funny. She found out about my bike trip, that I was 21, and a student. She says, "follow me, I am going to introduce you to some college girls." That just made me laugh. She introduced me to her daughter and daughter's friend. Good thing she did too. Because of that I found out the route I was going to take was flooded in Missouri. They helped me figure out a better way to get across the Mississippi. So they saved me almost three days of extra riding. They were really nice also. Kind of country, which I miss. Can't wait to be back in Clemson.

The town of Mokane was going crazy right when I left it. I don't think the Sheriff makes it out to Mokane very often. It is a town of like 70 people. They were racing down the center of town like it was a drag strip. Tons and tons of old muscle cars. It was awesome.

I felt great after dinner, so I cranked out another 10 miles before bed. I found a little camping spot in Portland, MO for the night. I am right above the Missouri River, and the river is the same color as the sky. It is a mix of pink and baby blue. It looks like a river of cotton candy.

115 miles for the day.

I would love some cotton candy right now.

Missouri Backroads

I woke up this morning to cool 64 degrees, and overcast skies. This is the perfect weather combination for crushing miles. I biked 10 miles to Cameron, MO and stopped at a McDonald's to see the route for the next couple of days. McDonald's was over run by these little critters called middle schoolers. They should probably get that pest problem fixed. It was really funny watching them all interact. They are a herd of animals. Seriously, none of them did anything on their own. Parents, I am sorry I was like that.

Highway 36 was a super busy road through MO, and I just wanted to get off it. I planned a route to the Katy trail on some back highways. The going was awesome. It was still hilly, but the hills were shorter, so you could go down and then ride the momentum back up to the top of the next one. It was just a splendid day of riding. It was really pretty out. It stayed cool.

As I was biking, I found an Amish bakery, Die Brott Pann Bakery. I got a loaf of banana bread and three molasses cookies for 3 bucks. The banana bread was incredible, and the cookies tasted like chewy ginger snaps. The younger boy and girl at the counter stared at me like crazy while I was in the shop. After I payed, I ate outside, and I caught them staring at me through the window. The did the whole, "we weren't looking at you" charade, and then turned around. I guess they don't see funny looking guys in tights on a regular basis. They watched me until I left the parking lot.

I met a few people during the day, and they all told me to go to Waverly Apple Barbecue for dinner. So I did. I had a pulled brisket sandwich with chips and pickles, and freshly picked apple pie topped with homemade ice cream. I can say the brisket was in my top 3 favorite barbecue category. The pie was the best pie of the trip, without a doubt. That meal cost me 7 dollars. There was so much brisket on that sandwich, I was pretty full at the end of it. That is a huge sandwich.

I finished the day by talking to Kit for 45 minutes. We decided to kayak the Mississippi together. Any other guys in for next summer? I have all the gear, you just need to buy food. Let me know, it'll be another adventure.

5 people stopped while I was talking to Kit, to see if I was OK. I told them all yes. The last guy that asked me, Burr (that was his name, so cool), said I could sleep on this piece of woods on his buddies farm. So I slept there for the night.

1 day till the Katy Trail.

My New, Old Man Crush

I woke up and was pleasantly surprised with another headwind. I was getting super frustrated with the headwinds, since the wind is supposed to be coming from the West and it hasn't been. I cranked out the first 15 miles to Hiawatha, KS. After that, it got really flat. It didn't matter since I had a headwind, so I averaged about 9 milesperhour.

Then I met Don. Don is my new favorite old guy. He is what I imagine Chip and I would be if we were combined and 40 years older. He is about my size, so a small guy. "A small piece of leather, but well put together."- Charnise Mangle's dad. He has this crazy gleam in his eye that says, "I am about to go on an adventure. And nothing is going to stop me." He had a mischievous little smile that didn't want to tell me everything he has done, but he did after I asked him. It was because I was so excited. Don is from Springfield, Illinois. When Don was 59 or so, he was diagnosed with cancer and then promptly beat it in the next two years. I don't know much about this, because we didn't talk about it much.

When Don turned 61, he retired. Fifteen days after he retired, he went to his wife and said, "Honey, I am leaving tonight to go and hike the Appalachian Trail." Her response was, "OK, see you tomorrow dear." Don then went to the store, bought a lot of stuff, got on a plane, and hiked the AT in 4 and a half months. If you know anything about the AT, you know this is an unreasonable fast pace. Most people do it in 6 months. He got home, and his wife said, "Wow, you really did it." That was all she said.

Next adventure for Don was a cross country bike tour from California to Virginia Beach. His wife went on this one with him. Don then did the West Coast bike tour. Don decided that he wanted to start running marathons, so he tried a couple during this period of biking. He realized that he loved them, so he continued to run them. He ran one every month for 4 years. Don has run 56 marathons, one in every state, and 4 different countries. Don, in the middle of that, paddled the Mississippi River in a canoe from the top to the bottom with his wife. He also hiked the Pacific Crest Trail on the West coast solo.

When I was talking to Don, he was on his third bike tour, doing the Lewis and Clark Trail. Don does about 85 miles a day. He has half the gear I have. He wears cargo shorts and a t-shirt and tennis shoes and a floppy cargo hat to ride in.

Don is now 67. He has done all of this in 6 and a half years. I talked to Don for over 30 minutes on the side of the road. He also used to be a screen printer (Graphic Comm anybody?). I thought my trip was a crazy one, Don is the most ridiculous human I have met on this trip.

My day got better at this point.

I found Dairy Barn, and got the best strawberry malt I have possibly ever had. It was a restaurant in a barn. And super good.

I crossed the Missouri River.

I entered Missouri.

I hate the roads in St. Josephs, MO.

I got a free bike tube from the owner of the bike shop in St. Joe's. Thanks Shaun, from Forces of Nature Cycling.

I slept in a ditch that night.

The highlight of my day was Don.


Thursday, June 9, 2011

So close, just get me out.

I woke up from a very good night's sleep. No bugs last night, which is great. There were a few residual bloodsuckers from where I didn't shake the tent out great the first time, but no new bug friends.

I got on the road pretty early. I made a stop at the grocery store. People here are so nice. I talked to 8 or 9 different people about the trip and stuff. It was awesome. So many people look at me and go, "where yah headin?". I tell them SC and they always look like they are about to pass out or throw up. It is pretty funny. It is consistent too. Everybody does it.

I rode about 100 today. Not a lot went on. They highlight of my ride was a Sonic in Seneca, KS. I was so excited. The first Sonic of my trip. I got those two junior breakfast burritos and a medium Lemon Berry slush. Classic. And delicious. The slush made my stomach hurt, and I got a crazy brain freeze from it, but it was so worth it.

I finished the day in Fairview, KS. There isn't a whole lot in Fairview, KS. I ate at a restaurant called Philly's. Philly's is owned by Phil. A drunk old angry fat man. He was awesome. All he wanted to do was drink and hug the customers. Funny guy. I couldn't understand a thing that he said. The food was surprising good and a large amount. I got boiled cod fillets and three sides and a desert for 9.50. It was good. I asked Phil and the waitress if they knew of anyone who would let me put up a tent for the night. Phil called some guy who runs the park in town and said that I had permission to stay there. This was an interpretation from the waitress. I seriously couldn't understand anything that Phil said. The only thing I got from him was it took him three years to name the restaurant... and he named it Philly's. Really original Phil, really original.

I got to the park and met a younger couple with kids as I was setting up the tent. I told them why I was staying there and said the only thing that would make the night better would be a shower. Well Chrisy and Dave just walked me across the street to there house, told me where the shower and towels were, and went and finished their walk with their kids. They said if I was done before they got finished, just shut the front door so the dog doesn't get out. What a cool couple. Letting some sketchy, smelly, crazy, park-dwelling man (me) use their shower. That is sweet. First shower in 4 days, and it felt glorious.

I slept super well. I talked to Miss Kathryn McCutchen last night, which was super cool. I haven't talked to her in a while. She just got back from a mission trip in Haiti. That's crazy. I've been telling her to do an international mission trip for almost 3 years now. She finally listened. You are welcome Kath.

I am 31 miles from Missouri. Get me out of Kansas.

Let's do the 100 item challenge everybody. Look it up. Bet you can't do it.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011


I should have listened to my dad. Dad, you are right, I needed bug repellent and a mosquito net. You also forgot to mention that I needed a flame thrower and a 20 gallon bucket of insecticide.

I woke up to every bug that lives in Kansas within 20 feet of my tent. Over a hundred ticks on my rain proof outer and helmet (wadded up in a ball out side of the tent.) More mosquitoes than there are atoms in the body just chillen on the outside of the tent, waiting to go insect vampire all over me as soon as I came out of the tent. A few hundred spiders (*exaggeration on this last one, probably 20 spiders) about an inch in size just hanging out on my bike. It was like the vampire guild of insects decided to have it's annual meeting with dkal as the chairman.

I don't know how I fended them off. I did get bitten quite a lot, and had more than one tick clinging to me when I got out of there. BUT, I have never broken down camp faster than that. I think all the yelling actually fended some of them off. By yelling, I mean screaming like a little kid.

It was a lot cooler today than yesterday. It was 99 instead of 100. That was a joke. It was super hot again. I just busted through the miles. I did 60 by 1 o'clock in the afternoon. I got a sweet phone call from Charizard and Slammer (aka Chai-baby and Tom Don, aka Charnise and Thomas). What a happy phone call. I have decided to slightly change the route, and finish the trip at camp with them. It is still on the ocean, just a little bit South of Charleston. I am super excited.

I went to this incredible steakhouse for lunch. It was a 7 dollar all you can eat buffet. I think I might have put the place out of business. I ate a very large amount of food. I can't control the ol' metabolism, so I am putting down vast portions of sustenance. Seriously though, this place was off the chain. They had this broccoli and cheese soup that I SWEAR was made with real clouds. It was the fluffiest, lightest soup I have ever had. I had 4 bowls. It was so good, I had a bowl of it for desert. Seriously. It you are ever in the middle of nowhere Kansas, on highway 36, and see a steakhouse with a 7 dollar lunch buffet, go in and get the broccoli soup. Unbelievable.

I was super sluggish after I ate so much. It took me longer than I would have liked to bike the last 30 miles to Belleville, KS. But here I am. I talked an RV park owner into letting me stay there for free, as long as I don't use the electricity. I am currently sitting at the local library, using the Internet, and am about to go to bed early so I can wake up and beat the sun. I want to do a 108 mile day tomorrow, hopefully.

1,082 miles from Clemson.

1,323 miles from finished.

Life is good.

I am salty.

It's getting hot...too hot

After I wrote the last blog post, I got ready for bed. It was so hot. I ended up sleeping in a pair of shorts just lying on my sleeping pad with nothing else. Around 4 in the morning is when I decided to put a t-shirt on to warm up a bit. I don't honestly know how I slept.

I got up early, went to the store, then headed out. I was cranking out miles while it was still cool outside. But man, that sun got pretty dang hot. I know that I keep coming back to the sun, and how hot it is, but it is just so dry. I don't see sweat, because it just evaporates immediately. I am sucking down liquids like nobodies business. The salt from the sweat just cakes up on my arms and face, so I have these white streaks across my skin. I am also starting to smell pretty funky, so I think I am on the point of unwelcomeness when meeting people. I hope that I get that far.

One of the highlights of my day was when Miles Bryan, aka Miles dreads (in my phone, may his dreads rest in peace.... I should change it to Miles LETTUCE) gave me a call to make sure I wasn't dead. He was concerned for my safety. I really do love getting calls from friends just seeing how I am doing and talking. It is really great. So Miles, here is your shout out, you are the man.

I got to Phillipsburg in good time. I went to my new favorite restaurant, the Chubby Pickle. I had a bowl of chili and a hot pastrami sandwich. You know a place is good when they don't accept cards. Well since that is all I had, they told me to just go to the ATM at the gas station next door. The card I have is super worn out, and only works 1 in 5 times. It obviously didn't work in the gas station, so I sulked over to the Chubby Pickle and told them I couldn't get any cash out and to cancel my order. I was super upset, since I had been looking forward to this meal since I saw the restaurant online the day before. As I was leaving, the lady in the kitchen said, "keep 'im here, the meal is on us." So, I got to stay and eat for free. I talked to the waitress and the cook, and told them about the trip, why I was doing, etc. They said that the meal was there contribution to my having a crazy life and God bless. I really loved they gave me a free meal. It was probably the best pastrami sandwich I have ever had. That is my favorite sandwich, so it is saying something.

I was still hungry, but couldn't really order anything else from them, so I went to Pizza Hut. Little known fact, a town could be 12 people in population in Kansas, and probably still has a Pizza Hut in it. It is in every single town I have passed through. It is kind of nuts. I got the Hershey's Chocolate Dunkers. I ate the whole order. Chocolate covered dough that you dip in chocolate... this is why people are overweight.

I rode my bike another 4 miles down the road, and found a little copse of trees in a farm. I decided to stop there for the night.


It was down hill so it took me three trips to get all my stuff down there, plus getting it all over the barbed wire fence. I was down there for maybe all of 2 minutes when mosquitoes started evaporating out of nowhere. I just hopped in my tent without the poles in it and talked to my mom for a while. I also talked to Greg Stephens which was pretty cool.

I put on my big boy pants (there are no real big boy pants, this is a little term I made up for Man'n up.) and went and set up the tent as fast as possible. I only got eaten alive about a billion times. But no squitos got in the tent. I slept like a baby.

It is about to get more buggy.

Monday, June 6, 2011

It's always good after the bad.

I woke up to a bunny rabbit this morning. A giant bunny though. I am talking the Hercules of bunny rabbits. He was just doing his thing in the field next to where I was camping. He looked like a horse though. Seriously, he was giant. I packed up camp and got as far as I could with my tire. I would ride for 5-9 minutes. Then spend 2-3 minutes pumping it back up. I did this for over an hour. It was getting a little tiresome to say the least. I finally rolled up to a tiny Baptist church in the middle of nowhere. They were in the middle of service, so I just sat on the front bench for an hour. A guy named Shane came out during the service and we talked for a little while. He said he could try to arrange a ride for me to get to St. Francis. I said splendid.

Ina Mae. Pronounced like Anime. One of the sweetest old ladies I have ever met. This lady is a rock everyone. She drove me 35 miles to St. Francis, which is 65 miles in the wrong direction of her house. We got to talk a lot about Jesus, which was awesome. She was kind of crazy. An old farmer's wife. She told me about all of the adventures she used to have when she was younger. I came to realize it was the only vacation her and her husband took in 45 years of working a farm. It was for one week. They toured the entire eastern USA. She was great. She won't find this blog, so she won't get mad at me for putting her name online. She said she didn't want to have part in this "silly Internet thing" (referring to my blog/the Internet in general).

We got to St. Francis, and pulled into the Hilltop General Store. The shop owner pulled out a phone book, and we called my trip saver, Les. Les is a huge HUGE guy. Not ripped, just a big man. But this guy loves to bike. He brought me a spare tire, two tubes, and a patch kit. Worth about 90 dollars. The tire was brand new. Those folding tires that I put on my bike, which took me both tire irons to peel on and off, yah, he pulled them off the wheel with his bare hands. What a man. We set the bike up, and I was good to roll out. He was a great guy. Apparently his son made a bike that is hand-powered. Then pedaled it to the top of a 14,000 ft mountain in Colorado. That is absurd. Les, thanks again so much man, you saved my trip for sure.

I cranked out another 40 miles. I am now in Atwood, KS. For dinner, I don't know why I was so hungry. I ate a large supreme pizza from Pizza Hut, and then went to the grocery store and ate a quart of moose tracks ice cream. That is pretty disgusting. I still can't believe how hungry I was. I found a cool little park in Atwood. Lot's of trees and a little lake. I got to talk to a lot of friends last night, which was really nice, since the last two days have been a bummer. I am excited to ride hard now, and am ready to get out of Kansas too.

Less than a week ago... 6 Inches of Snow.

Today.... 100 Degrees.

It don't make no sense.


Oh, and I finally got the oatmeal I needed.