Somewhere in between… 

Don’t like reading? Watch all about it here:

And finally….they made it!! On July 28th, 2017 cerca 4pm PT (duh!), Lincoln Log and Air Jordan clasp hands, embrace, and breathe in the salty sea waters of the Pacific Ocean at their final destination of Astoria, Oregon. 4,000 plus miles ago we began our journey from the shores of the Atlantic and we have now returned to the sea. Although we rode mostly in a straight line this journey has felt much circular than linear. No it was not easy, no we never stopped getting flat tires, no we did not choose the easiest route, and no we never gave up. Together we rode longer and stronger than either of us knew we could.

85 days ago in Yorktown, VA we dipped our rear wheels in the Atlantic Ocean. This time around, we were a nation wiser and made the decision to remove our front wheels, thus saving our ever so tired bicycles from one last sandy ride.

 

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The final ride! Molly Kaye joined the Freedom Riders for the final 100 miles to the coast before beginning her own tour from Portland, OR to Bellingham, WA. Hers will be an organized tour through the not-for-profit organization, “Bike & Build.” Molly will be pedaling for affordable housing and constructing homes along her journey up the Northwest Coast. Read more about her mission here, https://classic.bikeandbuild.org/rider/9421.

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JJ (the brother of Lincoln Log) came and left in a flash on some of the hottest and most beautiful riding from Missoula, Montana to New Meadows, Idaho. Just look at JJ’s smile along the Salmon River despite the 100 degree heat!! He quickly found out that the hardest part of bike touring is not the hills but actually deciding on what to eat!

 

Right before crossing into their 9th and final state of Oregon, the Freedom Riders found 2 American flag ties in a thrift shop. They soon realized this was the missing piece to their bike jerseys and proceeded to show them off at every appropriate opportunity.

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To the right we stand with our dear friend Elliott Asher in Portland, OR. Elliott lives a normal quiet life, working 9 to 5 and always paying his bills on time. We thank you Elliott for letting us use your house as a base camp and especially for picking us up in Astoria! We enjoyed a cold drink right after descending from Mt. Hood National Forest where we spent our final nights in the wilderness.

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Lincoln reunites with his brother Pascal behind a wall of classic Portland graffiti. Thanks Pascal for being our personal tour guide through Portland, the city of bikes, beer, and food carts!

Jordan reunited with his family in Portland. He then packed up his bike for shipment to the Old Spokes Home and performed the standard ritual with gusto.

 

 

Meanwhile sometime prior, a biker Hostel in Eastern Oregon turned into a reunion of several cross country cyclists. Below, we stand in front of the ancient Painted Hills just before Ochocho Pass around Mitchell, OR. Thanks Pat and Jalay for running the best hostel along the TransAm!

 

With the road behind us it is time to reflect on what we’ve learned throughout this journey of a lifetime. Every night a new camp and every day a new adventure that no amount of planning, pumping, or fidgeting could ever have prepared us for. As we pushed bike, body, and mind cross country we frequently talked about need vs. want in our every day lives. We made sacrifices and were rewarded with the intangible. With determination, curiosity, and a common vision we were able to find a rhythm amongst the constant motion. Google defines rhythm as a, “strong, regular, repeated pattern of movement or sound.” A repeated pattern of movement is how we greeted each new day on the road. In the end it is the journey not the destination that we will remember.

“We the people,” AND the places. Somewhere in between Yorktown and Astoria…

 

Now the freedom riders shake hands and bid each other farewell on their next endeavors. For Jordan, a cross country flight will deliver him back home for a precious 72 hour window before beginning another long road through medical school at the University of Vermont. In the Green Hills of Vermont it may in fact be his bike that will help him the most in his years of schooling to come. Lincoln, will board an overnight Amtrak down the west coast and back to Outward Bound’s Yosemite base. He will trade his bike for backpack and try to explain to a group of anxious teenagers how biking cross country changed his life. The two Freedom riders will remain in contact planning their next adventures while compiling their journals and memories into one story about their summer biking across America.

Thanks for reading and stayed tuned!!

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Scooter in the Poudre, Life lessons from Fort Collins to Missoula

The Poudre Trail hugged the river for 10 miles Northwest of Fort Collins before turning into State Road 14. At the last gas station before the steep climb into the pass there were three traveling musicians eating breakfast burritos on the side of the road. They shouted “M’erca!” as the Freedom Riders whirred passed. After four nights of sleeping under a roof in Fort Collins, these dirty travelers were a reminder of what we were soon to become. 

Photo: Sleeping Elephant mountain, Poudre Canyon. 

The road continued to closely follow the river into the Rocky mountains. The Poudre River Canyon is a scenic byway and a fishing and river sports meca. Rafters maneuvered down the rapids as we changed Lincoln’s ninth, tenth, or maybe twelth? flat tire in the hot sun by the road. After several rest days in Fort Collins, another day on tour was in full swing. 

At times the canyon was wide and at times narrow. National Forest Service Campgrounds with cold potable water were found at every turn. We ate Mac and cheese leftovers for lunch on a shady picnic table by the river. The afternoon became hotter and a slight headwind began building. A car saw us pedaling hard and handed us both cold beers out of the window; one Busch Light and one obscure Mexican-themed nanobrew. We agreed to fight over who got which later and kept riding. 
The winds picked up while shadows stretched along the canyon walls. We had hoped to make our third crossing over the Rockies and camp on the Western side of Cameron Pass (11,000 ft.) but we didn’t quite make it. It was time to make camp and eat our standard rations of quinna, masala spices, beans and cheeses mixed and mashed together in our hot titanium cooking pot. We found a pulloff by a bridge and walked on a path along the river that led to a perfect campsite to eat and sleep. 



As we bike-hiked into camp, the roar of the over-flowing Poudre Canyon filled our ears. All across the West this past winter has brought heavy snowfall and led to fast flowing rivers and mosquito filled banks. Over the crashing rapids we could just barely make out a faint, “Haaa!” noise. Initially we assigned this noise to some unidentified large bird echoing through the canyon walls. As we began pitching our tent the “Haaa” grew louder and soon enough was a distinct, “HELP!!” Coming from across the river. Air Jordan and Lincoln Log pushed away their towering exhaustion and went into full rescue mode. We scoured the rivers edge looking and listening for the source of the crying. “HEEEELP!…” the voice  blurred in and out of the white water. Then we spotted a black Corvette on top of the canyon across the river with the driver’s door left open. We raced to the other side of the river as our tent, which we had left stakeless, blew away in wind. Lincoln reached the car panting for breathe and slid down the loose shale rock to find our patients. 

Scooter and Ronney. Scooter: an elderly man disoriented, dehydrated, and scraped from elbows to knees. Squatting beside him, Ronney: a four legged, black and white dog with round helpless eyes. The story unfolded as Scooter recounted the last four hours. Scooter had been driving to see his niece in Fort Collins when nature called and he pulled off to relieve himself over the side of the the river canyon. Ronney grew restless and jumped in front of her owner and tripped the 77-year-old terminal cancer patient, sending him tumbling 50 plus feet down the loose rock. Without the strength to pick himself up, Scooter had been lying helpless for the entire afternoon until we heard his cries. Jordan flagged down a passing car and a father and son joined our rescue party. The four of us worked together to get Scooter out of the Poudre. With great difficulty, much intimacy, and a little luck we hauled Scooter back into his car. Another search party was sent out to track down the missing Ronney as well as Scooter’s first generation flip phone. Scooter made a miraculous recovery and after a bottle of coke and a cigarette he insisted on driving himself the rest of the way to Fort Collins. Both dog and phone were recovered and after some debate between the rescuers it was decided that Scooter should be allowed to drive himself away. The father and son agreed to closely follow Scooter all the way to Fort Collins. Before pulling away the father handed us two winning lottery tickets ($10 dollars each!) and wished us luck in our journey. The freedom riders exhaled deeply as they watched the vehicles pull away in a cloud of dust…finally they could have their quinoa dinner.


 Photo: Scooter driving away to be escorted by father and son.  

The next morning we left our pristine campsite to once again face the relentless headwind over the pass. As we coasted down the Western slope a cold rain started. Thankfully, in the valley below the sun cleared away the clouds but the headwind continued all the way into the last and only town before the Wyoming boarder: Walden, Colorado. We cashed our lottery tickets at the filling station. A quintessential country cafe down the road, called the River Rock, seemed like a perfect place for an afternoon coffee before heading off towards Wyoming. It was there that we found the Three British cyclists we had met on our second night of riding back in Virginia. We reconvened with the Brits. 

Left to Right: Air Jordan, Steve Marsh, Lincoln Log, Chris Jewel, Laura Trowbridge. This group of five cyclists rode together for the next 15 days and 750 miles from Walden, CO to Missoula, MT.

We rode North towards Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks. Up and over Togwotee Pass (pronounced “To-go-tee”) was our last major climb before descending into the parks. At a gas station along the climb we were warned by the cashier of a family of Grizzly bears living along the road ahead. Grizzly bears in Wyoming may soon lose their protection under the current administration, check out his NYT article for more on this topic https://mobile.nytimes.com/2017/06/22/science/yellowstone-grizzly-bear-endangered-species-list.html. As we travel through Bear habitat we have learned to respect our order in the food chain and the need for umbrella species like the Grizzly to protect many other living organisms. 
With full bear awareness we began climbing the pass. Slow and steady we passed bike-packers whizzing down in the opposite direction. These mountain bikers bikers were coming off the Continental Divide Trail (CDT). This trail follows the ridge of the Rockies all the way from Canada to Mexico. This off road route is rugged and for the most part unmarked. With much respect for these mountain riders our interactions were spirited and as full of solidarity for long distance cycling.

At the peak of the Togwotee Pass (9,614ft) we rejoined with the Brits who got got a jump start on us that morning. We took a moment to enjoy the views and fill our stomachs. Here’s a photo of Jordan enjoying a typical lunch of Banana, peanut butter, and tortilla.


After lunch we began the windy descent. The wind blew gusts of 20-30 mph making the downhill feel as strenuous as the uphill. With the wind in our face, chapped lips, and dry throats we caught our fist glimpse of the Grand Teton Mountains.


These majestic peaks rose up like arrowheads cutting the sky. With white caps and rocky summits the Tetons form a string of peaks that is hard to keep your eyes off of. As the descent became steeper the mountains grew larger and our home for the weekend unfolded before us. 


The Montana border begins within Yellowstone. From there we biked Northwest across the vast Montana wilderness, stopping along the way for fine wine, cider and cheese tastings. 

After a restful night in Ennis, Jordan’s weary tire sprung a substantial hole and the tube exploded while heading up a pass. The views were beautiful though! And with a spare tire put on, the crew limped into Dillon for a new tire. 


View from the graveyard campsite of outside Dillon, Montana.  
On July 2nd we finally made it to Missoula, Montana, the Northernmost elbow of the official route. Missoula is also the home of Adventure Cycling, the organization that mapped the TransAmerica bicycle route. At the Adventure Cycling Headquarters tourers of all makes, models, and nationalities stop by along their journies. We stopped by, ate the free ice cream for cross country tourers and had our photos taken. 


Now we ride onward with Lincoln’s older brother JJ into Idaho and towards the last destination of this great journey; Astoria, Oregon!

Bell-less in FoCo

The first crossing of the Continental Dovide was a great success! The freedom riders acclimated to the altitude and traversed the Rocky Mountains via Hoosier Pass (11,200ft)!


 They sped down the West side of the pass into the ever quaint and festive town of Breckenridge. They took care of business in Breck; items of necessity were acquired and kale was consumed. 

They bought 50 feet of rope for hanging food, a new eating bowl and collapsable Spork for Jordan, a single red tent stake, and fresh groceries including a reduced price chocolate red velvet cake and a bodacious head of kale. After leaving the grocery store they chowed down on Kale wraps at the outdoor seating of a neighboring sandwich shop. A woman tried to steal their cake while they ate. The Freedom Riders cut her a slice and she drove off with a smile in her sporty Subaru. And so it goes. Later that night, camp was established along the Breckenridge reservoir. It was incredible. Look at the sunset photo!!


The state and people of Colorado have provided substantially to the Riders at every bend in the road. Back in Pueblo, CO a spontaneous stop at Casper Donuts turned into a moment of patriotic solidarity with many diverse populations represented. It all started when Air Jordan approached the Donut shop counter with a bag full of “day-old” donuts. Cindy, the shop manager, decided we looked hungry enough that she decided to give us ALL the bags of day-old donuts. Simultaneously, in the front corner of the shop a meeting of the hard of hearing was taking place. Cindy, decided that we were icons of America on bikes rallied all of the deaf customers to, “Stand up for their country!” and take a photo with us. If that wasn’t enough this group went one step further and pulled out their wallets to make monetary donations to the Freedom Tour. Here we are…. 

Anyway…after spending a night under the full-moon at the Breckenridge reservoir, the following morning the Freedom Tour rode down to Hot Sulfur Springs. It was there that they soaked in the medicinal mineral waters and found time, space, and highly concentrated inner peace and reflection. In an interesting interesection of time, space, and luck it was at the gas station in Hot Sulphur Springs that we met the number one racer in the unsupported TransAmerican bicycle race. This race is one of the world’s greatest tests of human endurance and strength. While some cyclist like ourselves choose to take their time, carry excess clothing, and spend 24+ hours sitting in hot springs, these professional racers carry barely enough to survive and sleep only when absolutely necessary. For weeks they push both mechanical and physical limits to bike from Oregon to Virginia along route 76 faster than the previous years winner. Here’s Air Jordan with Jon Lester at a rare moment of rest for the racer (then) at the top of the leader board. 


The race is swiftly approaching Appalachia and can be followed in real-time here: http://trackleaders.com/transam17f.php

The Freedom Riders once again detoured off route, pedaling East to Fort Collins, Colorado (FoCo, CO), a reasonably-sized bike-friendly metropolis in Northern Colorado (NoCo). The trip to FoCo led them through Rocky Mountain National Park. The road crept up and over the Rockies, again, and finally crested at Sundance Mountain. This brought the Freedom Riders to over 12,000 feet above sea level and stunning views!




From left to right, Jordan, Mary, Allison (Max’s mom), and Max in Denver. 

In Fort Collins a serious level of bicycle maintenance commenced on Lincoln Log’s bike, the Road Warrior. The Road Warrior had carried Lincoln up and over the Blue Ridge, up and over the Rocky Mountains (twice), and to the front door of Recycled Cycles in Fort Collins. His cracked handlebars were tossed in the recycle along with the vintage gears and derailers, both wheels, and a pitted bottom bracket and bearings. Fortunately, not all of the components were worn out. The chain survived along with his oil-stained wrap for his handlebars. Lincoln got nitty gritty and effectively negotiated a fair price for all of these critical repairs. Ironically, he was given a rental bike with the name,”Detour” to ride while the Road Warrior was in surgery. Unfortunately, the Detour had no bell….at last his bike is all but brand new and ready to cruise West once more!


Jordan also got a flat outside a brewery and had the distinct pleasure of drinking a beer while tinkering with his bike. 

On the day of this post they ride Northwest out of Fort Collins, back over the Rockies over Cameron Pass (~10,000 feet) rejoin bicycle route 76 and seek more adventure!

And finally, “We ain’t in Kansas anymore.”

We’ve been riding on all sorts of surfaces. We took the Mississippi levee alternate route and rode through flood water to reach the top of the levee along the great Mississippi………



The Ozarks of Missouri provided some of the most scenic and peaceful riding so far. Roller coaster back roads, light traffic, cool creeks, and of course…a few more flats. 


Photo (above) taken by Justin Chapman https://jchap.me/chapbikesamerica/

We met up again with 3 Brits we’ve met along the way and we enjoyed the last few miles of Missourri and into Kansas with our British friends! https://m.facebook.com/pg/3britsonbikes/posts/?ref=page_internal&mt_nav=1


With 600 flat hot Kansas highway miles until the Colorado Rockies and only three days to do it, Air Jordan and Lincoln Log started dreaming up a new way to travel faster. Tieing dogs to pull us? Welding our bikes into a tandem? Throwing all our possessions in the dump and riding light? Or….hitch-biking! The new wave method of travel by biking to major highway intersections, sticking your thumb out, praying for a pickup truck, and always asking the question, “Are you driving west?.” And this my readers is how we met the RV driver SlimJim…The following content was lifted directly from the original diaries of Lincoln Log and Air Jordan.

“We found ourselves at the Conoco truck stop at the junction of Kansas State Highway 400 and Rt. 99. We filled our eating bowls with gas station hot and ready water in order to mix with our bagged oatmeal and tea mugs. 

With half full stomachs we put on smiles and began introducing our need to make a speedy arrival in the cool Colorado Rockies to the any driver who would listen. An hour or maybe two passed without any luck. The clouds morphed together in the sky and darkened over the vast Kansas plains. With forlorn looks on our faces we debated how much coverage this gas station awning would provide during the “Wizard of Oz-like” storm that was building. 

Just then a long, mud streaked RV, with the words “Southwinds” written on the side and a deflated tire limped into the station. A man, perhaps as desperate as us, stepped down from the pilots seat and immediately dropped to the ground by his tire and connected an air pump. 

“Going West?” We asked. 

He mumbles a yes and we ask if we can ride along. He notices a large brightly colored moth on the side of the gas station and Jordan takes a photo. Jim indicate he’s agreeable to to take us when he says he’ll pull the truck around the back of the station. 

We carry and roll our bikes into his 1983 “Southwind” cluttered with thirty plus years-of cans, fishing gear, and rusted tools from extended “fishing” trips to Arkansas and Missourri. We find the only two seats available at the writing table behind the driver and copilot seats, and Jim’s handgun (legitimized by Kansas’ open carry laws).

We make it 20 more miles West on state highway 400 before his spare blows out and we hit the shoulder and limp along while he calls for help–occasionally swirving off the road while he texts and makes calls. Finally we stop and help him remove the tire. His friend shows up with a spare, and we keep going towards Wichita. 

The engine stops. We hit the shoulder again. He heads to the back of the rig and pours out some gasoline from a tank in the bathtub into an empty wire bottle. With a bit of Jordan’s help he pulls up the floorboard and exposes the engine.

“Let’s see if we can flame it up with some 1983 fuel injection”-Slimjim, moments before pouring gasoline through the gap in the floor onto his engine. 

The whir of the engine shakes our chairs into our souls. The overpowering smell the gas and burnt oil and prompts Jordan to move to the back of the RV. Jim keeps pouring gas and Jordan felt fine with it all ending right here, right now, In Jim’s RV littered with ammo casings and loaded with gallons of gasoline. This is where the road took them. Jordan moved his left hand toward the back door and felt the latch in preparation for diving out the door behind Lincoln. 

There’s no explosion. The engine finally starts. We make it to Wichita and unload our bikes and bags in the hot sun. 


Energy “Goof-ball” recipe: when you pedal all day like a hamster in a wheel food becomes something to obsess over. Here’s a protein packed snack for all you foodies…

  • Peanut butter
  • Honey
  • Wheat germ
  • Chia seeds
  • Quick oats
  • Chocolate chips or M&Ms
  • Coconut flakes
  • Raisins

Proportions are flexible but a congealing consistency is necessary for the next steps. 

Mix in large bowl, press and punch until the mixture starts sticking to itself and ingredients are duly mixed. Roll into balls, bike all day, eat and enjoy your homemade Goof-balls!!

Acknowledgements:

Thanks Jack from Carbondale, IL…we could think of no better way to spend a rainy night than at your friends soiree with live jazz, Mozart, complete with free drinks & food!!

Old moma’ Betty! When we needed a ride you were there, when we were hungry you fed us endless junk food, and when we tried to leave you made sure our bags were stuffed with chips, nacho cheese, and ding-dongs….an important night for flossing 

Steve! You picked us up on the side of he road just before a classic Kansas storm was rolling in. You opened your cabin doors and let us spend the night. We played music into the night and listened to the piter pater of rain on the roof instead of our helmets. Finally, you took us out for breakfast! Thanks again so much and best of luck with living the young life.

    To our vegan New Zealand friend and fellow TransAm cyclist, Jay: we were shocked and sad to hear about your accident on Hoosier Pass. May your injuries heal quickly allowing you to return to biking 100+ miles daily. You are in our thoughts as we ride west. 


    Colorado here we come:)

    Dogs, Detours, and Downpours…the life of Kentucky Gentlemen

    Dogs: The harassment of bikers by Kentucky dogs may very well be older than the route itself; perhaps just an unforgiving aspect of life (traveling through) Kentucky. We were warned about the dogs by guidebooks, fellow Transamers riding West to East, and locals (people walking and talking in places we stop). Most riders heeded the warnings and bought pepper spray (as suggested by the official guidebooks). We picked up a whip in Virginia and rode into the unknown territory of loose canines awaiting us in the steep valleys of Kentucky’s Appalachia. 

    The whip seemed superfluous until packs of 1 to 5 dogs began charging us and biting our flags at every other bend in the road. A quick crack of the whip to the panniers stopped even the meanest looking dog in their tracks. All except one time, when a single dog among a pack of 4 approached from the front. We kept riding and cracking the whip. After biting Lincoln’s pannier several times this dog stumbled and Lincoln ran straight over it. Luckily both dog and bike survived this unfortunate encounter. Ever since, the dogs of Kentucky have kept a safe distance from the freedom riders and their relentless pedaling.

    Detours: When the pavement stops and you see signs saying, “warning blasting site ahead” the logical response would be to turn around and pick another route. But on this particularly hot and steep Virginia day we couldn’t face a detour. Like true pioneers we forged onwards into the unknown. The road quickly became a mountain pass cutting through steep cliff walls with coal strips running deep with the rock. As the days heat increased and our water supply decreased the question of, “where are we?” Began creeping in the back of our minds. Just before we were getting ready to send up smoke signals…the rumble of a pickup truck came up in front of us. The construction worker behind the wheel explained that to us the obvious, we had wound up on a road that didn’t exist yet and wouldn’t be fully paved for another several years. He granted us safe passage through the construction zone and we were definitely the first cyclists to make this journey. Before you knew it we were back on bicycle route 76 sitting in another gas station hooked up to a Gatorade IV drip and inhaling ice cream.

    Sometimes the right thing happens for the wrong reasons. In this case, Lincoln Log was repairing his 3rd flat tire of the last week when we realized that we had biked the last 10 miles in the wrong direction! Instead of buying greyhound tickets home right then and there, we decided to detour just a little further to a bike shop in the nearby town of Danville which had one of the only bike shops in 150 miles. Here we met “Ernst” the bike mechanic and two time TransAm rider! In addition to buying new tubes Lincoln’s bike (aka the Road Warrior) got a full makeover with a new saddle, tighter crank, and raised handlebars!! That evening we finished our longest day so far with a grand total of 90 miles and still got to camp before dark. Thanks Ernst for getting us back on the road!


    A historic moment in Hodgenville, KY (Abraham Lincoln’s birthplace)

    Downpours: It’s been raining real hard out here. Sometimes the rain comes straight up from the ground! It rains sideways too! We sure get wet and cold some days when it monsoons down on us. We’ve been fortunate to have warm churches and firehouses to sleep in and get dry. No matter the weather, we’re doing alright out here. 


    With Virginia and Kentucky in our helmet mirrors we have successfully crossed over the Ohio River into Illinois via the free Cave-In-Rock ferry. Before we put the pedal back to the metal we would like to take a moment to thank the people that helped us through the last 23 days and 1000+ miles…The Route 8 Doughnut Lady who gave us a free dozen doughnuts, Evis Doolin for giving us shelter and free meatloaf on a rainy day, Bill Munger for the homemade power bars and cookies, Molly Kaye for the oreos baked within chocolate chip cookies, and of course the dogs for keeping us on guard and reminding us that every day is indeed a race.

    Virginia Creeping


    Gone are the days of flat roads as well as the feeling that you couldn’t eat a pint of ice cream for breakfast. As we cruise through the Appalachian Mountains of Virginia our appetites and leg muscles grow exponentially. The climb up and over the Blue Ridge Mountains is referred to by guide books as, “ the steepest hill on route,” and “more challenging than the Rockies.” Naturally, Jordan and I paused right before this arduous climb to get a good night’s rest at the Cookie Lady’s house. No not the Cookie Monster, the Cookie Lady. This late and great biker friendly women lived in Afton, VA and dedicated her basement apartment into a x-country biker’s memorial. Memorabilia from hundreds of American bike adventures along Bicycle Route 76 fill every nook and cranny of every room in her home. The doors are never locked and bikers are always welcome to rest, share stories, and leave a token from their journey to add to the walls hung with memories….The only catch is that the Cookie Lady died five years ago and her house hasn’t seen a broom since. Every photo, every bike jersey hanging on the wall, and virtually every horizontal surface was caked with 10-15mm of dust. Somehow even in her absence travelers have obeyed her one and only rule, don’t open the windows or else all of the photos will blow away….In this dusty mouse ridden cave Jordan and I got less sleep than we hoped for before the, “steepest climb on the route.”

    Even with little rest we made it successfully up and over the Blue Ridge Mountains! Although steep the beautiful scenery was enough to keep us distracted as we pedaled higher. At this point in our journey the Appalachian Trail (AT) intersected the TransAmerica (TA) Bicycle route to form our favorite acronym “ATTA.” We met the first AT thru hikers near the top of the Blue Ridge and they looked dirtier, hungrier, and even more tired than ourselves! It gave us so much joy to see other insane people out here suffering through the rigors of long distance hiking&cycling that we decided to copy the age old AT tradition and adopt trail names for ourselves. A trail name is an alter ego, typically assumed by long distance hikers in order to trick themselves into thinking that they themselves aren’t the ones suffering through the rain, sleet, and snow…Your trail name or alter ego acts as your superhero that endures these mental and physical challenges fearlessly. And so, Lincoln Log and Air Jordan pedaled on

    After eating a fat can of foie gras, Air Jordan and Lincoln Log rode into Catawba, Virginia. A motorist rolled down her window and hollered, “Big storms a comin, schools closed, y’all better get inside!”. So they headed for a nearby biker and hiker hostel 5 miles yonder on the map called Four Pines. 


    Four Pines was a fenced tract of picturesque land extending far back from the road up a hill. Chickens, Roosters and Guinea Fowl roamed the top of the hill while 10 cats patrolled the bottom, waiting for the quiet nightfall to hunt mice. Large catfish swam in the murky manmade pond. 

    The caretaker Joe had conceived of and operated Four Pines, using his garage as the sleeping quarters, since retiring from the railroad. He had created a haven for AT hikers looking for a place to wash their clothes, dry their belongings, and eat.

    Joe led us up the hill where we pitched our tent behind the garage and joined the relevery.  Thursday night was special in Catawba because the Homeplace, a family-run, all you can eat, homestyle restrautant served dinner on Thursdays only. We were shuttled to the Homeplace by Pacer, the hostels temporary driver and ping pong AT hiker (he hiked north to south, and was slowly making his way south to North).   


    We ate dinner with 2 hikers. Yoda, a medic vet, was hiking the AT with his girl and 2 dogs–one tiny mutt and one large Boxer. And there was Ironman, formerly a c-130 pilot in Vietnam who did Ironmans with his girlfriend. Together we toasted with our sweet teas and ate the most delicious piles of fried chicken and Barbecue, all smothered in gravy and weighted down with side dishes of collard greens, Cole slaw and apple sauce. The hours ticked on as Ironman recounted stories from the trail between bites of chicken– the coldest night he ever spent out and the hardest rain he ever had to endure. He talked more and ate more than all of us. It was late by the time we caught a shuttle back to the hostel. There was no hard rain that afternoon or night, and our stop at Four Pines and dinner at the Homeplace marked the glorious end of a chapter of our tour; we had crossed the Blue Ridge and entered a part of the country we had never experienced before. 

    The next day the rain came down hard, and for the first time we got real cold — giving us a story to rival Ironman’s. Hours of riding in the cold brought us into the town of Draper. A Trail Angel named Lisa let us sleep under a shelter tucked away in the center of town. We cooked dinner as the sun set. 


    With approximately 442 miles in the last 11 days we rolled into Damascus, VA for our first ever, and much needed, zero day. Ten miles before town we picked up the Virginia Creeper bike, hike, and horse trail. This famous path winds along beautiful Green Cove Creek and brings good economy to the trail town of Damascus. The native vine “Virginia Creeper” has followed our route from the start. On its namesake trail the Virginia Creeper reaches upwards of 50ft on trees. May our trip blossom with the same strength as this vine and may the 3,800 miles to go transform us into road warriors.

    And we rode…

    “So you’da the folks with the bikes!”

    -Amtrak conductor, Williamsburg, VA
    And we rode…

    The tour has been in full swing. We got our wheels spinning early Thursday morning riding from Jordan’s apartment to Penn station. With some groggy negotiations we loaded our bikes on the baggage car and tried to catch some much needed sleep as morning commuters trickled on at each stop.
    We steamed into Williamsburg in time for a quick lunch. Our first southern ride was from the Williamsburg Amtrak station to Yorktown’s coast, where we dipped our rear wheels in the low salinity waters of the Atlantic delta.
    Our first night was with Ted and Ann, a couple who offered to host us for the night via warmshowers (https://www.warmshowers.org), a cyclists only coach surfing website. Like Grandparents from another life Ted and Ann opened their doors to us and immediately started showering us with homemade pasta, strawberry shortcake with freshly picked Virginia strawberries, and a night full of stories from their families own bike ride cross country. In the morning we were greeted with bacon, eggs, doughnuts and a coastal tornado warning-which we thoroughly assessed with Ted and Ann over breakfast. After a rough Amtrak ride down south there could have been nothing better to cheer our spirits than Ted and Ann’s good graces and the bag full of doughnuts they sent us off with.

    Our ride meanders West from Methodist church rec rooms where we sleep amongst tiny chairs and tinker toys. Saturday night we tented in the grass field behind the town of Mineral fire department across from the train tracks. Hospitality is everywhere.
    Each mile across the land of Virginia has brought positive experiences; after the hectic life of New York City, a deep sense of calm has begun to set across the Freedom tourers, especially Jordan.

    As the night sets upon open plains, the Freedom tourers prepare for sleep. The pavement of the Appalachian mountains awaits our wheels…

    And now, we ride…

    Over the last several days we’ve transformed Jordan’s ex-apartment in NYC from a residential zone into a bike shop. Every brake has been tightened, every chain has been greased, every wheel has been trued, and every map has been read. As much as we know how we have prepared for our three-month bike ride with great focus and just a touch of obsession. Now the time has come…our bags are packed and in the wee hours of tomorrow morning we will ride the streets of Manhattan to Penn Station in time for a 3:30AM departure to Williamsburg, VA.

    Our time inside the comfort of 4 walls, 3 pillows, 2 down comforters, and 100 rolls of Charmin’ extra-soft is rapidly dwindling. We can’t help but to feel, despite our meticulous planning, that the reality is…we are riding into the unknown. Where we will sleep, what we will eat, and exactly what will replace that oh so soft Charmin’ toilet paper are all questions without answers. In these moments of hesitation it is important to surround yourself with like-minded bikers and justification for such a long, long ride. That’s where the League of American Bicyclists comes in. They are a high-powered national organization that shares a similar vision with us. They’ve got a sweet history of lobbying for paved roads and a very poetic mission statement…

    “WE BELIEVE”

    Bicycling brings people together.
    When more people ride bikes:
    Life is better for everyone;
         Communities are safer, stronger and better connected;
         Our nation is healthier, economically stronger, environmentally cleaner and
    more energy independent.

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    See you all on the road.

     

     

    Start Date May 3rd!

    As the start date approaches Jordan and I prepare for our unsupported cross-country bicycle tour on separate coasts. Lincoln in Tahoe, California: skiing his days away and disassembling/resembling his vintage 1984 Trek road bike by night. Jordan in New York City: prepping for medical school, refurbishing his homemade touring bike, and taking extended rides up the Hudson River.

    On Wednesday May 3rd, 2017 our tour begins at NYC’s Penn Station where we will roll our bikes onto an Amtrak Train all the way down to Williamsburg, VA. From then on it will be nothing but two wheels per person powered by own two feet, all the way to the West Coast…stay tuned.