Saturday, October 12, 2013

Homeward Bound

after 2 + days of visiting a sister I rode so far to see I am finally heading home to Austin....great food, good sleep and a wonderful time with someone I do not see often enough....

the fatigue has comes in waves....sleepiness, heavy heavy legs...the best of it though is the sore is healing and I can almost sit down without grimace....

looking forward to pugs....and my loving beautiful wife....

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Thursday, October 10, 2013



I woke this morning after better nights sleep then much of the last 15 days....a crappy motel, extreme fatigue, eating too much to late, an aching body part or the throbbing saddle sore all taking a turn for that individually or in any combination....there was no desire to ride....and even if there were it was pouring down rain and 54 with gusty body feels ok with nothing hurting (except the saddle sore) but just a tired thought is the recovery period will not be too long with good food and rest....


these are the pillars of the ride....and if the ride is deemed successful by any measure all were equally important....the research was extensive....without good information it is impossible to have a workable plan....with a plan in place, the preparation starts....instinctively I felt this was going to be a huge test for me with the possibility I had over-reached and would fail....that fear enabled me to proceed with an 8-10 week build up that raised my fitness level to be as ready as I have been for any previous was a good thing I did as needless to say, several days I was looking over the edge of the cliff and almost falling over....the execution left very little margin for error....there were several days of dark to dark on the bike....and the minute the day's ride was over getting ready for the next day started....the routine was strict and all falls apart without being able to adjust to the inevitable things you knew would come (rain), the unexpected (sewer grate crash) and the never imagined (park facilities closed)....


there are several things that happened that I do not have the ability to explain....the kind and generous couple in the Moab Bike shop in Franklin who offer me dinner and a place to stay in Nashville with a promise to have me at the next days starting point at the time I tempting as it was that was too much deviation from the routine to handle....when I was lost in Murfreesboro and looking at my phone trying to figure out how to get back on course a guy on his way to work makes a u-turn, then stops to help (Bert, a cyclist helping a cyclist)....Bert helps confirm the best way to get back on track and eases my frustration and I arrive at the Smoky Mt Natl. Park entrance of Little River Rd only to find park rangers blocking it, Lou (another cyclist) is there also trying to enter....Lou saves me from a devastating amount of additional milage by offering to drive me 35 miles out of his way....Lou delivers me to the lobby of my motel and will accept nothing in return....climbing on the BRP without access to water I roll into a vista point and beg....not only am I given as much water as I can possibly carry, multiple people want to have their picture taken with me before I or minus a few minutes and none of these things occur....


Clingmans Dome Rd is closed in Smoky Mt Natl. Park....the climb would have taken at least 1 1/2hrs out and back along with an additional 1,600ft of climbing to a day that turned out to be the most difficult I've ever had on the bike....on a day when there was no recovery from the previous day, the climb up Mt Mitchell would have to wait for another time....the next day I rode very strong from Blowing Rock to Meadows of Dan....faced with 140 mile day from there the next day to Buena Vista, it was pouring rain in the morning....a decision was made to shorten the day to just Roanoke and readjust the remainer of the retrospect, that 140 miles as planned would have been extremely difficult, if not impossible....the ride ended yesterday and it is pouring cold rain all day today and is expected to rain through the weekend....these are more things that I cannot explain and all could have caused the ride to fail or be a reason for the ability to finish....


if two people can grow closer together while separated in distance we did....she tracked me the entire way....saved me....multiple times....I rode past an exit to my motel and got a miles saving phone call....she encouraged me....the number of phones call Sandy made to try and find viable options for food and water due the facility closures was well over 150....I was alone but never really alone....knowing that inspired me, gave me strength and courage....

I hope I have done you proud....your spirit lives in my heart and mind....


Texas....flat and then the tough steep the heat
Louisiana....beautiful national forests but people are a-holes....will never ride another mile in that state
Mississippi....the Natchez Trace Parkway is beyond description....and the people were so sweet
Alabama....there for just a few hours....crossed the Tennesee River there...go figure
Tennessee....a cyclist dream....a state 3ft passing law for bikes....beautiful and killer hills
North Carolina....the Blue Ridge Parkway....most difficult section of road I have ever ridden....and beautiful too
Viginia....more BRP....and the final destination....what's not to love?....


Longest Day...Day 1 Home to Crockett, TX 171 miles
Shortest Day...Day 13 Meadows of Dan, VA to Roanoke, the pouring rain
Toughest Day...Day 10 Gatlinburg, TN to Asheville, NC....125 miles and ~13,000ft of climbing
Fun Day...Day 12 Blowing Rock, NC to Meadows of Dan, VA....the BRP was not killing me that day
Strongest Day...Day 5 Ridgeland, MS to Houston, MS....137 miles and I crushed it almost non-stop
Best Day...Murfressboro, TN to Spring City, lost, lost an hour to EST and was super strong in the hills
Death Day...Day 6...Houston, MS to Waynesboro, TN....160 miles, rain, 20 miles longer then planned
Painful Day...Day 11 & Day 15....a body that did not want to participate on both days, pain, pain and more pain


71,000ft of climbing in Smoky Mt Natl. Park and the Blue Ridge Parkway
12,759ft of climbing Day 10
9,000ft of climbing in 90 miles Day 10 on the BRP
5,048ft Newfound Gap, Smoky Mt Natl. Park
3,760ft in 13 miles @ 5.2% to Newfound Gap, Smoky Mt Natl. Park
1,845 total miles for the ride
$1,048 - motels
$968 - food & stuff
649ft James River lowest point on BRP
171 miles longest day
$165 - bike shops
158 phone calls Sandy made chasing info
123 miles per day average for 15 days
122lbs my weight when I started and surprisingly the same the day after the ride is over
103 hottest temp
80 advils taken
$75 per day average for motels
$65 per day average for food and stuff
59 miles shortest day
46 lowest temp
28 tunnels
20 (at least) a-holes in Louisiana
15 days of the ride
14hrs longest day of riding Day 10
7 states
6 pizza delivery
5 Waffle House breakfast
4 McDonalds breakfast
4 tubes of Neosporene for pain
3 saddle sores, (1) killer, (1) hotspot left sit bone, (1) beginning sore right sit bone
1 crash
0 flat tires (not counting sewer grate)

I appreciate you following's been a terrific adventure and a challenge that in all likelyhood I will never attempt again....not to say there won't be another multi-day ride in the future, just not one like this....I have placed a marker out there for myself....that's what I wanted....without the support of Sandy and family it could not have been done....and I feel grateful and fortunate for the opportunity....

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

DAY 15 Summary

the head said go...the body said no....that set the tone for the day....what I thought would a somewhat relaxing celebratory ride to the finish was the exact opposite....mainly as my body wanted no part of it and decided to shut it down a day too early....

it was cloudy, cold and headwinds....the road was fairly flat early but transitioned to big rollers after 20 miles or so....any vertical was a painful grind....I was fighting thoughts of bailing out early....I just wanted the pain to be over....and to be this close....just had to block it out and play the milage game....if you get this far then there's only this much left...just get to the next town...and so on....when it was around 20 miles to go it turned more positive and provided a boost....

I finally rolled down Main St Front Royal to a joyous reunion with my sister....a flood of emotion and great relief....being here has not totally sunk in yet....the whole trip hasn't sunk body can now begin to heal and my mind can start to process what has transpired over the last 15 days....I will provide so final thoughts in a trip summary in a day or so....

now time to eat food that is not delivery, wear real clothes and how nice it will be to get a good nights sleep....

DAY 15 miles 86. Total miles 1845.

arrival in Front Royal....

DAY 15 Waynesboro, VA to Front Royal, VA

will follow Hwy 340 north the whole way....really don't know what to expect....local bike shop said it would be scenic and not too lumpy....should end up about 100 miles or so....

disappointed not to be doing Skyline but on the other hand so grateful that 441 through the Smoky Mt Natl. Park and the Blue Ridge Parkway remained open....on the BRP there were metal gates at every on-off, so they could have shut it down....  

waiting for a hint of daylight to begin the final day....

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Tuesday, October 8, 2013

DAY 14 Summary

it was fall weather this morning....temp in the uppers 40's brought out the leg warmers, balaclava and long finger gloves....the wind was from the north making the air feel colder and had to fight headwinds a lot of the miles....but really a spectacular day...

another day with only 1 viable stop off the BRP for water or food with 122 miles ahead....loaded up in the morning at Waffle House before rolling out....ended up skipping the one stop and made it to Waynesboro running on fumes....I ate 5 Stinger Waffles, some salmon jerky and nursed 3 bottles of water....

there two long tough climbs of 9 miles to Apple Orchard and the other 6 miles coming out of the James  River valley bottom....there also who knows how many 1,2,3 milers too....the BRP did not end easy....

the philosophical lesson of the day is "fear" can be a can be a motivator....the fear of failure today was a motivator today...failure would be not finishing the BRP and this ride after coming this far....I found myself determined and focused...the last 30 or so miles were a real struggle....but the BRP is done....470 miles of some of the most beautiful and rugged road I have ever ridden....

DAY 14 miles 131. Total miles  1759

F U Shenandoah Natl Park closure

James River. lowest point on BRP

Orchard Mt

Orchard Mt

9 mile climb

early morning 2

early morning north of Roanoke 1

DAY 14 Roanoke, VA to Waynesboro, VA section 1

DAY 14 Roanoke, VA to Waynesboro, VA section 2

Monday, October 7, 2013

DAY 13 Summary

today was the kind of day that Gore-tex is worth carrying and every penny it cost....I've ridden in my share of crappy weather but today was intimidating as any....cold rain, thunder and lightening and 25mph was more comfortable on the climbs then the descents....Would warm up going up and chill going the rain brought down a lot of leaves ( moj twigg ) making the road very could feel the colder temperature too at the higher elevations....things calmed down quite a bit as I got closer to Roanoke....

it was a short a much over due chance to do laundry, eat well and get my legs up resting for the last two plan now is to ride the final 122 miles of the BRP and head into Waynesboro tomorrow....if all goes well then DAY 15 will be from there to Front Royal, on the west side of Shenandoah Natl Park for ~105 miles and forego the final 40 to Ashburn....then the ride will be it's been said "it ain't over until it's over"....there are no easy miles and nothing is taken for granted....

DAY 13 miles 59. Total miles 1628

DAY 13 weather

conditions at ~5am are very bad....heavy rain and very windy....this is called the Blue Ridge as the road stays along most of the highest elevations....once out there, with all the park facilities locked down there is no place to hunker down if needed....a finish in Buena Vista is out....140 miles even in the best conditions is a just about a daylight to dark day....very few options and not sure what I'm going to do....

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DAY 13 Mon October 7th

Meadows of Dan, VA to Buena Vista, VA

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Sunday, October 6, 2013

my biking pharmacy

DAY 12 Summary

today the BRP showed itself not to be totally brutal....the climbing today compared to the last two was not as severe....still quite a bit but kinder to the legs....also the wind was blowing pretty strong and this was the first day of the whole trip where it was head wind....

said goodbye to North Carolina and hello to Virginia....also am now at mile 178 so well past half of the 470....traffic today was back to very light compared to yesterday when a line of cars were continually stacked up behind me... a lot more relaxing...

DAY 12 miles 117. Total miles 1569

hello Virginia

BRP sun rise

BRP sun rise

a heart that is with me inspires me and gives me strength. I love you

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I am going to take a minute to vent....under normal circumstances there are limited resources on both the Natchez Trace and the Blue Ridge Parkway....with the shut down none...yesterday at one of the visitor centers on the BRP the water fountain was turned off and this really fucking necessary?....They want people to "feel the pain"....they are putting my life, my health and safety in jeopardy...Sandy has literally spent hours chasing viable options....I been threaten with arrest twice for demanding to ride on closed roads....hassled for stopping at a closed facility to send a text message letting Sandy know I was ok....had to accept a ride to avoid 35 extra miles at the end of 120 mile day....and I had to beg for I am facing 115 miles and only one option for food and water without adding miles....tomorrow 140 miles and options are just as limited.... plus 100% chance of rain....venting off...
Happy Birthday Sandy....I miss you and love you so much....

DAY 12 Sun October 6th

Blowing Rock, NC to Meadows of Dan, VA

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Saturday, October 5, 2013

DAY 11 Summary

didn't sleep very well....Motel 6 is cheap but only 1 of 3 on this trip was not a dump....still tired from yesterdays effort too....very foggy this morning so I started later then I wanted but visability was bad....however once the fog lifted it was another picture perfect day....even on the warm side....

road went up from the start...a rude wake up call to dead legs....struggled with any verticle road all day....when I got to the base of Mt Mitchell it wasn't going to happen....later then I wanted and physically it made no sense....the total cliimbing for yesterday and today was ~14, it got later in the day the traffic was horrible....and on a road with zero shoulder there were some close passes....the Boone / Blowing Rock area is very was a short day for me and much needed....hoping to recover for tomrrow....

I have a new friend...sciatica nerve twing in my right butt I am a mess....

DAY 11 miles 93. Total miles 1452

Grandfather Mt

North Cove

North Cove

Mt Mitchell

Switzerland Inn lunch


fog on the BRP

Pisgah Inn

no joke... rode by this yesterday... I stopped to send Sandy a text update and was confronted by police...

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DAY 11 Sat October 5th

Asheville, NC to Blowing Rock, NC

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DAY 10 Summary

when I planned this ride this day stood out....the amount of climbing and knowing the time it take sounded the alarm was difficult to ignore in the previous day but you just cannot get ahead of yourself....

first up was the 15 mile climb to Newfound Gap in Smoky Mt Natl. Park....the park was chilly and very damp....the sun barely peeks through but at the top it was nice....the road to Clingmans Dome was closed and rangers were with the threat of arrest again if I disregarded the closure I headed down to Cherokee for breakfast....on the way down I got chilled really bad....not good as I shivered as I was now 3 1/2hrs into the day with only 34 miles covered....then it was off to start the 88 miles of Blue Ridge Parkway for the day (mile post 470)and around 20 tunnels...this first 60 miles of the BRP are the most rugged going south and tougher going 3pm I had covered only 40 miles....but what kept me in the game was knowing around mile 420 there would be more down hill then up....all facilities were closed and I was desperately  low on at the highest point sign there were 4 couples on motorcycles and another two with cars and I begged....and received a full load....and for some reason after asking about my ride they all wanted their pictures taken with me....I am a rock star...LOL....Stayed longer then I wanted as "day light was burning"....yes indeed lots of down hill at arrived at the motel around 7pm....but only after riding past the exit for a mile until Sandy rescued me with a phone call to let me know....such is the state of mental fatigue at the end of the day....

time to go philosophical again.....yesterday I battled "self doubt" the first 30 miles of so of the BRP....I was hurting....and knew the pace was so slow....I envisioned a finish, if I could do it, to be well after dark....thoughts were of injury, just blowing and pedaling no more, hitch hiking or begging for a ride....this was the most difficult day I have ever had on the bike in my life....never doubt can persevere more then you imagine is possible....

past time to mention the kindness of people....from the waitress who poured coffee for me as I walked in the Waffle House in the rain in Tupelo, Bert, who made a u turn to come help when I was stopped and lost outside of Murfreesboro, Lou driving me to my motel and of course the water yesterday....people are gracious and kind....generous, caring and bad all we seem to hear about is examples of when the few are not....

DAY 10 miles 125 Total miles 1359