Monday, September 28, 2015

Day 39- Looks like we made it!

We left Ashland and headed for the coast. The weather was perfect overcast and the rain held off all day. We followed the Capital Trail most of the day and made it to Yorktown right at 5 pm. I will try and describe the feeling you get after riding almost 4000 miles on a bike. First, you know you are done in 100 miles so the day drags on as you ramp up anticipation. Then, your determined to finish as fast as you can. After the burn settles in, you become nostalgic and look back on all the people you have met and what we have seen. Lastly, you cry the last five miles as you realize you have just accomplished something that less than 1% of people do. You have rode your bike across America!! This just shows that average people can do hard things. One pedal at a time, one day at a time.

A huge Thank you to Bob, my hubby! He amazed me with his strength to ride 39 days after a knee replacement 4 months ago. He never complained and said he loved the whole adventure. I couldn't have made it without him. Second, thanks to all my sags- Baron, Don and David, and Dad. All of them were troopers and supported us every day on this journey. Lastly, thank you to the Switchpoint team. You guys are amazing and inspire me to keep on keeping on! See you soon.

Made it to the Atlantic!
Janis, Carol and Bob crossing into Yorktown

Miles 3677

Bob proud of his biker tan!

I am so excited to meet with Utah Senators Lee and Hatch tomorrow. Stay tuned!

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Day 38- Chain wreck not gonna stop me!

Today we had NO RAIN! I was so happy. We rode into Charlottesville to visit the Haven. It wasn't open yet, but I got a chance to visit with some of the clients who were waiting to use the services. The Haven offers day shelter- laundry, food, housing assistance, etc. There is no night shelter in Charlottesville. As I visited with four of the men, they echoed what I have heard across the country. The echo of once they have a felony- no one will employ them or rent to them. The echo of once an addict- you are treated like an addict forever.
I found Joe in the park across the street from the Haven. He was asleep on the bench wrapped in his blankets. I asked him if he wanted anything to eat and offered him the two Cliff bars from my bike. He was kind and considerate but broken. Joe had been on the streets for over 30 years. He said he didn't really remember anything else. I asked him if he wanted to change anything but his reply, "I don't know how."
As we continued along our route past Palmyra several dogs gave chase. Wouldn't you know the day I think we are safe and leave the spray with the Sag- then they all come out. Two were very close to biting me on the back of my calves. It got my adrenaline going so much that we rode faster than any other day. It helps that the hills are gone. Made 89 miles in 7 hours. We have had more problems with our chain and gears in the last five days. So we have dubbed it Chain Wreck. Bob gets a punch in the kidney from me if he puts in a gear he is not supposed to. We broke another tooth off our chain ring and lost our chain twice today. It is becoming more like a Nascar pitstop than a bike ride.

Thought for the day- Life is a trip. The only problem is that it doesn't come with a map..We have to search our own routes to reach our destination..

We are almost done. I am feeling excited, anxious and kind of sad. Sad because I have enjoyed being with Bob everyday for the last 38 days, sad because I have loved meeting with shelters and people in homelessness. I am way more excited than sad. I am excited to go back home, back to work, back to family. I am excited to put into play what I have taken back from this experience.
Great visit with clients in Charlottesville
Made it to Ashland, Virginia

Lots of bike decor in Virginia

The Haven

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Day 37-First time for everything

Today we woke up to rain again. It never stopped in the 75 miles of riding. When I say rain, I mean lots of rain. We enjoyed a lovely breakfast with our friend Carole who we met last night. (I think she looks like Meryl Streep). We decided that being wet doesn't hurt ya, so we rode on. We only had one mishap crash today. We were trying to turn around on a wrong turn and tipped over. Road rash with wet clothes is real fun. It looked like slow motion movie when we went down but it felt fast. Then we were heading down a hill when we heard a "clink clink". Bob couldn't get the back brake to work so we pulled into a church parking lot and used their picnic area which had a covered porch to fix the bike. Bob and my dad have learned a lot of fix it moves on this trip. We just want to be able to finish this trip with no more mechanical problems... Only 2 more days .....

Thought for the day- Many of us have fears. We are afraid to try things because we are scared of failure. It takes a first time attempt to get over some fears. Sometimes we don't try things because it is out of our comfort zone. Other times it is because we don't want to offend anyone. One thing I have learned on this trip is to stretch myself and my comfort zone. Have some first time victories.

First time things on this trip-
1. Riding 100's of miles in the rain.
2. Eating peanut butter for 30 straight days.
3. Bob growing a beard.
4. Sleeping in church parking lots.
5. Eating a Jamaican Beef Pie in Virginia
6. Wearing the same thing for 37 days
7. Hitting over 50 MPH on a bike
8. Doing laundry in a camper shower.
9. First time having a TDF suntan line (tour de france)
10. Using dog spray
Crazy times in the rain

Breakfast with Carole

Friday, September 25, 2015

Day 36- The Soggy Bottom Blues

Today was wet, wet and more wet. We woke up to rain and are going to bed to rain. But we needed to ride anyways. Can't get behind! We could only muster 88 miles because of the rain. I have never been so wet in my life. We wore rubber gloves over our cycle gloves, shoe covers, 3 shirts, shower cap on our helmet and 2 pairs of lycra bottoms. I didn't care that nothing matched. We sure got a lot of pitiful looks. Most people wonder why we are riding on a rainy day. One gal, named Carol- not kidding, stopped us and started talking to us about her bike across America that she did in 1977. Fascinating lady and we invited her to dinner. She is observing horses and writing a book about their emotions. I love meeting locals and hearing about their experiences. Carol is going to make us breakfast tomorrow morning. She even offered to dry all of our wet clothes.

Thought for the day- I was miserable cold and wet today and had a choice. The choice to keep riding or quit. I thought about the many people I have met who spent many nights on the streets- wet and cold. They didn't have the choices that I have. It becomes a survival mode when all you can think about is what you are going to eat, where you are going to sleep, how are you going to get warm. I couldn't stop thinking about chicken pot pie. I had become so focused on something pleasant, I could forget the misery of the rain. I suppose that is what alcohol or drugs do for some. It helps take away the present misery and pain. I so appreciated the Pope focusing on hunger and homelessness when he was visiting the US. It was all over the news as we drove by towns. I love his comment about prayer. He said pray for the hungry and then feed them!
Janis and I ready for the rain

Bob layered up

Tandem wet heads

No sunglasses needed today

Dinner with fantastic people- Janis and Carol

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Day 35- Fall is in the air!

Well, after 100 miles today, we made it to Radford, Virginia. I am in utter amazement of the Blue Ridge Mountains and the lush valleys of Virginia. The leaves are all turning on the trees and we saw beautiful streams almost all day. We had our last three big climbs today and then the rest was up and down hills. I find the up and downs harder to do than the big mountains. We had a headwind all day because a storm is moving in so it was slow going. Finally made it to Radford just as it was getting dark. I have a feeling we will have rain the last 4 days of this trip. As we are getting closer to the end of our ride, it is an amazing feeling that we have actually rode our bike across America. The realization is that anyone could do just have to start. So many people thought we were crazy, including ourselves. But every day I rode a little bit to get ready. Every day I thought about what it would take. Then once we started the ride across America it changed to every day just pedal. Some days are slow, some days are painful and some days are brutal. But every day has been a learning experience. I have used this trip as research and development for Switchpoint. Learning from so many leaders I have met in towns and shelters along the way and listening to people who are in the trenches has been a valuable experience.

Getting ready to head out of Damascus, Virginia

Appalacian Pass 

Virginia Beauty


Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Day 33 and 34- God Bless America!

Out of all the days on the road, today was the prettiest. People who never go see America are missing out on the diversity and beauty. I asked people on the road all day yesterday and today if they had ever been to the Atlantic Ocean. Many said, "no, why would we leave our holler?" They have no idea what is out there. I saw so many people sitting on their porch, not working. I hollered up to three guys, "hey, how come you are aren't at work?" They hollered back, "cause we're waiting for the paint to dry." We stopped at a Walmart in Kentucky right before the border. A man was asking if there was any work at Walmart. The employee said there was over 3000 people out of work so stand in line. Coal is the major business and it is out of business in Kentucky. So many people are in poverty. Yesterday we rode from Mckee to Elkhorn City, crossed into the Breaks Interstate Park. It was stunning since the leaves on the trees are all turning. Nights have gotten cooler and the mornings are cold to ride the first couple of hours, but we are so happy with fall!

We had a special surprise guest show up today. A friend, Michael Cardon drove 6 hours to meet up with us in Damascus tonight. He lives in Ohio! What a nice break for us to visit.

Funny names today for roads- Sandlick Rd, Frying Pan Lane, Fuzzy Lane, Homer Trail

The funniest thing we saw today was three school buses chopped down full of hay bales. They passed us back and forth for 10 miles. I can't believe a school bus can hold that much weight- hope there weren't any kids on there too.

Thought for the day- We are so blessed with the great country we live in. I have been amazed at the natural beauty of every state we have crossed. I have also been disappointed in the people who don't take care of it. Trash on the sides of the road, trash in the rivers. We all have to do our part to keep it clean. Virginia so far has had great roads. Kentucky could really use some work. Take some pride in where you live!
Modified School bus tractor
3 hay haulers

Beautiful Virginia

Our friend, Michael Cardon came to visit

More Virginia scenery

Monday, September 21, 2015

Day 32- Hills, Hollers and Licks

Today was a great day! Why?? Because our bike is fixed and rode like a champ! We stopped at the Danville Bike Shop and the owner, Earnst was so attentive and knowledgeable, He fixed all of our problems and got us safely back on the road. Come to find out he rode a tandem across the US with his 10 year old son. Small world. Danville has a lot of history about the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln, Constitution, etc. I love all of these small towns! The people are great and like to entertain you. One thing we learned today was Kentucky vernacular. A hill is really a mountain, a holler is a valley and a lick is an area where salt is found naturally. so many places back east have the name lick in them, so we had to ask what it meant! We visited with a family at an ice cream stop and asked how far to the next town. "Well, yer will go past all the licks and then down the holler and flat for 6 miles." Ok, thanks! This little store looked like it was out of business until we saw the family eating outside. It was the best ice cream sundaes we have found! I had to order through a screen that was held on by duck tape and he was smoking as he fixed it, but seriously great ice cream.
One exciting moment today was a dog started chasing us. We had just bought some dog spray at the bike shop in Danville. So as Bob was yelling, I took aim and got him right in the face. It is like a pepper spray and only stuns him for a few minutes. But my aim was right on and he sat down and didn't bark or whine. Just put his face down. I don't think he will chase cyclists anymore. The scariest part is if the dog gets in front of your tire when you are going down a hill.

Thought for the day- Mishaps can turn into great experiences. We weren't supposed to be in Danville, but because the bike needed a mechanic we ended up seeing a lovely town, met a great guy at the bike shop, and took a wonderful detour seeing all kinds of colleges, art, and landscape. I appreciate the unexpected mystery of the unplanned events of our trip.
Historic Danville

Historic Danville

Typical Kentucky landscape

Freezer Ette

Earnst fixed our bike!
Hills and Hollers going up Big Hill