Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Looking back...

So the total trip ended up being 4456 miles by my cycling computer, and in 56 days, gives an average of right at 80 miles a day. I don't know the total climbing exactly, but another blog of the same route said they measured it somewhere around 120,000 feet of climbing over the trip. We amazingly, only had one day where it rained all day. Other than that day, we only had a few isolated storms that lasted about an hour or less. We really lucked out weather wise.

- Out of everyone that we saw, we had the lightest load/least amount of gear. I think this was a huge contributor to the fun factor of the riding.
- Out of everyone that we saw, we had the fastest daily average. We may not have ridden as many miles each day as some, but we rode faster.
- Our fastest day: Breckenridge to Pueblo, CO. 140 miles at 20.5 mph average.
- Our longest day: White Hall to Yorktown, VA. 207 miles at 18.4 mph average.
- Our slowest day: Lexington to White Hall, VA. 66 miles at about 13.5 mph average.

Things I would have done differently:
- Mountain bike shoes with spd pedals instead of the road shoes and pedals I had.
- 28 width continental gatorskin tires instead of the 25's. I can't complain about the tires themselves though. With one rotation, they made it across with no problem, but the a little bit wider tire might have been nice in a few situations.
- Running triple front chainrings instead of the compact double I had. The gearing range was completely adequate, but it would have been nice to have a few more gears to choose from in the middle. Also, in some cases, I was jumping back and forth between the big and small chainring where a middle chainring on a triple would have been adequate.
- Next time I will run a 36 spoke rear wheel. I wish I had shown a little more concern for my rear wheel before starting...and maybe avoided some of the headache in West Yellowstone.

Valuable Tidbits:
- The multifuel stove capable of running auto gasoline was awesome. We never had to worry about finding fuel and it only cost about $0.35 to fill up.
- The 35 degree down bag was perfectly adequate and packed super small.
- Taking only the tent poles and rainfly saved a ton of weight and room and never let us down in the torrential downpours we had. The bugs weren't an issue either if you pitch it after its completely dark.

I'm sure there are things that I am forgetting, so post up a comment if you have a question about anything. The trip was really awesome and I can't say anything bad about it at all. I would recommend it to anyone.

Friday, July 3, 2009


Day 56: 207 miles - We went to bed last night hoping we would be able to finish today. We got up at 5:30 and were on the bike by 6:30. The route for the first 100 miles was beautiful rolling hills through central Virginia near Charlottesville. We rode right by Montecello as well as a few other historic estates and landmarks. We finished our first 100 miles in 5:27 right around noon and stopped for lunch at 112 miles in near Ashland, VA. After we had downed some food, we knew we could finish out the trip today. We had 95 miles to go after lunch and although the legs felt great, the saddle was getting very uncomfortable. We made great time for the next 80 miles and arrived in Williamsburg just before 7pm. The trip down highway 5 was also beautiful with a bunch of different old plantations scattered in the last 25 miles before Williamsburg. Once in Williamsburg, we had 13 miles down the Colonial Parkway to our final destination. So after about 45 minutes of terribly painful cobblestone/rough road, we rolled up to the Victory Monument in downtown Yorktown around 7:45 and found a blaring firetruck in the greating party.

Andy and I were both dazed after spending all day on the bike, but rolled down to the water front and took our symbolic dip in the bay to seal the deal. The second century of the day ended up taking 5:24 and we averaged 18.4 mph for the entire 207 miles. Time for some food, a bath and a bed. Trip summary to come soon.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Blue Ridge Parkway

Day 55: 66 miles - A few days ago, we realized that there wasn't going to be anywhere in Lexington to camp, so I called the city police yesterday to ask if we could camp in one of the city parks. I got transferred to a supervisor, and he gave us the ok. He said that he would leave a note for the dispatcher and to call if we had any problems. Last night at about 11pm, a police car comes hauling across the gravel parking lot with spotlight and all. An officer got out and asked, "what are you doing?". It seemed pretty obvious to me, but I told him that we were traveling across country by bike and had permission to camp here. He didn't believe me for a minute and told me that the park closes at 11pm and camping is not allowed. He asked who had given permission, but of course I couldn't remember and didn't write it down. Finally, I told him that the dispatcher should have a note saying it was ok. He radioed, just in an effort to prove me wrong, wearing a pretty big smirk on his face until the dispatcher repeated everything I had told him pretty much word for word. After that, he told us to have a good evening and promptly drove away.

This morning we got up and moving with a lot of anticipation for this climb we had been hearing about. Ever since about Kansas, people riding west have been telling us how hard this climb up to the parkway is going to be for us eastbounders. I rarely heard anyone talk about it without a swearing. We hit the base of the 4 mile climb at about 19 miles in. The middle 2 miles was pretty steep, but I was expecting it to get a whole lot tougher near the top. As we got closer to the top, I could hear cars on the parkway and the grade was gradually lessening. Before we knew it, we were up on the parkway, wondering where this climb was that everyone had been talking about. It was definitely one of our harder climbs, but it really wasn't the heinous suffer-fest that everyone had made it out to be. After that, we cruised along the parkway for almost 30 miles and then dropped off the eastern side.

So with that, our time riding through the Appalachians is done and we are 205 miles from Yorktown. We're shooting for a grand finale finish tomorrow, but we'll just have to see how it goes.