No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it is not the same river and he is not the same man. -Heraclitus of Ephesus (Greek Philosopher)
WE MADE IT!
Jaine and I rode the last 35 miles from Coinjock NC to Kitty Hawk NC together. It was a beautiful day and although the wind was in our faces all of the way, it was sunny and the roads were great. Just the humidity and salt smell of the ocean spurred us on to a 17 mph pace in spite of the wind and when we dipped our front tires into the Atlantic we dove into the water with all of our bike gear on. The water was really cold but we were hot from the ride and by God it felt good!
What an experience! People came up to us and asked what we were doing and a small crowd gathered around congratulating us and asking us about our trip.
As Jaine and I answered their questions, I stepped back in my mind to try to comprehend what I had done. Ever since May 23 when I dipped my back tire in the Pacific Ocean at Point Buena Vista to the west of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco and ran across the beach and up the hill to start my ride, I have been taking every ride one day at a time. My travel mindset was to get to the next place I needed to go whether there were mountains, high winds, rain or sleet, or blazing hot days to get in my way. Now that I was standing on the beach at Kitty Hawk at the Atlantic Ocean, it was difficult for me to comprehend the whole of what I had done. I had ridden over 3600 miles on a bike across America and it didn’t quite sink in.
Since my finish on the beach at Kitty Hawk, I’ve had some time to absorb what I had accomplished.
Here is what I learned as I traversed the heart of our country by bicycle.
I have learned we live in a beautiful country.
Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, CA
Omo Ranch, Sierra Nevada, CA
On the Other Side of Carson Pass, Kirkwood CA
Leaving Baker, NV
Between Middlegate and Austin NV
Starting Carroll Summit, NV
Entrance to Red Canyon at Bryce Canyon National Park, UT
Inspiration Point at Bryce Canyon National Park, UT
Bridge Over Colorado River, Hite Recreational Area, UT
Leaving Lizard Head Pass, Colorado
Outside Telluride, CO
Arkansas River at Cotopaxi, CO
Landscape Viewed From the Top of Pawnee Rock, KS
Riding Past a Wheat Field in 103 Degree Weather at Leoti , KS
Wheat Harvest at Ness City, KS
Trail Head of the Katy Bike Trail at Clinton, MO
On the Katy Bike Trail Between Sedalia and Booneville, MO
Stopped by Missouri River Flooding Between St. Charles and Machen, MO
Ohio River at Cave-In-Rock, IL
Inside Cave-In-Rock at Cave-In-Rock, IL
Garden of the Gods, IL
Allegheny Mountains, Hazard, KY
Mountain Stream between Berea and Hazard, KY
Road and Railroad between Hazard and Elkhorn City, KY
View of the Allegheny Mountains Just Outside of Meadowview, VA
Arabian Horses Between Charlottesville and Ashland, VA
Beautiful Flower Garden Between Blacksburg and Troutville VA
Cotton Field Just Inside the North Carolina Border Between Suffolk, VA and Coinjock, NC
Dawn at the Atlantic Ocean, Kitty Hawk, NC
Jaine and John After Diving in the Atlantic Ocean, Kitty Hawk, NC
Every state I passed through has its own natural beauty and when put together makes a beautiful and diverse landscape. From the spacious skies of Nevada and Utah, the amber waves of grain of Kansas, Missouri and Illinois, the purple mountains majesty of California, Colorado, Kentucky and Virginia and the fruited plains of North Carolina, the song ‘America the Beautiful’ most aptly describes what an incredible country we have the privilege of residing.
I have learned we live in a country populated by wonderful, kind and supportive people.
Lara, Jaine, John and Jesse at Point Bonita YMCA . Jesse and John a day before the ride before the ride. Read more about them on my May 21 blog "The YMCA at Point Bonita and Living California Style.
Roger and John in Suison Valley Wine Country. Roger really knows wines and explained why 'old vine' Zinfandels make such good wine. Read more about Roger on my May 23 blog "Checking out the California Wine Country".
Jaine and Aleah at Lake Tahoe. Aleah did an awesome job cutting Jaine's hair and has close relatives in New Glarus WI. Jaine and I live less than 20 miles from New Glarus.
John, Debbie and Jaine at a Lake Tahoe Beach. Debbie knew the name of the tree that produced gigantic pine cones that Jaine likes. Her husband was the chief winemaker for the Robert Mondovi winery. Read more about our visit with Debbie on my May 28 blog "In Search of the Name of a Tree".
Mike Bosomworth from Great Britain finishing his ride at the Golden Gate Bridge. Read more about Mike on my May 27 blog "Who is NOT riding across America on a bicycle?".
Matt fixing John's bike at the Placerville CA bike shop after his first crash. Read more about Matt on my May 27 blog "Who is NOT riding across America on a bicycle?".
Gentle People of the Rainbow Coalition in El Dorado National Park. Read more about Rainbow on my May 27 blog "Somewhere Over the Rainbow".
Matt, Able the rescue dog and John at Kirkwood Ski and Mountain Bike Resort in Kirkwood, CA. Matt is a big time mountain biker and rescue dog handler.
Dana, John, Ned and Victoria at the Genoa Bar and Saloon in Genoa, NV. Willie Nelson likes to hang out at this bar. Read more about Ned, Victoria and Dana in my May 28 blog "In Search of a Name of a Tree".
Local artist visiting with John at Genoa NV
Jaine and Emma the Park Ranger at a State Park in Genoa NV. Read more about Emma in my May 28 blog "In Search of a Name of a Tree".
Ram the Hollywood Stunt Man in Carson City NV. He did stunts in the movie 'The Fugitive' with Harrison Ford, among dozens of other big name movies. Read more about Ram in my May 28 blog "In the Search of a Name of a Tree".
Josh Montenaro, our cycling companion throughout the Rockies. He was great company throughout our trip and we became Aunt Jaine and Uncle John by the time Josh parted when we arrived in Pueblo. Josh will go far in life, of that I am sure.
Josh, Freda and John discussing how Freda's makes such excellent Texas toast and delicious burgers at her restaurant in Middlegate, NV. Read more about their excellent place in my May 30 blog "Mad Dogs and Englishmen".
Stephanie and Jaine. Stephanie is an ultra-distance runner running across the entire nation over 30 miles a day. Read more about her on my June 1 blog "So you think you're pretty tough, eh?".
Josh and Yuma with John. Josh loves to travel and has lived out of his van for the past 2 years. Read more about Josh in my June 1 blog "So you think you're pretty tough, eh?".
Brother Dave and Jaine. Brother Dave caches food and water all over the United States and uses them as he crisscrosses the nation by bicycle. Read more about Dave on my June 4 blog "Good Samaritan Day".
Bubba and Billy, the Good Samaritans. Billy is a retired Marine who proudly served his country. Read more about them on my June 4 blog "Good Samaritan Day".
A very friendly Nevada road worker. I stopped and had a great conversation even though there wasn't a soul on the road at the time.
John, Clare and Jaine at the Great Basin Visitor Center in Baker, NV. Clare runs the book store and loves the town she lives in. Read more about Clare on my June 5 blog "A Really Cool Place to Visit".
Jan and Martin are father and son traveling across America. They hail from the Netherlands. Read more about Jan and Martin on my June 28 blog "Who Crosses America on a Bike?".
I met Jean when I stopped at a convenience store to get some water. She's a marketing executive for Melaleuca and we really had a great visit before I had to hit the road again for one of the longest rides of my entire trip.
Daniel is from Germany and is a real warrior. I tried to lift his bike and it was like trying to dead lift 200 lbs! Read more about Daniel on my June 28 blog "Who Crosses America on a Bike?".
Didn't know John Wayne rode a motorcycle. This sign was at the Cowboy Country Inn in Escalante UT and is a great place to stay in a really cool town.
Mark is the head brewmaster and owner of the Dolores Brewing Company. He makes excellent beer and his place is a must stop if you are in Dolores. Read more about Mark in my June 12 blog "One Touch of Nature Makes the Whole World Kin".
Lars and John at the Dolores Mountain Inn. He makes the best coffee in town and is a great conversationalist. Read more about Lars in my June 13 blog "One Touch of Nature Makes the Whole World Kin (Part 2)".
Gary and John at the Mountain Top Fuel and Market in Rico CO. Gary has the best donuts in Western Colorado!
John and Maggie on the road between Telluride and Montrose. Maggie makes the best non-bake energy bars I've ever eaten. She is a ski instructor at Telluride and is the most open and nicest person you'll ever meet. Read more about Maggie on my June 28 blog "Who Crosses America on a Bike?".
Four biking friends racing in Montrose. These guys know how to ride.
Jaine, Josh and I helped this couple change their flat tire. They said a wonderful and moving prayer for our safety when we parted. Read more about them in my June 16 blog "When you do good things do good thing come back to you?".
The postmistress at the Sargent Post Office at the foot of Monarch Mountain seven miles from Monarch Pass.
The waitress at a great restaurant in Westcliffe CO. They make absolutely excellent crabmeat appetizer.
Nell, Jaine, John and Ferrell. Nell and Ferrell were friends from our days in Saudi Arabia, who came all the way from Winter Park to see us in Pueblo. Read more about this wonderful couple in my August 1 blog "A Glimpse of Who We Were".
Chris and John between Eads CO and Leoti KS. Chris was heading to Astoria, WA and I was heading to Kitty Hawk, NC.
Celia and John. Celia is a music teacher who took some time off to bike across America. She was heading to Eads CO while I was heading to Leoti KS.
John, Raina and Jaine. Raina worked at the Cobblestone Hotel in Eads CO. Her Dad's side of the family is from Orfordville WI which is 5 miles away from where Jaine and I live in Brodhead WI.
Kathy, Bob and John. Kathy and Bob started off riding across America separately but met on the trail and decided to ride together to support each other during the long journey.
Bob and Andrew are father and son biking across America to Astoria WA. They told me there was a biker ahead of me from New Lenox IL where some good friends of mine live. They said I could catch him if I took off at a good pace. Read more about Bob and Andrew in my July 2 blog "When there are so many coincidences you must be on the right path".
Ralph is a professor emeritus of Electrical Engineering that lives in New Lenox IL. Read more about Ralph in my July 2 blog "When there are so many coincidences you must be on the right path".
Leah, John and Cecilia in Ness City KS. We shared our food and had a nice picnic together before we went our separate ways. The ladies warned us about the dogs of Kentucky and convinced us to take the Katy Bike Trail in Missouri instead of the conventional route prescribed by Adventure Cycling. These girls are awesome! Read more about them on my June 28 blog "Who Crosses America on a Bike?".
James and Heather own the Newton Bike Shop in Newton KS. The bike shop also serves as a hostel and is a must stop for anyone traveling on the Trans America Bike trail. This Oasis in the Grass Desert is what every bike shop in the country should aspire to be. Read more about this wonderful place on my June 30 blog "The Oasis in the Grass Desert".
Transamerica bikers signing their names on the wall.
A biker and his best friend copping some Z's on the bike shop floor.
Elaine and Mom ready for the Katy Bike Trail. Tor and John. Tor is a cyclist who travels around the world.
The Katy Bike Trail Crew. Friends and Family that came down to give us moral support at the halfway point of our trip. Read more about the Katy Bike Trail Crew on my July 6 blog "It's people that make the world go round"
John and Pat. Pat rode down on his motorcycle and got the first TShirt from our TShirt promotion. He was arguably the best wrestler I ever coached in high school and he and his wife Jacqui gave a very generous donation to our cause. Read more about Pat on my July 6 blog "It's people that make the world go round".
Melissa is a reporter for WSIL TV in the Carbondale viewing area and interviewed me for bicycle safety. She was a top flight figure skater and instructed ice skating at the University of Southern Illinois before using her degree in Journalism to become a reporter. She is a very intelligent and fun person to visit. Read more about Melissa on my July 13 blog "I'm gonna make you a star!".
Four intrepid explorers of Cave-in-Rock.
Greg is a traveler who happens to ride a bike. I'm a biker who happens to have done some traveling. There is a difference. Read more about Greg on my July 24 blog called 'Tour of Duty'.
Sharon and Jim with their burros near Springfield KY. They're retired dairy farmers who've led an interesting life, and Jaine had the nicest afternoon visiting with them.
John and Darrell work at Makers Mark Distillery. Both of these men were true Kentucky gentlemen in every sense of the word and made one feel welcome and comfortable during our visit.
Bryan John and Randy at the Brodhead KY City Hall. Bryan is the Emergency Management Director for Brodhead KY and his nephew Randy serves on the Brodhead Fire Department. Read more about them on my July 20 blog "Sisters by chance, friends by choice".
Bryan leaning on antique fire truck used by Brodhead in the 1940's and 50's. Bryan served on that truck when he was a kid.
John and Wally, the Mayor of Brodhead KY. 'Wally Gator' is over 80 (he looks much younger than that!) and runs a tight ship as he cruises the town in his John Deere Gator.
Frank works for Fed Ex and is the ultimate 'Good Samaritan'. He drove past me and gave me an ice cold water on a really hot day and it was much appreciated. Read more about Frank on my July 20 blog "Sisters by chance, friends by choice".
John and Tom in Elkhorn City KY. Tom hails from Andover MA where my Dad's side of the family resides and is a very 'tech savvy' rider. He was finishing his ride across America about the same time as me.
Walker hails from Blacksburg VA and makes the best ice cream cones. Josh hails from Richmond but went to Monona Grove High School which is 35 miles from where Jaine and I live. Read more about Josh in my August 4 blog "Virginia, The Cradle of the History of our Country".
We met Bob and Georgeann on the USS Yellowstone over 25 years ago and corresponded by Christmas cards ever since. We visited them for the first time and were treated like royalty. Read more about this wonderful couple in my August 1 blog "A glimpse of who we were".
Ranger Randy describing the Malvern Hill battle during the Civil War. Randy was very knowledgeable and loves his job as a National Park Ranger. Read more about him in my August 4 blog "Virginia, the Cradle of the History of our Country".
Two retired Army sergeants who buy bikes for underprivileged kids. Truly excellent men who derive their pleasure by helping others. They loved teasing me about being a 'Jarhead' in the Marine Family as my oldest son is currently serving as a Captain in the Marine Reserves (and my other son is Captain in the Air Force serving as an active duty pilot). Read more about them in my May 25 blog "Remembering Memorial Day".
My cousins Jay Winters and Belinda (Winters) Sapienza drove down from Massachusetts and my Mom, Dad and brother Rick came down from Madison WI to witness our finish at the Atlantic Ocean at Kitty Hawk. What a fantastic day! They were such a huge support for us and their presence was greatly appreciated.
The Momentum Fitness Team. Jaine and I met them on the beach working out the day after we finished our ride. Jaine and I and the Momentum Team were mutually inspired by each others commitment to staying healthy, we by their tough workout on the beach and they by our ride across America.
Our arrival at Cape Hatteras. A fitting icon to end our ride...from the Golden Gate Bridge on the Pacific Coast to the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse on the Atlantic Ocean. Woot!
There wasn’t a single day on our trip where Jaine and I didn’t hand out our Pearl Island America cards to at least 1 person; I can safely say ‘if trees had hands, we wouldn’t need leaves’ in terms of handing out cards to the people we met. In almost every single instance, people enthusiastically took our card, congratulated us on our effort, wished us the best of luck, told us to ‘be safe’ and promised to follow us. Americans are just that way.
Finally, I learned a lot about myself. Before I started this journey, I rode on 20-40 mile rides 4 times a week during the spring, summer and early fall in pastoral southern Wisconsin. In the 56 bike rides I took to cross America I have done the following:
- Had two back to back 20 mile rides continuously going up in the Sierra Nevada of California
- Raced an antelope for 50 yards at 30 mph before it cut in front of me and ran away in Nevada
- Rode over 50 mph on my bike coming down mountains in Colorado
- Rode for 5 days in over 100 degree weather in Eastern Colorado and Kansas
- Almost rode over a 3 foot copperhead rattlesnake on the Katy Bike Trail
- Tried to cross a flooded stream in Missouri
- Got interviewed by a TV station in Illinois
- Fought off 13 dogs in Kentucky
- Had 2 bike crashes, 1 in California and the other in Kentucky
- Did four 2 mile mountain climbs with grades of 12% in places in Kentucky and Virginia
- Did 4 rides over 100 miles, 6 over 90 miles, 7 over 80 miles, 7 over 70 miles, 10 over 60 miles
- Climbed 2 mountains over 11000 ft., 1 over 10000 ft., 2 over 9000 ft., 4 over 8000 ft., 18 over 7000 ft. and 11 over 6000 ft.
My intention is not to boast, but after experiencing the above events and accomplishments, my perspective of bike riding has changed. I’m no longer apprehensive about attempting 60 to 80 mile rides and my definition of a ‘tough’ hill in Wisconsin has been altered significantly.
I learned that different parts of my body hurt during different times during my ride. At the beginning of the ride, my legs hurt when climbing the Sierra Nevada in California. That disappeared within a week. In Nevada, Utah and Colorado my butt needed to get in shape (see my June 2 blog ‘Monkey Butt, the Crippler of Young Adults). In Eastern Colorado, Kansas and Missouri I would have the general malaise that comes with dehydration at the end of my rides. I would literally have crusts of salt I could wipe off of my skin from the heat and drying effect of the air at the end of a ride and would wash the salt out of my clothes when taking my shower at the end of the day.
I started this ride weighing 191.4 lbs and the day before I arrived at Kitty Hawk, NC, I weighed 160.2 lbs after an 80 mile ride to Coinjock (see my May 25 blog ‘Starting to feel the changes’). I generally ate well during my traipse across the country, eating a lot of fruits and vegetables, but also indulging on some junk food when my body needed the carbohydrates (kettle potato chips and dark chocolate were the junk foods of choice).
John near the Pacific Ocean at 191 lbs. John in the Atlantic Ocean at 161 lbs.
As I went further along on my ride, my metabolism changed dramatically. When I went to sleep at night, my body was a furnace. My metabolic rate was so jacked up Jaine said I actually felt hot to the touch. Everything I ate was burned up immediately. After a 98 mile ride from Charlottesville, VA to Ashland VA Jaine and I decided to celebrate by having some wine. Normally, if I drink a half a bottle of red wine, I get pretty tipsy and feel pretty euphoric. Any more than that and I’m usually down for the count. I drank a whole bottle of wine (something I have never done before) and never got drunk. My body was burning alcohol like it was food.
Right now at 60 years old, I’m probably in the best shape of my life. I hope to continue staying in shape with the hope that my quality of life will be better as I get older. I’m also committed to changing my eating and exercise habits to maintain my weight at around 165 to 170 lbs as I feel great at that weight. Wish me luck!
Although it hasn’t quite sunk in yet, this adventure has been a life changing event for me, hopefully for the better.
This blog was the most challenging and time consuming one for me to write but it was also the most fun. I literally relived my trip and fond memories of my ride kept flooding back as I compiled the pictures for this edition.
I have one more blog to write before I complete my correspondence for this adventure and I hope to have it done within the next couple of days. Thanks for following us during "Jaine and John's Most Excellent Adventure". BTW...would any of you be willing to call our Pappy and post our bail? We seemed to have got into a 'little bind' when we when through Ely NV...
Jaine and John in jail in Ely NV.