Sunday, September 28, 2008

Back in Albuquerque

NOB HILL--I have been back for a month. Nevermind asking why there have been no posts. I'm not sure.

I guess I decided that some things don't seem to fit anywhere else except here or on Albloggerque. The trouble with Albloggerque is that it doesn't seem to work with the feeds on the Duke City Fix. So I am expanding JohnnyTransAmerica to include things besides the bike trip.

I will write about the trip as well...after all, I do have 99 days of memories and over 800 pictures to sort through.

Meanwhile, here is me getting back in town. I was so happy to see MaryAnn! She looked even better than I had remembered, however impossible that seemed to me.

Notice that full head of hair! My hair was long when I started the trip and never got it cut. Also, the big smile. Happy me.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

The Original Tail Angel: The Cookie Lady

TROUTVILLE, VA--Two days ago, climbing up the Blue Ridge Mountains, at the very top of a very steep hill, we came upon the house of June Curry...The Cookie Lady.

Her hospitality to Transam bikers started the whole 'Trail Angel' phenomenon. Well, she is in ill health and no longer passes out cookies to the bike travelers as she has done since 1976. She no longer has lodging for weary cyclists either.

But the sign is still there. And we were certainly ready for a break when we reached her hilltop house in Afton, Virginia. Jerry and Lynne were riding with us. We stopped for a while and wished we could have met this legend of the trail.

Her bike house is full of 30 years of memorabilia from the trail. We rested outside and thought about her 30 years of greeting people just like us. However, the afternoon was waning and we had to ride on. Good luck...June Curry. From all of us.

Jerry and Lynn riding down the Blue Ridge Mountains

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Four More Nights in Virginia

CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA--Mike and I are sittin in the Hampton Inn tonight. And I am trying to work fast on this laptop because of a mistake I made several days ago. I forgot the power supply cord for my MacBook in the motel room in Williamsburg. Fortunately, I had their phone number and they are going to send it to MaryAnn back in ABQ. She'll have to figure out how to get it to me.

Meanwhile I am lugging the machine around and using it sparingly. I have 70% power left as of right now.

The first night we got to the Glendale Methodist Church, 41 miles or so from Williamsburg. Our information said they were willing to put up cyclists. What wonderful people.

Mike and I slept in the Sunday School building along with a couple on a tandem. Katie and Chris were from Milwaukee. She used to be an editor for the Milwaukee Journal. Anyway, they were planning on doing 80 miles a we won't be seeing much of them!

The next night was in a private campground near Ashland, Americamp. It had an airport on one side, a sawmill on another, and the freeway on a third. Not only that, it was pretty difficult to find. Nevertheless, Mike and I did strike up an acquaintance with a ten-year-old who hung around most of the day. Finally we asked, "Why aren't you in school?" The answer was in one word, "Homeschooled."

There was nobody around during the day to even watch out for him. He lived in a 5th-wheel with 4 or 5 men who were all gone working until suppertime.

The next night we rolled into Mineral after a pretty hard day in the saddle. I had got us lost a couple of times following 3-digit route numbers until I couldn't even remember my own phone number.

We rode up to the Mineral Volunteer Fire Dept. and said, "We hear you have a place for cyclists who need a place to put up a tent." One of the chiefs, Delbert, said,
"Not tonight, we've got a carnival all set up on the lawn. You'll have to sleep in the firehouse." So we did. Showers. TV. Internet. Really fine people. We went across the street and had a truly excellent pulled pork sandwich for supper.

We were out of there by about 7:30 as we have been every morning so far. Coming out of Mineral we took a shorter route than the Adventure Cycling map shows. It had a LOT of traffic, but it cut out 15 miles. The Hampton Inn has a shuttle service and we took it out to Montecello this afternoon and toured the building and grounds. We called and the driver, Renee, picked us up and drove us downtown to a central street to eat. The street had be turned into a pedestrian mall. It was fabulous. We picked out a restaurant with tables in the shade and sat down for a great meal.

Then who showed up walking down the street but Jerry and Lynne, the couple I had photographed in Yorktown. They were doing fine except for Lynne's allergies. Anyway, we had a fine time sharing road stories and left hoping to see each other again down the road.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Trail Angel

Williamsburg to Glendale, VA

We started out around 7:30 AM from the Super 8. Jon had been there so long the staff cried. I gave Linda my bag that I used to bring miscellaneous items on the plane. She said she really needed a bag just like that. As we scooted out of town the mist was rising of of the grass and gave us a strange sensation of being surrounded by battles and ghosts of regiments who fought in the Revolutionary War and the Civil War. Jon keeps up with the history of the area and we stop frequently to honor the monuments to those who were killed on both sides.

Jon got his first flat tire. The only time I got wild and crazy and passed him he got a flat. I am waiting at the convenient store about a mile past him when a young rider from the AC group stopped and told me of Jon's dificulty. I figured by the time I got back to Jon he would be ready for an ice-cream. I managed to get back before it turned out to be an ice-cream float. He had fixed his flat on the rear tire and was ready for the treat. It wasn't long before we were safe at the Glendale Methodist Church. The caretaker graciously allowed us to use the building behind there church to crash in. Not a bad crash it even had refrigerated air conditioning. We shared the place with Katie and Chris who were riding across American on a Tandem.
I would like to thank Gail again for guiding us through the bike path and pointing out the special sites. Jon and I have always met special people in our travels and Gail is certainly in the top ten "Trail Angels"

Saturday, May 3, 2008

The Real Day #1

WILLIAMSBURG, VA--Today we rode over to Yorktown to dip our wheels ceremoniously in the York River. We stopped and talked with a member of Blackbeard's Crew for a while...primarily discussing the world flint shortage. With that out of the way we ate breakfast at the Duke of York. A loaded cyclist stopped there while we were eating. He said he was with the Adventure Cycling Transamerica group. They are leaving today also for Williamsburg.

I am sure we will encounter him again. We rode by the rest of the AC group near the Victory Center...about half a dozen of them. Maybe we won't see them again. Maybe they'll get a few days ahead of us and we'll never really meet up.

I actually rode to Yorktown last Tuesday. I met Jerry and Lynne Lisenby on Main St. They were staying at the Grace Episcopal bike hostel in Yorktown and were riding down to dip their wheels. They asked if I would take their pictures. Of course I said "yes." They turned out to be from Peoria, Illinois.

Jerry is one of America's biggest losers...from the TV show, that is. He has lost somewhere around 130 pounds. He is pretty famous. His wife Lynne is in charge of mental health services at the Peoria Children's Home. They are riding to raise money for the Home.

Later in the day I ran into Todd Morrison from Portland, Oregon. He is riding from the D.C. area up to Pittsburg on a series of canal and rail trails. I believe he said it was a 400 mile trip and almost all of it is on dedicated bike paths.

The first thing he did when we met was to enter my cell number in his phone. We both wandered around for a good part of the afternoon in different directions. Then he called me up and gave me a ride back to Williamsburg in his rented van. Nice.

Mike and I didn't have that option. But it was such a beautiful ride on the Colonial Parkway that the miles flew by.

Tomorrow: Glendale, 50 miles, camping at a church.

Today's Handlebar Statistics
Distance: 32 miles
Ride Time: 3 hours
Avg. Speed: 11 mph
Max. Speed: 25 mph
Total Dist: 32 miles
Elev. Gain: 1011 ft. (According to Mike's GPS)

Willamsburg to Yorktown

Friday, May 2, 2008

Williamsburg Cab Ride

Friday, May 2nd
We always start out very precise. You will note by the 10th or 15th day notation of the day and date will be less than consistent. Anyway, I have arrived in Williamsburg, Virginia. Let me tell you the hour long cab ride was worth the experience. The cabby was from Nigeria and half the time he was on the phone with his friends or family speaking something incomprehensible to this westerner's ear. Even though he assured me that English was the national language in Nigeria. Non the less I pestered him relentlessly in the journalistic manner that many I meet have learned to detest. I mentioned that I would like to bike in Africa and his response was that I would be Lion Bait. He emphasized that it wasn't anything personal, that any westerner is considered less than desirable company but good revenue for the local bandits and robbers. He had lived in the States for greater than 6 years and had a family that were completely westernized. Due to the wild agility of his driving habits, I believe he must have had some sort of standing appointment that he needed to be at. He seemed to be apologizing to someone on the phone for being late. Needless to say he was becoming more and more agitated that we were not finding the bicycle shop sooner rather than later. He was just as happy to let me out of the cab as I was to see "Bikes Unlimited" As quickly as I paid him he was off. Spinning a U turn almost quick enough to catch me crossing the street. All kidding aside he was very friendly and tried patiently to answer the repetitive bombardment of questions that I shot at him.
Once at the bike shop I assembled and hooked up my trailer Barry had done a excellent job of reassembling my bike and tuning it up. I rode from Scotland Road down Richmond Ave to the Supper 8 where Jon was waiting. I had called him from the bike shop and he met me in the parking lot. We were both very glad to see each other. The hotel was across from a local shopping center where we grabbed dinner at Sal's Italian restaurant, picked up some necessary hardware items and visited the bookstore. As we walked back to our hotel the sidewalk was becoming crowed with local visitors who were out for a stroll on this Friday evening.

Mike Shows Up in Williamsburg

WILLIAMSBURG, VA--Mike Moye, intrepid as ever, rode up Richmond Ave. this afternoon straight to the Super 8 Motel where we are staying. We worked on our bikes for a while...made some equipment adjustments and repacked a few items. He brought my MacBook with him.

I still can't get all the software working on it. I used to have IPhoto and now can't find it. I'll try to use Preview and Image Capture to bring up the visual highlights until I figure things out more fully.

Tomorrow Mike and I ride to Yorktown to dip our wheels in the York River to officially start the beginning of the Transamerica ride. We will then return to Williamsburg, spending the night in our motel room before heading west through Jamestown, Charles City, and Glendale. There is supposed to be an Adventure Cycling group starting out tomorrow as well.

Tonight we went out to eat at Sal's across the street. That makes 3 times in 5 days I have eaten supper there. Baked Ziti, Eggplant Relatoni(?), and Chicken Victor. Damned good! Of course, eating with Mike, the spumoni was the highlight of the meal.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Tornado Alley

I called Jon today and he said to bring a kite. The wind is incredible and if we catch it soon we'll be in Kansas in no time. Rather than taking a chance and camping out Jon opted for the safety and security of the Days Inn. He said it rained most of the night and continued to sprinkle off and on today. He also mentioned that the weather is unpreditable. I'm sure the local Virginia meteorologist agree. The last tornado to hit Virginia was more than twenty years ago. I hope Virginia get this all out of it's system before I arrive. Jon said these comforting words before he hung up, "Don't forget your coat, there are frost warnings tonight"

Sunday, April 27, 2008


Today is Sunday the 27th of April. Next Saturday Jon and I will begin his trek from Williamsburg, Virginia to Astoria, Oregon. An adventure that has been a dream of ours for several years. We began our journey more than six years ago, on a whim, to try and ride across New Mexico from West to East. We traveled through towns with names like Quemado, Pie Town, Datil, Magdalena. Through old trails like Journado del Muerto where the only refuge was a town named Bingham with two buildings; one was a magazine editor, and the other a rock salesman. The journey lasted nearly ten days and we covered over 550 miles. Little did we know at that time where our bikes would eventually take us. Since then we have ,over the course of the last 5 years, traveled roads paralleling the continental divide from Mexico to Jasper Canada. The multitudes of sites and friends we met along the way will always be a special part of our lives.
Next week Jon is undertaking what to some may seem an insurmountable task of crossing these United States. I am honored to join him for his first 500 miles. Anticipation by Merriam-Webster is "a prior action that takes into account or forestalls a later action; the act of looking forward". If I did not anticipate then half the experience of the the journey would be lost. Anticipation gives us an opportunity to develop in our minds the cans and cannots of the future. Therefore we attempt to anticipate any outcome that may be before us on this journey. But we also must be flexible, able to yield to unknown influence and adapt to change.
Riding requires an application of concentration unmatched by any other mode of transportation. First of all you must pack everything you may need to make the journey safe and possible, without packing so much that you are overweight. You must know your way without fault. Every wrong turn only adds anguish and consternation to a long day in the saddle. Planning includes clothing for any unseen change in the weather. You must maintain balance on your bike and in your mind. Wondering minds can bring you to undesirable destinations and wasted time. Fatigue will bring you to your knees. But proper attitude will allow you to enjoy the change and be flexible enough to adapt.
Someone once asked my how we could ride 50, 60, 80 miles a day and I explained that we don't think of it as a long ride but rather sever short rides in one day. We ride ten miles over and over. Every stop is a new view and a new adventure; remember "time is but a moving thing" and Jon will be pushing time from shore to shore. I am anticipating a great trip and Jon has the ability and flexibility to make it happen. I wish him good luck but I know he doesn't need it because he has anticipated this trip for years and he has the ability to adapt.
Buon Giorno!

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Training Totals for March

NOB HILL, ABQ--Here at the total number of miles logged during March. Various amounts of weight were carried...usually about 20 pounds.
  • Week One: 107 mi.
  • Week Two: 133 mi.
  • Week Three: 157 mi.
  • Week Four: 149 mi.
No injuries to report. Bike was gone over by Jeff at Two-Wheel Drive. He replaced all cables, re-packed the bottom bracket and hubs, trued wheels, replaced the chain. It is so important to me to have only one person working on the bike. And Jeff works on it as if he were taking the trip himself.

Charlie, the owner, and Jeff are in my corner. Thanks.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Video: MaryAnn Tries Riding Into a 50 mph Headwind

BOSQUE BIKE PATH--It was good weather when we started out last Sunday. We rode the 10 miles north to the Corrales bridge easily. fact it got easier and easier!

You know what that means...a tail wind had crept up on us. Well, coming back south was a different story. The winds howled at up to 50 mph. And they were straight out of the south.

Dust. Galloping tumbleweeds. Hard pedaling. I had a hard time convincing MaryAnn this was fun! It took almost 2 hours to get back to the car.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

He Wore His Brand New Jersey

NOB HILL--In what may be regarded as a sign of over-confidence, I ordered a new bike jersey from Adventure Cycling Assoc. It reads "TRANSAMERICA" across the front. The back has a big waving U.S. flag.

Now what would possess me to start off a 4200 mile bicycle trip across the U.S. wearing a shirt that indicates the trip is a done deal, a snap, and finishing is a certainty...just keep those pedals moving?

Actually, I am anything BUT confident. After all, I am a 65-year-old asthmatic with a bad ankle and dangerously delicate knees. And the biggest worry of all is that for most of the trip I will be riding solo. My friend Mike can only ride the first 500 miles or so with me.

Here is the story: the shirt is part of my bargain with destiny. It is my way of acknowledging all the risks and hardships that might stop me, and still I announce my intent. I do not take this trip lightly. The new jersey is my way of coming to grips with all that might befall me.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Training for the Big One

NOB HILL, ALBUQUERQUE, NEW MEXICO--I have been training for the last 4 weeks. I started pretty much at zero. Here are the mileage totals so far:
  • Week #1: Feb. 17th, 90 miles
  • Week #2: Feb. 24th, 106 miles
  • Week #3: Mar. 2, 107 miles
  • Week #4: Mar. 9, 133 miles
The goal from here on out it to increase the mileage by 20 miles per week until the last week. That week is not totally certain, but I am planning on leaving someplace around April 20th. So that gives me 4 weeks to get ready!

I am riding the bike I plan on taking cross country, a Gary Fisher Tassajara. Yes, this is a mountain bike. I am training with heavy, fat tires and carrying two bags and half a gallon of water. I'm not sure what this all weighs, but the whole thing rides like I'm trying to pedal a pickup truck.