TransAmerica Bike Ride Thoughts

I have so many thoughts about this adventure. The biggest is that I’m glad I did it. Even though it was 30 years later than I had originally intended, the timing turned out to be perfect. You may have a similar forgotten dream that it’s time to revive.

Our country is vast, and it’s beautiful, and the people are extraordinary. Seeing it all at 12 miles per hour gave me a new perspective.

The total cost of the ride (from first pedal stroke to last) was $2418, which is $53.73 per day or $0.83 per mile. I rode 2949 miles, which is 72 miles per riding day or 65.5 including rest days. My plan was $50/day and 65 miles/day.

I was chased by dogs only a half dozen times. Most dogs responded to a yell and a hand fake. Those that didn’t generated a big adrenalin rush that allowed me to escape. I rescued one turtle from the road, chased 2 deer down the C&O Towpath, and finally saw a live snake on my last day. I never saw a live armadillo or possum or raccoon, but I saw many of each.

I had 4 flat tires, or changed the same flat 4 times, depending on how you want to look at it. I wore out a rear tire and had to discard a moldy water bottle. The chamois came unsewed from one pair of riding shorts. I bought new gloves because one of the two pair I took was causing numbness in my left hand. I also replaced my air pump because the one I started with turned out to be a piece of crap.

I ate a lot of high calorie, low nutrition food along the way. In the first 2300 miles I lost only 6 pounds. In the last 650, I lost 10 more. I blame the Appalachian hills for that difference.

I met some incredibly wonderful and interesting people who helped me along the way. My thanks to:

  • Mike in Amboy
  • Ray in Flagstaff
  • Tim and Tari in Edgewood
  • Helen and Kyle in Amarillo (and Chad at the Bike Shop)
  • Moni in Oklahoma City
  • Larry and Terry in Tulsa (and Ronnie for connecting us)
  • Jean in Joplin
  • Stuart and his kids in Springfield
  • Mark and Sue in Rolla
  • Jason and Beth in St Louis
  • Thom in Vandalia (by car)
  • Dora in Terre Haute
  • Barb, Doug, and Jeff just outside Plainfield
  • Bill, Christine, Jeff, and Mark in Indianapolis
  • Jess in Columbus
  • John, Mike, Barb, and Marty in Wheeling

Extra thanks to the people who pedaled with me for a while: Jeff outside San Bernardino; Jason leaving St Louis; Thom in and out of Vandalia; and my new friend Urs for most of 3 days from Columbus to Smithton.

Thanks also to all the people who sent me encouragement here, on Facebook, LinkedIn, email, and text messages. I didn’t respond to all of them, but you should know they helped.

Special thanks to Alex and Joubert for putting up with me in their apartment while I reintegrate.

And extra special thanks to my darling Susie, who loves me enough to let me tilt after a few windmills.

So, as president Jeb Bartlett liked to say in The West Wing, “What’s next?”




TransAmerica Bike Ride Day 45 – 115 miles

I left Hancock on the road instead of the trail, but it seems that I’m always looking at the grass on the other side of fence. After climbing some long steep hills I decided to try the C&O Towpath, hoping to avoid some hills.
The information I had gotten about the Towpath was accurate. It is much more rugged than the GAP, and it was flatter than the roads. It was also very wet and muddy. The bike and I got covered in mud quickly. It turns out that the mud is just like the water. Once you’re covered, you’re covered.
Unfortunately, there was no marker to indicate where I should get off to get to Leesburg, my intended destination for the day.
By the time I realized I had passed Leesburg, I was only 30 miles from DC. I called Alex to tell him that I was riding in today. He rode out to meet me and guide me to his place. He got soaked and muddy as well. I rode 115 miles today, which is my longest ride of the trip. I did the same thing at the end of my trip around Lake Michigan.
So I’m here! I’ve ridden 2949 miles over the past 45 days. It was an incredible experience.


TransAmerica Bike Ride Day 44 – 73 miles

I slept well in the building where embalming used to be done. My waitress at the Take Six told me about the building’s history. I may have been the only person in the 3 story building overnight.
As a result of solid sleep, I had breakfast at the Donges Drive Motel and still got on the road shortly after 7:00. I took roads rather than the GAP out of Meyersdale but it only took 4 miles for me to decide that I preferred the gravel of the GAP over the hills of the streets. I took the trail to its end in Cumberland.
In Cumberland, I tried to get the story on the C&O Towpath trail. Even at the Towpath Information Center I could only get the party line. However, one of the Center’s employees gave me the party line with a stern caution about the impact of last night’s heavy rain. I got back on the road, and started climbing hills I thought I would avoid.
I made it to Hancock, MD without event. The hills were rough, and much slower without Urs to chase. I’m glad the first half of the day was on the trail.
Today I entered Maryland, my 13th state. I also crossed the Mason & Dixon line at the same time. And I crossed the Eastern Continental Divide.


TransAmerica Bike Ride Day 43 – 83 miles

I had a short ride from the motel to the Great Allegheny Passage. Of course it included a big hill. Once I got on the trail I didn’t think it was all that great. I guess I’m just a city boy. I like paved roads and city scapes. The GAP is too bucolic for me. I saw some incredible views, but I don’t think I’ll be riding any more of the trail. My legs looked like they had been breaded for frying after the first couple of hours.
It was strange to have no cars passing by all day. I didn’t see as many bikers as I expected. When I reached Rockwood, my intended destination, I had to burn a couple of hours before the hostel opened. Since there was no cell service I picked up some brochures. One of them talked about the hostel in Meyersdale, which was less than 15 miles away. So off I went.
When I got to Meyersdale, I discovered that the hostel was closed indefinitely. I found a hotel that has a hostel room. I really wanted to have a hostel experience. Turns out I have a room with 6 beds all to myself and a communal bathroom that I share with no one. Can I count this as a hostel experience?


TransAmerica Bike Ride Day 42- 63 miles

I woke up shortly after 4:00 this morning to the sound of rain. I didn’t know the time but I was sure I had overslept because the rain wasn’t supposed to arrive in Wheeling until after 9:00. Turns out it was early. Urs and I prepped for another day in the rain. Barb fixed a great breakfast and gave us copies of her book about English landscape.
We rode thru downtown so Urs could visit a local radio station to present his demo CD. His transcontinental ride is doubling as a promotional tour. The rain stopped around the 30 mile mark. We were riding on dry streets by 40. Then it started raining again. The second wave didn’t last long and dropped hardly any water on us.
Around the 55 mile mark, Urs and I parted ways. I enjoyed his company over the 3 days and close to 200 miles we rode together. I now have a friend in Zurich, and he has one in Indianapolis. Given the freaky similarities we discovered during our talks, it won’t surprise me if we meet again.
This was my last day riding the hills. I can’t describe the joy I feel from knowing that. Tomorrow I start riding on the Great Allegheny Passage, headed for the City & O Canal Towpath that will take me into DC.


TransAmerica Bike Ride Day 41 – 61 miles

What a difference a day makes. Yesterday we rode in the rain, but the roads were smooth and gently rolling. Today we had a beautiful sky and almost no wind, but the hills were trying to kill me. Urs and I rode together again today. He’s a younger man from hilly Switzerland. I watched him zip up the hills like they were nothing then hover at the top like the hawks in the sky waiting for me to get there. Luckily for me the hills were still rolling, albeit not so gently. What I lack in climbing power I make up for in downhill fearlessness.
About halfway thru the ride we came upon a gravel road. We decided that we should continue rather than double back. Of course the road kept getting worse. We eventually reached the point where we had to take a portage. We walked our bikes for the better part of a mile to get back on paved roads. The experience didn’t damage our spirits.
Before we knew it we were in Wheeling where John, our warmshowers host, met us and rode with us to Mike’s house. Mike was actually hosting us. A couple of blocks from Mike’s house, John missed a pedal and tore open his calf on the front sprocket. He had to be driven to the emergency room.
I had been joking with Art about delivering a personal Mother’s Day greeting to his mom all afternoon. Before it was over, Barb had insisted on having us stay with her and Marty. We thanked Mike, and John who had come back to get his bike. John had to have 16 stitches in that calf.
Barb and Marty were awesome to us. We had a fabulous conversation over Chinese food and drinks.
Here’s my shot of the day. No explanation required. Just smile.


TransAmerica Bike Ride Day 40 – 75 miles

For 39 days I’ve schemed around the weather. Today my bike was never on dry pavement. Jessica fixed me breakfast, and some great coffee. I stalled until 8:30 then I put on my rain jacket and hit the road again. The temperature was warm enough and the rain light enough that once I was wet it didn’t bother me.
Just outside of Columbus another bike rider pulled up next to me and commented on what lovely riding weather we were having. Urs was also riding across the country.
As we talked our journeys sounded freaky similar. When I was leaving the Santa Monica pier, he was leaving Venice Beach. We hadn’t followed the same route until St Louis. But oh the coincidences. Our bikes have almost the same equipment: rims, panniers, drive train. He even has a pair of toe shoes for post-ride wear.
Urs and I rode together all day. It was nice to have someone to share the miserable weather with. We’ll ride together tomorrow and perhaps a part of Monday. He’s from Switzerland and has New York as his final destination.
I didn’t take any pictures because of the rain.

TransAmerica Bike Ride Day 39 – 75 miles

I got on the road early this morning in hopes of getting to Columbus without getting rained on. I almost made it. The rain started drizzling about 55 miles into the ride. I never got really rained on but 10 miles in drizzle gets you wet. The rain stopped as I reached the edge of Columbus.
Unfortunately, my haste to beat the weather got me to my destination just a little after 1:00. My warmshowers host, Jessica, won’t be home until 6:00.
I rode thru downtown. It’s about the same size as Indy but Indy seems less congested to me.
Jessica had given me some places near her house to hang out. My first stop was Jenni’s Ice Cream. They don’t serve malts but the ice cream was so good that I was glad I didn’t get to ruin it by making a malt with it. Right next to Jenni’s was the Brown Bag Deli. I had a great turkey sandwich and an IBC root beer before heading in search of real beer. I figured the ice cream served as recovery step one.
I found beer at the World of Beer. 50 beers on tap and 500 beers available. That’s where I’m writing this post. I hope I can get my bike to Jessica’s after sitting here sipping beer for 2 hours.
Here’s my photo for today. As I rode past the Columbus Convention Center I was surprised to see a sculpture of Arnold. It turns out he won his first Mr Universe (or whatever the title was) here in Columbus in 1970. But how far could he ride that Teledyne Titan?


TransAmerica Bike Ride Day 38 – 102 miles

My second rest day was more restful, until Susie and I played in the first round of the golf league and then joined friends to celebrate Rob’s 50th birthday. I enjoyed seeing so many of my friends while I was at home but it felt so temporary.
As I rode away from home this morning I told Susie she’s the best warmshowers host I’ve had.
Just like the ride after Tulsa, I spent the day plotting against tomorrow’s rain. And just like the day I left Tulsa I rode 100 miles. I hope it proves worth it again.
The weather was beautiful and Indiana is relatively flat. It didn’t take long for me to get back into the riding zone. I didn’t notice much until I crossed the state line into Ohio. Indiana was the 9th state. The end is too close.


TransAmerica Bike Ride Days 36 & 37 – Rest Days

I arrived in Indy two days ahead of schedule so I decided to take an extra rest day here rather than be a pest to Alex and Joubert for an extra day in DC. It’s a good thing too. Susie had a few things saved up for me to do while I was at home. She joked that she was my warmshowers host, but I pointed out that all of my other warmshowers hosts nearly fought me when I tried to do anything to help out.

I did get fed well though. And I fixed a pretty good home cooked meal on Tuesday evening.

Indianapolis represents the three-quarter mark in the journey (2300 miles), so it’s time for a health update:

  • Saddle sores are about the same. Two days off the bike did help in this regard so I guess they aren’t permanent.
  • My allergies have gone nuts since I hit Missouri. I’m adding the weight of allergy medicines as I roll out tomorrow.
  • My back has strengthened enough that I’ve discontinued my morning stretching routine.
  • My legs produce more power and have more stamina. I’ll likely increase my mileage from here on out.
  • The tan lines are hilarious. It will take the rest of the summer to even out.

I have to admit that sleeping in my own bed was a treat. If the ride were less fun it would be easy to quit, but I got up on Wednesday morning feeling like I was supposed to be getting on my bike. I’m confident that I won’t need my tent and sleeping bag between here and DC so I’m leaving them behind.

Several people have asked how they can help me on this adventure. The best way is to send your support. I read all the comments here and on LinkedIn and Facebook. They make this seem less crazy. Next, if you know someone along US 40 between Indy and Pittsburgh who might be willing to put me up for a night, ask them. Ronnie hooked me up with her dad in Tulsa and that was one of the best times of the trip. He’s even considering the Seattle to San Diego ride along the Pacific Coast Highway now.

The last option is to support my next crazy adventure when I go to Africa with the Anchor of Hope Charities to hand out 20,000 pairs of shoes. I have to raise enough money to cover the costs of me being there. Make a donation (small or large) at

New shoes on children

Happy children with new shoes

TransAmerica Bike Ride Day 35 – 90 miles

I’ve been riding with two GPS devices. I use Google Maps on my phone and I have my Garmin Edge with Open StreetMap files. They rarely agree on the best route from one place to another, but this morning they didn’t even agree on what time it was. My phone had already moved into the Eastern time zone while the Garmin was staying in Central time until I crossed into Indiana. I didn’t use either for navigation, since it was easy to find US 40 which was all I needed.
So I left the Super 8 at 6:30 Central so I could meet Dora, my mother-in-law, in Terre Haute at 9:00 Eastern for breakfast. Dan joined us at Boo’s Crossroads Cafe for a delightful breakfast before I continued east to the Rose-Hulman campus where Jason met me with a photographer, Dale, to get some shots of me. I made one last stop at the Lambda Chi house and then got down to the business of getting home.
There were a lot of construction zones on US 40 as I came across Indiana. I got into the habit of reading the painted instructions on the pavement that was there for the workers. As I approached one construction zone just outside of Plainfield, I noticed something new. It said, “G O D A M O N.” I kept wondering what that could mean when it hit me that my name was painted there. Right as I thought that, I looked up to see Barb, Doug, and Jeff jumping up and down on the side of the road waving a sign. This was an amazing surprise.
I have some great friends!
So, after riding nearly 2300 miles, I get less than 2 miles from my house and suffer my first mishap. I was riding along Washington Street trying to get on the Cultural Trail when I reached a point where there was no ramp on the sidewalk. In my effort to negotiate the curb, down I went. It was so embarrassing.

TransAmerica Bike Ride Day 34 – 87 miles

Thom and I had dinner at the Gallatin Grille in Vandalia. It was awesome! The food was excellent and the service would have allowed us to accept mediocre food. Go there if you’re near Vandalia at meal time, which is any time if you’re cycling.
What a day. Thom rode east with me for 15 miles before turning back to get his car. It was just like when we were in high school except he was riding a recumbent. The high schoolers in us came out as we talked about how far I could ride in the time it took for him to go back to his car, load up his bike, then drive to catch me. We had left my panniers in his car.
Those of you who know me and Thom can guess what came next. Thom offered up an over/under mileage: 43. There was no handshake. No stated wager. No negotiating the number. Yet somehow we both knew that it was on.
You’ll have to get Thom’s side from him. All I know is that I told Thom we were at his turning point and he yelled, “See you at 43!” He had already flipped a U and was jamming west.
I spent the next 28 miles riding uphill into the wind as fast as I possibly could. It didn’t matter if I was unable to reach my target destination of Casey. All that mattered was passing 43 before Thom got back. When I got to 44 miles, I almost collapsed. Thom caught me at 46.5. We sat in his car and talked about what idiots we sometimes are before he headed home and I started a more reasonable pace.
Because of the “race” I got to Casey pretty early. I stopped to see the world’s largest wind chime and the world’s largest golf tee. I couldn’t see the world’s largest knitting needles because the shop was closed. I did see the foundation for the world’s largest rocking chair which is coming soon to Casey. After all the big stuff I decided to ride further. When I got to Marshall I considered going on to Terre Haute but I knew I couldn’t buy beer on Sunday so I stopped at the Marshall Super 8. It turns out that Marshall doesn’t allow beer sales on Sunday either. Oh well.
Tomorrow I hope to ride all the way to Indy.


TransAmerica Bike Ride Day 33 – 76 miles

Jason fixed a great breakfast before he and I took off heading to Illinois. Beth put my panniers in the car so I could ride lighter. I was still a lot heavier than Jason, but it was fun to ride without the extra pounds.
Jason rode with me for about 30 miles. We saw the world’s largest catsup bottle in Collinsville.
We met up with Beth and Kevin just outside Collinsville where I had to put the panniers back on. Before we separated Beth gave me a hot cup of coffee and an assortment of chocolates. I think she’ll make a great wife for someone.
I rode the next 30 miles alone. It was the most beautiful weather day of the trip so far. As I rolled into the town of Greenville, my friend Thom was standing on the side of the road waving at me. He had driven to Vandalia and then hopped on his recumbent bike to meet me. We rode the last 20 miles together. What fun!
Thom and I sat around a room at the Ramada drinking post-ride beers and watching the Pacers finally finish off the Hawks.
I left the Show Me State for the Land of Lincoln today. I switched from the historic Mother Road to the historic National Road. I crossed the Mississippi River. I saw the world’s largest catsup bottle. And once again I realized how great life can be if you let it.


TransAmerica Bike Ride Day 32 – 58 miles

I woke up with a better attitude. I took time at the SuperStart breakfast while I waited for the temperature to rise a bit. When I hit the road I knew it was going to be another good day. The temperature was still cool but not miserable, and it was continuing to warm up.
It didn’t take long before I was in the St Louis suburbs. Most of the ride was city streets. That meant a lot of stoplights. I didn’t mind it. I just tooled along.
When I passed a White Castle sign, I got the crave and couldn’t let it go. I was sure I’d eventually pass by a White Castle. I rode all the way to my destination without seeing one. When Jason asked me if I needed anything, I told him I had to have sliders. He took me. It was almost as good as those donuts in Tulsa.
Beth, Jason’s fiancee, was happy to have missed the slider excursion. She went running with her friend Allison instead. To each his own, you know. After the ladies finished their run, Jason introduced Allison and me to Bourbon Friday. Yup. He buys me sliders then gives me the first glass of Bourbon in over a month. I love this guy.


This is the last city in the song. Tomorrow I cross the Mississippi and switch to US 40. I passed 2000 miles today.

TransAmerica Bike Ride Day 30 – 66 miles

Another cold day. I stayed in my motel room until 9:30 hoping for a couple more degrees. When I started riding, I was wearing everything I had on top. I had toe warmers in my shoes. It was enough,  just barely, to keep me from freezing.
Even with the cold I quickly got into the zone and covered miles pretty quickly. At one point I felt this sense that I needed to look up. I was awed by the view.


I’m sure this photo doesn’t do justice to what I saw. Let me say these are the moments when I realize how magnificent our world is and how insignificant a part of it I am.
I stopped in Waynesville to warm up. Then I missed a turn and rode a few miles out of the way. When I backtracked, I discovered that Route 66 ran on I-44 for a few miles. It had been so long since I rode on the Interstate that I was apprehensive again. I had no problems and arrived at the home of my warmshowers hosts, Mark and Sue. Sue had gone to St Louis to see the Cardinals play so Mark took to Alex’s Pizza for dinner. We met his friend Bill there. Mark and Bill did a tour together in Montana a few years ago.
The food was good. The conversation was great.