Heat, Headwinds, Hills and Hospitality – Kentucky

It’s friday night and a few things have happened in the past couple of days: most importantly I have left Kentucky today and will be in Illinois for 2 nights before crossing the Mississippi to enter Missouri.

The last week has been as hot and humid as expected. It feels like a sauna with temperatures up to 40 degrees Celsius (over 100 F) and about 90-100% humidity in the air. There have been severe heat weather-warnings for the last couple of days and people were advised to stay in airconditioned buildings if being outside can be avoided. Well for my bike-trip, being outside is somewhat crucial and therefore I just try to be as careful as possible. I drink about 12 liters of water each day, the helmet protects me from getting a heatstroke, I take several breaks in the shade and try to get most of my distance done before the afternoon. Today the same motorcycle passed me twice – the first time the guy went really slowly and yelled: “A bit too hot to be doing that today, ain’t it!?”. I just nodded and kept going. 5 minutes later, he passed me again really slowly and handed me an icecold Powerade, gave me thumbs up and took off with his Harley. It was so refreshing since I only had my almost-boiling water left and also such a nice gesture.

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Speaking of nice gestures: Now that I have completely crossed Kentucky, it is time for a summary. As you know, I didn’t have high expecations and the only thing I knew was that I wanted to get out of Kentucky because of the dogs. But after all, Kentucky was amazing just because of the people! Everyone was really interested and nice. The guy at the dollar-store, where I was getting some water, asked me a lot of questions and was fascinated. He checked out my bike and saw the American flag on my rack. He went in his store and brought another one out that actually had a pole and now I have a more ‘professional’ one. He also offered me a place to stay at the local fire department in New Heaven, but I had to keep going.
And then 2 days ago, I took a break in the small town of Utica. There was a gas station with a little diner and I needed to get out of the sun and eat something. Inside, there was a group of 4 construction workers that started talking to me. Of course, they made the usual jokes about why I wasn’t driving a car etc at first, but like all other people, they got really interested in the trip and asked questions. After a couple of minutes, I left them and was going to order food. They left the gas station and one of them came up to me, gave me 10$ and said: “Here is 10 bucks from the state of Kentucky. Have a safe trip!”. I was and still am really fascinated by this. I don’t think this would happen in Germany and it was just great. Then I ordered my food and was going to pay when the cashier tells me that my food has already been paid for and points at this older couple leaving the store to go to their car. What a lucky day and that was the moment when I realized that I might actually miss Kentucky – at least its people. There are several stories like this and it was just a lot of fun. So if the people I have met along the way are reading this: I really appreciated your hospitality and friendliness!

The landscape has changed, but it definitely was not flat! I still had about the same amount of climbing as in the mountains, the only difference was that the hills were shorter – not much easier. And whenever there were no hills, the wind kicked in. It’s probably a good training for Kansas already where the wind apparently is the westbound-cyclist’s enemy.

20130830-211710.jpg As soon as you reach the top of one hill, you see the next few – goes on forever!

I did pass some historical places along the way as this is the area where Abraham Lincoln was born and grew up. One day I camped right next to his childhood home in the Lincoln Homestead Park and the next day I went to Hodgenville, where he was born. They have a small statue of him there and a museum – neat little town.

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20130830-211944.jpg Chilling in Abe’s old bedroom

After a couple of nights of camping, I was happy to have a family to stay with again on tuesday night. Beth and Garry were great hosts and invited me to spend the night in a cabin on their farm. And then it was time for Sebree. It’s a small town in the West of Kentucky, but I had heard about it from almost all of the cyclists I had met. It has a church cyclists can stay at and the pastor Bob and his wife Violet are supposed to be amazing – and you can forget about the “supposed to be”, because they are! I had a whole basement including, bathroom, pooltable, tabletennis etc, kitchen to myself and most importantly: air condition. They had dinner with me and told me that I could take a shorter route to Illinois than I had planned originally. That way, I could take a day off and do 160km on friday instead of 140 on Thursday and 100 on Friday. It was a done deal and I was looking forward to a day of relaxing.

20130830-212659.jpg Some more Amish people on the road

20130830-212118.jpgMy cabin at Beth and Garry’s farm

On that day, Bob and Violet actually invited me to go out for dinner with them and to the movies – it was great! And since the next bigger city was in Indiana, I checked another state of my list although not on my bike.

Today – as I have mentioned before- I left Kentucky and went into Illinois. It is crazy, but as soon as I had crossed the bridge over the Ohio River which is the border between the states, the terrain completely changed. For the first time, it was flat! I got really excited and was able to finish my longest stage so far (167km) and probably of the whole trip with the highest average speed of all the days. Maybe it was partly because I tried to go faster so I could have the next water-break sooner – but it definitely felt good to get so many km done in one day. By the end of the day, I was really tired and exhausted and also annoyed because I was riding on a shoulder of a pretty busy highway that had a lot of stones and rocks on it. But the important thing is that I made it!
Now, I’m in Carbondale, Illinois and will go to the local bike shop in the morning to get maintenance. I only have about 90km tomorrow so I’m not in a big rush.

20130830-212709.jpgCrossing the Ohio River into Illinois

20130830-212523.jpgBye bye, Kentucky

20130830-212433.jpg Finally it’s flat!

A short outlook: I will stay at the Mississippi River tomorrow night and cross it on Sunday into Missouri. The next mountain range is waiting for me there – the Ozarks. I have heard bad stories about them, because they are supposed to be really steep, but oh well. After that, I will reach Kansas and it looks like I will be at the Rocky Mountains in about 3 weeks – but that’s far away and a lot of stuff could happen along the way (hopefully not).

Anyways, that was it for right now and I will try to update the blog again in the next week, but I don’t know if I will have internet in the mountains, so we will see.

Take care,
Freddy

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Last sunset in Kentucky

Restday in Berea, Kentucky

I have finally made it to another state and crossed the border to Kentucky a couple of days ago. It was a great feeling, because I had been riding in the mountains of Virginia for a long time and crossing a state-border always makes you feel like you are getting somewhere.

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The past couple of days have been tough because of the mountains and steep hills. Also, I really needed a restday after 11 days of riding. This made me realize that I need to plan ahead, but also need to set myself smaller goals for every couple of days. I had the goal of reaching Berea this friday for over 7 days and because of that I couldn’t really enjoy every single day of arriving at the destination, because I always just thought: “x more days until Berea”. From now on, I will still plan ahead, but definitely relax more and try not to think about the next days as much. And it will be easier from now on, because the terrain is supposed to be less hilly and I will actually cross the border to Illinois and Missouri within the next 10 days probably.

So about the last couple of days: I actually started riding with Peter who I ran into somewhere in Virigina and who is on his way to Seattle. It was a nice change to not ride alone and have some company along the way. For me, it was also great to have another person with me to fight the dogs of Kentucky. The last days in Viriginia had again beautiful mountains with tough climbs. I always try to capture the steepness of the climbs with my camera, but it’s just not possible – I will not stop though!

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I don’t remember if I have written this on here before, but climbing is mostly a mental challenge. The days with long climbs that you can see on the elevation-profile and that scare me the night before when looking at my map mostly turn out fine – you KNOW and prepare yourself for a tough day and set yourself goals. The days that ‘kill’ me are the ones that seem to be easy. No major hills can be seen on the map, but they are there. Some of them with 14% climbs and you just get frustrated because you don’t know how many more are to come.

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Anyways, we finally crossed the border to Kentucky and had encounters with dogs on the first couple of miles. It’s weird that it actually happened right after the state-line. You would imagine that a state would put up laws or fines for dogowners since cyclists are a form of tourism and the region that I have been going through seems like it could use money from this sector. Nevertheless, the dogs have not been as bad as I had imagined them and a lot of people had told us (knocking on wood). We had maybe 10 minor chases and most of them stopped after we shouted at them and just started riding very slowly. I do have my pepperspray and airhorn ready though – just in case.

Since I’m talking about dogs again, I also want to give a short weather-update. It’s been great so far. The tough days in the mountains were nice with occasional showers. The last couple of days have been hot and humid again. I was concerned because the weather-forecast always predicted scattered thunderstorms pretty much every day, but I learned to live with the fact that they don’t actually happen most of the time. It’s still scary when they do occur and you don’t have anything around. But that has only happened twice. One of those times, Peter had a flat in his reartire, but luckily there was a pharmacy where we could wait for the storm to pass.

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I have met some very interesting people going the opposite direction. By now it has probably been 15-20 cyclists. I was most impressed by this couple, both 73 years old, biking all the way from Oregon to Virginia. I was exhausted after this tough climb and when I took the last turn, I see those two on their tandem. Almost 50 years older than I am and pretty much doing the same thing – really impressive! Those encounters are a nice change and always a welcomed break. Especially comforting was the question of one guy asking: “how are the dogs up there?” – up until this point that had been my first question to every cyclist I met. And now someone was asking me – meaning I might have passed the worst part of it – we will see.

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But it’s not only the cyclists you meet – wherever I go, everyone is looking, waving and asking questions. I have to say that the people in Kentucky have been really friendly so far. Almost everybody waves or says something encouraging. The funniest conversations are with the ‘rednecks’ or let’s call them ‘country-people’. We were sitting at a small diner when one huge guy got out of his even bigger pickup-truck and approached us. After the usual questions of where we were going and coming from, he just asked: “Why the hell would you do that?”. When I told him that I wanted to experience freedom one last time before heading to work ( I just said that because I thought he would love the word freedom), he just said: “Shit…freedom…you’re gonna get your ass killed on them damn roads around here. I’d definitely carry a gun with me to protect myself from them dopes and hillbillies.” He actually said all of this with a smile (and a really funny southern accent) and was after all impressed of what we were doing. And after several days on the road I can say that he was exaggerating and the drivers as well as the people I meet are not a threat to my life. But during that conversation more and more people came to join and all wanted to add something. After a while we were talking to a couple of them and it was just funny, because I had the feeling I was talking to the kind of people they were referring to. They offered to throw our bikes in the back of their trucks and take us up the next hills but we told them we had to do it ourselves.

One time, I walked out of a gas station after I had filled up my waterbottles and when I got back, someone had put an American flag on my bike. So I have been carrying that with me and ever since I have the feeling even more people wave at me.

Because a lot of people ask me where I stay every night, I want to answer that question on here aswell. On the cycling-maps I have, there are a lot of places where cyclists can stay for free. It’s city parks, churches or fire departments most of the time. It’s nice because a lot of those places have showers aswell and sometimes you have a place to sleep inside. One night, Peter and I got to stay in a gym of a church and another night, we stayed at a city park where we met Julia and Dan, a couple from NYC. They are also cycling to SF and that night we all set up our camps in this park and relaxed with a cup of tea and talked about our experiences so far.

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Now my restday in Berea is almost over. Berea is a little collegetown in Kentucky and I get to stay with Robert and Elizabeth and am really thankful for a comfortable bed and food. I also met George, who is a local bicycle enthusiast and took a look at my bike to get some basic parts checked. I’m still really impressed by the hospitality of all the people here. Wherever I am, I have the feeling that I will find a place to sleep and get something to eat – I hope I’ll still have that feeling out west.

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We are actually about to go to a friend’s house for the evening and I might have a beer. Speaking of beer: there are still ‘dry counties’ in Kentucky which means that you cannot buy alcohol. They still have those laws from back in the prohibition era and it’s different from county to county. One time, I was climbing a hill and at the top of it, there was the county line and just one store in the middle of nowhere. The sign said “Last chance beer and liquor” – I was entering a dry county. It’s just a funny sidenote from a German perspective since I couldn’t imagine a city or area not selling alcohol back there.

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So, this was the wrap-up of the last couple of days. Peter is actually taking a longer break here, because he has family and friends in Kentucky so from tomorrow on, I will be by myself again. Looking forward to heading west though and am really motivated. Just planned the next couple of weeks and it seems realistic that I will reach Pueblo, Colorado by September 15th-20th, which was my goal. But until then I will have 22 more days of cycling.

Anyways, I will post a new entry before that. Probably next week from Illinois.

Take care,
Freddy

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The descent from Big Hill to Berea

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No, I haven’t been to KFC yet…

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Planning and sharing experiences with Tom and Michael from Scotland and England who are doing the Transamerica-Trail the other direction – http://www.transamcyclists.blogspot.co.uk

“Ready for some climbing?”

It’s about time for a new entry here. In the last couple of days, a lot has happened and I’m going to try to sum it up as good as possible.

The first day after my little sightseeing break in D.C. led me to Fredericksburg in Virginia. Unfortunatly I never got to take a picture with a the state sign because I was on a bike trail – the Mount Vernon Trail. It was a really nice ride until the trail ended. After that it was the worst stretch of the trip so far. Narrow countryroads, no shoulders, a lot of traffic on my side of the road and most of them rednecks in pickup-trucks who passed me with not a lot of space. On top of that it was about 40 degrees Celsius (105 F) and the humidity incredible. And it was going to be one of the longest distances with 130km or about 80 miles. All in all a rough day and when I got close to my destination, big dark clouds appeared on the horizon and I hurried up to get there before the thunderstorm.

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The next morning I headed to a bike-shop in town to get a few things checked out. Ever since they adjusted my saddle, my knee problems are gone – big thanks to the guys from the bike shop in Fredericksburg! The rest of the day was interesting and it includes one of my big fears on this trip – thunderstorms. It might sound weird, but if you are on the countryroads on your bike, there are NO places to stop and take cover in case of a storm. And they can get pretty intense. That day, all of the sudden it started raining like crazy – I would say I have never seen that much rain for such a long period of time. Maybe I was just riding with the storm, but I had rain for about 2 hours and the roads turned into rivers. And on top of that, there was lightning and thunder. So the bike is probably not the thing you want to be on during a storm. But there was simply nowhere to go. Finally I had found a small church and waited there for about 15 minutes. I had passed/gone through the worst part already though and had a decent ride to my destinstion – it was close to Ashland, Virginia and from that point on I would join the Transamerica Trail and finally head westward! I was really excited for that.

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But I ended up having a pretty relaxing sunday instead of going west on my bike. I was staying with Bill and his family and when we watched the Weather Channel in the morning it looked like there were going to be a lot of storms on my route. Since I was going to be in the middle of nowhere with no towns, I decided to stay one more day and hope for the weather to change. Of course, the day ended up being just fine without any storms, but I wasn’t really mad, because the family was just so nice and I finally got to chill a bit and organize myself.

After hitting the foothills of the Appalachians, I had my first real climb on Tuesday. I was going to spend the night at the Cookie Lady’s house in Afton. This town, or let’s rather say these three houses lay on top of a really steep hill (some say it’s one of the worst of the whole trip). Since there is nothing on top of the hill, I went to get some groceries in the town before – Crozet. A nice guy came up to me there, welcomed me to Crozet and we talked about my trip. Then he asked me if I was ready for some climbing and I realized that the first really tough days were ahead of me. After all, I managed to do the climb to Afton and arrived at the Cookie Lady’s house.

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June Curry, known as the Cookie Lady, had hosted and/or taken care of over 10.000 cyclists over the last 40 years. Beginning in 1976, she offered cyclists coming up the steep hill showers, water, a place to rest and of course homemade cookies – everything for free! She is a legend in the cyclist community and unfortunately she passed aways last summer at the age of 91. Her house is still open for cyclists and is like a big museum. The walls are covered with postcards from all over the world and bike equipment. Shirts, tires, pumps, whatever you can think of is in this building. It’s a tradition to stop there and leave something. My livestrong-bracelet broke that night so I left it there. It was an amazing place and I spent hours reading the postcards from other cyclists back to the year 1976. The night itself was a little bit creepy though, because it’s an abandoned house. I would definitely recommend stopping there but not necessarily spending the night.

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After a short night, I got on my bike at 6AM to tackle the Blue Ridge Mountain Parkway – one of the highlights of my trip. I had perfect weather, not one cloud and it was just beautiful. Of course there were tough climbs but the views were amazing. Unfortunately I had to accept being taken on a pickup-truck for about a mile. There was roadwork ahead and the road was in terrible shape so I decided to push it because I didn’t want a flat tire. The construction worker told me that I would have to ride it because he couldn’t hold the traffic for a long time coming from the opposite side – there was not one car coming for another 20 minutes but anyways. He understood my concern and offered to take me with him until the end of the construction site – so I guess I have cheated and will not cross the US without the help of a motorized vehicle! I might just do an extra mile once I reach SF. But the rest of the day was just great and the descent pretty fast and a little bit scary, because it was really steep. That night I stayed at another amazing family’s place and met 2 other cyclists from Kentucky, Nathaniel and Will. They are also going to the Westcoast but Nathaniel’s leg is injured so they will have to wait a while – hope for them it’s gonna work out.

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The last three days I have kept going through really tough terrain with steep hills and as I know now: it’s going to stay that way until Kansas which means another 1000 miles or so. It’s exhausting but at least the views are great and in a couple of days I will be leaving Virginia and entering Kentucky – not really looking forward to that though due to the dogs!

I never really heard about dogs being a problem until I met some cyclists telling me about dogs chasing you when you ride by. Kentucky is the state everyone mentions in that context. Apparently the owners don’t train them or they simply don’t have owners and are bored. The more cyclists I have met on the way, the more stories I have heard. While most of them say getting off the bike and standing still will help, others have given me pepperspray and an airhorn. I also bought a dog whistle and will see how that works. So far I have been chased by about 5 dogs, but mostly small ones and not really aggressive. The whistle has worked and I hope I’ll never have to use the pepperspray but we will see. Dogs are definitely my biggest concern for the next 1000 miles because everyone who knows me knows that I am pretty scared of ‘normal’ big dogs – so imagine a wild dog running after me..but I’m sure I’ll be fine.

Ok, now a couple of things that are also worth mentioning:
– I’m starting to meet ‘a lot’ of cyclists on the way. Most of them coming from the westcoast and about to finish their trip on the eastcoast. It’s crazy to ser the diversity. A girl riding from Oregon to Rhode Island by herself. A father and son from San Francisco to Virginia. A Canadian from Vancouver. A 67 year old from San Francisco to Yorktown and just today a Dutch couple coming from Oregon. It’s just crazy to see how “many” people share this hobby and it’s nice and fun to share stories and advice for the next couple of days. Since we are all taking the same route, you run into people you have heard of before. Nathaniel and Will had told me that one friend they had started the trip with had decided to go on by himself because he needed to make it to the west early. One day later I run into the third guy, Peter, and we have been riding together for the last couple of days on and off and will probably run into each other every now and then until he will go North towards Seattle im Colorado.

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-And the scariest moment on this trip has nothing to do with my bike, but a bathroom at a gas station in Mineral, Virginia – a very small town! I decided to fill up my waterbottle there and as usual the bathroom was aroud the corner of the store. Usually I always carry my handlebar-bag with all my important stuff with me, but since I was in the middle of nowhere, I just left the bike infront of the bathroom door and walked in. I was going to put something in the way of the door so it wouldn’t shut, but I didn’t and as soon as I wanted to get out of the bathroom I realize I should have! I was stuck! The door just wouldn’t open anymore and I was panicking. ‘When will the next person in Mineral go to the gas stations bathroom!?’ or ‘What if someone takes your bike?’ were my biggest concerns. After knocking, banging on the door and screaming for help I started throwing myself against the door. I did that for about 2 minutes when someone comes to the door and asks with a really heavy Southern accent: “Are you stuck in there?”. (“No I’m just casually throwing my body against a bathroom door and screaming for no reason” is what I wanted to say). Together we got the door to open and I was happy to see that my bike was still there. The toothless redneck who was really nice in helping me to get out of the door just said: “hehe, you were stuck!” and went in the bathroom. I went into the gas stations store to get something to eat when another guy comes in to tell the owner that “someone is stuck in the bathroom”. From that moment on, the owner handed out a key to everyone who wanted to use the bathroom because he didn’t want anyone to get stuck in there anymore. I’m glad that my trip is helping people along the way. Now noone in Mineral, Virginia has to worry about getting stuck in the gas station’s bathroom anymore.

Ok, that was it for the week. Unfortunately I don’t have internet available in some towns I’m staying at, but I hope to be able to keep up with the blog every week. Right now I’m in Wytheville, Virginia and Peter and I have been dreaming about finally heading out west and leaving all those hills behind! But it’ll be a while.

My plan is to reach Berea, Kentucky next Friday and then I’m going to have my next restday and update the blog again!

I’m also starting to have nice tanlines from my gloves…

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Greetings from Virginia,

Freddy

P.S.: I want to thank all the hosts again for the incredible hospitality! I wish I had the time to write down all the stories, but I will not forget them!

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“It only gets worse buddy” – Arrived in Washington

Hey everyone,

After about 530km or 39:28:09 hours of biking, I have arrived in Washington D.C. today – just as planned. It’s time for the first real blog-entry and I don’t really know how to do it. After the first day I could have written a book about my experiences, so I’ll just summarize the events of the first couple of days.

I was off to a rough start. The problem with my gear came up again just as I was about to start my tour. So my first stop was a bike shop in NYC, followed by two more shops in New Jersey. In NYC, Maria and Alex, a friend I had met in Barcelona as well, came to Central Park to see my departure. As I had mentioned previously, the Brooklyn Bridge wasn’t possible as a starting point. The first day was of course something special – I had been dreaming about this moment for the past 10 years and still can’t believe I’m actually doing it. I had planned everything and thought I was well-prepared. Just one thing was missing: food. I didn’t know that the route I am following completeley avoids cities/towns and highways – which also means supermarkets. It’s kind of ironic that getting something to eat was my biggest problem in the US on my first day. But it was pretty serious. It was up to 30 degrees Celsius (about 90 Fahrenheit) and my body really needed food! I was about to knock at somebody’s door to ask for any kind of food when out of nowhere a little table appeared on the side of the road with tomatoes on it. I had never been happier about 3 tomatoes for one dollar and the lady who was also buying tomatoes was a little confused when I ate all of them within a minute. Unfortunately that didn’t help too much and at the next steep hill I was looking at my map to figure out how much longer I would have to bike for the day. All of the sudden I hear a “you need help buddy?” and before I knew it Shawn, a cyclist who lived right at that hill, had invited me to eat some of his wife’s homemade cookies and fresh blueberries – they were delicious and this was a good start to the trip. The thing about such an adventure is that you can’t plan everything but it will work out somehow.

Regarding the landscape, I have to admit that I didn’t expect the first days to be so rough. I guess it’s always the same since I come from the flattest area in Germany (Europe/World) and am not used to hills and mountains. On the maps, they only show the big mountains but not every hill and believe me – there are a lot in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Maryland. Every day, it’s a struggle to go up the short, steep climbs – some of them have a 13% climb and that’s almost impossible to deal with with all the weight on my bike. But I already have adjusted to it and am optimistic that I’ll be over these problems in the next few weeks – I have to since the first big mountains are coming up! The two things I’m a little worried about are my knees and my bike. My knees are causing the same problems as they did on my way to Barcelona – especially on the steep climbs I have pains that are hard to describe. But it has gotten a lot better and I hope it’ll be gone after my restday in Washington. And on my bike, a couple of things need to get adjusted that had been messed up on the flight – it shouldn’t be a big deal.

But yea, back to my route: I went down close to Philadelphia and on my way further down South I passed through the Amish region. It’s really crazy to see how these people still live the same way they have been living for centuries. On the road, modern cars are going 60 mph and you look to your left and right and all you see is people dressed like in the 1800s working on the field and riding horses.

One day this past week was especially hard: I had planned to ride 130km (about 80 miles) and the hills were brutal, it was hot and my knees were killing me. I had just thought about stopping at a different campground but continued and there was no turning back. I still had 40km to go (up and down hills as usual) and it was already 5pm. I didn’t pass a lot of people but one guy passed me in his pickup-truck while I was going uphill, rolled down his window, smiled and said “it only gets worse, buddy”. That was definitely not the motivation I needed but in the end I made it and got to see the beautiful sunset on the road just before I got to my destination.

Yesterday I passed through Baltimore and today I finally made it to Washington D.C. On a bike-trip I’m a pretty superficial tourist and just enjoy what I see. I don’t really go offroad and therefore cities are not that special. But since I have a day off tomorrow, I’ll go see Barack and the usual attractions.

Some notes/thoughts:
– The reactions of the cardrivers have always been positive so far. I was afraid of the way Americans would drive but so far everyone is really careful and noone has given me an angry look.
– As a cyclist, I am sort of an Alien on the streets. The reactions are sometimes funny (in a not-so-nice neighborhood in Baltimore 2 guys just looked at me and said “what the hell?”) but most of the time encouraging. Some people give thumbs up, and with some of them I have a short conversation while riding along their frontyard – “that’s seriously cool dude”, “congratulations” and “god bless you” are the most common words. People are also very helpful and stop and ask if I need help even if I’m just having a lunchbreak. All in all I feel good riding my bike here.

That was it for today. At first I wanted to do it day by day but it’s already a long text so I hope you got an impression of my first week here.

Next week, I will hit the Appalachian Mountains and it will be a big challenge. I just started planning the next 7 days and I’m looking forward to it!

2 last remarks:
– I’d like to thank the people that have hosted me during the first week. There really are no words to describe how thankful I am for everyone of them!
– 255€ have been donated so far. Thanks a lot and whoever hasn’t donated yet: it only takes 2 minutes, helps children and keeps me motivated ;).

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Amsterdam, Reykjavik, New York City

Hey everyone,
It’s time for a new blog-entry since a lot has happened in the past 2 weeks. I got done with my exams, got to New York and am about to start biking tomorrow!

After my last exam on friday, I had a lot of things to do and the most important one was packing my stuff and bike. Although I had a detailed list of all the things I needed, you probably always forget something – I’m optimistic though.

My dad helped me with packing my bike for the flight and did a great job! After all I had about 30kg luggage plus a 22kg bike – quite a lot to be carrying across the States on a bike but I’m sure it’ll be fine.

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Luckily I didn’t have any problems with my luggage and despite my one-night layover in Iceland, everything arrived at JFK on time.

In Iceland, I had the chance to hang out with 2 of my friends I met on my exchange semester in Barcelona last year, Vili and Petur. Unfortunately I only spent one night there but I’m sure one of these days I’ll come back.

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After a 6 hour flight I arrived at JFK in New York and my biggest concern was how to get through the customs with all my baggage and into the city. It’s a good thing people in the US are friendly and quickly I found someone who helped me carry my stuff into Terminal 7 infront of Starbucks. That was the designated meeting point I had set up with Maria, another good friend from my exchange semester. She’s from Montreal and had decided to come over to NYC to see me and to explore the city with me. We had travelled a lot together in Europe and therefore I was really excited to see her again.

It was definitely a good thing she came to the airport to help me carry all my stuff in the subway and into the city! I probably couldn’t have done it by myself. In NYC I’m staying at yet another friend from my exchange semester, Austin. It really is great to have friends from all around the world! Unfortunately he has to work the whole day and since I’m not staying over the weekend we don’t get to hang out a lot.

The last couple of days, Maria and I have been doing all the sightseeing and I haven’t walked that much in a while – I haven’t biked one kilometer yet and my legs are already tired 😉 . NYC is a great city and I’ll definitely be back one day. I’m not going to go into details here since it would take forever and most people know everything about New York and its tourist attractions.

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Now a couple of things about the trip:
I have the first week figured out and will (hopefully) arrive in Washington DC next Wednesday, August 7th. I’m going to stay with people I found on the warmshowers.org website – it’s an organization like couchsurfing just for touring bikers. Bikers open their home/backyard to other cyclists. It’s a great way to meet people, share stories and also to reduce costs for the trip.

There are also sad news: I found out that there is no way to leave Manhattan on one of the Southern bridges by bicycle to get to New Jersey so I cannot start from the Brooklyn Bridge. I will start from Central Park instead and although I was really looking forward to be biking from bridge to bridge I’ll get over it.

Oh yea, and my bike was a little bit damaged on the flight but I found a nearby bike store and they fixed it in just 2 minutes.

I’m ready for one last day with friends in New York and cannot wait for tomorrow morning and actually starting this bike-trip!

I’ll keep you guys updated via facebook and will post a new blogentry within the next week! I’ll also upload all the pictures in higher quality somewhere else so whoever is interested can browse through them.

Thanks so much for all the support, likes and donations so far. Considering I haven’t started biking yet, 230€ is really good and I appreciate every €. Also I have decided to write in English only as It is easier for me and I think everyone will be able to understand it.

Take care,

Freddy