Farmer Freddy in the Rocky Mountains

A lot of things have happened since my last blog-post and the people who follow my facebook-page (www.facebook.com/c2c13) have seen some pictures already, but I’m going to sum up the events of the last week.

The first big step was reaching the 4000km-mark which meant that I had reached 50% of my trip (probably more since it’s going to be a bit less than 8000km). The moment itself was not that special though, since it was a wet and cloudy morning on my way to Pueblo. Reaching Pueblo was still a great feeling. Ever since I had started planning this trip, Pueblo was an important step. I had set myself the goal of reaching it by the middle of September in order to avoid possible snowstorms in the mountains. I accomplished this goal by getting there on September 16th. Also, it definitely feels like I’m getting really close to finishing my trip which is weird since I still have thousands of kms to ride. But there are so many highlights coming up in the remaining states that I have something to look forward to pretty much every day. It is crazy, but I ‘only’ have about 26 days of cycling left until I will get to the Pacific Ocean in San Diego. Since my flight back is on November 15th and I want to get to San Francisco around November 9th, I now am in the luxurious position of being able to take my time, take days off when I’m in a nice area or the weather is bad – until now I was on a pretty tight schedule.

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Time to celebrate – KM 4000

The ride to Pueblo itself was unfortunately not as great as I had thought. I was on a busy highway and since there were so many clouds, I didn’t get to see the Rockies yet. In Pueblo, I stayed with Monty, a couchsurfer, and had two relaxed days. A friend I met on my exchange in Barcelona, Megan, came down from Boulder to hang out for the day and it was nice to see a familiar person again for the first time in several weeks/moths. I also got my bike checked at the local shop and was really looking forward to the mountains.

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Nice park and weather in Pueblo

From Pueblo, I had a fairly easy day to Canon City, but the weather was great and so I did get to see the mountains for the first time and it was amazing. Riding through this desertlike area with big mountains in the background and thinking about where I had started over a month ago was great. In Canon City I stayed with Nic and Leslie. It is a cool story how I got to stay with them and again shows the hospitality of the people and the network you start to build on a trip like this. The two cyclists that stayed at the church with me where I wrote my last blog entry, Jason and Ryan, were sitting infront of the supermarket in Canon City eating a sandwich when Nic and Leslie came up to them and talked for a while. After a bit, they just told them to come to their house to shower and spend the night. So when I was at the church with them a week ago or so and told them I was going through Canon City, they told me I might be able to spend the night at this family’s house. They gave me their email-address and a day later Nic replied telling me I was more than welcome to stay. So instead of staying at a campground, I got to spend a night inside not worrying about thunderstorms and resting for my first big climb the next morning.

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On my way to Canon City

Out of Canon City, I had the first 12km climb and I indeed was in the mountains and will not really leave them until I reach the Pacific. The scenery was beautiful – blue sky, red rocks, creeks, rivers and snow-covered mountains in the distance. It’s actually really hard to pick a few pictures for this blog that capture the views, but I guess there needs to be some kind of incentive to still do a trip like this yourself rather than just reading blogs ;). My day ended in Salida which was the gateway to my highest pass of the trip, Monarch Pass. In Salida, I met this other cyclist from Basque/Spain, Lorenzo. He has been on his bike for 16 years (!!!). When he was 35, he quit his job as a high school teacher and decided to do a trip for not more than 18 months – and he is still on his bike. Every 5 years he goes back to Spain to visit family and friends, but he lives on his bike the rest of the time. He has been to every continent (except Antarctica) multiple times and is on his way from Canada to Mexico right now. It’s just unbelievable and talking to him made me feel like I was just on a quick ride to get some groceries or something. It was really interesting and inspiring to listen to all of his stories – but I don’t think I would ever be able to do that kind of thing. Still another great encounter on the way.

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Impressions from the ride to Salida

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Lorenzo, the crazy Basque who has been biking around the world for 16 years

Then the big day had arrived – Monarch Pass was waiting for me. I had never biked up higher than 2400m before and I think the highest mountain I had ever been on before was 3200m. And this pass was up on 3447m – and I had to ride my bike up there. From Salida it was 40km uphill. The serious climb was about 20km with an average grade of 5%. It’s hard to describe the challenge of riding up a pass on a bicycle to people who haven’t done it before. It’s as if you would go to the gym, get on one of those spinning-bikes, turn it to the highest resistance level and pedal for 4 hours straight. I do like it though, because it is really challenging and you always have to set yourself new goals. You also need to take frequent breaks so you don’t get sick of the altitude. Fortunately, I was feeling great that day, the weather was amazing and I really enjoyed the climb. Finally reaching the pass was probably the biggest moment on this trip so far. I chilled in the restaurant on the pass for a while and started to get a headache – thin air up there! So I decided that it was time for the descent – and that’s when you realize how much you had been climbing. You can just sit on your bike, not pedal and go down the mountain for about 20km at a high speed. I used the descent to relax and just enjoy the beautiful views.

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After about 4 hours of climbing, I reached the hightes point of my tour at 3447m

After the descent, I still had about 50km to go to my destination for the day, Gunnison. It was pretty easy though and when I got there, the “Oktoberfest” was waiting for me. The little town’s bank had organized an Oktoberfest with a little band playing in Lederhosen, lots of German food (at least what they thought was German and catered by the local pizza-place) and beer (not German unfortunately). It was a nice atmosphere and a great way to end this day – Sauerkraut, Bratwurst and a Bretzel with mustard for free, what more could one ask for?!

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Oktoberfest in Gunnison with free “German” food

From Gunnison I took Highway 50 all the way to Montrose, where I am right now. It was another 105km and after the hard day before, I was feeling my legs a little bit and there were still some climbs – but ‘only’ up to 2500m. It was another great ride with beautiful views on the big lake and the cliffs that were bright red with the sun reflecting on them. About 35km out of Gunnison, I spotted 2 other cyclists going the same direction as me just a few hundred meters infront. I started speeding up, caught up with them and rang the bell. Before I said anything, the guy just goes: “Freddy?!”. We rode together for a bit and talked and it turns out that Paul and his wife were on their honeymoon crossing the US and were staying at the same family – that’s how they knew my name.

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There have been worse picknick-spots

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Randomly running into Paul and his wife on highway 50

All three of us took a day off here in Montrose, because the weather was really bad today and it’s a great place to relax, but also work! We are staying at John and Emily’s house and they just moved down here from Oregon and started a little organic farm. So this morning, John took us with him to help him with the morning-chores. We fed the pigs, chickens, turkeys and got to milk the goats! I did not expect to become a farmer on this trip, but it was actually a lot of fun and maybe it is a new career-option. (It actually wasn’t my first experience as a farmer though: Earlier that week, in Ordway, I stayed with Gillian who owns a farm and lets cyclists stay at her place. The one thing she asks for in return is that they work for 15 minutes on her farm. So instead of paying money, I worked on the field for about 15 minutes and it was a nice feeling to at least give back a little bit and not just be a guest and receive.)

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Farmer Freddy milking the goat

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John feeding the pigs

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The view from the backyard

John and Emily also let us have another great experience: Montrose is really close to the Black Canyon National Park, but it still is 20km uphill and therefore not that great to do on a bike especially not in the rain. We talked about it and said that we might not do it because of the weather and John just goes: “Well just take a car – we have two anyways”. So it was time for a little roadtrip. Going up the steep roads, I was glad not to have done it on my bike. Especially since as soon as we got to the Canyon, we were in the middle of a thunderstorm. Lightning and thunder everywhere and it was nice to be in a car. Unforunately we didn’t have the best views, but it was still impressive (the canyon is about 700m deep and people say it’s actually nicer than the Grand Canyon – that’s debatable I guess).

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Black Canyon of the Gunnison – 700m drop!

So, this was the weekly update again. By the end of this week, I will probably cross the border to Utah and then it’s only one state before getting to California. Utah is going to be a challenge, because of the mountains, the desert and the distance between places to get water. But I’m looking forward to it and just loving this adventure!

Speaking of challenges: I noticed that I have (almost) caught up to the donations with a bit over 50%. So, if you are following my blog and enjoying it and have a couple of Euros to spare, I’d appreciate if you would donate on http://www.donare.de/Coast-to-Coast-2013 for Make-a-Wish Germany!

Take care,
Freddy

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Kansas: rain showers, warm showers, bike showers

After 8 days I left Kansas today and crossed the border to Colorado. Time to take a look at what this state had to offer.

First about the terrain:
To my surprise there were hills in eastern Kansas. Everyone had been telling me how flat Kansas was, but the truth is: it’s not flat until about halfway through. In the east, they have the so-called Flint Hills. They are not real hills with short climbs of 1%-3% but people in Kansas actually refer to them as mountains, but I think they just do that because they want to have some sort of different terrain than the plains in the west. Anyways, although they weren’t steep, the first days here were still tough, because it was really hot and the headwinds kicked in. After Newton, which is pretty much in the center of Kansas, it really did get flat. It’s amazing, because there literally is nothing around and you can see miles and miles ahead. It might sound boring, but it is also fascinating to really not see anything but fields and powerlines for a couple of hours. Of course this is also a challenge, because at times there was not a single house for 20km and you definitely need to make sure to carry enough water and also hope that a thunderstorm doesn’t begin when you are in the middle of nowhere – so far it has worked out.

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Not a whole lot around – this picture sums up Kansas’ scenery

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Nice surprise: an exotic animal farm with zebras and camels

Because of the heat and the winds, I actually did a couple of nightrides. I started at 4 AM and it was a great experience. There was no traffic, no wind and no heat. And the best part were the sunrises. They were simply amazing! The only downside was that I was riding away from them and always had to look back to watch them, but since a car came only about every 20 minutes, it didn’t really matter. There was one scary incidence though: I passed one farm at 5.30AM and it was still pitchblack when a dog started barking and I saw that it was a huge one that wasn’t on a leash and started chasing me. Of course I was an easy target for him, since I had so many lights on me and was the only glowing thing in the dark. But fortunately I was too fast for him and after a while he gave up – at least I think so…I couldn’t see anything.
Another fun thing about the nightriding was the fact that I had no idea how far I had gone already. I don’t have light on my bike-computer and so I just pedaled and pedaled and when I finally had sunlight, it was a nice surprise to see how far I had come. You also invent a lot of games to not get bored, so I started guessing the distance I had travelled and then checked with my flashlight if I was right – I got better at it! (other “fun” games in the Plains include ‘staying on the white strip on the right side of the road’ and ‘estimating how many kms will pass until you see the next house/car’).

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Beautiful sunrise in Kansas

There is not really more to say about the terrain or scenery in Kansas, so I’m gonna explain my headline for this blog entry.

Rain showers:
For the last couple of days, the weather forecast has been pretty bad with thunderstorms, rain and colder temperatures. So far I have been lucky with the thunderstorms, but it is still not the best feeling to see dark clouds all around you when you know the next house is probably an hour away from you. On my way to Ness City, I had my rainiest day so far. I was riding my bike for 4 hours in pouring rain and was soaking wet when I got into town. It didn’t take me a long time to decide that it was time for my first motel-night on this trip. I definitely didn’t feel like camping in my tent and being rained on all night. It was a good decision and I watched the Weather Channel pretty much all afternoon. That’s when I heard about the flash floods in Colorado and that more storms were coming up – so I really hope it’s gonna stay relatively dry here. I also walked around the town a little bit – that’s an exaggeration when you know that there are about 3 streets in the town. But it actually has a tourist attraction or at least claims to have one: the ‘skyscraper of the plains’. It’s an old bank building and after all is a 2- or maybe 3-story house – I guess the term skyscraper is defined differently in the Plains.

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Fort Larned

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The skyscraper of the Plains in Ness City

Warm showers:
As you guys might know, there is this organization called warmshowers, which has the same concept as couchsurfing, just for cyclists. So people open up their homes to touring cyclists, letting them take showers, eat dinner and spend the night at their places. I have been using this throughout the trip and it has been amazing! But in this headline, I’m actually referring to the unbelievable hospitability of ‘random’ people in Kansas.
Two nights in a row, I got invited by people I just randomly met on the street to spend the night at their homes. The first night, I was planning on camping at the city park in Sterling. I didn’t have service to call the police department to check in and asked a guy in the park who was playing with his little son where the police department was. After talking to him about the trip, he told me I was welcome to take a shower at his place and I asked if I could just pitch my tent in his yard. After taking a shower, Dave invited me to stay in the guest-bedroom. I had a great evening talking to him and his wife about all sorts of things, from politics over history to religion.
The next morning I left at 4 AM and actually made it to my destination at 9.30AM already. So I had a whole day to spend in Larned. I was just chilling at the city park when a guy came with two young kids to have picknick. I asked him if he lived closeby because I wanted to leave my bike there to be able to walk around town all day without worrying about my stuff. He did live right next to the park and told me I was more than welcome to do that. A little later on, I left my bike on his front-porch with a thank you not at the door. When I came back after a couple of hours, there was a new note on the door saying that I was welcome to sleep on the couch and take a shower. I should just walk in because he was going to be working for a while. For me as a German just unbelievable: it’s one thing everyone leaves their doors unlocked, but inviting a stranger to go in your house and “make himself at home” while you are not there..a different world, definitely nice though! After I was relaxing in the house for a while, Adam came home after dropping his niece and nephew off and getting his work done and asked if I was hungry. He had brought home a lot of meat and all kinds of food, because he figured I would need some calories. So we had a great dinner and talked about Kansas. The next morning, he also made a delicious breakfast and I was ready for another day of cycling.
So instead of spending 2 nights in my tent at city parks, I had good company, a bed and warm showers just because I met the right people at the right time – that’s what it is all about.

And finally the bike shower:
I had heard from other cyclists about the bike shop in Newton and that it was a great place to stay at. So I decided to do that and it was definitly the right decision. James, the owner, has a great concept: since Newton is pretty much the halfway point for the official Transamerica Trail, he wants to make cyclists feel welcomed and offer them a place to crash and also to get their bikes ready for the second half of their trip. As a touring cyclists, you can spend the night for free, take a shower, use the kitchen, use all tools of the bike shop and also the bike shower. James rebuilt a human shower into a bike shower. You can hang your bike in it and clean it. It’s a great idea and definitely another highlight on my trip. I ended up spending the night at James’ house with this family and it was a great time – as usual.

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Finally getting my bike clean at James’ bike shop in Newton

Now you know what the title is all about. This time, it was really hard for me to write the blog, because it has been a week and the days are so similar that it’s hard to remember everything that has happened.

Another great thing actually happened today though: I am in the town of Sheridan Lake in Colorado with a population of 88 (people here told me it’s probably closer to 40). They do have a gas station with a little convenient store and I was planning on having not a lot to eat since there is no grocery store. At least they have a church where cyclists can stay at, so I went there and just relaxed for a while. Then a man came into the building and I went up to him: “You must be the pastor, I’m a cyclist and would like to spend the night here”. But it wasn’t the pastor. It was Ronnie, who was just getting a microphone for his dad’s 80th birthday party that was going on next door. He asked me if I was hungry – and of course I was. So he invited me to join the party and just come on over whenever. When I headed over there I was surprised to see about 50 people in the room – the whole town was there apparently. I had a great time. They had a buffet with meat, baked beans, potatoe salad and of course a birthday cake – and they had plenty of it so I actually got to eat a lot and feeling great now! But besides the food, it was also nice to talk to the people there. They made me feel like I was part of the family. Talked to a couple of guys that gave me directions and advice for my upcoming days. To others I talked about the differences between Germany and the US. And at the end, I took a picture with the birthday-boy and his wife. He gave me a hug and told me to say hey to my mom and tell her that she has a great son – but of course she knows that already ;).
When I came back from the party, two other cyclists had arrived at the church. They are going East and so we exchanged a lot of stuff about what is coming up for us. So even in a town of 88 people, I ran into the right people at the right time. And who would have thought that I’d get invited to an 80th birthday on my first night in Colorado!?

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Happy 80th Birthday, Dennis!

That’s about it, I think. A short outlook: if the weather is not too bad, I should make it to Pueblo by Monday. I will take a day off and then it’s time for the Rocky Mountains. I cannot believe I have made it this far already, but I also have a long way to go still. On Monday I will reach the 4000km (2500 miles) which means the halfway-point of my tour. But I think it will be a little less than 8000km all in all, but we will see. I think I will be hitting the Pacific Ocean in San Diego in about 2700km – that seems pretty close, right!?

One remark to Colorado: The scenery is not going to change for another 200km, in fact it is getting even less populated (didn’t think that was possible).

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Made it to Colorado. I have been on the same exact road going straight for about 300km now. I hope I’m not going to miss the next turn in another 200km!

And now I just want to say thank you to all the people I have met along the way that have made it such an incredible journey so far. I really appreciate the conversations, company, beds, showers, dinners and whatever else there is I have been able to enjoy. (I just reread that and it sounds like the trip is over already, so I have to stress the ‘so far’ because I’m hoping to meet many more!)

Take care,

Freddy

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BBQ with the sheriff, night in jail and now in Kansas

Good news: everything is going according to my plan and since the last blog-entry I have made it through Illinois and Missouri and have crossed the border to Kansas today! But let me start from the beginning.

After my night in Carbondale, my next destination was the town of Chester. It had a lot to offer! It’s the “hometown” of Popeye the sailor! It has a lot of statues and monuments documenting it, a museum and even the grocery store is called “spinach can”. Besides that, it was also right next to the Mississippi River and the last town before the state of Missouri. For me, crossing the Mississippi was special, because now I really had the feeling that I’m moving far far towards the West. Also, people had been telling me that the humidity gets less west of the river – and it really is true, the days are still hot with about 30-35 degrees, but it doesn’t feel like you go into a sauna when you step outside.

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The town of Chester – home of Popeye

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Not a spectacular picture, but this is the Mississippi

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After crossing the Mississippi, Missouri welcomes me

But there was also a downside to leaving Illinois: after about 10km, the hills started again. I knew that the ‘worst’ and steepest ones were yet to come in the Ozarks Mountains. But I didn’t spend my first night in Missouri in my tent in the mountains, but in a jail! It was my own choice though and I hadn’t comitted a crime – no worries. In Farmington, the old jail has been rebuilt into a cyclists hostel, called Al’s Place. Since a lot of cyclists pass this town every year on their way from coast to coast, it’s another legendary place to stay at on the route and I was really glad I did. After getting the code for the door from the police department, I had a whole jail to myself. But it was a great, luxurious apartment with a kitchen, TV, computer, air-condition and everything a cyclist could ask for. And then there was another treat: On the way to Farmington, I noticed that my pedal was about to break. It didn’t sound very good and I was frustrated, because that would have meant 1 1/2 extra days (It was a Sunday and the local bike shop wasn’t opened til Tuesday 10am due to Labor Day weekend). The jail also had a bike-storage room in the basement and as I put my bike there, I saw 2 extra pedals on the floor – some other cyclist had left them there since he didn’t need them anymore. Those are the stories that make such a journey so special. It might sound stupid, but I was in a really good mood after that because it was so random and lucky that I found a pedal there that actually fit on my bike.

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The old jail I stayed in and the storage room where I was able to fix my pedal-problem

On Labor Day, I hit the Ozark Mountains. The weather was just beautiful – it has been the last couple of weeks – and the scenery aswell. The Ozarks are known as a rollercoaster-ride amongst cyclists. You have a constant steep up and down and if you pedal hard enough downhill, you might get to about half of the next climb. And during the couple of days in this mountain range (by the way: it’s the only one going from west to east instead of north-south on the American continent), I realized what an impact the mood and mind has on your days and cycling. While I was annoyed in the hills of Kentucky, I was in such a good mood in the Ozarks that I was riding faster and easier than ever. I didn’t have to worry about dogs, thunderstorms or anything else and I have to say that those days have been some of my most favorite so far – scenery, weather and not a lot of traffic.

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Just a few impressions of the beautiful days in the Ozarks

When I got to my destination on Labor day, Ellington, I only had one concern: “what are you going to eat?”. Since it was a very small town and it was a holiday I didn’t really have a lot of options. I just got a salad and some tomatoes from the small supermarket and chilled at my campspot at the city park when some people showed up to have a BBQ. And to my surprise, it was the sheriff and his family – (you can tell how small the town is when I tell you that the first person I ran into was the sheriff and the second one the mayor). After a couple of minutes they invited me to join their party and I was really glad! I didn’t have to go to bed hungry, but had lots of food and a nice evening with the sheriff and his family.

I had some more memorable nights:
– in Marshfield, I set up my tent in a city park next to an arena (I’m not sure what kind of arena – it had a lot of sand in it, maybe a rodeo). I was just about to go to sleep when the lights of the arena were turned on shining right on my tent and I hear tractors and other heavy machinery. I look out of my tent and see that the local farmers were getting the field ready for the next event. So instead of getting sleep, I watched them work and wondered why they hadn’t started earlier.

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At first, I thought it was going to be a peaceful night…

– the next day marked my exit of the mountains and I was going to spend it at the local Motorcycle bar in Everton. I had heard about it from other cyclists on the way and you get to camp for free if you eat at the bar – a condition I was more than happy to meet! Not only did I have a delicious pizza and get to share stories with the funny owner, but I also took a shower in a schoolbus. The owner had rebuild an old schoolbus into a “showerbus” with 5 showers. I asked him how he came up with that idea and he said that he was going to rent a shower-cabin for a weekend-event and they wanted 13.000$, so he decided he could get it done cheaper and he sure did. Plus it’s unique and just another thing you wouldn’t see if you didn’t travel on your bike. Because why would anyone go to a town called Everton with 500 inhabitants in the middle of nowhere?!

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The “Shower-bus” of Everton, Missouri

Today was another big day! I finally entered Kansas. As you know I had been dreaming about Kansas for a long time, because it means FLAT. I was really motivated and started early, but had to find out soon that Kansas also means “nothing there”. Before getting to my destination for today, Pittsburg, there was a stretch of 50km without anything – no grocery store, no gas station, just fields of corn. Ok, to be honest, I’m only about 10km behind the border and therefore 40 of those km still belong to Missouri, but I will have to get used to it. The longest stretch without anything on my way through Kansas is about 100km and I will have to plan everything very well so I won’t run out of water or food on that stretch. I’m still looking forward to it and can’t wait for the next couple of days. I saw my first sunset in Kansas earlier and it was amazing – it’s going to be even better when I’m out of the city and get to see it with an ’empty’ horizon.

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First impressions of Kansas

Just a few more random stories that I didn’t include in here:
-in Houston, Missouri, a couple recommended to get breakfast at the local hospital because it was really cheap and good. The next morning, I followed their advice and was not to be disappointed! I got scrambled eggs, bacon, biscuit and gravy and oatmeal – and all ofthat for free! The older lady working there gave me a hug when I was going to pay and said: “breakfast is on me today, young man! Be safe!”

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Finally a good breakfast and for free too 🙂

-in Ashgrove, Missouri, I was taking a really long break because it was early and I only had 12km to go to my final destination. As I was sitting in the city park, the sheriff pulled up and was trying to convince me to stay in his town for the night. He even offered me to stay in a house with kitchen and air-condition, but I still rejected the offer since I wanted to keep moving. Still a funny situation and again showing the hospitality of the people here.

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The sheriff leaving after trying to convince me to stay in his town

-and a story I completely forgot to mention in my last blog about Kentucky. I met my biggest fan there! I was going down a hill, when I saw a car sitting in a driveway on the right and the lady inside was waving and telling me to stop. When I did, she jumped outside and was really excited. She had seen a lot of cyclists go down that road and had always wanted to talk to one and finally it had happened. We talked for a while and she told me that she would be late for church just because of me, but did not mind at all. We took pictures and exchanged numbers and ever since, LaDonna checks on me every couple of days to make sure I’m alright. Just another reason why I liked Kentucky after all!

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Funny meeting with LaDonna somewhere in Kentucky

One last thought:
Since I have a lot of time on my bike, I think a lot. And one of the things that fascinates me the most is the community of the cyclists. Every other day, you meet other cyclists and you start building a network. Sometimes you just talk for a while and exchange advice for the upcoming route, but sometimes you also exchange numbers or emails and keep in touch for further questions. About a week ago I met this couple, Scott and Ashley from Chicago, who are going the same way I am, but at a slower pace. Ever since, we write emails back and forth talking about what is coming up. I also still talk to Peter, the guy I was riding with for a couple of days and who knows..maybe he will catch up at some point. And I even talk to a guy I have never met: the 2 British guys I had met a couple of weeks ago gave me the email-address of Mike, who is about 2 weeks ahead of me heading for San Francisco aswell. So I contacted him and he keeps sending me emails with stuff I should know and be prepared for on the way.
So what I was thinking on my bike is that this whole trip is like a ‘treasure hunt’ on a very big scale. You talk to people and get advice or recommendations for some little town or turn that is thousands of km away from you, but at some point you will be there and remember the words and be thankful for it.

20130907-175749.jpgOne of the last cyclists I have met – Ken from Idaho going from Oregon to Florida – always a nice break to talk to others on the road about the upcoming challenges

Alright, I think that’s it for now. There are so many stories to tell that it’s hard to put them into order. Also, some of them might not even be that great for a neutral reader, but I try to make it as interesting as possible.

A short outlook: I have planned my days for the upcoming weeks and should be in Pueblo, Colorado on September 16th. I will have a restday there and get my bike checked and will then head into the Rockies. I can’t believe I’m that ‘close’ (it’s still about 1000km) and hope everything keeps going well.

Thanks for reading and the next update will hopefully follow from the westside of Kansas or even Colorado!

P.S.: That was the entry I wasn’t able to upload yesterday. I’m actually in Chanute right now and have to say that Kansas isn’t as flat as I have hoped so far and I also experienced the first headwinds (the cyclist’s biggest enemy in Kansas). Therefore I will probably start riding at about 4AM on some days here in Kansas to avoid the heat and the winds that pick up around noon.

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What I’m going to see for the next 1000km – straight roads, powerlines and fields

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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