Touring means you ride rain or shine, for us that also means snow, frost and sometimes ice. But today, it was just rain. We know our butts are soft and our legs out of shape but we still want to try and get in a few rides to toughen up those sit bones and help the legs a little before embarking on our Fall Tour.
Today wasn’t a long ride, 13 miles with almost no elevation gain but it was FUN! We splashed through puddles and I dodged the muddy spray that was splattering up from Curtis’ rear tire. We both sported the mud splattered back that is just one of those things to be expected when rain riding.
Ontonagon has remarkable ATV/Snowmobile/Bike trails. One of these trails run through the village along the Ontonagon River.
It’s always fun to get back on the bikes, while we are riding both of us talk about the future of our riding, the epic routes and trails that we still want to explore. The ride and route list seems to grow longer than years permit but it is still fun to plan. After all, planning is half the fun…right? Anyway, this year we will ride our Fall Foliage Keweenah Tour with plans to spend 2-4 weeks on the road/trails.
Social distancing, masks, vaccines; conversations revolve around these topics, overshadowing living. The reality that Covid-19 and all of its new variants is here to stay and there is nothing we can do about that but we need to learn to be safe and work around this forever with us virus.
Covid-19 screwed up our 2020 plans of cycling the Continental Divide but then again it messed with a lot of peoples plans. Oh well, adapt and modify but do it safely.
Social distancing is easy where we live, there are very few people and we live with a very low population density. Social distancing is and always has been the norm and its just the way we like it.
2021 has been a rollercoaster year, again postponing our summer tour plans. After my time in south Texas (December – April) I was emotionally spent, frazzled and flat worn out. I just wanted to go home. I hate to admit it but bikes have been dormant, lost in space so to speak and every time we think “now’s the time” something new rises up and grounds the bikes once again. Fall is fast approaching and it’s time to make it happen. It’s time to dust off the bikes, air the tires and pack those panniers.
Today is August 20, 2021 and we got out for a short 10 mile ride.
Sliding onto the saddle of my Salsa Fargo I feel like I am getting re-acquainted with an old friend. We spin down the roadway and find ourselves at a quiet beach. This is peace, this is freedom, this living the life we choose with no excuses.
After family has gone this next month we are loading up and hitting the road. We have gained weight and our butts are soft but we need this. We need the open road, the secluded trails, the lonely campsites. It re-sets the soul and we are ready, not physically but mentally. Cycling is physical but more than that it is mental. Hills are a mind f*ck and if you let them conquer you they win. The realization that “I can do it” is a strength that I rely on and push that little negative voice to the back. It doesn’t take and enormous physical ability to tour but it takes an open mind and willing attitude.
So get ready, CJBikeTours will soon be ready to roll. See you soon!
We departed home on a Tuesday morning, June 23, 2020 once breakfast and coffee were done. Bikes were loaded up and we headed for Pat’s IGA for some lunch provisions. The lupines are thick around Pats and we took advantage of the photo opp to get the ride started.
From place to place throughout the North and South American continents, things are not so different. Plant species are very similar if not the same; our region of North America is not much different from Patagonia. Weather is not much different, climate is not much different, bugs are not much different and back roads are not much different. One could say we live in the North American Patagonia.
Skies were overcast at the temperature was 48F/9C, beautiful weather to cycle in. We headed out of town on M64, heading west before turning south on Norwich Road. A destination was researched and the Norwich Bluffs our goal.
It’s been a while since we’ve toured. It’s been a while since we’ve spent more than a couple of hours in the saddle and needless to say these aging, overweight bodies felt every pedal stroke. The steady climb to our destination made us feel like we were dragging lead bricks behind us. We stopped for a Clif bar break, we stop to look and eat wild strawberries, we stopped to look at flowers and the Monarch caterpillars eating as well. The Sandhill cranes called out to us as we passed by. We stopped at Pioneer Multi-use Trailhead for a lunch of fried chicken that we had picked up at Pats earlier. This put us only a couple of miles from our destination for the evening.
We continued on Norwich Road and then turned east on Victoria Road. Victoria Road is a gravel road going up along the Norwich Bluffs.
We gradually climbed 1.3 miles on Victoria Road before turning off on a non-motorized trail. It was slightly overgrown and 1.6 miles to the top of the bluffs. The grade was a constant uphill. We were able to cycle some of it but soon had to stop to hoist bikes over downed trees. Then I hit a tree that was hidden in the tall grasses. I had been able to ride over many but this one that was slightly off angle took me out. I was literally pinned into the long grass into a mix of dead tree limbs and branches. I could feel myself falling almost in a slow motion drop. Curtis was laughing and got a few photos before helping me out of my predicament. I was pinned in such a manner that I couldn’t get my right arm out to push myself up. It seemed I was in some kind of notch between branches. It was funny. After a few attempts, with Curtis and I working together we were able to get me semi up and the bike off me. From here we pushed, there were too many hidden downed trees and the grass was pretty high. We passed beautiful rock outcrops. The grades were up to 12% in places and the push with loaded bikes was often times not easy but we kept going.
I really cannot move, my leg and right arm were pinned in a depression between the small tree branches. I was able to finally get up and out with just a few bruises and a lot of laughing.
We pushed to the end, 1.6 miles in distance. The old watchtower pilings were all that was left of it. We found an interpretive trail that is right off the North Country Trail. We had passed a lot of water sources on our push up, but there was not any water at the top. Hoping to camp on the edge of the bluffs was a no-go. The vegetation was pretty overgrown and we decided it was best to head back down the trail to one of the water streams.
We saw small snakes and some frogs and toads today but other than the chipmunks that was pretty much it for the critters.
The proverbial question of the day is “Does a bear shit in the woods?” Yes they do and from the numerous piles we found while looking for an adequate campsite I would say that there are quite a few up here! We brought along bear spray as well as scent-free bags and our bear bag for food storage.
We found a spring that had good water for filtering. Perched on the edge we dropped the filter end in and started to pump. Something is wrong. The water isn’t filtering through, rather it is spraying out where it shouldn’t be. Upon further investigation we found that a gasket was missing making the filter un-usable. All water would have to be boiled. On a positive note, we had packed along our new solo-stove that is a wood burner so our fuel source was plentiful.
The tent site we found was actually an old campsite complete with a grown over fire ring. We did not make a fire but we could have it we had chosen to. It was near an old downed tree.
The forest floor is very densely covered with leaf litter and downed trees. Chipmunks visited us often and watched while I set up the tent. Oaks and Maple Trees along with Beech trees were the predominate tree life with an occasional Hemlock thrown in.
We walked the woods, discovering a few mushrooms and other plants. We watched the chipmunks play and we noted large piles of bear dung. Tonight we will need to be bear aware and make sure food is hung. Birds sang, woodpeckers tapped out their morse codes and we sat back, enjoying our supper and enjoying the cool breezes.
This plant was a new one for me. It is called Squawroot (Conopholis americana). It is also known as Cancer Root and Bear Cone. It’s a strange and fascinating little plant that looks like a pinecone, produces no chlorophyll of its own, and lives mostly underground as a parasite on the roots of oak trees, seemingly without harming them.
Curtis boiled water and then cooked supper. Supper was our standby, Lentils & Brown Rice with dried vegetables mixed in. It’s a simple meal but it’s filling, nutritious and tastes so good after a hard day.
One new piece of gear is a small saw that works great for cutting small pieces of wood for the stove. Sure this small maple branch still needed to be split but the saw made it easy to get the lengths appropriate for use.
Bugs, yea there are bugs but there are bugs everywhere. Mosquitos were not too bad and we had the occasional horse fly come by. Bug spray is a must! Once we turned in I discovered a tick that was attempting to sink it’s tiny fangs into me. I ended its life, it had chosen the wrong host. Sleep came quickly.
Total miles today, Tuesday June 24, 2020 was a mere 21.1 miles with 1,347′ of elevation gain.
We were both awakened a few times through the night but sleep took over. Morning arrived with blue skies and light breezes.
We enjoyed our coffee and oats. While were were on the Carretera Austral in Patagonia we discovered that oats could be eaten raw. It was out of hunger and need to conserve resources that we discovered this and have not cooked oats since while touring. Our oats were mixed with walnuts and dried tart cherries.
With the tent packed up and the gear stowed away we made our way back down to Victoria Road. Mosquitos were thick and Curtis donned his bug net. For some reason they weren’t bothering me quite as bad.
Once back to the road we headed east / northeast on Victoria Road. At first it was gradual climbing but before we knew it the first 10% grade hill was behind us, then we hit a 12%. By the time we hit the next 12% grade hill we both opted to get off and push/walk it. We were not on Victoria Road rather we dubbed it Carretera Victoria Austral.
We climbed then we would drop and then we would climb again. The road was remote, the entire 2 days we only saw 3 cars. This is definitely my kind of traffic! We stopped often to look at flowers or watch the butterflies dance across the flower tops. Chipmunks darted across the gravel in front of us. We were definitely in our element.
The road changed from gravel to pavement as we entered Victoria, MI and we turned right and headed down the steep hill to Victoria Dam. This was a beautiful place to enjoy a peaceful lunch. I had made up banana pancakes with peanut butter before we left home. This is a hearty lunch, good carbs as well as protein. We sat and watched the beautiful waters of the backed up Ontonagon River. This is a popular canoe launch and also portage.
The push to get back up the hill back to Victoria Road was tough, reaching 16% grades according to my GPS. Plus this offshoot to the Dam was again gravel so grip was an issue.
Back on pavement we headed once again down to the Ontonagon River before embarking on the 1.6 mile climb out of the river valley. Gear down, go slow and crank is about the only way to get up a long hill. Grades were not bad, maxing out at 9.8%, at least it was not double digit!
We opted to take a gravel route from Rockland, MI back to Ontonagon and found an ATV trail that used to be a railway. We were passed by 2 ATVs but other than that the only traffic was the birds and butterflies. At one point on the trail we were swarmed by hundreds of tiny yellow gold butterflies. This was quite magical.
Our ATV trail dropped us out at Woodruff Road and from there we made our way home.
Total miles today, Wednesday June 25, 2020 was 27.2 miles with 1,989′ of elevation gain.
We will do more overnight bike trips and this one just wet our appetite for more of them. It is something we both enjoy especially being able to combine cycling with camping in the wild.
Organized bicycle tours are a fun way to meet new people and forge life long friendships. Over a decade ago I participated in a ride across Oklahoma taking me from the Texas border into Kansas. One such encounter in 2007 brought me face to face with Moni and a friendship was born. Now in 2019 here in UP we meet up again to enjoy a week of fun, fellowship and cycling as we explore a region of the country that we have never been to.
Day zero, which was a pre-ride for the official tour was a fast and fun 20 miler to a place called Kitch-iti-kipi. This translates to Big Spring and is the largest fresh water spring in Michigan. The crystal clear, emerald green waters were incredibly beautiful!
Sunday evening we hung around the fairgrounds for the official start on Monday morning. As the sun set over the fairgrounds, more and more cyclists rolled in. The eerie fog that rolls in from Lake Michigan created a very interesting sunset.
Monday morning came along and we hit the road, today will be a 65 mile day as we make our way to Escanaba.
From Escanaba we pulled two days (Tuesday and Wednesday) that were 74 miles plus. Our route took us from Escanaba to Cyrstal Falls on into Marquette.
On this tour we camp, the tent goes up every night. I have always found the traveleing tent city fascinating. The cell phone and electronics station is something of an electrical chaotic mess.
The youngest participant was a 5 year old little girl. She was so awesome! Not only did she not complain or fuss, but she was helpful with setting up. After she completed her chores she showed off her artist skills. This little girl was talkative and the giggle and laugh was fantastic. What a delightful child!
We had fun on the road and along the way. Lunch was provided on Tuesday and Wednesay. Long rows of bikes lined the fences and buildings where we stopped to enjoy box lunches.
Marquette, MI was a layover day. We had a day off and we enjoyed it immensely! We rode bikes downtown and toured the Historical Society Museum. The woman recommended a couple of restaurants for lunch and we took her advice and enjoyed lunch at The Vierling Restaurant & Marquette Harbor Brewery.
We checked out the local bike shop and cruised along Lake Superior. The lake is so beautiful!! I love the clear blue waters and the many nautical sites.
Black Rocks Brewery is incredible. There is so many bicycle themed things in there and the beer ROCKS. We met a number of other cyclists at Black Rocks, Mike, Bob and John who joined us for a lot of tall tales and laughter.
When we got back to camp, Curtis took a nap in the beautiful sunshine.
The flowers of UP, I am in heaven. The vibrant colors, wow just wow. Seems like I cannot pass up the colors as I cycle past them. Flowers have been and will always be a prominent part of my existance.
Leaving Marquette we cycled along beautiful Lake Superior. The sun was bright as it rose into the sky.
One of our rest stops was at Lakenenland, a local artist that created incredible beauty and humor with junkyard art.
Our final day was from Munising back to Manistique. We cycled through the village of Christmas where there is a huge cut out of Santa Claus as well as Christmas themed everything, street names, buildings, you name it.
We rolled into Manistique where our van awaited us. Moni camped in her tent Saturday night and we enjoyed the comfort of our van. We were tired and just enjoyed the relaxation.
The week long ride was pretty short at 343.5 miles with a nice bit of climbing; 8,978 feet. It took us through some beautiful countryside, on some relatively busier roads but that was simply because there are not a lot of alternate options. We met some great people along the way and on the ride. This gave us yet another good look at this region, UP Michigan from the seat of a bicycle. This was fun, the ride was fun and UP Michigan has not seen the last of us.
It was great getting together with Moni again. This ride is now one for the history book as we continue our journey.
Day 2 Upson WI to Little Girl Point Campground : 22 miles
Day 3 Little Girl Point CG to Porcupine WC : 47 miles
Day 4 Porcupine WC to Lake Superior WC : 29 miles
Day 5 Lake Superior WC to Ontonagon Campground : 26 miles
Day 6 Rest Day
Day 7 Ontonagon Campground to Emily Lake Campground : 31 miles
Day 8 Emily Lake Campground to Hancock Rec Area : 33 miles
Day 9 Hancock Rec Area to Lady Slipper Wild Camp : 29 miles
Day 10 Lady Slipper Wild Camp to High Rock Bay Wild Camp : 36 miles
Day 11 High Rock Bay Wild Camp to Cliff Drive Wild Camp : 23 miles
Day 12 Cliff Drive Wild Camp to Hancock Rec Area : 36 miles
Day 13 Rest Day
Day 14 Hancock Rec Area to Obijiwa Campground : 25 miles
Day 15 Obijiwa Campground to Courtney Lake Campground : 35 miles
Day 16 Courtney Lake Campground to Stannard Township RV Park : 35 miles
Day 17 Stannard Township RV Park to Ironwood : 52 miles
Getting to know the true feel of an area is easily done from
the seat of a bicycle, the attitudes of the people, the “feel” of the locals,
atmosphere of the region. We want(ed) to
get to know this area of the country.
The cooler temperatures, the changing of the seasons, the slower pace of
living all appeal to us and we want to get more acquainted with this area.
So, in order to do so we mapped out a near 500 mile loop on the western side of the UP of Michigan. Yoopers are what they call themselves, we found the majority of these fine folks as pretty laid back, helpful and pretty down to earth. We like that. We were not looked at as oddities, no one stared at us in disbelief that we were on bicycles, we got more of the attitudes of cool and good for you. This was refreshing. The other refreshing thing was the temperatures, it is mid-June and we are wearing jackets and/or long sleeves the entire time. So much better than baking in high heat and humidity.
We left our van in Ironwood, MI and enjoyed lunch at a local café. Ironwood has a history deep into mining and there was an exquisite mural in town dedicated to miners of the area.
We made a slight detour west into the sister city of Hurly,
WI before stopping in the small village of Upson and the local city park. The Upson Park has a handful of campsites,
complete with electricity and a hand pump water source. There is a beautiful river running near by
that has a pretty waterfalls. The water
is heavy in tannins creating an almost tea like look to the water. We rolled in to the park in time to get our
tent set up, build a quick fire and then settle into our new routine of
camping. Our tent is new yet it is
familiar. We replaced our MSR Hubbahubba
tent when we returned from South America.
The original tent was pretty tired, zippers were worn out, small holes
here and there had been patched over with tape, bug stains dotted the interior
where we had smashed them into the fabric.
The new tent is pristine, it is bug gut free, the poles are still
interconnected on the center support, the zippers slide easily and the fabric
is shiny and new.
The sleeping pads came along from South America and we are
still using the 2 pad method, a ZPad on the bottom and an air mattress on
top. The sleeping bags are still dirty
from South America, we had planned to wash them but never quite got around to
that. We left behind the liner sheets as
we found that we really didn’t use them much.
Camping is something we both enjoy and our campsites on this
short tour were varied and a lot of fun.
We camped in organized campgrounds as well as bushwhacked our way into
the woods and wild camped.
Roads were mainly paved and traffic was light. We discovered a Rail to Trails trail outside Mass City that headed north. This was fun, hard at times due to soft sand and rough sections from the ATVs that race up and down (although we only saw 3). Animals are plentiful, we saw deer every day and a lot of birds. We even came across wolf tracks on the rail trail. They are huge! Snapping turtles lay eggs along the sandy trails in the boggy areas. We saw a number of laying turtles. We also saw one painted turtle.
We also saw many birds, the Loons are our favorite. The Whistling Swans are giant compared to many other water fowl. There are many babies on the water right now and we saw baby swans, Canada Geese and others. A momma Grouse and baby were crossing the road when a car came through. Momma ruffled up and went head to head with the car when her baby zipped under it. Luckily the car stopped, Curtis had to climb under and catch the baby before letting the tiny chick go back to it’s protective mother.
Loons also have babies and they will ride on the backs of the adults.
Flowers, oh my the flowers that are blooming are
magnificent! We saw four different types
of orchids, two were Slipper varieties and the other two were just beautiful. The blooming season is here and it seems no
matter where we looked, whether open roadsides or deep forests we encountered
something in bloom.
The ride was tough at times, the hills were steep and the roads were sometimes remote and difficult with the wider tires of the Salsa Fargos. The ride into Copper Harbor was beautiful, along the majestic Lake Superior.
We were able to stop in town, enjoy Thimble Berry Turnovers and some really good coffee before continuing on. The ride past Copper Harbor was tough. US41 starts just north of Copper Harbor, beyond that is a gravel, rutted, potholed road leading to the Point. This was hard, we had a number of water crossing to tackle but the destination on the point to camp at no charge was too tempting to pass up.
This was our favorite remote campsite. The views of Lake Superior were stunning. The lack of light pollution allowed us to see
the Milky Way Galaxy very brightly as it reflected off the massive lake waters
below. My camera doesn’t due the night
shots justice. We camped on the edge of
a small cliff that dropped into the clear waters of Superior. Many others came to the point to marvel in
the beauty of it, others pitched tents as well.
This is a place we will return to.
The ride off the point was a lot faster since it was mainly downhill. We stopped for more of that wonderful coffee as well as Thimble Berry frosted cake donuts. Leaving Copper Harbor was tough, the hills were steep, traffic was aggressive and we had a level of fatigue settling in.
Why is it that vacationers traveling the byways tend to be the biggest assholes? Many tend to be in a hurry, impatient, impulsive and extremely aggressive. Aren’t vacations intended to help people relax? If so, why the obnoxious attitude by so many? This was the worst stretch of road of our entire UP Tour and they aggressiveness all came from RVs and out of state license plates. Sad, so sad that people get so stressed while they are trying to relax.
Despite shorter distances each day, this was tough cycling on the trails and dirt roads. We were exhausted when we made it back to the Hancock Rec Area so we opted to pay for two nights at the campground. We built campfires and relaxed. With a day rest behind us we were back on our bikes and heading back toward to the van.
National and State Forest Campgrounds are rustic but there are typically picnic tables, fire rings and some sort of bathroom facility. These have a small fee to them but it is well worth it. The wild camping is our standard disappear into the woods where no one sees or hears us. Often times, these are our favorite camping areas, they are quiet and remote and we sleep long and deep under the stars.
The bugs are out though, the mosquitos and flies are pretty wicked but it’s one of those things that we just deal with. There is no reason to get mad or spiteful about the bloodsucking insect invasion, it happens. Deet is our friend and we both use the Repel or Off.
Many small towns have Recreation areas or campgrounds in town and they are nice. Bruce Crossing has the Stannard Township RV Park that has a hand full of sites with electric and water, a bathhouse and fantastic shower all for $15 a night. We enjoyed our time in Bruce Crossing and then continued on using the Rail Trail in the area.
It’s time to wrap up this mini-tour and we made a big push the final day back to our van. We really like the areas we cycled but now it’s time to put the Salsas away and dust off the Roadies. MUP, a supported multi-day tour is just around the corner and the road bikes will take the place of our Salsas. It will give us a chance to see a different side of cycling here in the beautiful UP of Michigan.
BLM, Bureau of Land Management areas are a priceless treasure here in the USA. Protected lands for our use and often time free of charge. We found our way into Colorado, punching our way through a series of strong storms blowing across the plains states of Missouri and Kansas. We opted for long days driving to get past the seemingly daily deluge.
The snow began ever so lightly, at first just a light dusting in the ditches but as we got closer to Colorado Springs, CO more and more snow filled the roadway. Colorado Springs is a remarkable city but way too many people and way too much traffic for our liking. We headed west, out of the city and into the mountains.
The BLM lands had ample places to park the van for an extended period. Actually, we could spend up to 14 nights here at no charge. There are no amenities other than a fire ring but we had plenty of peace, quiet and solitude.
Day 1 – May 23, 2019 was an all out snow day, weather was blustery and cold but we did manage to get out in the elements for a refreshing and brisk walk through the wood.
Snow! It’s nearing the end of May and we are covered in snow. I like it! The cold was refreshing. We pulled out the space heater to take the edge off first thing in the morning but other than that, the cold just reminded us of the high mountains and I have to say, I like it!
Surprisingly flowers flourish even in the snow. To see small cactus with buds on them, surrounded by snow was really cool.
Day 2 – May 24, 2019 The sun is out today, the skies are bright and beautiful and we unloaded the Salsa bikes, its time for some fun. We cycled to Eleven Mile Lake and back, max grade was 12% and this was a fun workout.
We opted to take a few gravel roads. Realizing that it is Memorial Day Weekend, the dozens of campsites along these roads were filling in. We walked along some rock outcroppings and watched the Mule Deer and the Chipmunks.
By the time we got back to the van we were starving, we filled up water again and cooked up a fantastic lunch
Day 3 – May 25, 2019 There are almost no open campsites along these gravel backroads. We hopped on the Salsas again today and headed up yet another gravel road.
The BLM lands are open to all and they are equisite!
My front wheel is making weird noises and has an off feel. I checked the spokes and they feel a bit loose. Curtis agreed and when we got back to the van he tightened them up and re-trued my wheels.
The cactus and other flowers flourish in the sunshine.
It’s always a great time when we can utilize a fire ring and today we were able to pull out the chairs and sit around a crackling fire. Our van, our home is proving to be an incredibly fantastic place to reside … no matter where the location.
Oh how I’ve missed the open roads, the thrill of the ride, the peace and solitude of getting out on the bikes. Beauty and the Beast bicycle ride is a fabulous one day bike ride based out of Bullard, TX. It is hosted by the Tyler Bicycle Club and wonderfully supported. There was a number of route and distance options and we chose the longest ride, just over 62 miles.
With cool temperatures and a bright blue sky, we parked at the Bullard High School and readied ourselves for the ride. Today we will ride our roadies, Jenny rides a Bianchi Dama Intrepida and Curtis rides a Gunnar Sport. These are lightweight, fast and fun little play toys. We break out the clip in shoes and dust off the helmets. This is going to be fun.
We picked up our packets, ate breakfast in the back of the van, visited with a few cyclists and waited for the ride to begin. The Star Spangled Banner played in the background and cyclists lined up for the mass start at 9AM.
We met up with Sandi K., a friend from years past on Oklahoma Freewheel. It was so great to see her again. Sandi opted for a shorter ride today and Curtis & I chose the 62 miler with lots and lots of hills, over 3,000 feet of climbing with just about the same amount of descending. I love hills and this is going to be a blast.
And we rolled, in a mass group of other cyclists. We had to watch for others weaving and bobbing their way through the hillsides. The air is cool and the sun is warm. The bikes fly along the road as we cruised the first 10 miles to the first rest stop.
Fully amazed at the ease of these bikes, they fly. We leave behind the panniers and the heavy Surlys. Today is a day where we can just play on the bikes and we both need that. My mind wanders and drifts as we weave through the countryside. I needed this ride. It resets my inner being and the feel of the wind on my cheeks revitalizes me. I find myself smiling, non-stop and I love it. The hills roll and with each passing hill I smile. I love hills, everyone who knows me knows this little fact and these hills do not disappoint. This ride energizes my soul and I find myself in that peaceful place in my head and heart. I am at home, home on a bike and I am happy.
We stopped at each rest stop, snacking on our old stand-bys of oranges and bananas. These foods have been such a frequent go-to and they work for us. The rest stops were filled with other cyclists and the jerseys we had on started to generate a few questions. The most common was “Did you cycle in Argentina?” Not only did we cycle there we cycled Alaska to Argentina. This often left jaws dropped and led to more questions.
Nearing the end we were quizzed by a young man. This led to a conversation that led to “the quote of the day” for us.
Young Man: What do you do? I mean how can you afford this? Curtis: Well, I was a firefighter/paramedic for 30 years and retired. Young Man: I guess maybe I should do something besides work at Walmart. Curtis: Silence. Young Man: Did you carry a gun through them dangerous countries? You know how dangerous this world is we live in. Curtis (with the quote of the day): That may be the world you think you live in but the rest of us don’t live in a world like that.
This left that young man scratching his head, afraid of living, afraid of the people across the street, afraid of anyone not like him, afraid of the world around him. So sad, so very very sad. The world around us is not a scary place. There are pockets of dangerous places, in other countries as well as here in the US of A, the US is not immune to it. Truth be told, the worst aggression towards us has been in the US, not other countries.
The countryside and the quiet roads were refreshing. The hills were so much fun. Springtime in East Texas is spactacular and this is a time of year and location that we will repeat.
The final hill which is the namesake of this ride is a 1/2 mile hill that tops out at an 11% grade. Granted this double digit section was very short but it was a blood pumper.
Today is the first time I’ve worn bike shorts since sometime back in Peru. These padded things kept climbing up my backside and I found myself trying to retrieve them a few times. Top that with a chafe that was not at all amuzing on the whoo-haw, I think this will be the last true bike shorts experience. Maybe my ass is just hardened to where I don’t need them, maybe the bike saddles are just good enough without padded shorts. Bottom line, yea I think I will stick with yoga shorts or compression shorts. These bike shorts have gotta go!
We finished up the ride about 3PM, a few others straggled in after us. The hard core road pounders were fast and furious, finishing up a lot faster than us. But this ride was so needed, my legs were happy, my heart was happy, my lungs were happy, my soul sang with glee.
It is very possible, but the idea of continuing a daily blog/journal is a huge undertaking. I have so enjoyed the daily writing and photography that has been done these past 2 years 7 months and handful of days but it is tiring.
We flew into New Orleans, LA and hailed a taxi to take us to a WarmShower’s host in Gramercy. From there we spent two nights where we got the bikes put back together. It felt good to have a full bike shop and space to work.
It was a sunny, cold day when we left Gramercy, LA. The sun was high in the sky but the air was freezing cold. Ice crystals coated the plants in the shaded areas of the ditch. Our first “hill” was crossing the Mississippi River on one of the high bridges.
The ride west was rather uneventful. It felt amazing to be back in the states, cycling had a familiarity to it which was very nice. We know what to expect, signs are typically obeyed. Our route took us along the Gulf Coast along the Gulf of Mexico. Enjoying a remarkable State Park called Palmetto Island State Park, we listened to the coyotes howl and the owl call out. We also stayed at a free camp area called Rutherford Beach and were gifted with one of the most beautiful sunsets over the Gulf.
Sunrise at Rutherford Beach was incredible. It was cold, very cold and so windy but the views were spectacular.
On into Texas, now we are onto roads that I have been on in the past.
We stayed right along the Gulf Coast, cycling through Galveston and heading deeper south. The riding was windy, so windy but it was enjoyable. We pulled long days in the saddle but we were both ready to be done with this journey. Our lives need to close this chapter out and start a new chapter. The cycling through Texas, beautiful. Our day into Port Lavaca was a wash out and we got hit with a lot of rain and mud. We were met by a classmate of mine from Aranas Pass, a hearty greeting from Keith H.
Our final day was from Port Lavaca to Aransas Pass, this will be a near 65 mile day. The road was good, the winds were cooperative and we made good time.
We were met at my parents home by a reporter from Corpus Christi and a local reporter. This was a surprise and the local reporter did an amazing write up.
So our journey of the Americas is now complete and the next chapter has opened and the words are slowly being written. Our cycling is far from over and we actually have bought new bikes for more off road adventures. My CrazyGuyOnABike daily journaling has come to an end. It was a true labor of love but it was very very difficult to keep it up to date. From here on out we will share our stories of our future rides and adventures.
Thank you to all who followed us along on our journey through the Americas. It is an event that no one can ever take away from us and the memories are enough to last throughout our lifetime and well into our next.