Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Erie, PA to Evangola State Park, NY (75 miles)

"Start spreading the news. I want to be a part of it, New York, New York" - Lindsey and I were really excited to get into New York state today! We've got less than two weeks of our adventure left and are looking forward to dipping our wheels into the Atlantic in Boston.

Today was a beautiful day of riding. Shortly after leaving Erie, we were riding through many miles of vineyards with views of Lake Erie and the Appalachians foothills mixed in. We were also treated to the occasional view of sheer cliffs along the lake's shore.

We're heading up to Niagra Falls tomorrow, and will then head east to follow the Eire Canal across New York state.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Painesville, OH to Erie, PA (76 miles)

This morning we rode along Lake Erie which is quite impressive. If you didn't know better you would think it was the ocean on a calm day. We were a bit jealous of everyone BBQ-ing for Memorial Day so we compensated by stopping for frequent snacks (the best donuts we have had so far then a McDonalds sunday...mmmmm).

About 2/3 through the day we entered Pennsylvania. Now only one state stands between us and Massachusetts!!!

Tonight we are staying with another generous warmshowers host in Erie, PA. They had a huge delicious dinner awaiting us when we arrived which is always mucho appreciated! We are sleeping in the kids playhouse in the backyard. It matches the main house, right down to the mailbox! Super cute, just like the guy on the steps in the picture ;)

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Hudson, OH to Painesville, OH (47 miles)

It's a three day weekend right now for memorial day, so all the campgrounds are booked out. We didn't plan for it at all but luckily managed to get in touch with Roger, a warm showers host that lives a short day's ride from Hudson, that could help us out on short notice.

Roger lives right on Lake Erie, and when we got here we went out for a paddle in his canoe. He gave us a tour of a state park right on the lake; we strolled along the sand shores of the lake, and explored a trail through the sane dunes. A great way to end an easy day of riding!

Findley State Park to Hudson, OH (53 miles)

We made it!!! Just kidding, we went through Boston, OH...

Friday we rode a nice easy day into quaint little Hudson. We stayed with a really lovely warmshowers couple named Heather and John. Heathers father was also in town. We joined them for dinner and enjoyed their company.

We took our day off yesterday and spent most of our time at the library planning out the remainder of our trip. We has some great burgers for lunch and washed them down with spiked milkshakes. Joe had apple pie with bourbon and I had fig with BACON infused vodka. It was pretty weird but had to be tried. We went out to dinner with Heather and John for Mexican. Mmm, what a splurge of a day!!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Sunbury, OH to Findley State Park, OH (82 miles)

We had a great day riding today. Our spirits were high, and we started the day well by both having a chocolate milk and a coffee six miles in.

We later stopped at a great diner on our route, and had another coffee and a delicious piece of caramel nut apple pie. It was definitely the best since the piece we had in Big Sur near the start of the trip. Yum!

In the early afternoon we rode into an intense storm; the rain was coming down really hard and thunder and lightening was all around us. However with our waterproof jackets on it just added to the atmosphere, and we rode on. The storm blew over a few minutes later.

Part of our day was spent in Armish country. We rode past several horse and carts, one of which we were excited to be fast enough to overtake.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

South Charleston, OH to Sunbury, OH (83 miles)

Last night we woke up to the sound of a train screaming through town about 15 yards from our tent. Being half asleep I thought it was coming through the tent when I saw its lights. It was quite an unpleasant way to wake up but after our nerves settled we got right back to sleep.

Got back on the rail trail for the first 20 miles of the day (all the way to London!) then rode through some expansive farm land. We got caught in some heavy rain but managed to get our waterproof jackets on just before the skies opened up.

Tonight we are camping under a pavilion at Autumn Lakes Campground. The rain is really coming down and the thunder and lighting show has just begun. Hope the weather clears up by morning!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Cincinnati, OH to South Charleston, OH (78 miles)

We heard a tornado warning siren for the first time last night, which slightly freaked us out. However Anne reassured us that it is a routine occurrence which had always just resulted in a storm passing through.

When we woke this next morning (with no sign of the tornado) we were treated to a delicious breakfast of eggs, bagels, fruit and yogurt. Yum!

We spent the day riding on beautiful rail trails; the Little Miami Creek Trail and Ohio to Erie trail. The first trail was surrounded by thick green foliage; it felt like we were riding through our own personal road in the middle of a forrest. I'm not sure if the best part of the rail trails is the lack of hills or the lack of traffic. Either way it's nice relaxed cycling!

We're camped in a small town tonight behind an old caboose just off the rail trail.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Carrollton, KY to Cincinnati, OH (69 miles)

We woke up to rain this morning an very nearly zipped up our sleeping bags an rolled back over. It's a good thing we didn't though since it turned out to be one of the most beautiful days we've had so far! By the time we finished our scrambled eggs the blue skies were poking through and the sun wasn't far behind.

We made our way into Cincinnati via the Purple People Bridge, a pedestrian and cyclist only bridge. Such a treat! A great way to enter into yet another state, Ohio. It is becoming very clear that we are no longer in the "south". There is a Dunkin Donuts on every corner and sandwiches are referred to as "grinders".

Tonight we are staying with another warmshowers host. We had an amazing dinner of pork roast, veggies, couscous, salad and last but not least Cincinnati's famous Graeter's ice cream and homemade cookies.

After dinner Joe and I both did a little work on our bikes. We both got a punctured tire today and Joe had to replace a cable.


Sunday, May 22, 2011

Louisville, KY to Carrollton, KY (75 miles)

When riding out of Louisville today it was amazing how quickly the city seemed to disappeared and we were in an industrial area, and then shortly after a mix of farms and housing estates. The terrain was rolling hills for the first fifty miles of the day, some with very steep sections towards their peaks.

One town we passed by was really pretty; Madison in Indiana. It's right on the Ohio river, has a small town feel (population is about 10k though), and had many gorgeous buildings that were built in the mid 1800's. It was definitely one of the nicest towns we've been through on the trip - but we forgot to take pictures!

Corydon, IN to Louisville, KY (29 miles)

We took a nice short day in Louisville on Friday. The ride was beautiful and we were rewarded with a hotel room upon arrival compliment of our moms for Joes birthday!! Each one got us a night so we took our day off and explored Louisville.

As you would expect, we ate lots of food, drank a few local beers and watched lots of tv! We even sat in our fancy hotel room bed and ate a pint of Ben and Jerrys ice cream one night and birthday cake the next. I know, we are just wild!!

Overall an extremely fun and restful weekend!! Now that Joe is one year older and wiser it is time to continue our journey. We have broken 4000 miles are getting closer!! Looks like we have about 3 weeks left to get to MA!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Friday, May 20, 2011

Hawesville, KY to Corydon, IN (68 miles)

Yesterday was a nice easy day of riding; not very hilly and we had a gentle 5mph tail wind. I think we needed it as we're both pretty tired after about a week of riding without a day off. We're heading into Louisville today, and will take tomorrow off there to explore the city on my birthday.

We rode past lots of awesome smelling plant yesterday (no idea what they were) and snapped this photo of a turtle that was waiting to cross the road when we took a break half way through our ride. We also crossed into the eastern time zone, so we're now in the same time zone as our end destination. Getting closer!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Central City, KY to Hawesville, KY (71 miles)

Today was a fairly easy day of cycling. The hills have eased up and the terrain was mostly gentle and rolling then flat as a pancake. It seems our timing has been quite good as far as avoiding natural disasters is concerned on this trip north. You can tell by the mud and plant debris that until just a few days ago, every road and field next to it was flooded. According to locals, some roads were 10 feet under water just a week ago. There appear to be thousands of acres of crops ruined.

We passed several coal factories ( at least I think they were something like that?) All I know is that tons of truck filled with coal were flying by us all morning and smoke stacks were billowing into the sky all across the horizon.

Tonight we are camping at Vastwood Park with a lovely spot next to the lake. Tomorrow looks like it will be very hilly again so we better get our beauty rest!!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Clarksville, TN to Center City, KY (67 miles)

We had a slow start to the day after staying up late doing some bike maintenance; my rear tire and brake pads had worn out and had to be replaced. Around 9.30 we finally headed out and stopped by a local greasy spoon called Moss's Cafe. The eggs and toast really hit the spot, but didn't quite quench our cycling appetites so we picked up a few pastries at a bakery next door (the first one we've seen in a long time) before hitting the road.

We were about ten miles down the road when we passed by 'southern maid donuts' and had to go in to try their finest. The woman working there was so excited about us riding our bikes across country that she gave us two dozen donuts for free. We're about half way through them - what a day of gluttony!

We passed into Kentucky around the twenty mile mark and shortly after the country side became really pretty. We were in Armish country (but unfortunately didn't see any) and rode through fields of wheat with old barns scattered about.

After many miles of rolling hills we ended the day on a 6 mile rail trail to get us to our campsite. Riding without having to worry about cars at all was a great way to end the day.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Nashville, TN to Clarksville, TN (57 miles)

We got a nice slow start to our day with mocha lattes, bagels and cereal then hit the wet pavement once again. It seems as if a little rain cloud is traveling jut above us despite the forecast calling for a 20% chance of rain. No real complaints here though, I much prefer this cool rainy weather to the stinkin hot humidity we had last week. Plus it makes the rain gear we've been lugging across the country seem useful!

Fun fact: Tenessee is not flat. Though we had a short day mileage-wise, we hit some tough terrain. Each hill seemed to get longer and steeper than the last and they didn't ease up until the last 5 miles of the day.

Our good fortune seems to continue as another warmshowers host has taken us in despite our very short notice. Tonight we have our own studio apartment in this lovely family's carriage house behind their home. It seems to good to be true to be sleeping in a bed for a second night in a row. Our host Lawson is extremely interesting and quite the history buff. His family several generations back were slave owners! He and his family collaborate with decedents of the slaves in hopes of mending bridges and opening up the dialog between the two groups that for so many years has remained off limits. Really fascinating stuff. He also helped us fine tune our route to meet back up with our original maps and gave us lots of tips on where we should eat along the way!!

Collinwood, TN to Nashville, TN (93 miles)

Yesterday was a really great day of cycling. The Natchez Trace was such a pleasure to ride on; the cars are few between and very courteous, the surface is perfect the scenery is great. About 30 miles out of Nashville we encountered a couple groups of road cyclist that tagged along to chat with us for 5 miles or so each. It really helped the miles fly by! 20 miles from the end of the day, our warmshowers host, Bill, met up with us to show us the way home.

Though there were lots of big hills and cold rainy weather, we made it to Bill and Sam's beautiful home on the outskirts of Nashville. We were greeted with warm brownies and cold beer. Heaven!! After sitting down to a feast, Bill and Sam helped us plan our route for the next few days and we got into a bed with the softest sheets and real pillows. It amazes me how one night inside a cozy house revives you from a week of camping in damp gear.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Fulton, MS to Collinwood, TN (85 miles)

Gerry finished his ride across the country yesterday morning when he dipped his tire in the Atlantic Ocean in Florida. He's ridden a huge number of miles the past few days, I think he did over a century a day for four days!

Lindsey and I headed out of Fulton early this morning, and about twenty hilly miles in made it to the Natchez Trace Parkway. Several people we'd talked to earlier in our trip had recommended this road, which follows the same trade route American Indians have used for centuries. The parkway is a 444 mile long road that's closed to commercial traffic, and has park land on each side of it. Traffic is light, the surface is great, it's beautiful, and best of all there are no houses on it - so no dogs to terrorize us!

We enjoyed riding on it so much that we've decided to change our route and take it to it's end in Nashville, where we'll work our way back to our planned route. This way we'll also stay further away from the rivers around here which have been flooding

The trace (as locals call it) took us into Collinwood Tennessee, where we're camped behind the visitors center. On to a warm showers in Nashville tomorrow night. Yay!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

West Point, MS to Fulton, MS (66 miles)

Today's picture is of Smithville, MS, one of the worst hit towns in the south by a massive tornado a few weeks ago. We rode for 3 miles through what looked like a war zone. It was such an extremely full on experience I couldn't hold back tears and we had to stop 1/2 way through. I have never seen such devastation first hand. Those poor people lost absolutely everything, including about 30 members of their community.

On a lighter note, the rest of the day was beautiful cycling and we made it to a very nice campground in Fulton, MS on the Tombigbee Waterway once again. Tomorrow is a much needed day off!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Cochrane, AL to West Point, MS (70 miles)

Today we thought it would be a good idea to have an all you can eat buffet 50 miles into our ride. Our lively camp host last night had recommended Barnhills Country Buffet in Columbus, MS. We did some serious damage as we were starving upon arrival. Several plates of fried and butter drenched southern goodness followed by at least one of every dessert item, we were painfully full. The grand total: $6.50 each (drink included). Wow.

Luckily we only had 20 miles to drag ourselves and our 30 extra pounds to the end of the day. Joe treated us to a motel room so we can escape the heat and bugs for a night. Originally we planned on taking tomorrow off but it appears some bad weather is moving through on Friday which makes it a better candidate for staying inside and off the road.

Providence, AL to Cochrane, AL (80 miles)

We had a bit of a rough start to the day; we tried to shave a few miles off by taking a shortcut but the surface of the road we took ended up turning into dirt and then sand. Having the rear wheel of our loaded bikes fish tail around the road for about 3 miles wasn't such an awesome way to start off... lesson learned (again!) on picking our own route with google maps.

When we hit the main road our spirits picked up as we rode through beautiful countryside. We passed many small farms with horses, cows and goats. We have been keeping a close eye our for more alligators but haven't spotted any yet.

We arrived at our campsite feeling a bit worn out today after riding in the 90 degree heat. The campsite host (Brenda) really made us feel special - bringing us iced tea and offering firewood for the night. She also gave us a tip for an all you can eat southern buffet in town for tomorrow - can't wait!

Gerry is in Tallahassee, FL after riding about 70 miles today.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Coffeeville, AL to Providence, AL (67 miles)

Today's route was mainly through the rural back roads of Alabama. The hills were frequent and steep for the first 40 miles or so and became rolling in the afternoon. The gas station/cafe we stopped at for a lunch break invited us in to the amazing air-conditioning to eat our sandwiches even though we didn't buy their food. Southerners sure are friendly!

Several miles down the road we came across a home that must have been struck by a recent tornado. It was an amazing sight, the lot was empty besides some snapped trees and the splintered remains of the house and it's contents were scattered on the opposite side of the road!!

Besides the sweltering heat and humidity, the other thing that sticks out about the South is the unbelievably loud noise that comes from the cicadas and frogs. It is almost deafening as we ride through certain sections of road!!

Gerry went 100 miles again today (wow!), and is in Cottondale, FL. We told him he has to stop making us look bad with his high milage days!!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Cypress Creek Landing, MS to Coffeeville, AL (103 miles)

Yay, we did another century!! This one was a bit tougher than the last as we are back into hilly terrain. The roads wound us through the lush green forests of Desoto National Park. Around mile 75 we entered Alambama, our 7th state! All was fine and dandy until about mile 90....the road we were on suddenly changed to an unpaved dirt road. Who would have guessed that "Blue Dirt Rd." wouldn't be paved? Not only was it not blue, it was more like deep sand followed by mud, followed by gravel, followed by red sand, follwed by yellow rocky dirt... you get the point. It was a trecherous 10 miles that left us wondering if we would make it to our campsite before dark.

We did in fact make it to a lovely campsite on the Tombigbee River outside of Coffeeville just before the sun began to go down. The mosquitos continue to terrorize us which makes me never want to leave the tent once we get to camp. Perhaps I need more DEET...

Gerry update: tonight he is camping at Blackwater State Park in Florida after about a 100 mile day! He rode the whole day in his bathing suit which was more conducive to jumping in the ocean every 10 miles or so.

Pass Christian, LA to Cypress Creek Campground, LA (68 miles)

Today started with 10 beautiful miles riding along the gulf coast beach; white sand, pancake flat water and the town just waking up as we were riding along.

When we arrived at Gulfport we had a sad moment; Gerry parted ways with us to continue east to Florida, while we're now going to head north up towards Boston. It's been great all riding together since San Diego - hopefully we'll do a few more days of cycling together when we get up to Massachusetts. We'll post an update of where Gerry is each night here.

Lindsey and I headed north and eventually entered De Soto National Forest, which is known for it's pine trees and snakes (we saw none of the latter fortunately). We're camped in the forest by a river, which we had a very refreshing swim in before calling it a day.

We heard from Gerry and he made it 89 miles east from our starting point.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

New Orleans, LA to Pass Christian, MS (70 miles)

In New Orleans we stayed with another warmshowers host. He lost his house in Hurricane Katrina and decided to buy a new one 2 blocks away. He still has the empty lot his house was on so he let us set up camp there for a few days and shower an things in his new place. He showed us around the city a bit an took us to some hidden gems, including an artist co-op with a massive tree house that spanned several trees in their back yard. It was really fun to climb around and explore it.

New Orleans is such a vibrant and cool city. The food is amazing ( we know because we ate it all...beignets, muffalettas, jambalaya, poboys, crawfish, etc.) In addition the music is simply everywhere and fantastic. We saw bands jam in tiny clubs on Frenchmas st, live music in city parks and of course many talented musicians at Jazzfest.

Yesterday we rode north through bayous out of the city. It I amazing to see neighborhoods that have been completely abandoned after Katrina. The damage was just so widespread and catastrophic. We even saw a bulldozer taking down a house next to the lot we stayed in.

The highlight of our day was entering yet another state!! Mississippi!! We also hit the Gulf Coast at the end of the day which is part of the Atlantic ocean. So exciting!! We camped on the beach and ate at a cute Jimmy Buffett style restaurant thanks to the sponsorship of Maureen Morrissey thanks to the prompting o her wonderful class ;)

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Donaldsonville, LA to New Orleans, LA ( 73 miles)

Tonight we have a guest blogger, the one and only Gerry Frank:

Route 18.......from the Sunshine bridge to the French Quarter of N.O. once again, brought to you by the hard work of Team Frollard and our carb sponsors the Feinberg-Eddys at Coop's restaurant for dinner tonight.
Route 18 wandered along the West side of the river, alongside the levies, with plenty of sugar cane farms, old plantation mansions and historical markers to all the great men who fought for the Confederacy and the great things the South stood for. We then crossed the mighty Mississippi with a breath taking ride over the Veterans Memorial Bridge and finished our ride into N.O. on a bike trail along the shores of Lake Pocasomething. A hot shower, dinner thanks to our sponsor, dessert at the Cafe du Monde, some music on French St. and then we will set up our tents in an empty lot in West NO..

PS: Even though there will not be any miles conquered tomorrow, sponsorships for tomorrow night's dinner (or any other night) are still available by contacting this blog site.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Patterson, LA to Donaldsonville, LA (53 miles)

Today we wound through the bayous of southern Louisiana. We saw lots of wildlife including an alligator!! He was about 4 feet long and jumped in the water as soon as he heard our shrieks of excitement. We saw our first river steam boat, the Mississippi Queen. She was in the process of being renovated and fascinated us with her sheer size! Overall we enjoyed a short but beautiful day!

To top things off, we bring this blog post to you under the sponsorship of the Feinberg-Eddy family who has put us up in a lovely hotel for the night! It is such a treat to sleep on real sheets with real pillows and use real towels. Ahhhhh the simple pleasures in life.

After our mosquito free sleep we will be rested and ready to ride into New Orleans tomorrow. Can't wait! This marks about the halfway point for Joe and I. We have ridden about 3000 miles and have approximately 2500 left
to get up to Boston!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Lafayette, LA to Patterson, LA (73 miles)

We felt really fresh on the bikes today after our day off yesterday. The day started with the best breakfast of our trip yet at Mel's diner in Lafayette. The pancakes were some of the best we've ever had, and the biscuits (which for the aussies reading this, are pretty much plain scones made with extra butter) were absolutely awesome. We pigged out and left feeling ready to tackle the 15mph headwind which was blowing.

Other than the food, the highlight of the day was the old mansions that we passed (some were 1850 era). They were extravagant and beautiful, and had the most fantastic trees in their yards. We promise to take some photos of them tomorrow.

We got eaten alive by Mosquitos at our camp site tonight, i don't think i've ever seen so many before. Even with deet on, they were biting us through our clothes. Yikes!

Mamou, LA to Lafayette, LA (50 miles)

We headed to Lafayette as we were told it had an awesome international (and free) music festival, and it was only fifty miles from where we were.

We took a day off at the festival yesterday and had a great time. There were six stages with a great variety of music: rock, Cajun, rap, etc. When we weren't listening to music we were stuffing our faces with food from the stalls. We also happened to bump into Lindsey's family friend Carolyn Mugar there.

The perfect day off? We think so :-)