Lewis and Clark Cycling Trek

Tuesday, August 07, 2007


This trip was quite different than the first three years. The most noticeable was the amount of traffic. As we traveled along the Lewis and Clark Trail during the first 3 years, for the most part, traffic was sparse. Not so in our southern states. We were frequently subjected to heavy traffic. I was most surprised by logging trucks. I really hadn’t expected that. I guess I didn’t realize that Tennessee, Alabama, and Mississippi would have that much lumber industry. I was also surprised that southern Illinois, and western Tennessee, Kentucky, Alabama, and Mississippi were all quite hilly, with some really challenging ones. I didn’t realize that the foothills of the Appalachians extended that far west. Some of these hills rivaled the crossing of the Rockies and Cascades, at least as far as steepness is concerned.

This year we traveled 1649 miles partially through the states of Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, and Florida for exactly 30 days. Our average daily mileage was 56 miles a day. We had a low mileage day of 18.53 miles because of mechanical problems. Our highest mileage was 83.34 miles because there were no lodging opportunities between the 2 points on that particular day. Speaking of lodging, we stayed in more motels than we ever have during the first 3 years. We stayed in 1 cabin, 1 private home and 11 motels during the 30 day tour. The weather was hot and humid through the entire month. I believe that there was only once that the temperature dropped below 70 degrees during the night and it was frequently in the mid-80s most nights. This made tent-sleeping very difficult, especially for me. I’m sure this lead to the increased number of motel nights. Spokewrench didn’t seem to mind the heat nearly as much as I did. Daytime temperatures were always in the 90’s at least part of the day and it was very humid throughout the month.

Riding conditions were varied. In Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, and Alabama, we were frequently on county roads. This would seem the safest, but we often encountered heavy truck traffic...mostly logging trucks and dump trucks. County roads rarely have shoulders, so this was a source of stress for me. State roads in most of these states had wider shoulders but, particularly in Alabama, the shoulder was often covered with rumble strips making biking on them difficult if not impossible. In Florida, we lost the rumble strips but had a great deal more car and some truck traffic. Florida had a fair number of bike-only lanes and we found almost all of our bike trails in Florida. I always breathed a big sigh of relief when we were able to ride on both of those. On shoulders everywhere we were constantly avoiding bark from the lumber trucks, truck tire pieces that had exploded, frequent broken glass, dead snakes, and, most frequently, roadkill armadillos.

We had 3 flats during the ride. We each had a flat on our trailer. Spokewrench’s was due to wire from truck tires and mine was due to glass. The third flat was my rear tire (in the last 10 miles of the ride) from, again, truck tire wire. Spokewrench wore out his rear tire so we replaced both his front and rear along the way. We also replaced his trailer tires for a pair with higher pressure for easier pulling. (I had replaced mine before we left, and found them quite efficient).

Altogether, we have traveled from St. Louis to the Pacific Ocean in the first 3 years and then from St. Louis to the Atlantic Ocean this year, completing a transcontinental ride the hard way…diagonally…northwest to southeast. This amounted to just under 6000 miles for the 4 year odyssey. Will there be more in future years??? Who knows???

Students: You have until Monday, August 13 to submit the answers to the 30 questions we have posed. Remember to send them to the email address where we make our announcements. Good Luck!!

Monday, August 06, 2007

Day 30, Aug. 2-Hawthorne, FL to St. Augustine, FL (Anastasia State Park Campground)

73.69 miles. N29.52 X W81.17

When I woke up this morning, I thought the motel room had a leak. I could hear a dripping sound. It wasn’t a leak, it was the rain dripping from the roof of our room. One would expect that the final day of a 16 week odyssey would be something like this: Clear, sunny skies, cool temperatures, quiet country roads, and a mechanically sound ride. What really happened is we had overcast skies with rain most of the day, hot, humid temperatures such that a raincoat was too hot an option, busy state highways with shoulders, some of the heaviest traffic we have seen, and a flat tire with only 10 miles to go. We packed up and set off for the last day of the trek. We biked back to last night’s supper location for breakfast, then got back on the road. Naturally, the rain had not subsided. The rain finally stopped around 11 at which point we had lunch. Once again, however, it was raining when we left. As mentioned before, we had a flat with just 10 miles to go. Spokewrench fixed that (in the rain) and we were back in the saddle within 15 minutes. We finished the last 10 miles to the campground and set up the tent, in the rain. We biked down to a small pavilion where we cooked a supper of Macaroni and Cheese with Vienna Sausage. After that, we biked down to the Atlantic Ocean to take pictures documenting us and our bikes in the ocean. We went down later to swim a little. This is officially the end of this leg of the ride and completes a 4 year odyssey that has led us from St. Louis to the Pacific Ocean (on the Lewis and Clark Trail) and then from St. Louis to the Gulf of Mexico (on the Underground Railroad Trail) and then on the Atlantic (on the Southern Tier Trail). Unofficially, we have traveled 1648 miles this summer and a total of around 6000 miles. Tomorrow we drive!!!

Question of the day: Calculate how many pedal strokes it has taken us to the bicycle the complete 6000 mile trip. Use an average speed of 11.5 miles per hour and an average cadence of 75.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Day 29, Aug. 1-High Springs, FL (O’Leno State Park) to Hawthorne, FL

58.79 miles. N29.35 X W82.05

We left a beautiful, but dripping campground and biked into High Springs, FL and to a restaurant for breakfast. We had a variety of roads and pathways to bike on today. We were briefly on state roads, but mostly on county roads going into Gainsville. Once we made it to Gainsville, as a university town, we found bike lanes on almost all the roads we traveled in the city. We also biked about 2 or 3 miles on the Gainsville-Waldo Rd. Greenway…this led us to the Gainsville-Hawthorne Greenway that would take us 16 miles into Hawthorne via this rails-to-trails conversion. This greenway was pristine. It was paved and in excellent condition. The trail was well marked and made for a very pleasant ride. We did encounter rain about half way across the greenway, but just enough to cause us to put everything under cover. It never rained seriously and we didn’t get soaked. It was just enough to cool us off and cover our bikes with sand…again. We biked on to Hawthorne and stopped at Sonny’s for supper. We had a called the Ranch Motel and Campground earlier and were told that there would be no problem getting a room. With the rain and the threat of more, we decided to spend the night in one of the inexpensive motel rooms. Tomorrow is St. Augustine!

Question of the Day:

Which university, which has won titles in football and basketball this season, is located in Gainsville?

Day 28, July 31-Live Oak, FL (Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park) to High Springs, FL (O’Leno State Park)

54.72 miles. N29.54 X W82.35

I had a flat tire today before we had gone over 10 miles…a piece of a brown beer bottle lodged in my tire. I saw it before I hit it, and dodged it with my bicycle, but I couldn’t avoid it with the trailer. In my opinion, glass throwers are the lowest level of human life forms. People who throw glass bottles on the roadway should have their driver’s license suspended for life and be issued a bicycle and garbage bags so they can dodge and pick up roadway glass. We see glass everywhere and all the time. I’m surprised we haven’t flatted from glass before this. I also have a similar opinion about people who throw dirty diapers on the roadside, but I won’t go into that one.

It pretty much rained and dripped all night long. We stayed dry in the tent, but it was pretty hot and damp. Today’s problem is that we have decided to do a 55 mile ride and our map shows no services for the entire trip. Isn’t it amazing that you can go 55 miles in one of the most populous states in the U.S. and can go that far without a place to stop and eat or use the restroom? Well, fortunately, the map was wrong. We found a coffee shop in Wellborn at the 17 mile mark and then around the 50 mile mark we found a campground and convenience store. Most of the route today was on country roads and relatively flat. The ride was pretty much uneventful. The weather was hot in the morning then somewhat cooler in the afternoon as it became partially overcast, threatening rain. We pulled into O’Leno State Park and immediately saw a couple of deer along the side of the road. We haven’t seen many deer since biking in Florida. We set up camp amid thunder all around us. Our equipment is still wet from last night’s rain and it looks like more rain is in the offing. We waiting a little before starting to cook, in case the rain should start. Finally, we decided we’d better eat. I cooked and we were able to eat without getting wet. While we were eating, we heard a pair of barred owls talking to each other. After supper, I was writing in the journal when I saw one of the barred owls fly down to the ground and pounce on something and fly back up to the tree to eat. I tried to mimic its call, but unfortunately, scared it away. Perhaps my call was a warning call…or it was just plain weird. Sure enough the rain started a little before dusk, and while we were showering. It rained very hard for 20 minutes or so and then rained lightly for most of the night. We spent another night shut up in our tent, dry, but very warm and damp. By the way, the spider in the picture above is a banana spider...and, no, it is not making a cell phone call, it's just for size comparison.

Question of the day:

What English phrase is used to mimic the call of a barred owl?