Old Flying Farts Bicycling Club
 
Home.
Yesterday, Pat and I got on our bikes at our Williamsburg motel and began the final 15 miles of our journey to Yorktown, Virginia.  We once again had the support of Rod and Sal.  This time Pat's dad and Sal's and my good friend Roy Hunnert were in the van.  Pat's dad had driven all the way from Tennessee to see him finish his trip.  Roy drove down from Washington D.C. to be with us.
The ride along the Colonial Parkway offered a lot of mixed feelings.  I remembered this stretch from 32 years ago.  Two local riders had joined me and escorted me to the Yorktown Monument where my parents were waiting for my arrival.  This time Pat and I were escorted by friends and loved ones. We were both relieved and a bit sad.
As we rode along I kept waving my empty water bottle at the van but on this day they refused to give out any water or snacks for final few miles.
With about two miles to go we waved the van on to the monument where we were to finish.  And once again we all got lost at the finish.  Pat and I arrived at the monument and then had to call the van to direct them to  where we were. But it was only fitting.  We had lost each other so many times on the trip it wouldn't have been right to finish together.
We took a lot of pictures at the monument.  The monument is to the surrender of Lord Cornwallis' army to the combined American/French force that led to the American victory in the Revolutionary war.
From the monument Pat and I rolled down to the water for the final celebration.  The celebration included dipping our front wheels into the Atlantic and sharing a bottle of Champagne with all present.
Back to the motel for a shower, a hearty breakfast at Cracker Barrel, some hugs and handshakes and a long drive home.

This trip would not have been possible without the support of Rod and Sal.  Their unrelenting support and good cheer enabled the two "Prima Dona" riders to do their thing.  The following list of our complaints was compiled by Rod and Sal.
The final three items were their frequent response.
  1. The clock didn't work(when someone sleeps in)
  2. Didn't hear the alarm
  3. Heard the alarm but went back to bed
  4. Can't ride 'til the fog clears
  5. Can't ride through a sandstorm
  6. Forgot my riding gloves
  7. The mirror fell off(my helmet mirror)
  8. Can't ride today, my legs hurt
  9. Lost a spoke
  10. My tires low
  11. The van needs straightening up
  12. Support team is too far ahead
  13. Chocolate milk not chocolately enough
  14. Breakfast not good enough-no waffles
  15. Can't ride-tired
  16. I can't eat another Fig Newton
  17. Waters not cold enough
  18. Our support team not supportive enough
  19. Too cold
  20. Too hot
  21. Too humid
  22. Too wet
  23. Too dry
  24. Wrong jacket, I wanted the lighter yellow jacket
  25. Can't find it-its back in the luggage
  26. Phone call from Pat and Don,”Where are you guys, we're 133 Second Street”
  27. Plug it into the Garmin
  28. Wet wipes? Paper towel? Pass up my glasses(Don)
  29. My back hurts(Pat)
  30. I've got a cramp(both)
  31. Haven't got it today
  32. We've got dog problems
  33. Up, down, up, down, I hate this
  34. The levee was too flat

  35. From the van...”Suck it up Nancy”
  36. From the van,”You're not going to die, keep pedaling”
  37. From the van, “Put your big girl Panties on”
Thanks to all of you that followed our journey.
 
 
Last night as I finished my blog the battery died and I lost what I was trying to write.  I'll give it another try tonight.
Yesterday we left Lexington, Virginia to ride 18 miles to the town of Vesuvius.  At Vesuvius we planned to begin the three mile, last serious climb of the trip.  32 years ago I approached this climb with a fully loaded bike.  I did the steep climb standing on the pedals the whole way.
This time I came to the climb with no load and a light weight bike.  Pat and I started up together but he quickly pulled away.  Almost immediately the climb went to13%.  We have a readout on our bike computers that shows the grade.  When it hit 16% I took a break.  I started up again but finally had to admit that I needed to get off and push the bike.
On a relatively flat area, I remounted and made it about a quarter mile before getting off and pushing.  The van was waiting for me.  I pushed the bike to the van and told them that I was going to the top under my own power.
I got back and silently vowed to go a half mile before getting off again.  In about 3/10 of mile the grade hit 19% for a short spell.  Fortunately, two younger bikers came up past me.  I couldn't get off with them there so I kept pedaling.  I made the half mile and was able to keep going.  The grade dropped to 10% and I was relieved(funny because Pat and I feel an 8% grade is tough).  I forced my self to stay on as long as possible and was surprised when I turned a bend and discovered that I was on top.  Pat was there with Sal and Rod.
We had ridden up to the Blue Ridge Parkway, which we rode for another 20 miles.  The parkway had many spectacular views and a few more climbs but nothing like the ride up from Vesuvius.
Pat kindly said in his blog that we had ridden up without much problem.  I know I struggled but I wouldn't have missed that climb for anything.  Along the Parkway, I thanked America for giving me this challenge.
We rode down from the Parkway and into Charlottesville for a motel, a shower and a trip to Jefferson's home at Monticello.
Since it was Rod's birthday we treated him to the Monticello visit and dinner at The Outback Steakhouse.
This morning we drove a short distance to Palmyra for brunch with Pat's cousin.  We started our ride from there.  With a late start we still made 76 miles to Ashland.  Pat and I rode separately the whole day.  Afterward, we agreed that the ride had been just a job.  We didn't notice much of the scenery.  Tomorrow we ride about 80 miles to Williamsburg.  That will set us up for a short ride Tuesday morning to Yorktown and the end of our journey.

 
 
Before I discuss the danger let me describe the ride.
We started in Bland, Virginia this morning but it wasn't anywhere near bland.  We followed a beautiful farm valley for about 23 miles.  At the end of the road we came to a T.  We could go north, south or take a lesser road marked 720 east.
We've been on some of these lesser roads and they can be pretty tough.
But this one was great.  Tree covered in many places and gently rolling  with numerous small farms.  It was a perfect short cut road for our needs.  It seemed the people of the area refused to permit a major road through their area to preserve its beauty.  It was a road you could wave to people or buy fresh eggs if you wished.
At the end of the road we came out on a busy highway that we had to ride for about 4 miles.  We turned off that highway and joined another country valley road.  This one had a few steeper hills but was also a pretty area to ride.  With the exception of the major highway we had very little traffic.
Now the scary part. About 10 miles from the end of our days ride I was  a quarter mile behind Pat.  On a short steep climb a dog raced out of a driveway after me.  I was terrified and am still shaking.  I'll let Pat tell the rest of the story in his blog.
Planning to finish Tuesday if all goes well.

 
 
Left this morning and immediately climbed a long hill.  It was misty and my glasses fogged up.  It was a rather scary down hill half blind.  We came down into a river valley and soon crossed the border into Virginia.  The route was a nice change from yesterday.  We rode through a river valley gradually climbing.  The road was labeled the Virginia Heritage Coal Trail.  We passed a number of mines and businesses that serviced and equipped the mines.
The road followed a river with steep cliffs on the opposite side.  Kudzu was everywhere, even draping the cliff walls.
With all the coal the area had a grimy appearance.
We steadily climbed up through the Valley arriving for lunch in Claypool Hill after 58 miles.  After an hour we continued toward Tazewell with mountains on our right.  Just before Tazewell we turned south into the mountains.  We began a steep climb up the mountain.  The road was bordered by thick kudzu that completely blotted out every thing else.  It was steep but not as steep as the past few days.
We had a beautiful view of the farm lands below.  All in all the climb was worth the view.  We had climbed over 1000 feet.
At the top we(I) held onto the brakes.  The road was full of curves with patches of sand and gravel.  At the bottom we had dropped 1000 feet.  We  then rode through a pleasant valley and the started another little climb that turned into a big climb matching what we had just come down.
One more down and we prayed that was the last big climb of the day.  It was.
For those who thought my licking dog was no big deal yesterday, I had two good dog chases.  The first was at 90 miles and the other at 91.  I thought I made two really good sprints for so late in the day.  I'm sure if they had caught me they would have ripped me to shreds.
We hit 100 in Ceres, Virginia but there was no place to stay so we trucked to Wytheville.  A nice motel, a good dinner and some time to rest.  It looks like about 5 days to go.  Getting excited.
 
 
Up early and at breakfast by six.  However, a heavy fog hung over Hazard.  We delayed the start by about an hour and a half.  We had a pleasant 20 mile ride to begin the morning, mostly following a stream.
Again we passed an odd collection of nice homes next door to junkyards that pretended to be homes.  Pat and I discussed how the neighbors might relate.  On Saturday nights do the neighbors come to your house to swim in your pool and the following Saturday do you go over to the their house and sit in one of their abandoned cars.
The area is infested with Kudzu, the Japanese plant that has invaded the south.  It looks beautiful to us but is smothering the local vegetation.
The hills are hollers are endless.  There are no straight roads.  The roads we have been traveling on fit one and a half cars abreast. Approaching cars warily pass each other with one set of wheels on the edge of a shoulderless road.  There are few flat roads and that was my problem today.  After our initial 20 miles we began a long steep climb out of one of the hollers. About 2/3 of the way up I just didn't have the energy to turn the crank and got off and pushed my bike to the top.  A quick downhill and a few more rolling hills and we started the next steep climb.  I slipped into my lowest gear and started up.  Again I had to get off and push.  This time as I was walking I felt something on the back of my leg.  A small dog trotted up quietly and gave me a lick.  I tried to get him to go back but he was happy with his new friend.  With a little renewed energy I climbed back on the bike and continued up.  He happily jogged along with me.  It was a little disgusting me working really hard and the dog trotting along oblivious to the hill and wagging his tail.  I lost him on a fast downhill.
On the next serious climb I threw in the towel for the rest of the day.  I know that part of the climb was over 13%.  I was soaked with sweat and struggling to push the bike.  Rod picked me up and took me to the top where Pat was waiting.  I told him to go ahead. He sailed down the hill made another smaller hill and rolled into Elkhorn, Kentucky. 
We drove to Piketown, Kentucky because there were no motels in Elkhorn.  Tomorrow we will start from Elkhorn.  Hope I have a little more stamina tomorrow.
Thank you all for your kind comments.  We look forward to bei
 
Berea to Hazard 07/27/2010
 
After a pleasant day with Pat's family it was back to work this morning.
Just 15 miles east from Berea and I75 we began to see significant changes in life style.  West of I75 we witnessed a pretty rural Kentucky with modest farms and rolling hills.
Today we saw the other side.  Towns and businesses that were closed.  Homes with a number of broken down cars in the front yard along with an assortment of of discarded or broken goods.  At the crest of one hill there was a mobile home that seemed to have been pulled up the mountain and discarded on the side of the road years ago.  The road litter is something you might have seen 25 years ago before bottle deposits.  Amidst all this you would be surprised to see a pretty brick home with a manicured lawn and a porch full of potted flowers.
The roads are narrower with a number of long steep climbs.  Fortunately, today was mostly cool with occasional showers, making even the steep climbs tolerable.  While most drivers continue to be considerate, we are beginning to encounter a few more impatient and rude drivers.
Pat was pushing for 100 miles today.  But when we turned onto a busy Kentucky parkway with a steep climb and a rough grooved shoulder I balked and said 91 miles was a good days work.  Age is a handy trump card.
It was a good thing that we did quit because shortly after a big thunder storm came through with heavy rains .
Pat didn't seem to appreciate that I saved him from being drenched and possibly hit by lightening.  I do what I can.
 
Berea 07/25/2010
 
Left Harrodsburg, Kentucky for a short 46 mile ride to Berea this morning.  Nothing comes easy!  Very warm with high humidity.  Some very steep climbs.  Nothing very long but with the humidity sweat poured off in big drops.
Actually the back roads have been very pleasant to ride.  The scenery has been rural Kentucky farms.  Some much more prosperous than others.  Horses, cattle, tobacco, corn and soybeans are what we see most.
Pat had a hand just a few inches from a cow today.
Rolled into Berea about 1:30.  Pat's kids and sisters, traveling from Michigan, beat us by about half an hour.
All had lunch together.
Our door is next to the pool and that's where we spent the past hour.
Tomorrow will be a day of rest.

 
HOT! HOT! HOT! 07/23/2010
 
Owensboro to Sonora, Kentucky.
80 miles today on pleasant Kentucky back roads.  Saw fields of corn, soybeans and some tobacco.  After a surprisingly flat day yesterday the rolling hills began today.  We are steadily moving towards the Appalachian mountains.  Pat got chased by dogs again but by the time I went by they were tired out and just gave a half hearted effort.
Pat's back tire came apart today without a blowout.  Not pleasant changing a tire in the hot sun with sweat pouring down.
I changed my rear tire two days ago when I noticed a significant tear.  This morning I noticed a slice in my front tire.  I put some super glue in the slice and hope it holds.
Our bikes are great but not necessarily touring bikes.  Most touring bikes use wider, heavier tires.  Our super skinny tires take quite a bit of punishment from the various road debris.
All in all, it was a good ride with the exception of the heat.  Towards the end of today's ride, Rod would pop out of the van with ice cold water.  We'd grab the bottle and drain it before we were out of sight of the van.
We finished in Sonora today but drove up to Elizabeth Town for a Motel.  After a shower we drove to the Lincoln boyhood home and the Lincoln birthplace.  Abe spent the first seven years of his life in Kentucky.
 Great rib dinner at the Texas Outlaw.
Two more days to Berea and a break.

 
 
We can start to sense the finish.  Yesterday, we got dropped off where we had finished the day before outside Marshfield, Missouri.  From the van we immediately started a long winding climb. On some sections, I had to stand in my very lowest gear to keep the pedals turning.  At that point we were about 20 miles from the Mississippi River.  We dropped down a little and then hit a milder climb.  Neither Pat nor I felt in top form.
After the second climb we dropped down to the Mississippi flood plain.  An easy 10 miles brought us to the bridge.  Due to construction, traffic was down to one lane.  Pat shouted back to me that we had a green light and had to  move with the traffic.  I had to dig deep to catch up with Pat and flow with the slow moving traffic but we got across.
The Mississippi was a major milestone in our crossing of America.  As an added reward, on the Illinois side was a statue commemorating Popeye the Sailor Man.  The creator came from Chester, Illinois.
Popeye has one of my favorite sayings, "I y'am what I y'am and thats what I y'am...".  It's a handy saying when I do something stupid.  I use it a lot.
One more good climb out of Chester and we hit a nice relatively flat road that paralleled the Mississippi.  The road would have been great with the exception of monster trucks passing both ways every few seconds.  We found a levee road between that road and the Mississippi.  It was flat with practically no traffic but there was no shade.  The road surface was a little rough and we had no legs.   Okay too much complaining.  Not done yet.  My rear tire had a slow leak, which I discovered at our lunch break.
So fix it!  No, I just pumped it up and continued on.  About every six miles, Rod would jump out of the van with the pump and I would be good for another six miles.  Fortunately, our day was a short 63 miles into Murphysboro, Illinois.  We drove to nearby Carbondale where Pat had his bottom bracket worked on and bought a new chain.  While that was being done I bought a new tube and fixed my tire.
At last it was time to relax and recover at a fine motel.  Oops our fine motel turned into one of the two worst dumps of the trip.
This morning we were glad to be on our way.  Pat rerouted us and picked a great road.  It was mostly flat, with a good shoulder.  We easily covered the 53 miles to the Ohio River, another milestone.  This time we chose to be driven over the River.  The bridge was narrow and busy.  After lunch on the opposite side we had a pleasant fast ride to Henderson, Kentucky for an 85 mile day.  When you are moving quickly you know its hot but the air flows over your body.  When you slow down you really feel the heat.  The temperature was 84 when we started and got into the 90s with high humidity.  Rod heard on the radio that the heat index was 105 degrees.
After Henderson, we drove into Owensboro for a motel.  We're planning to reach Berea, Kentucky on Sunday.  Some of Pat's family will meet us there and we will take a day off.  From there it will be just 700+ miles to the finish.  Beginning to smell salt water.
P.S.  At lunch today I downed a 32 ounce gatorade and didn't even feel an sloshing.
 
 
Haven't been able to get on the past few days.
It has been very hot.  Left Girard, Ks Sunday early headed for Missouri..  Easy morning ride as we passed into Missouri.   Then the steep hills began.  At about fifty miles I had my first road flat of the trip.  I called the van.  They brought the pump.  I changed tube pumped the tire and continued.  I made about 8 more miles and the tire blew with a loud pop.  With no more tubes ( short sighted, poor planning) Rod and Sal had to pick me up and take me to where Pat had stopped.
After some lunch we started out and did about twenty miles.  With the sun beating down and the temp round 100 degrees we called it quits on a steep hill, one of many.  A chance of over heating was very possible.  There were lots of heat warnings for the area on the weather channel.
Monday we were up early in Marshfield, Missouri.  We started up a steep hill and then it leveled off for awhile.  Again we hit lots of hills..  Missouri is like a wrinkled sheet.  You never get very high but the climbs are steep.  When you get to the top you usually rocket down a steep incline, head over a bridge and then start up again.
Despite the terrain, we were able to maintain a steady pace and finished the day in Salem, Missouri with 102 miles for the day.
As usual we couldn't have done it without our support team.  Racing down a steep incline is pleasant and cooling.  But grinding up sweat pores off you and you overheat.  Sal and Rod buy a 24 pack of bottled water every day and every day we just about go through them.  This does not count the multitude of gatorades and occasional pop.  We end each ride with an eight ounce chocolate milk.  Two bags of ice keep our liquids cool.
Today we left Salem early to ride to Farmington, Mo.  Same as usual, hills and more hills.  I began to hate fast downhills because that meant a long grindy climb. We got into Farmington before 2:00 with 79 miles.  We had planned to stop but it was early.  Pat suggested we leave town to make it a 100 for the day but come back to a motel in town.
I foolishly agreed.  We had a steady climb out of town before it changed to gentle rollers.  At mile 96 we sailed down a steep incline, hoping to roll through our 100.  No way, at the bottom we started up the steepest climb of the day.  Rod and Sal met us at what we thought was the top.  We grabbed some cold water and started on.  Around the bend was the continuation of the climb.  This time the summit was the last and we pleasantly rolled through our 100 miles.
Tonight's restaurant was in the motel.  A special was a beer sampler, six four ounce glasses.  Not a good idea on a dehydrated biker. Pat and Rod were very kind in helping me find my room.
Tomorrow we cross the Mississippi into Illinois.
 

    Don Ballingall

    I am a retired elementary school teacher.  Married with a daughter and two wonderful grandchildren.
    I have ridden across the United states at  ages 38, 50 and 60.
    So why not try it again at 70.

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