Archive for May, 2011

A rest day at Cave in Rock, IL

Growth is always possible


Tomorrow’s ride is dedicated to Kelly Lea Tharp

Kelly Lea Tharp

Kelly Tharp was killed on 11/11/08 after attending a friend’s 21st “Social Gathering” birthday party.  Unfortunately, the party was hosted by adults who permitted underage drinking at their home.  The nightmare scenario for Kelly’s mother Myra, played out fifteen minutes after the adults let the young people get into their cars after drinking.

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Living the life

Grand Rivers, Kentucky to Cave in Rock, Illinois

Friendly horn taps: 3

Miles: 56

Total so far: 1,474

Allow me to begin by saying we reached Illinois today (with the attendant applause, please).

No Illinois welcome sign, but we'll take what we can get

This is hugely significant for us in that we’ve now completed our ride on the Underground Railroad Route and we’ve intersected the traditional Trans America route which we will take to get to Astoria, Oregon.  We’ve traveled just under 1,500 miles in 26 days.  This is quite an achievement for two reasons.

This was no small feat in terms of timing.  Just yesterday they resumed the ferry service to get us across the Ohio River into Cave in Rock, Illinois (rumor is they heard we were coming and we wouldn’t be denied).  The ferry service has been shut down for two months due to the worst flooding of the Ohio River since 1937.  Without the ferry, the work-around is another 360 miles.

Like many of the roads we were on today, the trees on either side of this road show that until just a couple of days ago the water covered the road by many feet. We saw many examples of destruction from the flooding

The ferry ride across the swollen and fast moving Ohio River

We rode every day now for 26 days.  Candidly speaking, that’s just a little nuts.  We took some short days instead of rest days, and that will build mileage, but eventually there is a toll, and this morning we decided we would lay over a day and rest ourselves.  Not only that, but we secured a nice lodge to stay in overlooking the banks of the Ohio River in Cave in Rock State Park.

From the lodge deck overlooking the Ohio River at Cave in Rock State Park (with the required laundry drying,of course)

I think it may be of interest to know a little about how life is out here “on tour”.  These pictures are from our last stay at Grand Rivers.  There is a public campground there operated by the Army Corps of Engineers.  As campgrounds rate, this is an easy “5” on a scale of 1-7 (if they have hot water in the showers, that’s an immediate “1”, and may even be a “2”).

Campground "bath house"

We shower every day. The bath houses have lockable private shower stalls large enough to bring a change of clothing in and keep dry while you scrub the day's grime off

Our camp site - breakfast prep (secret family recipe of fortified instant oatmeal) - fast and wholesome for a morning ride

Our preference is to get to a restaurant for lunch and have local cuisine -- lots of it. Sallie scores on a Reuben sandwich and salad bar - not exactly local cuisine - how did we know the chef was from New York?

Dinners are usually fairly light with food obtained from grocery stores - more of a snacking than a meal. Too much going on with the blog and getting to sleep early. We rise before the birds.


Tomorrow is a day of rest, so ride dedications will resume for the next day.

Tom - this one is for you. Stay safe and live long. Thanks for following the blog.

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A new low (speed)

Land Between the Lakes, Tennessee to Grand Rivers, Kentucky

Miles: 52

Total so far: 1,418

Tennessee (state #4) in the rear-view mirror

We put Tennessee behind us today, and entered Kentucky, but we are affected by the beauty not only of the graceful Tennessee landscape, but also by the kind and outgoing people that have touched us in a unique way.

Yes, that sign is bolted on the correct way

The hills were significant, but having gone through them, we are that much more ready for what is to come because of them.

Speaking of hills, I set a new low speed record yesterday climbing some of the steepest challenges Tennessee offered us: 2.4 miles per hour.  That’s enough to keep the bike upright and moving, but that gets very close to a stall-speed.  We ran across another couple yesterday that were struggling on their trip from Memphis to Ohio.  They seemed a little shocked when they asked if we walked many of the hills and we said no, we pedaled all of them.  A person can walk at 2.4 miles per hour, but probably not while pushing a bike with gear that together weighs 75 pounds up an incline steep enough to prevent riding.  Yes, we continued to ride — that’s how bikes work best.

A morning break with a touring cyclist staple - peanut butter and a tortillas

Our friend, the 13 year cicada. They were very quiet during the cold weather

I’ve stalled before.  I used to run to maintain my fitness (a certain requirement of a state trooper).  I was fairly faithful to a routine of running early in the morning three times a week regardless of weather.  I found it maintained my health and had the side benefit of keeping my sanity and stress levels manageable.

When Carlie was killed, running was one of the tools I used to keep some balance in this “new normal” that was anything but normal for me.

Running.  When I could.  I suffered greatly from grief spasms.  They are hard to describe, but I remember distinctly that at first, I could barely make it down the street, and I would have a thought of something meaningful to us – like how I would make her pancakes after my runs, wake her up and bring her downstairs – and then I would collapse in a heap.  When the worst was past, I would walk putting just one foot in front of the other until it was a step.  I would focus on my breathing, and I would find a little bit of success just in inhaling and exhaling, just in stepping — not around that pain, but through it.  Grief is like that.  You can go around it, but it will come back.  I found that grief had to be leaned into, like some bitter incessant wind.

As time went on, the spasms became less frequent, a little less severe, and slowly — very, very slowly, I engaged the new normal, that was anything but normal for me.  It will aways be that way.  I am forever changed.  That’s why I am moving forward.  I’ll walk a hill if I have to, but I do not intend to stall.


Tomorrow’s ride is dedicated to Jessica Paige Muller

Jessie was killed when a 19 year old drunk driver ran a red light in Nashville, Tennessee on October 26, 2008 .  We will live the rest of our lives with the memories of our precious Jessie.  Her ear to ear smile, , her pealing laughter, her sheer love of life, family and friends, and her tender heart toward those less fortunate.

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Cuba Landing, TN to Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area, TN

Friendly horn taps: 1

Miles 66

Total so far: 1,366

Starting the day through the abundant forests of Tennessee

Tennessee is known for their dogs.  The kind of dogs that live out here in the country and just love to chase cyclists for sport.  We’ve certainly had our share so far and today was no exception, except we had an exceptional day at keeping them at bay.  We use whistles.  Coaches and referee’s type of whistles.  Fox 40 “Sonik Blast” whistles to be exact.  They are loud and piercing.   Just what dogs respond to best.

We'd break out of the trees into these wide open spaces - very pleasing to the eye, yes?

A lot of touring cyclists use some sort of dog repellent — pepper spray, mace — things like that.  To be effective, the dog has to be pretty close, and I’m just not sold on the idea that’s a good policy.  Today we had over 15 dogs take a run at us and we stopped every one of them in their yards with a blast or two on the whistles.  We had one put the brakes on so hard while he was running out of his driveway that he may have scraped a weeks worth of pad off his paws.  I’m not sure why the whistles work — and they don’t work on all dogs all the time, but today for instance we had a 100 percent success rate at keeping the animals in their own yards, and that pretty good for a Tennessee country dog.  It keeps them from getting out in traffic too.

Note the line at the bottom of the sign -- there's probably more to that story


Tomorrow’s ride is dedicated to Dawn Murillo

Dawn Murillo

This is my wife Dawn who was the best mother she could be to our son Nicholas.  She was hit & killed by a drunk driver on Halloween of 2010 in Moline, Illinois while trick or treating with our son Nick, age 8.  It’s been hard on all of us who knew her but really hard on our son, Nick.

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Perryville, TN to Cuba Landing, TN

Miles: 32

Total so far: 1,300

A sample of the pink ribbons I spoke about in yesterday's post regarding the missing young lady, Holly Bobo

We are taking a short day as needed in order to hit campgrounds without having to stretch our day’s ride to 80 miles or more.  The hills here are pretty serious and taking out a large chunk of mileage in one day would be quite difficult.  The area we are riding in parallels the Tennessee River.  We are essentially riding over the ridges that separate the creek drainages that flow into the Tennessee.  It’s beautifully wooded country with little tiny country roads and very little traffic.  The creeks are flowing clear, and it’s very peaceful.

The hills and forests of Tennessee in Humphrey's County

We stopped for a mid-morning break at a cafe near Pineview and engaged some of the locals in a chat about our trip (the bike gear is always a good conversation starter with some).  During the conversation we talked about our daily mileage and we indicated that we would be going into the Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area tomorrow.  A woman at the cafe said, “Be careful where you camp, they have a Dog-faced Squatch up there.”

Sensing a good folklore story I asked, “Do you mean like a Sasquatch?”

“Yes, but Sasquatch won’t hurt you.  Dog-faced Squatch are different.”

Try as I might, I couldn’t get her to say much more about  Dog-faced Squatch, so like anyone else I thought I’d do some research later — Google up this creature.

The woman told us she used to ride horses on cross-country trips, and before she left the cafe, she said she used to ride her horse 100 miles in one day on her trips.

That was unfortunate…I’m thinking 100 miles a day on a horse is a tall tale.  I just might have to discount the Dog-faced Squatch story too.

Dog-faced Squatch?


Tomorrow’s ride is dedicated to Cary Johnston as submitted by Sandy Johnston

Cary Johnston

The day my son was killed by a drunk driver, my life changed forever. There is too much silence in my home now. I miss his smile, his laugh, his constant picking, and his joy for life. Cary and I did so much together, I always feel like I am forgetting something and I know what that is — it is him.  As a family we are still trying to find our way to getting through each day without Cary. He was the one that made us all smile and made sure we all knew just how much he loves us. We miss and love you so much… Love,


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