Tour Plan: Deep South and Tennessee Valley

15 07 2014

It looked like there would be no tour for 2014, but in the end, almost predictably, lunacy has prevailed.

Jack and I plan to explore the Deep South and Tennessee Valley this fall, following a combination of Adventure Cycling’s Great Rivers South route and their Underground Railroad route.   I suppose I could call this the Bible Belt Tour.  The plan, rough as it is at the moment, looks something like this:

Aside from touring the historic deep south, we hope to enjoy riding along the Natchez Trace.  It appears there are lots of camping options, including some “bicycle-only” campgrounds.  From some of the crazyguy accounts, it sounds like we can expect beauty, humid heat, friendly people, and mosquitoes.  I’m not sure if we’ll get any fall leaf colors.

From there we’ll do some up-and-down hill climbing through Tennessee, then work our way up through the Land Between the Lakes in Kentucky.  Our planned finish just south of Evansville Indiana will take us to my dear in-laws home.

What should be especially interesting is my thorough lack of bike fitness at the moment, having only ridden a few hundred miles this year.  I took the unloaded Surly out for a spin – more like a grind – around Usery Mountain this morning.  Now hurting, I can’t even imagine loading that thing up.

Nevertheless, I’m excited to have this tour on the horizon.

By the way, I’ve now prohibited the posting of comments to this blog. It is a sad way of surrendering to the spammers, but the strongest barricade I can think of.

Galaxy Restored

22 02 2014

This is a followup to our Florida Coast tour from last September.  This story took almost 4 months to unfold.

When I got back home in October, I remembered the banged up cell phone I’d picked up on that rainy day riding on US1 from Florida City to Key Largo.  [Recap: The phone had been soaking wet with its back cover off and battery missing, and I had found the battery 100 yards further down the road.]

The phone was a Samsung Galaxy Duos model.  Nice size screen and apparently in good condition.  No screen cracks or scratches and only one small ding on a corner of the frame.   My son and I tried the battery, and then tried a mini-USB charger, but couldn’t wake it up.  The phone got placed on a shelf and forgotten.

For some reason in December, I decided to give it another try.  Lo and behold – it booted up fine!  Maybe it just had to fully dry out.  The screen looked great, and I spent some time examining the contents, trying to identify the owner.  It was actually lucky that there was no access security on the Android operating system, otherwise I may have decided to wipe out the OS and start fresh.

A little digging led me to the name and email address of a woman.  Googling her, I learned that she lives in Dehli India.  Shipping would cost maybe $150, so I decided to send her an email to ask what she wanted to do.

A very nice email came back.  The lady was delighted at the idea of retrieving her phone, especially since it had all her vacation photos from the US.  She could hardly believe that it had been found.  She explained that she’d been snapping photos of the Everglades from a moving car, and the phone had slipped out of her hands.   Since that road is a limited access divided highway, I can easily see how there was no way to turn around to retrieve it.

Instead of sending the phone all the way to India, we agreed that I’d send it to a friend of hers in Virginia, one who was soon to visit India and would bring it.   I sent it off the next day.  The postage was less than $20.  I decided that was too low for us to bother with, so I included a note to that effect with the shipment.

A few days later I received warm thank you notes from Virginia and India in my email.  A few weeks later, sometime in mid-January 2014, I received a package in the mail containing a pair of lovely pewter candlestick holders, again with thanks from both the owner and her friend in Virginia.  A note even invited me to come visit India and stay at their place in the Himalayas.

Making such a connection, via my bicycle, halfway around the world, feels pretty amazing.  Hmmm…I wonder if they do any cycling in the Himalayas?

Candlestick holders on my dining room table


January 2014 Riding

19 01 2014

Haven’t done much riding so far this year.  Jesse and I are meeting regularly for breakfast on Sundays.  Lately it’s been cold enough in the morning, maybe high 40s, that I’ve even driven the first 10 miles, then parked and bicycled the last 12 or so to breakfast.  Yeah, I know, that must crack up you Canadians.

Got stuck this morning riding west into Tempe.  I came across an hourlong river of runners heading north on Hayden Road and finally figured out it was the P. F. Chang Marathon.  I asked an organizer where I should cross the flow and he told me I couldn’t, and then suggested the freeway AZ202 (quite illegal on a bike).  I finally rode parallel away from any “officials” and then nudged in through the runners, carefully cutting diagonally across them.

On the way back, I spied these two signs, no doubt erected by some enterprising teaparty enthusiast.  The signs cracked me up.  I’ve since learned that the word “bankster” is a blend of “banker” and “gangster,” which made me laugh again.

2013 Riding Year in Review

19 01 2014

2013 was another good cycling year.  Despite almost not doing it, Jack and I really enjoyed our excursion down the Florida coastline to Key West.

At 2,827 miles, 2013 was my 5th most prolific riding year – pretty ho-hum.   The average length of my rides continues to shorten.  A bunch of things contributing…age, fitness, energy, distractions, and those ongoing knee problems.  Ah well.

A whopping 95% of 2013 miles were ridden on my Surly LHT, while only 5%  on my Trek 1800c. I took the Trek out in early January and couldn’t believe how harsh it felt.