• Brothers at the Dancing Goats

    B$Day 33:  Zak Attack Update…..he is already riding back to the west coast!  Just kidding, no more updates on Zak, he is soaking himself in the comforts of home!  Stellar journey Zak, enjoy a cozy winter in Stowe!!!

    I was right!  Those beers sure made for a sluggish morning but they were well worth it.  After a slow emergence from the comfy couch, Bernardo introduced me to Dancing Goats Coffee Bar just around the corner. Sailboat I setup shop and bid adieu to my good friend.  Seating was scarce so I squeezed into the back corner roundtable with fellow sardines.  As I was attempting to organize the thoughts in my cloudy brain, an individual tapped me on the shoulder and asked “mind if I join you?”  Turning to invite yet another sardine to the table I saw a familiar face (above)!  My response?  ”What the hell are you doing here?!”  My brother Brendan ventured down from Annapolis to make a surprise visit and join me for the final leg!

    As we discussed Bernardo’s stealth secret support and logistics for the trip ahead we noticed something.  A bit of irony that we meet at an establishment named Dancing Goats and this painting was on the wall just above our heads (left).  Foreshadowing of what NOMA may have in store for the future?  We shall see!!!!!

    With a boost of energy and a diminishing hangover, we made our way to Stone Mountain via a zigzag bike path.  After a big smile greeting at the gate we journeyed to the beefy hiking trail.  Only a mile to the summit but there was no chance Brendan was getting up the granite in those shoes!  Stone mt preventJust a friendly reminder for anyone who will be attempting to summit Stone Mountain, make sure to leave your wheel chairs, paint supplies, and wildlife disturbing utensils at home (right)!

    After a quick snack and a direction sync, I continued on to our final destination of Athens.  After 73 miles and a stop for some safety gear, I met B at Walker’s Coffee & Pub on College Ave.  Coffee shop by day, party palace by night!  Chill place to relax, get some internet usage in, and have an IPA.

    Spending most of my time behind the computer, I had a full beer waiting for me as we were about to leave.  A quick IPA chug warmed me up for the short ride to HoJo.  Time for a shower and sleep.

  • Bernardo Visit

    Cheap hotelDay 32:  Zak Attack Update…..he is home!  Zak completed his journey with a light day (for him!) at 100 miles.  Great work Zak!  Time for some vegging.

    After emerging this morning from the hedge cave I continued on my way.  I was feeling more comfortable without the howling pups and sketchy individuals “going for a run” in the middle of the night, in jeans, immediately after a gunshot, arguably for the first time since he was 5 years old!  Apparently I should have continued on last night, there was a cheap hotel just down the road (left)!  Possibly a bit breezy but cozy nonetheless!
    Crime stop
    Redneck gourmet
    A letter to the signage authorities of Troup County is most definitely in order.  Posting this sign (right) immediately over the border would be much more effective.  That would have been nice to see last night, may have paid for the rest of the trip!

    From West Point the journey took me 100 miles northeast to Decatur.  Along the way I stopped in Newnan for some delicious treats!  If you are ever in the area make sure to visit The Redneck Gourmet (right) for eats.  Arguably the best cookies of the trip thus far, also possibly the best company logo!

    After Newnan I made a push for Decatur to visit with a longtime friend, Bernardo.  I got an action shot of him in mid jacket zip (below).

    BernardoGreat conversations, a few beers, and a cozy abode made for a fantastic evening!  It is always great spending time with exceptional people.  Provides much needed emotional fuel for the rest of the journey.

    One of the many things I have learned along the journey is that anything truly is possible!  I purchased my bike only 3 weeks before the trip and 32 days later I am in GA!  If you want it, it is yours to go get!  Keep that comic promise fresh Gina, you got it!

    I have a feeling these beers are going to make for a sluggish morning!  An H2O chugging session then time for some sleep.

    P.S.  Bernardo is a great keeper of secrets!  Thanks again!

     

     

  • Back in Bama

    Church restDay 31:  Zak Attack Update…..he has made it to the home stretch!  A whopping 140 miles to Fair Haven, VT.  He can almost smell the delicious home cooking!

    Suppose you are in the middle of Alabama in need for a place to setup camp for the evening.  Without much in terms of shopping centers to sleep behind where do you go?  Well a church of course!  Last night I found a nice piece of manicured field next to a small church.  Out of sight I laid my bag on the natural sleeping pad and enjoyed a wonderful night of sleep.  TuskegeeDuring early morning dreams of Tombstone pizza I woke up to a deep intimidating voice that said “hey, what you doin’ over there”.  In my normal sluggish morning manner, I slowly rolled in the gentleman’s direction and replied “taking a nap”.  Apparently he did not see the humor in my response as he strongly suggested “don’t do that there”.  I couldn’t quite understand why he was so upset until I finally opened my eyes and realized this comfortable mattress was located in the back of a cemetery (above)!  Thankfully I was far removed from any grave site.  Thank you Reverend for holding off from calling the authorities, it is much appreciated!

    After some morning activities, I began my 115 mile trek just over the border to West Point, GA.  Along the way I stopped in Tuskegee National Forest for some lovely landscape cruising (right).

    From the forest I road back to civilization and stopped at Auburn along the way.  Talk about a beautiful campus!  This was my view of the football stadium while rolling through campus (below).
    Auburn footballCruising along back country roads for the final 30 miles of the day was quite an experience!  As the sun began to fade over the horizon I noticed lights up ahead.  On the rare occasion I saw a car on this road it was generally here and gone in a matter of seconds, back to silence and peaceful riding.  Not this time!  I quickly realized the vehicle was not moving and as I slowly approached realized the vehicle was almost perpendicular to the road!  In attempt to avoid any confrontation, I paid no attention to the situation but caught a glimpse of an unidentified object in the middle of the road.  Briefly after passing, I began to prepare for an interaction as the sound of screeching tires resonated through my brain. Fortunately they continued past without issue.

    Approaching my final destination I could hear several rowdy canines in the distance.  Unlike normal canine chatter, these pups were after something!  Having enough excitement for the day I found a lush line of hedges next to a nearby church to sneak behind.  More out of sight than last night and not in a cemetery, I fell asleep.

    POW!!!  Apparently I need a gunshot to get me moving every morning because I was upright and attentive in a fraction of a second!  With the hounds still barking I saw a very large figure running, as fast as his body would allow, away from the loud noise.  Perhaps it was just a firework misfire!  Very unlikely, I made sure to stay quiet and not move as the figure made his way into thick woods on the other side of the field.  Several minutes later I noticed the figure emerge from the woods and head in my direction.  Off in the darkness there was no way for him to see me, unless of course he had the same idea to hide behind the hedges!  Slowly walking past less than 15 feet from where I setup camp, the man continued on.  Feeling comfortable and clear of any situation I rested my head once again and enjoyed an amazing night of sleep!

     

  • Florida Hospitality

    General morningDay 30:  Zak Attack Update……looks like he only has two days left!  Another 130 miles through Syracuse to Utica, NY.  He will be enjoying home soon!

    Imagine pulling into your work parking lot after the glorious morning commute and if like most people still half asleep.  It seems to be just another day when you notice a man methodically laying what looks to be all of his belongings in the middle of the parking lot.  You strategically park the car as far away from this individual as possible and quickly scurry inside, all while intently keeping one eye on him.  What you think are nonchalant actions scream anxiety and nerves to anyone else watching this unfold!  Shortly thereafter a dirty cyclist approaches the counter and asks “what is with the homeless guy out there”.  You calmly respond “yeah I know, I didn’t want to say anything because he was doing….stuff”.  The cyclist then admits he is the homeless “stuff doing” individual and explains the situation!  It was a dewy morning in Laurel Hill, one that provided plenty of moisture for all of my belongings to soak up!  As the sun began to emerge, I used the parking lot of the Dollar General as a drying platform.  Deciding to make a small purchase in return for my cozy night of sleep out back (above), I ventured into DG and had some fun with the cashier! Weekleys

    While roaming the DG I met Joel and his granddaughter Ava.  After inquiring about my journey, they hopped in the car and drove off.  After collecting my belongings I began the trek towards Alabama.  On my way out of town an unfamiliar truck pulled up with a familiar face inside.  It was Joel offering me a ride back to his house for a home cooked breakfast!!!!  After 30 days of transportation purely via bicycle, I graciously declined the ride but accepted the meal invitation.
    Hoboes

    After trailing Joel down beautiful country roads we arrived at his house where I met his wife Nancy, granddaughter Haylee, and stepson Cliff.  These amazing folks opened their home to a wandering hobo and provided me with a delicious meal, while exchanging stories about travel and friends.  Another unbelievable act of selflessness from once strangers now friends (above)!  An amazing start to the day, thank you again Weekley’s!  I can only hope our paths will again cross in the future!

    Usage of the word hobo you ask?  The Laurel Hill mascot (right) is the hobo and they are proud of it!  In attempts to eliminate negative connotation often associated with the word, they make sure to educate others about the true definition.

    With a full stomach and a full tank of emotional fuel thanks to my Laurel Hill friends, I made the intense climb to the highest point in Florida, all 345 feet of it!  Wetland park

    From there I stopped at the Wetlands Park in the town of Florala for some great views (left).  Which state do you think this town is in?  Hint:  it is not Florida!  I was expecting to come across the town of Alaflor on the opposite side of the border.

    Heading north from Alaflorala, I made a stop near the town of Opp for some homemade ice cream at Doc’s Country Store.  Some quality conversation and tasty treats have me down wit’ this OPP.  Had to throw that in there!  Perfect lighting let me capture the true beauty of Doc’s (below).

    I continued north to my final destination of Troy, about 93 miles from my start in Laurel Hill.  My second visit to AL in as many days was a good one!  Time for a nap.

    Docs

     

     

     

  • Pensacola Gulf Splash

    Day 29:  Zak Attack Update……another 128 miles east towards Syracuse, Zak ended his day in Canandaigua, NY.

    Today was a touring day at the beach packed with white sand and water views.  In fact too many to discuss so I will keep text to a minimum today!  Let’s start with some views from my place of slumber (below), Big Lagoon State Park.

    Lagoon 1
    Lagoon 3 Lagoon 2

    After cleansing my funk in a nice park shower, I made my way to the local yacht club for a morning snack.  Beautiful boats and open water, not a bad combo (below)!

    Yacht club 1   Yacht club 2

    As my 43 minute honorary yacht club membership expired, I continued my journey along the water and came across the Naval Air Station.  Apparently the frisk happy MP’s were on duty today!  After a near strip search I kept to myself while passing through.

    Making my way through downtown, I stopped for a bite of urban eats.  While enjoying the delicious roadside meal, I decided another visit to the beach was a must before heading north.  Enjoy the views (below)!
    Gulf splash 2    C3 gulf
    Beach1
    Beach 2
    Beaches 4

     

    Directions FLRealizing a multi-day visit in Pensacola would put a kink in the plan, I began the trek north to my final destination of Laurel Hill for a total of 116 miles.  Still in my beach coma I consulted a local map for directions (right).  Luckily they had one of my northern destinations on their map (not NYC).  I hope to make it there in a week or so!

    BKHeading north I was fortunate enough to meet two fellow “tourers”, Bill and Keith (left).  These two have some amazing stories and were very willing to share them with me.  I can only hope to roll with swagger like these two!  Great meeting you both, safe travels!

    As my day was coming to an end I enjoyed another amazing view, this time from the sky (below)!  Pleasant dreams of warm weather and beautiful beaches!

    Sunset FL

     

  • Mobile Bay

    BattleshipDay 28:  Zak Attack Update……he must be loving the Lake Erie views!  Another 125 miles along the coast of the lake to Dunkirk, NY.

    After several hours of downpour, I emerged from my dry countryside bungalow to a beautiful morning in Mobile.  Today’s journey took me another 85 miles southeast to Pensacola, FL.  My trip through Alabama only lasted 24 hours but was plenty of time for some sweet views!

    Trees mobileHeading out of town I made a stop on Battleship Parkway for a free self-guided tour around some old military vessels.  I must say the USS Alabama was quite impressive (above)!  Longer than 2 football fields, wider than a professional basketball court, and 75 different deck mounted weapons that would quickly ruin your day, the WWII battleship is quite intimidating!  Take a look at the picture gallery for some other sweet relics.

    The rest of my time in AL was full of amazing homes, beautiful landscape, and best of all bike friendly roads!  I had to stop for a pic of this gem (right)!

    Just before crossing into the Sunshine State I was fortunate enough to witness a savage beast feast and catch it on camera!  No gator attack here, just a kamikaze pelican diving for a meal (below).  If the pictures seem a bit confusing start from the right!

    Pelican

     

    Governor FLCrossing over the border into my 8th state, I found some interesting signage (left).  May I ask exactly what Mr. Scott’s business specialty is?  Seems like free advertising for a night out on the town!

    My windy trek in FL ended for the day at Big Lagoon State Park.  Stay tuned for some amazing pictures.  I am attempting to catch up on posts so check back soon for another read!

    And one more thing…..can anyone tell me what is wrong with this picture (below)?  I can’t seem to put my finger on it!

    Hmmmm

  • The Roost

    Southern miss stadiumDay 27:  Zak Attack Update….riding the southern coast of Lake Erie, Zak’s journey took him another 115 miles to Chardon.  Only 3 states left!

    After a cozy nights sleep next to The Roost at the Southern Miss baseball stadium (right), I put myself together next to the local dumpster.  Is it bad that I could not distinguish between the scent of the dumpster and the odor permeating through my clothes?  Stale old beer or stale body cheese, which scent would you prefer?!

    GoobersMy last day in Mississippi took me 103 miles southeast to Mobile, Alabama.  Along the way I encountered several unhappy puppies!  At one point during my journey I was chased by 6 different dogs within a 7 mile stretch!

    After fending off the raging beasts, I decided to make a stop in Lucedale shortly before crossing over the border.  Suppose you were given the task to come up with a name for a laundromat.  What would you go with?  Mr. Clean…..not so original.  Cathy’s Cleaning Cottage……too much alliteration.  How about Goobers?  Apparently someone in Lucedale got right to the point!  What else would a place named Goobers be?  Hopefully not a restaurant!  With a name like that I had to give them my patronage (left).  After goober removal and a great video call with some familia, I had a nice chat with Sam while he closed up shop.  When he is not taking care of Goobers, Sam spends his time as a wood craftsman.  Working through some hardships at a family lake house, Sam was peering out on the lake during a thunderstorm and was inspired.  With the lightning and fog just right, two Whistler swans came floating through the clouds with synchronized wings.  That exact moment has been the inspiration behind his carvings that are now part of private collections worldwide.  All is possible when you are one with nature.  I like that!

    Long logsWith new energy from Sam’s great story, I said goodbye to MS and made it to Mobile.  On my way into town I came across this sign (right)……on my way into a public restroom!  Not sure what goes on at this rest stop by I didn’t want to find out.

    After a long day I decided to setup camp behind D’s Country Store.  With a nice overhang and soft ground I quickly dozed off.  Dreaming of my next warm shower I awoke around 3:30am to a torrential sideways downpour soaking my face.  Searching for cover I recalled seeing an open shed door on the other side of the building.  ShedDesperate times call for desperate measures right?!  Needless to say I spent the rest of the night snuggling with Charlotte and her colony, an empty soda machine, and a grocery cart (left).  A perfectly dry spot for me to rest my head, back to sleep I go!  Sweet dreams.

     

     

     

  • The Three Stooges


    BR logoDay 26:  
    Zak Attack Update……and another border crossing behind him!  Zak traveled 120 miles to Fremont, Ohio.  Hopefully he can avoid any lake effect weather!

    After waking outside the shop (left), I began the day off at Primos Cafe for a delicious breakfast and phenomenal fudge brownies!  Nothing like a dense block of chocolate to get the morning going!  Before heading back to the shop for a derailleur fix, I was fortunate enough to meet Kim with the Jackson Metro Cyclists and have a great conversation with the fellow cyclist.

    Flowood stoogesWith a full stomach it was time to get Surly in order.  Back at the shop I had the pleasure of spending time with Flowood’s very own Three Stooges (right), the crew of The Bike Rack!  Andrew (Moe), Mark (Larry), and Rex (Curly) were very entertaining while I had my ride in for day 2 of repair.  Andrew hooked me up with new rubber yesterday and tweaked my derailleur to perfection today.  If there was a customer service platinum allen wrench award…..it would go to Moe!  As I pulled out the plastic to pay for the Surly services I was informed that my new friend Kim pre-paid the bill!  Another amazingly selfless act from a new friend.  Many thanks Mr. Jurgens!

    Back on the saddle and cruising along I made my way 107 miles southeast to Hattiesburg along route 49.  At some point along the journey the shoulder of the road turned into one large rumble strip.  After a couple miles of what I would imagine a vibrating belt machine to feel like, I realized the other side of the road was rumble free.  With dusk upon me I crossed the road and made sure to place a red blinking light on the front of my bike as to not confuse oncoming travelers.  Let’s flash back to the childhood adrenaline conversation.  Imagine you just finished constructing that insurance claim of a bike jump out of a rotted piece of plywood and the curb.  From the top of the hill you start pumping in hopes of massive air time.  Approaching the front lip and bracing for flight you suddenly realize you are airborne!  But unlike you imagined there is no bike in sight while performing the best Superman impersonation of your life!  After pulling chunks of grass from your teeth, you realize the previous lumber selection was subpar as it cracked through the center, essentially turning the once beautiful jump into a brick wall!  Back to present time, I am cruising along with my headlamp pointed toward the road in front of me in attempts to prevent an ocular migraine scenario for the oncoming drivers.  TowerIs anyone aware that in MS roads drastically and rapidly narrow when approaching a bridge?  I bet you see where this is headed!  Let’s just say I found this out the hard way.  Cruising along at a nice clip I suddenly found myself flying over my handlebars in prime Superman form.  Apparently the shoulder on 49 turned into a 3 foot cement barrier in a matter of feet!  After collecting my now scattered belongings I made an attempt to hop back on the saddle and realized it was turned almost 90 degrees!  Time to find the next bike shop?!

    Upon arriving at the final destination after my brief soar, I felt a strawberry banana smoothie was in order!  It served a dual purpose as an icepack!  After a smoothie and a cleanup it was time for slumber at the top (left)!  Not so much but would make for a nice sunrise!

     

     

  • Bike Rack

    PelicanDay 25:  Zak Attack Update……starting the easterly trek Zak made his way another 115 miles to Fort Wayne, IN.

    Today I woke up to the view of the Mississippi River, quickly packed my things, and said goodbye to the Pelican State.  For those of you who don’t believe that state nickname, see for yourself (right)!  On my way across the river to Vicksburg I stopped for a nice bridge pic (below).  From here a 65 mile trek would take me to Flowood just east of Jackson.
    MS bridge
    Clinton wrestlingAs I was cruising along route 80 I looked down and noticed some fibrous thread poking through my Continentals!  What does that cryptic last sentence mean?  I need new tires!

    After I stopped for my pro wrestling fix (right) just outside of Jackson, I spent time finding some new rubber.  With time against me I was on a mission to get to the Bike Rack, a local shop, before close of business at 6pm.

    Just a few miles away from the shop I began a downhill coast.  Picking up speed I hear the familiar sound of a locomotive and notice the railroad crossing lights ahead start blinking.  So I start pumping.  Out of the corner of my eye comes a large non-bike impact friendly machine barreling down the tracks.  So I pump harder.  The conductor seeing my determination lays on the horn as to tell me I have no chance.  At this speed the small incline up to the tracks would act as a perfect launch pad (maybe not as nice as Porky!) to get me across.  As I approached the gates I took one more look at the train, prepared for liftoff, and…………………I woke up!  Apparently I dozed off while waiting for 1/2 an hour for the rail cars to continue on.
    Rail scaleAfter coming to, a sweet lady named Georgia caught my attention for a nice chat.  With the rail cars at a complete stop Georgia convinced me it would be a good idea to rail scale.  With a cheering section behind me, I lifted Surly over my head onto the rail car, I scurried up, and gently hopped off on the other side.  Without a scratch on Surly I continued on towards the bike shop.  Just a few miles down the road guess who cruises past pumping their fist in excitement at my rail scale work……..Georgia!  This was the scene of the action (left)!

    Bike rackWith adrenaline pumping I made it to the Bike Rack and the amazing crew there made my anxious day of rubber search all worth it.  After some great conversations and good people I was back in business.  With a delicious turkey on dark rye sandwich in my belly, I began my trek out of town in attempts to make up some ground.  About 5 miles out my derailleur started actin’ a fool.  At a failed attempt in a bank parking lot to get Surly in top shape, I made my way back to the Bike Rack (right).  Already closed I got cozy for the evening in attempts to get an early morning tune-up and be on my way.

     

     

     

     

  • Bayou Bonanza

    PnutsDay 24:  Zak Attack Update….another state behind and another 135 miles under his belt!  Today’s journey took Zak to Wolcott, IN.

    You learn something new every day right?  Well let’s just say I have the next week covered after today’s trek!  After waking from my dreams of alien abduction, I began my 100 mile journey east to Delta.  Besides learning that boiled peanuts are a local staple (left), I expanded my knowledge about Louisiana’s cuisine, state “counties”, and the local wildlife.  Here are some of the fun facts….
    Church chicken

    1. Unlike 48 of the other states, LA is divided into 64 parishes instead of counties.  Can anyone name the other anomaly?
    2. Boudin is a highly seasoned link sausage comprised of pork, pork liver, and rice.  It is a typical element of local Creole cuisine and may I add is very tasty!
    3. The state drink is milk.
    4. Locals love going to Church’s Chicken (right) after…..you guessed it, Caution Church!
    5. Gator’s prime feeding season is not November!  I didn’t care to find out the exact month, as long as it wasn’t November!
    6. Satsuma is a delicious seedless mandarin orange grown in LA.  According to the most accurate resource known to man, Wikipedia, these yummy fruits were brought to local parishes as early as the 18th century and the groves still thrive today!
    7. New Orleans is the home of the first opera performed in America and took place in 1796.  Can anyone name the performance?  Once again, thank you Google!
    8. LA swamps provide some amazing views this time of year!

    Now that my brain hurts from this data dump I will let you enjoy some views of the bayou!  Good day!
    Cypress

    River trees

    Road bayou