NE Scramble: Day 4, Windsor Locks to Millerton, 67 Miles | If We Had Nickel

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If we had a nickel for every empty mini liquor bottle we’ve seen on the side of the road we could help pay off the national debt. 😂 Ok so we might need a quarter for each one; the debt is getting up there. 💸. Some peeps call them shotskis; up here they are called nips. We call them trash and they are all over.

It’s not the first thing we noticed here in Connecticut. The bicycle friendly roads have wide shoulders and the drivers are uber courteous. The trees, waterways and rural towns we cycle through make for a solid ride.

And the elevation is no joke for these Indy legs. We cycled up and down 4,754 feet of hills yesterday, some of that due to an impassable bridge detour that added five miles to our day. Check the video to see how that all played out.

We crossed the Appalachian Trail just outside of Salisbury which was pretty cool and finally saw the sun when we got to our campsite at Taconic State Park.

So long Connecticut. 👋🏻 Hello New York! After our push-ups, planks, prayers and packing up we have a nearby coffee shop and 10 miles of a rail trail to kick off the day. Yay!

And PS: If you flew on a plane in the 60’s and 70’s it’s likely you received a shotski for free. 😉

NE Scramble: Days 1-3, Boston to Windsor Locks | Here We Grow Again 🚴🏼‍♂️🚴🏼‍♀️

Riding Stats Day 1

Riding Stats Day 2

Riding Stats Day 3


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Getting to Cambridge, a smallish town outside of Boston went off without a hitch in our rented mini van. After a six hour drive from Rochester, NY we dropped off the mini van and took to our Salsas. Everything we need (at least what we THINK we’ll need) for the next 1,000 miles we’ll carry on our bike, well except food and water. We’ll buy that along the way.

We figured out on our 15 hour drive it was exactly five years ago when we took off from Anacortes, Washington, and cycled 4,200 miles to Maine on our very first long distance bike tour. Wow! So much has happened since then. Weddings, more grandkids, two more cross country bike tours, our last state marathon in Hawaii, Tom’s retirement and well let’s just say pickeball!

Once loaded, we began our journey on the Minuteman Rail Trail. It was over 90 degrees but the shade made for a nice ride.

One of the best parts of seeing our beautiful country from a bicycle seat is we get a good look at it from a different perspective. Slower than a car and faster than walking, bikes work for us.

What we’ve noticed so far here in Massachusetts are there are lots of rocks, stone fences and wild turkeys. Who knew? 🤷🏼‍♀️ The rhodos are in full bloom and there’s an abundance of colonial history which apparently includes some “thickly settled” areas. Lol never saw this sign before. I had to Google it.

We found a sweet campsite in Littleton at the Minuteman Campground where we spent our first night on the tour.

Our second day brought LOTS of hills, more 90+ degree heat and an afternoon thunderstorm. I’m tellin’ ya folks, Texas “Hill” Country’s got nothing on these rollers in the northeast.

And who doesn’t love to listen to a New Englander talk about the Fish N Chips they had for lunch? Allll good! That’s exactly what we enjoyed at Peg’s Diner in Whitensville which is a dining car from a retired train.

We crossed two new states off of our 50 state bike chase today adding Rhode Island and Connecticut to the “done” list. ✅

We kept Day 3 short and stopped at Windsor Locks to dry out our clothes and tent, take a proper shower and enjoy a hot meal. A cold front moved in today and it was 40 degrees colder than yesterday. No guest laundry meant laundry done in the sink and hung dry. That works too!

For the first time ever on a bike tour we stayed at a hotel property at an airport. The window in our room overlooks the runway. ✈️ It cost just a few bucks more than our campsite two nights ago. Thanks Anne for the friends and fam rate!

Back to the tent tomorrow and on to New York!

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#SD2KW: Wrapping Up Our San Diego to Key West Ride

Tom and I wrapped up our San Diego to Key West bike ride a little over a week ago and have some data, final thoughts, lessons learned and finally one last video we’d like to share. Thanks so much to family, friends, neighbors and followers for the prayers, comments and encouragement along the way.

Tom and Deb

For day-to-day mileage, where we stayed and songs in the videos, click here.

From Tom:

I had expectations that riding Southern Tier was going to be easy peasy after riding the Great Divide a couple of years ago.  I thought riding on asphalt and mostly flat we would average at least 70 miles per day.  Right off the bat coming out of San Diego on our first set of climbs I realized that we might be out of bike shape and touring with traffic all around us was a bit more mentally challenging watching out for drivers.  The first few weeks we also rode at higher elevation which came with cold temperatures when waking up and packing up the tent, etc.  It got lighter in the morning later and darker earlier in the evenings (5pm), which limited our hours of riding as well.

As the days moved on we started feeling good with our riding and only took one day off the entire trip because of a High Wind Advisory.  

As the days ticked off, I think I mentioned to Deb that this is my favorite touring ride compared to the rest.  Not sure why.  Probably because we ate like kings/queens. 🙂

As a whole I am very happy with our trip.  It just sounds amazing in my mind to think I rode my bike from San Diego to Key West.  What a great accomplishment with my honey!

From Deb:

Each time I come home from an extended bike tour there is less friction in the transition to home life. I think it’s because the bike tours have changed me in small ways and many of those changes have stuck with me to some extent. For example, minimizing clothing, reducing food waste, understanding I need less “things” and attempting to keep life simple. I still get edgy on wheels that go more than 12 miles per hour (like automobile travel) but that will wear off soon.

As Tom mentioned above, this ride was an unexpected toughie, not based on the miles and terrain but the cold temps and wind at the beginning. It was a particularly cold season for Arizona, New Mexico and west Texas and I don’t do cold. This was an “Escape the Cold” bike tour remember?

But it all works out! One of my favorite “mommyisms” (and I have a few) is “Life is seldom what I expect but it IS what I make it.” There were so many surprises and variables out of our control and it was a blessing to experience those and make adjustments with Tom. I have the utmost trust and confidence in him and it was a joy to experience the 3,600 mile ride together. We dug in during the tough times, expanded our comfort zones and learned we can still do some hard things. Heck I barely remember the black rats and leaky sleeping pad anymore! Problem solving together was fun. I mean… we were on vacation!

I’m going to miss the extended time for daily reflection and prayer on the bike and all of the self directed learning. I’ll miss meeting new people and learning more about them and their culture. And I’ll miss the looks on the locals’ faces when they ask, “where you ridin’?” and we reply “San Diego to Key West”. Lots of people do it but it sure does get some raised eyebrows when we answer. I can’t think of a better way to experience our great country than slowly and from a bicycle seat. I’ll even miss riding my bike from point to point every single day. It’s not the same when you just “go out for a ride”.

However, I’m so grateful to return home with Tom to our family, friends, neighbors and home and am already asking myself, “what’s next” and “for what purpose”.

May God bless you with peace, abundant joy and a thirst for learning.

Click on the image below to view our San Diego to Key West Recap Video – some of our most memorable moments (sound on for music):

#SD2KW, Day 65, Baha’i Honda to Key West, 38 miles | Finished!

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We have finished our San Diego to Key West bike ride of over 3,600 miles and are celebrating with family. Look for our final recap post in a few days. For now, just one more video of our last day. Oh what a ride it’s been!

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#SD2KW, Day 64, Long Key to Baha’i Honda, 36 Miles | The Seven Mile Bridge

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We had a couple unexpected visitors last night as we slept beachfront sans tent fly under the stars. Raindrops came and went about 3am, however just a sprinkling so we just pulled the fly up.

The other visitor? Black rats. They are, according to the ranger, an invasive species that live in the marshes and are a huge nuisance. No kidding. At one point we peaked out with our headlamps and saw four scampering around on our bikes. One of Tom’s bike bags was chewed through. Finally after moving the bikes and taking almost all the bags off and hanging them, they left us alone. Whew! Black rats. Who knew? 🤷🏼‍♀️

When we awoke we walked to the beach which we had it all to ourselves and spent time watching the sea and shore birds find breakfast. Grateful to take our time, as we just had a short ride today and we had a few miles “in the bank” so to speak, we were soon on the hunt for a cup of coffee as well. Plus our family Uber was making better than expected progress.

We stopped for coffee after packing up, then split a grouper sammies for lunch. Post lunch we teed up for The Seven Mile Bridge.

We were enjoying quite the tail wind fiesta, the scenery and cruising right along about 15-16 mph (even on our mountain bike tires 🤣) on the two lane bridge that actually IS seven miles long when all of a sudden we noticed a bright red semi truck hauling a tanker trailer was approaching. In our lane. 😳

Was he really passing a Mustang on a two lane bridge at 55 miles an hour in a no passing zone? We were riding on a wide shoulder but didn’t know how far he was coming our way or how his rate of speed, the surface wind and the fact that he was approaching close in front of us instead of behind us would affect the handling of our bicycles. Or worse, did he even see us?

I held onto my handlebars as tightly as possible while Tom loudly asked him where he got his CDL. Tom also noticed the driver wasn’t looking at us and instead in his side mirror to ensure he had clearance to pass the Mustang. The truck zoomed close by as we hugged the side of bridge wall. The incident lasted less than 15 seconds but I’ll never forget it. Aside from that, Seven Mile Bridge was a piece of cake and we are looking forward to crossing it again on Monday. In a car.😊

Way back in Marathon, Texas we told ourselves we’d take a pic in Marathon, Florida in the Keys. It seemed so far off but today we passed that milestone.

From Marathon to Marathon, and more, with just 50 miles left to the Southernmost Point.

Baha’i Honda State Park was our camping destination. When we checked in, the Ranger put us in “overflow” camping (on the rocks, no shade, next to the highway and to expect “visitors”, meaning black rats AND raccoons) but it actually worked out so perfectly.

We had a beautiful view of the cove after sunset and hung out at a picnic table in the shade at the beach for almost three hours where we ate a Snack Shak dinner, popcorn and rehashed the last couple months.

When the sun finally set we hustled back to the “hill” and set up our tent.

Our family Uber (Anne, Gordon and John) came within 100 yards of passing us tonight, they on US1 and us camping on “the hill” by the highway. We were FaceTiming each other from our tent using our headlamps as a beacon in hopes they would see us and honk. Not sure if we connected but we loved the thought. We cannot WAIT to see them tomorrow.

Loose ends: If you look closely at the pic of Tom riding on Seven Mile Bridge above you’ll notice something is missing. Yep he made an accidental donation of his Bentonville Brewery hat to Miami Dade County as we cycled through Miami. Looks like we will need to go back, Dan and Christie! 🍻

Tom also has the trip record for best Wordle solve at two guesses and I have a streak of 65 days going. Gin scores are 8-5; Greg, Tom is going to need more lessons.

My sleeping pad has a hole in it and needs to be blown up throughout the night and Tom’s back bike tire has had a nail rolling around inside of it since Tallahassee.

Finally I’m going to need a new crown since my 40 year old one finally popped off on the first day we saw the Gulf of Mexico. I saved it for a souvey. These are just quirky things that one thinks about while riding for hours on a bicycle.

Just 36 miles to the Southernmost Point tomorrow. We’re going to take in every mile. Thank you for the prayers, encouragement and follows.

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#SD2KW, Day 63, Florida City to Long Key, 62 Miles | Blue

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Blue skies. Blue water. Who knew there were so many shades of beautiful blues?

We cycled past Key Largo early in the day and with plenty of time to ride to Long Key we took our time to marvel at the water, the sky, and the kamikazi lizards scampering across the bike trail.

Every once in a while one of these would lumber across like he owned the trail.

It was another near perfect day of cycling but the icing on the cake was the sweet tent site Tom found at Long Key State Park where the sites are walk-in only and beach front. Past hurricanes have shut down the regular camping area so it’s quiet with only four beach front camping sites.

We got all checked in and then cycled back a mile to get a bite to eat and a bevvie or two. There must be something about big chairs in Florida. I don’t quite understand it but we most always stop and take pics.

After dinner, there were solar showers to enjoy and then into the tent. Some of our family members (the Key West Roadies) are already on their way to pick us up. Just two short days of riding left.

Good night from Long Key.

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#SD2KW, Day 62, Hollywood to Florida City, 54 Miles | Miami: Magnificent Mayem

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We were delighted to see a stellar sunrise over the Atlantic Ocean before we started our ride. What a way to start the day. 🌅

Miami was on our to-do list today. As such, we scheduled a shorter ride and allowed almost a whole day to get through her.

Miami is a magnificent city. Neither of us had been there during the day and approaching the city on a bicycle and then riding through gives one an up close view however it’s not for the faint-hearted. The city is clean, modern, diverse and very busy.

Bike lanes are scant, the sidewalks are full of pedestrians and although legally bikes are permitted to use the full right lane, we weren’t about to test that city ordinance. First we tackled the city of Miami Beach then crossed the causeway to take on the big mama. She is gorgeous, but again it’s traffic mayhem for cyclists. Lots of honking, not at us but cars at each other. And scooters galore!

In fact coming off the causeway we saw a cyclist down (a roadie) being attended to by EMTs. It looked like he tried to come down too fast, hit a curb and did a face plant. Ouch!

Having put those cities in our rear view mirrors we celebrated with sammiches for lunch.

Our post lunch ride was stop and go almost all afternoon even though much of it was on a “bike trail.” Those are supposed to be air quotes. 🤣 Someday it will be magnificent but it’s just not ready for prime time yet. Still, in most aspects it kept us away from traffic; it was just hard to get any momentum going.

The highlight of the day was meeting our buddy Finn at our Florida City campsite. He’d just finished his open water diving certification in Key Largo and took an extra day to meet us. His timing could not have been better (and it’s difficult to coordinate rendezs on bike tours).

Bar B Que, bevvies and some bantering back and forth made the evening go too quickly. See you in Indy, Finn!

Tomorrow we officially say hello to the Florida Keys… on bicycles. 🚴🏼‍♂️🚴🏼‍♀️

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#SD2KW, Day 56, Palatka to St. Augustine, 32 Miles | Southern Tier Complete

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We made it! And what a lovely morning it was for the easy cruise into St. Augustine. We’re both beyond grateful to have completed this first (and longest) leg of our bike trip. Whew! Did we really peddle all that way?

Coast to coast, 3,144 miles… that’s a lot of peddle strokes.😂

Although the official Southern Tier bike route ends in the city of St. Augustine, we crossed the bridge to get to St. Augustine Beach where we dipped our front tires into the Atlantic Ocean as we dipped our back tires in the Pacific Ocean 56 days ago.

From there we peddled two blocks south on A1A to Salt Life restaurant and treated ourselves to a celebratory dinner. I mean tonight was not a night for peanut butter and Nutella wraps.

We talked of the towns we cycled through, the people we met, the hills, the wind, the struggles and the accomplishments and wouldn’t change a thing… well we mighta kept that extra set of gloves and socks we sent back with Troy as a cold and storm front moves in on Sunday. 😬 Good thing we kept our puffies.

After dinner, a campfire (our first of the trip) was the perfect way to end the day. We said goodbye to Gary, a cyclist we met back in Suwannee River State Park who finished his New Orleans to St. Augustine trip today and will head north tomorrow to Jacksonville and beyond.

Tomorrow we head south along the coast just 500 miles to our Key West destination. Once back in Indy we will wrap up the entire ride, but tomorrow we continue to keep calm and peddle on.

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#SD2KW, Day 53, Lloyd to Suwannee River State Park, 59 Miles | Your Attention Please

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Today’s moment that gave me pause to reflect was meeting Earl. A gentle giant both in physical and spiritual stature, he started his walk across America on March 1st on Jacksonville Beach and is headed for the Pacific Ocean near San Francisco.

We asked him “why” and I’m sure he wanted to ask us the same. ☺️ He answered though and what he said got me thinking. He said it’s important what he “attends to”. His attention (time) is his most valuable asset. What he invests his time in forms his life. He felt he needed time for extended reflection. I know this. Tom knows this. It’s a good reminder. Would love to catch up with Earl at the end of us journey to see what else he can share. However, he gives no attention to social media so I can’t “follow” him. Now that gave ME something else to think about.

Tom wanted me to let you know he’s pretty sure he was standing in a hole next to Earl in the above pic . 😂

The sign before we crossed the Suwannee River said it was was “historic”. I know it’s mentioned in a song but what else?

The Suwannee River originates in the Okefenokee Swamp (the largest swamp in North America) and flows about 260 miles until it reaches the Gulf of Mexico. It’s darkish water runs through state parks, is fed by natural springs and flows by Civil War battlefields. And yep, in case you’re wondering, there’s ‘gaters in there.

The dogs are still out in rural Florida albeit most are chained up or fenced in. However once today, we met four loose dogs who wanted to welcome us to their county 😝 while the fifth dog sat on the hood of the car in the yard and watched the whole scenario unfold. I don’t give these dogs my attention anymore. Well let’s just say I don’t have a visceral fear of being chased and bitten. We just stop, holler and they run away. So thanks for the prayers, all.

In case you were wondering, Tallahassee was our fourth state capital. We also rode through Phoenix, Austin and Baton Rouge. 🚴🏼‍♂️🚴🏼‍♀️

Digs at the Suwannee River State Park tonight.

Flushers out of order but tent sites are 💯

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#SD2KW, Day 51, De Funiak Springs to Chattahoochee, 85 Miles | Ride As You Feel

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We didn’t plan on riding over 80 miles today. There was a whisper of a tailwind this afternoon, and a brewery in our sites but it was the Opening Day Little League Baseball parade in small town America that started the day off right. That got us reminiscing about the “old days.”

That and a gorgeous morning riding down the gauntlet of pine trees with scattered pine cones as big as my big head.

Tom scored a sweet camping spot less than a mile away from a brewery specializing in ribeye steaks. Yum!

It was the perfect night to cozy up in a tent under the stars.

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