Appalachian Gravel Growler, Morganton to Collettsville, 42 miles| Finally Off Road!

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Lush forest, stellar views, very little wind and no traffic made for a near perfect day of riding off road on our first day.

This was pretty much a warm up day with just a little over 40 miles but dang… these two Hoosiers aren’t used to these climbs.

Good news is neither of us went over the handlebars, over the edge and we kept the rubber on the right side of the rocks.

Honestly the best part of the day was rolling up to Betsey’s (and yep that is how it’s spelled) Ole Country Market, our planned camping spot tonight and meeting 58 year old Bruce.

He was seated on the covered front porch in an electric wheel chair and gave us a hearty welcome. As owner he said he wanted us to make ourselves at home for the evening or else go home. His hospitality and enthusiasm were over the top.

He didn’t hang around long. From the middle of Pisgah National Forest he drives 45 minutes each way, each day in a modified van to work with a trainer to strengthen the left side of his body. He does squats, push ups, dead lifts and core work. This man is a stud!

So off Bruce went to the gym and we began to unload. Just about that time we heard thunder, felt rain and decided to rent the only cabin on the property, giving us shelter for the night. And that means Tom doesn’t have to haul a wet tent around all day tomorrow.

Soooo a shower, small kitchen to cook in, electricity and a comfy dry bed is ours tonight.

Giving thanks for the little things tonight and in awe of Bruce’s hospitality and mental and physical determination.

NoBo on the Natchez Trace, Meriwether Lewis to Garrison Creek, 46 Miles | That’s a Wrap!

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Our northbound bike ride up the Natchez Trace wrapped up today! As we traveled north the number gnats diminished and the rolling hills increased – just the way we like it!

In all, I think we saw only two chuckholes on the Trace (and that’s when you know you’re not in Indiana anymore). Drivers were courteous, giving us plenty of room to ride.

The scenery doesn’t change much as in early June it’s just lush, green forests all along the way. It’s a solid route for reflection and training.

We were surprised we didn’t see more wildlife. It was mostly turkeys and box turtles with a lot of dead snakes, armadillos and froggies. 🤣 Dang who knew Mississippi had so many snakes?

Every place we stopped it’s the people, both the locals and fellow travelers that enrich the journey.

This ride was a training ride for North Carolina coming up in a little over a week. The Appalachian Gravel Growler is half the distance each day but over twice the elevation (sometimes four times the elevation) and it’s mostly off road. So stay tuned to see how that goes.

What a perfect way to spend the week before our 12th wedding anniversary.

 

NoBo on the Natchez Trace, Tishomingo to Meriwether Lewis, 94 Miles | A Three-State Day in the Rain

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Oh such a great day but such a wet one! In addition to crossing both the Alabama and Tennessee state lines we rode most of the day on hills and in the rain. Gratefully it was a warm rain without a lot of head wind.

Not many pics today but for sure there were lots of smiles during the miles.

NoBo on the Natchez: Clinton to Kosciusko, 76 Miles | Into the Mystic

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Just a regular day of cycling – hot, relatively little elevation and just plain steady.

We didn’t feel as perky as we did yesterday but we made it to our destination in Kosciusko and we were still smiling at the end of the day. 😊

Right now we are camping on the back deck of the Kosciusko visitor center and it over looks the Trace. There are lightning bugs, (two ceiling fans yay), flushers and outlets. An Italian restaurant and gas station are located nearby. Everything a bike traveller could want.

It seemed extra hot today with the temps in the mid 90’s and I’m sure the heat index higher.

Loved the cycleway that bypassed Jackson, the huge reservoir we cycled next to for many miles and the Cypress Swamp. We finally met some northbounders today too!

The GNAT meter registered LOW today (praise God for that)! And the only critter we saw was a box turtle.

We were glad to be done and looking forward to tomorrow’s ride to Witch Dance.

#acaNoTier North Woodstock, NH to Naples, ME, 76 Miles | Kancamagus Conquered!

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From Tom:

I am lying in my tent, holding my breath and typing since it is hot and I am sweating which just blends in nicely with the aroma of our thermarest and sleeping bags. Deb tried fanning us with the ACA map but it only circulates the stench further. #straywetdogstank

We got a great start with a big breakfast at our Inn since we knew we had our biggest climb up Kancamagus Gap first thing. We were surrounded with hikers who were in town for resupply at breakfast.

We headed out and started our climb up the mountain. About 5 miles up a cyclist on a light weight road bike came up beside me and says we are his heroes trying to do this climb with all that weight. He mentioned the last 5 miles are really steep especially the last mile. He left me with that wonderful news and took off up the mountain.

We kept climbing up and up stopping every so often to capture the wonderful views and take pics. Next thing we know there is the summit sign and we were at the top. #nottoobad.

We then enjoyed the wonderful descent down the other side for 10 miles. We stopped at the half way point and grabbed a lunch at Beas cafe. Deb enjoyed the triple decker chicken salad while I had the egg salad #maybethebestmealofthetrip

Deb notice a shortcut that might save us 10 miles once we enter Maine. Highway 302 would take us directly to our destination rather than going north through a couple more climbs. We stopped at the Maine state line visitor center and asked the guide about our idea of staying on 302. She didn’t seem to keen on our idea since shoulders are small or non existent and 302 is the busiest highway in Maine.

With that info we decided to follow our maps. 28 miles to go. We got about 14 miles in and knew we had two more short climbs. Deb and I were both out of water and were both looking for a place to stop as it was 90 degrees and the route was mostly exposed and without shade.

I got to the top of the first climb and out of the blue a man waved me down and told me just around the corner is a pipe coming out of the ground with ice cold spring fed clean water that everyone drinks around there #trailmagic.

After filling our bottles we were on our way to our destination of Four Seasons campground in Naples, ME. Tent set up, dinner eaten, shower taken, we are now all cuddled up praying for a slight breeze to cool us down so we can go to sleep #onlyfourdaysleft

#acaNoTier Ripton to East Thetford, 62 Miles | Well Hello Mr. Bear!

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From Tom:

We woke up in our comfy bed and Deb says, we are taking the day off and staying in bed all day long. Of course Tom jumps out of bed and starts packing up his things 😁. We can smell the bacon cooking downstairs and the coffee brewing and Deb decides maybe I will go ahead and get out of bed 👍.

Tom got everything carried downstairs and went out to the shed to check on the bikes and fill up the tires for our mountain climbs today.

Chris the owner of the Inn, got our tasty breakfast prepared: fresh fruit with yogurt, eggs, bacon, toast with fresh blueberry jam. Others staying at the Inn started ambling down and great conversations continued from last night. Chris was a teenager when Ben and Jerry used to deliver their Ice Cream in the 70s. He described them as long haired, pot smoking kids and nobody would ever eat their Ice Cream in cold Vermont 😁. Too bad his family didn’t invest in the company back then.

We knew our ride began with a very steep 5 mile climb so we were delaying our departure. Once we left, it was fun, everyone at the Inn was standing outside, looking through windows and waving as Deb and I jumped on our bikes and headed off.

We conquered the Middlebury Gap and had a great chat with Long Trail hikers at the top. The next several miles were 12% grade downhill, which can be a little bit scary on curvy roads. We knew we had another climb later in the day, but for the next 30 miles or so we enjoyed the slight downhill and Vermont countryside riding through small villages along the way. We grabbed a nice picnic lunch in a gazebo along the road with leftover pizza from couple of nights ago and Vermont cheese/peanut butter and crackers. 10 miles to go with another climb and we were ready to go to our destination of “Rest and Nest” campground.

We just started the climb and 100 yards ahead a Black Bear comes running out of the woods and ambles right over the guardrail in front of us. We immediately stop our ride and Deb reaches into her bag and hands me the bear spray. Thankfully no more bear sightings 😁.

We are now sitting at our campsite chillaxing and getting ready to cook up dinner.

Hard to believe a week from now we will be driving home 😁

#acaNoTier Raquette Lake to North Hudson, 62 Miles | Cycling The Adirondacks

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From Tom:

Today’s blog is going to be a bullet list of today’s memories.

  • Carrying the bikes down the stairs at 6am hoping the grocery was open early for coffee (no luck 😔)
  • Jumping on the bikes at 6:30am before anyone is stirring on highway 28 and we had the road to ourselves
  • Stopping at mile 15 at Blue Mountain grocery for coffee and breakfast sandwich
  • Visiting with Baxter and Steve for over an hour who also stopped for coffee. They just left Bar Harbor a week ago and are heading west to our start, Anacortes, WA. And we are a week away from finishing at Bar Harbor.

  • Watching Baxter’s drone videos from their first week. He is carrying a 10 lb case with him with his drone (he is only 20 and Debster is major tech envy of his skills)
  • Riding the next 30 miles along Highway 28 up and down and all around the pine tree lined Adirondacks
  • Stopping at “The Scoop” for ice cream and a strawberry shake
  • Enjoying our first big climbs since we left West Glacier
  • Enjoying all the Harley riders giving us the wave as they cruised by
  • Every other car that went by us with kayaks and bikes hanging on their cars
  • The number of lakes that we passed during our ride
  • The last 10 mile downhill reaching 39.5 mph and trying to outrace the turbo Carrara that passed me and gave me a thumbs up
  • Reaching our destination and pulling into a Jellystone campground/Park (this place is awesome with beautiful campground, spotless showers, store, restaurant, and laundry facility). Oh and yogi is walking around greeting all the guests 😁
  • Reaching the 3700 mile mark and starting our last week of riding tomorrow 😟

Ok the tent is set up and all dried out from the heavy dew and rain from a couple of days ago. The thermarests/sleeping bags are febreezed and aired out. Our snacks are eaten. Time to shower up and decide on dinner.

From Deb:

I LOVE the Adirondacks. Riding surrounded by dense timber, crystal clear lakes, with favorable winds and skies made for stellar riding. Could not have been better.