NoBo on the Natchez Trace, Witch Dance to Tishomingo, 77 Miles | Blessed and Lucky Indeed

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From Tom:

Ok it is my turn again 😁

I was doing a lot of thinking of prayers over the past few days. We are back out on the road and the 15 mile prayers have begun again. I was thinking of what we were praying for last summer during our ride. So many of those prayers were answered and a few are still waiting to be answered in “Gods time”.😁.

Maybe it’s luck; maybe it’s the answer to a prayer or maybe a little of both but here’s what happened the last couple days:

  • Rolling into the “primitive campsite” last night and wondering how we are going to charge up our electronics (Garmin, phone, lights, etc). We pull on the maintenance door at the restrooms and it is unlocked with electrical outlets inside.
  • Twenty miles to go today with major thunderstorms all around us, and God held an umbrella over our head and hardly a raindrop hit us.
  • Checking into our campsite at the state park tonight and we are starving. Deb asked if there might be a close place to eat. Jeanine says “a pizza place just opened up two weeks ago and they serve pizza and beer”.

We got off early today again at 6:30am. We were looking forward to our first cup of coffee and sausage biscuit sandwich at mile 18 ahead.

We roll off the Trace and .1 mile up the road find a gas station that had been closed for quite awhile.

Onward another 5 miles to plan “b”. A brand new Chevron with so many choices to put on a homemade biscuit: sausage, fried ham, fried bologna, fried chicken, fried smoked sausage. Did I say “Fried”?

Tasty, tasty, washed down with a cup of coffee. We look forward to your comments guessing which “fried” we went with. (Teresa Black, you already know Deb’s choice 😁)

On we went with a quick stop at the Natchez Trace Headquarters to fill up our water bottles and see our new friends Bob and Chad who were also at the stop. With 35 miles to go and a threat of thunderstorms heading our way we started booking it to the state park.

  • For twenty miles all we saw around us were dark clouds, lightening, and winds (tailwinds 😁👍). As I said before God was watching out for us as we rolled into the State Park Campground with only a couple of drops to cool us off. After a jaunt off for pizza and a Bud, we are back at our campground, with tent up, showered up and ready to call it a good night.

Our next two posts should be wet ones with the forecast ahead of us. Stay tuned.

 

NoBo on the Natchez, Kosciusko to Witch Dance, 76 Miles | Locals Trump Locale Today

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First order of the day was to walk our bikes down the steps from the rear decking of the Kosciusko Visitor Center. Thank you, Tom!!

Great day of riding today. We got an early 6:30 am start and had the pleasure of meeting Johnson Spencer, a 77 year old French Camp native at our first stop.

Johnson claims to be the only man in Mississippi with two last names. He and his two buddies were chatting it up and wanted to know a little about our bikes and share a lot about themselves. And that was perfectly fine with us.

Johnson has been working his whole life and started when he was just seven years guiding his dad’s mule helping to haul logs out of the woods. He shared a lot about his work at a local school and some of the kids he still remembers. Wish we could have stayed all day to talk to him.

Today brought us very little traffic, a little more cloud cover for a reprieve from the heat and per usual, an awesome road to ride on with just few rollers to keep it interesting. But sometimes the locals trump any locale ya visit.

Finally cracked open the Whisperlite stove to cook a meal. At the end of 67 days on the road last summer I could fire it up blindfolded. Tonight I actually had to watch what I was doing.

We have officially passed the half way point and tomorrow will take us to and through Tupelo.

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.

NoBo on the Natchez: Natchez to Clinton, 100 Miles | Deep South

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We made it to Natchez last night about 7pm and without hesitation dropped our rental car off ready to ride bikes north to Nashville. We could not WAIT to get back to bike travel. I mean… it’s been a year.

We’d scouted a bit of the route on Saturday on the way down to get the lay of the land and were a bit surprised that there was more traffic than expected and no shoulders.

So we do what we always do: perform the “wave”. That means we would be using our defensive (and courteous) approach to cycling. When we see a vehicle approaching from behind, the left arm goes straight up and waves big until we see the vehicle moving over. We then give a thank you wave when they pass. That along with being all lit up seems to work.

We also thought of the big things that might be potential hurdles for today. We were a little worried about our longest day (92 miles) being our first day and the heat (forecast for mid ’90s) but it was the littlest thing that was the most challenging.

The GNATS. Let’s just say the rest stops were infrequent and very short.🤣 They swarm you when you stop riding and they are persistent.

I asked one of the locals who lives here in the Deep South how to get rid of the swarming nuisances and she said splash apple cider vinegar all over us. Should we replace one of our water bottles with a bottle of ACV? 🤷🏼‍♀️ If anyone has any other ideas, let us know. I don’t mind smelling like a pickle but don’t really have room for the bottle.

As it played out, traffic was very light and not an issue. Road surface was spot on – and without rumble strips, stop lights or commercial traffic.

As far as the critter count goes we saw deer, fox, lots of hawks, my fave snake (a dead one) which appeared to be an eastern diamondback rattlesnake and some armadillos who might have tried to play chicken with approaching vehicles… but alas, lost.

Walking a portion of the Sunken Trace was a highlight for me today. To think of all the people, history, emotions, hope, ambition that has been a part of that trail is fascinating to me.

All in all a perfect day of riding the Trace and we even squeezed in a century just because we could.

Because he is the best riding partner and husband ever, Tom found a Mexican restaurant a quarter mile walk from where we are camping so we celebrated with our own little mini fiesta after showering.

Tomorrow we ride through Jackson. Tom and I ran a marathon there in 2014. #memories

Thanks to our friends, family and followers who are following along!

NoBo on the Natchez: Just About Ready to Roll

In a little less than a week we’ll set out on bikes to cycle 444 miles northbound on the Natchez Trace. The timing of it makes us smile because it will be exactly a year and a day since we left to ride our bikes across the country on the Northern Tier route.

Will there be push ups, planks and daily prayers again – the same as when we cycled the Northern Tier? Yep! Tom’s been keeping up with all three of them.  Me, just the prayers.  The push ups and planks are going to hurt. What can I say? Life gets busy.

We’re riding gravel bikes this time and using different bike bags so there are some adjustments with the packing. Since we’re moving to a bikepacking set up instead of road touring we need to cut the gear and clothing in about half.  Tom’s pretty well set but I def need to get my mind right. If you recall, last time I had a hard time parting with my camp chair? Yep that and more went home with my sister from Fargo – too much extra weight.

This time I’m having a hard time parting with the tarp that Tom says we need to leave home. Who wants to do push ups with their nose in the dirt?  #notme

And there will be no more big grocery stops for food as we’ll be using the grab ‘n go approach to meals and cooking a lot simpler. That means we need to leave the second cook pan, spices, cutting board and spatula at home. But. These bikes are sweet! They’re lightweight, agile and ride like a BMW.

We’ve been getting some outdoor rides in the past few weeks getting our legs, lungs and back ends ready.  I think of all the rides we’ve been on however, the ride to and from the Indy 500 track on a practice day was the most memorable/eventful as we rode bikes home in gale force winds.

The Trace is sort of a warm up ride for the route the bikes are really made for and one we will ride in North Carolina in just a couple weeks, and ultimately another long distance route we hope to ride in 2020. So we are in the process of planning the work and working the plan.

And oh yea, we thought it might be kinda fun to ride bikes in every state since we’ve already run a marathon in every state.  Soooo… we’ll be knocking off three states this trip and the blue will turn to green on the diagram to the right.

If the weather forecasters are correct we’re in for some hot days.  But, given the likelihood, or rather the unlikelihood, of being right based on the forecasts lately here in Indy, who knows what weather we’ll cycle through.

More on our bike travels down yonder in the deep south to come…

 

Reaching Across the Aisle: Cycling Style

Can roadies really learn to love mountain biking? I like to think of that as reaching across the aisle, cycling style. That’s what happened the past two weekends when at first, we rode the Hilly Hundred in Morgan, Monroe and Owen counties, and the following weekend rode in the Big Woods Brown County EPIC Mountain Bike Festival in Brown county.

Being #TomandDeb we camped both nights, both weekends and you’ll see us wearing the same cycling jerseys we wore on Northern Tier. Apparently we are attached to them.

Hilly Hundred

We thought what the heck, how much effort would two back-to-back 50 mile rides on hilly terrain riding carbon bikes actually take after finishing a 4,100 mile summer bike ride on steel bikes fully loaded through several mountain passes. Although we hadn’t ridden the Hilly in about ten years we knew now would be a good time to return.

And we weren’t disappointed.  Stellar weather, incredible organization, well marked scenic routes and SAGs that were so well provisioned with food, apple cider and live music I thought I was at a family reunion. CIBA just knows how to get things done right.

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What left me with the greatest impression at the end of the weekend was the volunteerism. So. Many. Volunteers.  To put this event on successfully, there were so many helpers. All smiling. All eager to help.

We’re going back next year and you know what? It’s going to be a lot harder for us.  Mount Tabor will feel like it really is, a short steep climb, instead of a little bump in the road for a couple of roadies who are still reminiscing about climbing along the Northern Tier.

Big Woods Brown County Epic Mountain Bike Festival

Gotta admit I was a little apprehensive. I don’t think I’d ever been on a “real” mountain bike before and mistakenly thought any bike without drop handle bars could be considered a mountain bike. Ooops. #wrong

On a whim, we signed up for the festival mostly because it was something new, it was on bikes and outdoors. Keep in mind neither of us have mountain bikes and Tom had been on a mountain bike proper only once. So he rented one and I rode a demo bike.

At registration Friday night, there were even a few raised eyebrows when I admitted to being a firsty.  One person might have even asked, “And you picked this festival, the EPIC for your first ride?” Hummm that was a little daunting.

But, everything is easier when you first start because peeps expect you to make mistakes. There’s no pressure. It’s all for fun.  A couple friends came down for the day and we were fortunate to ride in a women’s only group that included some instruction and support while Tom was left to fend for himself. Props for the EPIC event organizers to plan for this.

The moment I clipped in I knew it was going to be fun but borderline terrifying at the same time. Whereas on the road bike I can let my mind go, say prayers, work out emotions and pedal hard, the mountain bike ride requires 100% focus in the moment. Not the last moment. Not the next moment. The present moment.

From the warm up on the grass to experiencing maybe just a little bit of flow for the first time cycling on a trail, I was hooked.  And it sure doesn’t hurt that the demo bike was a women’s specific, top-of-the-line, full suspension, carbon bike that handled so well it felt like it had wings.

Uber props also to the Hoosier Mountain Bike Association whose volunteers are responsible for building and maintaining 27 miles of mountain bike trails. Twenty. Seven. Miles. This extraordinary effort draws so many cyclists and their families to the area, not only for this event, but throughout the year. Again, the spirit of volunteerism for the love of the sport and the outdoors is remarkable.

Yep we will probs be returning to this event next year as well. The EPIC event organizers took care of every detail. Can we just all agree it was one EPIC post ride party with campfires, food and bevvies from Big Woods Brewery and live music?

Not sure if the love affair with a single chain ring and full suspension will continue but for now it’s a hot romance and I guess we are buying mountain bikes this weekend and going to learn how to do that. There’s always something new to learn.

And oh yea, about learning something new. I also picked up a volunteer gig for which I’m not yet qualified but am stoked about because it’s connected to cycling. I’m helping coordinate social media for Carmel Cyclery.

If you have a second, would you show me and Carmel Cyclery a little social media love by liking them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram?  And hey, I’m open to your comments both about Carmel Cyclery’s social media and mountain biking. Remember, with beginners there’s no pressure; it’s all fun.

At the end of the day, consider us just a couple of friendly amateur cyclists learning how to cross the aisle from road to dirt, cycling style and being a little outspokein’ about it.

#acaNoTier Wrapping Up our Coast to Coast Northern Tier Ride

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Tom and I wrapped up our Norther Tier ride just a little over a week ago and have some final thoughts we’d like to share, some numbers and finally one last video. Thanks so much to family, friends and followers for the love and encouragement.

Tailwinds,
Tom and Deb


From Tom:

I am sitting here in my kitchen thinking about this past few months.  It all kind of seems like a dream.  An experience of a lifetime and hard to put in to words.  Here a list of my thoughts:

  • It took about two weeks to peel away the layers of a lifetime of work and not think about work, emails, projects, etc.
  • Going to bed at night thinking about the upcoming weather, wind direction and knowing it is totally out of our control
  • Looking at the maps and planning out our next weeks of riding with a goal of averaging 70 miles a day.
  • Looking at the next days ride and planning out our 2nd breakfast about 20 miles down the road
  • Walking into the Saloon in our spandex and every cowboy’s head turned at the same time to give us the eye as we walked through the front door
  • Pulling out of our campground the third day and going the wrong way, about 8 miles the wrong direction down a big descent. Turning around and now going back up in the right direction.  Learning to never start a ride with out turning on my Garmin and finding the course first
  • Getting our morning camping routine down:
    • Tom pack up the sleeping bags, thermarests, tent
    • Deb fire up the stove and cook up coffee, and oatmeal with Craisins and walnuts
    • Pushups and Planks
    • Prayers of gratitude for yesterday’s ride and prayers for today’s ride.
  • Eating Paydays and peanut M&Ms – not on the post riding diet 😊
  • My 15 mile chats with God, praying for so, so many things that were absolutely answered
  • Waking up each morning for the first few weeks with a little uneasiness of riding on the busy roads with little shoulder with semis/logging trucks. By the end of the ride, having no fear, and 100% faith that God is sheltering us from drivers, mechanical issues, and providing us with mental/physical strength to finish each day.
  • Applying layers and layers of sunscreen
  • Getting the blog done at the end of each day (hoping we had phone connection)
  • The comfort of getting into the tent while camping and being so comfortable and the wonderful satisfaction of a good day of riding.
  • Making the decision to get Deb a front rack and having her front bags shipped to us in West Glacier. Also getting her new touring tires:  A no brainer after the fact
  • Looking back at our daily videos and seeing our happy, happy faces totally enjoying our journey
  • Doing a Fred Flintstone the final short hill to our finishline, brakes fully engaged, but having to stop myself with my shoes. Perfect timing for my brake pads to expire with over 5000 miles on brake pads and tires 😊.
  • The greatest memory will be all the wonderful, kind people we met along the way!!!!

It was an experience of a lifetime seeing God’s creation at 12 miles an hour with my true love.


From Deb:

Each night I still dream about the bike trip, in a good way.  Yet when I’m awake the bike trip seems like a dream. Did Tom and I really ride 4,132 miles across the country, camping out, pedaling hard up mountain passes and coasting wicked fast down the other side, eating like teenagers, and spending over 23 hours a day together? Dang!

The night Tom and I returned to Indiana we were able to see all of our bigs and littles and realized on our way home from Sahm’s Place we heard sounds in Indiana we didn’t hear in any of the 11 states we visited. Indiana night sounds. And we’d missed them. Well not as much as we missed the fam, but still, we missed them enough to “camp out” one last night on our screen porch. It’s as if knowing we were safely home, there was still one last little bit of our ride we didn’t want to let go of, sleeping outdoors, even with the stank bags.

Although I acclimate quickly, I am missing the silence I experienced during a good part of the day on the bike. There is so much busy-ness and noise in most every moment and this chases away quiet time and thoughts.

And this… Cycle over 4,000 miles across the country, legs not sore.  Run four miles at a 9:33 pace a week later, sore as heck! The saying , “use it or lose it” appears to be true.  And that goes for most anything. Rote tasks performed before the bike trip now take some thinking. And I forget everything. It will all come back, including the running and most of the rote memory, but I will say it’s refreshing to look at the world with “new” eyes.

I’m so grateful for Tom who helped make this cycling adventure unforgettable as he navigated and led us safely across the country. All I had to do was follow Tom, not follow the map.  He waited patiently at every turn so I wouldn’t miss it, redirected me a couple times when I did, and was always up for an ice cream, second breakfast and breaking out another Pay Day. He is a font of positivity.  What do you think it’s like to live with a person like that? What do you think it’s like to BE a person like that?

Fr. Jim’s prayer for us was: I pray you are both well and that each day’s journey continues to be a gift from God. May God give you the strength you need to endure and the presence of mind to grasp the beauty  of God’s creation and the kindness of strangers. Prayers answered, Fr. Jim.

What’s next for us?  Unquestionably there will be more bike tours, although probably not as long as the Northern Tier at least for the next couple years.  Not sure we will ever do an organized tour as it’s a lot of fun doing our own thing. And we have our eyes set on a long distance hike but haven’t chosen one yet.

For now though, the sleeping bags are laundered and stowed, the Whisperlite stove retired and replaced with a Jenn-Aire cooktop and the old 1995 Cannondale Touring bike has been thoroughly cleaned and lubed. That bike will always be my favorite.


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FundRiding Update:

Contributions are still coming in for St. Vincent de Paul and Back on My Feet and these links have more information on each organization and how to donate. If pledges were made for number of miles ridden, nights camping or century rides completed, see the above infographic for stats.  If your circumstances have changed, any amount is appreciated.

Tom and I were back running with team members from Back on My Feet last Friday and were welcomed back with the rain. No worries the miles and smiles made the rain hardly noticeable. And besides, we’re used to it. This Thursday evening we will head back to the SVdP Food Pantry.

Thank you to those who have already donated.  Both organizations are careful stewards of your donations.


What About the Prayer Intentions:

I’m still praying. I’d welcome an update if prayers are answered or need to be changed. Click here or email me at deb.a.gardner@gmail.com. All are confidential. 🙂


#acaNoTier Orland to Bar Harbor, 47 Miles | Northern Tier Complete!

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We made it!! We rode our bikes across the country almost 4,200 miles!

Tonight we are celebrating that accomplishment and giving thanks to God for a safe journey.

Stay tuned for a overall ride recap and stats but until then here’s a recap of today’s ride:

 

#acaNoTier Camden to East Orland, 38 Miles | One More Day!

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From Tom:

Deb and I woke up all cozied up lying in front a huge screen door in a beautiful loft at the Peats’ house, our Warmshower host. We weren’t really anxious to get going since this was our second to the last day and we don’t want this adventure to end.

First, I always checks bike tires and gives a high five when there are no flats. We have only woken up to two flat tires on the trip. Others happened while on the road.

We got our bags all packed and put on our bikes in the garage. We headed inside and Stephen/Susan had the French coffee press brewing coffee. Fresh fruit and homemade granola was on the table. 😁. We didn’t want to leave, but nice weather and our campground in Orland was calling our name. Stephen gave us directions to our route and we were off. We got a mile in and a rider stopped us to chat. She asked if we stayed at the Peats “yes” 😁.

We headed down the road and wanted to stop at the market owned by Jon Fishman, drummer of Phish. It was cool. Other bikers rolled in and asked a bunch of questions, one being “did you stay with the Peats”? Our Warmshower host has quite the reputation in the biking area. On we went riding through one village to another. We purposely had short days for our last two days so we could go slow and really enjoy Maine.

We are now sitting in our beautiful last campground of our trip. Our son John is on his way to meet us at the finish line tomorrow and successfully made it to his destination of Albany, NY for the night. We can’t wait to venture on tomorrow for our last day riding into Bar Harbor.

FAQs:

What do you think you will miss the most about your journey once you are home and have resumed your “normal” life? Deb: Hard to say what I will miss the most. The people we met and talked to of course are always just the best but also I loved the simplicity of life and at the end of the day measuring what was accomplished toward goal. It was a concrete and fun way to rehash the day. Tom: I’ll miss not knowing what’s going on in the world. The media is so negative and it’s nice not to tune in. Instead I’ll miss meeting all the new positive people. I’ll also miss my 15 mile conversations with God each day.

Besides the wildlife, what about the roadkill? Haha this question came from a fellow cross country cyclist. Lots of variety in the roadkill from state to state. And I held my breath while passing every single one. Poor animals and Yuck! I almost ran over a live honey badger once in Wisconsin.

Did you learn anything about yourself/each other? Deb: Another really great question and one I have been thinking about a lot already. Tom and I have spent a lot of time together these last 8-9 weeks. I mean a LOT! I discovered that we both say “huh” a lot. Either our hearing is going bad or we aren’t listening to each other. Lol. Also, whereas I’m all about getting to the destination and settling in, Mr. Tom is curious and likes to check things out. I never knew this about him. Things I learned about myself – I like to think a lot about things and miss when I can’t jot down thoughts. Hard to do with hands on handlebars. Tom: At the end of a day, if things don’t go as planned (for example the Google Maps lady gives bad directions) I get frustrated.

How many Calories did you have to eat to maintain your health?Calories in Calories out? We didn’t count calories and we ate a lot. We ate things we very seldom eat at home (sweets) but the day to day cycling amped up our appetite like crazy. We did not intentionally consume more calories, our bodies just asked for it out of necessity. Also we were mindful of including protein for muscle repair and fresh vegetables when possible. Tom ate an apple or two just about every day, Deb had her bananas. We used Tom’s Garmin to track miles but he didn’t wear his heart monitor so the calories burnt figure isn’t accurate. For example yesterday it said he burned 3,000 calories. He probably burned at least a couple hundred more.

What was your biggest challenge element-wise and how did you handle it? For both of us it was being so cold in Montana. It was early June, rainy and we were cold, especially our hands and feet. We had our Goretex gloves sent from home and that took care of it. We also used our leg warmers when it was cold and rainy. Huge help!

Will you ever wear those riding clothes again? Deb: Yes but not for at least a week. Tom: The jerseys, yes. They have held up well. The cycling shorts may not make it out of Bar Harbor.

Besides family, what did you miss the most while being away? Deb: Well I definitely missed family the most. Especially at the end of Wisconsin I was getting pretty homesick and anxious that I wasn’t going to be at home when little #3 was born. Other than family I missed time with my running buds and daily Mass. It’s such a great way to start the day and as much as I miss family time (a lot) I miss friend time, too. Tom: At the beginning I felt like my brain was going to mush. It was just decompressing from work, etc. I missed my son moving back to Indy and my other son and his wife moving into their new home.

Have you missed running? Deb: No but I have missed seeing my running buddies! I’ll start running again right when I get back. Tom: I have not miss running. I now enjoy cycling more than running.

Laundry is my big question- all the bike shorts. Great question! Both of us brought only two pair of bike shorts. We did laundry (in a washer/dryer) about once a week. If possible we rinsed shorts out at night and either dried them on the back of the bike bag as we rode the next day or many times, put them on wet the next morning. (Worst feeling ever for Deb). Sometimes we actually had to wear them the next day without washing. Yuck I know.

What aren’t you going to miss? Deb: Putting on cold, wet dirty bike shorts in the morning and deer fly fests. Tom: Will not miss my smelling sleeping pad and bag and unpacking a wet tent.

The original Northern Tier route goes through Iowa and Illinois and then to the east. What path did you follow? There are three basic options cyclists have for getting around Lake Michigan. The Main Route goes through Iowa, Illinois and Indiana. Since we live in Indiana we decided against that one. Another option goes up and over Lake Michigan. Again we decided against that one because we did a week long bike trip in the UP a couple years ago. Instead we did part of the North Lakes route (map 1 and 2) and rejoined the Northern Tier route with the Erie Connector Map. Cyclists take the US Badger ferry across Lake Michigan. This was a lot of fun and worked out very well because we then took a rest day and got our bikes tuned up in Ludington.

How much money do I need doing the same as you did? Tom is good about tracking expenses so we will post that after we get back, the total and the average daily cost. You could do it more expensively or also cut some expenses. We used our credit card for 95% of the trip (we get points) so it will be easy to figure.

What do you think “re-entry” will be like? Deb: For me re-entry will last about a day because I acclimate quickly. And the Northern Tier Ride will seem like a dream. I will be thinking about this trip for a long, long time. Tom: Well I’m going to work the Monday after I get back and home and at the end of that day it will seem like the ride didn’t happen. Life will presumably go back to “normal.”

How many tubes of sunscreen, bug spray, and chapstick? Sun screen – 3 with some left over, bug spray – 2 with some left over, chapstick – 3 with some left over.

How bad do your bottom and palms of hands hurt? All pretty good now! Took awhile to get the parts working together. Lol

Who was the most interesting person that you ran into and why? We have talked about this a couple times and it’s the most difficult to answer. It’s like asking what marathon was our favorite to run or what state was our fave. Each person has added value and inspiration to our trip from the rancher at Waucunda Pass, to Kate in Rochester, to Will the Harley rider in West Leyden and there were so many more. More recently we were so inspired John and Stephen, two separate Warm Shower hosts.

What have been your bathroom options on those long rides Deb? No bathrooms for miles & miles…Clearly it would have been much easier for Tom…lol Both of us have learned to be very creative with bio breaks. Let’s just say there is no shame between us, we are fast and we carry TP and zip lock bags (leave no trace).

#acaNoTier Brunswick to Camden, 61 Miles | All Good Things

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From Tom:

Started the day off with a bagel and cappuccino brewed by our Warmshower host, John. Our destination was a Warmshower host in Camden, 60 miles away. The forecast was rain so we planned on getting wet today. Of course during my morning prayers, I asked God if he saw fit that it didn’t rain on us, that would be fine with us.

Off we went riding through one village after another on US 1. We had driven this route before a few years back when we flew in to Boston and drove to Bar Harbor for the MDI Marathon, so things looked familiar. Two fun stories:

We stopped by a bakery with three bicycles propped up outside. Lots of questions asked when you meet other cyclists. Turns out one of these cyclists grew up in Indiana and went to Shortridge HS.

Later we were riding on the outskirts of a village and hit a monster hill (not too long, but rather steep). Right after reaching the summit, I stopped to catch my breath and looked to my right. There in the middle of nowhere is a brewery. It was 12:15pm and the sign said open at noon.

Well, it was hot/humid and we were a bit thirsty 😁 for a sample. Odd AleWives Farm Brewery had just opened three months ago. It was in an old alpaca barn and was one of the coolest breweries ever. We still had 20 miles to ride, so just a sample was in order.

We kept in touch with our Warmshower host to give them updates on our arrival. Deb had looked at the forecast and there was a long wall of showers coming our way. As we were riding through a busy village by a long line of weekend tourists a motorcyclist said we need to button down for a storm.

I looked at my phone and received a txt from our host. He can come pick us up. We said we were good and ventured on. About 11 miles out we see an Outback with a man standing behind it. We rolled up and it was our host, Stephen. He mentioned it wasn’t raining here but there was major rain up ahead and he could give us a ride. We thanked him profusely, but explained we came this far, we needed to push forward and that would feel like cheating to take a ride. He totally understood and said he would see us later at his house.

God has taken care of us in so many ways this trip. We are riding NE and the weather is traveling NE. Believe it or not, we arrive at our Warmshower and it doesn’t rain a drop on us. Prayers answered big time 🙏

And finally another “smilestone” (not milestone) – we reached the 4,000 mile mark, on BIKES!

FAQs

Did it seem to go fast? Yes! Some of the days were long but the weeks went fast.

What was the farthest Tom got ahead of you Deb? Did you mind riding alone? Deb: about a quarter mile and he waited at every turn. I don’t mind riding alone at all! But some of my favorite times were when we were both in a groove and riding a two person pace line. That was fun too!

How many flats did you each have? Tom had two and I had three. Not bad!

Once you get to Bar Harbor how are you getting back home to Indiana? Our son, John is driving Tom’s car out to Maine with the bike rack. We will stay one night in BH and then drive straight through to Indiana.

Do you feel like you got stronger each day of riding, or are you totally exhausted and glad to be done? Deb: I wouldn’t say I’ve been exhausted but if we were continuing on for a few more weeks I would definitely take a day off from cycling. I thought I was going to get a lot stronger riding but I don’t think I did. The elevation is more difficult in VT, NH and ME, maybe that is why I’m not riding as fast or long as I thought I would. I feel good though and could keep going if it weren’t for the stank bags. Tom: I think I went into the ride well trained and there really wasn’t a day I was really tired.

Was there anything on the trip that exceeded your expectations and was even better than you thought it was going to be? Tom: Riding up Logan Pass without cars – even better than I expected. And I thought riding the Plains would be very tough winds but they weren’t.

How many 100’s did you do? You mentioned a dead skunk and a bear, oh I guess raccoons is that all the wild life you saw? We rode three 100 milers and saw fox, lots of deer, prong horn antelope, elk, wild turkeys, osprey, sand hill cranes, bald eagles and a lot of dead frogs.

What one item that exceeded expectations and what one item about the trip turned about to be a dud that you never expected? Again, Logan Pass without cars really exceeded expectations. Also the cool mom and pop motels along they way that we stayed in were not anticipated but pretty neat. Can’t think of any duds except the two flat tires Deb’s bike had within the first three days. Deb: My only unexpected dud was I never thought I would actually be killing mosquitos with bear spray in the tent. I wasn’t spraying the little pests but squashing them with the spray canister. #mosquitomurder

Would you do it differently next time? Support trailer? Route? Accommodations? Tom: Definitely wouldn’t use a trailer and we wouldn’t cycle Northern Tier again because we would want to do something different. Next time Deb will plan on taking four panniers and the front rack from the start. That worked out well when we made that change in Whitefish, MT. Accommodations were good! We thought we would use warm showers more but it just didn’t work out that way.

What is your next adventure going to be? 😊 We will continue to do more bike touring, a marathon now and then but would like to consider a long distance thru hike! Maybe the Appalachian Trail or the Pacific Crest Trail.

Did you ever want to give up? Tom and Deb: Nope. Never.

After Monday, when is the next time you think you will ride the bike? Tom and Deb: Maybe to the Indiana State Fair on Thursday? Definitely to work on Monday for Tom.