Sunday, May 31, 2009

Second to last.

State, not post.

We're doing our best to stay on course and keep our mileage maxed out. We biked over 80 miles into Kentucky and camped not too far from the Ohio river in Wicliffe, KY. Crossing the Mississippi River and the Ohio River was incredible. They meet at the southern tip of Illinois which we rode across briefly to catch the next bridge. As we crossed the bridge, a man was yelling at us from the information post, but we waved him off and kept biking. Moments later a truck caught up with us and the lady driving told us that the guy was just trying to get our help. It turns out he is also biking across the country and had some mechanical problems. Andrew went back over and helped fix his bike!

Another 80 mile day landed us just past Barkley Lake. A large recreation area and popular tourist attraction. While looking for a campsite we met Beth, who offered us a place to camp on her property in Canton, KY. It was a tough ride, but we made it to her house and set up camp. We stayed up with her and her husband, Jim, in their lovely home discussing her time on the Appalachian Trail. Between pictures and stories I'm pretty certain that will be the next big adventure. After a quick shower and some pizza, we retired to our tent in their yard. Thank you Beth and Jim!!! road magic.

My seat broke while I was lifting my bike, so Andrew and Jim used some JB weld to fix it. If this doesnt hold up, I'll have to settle for a Wal-Mart seat since there aren't any bike shops around.

We're moving fast, so we might be in VA next time you hear from us!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Sick of the rain...

We've been rained on every day since we entered Missouri. However, it has been the most beautiful ride we've had yet. Maybe we were just sick of the arid environment we were used to.

The past 3 days have been a work out on highway 160 East along the southern border of Missouri. The hills roll consistently with rough pavement and intermittent rain storms to make it more difficult. We camped at the home of Dennis and Mary just outside of Theodosia, MO. We shared stories over lemonade and fruit while the frogs in the yard drowned out our voices with their calls.

I blew out both of my Kevlar tires after the roads took their toll on them. I was able to reach (via phone) Chris, of West Plains Bicycle, who staged some new tires for our arrival. The swap out went well. Riding is smooth now.

It was strange to look back and see the rain follow us like a curtain of discomfort just waiting to catch up and ruin our socks again. At a few points during the ride we found ourselves out riding the speed of the storm. Even road crewmen were yelling out "that storm has your name on it". A few days of being damp caused us to do some laundry here in Poplar Bluff, MO.

Dogs: We see our fair share of dogs along these country roads. Many of these dogs have never seen bikers and are not tied up. This, along with the lack of an owner, causes them to chase us. While we do carry pepper spray, we learned that a little display of ALPHA MALE is all it takes to cause a tucked tail. They return home, shameful. Human on a quiet contraption moving down the street (ONE), Dog that has nothing else to do (ZERO). Our score is pretty high.

We should hit the Mississippi River tomorrow as well as KENTUCKY.
wish us luck.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


We were rained on for the first time. I'm not talking a little drizzle; I'm talking about serious amounts of water.

If you've ever seen the movie "Deep Impact" when the meteor hits the ocean and causes a wave to tower over the coast and crash down on everyone...That's about how severe this downpour was. We couldn't see, and we were certain that cars couldn't see us.

As the rain cleared we made our way through the gorgeous mountains lightly coated with fog. We climbed a fire-lookout tower and enjoyed seeing everything that we couldn't from our bicycles. Many large black snakes ignored us as we traveled along the white line of the road just inches from their coil.

Forecast says rain for the next few days. We're shooting for a bike shop in Poplar Bluff, MO to get a new tire.

take care.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Missouri Greets us with...

BAD WEATHER. We had our first dose of cold rain this trip.

However the high winds are what pushed us into a hotel in Neosho, Missouri.

Our last day in Oklahoma was interesting. We rode from Pawhuska, OK to Vinita, OK and laughed at how easy the ride was. We were warned of the "huge" climbs but we've known worse. Vinita was a larger town and we were forced to look for a place to stay. With zero farmers to rely on we checked the hotels. NO VACANCY. Apparently the local classic car club came to town and booked every room.

We found a bar down the street with a field behind it. It turns out the bar was an American Legion. With our ID cards in hand, we marched in there and asked if we could camp behind the bar. The owner granted us permission and we told her we'd be back for a beer. So we camped behind a bar and went to sleep around midnight. The next morning we were visited by an older ex military country guy. He was just checking on us and reminded us that the "kids in this town don't got nothin else ta do but ride 'round and act stupid"... referring to the dangers of cycling along route 60 east.

We thanked Clint Eastwood's brother and headed out for Missouri. : )

3 states to go!

Friday, May 22, 2009


We are making our way across Oklahoma, stimulating the economy in small towns one at a time. We buy all of their food throughout our days riding and burning calories.

We entered this flatter state(there are hills, just not 3,000 ft "hills") via the "pan handle" by Boise City. We've consistently put down 70 plus miles for the past four days without too much effort. Unfortunately, the wind hasn't always been on our side. The wind is coming from the south, so as we head east it does its best to push us over. If you can imagine endless and even grass on both sides of a straight road then you've got Oklahoma pictured. Throw in a few cows every mile and huge snakes along the road, and you've pretty much lived my life for this past week (not including the biking).

We've been camping on farms with the permission of the owner. Since the land here is owned by the farmers and not the Bureau of Land Management, we ask to be safe. They never seem to mind, and the nature of our farmer-to-camper encounter is very brief. Food has been provided by truck stops like "Four Corners". We were told they weren't even there and thought it would be another day before hitting our next town. The regulars there claimed that the towns nearby spread rumors about the (non)existence of Four Corners.

We restocked at a Wal-Mart in Guymon, OK. Our hand sanitizer, protein bars, wipes, and sun-block were in need of a refresh. Past Guymon and through some windy days we made it to Buffalo, OK. We decided to stay a the "Wooly Bison Inn"...mostly because it was the only vacant room in town. We were pleasantly surprised to see our "room" with Darla, the owner. This was like a town house for the price of a shady motel room of far less quality. Full Living room, loft, and bedroom.

In Tonkawa, we stayed in Gina's yard. It was very nice of her to offer us a shower and somewhere to safely pitch our tent. Her son, Dylan (10 yrs old), was very interested in our trip and hung out with us most of the even before being summoned by his mother!

We are now in Ponca City, OK. We're going to be mailing home most of our dead weight. His laptop, and most of our winter gear. The weather is MUCH warmer and we're going to replace that weight with more water.

Bugs. This state has a bug problem. They get caught in my beard and hair while we're riding, and if you stand still for a minute, you're covered.

Enjoy your weekend. We'll be riding.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

"New" Mexico is getting Old. Time for OK!

We stayed in Taos, NM for a night. Getting there was probably the most painful ride we've both suffered through. The climb caused both of us to wonder if our knees would even last another day on this trip. When we reached the top, the view was absolutely breathtaking (pictures to come).

Leaving Taos for Eagle Nest, NM we didn't really know what to expect. Just the name "Eagle Nest", sounded high up. On our way there we traveled gradually uphill by fields full of paranoid gophers and small streams. Usually when we spend hours climbing, we just hope that the summit elevation sign is just around the corner. This time, we were both shocked to reach "Palo Flechado Pass" towering at 9,101 feet above sea level. While celebrating with cliff bars and snacks, a van from a local tourist company was dropping off cyclists so that they can enjoy the downhill. We earned our downhill, and enjoyed it at high speeds.

On our way across the valley, Andrew had an unfortunate accident. He fell off of his bike and was out of commision briefly with some cuts and bruises. He is alright now, but we stayed the night in Eagle Nest instead of continuing on for the day so he could rest. We found out shortly there after that our laptop did not survive the accident. We are going to have a harder time posting as often, but as always we will do our best.

Out of Eagle Nest, we were pampered with almost 20 miles of downhill and windless flat land. The terrain was starting to flatten and look a lot more appealing to us. We were certain our 65 mile goal for the day would come easy. WRONG. Right after a water stop in Springer, NM we were hit with the hardest headwind yet (it took almost 3 hours to ride 17 miles). We camped in high winds and slept like champions.

...We're now in Clayton, NM. This is our last town in this state and we're ready to move on. We've met a lot of great people here, just tonight while getting dinner and getting a hotel room. We appreciate everyone's support both out here and back home.

Make sure you continue to spread the word...The donations never stop and for that we are thankful.

Oklahoma is next, stay tuned.

[This post was made possible by the Best Western in Clayton, NM --Thanks guys]

Thursday, May 14, 2009


Since Monday, we've covered about 220 miles of the great state of New Mexico. Unfortunately, this state is not going to let us go without a fight...uphill. We're about to tackle the tail end of the Rockies before we can be in Oklahoma. We might hit the tip of Texas for a little bit, but we're not sure that counts as bagging a state.

The magic of a hitchhiker: We leave a gas station after refueling on our favorite frozen burritos and using all of their water. We see a man walking with a backpack and a mini guitar, so we pass him with caution not to frighten him. Failure. I've never seen someone jump like that before. By the way, he looked like an old and beat John Lennon, just so you can picture it. We bike on and on like usual. Roughly 12 miles down the road, we're riding and talking as Andrew says "oh, nice, look who it is" as we come across that same guy sitting against a guardrail. Andrew yells out "cheater" as John replies "Dont go pickin up no hitchhikers, haha". We worked for the miles that he enjoyed in someone's vehicle, more power to him. 45 minutes later we saw him riding in the back of a pickup truck. I guess its a way of life we'll never understand.

We've been fortunate to have small towns, trading posts, and gas stations pop up frequently along our route. Sometimes we come across restaurants when there doesn't appear to be much else going on around it (no houses, community, etc). We found Papa Joes restaurant on our way to Coyote,NM. When we met the owner, he was quick to help us and not too surprised we made it there by bicycle. He told us about a guy that walked there with his stroller, I interrupted and said "DANIEL???". The man replied "yes, Daniel, you know him?". If you remember from our Tonopah, Nevada blog, we met Daniel on the side of the highway. It seems we're accidentally following his path down south. Strange, but exciting.

We'll let you all know when we're OK in OK (Okay in Oklahoma).

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Bad/Good News!

As some of you may already know, I (Matt) have been ill for the past 3 days. This also means that we have not been biking or making any progress on our trip. Fortunately for my active military ID card, I was able to take advantage of a free trip to the emergency room. It turns out, despite severe flu like symptoms, that I have a bad stomach virus. I'll spare you the gory details.

The good news is I shall survive to bike another day. Tomorrow sounds good. I'll just need to be extra cautious with hydration. We've been very careful, as well, to not get Andrew caught up in this same mess.

3 days without biking didn't set us back too much, but we'll have to make up the mileage.

wish us luck.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Arizona, check.

We took a day off in Page, Arizona after our 95 mile ride. You cannot avoid wanting to indulge in all the foods you're thinking about while you're riding. So we ended up with Chinese food, ice cream, and Quiznos. This was much better than power bars and beef jerky.

Well rested, we rode into the Navajo Reservation towards Shonto Junction. Along the road, on rocks and hillsides, there was a fence to keep animals from wandering onto the highway. As the sun was setting, we realized there was not any public land for us to set up our tent. Just our luck, a local came running out to the road to wave us in the direction of his home. Jimmy, his mother Lori, and Rose welcomed us to their property on the reservation. We made a fire and set up our tent in their backyard. We stayed up sharing stories and enjoying the heat from the fire. In true desert fashion, the temperature dropped dramatically after the sun was down. Rose made us some fried bread, and shortly after we retired to our sleeping bags. Thank you Jimmy, Lori, and Rose!

We biked as far as we could so that we'd be closer to New Mexico. We ended up at a junction called "Mexican Water". The owner of the trading post there offered room for our tent, but we decided to head up the road and camp. The next day, our target was Farmington, NM. This was 86 miles away and the heat was nearly overwhelming. Fortunately, there was no shortage of gas stations along the way so that we could replenish our water supply. Although we have conditioned ourselves over the past few weeks, hills still take their toll. We have realized that "what goes down, must come back up". When we see that we're about to go down hill, we know that it just means there is some climbing to do in our future.

We've reached Farmington, NM. This city happens to be much larger than we expected. Next we'll be heading directly east through some mountains. We'll let you know how that goes.

It wont be long before much our riding is on flat land. Flat, easy, comfortable land.

Monday, May 4, 2009


We were in and out of that state faster than you can say "polygamy".

Our stay in Caliente, NV ended and we found ourselves climbing again. We reached Panaca Summit (6,718 ft) and descended into Utah. The border was clearly marked by the neglected tar/gravel roads we crossed over to. At this point the game was still the same, but the name had changed to Utah. The surrounding land was still somewhat arid and mountainous. We rode through high winds to a Route 66 Gas station in New Castle. Owned and operated by a very friendly couple, this gas station provided our dinner before setting out for a stealth campsite. Roughly 3 miles up the road, we camped in the hillside and slept like champions.

More uphill awaited us towards Cedar City, UT. This was by far the largest well developed city we've seen. After several warnings of how dangerous our next ascent would be (considering the weather, road conditions, and traffic), we were convinced a ride would be necessary for our safety. Frank and Donna insisted on giving us a lift to a safer point on the mountain. From there It was up and down until we reached Buffalo Bistro on Rt 89. Ron, the owner, cooked up some amazing salmon and sold us our first Utah native brew "Polygamy Porter". This ale came with a clever slogan: "Why have just one". Hilarious and fitting.

We camped near Zion national park near a noisy overpass. Earplugs are great. The following day is when the man points were earned. We biked almost 95 miles to Page, Arizona. Red cliffs encased the highway and seemed to never end. So long Utah, We're on McCain's property now.

two weeks down.