Updating my blog has taken a back seat to pouring over my maps, sleeping, eating and just setting up and cleaning up camp.
Day 9: cycled 44 miles and camped at Raccoon Branch, a USFS campground. I slept beside a brook (creek, stream?) and a fellow camper helped me build my fire. He also generously brought me over dinner and stopped over with coffee and a bagel in the morning.
Day 10: cycled 46 miles to camp in Meadowview behind a store. I wish I had taken a photo in the store- it was like a trip back in time. The owner was so friendly and he kindly lets cyclists camp behind the store for free.
Day 11: cycled 24 miles to Honaker, where I had two large trucks pass, going in opposite directions without giving me the space I needed. I didn't fall but I felt so shaken up. I made my way to the library and my tears turned into sobs. I couldn't get back on my bike and yet the next place to camp was still 8-9 miles away over a mountain. A police officer came by to see if he could help in any way and he told me what I was feeling was NORMAL. It made me cry even more. I was so grateful he normalized my feelings. A generous woman drove me and my bike over the mountain to a city park where I camped and contemplated how I was going to go forward.
Day 12: I woke up early and headed to meet my cycling friend in Breaks. I NEEDED to bicycle to Kentucky, and today was the day!! We crossed the line, ate some pizza and stayed at a cycling hostel after riding 46 miles.
Day 13; rode 50 miles to an eccentric cycling hostel, ate way too much food and slept well.
Day 14: rode 50 miles in heat and humidity to Buckhorn. Walked up some hills and was grateful to see my friend at the campsite.
It's been such an incredible 8 days of cycling. Not easy, not without its challenges, but really wonderful anyway.
Day 5: rode up major climbs and on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Camped with fellow cyclist Katie at a vacant campground/cabin site. Cycled ~28 miles?
Day 6: rode to the highest peak on the parkway and descended a ridiculously steep and curvy road. I had to stop to let my rims cool and catch my breath. Slept under a canoe shop's overhang to stay out of the rain. Cycled ~64 miles
Day 7: cycled up and down, all the way to a hiker (Appalachian Trail)/biker hostel where I went to a family-style all-you-can-eat restaurant. We all stank and we all ate a bunch. Cycled ~38 miles.
Day 8: cycled in sun and shade and intermittent showers. Ate a blizzard for dinner and showered for the first time since day 4. Stayed at a motel, where I watched Funny Farm and Doc Hollywood. Washed my clothes in the sink and dried them on the a/c unit. Cycled ~64 miles.
It's not so easy to write on my phone, excuse the typos.
I'm in Virginia!!
Day 1: beautiful day, good energy. Left the coast and rolled inland. Rode about 40 miles on a bike path, 62 total.
Day 2: rode 75 miles, weather was sunny and clear. Felt really tired but pushed on to make it to my camping site.
Day 3: rode ~56 miles to Charlottesville, super cute and mega traffic. Rained all day, spent the night with Warm Showers hosts. 2nd half of day was emotionally stressful.
Day 4: rode ~15 miles and invited to stay with a couple. The misses made me the best grilled cheese and red clam chowder. Sleeping in their spare room and readying myself for the mountains tomorrow. Big emotions in the first half of day but it got 100% better later on.
I will climb on my bike and begin pedaling tomorrow morning! Today, a gracious volunteer from Grace Episcopal Church picked me up from the airport, brought me to the bike shop to retrieve my bike, then took me to Walmart so I could buy campstove fuel and some fresh fruits and vegetables. John went above and beyond and made me feel welcomed.
I've also met a family that is heading west, too! They have a nonprofit organization and keep a website at www.goseeknature.com. It's funny how yesterday I felt all alone and today I feel such good company!!
Taking my son to preschool this morning, he burst into tears because we weren't walking. I'm not even sure he wanted to walk as much as he didn't want to sit in his carseat. So the entire 2-minute drive we listened to him scream and cry. It was really so sad and also the tiniest bit frustrating because there's no calming a screaming three-year old during such a short window between here and there. I carried him into school, and the screaming didn't cease; I didn't know whether to stay or go, but his teacher took him into her arms and started the "say 'bye-bye' to Mommy" routine so off I went.
As I walked away, I realized, I can't...take my children's sorrow or anger or frustration away. I can certainly be there to support them, to listen, to hold and soothe, but I cannot take it away. This is their journey, their exploration of their feelings, their experiences. Just as their joys and smiles are theirs, their harder feelings are also for them to sort through.
In two days I'll be off on my bicycle adventure. I'll experience my own joys and sorrows, and I know my children will experience theirs, as well. Whether they are three years old or thirty, I know I will always rejoice with their happy tales and feel deeply when they come to me with feelings of loss. My absence this summer is only in the physical sense, and I can't wait to see how our heartstrings grow.
I thought I had packed up my things in my duffle bag, and I was pleased with my progress. Then I realized I needed to pack up my handlebar bag, bike tools and helmet. That all takes space! So, out came a pannier and in went items that will be carried on, making space for my checked duffle bag to be repacked.
What else am I bringing?
I'm excited to have some items that will aid in comfort and convenience.
Well, if I want to see my bike again, I'll need to get myself to Virginia to retrieve it.
The days are passing, and I have so many things I want to do. Before my family travels, I make a mad dash around the house, tidying and cleaning and clearing the slate so when we return, our space welcomes us home. This time, however, I am the only one traveling, so it's not like my efforts will be long-lasting, because, let's face it, kids make messes and animals shed.
The thing about my preparations is that I'm constantly revisiting my anticipations and curiosities regarding my trip. I'm wondering what the weather will be, particularly those first few days where I'm figuring out my stride. I'm thinking about how I'll respond to bicycle issues or other logistics of bike traveling. It's all so up in the air. How many times do we feel so certain of the process or outcome, when in reality, nothing is certain.
Knowing that nothing about my bicycle trip is guaranteed, I can only guarantee that I will tap into the things that make me feel whole. I will bring my favorite blend of essential oils, a few favorite photos, and my journal. I will meditate, feel the sun and wind on my face, and let the rain wash over me. I will sit in my tent with my cup of coffee, reflecting on my journey thus far. I will connect with my family and friends, and I will turn inward to connect with the woman I have become.
In ten days, I will wake up in another state, readying myself for my first full day of riding. That day will bring me closer to the Pacific Ocean, closer to the mountains, closer to reuniting with my loved ones.
<sigh> : )
I brought up my large green duffle bag, the one I used 15 years ago when I cycled across Wisconsin. It even has my name tag and the yarn still on it from the trip. My bike is boxed (thanks Bikesmiths!) and ready to be mailed via FedEx. I've also packed up my panniers and items in my duffle and backpack to bring on my plane. My plan is to mail the duffle back home when I come upon a post office, as I won't need it until I'm heading back home after my trip.
I've arranged with a bike shop in Virginia to receive my bike and reassemble it, though I am prepared to make some adjustments to my pannier racks to make everything sit just so.
Hoping everything unfolds as smoothly as possible, I expect to land in Virginia, pick up my bicycle, make necessary adjustments and arrive to my destination by suppertime.
I've been watching some videos of people's cycling adventures on the TransAmerica Trail. I'm absolutely amazed every time I see images from people's travels. I think about what it'll feel like to see these sights in person! I enjoyed watching this woman's video from her travels.