Tuesday, October 23, 2007

We're Going to Disneyworld!

After 35 days and 3200 miles, what are we going to do next? We're going to Disneyworld!

Yesterday we flew down to Orlando and began the more leisurely part of our trip. We're staying at Disneyworld for a few days. We also just found out that there was going to be a space shuttle launch this week, so we rushed out to Cape Canaveral and got tickets to see it not really up close or personal. But it was really cool nonetheless.

After that we spent the rest of the day at the "Happiest Place on Earth". The high density of screaming kids scares me (Ed) a little bit. But we really did have a good time.

One of the best features of Disneyworld is also one of the best features of Las Vegas: no open container law! You can walk around with a beer and nobody cares. Like Vegas, there are lots of shops full of tacky merchandise, and everyone is trying to sell you a timeshare. Unlike Vegas, there are no topless shows. At least, I haven't found any yet.

The Tan Line Gallery

While we're very proud of our achievement, we're also very proud of our sexy tan lines.

The hands:

Ed: the helmet strap and legs

Nancy: legs (I've never been so tanned!)

Unbelievably attractive.

And then there's Linda from Vermont, who wins the raccoon eyes contest. Well done, Linda!

We worked hard for those tans.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Day 34: Orangeburg SC to Charleston, SC (Isle of Palms)

110 miles, 2000 feet of climbing.

WE FINISHED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Today was the fastest day of all. We woke up singing, making up words to songs, like "On the road again, I'm never gonna get on the road again, going places I will never go again, I don't want to get on the road again." We had what I hope is our last 6:15 breakfast at IHOP for a really long time, and then rolled out last from the hotel, just for old times' sake. The day was really easy-- mostly flat and well-paved roads, tailwind, easy traffic.

One of my favourite moments of the day was about 30 miles from the end. That's when I smelled the Atlantic Ocean. The end was near! The whole gang regrouped about 5 miles from the hotel on the beach, and we rode the last little bit together, just like we'd ridden out of Santa Barbara together.

When we rode up to the beach, we had to pass under a big Trek Travel Cross-Country banner. There was a DJ playing "We Will Rock You" on the loudspeaker, and dozens of people (some friends and families of the riders, others just hanging around the beach) were cheering for us and congratulating us. We got off our bikes, took off our shoes, and dipped our wheels into the ocean. We did it! And we still want to be married to each other! I think this bodes well for the future.

And now, we get to sleep for a really, really long time...

Friday, October 19, 2007

Day 33: Union SC to Orangeburg SC

120 miles, 8000 feet of climbing

The weatherman lied today. He said there was 100% chance of rain and thunderstorms in both Union and Orangeburg, and it was wet and gross when we got up in the dark this morning. Assuming it was going to be a crummy day, and being so unimaginably bored with cycling by now, I (Nancy) decided to climb into the van and chat with our guide Katie, and Linda, another rider, all day. Well, it barely rained at all after that, and by the time I could get out I was way to cozy in there. We later heard on the news that "9 out of the 10 factors for a thunderstorm" were present, but the absence of the last factor led to a simply muggy day. Oh, well, I had a good rest before tomorrow!

Ed, on the other hand, was going to ride rain or shine. His dad flew down and met us for a visit last night, and that may have re-energized Ed. (He's happy it didn't rain, though.) He rode all day long, fast and furious, as if another 120 miles was like a walk in the park. He even had enough energy left to walk a half mile to do laundry afterwards! I think he got hold of some EPO and didn't share it with me. He was a rock star out there today.

Finally, I should let you know that Ed's famous among our fellow riders for his helmet hair. I think because it's gotten longer than anyone else's, and it just gets sucked up into the vents. Anyway, it's phenomenal, and I needed to share:

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Day 31: Townsend TN to Asheville NC

107 miles, 12000 feet of climbing

Today was a beautiful, difficult day as we crossed parts of the Great Smoky Mountains and the Blue Ridge Mountains to end up in Asheville, NC, an area we got to know a couple of months ago on a trip with Black Bear Adventures. We actually rode today's route backwards in August.

It was a great time of year to be here-- all the fall colours have come in, and the mountains were just amazing. Several thousands of other people thought so, too, and the steep, narrow roads were clogged with cars. One lady stepped out of her car and told our fellow rider, Kelly, "I just hate you bikers," at which point our guide, Katie, replied, "Well, they hate you, too." Overall, not a very positive exchange because it's a lot safer if we get along. But there's no shoulder on these roads, and when there's this much traffic, I understand that the motorists might get frustrated when they can't pass a cyclist going uphill. But we get frustrated, too, when we can't pass them going downhill even though we can safely reach higher speeds then cars. Why can't we all just get along?!
Our guides, Dave and Matt, hard at work.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Day 30: Crossville, TN to Townsend, TN

99 miles, 9000 feet of climbing.

This was another day of lots and lots of small hills. Personally, I'd rather have a few big climbs rather than a lot of little ones. That way you can settle into your climbing pace, and afterwards you get a nice long descent.
As we get into more populated areas, we run into more and more loose dogs. I don't mind the ones that don't bark and just like to run alongside for a while. It's the dogs that think you're invading their territory and go after you like a, well, a wild dog.

Unfortunately I don't have a picture of the best dog yard today. The front yard had about seven beagle puppies lying around, like someone just sprinkled puppies all over the yard. So cute! Then at the far end of the yard, mama was watching the cyclist in front of me go by, and didn't notice me approaching. I gave her a little "Woof!" in greeting, which startled her. She whirled around, let out a high "Yowl!!" and started a pretty pathetic chase. She was trying to be menacing, but it came across as awfully silly.

Nancy and Hans.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Day 27: Erin, TN to Nashville, TN

70 miles, 5000 feet of climbing.

Today we had one thing in mind: REST DAY!

It was a "short" day (only 70 miles), and the roads were quite pleasant. We were really happy to get out of Erin. The hotel there was quite a dive. Dinner was pretty awful too.

Apparently Nancy and I are the only people on this trip who believe in following directions. We all have a thick packet of route guides, one for each day of the trip. Each day has a brief itinerary that lists what time breakfast will be served, when they expect us to hit the road, and when/where dinner will be. Nancy and I try to follow the directions and show up for breakfast at the assigned time. Nobody else on this trip believes in that. If breakfast isn't early enough for them, they show up early or skip it. Today breakfast was supposed to start at 7:30. Sounds great, we said. In fact, the restaurant looked awful, so we just had Pop Tarts in our room and stepped out at 7:30. Everyone had already eaten and rolled out. We were the last ones up. The guides thanked at us for following instructions, but laughed at us nonetheless for being last.

I'm writing this at the end of the rest day, which has been wonderful. Nancy's brother drove up from Birmingham to see us. We didn't have the energy to go sightseeing, so we just had lunch and talked. Oh, and we did see the full scale reproduction of the Parthenon. Somehow I don't think the real Parthenon had chicken wire over everything to keep pigeons away.

We've been logging all our progress on this trip with a GPS. Here is the route from each day shown in Google Maps.

The best part of the bike trip: when we get off the bike.