Looking Back, Looking Ahead [news]

02/16/2010 | Comments: 0 | Categories:

It is 0700 here, in Plano, TX. Clint is sleeping soundly, perhaps dreaming of future Solo adventures or his new bike or any number of things that an eighteen year old boy dreams of. I have brewed a pot of coffee and am enjoying the aroma as it fills the hotel room that we are in. Coffee in bed, a true luxury.

Thanks to our hosts, Ben and Sherri, Clint and I are feeling like kings as we enjoy the comforts of the Days Inn for our stay in Plano.

Clint and I have been on the road now for almost sixteen weeks. We departed Rockland on a beautiful Sunday morning and that afternoon we had our first evening meal of the trip, pasta and leftover red clam sauce, seems a lifetime ago.

The first month of our cross-country journey saw us biking through the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Clint and I along with our dear friend and month long team member, Jo, will long remember the days leading up to the Kankamugus pass, the reaching of the summit after four long hours and the great run down into Lincoln,NH. This was the first, of many challenges, that we would encounter and conquer. Route 118 the next day. None of us will forget that tortuous ride to Warren.

Spending a few days at my sisters home and having a "Rambothon". The beautiful days ride along the Merrimac River and our stay in Marblehead, complete with a cocktail party and fundraiser. These memories will also stay with us.

The Woonsocket dynamites, the Big Apple store and the roller coaster ride of Connecticut will not soon beforgotten as well as our stay with our friends in East Haddem and the police officer who woke Clint and I up during a rainstorm and told us to move on.

Pine Plains, New York City, Centrel Park super models and friends on Staten Island. Gifts of food and people welcoming us into their home. Camping beside the road and in makeshift shelters. The Outer Banks. Sleeping in church fellowship halls and the kindness of strangers, Christmas with friends in South Carolina, the flu and New Years bonfire. All this engraved in our memories.

The two week "cold Snap" that stayed with us through Georgia and Alabama and the wonderful people that made us feel so very warm during that time.

Riding the Trace into Natchez and our stay at the Twin Oaks B&B. Crossing the Mississippi and being fortunate to be given shelter for the night from James and his wife. The Catfish was great, as well as the hot breakfast. Rain, rain and more rain.

All that and so much more. We now find ourselves In Plano, TX. Clint's bike is being cleaned and relubed and mine is in the shop getting worn parts replaced. All this for the next part of our journey, The Great American West.

We have heard stories about what awaits us. "Nothing west of Dallas but fence posts and barbed wire", "Just Tumble weeds till the Rocky Mountains." We are so looking forward to this. In part because of the wet weather that we have had for so long and also we feel the need for a drastic change in senery. With the record snow fall here in Texas it looks as if we never left New England.

Selma to Montgomery [news]

01/23/2010 | Comments: 0 | Categories:

An hours ride by car, days ride by bike, and if you are marching it, it takes several days. At one time Route 80, or the "Dixie Highway", ran from Tybee Island, South Carolina to San Diego, California. It has seen many events along its thousands of miles of asphalt. It now no longer spans the country but finds it's terminus in Dallas, Texas.

The route between Selma to Montgomery is around fifty miles, but the route itself is as historically important as the bridge at Lexington and Concord, Reeds Hill near Boston, and Valley Forge. In March of 1965 a group of African-Americans marched from Selma to Montgomery to address their grievances and demand the freedom to register to vote; They were going to exercise that right.

It could be argued that until the Voting Rights Act of 1965, as a country we could not truly call ourselves a Democratic Republic. If even one person is unlawfully denied the right to choose the people who will represent them, we have failed democracy. This was true then and it is true now, the definition has not changed.

The history of 'Bloody Sunday','Turn around Tuesday', and the subsequent march to the capitol are well recorded so I will not go into details. Read, Learn, and Understand.

It was a mild sunny day when Clint and I rode the historic route, now one of America's Byways. We made a stop at White Hall and toured the Interpretive Center there. The presentation there was very well done and a must see to anyone.

We arrived in Selma later that same day with plans to talk with the local media and represent our trip. We also intended to ride through town and before dusk right out to find a campsite. Just before crossing the famed Edmund Pettus bridge we toured the Voting Rights Museum. The museum was newly located and was not finished at the time, it did not include all exhibits. The staff there was great and both Clint and I came away with a better perspective, however, we had only just begun to learn.

When it came time to cross the bridge we decided that we should walk rather than ride. Not as much for the safety but more for the experience.

The city of Selma, like many cities in the U.S., has gone from boom to bust and back again numerous times. A wide main street with mostly brick buildings on both sides. Some open and some closed but I had a good feeling about this town and feel that it will soon be a boom town again.

We met with a reporter from the local paper and even had the opportunity to have photos taken with his honor, the mayor. As much as we wanted to stay and explore (Selma has a large historic district), we needed to find a campsite for the night.

Just as we were about to leave we were told about the Everyman Café and bookstore, and the owner, Nancy, and that it might be possible to stay there for the night.

While standing outside the beautiful Jackson Hotel, we met Frank Diaz, who, as luck would have it, was camping out at that same café we had just been informed about.

We walked over and found the ourselves in a very eclectic book/music/art/café. Nancy soon arrived and after talking with us decided we were good people and gave us a place on the floor to call home for the night.

Both Frank and Nancy played guitars and with Clint at the piano we soon had an informal jam session! They played well past my bed time and I fell asleep with the sound of Clont and Frank playing away. It was a great day.

The Old Capitol [news]

01/08/2010 | Comments: 0 | Categories:

We pulled into Milledgeville and stopped in for a visit at the local bike shop, Oconee Outfitters.  Andy, the owner,  is a nice young man and even though we were not there to buy anything he was just as happy to hear about our trip and talk shop.     A place to access the internet was our next stop as we needed to retrieve phone numbers of our contact in Milledgeville. The local coffee house gave us both the opportunity to go on line but also a chance to warm up some before heading back out.  I should also mention that Clint and I are still wearing shorts and most people here must think we are a little crazy, and they may be right.

Milledgeville, Georgia was the state capitol from 1806 to 1868  One of the earlier "planned" cities, it borrowed its design from both Savannah and Washington D.C.  Though early travelers to the city were unimpressed and complained of the overcrowding of the inns and the number of brothels, this would change with the coming of the cotton boom.  Wealth and prosperity transformed Milledgeville and attracted the attention of some of the leading architects of the day such as Daniel Pratt and John Marlor.   Also built during this time was the new state penitentiary and the Georgia Lunatic Asylum, now the central State Hospital.

During the Civil war, General Sherman  ransacked Milledgeville and during the reconstruction the capitol was moved to Atlanta.  The prison and hospital remained and until recently have been the largest employer but recent downsizing is causing Milledgeville to look elsewhere for revenue.  It is a fine location for bike riding and once again it's location along the Oconee river may be its salvation as a destination for kayakers and canoeists.

Clint and I spent the weekend in Milledgeville and wish to thank Dr. Call for being such a kind host.  It was well below normal temperatures during our stay and we were both glad to be in a warm home and sleeping in real beds.

The Sunny South [news]

01/07/2010 | Comments: 0 | Categories:

The sun is out, and the sky is a  bright blue, but the thermometer is showing little signs of moving much beyond freezing.   An Alberta clipper has dipped far into the southern states and even Miami Florida is feeling its grip.  We spent last night camped off highway    just a few hours ride from Milledgeville,GA.   It was warmer that evening than it had been in a few weeks and Clint and I, rather than immediately crawling into our sleeping bags after eating,  brewed a pot of tea and munched on ginger snap cookies while talking about the bike trip,future bike trips and future bikes.  Soon the efforts of the day caught up with us and after a few yawns we wished each other a good nights sleep and we turned in.

As predicted, a cold front came during the night and with it some light hail.  We had heard rumors of possible snow but when we peeked out of our tents the next morning it was as we had left it the night before.  Colder now though and the insides of our tents were covered in frost from the accumulation of moisture from our own exhalations.  We dressed in our tents trying carefully not to touch the sides lest we loosen the frost  and create our own personal snow globes.

A hot breakfast of grits and tea before setting out for the day.  Once again the sun was out but it was as cold a morning as we have had so far this trip and the coldest days ride to date.  The down hill runs that we both enjoy now became numbingly cold and it was an effort just keeping our eyes open.