Jessi's Ride Daily Blog
March 30, 2015 - Headed out to Jackson. It seems to be the flat tire season. I had 2 punctures. The first was caused by the running over of half of a clear vodka bottle that was visible only with a glint of sunshine 0.07 seconds prior to impact. The second was my fault. Despite a thorough check of the inside surfaces of my tire a tiny shard of glass remained undetected in my tire from the first puncture. So that was fun.
Glad to be back in a few hills. Flat roads are nice for a while, but the miles don't go by quickly. This is counter to what the non-cycling public thinks would be the case. Adding to the slowness of the roadway and winds, is this bike, meant for two, that does not go so fast with just one rider on it. My average speed is up 3 to 3.5 mph from the first two weeks abysmal 10.5 mph. That means I am getting stronger, but the improvement is small and slow! With only one rider there are inherent inefficiencies in a two-person bike. But, that is what it is about. Life is inherently inefficient on one's own.
Last night I had dinner with one of Jessi's best friends, Sue Junkin, and her family. It was terrific to see familiar faces and get updates on them. Food was great and I thank them for their generosity.
March 28, 2015 - Had an uneventful arrival into Baton Rouge. Roads were rough, traffic was bad, but I made it in one piece. No one was there from the media, though some of my team had contacted all of the television stations and told them about the ride. There were no people there, either. When I started this, I had the idea that there would be arrival rallies teeming with supporters, media and sponsors. The reality of it is far more low key.
March 25, 2015 - Cycling is an individual sport. But, man, does it get lonely when you are out there day after day (after day after day)! I had the slightest of tailwinds today, which helped push me along with less than the accustomed difficulty. However, I got a much bigger push...I was able to ride with someone today!
I met up with Mike Breedlove, a super nice guy vacationing in the Florida Panhandle from Indiana. There is nothing better than sharing the road with a fellow cyclist. Mike and I talked of all things--and nothing--and I like to think it left us both more satisfied with our day on the bike. I know it made MY day. Later, I was able to have dinner with Mitchell and Samantha Williamson, old family friends.
I know what you are all thinking. "Man, that Art...he must be having a great time riding along the beach! How beautiful!" And, yes, you would be right...for the first fifty miles, anyway. The thing you learn about bike riding is that you pay far more attention to the weather than you do in normal, commuting-by-car life. Wind is the biggest factor. All things being equal, the wind can turn a beautiful, sunny day into a nice looking version of hell! I wish I were kidding.
Add to that, the perpetual flatness of most seaside (well, Gulfside) roads, and you have a double whammy. I have a good friend who grew up on the shores of Lake Erie near Buffalo. It is as flat there as in Florida. He always claimed the bike riding in both places was much more difficult than in hilly places like North Carolina. I did not believe him. Now I do!
From a work standpoint, a headwind turns a flat road into an uphill. Imagine a fifty mile long climb. That is a headwind. You can only get so aerodynamic! Settling into an aero position on the bike makes for an increase in speed at the price of a corresponding decrease in comfort. Your pelvis tilts on the saddle, making a new painful spot. You back is stretched flat. Your wrists and elbows take a lot more weight. It's not as much fun as you might think!
I am saying this, of course, in part to deflect the comments from people who are following Jessi's Ride who are saying that I am the luckiest guy in the world to be riding along the Gulf Coast. I will look back on this gorgeous stretch of road in the future and say how lovely it was. For now, I will be staring at my front wheel, a little section of pavement, and my handlebars, on which is mounted my odometer that is slowly, slowly ticking off the miles.
March 21, 2015 - Phew! Even though I am a North Carolinian and currently live on my bike, I have to admit that my arrival in Florida had the real feeling of a homecoming. Waiting for me in Tallahassee were my daughters, Lyndle and Kellen. It was fantastic to see them after a long day of pedaling. Although I am a day behind schedule, I am feeling more confident and stronger each day. Warmer weather certainly contributes to my positive attitude...gone are the days where I couldn't feel my fingers and toes! After some much needed rest and some fuel for the body and soul, I will be heading off to Baton Rouge, LA, on March 23rd.
March 17, 2014 - Today, somewhere in the wilds of Alabama, I reached the first HUGE milestone of the trip: 1000 miles from the start in Washington, DC. That's about 6+% of the total miles and about 6+% of the total climbing. Oh, and 10% of state Capitols.
I wish I knew how many pedal strokes that might be. A lot, anyway. Tomorrow is a rest day, which I have to admit I am looking forward to with pleasure.
What will I do on my day off? Eat. Yes, I plan to eat about 7000 calories spread over the course of the day. I need to get some energy into the body and stored up so I can keep going!
So far, the biggest downside has been the lack of people showing up at the arrivals. With luck--and a little help from our Facebook friends--maybe we can get some people to come out to say hi when I roll into Tallahassee!
March 16, 2015 - The countryside of the Southeastern US is, in a word, breathtaking. And I don't mean it in the sense that I couldn't breathe! It is truly gorgeous scenery to pedal through. Being a son of the South, I feel I am connecting with my roots in a way that is far more tactile and meaningful than simply driving through it. Spring begins earlier here and is settling into its own rhythms as I am settling into mine on the bike. the rolling hills are far better than long, grueling climbs and the warmer weather is far and away preferable to the dog sled conditions in which I started out!
My health is improved but I still feel a bit sluggish. I stop more frequently. When you exercise, you are really burning up yesterday's stored energy. You deplete your muscle glycogen that is then replenished by food. You don't run on spaghetti and protein shakes, despite what many people will tell you. I am depleted from being ill. It takes a bit of time to get that glycogen store back up.
Meanwhile, I am still working fairly hard, so the tank is slow to fill. As I become more efficient in form and muscular function, this will improve, too. Going from fairly sedentary to really active in a short amount of time was a lot harder than I expected. My mind still thinks I have the resiliency of an 18 year-old. But, when I think of it, at 18 this would have been hard, too!
I hope to see some people at the finish today in Montgomery. It would be a great feeling to meet a throng at the close of this difficult week of pedaling.
March 15, 2015 - Despite two weeks of working out more than is typical for me, I found sleep elusive. I suppose that lack of rest contributed to my falling ill over the weekend.
Fortunately, I was only down for a day or so and I've been back on the bike moving toward tomorrow's stop in Montgomery Alabama. The frigid temperatures of the past three days have given way too sunny, warm weather that has been delightful for riding. While I feel fine, I am still a bit off my game. I am a little weak, and I stopped for food and hydration more often than I have in the past. On the upside, I am certain this will be a short-lived circumstance.
I find I am much happier pedaling on the flats. Uphill is still a bit of a challenge, particularly today. As has been said many times, I'm a big guy and gravity works overtime on me!
If you take a look at the schedule on jessiesride.com, you will notice that I am one day behind where I am supposed to be. That will continue until at least Tallahassee, Florida.
My mindset today was simply to keep on pedaling. I'm sure that tomorrow will be the same. I am looking forward to my arrival in Montgomery!
March 12, 2015 - The flu has struck the Jessi's Ride! Ironically, the ride that is all about wellness is being slowed by illness today! Art is sick. We will keep you posted on plans. He needs to rest, eat some chicken soup, and drink lots of fluids! Get well soon, Art!
March 11, 2015 - Life has its ups and downs. The road to Atlanta is like life. I climbed about 3000 feet, up and down hills, on the way to the Georgia capital. It felt like UP, mostly.
Traveling outside the radius of the Columbia news stations returned me to the ranks of the anonymous. I was just another 53 year-old riding his red, white and blue tandem--alone--in the Georgia countryside. Not typical, certainly, but still anonymous. And that wasn't so bad, really. I concentrated on my riding, which is a delightful way to focus.
My body is responding positively to the miles on the bike. My legs, core and shoulders all feel stronger. My fitness is improved. I wish the positive changes were more apparent externally but I think the final before-and-after pictures will tell a different tale!
Tomorrow, I arrive in Atlanta. Surprisingly, it is the highest point in the ride until I reach Santa Fe, NM. But, I like to think of every day as the high point!
March 10, 2015 - Riding the backroads of America can be perilous. Not everyone is thrilled to see a bike sharing the pavement. You never know when you venture out even on a short trip near your home if the drivers will be accepting of you. Here are some stories from today:
I stopped to have a drink and a stretch on a roadside in South Carolina. A truck pulls over. I was concerned that he may be one of those drivers who doesn't appreciate the skinny bike taking up part of his lane. This driver told me he had seen me riding, passed me, and driven on thinking about it before turning around to speak with me. He said he had seen me on television the night before and that he was impressed with the story, the mission, and the expression of love. He was in the first stages of a new relationship and wanted to always do the right thing. Sometimes, the right thing outlives the relationship. I could have stopped riding right then knowing the story of Jessi and me and our ride touched someone.
Good thing I didn't, because 90 minutes later while stopped for another stretch, I was approached by someone else who had seen me on the news. This was at a small shop, and several of his co-workers came out and we took photos.
Last night, after finishing riding, I returned to the car to get some items. I was stopped by a utility worker who said that one of his crew had seen me on the news. Handshakes all around, a fist bump, and one guy took photos of the Jessi's Ride magnet on the side of the car. Who does that? I can tell you who: people who took time out of their day to be touched by something outside themselves, something that has absolutely nothing to do with them.
Or does it have everything to do with them? I am starting to sense that big things--long journeys, especially--really resonate with people. Whether they see it as a physical journey or a philosophical or emotional one, the human condition somehow makes us all cognizant of the process of moving from one place to another. And it is the reasons behind the move that become the glue that holds together not only the story itself but also the audience that hears it. I love being a part of that.
My truck-driving friend today was on the first leg of his journey. I am on the first legs of mine. You all are joining in the journey, because journeys are not just physical. I am so glad to have taken you all with me.
Okay, I admit it DOES help to have been on the three big news channels the night before.
One tragic incident to report. Well, tragic may be a bit of an overstatement but I guarantee 90% of you will agree this is tragic: my cell phone was crushed on the road. It's like losing a limb! Worse, I am disconnected from Map My Tracks, which is how the news channels found me. So, please bear with me as I try to find a remedy quickly!
March 9, 2015 - REST DAY! I need a rest, and this is the day for it!!!
March 8, 2015 - The arrival in Columbia, SC, was the best at any capitol so far! On the way, we were contacted by several news agencies and the local ABC affiliate positioned himself along the way to take video of my approach to Columbia. They led with the story on the evening news. Jessi's Ride was also featured in two other local newscasts as the third or fourth story, which is still pretty darned good.
I will post more about the ride into Columbia shortly!
March 6, 2015 - Just a quick update. THIS was a great day. Did a bunch of miles, met great people, felt great, no personal undercarriage problems, bike performed flawlessly and i was able to move down the highway with a little more speed. 2 more big days to get to Columbia on time. Oh, and the word is indeed getting out. I was recognized by a gentleman from the TV news reporting from Raleigh. More later.
There is actually nothing like warming your ties by a real fire. We forget the pure pleasure of the flickering light and the waves if warmth that emanate from burning logs. It is a primal pleasure, and one that I was fortunate enough to experience at the Cornerstone Grill on Coats, NC.
After that, I went to the Wade town hall to meet with mayor Joe Dixon and Town Clerk Cindy Burchett. Joe had seen the report on Jessi's Ride on the news a couple of nights before from the arrival rally. I would love to say that my fame precedes me but that would be overreaching. A lot!
The day was cold but dry, which let me ride without the humidity-enhancing effect of a jacket. I am one if those guys who perspires a lot, so being trapped in a jacket even in the coldest day makes me feel more like I am swimming than cycling.
March 5, 2015 - Even with "wicking" clothing on, being buttoned up (well, zippered up) inside a series of shirts, jerseys, and a raincoat makes for a humid experience. And when you get wet while riding into a strong, cold headwind, you take on the characteristics of that cold wind! I was freezing!
Fortunately, though, the weather improved until I was riding in an idyllic, mostly windless 75-degree day. Fantastic for cycling! For the first time, I was ahead of schedule. I arrived at the Old State Capitol an had time to chat with those people who made it out to welcome me home. I would be lying if I said I wasn't a bit disappointed that more old friends and colleagues didn't show up. It would have been wonderful to share the moment with you all. I hope that, as we go along, we can get more smiling, happy people to join us at the welcome rallies.
I flip-flopped my days off so that I might take Thursday as a rest day. It will give me a chance to bask in the warm glow of my hometown before setting off to the south. I noticed that the Krispy Kreme location that I used to visit as a kid is still in business. I think a brief tour is in order...
March 4, 2015 - With the tandem in need of repairs, I took to the road on my triathlon bike. I know this is not the way the ride is supposed to go, but I hope everyone will forgive me for not using the tandem when it's not functioning properly. At least I am pedaling and moving forward!
Moore's Bicycle Shop did the repairs on the tandem for free. The link to their FB page is below. Please check them out and, if you need a bike in the Rocky Mount area please check them out! They were terrific!
I noticed that my perch bones did not hurt on the trip-bike. When back on the tandem, I switched the narrower tri seat over and magically I feel better. A small difference (about a centimeter) in saddle width translated into a lot of pain. You'd think the larger the seat the more comfort it would bring, but that is another counter intuitive aspect of the bike world.
I arrived at the my stopping point after a reasonably good day of riding. The temperature reached about 39 degrees, which made for messy roads. My rear tire kicked up a rooster tail of gunk that landed on my back, making it look like a Jackson Pollock painting. The bike and I had a bath—separately, of course—and my clothes were washed. By the end of the day I was good as new!
March 3, 2015 - Yesterdays ride was wonderfully uneventful. After painful sit bones, icicles forming on my nose, a stuck derailleur, slippery roads, and wintry winds, having nothing to report is a really good thing!
Tomorrow is a big day, however. I return to my home state and home town!!! I hope to have a big (relatively, anyway) arrival rally in Raleigh. Please, tell anyone you know who might be interested and get them to come out. The size of the crowd indicates to the media how important the ride is to the people who matter: you, me, anyone who knows or has known anyone with cancer.
Here is info:
RALEIGH WELCOME ARRIVAL RALLY
Come out for a Hometown Welcome at the Old State Capitol in Raleigh.
This will be an informal welcome ceremony where we will celebrate life, talk and answer questions about the trip so far and the expectations for the remaining 14000+ miles. We will talk about Jessi's brave and inspiring cancer story but also want to learn about other inspiring cancer stories.
If you have Facebook Friends that live in the Raleigh Area and are not following 'Jessi's Ride', now is the time to invite them and get them to the event. Let's get as many people there as possible!
It will begin at 530p on the South Side of the Old State Capitol in Raleigh. The GPS address is "1 E Edenton St, Raleigh, NC 27601", however we will be gathering on the South Side facing Fayetteville Street. At that hour there should be plenty of parking available. Afterward Art, crew and others are going to 42nd Street Oyster bar for a well deserved Dinner. Reservations at 630. If you would care to join us please make your reservations and reference 'Whiting'.
On Thursday Morning Art will be leaving from the Capitol at 900am.
March 2, 2015 - Riding through the Middle Atlantic states is like moving through history. Street signs read like the bolded text in social studies books: battlefields, great buildings, cities and towns. The distances between notable locations are European in their proximity to one another. Still, on roads covered with a thick layer of ice, even a few miles is impossible to manage on the skinny wheels of a road bike.
While I am making historical associations, I should say that the Wright Brothers made bicycles and airplanes. Both are grounded when the weather is icy. So, Sunday turned out to be an unexpected day of rest for the Jessi's Ride crew (all two of us).
I was blessed to be able to visit the Christian Life Church in Chester, VA. Pastor Dennis Lacheney made me feel at home, was wonderfully warm and supportive of what we are trying to do on Jessi's Ride, and transmitted his enthusiasm to the congregation. What a terrific group of people! Jessi was always buoyed by her faith and she would have been thrilled by the outpouring of love from the group in Chester. Thank you so much for the welcome!
On a side note, the rear derailleur on the tandem feels it necessary to remain locked on the large cog (that is the smallest gear, by the way...it is counter intuitive, I know). I have to get that fixed ASAP or I will be moving along at a snail's pace for the remainder of the ride. And when I say "snail's pace," I actually mean the speed of a common snail. When I pedaled as fast as possible, I went no quicker than 8.5 mph. When you do the math, you will see that that will cause Jessi's Ride to continue through the next century!
February 27, 2015 - End-of-week commuters and cold made the end of Friday's ride miserable! I had to cut it short or risk getting squished in the rush hour traffic. I had no idea how exhausting bicycling is in the cold. Many of my cycling friends ride rollers (three tubes of plastic connected by bands that cause the rollers to rotate on a metal frame). Most of the say it is akin to a medieval torture but preferable to pedaling hours in wintery weather. I didn't believe them! Ha! Hyperbole, I said! No, they assured me it was true. I am a believer now. I am really looking forward to the day when I can ride without countless layers of wicking clothing, making me the size of a small SUV.
On a positive note, the temperature will creep above freezing tomorrow, so that will be a little like riding in the tropics compared to the past few days!
February 26, 2015 - The day started with a blanket of snow. I love the look of freshly fallen snow on a landscape. City or country, it is beautiful. That said, I would rather look at it than ride in it! I got a late start due to temperature and bad riding conditions, but once moving I felt great!
Finally out of the stop-and-go city traffic, I was able to settle in and find my groove. I even missed a turn because I was having such fun pedaling without having to unclip from my pedals at every stoplight. Farm fields are a welcome change from concrete and buildings, and I felt a profound sense of peace.
Technical problems are detracting from the joy of riding. My new GPS unit doesn't seem to want to work and my cell phone's built-in GPS is getting confused. It may be affecting our progress on MapYourTracks, but we will get that ironed out shortly.
Today I learned that:
• Neoprene booties over cycling shoes are a life (and toe) saver!
• Cold weather riding is really tough. My bike racing friends all say it gets old fast and I believe them!
• Electronics take the fun out of riding. I kind of long for the days when getting on my bike meant I could disconnect from electronics.
February 25, 2015 - Every journey starts with just one step, they say. Today, I took the first step—or pedal strokes—on this journey called Jessi's Ride. It was cold. The nation's capital was covered with snow. It was windy. And, somehow, the roads seemed to tilt upward no matter where I went. But it was great to finally be on my way—on our way, really, because I am sure Jessi was on the bike with me. I just wish she had pedaled a little harder, especially on the 13% grades!
Life is full of lessons, and travel often seems larger than life in many ways. Here are the lessons I took away from the start of Jessi's Ride:
• The small sendoff on the east side of the US Capitol was the perfect start to the ride. I had the opportunity to chat with my Representative from North Carolina, George Holding, and his staff.
• Weather is like a math equation: 28 degrees – 10 MPH headwind - 15 MPH forward speed = ridiculous cold
• The road is almost always uphill, and when it isn't there is a headwind.
• There is a reason there are no sports where bikes are raced on ice. I spent a lot of energy today keeping upright while battling an evil combination of ice, gravity and wind that were conspiring to pull me to the earth.
• The George Washington Parkway is not usable by bikes. Legally, that is.
• The Greenway bike paths are not plowed, making them physically unusable by bikes. Twenty minutes on them proved that a dogsled would be a better mode of transport.
• The George Washington Parkway, despite the prohibition on bikes, was the safer and better choice for riding on this day.
It was a hard slog. In spite of the weather and road conditions, the tandem performed beautifully. It's a lot of bike on slippery surfaces but it operated well and got me from the Capitol to a hot bath and good meal at the end of the day. Tomorrow's forecast is for more foul weather. We will have to see how that affects our forward momentum in the morning.
The client was on a bicycle ride to all 48 contiguous states in honor of his late wife. Daily info was sent to me each night and and I turned it into blog posts by 9am EST. People all around the country checked in daily to keep up with the rider and the blog inspired many news articles and television spots.