Daily Affirmation

Life on the road is not easy. We have good days and bad days. Blue skies and headwinds. But at the end of everyday we go to bed happy and laugh about the days events and the adventures we have had. Riding across America sounds like a crazy dream, but its been an amazing reality. We look forward to the small things like ice cream breaks, newly paved roads, correct Google directions, tailwinds, Manatee sightings, and Terry bike seats. The best part of all is meeting new people everyday and reuniting with old friends and family. The generosity and hospitality we have been shown throughout our trip has been truly amazing. We have meet so many kind people and families that have bought us dinner, given us a place to stay, offered to help drive the van, donated bike parts, and even strangers giving us donations out of their pockets on the street. This world is full of so many compassionate and kindhearted individuals. So often we rush through our days without remembering what is really important to us and how we can help other people. Thus far this trip has been a true testament to the human spirit and reminded us how acts of kindness can change a persons life.  Thank you to everyone we have met and rode with along the way. We are having the trip of a lifetime because of your support and kindness.

Sweet Home Alabama

Sweet home Alabama, where the skies are blue? Not quite. Nothing but rain and mist riding through Alabama today. After an amazing southern home cooked meal by Joy and Price Kloess in Crestview (best rum cake EVER) we made our way across the state through coal country and tornado warnings. Besides a few wrong turns, loose gravel roads, and dozens of curious dogs out on a lark, we managed to make it to safety and scathe by the torrential rain. The foothills of the Appalachian mountains have not gone unnoticed by our quads. Stephanie will be looking forward to some flat terrain in the near future.

Our fabulous Birmingham hosts, Price and Joy

Amended formation - flying isoceles

Atlanta '96 Olympic soccer stadium

Alabama mountaintop removal


Hundreds of coal trucks

Off roading

Riding into the storm



Taking cover

Posted by: Stephanie



Have you heard of the Silver Comet Trail? Do you know about the Silver Comet Trail? Almost from day 1 of planning this trip, we were perpetually being asked if we would be traveling on the renowned Silver Comet Trail on our route from Atlanta to Birmingham. I can now officially reassure you that we have covered every mile of the fabulous rail-trail that runs for over 60 miles in the last two days. Monday we added the 30+ miles of the Chief Ladiga trail (also rail-trail), which brought us all the way into Anniston, AL.

Early-morning escort group leaving Atlanta (Jeff, Derek, Drago).
Alright, let's review. Sunday morning we had an early and chilly start leaving from Jeff's place in downtown-ish Atlanta. Jett helped the team out once again by leading us and our trusted escorts (pictured above) to the start of the Silver Comet Trail. Once on the trail, we immediately met up with Doug Fallon of Bike Roswell, who had ridden with the crew coming into Atlanta on Friday as well. The trend continued as we connected with a large group of riders from the BikeCobb organization, which we discovered through our great connection Celeste. We had a good group that rode the whole way with us!
BikeCobb biker-gang joins us.

Look at that pack!

We finished our day before lunch since we had gotten such an early start leaving Atlanta, which was perfect timing to stop at another place that had preceeded it's location: Frankie's Italian Restaurant in Rockmart, GA. Frankie lived up to all the wonderful stories we were told about her and the food she serves! Just like us, Frankie is trying to get more people on bikes. On March 31 Frankie's Italian Restaurant, along with many of the other organizations we were in touch with in Georgia, is sponsoring a bicycling social event to kick off the 2012 cycling season. Frankie's Ride to the Border sounds like a lot of fun on the famous Silver Comet Trail.  http://www.brag.org/Frankies.html
Frankie's famous cyclist stop

Scenery of the Silver Comet Trail
On Monday, we continued our trek on the Silver Comet Trail, and crossed another state border into Alabama! From here we'll be going through more than one state a week until we hit Texas. At our lunch stop in Piedmont, AL we met the mayor! We've been told about so many cool cycling events in this region, we'd like to come back some day and participate. Keep up the good work!
End of the Silver Comet Trail, and on to Alabama!

Blinded border warriors - sun in our eyes!
Thank you to our friends Charlie Lattuada and Lisa who took us out to a delicious dinner Monday night and treated us to a Marriott stay in Anniston. The hot tub time last night was much appreciated! On to Birmingham today to see more friends.
Scenic lunch spot in Piedmont, AL

PowerRanger handlebar bags, :)

Steph being crazy, big surprise.
We're honored to have ridden on the Silver Comet/Chief Ladiga Trails.

Posted by Chelsea


Athens and Atlanta

Washington was a rejuvenating stop.  Seems like half the town came out to meet us and everyone was friendly and welcoming. After a restful night at the beautifully restored Fitzpatrick Hotel on the main square (thanks again to Wheel Movement and the owners of the Fitzpatrick!  http://www.thefitzpatrickhotel.com/), we got on the road to the hip college town of Athens, home of University of Georgia.

Thanks to our amazing hosts at the Fitzpatrick in Washington, GA
Thursday was a short day in the saddle.  After lunch we jumped in the van to shuttle Jane and Chelsea to the Atlanta airport.  They managed to beat some crazy wind and weather on their flight to Missouri to attend our Grandpa's memorial service on Friday.  The service was attended by a full house of family and friends and was a wonderful tribute to the life of Glenn Waller.

Jeanie, Stephanie, and Darlene headed from the airport back east to Athens for a reception with Georgia Bikes - a statewide advocacy group - and the local group BikeAthens.  We discussed our trip and some of the bike projects currently underway in the Athens area and across the state, and enjoyed hanging out with local bike enthusiasts.  We had to make a stop at the Grit on a prior recommendation for some delicious vegetarian grub.  Our stellar hosts were Basil and Sky Campbell, members of BikeAthens and owners of a beautiful and very sustainable home on a veritable small farm, complete with bee boxes, solar panels, and an extensive garden.  Their son Dimitri rode all the way to Atlanta with us the next day, and Basil helped us out by driving the van for us in the early part of the day.  Thanks to the whole Campbell family for all you did for us!
RASR with leaders of BikeGeorgia and Bike Athens

It's spring already down south!
Basil's bees were buzzin'

Before leaving Athens on Friday morning we stopped into Barrow Elementary to give our now standard presentation to about 65 4th graders. Stephanie had them so captivated they could hardly hold all their questions to the end! Amazing what 4th graders come up with. After Stephanie told them that our van follows us one kid asked "how does it do that?" Another highlight was in response to our mention of riding through Death Valley one kid asked "has anyone ever died there?" They were all very eager to tell us their own exciting bike-riding stories. Elementary aged kids are so fun. Thanks to Andy Pittman with northeast Georgia SRTS for helping us connect with a local school.

Barrow Elementary 4th graders
Riding into the metropolis of Atlanta on Friday was, as you might expect, eventful.  The first half of the day was spent on rural roads out of Athens, riding headlong into gusty 20 mph winds and a few short rain showers.  As we reached the Atlanta suburbs the roads got progressively bigger and busier and the drivers seemed to get angrier!  We did our best to stay in a tight group and take the lane as is our custom when there's no bike lane or shoulder, and survived.  After 5 miles of detour thanks to yet another google maps hiccup we met Doug Fallon of BikeRoswell who did an expert job of leading us through the exciting streets of downtown Atlanta.  We met our gracious Atlanta host Jeffrey Wisard, member of the Atlanta Bike Coalition, a couple of miles from his place for the home stretch.

Thanks Basil for driving for us and Dimitri for riding to Atlanta!

In memory of Grandpa

It was an exhausting day - 75 miles in strong winds and on lots of busy roads - so we were relieved to finally make it to Jeff's and refuel with a large and delicious italian dinner with Jett, also of the ABC, and his wife Beth (Jett and Beth were winners and 20th anniversary grand finalists on America's Funniest Videos - so cool!  Check it out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2O15DXv3Vwg).  Thanks Jett and Beth!

Awesome dinner with Jett, Beth, and Jeff at Osteria

Yesterday was our day off in Atlanta and Jeff was an amazing host.  He made us an excellent breakfast, let us take over his place for our weekly cleanup tasks, introduced us to lots of awesome biking friends and ABC members, and toured us around downtown on bikes.  We had dinner and a meet and greet with ABC, topped off with a bit of late night dancing to keep our legs moving on our day off.  It was great meeting all of the ABC members that came out - thanks for supporting us and our cause!
Jeff making amazing carrot cake pancakes

Typical day off - bike shop, van cleaning, laundry
Sadly, our day off was bittersweet because we had to bid farewell to our dear team member Darlene.  We will miss her endless sunshine and photography skills every day henceforth.  Keep on rolling Dar and we'll see you in California.  It'll be another first for the books.

Week 4 begins with the famous Silver Comet Trail and three short-ish days to Birmingham.  We've already celebrated mile 1,000 and are at just about the quarter point in our trip.  Hard to believe - time has flown - though it also seems like we have done so much and met so many people already.  And almost without realizing it we're getting really strong and the miles and hills are getting easier.


Heading west yet?

After a nice rest in Walterboro we rode 90 miles, our longest day yet, to Columbia South Carolina. We spent the night with Rachael and Mike Bronson and their three animals Jack, Daisy and Nu-nu.  Rachael works for the Palmetto Bike Coalition and was gracious to put us up for the night. You were wonderful hosts, thanks for letting our bikes and crew take over your home. 

On our route we encountered our first big hills, which everyone just loves (except for Stephanie, being from Illinois and all). However, catching speed on the way down those hills is something we can all appreciate and enjoy (see Geico commercial of the little piggy- wee weee weeeeee).

In Colombia we visited Leaphart Elementary School and talked to over 400 students about bike safety.  They were a very enthusiastic and attentive audience. What a great bunch of students you have there. Thanks to Principle Dr. Gary, Vice Principle Kelly Brown for having us, and Nicole Brown with Safe Routes to School to help Coordinate.

It was a quick visit to South Carolina and we are back in Georgia. We met an amazing character named Martin Cochran, AKA "Gator" when we got near Augusta. We would like to hire him to be our tour agent. He hooked us up in Augusta and has spoiled the team. Thanks Gator for everything you set up for us... a scrumptious dinner, police escort, hotel accommodations, tour guide, school connection, and the list goes on and on and on. You're off the chain. 

Thanks to Gator we had quite the eventful schedule for the 12 hours that we were in Augusta. Thanks Wheel Movement and Augusta Greenway members for meeting and chatting with us that night even though we were cold and hungry, you were all very understanding.
 The team had our first high school event at Richmond Academy to talk about bike safety and bike touring. First period is rough for a high school student but I think they liked us and asked some great questions.   

Another BIG THANK YOU to Brett at OutSpokin Bicycle shop for donating some gear to Ride America For Safe Routes. We appreciate your services so much, you have an awesome store. It was the perfect morning to ride along the canal and have you bike with us. Thanks to Phil Cohen from Chain Reaction Bikes for leading us all day and Doyce, Dave, Dickie, and Connor for riding with us.

It was a perfect day's ride from Augusta to Washington Georgia. Washington is the cutest little town outside of Athens. The townspeople were so friendly and welcoming. Thank you Washington Chamber of Commerce for dinner at the Jockey across the street from our beautiful Fitzgerald Hotel. We all slept so well and wish we had more time to spend in this wonderful town!! 
Super dog - dock diving comp in Charleston
Dinner in Charleston with Linda Crabbe
Our hosts Ron and Debbie with their granddaughters
Our first big hills

Columbia Three Rivers Greenway

Rachael's Great Pyrenees dog/horse Jack

Captive audience at Leaphart Elementary
The "flying square" - our typical riding formation

Talking with high schoolers at Richmond Academy

Top notch service at Outspokin'!

Third, and best, police escorts

First Baptist Church in GA and scenic lunch spot

lovin' the open road

Darlene's got style

Thanks to Dave and Dickie for riding with us all day

Tonight's home - the Fitzpatrick

Posted by Stephanie