Thursday, March 24, 2011
A Day in the Life
So I'm sitting here on the side of the road waiting for Adam to backtrack five miles to try and find his Leatherman tool that we left at the last flat tire spot. It's a pretty spot by a fence with a grove of trees with Wisteria growing on them, a sight we see often here in Georgia.
We've been hauling lately. And we have been riding through some pretty awesome terrain. We made it to the gulf coast, rode over bridges, found some national parks to enjoy, and have been taking beautiful roads all throughout Georgia.
It's almost overwhelming having all these choices of roads now, but these farm roads of Georgia have been so nice. However, each of the last two weeks we biked around 450 miles and we kept forgetting to take a day off so I am glad for the little break.
In terms of events, the past few weeks have been fairly... well... uneventful. When looking for inspiration on what to blog about this week, we received a message from a friend who had just gotten his haircut which got him thinking about us. I guess that sounds pretty funny, but it's actually really logical. Most people take for granted the fact that when they want a haircut, they drive to the local hair dresser and get one. So while Eric was getting his haircut, he started thinking about what we do if we need a haircut. Do we schedule this in every six weeks? This question was the first of many that rattled off in his brain and eventually made their way to us through a Facebook message. I liked the idea for a blog! So here it is.
I guess we'll start with haircuts. As for me, I actually thought of this before I left CT and got it cut super short, knowing that by the end of the year, it'll be back to normal length. No need to burden myself with getting a haircut. But you ask anyone who knows us and you'll find that Adam is much more high maintenance than I am. We have had to stop to get Adam's hair cut once while in Little Rock. We were about to do a school presentation and had a free morning and a hair salon down the road so we took advantage. I think he even got a massage out of the whole deal... Hmmmmm.
Besides riding our bikes all day, we actually have seriously full schedules. Mornings are fairly routine and we get up around 7:00, get into our cycling gear, make some oatmeal, plug in a Track My Tour, then pack up the tent and bikes.
If we're motivated, we can do all of this in one and a half hours but honestly, it usually takes at least two. We try to ride for a good two hours before a break but we always find reasons to stop. A flat will set us back fifteen minutes. A seemingly quick water fill-up gets us off the bike for a good twenty minutes (we can't seem to go anywhere with people around without being drawn into conversation). Or one of my seven bathroom breaks of the day gives us a reason to stop. I try to avoid stopping too often because Adam has a knack for pushing every stop we take to the fullest extent. I don't know how many minutes I've spent waiting for him to clean his sunglasses on this trip. I think it's just a ploy to get that one extra minute of rest.
When we take breaks, whether it be lunch or just to get off the bike for a few minutes, we fill up our time on the iPhone. Most of the time we'll actually be working by answering an email, checking comments from our posts, posting a picture on Facebook, or planning our next presentation, but we've both been caught playing games. I just recently kicked my little brother's butt at Chess With Friends.
Seriously, though, we are constantly planning. First off, we need to plan our route. We met up with a couple from Amsterdam on the road one day and they had plugged into their GPS their entire route from Florida to California. Sometimes I think it would have been so nice if we had done the same thing but the truth of the matter is, as frustrating as it can be sometimes, we enjoy figuring it out as we go. We like to hear from the locals the best roads to take and leave some wiggle room for changing course if we have a presentation in a city off our path.
We have some amazing people willing to helping us to set up events, namely Julie Wartell from pubQuest.com. She's always on the lookout for a good pub or brewery in a place we're heading through that might be a good spot for a fundraising event. Whenever we get wi-fi, which we can get at lunch spots, some gas stations, or coffee shops if we're lucky, we try to look up bike shops and bike advocacy groups in cities we're heading towards to try for some help with an event. Sometimes we're lucky like in Tulsa when Mike Schooling got back to us and we ended up having an event at a bike shop, two T.V. Interviews, and a great place to crash for a few days. Other times, we never hear back from anyone and we just keep on keepin on. We've been really fortunate to have Megan, a student at Providence College, as our PR intern and she helps us get in contact with local media and other bike shops and groups to spread the word about an event we have set up.
Another thing we have to plan is our meals. Oddly enough, while I hated going grocery shopping at home, it is probably one of my favorite things to do on the trip. Maybe because it's something that reminds me of normalcy. We'll try for a bigger visit to the store once every three or four days and we'll stock up on peanut butter, oatmeal, dried cranberries, almonds, spinach, tuna fish packets, tortillas, pasta or rice, and gatorade powder. I actually had a woman comment to me on how healthy I was eating when she saw my grocery basket!
Whenever we go into a store, Adam stays outside with the bikes and I'll be the one to run in and grab what we need. I like figuring out what we eat and Adam likes the extra time to play on his iPhone so it works out well. He'll eat whatever I buy him, anyway. Sometimes we do things like splurge for a hamburger meal and we both have to go inside. Our rule is to never leave our bikes in a place where we can't see them. To us, it's more than just a bike, it's our entire life. We'll either lock them up in front of a window so we can see them from inside, or we'll ask someone in a restaurant or store if we can bring them in.
The biggest difference between how we grocery shop and how you grocery shop is in what we do with the food after we buy it. After our Wal-Mart grocery shopping the other day, we sat on a bench and one of the workers laughed at us separating all of the groceries into Zip-Lock bags for easier packing.
Besides our big grocery store stops, we are constantly hitting up the road side fruit stands like Joanne and Larry's here,
...or little convenience stores for refills on bread, those little mayo packets, ice cream, or anything, really, and if it's towards the end of the day, some sort of meat to cook up for dinner. Sometimes though, if we're really hungry, that darn fried chicken calls to us and we have to grab a little snack.
As for knowing where we'll be spending the night, it's always a toss up. Sometimes we know there's a great campsite 60 miles away and we shoot for that. Other times, there doesn't seem to be anything and when we ride into a town close to dark, we have to scramble around to find a park, church, or a nice person to invite us over. We usually try to avoid places with these signs, though.
When talking to other touring cyclists, they would mention camping off the side of the road somewhere, but Adam and I have found that we like camping in legal spots more than just setting up somewhere. We can more easily rest and not feel like every sound we hear is someone ready to steal our bikes or kick us out. If we're really stuck, we'll talk to a police officer and they usually can help us find a spot. Plus, just having them know we're there makes us a little more comfortable.
I remember after a long day of work how nice it felt to sit down to a nice glass of wine or a beer, but after our long day of riding, there's no beer waiting for us.
We have to do things like launry...
...and we have to work hard at training for Hawaii!!
...and making campfires for warmth.
...and this may sound funny but we have to take some time for a walk and stretch our legs.
... and our bikes need a little loving. Usually we spend about 20-30 minutes cleaning the chains and the chain ring, or lubing the chain if it needs it.
The other night it took me about an hour and 1/2 to clean it then try to get my gears to shift correctly. After that frustrating hour and 1/2, I gave up and instead, we brought it to Chain Reaction in Augusta the next day.
Jimmy was baffled with the shifting as well, until he pulled out the cable and found a kink in it- ah ha! A new chain and we were good to go! Bike shops stops are often a great source of stress relief as they help fix our bikes, like Truly Spokin in Milton, FL or give us suggestions for routes. Soon it'll be time for some major bike maintenance as we need some new tires and chains.
So even though these past few weeks haven't had much else going on other than riding our bikes, grocery shopping, planning events, covering over 900 miles, eating 4 bugs while biking, cleaning our bikes, and crossing four state boarders,
(check out the video here)
all that is about to change. My cousin, Theresa, in Charlotte has been working hard at getting an event going there and we'll be having a spin class fundraiser(Yup, that's right! We're spinning on our day off) as well as a meet & greet at Ri Ra Irish Pub. Sounds like it should be a fun time.
Adam has long since found his Leatherman and come back. Hopefully we don't forget anything like that again. Let us know if there's anything we've missed here that you still have questions about! Sorry it took so long to get a post up, but we promise to keep in better contact in the future! See?
In the meantime- have to give a shout out to some of our friends we've met along the way!
Here's us with Tom, after he spoiled us with a Cracker Barrel breakfast and a bunch of Gel packets!
Tyler, who drove by us somewhere in Georgia and recognized us from a post Tom wrote about us coming to Augusta, stopped and offered us dinner that night!
Eric, celebrating his one year anniversary of his restaurant, gave us some great conversation and yummy ice cream on a hot, hot day!
Tina and little Juliana who offered us a spot on their campsite when we found out the campground was totally full!
Charlene and Edwin who opened their home to us in the middle of Alabama somewhere!
Al and Sally Melvin in Milton, FL who gave us some yummy dinner, breakfast, and a warm bed.
A few guys who found us on the road and invited us in for a beer before heading on another 20 miles!