Monday, May 30, 2011

Saturday, May 28, 2011

2011 Coast to Coast Map

Click on the word map to see the map of our 2011 Coast to Coast ride. I hope to do some more fine tuning as time allows and want to also add the route that I took in 1974 along the north route. Stay tuned.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Since Day 41

Well, I'm back after a self-imposed absence of more than two weeks. Here are some of the highlights since my last post:

  • After leaving the hospital in Georgia on Friday, May 6th, we drove up to Charleston and spent the next day visiting the site of Ft. Sumter, where the first shots of the Civil War were fired. We also visited a southern plantation in town that was pretty interesting. See pictures below.
  • From Charleston, we made our way to Andersonville, about 130 miles southeast of Atlanta. Of the many Civil War P.O.W. camps this was the worst because of its overcrowding, cruelty, total lack of food, lodging and deplorable health conditions. It was a camp designed to hold 10,000 prisoners but at its peak held 33,000. Almost 13,000 prisoners lost their lives at Andersonville and there are 18,000 grave-sites on the grounds. It was a very sobering visit.
  • From Andersonville we went to Atlanta and visited Atlanta's History Center and Stone Mountain. Stone Mountain is a gigantic bald granite mountain rising 800-1000 feet above the surrounding ground level. I was pleased that I was able to make the mile long climb to the top without any difficulty, especially after the lighthouse problems at St. Simons. There is a huge carving in the mountain 90' high and 190' long about 300' above ground level of the Confederacy's three heroes, Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson. See the pictures below.
  • From Atlanta we moved on to Chattanooga and visited Lookout Mountain and Chickamauga, both Civil War battleground sites. The battle of Chickamauga was the second costliest battle in terms of human life in the entire Civil War. Over 28,000 soldiers were either killed, wounded or missing. That's about half the total American troops that were lost in Viet Nam in just one battle!
  • After Chickamauga we arrived back home in South Bend on Wednesday May 11th where my next task was to prepare for a 5k run to help raise money for clean water in third world countries on May 22nd.. I AM NOT A RUNNER and it showed. I ended up inadvertently taking a wrong turn during the run and ended up "running" about 1.75 miles instead of the 3.1 scheduled. God is good! I am still sore from trying to do the run. No more running!
  • I continue riding and on May 21st rode a metric century (63 miles) at the Tour de Max in Culver, IN. I definitely benefited from the conditioning I received from the coast to coast trip since it was a strong ride.
  • I sat down for an interview with the local newspaper (South Bend Tribune) for an article that is supposed to show up in the community section of the Sunday paper this Sunday, sharing about my coast to coast experience. If I can, I will share the link with you since it probably will also show up on their online version as well.
  • I am still in the process of trying to get my blog in book form, since I'm more confident in a hard copy version for posterity's sake than an online archive. There are a number of blog-to-print programs online but I have not run into one that I really like yet. If any of you have experience in this area I would appreciate your advice on what worked best for you.
Below are some pictures of our travels if you're interested.

Ferrying out to Ft. Sumpter

Inside the Fort

Inside the Fort

Andersonville National POW Museum

The grounds where the actual stockade was located

This cemetery in Andersonville reminds me of Arlington National 

The granite surface of the Stone Mountain climb

Sitting on top of Stone Mountain after the mile long climb

The carving closer up

A little further back

Looking down on Chattanooga from Lookout Mountain

We saw cannons everywhere we went

The Chickamauga Battlefield Visitor Center

This monument at Chickamauga was as tall as the lighthouse, so I climbed it

Stone reminders of the story of the battle of Chickamauga 

Monday, May 9, 2011


My apologies about not updating the events from last Friday. At my last post the test results had not been reviewed and I was chomping at the bit to get out of the hospital. I am very happy to report that all tests came back negative so I have a clean bill of health! I have had no more symptoms since the initial event and the doctor thinks it was probably a random TIA (similar to a mini stroke). Since late Friday, Nan and I spent a day in Charleston and Andersonville and will be spending the day in Atlanta today. I will have more elaborate details later on. Thank you for your prayers and thoughts, not only along the bike trip but in these last few days as well. God is good!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Day 41 - A DAY TO REMEMBER!! Waycross to St. Simon's Island

THE LAST DAY OF THE RIDE! DONE! 65 miles to Brunswick and then on to St. Simon's Island on the actual Atlantic coastline. I am writing this on Friday since Thursday became busier than I anticipated. The  ride to St. Simon's started out chilly with a fairly stiff headwind; not the way I looked forward to finishing the trip. I was so sore and stiff from a couple days of hard riding that it took almost 20 miles for my body to even feel like riding. Thanks to Janech, Coach's wife, she pulled 7 of us about 20 miles in a pace line. That made the mileage much more manageable. Also the anticipation of meeting Nancy in Brunswick made the miles melt away little easier. We had one last big climb for the trip, which happened to be the largest of three causeway bridges in the last 7 miles of the trip. For the entire coast to coast trip I logged 2570 miles!

Once in Brunswick, we organized at the local McDonalds where the city police ushered us across the two remaining causeway bridges three abreast and ten deep onto St. Simon's Island and the coast. We took some group pictures and individual pictures before getting showered and cleaned up for the big final celebration banquet late in the afternoon, which would be the last thing we would do before ultimately going our own separate ways.

And then...

After getting cleaned up and collecting my bike and gear for the trip home Nan and I decided to do a little sightseeing. On the Island was a very tall, stately lighthouse from which we thought we could get a wonderful view of the ocean and shoreline. So the first thing we chose to do was climb to the top of the five flight, 129 step lighthouse. With a little leg muscle burn and soreness we made it to the top and it did prove to be very scenic. It also proved to be a bit scary.

At the top I began to feel my body start to go numb beginning with my left shoulder, where the numbness continued to move down my left arm and hand, my chest and left leg. At that point I was not feeling real stable and told Nan I wanted to come down from the lighthouse. With God's favor and Nan's help, I managed to make it down where we found a bench to site and wait to see if the numbness would go away. Well, it improved a bit but then started making its way to my face. When the numbness started affecting my speech is when we decided to call 911. Shortly after the call the symptoms subsided and mercifully have not come back since. With the EMT's counsel and Marilyn's help (she is a Wheels alumna who lives in Brunswick) she helped us get to the hospital. Fast forward from yesterday - I have had an EKG, CT of my head, MRI of my brain. a carotid ultrasound, plenty of blood collections and not more than two consecutive hours of sleep since Thursday night. Currently we are awaiting test results before we can confidently leave the hospital (assuming the results are all negative). The biggest disappointment of all was not being able to attend the closing celebration banquet to say good-bye to all my new friends. Oh well, my Father knows best! I am hoping that we will have the results before the end of today (Friday) and be on our way to our next destination - Charleston, SC. We will keep you updated through this blog. As I alluded to earlier, I will keep this blog active indefinitely. Below are some pictures of the last day.

Wildflowers along the road

The largest of three causeway bridges, around 186 feet high

The beginning of the big bridge

From a cyclist's perspective

Rodgers, Robyn (back to us) and Betsy in the Atlantic

Rodgers emulating a Wheels tradition

Congratulations Derrel and wife Beth

Congratulations, Rosie and Richard!

Congratulations Janet, Terry and Myron!

Way to go, Bob!

Here we all are. Mission accomplished!

Andy, my room mate. We did it.

Robyn can take a great American memory back to New Zealand!

Congratulations to Canadian Betsy for her 2nd or 3rd successful crossing

Rodgers crosses one more time.

Congratulations to first timer Jim from Tennessee

After 6 false starts, Dan gets it all this time!

Crossing number 21 for Dick. Amazing!

Karl and I at the end with the infamous lighthouse in the background.
Apologies to Lou, Edith, Bonnie, Al, Dean, Gary, Gil, Coach and Janech, for not getting a picture of you at the grand finish. If you are interested, I am coordinating with others on the trip to collect more pictures from other riders. So, if you would like to see more pics, please stay tuned. They may be available via this blog site or through Snapfish.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Day 40 - Sylvester to Waycross, GA

Today was a big day!! Our next to last riding day was 94 miles to Waycross and I long ago determined to make this my 7th and final century ride on the trip if riding conditions and my body permitted it. Mission accomplished! I ended up with 102 and had plenty of daylight to spare.  Though the winds were out of the north there was enough of a westerly flavor to allow me to average almost 19 mph for the ride, my second fastest century on the ride. Georgia also cooperated marvelously by being flat which helped tremendously.

It is almost unbelievable that we have just one day and 65 miles left to complete our coast to coast ride! I think tomorrow will feel like the riders in the Tour de France must feel on the last day of their month long competition with the celebratory ride down the Champs-Élysées. I know for sure we won't race but I am sure we will put forth a good effort to look strong despite tired bodies and fatigued muscles. Our Champs-Élysées? It will be the causeway that will take us from Brunswick to St. Simon's Island.

I want to remind you that I will keep up the blog for an indefinite period of time so please feel free to stay tuned in. Nancy and I, immediately after the trip, will take in the likes of Charleston, SC, Atlanta, GA, Chattanooga, TN and the sites between as we explore some of our country's historical Civil War sites.  Then in July we will be taking a cruise of our nation's largest state Alaska. There will also be short cycling rides such as the Pumpkin Vine ride in Goshen, IN in June, and the Blueberry Bicycle Cruise Labor Day weekend in Plymouth, IN and other rides I will be looking for.

Devotional Thought:

It is not a very profound observation but it is something I have been observing almost every day of the ride - GOD IS FAITHFUL AND PROVIDES!! It is hard to review all the events and circumstances that we have encountered these last six weeks and I have seen God's faithfulness and provision all over the place. God faithfully provided me with good health, a strong body to survive the rigors of a coast to coast ride, amazing protection on the road (even from wildfires, tornadoes and rain), to a great team of riders and leaders who made the trip even more enjoyable! And these are just a few of the ways God faithfully provided. I should not be surprised, however. I've been privileged and blessed to see His faithful provision for decades. What a wonderful God we have!!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Days 38 and 39 - Abbeville, AL to Edison, GA to Sylvester, GA

There was no post last night because of limited time and, even more so, no internet so I am going to combine yesterday's and today's highlights along with pictures.

Highlights from our ride to Edison, GA:

  • Monday was a short 37 mile ride to compensate for not having a full day off this weekend.
  • I saw the biggest road kill yet, a huge wild boar that got nailed. It was the size of a small bear. It took a road-grader to move it off the road, which is why I didn't get a picture since they were in progress when we passed.
  • We entered Georgia, the last state we'll pass through on our way to the coast and also entered eastern standard time.
  • Once into Georgia the terrain changed to more noticeably flat. Yea!!
  • I got pictures of a frontier village right at the state line in Ft. Gaines, where a fort was constructed in 1836 to protect settlers from the Indians and then in the Civil War. The Fort never was used, however, because the Indian uprising settled down and the Union army never made it to Ft. Gaines.
  • We stayed at the Edison UM church in the evening, the last evening we will be in a church. It is pastored by a South Korean, Gin Hwang, who has a PhD in church liturgy. Never was a more strange fit made for a small church in the south. They then fed us dinner made up almost entirely of deep fried food, hush puppies, catfish and bass, French fries and the specialty of the night, deep fried bacon. That meal will win me another trip to the cardiologist, but it was very good and I tried to eat moderately.
From today's ride to Sylvester:
  •  It was a 60 mile ride over flat land with temps in the mid-80s. Winds were moderate with a hint of tailwind. Really, for the first time, I could feel the heat. Humidity on this trip has amazingly not been a problem for me.
  • We passed over some interesting terrain including a lake with cypress trees and Spanish moss and a name that will take you a while to figure out.
  • We went through a large town, Albany, and took in some of the local flavor; a park that paid tribute to Ray Charles, who was born in Albany, a strawberry farm where strawberries are in season and assorted barbecue restaurants along the way.
  • In Sylvester, we enjoyed a spaghetti dinner compliments of the Sylvester Chamber of Commerce in the bottom floor of the local library.Very enjoyable and plenty of food! Once again, one of the local riders, who joined us for the evening and whose name I did not catch, came up to me and thanked me for the blog. I failed to ask him how he heard of it but I am continually amazed and grateful people are reading it.
  • Today was a day of "lasts".
    • The last night of staying in a church.
    • The last night of sleeping on foam pads with sleeping bags.
    • The last morning of using our own utensils and eating out of the portable kitchenette.
  • Tomorrow is one of our longest days at 93 miles. I hope to get my 7th century since starting the trip. That means that I am 165 miles from the end.
  • After almost six weeks it is hard to believe that we are two days away from completion of our trip. Although I am looking forward to its completion, there is a part of me that wants this adventure to continue. Obviously, that is not possible. I am also looking forward to having Nancy join me on Thursday when we will start another adventure when we meander back to South Bend and spend extra time exploring Civil War sites.
Our last state we enter.

The obligatory picture of armadillo road kill.

Reminds me of Louisiana

For today's grammar lesson figure this out in less than 10 seconds!
Frontier Village in Ft. Gaines

The last of three cannons at Ft. Gaines that have never been fired.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Day 37 - Luverne to Abbeville, AL

Today was a 70 mile delightful yet hilly ride. We left this morning around 7:00 AM anticipating a more difficult ride, but most of us arrived in Abbeville by early afternoon. So, it became a bit of a shorter day than expected. It's been nice sitting in the motel room getting rest, which is always welcome after almost 6 weeks of constant riding (my odometer reads 2299!). Breaking the routine is also a nice change of pace. We have only 4 more days of riding and plans have been made in Brunswick to have a rather grand entry and celebration with a police escort on the causeway to St. Simon's Island and the coast.

I must say that here in southern Alabama is some of the most beautiful country and scenery I've seen. In its own way it rivals the west. It is more pleasant, in my opinion, to ride than even out west. Today was no exception with the unpredictable sites along the way. The first one was a church with another interesting name, the Lilly White Church of the Living God. What is even more ironic, I think, is that it's an Afro-American church! The second was the home or birthplace of Rosa Parks, the lady who refused to sit in the back of a city bus in the 50s and helped launch the civil rights movement. The third site was a hard -to-describe store, museum and home called Cooter's International in a one horse town called Spring Hill. A couple bought an old 50s style school building and turned it into their home, a small store and a museum of sorts - collections of old cars (mostly junkers) and an unbelievable collection of old, antique gas pumps and assorted signs and oil cans dated from the early days of the automobile. My brother and nephew are collectors of such things and there is great value in those collectibles. The husband said he has one pump in his collection (among 300) that is worth $22,000! Some of the old quart size oil cans can fetch as much as $500. And then there was the typical "one man's treasure is another man's junk" assortment of trinkets. It was interesting in it's own kind of way. You can see by some of the pictures below.

Devotional Thought:
I was encouraged to read a book that's been circulating among the riders on the trip called "Heaven is for Real". It's the story of a 4 year old boy's glimpse of heaven when his appendix burst and his life hung in the balance. It's also the story of his mom and dad's (an evangelical pastor) attempts to wrap their minds around their son's amazing description of what he says heaven is like. It makes interesting reading even though I am careful not to frame my theology around these kinds of experiences. One of the outcomes of starting the book was spending time on the bike today thinking about heaven and what the new heaven and earth must be like as Scripture describes it. Our ride today was certainly beautiful enough to cause my mind to imagine heaven based on what I was seeing. Then the old Don Wyrtzen song came to mind called " Finally Home". At the risk of being blocked by Facebook for abusive language again, here are the lyrics:

"When alarmed by the fury of the restless sea,
Towering waves before you roll,
At the end of doubt and peril is eternity,
Though fear and conflict seize your soul

Just think of stepping on shore, and finding it heaven
Of touching a hand, and finding it God's
Of breathing new air, and finding it celestial
Of waking up in Glory, and finding it "Home"

When surrounded by the blackness of the darkest night,
Oh how lonely death can be,
At the end this long tunnel is a shinning light,
For death is swallowed-up in Victory, (Victory!)

Just think of stepping on shore, and finding it heaven
Of touching a hand, and finding it God's
Of breathing new air, and finding it celestial
Of waking up in Glory, and finding it "Home"
Finally Home! Don Wyrtzen

Gary displays an early "RV"?

I'm not sure what this is.
The red Texaco pump on the left is worth $22,000!

The camera does not do justice to the beauty of this pastural scene

The Lilly White Church of the Living God