Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Day 39: Orangeburg, SC to Charleston, SC – October 22, 2008

Miles: 111 Miles
Ride Time: 7 hours 7 minutes
Avg. Speed: 15.6 Mph
Total Climbing: 1,505 feet
Work: 3263 kJ

We made it. We are one happy group. We had a great reception

2008 10 22_2492

Bones leaves at the crack of dawn.

2008 10 22_2493

It was 40 degrees this morning. Hollywood is dressed for the cold.

Rickky Bobby 2008 10 22_2528

Ricky Bobby at the Ravenel Bridge in Charleston.

Team Colorado 2008 10 22_2588

Team Colorado with Archie.

B team 2008 10 22_2600

The B Team.

Smilely Wink and Popeye 2008 10 22_2610

Our Guides: Steph, Big Wink and Tara. Without them we would have never made it.

Ricky Bobby Atlantic Ocean 2008 10 22_2578

39 days ago I started in the Pacific and today I finished in the Atlantic.

This has been a trip of a lifetime. Wow, wow and wow.

I hope you get a chance to check out the other photos from today on Flickr.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Day 38: Union, SC to Orangeburg, SC – October 21, 2008

House 2008 10 21_2477, originally uploaded by rhanke.

Miles: 127 Miles
Ride Time: 7 hours 24 minutes
Avg. Speed: 17.2 Mph
Total Climbing: 6,813 feet
Work: 4621 kJ

The cold snap in the south continues and this morning we faced another 32 degree start. We were on the road by 7:45 and it must have been two hours before it started to warm up. South Carolina has more forest then I expected so most of the morning ride was surrounded by trees. The roads did not have any sun to warm them up until at least 10 am.

forest 2008 10 21_2475

To stay warm I rode hard in the morning and had a large lead on the others. I usually ride with the Colorado team but today I rode by myself. It is much harder without the pace line but I can look around a lot more riding on my own. I did not take a lot of photos since it hard to see the forest through the trees. Even though the landscape is pleasant it does not have anything that grabs your attention that needs photographing. Just a constant stream of trees, fields and houses.

Horse 2008 10 21_2476

We had to cover 120 miles today so it was a long ride on my own. For the last 30 miles Sparky road with me since he caught me while I stopped at the second lunch stop. He did not ride yesterday since he had food poisoning from dinner the other night in Asheville. It was good to see him able to ride this afternoon. It would be terrible if he was still sick and not able to ride the last day.

Sparky 2008 10 21_2485

Tomorrow is our last day. We have just over 100 miles to go to Charleston. It’s hard to imagine that we just started a little over 5 weeks ago. It seems just like yesterday when we were in the California desert.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Day 37: Asheville, NC to Union, SC – October 20, 2008

Miles: 113 Miles
Ride Time: 6 hours 46 minutes
Avg. Speed: 16.8 Mph
Total Climbing: 8,173 feet
Work: 3838 kJ

It was another cold day with the temperature close to freezing in the morning. But the people we meet along the way are always warm. Our waitress, Kathy, at the Renaissance Hotel for breakfast was friendly and was impressed with our trip. She had also served us lunch the day before and provided us a wonderful fruit plate. She was in awe of our ability to do such a trip. She said he man wouldn’t even take her on a short motorcycle trip. It is great to talk with such good people. It has been one of the highlights of the trip.

Renaissance Hotel Asheville 2008 10 19_2465

Leaving Asheville we were faced with our last 1000 foot climb at about mile 10. We crossed the Eastern Continental Divide at 2880 feet. After the peak we had a long decent. The temperature and speed made for a very cold decent but we were dressed much warmer than yesterday so did not have to stop to warm up. The scenery was just great. Not as good as yesterday since the leaves had not changed much yet here. But I’m sure after this cold snap they we be changing shortly.

Eastern Continental Divide 2008 10 20_2470 Team Colorado 2008 10 20_2471

Cold Hollywood 2008 10 20_2473

We misunderstood one of the directions on our guide sheet and ended up adding almost 10 miles to our ride. We stopped at a gas station to look at a map to figure out how to get back on track and experienced a customer service issue. A customer was complaining about what he had been charged and the clerk just yelled at him and told him to leave the station. We told Hollywood that she could be his future wife. Hollywood said that she made his ex-wife look good. The Captain then asked Hollywood if he was then thinking of marrying her for the third time. We all got a laugh out of this.

We have a great group of guys on this trip and it has made riding such a pleasure. It is had to imagine that we only have two more days to go.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Day 36: Cherokee, TN to Asheville, NC – October 19, 2008

Hollywood 2008 10 19_2429, originally uploaded by rhanke.

Miles: 69 Miles
Ride Time: 4 hours 49 minutes
Avg. Speed: 14.4 Mph
Total Climbing: 5,900 feet
Work: 2840 kJ

Waking up to frost on the ground is not a good sign. This morning it was 32 degrees outside and we would have to climb to 5100 feet to get out of the Smoky Mountains. We set off at 7:45 once it was light enough to see. Waiting for it to warm up was not an option since it wasn’t forecast to warm up any time soon. The high would only be 50 degrees. Also since it was prime viewing time for the fall color change we wanted to finish the narrow roads before too many cars were on them.

I set a fast pace out of Cherokee and soon had dropped the Colorado boys once we started to climbed. I kept the pace up all the way to the top just to stay warm. Once at the top I added a wind breaker to my soaked cloths. Hollywood was next at the top and we rode down together. He did not need to stop since he had all the clothes on and did not have any more to add. By the time we had descended into Maggie Valley we had to find a place to warm up. We found a gas station and ducked in for some hot chocolate. Hollywood was shivering so badly, I had to make it for him since he could not open it. After about 15 minutes we continued on since riding would help to keep us warm. We never saw anyone else in our group until after we arrived at the hotel. Later we learned that they had all stopped at different places in their struggles to stay warm.

The scenery along the ride today was the best. The sun was out in full force and the leaves were changing colors. It was just beautiful to ride and look around. In spite of the cold this was one of the best rides of the trip.

Ricky Bobby Asheville Bridge 2008 10 19_2438 Fall Colors 2008 10 19_2439

Blue Ridge Parkway 2008 10 19_2423 Hollywood 2008 10 19_2431

In the afternoon I walked around Asheville’s downtown. It was very cute. It was another great day in our cross country trip.

Asheville Court House 2008 10 19_2441 Old Europe Asheville 2008 10 19_2446

I hope you get a chance to check out the other photos from today on Flickr.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Day 35: Townsend, TN to Cherokee, TN – October 18, 2008

Group 2008 10 18_2414, originally uploaded by rhanke.

Miles: 55 Miles
Ride Time: 3 hours 56 minutes
Avg. Speed: 14.1 Mph
Total Climbing: 6,100 feet
Work: 2376 kJ

Today we said goodbye to Tennessee as we entered North Carolina. Our ride took us on a beautiful gradual climb winding along the Little River for 13 miles. Next up was another 13 mile climb to the Newfound Gap at 5048 feet. Since today was Saturday we had a ton of cars also driving the Smoky Mountains to check out the changing colors of the trees. As we have found along our trip, 99 percent of the drives are kind but once and awhile a bozo appears.

As we climbed the temperature started to drop. It was only about 50 degrees we left Townsend and about half way up we ran into thick fog with visibility sometimes down to 30 feet. I was climbing up with Hollywood but my feet started to get cold and I could not keep up his pace. I had to stop at the van and put on booties. Hollywood never stopped since we didn’t want to get cold. I was never able to catch back up to him but at least my feet were warm. Captain reported that it was 37 degrees at the top.

The van had pulled up at the top and we all climbed into it to warm up before descending. Because of the fog we were not able to take any photos. Newfound gap is also the border to North Carolina so we not even able to take our usual “Welcome Sign” photo.

After warming up, adding another layer and putting on long finger gloves we started the 10 mile decent to Cherokee. About half way down we finally escaped the fog and were able to take in the fall colors.

We stopped at “Big Boy” for lunch instead of our normal picnic lunch. On this cool fall day we were glad to be inside and warm. Even without the views at the top it was still a great ride. The Little River section was just awesome. Trek Travel sure did a good job picking out the roads in Tennessee.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Day 34: Crossville, TN to Townsend, TN – October 17, 2008

Lunch 2008 10 17_2391, originally uploaded by rhanke.

Miles: 105 Miles
Ride Time: 6 hours 38 minutes
Avg. Speed: 15.9 Mph
Total Climbing: 9,001 feet
Work: 3299 kJ

It was another big day of climbing following a tough one yesterday. I did not feel I had the same power as yesterday. It did not help that it was raining this morning when we started out. We started about 7:15 am behind the others. It was dark because of the cloud cover and we had a lot of turns to get out of town.

We whined our way along the beautiful Tennessee roads taking in the fall colors. The towns were getting closer together and making the riding a little more cautious as cars are more numerous.
Carmichael Creek Dam and Bridge 2008 10 17_2394 Lunch 2008 10 17_2390

We had a scenic lunch next to the Carmichael Creek Bridge and Dam. After lunch we continued to soak in the landscape as we made out way to Townsend which is just out side the Great Smoky Mountain Park. The ride along the river to Townsend was just outstanding.

I’m looking forward to tomorrow as Big Wink, our guide, says it was his favorite ride from last years trip. Tomorrow we ride the Smoky Mountains.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Day 33: Nashville, TN to Crossville, TN – October 16, 2008

Miles: 130 Miles
Ride Time: 7 hours 44 minutes
Avg. Speed: 16.8 Mph
Total Climbing: 11,082 feet
Work: 4228 kJ

The weather forecast called for rain today. Unbelievably we were able to stay in front of the storm and never get wet. We had a few drops as we prepared this morning in Nashville but after that not a drop. The sky always looked threatening but never turned dark until the very end and then it did not rain until we were eating dinner.

Hermitage Hotel Nashville 2008 10 16_2366 Tennessee road 2008 10 16_2375

Because of the over cast sky I was not able to take many photos of the landscape that continues to impress. Tennessee is just a beautiful place and we are catching it just as the trees are starting to change color. The roads also continue to out distance Tennessee from all the other states we have traveled through as they are the smoothest. This makes riding a lot easier since we do not have to deal with the muscle strain on our neck and arms.

Team Colorado 2008 10 16_2385

Today had the greatest amount of climbing on the trip but we really only had one long climb and all the rest were the constant rolling hills we have been doing for the past week.

Car plant 2008 10 16_2374 Wooden Indian 2008 10 16_2377

The climbing did not prevent Grateful from racing me up a few of them at mile 115. We both felt strong at the end. As the Captain says “Boys will be Boys” .

At dinner we kidded our guide Smiley, who only road half the day, that she should be called Smirk.

It’s great that after a tough day we all had smiles and could joke. Life is great on our cross country trip.

I hope you get a chance to check out the other photos from today on Flickr.