Thursday, May 31, 2018


I was excited to depart Charlottesville, VA and commence on the completion of my 2016 Trans America bike "Gap Year"...climbing the first day back onto the Blue Ridge Parkway that I had only descended two days previously. The Trans Am traverses the BRP for less than 30 miles before descending the Vesuvius grade that has 8-12% pitches. I was grateful to be going down. I had to stop though halfway to allow my wheels to cool down from the friction effect of the rim brakes. The wheels were too hot to touch but for a moment. This can be a serious problem as the hot wheels heat up the air inside the tubes. Ever-expanding air will eventually seek a point of weakness, otherwise known as a blowout...not good at high descending speeds.

Friday, May 18, 2018


I love the vibrant greens that climb from the low valleys up the steep slopes of the southern Appalachian mountains in early Spring as the trees bud. There are hundreds of green shades carpeting the scenery while the higher ranges are still clothed in winter barrenness. Spring flowers take advantage of the open canopies. I enjoy these spring colors more than our fall showing.   A spring ride up the Blue Ridge Parkway showcases this. More so in the southern highlands which are higher than the Virginia high country. It is a difficult bike ride. Over 52,000 feet of climbing in 469 miles of parkway with the added limited services for water and food. Park service campgrounds are plentiful, and the occasional private camp fills some voids. Hot showers are limited. Sponge baths at cold-water sinks or a nearby creek will suffice. I learned I can bathe with only a two water bottle supply.   

Tuesday, May 1, 2018


MAY 1, 2018

It's springtime. The bears have come out of hibernation. Just this week on a bicycle ride home after work, as I rounded a bend on the Blue Ridge Parkway, a mature black bear came bounding out of the woods and stopped on the pavement. She turned toward me. I could read in her eyes from 80 feet away the question "Is he edible?" Apparently not, for she then scampered on, dropping off into the opposite forest.

Blackie also stirred from his recent rest. He reminded me that in 2016 we had attended a family wedding in Virginia just days into that year's cross-country trip. Afterwards we left the route and came home for a few weeks until son was driving through on his way back to St. Louis. Then we hitched a lift that placed us just west of Kentucky near the Mississippi River. We had missed Kentucky! and the climbs of the Virginia/Kentucky Appalachians!

"We should ride Kentucky," said Blackie.

And to get there "We should ride the Blue Ridge Parkway," said Robbie, from Cherokee to its northern terminus that just happens to be near Charlottesville, VA where we left off and where nephew-in-law Peter lives. 

"It will be our gap year!"

"ROAD TRIP!" think the boys. Lou stretched and agreed.  

Be careful when waking a bear