Thursday, May 15, 2008

Milestone (No, I'm not in Kentucky yet)

Before I left for Virginia, I had lunch in New York with my friend Pete who biked cross-country seven years ago. He advised that I not look at a map of the entire United States too often because then the ride seems really daunting -- better to focus on local maps to chart progress. This was good advice and it's why riders need to break down the trek into a series of smaller goals such as miles biked per day and state lines crossed. Another milestone is completing one of the twelve maps that chart the Transamerica Trail. Yesterday as I rode through Christiansburg, VA I finished the first of those twelve maps. Only eleven more to go.

The past few days have provided a steady stream of hills. Unfortunately, other than a fun, open stretch of roller coaster hills on Tuesday that had steep descents allowing me to coast almost to the crest of the next hill, most of the downhills do not provide much momentum for the next uphill climb. The weather has been overcast but warmer and until about an hour ago, the rain has held off. It's been ideal weather for biking.

Yesterday, I met my first biker traveling West to East. Mark Reed started in western Virginia and is riding to Yorktown to complete a cross-country ride, the majority of which he rode last summer. He plans to write a book about his experiences. Mark tells me that there are several groups of riders one to two days ahead of me. We'll see if I catch up to any of them.

The highlight of my day yesterday was staying with the Lee family. Thad and Sarah Lee left a note at the bike house in Afton offering a free place to stay for cyclists who stop in Radford, VA. I called Dr. Lee as I approached Radford and he told me that I was welcome to stay at his home. Dr. Lee biked the Transamerica ten years ago with his two sons but was only offered one homestay during his travels. As a result of that experience, the Lees now offer a place to camp or a bedroom to 50-60 bikers a season. I found the casualness with which they welcomed me, a complete stranger, into their home remarkable. When I mentioned this to Sarah, she told me that she sees this as a type of ministry to show people, foreigners and nationals alike, the good in this country. Not to get too sentimental (or trite), but I found my time with the Lees to be a potent antidote to all the cautionary tales that make us so wary of one another.


Nick said...

M Dunn,

Salut! Sounds like you've got a heck of a fun journey ahead of you. I'll be tracking your progress, as I'm certainly jealous of the ride. I only ride in circles repeatedly at the Velodrome in Rochester Hills (

Perhaps you remember me from U of D in French class, or the great trip up to Quetico.

Good luck M Dunn, and enjoy the journey!

Nick Bayma

Seth said...

I'm watching you transam shazamn.... thanks for the mazel and see you on the other side. Watch out for the rabid dogs in Kentucky.... Seth

Andy said...

Sounds like its going well. It is always nice to see other riders coming towards you - I haven't met any West-East Transammers yet but I guess it is early in the year still..
I got me a hot tub tonight :-)