Day 76 to 81 of Mitch's Trans Am
Day 76: I got a late start this morning at 11:00 AM while waiting for a video to finish uploading. I still squeezed in my 50+ mile goal for the day but it was hot and there were no services, gas stations, or stores the whole way. That is when it's hard - when you have no "oasis" along the way. I took a nap at 2:00 PM on picnic table at a county center and had late lunch: can of ravioli, orange juice, sunflower seeds. I also laid down at an intersection twice in the shade. When you bike across the country, you nearly live like a "homeless" person. Haha. I arrived at my destination in Troutdale, VA. No camping places around here except off course too far, but the cashier at Motel 6 gave me hikers price for $45. Still high but...what are my options?
I traveled between the Appalachian summits in a type of valley in the middle. No BIG climbing today. The BIG BIG day of climbing will start 1/2 way into tomorrow and than on Monday will be Vesuvius. Vesuvius will go from 1,000 feet, from my campsite tomorrow, directly up to 3,400 feet, down to 2,500 and up again to 3,100 and than everything for my last 200 miles is between 500 feet to sea level "0" but like a saw tooth.
Virginia is not really a flat State at all. If you limit yourself to experiencing Virginia only from the East Coast of Virginia Beach/ Norfolk area, you'll miss it. There are really a lot of mountains here! Trees, logging, mining, rolling and jagged hills, massive open spaces, but lined with sharp ridges. I saw pear trees and apple trees today. I saw corn, rivers, little foot and car bridges. I went through a tunnel with train tracks on top. I saw horse boarding farms, and horse riding rentals.
The cars following me, or passing me, have been the nicest in the country, I think. I love the asphalt ingredients they use here. I do not see people outside much. Too hot, probably. Had my 2nd bee sting today but very minor. He got stuck inside my shirt. I had to pull over to take off my shirt to find him. Ouch but fine.
I still keep my entire body covered from the sun. It looks hotter but I think it's hotter to have your skin exposed than to cover it with thin, white, something. I saw six or more other local bikers go by today, but where I saw them is on the far highway. I can't believe they like doing their training/daily riding out there! They are getting a workout for sure on these never ending hills.
Still no flat tire this whole trip!!!! I hope I can make it all the way to the end with no flats. Major bragging rights. Amazing! My tires ARE getting thin again though. I changed my rear twice already. I hope I can replace in Norfolk, before returning to Philippines, but they are $60 each.
Note: I did not replace my tires in the USA after my trip. I waited until the Philippines since they are only $30 in the Philippines and $60 in the USA. The reason? They are assembled in Indonesia.
It's 9:00 PM now at Motel 6 and I still need to eat again or I will be in trouble tomorrow. If you are not recovered by morning, the first hills of the day are torture. I went across the street for a late night gas station meal.
Day 77: today was a day of getting positioned for tomorrow which will be a big climbing day. It will be my final climbing in a significant way before going down and normalizing for my last three days.
I missed a turn today that cost me a few extra miles of small hills, but it was very minor. I am glad I chose to stay on the original Trans Am route 99% of the whole trip There are many direct, short cut highways I could take to finish this trip earlier, but the official Trans Am route always has its scenic element and surprises.
Today, I was able to sneak up on some deer three times and got some good video of them. The back roads are quiet and isolated. My rest breaks were a little long today as I sat on the sidewalk, leaning against the wall of a gas station drinking peach tea, but it's these memories that give this entire trip it's value. It will be sad, more than exciting, to reach the finish line in four days from now. I've had more travel experiences than most people will have in a life time.
I am so glad I decided to make this trip, although costly. I will have no regrets at age 90. I will not have to say, "I wish I would of bicycled across America when I was younger." I'm already asking God what the next challenge will be in my life while I am as strong, and able, as a 30 year old. I have many video productions to edit and release in the weeks/months to come. I have a lot of "b-roll footage" if you are familiar with camera language.
Guess what? I ran into Will, the fireman today, this morning at the gas station. He just completed five hours and it was only 10:00 AM. Will, is the other biker, from Seattle, that I have been running into, non- stop, since Idaho. We see each other on the trail about once a week. He is on Day 71 today. I completed Day 77. He looked tired today. He does not handle the heat very well. I started May 6 and he started May 12.
I was reading a "Missing Person" poster at gas station today. The guy's car was found parked at trail head. His dog was still in car alive and they found partial car key chain about a half mile from car. He has been gone since May. Where is this guy? Big mystery. Did he die in the woods? Hmmmm?
Champion Filipino boxer, Manny Pacquiao, won last night again. You are aware he is 100% born again Christian, right? Great hero in the Philippines. Age 40.
I saw many horses today. Excellent colonial houses and old, original plantation homes from late 1700's and 1800's.
I am in Lexington, VA right now. Many Confederate flag along the county roads and Old Glory's also. I met driver today checking if I had enough water.
The thermometers on the banks said 101F today. It could be correct, but sometimes the direct sun makes them a little higher. At one point, a storm rolled in. I took cover in gas station. It rained and I continued afterwards. I had no rain on me but the quick storm cooled everything from, maybe, 90F to 79F within minutes. Fast drop in temp!
I received a gift of $50 this morning at 0800 that saved my day. Another lady, former co-YWAMer, sent me $100. These gifts saved my day and tomorrow also. I had a car pull up beside me today and they asked me, "Are you doing this for a cause?" I replied, "Yes and No. I'm always raising money for something. I am missionary in the Philippines. Everything is on my website at mitchtour.com. Just go there." She excitedly affirmed and drove off.
My tires are still okay. No flats the whole trip. I'm begging to the powers that be, "Please, no flat for just four more days." That will be awesome. My gear shifting cables are getting a solid workout again like back in Missouri. The hills of Virginia keep you shifting up and down the gear range all day long. It's a miracle I have not broken a chain yet, too. The drive train of a bike gets a lot of torture on hills.
I bought a huge "thingy" if mashed potatoes, take out, just now from the restaurant beside the hotel. I am going to eat it all before bed. Great energy source. Big day tomorrow. Entering Blue Ridge Parkway junction.Signing off. Glory to God. Very thankful above all
Day 7️⃣8️⃣ : It is unbelievable what the human body can do. I had over 7,000 feet in elevation gains today. So many hills. All day long from the moment I left to the time I arrived. That one hill was so great, I had to stop and take a break 1️⃣3️⃣ times!! 1️⃣3️⃣ times!! I though the top would be at entrance of Blue Ridge Parkway but it kept going sharing some Appalachian Trail routes. The top was over 3,200 feet with the valley 1,800 feet below. There were nearly no service stops. Its the first time on my trip where I actually emptied 80% of all my water supply and backup supply. I refilled at a Visitor Center and bought some Snickers since there were not the usual stopping points.
WATCH VIDEO HERE:
At one point, I pulled off road to eat my last can of ravioli and took a nap in the ditch. I got a lot of photos from the ridge's scenic overlooking, flowers, bridges, and highway. I saw some other bikers out training on these hills. I can't believe bikers actually enjoy biking. It seems so torturous. You love/hate it.
I am in bed already typing. I ate mashed potatoes, salad, and Mac and cheese for dinner.
Earlier, I passed a peach plantation🍑🍑 with retail building. I went in ate some peach shake.🥤 I met an older, grandma type, who was so fascinated by my accomplishment she bought me another shake and we took photo together.
I did my laundry in shower🚿 and hung up immediately. I finally gave away my leftover bear spray to another biker this morning in Lexington, VA. That's another less one pound! Haha
I could finish this in two days If I was willing to have two more big days like today.✌️🏁 Will decide tomorrow. I have many things to say about today but can't stay awake while typing.😴 Can't believe I nearly did 1️⃣0️⃣0️⃣ miles today in maximum hilly area with over 7,000 feet elevation gains with 112 lb bike/gear. I had a 53 mph hill once. That must go in the record books probably, too.
I could of easily trimmed off 20 miles by taking some alternate more direct routes, but I stayed on the "official route" which, sometimes, I wonder how in the world did they discover such "back roads????!!!" - it's harder but always more memorable and interesting.
Virginia had a lot of deer. I'm impressed. I heard the echo of a wonderful male elk today when I was preparing to go up Vesuvius climb. It vibrated through the hills - a solo, male elk bellow. Awesome sound.
Day 79: the day started with rain and it took me six miles of energy just to cross over Charlottesville, VA and get out of the hilly city. The terrain is definitely now in a downward angle, although their are some hills along the way. It rained, it stopped, I would undress, and it would rain again, but after the second rotation, the clouds hung heavy but did not release so I had 70ish degree weather all the way with no rain. The days earlier, it was near the 100s in temp.
I had fewer breaks today and kept it moving finally arriving in Mineral, VA. I am now positioned 138 miles from finish line. I took few photos or videos today other than riding past William Morrison's former 1788 home. He was a President before.
I did notice that I saw about six scenes today that had similar looks to what I experienced earlier in the trip. It's like the Lord was letting me see a "review" of past memories or "frames" of what I experienced in other States.
After pulling up to the Fire Station in Mineral, another biker named Mike, from Minnesota, pulls up too. We set up camp and excitingly shared our different dog, bear, weather stories. Both of us are headed to the same finish line although he started in Astoria, Oregon nearly 10+ days after me. So you can see he has been going faster and longer days with many 100+ mile days. I had only three days where I broke 100. We will leave separately tomorrow but meet in the same "biker church" at the end of the 80 mile day, and go for the finish line on the next day. There are only two biking days remaining.
I am sleeping in my tent tonight for my last tent experience. I will miss my tent and all our memories together. It's been like a friend. My tent has been good in the rain, dew, thunderstorms, snow in Wyoming, and freezing temperatures. I have never gotten wet inside, and because of strict open and close habits, I have rarely had one mosquito inside.
Tomorrow, I will be sleeping on a church floor and my last night, after the finish, I will be staying on a host home bed, and my last four days in the county, I expect to be on the floor or bed of a church in Norfolk. I am so happy, and satisfied I took the three months to make this trip. I will never regret.
I met a retired Army man last night who visited us and told us his story of biking across America in 1972 when things were more logistically harder. He gave both me, and Mike, the other biker, a 1976 coin that was printed in '76 which commemorates the bicentennial celebration of that year and the founding of the Trans America Bicycle Trail. The TABT is also Hwy 76, which I mentioned many times. I feel like this coin is similar to the "Eagle, Globe, and Anchor" lapel pin which Marines receive when completing The Crucifix on their last week of boot camp. I just now had this revelation while typing this. The coin is like my reward for finishing. It's only a silver quarter from 1976 its value has now become as symbolic as graduating from Marine Corps boot camp. Imagine riding all the way across America to receive an encased silver quarter at the end? Amazing. My heart is filled with victory, pride, and accomplishment. Glory glory glory! These last two days are going to be the end of a life changing experience indeed.
Day 80: today was a long day of over 90 miles. I started in Mineral, VA and ended at historical Willis Church in Glendale, VA. Willis Church served as a field hospital for wounded soldiers during the civil war in 1862. Tomorrow will be my Finish Line Day riding 60 miles from Willis to Yorktown. The terrain has had a comfortable downward trend and road had been smooth.
At one gas station, I got talking so excitedly to a local, black guy, about missions, I walked into the parking lot, while talking, forgetting completely about paying for my cold drinks! By the time I remembered, I was already two miles down the road! So, I went back to pay and the cashier could not believe me. She thought I was joking. Haha I paid my $2.03 and got back on the road. My destination was 5 miles away.
So tomorrow, July 25th, is Day 81. I won't be in a big hurry. It's more of a "savor the moment" of appreciating and looking back on a glorious trip. I'm excited about compiling all my stories, photos, and continuing my videos uploads in the days, weeks, and months to come.
Day 81. This is my last day. I will reach Yorktown, VA Victory Monument today.
I took my time departing Willis Church. I made some videos and took some photos. It was a highly reflective morning. I cleaned the chain of my bike before leaving and was not in a hurry. It was a very sentimental morning/start for me today. I "felt" like it was a day of mourning/funeral but massive satisfaction/fulfillment. It was a total 50/50 day where my "feelings" went back and forth all through the day on "sadness" and "excitement." It was amazing to be able to finish but sad that it was ending - like that.
I stopped often to make some short videos and passed by some amazing, historical plantations of the past and present.
There was even a bicycle path running parallel with the highway for over 30 miles. It was a nice path but the problem I have with bicycle paths that are too long is that it is the same same view mile after mile. There is not much scenery changes when you are on a bicycle path.
I made my best video while on this path. It is a video that will summarize my entire trip. It will have edited into it glimpses and scenes from beginning to end with the narration not being added in later but the narration was LIVE as I had an inspiring moment of verbal narration that the video clips will be built around. It is now September, one month after my trip, and this video is soon in the making.
Approaching Yorktown, VA, I was riding with a pilot on a little ride for the day. He was in the Air Force before. While he was taking a moving photo of me, he hit a crack with his front tire and crashed. His odometer snapped off and went into the ditch and we never found it.
He also scratched and cut him elbow up pretty bad. The First Aid kit that I have been carrying for over 80 days was now able to be used for the first time!
I was excited to assist him in cleaning his wound, and wrapping him up. I was in the "rescue mood" and I had the perfect supplies to assist. It was fun to be able to help him.
His bike was fine and his wrapped arm was fine now. We continued to ride together briefly before he turned off and headed to a better clinic to get a more professional wrap job for his wound. I ended up going through a tunnel that is not for bicycles! I missed my turn somewhere.
As I approached Yorktown, it was a little confusing for me which way to turn. I actually should not have turned when I saw the Yorktown sign but should of went direct which would of been much shorter and I would of been able to experience "one more steep hill" right before the Finish Line. I ended up going around the long way.
An online friend named Tom, was meeting me at the Finish Line. I had watched dozens of others make this finish online from the Trans America Bicycle Race (TABR) so I knew about the "little sidewalk turns" that take away your direct route before hitting the Victory Monument.
I recorded by Finish Line experience LIVE on facebook and made a video as well. I have not edited or uploaded this production as of the typing of this report - September 7th, 2019. Wait and Watch for it in the future either her for late posting or initially on my YouTube account at: https://www.youtube.com/user/gomitch2
After completing my ride, Tom, escorted me to my host home near a Methodist Church. The upstairs of the garage of the host was converted into a "hospitality room" for finishing bikers like myself. It was wonderful.
I dismantled and boxed my bicycle, packed my bags and prepared for the two hour trip to Norfolk, VA to my next host as I await my return to the Philippines on August 2nd, 2019.
I gave myself some walk-around tours of Yorktown, VA. Amazing, glorious history of how George Washington and our French allies retook this city that had been held by the British. We surrounded them and attacked from the bay. The British (Cornwallis) surrendered and finally left America. Some time after this is when the Victory Monument was constructed to celebrate this liberation of Yorktown, thus the liberation of America from foreign rule.
God Bless America! America is a glorious country!
Trans America Bicycle Tour Finisher
May to July 2019
Last things: after the finish line on July 25th, I prepared my bike box, got a two hour ride to Norfolk, VA, stayed with a Pastor friend in Norfolk, and prepared for my return flight to the Philippines on August 2nd, 2019. Below are photos from these last days...