Mountains to Sea 20 Day Bicycle Trip
Updated: Jan 9
Below, is the Daily Report of each of the 20 days I spent bicycling from Saint Charles, Missouri to Havelock, North Carolina last May 13th until June 1st, 2021. The trip passed through Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, and North Carolina.
I have many photos which will be added in the near future. I also attached a memorable "Experience of the Day" for each day also. Massive video documentation was gathered for each day and eill be eventually edited and uploaded to my YouTube channel at: gomitch2
Day 1 to Chester, IL: Big 150kms day. Crossed the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers. Wide variety of scenes: parks, trails, alley, abandoned inner city buildings, wealthy homes, lakes, lawn mowing, trucks, free pizza, free housing, highways, farmers, wheat fields, sweet clover, empty highways, busy highways, subway, squirrels, geese, a barge, and trains. Amazing! 🇺🇸🚴
Experience of the Day #1 - one of the employees of this gas station asked me where am I going? When I told her I am going all the way to North Carolina. She was so shocked, and amazed, so she offered to pay for anything I wanted from the gas station grocery! I got a pizza, turkey sandwich, and quart of chocolate milk. She paid it all! Value is about $15. Thank you Lord!
Day 2 to LaCenter, Kentucky - Big 164 kms (101 mile) day. Trucks, trucks, candy more trucks. Barges, coal, mighty Mississippi and Ohio Rivers. Highways with many cars, back roads with few cars. Road repair for 6 miles. Hillbilly country, Confederate flags, 4X4 trucks, big burgers, no masks, roadside naps, friendly store owners, free motel room for 2 nights!!! Cows, raccoon across the road, no shoulder, nice shoulder. Isolated farms, vast empty spaces, rolling hills...too many.
Experience of the Day #2 - while sitting on the side of the road taking a break, three road biker's zoomed by on their Treks. They ended up turning around to meet me for a quick, curious visit. They were amazed by my 50lb bike and 40lbs of gear + 180lb rider and the distance I was going. When I told them I was having trouble getting confirmation from a campsite I planned to stay at, the lady said, "Never mind, get a motel for the night. We'll pay for it!" Later, during the day she messaged me saying she paypal'ed me $50 for the room AND she will pay for ANOTHER motel for TOMORROW TOO! Praise God! 🚴🏆🏆
Day 3 to Paducah, KY - only 20 kms (12 miles) into my ride today, I snapped my chain. I knew it might happen, I saw the warning signs for two days, but I was trying to get to bike shop in Paducah. I attempted to repair on the roadside with my chain tools, but after one test ride, it snapped again. The chain has a engineering/manufacturing failure. With no hope of fixing, and the bike shop being understaffed, I decided to hitchhike. I needed someone with a truck. The city/bike shop was only 10kms away. After losing six hours of my riding time, I decided to stay in Paducah, KY for the night. I will continue my journey tomorrow.
Someone once said, "If you are looking for adventure, don't complain when you find it."
Experience of the Day #3 - Shortly into my ride today, I broke my chain and could not repair it on the roadside. After deciding to hitchhike, only 10 short miles from nearest city/bike shop, this civil engineer pulled over to give me a ride. He was going to his lunch break, so it was not a super big effort for him. After replacing my chain, I decided to call it quits for the day since I lost six, good, riding hours from all the drama. Tomorrow, we will continue as planned.
Day 4 to Pembroke, KY - today was mega day with 168 kms (104 miles). I arrived at campsite after dark nearly 10pm. No bathrooms and no shower, but the manager was married to a Filipina from Tarlac, so he gave me FREE TENT SPACE!!! The rolling hills of KY are unending, numerous dog chases, great breaks at gas stations, nap in a park with beef jerky lunch, strong day, crossed many bridges, many rivers, and saw some Mennonites on horse/ buggy. Lots of churches, green wheat fields, and tattooed women. The cashier's call you "hon, or sweety" and most men drive 4X4 trucks. Farms from the 1786 era with wood barns over 150 years old still upright. Potato salad available too.
Experience of the Day #4 - after 168 kms (104 miles), 15 hour day, crossing endless Kentucky roaming hills, I arrived at my campsite. Although their website is well developed, they are still in construction and development phase. I arrived nearly 10pm, with no showers and no bathrooms, so the manager gave me FREE tent SPACE and overnight. Praise God for that!!
Day 5 to Franklin, Kentucky - today was not as intense as yesterday. I covered 101 kms (63 miles), but it was ALL Kentucky rolling hills. One time I was tempted to walk my bike up the road, but hung on to the top. Sometimes, it feels like your chest will explode. I was a little pokey (slow) today. Did not recover from yesterday fully, but kept it moving. Beautiful, clean, disciplined farms and front yards, the Amish have special shoulder on the highway for their horse and buggy. Lots of farmer millionaires out here. They live simple, frugal, and manage their properties to perfection. Dozens and dozens of 1930 type barns, and lots of cemeteries from the 1800's, wheat fields all day, even tobacco fields newly planted. The black men in front of gas station were a deep black. Their history, and stories, are endless, for sure, great grandchildren of slaves 160 yrs ago. Talked to a guy who was the eighth generation land owners. As far as the eye could see was all land owned by his other family members. Often, when I pull over for a break, people will ask if I'm okay. The cars pass me with a large, humbling, space. In Manila, a few feet, these guys, nearly to the other lane. Respect. I learned a lot of KY wheat exports to China, Mexico, and Philippines. These farmers are feeding the world. I'm so proud of them. They are America's best. Reminds me of farmers in Kansas. 5,100 churches in Kentucky. I believe it. Lots of good video. Wait for edit. Saw a lady doing construction with two men. Hard working. A road crew for railroad had women holding the STOP sign. She stood there faithfully when I doubt if even 30 cars passed her on that lonely, country road. TRUMP 2020 signs everywhere still. The politicians in Wash, DC need to have one day seeing what I see, and their lives will change. Wash, DC and KY countryside have zero in common. I wish everyone could see what I see. America is good. With hard work, patience, and discipline, the American Dream is still very much alive. 🇺🇸🚴🇺🇸
Experience of the Day #5 - was talking to the owner of this 1930 barn, INCLUDING, massive land on each side of the highway. He is the 8th generation of land owners. His dad down the road, his sister down the road etc. Nearly the whole county is his relatives. When I asked him, "Why keep these old, dilapidated barns? Is is historical, heritage, or sentimental reasons, or what?" He answered, "If you take care of them, they will last a long time and you'll save money from having to build a new one." 💥💯
Day 6 to Franklin, TN - I finally crossed over to Tennessee today. One of the first differences I noticed was the incline of the highways is longer and steady. My 114 kms felt like 140+! I had to change my housing an cause my original destination was to far. In KY, the hills were shorter, intense, (jagged), and many, and here in TN, you'll spend over two minutes going up and up and up and up at a lesser grade but longer and more sustained...all day long. Nashville took forever to cross, but they have many bike lanes and markings. The drivers became faster, more 'hot rod'ish" kids, and more aggressive. Some of the finest homes, and yards, you will ever see. Like castles. Who are these people living on Hillsboro Pike on the south side of Nashville? Millionaire Blvd???Lots of flags everywhere, patriotic, and Confederate flags too, many of them. Lots of Trump signs. Nashville looks like a "beer" city. Beer, and beer drinking, beer bars, beer trucks, beer beer beer was a central theme I "saw and sensed." Many bridges today, people going to work or coming home from work. Seems like the "American Way" is going to work, come home from work and church on Sunday. For sure, there are more churches in TN than in KY. Sometimes, overkill. 3-4 churches on this side and 3-4 churches on that side. South of Nashville, massive mega church properties, and buildings. All clean, perfect lawns, driveways, building architecture, and parking lots. Lots of signs on road: Welder wanted, Now Hiring this or that. Companies looking for workers. Lots of busy construction/building related services going on - development happening, especially near Franklin, TN. So many new streets, new buildings, new subdivisions. I met a guy from Maine. He is here for a one year work related project. The company will pay all his housing while here. RV parks are full, not with vacationers, but laborer/transient workers here for a job. Trucks: nice to see lots of trucks. One black driver been driving big truck since 1980. Two trips a week to Ohio delivering car parts. He drives 11 hours a day and gets 3 hours off time for meals, bathroom, fill gas etc. Every hour is monitored and regulated. If he drives 12 hours, he will get in trouble. I asked, "It doesn't bother you, having your production regulated or limited?" "No," he replied, "After driving 40 years all over this country in my younger years, two trips a week is good enough for me." Sign on church: If you miss church too much, you will miss church less."
Experience of the Day #6 - I thought Kentucky had a lot of churches (5,100+), but Tennessee has DOUBLE numbering over 11,000!! Passing through the Nashville area was MEGAchurch after MEGAchurch. The building designs are flawless, with perfect landscaping and development. The entire Hillsboro Pike (highway, although "highway" and "Pike" should now be in the same sentence), was all high class, lined with multi-million dollar homes. Who lives here??? Who are these people??? The wealth of this area was a sight to behold. Tennessee, has 67 megachurches trailing only four other states: California (219), Texas (207), Florida (120) and Georgia (91). Amazing!
Day 7 to Manchester, TN - long day today (103 kms/64 mile, remember, this is all "hills" distance), especially at the end when Google Maps took me to the opposite side of the city. It's the first mistake "she" has made this week. The mistake cost me an extra 10 kms to get to my campsite. I had to ask some church ladies, "Where is KOA Campsite?" and their sigh of disappointment showed me, "I must really be far off." Anyhow, if you arrive after 7pm, it's $21 cheaper! Uneventful day with highway after highway and county roads. Everyone is going to work, at work, or going home from work. I forgot how "work, work, work" culture America really is. Lots of loud mufflers. Weather is 75F so I'm happy. I sense I am getting closer to mountains. More marble, and granite on the sides of road - rocky soil. TN, as I said yesterday, has long, steady, climbs. Doing well. Stronger. Pizza is my good recovery food, I've learned over the years. It's amazing how much "power" and/or recovery I get from just 1-2 slices. You can buy pizza "by the slice" in most gas station stops. SO MANY gas stations and motels are owned/operated by Indians/Bangladesh types. They are really attracted to these business ops. They buy old gas stations, renovate it, stock the shelves, and do well. I have not discovered why the "average white American" is not interested in this career choice. I have some thoughts. What do you think? Need a haircut soon. Lots of Confederate flags in yards. I love it. It's fine with me 100%. They got US Flag, Confederate Flag, and maybe a State Flag or military flag. Okay with me. Love it! Saw a sign yesterday, "Biden is Not My President." Bam 💥! Go Tennessee! Look for my "Daily Ride Records" on STRAVA APP at gomitch2, if you are into that. Not so many photos today. Mostly videos and drone shots. Lots of editing in later 2021, coming. Follow my "stories" on Instagram (gomitch2) and fb for "play by play" updates. My Verizon gets signal pretty much whole day. unlimited internet and phone are on 24/7 for $75 month. If you have Zelle or PayPal, you can support my trip with my email: email@example.com. I spend about $100 a day for food/housing. I'm only about $200 short of my goal to get to NC finish line by June 1, Lord willing. Shout Out to etrailer.com for supporting 1/4th if my trip with free jerseys and $500 gift. Later...Day 8 is next.
Experience of the Day #7 - someone asked me once, "Why I like solo trip? Why not bring someone along? My answer: freedom and independence. Stop when I want, where I want, leave when I want. I had a great "roadside" lunch on the corner of a property, on the grass, in the shade, sitting there. The owner was happily mowing his lawn and had no concerns of me sitting there. I had potato chips, french dip, protein bar, and trail mix. I took a nap, and hung my shirt on my bike to dry in the sun. 100% free ( except sitting on private property grass), and content. I have no problem with sitting on side of road and getting comfortable. For my Filipino friends, I have not eaten rice in 10 days. 🤣😂
Day 8 to Chattanooga, TN - although the distance was only 106 kms (66 miles) for the day, it "felt" like 160 kms because of the Eagle Mountain/Jasper area approaching Chattanooga. Today was my first "mountain" day, really. It's hardest at the end when you are already tired and it's getting late. Even though I had a nice 5 kms, 64 kph, descent, it's only the mountains that build character, endurance, self control and other virtues. "You simply cannot enjoy a downhill unless you go up first." I've said this a million times. I met a lady so proud of being "fully vaccinated" it made me angry. She told me that she knows a missionary coming back to USA from Thailand JUST to get vaccination! This made me double angry. I told her I am anti- vaccination since the 80's. She said, "Well, everyone has their choices." I met another gas station lady who was major chain smoker: cashier, outside, cashier, outside, cashier outside. She was over 70 yrs old. Probably smokes 30-40 cancer sticks a day. The KOA Campsite chains are the most equipped. Everything you could need, plus more is there, but they are the most costly. I normally need: tent space, bathroom, shower, water, and electrical plugs for recharging gadgets. Some campsites have pools, but I am totally NOT interested in that. Many sites have play areas, dog areas, and more. I pay between $12 and $41 for a campsite. Motels are nearly NEVER lower than $50. Majority are $65. Again, I average $100 a day when bicycling across America. I will give Tennessee 1st Place Award 🏆 for most dead animals on the road (road kill). The majority are armadillos, followed by raccoons. The vultures are busy. I call them, "God's Cleanup Crew," cause they come and pick away on the deceased animals until no more. I wonder why vultures do not get sick???? People at campsites, generally, want to be alone. It's people's "down time." I don't see them talking to anyone really. It's really quiet. In 2019, it was different. Maybe people are more stressed now, than in 2019? I also want to give TN the 1st Place Award 🏆for "no masks" anywhere. Stores, gas stations, restaurants, whatever, are removing their "door signs" and it feels "normal" again. Sometimes, I double check the entrance and look at others -- no mask? Okay okay...I got this. Days are getting hotter and no rain. I am highly tempted to mail some of my "cold weather and rain gear back home." I can drop a few pounds this way...huummm???? I might reach North Carolina today...maybe...
Experience of the Day #8 - was a toss up between a "giddy, happy lady" that was so proud to tell me, "I'm fully vaccinated" that it made me disgusted, to a battle with the mountains. I'll give my overall "experience of the day" to the mountains. Up and up and around and around. There was not much relief the whole day except a nice, descent of ONLY 5kms distance. The descents (downhills) of Oregon, Wyoming, Montana, and Colorado, make TN look like kindergarten, BUT I'm not sure what to expect today going South from Chattanooga. Check back later...
Day 9 to Benton, TN - we covered a good distance today despite the hills. The most intense hills were getting out of Chattanooga. It took me three hours to cross this city!!! It's like crossing Manila with hills like Baguio! A lot of Indian-related memorials and Veterans/Civil War parks/cemeteries. I do not know much about this city, but I am challenged to research more. Wonderful bike path along river, but East Chattanooga was filled with poverty, homelessness, drugs, prostitution, hitchhikers, meth addicts. Cities often have "a bad side of town" - reminds me of Las Vegas. Met a guy with bicycle on his trailer hitch. He thinks he bought the hitch from company that is 1/4 sponsoring me: etrailer.com Followed massive lake for 10kms created by a dam w/included turbine power plant. Highways were good. My last 20 miles was busy, big shoulder, highway. Perfect. Campsite was only $15. I gave $14.45 - all my change because I don't want to give a $20. No one here to give change. I see this a lot traveling America: honor system. Vegetable and fruit stands on the highway with the prices listed, and a "jar or basket" to put your money. If you need change, you take from the jar. I wish we could do this in the Philippines, but it's impossible. We could never have "self- checkout isles" in Manila like here in Walmart. Slept a little anxiously last night, because I have a lot of food in my bags. I was concerned about animals coming. For sure, they can smell from long distance. Bears in southern Tennessee anyone? I see no signs. I have an amazing "barking dog" story. I will separate it to my "Experience of the Day" story. Crossing into North Carolina today. A shorter day today. My last, long, long, west to east State. Look for Murphy, NC on Google Maps.
Experience of the Day #9 - Kentucky is famous for barking, chasing and/or attacking dogs. There are three types of dogs: barking, chasing and attacking. Today, while pulling over into the shade to take a break, two dogs came barking and 1/2 chasing towards me. I cannot run, and I cannot ride. I can only stand my ground and apply what i learned on a YouTube channel: Cesar Millan the Dog Whisperer. In my case, the two dogs were together but one is ALWAYS the Alpha Male. The leader. The other dogs will do what the Alpha does or says. Dogs are pack animals. If I can win the Alpha, I will win the others. I stood beside my bike pretending to rest, and looking the other way, NOT at the dog! It's a big no-no to look eye to eye when they are in "potential attack mode." I stood calmly, and confidently (key). I made zero attempt to defend or guard. The dog got confused, saw I was unafraid, and started to choke back his barking and aggression. The big test was when he swooped up behind me FROM THE REAR. I am highly vulnerable at this point. He knows it, and I know it. The real test was when he touched his nose on the back of my leg to smell, and I still made no movement. At this time, I became the Alpha Male. I was now the obvious leader. As he turned around and started to leave, I still had to go and get out of there. He now got back on the side of the road running along me barking, but only out of "sport and tradition" but no threat anymore - it was very minimal now. What an excellent lesson applied from 'Cesar Million' found on YouTube. Cesar says, "It's not so much the dogs that need training, but the owners."
Day 10 to Murphy, NC - I finally reached the border of NC today. I finished MO, IL, KY, TN, and now the l-o-n-g west to east stretch across ALL of NC. I have 524 remaining miles (843 kms). My goal is to arrive by June 1st. I need to average 93km a day. Too hard with these mountains. No way. Today, was one long highway all the way for 73 kms. Long ups and long downs - like a rhythmic wave. Lots of trees and a river on the right. First day of summer vacation (school is out!!) so lots of kayaking and white water rafters. Got some great video today. Wait for the edit in June. Lots of Ford, Chevy, GMC trucks. It's nice not to see so many Jap cars. Good sign. Passed a massive, huge VW manufacturing plant (yesterday), although. Talkative local folk. Interesting sitting and watching people. I remember a tough girl washing her own car windows, and filling gas. Self service here. Her truck was making so many sputtering noises. Another guy, his truck all smashed but he walked like he own the world. His little son walked just like him. 🤣😂 Hillbilly country big time. Trump signs everywhere. Saw just ONE Biden bumper sticker, but the driver looked like a skinny, divorced, no shower, crack addict. Lots of big Harley bikers - over a hundred I'm sure. She wouldn't dare park her Biden car near them! Smart lady!! 🤣😂The campsite ladies gave me special deal and lent me a power cord. All gadgets are drained. Last night, the campsite had no electric. My solar panel could not keep up with my power needs. Threw away a long owned 20,000mAh power bank today. Too weary from overuse. Had it since 2018. I treat power banks tough. Met two black locals at the "Welcome to NC" sign. They saw my license plate which says, "MO-IL-KY-TN-NC 1,200 miles." and they couldn't understand the initials for the States. Sorry, what school did they go to? Sad. Do you think it's possible for a State to have a certain smell? I claim to recognize the "smell in the air" of NC from when I lived here in the Marines for 2.5 years in the 80's. Someone asked me today if I am leasing my bike or if it's mine? 😂🤣 Leasing a bike?? Never heard of such a thing. Soon, I think I will rotate my tires. My rear tire has more wear than the front because of weight, naturally. Less churches now, compared to KY and TN. Arrived early at KOA Campsite. Just finished laundry, doing reports, and charging all my gadgets. Found some sourdough pretzels so I'm eating like crazy. Most people using comfortable, totally equipped, RV's. Must cost a fortune to fill with gas. Home on wheels. I wish my Filipino friends could get a inside tour of an RV someday. Beautiful X10! I have a family in Oregon that supports us. They live in RV full time year after year. They sold their house to live this way. Maybe I can make a video of a RV tour in the days to come.
Experience of the Day #10 - has to be when I was sitting on the sidewalk outside the gas station and watching all the people coming and going in. One moment sticks out in my mind, a girl, maybe 25, good shape, strong, tough character, independent, cleaning the windows of her beat up truck, like a champ. She put all of her heart into cleaning those windows while filling gas. Her energy was high, she had a fighting spirit. She attacked her truck like all her life she has been fighting to survive. She is a local because nearly all the guys that pulled up knew her. She shouted back at one guy, and carried on her task. You could tell, everyday, she wakes up anxious where her next $20 will come from, money for bills, gas, kids, food. She was a survivor. The type that was probably shouted at by parents, and fought bullying brothers all the time. Her truck engine sounded terrible as she drove away. Sounded like one piston or one spark plugs ain't working, and dirty air filter or carburetor. She knew it, was a little embarrassed by it, but 'by-golly' it's all she got and she can only do and fix so much. Maybe next paycheck, she'll change that sparkplug. She reminded me of these old movies of pioneering women surviving the hardships of life, with sick kids, snowstorms, and bears trying to break in the door. With a shotgun in hand, she saves the family. My income, as a missionary, is probably more than this mountain lady in a clunker truck, but she, in many ways, is much richer. The hard times this mountain hillbilly gal has been through, at 25, probably double mine at 57. She embodies the spirit of North Carolina in so many ways: get it done, make it happen, fight back, overcome, do it yourself, don't quit, it's my truck - it's a piece of junk, but it's my truck - back off! Yes ma'am, no ma'am, I'm going to be something someday, just leave me alone. I'll show you. Welcome to North Carolina, don't mess with us. Amazing! Glorious! God prosper that lady in all she does...
Day 11 to Pines RV, Franklin, NC - today I started the official Biker's Highway 2 at Murphy, NC. It is called the Mountains to Sea Bicycle Highway. It runs all the way to the East Coast. I will follow it as long as possible before breaking off on different route. Guys with no shirt and no belt in the grocery store. Sunburned skin from working outside with no shirt. Another guy with leg hanging out of car window. Big dog barking at me from back of truck going by. Saw a lady with her flower basket hat getting into car. The gas/grocery stores are like grand central station. One guy approached the cashier telling her that, "Such and such sold his tool box today." "Oh yes?" she replied. She told me later she has lived here 40 years. Knows everyone by name. Today was supposed to be 60+ mile trip, but I cut it short because of the "continual demoralizing effect of up hills." 😂🤣 I followed Google Map take me on Old Hwy 64, the original. It was quiet, scenic, but all uphill. By the time I came out on the highway again (the new 64), it was still uphill going towards Franklin, NC. I had one awesome 5km (3 mile), 8% downgrade which ended my day. I hit over 70kph coming down that mountain. I turned in at the first campsite I saw, and checked in. 21 yr old campsite. Very perfect and organized, complete EXCEPT no 110v outlets at site, only the BIG 3-prong outlet used by RV's. I should carry adapter but they are heavy. Visited a Walmart today for the first time. Got another power bank. I hate being in a hurry going to Walmart. I will go more, after my trip, with Liberty. I have a friend in Black Mountain, NC who just messaged me. I might stay with him on Tuesday. Someone gave me free Gatorade today as we were talking. I put a patch on my sleeping air mattress. Hope it works. I am getting awesome drone aerial shots. Can't wait to edit when I get back to St Louis.
Experience of the Day #11 - almost every highway in the USA, has an original version of itself. Meaning, an "Old" Hwy 64 would be the original route pioneered by travelers BEFORE roads existed. The horse wagons, and first cars would of taken them. Now, nearly all original, old, highways have been replaced by wider, faster, more direct interstates, etc. Yesterday, I approached one of those "Y" junctions. "Should I continue on Hwy 64 or take the "Old" Hwy 64? Oh no." Google Map says, "Take the Old 64" and no one else was around to ask, since nearly no one lives on the "Old" 64 anymore except Great Great grandpa in his original 1930 shack. Anyhow, I took the "Old" 64 very reluctantly, knowing from experience, it will probably be going up, and winding (Kennon Rd vs Marcos Hwy for my Baguio friends). I was right. Now, the good thing about the "Old" Way, is that it has zero traffic. No one that is sane will go there anymore. It's the hard way, slow, and tiring, but it is filled with hidden treasures. Having to stop for over five times, and slightly crashed on a gravel part, I saw 3-4 waterfalls, and talked to a lady at the half-way point. I told her I was still doubting continuing, but she simply said, "Just take it slow and steady." I replied, "Okay. I guess I will continue." She replied, as she was watering her plants, "There you go." So when the local was convinced I could make it through, by the "slow and steady" method, that is what I did. After two miles later, I was exiting out the other end. Within a few minutes, and a little more climbing I hit my most intense 5km, downhill, 8% descent, reaching over 70kph, ending nearly at my campsite entrance in Franklin, NC. Was it worth it? Yes. Will I do it again? Probably. There is no crown or prize for those who do not finish the race. The "Old" way is often better than the new way.
Day 12 to Asheville, NC - today when I saw the Smokey Mountain signs and the Appalachian Trail entrance signs (for hikers), I realized this "mountain business" is not ending soon. It really is a lot of climbing. Got my first flat tire today in three years! I have had many tires go "bald" from wear, but not from puncture. I took my time (one hour), found shade, and reached the tube. Adjusted (loosened up) my tight rear wheel axle bearing races while I was in there - better than new! I had my first Cherry Coke today with lots of ice - two cups! I don 't normally drink Coke while riding. I get enough sugar from other forms during the day. M&M's has a Caramel version that I discovered that works good for me. And the SpaghettiOs Original has a pull top cover so you don't need can opener. NAKED drinks have over 68 carbs, Apple Juice 51, and Orange Juice 51. The athletes secret potion is carbs during the day and proteins before bed. Amazing. Yesterday, I mixed 1 full sized banana with an energy drink. I took off like a rocket. One banana has a lot of "drive" in it. It reminds me of the sound your engine makes when you shift into 1st gear to go up a hill. That is a banana. It is not "take off" lightening like an M&M but, 1st gear, slow burning, steady power for a certain time. I met a 77 yr old man, he said he was NC State Bicycle Race Champion for five years 60 yrs ago. I kick myself for not taking a photo of him. Another guy walked up at the same time to tell me how he used to criss-cross the country on bike when he was 15 yrs old. No GPS. No phones, No Google Maps, and you could not get motel unless you are 16. He crossed Europe and Senegal, Africa at a young age. I took no photos of him either!! What's my problem???? Listening so intense, forget to take selfie. Try better today. The campsites are getting better than 2019. They really know how to lay out the area, and know what campers need. My biggest need is electric plugs to re-charge everything: tail lights, head light, drone batteries, two phones, GoPro batteries, and up to three power banks. I have solar power, but only emergency on road for my GoPro batteries and my very simple power bank to keep my phone alive at all times. I shipped 9 lbs of cold weather gear and heavy rain gear, back to Missouri, so I am 9 lbs lighter now. One of my three, faithful water bottles since 2018 finally has a hole in it, and I managed to patch my air mattress with tire tube patch covered by gorilla tape. Works! Gorilla is one step better than duct tape. I crossing Black Mountain, NC tomorrow, the 25th. Here we go baby! Passed through a city called Clyde, NC. The name "Clyde" for a city is so funny for me. I made all kinds of inspired Mitch jokes about "Clyde." Wait for the video! 😂🤣
Experience of the Day #12 - will have to be the flat tire I got towards the end of a nice 7% grade. You know you have a flat when it feels like your wheel/tire is on butter. It has a slippery feel to it. This was my first flat in three years. I use Marathon Plus tires, German company, with production in Indonesia. I wear the tires out before they ever puncture. Even this hole came from a piece of metal found on the inside - BIG mystery??? I nearly take pride in fixing a flat in the middle of no where. It's satisfying to know you can do it alone. The first thing is find a safe, comfortable place to work. Get in the shade. After replacing the tube (I have two extra plus patch kits), I also adjusted my rear bearings and I was off. It took me 1 hour of relaxed work pace. Done. It is my second breakdown on this trip. The first was a snapped, broken chain, too dysfunctional to fix. That caused me to hitchhike in a truck for 7 miles to nearest bike shop, costing me six hours. This time, it cost me one hour. Self sufficiency is important. I feel sorry for the "Instagram Bikers" who cannot fix anything that happens to their bikes. They hardly know how to put air in their tires. At a minimum, every bicyclist needs to know how to change and/or patch their flat tire. This is mandatory. Do you own a bicycle? Do you know how to change your tire or patch your tube? If not, put it on your bucket list of things to do/learn in 2021. It builds confidence, problem solving, organization, systemic thinking, focus, patience, presence of mind, and many other virtues.
Day 13 to Marion, NC - I guess I never knew NC had this many mountains, hidden country roads, forests, creeks, rivers, trails, and beauty - really. NC really embodies a taste of KY, TN, VA all into one State! You will NEVER experience what I see by taking a car down the interstate. Google Maps bicycle feature, continually forces me off the normal car highways taking, generally, the "Old Hwy 70," or "Old Hwy this or that." The Old Hwys are the original highways 50-60-70-80 years ago. I can't believe travelers survived traveling the country utilizing only "Old Hwy 66 or 70 or whatever," especially the trucks. My route is always harder than if I was driving on interstate, but I do get to see a lot more "hidden treasures" back there. A lot of streams yesterday in the Black Mountain area. A "old hwy" now completely closed to cars, only for bikers and walkers. Lots of railroad tracks and trains! Go NC! My first heavy rain was today. I am so proud of my gear setup. I am 100% waterproof in all my things. The rain is not freezing, like I had in Oregon at 5,000 feet levels in 2019. I passed by (but could NOT see) the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC. It is the Largest Private Property Home in America built in 1895. 8,000 acres, 35 bedrooms, 43 bathrooms, over 2,300 employees. Built by the George Vanderbilt Family. The dates at the end of 1800 to 1910 appear to be like glorious building, and pioneering years. I see 1898 on buildings A LOT. It was the same year Bibles first went to the Philippines, too! [Note: 1898 is a year worth further independent study and examination]. I finished my day in Marion, NC with 94 kms, which is very significant considering the endless hills and climbs. At one point, on a road completely interior and bordered by just a few homes, I had to stop to rest four times, trying to get to the top! Your heart reaches a complete plateau of beats per minute. After only one-three minutes of recovery, you can go again. It's an amazing science - the body and it's limitations, etc. I decided to give NC four awards:
🏆1st Place for Most Dead Possums (road kill) on the Hwy.
🏆 1st Place for Most Car Repair/Car Sales/Car Junk Yards.
🏆 1st Place for Most Lawn Mowers.
🏆 1st Place for Most Men Walking into a Public Place with NO SHIRT on!! 🤣😂.
Aside, from all that, I had a guy give me $10, and a lady inviting me to bring my bike into the store out of the rain. I do see A LOT of "traveling highway people, hitch hiker types" and mental illness, demon possession types. Some guy was at a bus stop with hiking stick thinking he was in a rock band completely in fantasy, drug induced state. Many in NC. Mental illness is BIG along the highway, and roadside gas stations. Some people probably think "I" am a strange sight, but at least I am "sane." There are many that are obviously "insane." Simply too much sin, rejection, abuse, drugs, hardship, demonic activity, etc. One gas station I visited, sells cigarettes now that are "tobacco free" made from Hemp containing .3 TCP. Basically, legally "low grade" marijuana. Marijuana has 18-30% TCP. A guy told me, "These cigarettes are only strong enough to make a drug addict angry." Meaning, not enough "high kick" to even satisfy: .3 vs 18-30%. I have now completed 1,359 kms (844 miles) in 13 days. Day 14 will be Day Off. Only 606 kms (377 miles) remaining to Newport, NC. I expect to finish by June 1st, followed by DRIVING BACK to Saint Louis, MO in two days. 🚴🇺🇸🚗
Experience of the Day #13 - on the maps attached you will see a blue line and a yellow line. The "blue line" is the road that Google Maps automatically assigns to your directions request when you click the 🚴 feature instead of the default 🚗 feature. Cars traditionally follow the "yellow" Interstates and bikes follow the "blue" roads. You can instantly see how the "blue" route has more curves, winds around, crazy, hills, all over the place, compared to the basic "yellow." The vast majority of my trip has been on the "blue" line. These two photos are just yesterday screen shots. It's a real test sometimes, especially when you can see the actual INTERSTATE "yellow" highway off to your right or left, you can hear the cars zooming past 6X and 7X faster and more direct, and often flatter road, and here I am "going, up, around, over, through, and behind." I must confess that the "blue bicycle" route is harder, but it has the most "hidden treasures" there within: houses, historical markers, vegetation, live animals, streams, creeks, rivers, botanical items, quietness, etc. After 13 days, and 844 miles covered on mostly "blue" roads, I'm glad about it. There are too many principles, lessons, virtues, and truths that continually confirm that the "hard road, the narrow road, upstream, opposite way, against the flow, etc etc" is the profitable, or best road to take. Whether, it is sports, education, boot camp, spring training, job application, or whatever, the 'harder choice in the temporal, will most likely be the better one in the eternal."
“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few."
Day 15 to Wilkesboro, NC - I had a fairly strong day at over 114kms, 18 kph average, but I felt "a lazy-ish feeling" all day. I took two naps, one on a park bench, and one on the grass near gas station. I was not sick, but my body "felt not high performance" today. Still analyzing at this moment? Yesterday was FULL DAY OFF, but not sure if it was water/nutrition combination or what...??? Anyhow, I still did well in the end. Any distance of 100+ kms/day from this point on will bring me to my goal. I can tell I am out of the Black Appalachian Mountains now and heading "downward," but it is not sudden downward descent, but a gradual one 'hidden' under the disguise of "rolling hills." It appears the descents are getting more credits than the assents. I expect in TWO DAYS, either before RALEIGH, or after RALEIGH, my redemption draweth nigh, since we are headed towards sea level baby! I am [highly] toying with the temptation of Monday being a blowout day in which I travel the entire distance from Raleigh to Newport in ONE DAY. The distance is over 136 miles (218 kms) in one day. We'll see...??? I talked to old black man today and a Harley biker. The biker lives in cabin with no electric. The black man has two sons. He was approx 80 yrs old maybe. The biker was maybe 70. They both hang out at the store nearly daily. It is only store in the area. Nothing to do there except talk to people that stop at the store and get gas. I had two gas stations in a row with "closed bathrooms!" This is not good for travelers when they are the only "bathroom salvation" on this highway. I feel sorry for the women travelers that have 20-30 mile gaps with no bathroom. I'm noticing the locals in "this part" of NC are more talkative than those in Western part. Huummm??? I rotated my tires last night. I put the rear on the front and the front on the rear. This will enable them to "wear more evenly" and I'll squeeze the last bit of "rubber breath" out of each one. I noticed the FEDEX vans are Mercedes and not Made in USA vans. Honestly, and humbly, is there any American made van as good quality, and long lasting as a German Mercedes???? Really. Honestly, we should be challenged. When will we ever make a vehicle VAN that can compete with a German Mercedes? I wonder if it is possible to pass a Federal law that every highway have at least 18-36" shoulder? Yes, I know. I'm living in fantasy land maybe, but when these highway maintenance crews drop the asphalt, is there any way they can consider a 18-36" extra border/shoulder? Once, today, a truck came pretty close. I got it on video. I don't [think] he was angry and mischievous, but I [think] he really was not alert and sharp. I was reminded, that bikers can do all types of things to be SEEN, but it is STILL the drivers RESPONSIBILITY to not get distracted. I am ALSO a driver. Self Reminder: Do not get distracted. Page 4: Next is Winston-Salem, Graham, Raleigh, New Bern, Havelock, and Newport baby!!! June 1 is deadliest deadline. Victoria Metzger graduates Army Basic Training on June 3. Graduation is LIVE via internet. I will need an Internet connection somewhere. Probably a motel. I should be home to St Louis, MO by the 4th.🔥🚴🔥🔥🚴🔥🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸🏁
Experience of the Day #15 - I probably stop at up to 10 gas stations a day during my 1,200 mile bicycle trip from St Louis, MO to Newport, NC. The gas station is a type of oasis for the traveler. Everything is there: bathrooms, drinks, snacks, sitting booths, hygiene things, ATM machine, religious literature, grocery items, spare parts, coffee, medicine, pizza, sandwiches, etc. Some have air conditioning, some do not. Some have excellent bathrooms, some are "Out of Order" or "Employees Only." Some have showers for truckers. The cashier's have all types of moods: some talk forever, some are grumpy. Some are business only, and some are like your mom, "Hello darling", "Thank you sweety", "Anything else honey?" "Can I fill those bottles for you?" I could write a whole book on "American Gas Stations: The Home Away from Home." Yesterday, a cashier was counseling some old guy how to keep his wife from divorcing him, while entertaining three customers at a time. The gas station cashier/mama is a multi-tasking sight to behold. Some workers look like crack addicts, some are covered with tattoos, some look like bar bouncers, or UFC wrestlers. I see many "Big Show" types. When you mix in the arriving truck drivers, and frantic drivers, hungry kids, the Gas Station becomes a combination of a WWE entrance, counseling station, all you can eat buffet, gang hangout, and tobacco shop, or shopping center, to name only a few. The culture is so dynamic, yet sometimes you are the only customer for all morning on "deadville highway." I set up my tent and camped behind a gas station once on my 2019 trip. I have to say, one of the greatest experiences I always miss about America, when I am in the Philippines, for years at a time, is the "Gas Station Community." Yesterday, an old black retired guy, friends with an old Harley biker, seemed to manage all the public relations of the gas station. They would hang out there everyday like faithful employees, yet they were standbys customers. The old black man has his own fly swatter in which he would faithfully swat every fly that comes into the store. When you talk to him, he would never face you, but stand facing outside, talking to you from the side. The biker, would sit in the corner booth waiting for the next customer to chat with. He lived in a cabin down the road with no electric surviving off a solar panel to charge his cycle battery to light his cabin. Both men lived alone, and the only place to go during the day, where all the excitement is to be found is, you guessed it, "The Gas Station." Imagine what life is like, so simple, so 'off the grid,' that the only thing to do today is to hang out at the gas station? Amazing! I hope every Filipino friend of mine can experience the highway exit, American average gas station in their life time. The memories and experiences are worth gold.
Day 16 to Winston-Salem, NC - isn't there a cigarette brand with the same name as this city? I had a good 100+km day today which is on target. You can see by my map graphs that the elevation is gradually tipping lower, but it keeps going up before it goes down, just to keep you from getting lazy. It's as if the hills have a personality, "Hey boys! Metzger is almost done, and the ocean is getting closer, just give him a few more hills while we still have the chance, because after two more days, we will be forced to bow to sea level." Really, I could sense the gradual descent. In the beginning of the day, I tried taking a highway, because it was obvious on the map it is more direct Point A to Point B, but the lack of shoulder, and speed bump strip were too discouraging to battle with. I decided to abort and take the longer, county back roads. More on that topic in my "Experience of the Day #16" later. Today was pizza day. I had two slices for breakfast and two slices at 2:30 late lunch. I had a storm chase me, had a tail wind for about 30 minutes (nice) but then it started to rain - out and on with all the rain gear. Lots of civil war memorials along this route (1863 era). I can't imagine walking, horses, crossing rivers, forging forests, and fighting in the 1863 period. It must of been terrible conditions. I mean really terrible and suffering during that time with no automation, no vehicles, no phones, no air support, no food, no medical, no ammo, massive hiking, carrying, and wet and cold, miserable. I met an Indian (India) lady running a grocery store on the highway. Her Indian husband is owner since 1998. They are US Citizens already. I often ask these guys why the Indians are so attracted to the motel and highway grocery store businesses? I'm not getting any solid answers. I want to understand this better. Few of the cheaper motels are owned by traditional white, black, or hispanic people - It's Indians. Why? Is my question. There are so many old, classic, collector's items cars in NC. I see many collected on sides of road. People gather them, park them and let them sit for decades. If you want to buy old cars and restore them and re-sell them, NC is a good place to shop and bargain.Many many many. Oh, there is a coconut juice in the drink section I have been buying lately as a recovery drink. It's really good, but nothing beats the recovery, and power kick you get from the real coconut (buko) juice we buy along the highways in the Philippines. That juice is 100% untouched by any processing or added anything. Straight from the young coconut (buko) into your water bottle. You simply cannot beat it. Tomorrow, I have Graham, NC, and Raleigh, NC on Sunday, New Bern and Havelock on Monday, and finish by [most likely] Tuesday in Newport, NC. 🚴🇺🇸
Experience of the Day #16 - okay okay, I got it! Again, today, the highway to Winston-Salem, NC was obviously pretty straight, but the highway that Google Maps wanted me to take was "all over the place" with obvious hills, and round-a-bouts. Since, I am only four days from my finish line, I'm also anxious how to bring this to closure faster too. So, I started taking the auto highway. The problem is that there was hardly any shoulder, a massive speed bump strip and pretty much high traffic. It was a stressful strip and not very safe anyhow. After debating with myself, and arguing with the Google Map automated voice lady, who keeps shouting at me, "Make a U-turn, make a U-turn, make a U-turn," I finally decided to surrender and exit off and follow the "blue line" instead of the "yellow line." Nearly a few minutes after exiting the highway, and getting onto the Old Hwy, I passed a church with this sign: "Welcome Back to the Old Path." It was very creative of the church because the "Old Path" they are referring to has double meaning. 1. This old highway is, indeed, the original highway. I've talked about this in other posts. It's the road people used to have to take 50 years ago before new development began. We have thousands of these "old highways" in the USA. 2. They are also welcoming visitors to the church to experience the "old path" - the path of the Bible, Prophets, Jesus, etc. It's quite witty actually. I found it so "loud" and "obvious" I had to stop and take a photo and make it my Experience of the Day #16, because I have had this continual conflict of should I follow Google's direction to take these "older roads" or make my own route? As said before, the "older paths, older highways, original highways, though longer and more hills, offer more treasures, interesting hidden sights, and fascinations, that are simply passed by as a result of the new installation of highways and interstates. That's it. I stayed on the "Old Path" the test of the day. I can't promise I will do the same after Raleigh, NC cause Hwy 70 has the most memories for me and I know it's more direct and has a shoulder. I'll let you know. 🚴🇺🇸 P.S. I just learned today I crushed a Camsur virtual ride distance I was a part of in the Philippines for biking 2,555 kms and only 2,000 is required. It's one of the online rides I joined. That means I will have a T-Shirt and Finisher's Medal 🥇 waiting for me when I get home in September. I also had a sad revelation this morning that these last four days of biking will be my last four days until Sept, because from June 4 to Sept 5 is basically cross-country car travel. Bummer! I'm going to get out of shape again! 🏋️
Day 17 to Graham, NC - today was a longer, over 100+ km day in which the clouds were starting to show signs of rain. The thunder started half way through the day and then POP, it started coming down. I was not in a super mood for rain and I wasn't in a super hurry, so I would hide inside gas stations as long as needed. I was able to avoid pretty much the rainy day without getting super wet until I arrived at my campsite after hours. I pulled into this campsite that was under repair and the campers seemed like all long term campers. The guy beside me has been here for nearly six months!! He had accumulated so much junk already, his camp space looked like a junk site. My priority was to finish setting up my tent, get a quick shower and get INSIDE before the weather hit. I made it just in time. There is nothing worse than trying to set up your tent in the MIDDLE OF THE RAIN. Once I got inside, the water started coming down. I love my tent. It is 100% rain proof and I used all eight stakes, instead of four, to prepare for wind and storm. It rained pretty hard and the wind blew, but I was totally "snuggled in" until morning. My dinner was a can of SpaghettiO's and two milks. The hard part is getting up in the morning with temperature at 45F, and everything outside wet and cold. THAT is the part I hate. When you have to crawl out of your warm spot. You know what I mean? I saw a Amazon Prime delivery truck today, a German Mercedes. STILL, I wish American car manufacturers could rise to the challenge and produce a delivery- type van competitive to the Mercedes. Note the photo of the Buffalo Jerky. I bought it at a Dollar Store, but realized later, after my first taste, it is NOT for people, but is supposed to be a DOG TREAT!! Yuck!! 🤣😂 I'm waiting for first dog I see and he will get bag full of Buffalo Jerky. Tomorrow, I pass through Chapel Hill, Durham, and end in Raleigh.
Day 18 to Raleigh, NC - today was one of my shorter days, but coldest day. It started with my campsite the night before with 45F weather and drizzly rain. I had a hard time warming up. I think I stopped numerous times to add clothing, remove nothing, rotate clothing. I could not find my perfect combination. Eventually it warmed up to 52F which became manageable. At one particular gas station, there was a guy obviously addicted to gambling. One after another, he would buy these NC lottery tickets, scratch them off, check them, and go to the counter and get another one. The whole time his car outside running. He must of went through over 10 tickets. I saw many locals walking and/or jogging with few clothes comfortable, and I have multiple layers on! One big guy was walking down the highway with no shirt on! I was freezing! That is so different! I stopped at a McDonalds with only 20 miles remaining for a large coffee and head out again. I passed by the Raleigh airport. Nearly every three minutes, a plane was taking off - busy. I had some begging lady ask me to buy food, but when I offered her some of my biking snacks/ bars, she was not interested and turned and walked away. Experienced my 8th Greenway path type trail today. I've been hitting them at various cities. Google Maps directs you, by default, through these city paths they have taken the time and resources to build for walkers, bikers, joggers. Raleigh has a big one but I only was on it for a short clip. Raleigh has more hills than I remember before. Oh, often, when I would see a BLM sign in someone's yard, it would have a 🌈 rainbow flag in the yard also - kin spirits - rebellion and anti-authority, basically. It was always in a university town. Asheville, Winston-Salem, Chapel Hill appear to be big democrat/liberal strongholds, am I right? Tomorrow, is big 110-120+ mile day to New Bern, NC. 🚴🇺🇸
Day 19 to New Bern, NC - Whew! Today was my longest day. 15 hours on the road from Raleigh to New Bern. Over 191km (120 mile) day. I did not turn on my Strava tracker, at first, so I actually went over 200kms today. Raleigh has a massive bike/hiking/walking trail that Google Maps puts you on. It took me over four hours to simply get through that trail. Strong day. Good nutrition. The elevation really stopped after Goldsboro, NC finally, and Google allowed me to take Hwy 70E for over 30 miles at three (?) separate occasions - a real plus!! The last section on "Old Hwy 70" was my best. It was already dark but less than 10 cars had to pass me within a 30 (+/-) mile stretch. You know, it is safer at night than at sundown. Sundown, you still blend in with the surroundings. It's the worst time: sunrise and sundown, but at night, all my reflectors, and blinking lights can be seen from a LONG, OBVIOUS DISTANCE. The cars passing me would pass me WAY OVER in the other lane. This was all after 10pm already. I arrived at 11pm in New Bern. I met a young Marine at the Dollar General store hiring my last break near Cove City, NC. He just got out of the military a few weeks ago, finished his four years, and was already "living with someone." He said, "I got this deal going with this girl, but she is not my girlfriend. You know what I mean?" I was caught a little off guard. I haven't heard of that terminology before, and I was a bit tired anyway. By the time I realized he is basically "fornicating" with someone, living like a whoremonger, he was already making a dish for his car to zoom away. What a life. Looks like he learned ZERO about morality during his four years. Whoever the GIRL is, she is making a BIG MISTAKE getting connected with this guy. The "re-evangelization, and discipleship of a nation" is a real thing. We got the same problem in the Philippines. By the time you turn around, an entire new generation has been born and you have to "re-evangelize" again and again. June 1st is my last day to the Finish Line. It's a shorter day of less than three hours. I plan to stop in Havelock, NC (a Marine town) to get a haircut. I used to live here for nearly three years in 1986. ALL the barbers there know HOW to cut hair the way I like it! After uniting with our "awaiting vehicle" in Newport, NC, I just need to get insurance, and hope to be on the road by tomorrow, June 2. It will take me TWO LONG DAYS OF DRIVING to get back to St Louis, MO taking the INTERSTATE this time!! Imagine, 20 days to bicycle here and two days to drive back!!! 🚴🇺🇸💯🔥🥇🏆
Day 20 - FINISH LINE TO STARTING LINE - to Havelock, NC - my Finish Line for my 1,200 mile bicycle trip from St Louis, MO to Newport, NC got very much changed when a freewheel problem breakdown prevented me from reaching the Finish Line by my own power. Only miles (1 hr) from the Finish I needed to pull over and do some repair. I had to borrow a tool from a former Marine I met at a gas station. Not only did he lend me a tool, he brought me some snacks, and loaded my bike up to drive me to bike shop. The shop did not have my part. The closest place for the part was hours away in Jacksonville, NC. No way. I decided to end there in parking lot in Havelock, NC. A friend of ours, who is also a relative of co-workers in Manila, picked me up by surprise and brought me to my car location. I now needed to get insurance and Temporary License Plate to drive. Guess what?? Because of my SD Drivers License, I could not Register the car in NC. They gave me a Temp Plate good for only 10 days of travel forcing me to make a trip to SD in the next 10 Days which I will do. SD is 1,550 miles away! 😂🤣 Short plan: I depart to Fort Jackson, SC tonight (5 hours), to visit Victoria Metzger one day before her Army Basic Training Graduation, followed by return to St Louis, MO (750 miles), pick up Liberty for a trip to Mitchell, SD (680 miles), to Register Car, and return back to St Louis to prepare for trip as planned! Wow! Okay. Okay. Here we go. It is 0145 right now. I'm departing to Fort Jackson, SC in few minutes! Blessed be the name of the Lord!