Thursday, October 11, 2012
10-8-2012 Back home!
Ahhh! Home sweet home. It feels so good to be back home after seven weeks of being on the go. What did we miss the most while on the road? Being able to hug our grandchildren and children, horseplay with our grandsons, our home, our own bed, our car and truck, and the simple comforts of home. Being able to relax and enjoy a morning cup of coffee, having meals prepared the way we prefer, being able to bathe in our own bathtub and shower in the privacy of our home. Being able to watch, listen, or read about local news. Our normal daily exercise of jogging and riding an elliptical.
Overall our trip went very well. We had excellent weather, with high temps in the 80’s starting out and high temps in the 70’s finishing up and of 56 days total only got rained on three times. Mechanical problems were as minimal as could be expected, one broken shifter cable and two flat tires (the same one twice, caused by the same wire puncture). The routes traveled were very good roads overall in excellent condition, however most of the roads through Missouri were narrow and winding with no shoulders and short site lines which made for potentially dangerous conditions. The 444 mile Natchez Trace Parkway is a bikers paradise. There are no trucks allowed, the speed limit is 50 MPH or less in places, no litter, very well maintained, scenic if you like forestry, and has 50 to 75 waysides with historical markers telling of the use of the trail over centuries and of the history in the area. The Great Rivers Route takes you through a wide range of geographical and cultural conditions, from the heavily forested northern Minnesota to Wisconsin’s dairy land, to the bread basket of Iowa’s and Illinois’ corn country, to Missouri’s Ozark mountains, to Kentucky’s Land Between the Lakes, to Tennessee’s woodlands and tobacco country, to Alabama’s pine plantations, to Mississippi’s forests and cotton fields, to Louisiana’s cypress swamps, bayous and antebellum mansions. The Great Rivers included the Mississippi (crossed 6 times), the St Croix, the Wisconsin, the Cedar, the Iowa, the Missouri, the Ohio, the Cumberland, the Tennessee, and probably 50 minor rivers too numerous to mention.
So, why do we do these long tours? There’s something exhilarating and exciting about riding away from all sources of security that make the tours a real adventure. Traveling by bicycle is not the dangerous endeavor many people perceive it to be. Certainly you are vulnerable when on a bicycle and you have to look out for yourself when in traffic. We try to ride as though we are invisible, no one else sees us and we have to look out for ourselves. With that in mind after touring 7600 plus miles, we have never encountered a hostile motorist or have ever felt threatened in any way. Motorists in general are quite courteous and are willing to give you a break. The general public is very supportive of our tours and we have been offered assistance numerous times by complete strangers without asking. The people we meet when touring are one of the things that make the trips so memorable, like the man in Shelby, Montana who bought us dinner so we would have a fond memory of Shelby, like the black man in Niagara Falls, Ontario who rolled down his truck window waved and hollered out “welcome to Canada” like Ole Erickson of Page, North Dakota and Dennis Olson of Whitefish, Montana who both invited us into their homes and fed and put us up for the evening. And we do it for our biking friends with hopes that our stories and our experiences will encourage them to do the same. The bicycle touring experience renews your faith in your fellow man, people have been so good to us.
The Great Rivers Route was without a doubt the toughest of the tours we have completed. However, one host of a B&B we stayed at had suggested that touring by bike is quite similar to the birthing of a child, the experience is long and painful and when it’s over you swear you’ll never do it again, but as time goes by you forget the struggle and the pain and it’s only a matter of time before you’ll want to do it all over again! I suspect she’s at least partially correct.
We hope you have enjoyed our blog as much as we have enjoyed the comments received.
Life Is Good!
John & Kahti
Posted by Kathi J at 7:24 PM