Day 33 – Rest Day in Nashville, TN
We’re staying in the Hermitage Hotel in Nashville and it’s delightful although we looked like a bunch of vagabonds in their formal dining room last night. I’m sure the wait staff thought we would clean them out of their hot dogs and Kraft dinner! Ah, never judge a book by its cover!
So, here we are at Day 33 of a 40 day trip, just 575 miles and 6 days of riding to go! We’ve ridden 2,640 miles so far and they have been a very difficult 2,640 miles with the extreme weather conditions we’ve endured but yesterday made up for it all and the weather outlook for the next week looks promising. But to be sure, I went to a local bike shop and bought more cold weather gear! Just in case another Taos day emerges I’ll be super prepared. And there are some difficult days ahead. Tomorrow alone is 125.3 miles and 7,470 ft of climbing. To be followed on Thursday by 107.1 miles. You get the picture. There are no easy days, just some easier days and some harder days. And as I’ve shared before, I’m on top of the biking component; I’m very strong and fit and conditioned to long hours on the bike. I’s the weather and other conditions (traffic, roads, dogs, flats) that add to the stress.
A couple of stories for you. Like the day I pulled over for a break and a rancher in acid up pulled over and rolled his window down. To my surprise, he didn’t want to comment on my sexual persuasion or the stylishness of my biking shorts but to see if I was okay. That led to asking me where I was from and what I was up to. That led to him telling me that he liked to ride his bike and if he didn’t have to go and feed his cattle he might like to ride with me a while. Just an unbelievably super cool interaction with a genuinely great American. I think we both parted thinking that as much as we all seem different, we’re all the same. We want a decent life for ourselves, a better life for our kids, we all respect hard work and dedication, and we’re innately interested in others. The second story happened when I was on the ferry crossing the Mississippi River and I got chatting with a group of ladies (and one young boy seeming embarrassed that his mom and aunts and grandma were talking to me and were trying to get him out of the van to come meet this odd man) and the gals wanted to know what I was up to and wanted all the details. Well, I have that schtick down now so I told them of riding 35 centuries in 40 days and how we battled the elements and endured conditions that would make the Donner party cringe and in my mind should have had them in tears of sympathy for me and when I was done the apparent dominant female looks at me and asks “so do you do this every year?” T which my eyes bulged and veins popped and I silently screamed “are you crazy?” But then then just said in a quiet tone “no!” That wonderful interaction with these delightful ladies just reminded me that you can’t put in words the experiences and emotions I’ve gone through. It’s just too personal. The last story is of a couple in Oklahoma who engaged me in conversation (something that generally just takes a quick glance or a slight alteration in a breathing pattern) and so I told them of the story of this 65 year old struggling to bike across America. Somehow, they got the URL of my web site and the next report I get is from Cayce that a couple from Oklahoma mailed me (DSBAA2012) a check for $25. It’s that sympathy thing again that worked on Dave Parker ( and on Phil & Liz Young, Jeff & Nancy Marderosian, and Mike and Nancy Casey yesterday). Wait till I get to the point of telling about biking without shoes in the snow and having to fend off the wolves! The donations are going to flow in!!
Which nicely brings me to an update of the sponsorship component of the ride. We’re now over $63,000 with 141 individual donors and I think/hope more is coming.
So to new introductions. Meet Tom Miller of Mineapolis (photo is of him in street clothes in Printer’s Alley today). Tom is 64 and recently sold his rather large health care company and sends his grand kids postcards from the road. A terrific guy. Meet also Larry (56) and Kelly (50) Oaks from Houston Texas. They one a sheet metal fabrication business that is now being run by their children. But here’s the amazing fact. This is their 3rd XC biking trip with Trek Travel. I’m still trying to understand that. They a an incredibly nice couple and, as you’d guess, very strong riders. The last photo is of me in Printer’s Alley in Nashville today. I’m down a little more than 10 lbs since the start of the ride and I certainly haven’t had that as a goal. I take in, like everyone else here, an enormous amount of food, but you just can’t eat enough to cover the calories burned by being on a bike 8 hours a day. ALERT: this is not a desirable weight loss program!!! It will be a challenge to start cutting back on the intake this next week and for the weeks that follow so that I can maintain my present weight and fitness level. I don’t know I’d I’ve shared this but I’m signed up for a half-marathon (running) in Las Vegas on December 2nd and I’m committed to a sub 2 hr half. I did that because Cayce and I will be in Africa and Spain for the better part of November and I want to start running again to keep fit and that goal is my motivation.
I’ve also included a photo of the Cumberland River that I took at mile 70 yesterday. I took it because it was incredibly beautiful to see all the fall colors on the trees on the banks. I don’t know if the iPhone photo will do the beauty justice but I’m including it anyway.
I’m tired. I’m really tired. I want to be done but I’m sure once I’m back on the bike in the morning the “smell of the barn” will take over and pull me in to Charleston. Miss you all, but especially Cayce and Morgan and Malone. It has been a long time away from Cayce, in particular.