Epilogue: They're all Zero Days Now

By Ed Billings

Chapel Hill 

 

Back where it all began. 

Back where it all began. 

 

Since our return, many people have asked what were my biggest take aways are from this journey. 

That's a tougher question than you might imagine. 

The other leaders have summarized the generosity received on this trip, as well as the pleasure of watching seven individual boys transform in to a team of seven young men. They have commented on the beauty of this country, as well as the stress points lurking beneath America's surface. 

I'll let their words stand on their own. 

So what are my take aways? Two come to mind. 

To me, more than anything else we learned that people genuinely want to be part of something bigger than themselves. They long to do good. 

We saw it in the eyes of those we met on the road. We read it in their blog and Facebook comments. And we even heard it from the  much maligned media in their post interview comments, saying that these are the stories they want to tell, that need to be heard. It's just that bad news sells, like a cheap drug. 

Secondly, in mainstream America we've lost touch with the value of failure. As parents of young adults we tend to want to inoculate our children from it. In my opinion, that's a huge mistake. 

As our children age, we forget that failure is how we learn. We tend to only see the downside, and not the up. 

Every day on this journey, we faced failure right in the eye. We had daily setbacks, but we worked hard to calculate risk, making decisions based on the resources and people we had at hand at that given moment. 

We remained flexible, refusing to fall in love with the schedule. Some days we fell behind, others we pulled forward. In the end, we all made it home stronger and wiser then when we left. 

Combined, those are some pretty good life lessons.  

 

 

Getting to Done: Pushing to Wrightsville!

Denton to Fayetteville - 98 miles 

By Karl Murphy

 

Murph is BACK!

Apparently “No" really doesn’t mean no to Ed Billings.  

So scheduling two-deep adult leaders has been a challenge for this trip from the beginning.  Ed approached me several times, lastly in Wyoming about another two week stint...I told Ed I just had too many family and work commitments to take another section with Bikeloud.  So Eddy goes off and gets Steve and Dave to pick up 13 of the 15 days he is short and calls me…”Murph, I just need you Monday and Tuesday, can you make that happen. Please….as a favor to me.”

Fast forward two weeks later…here I am, Denton North Carolina unloading Steve Rothwell’s panniers and jamming a much leaner personal set of gear into them.  Steve was kind enough to set up the shared leader tent so all that was left was a trip to the convenience store to satisfy Ed’s never ending desire for ice cream and to discuss the latest “new goal” from the boys - breaking the longest day record with a 150 mile pedal on Monday.  Ed was kind enough to give me a heads up on the 150 chatter prior to me clipping in Sunday night.

The boys are spectacular.  Each day tabulating the miles, elevation gained, etc. To the best of my knowledge they have broken almost all Troop 845 past bike trip records - longest trip, most elevation in a day, most miles travelled etc…There are rumors circulating about.. that they have completed the "Longest Boy Scout Trip Ever.”  As a sales guy, I am quick to adopt the message that sells. The lawyers and scientists in the group can figure out the veracity of that claim.

In the “spirit of the bike trip” - which I have has some conflict with over the weeks - the boys make almost all the decisions.  They really only get overridden when it becomes a safety issue.  Our fearless leader Ed, laid out a very clear and logical thought process on why pushing for 150 on this Monday was a bad idea today… “Our mission was 7 scouts/3900 miles/raise $ for beloudsophie/safely…we have about 200 miles left, its gonna be super hot tomorrow, accidents happen when you stack risk factors, my mission is to get you across country safely and I am not going to fail 200 miles from home. There will be no 150 push today.”

A credit to their maturity, the crew took it very well…there was zero push back.

Afterword, during the morning pedal conversation…there is A LOT of chatter on the road…I was commenting to Ed how much the crew has evolved and matured since Montana.  

In June, they were a group of boys on a bike ride…some would say a magic carpet ride... today they are a team of young men on a mission..and darn close to crushing it!  

This evolution of maturity and leadership in the scouts is evident in the little things that define great teams. For example, we decided to get an early start Monday morning in anticipation of a hot day and a possible 150 mile push.

Ed, per usual for the past 65 days was awake first, firing up his stove for a cup of coffee….at 4:30...in the morning!  He and I watched the crew wake on their own at 4:45.  Pack their tents and gear in the complete dark with zero talk. They paired up in buddy teams and headed over to the adjacent c-store for breakfast and our planned 5:30departure.  The leader of the day reported in around 5:20 that they were all present, fed and ready to go.  No flats, no lost gear, no lost scouts….just an incredibly efficient and professional group of men on a mission and incredibly EARLY.  That’s how great teams start their day.

As we pedaled out of Denton in the early morning twilight, I knew we were gonna have a great few days on the road.

About midday, as is norm on the bike trip, Ed starts to look for a place to stay.  

At lunch he conferred with our adopted crew member and master mechanic Benjamin from Germany.  Ben says there are some good options on “warm showers” a self organized group of people across the country who offer warm showers and a place to sleep for adventure cyclists….I am beyond skeptical..”dude how’bout we get a hotel.”

 I lived in Fayetteville - lotta soldiers and a lotta locals who hate soldiers…for good reason…I can’t imagine someone opening their house to 6 scouts, two dudes and a German couple….sounds like the beginning of a Jud Apatow movie - help me with the titles 

“The 40 year old Boy Scout”

 “This is adventure cycling”

“Biked up”

“Warm Shower and Boy Scouts”

“Super Scout”

“Crew Leader, The legend of Fast Eddy Billings…”

“Forgetting Carolina and the perfect pedal”

“Bikeloud Express”

“The Wrench”

and my favorite “Get him to the beach"

As a back up plan (good assistant leaders always have a back up plan)  I find a perfectly located Hampton Inn….and against my better judgement…Ed puts the decision to the boys….again…spirit of the bike trip. Predictably they choose the “warm showers” random options.  My vision of 600 thread count sheets, perfectly fluffed pillows and a whirl pool hot tub dashed by the crews never ending goal to “keep it real.”  

I was wrong!

I must give props to the boys decision making and “warm showers.”  Our experience was both perfect and spectacular.  After passing through a depressed, post-apocalyptic free fire neighborhood of Fayetteville around mile 90...where the boys met some locals who thought Oregon was another country (literally) and Ed for the first time wondered if I was carrying a hand gun…"because we may need it Murph"...we arrived in the very suburban and classy Haymont neighborhood of Fayetteville.  

Haymont: Imagine Chapel Hill’s Westwood neighborhood meets Charleston set in Fayetteville. Beautifully redone Mid-century modern homes interspersed with  Antebellum mansions, perfectly manicured yards backing up to a golf course.

 

Our host Matt and Meeka saddle up for the ride to dinner.  

Our host Matt and Meeka saddle up for the ride to dinner.  

 

Our host Matt and his girlfriend Mary  - (form RAM winner 2010 - Mom’s your boys have met all sorts of hard core accomplished women athletes along the way) - have a nicely remodeled ranch set on a side street in this beautiful neighborhood.  The back yard comfortably fits our crew, his former main dining room is a fully outfitted bike shop with the aesthetic of an operating room…it was pristine prior to our arrival and soon full of bikes getting tune ups. Adding to the experience was their Australian Cattle dog Meeka who met everyone with a lick and a wag.  After showers, bike maintenance and much story telling, Matt took us to a local Italian place for a feast.  We pedaled of course. 

Fayetteville: The showers were hot, the air conditioning was cold, Mary drank more coffee than Ed and I combined and Matt showed us the ultimate in adventure cycling hospitality.

The Final Ride: 

by Steve Rothwell

Currie NC to Wrightsville Beach 32 miles (note: there's no blog post for Fayetteville to Currie. Other than waiting out a rain storm, it was an uneventful 75 mile ride) .

 

 

 

  

"The Minions" prepare for their last ride! 

"The Minions" prepare for their last ride! 

The cycling crew arrived in Wrightsville Beach safely on August 19th, just one day beyond their target date. After lots of hugs and a press conference, the cross country riders dipped their wheels into the Atlantic and then dove in to celebrate.

 

Pure joy! 

Pure joy! 

 Earlier in the day as we rode down Route 421 towards Wilmington, the crew stopped on the side of the highway to snap photos as they clicked over the 4000 mile point. I should point out that this is the longest Boy Scout cross country cycling trip on record. That isn't just for Troop 845 but for all Scout troops in the USA!

 

Reaching rhe 4,000 mile mark. One for the record books! 

Reaching rhe 4,000 mile mark. One for the record books! 

 

Once off the main roads and in the towns of Wilmington and Wrightsville Beach, the group rode at probably its slowest pace of the trip as we made our way to the finish. Chit-chat among the leaders was about how they made it safely across the USA, how a trip like this may have changed the Scouts' lives, and the kindnesses and characters that were encountered along the way. 

 

Having not ridden all the way across the country, I'll leave it to the true cross country riders (Ed and the Scouts) to say what they were thinking as they approached the finish. I can only report on the events of the evening before and the ride in.

 

The finish. The smiles say it all.  

The finish. The smiles say it all.  

 

Earlier in the day on Tuesday, John de Figueiredo had secured lodging in a building at Moores Creek National Battlefield (and Scout camp) in Currie, NC. Rain had been falling and it was certainly better to sleep on a concrete floor in a warehouse-like building versus a tent in wet grass.

David and Alethea Hardy and Diane and I arrived loaded with dinner and breakfast food for the crew. We unloaded the car and the ladies made their way to Wrightsville Beach where the other families were waiting on the Scouts' arrival. 

As we ate dinner the conversation revolved around what were some of the best moments of the trip. After 65 days you would think that the most recent events would be top of mind but that wasn't the case. The guys mentioned things like the homemade chicken & dumplings with lots of veggies at a church in Kentucky,  the lava field and view from the top of Mt McKenzie in Oregon, the buffalo in Yellowstone, the pronghorn in Wyoming, how friendly and welcoming the people are in Kansas, Missouri floaters (people on inner tubes floating lazy rivers), using air horns to stop dogs in their tracks, and more. The "best of" conversation continued around a campfire later that evening.

After a 70+ mile day, sleep came easy to the Scouts. The adults, on the other hand, all mentioned that they barely slept. It could have been thoughts of the tight timeline for the ride into Wrightsville Beach, the anticipation of finishing safely, or just the fact that such a great trip was coming to an end. For both the full-time riders and the part-time ones, this has been a big part of everyday life for more than ten weeks. 

For now it's no longer about new adventures but about recollections of an old one. Those recollections started as soon as we arrived to see family and friends in Wrightsville Beach. The day of celebrating was much anticipated and well deserved.

So what have I learned from the experience? 

First, the American people, no - the human race, is made up of mostly kind and caring people. At every stop the acts of kindness and willingness to share overwhelmed me. I saw this though Oregon, Idaho, Virginia, and North Carolina and the crew saw it in every State that they traveled. However, I'm sure that our German friends, Benja and Caroline, would tell us that they've seen it in every country that they've visited. People are good and kind and want to get to know about you and to tell you about themselves!

Second, this crew of Scouts is made up of seven fantastic young adults. I feel good about the future knowing that we have young men like them in the world. Their work ethic was remarkable. Their attitudes were always positive. They never complained about anything. They generally made smart decisions. They gave back along the way by helping others when they saw the opportunity. And they were guided by a man who demonstrated all of the same characteristics. The perfect role model. I'd gladly join them on another similar adventure.

Getting to Done, Part 2: Carolina on My Mind

Wilkesboro NC to Denton NC - 83 miles

By Steve Rothwell 

 

 

Nothing could be finer... 

Nothing could be finer... 

 

After an exhausting day on Saturday ending with a late dinner (where Andrew was snuggled by a lovely young lady while he slept at his table), Ed decided to let the guys sleep in until 7:15am. Our first stop was breakfast at a nearby dinner. Steve, our host from the evening before, decided to join us. Even better, he decided to ride with us for a few miles... over 50 to be more specific.

Steve had just gotten back from 9 weeks of cycle touring and was eager to ride. If he didn’t have to start work on Monday (he teaches at a local college where he helps high school dropouts get their GED), he would have ridden with us to Wrightsville Beach.  His knowledge of the local roads made our exit from N. Wilkesboro easier and safer.

We rode out of town through a valley that splits the Brushy Mountains. I’d say that the NCDOT knew we were coming because the road seemed like it was recently paved. We floated over easy rolling hills, around gentle curves, and we generally dropped in elevation. We saw houses and farms on large tracts of land. The sky was blue and, as the day progressed, not a cloud could be seen.

The guys are strong and settled quickly into their cycle routine. I wouldn’t say that they were great group riders but they do know how to ride as their own group. I’ll assume that they generate their own sort of efficiency since they have made it this far and are riding at about the average pace for any similar cross country group. On terrain like what we rode over the last few days, it was common that they would slow down and bunch-up going downhill and then they would slow down and bunch-up again going uphill. The accordion effect may have been a ploy to keep adults off the back or to force us to the front to smooth things out. Either way, it worked.

Sitting behind or in front of the crew gave me a chance to take in the scenery. We all recognized that there is something unique about NC much like every other State’s uniqueness. As we pedaled down the road, it was obvious that we were in North Carolina. I don’t know what it was… the types of houses, the hills, the trees. It just looks like home. I’m sure the guys saw it too. Max even mentioned how it just looked like North Carolina. I can’t image how that must feel after 63 days on the road.

At lunch, Ed arranged for a place to stay through the Denton sheriff. One of the officers said that we could use his five acre property behind a local business. That put us close to a few restaurants and a convenience store. Perfect! Now we just had to get there.

The next 30 miles went quickly although we had to make more turns than usual. That resulted in the occasionally runaway cyclist who would be out ahead and miss the turn.  On the positive side, little time was wasted and another mile or two is no problem for the guys.

The big challenge of the day was how to solve Ed’s clicking rear wheel problem. We don’t know what was actually causing it but to be safe, Ed ordered up a replacement bike to be delivered by Murph when he arrived to take my place. Once again, Murphy, Captain Logistics, made it happen. 

I listened in on the phone conversation that got it all rolling… Ed: Hello, Murph. I need a bike. Can you call Dean and get one of his. Murph: Roger. Ed: Text me if there’s an issue. Murph: Roger.

At 6:15pm Murph arrived at Rick’s Restaurant in Denton with a bike and an appetite. By 9:00pm I was headed back home to Chapel Hill a little disappointed about not riding for the next two days.


Getting to done!

The crew (along with Benja and Caroline) celebrate the finish. Read how it happened. 

The crew (along with Benja and Caroline) celebrate the finish. Read how it happened. 

Note: The final miles through Virginia and North Carolina had us hitting our sleeping pads very late, and we lacked cell coverage. It was no soft pedal home. The final posts will account how we got to "done". Here's part 1:

Wise Guys, continued...

Wise VA to Abongdon VA - 57 miles

by David Hardy

Michael was right. There was one more big, screaming, tough hill to get to the town of Wise. 
When we crested it, I looked back at the boys. "Please tell me that was hard for you, too," I pleaded.
They nodded politely.
It was now 5:15.
I checked my phone and hooked up with Michael. He was waiting for us at the turn into Wise.
He led us into town and we re-grouped at the Inn at Wise- a beautifully restored inn. We got better acquainted and learned about Wise.
Since the collapse of coal, the job loss in Wise has hit 74%! This beautiful little Virginia mountain town was struggling just like Hazard, KY and other coal towns. "Its the new normal," Michael said." 
But if anyone can get things turned around in that town, its Michael.
We followed him to a nearby church camp--Camp Bethel Ministries--that was closed for the season. The manager met us there and gave us a tour: bath house, showers, all the essentials. 
And when it came time to pay, Michael paid the bill. More BikeLoud magic.
By then it was close to 6:30 pm. We rode back into town and stuffed ourselves at an Italian restaurant and then rode back to camp for showers and sleep.
Most of the boys camped cowboy style. Nothing phases them anymore. For me, the screech owl kept me up most of the night!
The next morning we met Michael at the Inn for a free, delicious breakfast, David Margolies threw salt over his shoulder to get rid of the black cat juju and Michael sent us on our way.
Fifty miles to go. Destination Abingdon.
We had a great descent leaving town--a perfect way to start the ride.
Basically, it was an uneventful ride--made possible by David Margolies' salt trick.
We covered fifty miles in about four hours, and rolled into Abingdon about 2pm.

There we met Max's Grandfather who treated us all to lunch at a delicious barbecue restaurant and then we rolled into the Muster Grounds. 

The crew gets a history lesson at the Muster Grounds.  

The crew gets a history lesson at the Muster Grounds.  

The Muster Grounds were where the men of this region gathered to battle General Cornwalis during the American Revolution. Cornwalis threatened to lay waste to the area if the settlers didn't join the Loyalists. These men, mainly Scotch and Irish, weren't about to join the King's army. So, they took the battle to Cornwalis. They marched down to King's Mountain and wiped out a third of his army. Done and done.

 

A post feast photo at the Muster Grounds. Talk about hospitality! 

A post feast photo at the Muster Grounds. Talk about hospitality! 

 

Friends of Ed's church who live in Abingdon soon arrived and set up a massive feast for the boys. 

Steve Rothwell met me here, we switched bikes and I headed home, leaving the boys in good shape with four hard days of riding to go.

Warning: Dog Crossing! 

Abingdon VA to Wilkesboro NC  - 90 miles. 

By Steve Rothwell 

  

I'm back! For two days that is. Arrived on Friday to ride through Sunday from Abingdon, VA to Denton, NC. We will probably cover around 165 miles.

So what did I see when I arrived? They were dirty, long-haired, bearded, their gear is road worn, and their XC red shirts just a little more loose as they have been hand washed dozens of times. They looked great! They are a tight group! 

I can't wait to ride with them.

 

I climbed  into the tent after dark on Friday night expecting heavy rain. We watched the flashes of lightning over the mountains to the south... our route for Saturday. Fortunately, the clouds moved on without issue. The stars were visible by the time I settled in to sleep.

By 5:30am I was awake and drinking tea while Ed enjoyed a coffee. Amazing how I stepped back into the old routine. By 6:30 the guys were awake and by 7:00 we were rolling out for breakfast complete with Caroline & Benja on their tandem.

Breakfast was at McDonalds. Then we did some get-on-gettin'-on. We rolled through sleepy Abingdon with Damascus as our short term goal. Abingdon is an endpoint on the VA Creeper Trail but we chose to stay on main roads to get to Damascus. Damascus, also on the Creeper Trail is a through point on the Appalachian Trail.

We stopped in Damascus' only hiking store and learned about some Blue Heelers up the road and were told to avoid them at all cost. These especially vicious farm dogs liked to attack anything that moved and have been know to tear panniers off moving bikes. 

We decided that 5 miles on the Creeper Trail would be wise. The surface was general good but it did ultimately cause a broken spoke on the tandem about 15 miles up the road on a fast descent.

 

When it's hot, take your break inside the C store beer cooler. There's always a solution... 

When it's hot, take your break inside the C store beer cooler. There's always a solution... 

After the repair we rolled unceremoniously into North Carolina. Five miles in we realized our achievement and we were surprised that there was no Welcome to North Carolina sign. I'm sure the welcome to come will make the disappointment go away.

The route ahead included some good climbs and wicked 6 mile long, 8% grade descents. Fortunately any rain clouds produced their output before we arrived. We had wet roads in some places but generally dry.

Once near Wilkesboro the search for a place to stay started in earnest. We considered a hotel until Benja found a "Warm Shower" (think couch surfing for bikes) place to stay.

Steve, our host, is fantastic! He is a retired corporate pilot who just got back from 9 weeks of bike touring in the Northeast. He opened his to house to us, let use true wheels in his workshop, and joined us for dinner at a great local restaurant. He'll ride out of town with us tomorrow.

For now... Sleep.

Watch Out for That Black Cat

By David Hardy

Hazard to Wise - 68 miles

Part One.  

 

It took is a long time to get to this sign.  

It took is a long time to get to this sign.  

 

A restful night in the Presbyterian Church cottage did wonders for everyone, and a few minutes after sunrise we were leaving Hazard and our fantastic hosts for what proved to be a really tough day.

By now, you may have heard that the scouts are extremely superstitious. They constantly knock on wood and see omens around every corner.
And I don't blame them. Today was a good example.
David Margolies saw a BLACK CAT!
If he had only shared that news with me and Ed, things might have been better!
We decided to take our chances on HWY 21 to make good time with a direct route. But we had problems almost immediately. First, Andrew noticed that his rear tire was low. No, it was flat. 
Understandable since the shoulder we were on was full of debris. Max and Benjamin, our new German friend, took care of it quickly. But ten minutes later, he flatted again! This time we switched tube and tire and Benjamin really showed his triathlon background by speedily fixing things.
Two tough climbs followed.
We then decided to take a secondary road. That was when David M's pannier came off. Fixed it and decided to eat an early lunch.
Back on the road, another pannier problem.
We finally started making good time when we hit a road crew. They had emptied out a chasm that we were not going to be able to cross. They said a dirt truck was coming, and once they packed it, we could cross. Twenty minutes later we carried the bikes across. 
Then we were really making good time when I heard a sound. 
"Mr. Hardy, your tent fell."
I swung back but didn't see it! Crap, was it back at the construction site? I rode all the way back there-at least 5 miles- and it wasn't there. So I rode all the way back to where the scouts were waiting. No tent. 
"Just keep going,"I said. "I'll buy Karl another damn tent."
And then Andrew found it right where I dropped it in the first place. Another hour lost. My bad.
By then, we still had another thirty miles to go. But we simply had to make it to Wise, Virginia so we kept humping it. We had to get back on the major highway and take our chances with the wide shoulder and better visibility.
Around ten miles later, we hit the hardest climb since the Ozarks. The road seemed to go straight up, and by then, the afternoon sunwas baking.
We climbed for at least a half hour, and it was much harder than Hoosier Pass in Colorado. Believe me, I was there for both.
Finally, at the crest of the hill was a Marathon Gas Station. 
We limped into its air-conditioned environs and pillaged it BikeLoud style.
I looked out the window of the gas station and saw a sign welcoming us to Virginia. We were getting close.
Then I asked Ed where we were staying that night. 
"Good question," he answered. 
We both grabbed our phones and started finger pecking. It was 4:15 in the afternoon.
On a whim, I decided to call the Wise County Tourism Office. Best decision of the day.
A new saint emerged on the BikeLoud venture: Michael Wampler, Director of Tourism and Marketing for the county.
I blathered on about who we were and what we needed.
"I'll call you back in a half hour," Michael said. "Start pedaling towards Wise. You've got one more big hill."
Rejuvenated, we dashed to the Virginia sign and took a photo. 
Max came up to me, "We are now in a state that borders the Atlantic," he pointed out with a big grin.

The Dukes of Hazard

Booneville KY to Hazard KY - 48 miles

by Dave Hardy

A dense fog settled in over the town of Booneville, so dense that we were forced to wait until 9 o'clock to get started. One minute we had zero visibility, and it was just too dangerous to ride, and the next, the sun burned through and we were on the road to Hazard. 

We had three stiff climbs, and then descended into Buckhorn for a break.
A guy there told us the next three hills were the hardest of the whole trip, but the boys went right up them and we had some crazy descents hitting close to 40mph.
With about ten miles to go we got on HWY 15S and headed to Hazard, enduring  crazy traffic and a shoulder full of debris. How we made it through that stretch without a flat was beyond me.

 

The minister gives a good overview of the towns socioeconomic issues.  

The minister gives a good overview of the towns socioeconomic issues.  

 

Ed had reached out to a Presbyterian minister, Ellen Peach, at the First Presbyterian Church of Hazard, and she met us at the church with open arms.

She talked to the boys about the economic and social challenges that had hit the town since the collapse of the coal industry. The church now plays a major role in helping the town through its challenges. Ellen graciously offered a cottage for the boys. We have bunk beds, a shower and air conditioning. On top of that, the church has a monthly community dinner and we timed it perfectly : corn, green beans, tomatoes- all from the local farmers market! 
A great way to rest up before going off the map and heading south to Virginia. We're exactly a week out with lots of miles to g

Straight Out of Florence...

Note: The Crew would like to chime in about their developing subculture. 

 

With apologies to Dr. Dre.  

With apologies to Dr. Dre.
 

 

The Bike Trip Subculture

By: David Margolies and Andrew De Figueiredo 

While isolated from others and exposed to only the same eighr people unyieldingly it is not uncommon for a group to create its own customs, sayings and rituals otherwise known as a subculture. The Bike Loud Crew is essentially, at this point a minimalist nomadic tribe, making their way from town to town hunting in gas stations and gathering from Dollar stores. 

The Scooby

The Scooby

 

One of the staples of Bike Trip culture is the coveting of THE Blue Scooby. Elusive and rare, the Scooby has become a valuable commodity comparable to gold in its weight. 

While interacting with only the same eight people, there are commonly said words which are exhausted after heavy usage... Unless said in a different tone or even substituted for a word that is non existent in the English language or has a completely different meaning.

Imagine going to Jamaica for the first time with no knowledge of the local accents and the different dialect of English used. That is what it would be like to join the bike crew at this stage of the trip.

Among our most used terms unfamiliar to the "outside world" is "Punishment" The term came about on our first night in Triangle Lake, OR. Alex was using the restroom at a gas station and after he had concluded his visit, Brian asked the attendant of the convenience store where the restroom was located. The attendant replied with directions   including instructions; "Just don't punish the toilet like your friend over there." Since then the phrase "going to the bathroom" has not been used. 

Brian knocks.  

Brian knocks.  

 

The people of the bike trip are a superstitious one. While some cultures practice rain dances and others sacrifice sheep, we obsessively knock on wood. Anytime something is said like... "No rain today" or "looks like we have a tailwind" the entire crew proceeds to locate a tree, table or their cork handlebar tape and knock twice. It is not uncommon to be passing someone and see them controlling their bike with one hand and knocking on their handlebars with the other. 

If we were to be a tribe, Brian would be our medicine man. It is rare to see him not knocking on wood or telling people "don't jinx it." It appears his spells are working.

 Just like the ancient Greeks the bike crew has an Oracle... Ed Billings, and the spirit that posses him is "THE Weather App" This is no normal app, as he so frequently tells us. It was developed by a mysterious meteorologist that Ed knows, or so the legend goes. We rely on our prophet solely and loyally for all the knowledge about the sky above and what is to come.


The Bike Trip is its own autonomous civilization that seldom contacts people ranging outside of the tribe. We have our own dialect of culture that may seem odd to an outsider, but due to time and isolation, it seems completely normal to us. At least we can still realize it, but don't have the same expectation when we reach the beach. We are fully immersed, bikin' it and likin' it. 

The Road to Booneville

 

Berea to Booneville - 54 miles

 

Ed let the boys sleep until 7am-which was greatly appreciated. Some of them have said that when they finally get home they're going to sleep until school starts. 

Breakfast at McDonalds and still on the road by 8:15. Finally got to see Berea on the way through town-a quaint college town that deserves more than the RV park on its border.
Our destination was Booneville, only about 50 miles away, but it took a big chunk of the day to get there. A lot of hills, road construction, and dogs made the trip arduous. 

 

A typical roadside stop. Note the airhorn in the jersey pocket.

A typical roadside stop. Note the airhorn in the jersey pocket.

We are loaded down with air horns to put the kibosh on aggressive dogs. We started calling Sam "Darren Wilson" for his tendency to blast the dogs just for barking!

We had one long climb outside Berea appropriately called Big Hill, then lots of rollers that I, personally, like least. 
Finally, around 2pm, we descended into Methville, I mean Booneville, for a late lunch at a friendly diner that graciously divides smoking and non-smoking by a 5 feet high wall in a ten feet high space.

 

Will crushes his double cheeseburger, hold the cheese. Don't mind the cig smoke.  

Will crushes his double cheeseburger, hold the cheese. Don't mind the cig smoke.  

The Presbyterian Church offers a pavilion and a field, a shower and a port-a-John- many thanks to that fine church! We ran into our German friends, set up camp, played cards, went back to the diner, more cards, then asleep by 9pm.

 

A cooling trend is expected, but the air seems damp. 
Next stop, Hazard! I want to knock wood every time I say it.

This lab joined us in camp. The boys named him Meth. Get it? 

This lab joined us in camp. The boys named him Meth. Get it? 

Another Day, Another RV Park

 

Herrodsburg to Berea - 48 miles

A pleasant night under the stars in H'burg, breakfast at McDonalds, then on to Berea. Brian's face looked a little swollen, but not a hint of complaint.

 

Brian takes a parking lot spin on the tandem with Benja.  

Brian takes a parking lot spin on the tandem with Benja.  

One highlight of the trip has been our companionship with a young couple from Germany, Benjamin and Caroline who are riding a tandem across the country, and we frequently end up at the same destination every afternoon. They're very fit, friendly and fun to get to know. When they finish next week, they're off to Heidelberg to teach school. I think they're amused by the banter of the boys.

Anyway, today's destination was Berea, and truthfully it was an uneventful ride. A lot of steep  hills, but the boys are so fit that nothing phases them.

At the edge of Berea we found an RV park, settled in and headed to lunch. The usual friction between Taco Bell and Subway led to a split decision.

Laundry and showers back at camp, Italian food for dinner, a rousing game of spades, and some discussion about the final week. A lot of miles and logistical issues to resolve. I can't believe they're due in Wrightsville in 8 days!

 

Kentucky Blues

Bardstown KY to Herrodsburg KY - 61 miles  

by David Hardy

I arrived in Bardstown, Kentucky about ten pm Saturday night. Bardstown is the start of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, and the boys were camped about a mile from the Jim Beam distillery. I was tempted to show up a day later after taking the tour. But Dean had my tent and bike waiting for me, so what could I do?

My first day back with the Bike Loud Boys and it was not an auspicious start. Whether or not we'll make our arrival date of August 18 is hanging by a thread, and things need to go right to make it happen. A good 90 mile dash to Berea was key to the plan.
Things started out well with the boys on the road at 7:05. In the wrong direction. "Why are we headed west?" Asked David Margolis. It was a good question answered 5 miles later when we turned around. 
Okay. No big deal. So we lost ten miles. We could make it up with a brisk 100 mile day and it was still early.

 

An unscheduled stop at the ER. Nothing too serious, moms. That's the patient riding in, second to the left.  

An unscheduled stop at the ER. Nothing too serious, moms. That's the patient riding in, second to the left.  

So we kept humping and ate up 25 miles by 9am. Then we heard the three blasts of an airborne. Trouble behind the main group, Brian had run off the road, coming to a stop between two trees. He had a small slice on his cheek, and a torn jersey. 

All of these events happened within a half mile of Abraham Lincoln's birth site. 
Ed applied first aid, Max worked on Brian's bike, and then we found a golf course pro shop to practice our putting. Just seeing if you were paying attention, dear reader. We actually went to the pro shop to get ice for Brian's wound.
A few minutes later, Brian felt better and we decided to push on to Herrodsburg where there was a hospital.
Two hours later we rolled into town and found the hospital. Ed had to make the call he dreaded most: a call to a mom telling her that her son has been in an accident.

Two stitches later Brian was  released and we got more first aid at Poppa Johns in the shape of a pizza. Brian none the worse for wear. 

 

The patient awaits treatment. 

The patient awaits treatment. 

We found a great county park five miles up the road with a pool and pavilion. A local church group under the pavilion fed us dinner and all was good in Herrodsburg. Except that we have lost the 18th arrival date for good. Our new target arrival date is August 19.