Interactive Route Map

Friday, September 30, 2011

The past few days...


Monday I camped at state game lands after going through King of Prussia, West Chester & Quarrysville. I passed lots of amish horse & buggies and everyone waved. Went into sasquehannock state park thinking it would be an open park, instead I found myself on a road with fencing on both sides and posted signs everywhere. Managed to find a spot at the southern part of this "park".

Tuesday- passed the susquehanna river & damn was it ugly. Construction on both sides of it with water somehow flowing in converging ways and meeting under the bridge. The fog & low cloud level didn't help with the awry feeling of this whole area either. Passed through Stewartstown after hitting a dirt road and having to walk my bike up it for a while. Got yelled in town on two separate occasions for rolling through stop signs- psh motorists should know that us cyclists are above the law! Went into shrewsbury after thinking about whether it was McDonalds or Burger King that gave you a cup & self serve- unlimited refills. Turns out McDonald does as I stopped there and had a greedy amount of 4 refills. Went into the UPS store where the nice ladies asked me if I was living "out of the back of my bike" as I had no return address to provide them with for my shipment. Happily I said yes, in awe of how free I really am. Codorus state park was really beautiful, stopped there for a swim & would have camped out if it would have been later in the day. Went through Hanover & Gettysburg, both equally pleasant towns. After that it all went to shit. Tried climbing cold springs road to get into Michaux state forest. The grade was getting really steep and I had to turn around as it was nearing 6 o clock with no camp spot in sight. Blazed through Fairfield with little luck. Finally found a spot on the low side of a dam on route 116 after trying to find one on a golf course. The weather called for thundershowers and heavy local flooding. Scared that the dam was going to burst or overflow up top and take me with it I got little sleep.

On wednesday I climbed route 16 to Blue Ridge Summit right on the border of PA/ MD border. The whole town had a northern us mountain town feel, not that I've ever been there but from what I heard and saw that they were like. Couldn't resist buying a 30g protein bar when I saw it in the store, ate it like there was no tomorrow. Continued south into Maryland and then west Virginia. Went into harpers ferry in hopes of buying a sleeping bag liner to sleep in (it's way too hot for my 20 degree down sleeping bag) but they didn't have one. Had to spend more time on the freeway climbing the hill that I just flew down. Took side roads south while staying on the western side of the Shenandoah river & blue ridge mountain range (and therefore effectively avoiding some major climbing) Ended up somewhere just south of the west Virginia / Virginia border & stayed in the backyard of a church. A really nice fellow from the house in front of the church came by asking me if I needed anything. The first sign of "road magic" (as opposed to trail magic on the AT) that I've come across. Thankyou! It got a bit cold at night & I had to rely on my sleeping bag to keep me toasty. It the morning I made tea. All is good in the world.

What's that smell?

Tue, Sep 27, 2011- Today, I decided to stop at state park and go for a cool, refreshing swim. It was great, except that after I got back on the bike I still kept smelling this unsettling odor. Was it my clothes? No because I was walking around in them after my swim with no stink. My socks? Shoes? Nope they're located too low for my nose to really pick 'em up. Finally I figured it out, it was my helmet. Yeap, the thin padding inside and the side straps really start to hold an odor after being on your head (and un-shampooed hair) for 8 hours a day. No worries, washed it out at the state park bathroom and now all it did was keep my head cool since it was soaking wet. Problem- solution. Simple & the way things should be.

Monday, September 26, 2011

From a barnes&noble hotspot..


It's day 5 of my trip! I've made it to Philadelphia & decided to stay the night. Going to pick up a rear rack and some water bottles today & then it should be smooth sailing down to NC through Virginia. Haven't decided if I'm going to go into DC yet.

The areas I've been passing through have been a bit too busy for my liking. I chose the route I did mainly due to the fact that I've always wanted to see Cape May, southern NJ shore & Philly, but now I can't wait to be out of here. The mosquitos have left a bad taste of Jersey in my mouth anyway, as my days have consisted of either riding or hiding in my tent from the hundreds of mosquitos buzzing around it. I've become quite good at setting up camp in under 2 minutes though.

My first "camp" spot was a beach side pavilion near Seaside Heights. A police cruiser came by late at night but I doubt he saw me. I was woken up at 6 in the morning by a lady walking her dog; asking me if I'm alright. I told her I was, turned around and slept for another hour.

Second night around I slept near a commercial for-sale building, and the third a power-line clearing. Camping has been one of those nagging worries that I had before leaving, but it turned out to be no problem at all. Every hour I pass dozens of suitable tenting areas that would kept me away from the public eye while providing a quiet nights rest. I did stop at one camp ground though just to ask what they were charging. Turns out 50 bucks doesn't go far these days; it'll get you a 10x10 section of dirt for one night.

While on the road my competitiveness keeps my speed up. I don't know who or what I'm racing against, but seeing anything below 15.5mph on my Garmin is unacceptable. Surely the road will beat me up over time and I will naturally slow down, but for now the fact that I'm dragging a 50 pound trailer behind me seems to have no impact on my mental stubbornness. The terrain in New Jersey has been all flat, with bridge crossings peaking in elevation.

When I first started my tour I had zero miles logged in with a handle-bar bag and a trailer. After 40 miles I finally got the hang of pedaling while standing (and not wobbling like a crazed drunk) and came to terms with my lack of available acceleration. I took both bags off for the first time today and couldn't keep my handlebars straight. All I could think was; "My handlebars can turn this fast? Damn." Soon enough I got adjusted to the feel and was pacing cars just like back in NYC.

The first part on my trip- integration, (ie. setting up a routine, planning my route, bag organization, gear testing) is complete. Now that I've got everything under wrap I'm ready to really start enjoying my new care- free adventure. Will try to get some more photos up soon! Thanks to everyone for your support. -W

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Toms river NJ, 30 mile day

Who knew random pavilions near the beach had public wifi? Much less electrical outlets! Who cares, this is awesome.

Started today around 6 pm and biked til 8 pm, found this pavilion after fearing I would have to bike all night. It's kind of close to the road but not too bad, I'm overjoyed that there are no Mosquitos.

Eatin' some almonds and chillin', life's good. Haha. No tent needed tonight as this lovely pavilion has a roof, just hoping it doesn't get windy & rainy at the same time.

Tomorrow Im planning on passing through atlantic city & end at Cape May. Always wanted to see cape may Victorian houses. Saturday I will probably head north a bit and go into Philly (yes, I want to run up Rocky's steps)

Great start so far!

& so it starts.

Today is September 22nd, 2011. I am about to embark on an journey that many only dream of. With my first pedal stroke and my handlebars pointed south, I will start a life of adventure and vagabonding. First trek- bicycle from New York City to Florida.

Prologue:
I finished cleaning everything out, made sure my gear was good to go, and took one final trip to my storage unit to unload some more junk. I took a ride around the place I've been living for the past 9 years- Staten Island. Everything was different. Drivers cutting me off and not using turn signals didn't bother me, pot holes didn't bother me, ugly cars and pollution didn't bother me. Instead old memories filled my head. Places that I had good times at just hanging out, places that I first went to when I came to Staten Island. I went by my old schools and I didn't think about the hours of torture I endured there doing absolutely nothing, wishing I could be outside. I thought about those few times that I actually enjoyed it. I thought about some of my past teachers whose classes taught me a great deal. I visited my old childhood friends houses and wondered what they would be doing now if they were still here.It was nice to call a truce with the place that I have been cursing for a while now. It also feels good to know that for the most part, I am leaving on a positive note.

With that said I'm ready to move on; to see new places, live through new experiences, and find what really matters in life.