July 30th

I discovered all of the post-processing features on my phone. Get ready for some fly-ass photographs 🙂

July 30th

Did around 65-70 miles today, I arrived in Connellsville, PA around 8. I’m going to try to get to Cumberland, MA (the end of the GAP trail, 91 miles from here) tomorrow. Now that it’s just me and the trail, I won’t have to worry about losing time jumping on and off the highway, avoiding getting hit by traffic. The trail is pretty nice and level, so I can get into a nice mediative state after a little while, which is pretty nice. Giving me time to think. Bought some gloves and new handlebar grips to help with my numb hands. Also going to need to locate a new frame pump, as my old one just fell apart and some of the pieces fell onto the trail somewhere without me noticing.

Also, I seem to have lost one of my two pairs of underwear. Probably fell off when it was drying on the back. I need to secure my loads better. Dammit.

The river I’ve been passing by all day is called the Youghiogeny (I have no idea how you’re supposed to say that, maybe yough-ginny?) My knees are feeling better, and I’m really enjoying the trip.

Discovered my frame pump was broken when I stopped to help a guy named Bill with a flat on the side of the trail. We managed to jerry-rig something together and he gave me a map.

In other news, I had birthday cake ice cream for the first time. Pretty good, though maybe only one scoop next time.

oooooo, how romantic of me.

oooooo, how romantic of me.

Steel milllz.

Steel milllz.

Pittsburgh selfie.

Pittsburgh selfie.

Yep.

Yep.

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July 28th – July 29th

July 28th

Just looked over my mileage. I went about 80 miles tday. Pretty awesome. I’m highly satisfied after yesterday. I suppose that the first day is always the worst. My front rack broke off first thing in the morning and about decided to hitch a ride home, but after careful redistribution, I managed to get everything onto the back of the bicycle. We’ll see how it works. A man named Terry is letting me use his backyard as a campsite outside of Jewett, Ohio, a town that looks exactly how it sounds. I’ve passed through about a billion of these small towns, and I really enjoy it, even though I get strange looks from the locals when I scoot through on my bike.

Beer and Pepsi have taken on a new meaning in this heat.

July 29th

Writing this from a comfortable little hotel outside of Pittsburgh called the Neville Motel. Run by a very nice older lady, and also very affordable. I figured because it was cheap, I’d spring for it, get a chance to take a shower and wash my clothes in a sink.

Did around 65-70 miles today, would have done more, but damn, there were a lot of hills. I’m not Lance Armstrong and this isn’t the Tour de France, because I am walking my bike up these hills. Bought a pizza, ate the entire thing. Feeling pretty good.

So far, my bike’s holding up well. My knees are bothering me a little bit, and my palms are starting to get numb, both things that would be expected.

Nope.

Nope.

Selfie at the motel.

Selfie at the motel.

July 27th

In line with every thing anybody ever says about the first day of a trip not being that nice, here we go:

July 27th, 2013

Got off the train at 6am this morning. It took me a minute to get out of Cleveland proper, no thanks to my Google map directions, which were pretty confusing. It’s been raining all day, with no sign of it letting up any time soon. The rain really slows you down to a crawl, and I had to throw on my poncho and all my protective gear for my bags. I think I clocked about 50 miles, which was a little less that I was hoping for, but hey, no big deal.

The Erie Canal isn’t that nice looking. Pretty swampy most places. There was a part that I really liked, a bunch of little houses along the canal that had crazy decorations all over the place. One house was painted red, white and blue and had “God Bless America” painted on the side in giant letters; additionally, the satellite dish on the roof was outfitted to look like an anti-aircraft gun, with stenciling that said “USS Patriot.”

For dinner this evening, I  have reverted back to age 12–doughnuts, cheesy crackers and apples.  I got lost a little in Barberton, OH, and ended up in Norton, OH, which is where I’m going to stay I think. I could only find one hotel, and it was full, so I think I’m going to sleep in the Norton Panther’s Softball team’s dugout.

FYI, I didn’t get killed or anything. The benches were pretty uncomfortable, but I didn’t get rained on. At a Dunkin’ Doughnuts right now, stay tuned.

Some pictures:

Where I started the Erie and Ohio Canal Towpath

Where I started the Erie and Ohio Canal Towpath

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Super high.

Cleveland:

Bridge:

July 25th – July 26th

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Chicago’s Union Station

Here’s my first two journal entries. Pretty uneventful stuff, just riding the train.

July 25th, 2013
Boarded the train around 3:30am. It was rough saying goodbye to the family. I’ve never been that great at goodbyes, and this time was no exception. I’m going somewhere where I don’t really have any friends, so it kind of felt like I was leaving my last connection behind.

On the train, I thought I got lucky and scored two seats to myself, which turned out to be wrong when at 5am I was shaken awake by a man calling himself “Mr. T” who informed me that he wanted the window seat. I discovered later that this guy’s seat was somewhere else, and he wanted to sit next to the window, but because I’m a pushover, I let him sit there, where he proceeded to talk extremely loudly about why he likes the train (getting to stand up and move around, earning mileage points). He couldn’t seem to figure out how to use the reclining function on his seat, so I helped him with that as well. He kept talking until around 6am, at which point I think he got bored with me going “uh-huh,” “yeah” and “ok.”

Nothing feeds a deep sense of ennui like riding on a train.

July 26th, 2013
MORE TRAIN. I finished reading my book, and now I am spending my time revising some pages from my book. I’ve eaten nothing but granola bars, cherry tomatoes and tortillas with peanut butter. I have no idea why I selected these as my train foods.

I’ve found an optimal sleeping position. I find if I put the little footrest up and turn onto my side, I can make a sort of “s” shape with my body, which give optimum comfort. Keep that in mind if you find yourself on the train and are a tall lurpy dude.

Now I’m sitting in Chicago Union Station. I went and got a falafel, which is highly satisfying. I think I should only speak about the food I eat for the remainder of my journal entries.  Also, train bathrooms are gross.

Ok, boarding a new train now. Will resume writing tomorrow after I’ve done the first leg of my bike journey.

Planning an Adventure, Part 3

As I’m writing this, I’m getting prepared to head to Salt Lake City, where I’ll catch the train to Cleveland. I’ve managed to pack the things that I’ll need for the journey. Here’s a picture of all of my stuff (apologies about the quality, cell phone camera):

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  • Chaco sandals (I nixed the shoes, as my bike toe clips aren’t going to work) with them
  • 2 camping food tubes (for peanut butter and the like)
  • Poop shovel
  • Knife
  • Multitool, chain lube, rope, spare tire, straps, frame pump, matches, lighter, electrical tape, sponge, soap
  • Tiny towel
  • Water filter
  • 2 pairs shorts, 2 shirts, 1 long sleeve shirt, 2 pairs underwear, poncho
  • Jetboil stove
  • 2 waterbottles
  • Helmet, bike lock
  • Various toiletries (highlights: butt cream, first aid, 2-in-1 sunscreen/bugspray)
  • Tent
  • Sleeping bag
  • Thermarest pad
  • Food, which I think I’ll go over later
  • Book
  • Laptop
  • Tons of stuff sacks

All in all, everything isn’t too heavy, so I’m hoping I didn’t forget anything. My bags are two Ortlieb panniers and a Timbuk2 messenger bag.

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Overall, it packs pretty nicely onto the bike and isn’t too heavy.

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I’m ready to go! My next post will be whenever I can make it, and it will be from my journals!

WHEEEE!

Planning an Adventure, Part 2

Why am I undertaking such a bizarre journey? Isn’t moving to a city that I’ve never really been to before (I was there once for like six hours) with no money enough? Do I really need to be piling additional difficulties on top of myself?

Yes. The answer is yes.

I hear quite a bit of talk about going out and having experiences because they will give you stories to tell and open your mind, etc. Sure, while it is true that travelling will add to the bank of personal experience and open the mind to a diverse variety of people, places and ideas, I don’t think that’s my reason to leave my bedroom. For me, it doesn’t make sense to throw myself out into the world unless that is the kind of person I want to be (a kind of person who throws their self out into the world).

Experience and diversity of thought is a product of doing stuff, and while it’s a fine motivation to do said stuff, it isn’t my motivation.

I want to take a five hundred mile bike trip because something about the idea gets me excited. Simple as that. I want to do things that get me excited. Literature gets me excited. Education gets me excited. Taking crazy bike trips in 8000 degree heat with 50,000 percent humidity gets me excited.

Sure, there might be some great stories and great experiences that come from it, but I’m looking forward to a sore butt, sunburn, eating terrible dehydrated food, camping with the bugs, catastrophic mechanical failure–the whole thing.

I’ve discovered myself to be a more and more sensual person (hey, I see you over there, quit making that face)–I relish all of the bodily things that happen when I physically exert myself, I relish the nervousness and fear of moving to a new place, of going on an adventure.

Sure, I’ll have stories later, and I’ll likely embellish them 🙂 but I don’t really have an interest in trying to force those stories into existence. I just have to assume that they will happen if I keep doing stuff that I’m excited about.

So enough about that, I’m going to talk a bit more about the route and why I chose it, for anyone who might be trying to figure out my logic.

First of all, if you don’t mind sitting on a train for a million hours, Amtrak seems like the most sensible and cheap way to get somewhere on your bike. As long as they have the baggage service (which is surprisingly limited coming from Montana, as far as I could tell) you can throw your bike on the train for the price of a $10 box, and it doesn’t cost any extra.

I picked this particular route because there is a trail/towpath system basically running all of the way from Cleveland to DC, starting with an assortment outside of Cleveland, then leading into the the Great Allegheny Passage and the C&O Trail which goes to Georgetown.

It seems nice and safe, won’t have to worry about getting hit by a car for most of it, and there’s quite a bit of cheap/free camping along the way, so hopefully I won’t have to stealth camp all that much. Also, another vain hope is that because I’ll be near rivers much of the time, it won’t be as oppressively hot as I’m expecting.

That’s pretty unlikely.

Because I’m kind of in transition right now, some of my stuff is at my parents’ house, and so I’ll be posting pictures of my bike and all my gear a little later.

I plan on taking it slow, around 60-70 miles a day, taking time to enjoy the scenery and take plenty of shady rest stops. This blog will become the place where my print journal entries will form into digital journal entries (duh), which will be posted whenever I manage to find a spot with wi-fi, which might result in several days being posted at once, as I don’t know what the time between spots is going to look like.

Here’s to super fun adventures!

Planning an Adventure, Part 1

If you’ve discovered this site by way of my other blog, twelvemi.com, great, but if not, also great!

This will be a travel blog that will primarily be chronicling my 500 mile bike trip from Cleveland, OH to Washington, DC. I’ll be posting all of my journal entries along the way, but for now, I’m going to be throwing up some of the prep work I’ve done before making this trip.

For starters. Here’s the map that’s outlining my basic trajectory. I’ll be following the Great Allegheny Passage and the C&O Trail for the majority of the trip, so I expect a lot of mosquitoes and trees. I plan on leaving late July, so this blog will run from then until early August, after which point regularly scheduled updates to twelvemi.com will commence again.

Stay tuned for more updates, and feel free to ask any questions in the comments.

MAPZ:

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