Bike America 2K4 Diary - June 24-29, 2004
Baylor University sophomores Chad Anderson and Drew Mitchell have spent more than a month this summer, bicycling 3,700 miles across the United States to raise funds and awareness for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Texas.
Their journey, called Bike America 2K4, has taken the business majors through California, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky and Virginia. By the time they complete their trip July 1, the students hope to have raised $37,840 - or $10 a mile - for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Texas, where Anderson serves as a Big Brother. For more information or to donate, go to Bike America 2K4.
As they pedal across America, Anderson and Mitchell are filing a diary from the road so fellow Baylor students, faculty, staff and alumni can keep up with their progress. Alums along the way are providing support and lodging for the students. (See their route here.)
Thursday, June 24, 2004 - Meadowview, Damascus, Sugar Grove, Cedar Springs, Rural Retreat, Wytheville, VA
Today we woke up at about 7:45 a.m. with a tractor driving right next to us. We got up quickly from the school, packed up and left. We biked through the street that was still closed due to water but biked across it anyway. We then rode through some construction work but still made our way up to Damascus. This is the city with all kinds of hostels, bike shops and other outdoor shops because the AT trail and the "Creeper" bike trails and our route all go through here. It was a nice city, and we stopped in at the bike store where Chad got his bike looked at and his chain oiled up.
We then biked over to the recommended "Ole Barn" restaurant, where we got omelets and biscuits donated. We ate, then climbed a few hills, not very hard though, but we averaged about 11 mph today. So biking was easy, well, for us I guess, but others seem to think these mountains are hard. Wait 'til they get to some real mountains in the Rockies....
We then biked through Sugar Grove, Cedar Springs and into Rural Retreat where we stopped at a pizza place, but they gave us two REALLY small pizzas, so we were still dying of hunger and biked on to a really nice restaurant in Rural Retreat and had all-u-can eat pancakes. We rested there awhile, making some phone calls, and then biked into Wytheville, where we stopped in at the library and updated the journals and pictures to the website. We then biked up to the Super 8 hotel and got a room donated. We then biked down to the truck center and ate at the restaurant in there. Luckily it was "all-you-can-eat ribs" night, so Chad and I got filled with ribs tonight. Angel, our waitress, was awesome.
We then biked back to our room about 1/2 mile down the busy interstate in the almost dark evening, showered, made some phone calls, and watched a little of the NBA draft on TV. Now midnight, it is time for bed, as we took it slower today because we are runnin' out of miles to do, making it 70 miles for the day. Night.
Friday, June 25, 2004 - Wytheville, Radford, Christiansburg, VA
Well, tonight I am joined in my journal writing by LeRoy. It is impossible to write in it though because every time I take my eyes off him and start writing, he nudges my hand away from the journal. LeRoy is the big brown lab who keeps licking us non-stop. We pulled into a house about 10 miles past Christiansburg, Va., about 7 p.m. when it was pouring down rain really hard.
It started raining this morning when we woke up at 9 a.m. at our hotel, so we went down to the lobby where we ate a huge continental breakfast. Chad also did a call-in with a Waco classic rock radio station where they talked to him live on the air. At 9:45 a.m., we were on the road and bikin' in the rain. We rode 'til about 20 miles later when we found a McDonald's and stopped in about noon. We ate and then left, back into the rain where everyone thought we were crazy for biking in this kind of weather. But not biking was not an option, because we had to keep to our schedule today in order to get to do some sightseeing stuff. The rain showed no signs of stopping either.
We then biked a good 20 miles or so more when we made it into Radford, Va. It was a big city so we stopped in at the library now to check on some things. We then biked on, about 10 more miles and made it into Christiansburg where we stopped at the Pizza Inn. The owner questioned me for about 10 minutes and then finally donated a nice spaghetti dinner for us. Throughout the course of the meal, people would bring us the rest of their pizzas and talk to us, so we ate really well and had some good company.
We then biked on, now about 6 p.m. and raining real hard out. We were soaked as we went through the hills and made it about 15 more miles down the road, freezing cold, a painful feeling in my left eye from who knows what, and soakin' wet. About 7:45 p.m., we saw a nice-looking house with a nice big dry porch and we pulled in the driveway as we decided it was time to pull over. As we pulled in, Charlie, about 45 or so, came to greet us. He said we sure could sleep on the porch, and that's where we met LeRoy, the chocolate lab. They offered to throw our clothes in the dryer for us, so we gave them our clothes and then Charlie said, "Why don't you guys go around the back and jump in the hot tub for awhile?" Chad and I were puzzled at first, but then excitedly hurried to the back, where there was an amazing view of the fog-covered Appalachians. We enjoyed about 30 minutes in the spa where the rain fell on us. Our bodies unfroze and started working again. We didn't want to get out, but decided we probably should.
It is now 9:40 p.m., our sleeping bags are out, LeRoy is on Chad's mattress and won't get off, and we just learned from Charlie a great amount of history of the Valley we were sleeping in tonight. Night.
Saturday, June 26, 2004 - Christiansburg, Troutville, Lexington, Vesuvius, VA
Well, after a long night we finally woke up at 7:30 a.m. with something licking our faces. It was stupid LeRoy and the neighborhood beauty, who were keeping us up all night by playing and rumbling by us, and on us. During the night we tried to find strategic ways to keep them off the porch, but by either climbing the fence or destroying our blockades, they managed to eventually get back to us and either lick us or sleep on us. That is why we had a tough time sleeping last night.
Anyway, we thanked Charlie and his wife and were on our way. We biked about 20 miles and then stopped under an eating area outside a church and busted out the crackers, tuna and salami, and ate. We then biked on making it into Troutville, where we stopped in at the restaurant just off I-81 and had bacon cheeseburgers and milkshakes while we talked to the locals. Everyone tries to give us better routes to take, but we just nod our heads and then go the way our map tells us to go. We made it into Lexington, Va., about 4:40 p.m. after beautiful biking weather, but a little humid. We went to check out the Robert E. Lee Chapel, Washington and Lee University and the Virginia Military Institute, all there in Lexington. They were beautiful and kinda cool to check out.
We then stopped in on Main Street at "The Brick" bar and grill and got two 12" pizzas. This is an awesome place to eat. We then biked on, another 20 miles and made it into Vesuvius, Va., about 9 p.m. and stopped at a church where we saw a basketball hoop and two basketballs out in the parking lot calling our names. We went and balled it up for a little bit and I taught Chad a few things about the game...just kidding.
We then went down to the church and asked Pastor Dan if we could sleep under the church picnic table area where it was covered. He said he'd be glad to have us stay and then invited us in to use the computer and have a drink and apple. He was very nice. Chad and I visited for a little while and then made it back outside so we could set the bags out and get ready for bed.
Now 10:30 p.m., hittin' the hay for the night. Tomorrow is gonna be our toughest, but last climb for the trip. Hopefully no walkin' up the hills. Not gonna happen. Night.
Sunday, June 27, 2004 - Vesuvius, Afton, Charlottesville, VA
Well, today we woke up with Pastor Dan warning us that visitors would be coming soon, but we could sleep however long. It was 8:30 a.m. or so, and Chad and I decided we should get up and get movin'. We ate some tuna and crackers, packed up and were on the climb up the rigorous Blue Ridge Parkway that we had heard about for weeks now and been warned about the steepness.
We made it up the four-mile climb with 14 percent grades at times and did it in an hour or so. It wasn't bad at all, and at the end, I asked Chad where it started .We both laughed knowing that it was easier for us than the other people because our legs were ready and trained for it. We now were able to say we went the whole trip without having to walk up any hills, something even the marines couldn't say. We made it to the top, rode along the top of the parkway with beautiful lookout views for about 10 miles. We stopped at one spot and had Nutrigrain bars and enjoyed the view for a little while, and then raced down into Afton, where "The Cookie Lady" was.
She wasn't there though at first, so we ate some cookies and were fixin' to leave when all of a sudden she showed up, smiling and thrilled to see us. She talked to us for a couple of hours and took us through her house, which was nothing inside but bike stuff. She had it rigged up for bikers to sleep in, eat at, and just check out the thousands of pieces of memorabilia from past bikers. We ate and visited with her. She is known to bikers all around the world and has been there for 29 years and seen almost 15,000 bikers who have stopped by for cookies and water. Her house is full of people's pictures and memorabilia and everyone is required to send her later on down the road a post card or something. Very cool house and we wish we could stay the night there but knew with only about 25 miles on the day we should get moving. We gave her one of our bike jerseys to put up and she loved it.
We then biked down, making it into Charlottesville, Va., where the awesome guy at the Econo Lodge donated a room to us for the evening. We then biked down to Arby's, where we got a meal donated, and then we went to another Italian restaurant where a guy in there, from France, bought us a pizza. After eating with them for an hour we biked down to check out the University of Virginia campus, which is one of the most beautiful campuses we'd seen with the mall and rotunda from Jefferson.
Now at midnight, we are in the hotel, after making a few phone calls and watching an exploring story on the Discovery Channel. Just got off the phone with Julie Matthews and as she would say, "Bah"...(Bye).
Monday, June 28, 2004 - Charlottesville, Monticello, Tabscott, VA
Today was our last Monday on the trip. Sad times... We woke up at the hotel around 10 a.m., in no hurry today because we had so much time to burn. After taking our time and catching up on Sports Center, we packed up and were out of the room by 11 a.m. In the lobby there were donuts, and Chad and I downed a bunch of them. We then headed over to the University of Virginia and checked out the Jefferson Rotunda and lawn area again. We then used the library in there for about two hours, catching up with everything.
We left, now about 2 p.m. and no miles on the day, and headed down to "Bajas," the Mexican restaurant where Ron gave us free lunches. We ordered large meals, and Ron talked to us for awhile. Now about 3 p.m., we started biking and made it to Monticello, about five miles down the road. This was Thomas Jefferson's plantation just outside of Charlottesville. We went on the tour there and it was pretty cool to check out all his stuff and his original house and all the original artifacts in there. He invented most of the stuff in his house, which was pretty awesome to see. We then got off the tour bus and headed out to our bikes.
We biked on, now close to 6 p.m. and five miles on the day. We stopped to eat crackers and tuna about 20 miles down the road, and then after about 45 miles on the day total, we stopped in at a church in Tabscott, Va., by 8 p.m. We asked the people there if we could stay at the church and they said we could. We made some macaroni and cheese and ate the potato chips and orange juice they had given us. I found four ticks on me today, crawling up my legs. I hate ticks. Lots of bugs around here, so this should be an interesting night out here under the church awning. Night.
Tuesday, June 29, 2004 - Tabscott, Mineral, Ashland, VA
What a long night it was last night. Lots of bugs crawled on us and mosquitoes bit us all night long, causing us to scratch constantly throughout the night. About 2 a.m., the sheriff came by questioning us and we backed up our permission to stay there. After a while of checking our ID's and doing what cops do, he came over to talk to us and asked us many questions about our trip. But we were sleepy and I think he got the hint with our short answers and me getting back in the sleeping bag. He left, and we went back to sleep, waking up at 8:30 a.m. with the hot sun beating down on us.
We biked and made it into Mineral, Va., at around 11 a.m., with clear skies today and warm but not too hot weather, so nice weather. In Mineral we stopped at the gas station and got cheeseburgers and potatoes donated. We then biked on, and a couple miles outside of Mineral where we had been warned of dogs, a huge Rottweiler and his little buddy jumped out onto the road from a house right in front of us. We kept biking, as the huge dog chased Chad, trying to bite him or the bike, and the other one on my tail. The Rottweiler jumped up and in mid air bit the tent on Chad's bike and ripped it open causing all the stuff to fall out. Instantly Chad and I were off our bikes ready to defend our bikes. The dogs backed off a little as we started chasing after them. We threw huge rocks at the dogs until they were gone. We cleaned up the mess and were able to tape the tent bag back together with all the pieces there except one stake which Chad had thrown at the dog.
We got back on our bikes and the dogs came back over barking. I jumped off and picked up a huge stick and started walking toward them but they again backed off. We eventually just left, angry with the dogs and what they had done. We then biked up to Patrick Henry's house where we stopped in and had tuna and crackers. After a little rest we biked on, making it into Ashland, Va., around 4 p.m. or so. We stopped in at the Pizza Hut and got dinner donated, then went over to the Super 8 motel and got a room donated.
We are now in our room watching "Biker Boys" and after a good relaxing afternoon are about to hit the hay. Gettin' close to the end! Night...