DAY 1: YORKTOWN TO WILLIAMSBURG
A tire dip, a quick pack and Precious and I set off into the great unknown. Yorktown, with its steaming hot beach, waves me goodbye and I wobble toward Williamsburg. Perhaps I should’ve packed the trailer differently? It’s a short first day, but just what I needed to ease myself into it
Distance: 16.86 miles
DAY 2: WILLIAMSBURG TO GLENDALE, VA
The rain bucketed down pretty much all day, and I kinda got a bit lost. It was miserable and the day started to close in on me. I ended up having an amazing stroke of luck and maybe some divine intervention. A port in a storm and all that.
Distance: 54.11 miles
DAY 3: GLENDALE TO ASHLAND, VA
As the rain eased off, I leave the comfort of the Willis Church and head toward my future. When I get there, I bump into three touring cyclists who’ve been on the road for 14 days from Maine down to Virginia. Strangers at the start, friends at the finish.
Distance: 38.80 miles
DAY 4: ASHLAND, VA TO CRASHLAND
It was going to be my first 90 mile day. Things started off well, but then unravelled in a big way. Crash. Darkness. Waking up looking at helicopter blades as I was airlifted to hospital. My adventure of a lifetime came to an abrupt halt today.
Distance: 65 miles
DAY 5: CHARLOTTESVILLE TO AFTON, VA
Transamerica 2 point oh
Yesterday, I rode out to the crash site for the unofficial restart. I didn’t tell anyone. Today, I set off from Charlottesville with a cyclist who didn’t want me riding by myself on the first real day back.
Distance: 27.47 miles
DAY 6: AFTON TO LEXINGTON, VA
Totally Blue Ridge Day
After a night in the Cookie Lady’s cycle hostel I set off into some heavy Blue Ridge Mountains fog. My first real day of climbing was tough with steep descents that really hurt my wrist when braking.
Distance: 52.98 miles
DAY 7: LEXINGTON TO CAMP BETHEL, VA
The Tardy Day
Camp Bethel lets cyclist camp there for a mere $5 a night. I spend the night in total darkness with no-one around. It’s spooky, even for this farm girl. Every crack of a twig in the forest signaled boogeymen.
Distance: 40.66 miles
The Bastard Day
I cannot tell a lie, this was a truly terrible day. Hot, hot, hot, and I stupidly fell into a ditch while clipped in. Some horrible steepness today, plus a bent derailleur. I’m in pain.
Distance: 66.11 miles
DAY 9: REST DAY
DAY 10: CHRISTIANSBURG TO WYTHEVILLE, VA
The Reset Day
There is absolutely no shame in walking up a hill. I say this because I walked up three today. Stretched out and pushing in the horrible heat. Who cares, as long as I’m still moving forward. Right?
Distance: 58 miles
DAY 11: WYTHEVILLE TO DAMASCUS, VA
The Freewheeling Day
Had the best descent of the trip so far today. Down into Damascus and by the Virginia Creeper Trail. Also ate a country fried steak for the first time in my life today and although it stopped my heart, it also melted it.
Distance: 55.88 miles
DAY 12: REST DAY, DAMASCUS, VA
The Switchback Day
Hayter’s Gap gives a body a lot to hate, that’s for sure. With switchback after switchback, this poor cyclist sweated out half her soul. Ended up in a church having a shower under a hose and eating spaghetti out of a can.
Distance: 33.16 miles
The Social Day
Met several cyclists today, and ended up riding for the afternoon with a German bloke. I know I slowed him down, but we ended up splitting the cost of a campsite and staying at The Breaks National Park.
Distance: 44.08 miles
DAY 15: THE BREAKS, VA TO HINDMAN, KY
Humbled. That’s me today. I suffered up some horrible climbs and the horrible heat and was severely dumped on by the rain, only to find the hotel closed down three months again and the B&B was no longer operational. Amazing things happen though!
Distance: 72.40 miles
DAY 16: HINDMAN TO BOONEVILLE, KY
Rain is one thing. Fork lightning and thunder rumbles and massive sheets of torrential rain are another entirely. A deluge day where I was rained on several times and ended up with feet like prunes and a new respect for wet-weather gear.
Distance: 64.33 miles
DAY 17: BOONEVILLE TO BEREA, KY
A foggy start and then I’m on my way to Berea, gateway to the Appalachians – if you’re coming the other way! For me, it means that the horrible yet beautiful mountains are behind me. All that lays in front are the Ozarks, then Kansas, then the Rockies.
Distance: 56.34 miles
DAY 18: REST DAY, BEREA, KY
DAY 19: BEREA TO HARRODSBURG, KY
Today, for the first time on this trip, I actually reach for my HALT! dog spray to ward off an evil beast. Also, and not for the first time this trip, I am verbally abused out a car window. I choose to mis-hear the sentiment and carry on regardless.
Distance: 52.88 miles
DAY 20: HARRODSBURG TO BARDSTOWN, KY
Another scorcher of a day where I trip upon some Lincoln sites and wander around their ancient history. Before I cook completely, I bungle on to Bardstown and camp at My Old Kentucky State Park in the shade of some giant trees. Again, alone except for Precious and Zimmerman.
Distance: 45.06 miles
DAY 21: BARDSTOWN TO ROUGH RIVER DAM, KY
An early rise, a slow slog, and I end up at a campground that is, once again, deserted. Fortunately down the road I find an all-you-can-eat buffet and bump into two touring cyclists who are great for a yarn and some tips for what’s ahead.
Distance: 97.19 miles
DAY 22: ROUGH RIVER DAM TO SEBREE, KY
Each day is slightly hotter than the one previous. To say it’s a drag is an understatement. I find myself dreaming of cool things to eat and drink and today my prayers are answered by a pastor and his wife in Sebree. Watermelon, you complete me.
Distance: 74.85 miles
DAY 23: SEBREE, KY TO CAVE IN ROCK, IL
The hottest day yet and I barely make it through. Shade is a commodity – I don’t have any. We finish on a high note by crossing the Ohio river on a ferry and diving headlong into the welcoming humidity of Illinois and the quiet pirate’s hideaway of Cave in Rock.
Distance: 55.93 miles
DAY 24: CAVE IN ROCK TO CARBONDALE, IL
I made friends today. Not really, but a bloodhound ran with me for several miles in the blazing heat and I felt we had a bond. Legs blew up in the end and I decide to take a hard won rest day in Carbondale. Precious is even going to get some bike shop love!
Distance: 89.45 miles
DAY 25: REST DAY, CARBONDALE, IL
DAY 26: CARBONDALE, IL TO FARMINGTON, MO
And it begins… My longest day so far, made longer by me heading the wrong way twice and hitting the start of what I’m guessing is the Ozarks. I end up rolling into Farmington well after dark, but landing at the BEST cycling hostel ever.
Distance: 110.47 miles
DAY 27: REST DAY, FARMINGTON, MO
DAY 28: FARMINGTON TO ELLINGTON, MO
And now we’re in the Ozarks proper. I stop to rest at Johnson’s Shut-Ins which is described as being an ‘oasis’. It is, but I don’t go check out the swimming holes. I spend the day waiting for the real horror of the Ozarks. It never really comes. Perhaps tomorrow?
Distance: 65.29 miles
DAY 29: ELLINGTON TO SUMMERSVILLE, MO
Rolling, rolling. Legs dotted pink with poison ivy cream, I push off into the morning and see how far I get. The answer is Summersville, where I find myself in a tiny hotel that turns out to be the cheapest room I’ve had so far. With the ugliest bedspread.
Distance: 44.88 miles
DAY 30: SUMMERSVILLE TO MARSHFIELD, MO
I’m almost out of the dreaded (though surprisingly easy) Ozarks, I can feel it! Can’t wait to say goodbye to the roller-coasters. Today was a longish day, which included an encounter with dogs, a Scotsman, and some cheap ribs at a fast food joint.
Distance: 88.43 miles
DAY 31: MARSHFIELD TO GOLDEN CITY, MO
Pie! Pie! Pie! The day just fades into meaninglessness after heading to Cookies in Golden City to try some of the famous pie. I tell you, America, you are so damn awesome because of one thing: Pie. I will eat it in my dreams after today.
Distance: 81.63 miles
DAY 32: GOLDEN CITY, MO, TO CHANUTE, KS
Kansas! Hazzah! Another state down and today, I go very close to hitting another century. Dog chases, road closures and long, straight lonely roads fill the hours before I pull up for a well-deserved (in my opinion) rest day at a Super 8.
Distance: 97.79 miles
DAY 33: REST DAY, CHANUTE, KS
DAY 34: CHANUTE TO EUREKA, KS
The Tumbleweed Day
Kansas gives me her first taste of wind today. Not super bad, but super annoying and I tumble along gaily, right into Eureka. Another day where I regret having forgotten to bring a swimsuit.
Distance: 63.34 miles
DAY 35: EUREKA TO NEWTON, KS
The Iceman Cometh Day
My knees are starting to collapse in on themselves to form a black hole of immense pain. A slog of a windy day and I crawl, crawl, crawl into Newton to seek out a hotel with a large supply of ice for zee knees.
Distance: 75.27 miles
DAY 36: NEWTON TO LARNED, KS
The Backwards Day
A mighty long day for a mighty complaining girl and her bike. Kansas is pure rural magnificence. Tractors, fields of corn and sorghum, oil pump-jacks. I plow on just like one of those tractors.
Distance: 106.57 miles
DAY 37: LARNED TO BAZINE, KS
The Devil Day
Yep, pretty sure Kansas tried to kill me today. It means to end me, either by stabbing my eyes endless straightaways or by blowing me away into the welcoming bosom of the horizon.
Distance: 53.50 miles
DAY 38: BAZINE TO SCOTT CITY, KS
The Geometry Day
Great sightseeing today. Precious and I ventured to see the Skyscraper of the Plains in Ness City. Ok, that was it. We spent most of the day going imperceptibly up. Slow inclines mean no free-wheeling. Ugh.
Distance: 68.74 miles
DAY 39: SCOTT CITY, KS, TO EADS, CO
The No Country for Old Broads Day
Colorado. Colorado! A big day, for Colorado is the state that holds the half-way point of the Transamerica Trail. It also holds the Rockies. And bears. But lets not think about that.
Distance: 104.04 miles
DAY 40: EADS TO ORDWAY, CO
The Fantastic Mr. Fox Day
Oh, come on! Just give me the mountains already! Another day of empty desolation, broken only by the appearance of the longest abandoned train ever and an encounter with a fox.
Distance: 62.89 miles
DAY 41: ORDWAY TO PUEBLO, CO
The Read the Signs Day
Oh, happy day! Starts in the dark, finishes in the wind. My job is to just get through the day for two glorious days off and a chance to give Precious some serious bike shop love.
Distance: 45.10 miles
DAY 44: PUEBLO TO FLORENCE, CO
The Gristle Grind Day
After two day’s rest, you’d think I’d be all spry and champing at the bit. But no. This is a pain day. An out of nowhere, horrible, windy, moany pain day that I can’t wait to see the end of. Ugh.
Distance: 48.12 miles
DAY 45: FLORENCE TO GUFFEY, CO
The Skeletal Day
Zimmerman gets a flat. Speaking of flats, the road isn’t any more. It is, on the bottom. The reality of the time suck of the Rockies claims 40 miles out of my goal for the day.
Distance: 41.69 miles
DAY 46: GUFFEY TO FAIRPLAY, CO
The Ticker Tape Day
A cold start and some pronghorn sightings. A slow, steady climb before a gentle roll into Fairplay. The Rockies loom large on my TODO list, and tomorrow will be the highest point of the trip.
Distance: 45.14 miles
DAY 47: FAIRPLAY TO KREMMLING, CO
The Grintonium™ Day
In which I climb a bloody big mountain and feel pretty awesome about myself. I then spend the afternoon racing to beat the sun and make it to Kremmling before I turn into a pumpkin.
Distance: 84.16 miles