Michael and Kathy's 2003 bicycle tour


Page 1, Introduction
Page 2, Colorado, Nebraska and Kansas
Page 3, Missouri, Illinois and Kentucky
Page 4, Virginia

This web page describes a bicycle trip that Kathy and I took across the eastern United States from May 24th to June 24th. It includes many pictures from the trip plus all the text from a journal that I wrote in each night. If the journal entry for a particular day seems short, that doesn't mean that little happened that day - it just means that I was too tired to write more. Each entry begins by stating our distance, riding time, average speed and maximum speed. These numbers reflect the time we spent both riding the bike and walking the bike. We usually walked the bike at least a little bit each day to give our bottoms a break or to help us climb large hills. These numbers don't include the miles that we covered on side trips off of our planned route.

Introduction
Wednesday, May 21

Last summer Kathy and I took a wonderful vacation. We rode our tandem bicycle from San Francisco back to our home in Fort Collins, Colorado. In the process we learned about the American west while riding beside ocean cliffs and beaches, over mountain ranges, and through deserts, ranches and farmland. We also met many nice people. This summer we want to finish our trip across America by bicycling from our house out to the eastern edge of Virginia.

The route that we've chosen is not a straight line. While traveling east we will wander south quite a ways before returning north again. We will go east from our house to the southwest corner of Nebraska then cross Kansas into southern Missouri. From there we'll cross the southern tip of Illinois and the length of Kentucky before entering southwest Virginia. In Virginia we'll go northeast, eventually meeting my parents at their home in Fredericksburg. Time permitting, we'll continue from there out to the Chesapeake Bay, finishing our trip across the country.

Like last summer, we expect to learn a lot about America as we bike through changing scenery to the east coast. We will cross grasslands in Colorado and Kansas then enter hills when we reach the Ozark mountains in Missouri. We hope to visit Lake of the Ozarks, a huge lake created by the Union Electric Company of St. Louis. After crossing the Mississippi River we'll ride across the mountainous southern tip of Illinois. In Kentucky we hope to visit Mammoth Cave, the longest cave in the world. In Virginia I want to show Kathy Virginia Tech, where I went to school, then follow the Blue Ridge Parkway and Skyline Drive through the Appalachian Mountains. If we have time to visit Chesapeake Bay then we'll enjoy seeing and smelling saltwater again.

This trip is significantly longer than what we attempted last year. It's about 2000 miles to Fredericksburg, and another 80-90 miles to Chesapeake Bay. It may also be much harder due to hundreds of miles of hilly and mountainous terrain. We will try to compensate for this by traveling with less weight than last year. We will leave behind cold weather clothing and cooking gear. We'll also leave behind items that we didn't find useful last year, like our water filter and 2-way radios. We won't need to take our trailer this year. We will take a spare tire this year, unlike last year. Overall we think we can reduce our weight by 30 pounds.

After finishing our trip we hope to spend some time with my friends and family in Virginia before going to Branson, Missouri, for Kathy's family reunion over the 4th of July weekend. Altogether I'll be taking 6 weeks off from work. Kathy is quitting her job to take this trip and will look for work again when we return. It surprises some people that Kathy is quitting work for this trip, but it was an easy choice for us. We loved our bike trip last year and we expect to love our trip this year. We can live without Kathy's pay and we're sure that she will find a reasonable job when we return.

As always, bike trips like this are uncertain. We could face bad weather, mechanical failures, illness or accidents. Whatever happens, we'll try to make the best of it and see as much of the country as we can.


Kathy looking at the mountains during one of our training rides near Vail, Colorado.

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Page 1, Introduction
Page 2, Colorado, Nebraska and Kansas
Page 3, Missouri, Illinois and Kentucky
Page 4, Virginia

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