Day 29. Sunday, May 13 – Pensacola to Fort Walton Beach, Florida

Monday 14 May 2018

If we did not leave early, we would not leave at all, so Dave and Lynn promptly kicked us out (love you guys)!  We were on the west side of Pensacola, so on quiet roads we headed back to the city to cross the 3 mile Pensacola Bay Bridge.Homes lined the other side of the road with views of the bay.  The busy bridge was under construction, but with a dedicated bike lane, crossing was not a problem.  Once we lost the traffic going to the beach, there were few cars on the road; ample bike lane, but we opted for the shady bike path.  As we settled into a quieter ride, we were very disappointed to not have a view of the water on either side.  Our road split the very wide Gulf Islands peninsula and offered nothing to see; obviously a utilitarian thoroughfare.  There was nothing on the road other than huge churches; more than we’d seen on any single day.  We knew we better stop for breakfast before the church crowd hit the streets, but there was so little on the road.  After 32 miles, we found a perfect (and only) stop spot, good air-conditioning, excellent (and plentiful) food and a nice long rest.  Fully loaded, we headed back out to the highway and heat; it was shortly after ten and already 90°.  Thank goodness the humidity was very low, because the sun was scorching.

This is the second time in ten years, we have seen a giraffe on tour.

After several more miles of not seeing the water, we turned into a neighborhood for a glimpse of water.  We met Paul, though from this area, he’s a Hokie and super nice guy.  After the boys stopped talking about the upcoming football season, we headed on our way.  It was a good sidetrack.

The wind was swirling, occasionally catching our back, occasionally slowing us down.  A quick shady rest overlooking the traffic heading over the bridge to Navarre Beach and a great statue dedicated to those that have served.

Shortly after noon, we had to take an air-conditioned rest.  The hot (91º in the shade, 110 ° in the sun), dry air was sucking it out of us.  Afternoon clouds were collecting and we were fortunate to get some occasional shade.  In our last few miles, we lost our bike lane and traffic was heavy.  Occasionally, we managed a glimpse of huge homes tucked behind tall trees, enjoying long views of the Santa Rosa Sound; pictures were impossible.

We were happy to find a hotel and sanctuary from the heat.  After 59 miles and eating deliciously healthy for the last two days, we stuffed on pasta.

2015 Factoids and Follow-up

Tuesday 8 September 2015

Coast (almost) to Coast III

2015 tripMissoula, Montana to Virginia Beach, Virginia
(click on map for a larger view of our trip)

2951 Total Miles
53 days total
(same as last year)
2 days off
57 miles a day average

1 day over 90 miles
3 days over 80 miles
4 days over 70 miles
13 days over 60 miles
16 days over 50 miles
Longest day – 94.17 miles – Havre to Malta, Montana

268 total hours on a bike seat
Longest day on the seat – 8.25 hours – Ranch at Ucross to Gillette, Wyoming

No camping 🙂

Over 5000 pictures

States Covered
8 days in Montana
5 days in Wyoming
4 days in South Dakota
7 days in Nebraska
7 days in Iowa (worst road maintenance)
3 days in Illinois
3 days in Indiana
4 days in Ohio
4 days in Pennsylvania
3 days in Maryland
4 days in Virginia

Thanks for following our bike tour this year!

The comments were fantastic, hilarious and often very inspirational; thank you to all (but especially MaryEllen and Travis) that took the time to reach out and make us smile.

Also, many thanks to those that contributed to our efforts to raise money for the Explosive Ordnance Disposal Warrior Foundation.  There is still time to contribute (see link in right column).DSCN8111 - Version 2

We are blessed to have this opportunity, but most importantly, we are blessed by our family, old friends and the new friends we’ve met along the way.

If you are new to the blog and would like to know about any other bike adventures (if there are any), send us a comment, but include your email address.  It will not show up on the blog, but we will have it.

Trip VII 2015 – Head for the Hills

Wednesday 8 July 2015

Yes, we have Finally decided on a trip for this summer.  We leave the end of this week for the home of Adventure Cycling Association, Missoula, Montana.
IMG_0199 - Version 3

After a quick visit and putting our bicycles back together, we start our tour back to the East Coast.

Exciting news before we start to pedal.  We are dedicating this tour to the Explosive Ordnance Disposal Warrior Foundation and hope You will help with our fund raising efforts (check out the link to the right).

Also, Please Like our new Tour de Bocrie Facebook Page and invite all your friends to Like it, too.

Yes, we are really stepping out of the box.

Stay tuned for our first day!

Here We Go Again….. 2015 Edition

Friday 10 July 2015

It’s not often we talk about our flight, but then it’s not often (ever) we are sitting next to former NFL coach, Marty Schottenheimer.  Needless to say, there will not be much on this trip that can top this experience for Jerry.DSCN3080He is now planning on getting back home before football season starts!

After rather seamlessly putting the bikes back together, we took a stroll through downtown Missoula situated on the banks of the Clark Fork River.IMG_0004  Everyone was out,IMG_0007 enjoying the band and food festival DSCN3089in the 100° temperatures (it’s a dry heat, HA!).

We made a stop at Adventure Cycling Association;DSCN3096 the organization that maps the U.S. for bicycling riding/touring and our reason for starting here.  Missoula is a wonderful place, quaint, quirky, wonderful people. As we wandered through town, we happened into a running store where we reacquainted ourselves with World Class Marathoner, Dick Beardsley, DSCN3102 - Version 2here for the Missoula Marathon.

We found a wonderful local Brew Pub, a good place to replenish.DSCN3081This is what Montana Flatbread looks like, Yum!

Now fully fortified, we can climb out of the valley and over the mountains that surround the town.DSCN3086

Day 1. Saturday, July 11 – Missoula to Ovando, Montana

Saturday 11 July 2015

Go West; they said, It will be warm and dry compared to last year’s ride. Well, not exactly.  We stepped out to a steady drizzle and 60°, but we were prepared from our UK experience. IMG_0012 It was actually a beautiful morning, the hills were covered in cloudsDSCN3116 and the rain and cool temps kept us from getting overheated, as we began our climb through Hell’s Gate.  DSCN3117We pedaled up the crystal clear Blackfoot River;IMG_0020where yesterday we had planned to take a dip to cool off, certainly not necessary today.  It was a continuous wet climb,IMG_0013 the clouds concealing the highest of the Rocky mountains from our view.  The scenery remained stellar,DSCN3135the luscious smell of the Tamarack pine (hemlock) filled the air and the cloudy mist added a mystery to the hills,DSCN3136 not often seen in the summer.  We rode along the Lewis and Clark Trail through the Potomac Valley,DSCN3151 steadily climbing.DSCN3158About 30 miles in, we had an unexpected and much appreciated downhill.  Not a mind-blowing down, but a couple miles of leg rest before the climb kicked in again.

Sage brush, reminiscent of the dessert, seemed out of place on this cold afternoon.DSCN3162Scenery continued to delightDSCN3164 and surpriseDSCN3181 as we slowly pedaled along; the trees became more sparse on the hills that rose beside us. DSCN3167

 At 40 miles, we found a rest and fuel stop.  It was what we needed to manage the climb of our remaining miles. DSCN3193 Just shy of 54 miles, we reached our stop for the night.DSCN3190It had been a very tough first day.  Though the grade was gradual, the climb had been continuous (with the exception of the two miles of down).  Never before have we had a single day of a 50+ mile solid climb.  We are looking forward to our legs springing back to shape before our long ride tomorrow.

Dinner was not remarkable, but on our (half mile) walk back to our lodging, the clouds were leaving and Montana gave us a taste of “the Big Sky country”.DSCN3197Still waiting for our legs to feel better!

Day 2. Sunday, July 12 – Ovando to Helena, Montana

Monday 13 July 2015

We swaggered (cowboy style) across the street for breakfast.DSCN3200  Ovanda’s population (71) must have doubled overnight with bicyclists taking cover from the rain; two joined us for breakfast.DSCN3202  In the middle is Mike (Touson, AZ), doing the Continental Divide race and Shawn (Sarasota, FL) is looping the U.S. on an electric bike!  Lots of chatter about our rides and experiences, but we had to hit the road.SAM_1262

The parched earth had soaked up the rain that fell overnight, but the clouds still hugged  the hilltops.DSCN3206  A breeze swirled through, chilling the temps that once again danced near 60°.  Eager to begin our long ride we pulled away, stopping only briefly to meet Aussie’s Lance and Mel.DSCN3203  Though we could not feel it, the roadside grass told us the breeze was at our backs……thank you!

The morning ride was mild ups and downs;DSCN3222 the clouds keeping the sun at bay and the temperature perfect for riding. DSCN3218 It was not difficult to imagine cowboys, indians and wild horses roaming the land.  Except when you found a mile marker showing Jerry’s age.DSCN3263

It was not until late morning that the clouds began to lift DSCN3227and the breeze became a wind, blessedly still at our backs. We continued to bike close to the Blackfoot River, but other than horsesDSCN3258and fishermanDSCN3239we saw no one. Shortly before 1:00 we stooped on the side of the road to eat a quick sandwich we’d made earlier, before our climb  It was here at mile 45, we hit our first hairpin turnDSCN3291 that would begin the steep climb over the continental divide.  The wind gusts swirling in the cove of the mountain severely compromised our upward stability.  Each stretch before the next turn was short, preventing us from seeing the top but offering a magnificent view of the road we had covered.DSCN3301Our flatland legs were screaming, but we were stoked to have climbed the 6131 foot Flesher Pass on the second day of our ride.DSCN3304  Though we were 50 miles into our ride, we still had a long day ahead.  The cold wind at the top defied the warm air of our long downhill; it was delicious.DSCN3313  With the wind at our back we continued to sail through the plains; the hills void of lush trees DSCN3319and further in the distance as we continued our descent.DSCN3320  The day was warming up and our enthusiasm and legs began to falter; thankfully the wind had our backs (pun intended) and the scenery……DSCN3324…..just gorgeous.DSCN3331 At 80 miles we took our turn into town.  The wind now assaulted us from the side and slowed our progress to a crawl.  Our oasis at the edge of town was a chocolate milkshake!  Duckies finally stopped paddling after almost 8 hours in the saddle.  Helena is the capital of Montana with probably much to see, but after 87 miles we found the closest place to eat (unremarkable pizza) and headed to bed.

Day 3. Monday, July 13 – Helena to Townsend, Montana

Monday 13 July 2015

A good night’s rest and later start did wonders for the soul and hopefully the legs.  The cool night air still lingered, though the sun was bright and warm.  Rain clouds gathered in the western hills behind us, DSCN3351  as we headed out of town on a busy road.DSCN3344An occasional breeze blew through as the energy of the clouds behind us struggled to build.IMG_0035  We were enjoying our relatively flat and occasionally downhill road through the Helena Valley.DSCN3362Fifteen miles into our ride, the rainclouds caught up to us.DSCN3368  We had a few miles of very scattered sprinkles and overcast skies, dropping the temperature down to 73°, cooler than our morning start.DSCN3370  The play of sun, clouds and hills made for beautiful scenery.  DSCN3372With a short ride today, we enjoyed the luxury of relaxing lunch and a beer, DSCN3384while the Duckies relaxed in the shade. IMG_0042 Like an oasis, a huge lake appeared to our left. DSCN3398 As we shortly realized, this had just been a very wide portion of the Missouri River. DSCN3412 At the edge of town on the side of the road, we stopped for fresh cherries; grown in the micro-climate of Flathead Lake (largest natural fresh water lake west of the Mississippi) just outside of Missoula.IMG_0046  Not sure why we had to pedal close to 200 miles to taste them, but it was worth it.  One might think we are getting soft in our old age, biking only 33 miles, but we like to think of it as just getting wiser.

Once again, dinner was not spectacular and we felt a bit guilty for the pasta after such a short ride,DSCN3415 but in a town of 1900 people, we were happy the restaurant was within walking distance.  We will need the extra carbs for tomorrow when we cross the mountains we admired from afar, today!