To begin I will explain the title of my blog - one, one coco full basket: the title came from my good friend Chantal Woodard. It is a Jamaican proverb that is used when one takes on large tasks that must be completed bit by bit. Obviously it's a fitting title for my 9 week, 3,500 mile journey.
That said, I'm currently on or slightly behind my 65 mile per day schedule. I'm not worried though because I'll likely be right back on schedule tomorrow. I've come about 370-380 miles in 6 days and am set to leave NC tomorrow morning (April 16). My shortest day came today, a mere 15 miles, and my longest day on Saturday, around 85 miles with hilly terrain. Also, side note, let it be known that every ride so far on this trip has been longer than any bike ride I had ever done prior to beginning this trip.
So far, things have gone pretty smoothly. It's been a huge help having family and friends offer me meals and places to sleep along the way, with the exception of the first night. Speaking of the first night - that was definitely the 'roughest.' I started out that morning around 10:30 and rode a grueling 80ish miles in about 85-90 degree weather. I asked myself what I was getting myself into every minute of the 6.5 hours that I was in the saddle. Alas, I arrived at Bladen Lake State Park. While breaking for dinner (wheat thins, peanut butter and an apple) I met two elderly ladies doing their evening walk. At the time I had yet to decide what I was going to do for lodging that night, but they assured me good camping was about half a mile down the road at Jones Lake State Park. When I arrived at the lake, the park ranger informed me that it would be 20 dollars per night for camping - my initial thought was 'no thank you,' or some version of that. After some chatting the ranger walked off, and so did I - straight across the road into the woods where no one could see me; I walked into the woods, dropped my belongings and set up camp. I forgot to check the ground where I set my tent up at, but once I laid down for some shut eye I soon realized that I had, in fact, placed my tent conveniently over a pile of sticks (where my hips were) and a small stump (right at my head). I was too tired to relocate. Nonetheless, I got a few hours of rest and headed out for day 2.
Day 3 was my first day riding in rain. Fortunately, I only had about 30 minutes of rain throughout the entire day, but the all-day cloud cover was very nice and refreshing. Finding two four-leaf clovers didn't hurt the day's mood either. The only scare came just as I was entering Chapel Hill - entering campus I pulled out my ipod to snap a picture, I laid it on my handlebar bag for a moment, and when I looked down about half a mile later to use it I realized that it had fallen off. Fortunately, though, when I went back it was still on the side of the road.
Day 4 was another long one, only this time it wasn't the heat that left me exhausted at the end of the day, but the hills just outside of Carrboro and Winston-Salem. I left Chapel Hill heading towards Lewisville/Winston-Salem, NC around 9 am and arrived in Lewisville around 6pm. Eight hours in the saddle, riding through the ghetto of High Point and down Main St. in High Point definitely warranted a couple beers around a campfire with my friend's dad.
Day 5 was really, really difficult. Definitely the most physically taxing thus far. I left Lewisville around 9 and rode very conservatively knowing that my first day in the mountains would be very brutal. It ended up being around 75 miles with about 10 of that straight up a 10% incline. Once I made it into the high country, I threw my bike down, ate as much of my food as I could and laid helpless on the side of the road for about 15 minutes. After much contemplation, I decided to finish out the last 10 miles to my grandparents house, but not before stopping again for about 20 minutes, still trying to recover from the 2,000+ foot climb in elevation. I've had my fair share of hard workouts, but I'll admit, that one ranks up there with the best of them.
I'm looking forward to the next 8 weeks.