The rain had cleared off by the time I headed out of Madison. It was going to be a long, hot day, with lots of hills, and therefore, lots of hiking as well as biking. Not unlike my encounter with Paul the previous day, I met Mark just as I was pulling into a shady spot on the side of the road to take a break. Turns out, Mark had heard about Paul, but never managed to catch up with him.
Where Paul had been on the road for about 50 days total by the time I met up with him, Mark had been taking a more leisurely pace from the West Coast, a break from playing baseball for New Mexico State University, which had lasted over three months (so far). He also had some back-up from his parents whom he would be meeting as he continued his cycling east.
I think in part because the cycling thus far has been so strenuous, it has really made me appreciate little things, like...a warm shower after my ride, or a cool patch of shade...especially when there is a safe place to park my rig for a few minutes, and rest, have something to eat, re-fill my water bottles, etc.
At this particular juncture, while I was resting, eating my cheese and crackers and "Finger Salad", this insect dropped on my arm, seeming to be looking for some attention, so I gladly abliged, snapping several photos with my camera on the "macro" setting as it proceeded to walk down my arm, and onto my elbow, and up the back of my arm.
I eventually encouraged it to disembark onto a weed next to the tree stump where it continued on its own journey to who knows where? : )
As for me, my journey continued over more sun drenched hills and straight-aways. On the hills, I would choose the side I'd walk on based on how many trees actually shaded the road. I would pace myself by pushing my bike from the shade of one tree to the next, counting steps, sometimes guessing how many steps it would take to get to the next patch of shade. (My determination to proceed on my own must have been pretty obvious to the people passing me in vehicles, since I don't remember any of them stopping to check and see if I needed any assistance!)
I remember one particularly large tree on the opposite side of the road that seemed the last one big enough to offer shade at that time of the day for as far as I could see. So I made my way across, parked there for a while, draped myself over my front handle bars with my head resting on my handlebar bag and my hands gently patting my front panniers. I realized, I probably could have slept that way, except for the heat, and my determination to get to my destination in Monticello, FL before sun down.
Nevertheless, as I waited and rested, drank some water, ate a Luna Bar, I realized there were more clouds now than there had been earlier in the day, and they were headed in the same direction that I was. Just as I was about to leave the shade of the Big Tree, one of those clouds began to cover the Sun, and so I "prayed": "More clouds, please. That would be really helpful right now.... : )"
And, then there were a few more clouds, and I started to either walk quickly up the hill to keep in the shadow of the clouds, or ride more slowly down the hills for the same reason. I was able to continue "Cloud Chasing" almost all the way into Monticello, with the town sign appearing near the top of yet another long hill.
But, that was not yet the end of my day. There were still a few more hills, luckily on mostly shade-covered side-walks, and another down-hill or two, before I finally made it to my destination: "Bluebird Meadows Farm" run my Maria and Diane, whom I had been able to contact via WarmShowers.org
True to their prediction, I stayed longer than I planned, so it was here that I ended my first full week On the Road! And what a week it was! : ))
Pedaling for Peace
On April 15, 2012 I started riding my bicycle cross-country from Jacksonville, Florida in voluntary support of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation (NAPF) and the work of author and Peace Leadership Director for the NAPF, Paul K. Chappell. By July 4th, I had covered over 1300 miles to just west of Luling, Texas where a major mechanical failure brought this first stage of my cross-country journey to an end. After storing my bicycle and trailer with my aunt and uncle in Weatherford, Texas, I flew from Dallas to Santa Barbara, California to attend the NAPF First Annual Peace Leadership Summer Workshop. I then lived and worked in Santa Barbara for several more months before I returned to Jacksonville and sold off the rest of my possessions that I could to help fund a continuation of my journey. Starting June 8, 2013 and ending August 9, 2013, I rode from Weatherford, through 400 miles of the central Texas hill country, including Austin, Texas, back to Luling. It was at this point that a friend of mine invited me to work for a brief period in Pennsylvania before flying me back to Santa Barbara where I continued volunteering for the NAPF as well as for the Santa Barbara Bike Coalition. As of August 9th, 2014 I began"Stage III" of my cross-country adventure, this time heading south from Santa Barbara to San Diego and then east to El Paso, TX. It was there that illness, winter weather, and diminishing resources brought that leg of my journey to an end. After staying with another friend in Columbus, GA for several months, I moved "back home" to Kentucky to stay with my dad for a while and build a better "resource base" for future endeavors including review and further tracking and primitive survival skills training at Tom Brown, Jr's Tracker School , and a possible longer tour of the east coast, northern tier, and north west coast back down to Santa Barbara, CA.