Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Bike Across 'Merica

(Our bike ride was jokingly our month long bachelor party as both of us are now married)
(All the states we biked through)

It's been almost three months since we got back from the longest ride of our lives. To this point. And probably till the next life. 

We left for flagstaff Arizona, April 27th. Jeff drove us to Winslow Arizona and there we began biking the many miles every day to Washington, D.C. The first week was rough, our bodies were not ready because we hadn't trained sufficiently, and we did more climbing than we expected and encountered more winds than we liked. It was also so very cold at night. We barely made it on our bikes every night to our destination and would just crash. That said, we were still juiced up from the excitement of beginning our journey, and kept meeting many wonderful people with such different lives. The first week could be called "breaking in". The next couple of weeks seemed to fly by, with a few hard days due to rain and cold. We met more wonderful people, but mostly, we enjoyed the Sundays at the small towns with the little branches we were able to attend. We stayed at wonderful members homes those two Sundays and felt recharged every time. The end of week 3, we really started raking up the mileage and spent more and more hours on our bikes, resulting in 6 consecutive centuries and ending with 7 of our last 8 days as century rides. The last week took us over the Appalachians and we ended up in Washington, D.C.  

What did we learn and why did we do this trip? This trip ended up costing over $1000 in just living expenses and $800 more for a new bike Casey needed to buy. Despite these high costs and the toughness of this expedition, we would do it again in a heartbeat if we were to go back to before this trip. What we learned and experienced is infinitely more valuable than the monetary cost of the trip:

1) learning to work hard. Hard work. Long hours. Finding joy and ways to keep pushing through many hours of relentless peddle to the metal. 

2) in the world not of the world. Seriously the most cut off from the world (save for the mission). And yet we were more in the world than ever before. It was so refreshing to remove ourselves from the complexities of the world. Our focus these past 4 weeks was solely: get where we needed to go, find food, find shelter, enjoy real experiences, keep our motivation levels up, and of course stay in good touch with our fiancés. 

3) We really got to see a whole spectrum of different kinds of life, from the spaced out flatness of Kansas, to the mansions and expensive cars of purcellville. We got to see how people achieved satisfaction and happiness, we got to see what made people happy and content, we got to see who wasn't happy and content, we got to see and to a large degree classify what kind of life it is that we do want. What we learned, it's not about the stuff. It's about people, it's about finding joy in what you do, it's about doing whatever you do to the most professional ability you have, it's about living in the moment, and learning from the past, and embracing the future, and loving the now. 

4) Others are important. It is more important to focus on others than to focus on yourself. Sometimes we think we see so clearly but am so quick to judge the selfishness of others and forget how self centered we can be ourselves. We couldn't have made it through this trip without shifting the focus of our attention to others. It was so important to remain selfless and to rejoice in the success of others and to always be serving and helping others. 

5) finally we learned how very lucky we are. So incredibly blessed to have the gospel in our lives. This world is so chaotic and noisy. Truly tossed about as on the waves of the ocean, but the gospel is such an anchor for us and we are so grateful. 

We can't believe we did it. We did it. We biked across America, but we will never think of it as that, but more as a sacred time we were blessed with. 

Friday, May 23, 2014

Day 26: One Day More!!!

"One day more...Another day, another century, This never-ending road to DC."

Only one more day before we make it to dc! Only 50 miles stands between us and our goal. We had a fantastic day coming out of the Appalachians. We had the most elevation gain because of big climbs today overall but also managed to bike the 105 miles from mt storm to purcellville. 

We saw amazing breathtaking views biking down from mt cheat:

 And for anyone still doubting about the Appalachians being mountains...

Check out this view! We were on our way down from Mt. Cheat, and we still had this fantastic view!

Casey's first time to Virginia! 

Day 25: Mountains to Climb

Anyone who says the appalatians aren't really mountains has never biked across them. Today we went our highest speed (41) and our lowest speeds (around 5) on the road today. We also went our highest elevation and lowest elevation on this side of the Mississippi. We climbed Mt. Thornton, Mt. Laurel, Mt. Casey Messick (as we named it), Backbone mountain, and Mt. Storm. All in 69 miles. We are exhausted! We decided today that we will stay in Mountaineer motel, to rest up and shower for the first time in over a week. We realized these last few days that our legs were getting darker and our tan lines fading. Then we realized that it hasn't been sunny all week. 😳 Yes, gross, and we know it. So to prepare for our triumphant victory ride into Washington DC, we will shower. 

We literally biked into this cloud

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Days 21-24: climbing the toes of the Appalachians

We have been biking hard and haven't had enough energy to write at night these last few days. Here's a recap:

Day 21: Versailles, Indiana. Wonderful day. We enjoyed doing nothing but eatibg and sleeping. We couldn't get to a chapel this weekend so we enjoyed a full days rest. We also gave our bikes a much needed bath (now we just need a bath!!)

Day 22: 107 miles to Hillsboro, Ohio 
It was really far.

Day 23: 119 miles to Coolville, Ohio 
This day was really, really far.

Day 24: 95 miles to Bridgeport, West Virginia, this ending our six day streak of centuries (100 miles or more in a day)

To sum up our last few days: calories, miles, food, biking, eating, climbing, calories (did I mention that yet?) If previously we biked across the back of the Ozarks, we are now climbing the toes of the Appalachians, toes from a millipede, neverending hills. 

3400 calorie meal, each:

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Day 20: yard sales

Apparently it's national yard sale day in Indiana because there were a unbelievably large number of garage/yard sales going on. We saw close to twice as many yard sales as miles we biked today (108miles)

We're in Versailles Indiana. Lovely little town. 

We are so grateful for the weekend. Unfortunately we didn't make it to the city we wanted to due to some great and spacious hills, and that was the next lds chapel closest to town. Maybe we can find a local Christian congregation in town and make some new friends :)

We saw some amazingly beautiful scenery today! Just absolutely breathtaking! These past couple of days, Indiana has just been full of surprises. If you want to see pictures you'll have to google it, sorry didn't have time to take any pictures today 

Grocery shopping for the sabbath!:

Day 19: 2 Days and a Night without a day

Today it rained. Again. So today we chose to dodge the rain. We downloaded a weather radar map, and if we saw a storm about to nail us we'd get off the road...QUICK! This made for slow going, but we stayed dry. For 107 miles. 650 more to go!

We had a great meal at Hunan Garden in Lawrenceville, IL. It was a family that moved here from Fuzhou a few years ago, and they were super nice.

When the sun finally came out, we were exhausted, but thrilled. Haven't seen it for a couple days. 

Friday, May 16, 2014

Day 18: dodging storms

More rain today! But we learned our lesson. As long as we don't get wet we're okay! So instead of pushing through rainstorms, we waited them out wherever we could, at people's barns, at convenience stores, at restaurants, enjoying more calories for our tired bodies, and even at a winery where a nice lady gave us some jerky. We would wait till the rain stopped then pushed as hard as we could to get to the next town before it rained on us. In this very tiring yet successful way we were able to accomplish 90 miles for the day, still leaving us behind on schedule. If it just wasn't so cold we would have been alright. 

Sorry no pictures today! We're not very good at remembering to take them sometimes. 

We're right now nice and dry in our tent camped out behind a church under a pavilion we saw to the side of the road 

Enjoyed a great bike store in edwardsvillev today. Shout out to the bike factory!