TRIP 2014

Update #20 - August 25th
Lexington, South Carolina
8,312.74 miles (13,300.38 KM)

The last two weeks on the road went okay. Because of the high heat indexes in the afernoon, I got on the road really early (sometimes before 7 am) so I ould make it into a town before early afternoon (between noon and 2 pm). I arrived at my friends' condo in Lexington, South Carolina yesterday. When I arrived here, I officially ended Mission Trip 43. I'll be here for at least a week so I an avoid being on the road Labor Day Monday. Tuesday, September 2nd, I hope to be on the road again and this will be the start of Mission Trip 44. The first leg will take me back up to Sabula, Iowa on the Mississippi River. I'm estimating that it should take me at least 24 days to ride the 1,000 plus miles (1,600+ kilometers).

August 11 : Ashland, VA to Henrico, VA : 40.12 miles (64.19 km)

I had an okay afternoon and night. I stayed up kind of late because there was a lot of updating to do on the website. I got maybe six hours of sleep.

I left the motel a little after 7:30 am. I backtracked a couple of blocks and then I headed South on US. 1. A couple of miles (4 km) South of Ashland, I started seeing signs for the Trans-American Bike Route (Bike 76). Instead of finding my way into and out of Richmond, I thought that I would take the bike route instead. It was a pretty confusing ride because the signs were few and far between. The route made a wide loop around the Eastern edge of Richmond before it started going Eastwards. Even with the confusing ride, I still made over 31 miles (50 km) before noon.

After about 3 miles (5 km) more, the bike route headed south and crossed VA 60 outside of Henrico. I was tempted to turn Eastwards on VA 60 but I decided to stay on the bike route. It was heading South to the James River and then it would turn Eastwards to Williamsburg. I was about 34 miles (54 km) West of Williamsburg.

I was getting a little concerned on where I might stop for the night. There was talk of rain. As I was riding passed the Willis Methodist Church, I noticed a sign with a bicycle and the words "Welcome Bikers". On one of the doors, I saw a sign saying that if a cyclists wanted to spend the night, they should all one of the phone numbers listed. I was able to connect wih one of the people and they came by to open up the church for me. I'm going to be spending the night in the room where the little kids played during the service. The church has been hosting cross-country cyclists since the 1990's.

August 12 : Henrico, VA to Yorktown, VA : 60.27 miles (96.43 km)

I had an okay night. Around 9 pm, two other cyclists showed up. I got advance notice from the pastor that they were coming. The two guys were from North Carolina and this was the first day of their first tour across the country. They were on their way to San Francisco. They were so green. What had held them up today was that they hadn't planned for any flat tires. They were riding with Presta tubes and they didn't carry any spares. It was lucky that they were able to get a ride because they had problems in the Charles City area about 20 miles (32 km) from the church. I gave them some pointers and I suggested to them that they should have the holes in their wheel rims drilled out so that they could use Schraeder valve tubes, which would be much easier to find along the way.

It was almost 11 pm when they shut the light off in the fellowship hall and went into the classroom that they were sleeping in. I decided to use my sleeping mask. I slept till around 5:30 am. I headed out from the church around 6:50 am. The two guys weren't up yet.

I headed South and after about seven miles I started riding East on VA 5. The ride went okay. About six miles (10 km) west of Charles City, I got on the finished section of the Capitol City Bikeway. East of Charles City, there was preparation and some paving of new sections of the bike path. There were some rolling hills but I was able to get in 41 miles (66 km) in by noon.

I stopped a a 7-11 on the Western edge of Williamsburg for some lunch. There was a brief rain shower. I stayed on VA 5 into downtown Williamsburg. I rode up and down the main street of the historic district and took a lot of pictures. After about an hour in Williamsburg, I got on the Colonial Parkway to Yorktown. The ride along the Colonial Parkway was kind of rough and slow because the roadway was textured concrete with stones embedded in it. It was a slow 13 mile (21 km) ride. There was overast skies and there were a few short bouts of drizzle.

I got into Yorktown around 4:20 pm. It took a while finding the Episcopal Church. The sexton was in. He contacted the rector and I got permission to spend the night in the retreat house, which is also open to Trans-American cyclists. This is the second time that I stayed there. The first time was in April 24, 2009.

August 13 : Yorktown, VA to Franklin, VA : 48.16 miles (77.06 km)

I had an okay night at the guesthouse. No other cyclist showed up so I had my pick of the two bedrooms. I got all of my dirty clothes washed. There was a large pile of stuff that other cyclists had left behind. I exchanged my ground cloth tarp for a bigger one. There was this light weight red cycling jersey that had long sleeves. The jersey fit but the sleeves were too short for me. I cut some of the sleeve length off and made it into a short sleeve jersey. The hem of the sleeves isn't that straight but they will be okay. I took a long shower. There was some food in the guest house. There was tv to watch but no internet. It rained pretty hard for several hours.

I left the guest house around 6:30 am. I had to quickly get Alice down the disputed driveway. I'm not sure why the church hadn't installed a ramp way down from the church parking lot instead of the stairways. There is enough room for one. I took the time to take pictures of the historical section of Yorktown. It was one of Southern battles of the Revolutionary War. The area was also in the Civil War.

I got on US 17 heading South. I took my time getting to the James River bridge. In several sections, I took advantage of several long sections of wide sidewalks. I got to the James River bridge around 11 am. It took a long time arranging for a ride across the bridge. There wasn't any sign with a phone number to call. I had to call the police and they transferred the call to the bridge. A flat bed towtruck was dispatched but it was delayed because of an opening of the bridge. I was dropped off at the Southern edge of the bridge around 12:40 pm.

I stayed on US 258 to Smithfield. I stopped for a late lunch in Smithfield. I rode into the downtown area. I got there around 3 pm. I stopped at the Methodist church. The assistant pastor and the secretary were in. The secretary called the senior pastor at home. He said that it wouldn't be possible for me to stay overnight in the church. The main excuse was that there wasn't somebody who could babysit me. I didn't feel like trying to find another church. I got back on US 258 and headed South.

I got into Windsor around 5 pm. There were just a couple of churches in town. I talked with a police officer. He was actually from Newport News so he didn't know any local minister. I checked out the Baptist Church but there was no activity. I rode over to the Congregational Christian Church. As I was checking out the church, this guy in a car pulled up into the parking lot. He was the pastor. He had only been at the church since January. There was going to be a Bible study. He wasn't sure about me staying in the church for the night but he would bring it up to the group of the Bible study. It was a pretty good study. I was able to share. This was my 47th church for the year. Afterwards, quite a few of the people slipped me GH's. One of the ladies called her husband and he offered to take me down to Franklin and help me get a motel room. I thought that there was just going to be an offer to just pay for a room but he also slipped me a sizable GH.

I'm around 10 miles (16 km) away from North Carolina. I'm heading to Lexington, South Carolina. My eta there is Monday Aug 25th.

August 14 : Franklin, VA to Ahoskie, NC : 41.56 miles (66.50 km)

I had an okay night at the motel. It would have been better if the wifi would have worked. The motel was a little below the standard of a Days Inn. Whoever did some painting in the room didn't do a good job in making sure that they didn't get anything on the carpet. There were foot prints on the carpeting along wih large pain splatters. There wasn't a vanity mirror above the sink. When I turned on one light above the desk so I could shave using the mirror there, the fluorescent bulb blew up. I picked up the broken glass and unplugged the light.

I woke up around 5:30 am. There was a decent hot breakfast. I got on the road around 7:40 am. I had a hard time getting on to US 258 heading South. The quickest way for me to do so would have been to get on US 58 but it was restricted access. US 258 was just a half mile to the East but I had to travel several miles.

Six miles (10 km) down the road, I crossed back into North Crolina. The last time I was in North Carolina was April 4. The ride South went okay. I rode passed fields of corn, cotton, peanuts, soy beans, and tobacco. I got about 27 miles (43 km) in by noon. I stopped for some lunch in Murphreesboro.

The afernoon ride went okay. I got into Ahoskie around 2 pm. I didn't find anybody at the churches. I stopped at the police station. I talked with a friendly black lady captain. She didn't know of any local pastors. She gave me directions to a nearby motel. The owners of the motel were from India. They gave me a $5 discount off the room and also waived the $10 key deposit on the room.

August 15 : Ahoskie, NC to Washington, NC : 64.27 miles (102.83 km)

It would have been better night at the motel if the wifi would have worked better. I left the motel around 7:30 am. The morning ride went okay. I was able to make 41 miles (66 km) in by noon. I stopped at a gas station oustide of Williamston for a lunch break. As I was eating at an outside table, a customer came by and slipped me $2. Another customer gave me a bottle of water.

The afternoon ride went okay even though there was either a narrow section of shoulder or a rumble strip. I got into downtown Washington around 3:45 pm. I didn't think that I was going to find somebody at a church but I found some activity at the First United Methodist Church. The pastor was in. There would have been a problem with my staying in the church because of a security system so the pastor offered to get me a motel room. I was thinking that the room was going to be at a low cost motel but I was surprised that I was taken to the Days Inn to get a room there.

I'm going to have a short 35 mile (56 km) ride to New Bern tomorrow.

August 16 : Washington, NC to New Bern, NC : 46.18 miles (73.89 km)

It was an okay night at the motel. This Days Inn was a lot better than the one in Franklin, VA. The wifi signal was quite strong so I was able to quickly update my website. The only problem was that I woke up quite early. There was a good free breakfast.

I left the motel around 7:30 am. The morning ride went okay but in some sections along US 17 the shoulder was quite rough. I was only able to make 27 miles (43 km) in by noon. The afternoon ride went a little better. The highway surface was a lot better. There was a long and high bridge over the Neuse River between Bridgeton and New Bern and then another bridge that had a drawbridge section.

I got into downtown New Bern around 2:45 pm. I rode around the downtown area to check out the churches but I didn't find anybody around them. It took a while to locate the police station. At the police station, I was bummed out when I saw that the large safety banner flag was gone. On the mostly bare pole was just a small flag. The large safety banner flag had to have been snagged on something some how but I don't know where or when it happened. The flag was there when I started out in the morning. I remember seeing it a couple of times during the day. I just don't remember the last time that I had seen it.

At the police department, I was only able to talk to an officer in the communications office through an intercom. I was told that there was a chaplain and if I give the officer my cell phone number the officer would talk to the chaplain and hopefully the chaplain would call me. On a whim thinking and hoping that the safety flag had come off along the route that I took in town, I backtracked to where I got off the last bridge but I didn't find it. I moved the flags that I had around. Hopefully, I can find another flag.

The chaplain called me back. He told me that he was the pastor at a downtown church and they had a house where they allowed homeless guys to stay in individual bedrooms but he didn't know if there were any open bedrooms. He would have to call the deacon in charge to find out that but the deacon was working. The deacon wouldn't be able to get to the house till around 5 pm. This would have been a 90 minute wait. I didn't feel like waiting that long some place and find out that there wasn't any space at the house.

I was thinking about just going on and head out of town trying to get close to Jacksonville but when I rode passed a motel I thought that I would at least stop to check it out. The rate was in the low $40s. I decided to go ahead and get a room because it looked like it was going to rain. According to the weather report there was a 20% chance for storms.

I'm thinking about riding back into the downtown area for church tomorrow morning. Since last Sunday morning, I had ridden almost 360 miles (576 km) from Bowling Green, Virginia.

August 17 : New Bern, NC to Trent Woods, NC : 07.67 miles (12.27 km)

It was a decent night at the motel even though the room was a little worn down and the motel was operated by somebody from India. I left the motel around 7:40 am and I headed back into the downtown area to the First Presbyterian Church. A couple of years ago, I stopped there on one of my earlier mission trips and I met the Admin Coord Tommy H. Tommy invited me to come back and attend service.

I got to the church around 8:20 am. The first service started at 8:25 am so I just was able to lock Alice up and make it inside to a pew before the service. I wasn't able to connect with the head pastor. The service was okay. After the service while I was waiting to talk with the pastor, my friend Tommy showed up. He was in the choir. Tommy offered to get me a room at the motel where I had stayed at before. Before we went to the motel, Tommy and I went to the small fellowship group. There were about two dozen people there and Tommy introducd me and I got to share for a few minutes. This was my 48th church for the year. We left Alice at the church and we went to the motel to check me in. The motel was full last night so there were no rooms available. I would have to come back around 12:30 pm.

I took my time wandering around the downtown area because I had a couple of hours to kill. I stopped for some lunch and then I did some shopping. I found a flannel tablecloth for $2 that had a nice pattern on it and I can turn it into another large safety flag. I've got some retro-reflective strips that I an sew on it for night time safety.

August 18 : Trent Woods, NC to Jacksonville, NC : 37.89 miles (60.62 km)

It was a decent afternoon and night at the motel. I spent about four hours making a new safety flag out of a flannel table cloth that I had purchased at a Dollar General for $2. It's a lot bigger than the old one. I just need to cut off the pole some so the flag doesn't get caught in doors.

There was a decent free breakfast. I got on the road around 7:40 am. The ride South went okay. I had to take several breaks along the way because it was going to be hot in the nineties. I was still able to make 31 miles (50 km) by noon.

I stopped for a late lunch in Jacksonville. In the downtown area, I stopped at the Trinity United Methodist church. I met up with the pastor. There was a pre-school at the church so the pastor offered to get me a room at one of the local motels.

August 19 : Jacksonville, NC to Freeman, NC : 82.48 miles (131.97 km)

It was a decent afternoon and night at the motel. There was a decent free breakfast. I got on the road around 6:50 am. The ride South went okay. It was a long ride through the Camp Leguine area. There were a lot of marines in trucks but no tanks. Whenever I could on the way to Wilmington, I took several breaks along the way because it was going to be hot in the nineties. It didn't feel hot because there was a breeze. I was still able to make 35 miles (56 km) by noon.

I stopped for a late lunch in Hampstead. On the Eastern edge of Wilmington, I stayed on US 17 instead of getting on BUS 17. Following US 17 was a mistake because it went way to the North. Just passed I-40, the section became I-114. I got off the first major road going South. After a couple of miles, I got on US 74. There were a couple of bridges across the Cape Fear River. The sky was getting dark and halfway across the second bridge it started to rain really hard and I had to get my jacket on. The rain lasted about 15 minues and then it got hot again.

Just passed the second bridge, I hit a long section of road construction. It was mostly in the Eastbound (Northbound) lanes. Traffic was at a standstill because there was an accident. There were several fire engines. The traffic jam was at least five miles (8 km) long. I tried to find somebody at a church in the Leland area but it was too late being that it was almost 5 pm.

I kept on going till around dusk. Between Delco and Freeman, I found some open land in some woods. I found a place to camp out but there were a lot of mosquitoes. I quikly got the tent up and everything inside.

August 20 : Freeman, NC to Whiteville, NC : 30.38 miles (48.61 km)

It was a decent night in the tent but it was hot. There were not that many mosquitoes in the tent. I fell asleep around 9:30 pm. I woke up around 5:30 am. I had to quickly pack up and get out of the woods because of the mosquitoes. It was around 7:50 am when I got on the road. The ride West went okay.

I got into Whiteville around noon. I stopped for some lunch a ta Wendys. Because of the heat, I decided to try and find a place to stop. The sky was getting dark and it looked like it was going to storm. After having no luck at a couple of churches, I found the pastor in at the First Presbyterian church. The pastor was pretty friendly. He has been at the church for nine years. It was interesting to find out that he was friends with the associate pastor at the First Presbyterian Church in Columbus, Georgia. Josh was from Albion, New York and I rode through there during my ride along the Erie Canal. His wife also attended Georgia Southwestern University in Americus, Georgia. She might have been there while I was a volunteer at Habitat for Humanity International.

There was an offer to get me a room at a local motel. Before going to the motel, I had to wait out a storm. Alice was put under cover under a car port. The storm lasted almost 90 minutes. The rain really came down hard for a long time. When the rain stopped, I went on to the motel where the pastor was going to meet me to check me in. He had to stay on to take a call. On the way to the motel, I went through an area of localized flooding. There was a high water spot in the road. I took my time through the high water. I almost got through it when this car came up from behind me and passed me on the left. I really got splashed. By the time I got to the motel, I was pretty well dry.

I'll be crossing back into South Carolina tomorrow. Because of the possibility of high heat and more storms in the afternoon, I'm just going to Mullins, South Carolina 40 miles (56 km) away.

August 21 : Whiteville, NC to Mullins, SC : 43.28 miles (69.25 km)

It was a decent night at the motel. I went to bed early and slept through most of the night. There was a decent free breakfast with hot waffles . I left the motel around 7:30 am. I backtracked a block and I headed West on Bus 76. Bus 76 took me to Chadbourn. Before leaving Chadbourn, I stopped at a BK for a break to get something cold to drink and also to get on the internet. As I was leaving, I got into a conversation with a Coca Cola serviceman. We talked for a couple of minutes in the parking lot. Before he went back into the BK, he slipped me $10.

From Chadbourn, it was about a 16 mile ride to the SC state line. I had ridden past a lot of fields of cotton and peanuts. Also, there were quite a few fields of corn almost ready to be harvested. There were some rough roads on the way to Nichols. I stopped at a gas station for a chicken snack. I had ridden about 37 miles (59 km) by noon. From Nichols, it was about a six mile (10 km) ride to Mullins. When I got into the downtown area, I saw a temp sign at a bank that was flashing 95 degrees. On the radio, I heard that in Georgia the temperature was around 105 degrees before heat index. I hadn't really felt the high heat because there was a breeze.

I stopped at the First Baptist Church. The pastor was out but the secretary arranged for a room at a local motel. She also arranged for me to get a meal at the restaurant of a nearby B&B. The meal was put into a take-out container. As I was getting the meal fastened onto the back of Alice, this black guy in his twenties stopped to talk to me. He slipped me $5. He told me that Adonai had told him to give it to me. We talked for a while. He told me that he was studying history at a college in hopes to become a high school history teacher. He also told me that he was also planning to go into the ministry.

Tomorrow, I'm just going to ride to Florence 30 miles (48 km) away. There is also going to be a high heat index warning tomorrow. There is also a possible storm forming in the Tropics. If it forms, it will be the third storm in the Atlantic.

August 22 : Mullins, SC to Florence, SC : 35.70 miles (57.13 km)

It was a decent night at the motel. The room was a little run down and there were several noisy guests above me. I went to bed early and slept through most of the night. There was a decent free breakfast with hot waffles till around 5 am. I left the motel around 7:10 am. I backtracked three quarters of a mile and then I go back on US 76. The ride West went okay. There was a breeze so I didn't feel the high temperature.

Around 11 am, I decided to take an early lunch break at a Wendy's about five miles (8 km) East of Florence near the airport. After about 40 minutes, I rode into Florence. I got off US 76 and rode into the downtown area. `I stopped at one of the main Methodist churches. The pastor left a little while ago and the secretary was getting ready to leave. She tried to give me a sheet of social ministries but most of them have closed for the week already. There was this one church that sort of acted like a homeless shelter but she told me that it wasn't in a good part of town.

About a block away was the big First Baptist church. I caught the secretary leaving for the day. She told me about the church/ homeless shelter. She also told me that they were getting ready to have a big funeral at the church. I didn't want to take a risk trying to find the church/ homeless shelter and see it either closed or full. I saw a sign at a bank nearby showing that the temp was in the low 100s. Near the Baptist church were several motels. There was a dental school nearby. I picked the motel that looked like it would be the best. I got a room in the mid $30s. I used the $50 bill that I have been saving since Ashland, Virginia. I was saving it for emergencies. I was going to maybe use some of the money to get a haircut.

I'm not sure where I will be going after some time off the road in Lexington. I got an email from the ministry in North Georgia near Atlanta where I was hoping to volunteer at. They don't have any positions available at their main location. Most of the volunteers go to other locations around the country on mission trips. I am going to visit with a friend of mine near Savanna, Georgia. There is the open invitaion at the First Presbyterian church in Columbus, Georgia. From Columbus, I might go back up to the Upper Midwest. I don't want to head down into Florida. I don't want to get caught down there over the Winter like last year. It looks like it might not be an active hurricane season. There is a possible tropical storm but conditions are such that it will be swinging away from the continent.

August 23 : Florence, SC to Sumter, SC : 47.53 miles (76.05 km)

It was a decent night at the motel. The room was a little run down and there were several noisy guests above me. The wifi signal was weak because the room that I was in was in the back building. I went to bed early and slept through most of the night till around 5 am. I left the motel around 6.50 am. I backtracked a quarters mile and then I go back on US 76. The ride West went okay. There was a breeze so I didn't feel the high temperature.

I took one short break and I pushed in the miles because the heat index in the afternoon was going to be in the triple digits again. I got a whopping 41 miles (66 km) in by noon time. I rode into downtown Sumter a little after noon. I stopped at a Wendy's for lunch.

I didn't think that I was going to find somebody at one of the churches so I stopped at the police station. I met a really nice lady officer who was on desk duty because she had recently broken her left wrist in a self-defense training accident. There was also a nice lieutenent. He called around to some of the local ministers. His pastor at a Baptist church West of town offered to get me a room at a Days Inn on the Western edge of Sumter. It just took a couple of hours to get everything set up.

Instead of heading back into town, I'm going to be getting on the road early and try and find a church close to Columbia. I'm not sure about taking tomorrow off. I might just try and go on to Lexington.

August 24 : Sumter, SC to Lexington, SC : 55.79 miles (89.26 km)

It was a some what decent night at the motel. The room was pretty nice but the guests around me weren't. They were really loud. Somebody close by shut their door loudly every twenty-five minutes or so. There were also bangs on the wall. The noise lasted till around midnight. I couldn't use the air conditioner/ heater unit as a sound barrier because there wasn't a fan only setting.

I woke up around 5 am. There was a decent hot breakfast wih biscuits, gravy, and scrambled eggs. The sky was pretty overcast when I headed out around 6:50 am. I thought that I was going to get caught in some rain along the way. The flat terraign switched over to rolling hills. There were some long climbs but I was able to get up them without getting off Alice and walking them. By 9:10, I had the first 20 miles (32 km) in.

There were some pretty long stretches of nothing much but pine forests. They weren't really forests because the woods went maybe 15 or 20 feet back to hide the fact that the rest of the woods had been clear cut.

About 4 miles (6 km) out of Columbia, I finally came to a Methodist church. I got there around 10:30 am and the service was supposed to start around 11 am. Even though the parking lot was full, there were not that many people in the sanctuary. There wasn't a greeter or an usher. There was supposed to be some kind of breakfast/ meeting in the fellowship hall to promote people to higher classes in Sunday school. I didn't get that many friendly welcomes. Most of the people who saw me gave me stares like I really didn't belong there. I was hoping to find some water but I wasn't able to.

In the sanctuary, I sat up front. People were coming in and finding their seats and greeting everybody else but me. They were pretty noisy. There was this one lady behind me who loudly complained that she needed a nap since she ate the breakfast. People didn't stop talking until the organist nearly finished up the first musical piece. I can't decide what is worse - "a stage show church" or a "social club church". This seemed to be the latter.

I was pretty surprised that there was a processional like what you find either at a Catholic, Episcopal, or Lutheran church. There was a boy holding a cruifer really strangly. It was really surprised when the minister bowed to the cross on the altar. I didn't want to stay. The most opportune time for me to leave was during the "Passing Of the Peace". During the time that I walked down the aisle to leave only one person greeted me and shook my hand. Nobody said anything to me when I left.

At the Eastern edge of Columbia, I stopped at a Wendy's for some lunch and also to send an email to my friend in Lexington to tell him that I was getting close. It was a long ride into the downtown area passed the state capitol and then out of the city. The traffic was really bad and there wasn't much of a shoulder. I had to do some sidewalk riding. I didn't get to my friend's condo till almost 4 pm.

I'm officially calling an end to Mission Trip 43. I will be off the road through Labor Day Monday. When I get back on the road, Tuesday September 2nd, I'll be starting up Mission Trip 44. It is going to take me a least 25 days to ride up to Northeast Iowa.

The next trip update should be posted sometime between September 01st and September 08th.



Bicyclist in Sunset



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