If you were able to read our last blog post, you saw that we were faced with a tough decision about whether or not to cut off a significant number of miles in the western section of Virginia. Well, despite our struggle with wanting to complete all parts of the set route, we went ahead and decided to eliminate a rigorously hilly 235 miles (approximately) from Botetourt County to Breaks Interstate Park. Jerry’s parents picked us up with our bikes and all our gear to give us a 3-day rest in the comfort of their home. During that time, we were lavished with loving care by them, delicious food, soft beds and showers, and a time to again reevaluate our things. We’re happy to report that we were able to leave behind 25 pounds of things!! That may be hard to believe, but when you add together some books, a bag of salt (which Jerry refers to as a bag of rocks), and lots of other miscellaneous items, they add up. In addition, we ordered new tents to replace the leaky one we were using. Also, it was nice to be able to celebrate my (LisaPage’s) birthday together with them- we had a nice dinner at the nearby Chateau Morrisett.
We are so thankful for Jerry’s parents’ sacrificial love for us. They drove us over 3 1/2 hours to Breaks Interstate Park, where we stayed Saturday night. On Sunday morning we resumed our riding. And here is another example of a way God provided for a need. Just after leaving Breaks Interstate Park, we were “limping” in a low gear because there was a problem with Jerry’s gear cable having been pinched by his kick stand. We didn’t anticipate the need for a heavy wrench that would only be needed for the kickstand bolt. So, we thought we might find one at the hardware store in the next town. (Later, we discovered that the hardware store was closed because it was Sunday.) Enter: Brandon, who Jerry spotted working on his vehicle in his shop, only a mile after we discovered our problem. He had the wrench we needed!! Yay! No more “limping” to the next town. Problem solved!
We got back on our bikes and rode about 20 miles to Lookout, KY, landing at a “bike hostel” run by a local church. There were showers, beds, food, and a kitchen to use. Plus, we reconnected with our new TransAmerica cycling friend, Robbie, whom we’ve really enjoyed getting to know. In fact, he was our partial inspiration for what we biked the next day- Monday. We were able to set our family mileage record: 50 miles yesterday!! And it was one of our longest and toughest days- several very steep climbs that required us to push our heavy bikes up the steep hills. It was a huge sense of accomplishment to make it to Hindman, KY. We didn’t know if we would be able to do it, and we had tentative, alternate plans if we didn’t end up making it there (asking to camp in someone’s yard).
So now, for the unpleasant realization that we made a couple of days ago... it is not likely that we will make it to Oregon! With the time frame that we have given ourselves, we don’t see it as a realistic goal anymore that we would be able to get all the way to Astoria, Oregon, by the end of August. We were a bit naive in our expectations of the number of miles we could accomplish with kids in tow while pedaling a tandem and a triple bike. We’ve learned and have heard from others that Virginia is one of the toughest parts of the whole TransAmerica route. So, only time will tell if we would actually be able to ramp up our mileage enough to make up for the lower mileage we have had to bike in this first month. Nevertheless, we are continuing to enjoy our adventure and will keep in mind our purpose and renewed goals. There’s nothing like accomplishing big challenges together as a family! The boys manage to make lots of fun wherever we are and whatever circumstances we find ourselves in. They really rise to a challenge and have exceeded our expectations in many ways.