It’s All Good….!
Updated: Oct 7, 2021
So I don’t even know where to start. It’s been 14 days since I started this solo bike adventure, and so many amazing things have happened that I’m just shaking my head as I sit overlooking the woods listening to bird calls and acorns falling...
I left my handlebar bag in a friend’s trunk on day 1. That was kinda’ a big silly deal as my 80 year old friend had already returned to Indianapolis which was an hour away before I discovered my error. In it were the things that I couldn’t move forward without. Charging cords, battery backups, oh - and my wallet. I was staying with a friend and low and behold, her partner had a 6:30am tee time back in Indy the next morning and was gracious enough to pick up my bag. He was back in Bloomington by 11:15am and I was on my bike riding by 11:30am. Whew.
I found my way to my warmshower host (network of bike riders providing housing for bike travelers!) in Santa Claus, IN and kind doesn’t even come close to covering it! I had a morning boat ride on the lake and a bike escort for the first 10 miles as I headed south to their Aunt Mildred’s home. I was hunting for my next sleeping berth when my host held up a finger indicating I should wait, and he picked up the phone. 89 year old Aunt Mildred agreed to host me, and what a delight that was. This elderly staunch Catholic and I talked politics, religion, the need for love, compassion and that there was one mountain and many paths. She was flummoxed as to what to feed a vegetarian and ordered a huge veggie pizza! LOL! Well, before that all unfolded I broke a spoke on the way to her home and the rear derailer froze up; the Santa Claus warmshower host came and picked up me and my bike and ferried us to the bike shop and then on to Aunt Mildred’s. He wouldn’t even let me buy gas……………
I found myself sleeping in a 1966 Airstream in Beaver Dam, KY being hosted by an amazing woman I met via a facebook group called “RoadTripHers” which is composed of women supporting women travelers. I was chatting away and mentioned that I wanted to volunteer at Glacier National Park, and a day later I found myself and my bike being carried across Kentucky to meet Pam. Pam and her husband have volunteered every summer at Glacier National Park for the last 9 years, and she offered me a place to stay and shared incredible information on the ins and outs of volunteering at Glacier! Serendipity anyone?
I was given a beautiful country route to ride from Hopkinsville to Clarksville when I broke another spoke. I flagged down a pick up truck and found the kindness of a retired military gent who drove me 4 miles up the road to a Walmart. I proceeded to call all the bike shops in Clarksville, and found that they all were closed as in shuttered. I called my warmshower host in Clarksville to get his thoughts only to find that he was the only mobile bike shop in Clarksville. Of course he was. Thank you universe.
The next morning I was heading south on Highway 24 to yet another bike store as I had called every bike store in Nashville and had located a new wheel. After breaking 2 spokes (actually I had broken 3; I forgot about the one broken on the trip around Lake Michigan last summer), the rule of thumb is to replace the wheel. On Hwy 24 I found a hilly 2 lane highway that was heavily trafficked and had no berm making me more than a wee bit uncomfortable. And then it started to rain. I pulled under a tree and checked the radar to find that the front had shifted and a big red cloud was heading my way. I called a Lyft and the friendly driver took me to the bike store in Five Points, Nashville.
Upon arrival to the bike store we discovered that the wheel wouldn’t work. I was crestfallen. The manager got on the phone and located the PERFECT wheel and left the store to retrieve it. Had I tried to ride the 40 miles and arrived hours later, I’m pretty sure they would not have been able to get the wheel yet that day. Oh, and they were closed the next 2 days.
A couple of days later after reconnecting with a HS friend I hadn’t seen in 40 years, who lived literally 1 mile away from the start of the Natchez Trace Trail, I was finally riding on the Trail!! It was going to be a short 17 mile ride to my next warmshower host as rain was forecasted for the next 2 days and the only housing option available other than the warmshowers host, was a campsite. Sitting in a wet tent for 2 days… is, well…… I had gone 10 miles on this BEAUTIFUL windy, hilly trail when the noise started. (The bike shop in Nashville checked out my front tire as it was making some horrible noises when I picked up speed going down hills and it let up when the speed was reduced, but they didn’t find anything.) Wellllllllll, the noise got worse, didn’t abate, so I stopped and discovered that the front tire was shredded. Yup. Shredded. I flagged down a fellow biker asking where the closest bike shop was when a shiny black Tesla pulled up and the window rolled down. The driver asked if there was a problem, and I’m pretty sure I answered affirmatively. He got out of the car, popped his trunk and quickly proceeded to brainstorm solutions with me. Paul drove me to my warmshowers host, and here I need to digress. We drove up to the address and found the driveway the host had warned me about; he had said that the driveway was fairly steep. Suffice to say that I would have had to have unloaded my bike and pushed an empty bike up and then retrieved my bags and schlepped them up the hill - that kinda’ steep. We went up the driveway and a gorgeous A-frame log cabin complete with a pool came into view. The 3 bedroom guest suite was to be my abode for the next 3 rainy days! (I have so bonded with this couple teaching yoga every morning and joining them for dinner. Truly lifelong friends.) This warmshowers network continues to blow me away…. We unloadeded my bags and made a phone call to a bike store in Franklin, TN and found they had what I needed. Paul then ferried me and my bike to the store and back again….. There are so few words that can help me express my gratitude for his kindness and the joy of making a new friend!
And this my friends, is only the first 14 days. I can’t imagine what will continue to unfold as I continue my journey for the next 1.5 months… And yes it has been hard. Southern Indiana has some deep beautiful hollows full of gravel roads. At one point I found myself on a newly graveled road pushing a fully loaded bike up a steep hill for 2+ miles. I questioned what the hell I was doing, and realized I was living the metaphor. There was no where to go but forward. And so I did.
Problems really aren’t problems. People are incredibly kind. Hills can be pushed. Life long friends are made after mere hours.
Did I mention the hills?