A Few Thank You’s

I know we’ve called this an unsupported ride but actually nothing could be further from the truth. Certainly we’ve carried all our gear and made our way from place to place but without the support of others it would not have been as enjoyable, may not have been as successful or not have taken place at all. So this post is to thank everyone who has supported us in some way and to who we are very grateful. So here goes and I hope I haven’t forgotten anyone.

If this ride has been tough for us we can’t imagine what our families have been through, worrying about our safety day after day for all those miles. Without their support and blessing this ride would not have taken place. We are so grateful to them and can’t wait to be reunited with them next week. We did this ride for them as much as for ourselves, we just wish our Dad was here to share this moment with us.

Thanks to the International Police Association (IPA) which has put us in contact with so many wonderful people in the USA. Without the assistance of the IPA our experience would have been very different. Thanks to Zerrin in the UK IPA office for assisting me to put together my plea for assistance and special thanks to Bud Lathrop, the main US coordinator, who was relentless in his quest to make sure that the whole of the USA knew we were coming! Bud, your a star and I wish I could have met you.

Thanks to Brian Dale from the Portland PD. Brian made our arrival go like clockwork and took us to Astoria and looked after us for our first day in the US. He’s a top guy and great company. Thanks too to his friend Todd who allowed us to stay in his beach house on our first night. What a great introduction to the US and it would have been nice to spend the whole two months there!

Karen & Dan Leedom looked after us the day before we set off and were there at the very start to see us off so a big thank you for being there for us and showing us your great little town. We’ll be back!

We stopped to for a fleeting visit with Les and Ginger Blum in bad weather on day 3, so thank you for allowing us to enjoy your company for a short while and providing us with some tasty treats before setting off again in the pouring rain.

An unexpected acquaintance came a week into the ride when Dan & Karen contacted their friends Bob and Judy Reed who lived on our route near John Day. So we stayed with Bob and Judy for a day and had the time of our lives. Thank you Bob & Judy for so much and allowing us to see a US that I bet few tourist ever do! Not forgetting Bob & Judy’s friends Mike and Judy who cooked a mean elk BBQ.

Pete & Karen Elmer live in a great spot (up a steep hill I seem to remember) in Montana and allowed us to rest at their place for a day. It was a great time and we really enjoyed our stay with them and their daughter Amanda. So thanks to them for some great memories and some good laughs.

Thanks to Guy & Susan Thoms in Pueblo for looking after us so well and running us around to buy bits for the bikes, post home our warm weather gear and for arranging a tour of the new Police station. Fond memories here. And thanks to Deputy Chief Andy McLaughlan for showing us around.

Thanks to Dennis & Diane Arcoraci in Virginia. Dennis is an IPA regional coordinator and has worked very hard to ensure our safe passage and arrange some liaisons for us. We had the pleasure of staying overnight with them just a few days ago so thanks for everything.

Thanks to Chief Deputy Major Donnie Lowe for his wonderful hospitality in Mineral. He arranged for us to stay at the Fire Dept and took us out to dinner. Thanks too to his lovely daughter Jennifer for dining with us that night. And thanks to the Fire Dept in Mineral who were a great bunch.

Wow, so many people but we’re almost done.

Big thanks to Tom and Anita Lobrano for putting us up at very short notice and making the last night of our ride a special one. And thanks to Tom O’Donnell and Tom Drumm for all the behind scenes networking and information.

Thanks to the Yorktown Sheriff’s Dept especially to Major Ron Montgomery, Lt. Jeff Kerr and Lt. Richard Moore for making our stay in Yorktown so good. Lt. Moore (Richie) has been a real star and even took us fishing in the bay where we caught sharks! You’ve been great and made the end of our ride a very special day indeed. I wonder how many other TransAm cyclists have had a Police escort to the finish? And thanks too to the US Coast Guard for allowing us to stay with them for our time in Yorktown. We realise what a privilege it is to be allowed to stay here and it’s just wonderful.

Without the company of the other cyclists we met along the way our ride would not have been as much fun, so thanks to Ed Petkus, Matt Clark and to the Carney family (Jim, Laura, Abby, Nathan and their friend Emily Hillison). They were all amazing people and we’re lucky to have met and ridden with them.

Special thanks to Dan and Marketta Jenkins in Washington DC. Dan retired as the Deputy Chief of the Secret Service and had our weekend planned out before we arrived with so many things for us to do and see. We were allowed a very special view of the White House from the roof of Dan’s current employer and we watched as President Obama arrived by helicopter. The whole weekend was fantastic and included a seat at the baseball game between the Nationals & Phillies, a trip around Capital Hill, a night ride in the police helicopter over DC ( a once in a lifetime opportunity), a visit to Arlington Cemetery and tours of the Newseum and the Air & Space Museum. Dan & Marketta have given us a weekend we’ll never forget, the perfect fairytale end to our trip. We are so very grateful to them.

We also want to thank  Larry Lanville for his offer of assistance and his offer to host us (If only we had more time).

Other thanks go to Debbie and Les at Damascus (not forgetting Eula), to Kiki Holl (TransAm Cyclist) for much useful info during the planning of this ride, to Wesley Smith at BBC Radio Oxford for promoting the ride & to Argos Racing Cycles for a great set of wheels.

Last, but by no means least, to everyone who has followed our progress and especially to everyone who has taken the time to write words of encouragement through the comments. They have been a huge boost to us and reading them was a favourite part of every day.

Finally I want to remember my good friend John Wood. John was a very keen cyclist, a family man and a Police Officer. He loved life but died a few years ago, age 49. I’ve thought about John a lot during this ride because he should be doing it too. In the tough and lonely times I’ve thought of John and realised how lucky and privileged I am to do the ride at all. Those thoughts made me stop feeling sorry for myself, forget the pain and just get on with it and enjoy every turn of the pedal. Thanks John for being my inspiration.

Okay, if you’ve read through all that you deserve a photo or two.

Nelson House

Nelson House - There's still a cannonball lodged in the apex of the roof since 1781. You should see it if you look closely.

Yorktown Trolly Bus

The trolley bus is free and takes you on a tour around Yorktown

Moore House

Moore House - It was here during the Revolutionary War that the British Commander,General Cornwallis signed the surrender papers in 1781

This is where our bikes are secured.

Bike boxed up for flight home

My bike all boxed up and ready to go home - sad really.

Day 52 – Glendale to YORKTOWN

Tues 28th July 2010

That’s it, we’re done.

Great ride in today through lovely scenery amid lots of excitement and disbelief that we this ride is finally coming to an end after 52 days on the road.

As we approached Yorktown we were met by an officer from the Sheriff’s Dept. who escorted us through the town to the Victory Monument where the TransAm trail officially ends (and starts for some). The Carney family had arrived about 30 mins ahead of us and gave us some big cheers and clapped as we rode to the end. It was great to finish with them and we all had lots of hugs knowing what we had all achieved. That special moment was followed by a long photo session in front of the monument and was made more memorable by having several Police Officers from Yorktown there to share it with us. They actually took most of the photos so all the tourists must have wondered what on earth was going on with all the police cars there as well. It was a magical moment for us all and very emotional too after so long on the road.

After photo’s we all headed for the beach and messed around in the sea taking more photo’s and causing chaos. The local police were just great so our thanks to them and especially to Lt. Richard Moore who allowed this to happen.

Once we had tired of our celebrations we had to get back on our bikes and ride a short way where our bikes were secured in a lock up. The Carney family’s lift had arrived to take them home and we were taken to the US Coast Guard base where we are guests until we fly home. It’s been an incredible day and we can now call ourselves TransAmerican Cyclists for the rest of our days.

Daily Mileage -64 miles

Time in Saddle -4 hrs 57 mins

Total Climbing – 1,359 ft

Ride Totals

Total Miles – 4,342 miles

Total Climbing – 187,235 ft

Total Hours in Saddle – 400+

Tomorrow I will write some more and remember some of the special people we’ve met along the way but for now here’s some photo’s. (note: laregr files than I usually post)


Slightly more weather beaten than our handshake in Astoria

Group photo in front of Victory Monument

With our friends and fellow cyclists

With Yorktown's finest

Chris & Alan

Two months and we're still talking to each other

Alan in the sea

I guess this is the end of the road

Group in the sea

Cycling 4,000 miles makes you crazy

Day 51 – Mineral to Glendale

Tues 27th July 2010

We thoroughly enjoyed our stay at Mineral but as always we had to get away early. But we left with some fond memories and met some great people while we were there. Today our destination was Glendale, over 80 miles further on where we were invited to stay at the home of Major Tom Labrano and his wife Anita. This was arranged at the last minute but was very welcome because our expected place to stay would have been roughing it without a shower or other facilities.

It was cool when we left and to our surprise it stayed cool (compared to the last few days) all day with some cloud cover. So it was a good day to cycle and the terrain was mostly flat. We made good time and had finished our cycling day by 2:15pm.

Sun over lake

Great views today as the sun came up

The highlight of today was seeing a flock of vultures on the side of the road. As I approached then I first thought they were wild turkeys but soon realised what they were. They were feeding on a deer carcass. Not too bothered by us they simply flew up into the trees above to wait for us to go.


What'ch wanna do? I dunno, what' you wanna do?

The area all around Glendale is very historic with many civil war battlefields. It would be a good place to spend some time exploring.

Also today we met up with the Carnet family who are also cycling across the US on a similar timescale to ourselves. It was good to ride with them for a while and have a catch up. We last saw then in Damascus where Jim had to get a broken spoke mended. Today his rear wheel was very wobbly and it turned out another spoke had broken just an hour before.

Laura and Jim

Laura and Jim exited to be near the end too

The afternoon and evening spent with Tom and Anita were very enjoyable. We ate well and stayed up late chatting about all sorts of things. So close to the end of the ride I think we felt the most relaxed we have for ages so it was lovely to spend it in such good company. During the evening Tom O’Donnell, a retired FBI Special Agent, turned up to meet us. Tom has been busy in the background networking our journey through Virginia so it was great to meet him and be able to thank him personally.

Group photo

Alan, Tom, Tom O'Donnell, Chris (Anita behind camera)

One day to go now and just 60 miles to Yorktown.

Daily Mileage – 82.54 miles

Time in Saddle -6 hrs 17 mins

Total Climbing – 2,373 ft

Day 50 – Charlottesville to Mineral

Mon 26th July 2010

Well we’ve had a great day and we have a very exiting week ahead of us too. Our time with Dennis and Diane went all too quickly but we really enjoyed their company and we’ll take away some great memories. Diane packed us off this morning with a bag of goodies each to see us through the day and the rolls she prepared were just incredible. We ate them at our 40 mile stop and didn’t feel hungry until the evening!

Dennis, Alan, Diane, Chris

Dennis, Alan, Diane, Chris

Bikes in rear of Veh

The bikes loaded up ready to go back to the route

To avoid the heat we got up early and enjoyed a wonderful breakfast with porridge and real tea made in a pot. Was that good or what? Dennis then drove us back to where he picked us up and we were off again on day 50. Within an hour we were cycling through Charlottesville where the University of Virginia is located. It’s a very old and picturesque town and there we saw our first public transport bus of the whole trip. We would love to have had time to look around here and a definate stop next time we visit.


I forget what this building is called but it was designed by Thomas Jefferson

The weather was slightly kinder to us today and it was nice and cool (by cool I mean 80 degrees) for the first few hours of the day. I was also pleased to see that our mileage was about 10 miles less than expected beacuse we didn’t have to go off route thanks to the lift Dennis gave us. After leaving Charlottesville there were still plenty of hills but the further East we are going the terrain is gradually becoming less severe and should be almost flat later tomorrow.

US Mailboxes

We've seen a few of these

We were exited about our arrival in Mineral today because we were allowed to stay at the local Fire Dept and we were being treated to dinner by Major Don Lowe, the County’s Deputy Police Chief. We arrived at about 2:00pm and were met by Don and his friend who’s a news reporter. We then did an interview for the local paper and allowed into the Fire Dept where they showed us around and allowed us to use all the facilities. It’s home from home here.

Bikes in Fire Dept

Safe and well inside the Fire Dept

After we’d showered Don and his daughter picked us up in his works Dodge Charger (beast of a car) and we went to a local Italian restaurant and had a fab meal courtesy of Don, then it was back to mineral for ice cream. So it’s been another very memorable evening in good company for which we are very grateful. I hope we can return the compliment one day. Don has also arranged for a TV crew to catch up with us tomorrow so we may be on local TV if they can get any sense out of us!

With Don and his daughter outside Mineral Fire Dept

With Don and his daughter outside Mineral Fire Dept

I’m sat here in the crew room of the Fire Dept writing this and the fire crew here are a great bunch and looking after us well. We’re privileged to stay here.

Tomorrow we expect to cycle about 80 miles leaving just 60 to Yorktown for the last day. Lt. Jeff Kerr called me today to say that all is sorted for our stay with the US Coast Guard when we arrive in Yorktown. Jeff has sorted out all the arrangement for us for our stay in Yorktown and has even picked up some boxes to ship our bikes home. We are so grateful to him for his help. Also tonight I took a call from a contact in Washington DC who can put us up for the night at the end of the week when we visit DC. This is such an exiting week I’m beginning to feel as though I’m on holiday and Chris will too once the cycling is over.

Daily Mileage – 64.2 miles

Time in Saddle – 5 hrs 29 mins

Total Climbing – 3,328 ft

Day 49 – Lexington to Charlottesville

Sun 25th July 2010

Today has been the hottest one so far with temperatures finally topping 100 degrees. We had slightly late start because our motel didn’t serve breakfast until 6:30am and we really needed an early start today to avoid the heat and we knew we had a big climb to tackle. It turned out that the climb from Vesuvius was not as bad as we expected. It was still hard work and very steep at the start but it was soon over. It must be those ultra-lightweight bikes again.

Blue Ridge Parkway

About to turn onto the Blue Ridge Parkway

At the top we joined the Blue Ridge Parkway, a scenic road that runs along the top of the Appalachians and we followed that for about 30 miles. While on this we both almost ran out of water and there was nowhere we could buy any. Chris spoke to three bikers and they gave him a bottle of water. When they set off they rode but us and shortly after one returned. The rider, Jason, gave us a bottle of sports drink which we shared between us. He’s our hero for today and it was a very nice gesture from him. It was also many miles further before we could get water so he really saved our day. It was not a day to be cycling without water.

Jason - biker

Jason came back to give us a bottle of drink. What a star.

The views from the Blue Ridge Parkway were fantastic and at long last we had reached the edge of the Appalachians having spent the last 500 miles cycling through them. We had views of the flatlands beyond the mountains and could see clearly where they suddenly started. It was great to coast downhill and out of them with the thought of some flat cycling ahead in the next few days as we head closer to Yorktown.

View from Blue Ridge Parkway

The views from the Blue Ridge Parkway were spectacular

On the Blue Ridge Parkway

A moment of relaxation in an otherwise tough day

This evening we are staying with IPA members Dennis and Diane Arcoraci who live north of Charlottesville. It was too far to cycle to their house frm our route so Dennis picked us up  just outside Charlottesville and will drop us back in the morning. We’ve had a wonderful meal this evening and they’ve really made us feel at home. It’s a shame our visit is so fleeting because it feels rude to leave so soon especially as Dennis and I have exchanged so many emails over the last 6 months but we have to ride tomorrow to keep on schedule. An evening in good company is just not enough.

The forecast for tomorrow is 90 degrees, still hot but much cooler than today and we have another 70 miles to complete.

Daily Mileage – 71 miles

Time in Saddle – 6 hrs 29 mins

Total Climbing – 5,760 ft

Day 48 – Daleville to Lexington

Sat 24th July 2010

With such high temperatures forecast today we were pleased we only had about 50 miles to cover.  The motel we stayed inlast night provided a good breakfast, served at 6:00am, so we were there early and took lots of snacks with us to eat on route.

It certainly was a hot one today and by 8:30am it was already 84 degrees F and the high humidity is still with us just to make it uncomfortable as well. You can almost feel the heat sapping your strength as the miles roll by and the hours we are getting off the bikes is not enough to fully recover from each day. After so long we really need a good long break from the bikes but we know that won’t happen until the end.

Just after 8:30 this morning my phone rang and to my surprise it was BBC Radio Oxford. They had been trying to get me for ages so I did a live ‘on-air’ interview with Wesley Smith while stood on the side of the road. That was quite a bizzare experience to think that my words were being broadcast across Oxford as I spoke. I don’t think I said anything inappropriate!

Cows in river

These cows know how to stay cool

There’s little else to say about today as our cycling was over before midday and there weren’t many good photo opportunities. It was still a hilly ride but with a few more flatish sections than yesterday. The countryside here is good for cycling with few cars and lots of trees to give shade. We saw a few deer today, one with a fawn and rescued another tortoise sunbathing in the middle of the road.

The town of Lexington was unlike other towns we’ve been through. It had lots of old buildings, something we’ve not seen much of and most were built of brick or stone rather than timber. It looked very european in that sense and would be a nice place to spend some time. Twelve miles South of here is the ‘Natural Bridge’, one of the seven natural wonders of the world. It’s a real shame we don’t have time to see that as it’s an impressive sight.

Crossing railway line

Part of today's route took us over back and fro across this railway line

Tomorrow first thing we have to climb the hill at Vesuvius up to the Blue Ridge Parkway. We expect it to be our most challenging climb of the ride and will also be the last so we’ll be glad to reach the top before the heat becomes too intense. The picture below shows our ride profile for tomorrow. We are currently located where the Maury River is shown and our goal is Charlottesville.


Our ride profile for tomorrow. The small hills on the left are bad enough. Can't wait!

Daily Mileage – 49.7 miles

Time in Saddle – 4 hrs 14 mins

Total Climbing – 2,552 ft