Day 34 – September 19th: Summersville, MO to Hartville, MO – 97 km

Several times I passed Harley Crews on the road (mainly Saturday and Sundays, so not the fierce kind I presume)…

Sometimes they would stretch out a hand, like cyclists do when turning, which I thought was pretty uncool for hardcore bikers. Took me a while to figure out that given that they weren’t turning anywhere, they were acknowleding me and my mount.

So I must have dissed quite a few bikers, which is not cool…

Especially after having watched the whole 6 Seasons of “Sons of Anarchy”, I’m not too proud of myself…

Now I reply with a casual half-raising of a couple of fingers, after ignoring them, I’m giving them the fingers…

 

Me and the Sons of Anarchy…

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Day 32 – September 17th: Farmington, MO to Ellington, MO- 125 km

This is supposed to be the most difficult stretch of my itinerary. But when you can start your day well-rested, get up before sunrise, don’t need to pack up all your stuff and have a quick shower, things move along much easier…And so it is that I set my personal record…

Now I get how some people can do 100 miles per day…

Which is not my goal, but I get a great early start and at the end of the day it’s my personal record…

Note that even well-rested, I can’t remember where I am 😉

Day 31 – September 16th: Chester, IL to Farmington, MO- 80 km

People tell me about a place in Farmington, specially designed for cyclists, where you can spend the night and give what you want.

When I arrive I get the keys at the Police Station and enter the place, which is quite amazing.

Though I don’t care much for the TV and the AC, it’s immaculate, you can do your laundry, take a shower, cook a meal…

In the end the donation is not so casually asked for as people told me and I grudgingly leave the 20$, but only cause I’m a tight-fisted bastard, in all honesty, the place is great and I get a good night’s sleep…

 

Day 30 – September 15th: Carbondale, IL to Chester, MO- 104 km

The next day, I get a little too comfortable…

I start messing about, changing the songs on my I-pod, transferring videos and downloading podcasts…

On top of a massive breakfast and another shower, this means at mid-day I still haven’t left…

I still manage to make it to Chester, Popeye’s hometown…

Everything, from the Town Hall, to official buildings and statues is about the sailor, Olive and the others…

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Day 29 – September 14th: Goreville, IL to Carbondale, IL- 80 km

After a month on the road, I finally manage to set up a warmshower (the couchsurfing for cyclists thing)…

The couple of times I tried before didn’t work out, but this time everything works smoothly.

I take my first shower in a month, and after rivers and late night rain falls, I do admit it’s quite a feeling. Jack then invites me to a great organic restaurant and I even get to do the Dylan Cover in the Bar:

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For the “real” version, click here: Like a Rolling Stone (Bob Dylan Cover)

Fourth Week – Keep calm and carry on

A quiet week in sum, where I pick up my habits, find a routine and continue to explore the different aspects of this extreme country.

I’m getting better at handling my bike, effort and orientation. In short, I’m starting to really enjoy myself without second thoughts.

 

 

The song of the week:

Satyagraha

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It’s no finished yet, and I’m not usually up for putting unfinished stuff out there, but you have been waiting and asking for this one for quite some time…so it’s up to you whether you want to indulge it or wait for the finished product…

Day 28 – September 13th: Herod, IL to Goreville, IL- 80 km

Things I thought I wouldn’t need and realized are indispensable:

My Ortlieb Panniers: Because though everything else is disintegrating, wearing thin and breaking eventually, these are indestructible and watertight.

Kobo Reader: Because after a day’s worth of effort it’s good to unwind and have something to look forward to…
It also serves as dictionary, translator, can store cartloads of books, weighs 500 grams, has one hell of a battery and I don’t need a headlight to read in my tent.
I was skeptic, I’m converted…

My camel bag: Because if I had to stop every time I wanted to drink, I’d still be in Washington.

Extra Charger: Cause otherwise I would spend my days in Fast Foods and Libraries charging my appliances…

My I-pod: c.f my Listening Routine

And all the little things like: my comfy pants (thanks Kamel), my woolen socks (thanks Godmother), my knife (thanks dad) etc…

Day 24 – September 9th: Bardstown, KY to Sonora, KY – 100 km

My reading Routine:

Lunch break: Portuguese Books on my E-reader (I’ll come back to that particular item)

Night: I started off reading Sylvain Tesson’s In the Siberian Forrest. Perfect adventure read, a lot of thoughts on loneliness, the need for movement, the leaving behind of “society”.
Then I started reading a fantasy series, Mistborn, which is less intellectually stimulating but a great read and very entertaining (kind of what you need after 90 kilometers of daily cycling)
I took some Mark Twain (Roughing it), John Muir (My first summer in the sierra) and Edward Abbey (Desert Solitaire: A season in the Wilderness)
Don’t know if I get round to reading them (I’m waiting to cross the “mighty Mississippi” for Twain and California for John Muir) but it’s good to have something to look forward to…

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Day 23 – September 8th: Lancaster, KY to Bardstown, KY- 100 km

My Listening Routine:

Early morning: Classical Music. Relaxing and not too aggressive a music, but still covers the noise of traffic.
In order of preference: Vivaldi, Bach and Schubert…

Morning: Portuguese Lessons. I figured I might as well use the time on the road to teach myself a new language. The course is not great, but good to get started.

Early Afternoon: Portuguese Audiobooks. So far, The Little Prince, Harry Potter 6, The Alchemist and Capitaes da Area. The Little Prince because I know it well and used it on other languages, Harry Potter cause it’s easy, The Alchemist because I have to shamefully admit that here was the only Brazilian author I knew off the top of my head. The last one, found after much searching, is a sort of brazilian Oliver Twist…

Afternoon: Shuffle music. Albums I discovered: Casadega (Bright Eyes), The Suburbs (Arcade Fire), Whispers (Passenger)

Late Afternoon: A podcast. Either France Culture (if I feel homesick), Ted Talks or Wait, wait don’t tell me…

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Third Week – A peek behind the summit

And so the most challenging of weeks ends…

To give you an idea, of the sheer vastness of my idiocy, even after the few days of pain and excrutiating hardships, I find myself hesitating whether to go back to the Adventure Cycling Association’s mapped out itinerary or continue the very unsuccessful mapping out on my own device.

Because Nashville is close and Memphis is beckoning, I find myself contemplating doing the detour. But after much googling and calculating, weighing the cons (no cycle lanes, no GPS, crossing the Appalachians again) and pros (bellowing out Paul Simon’s Graceland in the “cradle of the civil war”) I decide not to push my luck….To paraphrase Albert:

“Only a fool repeats the same action and expects a different outcome…and I know something about foolishness, actions and their outcome”…

 

 

Let’s hope my musical career will not follow the same pattern, in any case, here’s the song of the week.

Cassiopea (A fine Balance)
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Whereas Song for a newborn can be listened to as a universal welcoming song for all newborns, this song is addressed more personally to a certain little girl…

Day 20 – September 5th: Jeff, KY to Manchester KY- 70 km (+ 40 km hitchhiking)

So I am out of the worst, and back to relatively flat roads, but my GPS is still giving me trouble. And so it is that I find myself in front of a Higway entrance, with a sign saying “No bicycles”…I hesitate, but the idea of having to turn back, find internet, map out an alternate itinerary and go the extra mile is not very appealing. And cause it is a Sunday and there’s close to no traffic, I go for it. Barely half an hour later, a couple stops in their Pick-up truck and offers a ride. I hesitate but wisely choose to cut the crap and get off the Highway. Which is a sound choice as there is a police car a couple of miles down the road. And in truth it is one hell of an ugly, hot, climbing stretch that I am spared. Thanks Eddy and Suze…

Once they let me off, I get lost, adding about 20 kilometers to get to Manchester…where I have three flat tires in a row…call that poetic justice…

 

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Day 19 – September 4th: Pound, VA to Jeff, KY – 91 km

So, it turns out, I had been indavertently crossing the Appalachians. By all accounts not a route you’re supposed to take with a bicycle and far worse than the most difficult stretches on the mapped-out route (Missouri mountains and Rockys included)…

Turns out I’d been more or less following the Old crooked road, a Virginia Musical Heritage Trail, so let’s just say that musically, it made sense…

 

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Day 18 – September 3rd: Cleveland, VA to Pound, VA- 81 km

I have to admit, that today I nearly gave up. Faced with an ever-climbing and seemingly endless highway, I got off my bike and tried to hitch a ride. I’m not proud, but luckily for the integrity of everyone involved, no one stopped (which also means I didn’t try too hard)…
And so I had no choice, but to get back into the saddle, and ride it out…

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Day 16 – September 1st: Whyteville, VA to Damascus, VA – 94 km

And thus I find myself unexpectedly spending hours climbing atrocious steep hills, on endless Highways blistering in the Summer heat. According to the radio in one of the rare gas-stations along the way, the kids are off school a couple hours early because of the heat. I’m very happy for them. A little less happy not knowing what is happening, how long it will be happening and how steep the price will be I will have to pay for being reckless.

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Day 15 – August 31st: Christianburg, VA to Whyteville, VA – 86 km

As I mentioned before, I wasn’t to happy with the Adventure Cycling itinerary and the extra miles it added, while I still felt like being on precious little proprer “bicycle lane”. It is a habit of mine to challenge autority, even well-intentioned and better-informed one. So after Washington I decide to try my luck and deviate a bit. Unfortunately this is also the exact moment my internet and thus my GPS go down.

And the so the towns become smaller, the distances between them become greater and the climbing becomes steeper, as I make my way forward…

 

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Second Week – Habit of calm and quiet

This second week went rather smoothly. Ok, I’m not tearing it up either, but it’s not easy to go beyond a 100 km a day, being loaded like a Vietnamese rice-carrying pousse-pousse, with repeated flat tires and the time-consuming process of camping…

In any case, my goal is not to be quick, it’s to be constant, do less per day but without too many breaks…

And trust me to find a remedy when things are going too well, I’ll promptly rectify and spice things up…As week number three will show…

Musically, the song of the week is the first off the new Album, for which I am crossing the United States:

Song for a nweborn

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Written for my beautiful nice, this can be taken as a welcoming tune for all the new souls that enter this world, that soon will be theirs…

 

Day 14 – August 30th: Daleville, VA – Christianburg, VA – 104 km

I still haven’t gotten used to the Fast-Food clientele, obese and huffing, served gigantic menus by equally overweight employees.

But I’ll soon get used to it and won’t notice anymore, and in any case, they would be equally shocked to see us huddled on the streets and puffing away at our cigarettes…

Everyone has their own poison…

 

 

 

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Day 12 – August 28th: Charlottesville, VA – Lexington, VA – 96km

Despite my natural aversion against Fast-Food and mass-consumption there is an interesting, schizophrenic thing happening as the journey wears on. I tell myself the Fast- Foods are non negotiable, where else can you cool down, eat, charge your appliances, do your laundry and get the internet for 1$70? Public Libraries come more and more into contention as the journey goes on, but I can’t eat in them, hardly wash myself in their restrooms. But beyond that, somehow I come to look forward to the big cup of iced Subway Tea. And the same goes for the Walmarts, Walgreens and co. An eyesore they are, contemptible, but after a whole day of fuck-all small-town desert, I can’t help but feel the relief. Because if you want to eat halfway decent food (organic and such) and not Gas-Station Char-coaled beef…

The whole paradox of our times…

What I learnt from it all: I shouldn’t let myself get consumed by guilt…

A photo posted by Phileas (@phileasmusic) on

 

Day 11 – August 27th: Stubbs, VA – Charlottesville, VA – 88km

I’ve realized that despite the daily exertion and attention to healthy nutrition, I’m succumbing to the sweet temptations of the American Dream. My Body is literally going apeshit, screaming out for the sugary teas and bars and snacks that I’ve never had any longing for. After a cup of Subway tea I need a couple of hours and dozens of kilometers to get over the sugar-induced excitement.
Now I get the whole diabetes, obesity thing….Welcome to Hell, Sugar.

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