4 states, 3 days

4 states, 3 days

While you’ve been sleeping I’ve been …well I guess I’ve been sleeping too.  BUT while you were working I was working on putting down some miles.  Once I realized I might be able to reach a border crossing I took it as a personal challenge to get there.  And then when I got there I realized there was another state border to be crossed just down the road.  New border crossings ahead, I kept pedaling (and eating).

Day 33, June 1st  – Buffalo River Campground to Dover, TN

This is where I left off in my previous post.  Fresh from a day off kayaking with the LDH crew I finally got going after a morning of wifi at a truck stop near the campground.  I don’t think I actually started pedaling until almost noon.  I was convinced that my lazy bum needed to put in respectable miles so I pedaled like mad.  I had a great pace for the first 20 miles to Waverly.  My legs felt great and I had plenty of stored calories from good food cooked up by the LDH.  In Waverly I did some grocery shopping and got on the move again.  Unfortunately the fresh leg feeling never seems to last, but I did get my 65 miles in today.  I ended up finding a campground near Dover which was just south of the Land Between the Lakes (LBL) State Park entrance.  They had showers and laundry!  I think this was my first real shower since Chattanooga 😮

IMG_5696Reading up on some more civil war history in Waverly.  Definitely been an interesting aspect of the trip so far. IMG_5702IT’S GONNA RAIN! IMG_5703

IMG_5705And did it ever rain.  But check it out!  I connected with the Adventure Cycling Routes in Waverly.  Cool new maps!  They are great!  I almost feel like I’m cheating when I use them. IMG_5735

IMG_5731I like taking pictures of some of the trails I see that I’d love to hop onto if I was bikepacking. IMG_5730

IMG_5728Arghhhh Matey!  Not sure what this was about… IMG_5717This road (Greenbrier Rd.) was awesome.  No cars and great views.  The road itself wasn’t in the best shape, but rideable IMG_5715


IMG_5741 IMG_5736The owner let me set up on the back side of the office under the awning.  Always nice to be able to carelessly lay stuff out and not worry about the rain.

Miles: 65.4
Max speed:  48.5 (new record on this bike I believe)
Acts of Kindness:  1 – The lady who ran the campground gave me a free ice cream at check-in. I asked her to add it to my campsite bill.  Ice cream is about the best thing you can imagine after a long ride… especially free ice cream.

Day 34, June 2nd  – Dover, TN to Hillman Ferry Campground (near Grand Rivers, KY)

I stuck around at the campground this morning to make coffee and biscuits (I’m getting good at biscuits) while I waited for some laundry to dry.  Once packed up, I rode into the Land Between the Lakes (LBL).  I rode in the LBL all day today.  Big rolling hills, green forests, and very little traffic made for a good day of riding.  I took a rest stop at the visitor center and watch a flick “Back to the Moon” in their planetarium.  It was about Google’s Lunar XPRIZE competition.  Interesting film and it was a nice break from the suns rays.  I wasn’t entirely sure where I was going to call it quits today, but with a sore hip flexor and downpours I decided to go for the nearest Hillman Ferry Campground, the last campground in the LBL.  I threw up my tent quick between downpours, washed up at the campground showers, and jumped back in my tent to stay dry.  I was beat today so I settled with a couple tortillas and dry oatmeal for dinner in my tent and then passed out around 8:00 PM.

IMG_5740Biscuits and coffee in the morning… I love it.



IMG_5744More bike packing potential.

IMG_5747The Great Western Furnace… one still standing.  The LBL used to be big in producing Iron.  This one operated for less than a year before economic recession shut it down.

IMG_5748Bison out yonder!  The area used to have a large buffalo population.

IMG_5751Woohoo!  Another state crossing.  The first since leaving North Carolina and I really didn’t get a photo opportunity at the Tennessee state line so….

IMG_5755A reenactment was in order.


Miles: 52.8


Day 35, June 3rd  –  Hillman Ferry Campground to Deer Run Campground (South of Galconda, IL)

I was up and getting my things together at sunrise today after a bunch of sleep (only woke a few times to downpours throughout the night).  I figured I’d at least get to Cave-in-Rock, IL today which would be a good days ride (~70 miles).  I rolled through Grand Rivers pretty early this morning.  It was a sleepy little tourist town along the Cumberland and Tennessee River.  From here on out there were plenty of hills and a beaming sun.  I stopped in Smithland to have a look at some of their historical civil war buildings.  Tucked along the Tennessee river they served as an important supply depot for the Union army.  Down the road I met my first fellow cycle tourist of the trip.  This was an older gentleman doing the southbound Great Rivers route by the Adventure Cycle Association.  He started in Cape Girardeau, Missouri and was ending in Tupelo, Mississippi.

I arrived at the ferry that crosses Ohio River into Illinois feeling pretty exhausted.  I ran out of water about 20 miles prior so when I pulled into a cafe in Cave-In-Rock I put down quite a few waters while waiting for a delicious catfish sandwich.  Meanwhile I talked with the owner of 35 years about business.  He said they do alright, but nothing like the days prior to the interstate.  After lunch I checked out the actual cave that the town is named after.  It was only 5:30 PM at this time so I pressed on to Golconda about 25 miles away.  It was 8:00 PM when I pulled into town… I grabbed a Subway footlong and rode a few more miles out of town to Deer Run Campground.  It was getting pretty dark when I pulled in.  With no one in sight I decided to setup and try to settle things in the morning.  The owner came around after my tent was up and I had showered.  I didn’t have exact change so he agreed to bring change down and let me pay in the morning.


IMG_5783Old church occupied by Union forces during the civil war in Smithland





IMG_5794Things are opening up.  Large grazing and wheat fields dominate the landscape instead of being tucked between foothills as has been the case since the Appalachians.



IMG_5796I was waiting for a boat of Oompa Loompas to come around the corner.  Didn’t happen.

IMG_5819Let’s gooooo I’m thirsty!


IMG_5824THE Cave-In-Rock.  Lots of local lore about famous bandits and baddies hanging out here.


IMG_5845Hiking is hard work on these tired bike legs.



IMG_5854Woah!  Back in Illinois already??



IMG_5863Pulling into Galconda.


Miles: 103.5  This is my first century ever actually…  Hard to believe I know!  Might as well be on a 90 lb bike!

Day 36, June 4th  –  Deer Run Campground to Cape Girardeau

Today I was up and cooking breakfast (cornbread) before 6:00 AM.  Listening to the birds and finishing up my coffee, the campground owner, Charles, pulled up with two coffees in hand.  I was happy to have a second cup with him over breakfast.  Charles is a really good guy.  We had a great chat.  He is an older fellow who is perfectly content with his life.  He was enthusiastic about my trip and told me… “I’ve done everything I want to do in life”.  A retired oil line worker, Charles travelled the world and said any time he wanted to do something, he did it.  He didn’t let fear of money rule his decision making because he’s knew in the end he could get back on track even if things went south.  Now days he runs the campground and owns a large number of cabin rental properties.  We concluded life is good and when I went to pay him he wouldn’t take my money.  Thanks again Charles

I was on the road around 8:00 AM.  I knew Cape Girardeau was a long days ride but I wanted to give it a go.  I got into Cape Girardeau fairly late and was racing an incoming storm.  Feeling like I was due for treating myself, I decided to pay for my first motel of the trip.  I found one reasonably priced and raced there.

IMG_5864Breakfast and coffee with Charles.

IMG_5879My kind of rollers.  The weather was great this morning.

IMG_5877Great views in the Shawnee National Forest

IMG_5875And some gigantic trees


IMG_5881Oh the scenic interstate…





IMG_5893This storm just slid north of me.

IMG_5903Mississippi River valley



IMG_5912Made it!

IMG_5915The sky let loose a few minutes after I got in my room… Lucked out again!

IMG_5919I felt like a comfort binge was in order…

Miles:  95.3  Another big day
Acts of Kindness:  2 – Charles brought me coffee and let me camp for free.

Day 37, June 5th  –  Cape Girardeau (Rest Day)

Taking the day off today.  I’ve been running around taking care of some errands.  Laundry, groceries, bike shop, coffee and blogging.  It’s been a pretty busy day actually.  I’m glad I took a day to catch up on things.

IMG_5693Laundry day

IMG_5922The Long Haul Trucker demands new tread… some under inflated tires for parts of my ride and 2000 miles later it was time for these to go.

IMG_5923No idea how these will hold up, but the price was right!  The name feels appropriate too.

IMG_5924This is a cool coffee shop I found in Cape Girardeau called cup’n cork.  Coffee, Wine, and brew.  I’ve just switched to a tasty beer as I wrap things up on this post.

Acts of Kindness: 1 – The bike shop owner, Don at Cape Bicycle, hooked me up with some discount on my purchases and cleaned my chain free of charge while I worked on replacing my tire.


Have a great Friday and a great weekend!  Oh I almost forgot… one last thing to share.  Jody Peterson, my technical advisor when I was an intern at UTC Aerospace Systems (formerly Hamilton Sundstrand) is a really talented musician and an inspiring individual in general.  I remember consulting him when I was job hunting out of college and he told me something on the order of… “Do the biggest, wildest thing you can think of”.  Well, I never forgot that conversation and I always respected Jody for his entrepreneurial spirit and great mentorship.  While on SoundCloud this evening I saw Jody posted a couple of songs for his music brand “Metal Works”.  He mentioned they were inspired by my trip which I was surprised to see and totally psyched about!  Jody is a dedicated musician and he does really good work.  Check it out on SoundCloud!




You can also find him on YouTube… https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCNyHuF95syvE6hpRLZaASew

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36 Responses

  1. Tom Jakab

    Holy cow you have cime a long way!!! When do you think you’ll be nearish Rockford? Are you taking the weekend off?

    • Bradley

      Hey Tom – Yep I took a full day off in Cape Girardeau. So Sunday I rode again… some 😛

  2. So you spend like an entire month in North Carolina, and now you’re just blowing through a state per day?!? There’s gotta be some middle ground somewhere. Hey, that ferry picture – that looks exactly like the ferry running from Glastonbury to Wethersfield CT. It’s only about 15 minutes from my house, and it’s the oldest continuously operating ferry in America. Kinda cool. I’m diggin’ your bridge photos.

    Hey, any encounters (good or bad) with law enforcement during your trip? I don’t recall reading anything about that.

    • Bradley

      HA! You take the hills out from under me and the wheels spin a little faster I guess. Don’t worry the hills are back and I slowed down a bit.

      Law Enforcement?! Are you expecting me to have encounters? Speeding tickets perhaps 😉 No real encounters… except I’ve asked for camping suggestions from fire departments a couple times.

      • I dunno. You’re riding around on some tank, loaded down with goodies, looking like you knocked off a Sports Authority or something. I could envision a few conversations under a really bright light.

        • LOL – Fair enough. Perhaps as my beard gets a little longer I’ll start getting more and more questions.

  3. Gramma & Grampa K

    WOW you really “pedaled” …you deserve a break…relax a bit …you are doing great. Love you!

  4. Wow – you are really cranking now Brad! More great people and stories. I really liked hearing about Charles and the other nice folks your meeting. Your friend Jody’s music is awesome – what a cool tribute… I’m getting excited as you turn north!! Take care

    • Bradley

      It’s been a gradual turn North… then west… then east… then north some more. I’ll get there some day!

  5. Jeff Makulec

    I’m impressed! A century day! I got a kick out of your comment that a road was not in the best shape, but rideable, after surviving many miles on a gravel service road going through the Blue Ridge mountains. I guess there are all different kinds of slightly evil roads. Great photos — I like the Cape Girardeau bridge. I think it’s been since I was a wee lad that I actually wore out a set of tires on a bicycle, but at 250 miles per year or so, they tend to get old and damaged before they get “gone”.

    • Bradley

      Thanks Jeff! Haha yeah I guess that “rideable” road was pristine in comparison to the loose gravel mountain service roads. Hey about 20 years of the Leukemia ride and you should be wearing through those rear tires 🙂

  6. Bill Knutson

    Looks like you are making some good miles now that the terrain is leveling a bit….and you have a new theme song “Uphill Both Ways”.

    • Bradley

      The flat land didn’t last (Ozarks)! Queue the theme music again 🙂

  7. Great stuff Brad! Really enjoying your ride and experiences. Thanks for sharing with all of us. Godspeed! Lou.

  8. Gramma & Grampa K

    Brad …checked out the music…very nice…..have wonderful day!

  9. Hey Brad – Thanks for the kind words and shout out! Your trip is a huge inspiration for me – and its funny I remember that conversation we had and I am glad you took it to heart. You can look forward to more songs, more song art, and song titles inspired by your journey – and I will make sure to give you credit for all things I use. Honestly, I was trying to keep these songs a secret – because I did not want it to seem like I was stealing your thunder – but now that secret it out I hope your readers listen to them as they read your blog. Have fun out there! Jody

    • Bradley

      Hope I didn’t draw any unwanted attention, but there’s no thunder to steal here. Glad to share your work. It’s really good!

      Thanks! Brad

  10. Corine Knodel

    Wow, Brad! You are pedaling hard! You’ll be in Minnesota in no time! Do you have an approximate date to be here? This is an incredible journey you are experiencing! Isn’t it wonderful to know that there really are kind people in this world? You have a genuine kindness about you, and it shows through the people you are meeting along the way. Take care and stay safe!!

    • Bradley

      Hoping to be to my folks place before the 4th of July weekend. I should be able to do that… then no clue about Bemidji yet 😛 Seems I’m taking a little longer than my original predictions. Seems that I also underestimated the miles too!

  11. Paul Phillips

    Congrats on the century…that’s impressive!

  12. Dean Norem

    Hey Brad- Completely impressed with your progress! Amazing how those 60 & 80 mile days can add up (…from the comfort of my deck chair). Totally enjoying following your journey and the high quality blog, and really enjoy your A-o-K tracking- boosts my faith in people. (but I’m not experiencing the jerk motorists… and it’s great you’re not dwelling on them). Wishing you more than occasional tail-winds. >Dean

    • Bradley

      Thanks Dean. Funny how they add up… It definitely seems like I haven’t made progress until I look at a bigger map. Overall the motorist have been pretty good.

      You’re tail-wind wishes seem to be working today. Thanks for the compliments!

  13. Keith Short

    This Tuesday at noon at Brad’s old cubicle, we are going to re-enact Brad’s delicious “biscuits and coffee” breakfast. So, all Plant 1 followers of this blog are invited. Please give me a call so I can make sure there are enough biscuits to go around!

    See Brad, even when you are 500 miles away you continue to inspire!


    • Bradley

      Awesome! I hope they were good… I would have loved to join in on them! I’m sure Keith Short biscuits are better than my instant biscuits 🙂

  14. Brendan pointed me to your web site and I read thru it over the last couple of days. ‘Somthing about a vicarious adventure comes to mind. Anyway, I was considering a ride across S MN, nothing compared to yours, but these stories make me more inclined to decide to get on it. Wishing you a continued great ride!

    • Bradley

      Thanks Lou! Any size bike tour is a great adventure! I couldn’t believe how many good stories I had just after a week of riding. Hope it goes well! Thanks for checking in.

  15. Natalie Byrne

    You have made some killer progress! Welcome to the Midwest again! Your pictures are gorgeous. My favorite part of this is the random acts of kindness! Keep pedalin!

  16. brad martin

    Sweet tunes and some awesome thoughts at the end of your post! Pedal hard!!!

  17. Hey brad you stopped at the campground we where at and are u going to post are pictures

    • Sorry for the delay Brendin! Took me a while to get around to publishing this latest post.

  18. The ferry looks like the one I took from Illinois to Kentucky when I drove to Nashville last summer. It was super crazy!

    • It could be the same one! I met some cyclist who were headed through here on there way to the Nashville area to go to Bonnaroo

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