Sunday, 19 August 2007


Note: If you're reading this blog retrospectively, you might want to start here.

I've left a week between the ride completion and this summary to let everything ferment and settle down... I sure everybody has their own view on the trip. Here's mine!

Personally, I enjoyed the tour immensely, although it was very tough at times and perhaps slightly too long without a scheduled rest day. 26 days straight riding, mostly 125+ miles days, in hot summer temperatures is bordering on excessive! There were a couple of days when I thought "why am I doing this?", but mostly, although I may not have enjoyed every minute cycling, I did enjoy the satisfaction of completing each day and moving further across the country. There is something immensely satisfying about a long road trip, especially a coast-to-coast. I feel a great sense of achievement having crossed America on a bicycle. In fact, I'll repeat that in large, emboldened, red, white and blue capitals:


Group shot at the Atlantic Ocean (photo from Susan's site)

The organisation was superlative. Thanks to Susan and Lon and the crew: Susan, Jim, Jon, Lara, Franz, Dave, John, Buster (and Blisti the dog!). You were all fantastic and worked tirelessly to make this trip run smoothly so that we, the riders, could concentrate on doing what we wanted to do - RIDE OUR BIKES. Pactour really is a very smooth and unique operation.

And what a great group of riders! There were no egos or bad apples on this trip. Everybody was very supportive and friendly. I felt we became a great family (crew included) for the month that we traversed the country, gradually learning each other's character, including the inevitable idiosyncrasies! Thanks to Kurt, my room-mate, who made room sharing a surprisingly painless affair. He also provided the computer that most of this blog was written on! I also include a special thought for the riders who left the tour early, for one reason or other...

My bike did pretty well. I had no major mechanicals, although I did have 13 punctures! Maybe my 23s were a bit light, in retrospect. The road surfaces and I think, the high temperatures, wore out my tyres prematurely. I was only getting 1,000 miles from a rear!

So, it's all over and I'm glad! My body was beginning to break down. I struggled with a cough and mild cold for the majority of the tour, I got stung by an angry bee, I pulled a muscle in a calf, I had strains at various points during the tour to both ankles, the back of both knees, the outside ligments of the left knee. I fell off and had a nice bit of road rash to contend with for a week! I have a slightly numb big toe. Even without all of this, the general wear and tear of riding a long way on consecutive days gradually took its toll. Certainly during the last week, I wasn't recovering properly for the next day.

This was certainly a trip of a lifetime for me and one that I'll carry both the good and the not so good memories close to me for a very long time. Maybe, I'll see some of my new friends on the road in the future, who knows...

Shaun Bonney
August 2007

Tour Profile - Week 4

Tour Profile - Week 3

Days 15 & 16 are not available.

Tour Profile - Week 2

Saturday, 18 August 2007

Tour Profile - Week 1

Profile of the tour recorded daily by my cycle computer.

Saturday, 11 August 2007

Day 26: Thursday, 9 August

Ashland, VA to Williamsburg, VA...[map]
I've only gone and bloody done it!
Mileage: 78.6miles+14.1 back to hotel, Start: 7:30am, Time: 6hr:14min,
Avg: 15.7mph, Rolling: 12.6mph, Climb: 1,046ft,
Weather: Hot and humid, Temp: 82-95°F
We've finally made it! After 26 hot days we've reached the Atlantic coast and completed our US transcontinental... and not a moment too soon.

Everybody was chirpy at breakfast and looking forward to the last ride. We set off together out of Ashland into another steamy and humid day. The early miles were a little hairy, with a large bunch and morning commuter traffic, so I and a few others decided to hang back so as not to have a problem on the last day of all days! In the end, I rode a lot of the day in my own space, still near to other riders but on my own, so as to savour the final miles and reflect on my last month of effort.

As scheduled, we all met up again about 2 miles from the finish for a procession to the beach. We waited quite a while for Woody to turn up, but he eventually did. (Woody rode at his own pace throughout the tour but still achieved the same result as everybody else who completed). Then we 'processed' to the finish. It was a special few minutes with everybody congratulating each other on their achievements. We even had several spectators clapping us in along the road! Upon reaching the beach, most took off shoes and socks and walked the bike to the water's edge for that special photo. I did the same of course.

Following that, we had our lunch near the beach and rode back 14 miles to the hotel. We could now get off our bikes for good for the trip was at last over.

I'm sure I'll be along later to wax more philosophically about the tour and wrap things up, but for now this is the end of the final road report. Thanks for spending the time reading my daily entries and I hope you enjoyed the ride!

Rolling out on the final morning
On the Colonial Parkway
Amassing for the procession...
Me and the Atlantic
That was quite a long way...

Wednesday, 8 August 2007

Day 25: Wednesday, 8 August

Harrisonburg, VA to Ashland, VA...[map]
We're breaking more heat records today...
Mileage: 121.2miles, Start: 7.00am, Time: 8hr:42min,
Avg: 16.3mph, Rolling: 13.9mph, Climb: 4,363ft,
Weather: Very Hot and Humid, Temp: 76-102°F
I don't know if we're having good luck or bad luck but the weather on this tour has been hot, very hot. A couple of weeks ago in Minnesota and Wyoming we were in record breaking temperatures. We regularly hit the 100s, which for the mid-west is rare. (Conversation heard by Doug from a local old boy about the MT weather: 'Yep, it's hot, ..., it as hot as it was..., hell, it's as hot as it's ever been'!). Now we're nearly at the east coast the hot spell has moved over us again! Temperature 102 degrees, with humidity = Heat Index 110+ degrees (the temperature it feels like). My that's hot!

So, it was already nearly 80 degrees when we mounted at 7 this morning. We had quite a long climb first thing and it was a sweaty one! No kidding, the sweat was dripping off of my handlebars at the rate of one drop a second! Ask Michael. Then the heat started kicking in and everyone was frying. It was quite funny watching the Weather Channel on the TV this morning. They were giving out 'heat advisory' warnings. Basically don't work outdoors, avoid strenuous exercise! As I said, quite funny...

My physical condition is probably getting near it's limit. I'm definitely not recovering fully each day now. I tend to have a poor patch betwen 30 and 60 miles and then tend to pick up, but I'm certainly less strong than a week ago. I guess 26 days is a little excessive!

The PAC Tour daily routine is now well ingrained though. This is what I do every day: Alarm goes off (at some ridiculous specified hour - always 1 hour before breakfast). I have no idea which town I'm in. Kurt gets up and phaffs around doing god knows what. I doze for another 39 minutes. At the magic moment, I arise, use the bathroom, put my kit on, sun-screen up and take the bike outside. (The bikes spend the night indoors, of course). Then we have breakfast. I always have: 2 cups orange juice, 2-3 cakes of some sort, 1 bowl of porridge with a lot of brown sugar, 1 bowl of sultana bran flakes with banana + any specials that are going. After breakfast, I go back to the room and collect my bag (Kurt phaffs around a bit more) and take it to the motel truck and leave it. I then ride anywhere between 85-167 miles with 2/3/4 sag stops for refreshment and lunch. I spend an hour or two wishing the bloody hotel would appear around the next bend. When it finally does appear I congratulate myself on surviving another day. I then have to mend my bike if it's gone wrong (in the 100 degree heat of course). After showering, we go to the nearest restaurant that isn't McDonalds(TM) and eat them out of house and home. I then blog on Kurt's computer. (I could say Kurt phaffs around a bit, but he doesn't, he tends to go straight to bed). I then listen to some music on the iPod(TM), lay the kit out, turn the aircon to low and go to sleep. Then the alarm goes off (at some ridiculous specified hour - always 1 hour before breakfast)...

I think everybody is looking forward to our last day in the saddle, I know I am...

Nobody's in a particular hurry to leave this morning...
Lots of roads like this one, today...
...and some pretty white churches
Devil's highway: Right at the next turn!
It's my new hobby, 'sign-spotting'!

Tuesday, 7 August 2007

Day 24: Tuesday, 7 August

Elkins, WV to Harrisonburg, VA...[map]
Lots of hills today and it was hot...
Mileage: 105.8miles, Start: 7:00am, Time: 8hr:23min,
Avg: 14.2mph, Rolling: 12.6mph, Climb: 9,593ft,
Weather: Hot and humid, Temp: 70-95°F
It was a big day today. Perhaps the biggest since the Bighorn day way back when. Certainly the hillest day of the whole tour. Plus it was hot and humid from the get go which meant that all the climbs were sweltering and I sweated profusely.

I started out strong and hit the front over the first two mountains. Although I felt strong in the legs, the heat affected me today. Cat and Marc swept past me on the third climb and Michael passed me on the fourth climb before the first stop. I took it relatvely easy after that and enjoyed the scenery which was spectacular. The Appalachians are very nice!

The descents today were pretty neat aswell. Several times I swept down mountains at 40mph+ and even overtook a couple of trucks on one descent and a couple of cars on the long and twisty final descent! The roads were lovely and smooth today which was good.

After crossing into Virginia (our final state) and doing the final descent we hit some roadworks. They were tarmacing a section of the road. We were let though but could only use one side of the road as the other side was too hot. We could feel the heat from the bikes. The road following the roadworks was dead smooth as it was freshly laid tarmac. Sweet!

As a reward this evening the crew put on a ice cream social so we all eat large amounts of ice cream before bed...

Crossing the Eastern Continental Divide...
German Valley from the second rest stop
Near the top of the final climb...
Kurt and me at the Virginia border

Monday, 6 August 2007

Day 23: Monday, 6 August

Athens, OH to Elkins, WV...[map]
Last silly mileage day today. Yahoo!
Mileage: 156.0miles, Start: 7:00am, Time: 10hr:57min,
Avg: 16.4mph, Rolling: 14.2mph, Climb: 7,014ft,
Weather: Rain AM, Cloudy and Hot PM, Temp: 75-89°F
Well, that's the final very long mileage day over! It was meant to be 165 miles but by staying on the main roads we saved 9 miles. This was good in the obvious way, but not so good in other ways. I felt we spent too long on Route 50 and Route 33 (both four lane hiways) and I was feeling lethargic for the time on the 50. Once we were off it, though, things picked up as we followed a very scenic wooded valley. After that, it went downhill (the road went up and down hill of course!) as the 33 was quite busy and after the last sag, the shoulder was the worst we've had on this trip. Result, a puncture fest for everybody!

We set out a little late this morning, as it was pouring with rain and the sun hadn't woken up by the time of our original departure. The rain was very heavy for about 2 hours, but it was already warm and humid. I don't think it got below 75 degrees last night. As I said, I wasn't feeling too good on the early main roads, but for some reason my energy levels picked up after lunch!

Took an obligatory picture at the West Virginia state border. We've only got WV and Virginia to go now! In fact we've got about 300 miles left. Problem is, there is a mountain range between us and the coast! So, the riding is far from over...

Approaching West Virginia...
Difficult to get the bike near the sign.
Once we were off the main road it looked liked this...
So near you can nearly smell the ocean!
Road rash entering the yucky, sticky phase...

Sunday, 5 August 2007

Day 22: Sunday, 5 August

Troy, OH to Athens, OH...[map]
We are finally out of the fricking corn and soya...
Mileage: 153.0miles, Start: 7:00am, Time: 10hr:25min,
Avg: 16.7mph, Rolling: 14.7mph, Climb: 3,024ft,
Weather: Rain, Temp: 65-75°F
Felt a bit sore this morning, following my tumble yesterday, but, with my wounds done up like a cycling pro I made the start line of today's stage and took my place in the peleton. We were on our second day in Ohio and were promised we would be out of the corn and into the hills again by the afternoon! Yes!

The weather has turned aswell today. It was overcast at breakfast and the rains started during the morning. Quite heavy and persistent until lunch. Approaching lunch in Circleville it came down hard. So hard, the main street was getting flooded. I missed the left turn to lunch as I couldn't see anything! Found it eventually after backtracking a couple of blocks.

After lunch we rode though a lovely wooded area (Hocks Hills?) and the road became more and more lumpy from there until the finish in Athens. Michael and I enjoyed the hills together again but backed off after a while as we've got a long day tomorrow with more of the same hills.

My wounds didn't really enjoy 10 hours in the rain so it may be a difficult sleep tonight...

Sag stop in the rain - a rare sight of this tour...
Gentlemans at the front, the Ladies is a few rows in...

Day 21: Saturday, 4 August

Wabash, IN to Troy, OH...[map]
Split some blood today... but I'm OK + great party in the evening!
Mileage: 130.5miles, Start: 7:00am, Time: 9hr:01min,
Avg: 17.1mph, Rolling: 14.5mph, Climb: 967ft,
Weather: Sunny and pleasant, Temp: 57-85°F
Today was a bit of a boring day, so I decided to liven things up by falling off by bike! Hey! I'd been doing my nut in during the morning, as the flat roads and miles and miles of soya and corn were begining to wear a little thin.

We had a coolish morning start, the coldest so far - probably late 50's - so 'frigid'. Well, at least Hooker thought so (see photo). I of course thought it was still warm, so continued in my usual shorts and short-sleeved shirt. I also finally got a reasonable long distance short of an Amish buggy! We also crossed into Ohio today, so another photo job. That was about it until after lunch...

We were only just a few miles out from lunch when I ran into the back of Andrew's wheel and took a tumble. (As I said to Jon later that day when he asked 'How did you fall?'. 'Why, straight down, Jon!'). I was a bit unlucky actually, as I landed on a gravel drive with nice grass banks either side. Oh well. I've got some 'road rash' on my right ankle, calf, knee and thigh. Not too bad though and it won't stop me riding!

In the evening we all went to a BBQ party in Troy laid on by the Ohio Boys (Dan and Doug). It was also a bit of a sad occasion as Dan has had to leave the tour because of work commitments. He's a turkey farmer and the heat has become critical to the current flock. So sad really as Dan is a top bloke! Anyway, we drank a couple of beers and eat the excellent food. Being the revellers that we are, Kurt and myself were nearly the last to leave, but were still back at the hotel by 8.30pm. Now, that's partying!...

Hooker thinks it's cold this morning...
Doug (left) and Dan - The Ohio Boys!
Amish buggy (from a distance and later cropped)
Another border
At the party...
Dan and his wife Shauna (sorry if spelling is dodgy)