06.10.2018 No Barriers Summit.
While preparing the tour I planed to invite blind people to ride with me through the US. To do so I started to search for groups and organizations of blinds in the USA. I found several and one of them was InTandem. InTandem is a non-profit organization whose mission is to provide tandem cycling programs to people who are blind, have low vision, or cannot ride independently due to other disabilities. Lynn, a woman participating in InTandem rides gave me the first feedback and offered me here place to stay when I arrived in New York. She told me there will be the 'No Barrier Summit' on the weekend I arrive. No Barriers USA is a Organisation with the mission to unleash the potential of the human spirit. This was performed in the summit by different activities in which participants had the possibility to overcome their barriers. InTandem took part in the summit and offered to have a tandem ride. Lynn got me in contact with the organizers of InTandem at the summit. After a organizational conference call on Wednesday, a very interesting and helpful introduction to tandemcycling as a captain and to communication with the stokers on Thursday I became a captain of InTandem for the Summit on Friday. It was such a great experience riding with all the nice people and their individual and impressive story. Thanks to InTandem, especially to Jonathan and Maria, for this wonderful opportunity and thanks to all the stokers putting their trust in me.
14.10.2018 Go south.
New York City to Washington DC was the first stage in the US and I wasn't alone. Lynn, who offered me to stay in her apartment in NYC, rode with me.
When we started last Sunday we had to cycle through this never ending urban area around NYC and then there was this hurricane Michael affecting the weather. During our tour we had all kind of conditions: Sun, rain, wind, warm weather, cold weather, urban area, wide farmland, trails along a channel or river, old railroads transformed to a trail, very busy roads, quiet roads, rides along beaches, rides in parks... but this is only the ride. What is much more interesting and imported are the people we met and we stayed with. Thanks to Chuck and George for providing us their maps for our way to DC. Thanks to William and his soup which heated us up again after a cold day. Thanks to Nelson and Teresa for the delicious dinner. Thanks to Dan and Janet for receiving us after a day cycling in the rain, making the further plans and cycle with us to the best route to get to a trail. And thanks to all of them for their hospitality and kindness, we had a really good time. With some we had political discussion or we simply talked about our lifes. Lynn and me had our experience with other persons needs for accommodation, but overall it worked out very well. Respect to this brave woman who sat on someone's bike she didn't knew before to have this amazing adventure. Thank you Lynn for cycling with me. I'll stay one day in DC before going on.
17.10.2018 DC departure postponed.
I stayed in Washington DC with Brandi and her roommates. I met her last year while traveling through Israel, she was doing a project in the refugee camp in Bethlehem.
In DC I wanted to buy some groceries for the next days, refill my stove, repair and check some things on Pino and just have a day off. Pino made it more complicated so I stayed one more day to get some spare parts. I also had the opportunity to visit the PreK class Irene, Brandis roommate, is teaching. We talked about the tour, the bike and the countries I will cycle through. Thanks to Brandi and her roommates for the nice stay and thanks to Rob for the support with the Pino. Today I'm leaving heading the Appalachian Trail.
28.10.2018 Skyline Drive and Blue Ridge Parkway.
Today I'm im Burnsville, North Carolina, at Jim's place where I had my first shower for the last 9 days. So good. The Skyline Drive(SLD) and the Blue Ridge Parkway(BRP) are two recreational routes I used to go further south west. They are following the ridges along the blue ridge mountains and they don't meet any cities or villages. When my tent wasn't covered with ice in the morning on sunny days it was rainy with temperatures around 5 to 7 degrees celcius (for my non metrical friends: about 43 degrees Fahrenheit). Along the SLD and at the beginning of the BRP the Appalachian Trail(AT) was winding so I used its shelters to sleep there at night. Doing this I ran into Andrew and Ben who joined me on Pino. Andrew joined me for two days as he wanted to go closer to Charlotte where his parents are living. Ben was hitchhiking and hiked some days on the AT. He was traveling with his Benjo and played some nice songs at the shelters campfires, amazing what he knows about nature. On my first days on the BRP I met Brad on his bike who hiked the whole AT. He closed the last gap and cycled back to his van where we stayed one night in Reanoke. The rest of the BRP I was on my own, mostly doing backcountry camping. Backcountry camping in the US is allowed in national forests, you only have to stay away from the roads and ways. Hanging up your food bag into the trees at night shouldn't be forgotten to avoid bear contact. I had a really nice and inspiring time with the people I met and a hard, rough but also intense time when I was on my own. Back in the valley I'm looking forward to hit dryer and warmer days.
04.11.2018 Visiting Friends.
My original plan to go west in Tennessee and follow down the Natchez Trace could have brought me back into the mountains and would have kept me further north where the climate is getting more chillier now. Jim has experience with cycling the south eastern part of the US, so he showed me the possibility to go to South Carolina and go south west there. I decided to do it like this and when I had a look at the map I've seen there are some friends on the way. First I visited Zach whom I've met on the BRP and he invited me to stay in his house when I'm in the region of Asheville, NC. That was straight on the way to Greenville, SC where Konrad a former roommate of my studies in Mosbach is working for one year. I had a nice stay at his and his girlfriend Tugce's place and we went out for Halloween together. Just a day trip from Greenville is Anderson, SC where Sanny, a friend from my hometown, is doing an internship. At Sanny's place I gave Pino another rest and tried out Mountainbiking with his colleagues from work. The circumstances were special that afternoon because of the heavy rain but I liked it very much. I also had the opportunity to go to a college football game of Clemson Tigers with some of Sanny's intern colleagues from Brazil. In the south, college football is more popular than the National Football League. The stadiums are bigger than the stadium of the Erste Bundesliga in Germany and everybody is freaking out doing tailgating all day long.
Today Sanny was cycling with me to Georgia. It was a nice day with a ambitious stoker, and it was nice to talk with him about all the stuff we had on mind.
These were the last known contacts I have in the US. Let's see where the new plan will bring me to.
12.11.2018 Social media isn't real.
Two days ago I had a look on my little bike computer by chance and I've seen that I'm completing my first 5000km on my tour today. Thank to everyone who was with me, thanks to everyone who helped me on my way and thanks to everyone out there who was following tour4life till here. But you should know, it's not about the kilometers or the distance, it's about meeting people, having a dialog and having an awesome experience.
Today was another day with poring rain and low temperatures all day long. I purposely took this photo standing alone in the rain, even if I have another bike companion at the moment. Some friends at home said, seeing my pictures they can't belive that there are times I'm doing bad. You should know, I also had some hard times in which I was close about to cry, asking myself, what am I doing here. I don't want to miss that experience anyway because it makes the tour what it is and not comfortable times will occur during all the trip. We should have on mind social media isn't the reality and often only shows the sunny side of life. Everyone is more motivated to take pictures and show them to others in good times. I think there is no reason to be jealous about the small filtered and optimized part of peoples life they are presenting on social media. Should think about that if a look a social media makes us even feel worse.
14.11.2018 Rest in peace James.
James was a cyclist who rose money for kids with cancer. He was riding across the country with a recumbent tricycle and his project is called Positive Vibes Tour(positivevibestour.com). We met already in Georgia and when we met the second time in southern Alabama we decided to ride together. James was staying in hotels, for my first 5000 km and because of the bad weather we said we can share a hotel room. We did so and we had a nice evening with an amazing mix of funny and serious conversations. We planed to leave together on the next day because we would have had the same route till noon before James would have headed west and I would have gone further south. In the morning James realized that the battery of his pedal assist didn't load during the night because the plug it was connected with was dependent of the light switch. James decided to stay some hours more till the battery was loaded but I had to leave in the morning for my planed day trip. We said goodbye shortly before 10am in the morning and I left the hotel. Three hours later he was hit by a car and died.
James inspired me a lot with his open and positive kind. The way he was talking with people was awesome. I enjoyed the time we spent together.
My deepest condolences to his family and his friends.
15.11.2018 Deep Dixieland.
During the last 10 days I was cycling through Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi and now I'm in New Orleans, Louisiana. Yes, I did some mileage, that's what I do when the weather isn't nice and there were a couple of days with bad weather. Nevertheless, some parts and days were really enjoyable and I met a bunch of inspiring and very different people. People living in luxury houses in luxury neighborhoods, I stayed with people in trailer parks, people who couldn't host me at the moment organized friends or their parents to host me. I learned a lot about the history (way out of slavery, civil war,...) and the political issues of the states I was cycling through, but in some cases that doesn't make me understand their political attitude neither.
West of Atlanta on the Silver Comet Trail, that's where I me James the first time, I was cycling into a new timezone when I entered Alabama. Now 7 hours behind central European time.
After what happened I'm looking forward to have two days off from cycling exploring New Orleans.
17.11.2018 The Big Easy.
I think Pino likes big citys. We had another issue with the brakes, this time the rear. We were already leaving New Orleans but then I ended up cycling 55km through the city to get the spare parts. Thanks Eric for fixing it far after his working hours.
Darryl and Zivile, the couple I stayed with in New Orleans was flexible and very opened, even when they were sick these days. It wasn't a problem to go back for another night. Thank you very much for your hospitality and the nice stay.
When I told somebody along my way I'm cycling to the south coast people highly recommended to have a visit to New Orleans. So I did, even when I get tired of big citys quickly. I really have to admit, this city was worth the ride. New Orleans has a really Interesting history, it has a old downtown with interesting architecture, it has other neighborhoods with nice buildings, it has a music culture you can enjoy in the streets or bars and the best there is Cajun cuisine. Even the public transport via streetcars is special and there are a lot more thinks to see and to do in NOLA.
It really enjoyed the mentality of this city and as expected it felt OK to do some tourist stuff after the last week. New Orleans became my favorite US city but tomorrow we will have another try to leave the city passing through the swamps to reach the coast.
18.11.2018 Slightly punctured tire.
Riding along the shoulder of route 1 in Louisiana I got this real flat tire today. There is a lot of wast on some shoulder and in between some hard metal things. This was my first flat tire since I started the tour. I got some punctuation before but they were sealed by the self fixing layer the Schwalbe tires are providing. This flat tire just let me stop in front of Scott's house. We had a nice conversation, he told me about the history of the Bayou(channels in the Mississippi delta) Lafourche and its settlers, he gave me food, he provided me a place to pitch up my tent for the night and he offered me all his help to get this tire fixed.
In the end I could fix it on my own and had a nice experience of southern hospitality in Louisianan. Thank you Scott.
9.11.2018 A huge fan of fans.
Today I was invited to stay at Will's and Kathy's place. I'm fascinated by people with curious hobbies and that's what Will's hobby is. He collects antique fans and repairs antique fans for other people. That's very sustainable especially for fans which are even in Europe a throw-away-product nowadays. He owns more than 200 fans and each is produced before 1960. Some modells are very special and interesting. He is active member of the Antique Fan Collectors Association which shows their fans on www.fancollectors.org. Thanks Will and Kathy for the nice stay, late conversation(which brought me more into Cajun history of Louisiana) and the amazing breakfast.
Melissa and Ervin, that's my definition of southern hospitality in Louisiana. They aren't even cyclists but they are hosting through warmshowers. My idea was to stay for one night at their place and go on with my tour on the next day. Their place is called 'Easy Chenier' and that's the way it is. It was two days before Thanksgiving and just after I've arrived they invited me to stay for the holiday. I hesitated because I already had a long rest in New Orleans but that was the thanksgiving invitation I was looking for. I decided to stay and it was one of the best decisions on the tour.
For the next day Ervin invited me to go with him to his work. He is the ground manager of the biggest casino along the gulf coast. The casino is owned by native Americans and they have special tax free conditions as reperation of how they were treated in history. It was very interesting to see all the activities arround the casino and how Ervin is managing his 24 man team. This day there was a Thanksgiving feast at the company and I enjoyed it.
On Thanksgiving morning Ervin went duck hunting and I accompanied him. Duck hunting is what people are doing here in the south and Ervin is doing it since 44 years. We left before sunrise at 5:30am to the marsh and stayed there for about three hours. After that we had a really delicious turkey and dressing and all the other food for Thanksgiving.
My easy time at 'Easy Chenier' was awesome. It showed me more southern culture, cajun kitchen and unselfish hospitality. I appreciated the invitation for Thanksgiving and the time we spent together. Thanks Melissa, Ervin, Silvester (the cat), Kimey and Lady (the two dogs) for your time. Go on with your maxim account to Hebrews 13:2 "Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it".
23.11.2018 Back at the waterfront.
Today I reached the Mexican gulf, I haven't seen the sea since the day we left NYC. Just a few kilometers later I crossed the border to Texas, the twelfth and last state on my way through the US.
I had to leave Louisiana behind, with all the nice people I met. The food and especially the cajun cuisine was amazing and I think it helped me to recover some of the 8 to 9kg I lost since August(That's about 10% of my body weight). I've seen awesome sunrises and sunsets, a lot of birds, which come down here for the winter, and alligators, the small ones close and the bigger ones with distance ;-). I really enjoyed Louisiana.
Let's see what Texas has to offer.
It's the last day in the USA and I had a nice evening with Sara and Yael in Harlingen, TX. Tomorrow I'm going to cross the border to Mexico.
In Texas I met a lot of helpful people I stayed with and people helped me over busy bridges without shoulders. For safety reasons that was the best solution, and I know, 'cross' is spelled with two 's' but I reached the end of the paper ;-), it worked out anyway. On my way there were some nice landscapes along the islands at the coast (in between I had to take ferrys) but also some very dirty citys with a lot of rafineries, that's where the oil for all the cars and plastics comes from.
I spent almost two months in the USA, thanks to all the people who made it an amazing experience. It was totally different than Europe and I expect that what lies ahead will be different too.