31 July 2012

Things That Are/Are Not Bigger in Texas

My friend Anna and I entering the Lone Star State
Greetings from Friola, Texas.  According to the saying, everything is bigger here.  After a few days in the state, it's time to evaluate the stereotype.

Things that were bigger:

-The shoulders on the highway.  This was nice for us cyclists, as the trucks on the highway also seemed much larger.

-Dairy farms.  I was lucky enough to tour the High Plains Dairy, where I saw a rotating milking carousel that held 72 cows at a time.  The dairy produces 46,000 gallons of milk per day.

-The crickets.  Seriously, they were huge.

-The "Welcome to Texas" sign.  Without a doubt the biggest state sign we've come across.  

-Soft drinks.  A normal soda in a restaurant is a 24-32 ounce monstrosity that would make Michael Bloomberg would throw a conniption fit

-Steaks.  My friend Josh attempted to complete the steak challenge at the Big Texan Steakhouse, which requires participants to eat 4 1/2 pounds of steak, a baked potato, side salad, and shrimp cocktail in under an hour.  He nearly did it too.

Things that were not bigger:

-Towns.  Aside from Amarillo, the towns we have been staying in had 1,000-4,000 residents.
My friend Josh valiantly ate
61 ounces of a 72 ounce steak
in Amarillo.

-Standard weights and measures.  These are pretty much the same everywhere.

-French fry portions.  What was the deal with that?

-Salads.  I guess that was to be expected.

-Post offices.  These were tiny.  Their hours were shorter than expected as well. 

27 July 2012

Funny Signs, Part II - Church Signs

A real gem from my trip back in 2008.  Found in Paris, KY
Something I've noticed on this trip is that the only organizations with signs as consistently punny as hairdressers are churches.  Although churches are not often known their sense of humor or marketing savvy, somehow they excel at dorky, but attention-grabbing wordplay and turns of phrase.  Some are pleasant and witty ("This church is prayer conditioned") while others are dark and gloomy ("Live each day like it is your last and someday you will be right").  All are amusing.  Here is a sample of what I've seen so far:

"You cannot stumble on your knees." - Wells, ME

"You have one new friend request from Jesus.  Accept or ignore?" - Kittery, ME

"If you need to make ends meet, put Jesus in the middle." - Buffalo, PA

"God wants full custody, not just weekends." - Penns Hills, PA

"Sign broken, the message is inside." - Deersville, OH

"What part of 'Thou Shalt Not' did you not understand?" - Columbus, OH (the sassiest of them all)

"Don't look back.  You're not going that way." - Nashville, IN (near the bad ass town of Gnaw Bone, IN).

"7 days without prayer make one weak." - Xenia, IL (my favorite so far)

"What is missing from Ch _ _ ch?  U R."  - Breese, IL

"And you think this is hot? - God." - Lake Ozark, MO

"ATM inside. Atonement, truth, & mercy." - Springfield, MO

"The closer you are to the son, the less likely you'll get burned." - Stroud, OK

"God doesn't believe in atheists, therefore they don't exist." - Stroud, OK

"Life is an adventure in forgiveness." - Edmond, OK

25 July 2012

What I Ate Today

Cramming my face on Route 66
Greetings from Chandler, Oklahoma!  Although I eat quite a bit each and every day, day was an exceptional day in terms of food.  Here's a summary of how much grub it took me to get through the day.

Breakfast: 3 pancakes, 1 cup coffee, 1 glass milk, 1 piece fritatta, 1 banana

Lunch: 1 veggie Chipotle burrito (thanks to Morgan for getting these donated), 1 orange, 1 bag animal crackers, 1 big piece coffee cake

Second Lunch: 23 scoops vanilla ice cream

*(Today is my friend Alyssa's 23rd birthday, and she challenged each of us to eat 23 scoops of ice cream during the day.  When we stopped at a famous place called the Rock Cafe in Stroud, Oklahoma I decided to order it all at once and have at.  My stomach remained intact and I was even able to ride the last 15 miles without booting).

Dinner: 2 plates spaghetti with red sauce, 3 pieces garlic bread, 1 large salad, 2 brownies, 1 bunch grapes

Post-Dinner: 1 piece cake, several handfuls trail mix

Water: Approximately 8 liters

If anyone can estimate how many calories this is, I'm very curious, so please leave a comment!  I eat about this much most days and somehow I have still lost 7 pounds since the trip started. 

20 July 2012

Top Ten Statements Heard on the Bike

Greetings from Springfield, MO - "The Queen Cities of the Ozarks."  To give a good summary of what my day-to-day life is like, here's what we actually spend our time talking about.

Mileage is also a hot topic.  60 is relatively low.
1. "I'm out of water!"
2. "It's probably all downhill from here."
3. "It's so hot!"
4. "Are we lost?"
5. "Oh, God."
6. "I never blog anymore."
7. "Wanna DM that?"
8. "My pee is getting dangerously yellow."
9. "When's lunch?"
10. "When's second lunch?"

16 July 2012

Back in the Headlines

Funny Signs, Part 1

Too good to be true.
We all understand the appeal of puns.  They entertain, then vex the mind, and they mock.  As I've been riding across the Northeast and Midwest, I've noticed that for some reason one type of business relies more heavily on punny, ironic, and pseudoclever titles more than any other - hairdressers.  Here is a selection of ones I've seen so far.

Shear Envy - Fitchburg, MA
The Hairport - Orange, MA
Upper Cuts, Round II - Pittsfield, MA
Head Lines - Port Jervis, NY
Hair's to You - Port Jervis, NY
A Cut Above - Berwick, PA
Hair Time - State College, PA
Hairway to Heaven - Cadiz, OH
Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow - Gnaw Bone, IN
Larry's Hairy Business - O'Fallon, IL
Wanda Full Salon - St. Louis, MO
Hair Commanders - St. Louis, MO

12 July 2012

Breaking Away

Raisin' walls in Bloomington.
Tonight we are in Bloomington, Indiana - home of the Hoosiers.  Today we had our sixth build day of the trip, during which I helped to put up some walls and then built most of a deck with Amy (one of the riders) and Larry and Bill (two old guys who were really good at building decks).  In the afternoon I went downtown and ate at all-you-can-eat Indian buffet.  We surprised even ourselves with what "all-you-can-eat" really means.

VHS case of the 1979
smash hit Breaking Away

One neat thing about Bloomington is that, as the home of Indiana University, it is also featured in the movie Breaking Away - probably the only movie ever made about cycling.  We celebrated this on our way into town by taking a detour to the "Little 500" racetrack, where the film reaches its climax.  We even did a few laps around the track to push our total mileage over 100 for the day (third "century ride" of the trip for me).  We are screening the film tonight as a group to commemorate the occasion.  It's cool to be cyclists here in Bloomington, where the sport is such a part of the local culture, as evidenced by the plethora of bike shops and Jimmy John's bicycle delivery guys.

The day before yesterday we were in the small town of Rushville, Indiana, where we stayed with an awesome host who completely overwhelmed us with food.  Before that we were in Yellow Springs, Ohio (the hometown of Dave Chappelle), where we stayed at Antioch College.  Antioch has a very bizarre story: it dwindled from a college of around 2,000 students to a college of 0 students in 2008 and reopened just this past year with a freshman class of 33 very unique individuals.  The town around it was unexpectedly funky and featured a number of galleries, organic food shops, and the infamous "Yellow Spring."  According to legend, anyone who drinks its waters becomes cursed and can never leave the town.  As much as we liked the area, we were all cautious not to drink the water.

An artsy photo Kristen took of me and Collin on top of a train
in Ohio.
Tomorrow we're headed out of Hoosier country and into Illinois.  We are also headed backwards in time into the Central Time Zone (gaining an hour as we cross time zones is one of many reasons why Bike & Build rides from east to west).  From there we are riding two more days into our next extended stop - St. Louis, Missouri.  My souvenir count is still at zero and I'm really lusting after a cool cycling cap that says "St. Louis" on it.  Fingers crossed!

And finally a "sample dialogue" about Indiana:

Scott: "So why is Indiana called the Hoosier State?"
Nice Indianan woman: "Well, when you're in Indiana and it comes around dinner time, your wife sticks her head out the winda' and she yells HOOOOOOSSSIEEER!!!"

I did not understand what she meant, but I did not ask any follow-up questions. 

05 July 2012

Pittsburgh, Coal Miners, and the Fourth of July

We were fortunate enough to see
the Pirates crush the Astros 11-2.
Here's a rundown of the last few days.

On July 3rd we had a day off (one of just three) in Pittsburgh, which turned out to be a cool place to hang out for 24 hours.  My friend and fellow B&B alumnus Michael joined us at our host, after biking all the way from DC by himself.  Together we checked out a Pirates game (thanks to Anna for scoring free tickets), ate Primanti Brother's sandwiches (always served with french fries and sauerkraut on the sandwich), and scouted out the spot where Lewis & Clark set off for the Pacific Ocean.  I was particularly interested in this because I'm reading "Undaunted Courage" - the story of their expedition - this summer.  On our second night in town we were lucky enough to find a Beach Boys tribute band called the "Beach Party Boys" performing in Point Park, near where the Ohio River begins its course.  The concert was followed by an "unforgettable" laser light show (interpret the quotation marks as you please).

After lots of hunting, we located this small Lewis
& Clark plaque on the Allegheny River.
Shockingly devoid of tourists.
The following day was the Fourth of July and we celebrated by biking through three different states.  In fact we had breakfast in Pennsylvania, lunch in West Virginia, and dinner in Ohio (look at a map and it actually makes sense).  We stayed in the town of Cadiz, Ohio (pronounced "CAD-iss").  Cadiz is home to the Coal and Clark Gable Museum, these being the two things that Cadiz has produced in its 200-year history.

Looking for a way to celebrate the holiday, we wandered until we found an inviting family BBQ where we played Wiffleball with some little kids while their parents set off terrifying firecrackers.  This morphed, after some drinking, into a bonfire hosted by a generous coal miner who told us all about his trade and made damn sure that none of us had voted for Obama.  I don't think that we were all completely honest about our 2008 electoral decisions.

Today we biked into Coshocton, Ohio through more Amish country.  Tomorrow we're headed to Columbus and America seems to be flattening out, which is good because our quads are all a little sick of hills.

01 July 2012

Pennsylvania: Now with Amish

Much like us cyclists, the Amish use
reflective safety triangles to stay visible
on the road and protect themselves
from aggressive Pennsylvanians.
Yesterday's ride from Berwick, PA to State College, PA was a fantastic Bike & Build day for a number of reasons:

-It was our first century ride (100+ miles).  Actually is was more like 97.2, but I went around the block a couple of times to cap it off.

-We had two lunch stops because of the day's extreme mileage and heat.  At second lunch (the best meal of the day), we had farm fresh cheese, peaches, meats, and raspberry shrub.  The food was donated by a Bike & Build alum and his parents and we ate in an Amish-built barn.

-I passed a horse and buggy on my bike.

-A nice Amish lady gave me two free bandanas "to help control my sweat issues."  I guess my sweat issues were quite apparent.
My new favorite road sign - "Truck Use Low Gear"

-We ended the day in State College and showered in the notorious Penn State locker rooms.  The ghost of Joe Paterno is still heavy on the town. 

-We had some major descents (see photo). 

Next is Johnstown, PA, then a day off in Pittsburgh, then Ohio and beyond