SCOTTY’S RIDE – SOUTH CAROLINA

BY: PETER CONWAY
South Carolina, where are you?

You were once lost, now are found

The war is over, the battle’s through

Take it down down down

Take it down

                        The Wailin Jennys

Or, as Dorothy opined, “There’s no place like home, there’s no place like home…”

It has rained all summer in South Carolina, while we have ridden on the gusts of a hot, dry heat wave for 3000 miles. In 50 days of riding, we have had two mornings of light showers, period. With this in mind, we were unsurprised when we summitted Cedar Mountain, dry on the North Carolina side, to be rained on as soon as we hit the South Carolina border. This rather ruined a six-mile-long downhill that Scotty and Steve had been looking forward to the entire trip. With downhill grades reaching 12% and with tight switchbacks, we had practiced on this course last year and were itching to fly down it. However, with slick roads caution prevailed and Steve led us down the mountain at a sedate 15 mph instead of the 35 Scotty had been hoping for. With less than 300 miles to go on our 3300-mile saga, the last thing we wanted was a bike wreck so close to home.

South Carolina reached out to embrace her native sons and daughters, both natural born and transplanted. Awaiting us in Greenville were two North Charleston police officers, provided by Mayor Summey to escort us through the entire state! Jeff and Giovanni are motorcycle cops, but for this detail they were in squad cars. They let us know that they had volunteered for this assignment, lest we think that in usual police fashion they have been “voluntold’ by their captain. They knew all about Scotty and his mission. They were all in.

One can quickly get used to a police escort. With blue lights flashing both fore and aft, we enjoyed riding in double file and not worrying about the traffic, which as usual in South Carolina overwhelms the roadways. Over the next several days we enjoyed cars pulling over in both directions to allow us to pass, usually with waves and gestures of a decidedly friendly nature. They might not have known who we were, but assumed we MUST be important to warrant a police escort!

Another neat thing about returning to South Carolina was that we were joined for the last five days by other cyclists who had taken time off work to accompany us. Some we knew, like the Parkers’ Pastor, Rodney Richard. Others were strangers who had learned about us via social media. All were delightful additions. Personally, I was blessed to have my brother in law, John Minton, drive Vanna for the last two days as well as being joined by three members of the Lombardo family, Sam, Lisa and Jake.

When he was 10, Scotty rode across South Carolina and raised over $73,000 for Water Mission. We recreated this route, which brought back many fond memories and provided a sense of completeness to our last week. Plus – 60-mile days instead of 75 and NO mountains!

Tuesday August 1st is a day we will all remember as one of the best ever. We had 18 miles left – from Northwood church in Summerville to Water Mission Headquarters in North Charleston. Our personal cops showed up on their Harleys with about 6 more of their friends. A dozen other police cars from several jurisdictions joined in to block traffic at all intersections so we could sail through. A fire truck was there for good measure and an ambulance in case we fainted from pure joy. Best of all, our peloton swelled to about 100 riders.

Around noon, we rolled into Water Mission headquarters where about 300 well-wishers greeted us with cheers, high fives, a banquet and speeches. We heard from both Mayor Summey of North Charleston and Mayor Tecklenburg of Charleston. Congressman Mark Sanford was also there briefly. Scotty had two great grandmothers and three grandparents in attendance as well as his aunts and uncles. Water Mission Founders George and Molly Green welcomed us and broke the news that Scotty had not raised $500,000 as he had hoped. The total was over $576,000! More cheers erupted.

Several hours later when the speeches and TV interviews were done and the crowd dispersed, there was no one left except the core group. We had one last ride to make. Having started by dipping our rear tires in the Pacific at Santa Monica, our journey was incomplete until we dipped our front tries in the Atlantic.

Our route was familiar and beloved as we had used it for training many times. Taking Spruill Avenue downtown, we turned onto the Ravenel Bridge, crossed over Shem Creek in Old Mount Pleasant, then across the Ben Sawyer Bridge to Sullivans Island. At Breech Inlet, the channel between Sullivans and Isle of Palms, we did the deed. Scottys Ride was complete and so were we.

Our guiding verse for the entire ride has been Scotty’s life verse: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Phil 4:13 We may have pedaled the bikes, but each of us was reminded in numerous places and numerous challenges that our own strength was insufficient. Thanks be to God who provided His strength and sent us help in times of distress. Thanks be to those who prayed for our safety and success. Thanks be to those who responded both with their hearts and their pocketbooks. The Greens estimate that over 10,000 people without safe water will soon get it because of this ride. That is thousands of folks saved from disease and possible death. Thousands of folks who will ask:” Why?” And,” How is this possible?” Then they will hear about this Jesus who can give them strength. Thanks be to God.

 

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SCOTTY’S RIDE – NORTH CAROLINA

BY:  PETER CONWAY

In my mind I’m gone to Carolina

Can’t you see the sunshine?

Can’t you just feel the moonshine?

Ain’t it just like a friend of mine

To hit me from behind?

Yes, I’m gone to Carolina in my mind.

                                   James Taylor

 

Even though we have finished the ride, I have yet to finish blogging about it. We have North and South Carolina to cover, so here goes!

It felt mighty fine to cross the line from Tennessee to North Carolina. As Scotty put it; “It is great to be in a state that has the word Carolina!” It had rained the night before so the roads were slick and narrow, but our spirits were high. We could smell the finish line a week away. Just a few pesky mountains to summit and then we would be back in our beloved low country.

We powered over two mountains to get out of Tennessee and wound our way through heavily wooded glades and along meandering brooks. It was breathtakingly beautiful. I doubt that this northernmost part of North Carolina has changed much in 100 years, except perhaps that it is more heavily forested now than it was back then. A few hardscrabble farms hugged the stream banks. You can tell they are barely hanging on; a good push might topple most of the barns. Yes, James, we can feel the moonshine.

Our destination was the first mountain town of any size, Asheville. It feels like home to us. It WAS home to my family for six years, and everyone in our peloton has a friend or two who has left the low country’s heat and humidity for Asheville’s clean air and pure water. We connected with some of those friends. One is Robbie Denson, a pastor from Charleston who is part of a church plant called the Gathering. We worshipped with them on Sunday. Bob and Cathy Walters, who worked with me at Christ School, welcomed us into their home for some wonderful barbeque served up by their grown sons Seth and Jeremy. Seth is a chef of local renown and Jeremy is a gourmet cook in his own right. It beat even Chick-fil-A, the Parker kid’s first choice in every town.


We had a rare morning off the next day and chose to visit the Biltmore House. This home should be on everyone’s bucket list. Everything about the estate is larger than life: it covers 6,950 acres, while the main château is a modest 178,926 square feet, (four acres). Imagine cleaning 250 rooms, 65 fireplaces, 3 kitchens, 35 bedrooms, and 43 bathrooms. Anyone over 60 gets excited at the prospect of 43 bathrooms. Alas, none of these are open to the public. One must go to the horse stables to do one’s business.

Our morning at the Biltmore House was followed by two TV interviews for Scotty. These were in depth and resulted in our bike ride of a mere 30 miles being conducted in rush hour. Like Charleston, Asheville’s road network has been overwhelmed by the influx of new residents and tourists. Like Charleston, the main roads have tiny or no shoulders, so you share the lane with impatient motorists itching to get home. And there were hills to climb. Our 30-mile ride was the most unpleasant section of the whole trip. We were treated to honking horns, one finger salutes and epithets shouted out of car windows that would make a sailor blush. We prayed they were not James Taylor fans; “Ain’t it just like a friend of mine to hit me from behind….”

We finally arrived much the worse for psychic wear at the lovely golf resort of Etowah where the staff was expecting us and made up for our less than hospitable North Carolina welcome. Over one more massive mountain, Cedar, South Carolina awaits!

 

 

 

 

 

From Harlan to Hazard

BY:  PETER CONWAY
In the deep dark hills of eastern Kentucky

That’s the place where I trace my bloodline

And it’s there I read on a hillside gravestone

You will never leave Harlan alive

                                             By Brad Paisley

For the past week, we have ridden the hollers and hills of eastern Kentucky, and somehow emerged alive. Truth be told, eastern Kentucky is beautiful in mid-summer – lush, wildflower bedecked, with babbling brooks and roads shaded by intertwined trees. But even in broad daylight there is a quiet stillness and hauntedness created by the steep ravines through which the roads wind. Paisley sings that, “the sun comes up about ten in the morning, and the sun goes down about three in the day.”

We were glad we were riding in broad daylight. We had little interest in venturing off the main roads onto narrow side lanes with names like Lick Skillet, Straight and Narrow, Booger Branch and Horsefly Hollow.

Of course, most hollers butt up against a hill and the road winds steeply over a ridge and down into the next holler. The downhills are exhilarating, but our mantra has become “What goes down must go up.” The town names prove the point. Leaving Berea, we encountered the town of Big Hill and shortly thereafter rode into Morehill. We were hoping to locate Downhill, but to no avail. Every day this week has seen us climbing over 3000 feet of elevation.

Eastern Kentucky has few towns and few of these provide lodging for passers by. We have had great difficulty finding places to rest our weary legs. On the route from Berea to Hazard, there is only one motel in 100 miles. Located in the hamlet of McKee, we had reservations at the somewhat ominously named Trails End Motel. Arriving there, we found…. nothing. Calling the motel number, a pleasant lady answered the phone, explained that she had just been issued the number and indicated that the motel had been demolished several weeks earlier. I wonder if the last night’s motel guests ever left Harlan alive.

The non-existent motel story has a happy ending, and it is a great example of the bright side to our week’s experiences. The people we have met have been wonderful. So wonderful in fact, that we believe the unseen hand of God steered us to just the right people in our several hours of need. The first angel in human form was Miss Sherry, the proprietor of the Harmony House Bed and Breakfast in Hazard. From Mckee, we had tried to secure lodging anywhere within 50 miles, only to conclude that we would need to go all the way to Hazard to find some. Most Hazard hotels were full. We finally found one with three rooms and drove 1 ½ hours to check in. Arriving, the desk clerk could not find our reservation (even though I provided confirmation numbers) and announced that they were full. Desperate, Steve did a search for “lodging” in Hazard and came up with Harmony House. We called. Miss Sherry had no reservations, as she had planned to be out of town but changed those plans at the last minute. When she learned of our plight and our mission she welcomed us in, greeted us with freshly baked zucchini bread and sweet tea, and cooked us a wonderful breakfast in the morning. It was a significant God moment for our group.

God moments continued. The next morning our GPS mapping took us up a hill onto a deeply rutted gravel road disappearing into the forest. Retreating, we were wondering what to do when I noticed an elderly couple gently rocking on their front porch. They were enjoying their five hours of daylight. I approached them with some trepidation, as I am not from around these parts and was clad only in spandex. If you have ever asked for directions from locals when lost, you will understand that most of the time they confuse you more than they help you. Not this couple. They should consult for Google Maps. They not only knew how to get us to Harlan (alive), but they knew the road numbers and the exact mileage to each turn. They were flesh and blood GPS. As we rode off, I turned to wave to them, but they had disappeared. By the way, they were the only folks I saw sitting on their front porch the entire week. In the hollers, all you see are dogs.

The last God moment came in the form of a Kentucky Department of Transportation supervisor who was driving by and noticed that our support vehicle, Vanna, had taken a wrong turn and was heading up a road that dead ends among several abandoned coal mines. He shepherded Vanna back to the rest of us. We thanked him and went on our way. Several hours later, we were about to turn up a road which would have led God knows where when he just happened to drive by us again, stopped, and saved us much anguish. Now here is the strangest part. The next morning, 30 or so miles beyond where we had last seen him, we were once again about to head up a huge hill into oblivion when he happened to drive by again. If he had driven by this road one minute earlier or later he would not have noticed us. But the timing was split second perfect. Now to a skeptic this might seem like dumb luck. But we think differently. God has an angel working for the Kentucky Department of Transportation.

All in all, Kentucky has been a fascinating state full of wonderful places and, now, wonderful memories. We are heading towards the Cumberland Gap, the famous gateway to the west that was used by the likes of Daniel Boone, Lewis and Clark and thousands of pioneers, including Abraham Lincoln’s grandfather and father, and his mother as well. We are traveling east, so for us the Gap leads to Tennessee. More adventures await.

 

 

 

Kentucky – Beauty and Blessings 

BY: Pam Parker 

Our time in Kentucky is coming to a close tomorrow as we cross into Tennessee. We have been blown away by the beauty of this state. Scotty has enjoyed all the uphill and has come to love flying downhill.  We have climbed a ton of rolling hills and while some climbs have been extremely tough the beauty that has surrounded us has far outweighed the struggle. Kentucky has also brought some amazing memories that will last us a lifetime as we have met some of the most beautiful spirited people. 

Sunday we traveled an hour and a half to the Ark Encounter. Scotty and his sisters were so excited their grandparents and great grandma came to visit for the weekend. We were all in awe. The Ark was massive and so beautifully built. There were so many things to see and read. Just to even try to comprehend Noah building something of that size and all the God instilled planning that went into it all. They also had a petting zoo and camel rides. The kids had a blast riding the camel and shared with a man that worked there what we are doing this summer. That same man came and found us a little later and said he wanted to be a blessing to us and took us behind the scenes and we got to hold and see several amazing animals. Everyone’s favorite by far was holding the baby kangaroo.  

Monday was Lily’s 10th birthday. Her wish was to eat at her favorite place – Chick-fil- a. She hadn’t had it since she left home for this ride. She was having withdrawals. We rode to the closest one for lunch. As everyone walked to the counter in their spandex cycling clothes explaining what they were doing with the customers and staff they were greeted with excitement and tons of support. After they learned it was Lily’s 10th birthday they offered free ice cream to the riding crew and comped all of our meal. They even took the time to share on their Facebook page about Scotty’s Ride for Water. What a huge blessing yet another reminder of why they LOVE Chick-fil-a:) 

Tuesday we had a big day with a lot of going uphill. It is the middle of summer so we were cooking, hangry and ready to rest in some cool AC. We had to shuttle to our hotel. The gps said we had arrived but there was nothing but an empty parking lot. When Peter called the number for our motel the lady who answered said she had the number now that the motel had been demolished. After searching for somewhere to stay multiple hotels were full we ended up calling a bed and breakfast called the Harmony House in Hazard. The sweet lady who answered said she was supposed to be gone for the evening but her plans changed so she would be glad to have us. It must be meant to be she said.  When we arrived she had chocolate zucchini bread baking, showed us around and when we asked her if we could do laundry she insisted on washing it for us. She even folded it all. The next morning we woke up to the smell of sausage, homemade chocolate chip pancakes and hash browns. I’m telling you there are angels on earth and Mrs. Sherry is one. She feeds the homeless and volunteers for pretty much everything in her community. She is one bright light to all that meet her. After hearing about the ride and Lily and Emmylou sacrificing their summer for the ride she called and signed them up for a local Lego camp and took them and even went to have lunch with them so they could have a day off. Before us leaving she insisted on donating to help get people clean water too. She simply just exudes love and joy and her smile is contagious!!!

Beyond thankful for the people God has placed in our path. A fun adventure at the Ark turned into meeting a wonderful man who shared his love for animals with us.   A slight trip out of the way for a chicken sandwich for the birthday girl turned into a birthday she will never forget where she was made to feel so special at the same time sharing with even more people the need for clean water and hope. What was a frustrating set back of a demolished motel turned into a wonderful place to stay with more blessings than we could have ever imagined! “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,” Ephesians 3:20

Scotty’s Ride – The Old Kentucky Home 

BY:  PETER CONWAY
“Weep no more my lady, weep no more today! We will sing one song for the old Kentucky home, for the old Kentucky home far away” By Stephen Foster

We are all in love with Kentucky, and we will pine for the days we have spent here when we are far away. Well, at least we will pine for western and central Kentucky, a landscape populated by thoroughbreds, Bourbon Distilleries, picturesque farms dappled with contented cows, and charming villages such as Bardstown and Berea. (Eastern Kentucky, from Hazard to Harlan, will be the subject of a far different blog.)

What cyclist can fail to feel nostalgic when pedaling by Abraham Lincoln’s boyhood home at Knob Creek, or passing the Makers Mark distillery which sits cheek by jowl to the mother convent of the Loretto nuns? We cycle on a road laid out by Daniel Boone. We pass log cabins that are still being lived in. We stay in the Boone tavern at Berea College, which was founded by abolitionists in 1855 as the first southern school both co-educational and integrated.

Perhaps most impressive looking is Bardstown, whose main street is listed on the National Register. It is the self-proclaimed Bourbon Capital of the world. In addition to Makers Mark, distilled in the Bardstown area are Jim Beam, Heaven Hill and Barton 1792. Bardstown also claims to be the inspiration for Kentucky’s State Song: My Old Kentucky Home. Federal Hill, a plantation on the edge of town, was owned by Stephen Foster’s cousins. After visiting there, he wrote the famous song, which describes the sorrow of “darkies” on the plantation who are being sold to Louisiana and will never again see their old Kentucky Home. Written in 1852, the song became one of the crusading ballads of the Abolitionist movement. It would have been inconceivable for Foster to imagine that slave state Kentucky would ever adopt it as the state song.

Foster was a Northerner who, as far as can be ascertained, only visited the south once: Bardstown. Yet he chose to write songs about the south, to be sung by black faced minstrels. These have stood the test of time. Consider Foster’s Greatest Hits:

My Old Kentucky Home

Oh, Susannah

(Way down upon the) Swanee River

Camptown Races

Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair

Beautiful Dreamer

And my personal favorite…. Hard times Come Again No More.

Kentucky still embodies the charm and grace of the old south. Race horses, Bourbon, farms that may as well be plantations for their grandeur, fields of tobacco and the strikingly impressive jet-black barns once used to cure it; it all seems so timeless.

Yet Kentucky is also the birthplace of Lincoln, and the abolitionist movement was significant in Kentucky. For example, Berea College was, and is, a beacon of southern diversity and inclusion. Founded in 1855, its motto is “God has made of one blood all peoples of the earth.” Because of this stand, the college was at one point forced to close by slave owning neighbors. In 1904, at the height of the Jim Crow era, the Kentucky Legislature passed a law forbidding blacks and whites to be educated together. Appealing to the US Supreme Court and losing, Berea was only able to readmit black students in 1952.

Today Berea College maintains a leadership role in promoting a Christian tradition of inclusiveness and diversity. At the same time, Berea focuses most of its recruiting efforts on the poor families of Appalachia. 90% of its students are from this still impoverished region. How can this work? Berea is tuition free for all students. In return, every student works an average of 10 hours per week for the college to help defray the cost of their education. We spoke to several students who work at the Boone tavern. Diverse as they are, they all are over the moon about Berea.

The town of Berea sits at the edge of the Appalachian Mountains. It is into, and more significantly OVER this region that we are heading. Stay tuned for Eastern Kentucky, where moonshine replaces Bourbon, and coal mines replace stud farms…

 

 

Scotty’s Ride – Rivers and Tears

BY: PETER CONWAY

This has been a momentous week. We have been in three states: Missouri, Illinois and now Kentucky. We have crossed two mighty rivers: the Mississippi and the Ohio. And we have continued to follow – in reverse – the infamous Trail of Tears from the Carolinas to Oklahoma. More on the trail in a bit. 

The riding this week has continued to be arduous. Who knew that the Ozark Mountains don’t end at the Missouri border? After a respite due to the Mississippi River floodplain, the Ozarks creep into Illinois and even spill a bit over the Ohio River into Kentucky. We have been routinely climbing up and down hills with ascents of 3000 – 4000 feet in each of the last three days.

 

There are not many bridges across the Mississippi River in the regions we are traversing. We wound our way from Farmington, Missouri and crossed a bridge to Chester Illinois. Chester is known as the place where Lewis and Clark crossed the Mississippi on their way to explore the west. It is also the home of Popeye the Sailor Man. Once in Illinois, we travelled along the levees for about 30 miles. We stopped for lunch along the River. Scotty, Jess and Dave took a plunge in the Big Muddy, until a local turned up in his truck to tell us that undertows routinely carry off swimmers. Indeed they were still looking for the bodies of two swimmers who had disappeared the night before about 20 miles downstream. That squelched our enthusiasm.

 

On Tuesday we rode up and down numerous Illinois hills, ending at the banks of the Ohio River at a place called Golconda. We stayed in two brick homes which were formerly Lock Keepers’ homes for those tending Lock #51 on the Ohio River. In 1980 the Army Corps of Engineers demolished the lock and abandoned the 4 homes. After 20 years of neglect, the town of Golconda took over the houses and restored them as guest accommodations. They are really unusual and sit right on the river.

 

The Trail of Tears is another historic pathway we have been encountering ever since Oklahoma. Oklahoma was the dumping ground for displaced tribes of the Southeast.

Due to pressure from white settlers, the Federal Government during Andrew Jackson’s tenure passed the Indian Removal Act, which called for the forceable relocation of the Cherokee, Muskogee, Seminole, Chickasaw and Choctaw tribes. The removals were carried out between 1830 and 1850. The roads which eventually became Route 66 and make up the TransAmerica bike trail are the same paths trod by the Indians and their soldier guards. Of the 16,000 Indians removed to Oklahoma, it is estimated that up to 6000 died along the way of exposure, malnutrition and disease. It is shameful to contemplate such heartlessness on the part of our government. It is also disheartening to see that the world has not outgrown the practice of ethnic cleansing and forced removals. As Pete Seeger put it in Where Have All The Flowers Gone?, “When will they ever learn, when will they (we) ever learn?”

 

 

Water is Life in More Ways than One -The Beautiful Ozarks and Mississippi River

BLOG BY: Pam Parker


Man what a crazy last couple of days. Scotty had never heard of the Ozarks before this ride and in his words “man these mountains are no joke.” All the riders agreed that Friday was the hardest riding day of this whole ride so far. I drove the support vehicle Friday and Saturday and I thought it was brutal just riding in the car. It was so inspiring for all of us but especially Lily and Emmylou to see all the riders work hard, persevere and never give up. As they reached each peak they were rewarded with some of the most amazing spectacular views. 
We have found that Emmylou gets car sick in the winding mountains but we are so thankful she rallies right away. Saturday she wasn’t feeling well. After she grabbed her bag and got sick not 2 minutes later she said “wows its so pretty.” It was a great reminder that even in the hard times if we just look around there is so much to be thankful for.

At dinner Friday night we met an 18 year old named Steven riding across the US for veterans and PTSD. The ride is called Steven’s Ride for the Brave. Scotty enjoyed getting to ride with him briefly on Saturday. It was great to see him and Scotty riding together when we passed by in the car. Both pedaling to make a difference in this world and raise awareness for the cause/passion laid on their hearts. 


Paul Dudley left Sunday and Dave Jones aka Captain Dave flew back in. Monday was another rolling hills and mountains day. We rode through some of the most beautiful corn fields. We crossed over the mighty Mississippi River into Illinois to a town called Chester “The Home to Popeye.” Everyone enjoyed getting their picture at the sign of Popeye, flexing of course. Philip and Steve picked the best lunch spot on the bank of the Mississippi River. Jess, Scotty, Dave and Emmylou couldn’t resist taking a swim. They said it was so refreshing. 


We are on the TransAmerican Trail so the routes are supposed to be recommended for cyclist. Monday we had some crazy busy roads with no shoulder. It seems the Mississippi is used hugely to transport. We had some huge trucks fly past us dropping loads off at different shipping docks. We had some pretty big hills. While riding up a Cat 5 climb I couldn’t get my gears to shift down. I was pedaling as hard as I could and knew any second I was going to start rolling backwards. Just as I was about to get off the bike and walk it up I felt Scotty’s hand on my back. He had his hand in the middle of my back and was pushing me up the mountain riding right beside me. As soon as he did that the pressure was taken off the gear and it geared down. The timing was perfect and I was so thankful. It made me think about times in my life when I was at the end of my rope but didn’t give up and God gave me the gentle push and strength to keep on keeping on. No matter what mountain we face we are never alone.

That same day Scotty and Dave were riding up front and Jess and I were talking about how gorgeous and lush the fields were. We were in the valley with gorgeous fields and green full trees covered the mountains beside us. Dave said look around it is identical to what we rode a couple of weeks ago. He was right the terrain was the same but instead of dessert floor with nothing but rocks, sand and tumble weed with mountains that look like massive rocks it was breathtaking full of green lush crops and trees. The difference he pointed out was the water source. We were riding right by the Mississippi River. He compared that to our lives and walk with Jesus. With the living water and being plugged into the word our lives are like those fields by the Mississippi full of growth and overflowing with God’s love and grace. 

Scotty often gets the question why are you raising money for Water Mission? What made you choose them? His answer: “They don’t just go in and save lives by providing clean water for people but they tell them about the Living Water of Jesus. I just want people to have what I have Clean Water and Jesus!”

These last couple of days may have been tough but the sights are simply breath taking and a great reminder – Water is Life in more ways than one.

The Ozarks

BY:  PETER CONWAY
A song I learned as a child made puns about various states. For example, one line went: “What did Delaware, boys, what did Delaware? She wore a brand New Jersey, that’s what Dela wore.”

I have been meditating on a different stanza this week: “How did Flora die, boys, how did Flora die? She died in Missouri, she died in Missouri.”

Well, I sympathize with old Flora. There were several hills in Missouri I thought I might die on this week. These hills are known as the Ozarks.


We have left Route 66 and are now on the TransAmerica Bike trail, created in 1976 for the Bi-Centennial. This is the mother road for cyclists. One store owner we spoke to said that over 2500 cyclists travel this route every year. No surprise then that we have found the people of Missouri to be friendly, helpful, appreciative of cyclists and quite interested in our mission..

Our Adventure Cycling maps provide graphs of the elevation changes from town to town. Here is a picture of the Ozark Mountains in Missouri.


A picture is worth a thousand words. This picture is also worth several hundred thousand rotations of a bicycle wheel.


The consensus of the peloton is that Missouri has been tougher to ride over than the San Bernardino range we crossed to get out of the LA area. Tougher too than the mountains we had to cross to get through Arizona. Why? There are several reasons. In the west, roads were built later and the grades are rarely more than six or seven percent. Switchbacks are used to get over mountains. In Missouri, the roads tend to go straight over hills. Grades of fifteen percent or more are common. In Missouri, the towns tend to be along rivers, which run through deep gorges. So, the daily grind consists of laboring up one steep ascent, enjoying a brief plummet down to the next riverside town and then climbing out of the gorge and over the next set of hills. It is exhausting and endless.

Yet the state is pretty. Hillside farms, with freshly cut hayfields and healthy-looking corn dot the landscape. Forest glades shade the road from the summer sun. Curious beef cows with their calves look up with interest as we ride by. If we moo at them they flee in terror. Dogs protecting their turf chase us, but we have yet to run into one which actually means us harm. At the top of the hills we have vistas stretching to the horizon. One could live here. As long as one does not commute by bicycle.


We are spending the weekend in Farmington Missouri, about 1 ½ hours south of St. Louis. A trip to The American Girl Store in St. Louis is planned for the girls; Lily turns 10 next week and this is her birthday treat.

Our now thoroughly Americanized Aussie Paul Dudley has returned to the Land Down Under, where he intends to detox by consuming vast quantities of Vegemite. His place in the peloton has been taken by Dave Jones, who rode with us for the first weeks.


Tomorrow we leave the Ozarks and cross the mighty Mississippi into Illinois. Stay tuned!

Scottys Ride: Kansas and MissouriSub-Title: How to Americanize a dinky-di Aussie in one week

BLOG BY: PETER CONWAY


Well! We have ridden 2,011 miles. Nearly 2/3 of our 3,300-mile total. All that with probably less than 10 extra miles due to wrong turns. Having GPS on our bikes makes it easier to stay on course, but we still pull out the old-fashioned paper maps at regular intervals to get a bigger picture than a 4-inch screen provides.

This week has contained a sliver of Kansas and a belly full of Missouri. For reasons I am sure made political sense in 1926, Kansas has a mere 12 miles of Route 66. But those 12 miles are so packed with Route 66 signs, museums, monuments and National Register buildings you begin to believe that you are on some sort of yellow brick road. You imagine that in 12 miles you’ll reach the Emerald City rather than Joplin Missouri. Of course, as soon as I crossed the state line from Kansas to Missouri I stopped, looked around in wonder and said; “Scotty, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.”

 

A real treat this week arrived in the form of an Australian guest rider – Paul Dudley. Paul is a good mate who is the School Chaplain at Shore, my beloved High School in Sydney. In addition to his priestly calling, Paul is an avid cyclist, an Iron Man competitor and as fair dinkum an example of Aussie manhood as you’d ever hope to meet. For that reason, we have made it our goal this week to Americanize him. He has put up a good fight, but our peloton has him outnumbered nine to one.

Our first task was to indoctrinate Paul into the cult of Route 66. He admitted that Australia has no road which even comes close to embodying the spirit of Australia in the same way Route 66 embodies America’s love affair with the car, neon, diners, kitschy filling stations and the joy of the open road. It only took a couple of days before he admitted that he too was “getting his kicks on Route 66.”


We took him to the filling station where the actual Tow Truck which was the inspiration for “Tow Mater” in the movie CARS was parked. We took him to a section of Route 66 roadbed which is one of the few remaining sections of the concrete that was poured by hand in 1926. That concrete once covered the entirety of the route. We rode him over abandoned bridges that once were on the route. We awarded him Route 66 socks and a jersey.

Next came the Fourth of July. We bicycled 76 miles that day (note the number), so we did not have a lot of energy for festivities. Nonetheless, we dragged Paul out in the rain to a fireworks show in Springfield Missouri. As we drove, we reminded him that Australia became necessary to the British solely because when they lost their American Colonies, they needed somewhere else to transport their undesirables. In America, they had used Georgia for that purpose. Which explains a lot about Georgians.

As has often been the case, the local police were on the lookout for us riding through their towns. Unfortunately, Paul, unaccustomed to riding on the right (i.e. correct) side of the road, ran a stop sign and met the local Sherriff up close and personal.

He received a citation and a suspended sentence. However, once the Sherriff found out Paul was an Aussie, he became very concerned for his safety. He loaned Paul some “safety gear” to use until he was well out of the rough part of town and in the clear.

 

As you can see from the pic, Paul is all about second amendment rights.

Paul’s food indoctrination has included St. Louis Ribs, pulled pork, smoked brisket, Tex/Mex Fajitas and fried Walleye. We tried to get him to smear peanut butter on everything at lunch time, as we do, but he refused. He swears allegiance to Vegemite. If only we had more than a week…

Today we surrounded Paul with American flags in a memorial park to fallen veterans. An attempt to get him to sing the Star Spangled Banner was rebuffed. But he admits he has begun to forget the tune to Advance Australia Fair…..

For his part, Paul has tried to indoctrinate us into the cult of Frank Green reusable coffee cups. He is on a campaign to use his cup for everything and save landfill saturation with disposable coffee cups. A noble cause, but to do the job properly he needs an AMERICAN made cup. So, I introduced him to YETI cups. 

Now THERE’S a cup, mate!


 

 

 

 

Oklahoma, Kansas and into Missouri

BLOG BY: Pam Parker


Wow!! This last week has flown by. The days are getting longer but everyone is staying strong and holding tight to their resolve to pedal hard for Clean Water and Hope. The whole team is so inspiring; each in their own way. Last Saturday when we pulled into Miami, Oklahoma we were officially half way home. Unbelievable!!! I knew we would all be excited but I wasn’t prepared for Scotty’s emotion. He pulled into the hotel with tears in his eyes as a few rolled down his face he said “I can’t believe it. We are half way done.” “I sure miss home.” He was full of hugs and fist bumps and just got a little quiet as he processed the last 4 weeks.

It was an awesome week. Wednesday they had 3 guest riders from the cycling team Staplegun. As they finished their day they were greeted by a police and fire escort at a beautiful old scenic bridge. Scotty was so excited to get to share with 4 news stations that day, a radio station and appeared on Living Oklahoma the next day. What an amazing opportunity to get to share the why behind the ride…every 21 seconds a child dies from water related disease and that has to stop as Scotty says.

To add a little excitement to the week Emmylou ended up with a virus. A little challenging with a 5 year old not feeling well in the car but she would get sick and rally staying right in the middle of all the excitement and sites this 8 week trip has to offer. Lily has been a trooper helping her sister when needed. She has a weak stomach so we were worried in one of Emmylou’s sick moments Lily was about to bail out the back window of the car:) Since Lily has been here we have all been well fed. She gets everyone’s sandwich orders, and fixes lunch everyday!!

Sunday we visited a church in Miami, Oklahoma – Grace Church. It was an awesome sermon about the greatest commandment – to love God.  He shared to love God results in loving others well! Psalm 71:14 – Love God with your whole heart. This church has had a hard couple of years. After a big storm they had a leak in the church and it didn’t get repaired fully. Now they have a black mold issue. With all that they have going on and the needs of the church it was so moving to see the joy, excitement and love that filled their hearts. Their Pastor Phil called Scotty up and let him share about the ride and not knowing Scotty’s favorite verse is Philippians 4:13 he quoted that scripture in reference to the ride and they gave a $500 donation to help get people clean and living water!! INCREDIBLE!!

We continue to be blown away by the people that cross our paths everyday. As we were pulling into Tulsa a lady on a motorcycle saw the trailer and stopped. She wanted to meet the riders so came back by and gave Scotty a donation. As she was pulling off another lady pulled up and said awesome cause and donated too. The generosity of others has been mind blowing! So thankful!

Sunday afternoon we drove into Joplin, Missouri for a surprise Peter and Kyle had put together.  It was to see John Crist!!! We were all so excited!!! What a blast was had by all.  We all laughed so hard. Then after the show we were able to meet him in person and he did a video with Scotty about the ride and posed for pictures with all. AWESOME SURPRISE!

Peter’s friend Paul from Australia has been here this week and added a ton of fun to the week. He brought along his own cup to conserve waste and has provided much entertainment getting pictures with everything and his Frank Greene cup:) We rode into Kansas on Monday. We were only in Kansas for 12 miles, but we passed through a beautiful small town, Galena. The original truck that inspired Tow Mater for Disney when they came through Route 66 is there.  Very neat and scenic little town.  We met a very sweet lady who came to welcome us and write a piece for their local paper about the ride.  

Later that same day we rode into Missouri.  We all commented on how beautiful and lush it is.  Gorgeous farms, corn fields and beautiful rolling hills. Jess and Scotty sprint up all the hills.  We quickly realized why it is so lush.  After riding through such dry states we can definitely see Missouri gets plenty of rain.  We have dodged big storms but have definitely gotten wet.  When riding into Springfield in the rain Steve’s whole derailer fell off and then towards the end of the day Scotty’s brake quit working and his gear shifter stop shifting. He jumped on his spare bike and Steve and I rode into town.  Thankfully  there was a bike shop open the 4th of July and they were able to get both bikes up and running by the end of the day.  What a blessing!! While we were finishing up at the bike shop the other riders finished the ride and Scotty was able to do a quick news interview. That evening we drove to the local fair grounds and parked and watched their firework show! 

Awesome week serving an awesome God for an awesome cause…Clean Water and Hope!