🚴🏼♂️☀️ Wow!!!!! AN INCREDIBLE STROKE OF LUCK on yesterday’s bicycle ride through Mississippi!!! I came upon a challenging spot. I was riding UPHILL and was about to pass a farm in the middle of nowhere and two large dogs came bolting towards me from 50 yards away. I used a now familiar tactic of turning around and pedaling back downhill and it worked. Because I was going downhill, I easily outpedaled them. I looked over my shoulder and saw that they had trotted back to their spot overlooking the road and sat there at attention.
I road a little further back where they couldn’t see me and sat at a tiny intersection where a country road crossed the little two lane road I was riding on. A train roared by 50 yards away and blew its whistle. There was no one in sight and I hadn’t seen a car in awhile.
I waited a few minutes and made another attempt to ride uphill past the same farm and the two large dogs started charging at me again. I circled back once more downhill a few hundred yards and again easily outpedaled then because I was riding downhill. (Uphill, I was a sitting duck). I have pepper spray and a small hand held air horn (like the ones people use at football games) for situations like this, but I prefer to pass without causing a stir or incident where I can. (Don’t want to disturb people and cause a ruckus). I love dogs and had a german shepherd for 13 years. 99 out of 100 dogs are fine and will just chase you barking and then give up. It’s the knowledge that there’s that rare one dog that wants to bite that makes me extra cautious. This whole trip I have been erring on the side of caution. I always try to play it safe.
I sat there along side the road at the tiny intersection out of sight of the dogs and pondered, strategized and try to think of a solution to get past these dogs. I pulled far off the road and was just about to look at the map to see if there might be a short detour I could take on an alternate route when a car rolled slowly past me, turned onto the country road and stopped. The driver turned off the engine and climbed out. He looked to be about 65 years old and he was smiling as he walked towards me.
“Hi, I’m Andy,” he said. He had seen my sign on the back of my bicycle that said “California Bound”. “I see you’re riding cross country. I did that back in the year 2000.” What are the odds?!!! It turned out that, although Andy looked 65, he was actually 78 years old.
Andy & his wife Dottie are retired school teachers who live in Mississippi.
In 1984, Andy bicycled from Mississippi to Disney World in Orlando, Florida.
In 1985, he bicycled from Mississippi to Niagara Falls, Canada!
In the year 2000, Andy bicycled COAST to COAST across Anerica (from Florida to Los Angeles, California). He did this at age 57!!
In 2002, he rode from Paris, France to Budapest, Hungary.
Long story short, Andy and his wife Dottie live in a tiny town in Mississippi and they put me up in their tiny guest cottage behind their house. Yesterday evening, they told me stories and showed me a few phots of their world travels. These 78 year old retired school teachers have seen so much of the world. They are incredibly kind folks and I feel so lucky to have met them!
There is a guest book in their little guest house and, when I leafed through it, I discovered that people from all over the country from all walks of life have stayed here. They refuse to take any money “because then people would have expectations” joked Andy. 🙂
Last night Andy emailed me his journals from all four bicycle trips and I spent an hour this morning reading through his incredible adventures. So inspiring. Again, he did his cross country bicycle ride when he was 57!!!!
I’m heading west from here this morning. But first I’m stopping over at Andy and Dottie’s house. They insisted on having me join them for breakfast and Andy wants to show me some of the projects he’s working on at his house.
PS – A somewhat similar meeting took place back in Georgia. I was in the middle of nowhere coming up a long hill and man was coming out of his driveway in a brand new S.U.V. I looked up on the hillside and saw that he apparently had a large home on a huge lot in the middle of nowhere. As he rolled to a stop to look both ways before pulling out onto the small two lane road, he saw me, rolled down his window and smiled. “Where you heading to?” he asked. When he heard I was heading for Los Angeles, he laughed and said, “I road cross country about ten years ago.” We chatted and exchanged stories before we went our separate ways.
I feel so lucky that I just bumped into these two gentleman in the middle of nowhere, both of whom rode cross country and shared their experiences. I spend quite a bit of time trying feebly to explain what this cross country journey is like. And it was fun to chat with folks who have done it and know just how fun an adventure it is. The campfires, the long straight roads, the wonderful people you meet, the challenges and the joys. It’s such a gift to have the opportunity to take a journey like this and anyone I’ve ever met who’s done a long distance cycling trip is always very grateful and says it’s the best thing they’ve ever done.