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1998 Finale & Trip Summary

May 31, Sunday
We went out to dinner with Don & Carolyn last night which was our "last supper" on the ADT. Now we definitely have to get a grip on our eating habits! They were outstanding hosts and didn't seem to mind getting up at 4:30 AM to get us to the Amtrak station. The train turned out to be an hour late and we boarded by 6:50 AM. This time, instead of boxing our bikes, we stored them in one of the passenger cars, just like extra luggage. They do have hooks installed so you can hang the bikes from the front wheel, but they are positioned wrong and the handlebars and wheels stick out into the aisle. Taking them this way, it costs $15 per bike, but we didn't have to hassle with the boxes and taking off the handlebars and pedals.

The train ride was pleasant, especially the ride through the New River Gorge. We worked on our journal and on some of the state trail descriptions. We were met in Charlottesville by Tom and Gretchen Morgan who drove us home to Lynchburg. We talked to our son, Mick, Sunday evening and he assured us that Kristin's pregnancy was going to endure another week or so as there was no change so far.

Well, on Monday morning, Mick called at 10 AM from the hospital in Richmond to let us know that Kristin had gone into labor and was going to deliver some time that day. At the monthly meeting of the Central Virginia Mountainbike Association last night, our cell phone rang and Laurie went out of the room to answer it. It was Mick letting us know that our first grandchild was born at 7:45 PM. Mom and the new baby boy are doing fine and we will go see them on Thursday. So, our early arrival back in Lynchburg and the earlier than expected birth of our grandchild is just one more example of "Trail Magic"!

Summary and Finale — 1998

It's difficult to summarize this year's trip without comparing it to last year's coast to coast journey on the ADT. Both adventures should stand on their own merits but a few comparisons are necessary. The main difference is that last year we spent six months on the Trail, this year it was just over six weeks. This made the pre-trip preparation and planning far simpler. We already had the bikes and gear and 5,000 extra miles of riding experience. This year, the entire route was ridable and there were no backpacking sections, therefore, the problems of switching between riding and backpacking were eliminated. And, largely due to this, we rode continuously from Denver to Cincinnati, unlike last year where we skipped around a bit.

This year, since we started our trip seven weeks later, we missed a lot of the spring rains and cold weather. In fact, we encountered rain on the trail only three times and of those times, we used our rainjackets only once. There were no days below freezing unlike last year and there were only a few mornings when the temperature was below 40 degrees.

Wind, however, was a totally different story. Last year, riding east to west, and maybe we have selective memories here, we only remember about 10 days in six months where headwinds were a problem. This year, riding west to east and mostly in Nebraska and Iowa, we recorded 19 days where our daily average was less than 11 mph. This is probably the best indicator of how consistently bad our winds were. On the colder days it caused our sinuses to run continuously, our faces were windburned, and the general level of fatigue wore us out and consumed much of our energy. Perhaps some of this spring's weather patterns can be blamed on El Nino. We do feel that the winds would have treated us better if we had started our ride a week or so later.

The terrain we traveled on the northern route is much kinder to the bicyclist than the southern route. Northeast Colorado is very flat compared to the part of Southeast Colorado between Canon City and Colorado Springs where we gained and lost 4,000 vertical feet in elevation in two days.

Nebraska is similar to Kansas in terms of hilliness. The hills are in the eastern part of both states. Iowa is comparable to Missouri except that in Iowa we rode on 10 different short trail systems and in Missouri we rode on one long one, the Katy Trail. The mileage in Iowa is far longer than Missouri. Northern Illinois and Indiana are essentially flat while the southern sections are very hilly. Southwest Ohio was surprisingly hilly.

This year's trip was fun but it was not as much of an adventure. Unlike last year, we pretty much knew what to expect. There was much less anxiety since we had encountered similar terrain, towns, and conditions last year. Also, many of our nights this year were pre-arranged with trail supporters which meant less exploring on our own.

We had favorite parts in each state. In Colorado we liked the city of Sterling and the many small towns, each with their own cafe and friendly colorful characters. In Nebraska, we liked Lake McConnaughy, the canal roads, following the Oregon Trail, the towns of North Platte, York, Valparaiso, and Lincoln, and our surprise invitation at the Carter Ranch.

In Iowa, we made numerous friends of the trail supporters who hosted us. All the local trail initiatives by volunteers and county agencies are exemplary. Towns of particular interest to us were Silver City, Atlantic, Audubon, Adel, Slater, Cedar Falls, LaPorte City, and West Branch. We enjoyed riding on some of the longer trails like the Wabash Trace, Raccoon River Valley Trail, Neal Smith, and Cedar Valley Nature Trails. Staying at the Garst Farm Resort in Coon Rapids was a real treat. We did more newspaper interviews in Iowa than in any other state.

Illinois' canal history was interesting and the Illinois and Michigan Canal was an excellent riding experience. It is comparable to Maryland's C&O Canal, but shorter. There was great hospitality from trail supporters and we enjoyed the towns of Geneseo and Frankfort.

In Indiana, our stay in Roselawn was one of a kind. We liked riding on the many paved rural roads and the towns of Peru and Richmond. Our only hike on this trip in the Whitewater Gorge of Richmond was refreshing.

Our short stay in Ohio was memorable for scenic rural roads, a short paved bike trail, and our finish in Elizabethtown with Paul and Lois Daniel.

Both last year and this year, wherever we went, the people we met were proud of their hometowns and anxious to show us what their area had to offer. Whether we were in agricultural farmland, rugged mountains, desert, or canyon lands, people bloom where they are planted and they appreciate what they have. One small exception to this may be the teenagers we talked with who almost uniformly stated "There's nothing to do here." It is this diversity and pride that we enjoyed witnessing, which renews your faith in America's strengths, and which makes travel on the ADT such a rewarding experience.

We thank all the state coordinators, trail supporters, overnight hosts, and all those who work or volunteer to improve our country's trail system. You are all making a difference to improve the quality of life in your own communities and for those who travel on the American Discovery Trail. We hope you have enjoyed traveling with us via these journals and perhaps our narrative will encourage you to take your next hiking or biking adventure on the American Discovery Trail.

For those who were added to the mailing list late in the game, all our journals are posted at, at, and on America Online under keyword "Backpacker", then click on "Campfire". To keep up to date on the latest ADT news and legislative action, you may wish to subscribe to the ADT-L mailing list. Instructions to do that are posted on the ADT Society website at Finally, we again appeal to those of you who are not members but who are interested in trails, to join the American Discovery Trail Society. It's a fledgling organization and needs your support. To rceive a brochure and membership information, just call 1-800-663-2387.

© Copyright, William & Laurel Foot, 1998, Lynchburg, VA.
The Happy Feet

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