Miles: 38.7 (cycling) Steps: 12,028 (it really depends where I keep my phone while cycling! Vertical gain: 717 ft. Liquid consumed: 120 oz. Wildlife: Cattle, sheep, a few of each along the road Faith in Humanity: nice people at the hotelreally were concerned that I had a good stay, I appreciate their genuine concern. Sadly, that’s pretty rare a lot of times. Another crazy solo adventure today! First I ate breakfast at the hotel consisting of toast, cereal, honey buns, a blueberry muffin, and some OJ. Tasty! The woman was like: you really should write us a 5 Star review online. It sucks that the world (or maybe just America) is now so concerned with the star rating of everything. I mean, it’s a hotel that’s less than $40 a night. If you really have high expectations shouldn’t you spend more money? Shouldn’t we try to focus more on the positives rather than being critical of every minute detail? Sure, it’s important to acknowledge reality, but are we really supposed to be a fake version of Gordon Ramsay? I’m sure he’d rip apart every aspect of the all you can eat place, but you know what? It was awesome! The people were nice, there were tons of dishes and it was offered at an affordable price! 5 stars! Rant over. Out into the cold and onto my bike. Quite cloudy and it actually snowed on me a little in the first hour of cycling or so. Quite windy, too, but thankfully a tail wind. First 15 miles on a frontage road, mostly downhill but a lot of rolling terrain as well. Up next? Interstate 15! Oh yeah, cycling on the highway! Only for 15 miles or so, can’t be so bad, right? First few miles were great. Powerful, strong tail winds kept me cruising fast in the wide shoulder. Oh wait, what’s wrong, why is the handling weird? Flat tire! I pulled off the highway and now the wind was strong. It’s funny that when a tail wind is right behind you it’s almost silent. When you go against the wind though, it’s harsh and cold! Take the Panniers off, flip the bike over, take off the wheel, find the hole; it was easy this time as it was a big metal staple in my tire. Get the tire levers and pry off the tire. Get to the tube. Find the hole and patch it. 2 holds in this case. Reverse the order, putting everything back on the bike. Back to the highway, ride for 2 seconds: tire completely flat again. Repeat the whole process finding the initial patch he has failed! Patch it again, this time it worked. Back on the road. Enjoy the tail wind. Something else is off. Something is rubbing. What the hell? Seems like it’s the brakes. I mess with them a bit but give up and just completely disconnect the rear brake. Not exactly ideal on a long downhill along an 80mph speed limit interstate, but whatever... now the damn fender is rubbing! Badly. I stop and mess with it several timesS. I made it better but didn’t fix it. I make it off the interstate. That’s nice at least! But now, the road shifts east so the wind is not a tail wind, but a very strong cross wind. Kind of scary, really! I’ve gotta stop and fix my bike. I made it a few more miles and find a hotel. Not too expensive so I go for it. Woman at the front desk was really nice, thanks for being cool! I’m not sure I’ve had a conversation longer than 30 minutes in almost 4 weeks: life on a solo journey on an obscure route in Winter, I suppose! I remove the fender and decide to just trash it. Don’t really need a rear fender anyway... then I examine things closer: I broke a spoke and the rear wheel is badly out of true. I find a bike shop: 20 miles away. That’ll be my destination tomorrow for sure! I’m honestly a bit worried if my bike will make it that far, but I’ll give it my best and I guess try to get a ride if all else fails. Super trying day today. One reason I love hiking is that the piece of equipment you’re most dependent on is yourself. Sure, my tent broke and my sleeping bag isn’t warm enough, but I can still survive. On a bike it’s great to cover more ground, but you’re incredibly reliant on your bicycle. If it breaks, you’re SOL. Frustrating. Another thing you have to rely upon: that all cars not only need to see you, but in many cases they need to move a bit to safely pass: a bit dangerous. Another observation: bike touring is expensive! With a bike that’s not capable of off road travel, in order to camp for free you have to just push your heavily loaded bike off the paved road and kind of hide. Not ideal, and not that many opportunities in many cases. Therefore, I end up staying in hotels way more than I’d like. They expensive and unneeded. Anyway, I’m going to keep going for sure, but I really questioned things today. Should I just get a car and drive to all the National Parks between here and Florida and hike a ton inside the parks themselves then start hiking again in early spring in the Appalachian Trail? Should I get a job for a couple months or should I do something else? The decision made today is to keep on going, but I think I may explore these options. I’m not sure I’m going to enjoy a bike tour all the way to Florida, but nothing has been determined. I’m not giving up by any means, but who knows, I may change some aspects of my trip. Time will tell. I also want to make sure I share the sometimes incredibly challenging reality of this trip!