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journal 1976: memo book IV


Aug 10 – Aug 23

Aug 10– Day 52– TUESDAY– Started about 8:45. Cool sunny morning. Jim wanted 100 miles and this looked like the last chance at a 100 mile day til the east coast, so we gave it our best shot. Didn’t eat any large meal, just small snacks, milk, chocolate. Brought ham sandwiches along from Garrettsville. Had them at Meadville in the city square. Talk to an art history student and a lawyer, took pictures of the 1st Baptist Church, a prime example of Richardsonian Romanesque.

It was fairly late, and we only had 32 miles to go for the 100. But Pa. was getting hilly too. But just keep huffing and puffing, the old wheels on the road and you can make it. Luckily the hills, though steep, were long. Now and then an Amish wagon, nice farms, hills. Nice day. Mood basically good, saddle sores hurt on surface, nothing serious, hands feeling good.

Made it into Spartansburg and had a few beers, talk to the local denizens of the bar. Can camp by the fire dept. or out by the lake. Getting dark, maybe by the fire house. Offer from Jim & June Potocki

130 Blakeslee


Pa. 16434

to have a few beers and spend the night, which we did. Nice brick house, two kids, Arissy and Andy.

Aug 11– Day 53– WEDNESDAY– Early start. Woke at 7:30, had bath, talked, went to see the local tannery, unbelievable bargains. Must come back and revisit. Had Kluski, grated 1 large potato mixed with flour (2 cups & one egg, tsp. salt) for lunch. Finally on the road at about 1:00 pm. No traffic, steep hills, nice farms and woods, valleys. But a bad bike buncle on my left cheek, must have been the hundred mile day.

Heavy traffic when we hit US 6 at Pittsfield all the way to Warren. A truck ran Jim off the road. Real Mcknights of the road. It definitely seems to be getting worse as we head east. The last 500 miles could be hell. Traffic, bike buncles. Got to do it though, even if 10 miles a day.

We made it to the Allegheny National Forest, climbed a bank into the woods.

Saw a deer in the morning, and a porcupine.

Aug 12– Day 54– THURSDAY– In the deep forest the sun cannot penetrate to wake the weary cyclist, especially on an overcast and threatening day. Had a leisurely breakfast, ported the bikes down the grade to the road, and about 11:00 were on our way. A long steady hill.

(Tried a new therapeutic attack on the bike buncle. Methiolate with bandages. The results were inconclusive.) We made it up the hill alright, stopped to have a little milk and a snickers, and Jim had a sinking spell, which was all that was needed to stir up my innate terminal slump.

We rode on a mile, had a submarine sandwich, and decided to turn back to a KOA 1/2 mile. The idea to soak the buncle in the swimming pool and shower, which I did. Hopefully the rest and soaking will help. I’d hate to give up the trip this close because of a boil on my ass.

Jim will have to leave soon, perhaps tomorrow. The nearest town with a bus station is 12 miles, and there is not another for a couple hundred miles. I’m halfway looking forward to continuing alone. Just wish the ass was better.

Aug 13– Day 55– FRIDAY– Raccoons raided the food which we left out last night. Oatmeal and Tang a complete loss. Rained later in the night. Spirits low in the morning. Jim lost $10 and we headed off toward Bradford for Jim to catch the bus. Nice ride though. Hell of a decline coming into Custer City. Started to rain as we came into Bradford. For some reason that perked me up. Went to work getting a box for the bike, getting the bike in, changing panniers, chaos spreading out over the sidewalk in front of the BlueBird Bus Station. Finally got everything under control. Jim’s bus to leave at 3:30. Not feeling so bad about going alone now. Perhaps will be relaxing. Once I get started, barring terrible spells of rain, I should whizz on through. The terrain doesn’t seem too difficult. Just hope the traffic isn’t a man killer.

Danielson’s, Dole

Mt. Jewett, Pa


As I left Bradford, a truck and a pickup within about a minute of each other made serious attempts to run me off the road. Not good for the spirits after just leaving Jim and starting out alone. Took a while to settle down. Couldn’t really enjoy the beautiful scenery. Fantastic valley. Found a campsite outside Smethport. The woman at the office was friendly, but told stories of dope, gangs, stabbings in the state and national parks, which did nothing to lessen my misanthropic mood still lingering from the incidents on the road.

Getting ready to set up my stove to cook when the trailer next door, the Danielsons, called me over to eat with them. Barbecue chicken, baked potatoes, cole slaw and milk, with donut. How can you stay in a bad mood. But the misanthropic pull remains like the afternoon haze on the Alleghenies. It’s sort of a paradox. The people seem friendly and hospitable, but the road is so hostile. No one has ever seriously tried to run me or Judy off the road, then Jim day before yesterday, and me twice within a minute. It definitely takes the fun out of riding when you expect the next truck to be aiming at you. And since you spend most of your time on the road, the hostile atmosphere wins out and carries over to when you’re stopped. Right after stopping there seems to be a large residual animosity in me. It takes awhile to accept the people’s friendliness. Another effect of this is it lessens your desire to ride and increases the urge to stop and the inertia to get back going. Right now the last 500 miles to Boston seem an impossibility. A tremendous task which I may not be able to complete. The first 3000 miles seem like nothing. Hopefully getting an early start tomorrow, maybe a good day, and I’ll feel better. I will realize it’s a road like all the rest to be travelled one day at a time. But what a game of chicken, a bike with his back to an 18 wheeler. How long can your nerve hold out. The only encouragement is the stories of other cyclists traveling this road, and no stories of any killed yet.

I’m going to the shower now, soak the old buncles, see how they’re holding up. They’ve had plenty of rest the last three days. We’ve been in the area it seems like a month. Be good to get out of it tomorrow.

Aug 14– Day 56– SATURDAY– Rained almost all last night. Pretty heavy at times. Tent held up well,but panniers pretty wet.

It’s now raining like hell in Wellsboro. I pulled into the campsite, didn’t even have the tent pitched when it started. I’d hoped to let things dry out a little tonight. Stopped at 4:30. Good thing I saw this campgrounds, the one I was headed for was 6.17 miles on past. I’d be riding in this rain right now. As it was I got the tent pitched and everything inside before it really cut loose. I draped my poncho over the panniers, hopefully that will keep them dry. I’ve got the stove, tool kit and food under the eaves of the rainfly. I hope they don’t get too wet. I don’t think water could hurt much. I didn’t have time to plan, everything was out on the table to dry when it hit without warning. It’d been overcast all day. Just a little rumble of thunder and the rain started. If it has to rain, I hope it keeps up this pattern. Rain at night. I guess I’ll have to cook in the head or in the office.

It’s been a good day, hilly for the first ten miles between Smethport and Port Allegany, then fairly easy riding with one long climb, Danton Hill, elev. 2424, before coming into Galeton.

Stopped at a Super Duper to get something to eat. Have to plan a little better, for one, I got too much.

A young girl rode along with me out of town, saying she wanted to come along. Obviously not having learned my lesson, said sure, get your pack. She didn’t have one. Riding alone isn’t so bad now. When it’s nice. Hardly any trucks on Sat. There wasn’t a single attempt on my life. The road was nice and wide too, although it didn’t have a shoulder. Maybe can make good time on Sunday too without trucks, and could possibly be out of the state by Monday night, in Mahopac Tuesday night. If all holds up, weather and the buncles. (They did great today.) So I will only be alone for 3 or 4 days at a time, at the most. It shouldn’t be more than 4 days from Mahopac to Boston.

This is really great landscape but at this point in the trip I really don’t see it that much, cycling takes too much of your attention when there’s lots of traffic. Ever now and then you can catch a panorama of forested hill, cleared of trees halfway up with pasture and cornfield on the sides, the milch-cows and barn, on stream. A gaze now and then into the dark hardwood forest along side the road, a valley below widening along a river between the ridges. But can’t really meditate, stare at it. The bike is a very technological instrument after all, requires tremendous coordination of man and machine. Too bad in a way, yet the memory of a landscape you retain after driving through on a bike is still far superior to that after riding through in a car. It may not be visual, it is visceral. You remember the hills with sweat and straining tissue, rhythmic deep breathing, the thermoclines, smells and sounds. You feel the humid closeness of the trees with your entire body. And realize in the carnage of dead frogs, chipmunks, deer, prong-horned antelope, foxes, opossum, rabbits, dogs, cats, raccoons, coyotes, snakes, in the stench and ear splitting roar of motorcycle, diesel, station wagon, automobile, what an insult technology is to all this.

The rain seems to be letting up, maybe I can cook in a little while.

Rain stopped, cooked, stove plugged up, cleaned it, sun even came out a little. Could be a sunny day tomorrow. Go take a shower and to bed.

Aug 15– Day 57– SUNDAY– Sitting in the Adult lounge, Sonny & Cher on the tube. The Endless Mt Campsite. Rain. Day started good. Got to Towanda by 2:00 just as the rain did. No campsites near, wasted an hour. It seemed to be clearing up, so I started out. Misinformation, or lack of information led to a mistake. I rode all the way to Wyalusing, asked about campsite, said one right off the highway 3 miles. What a relief. Got to the turn off and it was 6 miles, but I was already committed. What the hell. Then it occurred to me that I was backtracking 6 of the 14 miles I had come from Wysox. Oh well. It bothered me at first, but it was the first pleasant ride since the rain started, except for brief trafficless stretches. And isn’t that what the whole thing’s about. The clatter of rain in the trees, mist shrouded meadows, dairy cows being called to the barn. No traffic. It was so nice I may reroute the rest of Pa. to back roads. I’m not looking forward to the trucks on six. However, it may not be so bad after Scranton, I-84 ought to drain the trucks. Anyway when I got to the camp it was mighty lonesome. I was the only one here. But there was a rec-house where I could get out of the rain. Then the rain stopped, complete double rainbow. Sky cleared. May be the rain’s over for awhile. I may not make it to NY tomorrow. But who cares. Pushing the bike up the stony, extremely steep last 1/4 mile drive to the campsite, I had a sudden burst of reality. Dripping rain, back hurting, just me, a bike, on some strange muddy drive in the middle of endless mountains Pa. 35 years old. Nobody in the world knew I was here, and let’s not ask why.

Aug 16– Day 58– MONDAY– Didn’t make it to NY. In fact, still in Tunkhannock. It happened this way. I did reroute the trip. Stayed on 187 south through Sugar Run, Mahopany. Great. No traffic, hills not bad, road not bad. But it looks like I’m being nickel and dimed to death. Another spoke broke coming down a hill out of Jenningsville, wheel really wobbling. I tried to straighten it as best I could and continued on to Tunkhannock, hoping there’d be a bike repair there. Stopped at a station and asked Tom O., very helpful. Turns out Lewies General Repair did bikes. I called, asked if he had a small splined removal tool (of all the spokes that could break, it had to be the side with the cluster). He said yes. Tom offered to take me up, which was great. His wife Judy showed up just as we were leaving, son Daniel, daughter Tammy. We went to Lewies. Found out there are two sizes of small splined removal tools. Lewie had the wrong one. Back to town to do laundry, decided to stay in the KOA and go to Scranton in the morning, to avoid going to a bike shop just as it closed.

I stopped to get some groceries and pulling out of town, Tom came by in a car and shouted if I’d gotten it fixed. I said no, I’m staying at the KOA and will go on to Scranton in the morning.

I got to the KOA and started pitching the tent when Tom walked down the road and asked me to dinner. Couldn’t refuse. Met other daughter Tammy and niece Wendy. While eating they offered to take me to Scranton. How could I refuse.

Tom’s parents were in town for a vacation from Florida, out at a cabin. Invited me out there, hard to refuse. Might as well spend the night with them. Hell of a deal. Anyway here I am repacked waiting for them to pick me up.

Tom just retired from the Navy 2 weeks ago and returned home to Tunkhannock. He is a winemaker. He and his brother, who owns the station at which I stopped, are going to build a garage for car tuneup, front end alignment, etc. Just shows you, you never know if a broken spoke is going to be a bad thing or a good.

Tom & Judy O.

RD 1 Box 311B

Falls, PA


Went and had spaghetti with the Os, a few Genesees. Met daughter Heather. About 15-16, I guess. Attractive in her entire bearing. Seemed to be a camaraderie and freedom, coupled with discipline I’ve not noticed in other military families I’ve known. Sort of appealing I’ll admit. Then we piled out to a cabin Tom’s brother Bill owns up a valley Forkeston to meet his brother and wife Suzy, and parents Philip and Helene. Real celebrities at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary of the Audubon Society. What a character, full mustachless beard like Tom, surly, rugged, pot-bellied, ruddy, robust, loud talking, wise cracking, histrionic. Love his bourbon.

Many funny things. Polish duck call, and story of Phil wanting to go wrestling 14 foot gator out of his den. “He’d a come out. Imagine seeing me coming after im, water hyacinths in my hair” (hunching shoulders like a bear, wild angry look in his eyes, forming disheveled wreath with one hand about his head). “He’d a come out of there.” You could believe he would, but Tom had to drag him bodily out of the swamp.

Also I had to tell my story, which I proceeded to do, inspired by Tom’s homemade wine, at some length. I was in fairly good form, held them relatively bound for some time. I loved it. The old feeling of power to control an audience with your voice and mind. The timing, turn of phrase, tone and volume. I even ended up singing the Ballad of Phil Kimball. So you can see I was getting with it.

It was a great cabin. Secluded. On the way out, the deer were just beginning to filter into the fields from the mts.

What an evening. In addition to the Os clan, there was the Ks from Boston. Jim and wife, who got rather drunk on Tom’s wine and wouldn’t keep from obscene innuendoes, embarrassing Jim not moderately I feel, and Tom’s mother Margaret. Jim, Tom and Bill had all been in the Navy at the same time.

Aug 17– Day 59– TUESDAY– Up not so early, and off to Scranton to a bike shop. Found one on North Main Ave, William Zingle. Bill’s Sporting Goods. Hell of a nice man. Said here are the tools, get with it. Even showed me how to use the truing machine, I could have stayed an hour piddling I think. Told me about his 29 year old son who travels all over the world, his picture in the Mexico Vogue magazine. Asked him how much and he said no cross country cyclist has ever paid a nickel in his shop. Great guy.

Back to Tunk. Had to replace my tube, ruined it with the spoke nipple, too bad to patch. Learn expensive lessons. Put in extra, went down to the station and Tom had the local reporter there for an interview, picture. My first press. Great.

Sad to leave. Almost hoping they would suggest I stay another night and leave in the morning. But that would have been too much.

Started out, a little pressure headache under stress on hills, but weather great, US 6 had good shoulder, and my 107 bypass of Scranton was tremendous. Did great, feeling good, although a little anxious about the spokes, but the feeling of strength coming back.

Call home tonight to see what’s new from Alan’s. Great campsite on open field, Lake Waymart.

Aug 18– Day 60– WEDNESDAY– Cycling obviously addles the brain. Called Heide tonight and they are leaving on a 6 week trip west tomorrow, which she told me in a letter, as Breon had told me about Chappaquiddick, and which, in both cases, I totally forgot. Ekki is sick maybe, so they may not leave. But if they are not there, they will leave address of friends. But things continue to develop apace on the eastern hospitality front. I’m now above the garage of the Tailgarter Orchard.

Jerry & Linda Tailgarter

Steve & Greg & Karen

I asked at a grocery store where I might camp and they suggested I ask at the orchard. I pitched the tent in the orchard, etc. and Steve came out and invited me to sleep over the garage.

I took a shower, had an ice cream cone, and am now ready for bed. I’m a little sorry I didn’t get a chance to talk to the migrant workers. I passed them on the way to the orchard and they invited me to come down and talk to them. It should have been interesting. I feel a little strange about going now that I’ve been in the big house. Slipping down to the slaves quarters.

But back to the day. It was very pleasant. My route off six was brilliant and so was the day. High pressure trough fair weather. Let’s hope it holds. Really nice down 590 and another road along the Lackawaxen River, across a tall bridge built by the man who designed the Brooklyn Bridge, whose name of course I can’t remember. Down the Delaware filled with canoes and rafts, one point the highway clinging to the stone face, stone wall along the side and sheer drop off 500-600 feet to the river. Really nice.

Strange that the hospitality seems so great, yet I don’t really trust easterners, I’ll admit it. Inborn regional prejudice. And camping seems to be a problem. Although it’s been working out so far, I must say.

Aug 19– Day 61– THURSDAY– Started out early, without breakfast, everything already packed.

There was an old clock by the bed. I didn’t know it struck, and a ringing and chiming kept waking me and I couldn’t figure out in a half dreamlike state what was going on. A telephone. A signal from the fruit stand. It woke me about three hours ringing before I figured out it was the clock chiming.

Anyway, another good day except for traffic. Just too much, too many people. Every now and then a stretch of maybe 4 miles with little traffic, but never for long.

Crossing the Hudson on the Bear Mt Bridge was fun. On the other side the road wound up the granite cliff like along the Delaware. At the high point I turned off and walked over the wall to piss, when I heard music wafting up. I climb down a little farther and two men sitting right on the brink of about a 600 foot drop on an outcropping of rock, one with guitar, the other holding a Spanish song book, just honking away. Two homesick Puerto Ricans no doubt. Below the brown Hudson, two sailboats billowing down stream, green hills, and song.

Made it into Mahopac in good order, intercepted by Scott Spier, the neighbor boy, to lead me home. But it turned out, as I expected, Heide and Ekki hadn’t left yet. Which was good. Good to see them. Ekki was out seeing to the VW camper, returned after about an hour or so. We talked about computers. He’s working on improving the speed of computers, making them faster and cheaper, two properties that tend to be mutually exclusive. From our talk it seems to be the case that the concept is now rigid[?], with all work being done on the hardware technology. The binary system is the way the Lram works and that’s it. Ekki showed some skepticism toward my hypothesis that computers can be self-aware. Equating consciousness with life, or self-awareness with being alive. I explained that they didn’t have to be the same, that consciousness is merely a mechanical, electrical by-product, or product. The  power source is what gives it life, with the human rather mysterious and misunderstood, with a computer, simply a wall socket.

They are now preparing for their departure tomorrow, and I’m going to take it easy.

Aug 20– Day 62– FRIDAY–

Lee Scott

Knollcrest RR1

New Fairfield Conn.


Judy & Barbara Lincoln

135 Hayrick Lane

Commack, Long Island NY


It was pleasant to see Heide and Ekki again. Talked to Ekki more and got to know him better. The girls, Julia & Barbara, are good kids too. It seems strange for Heide to have a couple of American kids.

We piddled with the VW bus yesterday with Ekki’s new timing belt. It was set way too advanced, and he’d just brought it back from having it set. We’d get it right and then rev it up and it was too slow. Finally got it going. Then this morning I asked to see how the electric water pump works, and it didn’t, and we discovered the air conditioning didn’t work either. We dug around, finally found a mess of loose wires and a missing fuse in the engine compartment. Got out the wiring diagram, but none of the colors matched for the wires. After about an hour we figured it out, that is Ekki figured it out. Everything was finally packed, and we hit the road about 12:30.

I stopped to get film at a store with a young fife and drum corps at the door. I felt better the farther away from NYC I got.

My entry into Conn. is the most impressive border crossing of the trip so far. A small rural road that turned into one long rutted dirt road about a mile from the border, right through the dense forest. The blacktop started again at the Conn. line. It was easy to lose heart following the narrow dark shaded road, but I knew I’d made it when I hit the blacktop.

While climbing one of the extreme hills on the NY side, I broke another spoke. Luckily on the left side, and I could fix it in Sherman, Conn. I talked to Lee Scott there, who had run out of gas and coasted all the way down an extremely long hill into town. He asked me to write him when I finished.

Got to the Waramaug State Park about 5:30 or so, nice ride along the lake, but the campground was packed, so sat and waited for the ranger in charge figuring he would take pity on me, but some people walked up to ask the fellow holding down the fort a question. They seemed likable folk, so I asked if they’d let a bicentennial transcontinental bike rider pitch his tent on their lot. Turns out they and friends had two sites, side by side and said sure, come on. The Lincolns from Long Island. Both teachers, he Social Science and she a teaching nurse. Nice people. So far the friends haven’t shown up and I have the site all to myself.

When I got out the stove to cook, I discovered the valve had worked open and all the gas leaked out. I had suspected something wrong when I kept smelling gas around the bike. I looked around until I saw some young kids with a Coleman stove, and went over to borrow some fuel from them.

Things are settling down to a pleasant evening. I heard the great weather is to hold through Monday. I should be in Boston by then.

Bob & Vi Kell

Richie & Mary Rosser

Raymond (son) nephew John boy

Aug 21– Day 63– SATURDAY– Had a great birthday dinner after Richie, the birthday boy, arrived last night. What seemed strange was that none of them were from New York, but they all talked and acted like typical New Yorkers, except maybe Bob & Vi. Had great salad, Italian casserole and zucchini.

Then in the morning another late start. The weather was turning hot and muggy, in the high 80’s. I took the bypass on 219 from my original route. It went through some Conn. sky country along a lake (east branch of reservoir). Some pretty good hills. Meet a man and woman on a gigantic tricycle he’d built himself. They were pooping and falling, I think. Some problems in design. Said they were turning back. Never did say how far they’d come or how far they wanted to go. But they were loaded as if for a long trip.

I may have goofed. I was going to buy more spokes in Torrington, but got out of town on the wrong road for the bike shops. It was E. Main, and I wanted Main. Didn’t feel like going back. Not too serious. I somehow don’t think the next spoke to go will be on the side I can change anyway, so a Sunday breakage and I’m in trouble no matter what. With any luck I’ll make it.

In Scitico or Somersville, they were having a big fireones parade and blue coat march. Fire trucks streaming in from all directions. People dressed up in their blue coats and knee breeches.

Toward the end of the day I suffered a bit of a sinking spell. It had been a rough day. Hot, humid, hills, and the added touch of soft asphalt. I guess I hadn’t eaten enough. I stopped and had a qt of milk, and soon was perking up again. The nearest campsite I could find was north of Staffordville, 3 miles south of the Mass line.

Aug 22– Day 64– SUNDAY– Didn’t get started until after 11. But then I only planned on going a brief day. It was extremely hot and humid. The thermometer in Webster showed 93 degrees at 3:30. Connecticut was enjoyable, but not what I’d imagined it. No old stone bridges and houses. In fact, in some ways more desolate than Nebraska. The villages rarely had a store of any kind in them. I finally found a store in Quinebaug. But they didn’t have much. Two girls overheard and asked if I wanted cheese. They’d been camping and had some left over. So I had a qt of milk and some cheese and a large peach from the fruit stand. Then sweated on in to the Webster KOA.

It looks like I was closer to Boston than I thought, and could have made a serious effort at making it all the way today. However with the record heat, it’s just as well I didn’t.

I certainly did enjoy stopping at 3:30. Should ease on in tomorrow the last 40 miles or so. It’s hard to believe it’s almost over. The thought of the last 10 miles through Boston are a little frightening, but I can handle it. John can help me find a route with minimum traffic and hills. Maybe even pick me up. We’ll see.

Aug 23– Day 65– MONDAY– Early start, easing on down the road, trying the earthquake prevention technique on the spokes. None would break while I’m thinking about one breaking. Unfortunately I was inattentive and outside of Mendon a spoke went, and of course it was the one on the cluster side. Luckily I was right by a telephone booth and even more luckily there was a bike shop a mile on up the road. I got in and got it fixed and got 4 new spokes reserve, and started out again, a little after 11:00.

Then it was just an easy breeze on in to Wellesley. 16 at this point became a bike route, very pleasant. In fact, the whole way in Mass the road was wide and smooth. Good riding.

As seems to be the case and typical for this trip, I got to Wellesley, after trying to call Ingersoll the night before to no avail, and no one was home, and the key was not under the mat as promised, but that didn’t stop the wily cyclist. They left the glass door wide open, so entering was accomplished without even breaking. I discovered they had gone to Charlotte due to the death of Vivian’s grandfather. I called Breon at Chappaquiddick and made plans to go down there the next day, leaving the ceremonial ride to the Boston Harbor till later.


8-10 100   3064.4

8-11 44   3108.4

8-12 10   3118

8-13 32   3150

8-14 73   3223

8-15 73   3296

8-16 36   3332

8-17 36   3368

8-18 66   3434

8-19 56   3490

8-20 40   3530

8-21 70   3600

8-22 36   3636

8-23 38   3674

8-28 18   3692

3223 ÷ 56 = 57.5

3223 ÷ 42 = 76.7

3692 ÷ 65 = 56.8

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© philip kimball 2015