Hey everybody, Anthony here.
I just wanted to update everyone and say that I safely made it to Atlanta! I am taking today to rest and recover from 10 days of riding – I definitely need it.
So, I made it. It definitely wasn’t easy, and there were plenty of times along the way that I thought I might not make it. But I want to take this blog post to talk about all the people who helped me along the way, because without them, this wouldn’t have been possible. On this trip, the kindness I received from people was almost overwhelming. When I first left, I brought with me a hammock, camp stove, food, and enough supplies to last me for several days of camping. I had been planning to sleep where I could on the side of the road by hanging my hammock in trees that I found and continue on riding the next day. I brought one pair of clothes for sleeping in, and one pair for riding in. My expectation was that I would go at least five days in a row without washing my riding clothes given the fact that I didn’t really have any plans for places to stay along the way. However, in total, my clothes got washed 9/10 days, and I slept in a bed under the roof of generous hosts 8/10 days.
The first night I stayed with a family member 25 miles from home, and the second night I did end up camping off the side of the road. My third night, I was able to stay with some generous hosts in Seymour, TN through a website called warmshowers.org, a place where touring cyclists can find and offer places to stay for other cyclists. Thanks to Jacquilla and William Gillette for all the advice about engineering, cycle touring, and all the stories you shared!
After the third day, I had no plans for where to stay. Day four is where things got interesting. As I was finishing off a day of riding on Sunday, I found myself in Maryville, TN with nowhere to stay. I ended up going the closest church I could find, and after the service, asking around if there was anyone who would be willing to host me. Generously, the Blevins family let me into their home, fed me, washed my clothes, let me shower, and even drove me back to where I needed to start my ride the next day. Pretty crazy for someone you met just hours before!
The next day, I was riding through Madisonville, TN, an even smaller town. This time, I met a pastor named Tim who again, offered me a place to stay for the night. I ended up wanting to get in some extra miles that day, and Tim even offered to drive me back from where I ended and drop me off there in the morning! He even gave me breakfast! (Waffle House is the key to my heart.) That day I also met Steve Self from Englewood, TN, who bought me dinner and let me rest at his house before returning to Madisonville. Again, all pretty crazy considering I was planning to sleep somewhere on the side of the road that day.
The next day, I made it to the Tennessee-Georgia border in the small town of Tennga. I was looking for a place to hang my hammock for the night, and I saw some good trees in somebody’s front yard, so I decided to go up and ask them if I could spend the night there. Not only did they let me spend the night in their yard, they also let me shower in their home, and even offered to do my laundry. These were people who I met just minutes before, but they were so hospitable. If you’re reading this Deno, thank you!
The next day, I made it to Calhoun, GA, and stayed with a contact from CCF, the campus ministry I attend at Georgia Tech. Again, a warm bed, a shower, laundry, a hot meal, and all this on just hours of notice! Thank you Mary!
The last night was also spent in the house of the parent of a friend from CCF. Food, bed, laundry, the works. You know the drill. Thank you to the Rittwegers!
This doesn’t even include all the strangers I met along the way who offered to buy me food, donated to the cause, gave me some free fruit from their roadside stand, rode along side me for several miles, and much more that I’m sure that I’m forgetting.
Okay, so this post is getting long, but to be fair, there were a lot of amazing people who helped make this trip possible. None of these people had to do what they did, but their generosity made a world of difference to me. They are the reason I made it to Atlanta, so I just wanted to thank them all.