This is the Good Stuff

Today was perfect. 75 degrees. Breezy, but not windy. Sunshine.

We rode 77 miles and ended the day with energy. Lots of it. This, this is the good stuff.

There has been lots of good stuff. There was the McDonald’s in Mitchell, Indiana where it seemed the retired community gathered every morning. One woman, clad in a visor, elastic pants, and white tennis shoes could not get over how delicious her egg sandwich was, commenting on “just what a good job they do here.” Her friend was listening intently as she licked her ice cream cone. At 7:15am. Her friends give her a hard time for the early morning indulgence, to which she replies, “I need to get my calcium and I just love it.” Yes, lots of good stuff.

There was the afternoon we battled wind in a very hot sun. We were pulled off to the side of the road to catch a breath. A pick up truck drove by, rolled down his window, “you ok?” “Yes, yes,” we replied, “just resting.” Then a minivan came by. Same question. Then, not even 2 minutes later, a third car stopped to check on us. People are nice.

There was Tom, heading out for the morning when we biked up to his farm. He had a hospital bracelet on, and looked weathered. We asked if we could borrow some of his shade. We chit-chatted about the weather and our bicycle and why we were riding. He laughed at us crazy fools for biking all this way “for politics?!” He drove off leaving us in the shadow of his tree and to play with his tractors.


There was the time I got stung by a bee. Doesn’t seem like something in the “good stuff” blog, but the thing is I got stung by a bee and it just was not a big deal. I have feared bees like the plague ever since I was a kid. I have memories of wailing post bee sting and the whole medical ordeal they would become—gotta get the stinger out. But, on the road, you get stung by a bee, you jump around a bit, and then you just keep pedaling. And man, that is freeing.

There was the Thai food lunch in a small Missouri town where I had the following conversation:

Cashier: How far have you ridden?

Me: From Cincinnati, Ohio.

Cashier: Holy shit, I could never do that!

Me: Do you ride a bicycle?

Cashier: The last bike I had I sold for drugs. But that was a long time ago. I don’t do drugs or bike anymore.

Me: collegial laughter

Cashier: Why are you riding?

Me: We are riding for criminal and juvenile justice reform. We believe that all people should have rights and that even when you are swept up into an often unfair system,  you should be treated with dignity and respect. [Insert an extended soapbox speech].

Cashier: I’m all for helping juveniles, but criminals are criminals. They don’t ever change.

Me: Wait… didn’t you just tell me you sold your bike for drugs?

A productive conversation ensued. He went on to post about our ride to his restaurant’s Facebook page.

There are also the sights of the back roads. Like…who knew there was a giant 90-foot cross at the confluence of the Mississippi and Ohio rivers?? I for sure didn’t. Take a minute and marvel:


There is so much good on the road. Most of it simple, hard to adequately capture in words on a page. Pictures barely do it justice.

It’s in the deputy sheriff Larry who invited us back to Dyersburg, TN for a visit anytime.

IMG_0225_2 IMG_0226_2

It’s in the American flag plates.


It’s in the building with a door, but no walls.


It’s in the restroom with two toilets. Who needs stalls?


It’s in the waves of the passersby, the nice long downhill, the moments of uncontrollable laughter, the dogs that are too tired to chase us, the elegant movement of the bicycle when we are in that flow. It’s in the unknown. So much good. And so much more to come.

We are past our halfway point. And today I got my first tinge of sadness that it’ll come to an end (I think because I finally had a day where body pain was only at a low grade ouch). Riding through this beautiful, troubled country is a privilege. And as much as there is to complain about, more often that not what I am feeling is a whole lot of good.

Also good is knowing that this ride isn’t just for us. Read the most recent guest blog post to learn more about some of the important work our ride is supporting.


Add yours →

  1. Thank you for keeping this blog up to date when you would surely rather be resting. You two are doing a great job on so many fronts, and it’s a joy to travel along with you. It was particularly joyful today. Best wishes for another perfect day (bee stings and all). Love to both of you –


  2. Jessica-
    I am so excited about what you and your dad are doing, it’s really fantastic. Thank you for taking this ride and spreading the word about criminal justice reform. You and your dad are doing amazing work.


  3. Bonnie Neumeier May 13, 2015 — 4:38 pm

    Jessica and Al
    Yes, good stuff on this ride. I commend you for all the conversations you are having on your journey. That’s what it is all about. Meeting people where they are in place. Continue to have a safe journey for justice.
    Your Sister in the Struggle,
    Bonnie Neumeier


  4. This blog is ‘good stuff’. Your ride sounds great. I don’t think my dog would chase me more than a few metres though!


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