Sam was up at 5:30am untying the bikes, so was Jon. He had spent most of the night listening to Sam's medieval alarm clock ticking away. Apparently it sounded a little like Big Ben, only louder. By the time we saw him at breakfast he was not happy, apparently the alarm was set for one hour AFTER Sam got up. We set off at 7 am and Sam rode the 1st 100 miles with us. The navigation went really well and although a lot of day 1's route had been tarmac'd and the scenery was excellent, sadly we soon figured out that 12 hours a day on the bikes could soon be the norm, and with the seat on an xr400 that's not great news. On a lighter note we saw some amazing wildlife and an incredible diversity of people from families of Mennonites riding in their horse drawn buggies, (they allow no electricity or mechanised items) to US locals in their 7 litre V8 trucks complete with gun racks and dead animals. Quite serious variety!
The highlight of the day was the slippiest river crossing in the world. Although shallow the rocky slabs under the surface were covered in green algae and as slippery as ice. There were two techniques for crossing these obstacles without falling, ride so fast that your momentum doesn't allow slippage (Jon's way), Get off the bike and push it across(Stef's way), or my way. Sam said one of us would come off, and in true form a little over exuberance saw me drinking more than I had bargained for. Typical.
Sam left us after the first 100 miles and we were sad to see him go. He had put so much time and effort into preparing our trip that to me he felt part of the team. It almost felt wrong for him to leave us without experiencing more than a perfunctory half a day. For Sam however things were clearly looking up. He had a trail to blaze and was heading east to add another section to his beloved trail through eastern Tennessee and into Kentucky. He seemed perfectly happy!!!
We all slept well that night, crashing out by 9:30pm (around 3:30am uk time). Stef was riding really well, the bikes were proving excellent choices, and the few off road miles we had done (50) were completed problem free.