So we are now a group of 5, down from a group of 6 yesterday. This dynamic group operation is a side effect of the Adventure Cycling route that we are riding.
Let me explain: We are on a mapped route, for which Adventure Cycling sells great map sets. Of course, an unknown quantity of other people also buy the maps and bike these routes [as an aside: I am continually curious how many maps they sell and how many people actually bike the routes. In my experience on the Northern Tier and the UGRR, I would guess that there are maybe 25-50 groups on the route at peak season, but that is a WAG.] Thus, while the routes are by no means saturated with bikers (In my experience, only 1 in 3 store/hotel/camp clerks have ever seen people on bikes passing through), there are always other folks out there somewhere. If you get lucky (or use technology) you can run into them.
That is how we ran into Eric (another Eric, not me) and Bill. We found Eric on the internet through twitter (or rather, he found us). Shira was using the Adventure Cycling Underground Railroad hash for some of her posts and he found us through that. We met up with him in Waverly, TN and he biked with us for a day and a half, before setting off for points unknown. (Eric's blog is linked on one of the sidebars to the right)
We met Bill by chance, or something like that. Actually, we were hunting him (and his friend) for several days out of Mobile. At almost every stop we made, folks would tell us that there were two bikers just a day ahead of us (note that in some areas there are very few services, so bikers are pretty limited to particular stops). And each person would give us more information about them: how fast they were going, how old they were, etc. From what we heard, we expected that we would be able to catch up with them in a week or two, but after the first week the scent went cold. Three days ago, we were resting by a road sign on a snack break when Bill rode up. We quickly realized that he was one of the guys we had been tracking. We lost the scent because he went back to Nashville (his home), and lost his friend (who had to go back to work). So now Bill is biking with us, and is a great addition to our team. I'm not sure how long he will want to bike with us, but this sort of linking up by chance is a lot of fun.