Biking for Discovery

We're biking across the United States to raise money for Gallaudet University's Personal Discovery Program, a 501(c)3 charity. If this is your first visit, please read our welcome page and how you can help page.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Riding a Motorcycle Across the Country

I rode my motorcycle 500 miles in the rain today. A few years ago I
sold my old bike, not because I did not want to ride it, but because
it was damaged by some neighborhood kids and I gave up trying to fix
it. I missed that bike and have wated to replace it since the day I
sold it. I finally decided to buy a new one (well new to me, 2005
Honda VTX1300c candy red). I have had it a few weeks and it is just as
exhilarating as I remember it being. Now that I got the hang of riding
again, I began my journey of 2,690 miles from Los Angels to
Washington, DC.

I'd like to say this an epic journey of a lifetime but actually this
is the second time I've done this. I remember only feelings from my
last trip along with a few details. Today, several details came
rushing back into my head, like the wind rushing to chill my bones,
finding every seem and gap in my armor as I careened down the highway
at 89 miles per hour. Thankfully my subconscious mind forced me to
make some wise choices on gear. As I was outfitting this trip with
things like floor boards, throttle locks, and snow board pants I was
wondering if it was all really necessary. I spent three hours in the
pouring rain, then a few in the blistering sun, all the time fighting
high winds, all on the first day and all endured with only mild
discomfort. I'm glad at least one of my minds remembered the important

I wear a red skull mask and black worn leathers, honestly I'm a bit
scary and I'm not very approachable. I guess at one of my gas stops I
looked pretty friendly though. Another biker dude came over to ask
about my bike and tell me about his VTX1800 at home. Today he was
riding his Honda goldwing, the yupy gold standard of motorcycle
touring. Dude was all decked out in gadgets and gizmos and tech
clothing. Translation, totally not threatening, but, he was a nice
guy. I warned him about the rain in LA. He told me to look out for
floods Midwest. It was like something out of a fantasy novel. Two
strangers meet on the road and trade news before they move on. So cool
that this tradition is still alive with today's hightec Internet

I went in to pay for my gas and there was a group of French tourists
inside talking to each other. I overheard the clercs complaining
because, they had no idea what the group wanted and one clerc wished
she spoke French. I tuned I to the tourists to pickup on what they
wanted. Just as I got it, the dude clerc makes some stupid comment
like they should just learn English or stay home. Thankfully the
tourists did not fully understand him.

Thankfully also he did not understand me when I called him an A-Hole
in French. I showed them what they were looking for and chatted a few
minutes. My French production is not great but my reception is pretty
good. They were a group of friends touring the USA together. They were
from some town I. Southern France.

The girl clerc was amazed this random dirty biker guy just buste out
with French. She asked where I learned French. The dude clerc replied
"in school DUH". He said it with a bad attitude too. Just to be mean,
I looked at her and said "actually I learned it by going to France and
finding people without attitudes to talk with me". That shut him up. I
left her with a suggestion to buy Rosetta stone.

Before and after that stop I had no other human interaction. Unless
you count the bikers salute. If you have ever ridden on a cruiser for
a long distance, then you know what I mean by bikers salute. I'm not
sure it has a name but that's the name I'm giving it. Interesting
phenomena is that the same thing happens on road bicycles. Maybe
that's why I'm drawn to these two activites. There must be a similar
thread that differentiates cruisers and road bikes from other two
wheel adventures.

I'm in Flagstaff, AZ now. I whimped out and got a hotel. I'll be up
early tomorrow to hit the road again. Perhaps tomorrow I can push past
the 500 mile mark.


Thursday, June 14, 2007

Tired of posting

Ok to be honest this whole posting everyday is starting to feel like work.
So I will keep it short for now. I am still working on getting access to a
computer here. After I do get access, I will do some cool stuff with our

Until I do get access to a computer I think my posts will be tapering off.
It was much easier when Heather and I were taking turns posting. Doing
this everyday is kinda lame. I wish I knew how those other people blog
everyday on stuff.

If I do not get a chance to post again before saturday I want to tell my
brother Alex (the wizard behind the curtain) congratulations on his
graduation from UCLA this Saturday.


Feeling better today

Seems like Heather is fast asleep now. I did nudge her and ask if she was
going to post tonight. I believe her response could be interpreted as "I
spliftid ashblook allik" or something along those lines. I assume that
means no, so folks, looks like you get to listen to me some more. For some
of you that may be a treat and for others, well you can just close your
eyes until you get to the end of the post so you don't have to read the
stuff I am writing. WAIT! Before you shut your eyes, at least go to this
link. We are famous on the front page of Gallaudet's website. We are
super stoked to be there and the article written about us is really top


I am feeling much much better this morning. It was touch and go last
night. I did consider on several occasions going into the hospital. I
just focused on getting hydrated and staying that way and I was just about
up to 100%. I was very careful of what I ate today, mostly a liquid diet
followed by solid foods this evening, which seemed to mostly agree with me.

Thankfully, we spent most of the day working indoors learning some new
activities. Today we worked with a deck of cards and had to do different
tasks, like place them in order and by suit while working in groups of 6.
After we had a discussion on how and why our timing improved over the
different times we did these tasks. You see, discovery is an offshoot
(further refinement may be more accurate) of a program developed by Kurt
Hahn. The original name used for these programs is Outward Bound.

Some of you may be familiar with the Outward Bound programs. With
Discovery we like to further the learning process through several
innovations we call generations. There are four total that I know of. The
first generation is to provide the activity and let the individual figure
out for themselves what they want to learn from it. This is the original
Outward Bound philosophy. The second generation involves a direct
discussion about what the person learned from the activity, this focuses
on the activity itself and does not talk about broader applications. The
third generation discussion leads into how this activity and learning can
apply to ones life and the choices we make everyday. The fourth generation
involves how all of this learning relates back to nature and life in
general. I do not have a firm grasp on the fourth generation which is one
reason why I am here, to learn more. The great thing about Discovery is
you never stop learning from those around you.

You can see an example of a discussion using the first three generations
(mentioned above), by reading a recent posting here. Look for the post
entitled "Things you learn on the road," I spoke about the importance of
hills. After reading this paragraph, I suggest you go back and re-read
what I said about hills, you will have a better understanding of what I am
talking about, both in the posting about hills and in the paragraph above.

It was in Discovery and working with Jean Berube that I was able to
recognize the importance of these observations and how they can not only
impact the way I make decisions, but also influence those around me in a
positive way. So if you are wondering why we do Discovery, think about our
hills. While being here now is not a hill for me, rather being here now
helps me to better apreciate the hills I encounter, and to understand where
I am coming from.

When we were walking back from rock climbing the other day I was having a
discussion with Carl, our instructor. I was tell Carl how a lot of people
have been asking us if we were going to ride back. I told him my standard
answer is "I am not stupid enough to go both ways, only one way". He
mentioned that I should describe myself as crazy and not stupid. After
thinking about it for a moment I explained my choice to him.

You see, crazy is what I was 3 months ago. I was planning a cross country
bicycling trip. Now it takes a crazy person to plan something like that
and implement it. Now that I have completed the trip, I know better.
After the trip, I realized I am actually stupid for just riding a bicycle
across the country. So I was crazy before, but now I am stupid but
definitely not stupid enough to go bicycling back to California.

Well I guess that's it for now. I start a program tomorrow morning early
at 7:30 am so I better get some sleep. I will let you know how it goes and
what kind of activities we do.


Tuesday, June 12, 2007

More on Discovery, Less on biking

Yes, we did it, but our adventures are not over. I still have things I
want to share about our trip. I have visions of me continuing to be a
prolific writer and having our blog be something that people look forward
to reading everyday, even though we are not biking.

I was planning on taking some time today in the computer lab here at
Gallaudet and typing up a post. Unfortunately, I am stuck in bed right now
and I don't think I will be doing much moving for the next 12 hours.

As you know, immediately after we arrived here at Gallaudet, we joined the
discovery staff for a rock climbing trip. (remember, our site is bike for
discovery... well so far we have only touched on the bike part and not so
much on the discovery part. Here is our chance to talk about discovery and
why we did what we did. Ok, enough of this and back to the point). While
rock climbing we got a chance to get to know some of this year's staff
members. As usual, it is a mixture of undergraduate and graduate students
plus Heather and I now. The group is nicely balanced with some leaning
more to the responsible side while others are a bit more mischievious.
Sort of like Heather and I, guess which side I fit with. Heather and I had
two difficulties while rock climbing that are directly related to our
cycling. First, Heather is still using her cycling shoes. She found it
difficult to climb with a steel plate sticking out of her shoe. I made the
comment that her shoes stick to the rock face like a hot stick of butter on
glass. I think that aptly describes the situation. The second issue we
had is that riding all day everyday on our bicycles has left our upper body
woefully neglected. Or, in other words, we have weak little twiggy arms
now. Regardless, we still had a good time.

I have been making a conscious effort to reduce my food intake now that I
am not burning 6,000 calories a day. Luckily for me, McDonald's has
stepped up to the plate and really helped me out in this area. On our way
home from rock climbing, at Maryland's Rock State Park, we stopped at
McDonalds for dinner. Being health conscious I ordered the Sante Fe Salad.
Afterwards, I did not feel very well but I decided that was just because I
was tired and sore from working my arms so much. Turns out I was wrong.

Shortly after we got back to Gallaudet I ran to the bushes and became
violently ill. What a great way to get to know the other staff members.
"Hi, my name's Dana, nice to meet you... *RALPH*!" Needless to say, I was
a bit embarrassed but that was tempered by the fact that I felt pretty
awful. Of the group of staff members, I am the only one who is hearing
this year (excluding Jean, who is the director). So while I am holding
myself up with one hand trying not to keel over into the bushes being
violently ill, a few of the other staff members were asking me questions
out of concern. Things like "Do you need some water?", "Are you ok?", "Are
you throwing up?", and "Do you want us to stop talking to you now?" To
which I answered no, no, yes, and yes, respectively.

Well lucky for me, this trend continued throughout the night. I was able
to eat some eggs and OJ for breakfast this morning, but every thing went
down hill after lunch. So I would lke to thank McDonald's for helping me
to reduce my caloric intake so quickly. Nothing curbs an appetite like

Thankfully, Jean arranged for us to have a dorm room that Heather and I can
share. This has given us a place to settle into while we are here for
staff training.

Today in staff training, we spent the day painting and repairing some old
equipment. I spent my time moving very slowly setting up some rappels and
belays from a forty foot tower. I was depressed to see I had forgotten
something. Thankfully Jean was there to refresh my memory. I hope it was
just because I was not feeling well but every time I looked over the edge
of the tower I got a little dizzy.

For those of you who have no idea wat a rappel or belay is, I will explain.
Basically, they are the same thing, it just differs in who has control. A
rappel is when you have a rope attached up high and you slide down that
rope that's is attached to a harness, using some kind of braking system to
slow your descent. A belay is the same thing except your climbing partner
or instructor has the braking system and you are lowered by them.

When we set up drops off the tower at the ropes course we always have a
rappel for the climber and a belay for safety. That way, if the person
sliding down the rope forgets to brake, then the instructor can use their
brake, and no one gets hurt.

Well I think my stomach is entirely empty now and I am feeling just a bit
better. Heather went to the vending machines here and got me a ginger ale
and some crackers. I am going to end this post here because I will attempt
to eat them now. If they do not agree with me, I would rather not have to
come back and type some more.

Goodbye for now. Keep checking in because after I get to a compuer I will
write a post with some pictures demonstrating how our weight distribution
changed through the trip.


PS: we did not even touch the bikes today!

PPS: I just wanted to point out again that on Saturday, I biked 117 miles
to get to Alexandria in a day. That is the furthest I have biked in one
day this entire trip and I wanted to brag one more time. So toot-toot goes
my own horn, I'm done now, thanks for listening.

Monday, June 11, 2007


We bicycled from Los Angeles, CA to Gallaudet University in Washington, DC. The feelings we have right now are indescribable. Someone asked us how we felt, and all we could say was "wow... wow!" The Discovery team was there to greet us, and it was a beautiful ending to our trip. Jean Berube, the program leader, says she plans to use the funds we have raised for equipment for the rock climbing gym at Gallaudet. We can just picture that equipment being used by hundreds of kids years from now.

We want to thank all of the people who gave their support, love, and prayers. We would not have made it if not for all of you.

We will continue to post from time to time, so check back for more updates!

Dana and Heather

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Our final day of rest

Rest assured we are still living, I just wanted to clear that one up right off the bat here. Sometimes it feels like we will keel over on the road from the heat, mountain, cold, or take your pick from our many obstacles. Interestingly, someone asked me the other day if I would do this trip again. My answer was noncomittal I think because I have not given it much thought. Heather however had a great response, she said no, I have already done this trip but I am willing to do another trip that is different.

What a great way to see this journey. Yes, it is a marvelous trip with many hardships and many joys but this journey is coming to an end and if we journey again it will be something new.

In this same conversation this person asked if we were having fun. Well, if you are wondering if we are having fun please go back and read our blog from the begining and judge for yourself. At any given moment we could be having a blast or feeling miserable, the part I am looking forward to is the point when I can look back on this trip and reminisce. Looking back makes it so much easier to remember the good times and gloss over the rough times.

Well today has definitely been a great day. As you know, we are taking a day off. Less because we needed the rest right now and more for the sake of timing. We wanted to arrive at Gallaudet on a weekday in the hopes that some people would be there to great us. Today we spent the day with Jenilee and Amy, two very good friends of ours.

Most of the day I watched movies. We also had some shopping to do. We hit Costco for some basic socks and stuff. We also stopped at the Goodwill because I needed some dress clothes to get some work in the area for the time we are here. Heather and I have used Goodwill in the past as well. It is sort of like buyiing disposable clothes. You buy what you need for a fraction of the cost and if they get damaged or are not perfect that's ok, because you only need them for a limited time.

Jenilee and Amy were nice enough to drive us around to the stores. They have also been taking very good care of us by feeding us and changing us and I suppose if we asked they might even burp us.

So tomorrow we have just 10 miles left to go. Hopefully we will be able to find a place to sleep while in town. That is about all I have to say for now. Our next post should be titled: "We Made It!"


Almost there!

Louisa, VA to Alexandria, VA
117 miles

We are getting so close to the end, and while I can't wait to get it over with, there's a part of me that feels sad because I don't want this trip to be over with. I've enjoyed seeing different parts of America, seeing different animals, spending all day with Dana, meeting new people, visiting with friends and family, and seeing so much of our country.

My best friend, Jenilee and Amy came down to SAG for us, and it was a great way to finish up our trip. We will be taking a rest day tomorrow, and then will arrive to Gallaudet at 10 am Monday morning. We are so excited and can't wait to finally be able to say "we did it!"

Our clothes have taken on an interesting smell. Since we were poured on about a week ago, a lot of our clothes and equipment didn't have a chance to dry out completely. They smell a lot like mildew, sweat, and just plain nastiness. We'll wash everything tomorrow so that we'll be nice and clean when we arrive to Gallaudet.