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.

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.

Friday, June 8, 2007

Hot humid and a great day

We started our day looking for another road off-route that might be a more direct path for us. We found one, US highway 250, out of Charlottesville. This road intersects with our normal route but cuts about 15 miles from our trip. Luckily for us this road was also very close to a performance bike shop. Remember, we were desperately in need of some butt butter.

I called ahead to make sure they had what we needed. The nice guy on the phone told me they did have it. The one thing he failed to share and I failed to ask was that they opened at 10am. So we got there at 9:15 and sat around for 45 minutes in the heat.

Their AC was on full blast so I sat with my back against their glass front door. The seal at the bottom was not very good so I got to enjoy a constant blast of cold air up my shirt. I think they will have to clean off that door later today but man, did it feel good. We got what we needed, including Cytomax (an electrolyte replacement drink like Gatorade) and power bars. The Cytomax is tangy orange flavor and tastes like, well tangy orange, I guess it is aptly named.

We hit the road at about 10:20 and hopped on the 250. It only took me about 10 minutes and several very close calls to realize this was the wrong road to be on. I think the only thing this shortcut was getting us closer to is a trip to the emergency room. The final straw was when a huge semi truck was barreling up behind us. I was next to Heather passing her. She was on the 6 inches of shoulder available on the road. This truck behind me was fully loaded with about 10 cars stacked up. I had no where to go and I was pedaling as fast as I could. This truck driver, instead of slowing down, decides it would be a good idea to lay in on the horn. All the while he is fast approaching my trailer. Thanks to evolutionary gains in the human body my fight or flight reflexes kicked in. I was able to increase my speed just enough to get past Heather and squeeze onto the white line. The truck never slowed down and did not move over at all. We passed the truck at the next light but we were both so shaken we did not think to take any action. There was actually a sherrif about 3 cars back and in retrospect we should have flagged down the sherrif and reported the trucker.

As I said, we were both shaken up from the road (I think we tripled our close calls in that short time on 250) so we just parked in a used car lot under some shade and whipped out the old cell phone with google maps on it.

If you have never seen the google maps it is a downloadable program for cell phones and offers maps, directions, and local searches using the data connection on the phone. You can even interface the program with an external GPS unit (no, we don't have one, but cool feature). We have used this program on several occasions to find bike shops, hotels, and campgrounds.

Well, we did find a route that got us off those major roads and back on the printed map we have been using from Adventure Cycling. We used the map program one more time to find the only hotel within 40 miles of our route.

We were actually planning on camping tonight because we could not find a hotel on route. As the day dragged on we realized we were not going very far today. The weather has turned very hot today and there was a heat advisory warning people to not do any strenous exercising outdoors. I may be wrong but I think biking with 150 lbs of gear attached to you my qualify as strenous.

Our plan then was to just stop whenever we can at businesses and cool down. We also planned on drinking plenty of water. We knew this would slow us down and we would not go as far but the alternative of having a heat stoke seemed much less comfortable. The plan worked out well. While we were hot and uncomfortable, we were not overheated to a dangerous level.

Heather was sweating more today than ever before. She mentioned she wished there were some way we could express in words the condition of our clothing. I am an old hand at profuse perspiration so I will give it a go here. Imagine when you are washing your clothes and you go to move the clothes to the dryer, only to discover the power has gone out. Unfortunately, the washer skipped the spin cycle and the dryer will not work without power. These are the only clothes you have to wear and you have to go out the door quickly. So you put the hot, drenched, dripping clothing on and hope it dries at some point in the 80% humidity. Sometimes while we are pedaling, I think it is raining but eventually I figure out it is just me dripping. My favorite is when I stop and stand up straight for a few seconds. This allows the water to build up under the helmet. Then as I look down the water poors down my helmet visor in a torrent much the same as dumping a glass of water on my head. I hope that gives you an idea of the condition we were in today.

As I said, we stopped often and drank plenty. We were lucky to find this hotel here. We check the weather often and knew it was going to be hot and AC makes us more comfortable. As we rolled into the hotel (and yes, we negotiated the rate down) we got a surprise. A huge thunderstorm rolled in and right now it is a torrential downpour out there. Sure glad we are comfy here in this room.

I have have a confession to make. I have been holding out on some stories of people we have met on the road.

Let's start with the couple in the Afton Inn. They were a 50+ couple that just last year hiked 900 miles of the Appalachian trail. The wife said she would not do it again but is willing to provide support for her husband. He of course said he wants to do it again. She mentioned that most of the couples they met we split the same way as they were. And an interesting thing. She mentioned that out of most couples the women seem to gain weight while the men lose it.

Next, this morning we met a high school student waiting for the bike shop to open. He just graduated 8th grade and had the day off. I assured him that biking across the country is not that difficult, you just have to start and then keep going until you are done. He was the one that gave us the heads up on the heat advisory (thanks man). I hope we have inspired another bicycle tourist.

Finaly tonight as Heather was checking into the hotel this guy walks up to me and say "man you are living my dream". I find that to be inspiring because I am living my dream as well and it is nice to know others dream as I do. We talked for a bit. I explained about the cost and requirements of bicycle touring. He has done some trips on his own out to Ohio and I think North Carolina. Well, my friend, we did it and so can you.

Tomorrow Jenilee (Heather's best friend) will meet us and grab our gear for us so we can shoot on a head. I have reevaluated our route for tomorrow and I think I can cut a few miles from the route the map suggests by taking one road all the way to Fredricksburg, VA. If I really push it hard and the heat is not too bad I may make it to Alexandria, VA.

I am actually awake now and not about to pass out so that is a nice change. I attribute that to the easy 55 miles we did today. Tonight we are at the only hotel in Louisa, VA. Good night/morning/afternoon to you all. Thanks for the comments, we love to read them and help us to smile through the punishment all day thinking back on what you have said.


Beautiful Virginia!

Afton, VA to Charlottesville, VA
30 miles

Since there are no hotels or campgrounds for the next 50 miles, we had to cut our day short and only do 30 miles today. But I think it was nice to have a half-day of rest to recover from yesterday's grueling ride.

Yesterday, we met a cyclist traveling from Virginia to Oregon. He was a 60 year old guy, but he looked much younger than that. I hope that when we get to be his age, we'll have the wisdom to buy an RV and travel the country that way!

Dana seems to not like Virginia, although I have found it lovely. Except for the rain, I find the rolling hills and friendly people make this a great state. It could also be that this is the last state we'll ride through, so maybe that has something to do with it.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Things you learn on the road

Hotel rates are negotiable:
Every hotel except one has lowered their rates for us when we ask for a
discount. In one situation I walked accross the street and said "that
hotel over there offered me $30 for tonight, I would rather stay here. If
you can come close the their rate we will choose you. I don't care how but
it is up to you if you want our patronage" we got the room for $32 at a
much nicer hotel.

There is always another hill:
This is more a metaphor for life as well as a literal statement. No matter
how high you get or what your surroundings, there will always be another
hill just around the corner. While the big hills are daunting and obvious
obstacles, sometimes it is the small hills that hit you over and over again
that can really wear on you. Just remember there is no hill that you
cannot either conquer or go around. One more thing to keep in mind is
there are two perspectives on each hill, one from the top and one from the
bottom, each offering their own unique challenges.

BoB can be kept stable at high speeds:
A little trick I learnded to keep BoB from jumping around at high speeds
downhill. If I lean the bike to one side but maintain a straight path down
I am able to exceed the safe speed limit on BoB by 13 mph (been up to 38
mph so far) yet still maintain control and stability. It requires a little
balancing act but the process feels safe to me and has increased my
pleasure on downhill runs.


Everyone who likes the commonwealth of Virginia raise your hand

Let me tell you about some of our experiences in Virginia. Coming into the
state, up to the welcome to VA sign, we were going up a steep hill. Okay,
actually we were still in the Appalachian Mountains. That has continually
been the theme here.

Remeber Kentucky when I commented how the roads curve but do so in the
attempt at maintaining a level surface or easy grade. Seems all the smart
people moved to Kentucky. Virginia, in contrast, has winding roads but
they seem to do so in the attempt to locate every small hill possible.
This gets kind of ridiculous as you go down a road and travel up 100 feet
then down 100 feet, up 100, down 100, 100, 100, you get the idea. I feel
like someone should introduce the concept of grading to the Commonwealth of

What's up with the name "Commonwealth" anyway? I mean, seriously is this a
state or a just a group of people sharing money? But I digress, let me tell
you more of our wonderful VA experience.

As you go further East the humidity increases and VA seems to have reached
a pinnacle in our trip. We have been more hot and more uncomfortable here
than any other state. And of course with the heat and humidity come the
bugs of all color shapes and sizes. Nothing motivates one to ride faster
than trying to out pace the insects. In fact, today we were swerving all
over the barren road like a couple of drunk college students just trying to
avoid killing the caterpillars crossing the road.

The heat kept up on us until it rained then we froze our sore butts off.
Now the rain has cleared up so we have more heat to look forward to. Which
would be so bad if we did not have to constantly keep on guard on our bikes
from passing cars.

To start with so far every place we have been we get friendly waves from
oncoming and passing cars. Sometimes they initiate it, sometimes we do,
but the results are always uplifting. That is, every state but Virginia.
Here about 1 in 10 will wave back, the rest glare at us through their air
conditioned windows. Glares and stares I can handle but that is not the
only down side to being on the roads here. We have had more close calls
with cars here in VA than our whole trip combined thus far. I don't know
where they think we can move to since the winding hilly roads here do not
have any shoulder to ride on.

Did I mention we have yet to see a flat road here? I think VA may not know
what flat looks like. So if there must be hills you would think they would
at least make them straight. If they did attempt that then they must have
been using non-Euclidian geometry (I think I spelled that wrong).

Look back at the title of this post. Do you think my hand is up. Well in
the interest of suspense I will let you figure it out for yourself. Some
good things have come out of this state. For example, we have several
friends in VA (hi Jenilee and Amy) close to DC and my mother was raised in
Mclean VA (I did not want this to be an all ranting post).

Good news: we made it up the last big climb. We spent a good portion of
the day yesterday stressing over the hill. Our maps, while good at keeping
us on course, are woefully deficient at describing climbs and terrain. So
all we had to go by were the numerous comments from cyclists coming the
other way. We were expecting the worse and were not sorely disapointed.
It was a TOUGH climb, but not our most difficult. it certianly was steep,
as steep as our steepest climb yet. It was not more steep than others we
have done, but it was longer. 4 miles of very steep uphill winding road in
the heat of the day after doing a steady uphill ride for 30 miles just to
get there. When we reached the top we were ready to enjoy the Blue Ridge
Parkway with its flat straight road along the crest of the mountain.

That's a joke folks, if you have ever seen this parkway (like all roads in
VA) the makers went out of their way to find extra hills. The motel we
planned on stopping at half way along the ridge was gone. This seems to be
a reoccuring theme in America's small towns, we noticed. So we were forced
to do the entire trek and get off the parkway.

We made it 58 miles in the mountains to the Afton Inn. You may have
noticed all this recent talk of hotels seems to differ from our earlier
travel experiences. Well remember about 400 miles ago when we were both
ready to quit and were really down about this silly bike trip. So one way
we have raised our spirits is to say (oh if you are young or are sensitive
to expletive vernaculars then don't read the next sentence, parents be
warned) "screw camping".

We are staying in hotels now and will be for the rest of the trip. Which
equates to about 2 more nights I think.

That's right you read correctly we will be there around Saturday or Sunday.
Since Gallaudet will be closed on the weekend we plan on making our big
entrance at 11:00 am on Monday morning. We will stay with some very good
friends just outside of DC (ironically in VA) for a night to rest up and do
some much needed laundry.

I am actually finishing this post in the morning. As you may have noticed
in my previous posts, I tend to doze off while I am writing the post for
the night. Not not because I am bored with them, I just want to wait until
the last possible moment to write them so I can include you, our faithful
readers, on every possible experience we have. Well, last night exhaustion
got the better of me and I passed out with my thumbs on the key pad of my
phone. So as the new day starts we are getting breakfast and eagerly
looking forward to the day ahead. Take care, I will write again soon.


Ps Sarah thanks for the offer we will for sure use the butt butter but (pun
intended) we really just want a tall glass of water and some Gatorade to
drink :-)

Wednesday, June 6, 2007


Christiansburg, VA to Natural Bridge, VA
67 miles

Today started out great, but we were exhausted by the end of the day. The weather cooperated, but just at the end of the day, the sky opened up and poured on us. Also, we ran out of butt butter, which is what cyclists use to protect their rear ends from chafing. Needless to say, our butts are very very sore tonight. As we were resting at one of our breaks, a man biked up and chatted with us. His name is Joe, and he is biking from Washington, DC, and hasn't decided where he will bike to, somewhere on the west coast.

Dana and I agree that the saddest part of this trip is all the litter we see on the side of our highways. During one break, I decided to count all the litter I could see from where I was standing. I counted 18 items, including 9 cigarette butts! How disgusting is that!? Perhaps someday, we'll bike for the sole purpose of picking up garbage wherever we go.

We saw several street names today that put a smile on our faces. Just A Mere Road was the first one we saw. Then we saw Pair Of Docs Lane, and funnily enough, I, the Deaf one, pointed out to Dana that it sounded like paradox. Another one was Off The Beaten Path. I think this is one of the many things you miss out on when you travel via the interstate.

Special thanks to all the people who comment on our blog. They really motivate us and it's inspiring to know that many people enjoy reading our blog.

Monday, June 4, 2007

400 to go

Yipee just 400 miles left to go. We met some guys today (3 of them,
actually) heading west. They reassured us that we have one more big climb
in front us then it is all down hill or flat from there on in. It is not
real until a cyclist tells you because, as we learned in the grand canyon,
never trust a local about hills.

These poor three guys we met had just climbed a daunting hill and looked
tuckered out. They mentioned they were having problems motivating
themselves. Heather and I can totally relate to that. Hey guys if you are
reading this, KEEP IT UP! The trip is well worth the bragging rights and
the looks you get on the other side from people.

For example, today we pulled into a gas station to get an ice cream cone
and a gatorade. One of the customers asked us nonchalantly where we were
from. The look on her face was priceless. It was one of those eyes
popping out of the head, step back, and let the jaw bounce along the floor
looks. Things like that really make us feel good. Later Heather told me
she did a double take when we pulled in. She was looking at the size of
my, er, um trailer and bags.

So, remember back near Zion National park when I was breaking a spoke a day
because of the weight on my rear tire? You may recall that Fred (hope I
did not mess up that name) at www.zioncycles.com rebuilt my wheel. Well
since then my wheel has stayed true (meaning straight) and no broken
spokes. Until today. Rest asured Fred's work is still holding up just
fine. Today our Beast of Burden was more like a Beast of Broken.

I broke three spokes on BoB today. Luckly the next town had a bike shop in
it. I called ahead to make sure they had the spokes I needed and he did.
The bike shope guy Dave was pretty cool. He made the spokes right there
for me and let me use his tools to replace the spokes and true the wheel.
The shop is called "the New Wheel" and is in Radford, VA on route 11 Lee
Highway and just slightly off route but worth it if you need to fix

Now here is something important you should all know about Heather's riding
skills and my confidence in her. you see, when we started I was worried at
every little thing we were doing. Going up steep hills and going down them
as well. Sprints on the flats were troublesome as well because I would
take off without her and she would not keep up.

Well folks, things sure have changed. Now she flys down the hills cutting
into the curbs. She passes me going uphill. I struggle to keep up on the
flats. She is really a very good rider now. Not just better than when we
started but a really good rider. So way to go Heather.

I heard tonight from my dad that my cousin Elissa who rode with us a few
days has started riding her bike at home. I think that's great that we
could bring this great sport into her life. Maybe we have helped create a
future bicycle tourist.

Remember yesterday when we met those guys at Applebees and they bought us
lunch? I wonder where they got their start in touring by bicycle. I guess
it really does not matter cause they are still really cool people. So
thanks again Paul Wood of Black Bear Adventures Tennesee


you rock man!

Well that's about it for now. We only have 400 miles left and we switched
maps today to a new map. We rode for 60 miles today and ended up at
Christiansburg, VA.

We hope you are all doing well, until next time we will just keep spinning
our wheels.

Rain, rain, go away!

Marion, VA to Wytheville, VA
25 miles

When we left Marion, it was pouring rain and we were soaked within minutes. We were even considering staying at a motel 4 miles from where we left. But we decided to give it our best and trudge on. We arrived to Wytheville and stopped for lunch. While we were there, we met a large group of cyclists that were heading west. They were with Black Bear Adventures, which organizes bike tours with SAG support. Paul Wood, the guy who owns and runs the business, paid for our lunch as his donation. Check out their website at: www.blackbearadventures.com.

After lunch, when we put our wet clothes back on, and realized how cold we were, we decided to call it a day and get a motel room where we could dry our clothes and warm up. A warm bed and a hot bath never felt so good in my life.

I must say that this trip isn't getting any more exciting. We are more than 90% done with this trip, and yet the end still seems so far away. Especially with all the rain that hurricane Barry is dumping on us, it really makes the days boring, dull, and excruciating. I want to be able to just pedal all day and get this over with, but at the same time, I have no motivation.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Motivation till the end

As our trip nears an end I am finding it more and more difficult to get back on the bike again. The aches and pains are nothing new. The work is about the same and the distance is decreasing. I just don't want to pedal anymore.

For the last 2 days we have taken upwards of three hours to break camp and hit the road. Maybe it is because I am enjoying this so much I just want it to go on and on. Maybe the reason I stopped 5 times this afternoon is I just wanted to enjoy the scenery. I know those are not the reasons. I just am tired of biking.

Earlier in our trip heather was having a tough time and she was ready to quit. I guess now it is my turn. Of course I recognize that we are so close and there is no way I will give up right now. There is nothing that says I have to go fast though. So I will trudge on if for no other reason than we are only 475 miles from DC and I just have to do it. Heather is stepping up with her winning attitude and helping to motivate me as well.

As I said before, when I'm on my bike I want to rest, while I rest I want to be on my bike. How confusing is that?

I think one reason I am moving so slow and unwilling to ride is the weight. Heather and I reflected today that I have not been happy with the weight ever since I took on all of her stuff. I look forward to touring some day with a light load of just 60 pounds or so.

I find the scenery difficult to enjoy. With so much weight I have to devote my full attention to keeping the bike from toppling over. There is also the problem that every breathtaking view over two months of riding becomes less interesting. To be honest, the sight would have to be VERY spectacular to catch my eye at this point in the ride.

Remember when we were in Utah and I biked through the snowstorm (well I remember it, read back a month or so to see my experience)? Because we turned to head to Cedar City, Heather suggested we continue on the current road and catch the route on up ahead. I talked her out of it saying that the route was set that way for a reason. After getting to Cedar City and then going over a mountain we ended up on the road she suggested we take. On closer inection of the map we (meaning I) realized that we could have skipped the mountain and about 100 miles if we had just stayed on that road for 10 more miles. Needless to say, I have been watching the maps more closely now.

So today as we crossed the Lee Highway and were preparing to do our third climb of the day I noticed we would meet up with the Lee highway again in about 70 miles. After a quick check on our phones using google maps I realized the upcoming mountain would be 35 miles out of our way. Not sure what the guys at Adventure Cycling were thinking setting up routes that go out of the way to climb mountains. I learned my lesson in Utah, we took the Lee Highway. The ride was mostly easy rolling hills and there were tons of service stops on the way. Maybe the mountain would have been pretty but like I said before, it would have to be very impressive for me to notice and I doubt it qualifies.

Even though we only rode 45 miles today we are still 80 miles further on the trip thanks to the Lee Highway.

We spent the night cooking dinner here in Marion, VA and patching holes in my sleeping pad. I have fallen asleep twice while writing this so good night, or morning, or afternoon, depending on when you are reading this.


ps. Mom I think the apartment would be a more comfortable place for the bed. Heather and I will make do. You do whatever you feel better with.

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Happy birthday Alex

I know I have mentioned him (my brother) many times as the wizard behind the curtains. Well, even wizards (or level 70 mages without their new mounts) must age.


Too bad for us we did not have service all day yesterday, which was his actual birthday, June 1st

For all of you reading this, leave a comment wishing him a happy birthday and thanking him for his hard work.

More to come later tonight if we get service.-dana

Lions and tigers and bears, oh my!

Breaks Interstate Park, VA to Rosedale, VA
41 miles

Last night we stayed at the Breaks Interstate Park, wich has free camping for cyclists. The park was huge, and had plenty of wildlife. There had been several bear sightings, so we made sure to hang our food in our bear bag before we went to bed. At some point in the night, I woke up to the feeling that something was rummaging around close to me. I peeked out the mesh lining of my bivy sac and came nose to nose with a snout that I could only imagine would belong to a large creature, most likely a bear! The first thought that came to mind was that I needed to get up and make myself look big and to make a bunch of loud noises to scare him off. But in my half-asleep state, I couldn't quite make my body move the way I wanted, and in my panic, I screamed in frustration and fear. Then suddenly, I woke up and realized I had been dreaming. I opened the bivy sac and looked around, just in case. Dana opened his as well and asked me what was wrong. "Just a nightmare." Whew. I made a mental note to wash my underwear real good the next morning, and laid awake for a long time before I fell asleep again.

We had someone join us on our route for a mile or two. As we were riding, a big, friendly german shepherd wanted to chase us, but since we were going uphill, it wasn't an exciting chase. So he trotted alongside of us as we rode. After a mile or so, he got bored and went back home.

We rode over two big peaks today, which were tough, but there were also some downhills in between. As we got about 10 miles from our destination for the night, it started to rain. At first it was just a drizzle, then it rained harder, then it really poured. I saw a local newspaper with an article about the extreme lack of rain they had been getting in the area. Somehow, luck doesn't seem to be on our side.

We biked for 8 hours today and only made it 41 miles so we are going really slow in these mountains. Tomorrow we have the most difficult climb in this mountain range so we are resting and will be ready to continue in the morning.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Appalachian mountains: a brief description

One frustrating thing about planning this trip was the extreme lack of information regarding the Appalachian mountain range. Like what kind of climbs there are, when the mountains start and more importantly, when they stop. Well I have been keeping track these last few days and I am going to include this information here for the next poor deluded sap that decides he (or she) wants to ride across the country.

Before I go into details with numbers and such it may be helpful to understand my pespective. We have of course recently gone through the grand canyon and part of the rockies by bike so that of course may skew my opinion. Another thing to keep in mind (and this is where my fear is based out of) is that I have previously ridden through the Appalachians.

Some of you may be aware that I have attempted to bike accross the country before. Actually it did not start off as a cross country trip. I got it in my head that I wanted to ride my bike (this was a 1979 Peugot racing bike with all original, ie racing, equipment and about 4 sizes too big for me) for a while. This decision was made Friday and I left Sunday with some cheap panniers, some clothes, survival gear, a compass, and a sleeping bag.

The trip lasted only 700 miles or so and was doomed from the start. I had not trained at all. I did not have the right equipment. I did not plan at all. Finally, I had no idea what I was doing. I gave up part way through. I did not quit because it was too hard or too far, actually I quit right after crossing the mountains. You see, going through those mountains with my equipment, took such a toll on me I ended up injuring my butt and shoulders pretty badly. So now I fear the Eastern Mountain ranges.

With todays and yesterdays climbs I am not sure if that is it or what to expect. I just know that for me these mountains are "trip stoppers".

A recent cyclist told me the mountains start in Berea, KY and go east until Christiansburg, VA (about 370 miles), actually they started 40 miles East of Berea but close enough. Thus far I have gone 180 miles and have passed 7 signifigant climbs. These are of course in addition to the normal hills encountered as well. We are currently at the Kentucky/Viginia border at the Breaks Interstate Park.

(these happened yesterday)Peak 1 peaked at 1,100 feet with about 500 feet in elevation gain.

Peak 2 peaked at 1,200 with about 500 feet in elevation gain.

(these happened today)Peak 3 peaked at 1,300 with about 600 feet in elevation gain.

Peak 4 peaked at 1,500 with about 700 feet in elevation gain.

Peak 5 peaked at 1,800 with about 1,000 feet in elevation gain.

Peak 6 peaked at 1,900 with about 1,200 feet in elevation gain.

Peak 7 peaked at 1,800 with about 800 feet in elevation gain.

hope thus helps.

Here is an intersting observation I have made about Kentucky (and West Virginia on my last bike trip) and the roads they build. You see, up until now the people designing the roads seem to think in straight lines only. If there is a hill, go over it. If the hill is too big, cut into it (but mostly go over it). Kentucky seems to think differently. If you have ever looked at a road map here, the roads are all over the place winding and zigzaging haphazardly with no apparent plan in mind.

Turns out those road builders here actually knew a thing or two about the path of least resistance. Riding through the state of Kentucky is a very zen experience. As the large mountains loom in front of you the road veers and swerves until suddenly you find yourself going around those peaks through the easiest path possible. Sometimes I have even gone down to go around a mountain (yes it did occur to me that going the opposite direction would have dissimmilar effects), but sometimes I go up as well. Even the uphill climbs meander around instead of directly attacking the peaks. You really get a feel for the land around you and appreciate unity between civilization (for the most part this refers to broken down old mobile homes) and nature. This is also a much more pleasant experience since I am biking on these easier grades and not trying to go straight through.

Today this zen-like(there should be a book called Zen and the art of bicycle maintenance, it would not be much of a stretch from the original) experience was interupted by rude drivers and mean dogs a number of times (ok 6 drivers and 8 dogs). It seems eastern Kentucky may be much like eastern Missouri in the attitude of the inhabitants. I am not sure where this aggressiveness comes from, perhaps it is a border mentality, or state loyalty, but it is not fun. I was thinking maybe the people were upset with me because I was heading out of their state. I wonder if the experience is reversed for travelers in the opposite direction. I hope I never find out firsthand about that.

Now we are in Virginia and heading into the state so I expect to see some nice people for a while. We will miss my uncle and cousin, they were two fun people to hang out with for a few days. And my cousin has the added honor to be the only person (that we did not meet on the road) so far to bike with us on our trip for several days. Heather says we have about 600 more miles to go. I think the next 2 or 3 days will be pretty tough (especially tomorrow we have a big climb or two I think) but after that I am hoping for rolling hills and smooth biking.

With any luck, our very good friend, Lee will be around from the philipenes. He is the sort of guy that would bike with us for a few days just for fun.

Take care all and wish us luck we are in the home stretch now. (Boy, I never thought I would preface a 600 mile bike trip with the word "just"!) Just 600 miles to go!


Kentucky dogs

Bardstown, KY to Hindman, KY
80 miles

Well, we had been dreading the appalachian mountains for quite some time, and now that we're in the middle of them, they really aren't as bad as we expected. Sure, there's lots of uphills, but there are also downhills in between. In the rockies, it was more of huge, long uphills followed by one downhill. I suppose for someone who hasn't experienced the rockies, this would be pretty tough.

Elissa is still riding with us, and I'm impressed with her. She doesn't have the best bike and gear (including a lousy saddle), but she keeps on trucking like a real trooper. Tomorrow, she and Dewayne will be heading back home, and they will be missed.

Today, as we took a break, we looked down the road, and in the opposite direction, there came David, who is crossing the transam route (Virginia to Oregon) via recumbent (a bicycle where you are seated more horizontal) tricycle. He's the first we met who was on a recumbent, as well as the first who was on a tricycle. We shared some water with him, which he was grateful for, since the last two gas stations were closed, and he had a hilly 30 miles ahead of him before he would be able to get water again.

I tell ya, Kentucky is full of unleashed, aggressive, barking dogs who think every cyclist is fresh meat. I keep my pepper spray handy, but fortunately haven't had to use it.

Tonight, we're staying at the Knott Historical Society bed and breakfast, but not indoors. Rather, we're camping outside, and it's a fairly nice place. David, the guy who runs the place, has kittens, so we've been watching them frolic and catch invisible insects. David has a wealth of historical knowledge about the local places here. It is pleasant and interesting to hear him talk about all the history of Kentucky. We helped him set up a large tent that will be left up for future cyclists to use. What a nice way to kick back and relax.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Ryans and even sun tans

Oddly enough I have only known a few Ryans in my lifetime. All of them have been pretty cool stand up guys. This of course includes our riding partner earlier. Well tonight, we can add one more to the list. He is in Berea, KY right now at the campground. Luckily for us, so are we. 60 miles today (we got a super late start this morning) is all we got in.

So as we pulled in, we spotted another tent and on closer inspection a bicycle accompanied it. We invited him over to eat with us. He is a finance major in Indiana. He is doing the trans-American trail alone. If you ask me as far as finance majors from Indiana go he must be the most outgoing and adventurous one to be doing this trek alone! He was pretty cool and we chatted a bit while we ate. I hope I did not scare him too much as I have a tendancy to come off pretty strong. He also is doing a blog but does not get to post as often as we do. His site is

http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/ryan779I sure hope he posts our website in his blog as well (hint, hint).

So yesterday I decided it was time to start working on my sun tan lines (big mistake) from biking. You see, since we wear biking clothes we have some pretty funny tan lines. They look like farmer tans up top and serious shorts tans on our legs with sock lines as well. The parts exposed are a dark golden brown by now and the covered parts are a stark contrasting bleached out, no freckle, white color. Hope that helps with the visual. Not to mention our funky half finger, one circle (this makes sense if you have ever taned with biking gloves, you get tanned on one circle area that the velcro strap does not cover) glove lines. Since we are in Kentucky and it is summertime the weather is hot and humid... oh and humid too (not sure, did I mention it is humid here?). I decided I would be more comfortable without a shirt (does not hurt that my gut is much smaller too) and work on my tan lines while I was at it. So I kept going and eventually that little voice in my head kept nagging me (not a good voice to ignore unles he tells you to hurt people, then its ok to ignore it) to put on my shirt. I am sure you are all thinking I got burnt right? Well "oh yea of little faith" you are all correct. I got fried. My back is in an unbelievable amount of pain that seems to increase exponentially with the amount I perspire. Hmm let's see hot humid Kentucky + biking all day = a lot of pain. Heather is applying lotion regularly and I am taking motrin as well. It will heal in a few days, I am sure. This is a lesson I will not soon forget (by soon, I mean give it a month). In the meantime I just go around grimacing a lot.

Did I mention it is humid here? Well, if not then there, I said it! This means there is no need for a sleeping bag. Actually, as I type this I am laying on top of my sleeping bag and I will sleep here too. Actually I am inside my sleeping bag liner (thin coccoon made of coolmax material that goes inside the sleeping bag) inside my bivy sac (to keep the bugs out) typing away. It is a pretty comfy setup even if Elissa thinks we look funny.

Both Heather and I are amazed at how well Elissa does keeping up still. I know I mentioned it before but it merits mentioning again. They will only be with us for 2 more days then we are on our own again. I hope we do ok fending for ourselves.

I had a hard time eating last night. It was a good meal of rice, black beans, and chicken. It tasted good but I ate very little. I thought it might be because of my back hurting. This morning it was the same thing with the oatmeal. I was starving but could not eat. At noon I was shaking from hunger but nothing seemed to satisfy me. So I decided to listen to my body. I went to a gas station/food mart and just wandered until something looked good. I bought a hugh chicken breast and some potatoes and a biscut. I prectically inhaled that chicken. I could not eat it fast enough or get enough meat from it. Almost immediatly I stopped shaking and shortly after that I felt great. So seems like I needed some protein. We do eat protein on our trip but I guess I needed a boost today. I sure am glad I listened to my body on this one.

Well, it is past my bedtime so I am off to sleep. Until we meet again, go out and do something you always wanted to. I know I am.


Monday, May 28, 2007

Men vs. Women

Falls of Rough, KY to Bardstown, KY
99 miles

I'm beginning to see why men seem to enjoy camping more than women do. Here's one example:

How a woman answers to the call of nature:
1. Find a bush.
2. Realize that the bush isn't big enough to hide behind. Find a bigger bush.
3. Realize this bush isn't big enough to hide behind either. Find an even bigger bush.
4. Give up on the bush and find a really deep ditch.
5. Squat, and precariously balance yourself so as not to fall or spill on yourself.
6. Do your business.
7. Wipe.
8. Make sure the toilet paper doesn't blow away in the wind while you pull up your pants.
9. Pack out the toilet paper and carry it with you inconspicuously until you find a garbage can.

How a man answers to the call of nature:
1. Find a ridiculously tiny bush.
2. Do your business.
3. Pull up your pants.

Somehow, I think nature seems to enjoy having men camp out more. Even at night when it's cold, Dana can scootch over to the bush while still in his sleeping bag and stay warm the whole time.

I rode in the morning until lunch, as usual. Elissa (Dana's cousin) joined us again, and I think she was born with the Arazi legs like Dana and Alex have. She is doing fairly well, although she complains about the pain in the rear end. I can totally sympathize.

Well, we have a beautiful sunset, so we're going to sit and watch it set.

It is a beautiful, wonderful, positive day

Let's see... my legs are sore, my neck has a crick in it, my feet hurt, my back hurts, and it's all GREAT!! Guess what people? That's right, we are on the road again!

It feels like forever since we were last pedaling along heading east. My body seems to have forgotten a few things, including the knots so that's partly a good thing. I tell you, every ache and pain and pull and strain feels marvelous! Of course, this may only last for a few days until I figure out where the grass is greener (I have my eye on "the other side" right now) but for now, I am lovying it. yWe are currently in Rough River Resort State Park in Kentucky. Dueling banjos, here I come. We were lucky enough to get the very last campsite left. Here is an interesting tidbit for you. Since we have left, we have seen less than ten tents (thats all together over 6 weeks of camping) set up. This being memorial day weekend, tips the scales a bit I think. This park is HUGE. I'm talking 200 tents within eyesight of where I sit and there is a lot of space not in my eyesight right now. That's a lot of tents.

Today we have Richard (my dad), Dewayne (uncle), and Elissa (cousin) SAGing for us. I figured something out today. When I'm on a bike, I have no common sense (and I know that deciding to bicycle across the country precludes me having to announce my lack of common sense but there is more, so read on) or at least I suffer from serious lapses. I remember telling Heather's parents to just drive on ahead 30 miles and I will catch up in no time. Well 15 miles later I was exhausted and out of water, heading up a steep hill. Just as I rounded a corner there they were waiting. I am sure glad they know better than to listen to me. I had a similar situation with my dad today where I told him one thing and he completly ignored me and was just where I needed him to be at just the right time. I guess those parental types learned a thing or two over the years.

I think the problem is I assume I am omnipotent and can sustain a hard pace forever no matter the terrain or distance. Um, I guess I was wrong to think that (I may still be omnicient but to be honest, I just don't know yet) but it seems as soon as my feet touch the pedals I believe I can go forever at super speeds. Maybe ysomeday I will, but for now I will just continue to start strong and fast and finish weak and slow, while hoping those out to help me know better than to listen to me when I tell them how and when to meet me.

Today since we had to drive back to our route from Champaign, IL (that's where my aunt lives) we only got a half day of riding in. I just did a measely 55 miles but boy did it feel good. Actually I think it is a real good thing we did fewer miles to let my body get used to riding again. In addition to Heather and I riding, my cousin Elissa is joining us on her bike that I fixed. She did 28 miles today and said she felt like she could do more. I believe her, but I want her butt and hands to have a chance to get used to riding too. She plays syoccer so her legs are accustomed to the abuse.

Tomorrow we will be sad to see my dad leave. He has to drive (really really far) back to Saint Louis, MOy to catch his fligh home. It will be a long day for him. We really appreciate all he has done for us while we were with him. He will continue SAGing for us in spirit because he bought all the food and a bunch of other stuff needed by my uncle to take care of us. Thanks Dad, we will miss you and have a safe trip home (again with the misty eyes, I tthink exercise makes me all mushy or something).

Well, I guess I've mushed, joked, and gone on long enough for one night. Hope you are all getting what you deserve, I know I am.


Saturday, May 26, 2007

Another rest day

Champaign, I'LL
Rest day

Well, we're having another rest day, but tomorrow we should be back on the road. This morning, we were interviewed by the local news and we were on TV, so that added a bit of excitement to our day. The video should be added to their website at www.wcia.com sometime soon, so many of you will be able to watch it. I don't know how long it will stay there, so watch it when you can.

Somone asked whether we had argued yet or not. While I do admit we disagree on things, we haven't gotten too upset about it. I did get upset with him back when I was sick with that cold, but I think that was mostly due to all the snot in my brain. And my rants were more like "I waaaahhhnnnnaaaaa go to beeeeeeeeeed!!!" So, my anger wasn't directed at him, it was just the misery in my body trying to get out. He did seem to be upset with me in Utah because I was going so slow, but the very next day, He complained I was too fast. So, all in all, I think we're doing pretty good for this trip. We do enjoy our time together and I think we've grown closer throughout this trip. I remember during the first week, so many things were going wrong, but we expected it, so we had a lot of patience.

As for food, the last two weeks, we have been well fed, so we don't have to eat so much rice and beans. Unfortunately, I think we'll have to go back to that once we get going again. I suppose I (and my rear end, and consequently, our noses) can bear it for another couple of weeks.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Yes another rest day blah blah blah

Well, here we are again, spending yet another day not on the bikes. Now don't get me wrong, it is not that I am really looking forward to torturing my body and rigorous exercise for 10 hours a day. On the contrary, I am looking forward to not biking for a while or at least just doing it for fun. The problem is every extra day we spend resting is one more day we are further from finishing this trek.

I liked the rest days that were just one day then back on the saddle again. Those were just enoigh to rejuvenate but not enough to drag us down. Seems like we are stuck in a black hole here and are unable to escape this place.

On the upside, I think my uncle and cousin will SAG for us for a few days. The agreement was 5 days but the jury is still out on what will actually happen. Perhaps I should get it in writing. Well, it will be nice to have someone carry our gear for a bit. It should be fun (but as we all know, nothing compares to a parent taking care of you) but different from Larry and Mary as well I assume.

My Dad is here also and he is really taking care of us. He will be on the SAG trip for Sunday and Monday morning. Heather and I are really looking forward to sharing our journey with him even if for a day or two we both think it will be special. As for being taken care of my dad is really easygoing, and willing to do whatever we need to get us on the road again. Today, we started off the morning with a massage. This one was a sports massage (a bit different from our last one) and they really know how to find the tight spots and stretch them out. I was poked, pulled, prodded, and rubbed on muscles I did not even know I had in my shoulders. Apperently, they were sore too. I must say I really kneaded (or is that needed) that. We replaced the tires on Heather's bike with thinner, faster tires since she really did not need the bulky touring tires any more, I just hope I can still keep up. We also have been having some electrical problems on the bike (broken chargers and shorted wires) that we remedied today. Radio Shack and Staples (odd, I know, but they carry a great charger for our GPS units that uses a AA battery) are awsome stores.

I also spent some time fixing my cousin's bike (nothing major wrong just neglected) for her. As I am sure you are aware, Heather and I take every chance we get to carb load and fill up when we stop. We were really looking forward to a simple meal of pasta at the Olive Garden, but my aunt and cousin insisted on going to a local favorite called "The Great Impasta". The name implies a fun relaxing environmnent, right? Well, if you ever have the chance to go there, run away. The service is bland and unattentive, the menu is limited to heavy sauce with pasta or heavy sauce with something else, the atmosphere is stuffy, and the prices are ridiculous. Good thing they had bread to eat so we did not leave starving. Both Heather and I did not eat much of our food at all ( I'm talking about 5 bites each) if you can call that stuff food. Oh well, we took it back here and as my mom told me the secret to a good chef is to make the person hungry enough and anything will taste good. We will test that one for sure.

I think tomorrow we may just cook our own food because my gastrointestinal tract cannot handle all these fancy (by fancy, I mean overpriced and horrible tasting) restaurants.

Now that I think about it, maybe I am looking forward to getting back on that bike. Life is so much more simple while you are pedaling. Now that I have that new seat (tested with weight and passed with flying colors), riding is really comfortable.

Next time I post I will be riding again and not so bummed out. I hope this was not too much of a drag for you to read. If you are feeling kinda blah right now it is because misery loves company (so thanks for joining me).


A Dilemma

Carbondale/Champaign, IL
Rest day

Today we slept in, went to Tania's ASL class, and basically rested throughout the day. I especially enjoyed playing with Tania's roommate's dogs: a playful pomeranian and a ten week-old teeny-weenie Yorkshire Terrier.

We have realized that we have come into a dilemma, so if anyone has any ideas or feedback, feel free to leave them in the comments section. We would like to complete this trip as soon as possible, for several reasons. However, Dana's family would like us to visit and stay with them for several days. So tonight, we'll be doing some discussing to see how soon we can get back on the road while still spending a sufficient amount of time with them. Don't get me wrong, we'd love to spend weeks with our families, yet we also want to finish our goal in due time. Perhaps in exchange for more time with the family, one of them will drive us ahead so that we aren't so far behind. We'll let you know what we decide on.

Since we don't have much to share for today, I'll share some of our favorite questions that people ask us, as well as the answers.

Q: How many miles are you going?
A: 4,200 miles, give or take a few

Q: How many miles do you do in a day?
A: 60 to 70, although we do have several days that we only go 30, Dana sometimes goes 100 without the weight.

Q: What's that thing on your helmet?
A: Dana has a rear-view mirror on his helmet and I have one that attaches to my glasses. They help us to know when cars are behind us. I also have an extra mirror on my handlebars.

Q: Why do you always roll up your right pant leg?
A: The chain is on the right side, so we often get our pant leg caught in it, or at least, our pants get covered in grease. Rolling up the right pant leg prevents it. They do have straps that you can put on to keep the pants tight against your leg, but Dana said I look dorky with them on, so I'll settle for the rolled-up pants.

Q: Why don't you roll up the other leg then?
A: Because it's cold, so we leave the left pant leg down :-)

Q: How long will it take you?
A: We had planned on 2 to 2 1/2 months, but it seems like it'll end up being 3 months.

Q: How much weight have you lost?
A: Heather lost 16 pounds in the first two weeks, but she has since gained that plus a few more pounds. Dana has lost 20 pounds.

Q: What do you do when it rains?
A: Keep on cycling and get wet!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Some rest days

Well, after hurrying along with Heather's parents we have arrived in Murphysboro, Illinois ahead of schedule. We are now staying at my cousins place. We spent the day here relaxing and reading. We visited the Southern Illinois University in Carbondale and went for a boat ride on the lake there. Actually, it was one of those paddleboats where the forward motion is propagated by pedaling. this felt suspiciously like pedaling a bicycle so we promptly stopped this action in the middle of the lake and left the wind push us around for a bit. we did recognize that we eventually had to return to shore so reluctantly we began to pedal again but only enough to get us back because otherwise we would not be "resting".

I have ordered some replacement parts for BoB (a skewer) that got all bent out of shape. They should be here this Thursday. Sorry, we do not have more interesting things to post about. Our rest days are more than just physical rest days. I am beginning to recognize they are mental rest days as well.

My dad will be here tomorrow. My cousin is taking an ASL class at the university so we will make a guest appearance there tomorrow then head up to my aunt's house in Champaign, IL. We will continue to post every day but until we get on the road again it may be a stretch finding anything interesting to post about. If I do run across some fun stuff i will make sure to jump right in the middle of it for your reading enjoyment (or maybe I will rest and watch from afar and just tell you about the stuff other crazy people are doing).

That's about it for tonight. I am going back to reading my book and relaxing. Talk to you all later.


Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Tired after a long day

Farmington, MO to Murphysboro, IL
80 miles

We had quite a long ride today, but were well prepared for it. We said goodbye *sniff*sniff* to my parents and they headed back to South Dakota. We are so thankful they came out and took care of us.

As we were taking a break at a gas station, a coca-cola truck arrived and unloaded some drinks. He asked us the usual about where we were headed, etc. Then he donated 8 cans of Coolah energy drink to us. For those who don't know me well, I never drink coffee, and rarely drink pop with caffeine. I knew it wouldn't be a good idea to drink one, but I couldn't let it go to waste. We each downed one, then hit the road. A few minutes later, Dana asked me if I felt the energy rush yet. "Nope, not one bit," I replied as I sped ahead of him at 20 mph. I really hadn't noticed, but Dana sure did. After lunch and a couple of hours later, I completely bonked. I knew this wasn't a good idea. I ate a Snickers, but there really wasn't much else I could do but to continue pedaling at 5 mph.

At one point, I watched a baby cow look up at me, then run off in the opposite direction. I assume there must be something about slow-moving objects that really scare cows. Anyway, it took off running right into his mother, who was standing right next to him. I don't know if it's because I was so tired or what, but I found this outrageously funny.

We finally (slowly) made it to Tania's (Dana's cousin) place, and she's taking good care of us. I'm completely exhausted, so I look forward to passing out and getting a good night's rest.

Monday, May 21, 2007

A great day for ridding but a sad sad night

May 21

Let me begin this post with what weighs heavily on my mind. Tomorrow
morning we part ways with Heather's parents. As I have said before, this
trip is incredibly difficult. We have considered several times just giving
up and catching a bus or something. This last week or so, having her
parents with us has really lifted our spirits. It is wonderful to know
there is someone on the road who cares about us and is taking care of us.
They stop pretty often and refill our water and feed us and give us a
comfortable place out of the sun to sit and relax. The most common
question we hear from them is "Do you need anything else?" Wow, what a
great thing to hear! In addition to all this pampering we got a ride into
Janice's house and were totally taken care of there as well (see our
earlier post for details).

So from both Heather and I, thank you two sooo much for taking care of us.
We could not have done it without you (I am actually all misty eyed typing
this now).

So tonight we pack up BoB (the trailer) hook him up to Lisa (my bike) and
get ready for the long heavy ride tomorrow into Carbondale, IL. Although I
have been riding hard these last few days I think I am ready for the weight
and a slower pace. Tomorrow we hope to get to Carbondale, IL where my
cousin lives. I have not had a chance to call her yet due to little or no
cell phone coverage at night. I know my dad spoke with her. I really hope
it is ok if we just sort of show up and say "surprise! You have
houseguests" she is pretty cool though so I don't anticipate any problems.

As for today I did about 80 miles and we are just east of Farmington, MO.
We woke up about in the middle of the Ozarks.

Oh here is a quiz for you. Everyone who has heard of the Ozark mountains
raise your hand (my hand is up now which makes typing this a bit slow),
come on, really get yours up there. Now every one who knows the Ozark
Mountains are in Eastern Misery (or maybe that's Missouri) keep your hand
up. The rest of you put your hands down, you are off the hook. Fyi, my
hand is down now. Now those of you who have your hands up bring thm down
smartly on your heads (not too hard, we don't want any injuries there)
Shame on you! One of you should have warned us there is a mountain range
in the middle of our flat midwest area!

Ok, after the Grand Canyon and the Rockies, the Ozarks are kind of
pathetic. I think I topped out once at 1,200 feet. The problem is all the
climbs are darn steep (we are talking 18%- 22% grade here) and the climbs
just keep coming. You go up and down, up and down, up and down, up and
down. You get the idea. I think today I climbed 3,000 vertical feet in
150 foot increments. The down hills are nice though, I must admit. Some
of the hills were so steep I am not sure I would have been able to drag BoB
up them. Well that is how the morning started right in the middle of the
steepest part. Thankfully after about 26 miles of ouch they started to
decline. According to a local guy here we are officially out of the Ozarks.

I know the Appalachians are coming up but I have no idea when or what to
expect. So those of you who do know, we expect comments on our site with
details of where they are in Kentucky and Virginia and what kind of hills
to expect.

I learned a little tidbit yesterday you may find helpful. First you should
know that in this part of our route dead animals on the road are becoming a
more common occurence. I think this may be because there are just more
animals in this part of the US. Well, if you want to know which way the
wind is blowing, here is a trick. This works well on a bicycle in
particular (and yes, I know to look at flags, grass, trees and such, but
this is a better bicycle technique) because often you are creating a false
wind depending on your speed.

Step one: locate a nice juicy and fresh dead animal on the road up ahead.

Step two: start breathing with your nose about 20 feet before you reach
the animal.

Step three: take note of when you can smell the animal, before, next to, or
after you pass it.

Step four: If you can smell the animal before you get to it, you have a
headwind. If you smell it as you pass it, you have a sidewind or no wind.
If you smell the animal after you pass it, you have a tailwind. Now you
know where the wind is from.

I find this works even when you are not paying attention as long as you can
identify the origination of the olfactory offense.

Well that is it for now. You all take care and thanks for reading. Feel
free to share our blog with random people. We always love to get new
readers. Thank you to all of our faithful readers out there now, keeping up
on us.

Just a thought, what will we write about when our trip is done? We are
open to suggestions.

Sent with SnapperMail

Into the Ozarks

Marshfield, MO to Summersville, MO
88 miles

We pedaled hard as it got into the 80s today. I'm so happy my parents are with us so that we can stay somewhat cool in the camper. I was chased by a dog, who fortunately only chased me for a minute or so. I think that was the first time I've ever gone 18 mph uphill. A few miles later, I was chased by a goat, but fortunately again, it stayed off the road. We saw a couple of touring cyclists heading in the opposite direction, but since we don't have any bags, they probably thought we were local cyclists and they didn't stop to chat with us. We're staying at the Ozark National Scenic Riverways park, which is nice. Someone left firewood behind, so we have a nice fire going.

As we get further and further east, we realize that there are some drivers who don't really know what to do when they encounter a cyclist on the road. So here's a few tips...

-Never honk, unless there is a true emergency. Many people like to honk as a way of showing their support, but since it's really loud, it scares the bejeezus out of us. You can show your support by waving instead. Believe me, we do notice, and appreciate it.

-Never spit, dump, or throw anything out the window at or near us. Really, we don't appreciate being sprayed at with water bottles, no matter how hot it is. And littering is illegal, anyway.

-Always give as much room as possible when passing, and if you can't, wait until it is safe to do so. And no, one foot of space between us isn't safe, and here's why: Your car produces drafts that can pull or push us in odd directions, including under your real wheel or off the cliff on the other side.

-When at an intersection or making a turn, look for bicycles as well. Check the sidewalks and bicycle lanes before you proceed.

Fortunately, we haven't had too many dangerous encounters, but I hope the drivers get better as we leave Missouri, because these people must really hate cyclists.

One last thing, we are in the Ozark mountains (although they don't resemble the rockies AT ALL). This means spotty cell phone coverage so don't be worried if we miss a day or two. We will post as soon as we get service.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Nothing like a rest day to stoke another Century ride out of me

Yippee, I did 110 (thats a century plus folks) miles today, and we are in Marshfield, MO. I am one tired puppy. Tried out the new saddle today and I will tell you more about it in a bit here. One thing to keep in mind is a new saddle is supposed to be a bit uncomfortable until it is broken in. Today was a wonderful day because... well because of many things, but one of those things was the rest day and half we just got done with.
At Janice's (Heather's aunt) house we had a BLAST, of course the massage was a highlight, but geting to meet some of our faithful readers was an inspiration. So hello Steve, Ginger, and Bill. Steve said he rides 25 miles at a time then runs 3 miles. Janice almost had him convinced to join us for the weekend riding. To tell the truth, I am sort of glad he declined. The reason is because he is in really good shape and I probably would have been left far far behind him (imagine the embarrasment) on the wayside.
Bill is a cattle farmer so I took the opportunity to ask if having the cows follow me (I feel guilty about it) is a bad thing or not. His answer was not yes or no but he did tell me a story of a runner in his area that the cows like to follow, he said it always seems to happen right after the cows are fed. This seemed to irk him a little. So I have to tell you while I mostly do not encourage the cows to follow me (and I do kind of enjoy it) I now know it is wrong so I really feel guilty about it.
Today we have Dawn (Heather's sister) with us as well. This is a welcome addition to our entourage. This means we also have two vehicles (not counting the bikes, of course) with us. After we set up the camper here at the RV park, we were able to take Dawns car to Wal-Mart to buy some snack foods for us. At Wal-Mart, Heather and I went to the scales to weigh ourselves. Remember Heather was losing weight quickly and she was at 94 pounds in Tempe, AZ. well we have good news (actually good news for both of us). Heather gained back her weight she lost. She weighed in at 112 pounds (HOORAY!!!!) we seriously were considering taking her off this trip if her weight loss continued. As for me (thats Dana here), when I left I was easily 214 pounds (but I tell everybody I weigh 210). Well, at Wal-Mart their scale says I weigh 195 pounds, so that means I lost between 15-20 pounds. YIPPEE for me. We ate diner at KFC and I guess their extra crispy and original recipies are very similar now (I actually asked the lady if mine really was extra crispy). The weighing happened after dinner.
Now for the saddle woes. As I said, a new saddle is supposed to be a bit uncomfortable for the first several rides. I was expecting that with my new Brooks model B66 saddle. I did have to make a few adjustments on the ride today to get it fit just right. I am still not quite finished with my adjustments, but it is pretty close to perfect right now as far as settings. I had some issues attaching my saddle bag (bag that goes under the seat), but I think I have it rigged just right so it will not fall off. I know you are all dying to hear if the saddle rocks or sucks, but bear with me a little longer here. Keep in mind I did 110 miles today wich would be difficult on any saddle. So now for the sad news. The sad thing is that even though it is brand new, not broken in, the new saddle is much, much, much better than the old one that has already been broken in. So to Steve at Cynergy, sorry buddy, you may know a lot about bikes and equipment but you still have something to learn about equipping a bike for touring. Everyone else out there if you are considering touring on a bicycle you will read several posts about buying a Brooks saddle. Well, from me to you, Brooks Saddles have my 100% endorsement and I highly recommend them to anyone and everyone (I am talking touring here folks, I have no idea how they perform in other environments).
I met another guy touring today (actually Heather paged me and told me he was on his way towards me so I was forewarned) heading west. I pulled over to talk with him but he seemed really scared of me. He had that look like... is this guy going to mug me or just kill me. So after trying some small talk he did not seem to relax at all. I left him on his way and he seemed happy with that.
Well I am tired and sore (actually just my calf is sore, I got a cramp in it this afternoon) and ready for bed. This camp ground has a shower, so I am also clean and happy. Oh, and my back is sore from typing so long so this will complete my post.
I hope you are all doing as well as you would like to be doing. Until next time...

Friday, May 18, 2007

Rest and a massage

Miami, OK
Rest day

We spent the majority of the day resting and relaxing. In the morning, we both had a one-hour massage, paid for by my sister, and my grandpa. It really felt great and we both feel relaxed and refreshed. In the afternoon, my aunt hosted an open house, and we met several of her co-workers, including Ginger and Steve. They had lots of good questions for us, and Dana had a good time explaining all the intricacies of bicycle touring. We also made some hummus, just to give everyone a taste of what we eat a lot of these days. It seems nobody liked it. I bet if they biked 80 miles, they would've eaten it.

I think the thing that amuses my family the most is my tan lines. Since I wear bicycling gloves that are cut off at the fingers, my fingers are a dark tan color, while my palms and the back of my hands are white. It sure looks pretty funky. I also have tan lines from my helmet, jersey, and shorts. Also, since I got sunburned recently, my skin is peeling and shedding everywhere. I feel like a lizard.

I'm looking forward to getting on the road tomorrow and doing some more cycling... Whoa, did I just say I was looking forward to biking again? I must be going crazy!

One last note that I forgot to mention earlier... Remember when I lost my underwear? I found it. It had been hiding in my bivy sac all this time. It sure is good to have two pairs again.

Also, check out our pictures section. We added a bunch of photos for you with captions.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

wind the ultimate demoralizer

After my Century (I just wanted to mention again that I rode 100 miles) yesterday, I was not really in the mood to ride today. I think I got punished for my lackadaisical attitude... we were greeted by the wind in our faces.

I remember posting before about how difficult it is to ride in the wind. I thought maybe the weight had something to do with it, but no, it really is just the wind. It is an invisible monster just waiting to push you along in the wrong direction. I read (and heard from other people) that the wind moves generally in an easterly direction. Well, so far we have a lot of wind going north to south, south to north (sometimes switching in the middle of the day from one to the other), and east to west. Hmmmm I am wondering when this general west to east wind is going to push us along our route. Maybe we have upset the wind in some manner (if anyone knows how to make amends please let me know). We also had another road closed (meaning: a detour) today.

That makes three road closures on our trip with large detours on unsafe biking roads. At least today the detour was moving in the right direction (by "right," of course, I do not mean with the wind) for our route. We ended up on some roads that are not very fun to bike on. More than once I got buzzed (way to close for comfort) by a semi truck. We are so lucky to have Mary and Larry following us.

Heather and I rode together for the first 45 minutes (until we were back on route sort of) of the day. Then we always (ok, almost always) stop and stretch. After that I take off and she follows more slowly behind me. Mary and Larry caught up to us just as we finished stretching. After making sure we had not broken down they went on ahead to wait for us up the road. The wind was blowing so hard I was maxing out at about 12.5mph, I have no idea what Heather was averaging. I ran into Larry and Mary again a little ways down the road. The deal for today was we would ride until noon then head down to Janice's (Heather's aunt) house. By the time I saw Mary and Larry I still had a good 20 miles to go to reach my goal of the day and it was already 10:45. I decided I was exhausted and ready to give up for the day (no, I did not stop but I really wanted to) and crawl inside the camper and sleep. I kept going knowing that as soon as Heather reached them they would all pile into the camper and head down the road to look for me.

With this knowledge in my head and relief following close behind I took off. If any of you have ever seen the movie "Gattica" you may remember the line "I left nothing for the return trip" (this was at a point when the imperfect brother beat the perfect brother in a swimming competition and the genetically imperfect brother just went all out and left no reserves for the return swim) Well that was my thought as I left them. I figured I would either reach my goal, they would catch up with me, or I would pass out from total exhaustion and then they would catch up with me. Before Heather and I separated in the morning we designed a signal for me to let her know if I wanted to stop or keep going as they drove past me. Thankfully we got to choose door number two, they caught up to me before I fell over from exhaustion. I had gone an additional 15 miles or so, and man, was I tired. I am glad we had that signal arranged because they pulled over about 100 feet from me.

After loading my bike, Heather and I crawled into the camper (with seat belts attached because it is the law in Kansas) and promptly fell asleep. Although I am not sure if sleep would accurately describe the experience, as my arms would continually shoot out to the side to catch myself from falling over as the camper swayed in the wind. It still felt good nonetheless.

We made it to Janice's and Heather started the laundry while I went to work on the bikes. I really think I got the better end of the bargain here. The laundry is just now finishing but the bikes (washed, adjusted, tires trued, and oiled) have been done for a while. It will be really nice to start off with a fresh set of clothes all smelling pretty and stuff. Heather and I spent a good deal of time paying bills (we had our mail sent here) and organizing our stuff. My new saddle will be here tomorrow I am looking forward to playing with that.

After a great lunch, dinner, and dessert, we are full and happy. I think I will spend some time now trying to update our blog since I have a computer and an internet connection here. Hopefully we will have many more pictures added and the map updated by tomorrow.

I hope this all finds you well and as happy as you want to be.


Wednesday, May 16, 2007


Cassoday, KS to Chanute, KS
100 miles

What a great day! I had a great night of rest inside my parents' camper, then my mom made biscuits and gravy to start off our day. Mom's cooking is always the best, isn't it?

We rode together for a while, then Dana took off ahead of me. At one point, I stopped to take a break, and sat down facing west, to keep the sun out of my eyes. When I finished, I turned around, and there were 50 to 70 cows, all crowded up to the fence and staring at me. "Well, howdy there folks! Nice weather we got here, eh? Here's a tip... Always drink upstream from the herd!" None of them moved. I got onto my bike and continued on. They all followed me in a huge stampede. Good thing there was a fence between myself and the cows. Dana wasn't as lucky as he encountered two cows that weren't inside a fence.

We arrived in Chanute, KS (the first century on our ride for Dana) and luckily, the city park has free camping for the first 48 hours. They have electricity and water hookups, so it's really great! I'm looking forward to getting another great night of rest and heading out to my aunt's house in Miami, OK.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Things you learn on the road

The Garmin Forerunner GPS has a feature that tells you the sunrise and sunset each day. The cool part is it adjusts for your specific location. It is really cool to watch the sunset time change as we bike east (FYI, it sets earlier the further east we go).

Semi trucks for the most part will pull way around us as we bike in the road. Beware of objects! Heather watched a light fluffy thing (must have been because of the way it tumbled quickly and topsy-turvy-like) fall from a truck right in front of her. On closer inspection it was a huge brick. Lucky she was paying attention and stopped well before she was struck.

I have read countless times that when backpacking (or using panniers) heavy things go on the bottom. Well, the same thing applies when using a BoB trailer. It makes a very significant difference as I found out the hard (or easy, depending on if you are a glass half-full or half-empty kind of person) way.

When your riding partner (or yourself for that matter) is moving too slow, have them sing a mundane, repetitive song to themselves. Some sugestions are "99 bottles of Gatorade on the bike" or "Row, row, row your boat". I did this with Heather, and boy did it ever work well. Too well, actually. I ended up asking her to stop doing that after a while because I could not keep up.

it helps to name some of your equipment (helps because it gives me a chuckle) that you are fond of. BoB is of course self named. My bicycle is named Lisa after a very tough girl I knew in high school who ended up joining the Crew team at UC Davis. Our stove is WiLI (after Wisper Light International, the model we have).

Cows like to follow cyclists. For the last week or so every time we bike past a herd of cows they follow us down the road. Ok, sometimes they need a little encouragement, so I "moo" at them. A few cows ignore me but respond well to Heather signing MOO at them (I guess they are deaf cows).

That's it for now. Until next time...-dana

SAG Ahhhhhhhhh

So last night after our 20 mile detour last night into Hutchinson, Heather was exhausted and I had pulled my left calf muscle. I really wanted to keep going, but Heather, in her infinite wisdom, put her foot down and firmly (obstinantly is more like it) said "No". So I went to the nearest motel and negotiated the rate down by 20 bucks.

We tucked in for the night and both agreed we would get up at 5 am to leave. We did get up at 5 am and I realized why it was such a great idea we had a hotel tonight. Seems as I woke up at 5 am (shortly afterwards I did go back to sleep) I was comforted by the gentle sounds of a raging thunderstorm. I did not even bother rousing Heather. I knew there was no way we were leaving with all that thunder and lightning (especially the lightning) going on out there in the plains. We did not end up leaving until 8:30 (which was nice because we were able to take advantage of the free hotel breakfast) in the morning.

As we walked out the door we got a call from Mary (that's Heather's mom) and Larry (her dad, of course), saying they were on the way and wanted to know where we were. After giving them a description of our route we headed off.

I sometimes laugh at times that other people feel is not appropriate. My philosophy is I can either laugh and try to enjoy life's experiences or I can be depressed/upset. Well, I choose to laugh (most of the time). There is a reason I share this with you. What I describe next I just want you to feel free to laugh (I was laughing wholeheartedly) at our pain.

Remember what I said about the demoralizing effects of a headwind. With our detour yesterday we had 7 unexpected miles (20 mile detour altogether) straight into the wind. This was tempered but the knowledge that tomorrow (today actually) we would be heading back north with the wind and it would be an easy ride. Guess what the storm brought in? You guessed it, the wind changed by 180°. So for our 7 miles north we got to head into the wind again. SO NOT FAIR!! (oh yeah, this is the point when you laugh, I'll wait). Just as we were getting back onto our actual route (I missed the turn and kept going for almost a mile), Heather's folks pulled up.

Boy were we glad to see them. Yes, of course they fed us well and took all my weight, but really it was just nice to see them. Heather and I do really enjoy each other's company but it is nice to have other people to talk with. Heather was really tired after two days of headwinds (in opposite directions) so she opted for a ride with mom and dad. I was eager to try the bike on flat ground with no weight.

At first I though my bike was damaged. As I pedaled uphill, my front tire kept jumping up off the ground. Eventually I figured out it was because I was pedaling with so much force I was lifting the tire. I changed my pedaling style a bit to adjust for the absence of the trailer and boy did I take off. There were high winds today but mostly cross winds. I was booking it. Crusing at 25 mph a lot of the time. At one point I was biking through Newton, KS and I happened to be going with the wind (meaning easily going between 30 and 35). I passed a cop at a stop light (yes it had just turned green), and kept my speed up to stay in front of him. After a mile or so we came to a light togther (I was turning left, he was going straight) and he rolled down his window. Oops! I thought for sure I was in trouble. To my surprise, he said "I just wanted to tell you, you really know how to ride that thing. I'm impressed". Really made me feel good.

I kept going and the last 12 miles I was a bit tired, hungry, and cold, but boy was I in a really really good mood! I knew I had Heather and her family just a few miles a head. I started playing games with my pedals seeing if I could go faster uphill than downhill. The answer is not quite, but pretty close.

I pulled into the city park and got a shower in their camper, a warm meal, and great conversation. In fact, right now I am sitting at the table warm and cozy with my shoes off, all my electronics charged, my stomach is full, and man, do I feel great. Heather is in good spirits as well. We will get an early start tomorrow and Heather will go until she is tired. I will go until my body says enough is enough.

Speaking of enough is enough I have some interesting news for you. Today (as you know) I rode mostly without weight. My seat (in combination with the shorts my dad and brother sent me) felt great. I don't mean no pain, I mean it just disappeared. I did not even feel the seat. The lesson here is that the seat I own is great for racing, but it is not meant for weighted touring. If only I was doing RAAm (Race Accross America) instead of weighted touring.

Ah well, such is life. Well, I am heading off to sleep now and get ready for a fun-filled day of riding without weight. YIPPEE!


oops almost forgot we did 84 miles today and are in Cassoday, KS

Monday, May 14, 2007


Larned, KS to Hutchinson, KS
83 miles

We headed out hoping to get to Buhler, KS, but as we biked down a road with barely any traffic, a couple of county workers pulled over and told us that the road ahead was closed due to flooding. We had to head back 5 miles (into a headwind) and take a detour. We ended up in Hutchinson tired, sore, and hungry. So, we hope to pass Buhler tomorrow and continue on our route.

We were a bit worried because there aren't any towns in between these places, and with this detour, we'd have to go another 50 miles with our dwindling water supply. But the county folks directed us to an artesian well. Next to the well, there was a sign that said "non potable water source". We inquired about the sign, and they said "oh, we've been drinking it for years, and it's the best water around. Some old lady drank it once and got sick, so we're required to post the sign". So it was either we drink "non potable" water that made one person sick or be thirsty for the next 50 miles. We filled up our bottles and had just enough to make it to Hutchinson before we ran out.

We're zonked for the night, so I'm going to sleep real soon.

PS mom and dad: we'll be heading east out of Hutchinson on 4th Street then north on Buhler Road, then we are back on our route with a turn east on 556, A.K.A. Dutch Avenue.