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Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Things along the road side and interesting Hemet meetings

Today was a short day of riding just six hours on the road and 27 miles.
As you know from this morning Heather is not feeling well so we really got
a late start. We hit the road at noon today, with a large climb of 2,000
feet (this seems to be our max climb in one day) looming in front of us.
Thankfully most of the climb we had to ride on I-40. What that means is we
generally were going in a straight line with a fairly consistant grade.
This makes pacing yourself a lot easier. We hit a new high today at 6,900
feet and still biking.

Oh, a random thing happened twice now so it must be signifigant. Remember
back when we were almost out of CA and we camped right next to the Colorado
River. Well while we were there Ryan and I struck up a conversation (and
played some hacky sac) with the campers next to us. Some how the topic of
home came up. Well my mailing address is in Hemet, CA and guess where the
campers next to us were from. That's right Hemet, CA. That was odd in
itself but what hapened yesterday really got me. In Ash Fork, AZ at the
camp ground there, I had to register for our campsite. The lady behind the
counter screamed for her mom when I put down my address. Guess where they
were from. Yup you got it right again , Hemet, CA. Now I don't know if
any of you have ever been to Hemet (Incidently Brad Pit's character in "Spy
Game" is also from Hemet) but it really is not much to look at. It is
about 3 miles long and 12 blocks wide with a pharmacy on every corner.
That's it. So why am I running into so many people from there? At least
it gives me something to ponder during my hours and hours on the road.

As you may or may not know we are using maps made by adventure cycling

www.adventurecycling.com to guide us on our trip. Each of their maps is
made up of several panels and each panel encompases about 30 miles of a
trip. The panels are numbered from one to as much as thirty. The text on
each panel include discriptions for both directions. A potential bicyclist
could start at number 30 and bike to number 1 or the other way arround. Up
until yesterday I assumed the numbering was arbitrary and it really made no
diference 1-30 or 30-1. We are currently on the "Grand Canyon Conector"
but we are doing it backwards. As it so happens those smart people at
adventure cycling actually did have a reason for their numbering system.
On closer examination of the map I notice some signifigant elevation
differences. For example, panel number 1 starts in Cedar City, UT at 6,000
feet and the final panel ends in Tempe, AZ at 1,000 feet. As you may have
summized this means there is a general down hill trend if doing the route
in order. We of course are doing it backwards so flip that arround for a
general UPHILL trend. Yipee! That is not all there is to it, I found out
one other intersting tidbit about this route. The prevailing winds this
time of year run from north to south (um folks that's not the way we are
going). Given all that explaination the final result is, we are generaly
biking up hill with a strong head wind in our face and there is no hope of
it letting up. At least I do not feel totally responsible for this route
choice, it was my dad who pointed it out to me, thanks dad we owe you one.

As you are biking up hill, into the wind, the slower pace allows you to
observe your surroundings more critically. I have started to notice a tend
on items found along side the road. I have picked out what seem to be the
three most glaringly common items. Now keep in mind this is not a
quantitative study and no chi squared analysis was used to determine the
results, this is more qualitative and based soley on my uphill, wind in
your face, slow paced, casual observation.

Number one is "Retreads". If you don't know what these are I can help out.
Those big 18 wheeled (do the really have 18 wheels I never counted) trucks
have huge tires. Imagine how much each one costs and the natural resources
need to make one for a replacement. Those puppys get a lot of wear on
them. Some one came up with a cool idea, as the tires wear down instead of
replacing the entire thing you only need to replace the tread. They take a
bald tired and stretch a big thick rubberband kind thing arround it with
new tread for the tire. Therefore instead of replacing the entire thing
you only pay for the tread on the outside. Thus the name "Re-Tread". Well
as these thing get used they evetually need to be replaced. Sometimes
(very often I think" they just peel off the tire and end up at the side of
the road for me to observe. I have never actuall seen this occur and I
have no idea if this causes hardship for the trucker or other motorist but
for me it gives me a mini obsticle courses to play with during the day.

Number Two is bungee cords. I am amazed at how many of these things there
are on the roadside. I know now if I ever want a bungee cord I will just
go bike on a highway and get them for free. Of course the down side of
this is you are picking up a product that has already critically failed at
least once.

Number three is not for the feint of heart so skip this if you wish.
Plastic bottles, but these particular bottles of which I speak, seem to
contain the same refreshment. The bottles very in size, make, and model
but each of them is partially filled with a dark yellowish liquid. I have
as of yet not identified what they are filled with and I hope I never do
find out. One word here "EwE".

As if Hether being sick, going uphill against the wind (i just like to
complain about that one) and yellow filled bottles is not enough I broke a
spoke today. There are no bike shops near here so I was on my own. The
lady who runs the hostel (and gas station next door) called up a buddy of
her's with some tools. I have the critical tool that fits into the
cassette (thats a fancy name for all those teeth looking things attached to
the back tire) all I needed was a couple of wrenches to lossen her up. The
guy showed up and I pulled my cassette and swapped the broken spoke for a
new one. Put everything back together and trued up my wheel. I was very
proud of me (pats self on back) for doing all that for the first time in my

One last thing before I pass out here. Heather is feeling like this biking
stuff is a bit much. I assured her that if she can make it this far she
can make it all the way!! I think it may be a combination of not eating
enough (she is eating a lot more now), being sick, elevation changes, and
climbing a mountain. So I gave my brother a call at 8 am and asked him to
ship his bike trailer to me. After three hours of hard work and running
arround on his part the trailer is on the way. The prupose of the trailer
will be for me to take on all of her gear so she does not have to carry
anything at all. That way each day for her will just be a fun 60 mile ride
and not so much work. I really hope this makes the ride more enjoyable for

So send your encouragements to Heather and let her know we are all rooting
for her. Right now she is sound asleep next to me after dinner and a
theraflu desert.

Until next time


Mom and Dad said...

Heather: we got notice that the signs are in. Will get them in the post today. Keep snuffling that nose... and if all else fails you can leave a trail of that yucky stuff and Dana will find you! The Grand Canyon is well worth the trip to keep on trucking (it can't get any worse--can it?) Love you mom

natalie said...

Hey guys! Hope you feel better soon, Heather!!!

BTW - after we talked the other day, Dana, I looked for the link with your drop point addresses...and it is most definitely not on your blog. Trust me. Can you have Alex (re-)post it? We all want to send you stuff and support you!!

Terri Hirning said...

Oh hang in there Heather!! YOU CAN DO IT!!! If you can do 86 miles in one day you can keep on going. YOU GO GIRL!!! Feel better soon, grab some Airborne and if you can find it, Grapefruit seed extract, that will help a lot!!! Hugs to you both.