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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.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

It was so windy today I saw a chicken lay the same egg twice

That was just one of the many jokes we heard last night at dinner from Dan. This one held special signifigance for us though. I do understand that with rolling grasslands one is liable to experience a sustained wind. Well this morning, we woke up, had a hearty granola and cornbread breakfast and headed out into the world.

The first thing I noticed (well turns out I noticed wrong) was a strong wind headed east (that mean at our backs and a good thing. Dan from the Bed and Breakfast (who has previously studied the Adventure Cycling maps) assured me that at Rush Center we would head South and have the wind in our face. Well, I was standing there experiencing the same wind and I thought he was wrong. On top of all that, he said the wind generally comes from the South in Kansas this time of year, again, I had heard and read that the wind generally goes West to East (besides, what does he know, he only lives and farms here and has done so for the last 30 years) this time of year.

So we planned on filling up with water at Rush Center (more on this later), then turning South. Well Dan, I hate to admit it, but you were right. Not only was the wind in our face but it was blowing something fierce. We had a few small rolling hils ahead of us (as is the norm here in Kansas) but they did not look very daunting after our trek through the mountains.

Let me tell you folks I have yet to experience anything as demoralizing as a strong headwind. At least with a mountain you can see it coming (although as I have said before there is always another hill just around the corner) and prepare for it. You know there is an end to it, and you can see the grade and climb ahead of you (not like the mountain will suddenly change shape on you, if it does, you are a goner anyway).

With the wind a nice beautiful flat (or slightly downhill) ride, becomes an almost insurmountable task. Going downhill today I spent a lot of time in my lowest gear struggling to get up to 4.5 mph. A few times as the wind would increase and really hit me hard I wanted to stop and cry in frustration. We had 19 miles on this South, hilly, and very windy road. I wondered (as I do often now) how other people get through this cross-country ride.

Much to my surprise, by about mile 15 I was getting used to the constant push of the wind. I am not saying I enjoyed it, but if I had to I could have gone on. At this point there was only one limiting factor for me: water.

I have the capacity with my bottles and bladder bag to cary about 1.25 gallons of water on my bike, Heather can carry about .8 gallons on hers. This is normally sufficient for about 35-45 miles. In any given day I drink about 2-2.5 gallons of water (some mixed with Gookinaide or Gatorade). We plan our stops accordingly to fill up our water before we (by we, I mean I) run out. Since we have been out of the mountains I have not been filling the bladder bag (to save weight), and it remains packed inside the BoB. Well, two times now we have run out of water in between towns. The first time was trying to keep up with the ironman and ironwoman (stupid, I know), we flew right through the town where we planned on filling up. The second time was today.

As we pulled into Rush Center, KS we noticed a lot of closed doors. Now keep in mind, this is the kinda town that if you need gas and the store is closed you call Paul at home and he comes down and opens up for you. For us poor cyclists, the entire town was closed on Sunday until 4 pm. We were planning on eating at the Mexican restaurant reccomended by Elaine then filling up our water there. Unfortunately, we were there arround noon and still had a good 30+ miles to go. We did a quick check of water, ate an energy bar for lunch, and headed into the wind. I had to go ahead because my water need is calculated by time not distance. If I stay with Heather, the time increases between water holes for me. So I raced (I use that term loosely here) into the wind towards our agreed upon meeting place. When I got there I still had about 1.5 bottles left of water. I had passed several houses but I was too shy to knock on the door and ask for water. With my remaining bottle (1.5) we still had 14 miles (with a lateral wind, not head wind) to go. I did not know how much Heather had left cause she was a ways back from me. I wanted to have one bottle ready for her if she needed it. I saw a grain elevator about a half mile (back into the headwind) past our turning point and decided to try my luck. I found a hose that worked and was very thankful. The water tasted like old nasty hose but it was wet and drinkable so I was not complaining, much.

By the time Heather rolled over the hill (after 4 independant drivers informed she was still going and doing ok back there) I had some almond butter and jelly sandwiches ready. She still had some water left. I have learned my lesson and tomorrow I will venture forth with a full bladder bag of water in addition to my normal bottles.

We ate and relaxed there on the side of the road. The last 14 miles went better than I thought. 5 miles on the road and we hit the Fort Larned national Historical site, managed by the National park service. They were closed but we biked in anyway. Their water was cool, clean and refreshing.

We made it into Larned, KS with time to spare and 56 miles under our belt. We have a food drop here that I will get tomorrow morning at the post office, while Heather bikes on ahead.

I want to sleep early tonight so we can get an early start tomorrow. So good night for now.



This is to

Sherri Occhi
Mary Swenson

Happy Mother's Day to you both.

Love Dana and Heather Arazi

and a Happy Mother's day to all you proud (and maybe not so proud) Mothers
out there today.

Route info for the Swensons

The following is our turn by turn route info so Mary and Larry will be able
to find us.

Today we leave Bazine head east on 96

Rush Center head south on federal highway 183

East on state highway 156

South on state Hwy 264

East on 8th street

Larned East on state Hwy 19

19 becomes county road 484 (aka NE 140th ST)

this becomes W 95th ave @ Reno county line

head north on Peace ave

East on 101st ave

south then east on state road 96

Nickerson head east on 82 ave

North on N Plum St

East on 95th ave

South on N. Medora st

East on County road 556 (aka Dutch ave) through Buhler

South/east on old 81

Hesston south on Ridge road
(at this point we are right next to Interstate 135 and US route 50 just
north of Wichita)

East on county road 586 (aka W 12th st)

South on main through Newton

East on county road 570 (aka E 1st st)

Cassoday South on Washington St
(at Cassoday we cross Interstate 35)

This becomes SE Rosalia Rd

East on federal Highway 54
stay on 54 through Eureka until we get close to Toronto.

Ok I am tired of typing and my eyes are crossed looking at the map. with
any luck you will have found us by this point. Hope this helps. I will
leave my phone on during the 15th also. See you guys soon.

Dana and Heather

Saturday, May 12, 2007

A Beautiful Day

Dighton, KS to Bazine, KS
45 miles

We had a beautiful day today, which ended with a stay at Elaine's bed and breakfast, which caters only to cyclists. We got the "Foo Foo" room, which certainly is foofy, with a satin pink, lace-edged bedspread. They invited us to join them for dinner at a pizza place, and I ate a whole pizza.

One thing that I've noticed lately is that there really is a lot of roadkill on the roads. I think I've never noticed it while driving because we're going too fast to notice them, and they are so small. But let me tell ya... Roadkill from a bicycle is a lot more disgusting from a bike than from a car. Both the visual and the olfactory aspect.

Since we eat every hour or so, we eat a lot of Snickers candy bars or other carb-laden food. I never thought I could hate a candy bar so much. I'm sick of Snickers. They have a Snickers Marathon bar, which gives us a bit of variety, as well as Almonds Snickers and Snickers Crunch. Today, I saw they now have Snickers Shrek, in anticipation of Shrek 3 coming out, and it has green stuff in it. I'll have to try it and see how it tastes.

PS: Happy birthday to my sister, Dawn!

Friday, May 11, 2007

Rough day in a bad mood

So this morning I woke up in a bad mood and it went down hill from there.
I remember reading several books, blogs, and stories about other people who
do this sort of thing. I do not remember hearing about being in so much
pain from anyone else. Perhaps that is the reason I was in a bad mood.
Poor Heather has had to put up with me all day. I think near the end I was
making up more things to complain about.

Many of you may not know this but this is actually my second attempt at
bicycling across the US. The first attempt ended in ohio (started in
Washington, DC) with a bus ticket. That was an ill planned trip. I was
not properly equipped and on the wrong size bike. I attribute a lot of my
discomfort to the bike being too big. I ended up in so much pain I could
not continue riding anymore. It took about 3 weeks of not touching my bike
before the pain started to go away. My current bike is the proper size of
course but still the pain persists.

As I have talked about before the bike only touched you in 3 places.
Hands, feet, seat. If it hurts then one of those must be wrong. I can
ride my bike all arround town all day long and just get a little stiff in
the end, but touring is a whole world apart from riding in town or doing
races. With the extra weight and the constant riding every day little
annoyances become serious adversity. I am in the process of replacing my
saddle now. I hope that helps.

unfortunately cynergy dropped the ball on this one. I will try
harriscycles.com owned and run by sheldon brown www.Sheldonbrown.com.

really seems to know his stuff about bikes.

today we ran into two other tourists heading the same way as us. They are
staying in hotels every night and eating out all the time. Consequently
they do not have to carry much stuff. They pulled up on us as I was
repairing a flat on the BoB trailer (first one). Heather and I tried to
keep up with them. We were not succesful. Their name are Bob and
Christine. In talking with Christine she mwntioned the iron man she
recently completed. Well at that point folks I stopped giving it my all
trying to keep up. I was pulling more weight and hello they are Iron
men/women, I can't compete with that. They were planning on being in
Dighton, KS (we did 70 miles today) tonight which is where we are. We are
sleeping in the city park and I am sure they are showered and tucked into
the nice warm bad right now. I think next time I tour I will either have a
SAG or tour by credit card!! So many people we meet are doing it that way
now a days.

I did get new biking shorts this morning. Thanks in large part to a
coordinated effort from my dad, brother, and steve at cynergy. They look
really cool. I rate them at 2 extension hours. So now I have a 4 hour
ride that is minimal on the pain. After 4 hours I moan a lot. That couple
we .et today said they are going to swap theirs out for brooks saddles as
well. Heck if an iron man can't take it then of course ordinary mortals
like me can't handle it. I have another edition of things you learn on
the road sorta ready but I have fallen asleep 3 times while I am typing
here so it will have to wait for a later date.

One funny thing. After I changed the BoB I forgot to really tighton the
wheel onto BoB. Cruising at 17 mph I lost the wheel. The funny part was
the wheel kept going. I searched for 15 minutes and finally found it on
the other side of theroad in tall grass. Lucky it had reflectors.

good night


Thursday, May 10, 2007

Jet Propulsion GO!

Haswell, CO to Tribune, KS
79 miles

I'm really enjoying this a lot more now. Spending time with Dana, seeing beautiful landscapes, and easy riding makes this a lot more fun. If you remember Dana's post from yesterday, he mentioned that someone spray painted messages for a previous group of cyclists. We saw more of those messages today, which provided good humor for us. Some of the messages included: "This way to more of nothing!" "lunch! 2.5 miles ahead" (of course, there was no lunch waiting for us), "I'm in a plain state of emotion".

Early this morning, we met Mark and his wife, whose name slips my memory right now. They biked from York, VA, and will be continuing on to Oregon. Their website is: trailjournals.com/stumpknocker. They also do other adventure trips, such as backpacking and running.

While riding today, I noticed every few minutes, Dana would yell something, then raise his fist in front of him, like Superman. I finally asked him what he was doing, and I guess everytime he *ahem* breaks wind, he yells "Jet propulsion GO!" and raises his fist in the air, in the hopes that the sudden explosion of gases will somehow make him go faster. I think he's been watching too many superhero movies. Nevertheless, it provided good entertainment for most of the day.

We crossed over into Kansas today, and it really reminds me of where I grew up. Lush green grass, flat land all the way to the horizon, cow farms or other crop farms everywhere, and trucks with stinky animals in the back. Okay, I can't really say I missed that, but it's a definite sign we're in the midwest.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

On the road again feels so good to be on the road again

Well today was a 90/40 mile day (read on, I will explain). So last night
we stayed in Ordway, CO and for the last time (sniffle sniffle) we slept in
the back of the U-Haul truck. Ordway is actualy 50 miles past where the
U-Haul truck needed to be turned in (thats in Pueblo, CO). We (actually it
was all Heather's idea) decided to camp in Ordway, then in the morning I
would leave with the truck and my bike while Heather waited with the stuff.
I left at about 8 am, drove the hour into town, returned the truck, then
finally hopped on my bike and headed back to where Heather was. On my way
back I stopped at a bike shop to buy a water bottle cage (my REI novara
brand cage came apart at the welds) that I needed. I think that was my
cheapest bike shop visit ever!

I booked it back to Ordway (ave 17 mph, ie 51 miles in 3 hours) with a
slight headwind. I noticed the ground was really flat (well, slight
rolling hills but compared to the last 3 weeks it was flat) and my map had
some interesting changes to it. You see, these maps have contour lines
(the mountainous regions have elevation profiles as well) that show, well,
elevations. I always have a hard time with these because I'm no
"mapmetician" (yes I know it is not a word, and I should use somthing like
cartographer or expert navigator, but read on, it makes sense) and the
lines confuse me. I never know if I need to add the numbers, divide the
area inside the lines, or find the median line of the difference of the two
adjacent elevations (get it now, mapmetician?) to figure when I am at the
top and when the downhill starts. I just know that when it says 4,000 I am
going to be at least at 4,000 feet or maybe as high as 4,999 feet. So my
point (and yes there is a point I just wanted to make sure you understood
that I have no idea what I'm talking about here) is that on the maps we
have been using so far, all the elevation lines have been in 1,000 foot
increments (I just assumed this was standard) I was heart broken when I
looked at our current map and there were several climbs indicated. On
closer inspection I saw the new maps are in 250 foot (that's right, two
hundred fifty) increments. I had to double take on that one. I thought
"250 feet that's all? I doubt I will even notice those", and if the climbs
are so small that they need to break it down to 250 feet, I am stoked. In
truth, this morning (all day actually) I did not really notice the climbs.
YIPEE we are now officially out of the mountains.

While driving the last 50 miles to Ordway yesterday I noticed some writing
on the road (cute little messages really) but I was not able to read them
because we were going so fast. I made a mental note to check them out
today. On my way back to Pueblo to return the truck I only read one, it
said "hill" with an arrow that, appropriately, pointed to a hill. Weird, I
thought. On my bike ride back I could not read the first message (going to
fast again) but I took the time to stop and go back (much easier on a bike
then in a U-Haul) to it. It said something like "just 100 miles to go" the
next one said "keep it up only 99 miles left" and finally "you can do it
just 98 miles from here". These were of course spaced 1 mile apart, in
case you were wondering. My thought was that these were encouragements for
a century (thats 100 miles for all you non-cyclists out there) ride. There
were other messages as well like "hill" and an arrow pointing to the state
prison with the word "NOT" right after it. Finally a few miles into the
trip, I figured out what these really were. Seems a group (they must have
a SAG vehicle) is doing a cross country ride and these are their doings.
The reason I found this out is one of the messages said "D.C. or Bust!".
Well I was stoked to see that, to say the least. The whole day was filled
with their witty humor. One more example is along a barren stretch of road
there was a lone dilapidated windmill surrounded by what looked like an old
corral. On the road with an arrow pointed in the appropriate place was a
message reading "look there is...something?" we both got a good laugh out
of that one.

The first 50 miles for me was difficult because I was pushing really hard
to get back as fast as I could. Then we connected the trailer (after I ate
large quantities of food Heather prepared for me in my absence) and WOW
that thing is heavy! I went from booking it at 17 mph to struggling to
maintain 10 mph. Ryan told me if we want to enjoy this ride together I
would have to take enough weight from Heather so we go the same pace. So I
took all the weight. I am not sure if I would classify my experience as
enjoyment right now but I do love having Heather right there with me to
chat with.

When we finally made it to Haswell, CO I had gone a total of 90 miles and
Heather had gone 40 miles (thus the 90/40 up top there). She is busy
setting up camp while I write this. Near the end I was real tuckered out
and really had to dig deep those last 5 miles. We did get a nice surprise
here. There is free camping in the city park. A nice lady, Debora, walked
over and told us the water is safe to drink (comes right from the town
system) and it is indeed free to camp here. There are bathrooms (actually
permanent outhouses) but no electricity. The second surprise was when I
put my jacket on the sun pre-warmed it for me so I got to enjoy a nice warm
jacket. That is a good thing cause the rest of me is really in a lot of

Not sure if you all read the comments from other readers like yourself but
there was one I really need to talk about. This comment was from Steve at
Cynergy cycles (www.cycnergycycles.com). He made a great offer I think I
may take him up on (read the comment a few posts ago, to find out what he
said) in the near future. So a few things we could use. One medium sized
container of "hammer gel" (we already have the dispensers) and the most
important one of all a "brooks saddle model B66 standard"

www.brookssaddles.com the pre-aged one would be nice and color is not
important. Steve, if you can talk your boss into buying that for me, also
ask him something else too. What is your return policy for a one month old
(1,400 miles) saddle designed for torture, pain, and general debilitating
injuries (I figure if it is not better after a month it will never get
better) to a cyclist? Our next mail drop is in Miami, Oaklahoma I hope to
see a box from Cynergy there. I know it is a long shot but worth the try.

Oh and Janice, if you get a box from Cynergy cycles make sure to post a
comment about it here so we know it is waiting.

Oh and for you avid cyclists out there I have developed a new rating (I
have not done the research so someone else may have already thought of
this) system for bike seats (or saddles, as the jargon goes). I think all
saddles should be rated in hours. For example, my saddle is a 2.5 hour
saddle. Go as far as you want and as fast as you want, just make sure you
are back in two and half hours or you will regret it. This could be
matched with bike shorts. The shorts could have a chart saying "extends
2.5 hour saddle to 5 hour saddle". Well just a thought. If you
manufacture bicycle saddles and want to use my rating system, I charge a
very small license fee per model. Contact me for details.

Well that is it for now. The sun is down, I am fed, and the bugs are
biting. Time to hit the sack. Literaly because we are basically sleeping
in sacs. I hope this finds you all well or at least keeps your mind off
not being well for a short time while you read.


"those who say it cannot be done, oh be quiet you're wrong" -dana

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Another day of driving

Monarch Pass, CO To Ordway, CO
180 miles

We woke up this morning and realized we were in the middle of some beautiful mountains (kinda hard to see that when you're driving at night). I noticed that along the way, there are lots of signs that warn of cattle ahead. Yet we never saw any. We did see plenty of deer, so I'm thinking they should replace all those signs with deer warnings. Or maybe they could just paint some antlers on the cow signs, that should be good enough.

We stopped in Dolores, CO yesterday to pick up our mail drop and we got a box full of goodies from my parents. Thanks, mom and dad!

After eating rice and beans for the trillionth time, It really starts to taste awful. So I tried adding some trail mix, and wouldn't you know, it tasted really great! So I look forward to adding this new twist to my meals for a while.

Today we drove and got settled in Ordway. Tomorrow we'll be back to biking again and we hope we'll go a lot faster now that we're out of the mountains.


Things you learn on the road

The BoB trailer has two cotter pins that secure the trailer to the bike.
These are attached by a cheap piece of rubber. The trailer will not attach
without these easily lost pieces. When you do lose one of these pins, a
spoke broken earlier that day can be bent to the proper spape and works
well (don't worry Alex, we did find the pin eventually).

No matter how warm your body is at night in your sleeping bag your feet
will inevitably be cold.

Not very surprising but the back of a U-Haul is neither warm nor
comfortable to sleep in.

When planning a trip that will include some mountains be sure to plot your
course carefully. Keep in mind the goal is to get past the mountains and
your route sould take the most direct path possible. Do NOT ride squarely
into the middle of the mountain range and then head north to explore every
ridge and peak possible.

When taking a long bike ride, ie accross the country, going self sustained
(you carry everything) is hardcore and gives you bragging rights. Having a
SAG vehicle (the person driving carries your gear) makes the ride much,
much (can't emphasize this enough) easier.


400 plus miles in one day OK more like recovery

So this will be a short one too. Yesterday I really pushed it to get my
century ride in. Hmm I'm thinking I shouldn't try to do centuries in a
snowstorm while climbing up 6,000 feet. That ride really took a toll on my

By the end I think everything hurt, but I will mention just a few things
here. My knees had sharp pains (yes both of them and in odd places too),
my shoulder had a knot that only hurt while I was breathing (I tried to
eliminate the breathing and was almost successful at about 9,000 feet), my
throat hurt, my feet were frozen, and I had a fever. Other than all that
I was fine. After sleeping in the back of the U-Haul, I woke up cold and
feeling worse. I think these mountains were not meant to be biked in at
this time of year. So Heather and I decided to postpone our insane trek
through these mountains until the middle of summer. Lucky for us we
already had a U-Haul.

I extended an invitation to my brother Alex to join us for a week of some
of the most difficult riding a person can do through these mountains.
Anyone reading this who thinks he should join us, now is your chance to put
in your 2 cents and encourage him to do it.

We drove the entire route by U-Haul today, so now I have a better idea of
what I am getting into. Tomorrow we will return the truck and start biking
again the day after that. We are both looking forward to the lower
elevations and the warmth of NOT being in the mountains. Our only concern
now will be avoiding those mean ol' tornados.


Monday, May 7, 2007

Over a huge mountain

Cedar City, UT to Henrieville, UT
93 miles

So, Dana tackled one of the biggest mountains we will experience on this trip. He climbed 4,000 feet to a top summit of 10,000 feet. I drove the U-Haul as he biked. Every hour or so, I would drive until I caught up with him, then pull over at the next area, wait for him to catch up, then he would come inside, thaw out, and eat. Let me tell ya, just from driving th U-Haul, I could feel the hills, wind, and cold. I am so glad we decided on renting a U-Haul (which is actually cheaper than renting a car). Dana biked through some 14 mph headwinds and a lot of snow. And this wasn't the "melt-when-it-hits-the-ground" type, this snow was a foot thick in some areas.

When we first saw these mountains, we were in awe at all the beauty it provides. However, after climbing over so many mountains, I can't help but develop a love/hate relationship with them. I really love to hate mountains right now. In fact, I think they're the ugliest things on the planet. Dana had a great idea that they should build bridges from the top of one mountain to the top of another. Then we wouldn't have to go down and back up. I think they should build tunnels, so that we can go underneath all of them.

Dana is really tired after his long day. He really wanted to push it to 100 miles today, but the last 7 miles were all uphill, so he quit for the day. I bet he'll sleep real well tonight.

Saturday, May 5, 2007

A day of rest and Snowed in

well the roads out of Cedar City were snowed in today. One of the roads is
still closed so we have to route around it. Luckily it does not add many
miles and it takes off some altitude.

While we were in town of course I went to see spider-man 3. More
importantly we discussed options for the mountains. I called and called
and called to see what we could do. Some of the options we considered
were, take a bus, rent a car, rent a uhaul, and fly out. Well every option
is expensive and most were inconvenient being we would would have to get to
another city to make it happen.

We setteled on Uhaul. We have it for 4 days now. The plan is for me to
bike as long and as hard as I can for 4 days and heather will sag for me.
We will get through as many miles as we can in 4 days. Whatever miles do
not get done will have to be done later in the year. The weather here is
crazy cold with snow all over the place. Who knows maybe I can get some
double centuries in while I am going through the mountains. My goal is to
get about 100 miles a day. Only time will tell how close I can get to that
goal. Heather will be comfortable in the Uhaul and safe as well so that is
a good thing.

We are adding one mail drop here because my brother has something he needs
to send me. So Alex, here is the address, we should be there in 6 days,

Dana and Heather Arazi
General delivery
Tribune, KS 67879

If anyone wants to use this one then priority is probably the way to go
cause we will be there pretty soon. Going to sleep early tonight so I can
get up early and bike all day long. Big climb tomorrow of about 4000 feet,
hope it goes well. I will tell more in two days.


A Blustery Day

Grafton, UT to Cedar City, UT
51 miles

When we left the free campground near Grafton, it was a beautiful morning. But as we got closer to Cedar City, we could see the dark clouds moving closer and looking more and more menacing. At one point, the wind (a headwind, of course) really started to pick up, which often foretells rain. We pulled out our rain gear and piled on our clothing and pedaled on. Sure enough, the sky poured buckets and buckets of rain on us. I later found out that annual precipitation for the area is 14 inches. We must've gotten most of it today. So, there we were, pedaling uphill, with a strong headwind, in the rain. Things couldn't get any worse, right? Wrong! Big, fat clumps of wet snow started to fall. We continued until we found good shelter at a National Park visitor center. We were cold, wet, and miserable. The forecast for the night was: more snow. We still had to get to Cedar City, with 2,000 more feet to climb, and we didn't have much time left before the sun went down (not that it mattered, it wasn't doing its job anyway). Fortunately, we met Rita, who works for the National Parks service. Since her shift was almost finished, she offered us a ride into Cedar City. There was no way we could turn down that offer! So we piled everything into her pickup and were soon in a nice warm hotel (no way are we camping in the snow!). It turns out there are thunderstorm warnings, tonado watches, and snowstorm warnings all over the place.

I've been seeing a few animals along the way, but today I saw two new animals I hadn't seen before on this trip. Before today, I saw lizards, California Condors (an endangered species), a coyote, wild cats, dogs, horses, cows (they sure like to stare at bicyclists!), and plenty of insects. Today, we saw a bunch of turkeys on the side of the road. We must have scared them, because they all took off, but not off the road like you'd expect. They ran onto the road, and one was within inches of getting hit by a car. What a turkey! We also saw an ostrich farm, with a bunch of shy ostriches.

We haven't decided yet on renting a car, but since the snow is expected to continue until tomorrow night, I think tomorrow will be a rest day. We'll see if the weather clears up or not.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Expensive but productive day

Hmmm oatmeal with dried fruit, cream, coffee, tea, toast with jam, and all
inside an RV. This morning could not have been better. Our friends from
last night invited us over for breakfast! I tell you, I really am happy we
have crossed into Utah (ok I know they are from Oregon, but we met the in
Utah) where people are downright FRIENDLY.

Ok here is the deal... I want to start out with an explanation and then an
excuse but I will give you the punchline first. Today we traveled 40 miles
but only biked 8 miles. Yes, that means we got a ride. If you hate us
now, then stop reading and never return but, if you would like to read on,
there is a good reason.

Thanks for sticking with us. This morning, Pat and Tom and their niece and
nephew were driving into Zion National Park. There is a section in Zion (1
mile long tunnel) where it is illegal to bicycle through. They offered to
rive us a ride through the tunnel. The only catch is we're camped about 20
miles from the tunnel. We had two options. Bike to Zion early in the AM
and hope to meet up with them (or anyone) to get a ride through. Second
option: get a ride there and have a guaranteed ride through. Well as they
say "a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush," we took option 2. Also
there was a bike shop just outside of Zion I needed to get to. My bike was
limping again.

Ok before I go on, I just want to say one more time what wonderful people
Tom, Pat, John, and Jeanie are. We have not been this well taken care of
since well before we left home. We really are very grateful for all they
did for us and thank you just does not say enough.

So at the bike shop we got:
Two new tires (mine wore out plus spare)
Four water bottles
Four water bottle holders
One rack for water bottles that clamps onto Heather's seatpost and holds
two bottles
One rear flashing light for the BoB (the trailer)
Handlebar wrap
Chamois cream (butt butter)
Spare tube for the BoB
Spare tube for us
4 CO2 cartridges
Clamps to better attach rear rack to BoB
Cassette remover that does not need tools
6 spare spokes
And the best for last, Dana got his rear wheel rebuilt (explanation to

Ok, rebuilding a wheel is a big deal and not everyone knows how to do it.
I am one of those without the knowledge or skill/art to do this. Basically
you remove all the old spokes from the wheel and the hub (thats the thing
in the middle) and the rim (thats the thing on the outside that the tires
go around) are in two separate pieces. Then you put in new spokes in the
hub and attach then to the rim following a special pattern. Then the hard
part. Each spoke is tightened to the exact same tension, if you are off by
a 1/4 turn, then the wheel goes out of balance and wobbles. Not a fast or
easy process.

I walked into a small but well-stocked bike shop just south of Zion on the
9 highway called Zion Cycles www.zioncycles.com and Fred (I think he is the
owner) greeted me. My firsat thing was "can you rebuild my wheel because I
am breaking a spoke every day." He seemed to think for a moment then with
a down cast tone said " yeah, but it will take a couple of hours". I could
have hugged him. A couple of hours is WAY better than "no way" or "yeah it
can be ready by next week". This guy really rocks (yet another reason to
visit Utah) and totally dropped everything to build me a new wheel with
much better spokes. What a life saver. On top of that he added a few
washers to the attachment point of BoB and it finally fits perfectly.

The total price was arround $288. Fred gave us a huge 20% discount too.
We really appreciate it. If ever you are in this neck of the woods his
shop is for sure worth stopping in and getting whatever you need for your
bike. If all you need is service, this guy really knows what he is doing.
The best surgeons are the ones who do the work day in and day out all day
long, well folks Fred is your guy. If you read this, Thanks Fred we owe
you a lot!

While we were at the bike shop (www.zioncycles.com), a few things happened.
Tom and family left to go explore the park for the rest of the day. There
were hugs all around and we were sorry to see them leave. They wished us
well and headed out.

We met some fellow bike tourists, Wilf and Susan. They drove down from
Vancouver Island, Canada to Cedar City, UT. From there they hopped on
their bikes and have been touring the back roads for about 3 days now.
They were using full sets of panniers instead of a BoB (and yes Susan had
her fair share of weight too) like us. They have maps from the same
company as us plus some other back road maps. We found out from them that
one of the roads on our map is closed due to snow. Luckily they showed us
an alternate route to take. Maybe by the time we get there it will be
open. It was nice talking with them they really seemed to have their stuff
together and know what they are doing. Later on during their vacation they
will be on the same route as us. Hopefully we will meet up again.

So I think thus far our biggest expenses have been parts for the bike. I
guess this is a good lesson for both of us. We thought we had everything
we needed but turns out we were wrong. My rear tire was not strong enough,
my pedals were wrong, we needed a trailer, and Heather needed me to carry
her stuff. Most of this stuff could have been taken care of at home but, I
guess we will chalk this up to a learning experience. A very expensive
learning experience. I hope now we do not need to buy any more parts for
my or Heather's bike. but all of this switching and changing is really
slowing us down.

We may have a solution. Your thoughts would be appreciated here. We are
thinking of renting a car and having Heather SAG (support and gear) through
the rest of the mountains. We have not made the final decision yet but we
are leaning heavily in that direction. This way I can really push the pace
and bust out withh 70-100 mile days and still have time to eat and sleep.
If I really push it we can be out of these ups and downs in a week. This
would of course mean all our gear would be in the car not on BoB or my
bike. If you think this is a very bad idea please say so. If you agree
with this idea, well, please say so. The conflict is, Heather does not
want to give up. The reality is at our current pace we will be in the
Rockies for another month.

We heard from our Buddy Ryan today, he is well and almost in Houston (a big
stop for him with friends). We still miss riding with him. Heather and I
really are enjoying each others company so much on this trip. What a fun
adventure. We just look forward to being able to look back on this and
talk about it in the past.

I should warn you all. Service is really spotty here in Utah and Colorado.
Don't be surprised if you do not hear anything from us for several days.
Do not worry we are looking out for each other and will let you all know if
anything happens. Even without service we still write every night and will
post as soon as we can. I hope you noticed the posts for the last 4-5 days
just went up today.

Talk to you all later.

ps thanks mom for letting and TT know what we are doing.

Pps and Alex I will get you that address as soon as we move to the next
map. Thanks man

A Very Satisfying Dinner

Jacob Lake, AZ to Mt. Carmel, UT
54 miles

(May 2) You may have noticed we haven't posted in a while. We were in an area that didn't have reception, so we couldn't send in our posts. Be sure to read back a few days to get caught up. We also noticed that most of Utah and Colorado doesn't have service either, so expect a few lags in our posts. But fear not, we will continue to post as often as we can!

I'm starting to enjoy this a bit more these days. My body is feeling better, and I'm getting used to the daily routine. One thing that really helps is eating enough food (and more)to keep me going.

We biked down 3,000 feet today, and to be honest, for as long as it took to bike up that far, it would be nice if we could enjoy the downhills a bit longer. What took us 6 hours to bike up yesterday, only took a few minutes to bike down (or so it seemed).

We left Arizona and entered Utah today. I noticed that Arizona has lots of RVs, and lots of RV Parks. I never really understood the point of having an RV. "Honey, let's go camping, only we'll bring the whole house with us." But, I can't help but feel a hint of jealousy whenever we camp in between a couple of humongous RVs.

When we got to Mount Carmel, we were buying some food, and asked the cashier where the campground was. Another customer told us we should inquire about the RV campground just around the corner. So we went over and found out that this campground is reserved for RVs, but they told us to go ahead and pick a spot wherever we wanted--no charge! Then as we were setting up camp, the customer who recommended the place came over and told us, "Don't bother cooking dinner, come and join us for salad and spaghetti." So, we had a wonderful pasta dinner with Tom, Pat, and their family. With salad, pasta, garlic bread, and great conversation, we really could not have asked for a better meal! They had lots left over, so we didn't feel guilty about taking seconds, thirds, and fourths (it was that good!). We really stuffed ourselves full. On top of that, they offered us a ride into Zion National park tomorrow. There are several areas where biking is illegal in the park, so our only option is to hitchike. It is such a relief knowing we won't have to worry about that tomorrow.

I wish we had our map

Tuesday May 1

Oh my goodness. Last night we stayed in Cliff Dwellers at 4,000 feet
elevation because it is the only stop before Jacob Lake (which is at the
top of a huge mountain). We thought by looking at our photocopies of our
lost maps, that we only had about 2,500 foot climb, it looked like Jacob
Lake was at 7,000 feet. Well as you might have guessed, we were wrong.
Dead, tired, broken spoke, 9 hours of biking wrong!

The first 20 miles of our thirty miles was not bad, it was a steady climb
of about 1,000 feet. Let's see... 1,000 feet up in 20 miles, can anyone
figure out whate the grade is there? Well the last 10-14 miles about
killed us!

We went up an additional 3,000 feet in 10 miles, now figure out that grade
on the road. Even if you do not do the math to figure out how steep that
climb was you may still notice that's 4,000 feet we went up. Remember in
an earlier post I said 2,000 feet was our limit? Well I was not wrong.
After 2,000 feet we were ready to quit but, we did not have a choice so we
kept going.

So far on this trip 8,000 feet has been our highest elevation. That was
hmm let's see, oh right TODAY! We knew we had a big climb ( not that big
mind you) in front of us so we planned accordingly. We made arrangements
with the hotel ( that's right, no camping available again) to leave at 3:30
am. Actually we did not get out of there until 4:30 (more like 5-ish) and
we were off. It took us about 9 hours to make it to Jacob Lake, AZ.

Along the way, we stopped at some scenic spots for some pictures. The ride
was pretty uneventful. Heather and I noticed some really annoying
mini-flies that are attracted to my yellow bags, my leg and arm hair, and
her glasses/eyes. What is really interesting is they are limited to about
4,000-4,300 feet. Before or after that elevation they are almost
nonexistent. We have run into them pretty consistently in Arizona at those
elevations though.

We also are amazed at the transformation of the landscape at certain
elevations and geological barriers. For example, as we crested a hill at
about 6,000 feet we left the high desert and dropped into the beautiful
Kiabab Forest that Teddy Rosevelt wrote so often about. The majority of
our day was spent climbing the mointain in this forested region. It was
breathtakingly beautiful. Because we left so early in the morning there we
not many cars (one every 30 min or so) to contend with.

Although I am talking about this beautiful background and wonderful scenery
I need to make something clear here. This was TOUGH! Maybe some of he
most difficult and taxing riding I have ever done. We walked several times
(not that it is easier to walk up these hills, it just wears out different
muscles). I am not ashamed to admit it. On several occasions, I
questioned my reasoning for this trip and at times I just wanted to stop
and sleep for the rest of the day and just give up. We went higher than we
have ever gone, for longer, and up steeper hills. So while this was a
pretty sight to see, it is only in retrospect that I may truly enjoy it.

So as we finally got to the top we looked for a campground that was marked
on our map. Well if we had the back of the map we would have known it is
closed until May 15. So you guessed it, we stayed at the hotel/lodge
there. Two days ago I called adventure cycling to have then next-day-air a
map to me at this very lodge. Well they let me down, no map was there
waiting for us. Oh well I guess we get to play the guessing game for
elevation again.

A word to the wise for all you cyclist out there. Whenever you ask a
person about hills up ahead, please remember they have no idea what a hill
is while in a car. Most drivers think 1,000-2,000 feet up hill is FLAT
gound. We have learned this the hard way several times over.

On the plus side, this Jacob Lake Inn is really nice. They rooms are
modern and the people are super cool and friendly. We really are enjoying
this place. For all you Grand Canyon sightseeing people, go to the North
Rim and stay here for a night, you will not be disappointed.

On the down side, my bike broke another spoke. I am getting really good at
replacing them now though. In truth I am really frustrated with all the
mechanical failures I am having. I know it has to do with all the weight I
am carrying but what choice do I have? Heather and I talked about it and
mostly she listened to how upset I was. It felt good to vent and be heard
and sympathized with.

So I have made another change to my packing. Before I tell you what I did
let's review what I've done.

1 Dana carries all group gear and his gear. Heather carries her personal
stuff. Both have 4 main bags each, 2 front and 2 back.

2 Dana takes on all of Heather's sleeping stuff, ie, bag, bivy sac, and
sleeping pad.

3 Major change. Heather ships back (to Alex) the front rack and two font
bags, Dana repacks her stuff so she has her sleeping pad, bivy sac, and all
her clothes in two rear bags. Dana packed everything else in his four main
bags plus her sleeping bag and food bag piled on top.

4 The weight is still too much for Heather. Alex sends Dana his BoB
trailer. Heather ships (to Dana's aunt) her rear rack, her remaining two
bags , leaving just a small handlebar bag for snacks and a small bag for a
spare tube under her seat. Her bike is totally stripped down now. Dana
ships his two large rear bags and his front rack with Heather's stuff. The
front bags are moved to the rear of the bike and the BoB trailer is loaded
down. Dana is now carrying everything.

5 This now brings us to the most recent revision. Dana moved his rear bike
rack to the BoB trailer. Dana's bike is now stripped down. The rear
(formerly front) bags are moved even further back to rest over the tire on
the BoB. Everything else is packed into the bag in the BoB trailer. While
this final revision has dramatically decreased the stability of the
bike/trailer, the effort required to move the stuff has also decreased. I
think I will like this recent setup the most so far.

After fixing, washing, oiling, rotating the tires, and checking over the
bikes (3 hours), I am exausted. I hope you are all well reading this. We
are still at it and will still be going again tomorrow and the next day.
Take care.