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

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Tired of posting

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

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

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


Feeling better today

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Tuesday, June 12, 2007

More on Discovery, Less on biking

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


PS: we did not even touch the bikes today!

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

Monday, June 11, 2007


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

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

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

Dana and Heather

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Our final day of rest

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Almost there!

Louisa, VA to Alexandria, VA
117 miles

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

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

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

Friday, June 8, 2007

Hot humid and a great day

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Beautiful Virginia!

Afton, VA to Charlottesville, VA
30 miles

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

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

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

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Things you learn on the road

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

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

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


Everyone who likes the commonwealth of Virginia raise your hand

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Wednesday, June 6, 2007


Christiansburg, VA to Natural Bridge, VA
67 miles

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

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

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

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

Monday, June 4, 2007

400 to go

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


you rock man!

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

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

Rain, rain, go away!

Marion, VA to Wytheville, VA
25 miles

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

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

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

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Motivation till the end

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Happy birthday Alex

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


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

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

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

Lions and tigers and bears, oh my!

Breaks Interstate Park, VA to Rosedale, VA
41 miles

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

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

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

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