Wednesday, June 30, 2010

posted up in twin bridges, mt at a bicycle camp. this place is dope.

and then its sunny.



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montana brings it.



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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Days 48 - 53. Waiting for a day and then a lovely friend comes to visit.

So I am grouping days 48 - 53 together as I toured Yellowstone with a lovely friend of mine. Actually while on this tour, a couple referred to us as a 'unit.' I've never heard that one before.
To describe this time I am referring to a passage out of "Travels With Charley" and borrowing the words of Steinbeck. Obviously some of this is altered to fit my personal story.

" Yellowstone was a break in my journey. My lovely friend flew in from the East for her brief visit. I was delighted at the change, back to a known and trusted life -- but here I run into literary difficulty.
Yellowstone broke my continuity as did the Denver area. This is permissible in life but not in writing. So I leave Yellowstone out, at least the visit, because it is off the line, out of drawing. In my travels, it was pleasant and good, in writing, it would contribute only a disunity.
When that time was over and the good-bys said, I had to go through the same feelings all over again. The feelings of rolling solo, looking to only my own thoughts and random strangers for company. "

My version of Steinbeck's passage does not do it justice but this is a time I want to keep for myself. Yellowstone is a beautiful place, a bit of a playground for adults. A place where adults hang out and check stuff out. I know why young people don't frequent the place as it can be a bit boring. But overall, the place is unique, wonderful and calming for the scenses. Ones that visit just need to be prepared - mentally.

Ok, now you have it. All caught up. Now I venture into pure wilderness. A wilderness that is unsafe to just camp in without a bear box or a tall tree, in which, I can hoist food. Welcome to Montana. (Overly Dramatic). Ha.

Day 47. Grand Teton National Park to Yellowstone National Park. 75 miles.

I'm glad to be out of the plaines and into the mountains where destinations are mysterious and routes even more so. Tall trees hide destinations from view and asphalt is carved into the forest floor. The scent of pine fills the air, white clouds swim through the blue sky and hills of jagged rock stretch above all. The miles pass quickly here.

I rode over a couple of passes to the junction of Grant Village in Yellowstone. All the while, vehicles from all over the country passed by. Inside, eager faces peered into the canyons and woods that bind the roadways. The ride was smooth, climbing and descending and the only concern I had were motorhomes due to their massive size and lack of shoulder on the road. I trust semis more because their drivers drive constantly, while Ma and Pa Smith take their giant RV that is pulling a Hummer that is pulling a trailer holding motorcyles only but a few times a year. Gotta watch out for those giant wastes of resources. I mean really, do you need all that? Really?

I ate lunch and spoke with a man from Scotland who was all about touring back in the day. Had toured New Zealand and parts of the US. Next trip, I hear? I pressed on to Madison Junction where I knew a hiker/biker campsite was waiting. I decided to bypass all the sites as I had planned on spending the next 5 days touring the park with a lovely friend of mine who was coming in for a visit.

As I sat down in my campsite, another cyclist rolled in. He was a frenchman traveling from Denver to San Francisco and we began talking immediately. Obviously there is a bond long distance cyclists share because we're all eager for companionship as well as eager to share our own stories of life on the road. It's addicting. We spoke of food, countries, customs and fire as the sun sat. The sky was clear that night and the air cold. Finally my 15 degree sleeping bag came to good use.

Day 46. Middle of no where to Grand Teton National Park. 85ish miles

I awoke with the sun and put in 20 miles before hitting a breakfast joint in Dubois, WY. The Cowboy Cafe, I recommend it. Biscuits and gravy, eggs, hashbrowns, sausage and chicken fried steak adorned a griddle type plate that was placed in front of me. A cup of coffee to compliment. The staff could not have been nicer. They were interested in my ride and what I was doing and they let me rest there for over an hour while I pondered the mountain pass awaiting my arrival.

A fine looking Texas family asked from another booth, "Are you on a bicycle?" A man with a huge grin and a Texas accent wearing a Canadian Tuxedo sat, his wife to his right and his three boys directly across. "You got it, man," I responded. We chatted about the ride and their own personal vacation. It's great to see people interested in the ride and the fully loaded bicycle. Apparently they saw me roll up to the cafe. Obviously if I were in a car they most likely would n0t have said a word.

I rolled out of breakfast and into a grocery to stock up on supplies. You never know what's out there, or lack there-of, in this country. I then decided some sugar was in order and rolled into a donut shop. There I downed a regular donut, a long john and a mtn dew. Also while there I saw a young man I had noticed at breakfast and at the grocery so naturally I asked him how he was doing. He replied with "same shit, different day." Naturally I thought him to be a local but when I inquired he told me he was from North Carolina and visiting family. Well, why the canned answer because I can't imagine that when on vacation that you can be doing the same shit? Anyway, turned out the young man was in the Marines and was only 19 years old. He had enlisted after school to be a mechanic but due to the current situation in Afghanistan he's headed out to the front lines in October. Going to be a 'grunt' he said. Also said that his shooting isn't the best. Better work on that man. I guess he was visiting family to say his last goodbyes as he told me about his families' plan to have him cremated once he was gone. Talk about a downer conversation but a real one, nonetheless. I thanked him for what he was doing and rode off.

The sun shone brightly for 10 miles before ominous rain clouds and strong headwinds moved in at the base of Togwotee pass. I crept along for at least 6 miles and for a solid hour before a spot of blue hope cut through the dark sky. For another 4 hours I climbed the pass, sweating profusely, the body heating a cooling with each wind gust. I stopped somewhere near the top for a snack of cookies and bread and a little email action and after about 20 minutes a ranger pulled up. "You need to be careful. There's a sow grizzly with three cubs in this area." I can see it now, a cute cub wandering up to me and sniffing my heels just when an angry mama bear knocks my head off. I hopped on the bike and cautiously watched the roadside for an angry ball of fur.

I eventually hit the top waiting for the smooth descent down the other side but unfortunately didn't get it. The wind blowing ever-so strongly, I pedaled furiously just to keep the bike moving down the pass. After at least 10 miles of descending and 10 miles of flats I hit Grand Teton National Park. The place was a zoo.

Grand Teton and Yellowstone are always crowded and extremely busy, especially in the summer months. Here, patience is a virtue. You can't ever be in a hurry. One great thing about the large crowds is that you don't have to ever keep an eye out of wildlife because the mobs of people and cars gathering on the sides of the road are a strong indicator. And when sitting on a bike, it's impossible to miss anything. As I approached my first crowd, I thought everyone would probably be scoping some elk or bison but turns 0ut it was a sow grizz digging in the dirt a couple hundred yards off the road. Rangers were directing traffic just trying to keep it moving while rubber necks extended through open windows with hopes of grabbing a peak at the large beast. Another great thing about a bike; you're always on the shoulder and can park anywhere. After an eye-full of grizzly bear I moved onto Colter Bay where I crashed for the eve. To my surprise they didn't gouge me over the price and the site was a mere $7 - talk about a deal.

I saw a few other cyclists but was too tired to visit with them. I rolled into camp, pitched a tent, ate some chili and climbed into my sleeping bag to read and snooze. I must say, there is something comfortable about actually sleeping at a campsite as opposed to the side of the open road, though not as exciting. Damn, this is awesome!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Day 45. Sweetwater Station Junction to somewhere between Lander and Dubois, WY. 95 miles.

I departed just after sunrise and put in a solid 40 by 9:30 discovering the beauty that is Wyoming. Rolling hills coated in green life, red cliffs and blue skies accompanied me the entire ride. Also, it was all downhill except the occaisional short climb.

I rolled into the local Lander libraray where I charged my phone, chattered with pals and charged my communication device. From there I went to breakfast where I was accompanied by a peculiar gentleman. I couldn't not tell if this man was drunk, handicapped, or possibly both. He wore a black, worn-out cowboy had that had long ago lost it's shape. A yellow windbreaker was keeping him warm but under it was a striped cowboy shirt. His jeans sagged low and his black boots were also worn-out. His skin was dark brown as if he had been crossing the desert and his hair was thinning rapidly. He seemed to have been talking to himself but I think he may have been commenting on my wool socks that stretched to my knees. It was hard to tell. As I sat down, I saw him stand and stagger his way over to my table and plop down in the seat across from mine. He looked at me and smiled a toothless smile and I welcomed him. He began to mutter something and outstretched his hand. I shook it. His name was Thornton and honestly something just wasn't quite right. He held up three fingers and muttered some more gibberish. I tried to decipher his speech but couldn't and he gave up trying to communicate what his three fingers were all about. We spoke about simple things such as where we were and where he was from as well as where I was going. He seemed confused by most things and had a lot of trouble understanding what I was talking about, at which point, he would grin his toothless grin in my direction. As my food came and I chowed, he began talking to himself and pointing in all directions. The waitress shot me a look like, 'you want me to get rid of this guy?' I shot back a 'no, he's good.' The man once again held up his three fingers and muttered, 'dollars.' 'Oh' I replied. Sure, I thought and threw him 3 bucks. As I finished eating he begged for one more dollar. 'you're sneaky, thornton.' I told him. 'You just hit me up for three and now you're asking for one more? you should have just asked for four. Sorry, bud but you're not getting another one.' I had a couple more singles in my pocket but I wasn't about to part with them purely out of spite. The man needs to work on his skills. He stood up and walked outside. I paid shortly thereafter and stepped into the now hot sun. Thornton was passed out on a bench.

I toured around town for a bit looking for a bike shop - nada. So I stopped into an ice cream joint and loaded up on dairy, which, i'm learning is a terrible idea. I headed out just after noon for the town of Dubois, 75 miles and 1000 vertical feet from Lander. The first 25 came with no problem, just some climbing, a slight breeze and some gathering clouds. As I turned to head west, dark clouds moved in, the wind picked up immediately and rain began to fall. As if it were written in the stars, a rest area came along and I stopped to wait. After 30 minutes it appeared as if I would spend the night there, though the area adorned a sign that read 'no overnight camping.' Well, what would the law officials expect me to do? I posted up in a picnic shelter, inflated my sleeping mat, got comfy and did one thing I haven't done this entire trip. I opened the book I brought along and started to read.

'Travels With Charley.' by Steinbeck. I picked this book up while traveling in Costa Rica earlier this year. I actually started it there but didn't make it too far in. I then started over in NYC and once again didn't make it too far. But under this shelter I picked up where my bookmark sat, started reading and remembered why I brought it. If you are a fan of Steinbeck you may notice that I am trying to emulate his writing style. Though I am no writer. I'm just a guy blogging on a computer for a handful of readers. Steinbeck is a writer and an incredibly deep thinker I am discovering and if I ever have the talent to think so deeply or write with such brutal honestly about myself, I'd be one.....well I don't know, because I am no writer.

It is Steinbeck and his story of traveling that has inspired this and past blog posts. The last few posts I've written have been absolute crap and for that I am sorry. After my Colorado rest I became lazy and have been leaving out important details. Perhaps not important, but details that truly make the story entertaining and interesting to read. I hope to improve as this trip continues on. One thing reading does to me is put me to sleep. Within a few pages I was snoozing away as the rain continued to fall. What I guess was a couple hours later, I awoke to sunshine and a slight breeze. I packed up as quickly as I could and set out to tackle the remaining miles to Dubois.

Well, the slight, but constant climbing and small breeze drained all my energy and I watched the sun fall behind the mountains. The hills and remaining clouds were drenched in pink light and then darkness as I rode down one last hill. In the distance I could see the road climbing back through some small hills and into the distance. On my left I noticed a large mound of dirt and behind it I thought a perfect campsite. A no tresspassing sign was posted as I crossed a cattle guard and cattle were sprinkled on a hillside above my newly found site. A river rushed below and I was hidden from the road.

I've become accustomed to leaving the rainfly off my tent at night so I can watch the sky grow dark and stars come out from hiding. (I'm trying to sound dramatic. Is it working? ha.) I was definitely short of my Dubois goal, but I thought, 95 miles is nothing to shake a stick at.

Day 44 - Rawlins, WY to Sweetwater Juntion Station, WY. 83 miles.

I awoke with a dry mouth and my skin was leaking. Nature's alarm clock was beating down on me. I packed up slowly and headed across town to my northern route. But before I started I needed sugar and grease and McD's had just the right combo. After a solid gut-bomb I headed to the market where I ran into two other cyclists headed east. "Gear up, man." they told me. "There's nothing out there for miles. It's kinda creepy actually." I stocked up on carbs - bagels, gatorade, peanut butter and a chocolate eclair and headed north toward Muddy Gap junction, the point, at which, I would head west.

The ride climbed for miles until I hit a massive hill that I am thankful I didn't have to climb. It dropped over a thousand feet and in about 6 miles. The next 19 miles straight-lined into vastness, tons of traffic whizzed by, wind came from the west and the north, constantly changing, until the small, nothing town of Lamont, WY. From there I climbed over a short pass and cruised 11 miles into Muddy Gap Junction. The ride down was effortless as the wind suddenly changed and raced down the valley at my back. Sweet.

There I stopped at a small gas station that seemed to be a mirage. There I met another cyclist heading to Denver. A doctor who had some time to kill and why not just kill it on the road. I gave him a bagel as he was bit unprepared for the 45 mile haul to Rawlins. The man was most likely going to get stuck in between.

In the gas station a tip jar stood full of washingtons. I went into the bathroom and discovered why. Due to the extreme location of this station, people mainly went in for water and el bano. A nicely drawn sign asked for tips to keep the bathroom clean. I dropped a single bill into the jar as I was thankful for the placement of the station and felt it deserved a buck for letting me use it's facilities and re-fill my water bottles.

It was a little after 2pm when I headed out, planning on getting to Lander, WY, 81 miles away. Well, my friends, that just didn't happen. The next 40 miles took a little over 5 hours due to violent wind. I say violent because it whipped all over the place, gusting without mercy, sending me and my bike all over the highway. But I will tell you that my route is full of history. Wyoming is very proud that people used to crawl through the state on a trail you may have heard of - the Oregon Trail. You know, that game you played when you were a kid. Hunting was the best part, killing deer and bison left-and-right. Anyway, I stopped just to have a break at every landmark. Feel free to read more about it, but that shit was crazy back in the day. There were some incredibly tough folks out there.

Needless to say, after being wind and sun burnt I rolled into the Sweetwater rest area where I threw up a tent and cooked some dinner. I even received a text about a full-time job when I return. But who wants to work a full-time job? I'd rather ride in violent wind. Ha.

Day 43 - Riverside, WY to Rawlins, WY. 60 miles.

A ride has really never been so uneventful as today's. It was a short 60 miles, so I didn't leave until nearly 2pm and didn't arrive until nearly 7pm on account of strong headwinds. But if you ask the locals, "today wasn't windy at all. you shoulda been her yesterdee" they told me.



I slept in a bit, had a large breakfast somthered in gravy accompanied by endless glasses of water and hot coffee. Today was the reason everyone had flooded to Riverside. The Woodchoppers Jamboree. I strolled up the hill to the event, paid my $7 entry, and sat next to my newly made bicycle-pals. I must say i was a bit late to the chopping on account I had just spent nearly 30 minutes talking to a wise old soul at the visitors center.



"They call me Cowboy." an old feller, dressed in a plaid shirt, jeans, cowboy boots and a properly tied neckerchief told me. "well sir, they call me Andrew" I replied. Cowboy had been all over this great nation of ours, from NYC to SF to Texas to Seattle. Seemed to have a good business in each spot, whether it be a restaruant or ranch. He gave me a brief history lesson about my route through Wyoming and I gave him a brief history lesson on my ride thus far. After snatching a free WY state map, he handed me a business card and asked that I drop him a note when I finish my trek. "You got it, Cowboy."



Woodchopping is cool for about 20 minutes, unless you're drinking Bud Light, as all the spectators were. I, however, was not as I had a ride to do. I watched men and women with small chainsaws and large chainsaws slice through wood like butter. I watched man and woman teams hold large two-man saws and cut through fresh pine. One man, I felt badly for. He came all the way from Wisconsin to compete in this match and just shit-the-bed. He even had a special sheeth for his Xcaliber-ish saw. He started to cut and tear into the wood until his saw jammed. Then he'd get it going again, and once again jam. Sorry buddy, maybe next year. As the woodchopping ended a bbq started up near the ol' corral where I immediately headed, chowed some brisket, drank some Mtn Dews, said goodbye to my friends and walked back to camp. I'm fairly certain I'll see the frenchman in NYC. He'll probably even sleep on my futon.



As I said before, the ride to Rawlins was uneventful. Some ups and downs. Only a little wind until I reached I-80 to head west. Once I headed west, the wind so strong, it was a challenge to pedal downhill. I'm talking about being in the easiest gear and still working my ass off just to get moving. And I was on 80, so the semi's were ripping by, which actually was a blessing. These semis are just big wind-blockers, deterring the worst part of Mother Nature. I spent 20 miles on this stretch which took nearly 3 hours. Just brutal. So brutal I feel as if I was going insane, literally. So insane, I was talking to myself, singing, even letting out an occaisional yell just to keep myself moving. At any rate I rolled into RV World Campground just before sunset. Thanks again to the folks at GoCampingAmerica.com



I stolled over to a local restaurant called Cappy's near my campsite where I enjoyed a wonderful dinner and some great coversation and then made some awesome friends. My bike was parked just outside where I could see it, but as I watched ESPN and enjoyed my food, I heard "Who's bike is that outside? I just ran it over." My heart immediately jumped and my head turned quickly. The bike was fine. A man, Bobby, strolled over to my table laughing. "So what's your story?" he asked. I dived right into the details and before I knew it, Bobby picked up my check, paid, and brought me a nice bit of soup for breakfast the following morning. As I packed my stuff up and began to head out, Bobby invited me over to his table to hang a bit. Turned out, his sister, Tina and her husband Jeff own the joint and they were sitting there too. There I met the whole family: Bobby's daughter, Rachel. Tina's daughter, Kristin and Tina's mother. I also met Bobby's best pal, Jim. Bobby and Jim had come up from Phoenix, AZ to remodel Tina's bathroom. It was only to take a week but three weeks later, here we all were partying at Cappy's. This is what traveling is all about.

I ended up partying with the family until 3am. We laughed, talked, danced and basically just had a good, solid time, just the few of us. Everything was on the house and I couldn't have been happier. I knew I had at least 124 miles to ride the next day and I was set on making it happen. But as you can imagine, a drunk mind is invincible and even stonger, though more unaware than a sober one.

As 3:30am rolled around, I climbed into a frigid sleeping bag. It can be 80 degrees during the day in Wyoming, but once the sun sinks below the horizon, the temps can drop to the 30s and 40s. I was not aware. Were you?

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

cruising into yellowstone where the miles pass ever so quickly.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

going up?



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sittin down to a killer breakfast, then its up and over some mountains. headed to moran jtc.

Monday, June 21, 2010

definitely camping on the side of the road tonight.



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Day 42 - Grand Lake, CO to Riverside, WY. 121 miles boyyyeeee.

For some reason I was up before sunrise. So I heated some corned beef hash, brewed some joseph and caught up on some news. The original plan was to ride up to Walden today and stay with the friend of a friend. I stocked up on some supplies as I had roughly 60ish miles of mountains and flats to ride through - and that was all - not a store or anything for miles.

The first 15 miles were all down hill but into the wind as I descended out of a draw toward Granby, CO. Then I headed a few miles west and headed north through another draw that climbed for 20 miles until is went over a pass at 9500 feet and into a vast valley. Somehow in this draw the wind swirled all over the place the enitre time. At times it was pushing me uphill and at others it held me back.

On the way down I pulled into the small town of Rand and met another cyclist from Boulder. He was doing the TransAm trail from VA to OR. We set out together and I must say, the dude smoked me. he must have been in his 50s, and of course, me, thinking I'm this young guy with all the speed in the world, was left in his dust after the first 5 miles. I tried to keep up for as long as I could and even have a conversation, but was we kept moving, I felt tired and had to hang back. I never saw him again, except as a little ant-like spec in the distance. nice work, john.

I hit Walden about 4:00 and with plenty of daylight I just decided to keep moving and wing it. But first I had to stop for a bowl of spaghetti - was just what I needed. I kept moving planning on stopping in the medicine bow national forest at some random point, but the longer I rode the more I realized I probably wouldn't find such a place. 50 miles and 3.5 hrs later I was in the town of Riverside, WY just as the sun fell behind the plaines.

The place was booming and the town only has a population of 45. Just so happens that that weekend was the annual woodchoppers jamboree and rodeo. Tons of partying to be had. I posted up with 3 other cyclists at the local campground, which was awesome by the way. There was one dude from france and a couple from Wash DC. The couple were ride recumbent bikes - honestly I don't know how you ride them things, but they seem to enjoy it. The bikes have huge windshields too - guess it keeps em from swallowing bugs. Yes, I have come to swallow some gnats and flies on this trip. We all spoke of the exact same issues and emotions we had all been experiencing on this trip. And of course, hunger, was at the top of the list. Nice to know it's not just me eating errrthing in sight.

Like I said before, there was partying to be had. So we all went across the street to the local bar where bonfires, country music and PBR ruled. I was out by 12 but the word on the street is that on this particular weekend that bar doesn't even close. Riverside, you have won me over.

day 41. estes park, co to grand lake, co.

i awoke to wind howling outside my window, rattling shutters and rustling trees. so i went back to bed for two hours. when i awoke the second time the wind was merely gusting. well, here goes nothin i thought.

trail ridge road. the road through rocky mountain national park and, i believe, the highest paved road in the lower 48, towered before me. with 4500 vertical feet to climb over roughly 20 miles i knew i was in for a workout. did i mention the wind was blowing.

i payed my 10 bucks to enter the park and started climbing. i was expecting a photographer to show up at some point. he was from the paper that did the interview the night before. after a few corners, there he was. he snapped a photo as i rode by and shouted "good luck" as i rode away. but he didn't have a tone that translated to 'i know you're gonna rock this shit out!' it was more of a 'don't die, man!.' comforting.

i was rounding switchbacks thinking it wasn't so bad. i stooped every once in a while for a snack and water and to talk to auto-bound folks.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

a short but windy one. posted up in rv world campground in rawlins, wy.

Friday, June 18, 2010

after 121 miles i'm in riverside, wy. and theres a log chopping comp tomorrow!

welcome to the west. croozin.



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grand lake, co. that john denver would be happier than a pig in...



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day 40. boulder, co to estes park, co. 35 miles.

a short day and a solid warm-up for trail ridge road. only 35 miles and 3500 vertical feet of climbing to be had to reach estes park, co.

there were three of us today. an old pal, paul, and a new one, craig. it was awesome to have people along for the ride. actual conversation was nice for a change. the two rode as far as they could but both had to turn back early. i'm pretty sure they had sand in something and wimped out. nah, i kid. they have these things known as jobs and had to return to them. thanks for cruising fellas.

after some lightning, that flashed directly overhead, followed instantaneously by thunder, and some rainfall and climbing, i descended into estes park. elk run this town. no joke. you can find them all over the place. even chillin next to busy roadways. majestic giants that taste delicious.

i rolled into the sponsored, elk meadows lodge, where an apt style home was waiting. shortly after settling in, a reporter came over from the estes park trail gazette or something of the like. its nice to see someone interested again after weeks of nada. not even my hometown paper gave a shit. negativity rules the headlines these days. if you're like me and are interested in good, check out newsforgood.com. good folks over there.

as the sun sat, i sat staring at the continental divide, a bit nervous about the next day and the climb ahead, wondering if my previous month of work had been enough.

put some hot sauce on my burrito, baby!



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the gracious lodging from winding river resort.



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45 degrees in grand lake, co this morn. headed to walden today to crash with uncle bob.

days 31 - 39. resting and fundraising in the denver metro area.

8 days of rest is just what i ordered. as anybody knows, rest is good for muscles and with the mountains coming up i needed my legs to recover from the last month of work. so, i went into relax mode.

i went back to my bud's house and retrieved my bike. i rode it a whopping 8 miles to my mom's place. But i rode it without any of the gear attached. i rode as if i had never ridden a bike, wobbling too and fro, as if i just pounded some whiskey. i just wasn't used to a light and empty bike. could barely stand-up.

once i parked that bike in the garage, there it sat for two more days. i spent time with my family and friends and enjoyed rides in cars to see them. i also enjoyed home cooked meals. my mom is one mean cook. spaghetti with meat sauce - bomb.

i left parker on thursday and headed into treads bike shop where an old high-school friend runs the shop. per wigand, a bad-ass bike guru, contributed to this ride with a complimentary tune-up. we caught up briefly and i headed out to see an old friend for coffee. i was to return for the fresh bike in a couple hours.

i met my pal, michaela, at a local coffee shop. her two year old son, Tanis, was in tow. her second child secured in her belly, to be born in sept.
its amazing how people are growing up; getting married, having kids, buying houses, securing full-time jobs....tacking on the responsibility. i'll take none of that thank you. i will continue to live the free life.

when i returned for the bike, i discovered new handlebar tape, a new chain, new brakes, a sparkling cassette, and an overall slick smooth ride. i hooked up the shop with pizza and a case of dale's pale ale (which is some of the best canned beer on our planet) and cruised to denver.

i met up with a pal in denver for happy hour. she told me her new plan is to live out of her truck for the next few months and travel some of the US and then head to central america. yeah buddy.

the next night was my good friend's birthday and a group of us spent the night out in denver but not like high-rollers though, please. i'm talking about a pbr and whiskey kinda night. couldn't have been better to see everyone.

the next day i spent 4 hours riding up to boulder. it was only 25 miles but somehow i managed to stretch it into an afternoon affair. cold rain fell nearly the entire time. hands and toes numb, i wound through bike paths until i landed just a bit too far west. i looked at a map and thought, ok, straight here and I'll be set. well, i ended up hitting highway 93 and for those of you who know this road, its not one to cycle on. so i had to back track and turned my 25 mile route into nearly 40. well done, me.

sunday, we had a bit of a fundraising bbq thanks to some truly great friends. it was great to see some more friends and we put the total donations up to $4100. now, i realize that this may pay for a lab test or something similar but that's $4100 more than they had before. thank you to all those who have donated.

now that i think about it i have not really discussed the lymphoma research foundation and why i chose them to help. its simple really. lymphoma isn't as simple to find as say breast or testicular cancer. you can't just give a feel and say 'whoop, there it is.' lymphoma is something doctors and scientists find through tests and procedures and it takes cash to fund tests and studies to find a cure. the lymphoma research foundation knows where to allocate funds, so why not donate to those who know best? that's it, put simply.

8 days resting was fantastic. now time to tackle some mountains.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

after 45 miles and 4500 vertical feet of climbing, i'm posted up in the winding river resort in grand lake. the story continues.

snow. trail ridge road. 12,180 ft.



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day 30 - kit carson, co to franktown, co - 100+ miles.

with 120 miles to cover i hit the road early facing some solid wind. it was the semis and me out there on route 40 heading to limon, co and ultimately parker.

after 25 miles i rolled upon some construction. two lanes were knocked down to one and delays were in full swing. "can't let you ride through," the sign man told me. "no?" i asked. "you'll be too slow and this goes on for 20 miles. gonna have one of our guys drive ya through." so be it. sorry to disappoint but i hadn't a choice.

the dude who drove me was from pittsburgh and knew of the neighborhood where i had stayed. small world. anyway, he dropped me in hugo, co at a local restaurant that i'd reccommend to anyone - can't remember the name but it ended in 'family restaurant.' great food and great people.

thanks to the lift i made it to limon an hour earlier than i had planned. after a short jaunt on I-70 (there was no other paved route) i was on a back road i had driven plenty of times over the years. i was pumped for some rolling hills, welcome to mtn country.

after some cold rain and some pizza i hit franktown, co where i stopped to see some good friends. well, my mom came over, some other friends drove up from denver and we enjoyed a night.of steaks and drinks. everyone thought me to be incredibly skinny so i ate leftovers from three others' plates.

so on account of beer and darkness, i hitched a ride home with my mom but i left the bike with my friends and returned the next day to ride it home. no rides unless absolutely necessary.

great end to a solid day. really couldn't have been better.

and this is his lady.



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this dude is on a world tour. 17 months on the road. headed east.



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and the west side of the divide.



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east side of the divide just below tree line.



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crossing the divide today. here goes nothin'.



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lodging at elk meadows lodge in estes park. thanks guys.



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Wednesday, June 16, 2010

so did a new pal, craig arfsten. thanks for the company.



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a good friend paul lee rode up today. nice work bud.



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the colorado rest is over. check the view from the elk meadow lodge in estes park.



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day 29 - scott city, ks to kit carson, co - 132 miles.

when the wind is at your back you don't waste it. period. you must use it like a winning lottery ticket.

similes, gotta love em.

i hopped outta my tent and started moving as quickly as possible to utilize nature's gift, skipping breakfast. after being pushed 25 miles it was time for a gas station breakfast. breakfast burrito, bfast sandy, and hashbrowns were available. now, you may knock gas station eats, but since those are the only 'restaurants' around the food isn't so bad. i would have eaten more had it been available but some jerk ate it all. i kid.

the wind continued to push me forward and before long i was at the colorado border. a large wooden sign, hand built and crafted with care, stood before me. 'welcome to colorful colorado' it boasted. for some odd reason, the word 'colorful' is carved with a taper and at a slant. anyone know why? i realize the designer was trying to be hip, but it makes no sense to me. whatev. either way, it tromps the welcome to kansas sign. that one is just mere metal, small and sitting atop a metal post. if you were driving and came to a fork in the road and the kansas sign to the left and the colorado sign to the right which would you choose based on sign detail alone?

i lined up to take a photo of my bike alone with the sign when two cyclists came in from the west. do you happen to wonder who took the photo of me at that sign? the dudes were from fresno, ca on there way to newport news, va. they had actually ridden across nevada and highway 50. said it was awful. just as i thought. exactly why i've chose the mountains. i'll ride through many a mountain to avoid the desert.

as we separated the wind changed and came from the south. just so happened my route was to take me north at that point. once again the wind was with me.

most of the time i am finding the wind dying down in the evening. i coasted into another gas station gourmet where i ate dinner to wait out the wind. this was cheyenne wells, co. i must have been there for over an hour. as i spoke with the one employees, one started to knock the spandex, which i used to do. i defended it all the way. its like riding naked and in total comfort. by the time i left i had that guy convinced that he too was going to ride across the country.

the last 25 was a bear. the wind hadn't died and i could see my destination the whole time - making it seem longer.

i posted up in a city park in kit carson where a church function was happening. they offered me some of their leftovers but i had to decline. crazy, right. but i was stuffed from the gourmet earlier. i did however grab a gallon jug of water.

the wind howled all night. the tent chattered so that it sounded like rain. distant thunderstorms lit up the sky. fortunately, no tornados in an area prone to the monsters.

due to the wind, i put in 132 miles of riding and would actually make it to parker, co (my hometown) a day early. i was really looking forward to that.

Donations

just made a large donation due to funds I've been collecting on the road as well as from the bbq. I just want to thank:
The Mast Family in Celina, OH
The lovely couple in Rogers, OH
The folks from Ontario in Hannibal, MO
Catherin and Steve
Jennifer Cooper
Russ Griffin
Michelle Roche
Janet Ratzlaff
Terry Ratzlaff
Jerry Aronson
My Aunt Diann in Belle Plaine, KS
My cousin Brad Hodgson in Belle Plaine, KS
The Cook Family in Parker, CO
And anyone else who tossed some bucks in the bucket at the BBQ.
$4,100 bucks thus far. The key now is reaching out to the folks I don't know. Spread it.

Day 28 - La Crosse, KS to Scott City, KS. 100+ miles

The sun poured through the mesh lining of my tent and I was rolling. After a few short miles, some coffee, clif bars and a flat I met a couple from the Netherlands who were also traveling across this country. At this very moment I can't remember their names but they were incredibly friendly and just as eager to talk about their trip as I was mine. I'm also fairly certain they were skinnier than I was. I mean, being from Europe, folks just seem to stay thin, unlike the US, and with all the riding they had been doing in the last 5 weeks, they were toothpicks.

They had started traveling in Washington DC and were headed to Portland, OR via the transamerica trail. I think I may actually run into them again in yellowstone. We shall see. These two were just taking their time and enjoying it as much as possible - actually they had never been to the US so I can understand their curiosity for all things American. I noticed that the gentleman had bad sunburns on his hands and was fairly wrapped up. His third day in, he acquired lime disease from some tick and was forced to go see a doctor as well as take a trip to the hospital. The sunburn was from the antibiotics he was taking. I think most people would have called their trip off at this point, but not these guys. They were just dealing with it and had been on the road for well over a month. We parted ways, well we headed in the same direction but I just sped off in front as I had some serious distance to cover - or at least, wanted to cover.

I stopped and heated some chili at a local rest area and just as I finished eating, the happy Dutch came rolling in. We sat together and chatted again. They ate half a loaf of bread with peanut butter and jelly. We spoke about how much food we were consuming and about how nice it will be when the trip is over. But don't get me wrong, the trip is great, its just the idea of wrapping it up and saying 'wow, i just did that!' They told me how they noticed how big everything is here in the States. Big cars, big food, big houses, big buildings. "big people" i interjected. I know they were just trying to be nice and not say it, so I just threw it out there because we were all thinking it.

Once again I was off with nearly 85 miles still to cover. Nearing 1pm I rolled into Ness City, KS. Temperatures were approaching 100 and I was just waiting for tumbleweeds to come rolling through and for the Old West to come to life. What that means, I'm not exactly sure. But one thing I know, don't eat at the Cactus Club if you like service or good food, that's all I'm sayin'. Welp, after some grub and some huge ice cream treat I was off into the hot sun.

The wind was strong out of the south and then suddenly switched and came from the north just as I started a long northwesterly route. Everyone says Kansas is flat. Yeah, it is when you're in a car because you don't notice any of the elevation gains or losses. You don't notice that the horizon is above or below your line of sight. Well, when you can see 15 miles into the distance and the horizon is nothing but up, that my friends, is one long hill. Think about that the next time you roll through KS. Just notice how many time you go up and down.

My Dutch pals gave me one piece of fantastic advice. They told me that it's possible to sleep in city parks, especially ones that are used to cyclists rolling through town. I hit the town of Drighton in the early evening and Scott City was still 25 miles out. I phoned the Scott City Poh Leese and notified them of my arrival. "Cool" they said. "Ride safe."

I rolled into Scott City near sunset and set up camp. A couple, enjoying the perfect weather, came walking past and we started to discuss the ride. The young lady of the two said something that I couldn't tell was a positive or a negative thing, but nonetheless, I mentioned how I tried to get people to come with me on this trip and how tough it was to get anyone to commit to a 3 month venture. "Yeah, it's probably tough to get folks to just stop what they're doing so they can screw-off for 3 months." Uh....what? What are you saying to me? Are you being funny or saying that I'm just screwing off? I thought all this and replied with something I think is very very true. "I think the only reason we have jobs and work is so we have the means to screw-off." I mean who really wants to work? I guarantee most everyone is only working to support all their screwing-off. But of course there are those who also work just to get by. I get it.

Honestly, I'm gonna keep working but it's absolutely to support my screwing-off, at least at this stage of the game. Who's with me?

Ok, peace out.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Monday, June 14, 2010

thanks to all for coming to the bbq. we raised $219. and the pbr was delicious.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Friday, June 11, 2010


Day 27 - Hutchinson, KS to La Crosse, KS - 115 miles

woo wee boy, it was a long and hot one.

I was up before 6am and on the road by 7, escaping the wandering rangers. After a few hours I found myself in Sterling, KS where hunger was on my mind. I stopped in at the Sterling Cafe and enjoyed my breakfast as well as someone else's. The waitress had mis-delivered food to me and although I knew the order was wrong, I didn't want to be picky, so I just chowed it. Eventually she said she had given me the wrong b-fast and that mine was on the way. Sweet - 2 breakfasts. During the course of the meal, the waitress and I had become pals, talking about this and that, but oddly enough the cause didn't even come up. I asked her how much I owed and she just said, "it's paid for." "Wait, how'd that happen?" I asked. Apparently while I was washing my hands, someone had paid for it and left. yeah buddy!! but still, I honestly don't feel I deserve such treatment, but I definitely appreciate it when it goes down. Thanks anonymous!

My original plan was to head to a wildlife refuge just outside of Great Bend, KS and post up in their campground for the night. The temperature was 98 degrees in Great Bend at 5pm and suddenly a Dairy Queen appeared so of course I stopped for some cooling ice cream. I rode through said refuge but somehow missed the campground and wound up far on the other side of the park at the exact opposite entrance I had come in. So, I decided to stay there for the night. I unpacked everything and set-up, using the hot sun to dry everything that had gotten soaked in the tall grass from the night before.

After a short conversation with my ma back in CO, I became jazzed to keep moving. There was just too much daylight left to not continue on. I packed everything up, no dry, and rode to the next town. The sun was setting as I rolled in but I knew I had at least 30 miles left in me. I sat down, ate some dinner, and began riding again.

Yes, the wind had died down, the temps dropped, but the bugs came out in full force. Apparently the bugs know when it's time to come out as well. Pretty sure I swallowed some flies, mosquitos, anything with wings really. I cruised well into the night, watching for animal crossings and pulling over for approaching cars. There's no telling who's behind the wheel and what state they're in out in the country where cops don't exist. Riding at night is actually quite nerve racking. I mean, you can't really see the road that well with only a headlamp, you don't know if the person in a car wants to rob you or perhaps just run into you and you can't see what the weather is doing in the distance. Needless to say, I was a bit nervous out there by myself.

At about 11:30 I found a baseball diamond in La Crosse off the main road where I camped out for the night. As I moved about getting everything set, I noticed a skunk walking towards me, just to check me out i'm sure. At first I thought to grab my sleeping bag and get the hell out. But then I said to myself, stop being a sissy and scare that thing off. So I raised up, stomped my feet and made noise. The skunk paused for a moment, turned around and wandered off. I'm sure I smelled just as bad as that skunk though.

Hooray for squatting.

Day 26 - Belle Plaine, KS to Hutchinson, KS - 75ish miles

Alright, alright...catching up here.

Today was fairly uneventful. The sun was hot, the wind was blowing (per usual), and I just rode. The distance was fairly short so I didn't get started till nearly 11am as I was really enjoying hanging with family. But after some steak and eggs, I departed.

It wasn't the fastest ride on account of the wind - unless I was heading north, then I flew. When the wind is coming from the south it's obviously not as tough as a head wind but it does slow you down a fair bit. Also makes you lean sideways so you don't get blown over which I guess would look hilarious.

I rolled into Hutchinson whilst the sun was still high in the sky, a rarity on this ride. And then, like a beacon of hope, I saw a giant bell. A bell that houses delicious food that sometimes triggers chronic-D. But this time, no D occurred and my taste buds danced amongst cheesy, crunchy, chickeny, tortilla-y goodness. After my second trip to the counter a woman asked "So, what are you riding for?" I turned around, surprised, "Lymphoma....etc".....you know the deal.

Well I ended up talking to this woman, Victoria, and her son for two hours. I pretty much heard her life story, and one piece of it i will share. Victoria had a prosthetic leg due to being run over by a car nearly 19 years ago. Sounds rough right? Well, the killer is that some asshole did it on purpose. It's ok to feel like shit at this moment. I know I did. Victoria had definitely come to terms with it and accepted it and was even jovial about the whole deal. I guess after 19 years you would have to come to terms, huh? Talk about adversity. Losing a leg, tough. Riding a bike everyday, easy.

Well as darkness approached I headed over to Sand Hills State Park to set-up camp. Welp, it wasn't so easy to find the campground, so under the cover of night I found a hiking trail. I wheeled my rig down the trail a bit, found a nice large bush and set-up camp behind it. I'm pretty sure the rangers would've been pissed. Sneaky sneaky.

Day 25 - rest day in Belle Plaine, KS

I hadn't seen my Aunt Diann for nearly 3 years so it made sense to rest for a day and just chill out. My cousin was also there, Brad, with his two girls, ages 12 and 10 - rascals. Aunt Diann is truly a bad-ass lady - makes great food, can fix just about anything, use to run some mean barrels and is absolutely as nice as can be and full of life and energy.

We had a leisurely morning, full of eating of course, and Brad, the girls and I headed to the local water park. Wow, i felt old and a bit creepy. The pool was full of teenagers, kids and parents. Not a whole lot of 20 somethings to be found. Brad played with his kids so I posted up in the lazy river and just stared into the sky, resting. All around me were kids and if you haven't noticed I have a bit of a hobo beard going, which sorta makes me look homeless. If i'm not on a bike or wearing the attire, I kinda look like I wandered in off the street. I'm not sure if anyone thought anything of my presence, but honestly I was a bit self-conscious in there. Just imagine if you saw a bum floating in the lazy river. You may be a bit concerned, right? Either way it was nice to be in some cool water.

The rest of the day was filled with some great conversation and catching up. I definitely learned a few more things about my pops that I didn't know before. It's always great to hear stories about your folks from when they were younger and loved to party and travel and have adventures.

After traveling 300+ miles in three days it was great to get a day of rest in and not burn away more of my skeleton physique. The next day, I am Colorado bound. booyah.


Day 24 - Toronto, KS to Belle Plaine, KS - 100+ miles

Holy S@!T, it was windy today.

I was up early and riding, stomach on empty, wind coming from the south. After a fairly long 20ish miles I wound up in Eureka. All i wanted was food and the first spot I saw was a Sonic. I'm pretty sure that was the only food establishment in the town. I actually see Sonics everywhere, but you won't catch me drinking those fruity bevs they serve. No thank you. As you may notice, Sonic is set-up for the automobile, not a bike. I had to park the bike on wall and then stand next to one of those ordering walls, just as cattle does next to a feed trough - awkward. Just before pushing the little red button and placing my large order, a woman, Betty, in the car next to me asked "you traveling across America?"

"You better believe it" i replied. "Well, can I give you something?" she asked. She handed me a business card. In large, red, commercial style font it read 'Jesus Loves You.' "Awesome" I said to her. "Thanks." We than began talking about the ride and she dove right into the 'Do you believe in God lesson?' Naturally, I gave her a casual "Nah, I'm not really sure. But it's all good to me. Either way." She kept on with a long story of why she did, which by the way, was remarkable. Turns out her husband was fighting some horrible disease. Doctors determined he was done-for but through some miracle, he pulled through. Dude, was actually sitting right next to Betty in the drivers seat, though during this whole interaction he just ate a sandwich, never speaking a word. "Can I pray for you," Betty asked. "Sure, why not." Actually as casual as my response was, that kind of support is incredibly heart-warming. Betty grabbed my hand and went on for nearly 3 minutes and boy, was she into it. Eyes closed, head moving around, hands in full swing - wow - intense prayer. When our conversation was all said and done, she offered to pay for my breakfast - uh, sure. Thank you Betty.

I went back to my ordering trough and ordered a cheeseburger with onion rings and bacon on it, fries, sausage breakfast burrito, dr. pepper and a large ice cream dealio. Yup, it was bomb. 6000 calories later I was back on the open road, the traffic growing busier and busier. I mos def have a love hate relationship with those semis out there. If they pass me coming from the other direction they bring the mighty wind of a greek god down upon me, which hits me in the face like a brick wall, killing all momentum. But, they are far away from me, so I am safe. On the other hand there are the semis that pass me going the same direction. These truckers bring a mighty boost, sending me forward, actually allowing me to kick it up a notch. But damn they cause me to wobble to-&-fro as if I just consumed a bottle of whiskey. Guess it's all part of it.

I stopped into a small convenience store to fill up on water before beginning my trek south to my Aunt's place in Belle Plaine. The dude sporting a cowboy hat and running the store wanted to charge me 10 cents per cube of ice. I thought this a joke but that cowboy never cracked a smile and was colder than the ice i yearned for. Water from the bathroom sink it is. Thanks, chief.

I headed south into a 25mph headwind. 25 miles and 3.5 hrs later I found myself at another town watering hole. These small Kansas towns are incredibly run-down. There is nothing to them any more, nothing. I kept on truckin', the sun setting and with only a few miles to go, night sat in and I rode in darkness.

Suddenly a big Dodge diesel rolled up next to me, "need a lift?" a voice said from the inside. At a second glance I realized the woman to be my Aunt Diann, out to escort me in on the country road. "Nope, I gotta finish this out," I replied. She sat behind me for the last 3 miles and lit my way, protecting me from the speedy motorists.

We arrived at her place about 9:30, and caught-up on life over some spaghetti and home-made meat sauce. I love meat sauce. It was great to be with family again.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Just a little vid from kansas. Laugh if you'd like.

video

Day 23 - La Cygne, KS to Toronto, KS - 100+ miles

yo yo, my friends. So I'm sitting at my mom's place in Parker and can finally catch up and type on a real computer. The text is gonna come flying at ya, be prepared.

If you have been looking at the 'route' section of my blog and comparing my travels to the maps, you'll notice I have strayed and changed it up a bit. If I already said this in an earlier post, I apologize...but my aunt, my dad's sister, lives just south of Wichita, KS in the small town of Belle Plaine. I hadn't seen her in nearly 3 years, so I headed down to see her. This change definitely adds some mileage to the trip, but I couldn't be more excited about it.

So here we go - Day 23:

As I packed up this morning I spotted another cyclist, solo, leaving the campground. The first traveling cyclist I had seen since leaving nyc. Panniers stacked up on the back. Handlebar bag on the front. I could tell he was a bit older from his grey beard, hence why he was getting an earlier start than me. I find I struggle getting up in the morning even if I know I have a serious distance to tackle. I'd much rather ride in the dark than wake up to an alarm. The sun is all I need, nice and natural. I mean, I have used an alarm, I just snooze that sucker until I the sun burns through my tent and into my retnas and I find myself more tired than I would have without an alarm.

The older gent and I crossed paths as I hit the only nearby gas station for coffee and breakfast and gave a brief, "howdy" to one another. I sat and chowed and listened to some old men talk about lawn mowers for about 30 minutes. They discussed blades, brands, lawn sizes, grass length and even gossipped about other men's mowers. I wonder if I'll discuss that when I'm 80 yrs? I can see it now, 80 years old, wrinkly as a new-born, walking like a toddler, holding onto my sanity for dear life, protecting my lawn from youngsters and just overall being a crotchity old bastard just because I'm old and I can. why not? that's probably better than giving kids candy, right?



I headed west. After 6 or 7 miles I saw the old traveler's bicycle parked outside of a local restaurant and thought I'd catch him in there, sit down with him and chat about traveling via bicicleta. Welp, as I stepped in, he was paying but I was sure to start chatting him up immediately. Dude's name was Bob, 64 yrs of age, retired and had just grown tired of staring at the TV so he set out on his bike. He had left St. Louis a couple weeks before and was only headed to the western border of Kansas, but still, 2 states on a bike is still a long effin way. I suggest you all give it a shot. His bike was well equipped for long distance travel and was actually made for it as opposed to my rig. He gave me a heads up that the Trans America trail was nearby, which I would find myself traveling on in only a few days. I'll be sure to discuss the Trans America trail in a later post - don't fret if you're not familiar. Bob took off and I sat down to another breakfast.



Full of carbs and calories I sat out to the backcountry of Kansas. It was hot, humid and windy, everything I knew it would be. I traveled for hours down secondary roads made of old cracked asphalt which = slow moving. Nonetheless, after sucking down all my water I found myself at another town watering hole much like the one I found in Illinois. And by this, I mean, the town vending machine. i downed a couple sodas, as there was no water, and watched all varieties of people roll in. Big people, small people, kids, adults, teenagers, but all dudes interestingly enough. I could tell they were interested in my bike and me but not enough to ask, but just enough to stare a bit at the thin man loitering.



I cruised into Iola, Kansas in the late afternoon, the sun fairly high in the sky, the temperatures sweltering. I saw an A&W and went right in. The place was so cool due to air conditioning that I was actually cold while chowing. When was the last time you went into an A&W? Anyway, here in Iola I ran into my second negative nancy while riding through town. "Sidewalk!" some dude sitting in the passenger seat of a tan truck yelled at me. I glanced for a moment and noticed two younger guys with shaved heads and sunglasses crusing down the street. I kept my mouth shut. As they got about 50 feet in front of me, the passenger threw his middle finger out at me. But this time I didn't throw one up in return. These dudes just didn't seem the type for me to mess with or insult. Thanks for the lesson sir. You really told me. Here is a heads up: if you wanna flip me off and yell in my face just stop the car and get out and go for it. Don't be a sissy and yell from a moving vehicle as if you were a sleeze ball honking at a pretty lady on the street. Dick. So yes, this was a bit unsettling to me, obviously, though. shortly after I was smiling again. I was rolling into a gas station to fill up on water when a dude in a truck looked at me and smiled. I smiled back. "Hey, Forrest. It's Forrest Gump!!" the guy yelled out. I laughed out loud.

I stopped in another town about 30 miles later for a light snack. As I stood in front of the store (as I do nearly everyday) eating, a man of about 50+ came up to me and wished me safe travels. I asked if he 'rode' to which he replied, 'i don't. but i admire anyone who does.' We ended up talking for nearly 30 minutes and he told me all about his life (the abridged version). I told him all about the ride and he couldn't have thought it cooler. I tell ya, it really makes me happy to know that people are appreciating this ride and not viewing it as just some way to screw-off and avoid 'real' life. honestly, I don't think it gets any 'realer' than this. I mean, you're out there everyday, susceptible to the elements, to other people and to your own brain, basically thinking about food and shelter most of the time. Vulnerable, you are.

A couple hours later after traveling down a pretty busy highway 54, I found myself in the town of Toronto, KS where there was a state park. I figured, 'oh, i'll just find a small market and pick up some pasta for dinner.' Well, this town was run down as it could be. Obviously at one point commerce was alive in this small town, but these days there was nuthin'. Store fronts were filled with old cars and old junk. Needless to say, I went without food that night, which I'm pretty sure my body could afford due to all the bull-shit I downed a few hours before.

The sky was amazing that night in kansas. Storms were visible in the north, while the south was clear, bright and beautiful. Fortunately clear over me as well, though it did rain a bit during the night. The contrast in the sky is one found only in the mid-west (flats) in this country. You can just see the different weather activity spread out over the land. This is really one of the high points of travling through Kansas and much easier to notice while on a bicycle. I really don't know why more people don't travel this way. All it takes is a bit of 'crazy' and a lot of 'stubborn'. That's it.



Monday, June 7, 2010

day 22 - sedalia, mo to la cygne, ks - 100+ miles

day 22 - sedalia, mo to la cygne, ks - 100+ miles

if you ever have the privelage of riding across this country, you will notice that the variety of insects and animals will vary from state to state. in PA there was a mass caterpillar exodus as hundreds tried to cross the roads. in indiana it was worms. i didnt see much illinois due to extreme heat. but in MO i saw lots and lots of turtles. of course there were the small box turtles like you used to have in mrs. johnston's 4th grade class. and remember there was the dirty kid who wiped boogers on the aquarium? well, anyway, there were also some big turtles out there. i'm talking shells over 1ft in diameter. sadly, i didnt see any of giants alive but all smooshed by cars. i even watched truck roll over one. come on guy. how hard is it to avoid the slowest animal on the planet?

my bro and rich traveled with me for half the day. they had one bike with them so they would take turns driving and riding along with snapping photos. after 50 miles we sat down to lunch at a restaurant that boasted mexican food (at least the mo version). im pretty sure the hot sauce was just ketchup with cayenne pepper mixed in.

the dudes split after lunch, headed back to denver, and i was solo again headed for the ks border.

it was hot as could be and a bit hilly but nonetheless i reached the border close to nightfall. one thing i wish my google maps would tell me is if roads are paved or dirt. google please take note. i came over a hill and reached a dirt road and cattle. i remembered my mistake in hannibal but went against my instincts and started on the dirt. there were herds of cattle on both sides of the road as i rode. as i rode past them they turned and ran as if i were parting the soon-to-be-hamburger sea. after realizing how foolish i was for daring the dirt, i stoopped and all the cattle that had fled came over to stare at me. as i headed back in the other direction, tjey ran again and followed me to the edge of their fence.

there was lightning in the distance so i hauled ass south to a paved road that would take me to la cygne lake. night fell upon me and i was still riding. bugs created the illusion of flying through space, smashing into my face. finally i stumbled upon a campground where plenty of memorial holday-ers were partying and boozing it up. i found an empty site, posted up and went down.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

camped out in the city park in scott city , ks. only 50 miles from co...

last night's squatting.



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Friday, June 4, 2010

posted up for the night in lacrosse, ks. lodging=a baseball diamond.
98 degrees in great bend, ks today. hotter than puttin lil weezy on the track.

this place just hooked up breakfast and i didnt even tell them about the cause. sterling, ks. awesome.



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Thursday, June 3, 2010

camped out in the sand hill state park outside of hutchinson, ks. i dont think the rangers would be too happy about my spot.

Day 21 - Moberly, MO to Sedalia, MO - 90ish miles

I woke up early and was welcomed with hot coffee from Emily's parents. Her parents own the apt, which Logan rents, and where i slept. They had me in for some french toast, hooked up some snacks for the day's ride and wished me well. They were great people to just have a stranger roll in for breakfast. Soak that in.

I was off and headed to Columbia, MO to stock up on bike parts. Tubes, CO2 and a patch kit were a necessity to have as I planned on entering no-man's land for the next few days. I could get stranded only 20 miles from a town but on a bike that doesn't run, that a long effin way. As I was cruising down, my brother, his pal Rich and their dogs rolled up in the opposite direction. It was great to see some people I knew and also to have an unofficial support vehicle with me for a short time.

My brother is a blossoming hot-shot photographer in the snowboarding industry right now, so when he told me he wanted to come and shoot some of this ride, I couldn't have been more excited. We're gonna get some bomb-ass photos out of this for sure. Much better than anything I'm producing with my little camera phone. We also took some video too. Be sure to check out his website www.terryratzlaff.com. Yes, check it.

We rolled around all day getting some real interesting shots. The camera ended up mounted to my bike in a couple different ways. The dudes would drive next to me while the camera extended on a tri-pod and pointed who knows where. I will say that it was one seriously creative day with some serious distance to cover and I didn't realize how much.

The temp was in the 90s most of the day but when 4pm rolled in, the heat increased to that of the sun. Sweat poured from my brow and even an air conditioned car wasn't that cool. The dudes even had to separate from me for a bit to grab water for the dogs so that they would stay cool. And the hills of SW MO challenged those in PA. I'm proud to say I haven't walked my bike up a hill yet but some of these guys really made me want to. I think i'm just too stubborn.

Welp, this lab i'm sitting in in Hutchinson, KS is about to close so I'll wrap it up. We rolled into the Sedalia, MO state fairgrounds where they had a small campground. Surprisingly it was wide open for being memorial day weekend, but who wants to camp within city limits when you can drive out to the woods? About 5 people, that's how many. Twas convenient though.

Be on the look-out for awesome photos.

Words.

fresh pave, brah! 12 degree grain cut! shred it!



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Wednesday, June 2, 2010

kansas may have a bad rap but this begs to differ.



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danny and emily from moberly, mo.



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loitering outside the rainbow motel in monroe city, mo.



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day 20 - monroe city, mo to moberly, mo - 45 miles. hello friendo.

day 20 - monroe city to moberly, mo - 45 miles.

today was short because it didn't start until 4pm. i loitered around the rainbow motel all day waiting for new tires via fed ex. i stayed in my room until after checkout and then moved everything outside onto the sidewalk where i sat in a lawn chair until 3pm. after helping the motel owner hoist his american flag in honor of memorial day, fed ex arrived.

i arrived at the campground at dusk. the campground paralleled a frisbee golf course, friom which, two players approached and asked about the ride. their names were logan and danny and they offered a cool anchor steam beer. after a bit of talk, logan offered his place up for the night instead of the campground - i gladly accepted. that is what traveling is all about, meeting people, and all sorts of them.

logan had a sweet apt. it was basically a large open loft sitting above a garage. danny, emily (danny's wife), logan and i sat around most of the night drinking home brew, compliments of logan. was some pretty good beer for sure.

it was nice to make some cool friends in a random town. i fell asleep looking forward to the next day because my brother and his friend, rich, were en route to meet me for a day of photography action. check out his site at www.terryratzlaff.com.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

despite the wind i'm in belleplaine, ks. 106 miles and 14 hrs on the road, baby! well, one hour was spent eating.
25 miles. 3.5 hours in the kansas wind.