Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Monday, November 24, 2008
I woke early and was on the rode by 7:30 AM. It was 33 degrees and I'm pedalling. And yes, this is still fun to me. But I was desperately hoping to clear the mountains and give my weary legs a rest.
No luck. It took me 65 miles and 5 hours of climbing to reach anywhere to eat or replenish water. I did however start talking to the cows, even giving some of them names, as they were my only company during this grueling stretch. I started to repeat a lot things to myself and my legs no longer felt the pain of pedalling. I was reaching for ways to keep enduring the climbs, since each descent only followed another mountain to climb. At one point I was out of water as well and my cell phone was out of service the whole way. In the 65 mile stretch, only 20 or so cars passed me. To add to the allure of the day, my bike computer quit gauging my speed, and therefore the mileage I was travelling became an illusive indicator of exactly how much farther I had to go.
But I made it, of course. All the way to the Hollister Inn in Hollister California. The greatest little hotel in California. I am looking forward to the long rest in the clean room. They allowed me to do my laundry here and I am actually on the laptop of the family that owns the hotel to send you this blog. Thx Sam. Much appreciated. You run a great hotel!!!
Take care all... Be back soon... I hope
What an awesome challenge I would put myself through. And now that I have made it. Once again I am so proud of myself. The next 4 days would be nothing but climbing and climbing, over and over again. My mind, emotions and body would go through nostalgic memories of running the 2001 Chicago marathon and my college wrestling days. And now that I am through the climbs (mostly), I feel like Rocky Balboa. But more like the Rocky in Rocky 6. I can say I still have got it. The stuff in the basement.
This is looking back on some of the climb I just pedalled.
Sunday, November 16, 2008
It might look like Ray is working on the yard, but don't be fooled. He just went over and picked up the shovel asking, "What do you call this tool?"
Nice win Ray!!!
So I winded my way through Tucson. It's a nice town and also on my list of potential places to move to. There is a predominant biking community including the annual Tour de Tucson (www.tourdetucson.com).
This is the natural entrance to the caves. From March to October at dusk thousands of bats blackout the sky through this entrance as they head out to feed for the evening.
After some great directions from Bicycles Inc, I arrived at Fort Worth near sundown. Fort Worth has a really small and clean downtown area with some attractive buildings. I liked the ride through downtown and I nearly stopped to have a beer at a pub that was packed... maybe next time.
Well, it didn't take long for my bicycle to need some new TLC. A couple of blocks before my Gold's Gym destination the bolt connecting my rack and luggage to the frame of the bike snapped. I started wobbling all over the road from the dangling luggage. I walked to the Golds Gym and unloaded my gear from the bike and pedalled on to VT Bike Stuff (http://www.vtbikestuff.com/). Mike (on the right) drove me around town to Home Depot and an auto parts store to make shift a new rig that would hold the rack to the frame. Thank you Tom and Mike for the diligent work getting me back on the road. Muchas Gracias!
Well, I didn't get too far. This is my camp just a few miles away. Too many complimentary Margaritas. The funny thing is there is another road just 30 feet to the right of this picture. I didn't see it when I set up camp.
Saturday, November 15, 2008
But the desert being lonely doesn't negate the beauty that is present here. Its not sexy or glamourous. It is natural and untouched. But the solitude is congruent with a feeling self reliance. There are few conveniences and even fewer luxuries. And the feelings of self worth, self motivation and pride arrive at the forefront of daydreaming. As I pedal on, I become more comfortable with myself and the loneliness of the desert. The further from convenience and luxury I travel, the more attached I become to the presence of these lands and my impact on them. I am just visiting, but feeling as if I am becoming a part of the scenery. As if I am no longer just a visitor. I like it here.
Here is one nights camp just about 50 feet from the highway. I am nestled just beyond a stickery bush hidden from the traffic going west.
Dairy Queen seems to be the dominant fast food in the region. I am not used to that being from Seattle. But I have grown to crave a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Blizzard... a habit I intend to get over before I get back home.
My arrival in Arizona came at sundown. The picture is bad from my phone but the Extravaganza from my camera will give you a better view. Arizona almost immediately, marked a new change in temperature once again. I was at a much lower elevation after today's ride and the night was warmer than the 33-45 degrees after dark I was getting used to.
Then a voice startled me and I sat up, turned around a saw a man in a truck yelling out his window. "Are you OK?" I stood up and waved and told him, "... just taking a siesta". His name was Sherman and he was actually concerned I was hit by a car and laying on the side of the road. He had was heading toward El Paso and actually turned around and backtracked to check on me.
I asked if he had any water and he had a cooler full of bottles in the back of his truck. He even asked me if I wanted a ride, which I considered, but kindly declined. I had moments of regret not taking his ride later on as wind continued to batter me the remainder of the daylight.
So if I need someone to stop, I guess the trick is to just lay on the side of the road and take a nap.
Near the top of the downgrade before my speeding ride down the mountain. I stopped here to put on the extra gear to keep warm.
I spent 85 miles on this road toward El Paso. There were two towns on the map, but they no longer existed. There were some buildings and crossroads but they were abandoned and empty. So this ride was a long and lonely, mostly uphill (after the 2000 foot drop, the grade was a slow incline toward El Paso back up to about 5100 feet) and into a mighty headwind.
So "Chester" the horse became my new friend. He was out in a huge fenced field, probably 100's of acres. When I pedalled by he was a few hundred yards away and galloped toward me. I was due a break so I met him at the corner of the barb fenced field and we had a little talk about how I was out of water and how I was planning on getting throught the rest of the day. I was still about 50 miles from El Paso.
Thursday, November 6, 2008
Here is John sporting a muzzle loader rifle. I picked this rifle up.. it is HEAVY! I couldn't hit anything with it I bet. Sorry for the sideways picture John. I can't figure out how to reformat the pictures from my phone.