The day after, a year ago…

18 04 2011

Below are some thoughts I posted the day after completing The Ride last year. Although I made a few errors in this post, the feelings and thoughts expressed are still valid today.

Today, I’m even more amazed that I accomplished what I set out to do – with some help, of course. I really doubt if I could do it again today. Last year, I had to get to Denver somehow, and the challenge of riding seemed like a great way to do it. Today, though I miss being on the road, I’m afraid I’m a bit too comfortable to challenge myself with a similar adventure.

I know I’ll attempt another bike tour again in the future, but it will be more out of a sense of adventure than necessity and, I’ll make sure I’m better prepared for the experience, as well

I hope you’ve enjoyed my attempt to relive some of what I experienced last year, just as I hope you enjoy the continuation of this blog.

April 15, 2010…

I’m home…

Well, I find myself a bit unsure of what to post this morning. After all, this blog was supposed to be about the ride to Denver–and here I am–at home. Maybe some thoughts on returning to Denver and the ride will be appropriate…

Denver has always felt like home to me; since we first moved here in 1983, when I visited after moving to Phoenix in 2001, and now, returning in an effort to restart my career, and life. Being here with Andi and Darryl, two of the best friends a person could hope to have, is so comfortable, and comforting. Hearing the delight and pride in my daughter’s voice last evening when I called and told her I’d made it brought me a sense of real joy. Seeing some of the old familiar places I remember from living here before gave me a wonderful sense of having returned to the place I am supposed to be. It is all so familiar and I am happy to be back.

Yesterday, as I began my ride from Salida, I was so eager to get here that I began pushing very hard from the first crank of the pedals. This was, of course, a mistake. I blew up my legs very quickly. I stopped a couple of times for food and Rockstar to reenergize them but, even so, I knew I had created problems for myself by going out so aggressively. As a result, I had to begin hitching after about 30 48 miles. With a couple of tough climbs behind me, and a few more ahead of me, I decided I’d better hitch if I wanted to reach my goal for the day of reaching the town of Fairplay, about 60 50 miles from Salida. As it turned out, I received a ride from a lady named Mary Lou who has done more bike touring than I could ever hope to do. She drove me up the mountains and then out of the mountains into Denver, about 100 90 miles. She saved me at least three days of riding–perhaps four [due to all the climbing involved]. She also saved me from getting stuck in the mountains when another storm came in tomorrow. For this, I’m very grateful.

I also learned some things from her about bicycle touring that I wished I had known before I began this journey. In fact, the whole trip, all 15 days, was an amazing learning experience. Some of the lessons I learned are internal, things I discovered about myself of which I’m proud, as well as things I’d forgotten about myself. Some of these lessons are things I’ll share with all of you later, some will remain my own. However, one of the most surprising and unexpected lessons I learned is something I’ve mentioned before; it is just how kind and generous people can be toward strangers.

I had about half-a-dozen “pay it forward” type experiences during the 15 days I spent on the road. People offered encouragement, rides, and cash, expecting nothing in return and receiving only the satisfaction of helping another human being. I even had one completely anonymous contribution of cash at the hostel in Salida. Someone, I’m not sure who, hid a $20 bill in my riding gloves which I only discovered when checking my gear one morning. I have an idea who it might have been but, since they obviously wanted the contribution to be anonymous, I will honor their wish and simply say, “Thank you for being so generous. It came in very handy.” I have sworn, to myself and my daughter, that I will be just as kind and generous to others in the future.

I realize now that I made many mistakes, in both the planning and execution, for this ride. I really thought I knew what I was doing after spending hours doing research online. Like most things though, it just isn’t the same until you’re out there, actually doing it. I mean, I spent years travelling alone as a salesman driving hither and yon but, living on the road on a bicycle creates a sense of exposure and vulnerability unlike any other mode of travel I can imagine. While I found a great deal of enjoyment in the experience, I also had days when I worked incredibly hard. Yet I did find bits of that joy and freedom about which I spoke before leaving. This ride was, without doubt, the most difficult thing I have ever done, yet I am proud and pleased to have done it.

Many of the things I experienced and learned during this trek will take some processing to evaluate and understand before I am able to share them. Let me just say this, if there is anything in your life with which you might like to challenge yourself, something you might wish to do for you–and only you–please give it a try. While I was not able to pedal every mile of the way during my ride, this old man was able to do about two-thirds of the distance, nearly 500 600 miles; much farther than I could have imagined a mere year ago.

So, whatever it may be that you have dreamed, make it real.


I Made It – April 14, 2010…

14 04 2011

On Wednesday, April 14, 2010, I completed the task I had set myself, my first long distance bicycle tour, by arriving in southwest Denver at about 5:30 PM. I had ridden about 48 miles from Salida to Fairplay, where I was given a ride to Denver, about 65 more miles. All I had to do now was get to Aurora on the east side of town, where Andi and Darryl would pick me up, another 13 miles or so.

April 14, 2010…

Leaving Salida, CO…

Here is an audio post of my thoughts as I began what became my last day on the road. I had no idea this would be the case as I headed north, out of Salida, that morning.

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Downtown Salida–­who knew they had one?

As I leave Salida this morning this is the view that greets me.

At the time, I was so focused on simply reaching my destination, it didn’t really sink in that I’d done it. I was excited, yes, but also ambivilant; I’d made it home – the trip was over, except for that little matter of the 13 miles to the east side of town.

Had I cheated myself by hitching that last ride out of the mountains? Well, as it turned out, I’d avoided a nasty snow storm in the mountains over the next two days. What would I do with myself if I wasn’t riding every day? I’d ride around Aurora and Denver and I would look for a job. Plus, I would be spending time with two great friends – and I would be seeing my daughter soon, as well.

It’s odd but, focusing on such a serious challenge can become the complete focus of one’s life and, I’ll admit, no longer having that focus left me feeling a bit nonplussed.

As I look back on the adventure a year later, I’m stunned to realize I actually did it. I don’t think I could even begin such a trek today. Not physically, and certainly not mentally. I’m simply not in the right frame of mind. Too comfortable, I guess.

I can only say this, I hope this was not a one-time adventure, for I would truly like to be able to challenge myself in this way again someday.

Saddle Surfin’ on My Bianchi…

I think it appropriate, to mark the anniversary of my first long distance bike tour, to leave you with this;, the link to another who has chosen to challenge herself with a similar adventure. Cherri is cycling the USA this year, and documenting it on WordPress. Give it a look. I think you’ll enjoy it.


Tough days, a year ago…

11 04 2011

I had a couple of tough days after leaving Kim’s place in Durango. I actually rode 68 miles toward Pagosa Springs on the 10th; my longest ride ever. I was really proud of myself for this. There was a great deal more climbing than I had expected, but I also had a couple of long, free-wheel descents – finally – which made parts of the ride seem much shorter.

Waking to snow above me in Pagosa Springs, CO, April 11, 2010.

As you can hear from my tone of voice in the first audio post from the 11th, I was feeling very sceptical of my ability to continue, much less finish, The Ride. I was looking at some huge climbs ahead of me, plus many miles of level ground as well. I’d been wakened by the very cold temperatures overnight in Pagosa, so was not well rested, and wound up feeling overhwlemed by the challenge ahead of me.

Leaving Durango, and Kim's place, April 10, 2010.

April 11, 2010…

iPadio Audio Post…

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However, later in the evening, as a result of the kindness of strangers, I was feeling much better. I was suddenly in Salida, CO, a beautiful little town about a hundred miles southwest of Denver, with a room for the night, a hot shower behind me, and food in my belly. I’d only ridden 35 miles that day, but with two rides from strangers, one over 10, 550 foot Wolfe Creek pass, I felt as if I’d been delivered to heaven. To Joe and Jesse, my guardian angels on this day, Thank You, you have no idea how much I appreciate what you did for me.

April 11, 2010…

2nd iPadio Audio Post

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Remembering by riding…

9 04 2011

A year ago and two days ago, April 7th, I rode into Colorado from Arizon, by way of New Mexico. Needing coffee on Thursday morning, I rode the same bike a couple of miles down to Starbuck’s and back; sort of as a way of remembering that day.

My Yukon and my coffee.

Wow, what a difference a year makes. After riding road bikes so much over the last year, I’m not sure I could even begin to ride the Yukon so far again. The riding styles are just so different. Still, I do love this bike. It carried me through some amazing adventures last year. I’ll probably own it forever.

Welcome to Colorful Colorado, a year ago…

7 04 2011

What a great day for me, one year ago…

After eight days on the road, my bike and I crossed into Colorado at about 1:00 in the afternoon. This was a watershed moment for me. I was back in Colorado, my previous home for 18 years, and I had gotten there the hard way. Though my legs had felt tired all day, and though I had climbed a few thousand feet to get there, I experienced a great rush of adrenaline and excitement. At that moment, I felt as if I could pedal all the way to Denver without stopping.

Circumstances would soon conspire against me however, as the heavily travelled road narrowed dangerously. With cars, pick-up trucks, SUV’s, and 18-wheelers blowing by at 85 mph within inches of my left hip, I decided to stop and call my friend Kim, in Durango, and ask her to come and get me. I had only travelled 28 miles this day, but I was exhilarated by what I had accomplished. I’d made it to Colorado, and it felt like coming home.

 April 7, 2010…

Holy crap…look where I am!

My favorite pic from The Ride, April 7, 2010.

 April 7, 2010…

One of the best people I have ever known…

My friend Kim…



Pedaling 140 miles in 3 days, a year ago…

5 04 2011

I did a lot of miles from April 3-5 last year, pedaling 140 miles across the Reservation in northern Arizona, much of it in howling winds of 40-60 mph, and a major dust storm as well.

The wind during this portion of the trip was some of the worst I’ve ever experienced; which is saying something, having lived in Colorado and Arizona for a total of 28 years now. The dust storm on my third day on the Res however, was truly amazing. The dust rose 12,000 feet into the air above me and, because it was at my back, I flew eastward along the highway. Until, that is, the road bent a bit south and the wind shifted a bit east, then I was riding for my life, constantly leaning to my right at about 20 degrees, trying desperately to stay on the shoulder instead of being blown into traffic. 

After 12-15 miles of this struggle, I gave in and stuck out my thumb, hitching a ride into New Mexico, which might have literally saved my life. Have I said this ride was adventurous? At times, it truly was.

April 4, 2010…

Miles and miles of miles and miles…

I did the whole climb

Cycling across the Reservation in northern Arizona, April 2010.

Here are a couple of my audio posts from that adventurous portion of the ride. Wow, the memories are so powerful…

April 5, 2010…

iPadio audio post from Bloomfield, NM… 

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April 6, 2010…

iPadio audio post from Bloomfield, NM… 

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51 miles, heading north, a year ago…

3 04 2011

After two nights in Flagstaff, AZ, I hit the road again, heading north to the Hopi Indian Reservation, a desolate place, yet the most direct route to Colorado.

Leaving Flag provided some great scenery to enjoy.

 I was riding at about 7000 feet now, a real challenge for a man who’d spent the last two years riding below 2000 feet. I didn’t seem to feel it all that much however, for I was very focused on the ride this day. I was also feeling pretty strong after two nights of rest in a Motel 6 which, by the way, at only 25 bucks a night had seemed like a five-star resort to me at the time.

One of my favorite shots...30 mis north of Flag.

I stopped about 30 miles north of Flag for a banana and OJ breakfast, and took the above pic, one of my faves from The Ride. The gas station/convenience store was in the middle of nowhere, as are most things on or near the Res.

After 51 miles, a relatively easy ride due to the rolling terrain, I’d made my goal for the day, a small stop on the road called Cameron, AZ, about thirty miles east of the Grand Canyon. A hamlet of about 1000 souls with a gas station, convenience store, and a tourist trap of an artifacts store, as well as a small camping area, I paid my $17 to pitch my tent on a small patch of grass behind one of the buildings, in an effort to shield myself from the wind (which was only moderately successful).

My rig vs theirs.

As it turned out, I was not the only camper there that night. Two RVs pulled in a bit after I’d set up camp and wow, was I jealous of the rigs they were driving. Very plush accommodations, with satellite dishes and automatic levelling of the rigs, these folks had it all. Is that camping? lol

The wind would definitely become my nemesis over the next couple of days. It can truly howl across the Res, with little or nothing to slow it down. As I settled into my little tent that night, listening to the wind grab at my tiny portable home, the forecast was for winds to 60 mph on the following day. The only saving grace for me was that it would be coming from the west or southwest, while I would be riding east and north-east. I was hoping to finally find a tail wind! Here is a link to Google maps, showing just how desolate this area is: Cameron, AZ.

Most of the ride through the Res looked like this, unless the hills were bigger!

I have to admit, I was very proud of myself this day. I had ridden further than ever before, and at a good pace. I’d only had to push the bike uphill for about a mile, and had reached my goal for the day. It was a very good day on the road. “I can do this,” I was thinking. That put a smile on my face, believe me.


April 3, 2010…

Day 4…

30 mis north of Flag. Got a good start on the day. Only had to walk about a mile on one climb. May have found my climbing gear! Hope so. Nice weather, a bit windy. Rolling terrain now, so should make better time. Will post pics later.

Day 4…Cameron, AZ

Well, I made it to Cameron today, a little hamlet on the Hopi reservation, 51 mis north of Flag. This was my goal for day 3, with a rest day today. Since I rested yesterday instead, I figure I can say the schedule is OK. The riding was good today. Mostly good roads, not too much traffic, not too many climbs. I feel pretty good. Tired but not wiped out, but also a little bit raw–down there. Hope to sleep well tonite, but very windy, so will see. Will also check the warmth of my bag. Gonna get cool tonite. Looking forward to another good day tomorrow, should have the wind at my back all day.


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