Remembering what it was like…

16 03 2011

At this time last year I was preparing myself and my bike for The Ride, my bike trip from Phoenix, AZ, to Denver, CO. I was also getting ready to move house. It was a very hectic time for me. I was packing for the move; trying to get all my gear together for the trip; packing the things I would need when I made it to Denver; and trying to ride enough to allow myself to make it. Here are a few of the posts from March 15 & 16 of last year, including a link to the map of the planned route for The Ride…

March 15, 2010…

Link to trip route map:

Driving Directions from 16240 N Fox Hill Dr Surprise, Arizona to  Aurora, Colorado.

March 15, 2010…

Well, the practice-packing went OK yesterday, I guess. The amount of stuff I can take with me is really limited. I can’t really pack all that I hope to take until I get the rest of my equipment, e.g., the tent and sleeping bag, since packing is one thing, while hanging all the stuff on my bike will be another. How it fits onto my racks will determine which bags and packs I can use, which will further determine how much I can carry. What I hope to do is pretty clear in my head, but actually doing it may be another matter.

I rested the legs yesterday. Today is a day for core work and strength training, so my ride will be short, 10-15 miles. I do this on Mon., Wed., Fri. On Tuesday and Thursday I ride farther, trying for 30 miles. Sometimes I make it.

The plan for the ride is to try for, at least, 60 miles per day, in three stages. By doing 20 miles in 1 1/2 hours, with 30 minutes rest in between, I should probably be able to avoid killing myself. If I can do more, I will. This should make for a 16-17 day trip, including a few days to rest the old legs. I’m thinking three days on, one day off. We’ll see how it goes.

Well, that’s the plan, for now.

By the way, I simply must thank my former sister-in-law and friend, Andrea Kalli, for helping me set up all this internet stuff for the trip. She is a wonder and a great friend. If you need any helpfor your Internet services, please get in touch with her through my Facebook page (or on a link here, if I can figure out how to do that). She is a genius and a sweetheart.

Thanx, Andi, for all you’ve done.


March 15, 2010…

Here’s The Bike. Not really designed for touring, but I’ve “hybridized” it into a road bike and should be able to make the ride on this. It has about 8000 miles on it, so I know it pretty well.

(The pic was taken from my phone, so please excuse the quality.)


March 16, 2010…

Couldn’t ride today. Had another cyst–down there. For people who cycle a lot, the perineum can be a real problem. I have some things I do that help, I’ll spare the details, but it can still be very frustrating. If anyone has any ideas, I would love to hear them. Pleeeeaaase!!!



Lessons learned…

29 04 2010

I learned a few things on the ride to Colorado; things I thought I might share.

I learned I’m not “in shape.” Sure, I’ve been riding nearly every day for the last two years; commuting to work, riding for pleasure, riding to burn fat. I’ve lost a great deal of weight and I feel much better. However, I’m not what anyone would consider in shape. I need to do a great deal more structured riding before a trip like this to get myself into proper condition for such a challenging endeavor.

I learned I need to train for a ride like this. When I say training I mean a structured approach to riding which will emulate many of the challenges I would experience on a long distance ride.

I learned I need to do more climbing rides. I need to begin challenging myself with climbs regularly, rather than avoiding them. Pleasure rides are one thing. Training rides serve another purpose. I need to begin deliberately riding routes with more climbs in them, even on days when I ride to work (when I get a job, of course). I used to commute only five miles to work. I would regularly go in early to drop my work clothes, then ride another 15-20 miles before returning to cool down and get ready for work. I’ll have to begin adding climbs to those rides to strengthen my legs.

I learned I hate the wind when it’s in my face. I take a strong head wind very personally these days. I become truly offended when the wind slows me down.

I learned I love the wind when it’s at my back. God I love a good tail wind. Push, push push me baby; especially uphill!

I learned riding in a dust storm is more challenging than driving a car in one. Trying to out run a dust storm turns out to be not such a good idea.

I learned camping out is not always as fun at 55 as it was when I was 15. I woke up pretty sore on a few of those mornings. Need to get a better sleeping pad for future tours.

I learned I could overcome most, if not all of these things. I actually surprised myself with my ability to overcome some of the challenges I faced. I guess I’m a little bit toughter than I thought I was. I had bad days, sure. But I overcame them. Sometime with help, sometimes on my own, I overcame them. I’m proud of that and it allows me to believe I’ll be able to do something similar again.


Reasons to quit…

28 04 2010

Hello all,

I’m asking for everyone’s help in this post. One of the lessons I learned from my ride to Colorado is that I need to quit smoking. However, I’m a stubborn nicotine addict, and I’m having trouble thinking of reasons to quit; one is definitely not enough. So, I’m asking all of you to offer up reasons, anything you can think of, to help inspire me to finally quit smoking.

Both of my parents smoked in our home when I was a child, and all five of my sisters either have smoked or still do. So, you know, it’s always been a kind of family bonding thing.

I began sneaking smokes from my mom’s pack when I was about thirteen, though it didn’t really become a part of my persona until I was about 21. Since then though, I’ve been a very committed smoker, averaging about three packs a day for 34 years.

In my drinking days, I would spend hours sitting in a bar drinking beer, flirting with any female who would allow me to, and chain-smoking, raising my daily numbers to the 5-6 pack level. Man, the money I’ve spent on beer and cigarettes would stagger the imaginations of some people (though a few of you, those who’ve sat there drinking and flirting and smoking with me, reading this know exactly what those numbers would be). So, to say that I have been a committed nicotine addict for a very long time seems like an understatement.

I am proud to say, however, that I have been able to reduce my nicotine consumption to about one, or one-and-a-half, packs a day since the ride. Believe me folks, that is big news for me.

Living in Phoenix, my main motivation for quitting, or at least reducing, the amount of smoking I did was the expense. I might pay up to eight bucks a pack down there. Here in Colorado though, they’re much cheaper. This is not a good thing. You see, when the expense of smoking is reduced, my will power quickly follows. It is still an expensive and nasty habit–er, addiction–but I must admit, even that is not enough to make me quit something I’ve enjoyed for so long.

During the ride though, my lungs really suffered from the years of dedicated smoking. There were a couple of days when I thought I would have to give up; that I would be unable to finish. Even through the last two years of nearly daily riding before the trip to Colorado, I was never able to fully commit to quitting; though I did try. The struggle I had during the ride helped to convince me that, should I ever hope to do another long distance tour, I would need to give up the smokes.

My biggest dilemma, my real reason for not being able to give it up over the years has been, are you ready for this?, I love the taste. Sure I’m an addict. I admit that freely. Experts even say smoking is harder to quit than heroin. But I’m not sure the nicotine addiction is the biggest hurdle I must overcome. Whenever I’ve tried to quit in the past I do fine for two or three days, but then my taste buds crave the taste so powerfully that I simply can’t maintain. Pretty sick, huh?

So, besides the expense and the reduced lung capacity for riding, I need more, and more overwhelming, reasons to inspire me to quit. I’m serious about this, but I’m also serious that reasons like “you’ll get cancer,” or “you might have a heart attack,” aren’t enough. If I haven’t died from smoking yet, I probably never will.

My heart is strong; my blood pressure is absolutely perfect; my lung capacity, considering, is good. I need something else; something more to convince me that the thing I want to do is worth the struggle; for, believe me, it will be a struggle. It will be tortuous. It will be even more difficult than the ride, which is the most difficult thing I’ve ever done.

So, I am asking for your help. Throw it all at me and let’s see what works; if anything. I have nothing to lose by asking, as you have nothing to lose by offering. Maybe, together, we can figure out a way for me to kick this disgusting, and oh so tasty, habit of mine.



The Ride–recap…

23 04 2010

Day One…Very proud of my first day effort. After finishing the final inspection of the rental house, I got away at about 10:30. Pedalled about 45 miles; my longest trip ever up until this point. Also camped out for the first time that night. Went just as planned. Had some problems but, for the first day of my first ever bike tour, I was happy with the way it went.

Day Two…Was very disappointed that I had to hitch so many miles this day (only rode about 25 miles) but, in retrospect, it was the right decision. The hills and the cold were more than I could handle this day. Staying in the hotel this night was also the right thing to do. Sleeping under snowy skies would not have been beneficial to me so early in the ride. Disappointing yes, but also a learning experience.

Day Three…My second disappointing day in a row (tried to ride but could only do about 15 miles). Due to the weather I had to remain in Flagstaff for another day and night. As a result however, my legs were very strong for the next few days. So, ambiguous about this day.

Day Four…A very good day for me. Pedalled 51 miles with surprising ease. The ride from Flagstaff to Cameron was very enjoyable, because it was not a struggle. I felt as if I had done this before and knew exactly what to expect. No surprises, just a really good ride.

Day Five…Another good day, in spite of the wind. It was behind me most of the day which allowed me to believe I might outrun the heavy wind predicted for the afternoon, and which helped to carry me about 55 miles. Didn’t quite manage to outrun the wind, of course. The wind, and dust, began to blow late in the afternoon. The hitch up to Kayenta at the end of the day saved me a long, arduous climb (about three more hours) which I had no idea was in front of me, and I camped out behind a Burger King that night. God, what a wind. I really believed my tent might come apart on me.

Day Six…Unable to take the blowing wind trying to shred my tent any longer, I decided to head east on my own. The dust storm was amazing. It pushed me east with relative ease again helping me to make about 55 miles, while at the same time it battered me. When the wind shifted, causing me to ride while leaning into it to remain on the shoulder, instead of being blown into traffic, I realized it was time to stick my thumb out again. Man, what an experience–to ride in a dust storm. I felt like I carried a large portion of the Navajo reservation with me into New Mexico.

Day Seven…A day of rest after 160 or so miles in three days–as well as battling the wind and dust for a day and a half; much needed, and much appreciated. Cleaned myself, my gear, and my bike of as much dust and grit as possible. (I’m still shaking dust and sand from my bags though.)

Day Eight…Began the ride to Durango and ground out 28 miles of climbing. Crossed the border into Colorado on nothing but leg power. A VERY proud day for me, in spite of my audio blog to the contrary. However, when the road narrowed dangerously and another long steep climbed loomed ahead, my friend Kim came to the rescue and drove me into her hometown. A beautiful place, Durango. I hope to visit much more often in the future.

Day Nine…Found out the bike needed some maintenance at the local bike shop so took it in and spent another day with Kim. What a great gal she is. Thanx, Sweetie.

Day Ten…The bike wasn’t ready until early afternoon, so Kim and I had a great breakfast burrito, I picked up the bike and rode back to her place. The legs felt OK.

Day Eleven…Left Durango for Pagosa Springs. This was another very good day of riding for me. There was a great deal more climbing than I expected, but I pedalled on…and on…and on; putting in a total of 68 miles. Had some great free-wheeling descents too. Had one that was nearly five miles of downhill running at 25-30 mph all the way. Now THAT’S the way to ride. Met some good people too, who let me pitch my tent when I had no place else to stay.

Day Twelve…Whoa, what a cold morning! Haven’t felt anything this cold in nearly a decade. Not a bad day of riding. A bad day mentally, but with a good old fashioned ass chewing by phone, I persevered and put in about 55 miles. Thank you Lord for the use of opposable thumbs. Wolfe Creek pass would have killed me.

Day Thirteen…Wish I could live in Salida. It’s a lovely place

Day Fourteen…Did a little riding today, about 20 miles, just to keep the legs toned up, but spent another night at the hostel to avoid mountain storms.

Day Fifteen…Home at last! After about 55 miles of riding and a hitch out of the mountains, I made it into Denver. What a great feeling to be here. There are so many familiar places. thoug I’m seing them from a much different perspective. After being dropped by my ride in south Denver, I pedalled another 10 miles or so until Andi and Darryl called to say they were on the way to pick me up. So great to see them again. Wow, what a crazy idea it was to do this.

ipadio:Bike Trip Audio Blog Post – Hear me talk about my experiences along the way – 15th phonecast

17 04 2010

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