Change Is In The Air

Wow! It’s already getting close to harvest time in the valley. The days are starting to get noticeably shorter. Schools are back in session. And the fog is staying put longer in the mornings. Change is in the air. We’re definitely starting to see Fall peek around the corner.

With Fall coming, and winter not far behind (and yes, I know it’s still August), I’ve started thinking about my continuing exercising and training routines. So, cross training has crept back into my vocabulary and I like it! I am a cyclist at heart but I enjoy other activities to challenge myself as well. I’m still riding one hundred plus miles per week (if I get a long weekend ride in), but I’ve started to run again too. This week I pulled off 16 miles. No, not in one run. But, some day! I enjoy running in the rain, so for the winter in California, it’s a good one to have in my wheel house. Besides, switching it up helps keep me from getting bored (not a good thing if you know me).  20881861_10210131844477437_6509010114649277352_n

As far as cycling goes, I’ve been working on speed (thanks for the ongoing motivation bgddyjim! For me, that means HIIT (high intensity interval training). Easy to do when you essentially ride loops – rather than going straight across the country. OK, straight may be pushing it. You all know I got lost and backtracked more times than I’ll admit! I’m also working on climbing strength. I’ve climbed some mountains in my day, but I’d like to do it quicker and easier.

I do have a couple of personal challenges in mind for the near future. I’m still working them out in my head though. I haven’t settled on what they will be for sure yet. Suffice it to say, I have something in mind for running and a couple somethings for cycling. Stay tuned. 🙂DSC01211

My next event for a cause is the Tour de Fox – Wine Country, a ride to raise funds for Parkinson’s Disease research. I’ll be riding with my friend Pam and her team. Ride with Pam

Song of the day:

Ride on!

It Was Never Just About Me

Many who followed my cycling ride across America have expressed that they’ve actually missed my stories. Who’d have thought? I am humbled by your sentiments and have decided to continue blogging about my endeavors to stay healthy and meet new challenges. So come along for the ride – if you will.

It’s been said that when you embark on certain journeys, they change you and you grow in ways you would never have imagined. I recently reflected on my whirlwind ride and found that it changed me indeed. What started as a check off on my bucket list became so much more. It was more than just being about me and completing a goal. I decided early on that if I was going to take on that challenge, I should raise awareness and funds for something important. I was led to the group Bike the US for MS. They support self-contained riders, and my sister and some friends back home in NY have Multiple Sclerosis. What a match! I also raised funds for pediatric cancer research through The Great Cycle Challenge in honor of Molly, a special person who lost her battle with cancer 3 years ago. I will continue to raise funds for MS and cancer research, but will also join in other fights and ride, run, walk, or just be for a cause. As a matter of fact, I have two events later this month.

Light the Night Walk for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society – I will be walking with my friend Danielle who survived a battle with leukemia last year and taught me so much about courage and faith.

Tour de Fox – raising funds for Parkinson’s Disease research. I will be riding with a long time friend who has the disease and is an inspiration with her positive attitude.

How else have I grown or changed?

I stopped watching the news and being cynical. There are such good people out there who are wanting to help or make a difference in any way they can. They are curious and interested and fun and caring and so much more! I met Charlton on day 1. He found my lost packet of cash, credit card and id along the road and found a way to return it to me! On day 7, I met up with LaVoy and others from the Union Pacific Rail crew. They made sure I had safe passage and kept me hydrated and replenished on a hot day along the Great Salt Flats. Alan made sure I didn’t walk too far with a flat tire on Day 8. Team Cubby Comfort Dog gave us food, shelter, and worship on day 11. And we met up with many more LCC Comfort Dog Teams along the way that were wonderful to us. Then on day 27, Nancy generously gave me shelter from the storm.

My Comfort Dog Friends – Aaron, Cubby, Eddie, Moses, Joy, Katie, Anna, Gracie, Shami, Barnabas, Lydia, Obadiah and Jessy.

I also learned that staying connected with friends and family is a good thing. They love you forever, no questions asked. And some friends are family! Even if you haven’t seen them in years, it will feel like it was yesterday. You really can go home again.

And I now know more about me and what I’m made of. I did this ride in part to see if I could. I now know that I can. When it gets tough, I can push on. And I’ve grown by learning that even though it looks like I am riding solo, I never really am.

Since I’ve returned, several people have told me it was inspiring. That alone makes me feel great about completing the trek. Many people inspired me so if I can pay that forward to even one person, it was worth it.

Song of the day:

Stay tuned to hear more about the causes I support or the challenges I take on.

Ride on!

MAA – Epilogue – Reflections on a Month of Cycling Across America

 

 

Hi again – I get to relax in the RV on the way back to California, so I am taking some time to reflect on my month of cycling across our great country. I hope you had fun tagging along and getting a glimpse into what it was like. The following are some retrospective thoughts about the experience.

TRIP STATS

  • Start – Finish: San Francisco, California to Plymouth, Massachusetts
  • Days Riding – 32.5 plus prologue
  • Rest days – 0
  • Miles – 3569IMG_5704
  • Most miles in one day – 146.5 (Austin, NV to Ely, NV)
  • Feet climbed – 102,450
  • Highest point – 8062 feet (Colorado)
  • Most feet elevation gained in one day – 8288IMG_4236
  • Number of states touched – 16
    • CA, NV, UT, WY, CO, NE, IA, IL, IN, MI, OH, PA, NY, MA, CT, RI (ended back in MA)IMG_5837
  • Dogs giving chase – 36
    • Dog deterrent air horn used – 4xIMG_5428
  • Lutheran Church Charities (LCC) Comfort Dogs met – 12
    • Aaron (send off from home), Cubby, Moses, Eddie, Joy, Katie, Gracie, Shami (early morning send off in Illinois), Barnabas, Anna, Lydia, Obadiah – And they are all looking out for us on the way home!IMG_5827
  • Mechanical Issues – SAG Actual got really good at fixing/maintain things!
    • Flat Tires – 5 (I had one the day before the last ride – slow leak found at camp)
    • Brake pads replaced – 1 set
    • Rearview mirror replaced – 1
    • Chain dirt and grime cleaned – dailyIMG_5306
  • Times caught in rain – 3
  • Highest temperature on road – 104.6 degrees (according to Garmin)
  • Weight lost – 12 lbs.

OBSERVATIONS/LEARNINGS

  • I have a GREAT SAG Team!DSC01816
  • The sweet spot for riding is between 6 and 10 am.DSC01655
  • I don’t like riding in the wind (especially head wind)!
  • I don’t like rumble strips!IMG_4364
  • I am directionally challenged.
  • Biggest Surprise – that I liked Nebraska
  • I have the best supportive friends ever!IMG_5834IMG_5836
  • Best ride – day 15 – Gothenburg to Grand Island, NE – nice smooth road, flat, slight tail wind, moderate temperature (100 miles in under 6 hours).DSC01407
  • Hardest ride – day 12 –  Fort Collins, CO to Sterling, CO (103 miles) – lots of wind!
  • Prettiest scenery – California for awe inspiring, dramatic views and New York for absolute, serene beauty.IMG_4298DSC01738
  • Best barns – IowaDSC01552
  • Friendliest state – Nebraska
  • Best RV Park – Streetsboro, OH KOA (and then Dayton Ohio KOA after the ride)
  • Best bike path – Des Moines, IA
  • Best road – Route 6 in IL from Marseilles to Joliet
  • Worst road – Service and frontage road along Union Pacific Railway West DSC01174Wendover, NV to Salt Lake City, UT
  • Coolest experience – riding along prancing Antelope on the way to Laramie, WY
  • Dogs love to chase bikes.
  • This was a one and done adventure.
  • The vastness of this country is incredible.DSC01133
  • Riding across the country 100 miles at a time was easier than I thought and harder than I imagined (hard to explain).
  • When I asked for a sign along the way…
  • You get to take a new road/go in a new direction only at the top of a hill – never happens at the bottom – you must climb first!
  • Descents are the best!!! (This is what it was like coming down from Spooner Pass)
  • Scoobert is a dog that is too big for an RV!IMG_4345
  • Reconnecting with friends and family is great! Don’t wait to do it.IMG_5711
  • Downshift before you stop. No, really. Downshift BEFORE you stop!
  • America is not flat (except for parts of Nebraska)DSC01206
  • Even Iowa has hills, lot’s of hills!
  • My faith in humanity has been made stronger.
  • There are a lot of good people out there!IMG_5344
  • Respect the checklist! We learned early on that I needed a checklist to make sure I remembered everything. I forgot things every day! (Things forgotten: tail light, Camelbak, sunglasses, food, sunscreen, helmet, more…)Checklist
  • Respect the SAG team! They have a different vantage point and are extremely helpful!IMG_5051
  • Cycling gets you a great tan. LOLIMG_5726

This is likely my last post for a while. There will be more adventures/goals coming up and I may write about them as well, but I’m pretty sure nothing will be as epic as this one was! Apparently, this is the end of the path for now. 😉IMG_5080

God is good! Ride on!

 

 

MAA – Day 32 – Solo Ride?

Day 32 – a ride across Massachusetts – pretty, but HUMID! I found it as tough to climb in the humidity as it was at higher altitudes. I even dipped my toe, so to speak, in Connecticut and Rhode Island. CT was for about two minutes – literally. It was only for about a half mile. Rhode Island was a little longer – maybe an hour! But, I rode into them, so they are part of the history of this journey. 🙂 Rhode Island didn’t have a welcome sign, or any sign for that matter. When I entered, the sign was covered because of road construction. And when I left, there were no signs. I’ll improvise.

 

When we got into the campground – which is FULL for July 4th weekend – we had a great visit from Lydia Comfort Dog and her team of which I am now an honorary member!

 

This adventure is almost done. So has it been a solo ride? I may be the only one out on the road on a bike, but I certainly haven’t been riding alone!

Out there with me:

God – Soli Deo Gloria! – I’m pretty sure He intervened a few times (or at least one of His angels did)!

The SAG Team – I absolutely could not have done this without them! If I had tried, it would have been really, really, really, really hard! And it would not have been nearly as enjoyable!

SAG Base – Christy K back at home who connected us with all of the Comfort Dog Teams along the way and made sure we had shelter everywhere and kept the SAG Team sane.

LCC Comfort Dog Teams – Aaron, Cubby, Moses, Eddie, Joy, Katie, Barnabas, Gracie*, Shami*, Anna, Lydia, and soon to meet, Obadiah. You were there at the right time, every time providing comfort, shelter, food and friendship!

Tom J – The one who kick started my journey by pulling me back into good health and inspiring me with stories of his own adventures trekking through the Sierras.

Jena T – Always there with a smile, positive attitude, encouragement and interest.

My St. John’s Lutheran family who supported, encouraged and prayed every step of the way.

My KP staff, Sharon and Theresa who made me laugh and held down the fort.

Andrea, Aka. East Coast Support Crew Leader – and my sister who happens to have MS and inspired this ride to be so much more than just a bucket list check off.

Penni and Jennie – My cross training buds who motivate me to get across those state lines. It’s all about the bling – and so much more!

Felix who makes me feel like a lucky guy!

Kathy W, who tried desperately to implant songs in my head.

Everyone following along and commenting/liking posts or just sending good vibes.

All of the Good Humans I’ve met along the way.

Everyone who has donated to the cause.

Everyone following who has MS (or other). I ride because they can’t.

So thanks for coming along! It has helped me more than you know!

Song of the day:

Ride on!

* 7/6/17- Addendum – I almost forgot Shami and Gracie! How could I?  😦  Shami drove an hour to greet me at 7 am to make sure I had a great day! Thanks Shami! Love you and Toni! 🙂 And Gracie got us through the hail storm in Iowa!

MAA – Day 28 – One Wedding, Several Graduations and a Funeral

Life rolls on when you’re out on the road. I suppose it’s what a travelling sales person must feel like – at least back when you couldn’t just hop on a plane to get where you needed to be. I’ve missed a wedding, several graduations and now we’ll be having a funeral. My Aunt Fran passed during the night. I would have seen her tomorrow, but alas, it was not in His plan. So today’s ride was for her. It was just what I remember of central New York too. Lot’s of rolling hills – steep rolling hills, beautiful farmland with crops other than just corn (sorry Nebraska!), cool looking barns and thunder storms rolling in and out all day.

Storms surrounded me all day but I didn’t actually get wet until I hit 70 miles. A quick deluge rolled through after that point about every half hour. It was cold too! It never got above 68 degrees today – it was the first time I wore my jacket all day since riding through the Sierras.

We took a small diversion at the end of the day to see Joseph Smith’s homestead in Palmyra, NY. We had stopped at the Mormon Tabernacle in Salt Lake City and I had mentioned there is a huge pageant every year at Hill Cumorah. Since we were right here, Girl SAG was very curious and wanted to check it out. We met a very nice family from Utah who were on the tour with us. They were very helpful in answering questions the girl had and were very excited and curious about our adventure. 🙂

Pics of the day: (Click on any image to enlarge)

Song of the day: RIP Aunt Fran!

Ride on!

 

We Interrupt This Blog to Bring You Random Thoughts From the SAG Team (Squirrel!)

  1. Thank goodness for checklists … So far they have kept us from leaving the important items behind, including the spare bike. We also use them every morning to “launch” Michele to make sure she has all the necessary gear and information.
  2. Scoobert is not an RV size dog …. He takes up nearly a third of the RV. We’re sure he is thinking that “I like car rides …. But this is not what I had in mind!”
  3. Carrying your restroom with you is handy … Now if we could just get Scoob to use it too.
  4. Planning meets reality. Planning on a computer is good, but it lacks knowledge of the actual ground conditions. The road we thought the woman could take, turns out to be a gravel road with ghost towns along it.
  5. Daily Schedule … Get up, help Michele get ready, lunch the her on her way, clean the RV, get provisions, drive ahead slightly, replenish her, drive ahead and set up camp, recover her, feed everyone, sleep, and repeat. We have become the living version of the “Groundhog Day” movie.
  6. Driving on Highway 50 reminds me (Mr. SAG) why most of Nevada is bombing ranges for the military and landing sites for aliens.
  7. Stopped in Eureka, NV and had lunch at the only open restaurant … Was not sure what was going to happen. Ms. SAG said I was being judgmental…. And I was. But out came a wonderfully spiced, pan-fried pork chop and great salsa.
  8. The life of a SAG person is hours of waiting for a few minutes of support …. Move up the road and repeat. Fix flats as necessary. Our motto is LRRR .. Launch, Replenish, Recover, Repeat.
  9. WIND!!!! The wind and been blowing non-stop all day. It made driving difficult and I can only imagine what it has been doing to the woman.
  10. Do you ever wonder if God ever thinks …. “Really? Again?” when we screw up.
  11. WIND!!! … Got up at zero dark hundred and the wind was already blowing. The woman is going to have another tough day battling the wind.
  12. Nineteen days into this … LRRR and waiting has become a way of life.
  13. Had a nice drive into Lincoln, NE and then drove around the town for a bit with Ms. SAG. An RV is not a good tour vehicle.
  14. Riding out a severe thunder storm with straight line winds in an RV is not our idea of fun.
  15. Dog barf in an RV … Somethings should be missed.

SQUIRREL!

MAA – Day 6 – Keep Pushing On

I can do heat. I can do hills. Wind, not so much. Today was really tough! I rode into a headwind all day long and the scenery didn’t change – until mile 93. Then I had a great ride! I hadn’t been able to keep much above 12mph for most of the day so when I was able to hit 50 coming down the mountain straight into town, I was pumped! (It was a smooth road with no potholes, drainage grates or cars/trucks.) 🙂

We knew it was going to be a tough day from the get go. I was all packed up and ready to leave when I realized the SPOT tracker was not on the bike. We couldn’t find it anywhere! I posted earlier today that it was not functioning. Well that was a half truth. It wasn’t functioning because it wasn’t turned on, because we couldn’t find it! We looked everywhere and tore things apart to try and locate it – to no avail. It was going to be a long day in the saddle and I had to get started. We prayed and I launched without it. I even backtracked to the grocery store we met at when we first got into town to see if anyone had found it. A big NO. Onward. At about 35 miles into the ride, the Sag texted me that it had been found! Mr. Sag “dumpster dove” and found it in the trash. It had apparently fallen off a shelf into our garbage bag! Thank God it was found because once they caught up to me and I was again able to be stalked, there was no cell service for the rest of the day.

Route 50 might be the loneliest road in America, but it was a nice ride all in all. Route 93 was just boring and long and harsh! I kept thinking I just want to go back! So this song kept popping in my head all morning…

So there were several songs of the day. Of course I kept thinking of “They Call the Wind Mariah” and “Colors of the Wind.” Some friends tried to implant others to stick in my head all day. Kathy W, this is not a Small World After all! You can’t imagine the vastness of it all. BB, 500 Miles doesn’t count anymore. I’m way beyond.

I kept coming back to one song all day because I really needed. I was reminded about REO Speedwagon by my friend Tom. He suggested it in an email I read just before heading out. It worked in the wind and I went back to it at the 90 mile point while climbing back to 6400 ft.

Pics of the day:

Ride on!