Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Jackson Hole=Black Hole

The vortex has it's grip on us. It seems as though we may never get out of here. Ok, that's a bit dramatic but we did leave Casey's house today only to return a few hours later. Rather than take the highway out of Jackson into Yellowstone (the way we came in), we thought we'd ride the road along the foot of the Tetons alongside the Snake River through the Grand Teten NP. As luck would have it, they are grading and resurfacing the roads today which includes spraying magnesium chloride. Apparently this is only once a year, today. They say that stuff is no joke and you don't want it on you bike. So, 30 miles later, we're back where we started. I was grumbling at the fact that it was going to cost $12 to get in. Now, I would have been more than happy to pay that $12 twice to get through. Of course, we could gripe about the fact that we wouldn't be in this situation had we only taken 1 rest day instead of 2. As the Scots say, bullocks! At this point, it makes little to no difference. We'll get an early start tomorrow and, yes, do the same ride since the construction should be done. This time, we will call ahead to check on road conditions.

So what do we do in Jackson now? Lee has already spent the last 2 days mtn biking. I went with him yesterday on a bike that was a bit too small for me and cut my ride short because I didn't want to end up with a broken collar born or something. We have watched a storm engulf the Tetons as the sun went down. Ate at Bubba's BBQ and Teton Thai... wonderful! If we had a lot of time, we'd hunt down the guy we were riding with today and have him teach us how to build a frame. When we asked about the origin of his bike, he plainly stated that he built it. He has been riding it since 1976. He wanted to be a frame builder till he realized that he'd only make $1.50/hour doing it. Pearl Street Bagels is sounding like a nice afternoon event...

Our host here has been wonderful. Last night she said she would miss coming home to us at night. Well, she gets one more night of us! She drove us out to a beautiful lookout of the Tetons where we sat and picniced. She has lent Lee her mtn bike for the past 2 days which has kept him more than busy.

The ride from Dubois to Jackson over the Continental Divide was much easier than we both predicted. In fact, Lee was very disappointed. He wanted a challenge. I had stopped for minutes before I got to the top to put my arm warmers on because I figured I would have at least another hour of climbing. The climbs here are just much more gradual than what we are used to in the Appalachians. I believe we'll be crossing the divide 2 more times in Yellowstone, maybe more after that too.

Dubois->Jackson 90 miles
And we've probably ridden 60 miles around Jackson by this point.

Saturday, June 26, 2010


101 miles to Dubois via Riverton

He walked in and asked us to relay to Matt to 'go to the cougar den at
the whiskey saloon.' Turns out this guy had toured from Jackson via
Glacier to the northern tier last summer. Two hours before, we pulled
into town exhausted with no where to stay for the night. I saw 2 bikes
in front of the Cowboy Cafe and decided IT would be a good place to
stop at least for dinner if not for camping suggestions.
Unfortunately, the couple who owned the bikes were German and spoke
broken English. It continues to amaze me how things seem to just work
out and we meet amazing people. One of the chefs at the cafe asked if
we needed anything so we asked for camping suggestions. When he asked
what we were looking for, we replied, 'free.' Without hesitation, he
offered a spot of grass in his yard and any facilities we might want.
He warned us that his place was both 'primitive' and 'delspitated.' I
assured him that whatever accomodations he could offer would surely
suffice for two guys living off their bikes. So we found the house. No
siding, plastic for walls, and a campstove. 75% of his space is used
for his wood shop. The remaining space is his living space. Really, a
pretty cool setup. No frills, no luxuries. Just the bare necessities
plus his loves and hobbies. Simple. We have been in such and array of
accomodations... it is amazing that someone with so little would offer
whatever they have.

So we landed in Dubois after a generally treacherous day. The last
30-40 were basically hell. The fact that we were riding thru the Wind
River Indian Reservation should suggest something about the wind. 9mph
was pretty average for the most part. There was a point where Lee just
stopped out of disbelief and ate a pop tart to ease his mind. That's
about all IT really takes for him. That pop tart got him moving and I
didn't see him again till I got into town. When we get near the end,
he smells blood so to speak.

We stopped in Riverton for food and supplies. I needed some tubes
because I got yet another flat this morning when I had the bright idea
of pumping my tires. That was 3 flats within 24 hours all on my rear
wheel. I calmly stated, 'I quit!' I borrowed a drill from the people
camping nearby and drilled the hole for the valve in the rim a bit
wider. So far so good. In Riverton, I finally did IT. I went through
my gear and sent everything home that I hadn't used yet. That included
lots of pasta, some freeze dried meals, my camp stove, and other misc
items. That is 8.5 lbs less that I have to carry over the pass to
Jackson tomorrow. When we walked out of the post office, they was a
crazed looking fellow at the bottom of the steps wearing a backpack
who was eager to shake our hands. We were both a bit taken aback until
he showed us his bike and told us his story. He had been racing in the
Continental Divide Race until his freehub went out. I suppose you'd
have to be a but crazed to ride a singlespeed in that race.
Considering that I was having similar problems with my feehub, I am
glad that I got my problems worked out. This guy wasn't so lucky. He
was only able to coast or push thus ending his race. However, IT
could've ended much worse for this fellow. Of the 45 that started, he
said that only half of them are still in it and one person had already
died during the race.

The apex of elegance is finally fulfilling its many purposes. Lee
motioned for me to stop apparently when I was looking down. I looked up
just in time to grab my brakes and run right into his bumper. IT was
then that we decided every bike should have one. Neither bikes were
damaged, nor were the riders. The curved section of the 'apex' got a
small bend but is holding strong.

Since we've been in Wyoming, we have been seeing tourers all over.
Today was the first time we'd run into people goin east to west.
Tomorrow will be yet another challenging day. I hear it's 93 miles to
Jackson. We are due for a rest day and have made contact with a host
who we'll stay with for 2 nights before proceeding thru Yellowstone.

By the way, IT is really just it. The SureType function on the
blackberry defaults to all caps on that for some reason and I don't
have the patience to fix IT!

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Friday, June 25, 2010

111 miles past Shoshoni to camp

Just because it is a town on the map doesn't mean that there is anything there. The sign at Moneta said population 10. I think they picked that because it's a nice roung number.

We ran into 3 other cyclists on tour. We had only seen 2 others since we started so this was big. Even then, we were both mildly discontent because we have seen one yet under the age of 55. Wouldn't you know, we met someone else our age traveling across the country, only he is walking! His name was Fran and he is going from Oregon to Massachusetts. He was 24. The mileage we covered today woid take him at least 3 days.

We stopped in a post office in a little town called Powder River, because IT was the only public building, and were promptly refused use of the facilities. So i found some shade behind the building and started in on the sandwich that I made at Linda and Jack's. When I got up to get some peanut butter off my bike, the post lady poked her head out of the back door and said, 'if that pack falls and smushes those flowers, you gonna wish you were never born.' I replied sincere curiousity, 'really?' As she closed the door, she explained, 'oh yes.'
at first glance, this post lady reminded me of my Aunt Susie, sweet as can be. That quickly vanished once she opened her mouth. I had to ask if she were serious because I just couldn't believe that someone could be that serious about their flowers. She was.

The wind was rough till around 5pm. We weren't sure that we'd make our goal today. 60 miles in, we started takin 1 mile long pulls which was very efficient. Just enough time to rest up for your next pull while you got pulled along.

Two flats in one day. First was before we left. I started to pump the tire and it went flat. Finally realized that I need to file down the valve hole because IT keeps cutting into tubes. Second was riding the gravel road into the campground. According to Lee, I always change
tubes or spokes in front of the most beautifu scenery. I'm glad he was savoring that moment. A couple passed by and asked if they could help and offered to drive me that last mile to camp. Small world. They used to live in Chesterfield, VA, my home town, and her son was a grade
behind me and went to school with me. Also, she lived in Brandermill, the subdivision on the other side of the lake from where I was raised.

The scenery is amazing, the pictures will have to do the talking. We are camped right on a lake which should provide a most spectacular

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Thursday, June 24, 2010


Weds 6/23 74 miles to Wright, WY
Thurs 6/24 103 miles to Casper

Fun fact: Wyoming is the least populated state, including Alaska.
While IT would be easy to say that there was a lot of nothing on
Wednesday, we did go by the largest surface area coal mine in North
America. They had trucks that were, no joke, bigger than houses. My
friend Tom in Nebraska told me about this method that they utilize to
replant they grasses and make the site look natural after they
stripped IT of all its worth. If they could do that with this site, IT
would be nothing short of a miracle. Looking at it on google maps
hardly reveals the area that they are mining. Any how, the Thunder
Basin Grasslands were very, very nice. We asked Joan, the woman who
provided shelter from the tornado, what the ride would be like and she
replied 'flat and plain.' Again, the locals experience things
differently than we do. To someone who never seen those mesas, IT was
a jaw dropping day. It seems so natural that we take things for
granted once we're used to them. Oh yeah, and it wasn't flat. Is it
ever? Rarely IT seems.

As Lee said, we hard to go left to go Wright. We pulled into a cookie
cutter neighborhood that was all that Wright consisted of. IT was too
perfect looking; IT was bothersome. After 70+ miles of nothingness,
the only thing around this town was the mine. IT was a first class
kinda town; nice schools, playgrounds, and a new library. Evidently,
all the money came from the mine because there was simply no where
else for it to come from.

We drank tallboy sodas, 16 oz, and watched the sunset over the pond.
That's right, tallboy sodas. After nightfall, we setup our tents
between a row of trees and went unnoticed.

Sunrise comes early out here. We were both up by 5am, not so much by
choice. Retrospectively, IT was a great thing. We got to Midwest, a
town of about 400 people, by lunch time which was our 1/2 way point.
Winds were not favorable as usual. I asked a boy, probably 8 years
old, where the grocery store was. 'I will take you there' he
exclaimed. He was kicking rocks in the front yard when I asked him. I
think we were the highlight of his day. Unfortunately, his chain fell
off his bike after only 1 block. Not much goes through that little
town. I took a few pictures of the houses so I'll be able to remember
they way they lived. Many houses were abandoned. I broke a spoke and
changed IT in 14 minutes (that includes getting IT of the holder on
the chainstay and truing it). Not that I hope to break more spokes,
but I will try to beat my time on the next one. I stopped to change
the spoke at breathe taking view of the Big Horn Mountains. This was
our first siting of snow covered mountains. Lovely!

The southern ride towards Casper was neverending. There is a gigantic
mountain on the south side of town called Casper Mountain. It was such
a tease because it gave us a false sense of nearness. Town must have
been 20 miles off. It's a bit torturous at mile 85 when you felt like
you shouldve been there by now but town is still somewhere off in the
distance. We ran into a cyclist on our way into town who directed is
to a suggested bike shop. For peace of mind, I had the mechanic take
my freehub off, check IT out, and put IT back on. Seeing as the shop
in Valentine didn't charge me any labor or shop fees, I didn't feel so
bad in having to pay to make sure IT was done correctly. Lee greased
his new pedals. is an awesome resource. I have no connections in this
town yet we were greeted with a porkchop dinner, wild rice, veggies,
fresh cookies, ice cream, warm showers, clean sheets and beds, laundry
facilities, and of course more wonderful people who were eager to hear
our stories and share some of their own. IT really makes me want to
ask what motivates them to be so kind to total strangers who only have
stories to repay them with. I will choose not to question it but
rather to simply accept it.

On a down side, I left my fleece lined marmot jacket in the house in
Newcastle. I guess IT was an expendable item really; I can use my rain
coat with arm warmers.

We are told that the next 2 days are going to be the most desolate
areas that we will venture to. I drank 8 bottles of water today. I can
only anticipate that I will continue to need that much in this dry
heat. We have some water reserves as well, no worries. At least enough
for 4 bottles. Another long day tomorrow to Shoshoni, around 100
miles. May the wind be at our backs!

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Tuesday, June 22, 2010


First things first, the wheel seems fine so far. With the help of a
shop that had never seen a hub like mine and usually deals older
bikes, we got it on there. I'm still kinda holding my breathe since
neither of us really knew what we were doing. Thank goodness for
Shimano maintainence guides.

Within 1/10 of a mile of entering Wind Cave NP, we saw a heard of
buffalo and an antelope. Wed even saw baby buffalo... Awwww. I
couldn't help myself when I saw The Purple Pie Place. Pie is amazing.
I could eat it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Admittedly, I had
strawberry rhubarb pie the 2 days before. I don't think I had tried
that before; it was amazing as was the bumbleberry pie. Don't know
what bumbleberries are but they are great in a pie! Caution: hold the
a la mode. I just can't seem to help myself. For and extra $.70, who
wouldn't throw on a scoop of ice cream? When we were climbing out of
Hell Canyon in the Black Hills, I wished I hadn't.

We skipped the faces, crazy horse, and devil's tower. I saw them all
when I was young and Lee seemed to lack interest in all of the above.
The Black Hills are beautiful. Its too bad we aren't staying longer.
But we must push on to Jackson, WY.

We ended our day in Newcastle, WY. Again, we pulled into town not
really knowing what to expect or where to go. We stopped in the
library and asked for some camping recommendations and used the
internet. We were directed down the road to a park. As we waited for
the train to pass thru the dead center of town, the man in the truck
in front of us that read ''homeland security'' got out and told us
that some tornadoes had touched down nearby and I believe he mentioned
something about 83 mph winds. Well, we were a bit worried but the wind
wasn't really blowing much. We made it to the park and I began to
snack. In conversation, Lee said 'when that tornado comes...' I
replied, 'you do realize that you just said when, not if. Right?'
Within moments, a woman from a nearby house came running at us
shouting that tornadoes were nearby and we needed to find shelter.
Now, I type on this keyboard that is half the size of my palm from a
nice woman's basement where we're sleeping for the night.

Lee was telling me how he initially felt like traveling alone was the
best way to do it because you minimize the risk of problems by having
less people. Tonight, he said that he had a change of attitude on
that. We both agree that traveling with another, while they may lean
on you a bit, has tremendous advantages. If anything, it increases the
probability that you will be taken care of. Indeed, we have been taken
care of by so many people in so many ways. A big thank you to

To sum up, we met someone in Atkinson who knew someone in Ainsworth
who knew someone in Valentine who has a sister in Hot Springs. We have
been taken care of, Nebraska style. Even though our host in Hot
Springs was in South Dakota, she was from Nebraska. So far, South
Dakota hospitality ain't too shabby either. One thing that all the
locals have done is warn us of the Native Americans. It is a uniform
sentiment: stay away. The reports we have gotten are those of larceny,
murder, alcoholism, welfare abuse, and just general disdain. It is
unfortunate that this is the case. It makes me wonder about the
Cherokee nearby Asheville. Are they in a similar condition and I am
just oblivious or are they somehow better off? And how can the
resentment of a whole people be healed that has been fueled for

I put my eyes on our revised. schedule and noticed that I did the
dates wrong. If we make our mileage, we'll get everywhere a day sooner
than scheduled. Also, we're going to skip Midwest and go to Casper via
Douglas to stay off interstate 25... that would not be fun.


72 miles today from Black Hills, SD->Newcastle, WY

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Saturday, June 19, 2010

Spoke too soon

I nearly ran into the arms of the FedEx delivery drivedr when she brought the package I had been waiting for all day. My fears that it might not arrive that day had finally been squashed. Replacing a freehub is something I had never done so I was pretty careful in taking the old one off. Long story short (since I really don't want to relive it), the freehub didn't fit. My hub is an M-770, and I think they sent me one for an M-756 (the previous year's model). The guy at the shop felt terrible. It gets worse. There is no overnight delivery for Saturdays out here. The soonest it can be here is Monday morning. So, we wait.

Since I suddenly have lots of free time, I put together a revised schedule.The numbers after the towns are the miles from the last town. The miles in the parenthesis are the predicted mileage per day

Hot Springs, SD (Depart Tuesday 6/22)
Custer, 32
Newcastle, 37 (69m, arrive Wed 6/23)
Wright, 73 (arrive Thur 6/24)
Midwest, 51
Antelope Hills, 25
Homa Hills, 9
Casper, 12 (97m, Arrive Friday 6/25)

rest Saturday?
Powder River, 39
Moneta, 38 (77m, arrive Sun 6/27)
Shoshoni, 21
Pavillion, 34 (55m, arrive Mon 6/28)
Crowheart, 31
Dubois, 30 (61m, arrive Tue 6/29)
Moran, 55
Jackson, 30 (85m, arrive Wed 6/30)
Yellowstone NP, 60-70m (arrive Thu 7/1)

(rest Friday in the park?)
West Yellowstone, 134m from Jackson (arrive Sat 7/3)
Ennis, 71 (arrive Sun 7/4)
Virginia City, 14
Sheridan, 19
Dillon, 32 (65m, arrive Mon 7/5)
Jackson, Mt, 46
Wisdom, 18 (64, arrive Tue 7/6)
Darby, 56
Hamilton, 17 (73m, arrive Wed 7/7)
Stevensville, 20
Missoula, 31 (51, arrive Thu 7/8)

Friday, June 18, 2010

The Death of Cynicism

The reality of my bike problems became apparent when we arrived in Ainsworth, the longest 48 miles I will ever pedal in my life. Through a slew of unlikely and amazing connections, we were directed to Tom who runs the grocery downtown. Once again, we had just been led to what seemed to be destiny... probably the only guy in town who could help me get to the bottom of my bike issues. He called his favorite shop, some 158 miles away, and had the mechanic help diagnose my dilemma. What it comes down to is that the pawls (no, not Pauls... though I love the idea of several small men named Paul running around in my hub)have worn out. This has caused the cassette body to come loose once again. Solution: replace the freehub. Unfortunately, that is not a commonly stocked item. I finally found one in Olympia Cycles in Omaha but the guy who was trying to sell it to me tried to sell me a set of Mavic Kysrium race wheels first. Obviously the guy doesn't have a clue what he's talking about if he is trying to sell me a set of 20-spoke superlight race wheels for me 80-ish pound touring rig. He snapped at me when I explained that they just wouldn't do the trick and said, "well what kind of wheel do you think you need?!" I explained to him once again that I didn't even need a wheel, much less a $300 set of race wheel unfit for the kind of riding I am doing. After I convinced him that I wasn't going to buy a new set of wheels, he some how managed to find the part that I needed. He quoted me a fee and said that he'd just have to guess on the shipping but shoot high and probably wouldn't reimbursh me any excess payment. It was then that I called Greenstreet. Once again, taken care of. They snagged one off of a bike and took it right over to FedEx and overnighted it. They just took my credit card info and said they'd figure out what it would cost later... without guessing and refusing to refund me any excessive costs.

Yesterday's ride was grueling. We pushed and pushed all day and barely made 48 miles. Riding into those winds, we were lucky to be pushing 11 mph. I would have to guess our average was 9-10 mph. Since we were getting no where fast, we took some stops and enjoyed the towns. We pulled into Bassett and found the soda fountain. Unfortunately, the owner wasn't doing lunch that day because the expo was in town which drew in nearly everyone for miles and miles it seemed. I was quite honestly shocked when the storeowner's partner walked in and he introduced him to us. My hat is off to Nebraska for forward progress. I can't imagine that a gay couple would survive in a town like that much less own the soda fountain less than half a century ago. Maybe it's just my ignorance, but the american frontier seems like it is making some progress.

Before heading to Tom and Pam's home for the evening, we sat in a proper Japanese martial arts dōjō and observed Tom instruct a class. Quite an experience. We were very impressed with the seriousness that the participants brought to the floor. I never thought that I'd be in a dōjō in the middle of nowhere Nebraska. We took a hike around their land once we got to the house so the mosquitoes could feed on us. They are relentless, I have never seen so many blood suckers in my life. While we were donating blood, we climb up and down some small canyons and saw the sunset. Nebraska is really a beautiful state. The strangest thing, it was light out until 10 pm.

Some may scoff, so scoff away. Rather than riding on my shoddy wheel, Tom arranged a ride for me to Valentine to the shop where my part was getting shipped to in a chip delivery truck. Here I sit, in Yucca Dune Outdoor Adventures, while Lee is pushing out the last 45 miles that I barely noticed.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Nebraska takes the cake

Nebraskans are wonderful. Some of the nicest people I've ever met. Not
the kind of nice you find in the South where people are nice to your
face but then talk behind your back. It's a genuine kindness that
doesn't leave you wondering.
We can't really include IN in the ranks because we stayed with my
sister and she treated us like family; because I am! Kentucky ranks
high... all the encounters we had were generally pleasant and all the
people we stayed with treated us like family (Sue is family, we had
just never met). However, all of our hosts in KY were expecting us.
Nebraska has been welcoming us with open arms on the spot.

We rode 58 miles yesterday to Norfolk, NE and stopped at the last bike
shop for 180 miles till Valentine, NE. We called ahead to let them now
we were coming. By this time, we really needed a shop. One of Lee's
pedals had worn out bearings and my rear wheel was making hideous
sounds I could only drown out with headphones. I was concerned that
riding thru all that water had caused some kind of damage. So we go to
the only shop in town, Cleveland Bike & Sport. Top notch shop, one of
my favorites so far. Best customer service for 2,000+ miles. Turns out
my cassette body was loose, no bueno. Well, 100ish miles later, it's
loose again. I have to make it to Valentine to get to the next shop.
On the bright side, one of the 2 brothers that run the shop brought us
in for the night and sent us off with breakfast in our bellies.

I almost forgot to mention... We had to stay overnight because the
local cycling club just happened to be hosting a crit (type of race)
that night. Lee was ecstatic when he heard. Who says you can't tour
and race at the same time? Lee placed 4th... on a touring bike with
50+ miles on his legs already.

I called the local PD to ask what the camping situation would be
Atkinson. Since the Rec Area is still flooded, they let us camp right
downtown in the city park. After I setup camp, I started walking
towards the Subway. A 100 mile today and tomorrow requires calories,
lots. On my way, I was beckoned over to join a group that was having a
picnic. BBQ meatballs (9 of them), cornbread, fruit salad, chips &
dip, and pumpkin bread was my dinner. They also told me how to hunt
down a cyclist 45 miles up the road if I have bike problems. And
finally, one of them gave me their phone number in case we had any

We walked from there to the softball game which was the main
attraction tonight. We met a couple of teenage boys who wouldn't leave
us alone. It's not that the company wasn't welcome, it was just kind
of funny to watch 14-16 year olds get glued to older guys. Golly, it
is tough being that age. Anyhow, while we were at the game, yet
another stranger favor came thru. A man who stopped on the side of the
road to talk to Lee while he waited for me to catch up came to the
game like he said he would. He brought us a cooler with horseradish
cheese and deer jerky Yes Dad, the cheese is amazing. I'm actually
kinda shocked because I'm usually not much for horseradish. All of
this (camping, dinner, softball) took place within 1 city block.

Tues - Norfolk, NE - 58m
Wed - Atkinson, NE - 98m

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Monday, June 14, 2010

Back to it

Exactly one week later, we are back in the same campground we were in
when I got the call from Cathy about Eleanor's passing. If you knew
her, you know that she loved throwing parties. Well, her final 2
parties were nothing less than wonderful. The memorial in Asheville
was packed; many standing against the walls. It was moving; dancing
and singing. People took turns sharing memories and thoughts about

She buried a relative this past winter on the mountain above her
mother's home. I recall her returning home to Asheville telling me
that she would one day be buried right next to her relative. No one
thought it would be so soon. Eleanor helped me to adopt my most recent
motto: "life is long, slow down." I have a tendency to fly thru the
days and rarely slow down enough to take anything in. She used to
always say "be... here... now." Ahhh how I hated that. She had that
special gift of telling people exactly what they needed to hear.

Unfortunately, Eleanor's life was not as long as most of us were
planning for it to be. I am confidant that her spirit will live in and
through those whose lives she touched. As was told to me, "look back
and be grateful, look ahead and be hopeful, and look around and be
useful." I know she would have us all do so rather than wade in our
morbid reflection. Carry her spirit with you.

For those who couldn't attend, her funeral was lovely. For starters,
she got her final joke on us all: her casket didn't fit. A couple of
guys jumped in and got to digging. Anyone who chose to was allowed to
grab a shovel and fill the grave. I'm not sure how common this
practice is but it seemed to be healing for me and a great many
others. In conclusion, her marimba band played while many danced. It
was a beautiful celebration of Eleanor's life.

It took a while but I finally got back to Omaha. It was raining when I
landed at 1am and I was told that it had been raining all week. I
thought: great, maybe the rain is behind us. Well, that may be but I
had no idea that NE had been declared under a state of emergency on
Friday due to flooding. We thought the ride today would be a bit
monotonous seeing as it would be our 3rd time riding it. Turns out
that it was an entirely different ride. There were lakes and rivers
that did not exist the week before. We had to ride on several sections
of closed roads which were flooded; I got some awesome video footage.
It's kind of thrilling riding into a river over a road with an unknown

We saw 2 peacocks today and we adopted a lost Lassie imposter that was
hanging around our camp. Sweet pup, hopefully we find the owner.

70 miles today. We'll be on the Cowboy Trail tomorrow

Updates... apologies. If you didn't get this one in your email, the
blog is at caopacity. You'll have to check it the old fashioned way.
Also, there seems to be a "subscribe" button all the wat at the
bottom. Anyone have any luck with that?

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video from today...

videos from the day after.....

as always, more pictures can be viewed at:

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Seconds and Inches

(aerial view of Lake Michigan as I flew over it via Milwaukee)

Sometimes, that is what it all comes down too. I didn't write about an incident on the way out of St. Louis to keep people's worries at a minimum. I was riding a shoulder approaching an off ramp. I attempted to ride over a 1 inch lip to get back on the main road to cross the off ramp. With all the weight on my front end, I couldn't get the lift I needed to clear the lip and my bike went down to the left as I landed to the right of it. Just as I fell, a large truck/SUV passed me. If I had fallen to the left of the bike I would have been roadkill. Seconds and inches.

I flew back to NC today to celebrate the life of my dear friend, Eleanor Dorman. I got a message Monday night after I had set up camp 75 miles outside of Omaha that she had been taken by the current and fallen to her death from the top of Rainbow Falls on Monday evening. Eleanor touched my life and so many others. Her spirit was contagious. She absolutely insisted on enjoying life. She was a giver. Such a paradox... those who seem to constantly give of themselves never seem to be empty. Rather, they seem to be constantly overflowing as Eleanor was. If you knew Eleanor, you know what I mean. I made it to Asheville in time for the candle light vigil this evening. It was a powerful and touching few hours. People showed up in droves to celebrate her and share the light that she brought to their lives. As her mother explained, Eleanor means light. She certainly lived up to her name.

I anticipate that the funeral will be this Saturday. I will be flying back to Omaha ASAP to resume the trip. Lee awaits.

fyi... this blog allows me to automatically send emails to a fixed amount of people each time there is a new blog. i stopped doing it because i thought it might be more of an irritant to you. if you want to be on that list, drop me an email at and i'll see about adding you. if you don't respond, i will assume not to put you on the list. while it also posts to my facebook page, there is a considerable delay.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Omaha, NE

The circus is in town! No really... In Omaha anyway. I'm reading a local paper and seeing all that we missed out on... Snoop Dogg played, if you could call it that, at the casino last night. Speaking of casinos... we do have some time to kill...

Wednesday 80 miles to Corydon, IA
Thursday 108 miles to... I can't even remember anymore
Friday 111 miles to a state park SW of Omaha

through a few calls and a string of friends of friends, we ended up amongst what felt like family. We were more than taken care of thanks to Les Bruning and family. Since we cranked out nearly 500 miles in 5 days since St. Louis, we decided to take 2 days off. A new friend even lent us his truck so we could get into town and get some bike work done. If you need a shop in Omaha, check out Greenstreet's Cycles. I like to think of them as the sensible kind of bike shop. You won't find the latest model of carbon tubular racing wheels there but you will find bike gear that just makes sense. I took the plunge out bought a new leather Brooks saddle. Brooks has quite a following. I, and my arse, hope to understand why soon. I also bought a wider tire, 700x35, for my rear. I'm hoping to make the ride even smoother and relieve some of the stress on my rear wheel. I walked out of there $200 less and supposedly one of the best cycling investments, the Brooks saddle, I'll ever make. Plus, we got to hang out in and support a great Local bike shop (LBS). Not to mention that one of the mechanics threatened to take a leave of absence to ride with us.

So we're kinda glad to be out of Iowa. Two days after that crazy storm, we passed thru a town that got hit by $5mil of tornado damage that night. Though we didn't see the damage, I just took their word for it and kept pedaling. Apparently same-sex marriage is legal in Iowa, go IA! Seeing how we frequently get referred to as "partners" or "riding partners," we joked that we could finally tie the knot. It seems such an absurd notion to me that the state should dictate who one can partner with and love. I love people's ignorant remarks when speaking of gays and wondering if they are just going thru a phase. I can only imagine how differently oriented individual might respond: "maybe you're going thru a phase." Isn't funny how we assume that everyone is born straight and if they come out one day we want to know when they knew they were gay? No one has ever asked me how old I was when I knew I was straight. rant.

Another thing to do in Omaha is to check out the Hot Shops. My friend Les is a sculptor and rents the studios out to other artists. Apparantly it used to be a mattress factory... the place is huge. Sculptors, blacksmiths, painters, carvers, glassblowers, and on and on. There are 80+ artists that work out of the place; impressive. So it seems like Omaha is coming back to life. They have a new baseball stadium being build and some other cool shops. The Old Market is the hip part of town to drop in on. We'll doing an all you can eat spaghetti tonight.

My brother Dave wanted to do this trip with me but he had one small problem... it's called a J-O-B. Such is life. I guess that's one of the greatest reasons I am here right now. I have every intention of growing into responsible adulthood... just not yet. So, here I am. Living it up while I can. However, Dave does not have a hard time living it up on his downtime, or even on his ontime, I can assure you of that. I just so happens that he is going to be in Omaha tonight for work (he's a pilot) so we'll be staying in the Double Tree... yeah baby.

We depart tomorrow towards Fremont and Norfolk and into the Elk Horn Valley along the Elk Horn River. Oh yeah, Lee drenched his rainfly with waterproofing. We'll probably find out pretty soon whether or not that will be sufficient. The headwinds have started to get noticeably and won't get better for a while. Tuck and pedal. I was pushing thru Iowa at one point as low as I could get while just staring at the white line to keep out of the wind while also listening to Radioheads's Amnesiac album. It was then that the road start to melt together. The combination of exhausting winds and spacey music might not be a winning combo.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Wet start

It was a wet morning. Lee was shocked that I was able to sleep despite what he claimed to be thunder every 15 seconds. I wouldn't know, I'll just have to take his word for it. Lee, on the otherhand, didn't sleep much at all. We found out last night that his rainfly doesn't actually keep out rain. Yeah, we need to fix that. Not quite sure just what we're gonna do about that yet. A tarp will be a good temp fix.

We spent the am in the laundry mat. While Lee was doing laundry, I indulged in that piece of blueberry pie that I have been fantasizing about since Lebanon, IL. And to our friend's in London, KY, we played chickenfoot at a cafe in Lebanon, IL. Keeping it alive. When we saw the domino set, it was all over.

Neither of us said it today but we didn't think we would make our destination. We crawled at a snail's pace for the first 25 miles. Lee was so exhausted from lack of sleep that he took a nap in a gazebo in the Bloomfield townsquare. I ate a cheese quesadilla and made some calls. At about mile 50, we were moving at a good pace and whether or not we'd make the destination was no longer a question. We even got the local scoop on the good place to camp; showers and all. Living in luxury.

Today 80 miles to Corydon, IA
Tomorrow ~98 miles to Clarinda
Friday ~85 miles to Mahoney SP, NE where we'll camp for the weekend

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

"I sure hope this is chocolate..."
I was picking thru the crumbs on the picnic table shortly after the
sun had gone down. Fortunately it was. There's nothing like a
chocolate bar after a good, hard day of riding. Missouri is hilly.

93 miles yesterday to Quincy, IL
95 miles today to Keosuqua, IA

We were lucky that our friend Drew drove us out of the burbs. Suburbs
are really no fun. So as soon as we crossed back over the Mississippi
it dumped on us. Absolutely dumped buckets for 6 miles till our 1st
chance for shelter in Atlas, IL where Lee promptly left his sleeping
pad. The hospitality at the Marlin's house was exceptional. Adam, your
creation has been receiving national recognition... Paul was
impressed. It'll be on the cover of Bicycling magazine by the end of
the trip.

I forgot to mention a while back abouy our stop in Olney, IL. If you
ride bikes and are nearby, check out the Pacific Cycles warehouse. You
may get luckier than us. If we had been there a week sooner, I would
be theb owner of new old stock Cannondale carbon road bike for some
stupidly low price. Unfortunately c'dale thought they were selling
them for too little and put an end to it.

Paul, our host in Quincy, rodr out with. It's always a treat to add
another to our pack, even for just a short leg. He directed us to a $3
ferry over the Mississippi which concluded our 3rd and final trip
across that river. So back into Missouri. Did I mention that Missouri
is hilly?

I heard a spoke pop but waited till the IA border to fix it. While I
was gettin' greasy and Lee was taking self-portraits in front of the
state Sign, a total stranger pulled up and offered us cold water and
gatorade. She said, "this is Missouri (miz-ehr-aye) hospitality."
pleasant. Shortly after, Lee more or less rear-ended me while looking
behind himself to check that he left nothing in MO. Nothing major.
Just one of a few close calls and small scrapes at this point.

It turns out that Iowa has hills too. I know it is hard to believe but
just trust me on this one. We're camped out in a state park and will
Continue west towards Omaha. So far, I think Iowa is beautifull; very

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