Biking Across America - A Cyclist's Log

September 3, 2017

 

 

As King Theoden said in the battle of Helm’s Deep……”And so it begins” 

Today was supposed to be an easy “shake out ride” – with Cindy joining me - of about 48 miles from our campground in Lakeside, CA to Ocean Beach before the riding begins in earnest for me tomorrow. We spent hours trying to decipher directions - the maps are missing significant details, so we were Googling alternate directions and dodging major traffic (right by Qualcomm Stadium). I was not adept at stopping the Garmin time when we stopped, nor did I successfully restart it when we got in motion again. I also am not smart enough to download the statistics from our ride – but overall – about 65 miles, ~ 2000 feet of ascents with a max temp observed of about 107. While they say it is a dry heat, when it’s a 105 degree 15 mph headwind, it’s like sticking your head in an oven.

 

The bike path to the beach was disappointing. Very rough with a lot of derelicts. No wrong turns on the way back except when Cindy decided to do a little curb hopping… first and hopefully last flat tire.

 

I go solo tomorrow. Future updates from the boss as able.

Blessings,

Kirk

September 5, 2017

Day 1 – Lakeside, CA to Seeley, CA
The ride began in earnest for me on Sunday. Our objective was to go from our campground in Lakeside, CA to a campground south of Seeley, CA. I was hoping for westerly tailwinds. Instead, got consistent 15-20 mph headwinds with an occasional 45 mph gust (Cindy said there were warnings for high center of gravity vehicles). https://youtu.be/Z_xkslJHwXQ

 

Mercifully, it was overcast with an occasional shower. Temps maxed out in low 80s. 
It is impossible to overstate how poor the road conditions are in CA. Had 1 flat tire and 4 chain throws. https://youtu.be/I8x4co_sqsU

Key stats for the day:

Miles: 93

Climb feet : 6,168

Descents feet: 6,873

Saddle time: 7:20

Avg. speed : 12.7 (see video above)

Day 2 – Seeley, CA to just beyond Palo Verde, CA

I knew this day would be difficult with forecast highs near 110. My objective was actually to ride to Blythe, CA – about 20 miles beyond where I stopped. More on this later. In the lower 48, I have never seen a more desolate and remote highway. When I departed the campground, I was uncertain if there were any services between Brawley, CA and Palo Verde, CA, a distance of about 68 miles. Mercifully, I had no flat tires and the sometimes seasonally open convenience store in Glamis, CA (with a sign that says “No toilets. No showers. No eating or drinking in store”) was open on Labor Day. Glamis was about 26 miles east of Brawley, CA. I was able to load up on Gatorade outside the store in a tin covered patio although there was no ice to refresh the water bottles. 
 

I have never seen desert like the Imperial Sand dunes. https://youtu.be/zL8rxA_Hog4 The rough road surface had sand drifts entirely across the east bound lane. There was little traffic between Brawley and Glamis.


Other than the convenience store in Glamis, there was absolutely no shade available anywhere except for this small tree about 11 miles east of Glamis. Talk about a Jonah moment. https://youtu.be/er1yJnpYyEM
 

I actually did pretty well until about mile 75 – still 15-16 miles short of Palo Verde. I had no cell service beyond Glamis so it was difficult coordinating a helpful visit from Cindy in the RV. We eventually connected at about mile 85 – by then I was toast. Although the RV felt great – the temperature inside with the A/C was about 90. The fluids helped, but I was done. Did another 8 miles before packing it just beyond Palo Verde.


Rode with Cindy in the RV to Blythe, CA where we overnighted. 
 

Key stats for the day:

Miles: 93.6

Climb feet : 1,962

Descents feet: 1,680

Saddle time: 5:48

Avg. speed : 16.1 (see video above)

Max temp : 106 deg F

Day 3 – Seeley, CA to just beyond Palo Verde, CA

In lieu of the forecast highs and yesterday’s difficulty, we made a more modest plan to decrease the mileage, end earlier and to try and coordinate the sag wagon. Since I was unable to complete yesterday’s planned ride, Cindy and I got up at sunrise to drive back to Palo Verde. Blythe, CA is literally right on the CO river… cross the bridge into Ehrenberg, AZ. Made the first stop in Ehrenberg just after 9 a.m. Temps started soaring thereafter. Rode the shoulder of I-10 for 14 miles east into AZ. Exited I-10 and rode very rough BLM road for 5 miles into Quartzsite, AZ. Met Cindy for lunch at 11. After Quartzsite, back on I-10 for a long steady climb for ~ 15 miles before a small descent into Brenda, AZ on Hwy 60. Met Cindy at exit of I-10 – refilled water bottles – then departed for

Hope, AZ where we are roasting in our RV. 


I had another flat tire today. I am down to one spare tube – YIKES! 


Key stats for the day:
Miles: 73
Climb feet : 2,326
Descents feet: 1,102
Saddle time: 4:39
Avg. speed : 15.7
Max temp : 111 deg F 


Path forward
Given the havoc Hurricane Harvey exacted on TX and LA, we are deviating from the Southern Tier and setting a more northeasterly route tomorrow. I am hopeful that the increase in elevation will decrease the temps. I am planning similar saddle time to today the next couple of days as we head towards Prescott/Sedona area where we might do a little sightseeing as well as visit a bike shop.

 

Incidentally, I have seen ZERO road bikers beyond Pine Valley, CA – about 25 miles from Lakeside. Many of the campgrounds we are passing are closed until October. The saving grace is that it has been easy to get a spot at the few that are open. 
Blessings,


Kirk

September 8, 2017

Dear Friends & Family,
Thanks for the encouraging texts and e-mails after our last update. We are grateful for your concern and for the many prayers being offered up for us.

 

At the time of our prior update on Tuesday evening Sept. 5th, Cindy and I were roasting in our RV as we overnighted in Hope, AZ. That night, there was a strong windstorm that shook and rocked the RV. We heard a couple of bangs at the door once or twice during the storm. When we checked outside, no one was there. The wind dissipated sometime after midnight and there were maybe 10 big drops of rain that fell. 

Day 4 – Hope, AZ to Congress, AZ


When we got up on Wednesday morning to get an early start on the ride, we could not get out the side door of the RV. The windstorm the prior evening caused the door to become jambed. It took about an hour to get the door fixed by which time the coolest part of the morning had been lost. I set out towards Aguila, AZ – about 35 miles predominantly northeast of Hope and was promptly greeted by a persistent ~ 10 mph headwind. The road quality was poor. When cars would approach from the rear, I would migrate to a worse road surface on the narrow shoulder. The shoulders are a veritable minefield of sometimes boulders, rocks, loose gravel, sand, rubber shreds, plastics, metals, hardware, small coins*, tarp straps, glass, etc. At 6 miles into the ride, you guessed it…….  This time, I at least found a shady spot. The culprit was a very fine wire which I am sure came from a shredded up automobile tire on the shoulder. 
 

That meant Cindy needed to break camp back in Hope earlier to more closely follow my ride, since I was then riding “naked”. For all of you repulsed by thinking I mean unclothed, I simply mean I had no spare tire except the one at my midsection.
 

I made it the 30 remaining miles to Aguila where I reconnected with Cindy, rehydrated and refreshed the water bottles. While I was riding, Cindy had been researching where the closest bike shop was and whether they had replacement tubes. Prior to Hurricane Harvey, we intended to continue beyond Aguila to Wickenburg, AZ – enroute to Phoenix, El Paso, New Orleans, Mobile, etc. before reaching St. Augustine. The bike shop that we were told existed in Wickenburg no longer exists. The closest bike shop on the originally intended route was in the Phoenix metro 100 miles east of Aguila. 

As of my prior update, by Tuesday 9/4 we had decided to follow a more northern route starting a couple of miles east of Aguila. I set out to begin the ride towards Yarnell, AZ, while Cindy waited about an hour in Aguila and researched bike shops on that heading. She found several in Prescott, AZ – about 70 miles NE of Aguila. We also knew that their forecast temps were approximately 20 degrees cooler than the desert valley. Cindy and I reconnected in Congress, AZ which was about 10 miles shy of Yarnell. We made the decision to head towards Prescott to be sure to make it to a bike shop yet Wednesday afternoon. 
 

As we rose up out of the desert valley, the temp became bearable. We made it to the High Gear bike shop in Prescott in a downpour and bought 6 spare tubes and a gator skin Continental tire. The owner of the shop’s name was Cindy. She was a young lady of about my age. When I asked her whether she had a mechanic that could make a derailleur adjustment, she said she would assign the job to Steve. Incidentally, Steve is her husband. Sound familiar to another Cindy (a/k/a THE BOSS) any of you know? When Cindy found out that I was riding solo cross country, she insisted on not charging for the quick tune. She also gave a stearn lecture, with colorful language, about not being stupid on route choices and forbid me to ride an approximate 10 mile stretch of Hwy 89 north of Wilhoit.
 

Given the refreshing temps and cool vibe of Prescott, we decided to overnight there both Wednesday and Thursday evening. Cindy (my wife, not the bike shop owner) and I had dinner in a nice Cantonese restaurant and we were able to take the rest of the support team on a hike around Lake Watson.

Key stats for the day:

Miles: 60
Climb feet : 1,545
Descents feet: 171
Saddle time: 4:11
Avg. speed : 14.3 
Max temp : 104 deg F 

Day 5 – Congress, AZ to Williams, AZ

We awoke to a cool morning in Prescott with spare tubes in the saddle bag and headed back towards Congress, AZ. Since I knew I would be missing the 10 mile stretch, Cindy let me out in Yarnell – 10 miles north of Congress. As I was riding southwards to make up the miles, I encountered a group of road bikers heading north. After reaching Congress, I turned back north towards Yarnell and was able to catch up to several in the other group. There were 18 cyclists in total. They had started on Saturday in Riverside. Twelve of them are riding as far as Flagstaff, AZ while six of them are going on to Fairfield, CT. They had two support vehicles leapfrogging one another every 7-8 miles. After reaching Cindy in Yarnell, we agreed on a meet time in Wilhoit – another 20 miles or so further up the road. I caught up with more of the other riders and spent quite a bit of time with a guide, Howard, from South London that was one of the six headed towards CT. We found it ironic that I was riding a bike made in the UK while he was riding a US made bike. 
 

Cindy and I reconnected in Wilhoit. We leapfrogged the 10 mile stretch of highway north of Wilhoit before she dropped me off south of Prescott. We reconnected for a quick lunch in Prescott – then I set out for Ash Fork, AZ while Cindy went back to the campground to do payables and other Deimco work. Ultimately, we agreed to meet in Williams, AZ – about 66 miles from Prescott circa 6 p.m. Cindy refreshed my water bottles on the side of I-40 about 8 miles west of Williams. We agreed to meet at exit 161. Neither of us were aware that the last 7 miles of the remaining route was a construction zone. I filmed this brief subsection of the route this a.m. as we passed back through the area. https://youtu.be/03gSEKbqR94 Anyway, we are getting smarter. Cindy found a site that details ongoing construction on our route ahead and we will leapfrog the ones that are unsafe and make the miles up elsewhere.

Key stats for the day:

Miles: 104
Climb feet : 7,214
Descents feet: 4,973
Saddle time: 6:45
Avg. speed : 15.4 
Max temp : 108 deg F 

Although the peak temp did reach 108, most of the afternoon was overcast. For the day, approximately 65 miles of the road surfaces were good and I had a neutral wind most of the day. We had a wonderful dinner at Lu Lu Belle’s BBQ on Route 66 in Ash Fork before heading back to Prescott. Yesterday was fun and no flat tires.

Day 6 – Grand Canyon

 Today, we decided to reward the support team for their good help. The dogs went for an early walk around Lake Watson before we headed up to Grand Canyon Village. Neither Cindy nor I had seen it before and the forecast highs were in the 70s. We hit the visitor centers and hiked the south rim. We are overnighting in Williams, AZ – somewhere above 6500 foot elevation. We have been catching up on some work/laundry/grocery shopping/route planning for the days ahead. It is about 60 degrees here now and I am cautiously optimistic that we may not see 100 degree temps and above the remainder of our trip. Keeping my fingers crossed.

Blessings,
Kirk
 

September 11, 2017

Day 7 - Williams, AZ to Holbrook, AZ

Awoke to 48 degree temps and a misty fog. Almost the entire ride that day, save for 15 miles combined on Old Route 66 through the towns of Flagstaff, Winslow and Holbrook were on the shoulder of I-40. Setting aside the minefield of shrapnel on the shoulder, about 40 of the I-40 miles had a good riding surface, about 40 poor, and about 15 miles horrific. We were contemplating riding beyond Holbrook, but an afternoon storm blew up so we ended the day rather early. I had two flats on the day. Only one was with the new gator skin tire and that was because I hit something that I did not see. My guess is it was something like a 2” square steel tube, cause it rattled my teeth and the tire went flat immediately. When I put the new tube in the gator skin tire, it looked like a porcupine with several small wires, etc. stuck in the tread. None had penetrated the tire, so I am cautiously optimistic that the worst of the flats are behind me. 
 

I did learn some new information about an old Eagles classic. Seems this was their original lyric before Jackson Browne came to their rescue. https://youtu.be/t0o8mrZQx5g They obviously were bike riders.

Key stats for the day:

Miles: 109.1
Climb feet : 1,703
Descents feet: 3,337
Saddle time: 5:41
Avg. speed : 19.2 
Max temp : 81 deg F 

Day 8 - Holbrook, AZ to Springerville, AZ

This day was aptly described by my favorite Yogi Berra quote, “It’s déjà vu all over again.” Since there were no viable options beyond Springerville, AZ to stop, we set out knowing we were going to be limited to 85 miles. The day closely resembled Day 4 – the Hope, AZ to Congress, AZ day. Similarities include:

  • I lingered a little longer in camp on Sunday morning so I got a late start. 

  • The roads from Holbrook to Springerville were all sparsely traveled and the road surface was abominable. The rough road surfaces creates a lot of vibration/shaking in the bike that travel from the wrists up to the shoulders, through the seat etc. 

  • There was, as has been the case every day except Day 5, a persistent wind either directly in my face or at my right quarter. 

  • I had a flat shortly into the ride. 

  • It was hot.

  • Both rides were long gradual climbs.

It was an absolute grind the whole day. It felt like I was riding in quicksand with an anchor tied on for good measure.
 

The high desert near Springerville, AZ did have its compensations. https://youtu.be/x_xKUClofbI

Key stats for the day:

Miles: 85
Climb feet : 3,839
Descents feet: 2,195
Saddle time: 5:59
Avg. speed : 14.2 
Max temp : 100 deg F 

Day 9 - Springerville, AZ to Magdalena, NM

It would be almost impossible to get lost today. I rode Hwy 60 the entire distance. The road surfaces were a bit better today than yesterday although there was a punishing headwind the entire ride, particularly strong late in the day through the Plains of San Agustin. We passed over the Continental Divide just east of Pie Town. Any guesses on what Pie Town, NM is known for?

Unbelievably, the BOSS skipped the ice cream. Since we deviated from our original route, I cannot say with certainty, but I believe we crossed over the high point of the trip at 8,114 feet a few miles east of the Continental Divide.

Key stats for the day:

Miles: 124.1
Climb feet : 4,147
Descents feet: 4,232
Saddle time: 8:03
Avg. speed : 15.4 
Max temp : 95 deg F 

I am not sure what we have to do to get a tailwind other than head back towards San Diego.

Other Observations 
There were many times when riding the first 4-5 days through the low desert that you could hear “rattling”. For all the “rattling” and warnings, I have seen a total of 2 dead roadkill snakes. The most unusual roadkill animal was a wild boar, with tusks, between Aguila and Congress, AZ.


The sounds in the high desert, above 5000 feet, are all locusts, cicadas, and grasshoppers. Every overhead power line I have travelled beneath has sizzled. We were less than a 9 iron (about 100 yards) from the Mexican border at Jacumba Springs, CA on Day 1.


Ruminations From the Saddle
Did Chucklehead get a haircut? Is it too late for the Cardinals? When will Bob send me those Dos Equis?


Thanks again for the encouragement.


Blessings,
Kirk

September 15, 2017

Dear Friends & Family
I have to start by wishing my Mom a Happy 81st birthday. When I ponder the unmerited favor I have with God, certainly one of both mine and Cindy’s blessings are the parents we were respectively born to. What a leg up on life they have given us. Yes sir, when it comes to Mom and Dad, we each hit the jackpot. Now siblings, well, that’s another story.

Day 10 – Magdalena, NM to Socorro, NM

As of the last update, fueled by pie, we had rolled into Magdalena, NM on Monday evening (the 11th). Since we left home, the generator in our RV has not been working reliably. It is supposed to be capable of producing 30 amps, but it gets bogged down by the house AC and dies. This means we must have an electrical plug-in each night since the temperatures are so high. It also means that we cannot leave the dogs unattended in the RV without a plug-in. Most nights, the campgrounds we have stayed at have been pretty nice – some, exceptional. The one in Magdalena was what my kids call “very sketch”. It was a dusty gravel parking lot behind a run-down motel next to a junkyard. Anyway, being the bright (some would say sophisticated) guy that I am, I decided to top off the fresh water from their hydrant prior to beginning my Tuesday ride. As I was topping off the fresh water tank, some of the water was running down the side of the RV. It was a rusty orange color. I had Cindy get a glass from inside which we filled with the supposedly potable water. The glass was full of sediment and other floating particulates. So – we amended the plan. We decided that I would ride the 25 miles down to Socorro, NM and that the balance of the day would be a work day. We washed the RV, did laundry, made a Walmart run, went to Albuquerque and got spare bike tubes, sanitized the fresh water tank and fill hoses. I also changed the oil in and degreased the generator. We overnighted at a campground in Socorro, NM.

Key stats for the day:

Miles: 25
Climb feet : 204
Descents feet: 1,883
Saddle time: 1:13
Avg. speed : 20.5 
Max temp : 77 deg F 

Day 11 – Socorro, NM to Hondo, NM

I awoke to a still, cool, fall-like morning. It heated up pretty quickly although the winds were calm until early afternoon. We knew that after departing Socorro, that there were no services until Carrizozo, about 75 miles away. So, we planned that Cindy would leave Socorro a couple of hours after me and refresh my water bottles somewhere before Carrizozo. I went by several historical markers of interest, none moreso than the one for the Trinity Site. A few miles short of Carrizozo, I came across this landscape. https://youtu.be/qXLH3yWnSF8 As you look eastward, those are the mountains I climbed later that afternoon. I had lunch in the RV with Cindy in Carrizozo, then started the ride toward Capitan, NM where we had a campground reservation. While waiting in Carrizozo, Cindy made friends with a police officer and he gave her tips on where to have dinner in Capitan and also some intel on what the roads from Carrizozo onward would be like. After lunch, we closely followed a thunderstorm that was moving from west to east. The winds, however, were decidedly going in the opposite direction – which meant a headwind for the balance of the day. We caught the storm in Capitan where I waited it out for a while, then road another 23 miles to Hondo, NM. We had a wonderful dinner at the Oso Grill after which we attempted to guestimate my calorie intake for the day….. ~ 4500. 

Key stats for the day:

Miles: 117.2
Climb feet : 5,007
Descents feet: 4,380
Saddle time: 6:58
Avg. speed : 16.8 
Max temp : 109 deg F 

Day 12 – Sightseeing in Ruidoso, NM, then Hondo, NM to Roswell, NM

Given our affinity for the mountains and the cooler temps there, we decided to do some sightseeing after which I planned to make the short ride to Roswell. We drove ~ 21 miles south of Capitan, NM to Ruidoso, NM. Ruidoso is a ski town/tourist trap town at about 7000 foot elevation. Cindy, the dogs, and I went on a 6-7 mile hike in Lincoln National Forest. 

The road out of Ruidoso, goes northeast towards Hondo, NM. We got there just in time to wait out a lightning storm. When the radar showed the storm had moved west to east, I got out to ride and was again promptly greeted by a strong headwind that stayed with me all the way to Roswell. Luckily, there were more downhills than uphills and the road surfaces were good the whole way.

Key stats for the day:

Miles: 47.5
Climb feet : 801
Descents feet: 2,230
Saddle time: 2:44
Avg. speed : 17.3 
Max temp : 100 deg F 

Day 13 – Roswell, NM to Clovis, NM

When I checked the weather forecast last night for the area I planned to ride today, it forecast a wind from the southwest. My direction of travel for the day was principally northeast. Emboldened by the good roads yesterday and the thought of a tailwind, I left Roswell this a.m. with high hopes for a quick ride to Clovis. While the winds were light, initially, they were out of the east. The road surfaces were also very rough. I had to remind myself not to complain – on this very day last year, I was forced to attend a settlement conference with a Court appointed judge after being denied justice for > 8 years. Looking forward to this ride helped sustain me during the roughest times as I knew that regardless of the outcome of our case, life would go on and I could attempt this ride after our youngest left for college this fall. Alike Day 11, there were no services between Roswell, NM and Elida, NM. So, Cindy left camp a couple of hours after I did, caught up with me, topped off my water bottles, then drove on to Elida, NM where we had lunch. By Elida, the wind had shifted from out of the east to out of the south. After lunch, Cindy went on to Clovis to set up camp.

As I left Elida, the shoulder of the road improved and the wind had shifted to out of the southwest. A few miles out of Elida, I met Jim Kratzer, a fellow cyclist. Jim was actually removing shrapnel/debris from the shoulder and he was headed the same direction as was I. Jim and I rode together for about 15 miles and I learned that Jim is a meteorologist for the Air Force and is stationed at Cannon AFB just outside of Clovis. His wife Pam is a special education teacher and they live just west of Portales, NM. Both Jim and Pam are originally from central PA – where we lived for 10 years and had 3 kids. They were also stationed at Chanute AFB in Rantoul, IL in the 80s, very near where I grew up. Jim was kind enough to invite me to his house to top off my water bottles. He is a race aficionado and attended Knoxville Nationals earlier this summer. He promises to bring his road bike the next time he is in Iowa. I look forward to riding together again soon, Jim and thanks for your kindness today. Jim also promises that the tailwind we enjoyed this afternoon should be helping me tomorrow as I ride towards Amarillo, TX.

Key stats for the day:

Miles: 111
Climb feet : 1,959
Descents feet: 1,335
Saddle time: 6:02
Avg. speed : 18.4 
Max temp : 99 deg F 

Overall,
Since we deviated from our originally planned route due to Hurricane Harvey, I am uncertain how many miles in total I will ride and how many feet I will climb before reaching the Atlantic at or near Tybee Island, GA. I believe the respective totals will be minimally 2750 miles and 91000 feet of climbing. By those measures, I have completed about 40% of the ride.


We greatly appreciate the many prayers being offered up for us and the encouraging messages.
 

Blessings,
Kirk

September 18, 2017

Dear Friends & Family:
I hope you and yours are well. I guess I was overly optimistic a few updates ago when I thought maybe we were thru with the triple digits. I heard a lot of grumbling from some of our IA friends that it was above 90 there last week. BOO HOO.

Day 14 – Clovis, NM to Claude, TX

I woke up Saturday a.m. to find a stiff breeze from the SW. Game on. The planned route called for me to go dead east for about 7 miles to Texico – a town on the NM/TX border, then 80 miles on a NE heading to Canyon, TX before a few short jaunts north, east and north before going the final thirty miles on FM1151 for 30 miles to Claude, TX. Since there were several small towns along the way, I was riding completely untethered from Cindy since I had options to refill water bottle, get food, etc. I got underway and was being pushed along to Texico when my Garmin went dead about 2 miles into the ride. It had been plugged in all night but we found out later that the charge cord had a short. I turned back to camp and started charging the Garmin while that beautiful wind blew. When I finally got about 40% charge on the Garmin – it was past 10 a.m. mountain time. I had a stiff tailwind all the way to Texico where I crossed into the Central time zone and started the NE heading. By then, the wind was coming from the northwest. I frittered away the chance to ride that 80 mile segment with my sail up. I stopped in Friona, TX about 25 miles into the ride where I got my pocket juice out and put some more charge to the Garmin while I rehydrated.

 

Coincidentally, Cindy caught up to me just as I was passing through Hereford so we ate together at McD’s while I again charged the Garmin. After lunch, the wind stilled quite a bit. Cindy went ahead of me to Claude, while I continued the NE heading toward Canyon. About 7 miles west of Canyon, I had my first flat since day 8 and the first flat where shrapnel penetrated the Gator skin. I got lost in Canyon and frittered away another 45 minutes to an hour backtracking. Had my Garmin not discharged, I would have gotten a helpful text message from Cindy alerting me to the road names being marked differently than on the instructions I had written out from Google maps. When I lost charge on the Garmin, however, I lost the Bluetooth connection to my phone so I missed her update. When I finally got to FM1151 for the final 30 miles to Claude, there were several strong storms in the area. The 30 mile stretch of FM1151 was sometimes rougher than a corncob. The wind also had stiffened and was blasting out of the ESE – a headwind. I made it to within 8 miles of Claude when the lightning was too close for comfort so I called it a day. This day should have been so much faster.

Key stats for the day:

Miles: 115.3
Climb feet : 847
Descents feet: 1,483
Saddle time: 6:23
Avg. speed : 18 
Max temp : 100 deg F 

Day 15 – Claude, TX to Wellington, TX

Since Claude is at the western edge of the central time zone, sunrise was actually not until 7:30 a.m. When sunrise came, so did a strong thunderstorm that lasted until about 9 a.m. When the radar looked like I was in the clear, I went out and made up the 8 miles west of Claude plus a few extra miles for good measure. We both got cleaned up, I put a long pair of pants on for the first time in 15 days, and we went to the 10:45 service at Claude UMC. The congregation made us feel very welcome and I believe we met every one of them. Their new Pastor, Sean Smith, was ordained earlier this summer. His sermon was on one of my favorite verses – I Cor 1:25.

Coincidentally, Sean attended Duke Divinity School in Durham, NC, where our daughter Sarah attends school and lives. Sean – thank you for making us feel so welcome. After church, Cindy and I went to the local DQ where most of the congregation also was eating. We visited at length with several nice folks before I began the ride to Wellington. There was about a 15% chance of precipitation when I started out on a southeasterly heading. The wind was blasting out of the SE. About two miles into the ride, it down-poured on me for 20 minutes. Other than the poor visibility, it felt good. The wind continued right in my face for the 45 miles to Hedley, TX where I connected with Cindy. https://youtu.be/oO4KH5ZVXJY The road from Hedley to Wellington called for a roughly 30 mile easterly route on Hwy 203. Upon setting out from Hedley, I got another flat. Not a surprise when you see the road surface and yes, that is the BOSS speaking. https://youtu.be/4b5iYYULkIk We dodged the rest of the storms all the way to Wellington. I rode this much better than the stats would indicate.

Key stats for the day:

Miles: 82.9
Climb feet : 1,027
Descents feet: 2,221
Saddle time: 5:03
Avg. speed : 16.4
Max temp : 79 deg F 

Day 16 – Wellington, TX to Fort Cobb, OK

ABSOLUTELY BRUTAL. The crappy road surface continued all the way from Wellington, TX to Granite, OK and the wind was much stronger – out of the E/ESE and directly in my face the whole way to Granite. Cindy actually met me initially in Reed, OK, a ghost town about 30 miles into the ride. When I finally arrived in Reed, she asked what took so long. I gave a rather terse reply about the conditions and may have questioned her awareness. She promptly left me for Granite – another 23 miles up the road. Just before Granite, there was a 4 mile northerly jaunt that the tailwind helped push my average riding speed back up to close to 14. When I made it to Granite at about 1:15 p.m., Cindy and I got a pizza and debated the rest of the day. I contemplated packing it in, but decided to go the ~ 20 miles to Hobart. Cindy decided to continue working with the remote connection to Deimco in

 

Granite for an hour longer before heading to Hobart. The road surface between Granite and Hobart was actually very nice. While we were having lunch, the wind also shifted to be more southerly – so that it was a cross-wind. I made it to Hobart faster than anticipated and texted Cindy that I was continuing eastward. The road surface turned crappy again until Carnegie, OK but the final 10 miles to Fort Cobb were good and the wind stayed at my side the entire afternoon. For all the sulking I did earlier in the day, we managed to get further than I dared hope this a.m.

Key stats for the day:

Miles: 113.8
Climb feet : 2,589
Descents feet: 3,231
Saddle time: 7:07
Avg. speed : 16
Max temp : 84 deg F 

Updates From Earlier Ruminations
1.) No haircut
2.) YES – it is now too late for the Cardinals
3.) Still no Dos Equis.


Other observations
I have seen a lot more roadkill in NM, TX, and OK than in AZ or CA. Easily up to double digits for snakes – none longer than 18”, but skunks are far and away in the lead and armadillos now register 2.


Every time the RV passes, this is what I hear and see in the passenger seat. https://youtu.be/1dG0GRwyI2M Lastly, attached .pdf shows a summary of my ride log. 1,414 miles and 43,500 feet of climbing completed. ???? to go.


Blessings,
Kirk

September 18, 2017

Dear Friends & Family,


Do you all know that recurring scene in Groundhog Day where Bill Murray wakes up each morning to Sonny & Cher’s “I’ve Got You Babe” playing on the clock radio then looks outside the window to see the snow? We’ve been having that same recurring sensation here in OK. We wake up every morning to a huge unrelenting wind out of the SE. Unlike Day 16, riding conditions the last two afternoons have not gotten better. We also now have high humidity to go with those mid to upper 90s. Make no mistake about it though, I will take the 90s with high humidity over the 110 degree dry desert heat any day. 
 

So – the last two days have been about survival/completing the rides with a slightly better attitude than on Monday, 9/18! Both days, I have ridden untethered from Cindy. I know I deviate, but did I ever tell you the first two rules of skiing?
 

1. Look good, ski good.
2. The moguls are your friend.


The deviation does have a purpose. The corollary to skiing rule #2, is that the # 1 rule in cross country biking is, “Cold fluids are your best friend.” Cindy and I have been perfectly aligned on that since Aguila, AZ where it was decided we could buy ice if we can’t make enough to keep up.

Day 17 – Fort Cobb, OK State Park to Ada, OK

OK – math problem here for all you engineers, engineers in training, math whizzes and puzzle solvers. Let’s say a sophisticated fellow was riding on a course due east. To find a spot to overnight in the RV, he had to travel due southeast for 20 miles. After overnighting, he had to travel due northeast for 20 miles to resume his easterly route. How many “extra miles” did the sophisticated dude ride? If I ever get those Dos Equis from Bob, perhaps I will share one with all who answer correctly.

Key stats for the day:

Miles: 113.1
Climb feet : 3,855
Descents feet: 4,121
Saddle time: 7:39
Avg. speed : 14.8
Max temp : 97 deg F 

Day 18 – Ada, OK to Talihina, OK

With more frequent stopping places to rehydrate and refuel, also come more homesteads/farms/houses/etc. I’ve had two close calls with dog chases. The absolute worst place to have a big dog with malicious intent after you is when you are midway up a steep climb. Luckily, I have avoided that. I’ve had close encounters with an unchained pit bull and another with a big yellow mutt. The dilemma when you are clipped into your pedals is whether to unclip and use your feet as a deterrent or stay clipped in and try to outrun the dogs. I’ve been able to outrun both although I had to also use evasive swerves at 22 mph to make it past the pit bull.


I also have been honked at and flipped off more in OK, simply for riding, than in the other states combined. There’s this big white RV with IA tags that insists on doing this to me several times a day.

Key stats for the day:

Miles: 116.2
Climb feet : 4,268
Descents feet: 4,508
Saddle time: 7:26
Avg. speed : 15.6
Max temp : 95 deg F 

Musings From the Saddle:
My training for this ride did not begin in earnest until after Hannah graduated in late May. When Sarah was home in early April, she calculated my BMI. Charitably, she calculated that I was at 25.0 – the exact upper limit of a normal BMI. One more pound and I was overweight. I want you all to know that my BMI is now 23.4, solidly in the “normal range.” I did this without medical intervention – no liposuctions, no amputations, etc. I also did this without growing in height…. I am still just 6’3”. For all you family members, friends and co-workers that call me names like “Fat Boy”, “Fatty”, “Slim”, etc., you may have to hold those names in abeyance until maybe Thanksgiving? OK – Halloween. 

 

For safety reasons, I never listen to music when I ride. However, I do talk to myself quite a bit… I find that berating myself is a pretty good motivator to get up a hill. I also sing fairly often. I have decided that if this ride had a theme song, this would be it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PBJRD1VkxmI
 

Happy listening.
Blessings,
Kirk

September 18, 2017

Dear Friends & Family,
So 4 people attempted to solve last updates puzzle on the certain extra miles ridden. Two got so giddy calculating the hypotenuse using the Pythagorean Theorem that they rushed to give the answer before thinking through the actual miles ridden. All 4 eventually solved the puzzle with two answering correctly on their first attempt and two answering correctly after thinking it through a bit more. The correct answer is 11.7 miles extra miles ridden (40 miles ridden to attain 28.3 miles due east = 11.7 extra miles ridden). 

Day 19 – Talihina, OK to Norman, AR

So when I got to camp on Wednesday night, I had very little left in the tank. I needed a day off to heal a few nagging injuries that threatened to get worse, but I also wanted out of OK badly. So, the Boss and I made a plan that I would ride to Norman, AR on Thursday – a distance of about 90 miles. This would get me off the bike fairly early in the afternoon and we would then go to Hot Springs, AR for BBQ Thursday evening and a day of sightseeing on Friday. 
 
I did take this pic outside of Talihina, OK. It was part of the Winding Stair Mountain National Rec. Area. I imagine that it will be dazzling in another few weeks when the leaves change.

The roads that day were very rough surface all the way to Norman. The wind was mostly still and had little effect on my ride. 
 

We have talked previously about my caloric intake, BMI, etc., but the BOSS also has been working hard. When we got to the Smokin’ In Style restaurant at Hot Springs Thursday evening, she could not decide whether to have the pulled pork or the brisket. So she chose both. 

She gave a good effort, but could not quite finish it all. She left with a small take out box with a little pulled pork, a roll and a few green beans. I had a soup and salad.

Key stats for the day:

Miles: 89.3
Climb feet : 3,117
Descents feet: 3,172
Saddle time: 5:49
Avg. speed : 15.3
Max temp : 90 deg F 

Day 20 – Hot Springs, AR

It truly was a hot day in Hot Springs. We probably hiked 5 or 6 miles – some in town – about 3 miles with the dogs which was about their limit given the temp. 


OK – some trivia here for you. 


1. What year did Bill Clinton graduate high school? 
2. Where was Bear Bryant born?
3. What AR born brothers won 96 combined games in 2 consecutive seasons for the St. Louis Cardinals in 1934-1935?

 

I did score on a new high visibility jersey. I was kind of a tweener when it came to sizes. I swam in the XL but looked like a stuffed sausage in the L. I chose the latter. Guess I better wear it often while I can. 


We stocked up on supplies, grilled out and planned the routes for the next couple of days. Neither Cindy or I have watched a minute of TV since we left IA and we frankly neither one miss it (although I would be if the Cardinals were locking up a playoff spot). We have, however, watched 6 movies in our entertainment room. A couple of these have been “chick flicks” so I think the BOSS will have to agree to watch “Dumb and Dumber” with me if I can find the DVD. 

Day 21 – Norman, AR to Warren, AR

The day off helped. I felt more comfortable on the bike today than I have in a week or more. The wind was out of the east again this a.m. but Hwy. 8 between Norman and Arkadelphia passes through dense forest and the road twists/turns so the wind was no bother this a.m. There was an approximate 20 mile stretch with a 5-10 mph headwind east of Arkadelphia where there were several fields/clear cut forests. Otherwise, the wind was not a factor today. Had good roads for half the day and rough roads for half the day. The day was fairly hot with high humidity, but there was a lot of shade riding and the route was very scenic.

Key stats for the day:

Miles: 124
Climb feet : 4,695
Descents feet: 5,105
Saddle time: 7:34
Avg. speed : 16.4
Max temp : 97 deg F 

I regret not stopping two days ago to take a picture of the funniest sign I have seen on the ride so far. You know the old wrought iron signs that span a driveway/road into a ranch? They usually have a fairly high clearance so agricultural implements can pass beneath them. Anyway, there was a sign like that spanning a short gravel road, splitting the trees on the north side of the Hwy through the Ouachita National Forest in eastern OK. The road led to a small graveyard and the well-worn sign said “NEW HOME CEMETERY”. 
 

As much as I hate stopping when I am riding, I did stop to take this picture for my niece, Rachael. Man, what is wrong with Roll Tide Nation? Do you think Illini Nation would let the boyhood home of George Halas, Red Grange, or Dick Butkus fall into such disrepair? I have faith that Rachael will organize a work team to give this home some needed repairs.

By the way, does anyone know the last team Bear Bryant coached against and whether he won the game? A little clue – LIBERTY BOWL, LIBERTY BOWL, OOH AAH. LIBERTY BOWL, LIBERTY BOWL, OOH AAH. 
 

We plan to attend church tomorrow a.m. in Monticello, AR, then hope to cross into MS tomorrow p.m.
 

Thanks again for the prayers and encouragement. 
Blessings,
Kirk

September 18, 2017

Dear Friends & Family,


We are overnighting in Philadelphia, MS and have plans to welcome our first visitor to Le Tour tomorrow. The visitor may or may not be revealed in future updates. The suspense is killing you all I am sure.


No one got the trivia answers correct. They are:
1. What year did Bill games in 2 consecutive seasons for the St. Louis Cardinals in 1934-1935?

A: Dizzy and Daffy Dean Clinton graduate high school? A: 1964 Hot Springs, AR


2. Where was Bear Bryant born?

A: Near New Edinburg, AR


3. What AR born brothers won 96 combined ?

​A: Dizzy and Daffy Dean 


The main reason I chose to ride from the Pacific to the Atlantic is that I did not want to be riding into a headwind across the entire USA. I knew that sometimes the wind blew east to west in the desert, but I was confident that I would get many more west to east tailwinds going from CA to GA than vice versa. Well – yesterday I rode into a persistent 5-10 MPH headwind from the east. Same thing today. Here is the forecast for Philadelphia, MS for beyond the remainder of my ride. This same wind pattern holds through my route in AL and GA.

Not sure if this is related to hurricanes or just plain bad luck. I was hoping for a few tailwinds to redeem my average riding speed, but it looks like it is going to continue dropping. Que Sera, Sera.

Day 22 – Norman, AR to Warren, AR

We hit the road at daybreak to ride the 15 miles to Monticello, AR and get cleaned up before a contemporary service at Monticello UMC at 0900. When Cindy started researching RV parks in MS, there are scant choices. She found a spot at a state park just west of Hollandale, MS, but I hoped to ride further. After church, I began riding again. After Cindy and I had lunch in Lake Village, AR, she was planning to go to the campground when storms started popping up. Cindy turned back and decided to stay closer to me for a while as she monitored the radar. I got drenched in a downpour about 10 miles into MS. Just after I made it to an abandoned gas station canopy, the BOSS pulled up in the RV. After the first storm ended, I began riding again. Cindy, obviously with some axe to grind, slow played me on the sag wagon again. https://youtu.be/9FG2sTOPtM8 I stopped riding just outside of Belzoni, MS.

Key stats for the day:

Miles: 124
Climb feet : 4,695
Descents feet: 5,105
Saddle time: 7:34
Avg. speed : 16.4
Max temp : 97 deg F 

Day 23 – Belzoni, MS to Philadelphia, MS

We hit the road at daybreak to ride the 15 miles to Monticello, AR and get cleaned up before a contemporary service at Monticello UMC at 0900. When Cindy started researching RV parks in MS, there are scant choices. She found a spot at a state park just west of Hollandale, MS, but I hoped to ride further. After church, I began riding again. After Cindy and I had lunch in Lake Village, AR, she was planning to go to the campground when storms started popping up. Cindy turned back and decided to stay closer to me for a while as she monitored the radar. I got drenched in a downpour about 10 miles into MS. Just after I made it to an abandoned gas station canopy, the BOSS pulled up in the RV. After the first storm ended, I began riding again. Cindy, obviously with some axe to grind, slow played me on the sag wagon again. https://youtu.be/9FG2sTOPtM8 I stopped riding just outside of Belzoni, MS.

Key stats for the day:

Miles: 112.4
Climb feet : 3,540
Descents feet: 3,137
Saddle time: 7:118
Avg. speed : 15.6
Max temp : 86 deg F 

I am planning a short day tomorrow as we meet our guest. We likely also will visit friends in AL midweek, so I am unclear what the mileage will be the next few days. I do believe I have under 700 miles to go. Updated ride log is attached.


Blessings,
Kirk 

September 28, 2017

Dear Friends & Family,
We have completed our route through California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Alabama. We entered Georgia this afternoon.


A little tidying up the previous update. 


1.) The last game Bear Bryant coached was the 1982 Liberty Bowl against Illinois. He won 21-15.


2.) As I am riding predominantly eastbound, the closest near miss accidents have all been westbound vehicles, entering my eastbound lane, to overtake other westbound vehicles.


As of the last update, we indicated that Le Tour was about to receive its first visitors. We actually had a little glimpse of heaven in Alabama the past two days. 

Day 24 – Philadelphia, MS to Demopolis, AL

Firstly, Le Tour took a detour to Tuscaloosa on Tuesday afternoon after completing an abbreviated ride that day to Demopolis, AL. We had an absolutely delightful evening with our niece, Rachael, who is a junior nursing student at Alabama and a football season ticket holder. In addition to a tour of campus, rich comfort food at Southern Ale House and great fellowship, I learned that people do experience “shopping mishaps”. This is not the same as “buyer’s remorse” nor in any way similar to knocking the pickle jars off the shelf at Hyvee. It seems somehow akin to my relationship with a bag of potato chips. 

Key stats for the day:

Miles: 88.2
Climb feet : 2,730
Descents feet: 3,100
Saddle time: 5:22
Avg. speed : 16.4
Max temp : 95 deg F 

Day 25 – Demopolis, AL to Montgomery, AL

Secondly, Le Tour welcomed more family after an abbreviated riding day to Montgomery, AL on Wednesday. Our former pastor, Barry Holmes, and his wife Cheryl met us at our campground in Montgomery as they were returning to Claxton from Mobile area after welcoming their 6th grandchild, a girl named Harper. Barry and Cheryl now minister together at Maplesville UMC in Maplesville, AL where Barry is the pastor. They gave us a wonderful tour of Montgomery with its wide avenues, restored buildings, Riverwalk, state capital and shared some of its history. Montgomery is vibrant and stunning. We had a wonderful time together at Wintzel’s, a seafood restaurant downtown. 

The roads that day were very rough surface all the way to Norman. The wind was mostly still and had little effect on my ride. 
 

We have talked previously about my caloric intake, BMI, etc., but the BOSS also has been working hard. When we got to the Smokin’ In Style restaurant at Hot Springs Thursday evening, she could not decide whether to have the pulled pork or the brisket. So she chose both. 

She gave a good effort, but could not quite finish it all. She left with a small take out box with a little pulled pork, a roll and a few green beans. I had a soup and salad.

Key stats for the day:

Miles: 88.2
Climb feet : 2,730
Descents feet: 3,100
Saddle time: 5:22
Avg. speed : 16.4
Max temp : 95 deg F 

Our route has zigged and zagged more than above and it looks like it will total a little less than 2,650 miles, which is still below earlier estimates.

Day 26 – Montgomery, AL to Cuthbert, GA

I got an early start today which made for crowded riding in Montgomery near rush hour. We passed into the eastern time zone as we crossed the Chattahoochee River at Eufala, AL. I certainly did not foresee the big hills after crossing into GA. I finished in Cuthbert, GA, about 10 miles east of a campground we are staying at.

Overall, I have ridden 2,365 miles and climbed 72,936 feet on this journey. I have about 260 miles to go with maybe 5,000 more feet of climbing before reaching the Atlantic. We are tentatively planning to complete the ride sometime Sunday p.m., October 1st.
Until then…


Blessings,
Kirk

Key stats for the day:

Miles: 110
Climb feet : 4,137
Descents feet: 3,835
Saddle time: 6:23
Avg. speed : 17.2
Max temp : 91 deg F 

October 1, 2017

Dear Friends & Family,


Greetings from……. Durham, NC!


While there were no easy miles in GA, we went far enough on Friday to put the end in range yesterday. We competed our ride in Savannah/Tybee Island, GA, had dinner, then started heading north, making it through SC and to Lumberton, NC before completing our drive this a.m. Our motivation is that our daughter Sarah has limited time through the week to spend with us. Sunday’s are her least scheduled day. We surprised her by attending her church this a.m. She had no clue we would be there since she thought I still would be riding.

Day 27 – Cuthbert, GA to Alamo, GA

Saw a bit of everything on Friday. Had a high temp of 104, big hills, mixed roads, some wind, some rain, etc. We overnighted at a very nice state park east of McRae, GA.

Key stats for the day:

Miles: 130.3
Climb feet : 3,520
Descents feet: 3,760
Saddle time: 7:56
Avg. speed : 16.4
Max temp : 104 deg F 

Day 28 – Alamo, GA to Tybee Island, GA

I hit the road just after daybreak and it was a sultry, muggy morning with a dense fog/mist. The wind was 10 mph + out of the NE. I rode some extra miles – going southeast from Lyons, GA to Reidsville, GA, then NE from Reidsville to Claxton – instead of heading due east from Lyons to Claxton since I anticipated some difficulty getting safely through Savannah. I was able to ride to Pooler, GA – just west of Savannah. We sought a paved bike path in Savannah but there were none. The whole area is still reeling from the recent hurricanes as they are struggling to repair road damage, remove storm debris, resume normal services such as trash pick-up. There were no safe ways to ride out to Tybee Island. See the storm debris – from this resort town - piled in a local park below. 

So, we made up miles on Tybee. Cindy rode with me for the last 12-13 miles with me there.

Key stats for the day:

Miles: 106.2
Climb feet : 2,281
Descents feet: 2,425
Saddle time: 6:46
Avg. speed : 15.7
Max temp : 84 deg F 

 The winds were howling out of the NE at 25+ MPH. Sorry, but it affected the audio quality of this would have been sure fire top 10 hit: https://youtu.be/4HV7_InsJXU

Today – Sunday, October 1, 2017

We made it to Calvary Chapel – Raleigh, NC, in time to hide the RV before worship began at 10 a.m. After lunch at Cook Out, we hiked for 5-6 miles at Eno River State Park before having dinner at TreForni. BTW, did you notice how often the BOSS wore this Wartburg XC shirt? 

 

Both Cindy and I are looking forward to our brief time with Sarah before seeing some friends and family on the way back to IA.


Overall – a little over 2600 miles ridden with nearly 79,000 feet of climbing. I did 15 “century rides” and had 10 days with temperatures of 100 degrees or more. Luckily, I did not hit double digits in flats (total of 9 with none since TX).
 

Thanks for tuning in. 


Blessings,
Kirk

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