Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Days 29, 30 and 31 Cross City to Brooksville to Sarasota to Cape Coral, FL

Day 29 Distance: 101 Miles
Day 30 Distance: 103 Miles
Day 31 Distance: 80 Miles

Total Distance: 3,157
Total Time: 31 Days
Average Distance Per Day: 101.84 Miles

Beginning Bike Weight:  95 lbs (A friend had said when I started the trip, "It will be interesting to see your final bike weight".  It took me 2 weeks to figure out what he was talking about.)
Ending Bike Weight:  64 lbs

Number of flats to front tire:  0
Number of flats to back tire: 12
Number of tires on front tire: 2
Number of tires on back tire: 3

Number of falls: 0
Number of injuries: 0
Number of bonks: 2

The final 3 days of riding has essentially been eventful only for it's lack of the usual daily adversity.  On Day 29 I had stopped in the morning at a gas station to restock fluids when a large Greyhound bus came pulling in from Orlando.  The bus driver came over to talk and said that they were headed for, of all places, Fort Meyers, the town adjacent to my final destination.  He offered to take me and my surley on the bus for the last 240 miles, gear and all, and promised that he would not tell anyone.  Of course I laughed and joked about it, but as I strapped on my helmet yet again and the bus pulled out of the station and headed South I couldn't help but stare and appreciate the concept of motorized transportation.  At lunch the cook at the cafe told me about the Sun Coast Bike Trail, a dedicated 40 mile bike path that heads South towards Tampa so I jumped on the Trail until I found a motel for the night. 

On Day 30 I made my way into Tampa, a very beautiful town, and found George Steinbrenner Stadium, the spring training home of the world champions New York Yankees.   (This ballpark is right across the street from the Raymond James Stadium, home of the Buccaneers and Ray and is comparable in size to Petco Park, the Padres regular season stadium.) From the stadium was a 50 mile ride around the eastern side of Tampa Bay and then down to Sarasota where my parents came up to spend my last night on the road with me.  Shortly before arriving into Sarasota, I was thinking that "I hadn't had a flat since Amite, Louisiana".  Within 5 miles of jinxing myself, I was heading over a bridge with heavy Saturday afternoon traffic and a very small space to navigate and road debris along the shoulder when my rear tire hit some glass hard enough to puncture the rear tire, the liner and the rear tube creating that all too familiar hissing sound and an immediate flat.  I walked the bike over the bridge and made my final tube change.

The final day, day 31, was a short 80 mile trip along the coast.  Knowing that I was coming down the home stretch my thoughts revolved around riding on some of the shoulderless roads as safely as possible and riding the bike "easy" so as not to have any major mechanical issues.  I couldn't imagine riding the length of the country only to fall 40 or 50 miles short of the final destination!  Fortunately, the bike held up fine and the Florida drivers all gave me enough space to bring the ride home.  Sunny skies and a gentle tailwind pushed me the last couple of miles to my parents home in Cape Coral, Fl, a beautiful beach town with over 400 miles of canals.

General Rules: Now that I have completed the ride across America I would note some general rules. Of course there are always exceptions, but here's some general observations:
1. The smaller the town the friendlier the people.
2. The closer you ride to a big city the less courteous the drivers become.
3. Once you engage someone in a conversation that they are interested in it doesn't matter where they live or what type of accent they have they will be friendly and will enjoy talking to you.
4. If you drink 16 to 24 ounces of beer the night before your ride whether it is an ale, a lager or  a stout you will have more stamina, endurance and energy. Your outlook on life will also improve. (Maybe not, but it just seems that way!)

Now that I am not burning 7 to 8 thousand calories a day and have a vehicle to rapidly transport me to whatever destination I desire I am free to start eating when I'm hungry and not using food as a "pre-emptive strike". What a great concept!  I have eaten so much food that is high in carbohydrates, sugars and calories in the past 30 days that eating has become an absolute chore. The other night I was sitting in my room at the Best Western plowing down a pepperoni pizza with a side order of cheesy bread topped off with 3 sodas from the vending machine, 2 cups of decaf coffee. and a bottle of gatorade.  The next morning I hit the motel's free breakfast making 2 waffles smothered in syrup, microwaving grits and eating eggs all of which was flushed down with 3 glasses of orange juice and 2 cups of coffee. I then stuffed a bagel, an apple and 2 muffins in my snack bag for later.  I thought that as much as I am enjoying this trip, the one thing that I will not miss is the constant consumption of calories.  As I write this final blog entry, I have been off of the bike for a little over a day and it has been a struggle weaning myself from the food addiction that has gripped me for the past 31 days.  Maybe I should join Jenny Craig! 

Before ending, I must give thanks to all of those who have made my trip possible.  First, my dedicated, loyal and competent office staff who have admirably kept things going smoothly at the Office over the past 5 weeks.  My friends for their incredible support and encouragement.  An almost daily text message or voicemail or comment on the blog served as a huge boost to continuing on day after day, when sometimes it seemed like I was swallowed by the size of the adventure with a feeling of getting nowhere fast.  To Morton from Copenhagen, Denmark who rode with me from day 3 to 5 and helped me establish a rhythm, pace and routine for the long trip that lay ahead.  To Neal, the 21 year retired Marine Captain who rode with me from days 7 to 17 before his knee slowed him down.  From the time that we had our morning breakfast together to the time that we had our evening meal, we had more fun each day than I had imagined possible on a trip of this nature.  Through osmosis, his stories of survival and adversity have hopefully made me a more self sufficient person.  To my 3 daughters who followed my trip wondering if their Dad, who at 53 is too old to be having a mid life crisis, has finally lost his sensibilities and yet still supported and encouraged me. To my parents who closely and nervously watched and monitored my painstakingly slow route across the country until I arrived safely in their driveway.  And last, but by no means least, my girlfriend and significant other, Tami Colbert, who looked at me with a pained face shortly before I left and asked sincerely, "No really, why do you have to do this?"  Yet through it all supported me more than I thought possible by not only taking care of things at home but by her constant encouragement and excitement as I passed each milestone.  I could not have done this trip this without her and for that she has my undying gratitude.

On my first day off of the road, my Dad and some of the guys from the Cape Coral Tarpon Club took me out fishing.  I had one tarpon jump on the line, only to spit the bait out.  I did snag a 6 foot maco shark. (Okay, maybe it was closer to 2 1/2 feet)


Finally, the ceremonious annointing of the front wheel into the Gulf to complete the ride across America....

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Days 27 & 28 Panama City to Panacea to Cross City, FL

Day 27 Distance:  115 Miles;  Elevation gain 770 feet. 
Day 28 Distance:  99 Miles.  Elevation gain 362 feet  ( I climb more than this in the 8 mile commute from my office to my house)

Total Distance to date:  2,873 miles

Wow, what a day.  After leaving Panacea at daybreak, I rode 50 miles through an area along the panhandle that can only be described as a jungle.  I kept my eyes open as I rode this morning and spotted a lethal Florida swamp snake.  I then came upon this alligator sunning himself just outside of the treeline.  He was a pretty good size so I didn't want to get too close. I thought riding in Florida would be easy.  Other than having to watch out for the gators, the heat when you get away from the coast can suck the last ounce of liquid from  every cell in your body.  After having lunch in a small town of Perry I set off for Cross City, a distance of 40 miles with enough fluids for 20 miles.  My map showed 2 towns along the way, so no problem, right?  Wrong.  The heat was brutal and a slight headwind made matters worse.  The 1st town that I came to had a closed gas station with a "for sale sign" on it..  Maybe it was the heat or maybe the psychological let down of not getting more fluids, but I then started "bonking".  For those who are not familiar with this term, I'll describe the feeling briefly. Your strength is zapped and your cognition becomes cloudy.  I could not keep my speed up and I started falling asleep, which is not ideal when cars and trucks are whizzing by you at high rates of speed.  I tried doing my mental stats exam which is to start with 100 and subtract by 7 until you get down to the number 2.  I tried this twice and came up with the wrong number both times.  So realizing that I was not doing very good, I pulled over in the grass laId the bike down and sat in the grass for about 15 minutes until my head cleared before plugging on.

I finally came to the second town and again nothing, with the exception of a post office.  Figuring that there has to be running water inside this small building, I dragged my weary, sun beaten body inside.  I asked the clerk for some water and she said sure, "there's a spicket around the side".  Anything wet sounded good at that point so I drank the rusty tasting water right from the tap and set off for the last 20 miles feeling better that I was hydrated.  Well the story doesnt get better.  By time I arrived in Cross City and checked into my motel room,  my normally ironclad intestines were paying me back for drinking rusty water.  Without detailing my pain and suffering, after about 45 minutes I was well enough to shower and hobble down the street to the only place that looked like it was serving edible food, the McDonalds.  I ordered a chicken sandwich with fries.  Halfway through the sandwich I looked at the chicken and it was raw.  Disgusted, I threw everything away and bought some popcorn at the gas station to microwave later tonight in my dingy $45 motel room..  The only good thing about today, other than getting that awesome photo of that alligator, is that tomorrow has to be better and I will appreciate the good days ahead that much more.

The end of  what has been an amazing trip is now in sight.  I estimate 2 hard, long days of riding or 2.5 days of easier riding.  I'm opting for the latter.  I hope to be around Sarasota by Saturday night.  My folks are planning to drive up and have dinner with me, spend the night and then have some breakfast.  The plan is to then ride the 70 or 80 miles to my parent's home on Sunday.  A day of Tarpin fishing is planned for Monday and Tami flies in Monday night

An interesting sign on the edge of Perry.  I had to stop and read this twice to make sure that I didn't need to make an application at City Hall.  I am both a transient and a peddler!

Some photos of the Jungle:

For those of you still checking on this blog, I will make my final blog entry on Tuesday morning.  I'll have the last 3 days of riding, the totat distance logged during the ride and some closing thoughts and pictures.  Cheers.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Days 25 & 26 Biloxi, MS to Pensacola FL to Panama City, FL

A quick word about Fund Raising.  As you know, I have been raising money for the Arthritis Foundation and Do Something Now.  So far we have a total of approximately $2,700 raised in contributions and pledges.  My goal is to raise $3,000.  Both of these charities are worthy of a donation and their websites can be accessed at http://www.arthritis.org/ and http://www.do-something-now.org/    So if you have been enjoying this blog or you have been inspired by the idea of cycling across America or you would just like to help out those who are less fortunate, please contact Nancy at my office, 619.278.0900.

Day 25 Distance: 125 miles

Day 26 Distance: 111 miiles

Starting off the day in Biloxi, across the street from the Gulf, I soon realized that the hard riding of the past 24 days was fading behind me.  Although the coast road had more traffic, the road was well paved, flat and a gentle tailwind was blowing from the Southwest.  It seemed as though the full day of riding in a downpour just yesterday was a different lifetime.  The mountains in New Mexico, the headwinds in Texas, the remote towns separated by miles and miles of open space, the searing heat; all seemed like a different ride.  Over the course of riding 125 miles and traveling from Mississippi into Alabama and then to Florida I had an elevation gain of only 937 feet.   Every foot of elevation happened while climbing over the many bridges crossing the beautiful inlets, bays and harbors along the coastline.  There are no hills!!

The second and unfortunately the last ferry boat ride of the trip takes you from Dauphin Island, AL across the Mobile Bay to Ft. Morgan, AL  After landing, an easy 20 mile ride took me to the first bike shop that I had seen in over 1,500 miles.  I am happy to report that the $19 Walmart tire held up and even though I now have an expensive Bontrager as a spare, I am leaving well enough alone and keeping the Walmart tire and the patched Walmart tube on the front wheel.  If it ain't broke, don't fix it.    

Navigation.  Some of you have been wondering whether it is difficult to navigate a bike over all of the roads across all of the states.  Actually, it's easy, here's a photo of a typical street sign which clearly shows which way to go.  This sign, found in Grand Bay, Alabama shows exactly how to go west,west, east, east, west or west and jump on the 10, 188 or 90.  When I first started the trip, I was relying  on the ACA maps.  After a couple of weeks I began plotting my own course using street maps. .I have a map case on my handlebar for easy viewing and plot a course every night for the next day's ride..  Below is a photo of part of tomorrow's route.


 Today I was planning on riding from Pensacola into the central part of the panhandle up towards Tallahassee.  But again today was another beautiful day and I couldn't pull myself away from what they call the "Emerald Coast".  So this morning I rerouted and headed to Panama City.  As`an extra bonus I found a bike shop here to replace my speedplay pedal that has been freezing up and causing me to stop every 10 miles and flush the ball bearings with oil..  At the bike shop I got a tip on a great motel right on the beach.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Days 23 & 24 St. Francisville to Franklinton, LA to Biloxi, MS

Day 23 Distance: 95 Miles
Day 24 Distance: 101 Miles

The answer to the final round of the Roadkill Trivia game is "Armadillo".  I have been passing one every 10 miles on average.  Congratulations to those who corectly answered both rounds.  Your names will be concealed to protect your identities.

A Lesson Well Learned.  Always put on your rain gear BEFORE it rains. I left my motel in the small town of Franklinton, about 20 miles West of Mississippi, at 6:30 with the sun rising on the horizon and blue skies above.  I was doubting the weather report calling for scattered morning thunderstorms with sustained thunderstorms in the afternoon. just to be safe, I had my rain jacket and pants at the top of my pannier bag.  As I crossed the Pearl River and entered Mississippi, the sky quickly began darkening as rain clouds started blowing in from the Gulf.  A few minutes later a woman in a car slowed and pulled next to me and waned me that "I would be getting real wet in about 30 to 40 minutes".  I thanked her for her positive outlook and I quickened my pace. I noticed that it appeared to be raining off in the distance behind me while in the distance in front of me, the skies were lighter.  I figured that I could outrun this thing, and picked up the pace even further.  True to the warning, rain clouds came in from the South, caught up to me from the West  and surrounded me.  Unlike the rains in San Diego which politely start with a drizzle, the monsoon struck quickly.  It only took 5 minutes to get the rain jacket on,rain pants on and a plastic bag around my handlebar bag; however the damage was done. I was soaked and most everything in the bags as well.  (The numbers 1, 2 and 3 on my phone still aren't working)  Heavy rains continued most of the day with the region getting 4 inches.  That's 1/2 of San Diego's annual rainfall.  As I write this, everything from my maps to my clothes are spread out around the room in various stages of drying. 

The 100 miles in the rain today was well worth the effort as I am now in Biloxi, across the strret from the Gulf.  It is beautiful here and even in the rain, the Gulf looks great.

Logistical Issues.     I left San Diego with 2 new tires and a spare tire, just in case.  by time I hit Hatch, NM, the original rear tire was trashed and so the spare was elevated to the starting team.  That was 1,500 miles ago and the weight of the bike and the bags over the rear tire has taken it's toll.  I've had 11 flats to the rear tire with zero flats to the front.  This speaks to the extra work that the rear tire is doing.  The logistical problem is finding a bike shop, or even tires and tubes.  Several days ago I remembered that Walmart had bike accessories so I picked up 3 tubes and an extra tire hoping that this would get me to the next bike shop.  Two days ago, in the Louisiana heat, I had another flat.  Realizing that my spare rear tire was paper thin and ready for the recycle bin, I decided to put the Walmart tire on the back wheel.  Within 5 miles and to my complete horror, the new tire exploded off the rim.  This caused me to put the worn spare back on the rear and strap the Walmart tire back on the rear rack.  That night, I switched the tires, putting the good front tire on the back and the bad back tire on the front.  My plan was to prolong the spare's life and hope that it could last the 300 miles till I get to the next bike shop.  Well yesterday, realizing that I had used up all of my tubes, I went searching for another Walmart.  From St. Francis, the closest was 50 miles away but 10 miles off course.  In the rain, I was anxiously hoping that the spare could hold up till I got there as I was out of tubes..  Almost!  One mile from Walmart, in a light rain, the front tire went flat.  The tire was wet and I could see air bubbles coming from not one  but 2 separate holes.  I patched the leaking tube and called the Walmart tire back into action, hoping that it would survive being on the much lighter front end of the bike.  Using only a meager 55 pound psi, Walmart special and patched tube held up the rest of yesterday and all day today.  I am now about 80 miles from a bike shop and I think I may be in luck. 

The Pearl River seperating the bottom of Louisiana and Mississippi

`                                                    Tami, my treat. Let's go shopping!!!

Gee, let's eat here.  I can't wait to see what they caught swimming at the bottom of the swamp today.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Days 21 & 22 De Ridder to Washington to St. Francisville, La

Day 21 Distance:  90 miles
Day 22 Distance:  105 miles

Congratulations to those of you who correctly answered "pig" in the first round of Road Kill trivia and have moved on to the final round. What is the most unusual animal found on the side of the road.  This loveable, yet prehistoric looking mammal is indigenous to the Southern states. (Hint:  the first 3 letters of it's name is the same as a human extremity)

Today was an awesome day.  Despite another 2 flats on the same back tire, I knew that I would eventually make it to St. Francisville which is on the Eastern side of the Mississippi River.  Because of  it's size you have to cross the River on the I 10 at Baton Rouge which would be akin to suicide by bike or travel North and take the ferry across.  For some inexplicable reason, crossing the Mississippi was a significant milestone for me and everyone who drove their car onto the ferry was probably wondering who the crazy, sweaty dude was wearing spandex and running around the boat like a kid at Disneyland.

Today completes the 5th of 7 sections along thhe southern tier.  2,227 miles traveled to date

A question was posed as to the best food that I've had so far.  Tonight was good.  I ordered a crawfish salad which came with 4 big crawfish adorning the plate.  Never having eaten one before, I was wondering where the meat was.  I finally asked the waitress how to eat the damn thing.  She couldn't believe that I didn't know.  Well I must have asked too loudly as soon the 2 tables on either side of me were lending pointers on pinching off the tail and twisting the meat out.  They sort of tasted like salty, unwashed shrimp.  But the best food that I've had is a toss up between the Gumbo that I had last night on a deck on a bayou and a taco spud in Livingston, TX.  The taco spud is a huge baked potato, bigger than any of us have seen before, split open with all of the taco fixings and anything else you want to add.

Cycling in Louisiana, a Survival Guide.  The Dog, "man's best friend!"  You will be glad to know that the canine population down here is prospering.  Maybe it's the climate; maybe it's because no one owns a fence and the dogs get lots of exercise by chasing anything that happens to be in the street in front of their property.  I stayed at a great bed and breakfast last night.  The owner made me scrambled eggs and sausage withe orange juice and pastries.  I left feeling so good, so peaceful and content only to encounter the first dog assault not 20 minutes later.  Basically the towns are 20 to 30 miles apart with back country roads in between.  Every so often you'll get to a cluster of 2 or 3 houses and you know that at least one if not more of the homes has loose dogs.  To survive, I've broken the dog encounters into 2 categories.;  The first is where the dog is on the porch or along side the house.  As I approach the dog comes tearing toward the street.  This is the most common and happened at least 20 times today.  It literally got to the point where I would just say, "here we go again".  The key to surviving this attack is to recognize that your coming up to the homes. (daydreaming is not allowed)  Increase your speed to 15mph.  No faster as you dont want the dog to get the right angle on you.  When the dog starts running towards you, increase your speed slightly.  By time he reaches the road, you are just slightly in front.  And that is the key in a nutshell; once you are in front, the dog is powerless.  He can't bite the wheel.  He cam't bite the back of your foot which is spinning at 80 rpms.  I've found that once your out in front you can have some sort with the dog.  Let's see how fast the big black one can run, let's see how far the brown pit bull  can go.  The fastest dog today was 17mph and most dogs can't run much more than 199 yards. 

The second encounter and much more menacing is when the dog is in the street waiting for you.  The best approach is to aggressively speed up to about 20 mph and head straight for the dog.  He will not know which way to go.  About 10 feet before impact veer off to the side which gives you more room.  This should get you slightly ahead of the dog and then you're home free.  The problem is when you are not focused on dogs and they sneak up on you.  I had just entered a small town and was noticing that the back tire had a slow leak.  Suddenly there was a large black dog right up next to my right side. I stood up and started pedalling and he ran along side for 1/2 a block.  That's when I realized that most of these dogs are just looking to have fun.  If this dog really wanted to take a bite out of me he could have easily done so.  From then on whenever a dog started chasing me we both had a good time.  The dog is getting a little workout and it's helping me stay focused and keep my speed up.

Once I saw this I immediately turned off my Thumps. Then I thought maybe a free night in lockup wouldnt be so bad.

I cught these 2 lovebirds having sex right out in the middle of a field.  They got bashful when I put the camera on them.

Crop dusting is common.  There are rice and corn fields mixed in with the occasional ranch    

This is "who Dat" Nation. Home of the Super Bowl Champs.  People laugh when I say I'm a Charger fan cuase we gave Breese away

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Days 19 & 20 Navasota to Livingson, Tx to De Ridder, Louisiana

Day 19 distance:  88 miles (2 flats and bonked in the heat)
Day 20 distance:  118 miles

Time for the Roadkill Trivia game.  What is the heaviest animal seen along the road so far?  Hint:  If you order a "Gand Slam" at Denny's you will eat this animal. If you know the answer post a comment or text me 619.206.3603.  The winners will move onto the final round on Friday.  Good luck.

The Great Escape:  The distance across Texas is about 950 miles and has consumed half of the trip so far.  I would compare the distance to riding from Humboldt County in California down to Mexico.  But unlike the Coast ride where you would usually get coastal breezes, riding West to East in Texas gives new meaning to the word "headwinds".  Here when the weather says that it will be "windy" they are describing 25 to 35 mph.  In San Diego this would be the lead news story and most likely be entitled "storm watch".  Here it's just another day.   After spending 10 days and 9 nights in the great state of Texas I can't say that I'm sorry to leave. Although there are many beautiful parts and the people have been great, when I finally got to the Sabine River which seperates TX and LA there was cause for celebration.  The scenery didn't change much, still very woodsy with rivers and lakes with plenty of green vegetation, but emotionally I was inspired by finally completing the route through Texas and by finally entering the "South". 

The first town that I came to was Merryville.  I stopped at the market for some fluids.  While there some of the kids from the Merryville High football team came up to talk about the bike and  all of the equipment such as the Garnin and the GPS tracking device.  They were getting some early practice for the upcoming football season.  I couldnt help but mention that I played "corner" for my high school team. I didn't mention that it was on the "freshman" team that didn't win a game the entire season.  I also didn't mention that I didn't knock down a pass the entire year.  The wide receiver that I was defending either caught the ball and scored a touchdown or dropped the ball.  I figured they didnt need to know all of that. 

Tidbits:  What do you do with the issue of dogs in pursuit? I figure that I can out ride a dog on the flats or downhill.  I carry some pepper spray just in case  I'm riding uphill or a dog is confusing my ankle with a T Bone. Today while riding into Woodsville, a dog came running up from the side, taking me by surprise.  I  yelled "get" in my best Texas accent.  I think the dog was amused or maybe just confused and stopped in his tracks.  Shortly after entering LA I heard a dog barking from a distance and looked over my shoulder to see a pit bull approaching and gaining on me from behind.  I was rolling at 15 mph at the time and knew that this dog had run a ways and would soon be out of gas so I picked up the speed and he gave up.  I have a feeling that this may be an ongoing issue for the next several states.

The Trinity  River outside of Huntsville, the birthplace of Sam Houston

Monday, May 10, 2010

Days 17 and 18 Bandera to Wimberly to Navasota, Tx

Day 17:  Distance 96 miles
Day 18:  Distance 152 miles
Total Distance over 18 days:  1,816 miles
More than 1/2 way!!

Interesting bathroom statistic:
Prius' seen in West Texas:  Zero
Prius' seen in the Texas Hill Country: 3
Prius' seen in Eastern Texas: Zero
(Texans aren't that concerned about leaving a carbon footprint)

"Howdy, y'all. Listen up, now. Been down here in the lone star for dang near 8 days. Reckon I'll be here till I can get on down the road a yonder",
Wyatt Earp

I've been in Texas for a long time and I still have a day and a half to get into Louisiana.  I'm starting to pick up the dialect and I think I may come back home with a bit of an accent. It hasn't been easy learning to speak Texas.  I was at a Walmart yesterday and asked a clerk where the sun screen was. She told me it was over yonder. I just stared at her. She could probably tell from my amusement at her speech that I was a furener, so she walked me to the right aisle. The countryside here is great and the people are very friendly.  I can't stop somewhere without someone coming up to chat about bike riding or the trip.  I've been to a lot of very rural markets and I come waddling in with my bike shoes dressed in my space suit.  Once they figure out what I'm doing they are happy to give directions or offer encouragement   I'd estimate that 95% of the cars and trucks on the road move at least 1/2 way into the other lane to give me more space. (a far greater number than back home in San Diego)  Many beep and wave and when I approach an intersection or driveway I'm always given the right of way.

Before the ride we had a group discussion about the amount of food that I would need to eat on a daily basis.  My Garmin is out of battery since I shipped the charger home in my zeal to lighten my bike weight.  Tami has shipped me another one which I pick up tomorrow at the Richards, Texas post office.  But I would estimate that on a day like today with over 150 miles on the bike that I burned well over 8,000 calories.  After 18 days, I've settled into an eating routine, better described as an eating frenzy.  I usually get on the road by 7.  I carry a snack bag which contains things like pop tarts, candy bars, graham crackers, oreo and chocolate chip cookies, pecan pies and moon pies.  Before I start the ride I'll have a couple of pop tarts or a moon pie and some coffee.  After about 20 miles I start looking for a cafe where I'll get 2 meals.  I basically devour any bread, pancakes, eggs, bacon, ham or anything else that I can get.  I'll drink a couple of glasses of ice water and head out.  Every 20 miles or so, I'll grab a couple of snacks out of my bag.  Then mid afternoon I'll stop for a light meal.  Today it was a foot long Italian classic on parmesan bread with a bag of chips and 2 large cokes.  After I get to my motel and take a shower, I'm out looking for yet another meal.  Tonight I ordered a pizza delivered to the room and devoured that.  I then went into my bag of snacks and ate some taffy that I bought earlier today. Needless to say, I'm not losing any weight.  As far as fluids, I go through about 200 ounces of water, 150 ounces of powerade, vitamin water or gaterade, 75 to 100 ounces of coke classic and an occasional monster energy drink on a daily basis.  It's actually fun to just eat and drink whatever you want and not have to worry about the consequences.  I did run into some trouble yesterday in Blanco.  I stopped at a barbecue shack for my afternoon meal.  I ordered a brisket sandwich smothered in Texas barbecue sauce with a side of 3 blackberry cobler pies.  It was go good.  But about 30 minutes later, I had such an intense sugar rush that I had to stop the bike and wait a few minutes for it to pass.  Guess 2 pies are my limit at one sitting!!  It will be an adjustment for me once this ride is over to return to my regular eating routine.

In Blanco, Jeff Bridges and Matt Damon are filming a new True Grit movie.  Blanco is about as authentic a place to film as possible.  Should be good.

Who are you looking at?

 A Texas Longhorn.  The Guadalupe River somewhere in the Hill Country

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Day 15 & 16 Comsock to Bracketville to Bandera, Tx

Two Day Distance:  174 miles
Two Day Road Kill Numbers:  2 Deer, 1 Wild Turkey, 1 Buzzard, 1 Rattler, 1 Coyote, 1 lizard, 1 bird

On Friday, we rode into Del Rio a town of over 30,000.  While Neal found a bike shop to repair his back wheel, I found a UPS store. I stripped off the front pannier rack and shipped home the rack, one pannier bag, my tent and sleeping bag and a lot of things that I found that I don't really need.  I bungied the other front pannier bag onto the the rear rack.  The Surly is now down to around 65 lbs and much more aerodynamic. While getting my haircut, another cyclist saw my bike in front of the barber shop and stopped in to chat.  He is retired Navy and is taking 2 years to bike from San Diego to Florida, up to New York and then west to Washington.  Some people have way too much free time on their hands!  After another 39 miles after Del Rio, we decided to call it an early day.  A combination of the 96 degree heat, the winds coming out of the East and a really cool place to spend the short day; Fort Clark.  This Fort, located in Braketville was an old Indian outpost, then used by the first Calvary and later by General Patton for a short time.  I stayed In the Patton Lodge and took a dip in a natural spring which has a year round 68 degree temp.  Later had some fried catfish before matching wits with the old ladies in a riveting game of bingo.  Party Animals!

Today, we left before sunrise to beat the expected headwinds.  But within an hour the winds were whipping at a merciless 25 mph.  After 40 miles, Neal's knee gave out on him and he is spending the night in Uvalde.  I kept trudging an additional 40 miles East at a windblown average speed of 8 mph.  About 20 miles West of  San Antonio, I headed 30 miles North to Bandera.  Bandera bills itself as the "cowboy capital of the world".  From what I've seen, I agree.  This area is called "Texas Hill Country and is beautiful country.  The hills are green with cedar and oak trees, flowing creeks and wild flowers everywhere. 

Random Acts of Kindness.  In Sanderson the other day, I had misplaced one of my shoes so I hobbled into a market to see if they had any sandals for sale.  They didn't but the owner left me in the shop, went back to her house and got an old pair of her husband's shoes. She said that she was thinking about donating them to good will and I seemed like a good cause. : )  Yesterday, while riding just East of Del Rio, another cyclist caught up to us.  He's a Captain at Lackland Air Force Base and is a pilot/flight instructor.  After riding together for a while he pealed off to return to the base and asked if we wanted cookies tomorrow.  We thought he was joking.  Well, this morning at around 8:00 I see a van pass me and about 500 feet up the road pull off onto the shoulder and some guy gets out carrying something silver.;  Turns out that it is Captain Bart carrying a loaf of fresh home cooked banana bread with chocolate chips melted in there.  Bart and his wife Christie were taking there 2 kids to Sea World in San Antonio and thought they would find us.  How cool is that.  Kristie even thought to slice the loaf. It was so good!

A portfolio of Texas road signs:

Do we really need a sign for Texans to drive friendly. Can you get a ticket here for driving mean? Is there a "misdemeanor Mean"?


Thursday, May 6, 2010

Days 13 & 14 Ft. Davis to Sanderson to Comstock, Texas

Day 13 Distance 112 Miles   Calories Burned 7,895  Temp 97
Day 14 Distance 89 Miles     Calories Burned 6,261  Temp 96

I finally got tired of lugging 95 pounds of bike around day after day.  The first stop today was in Dryden, a town with 1 building, a combination market and post office.  I unloaded about 5 to 6 lbs of clothes that I don't really think will be needed and shipped everything home.  I am  contemplating taking off the front panniers and shipping them home as well.  The thought of having a lighter more aerodynamic bike is sounding very appealing right now.. 

There are essentially 4 kinds of winds that a cyclist can encounter, which I'll rank in order of preference:  a tail wind, no wind, a cross wind and a head wind.  For the past 3 days, the Lone Star State has greeted us with unrelenting headwinds.  I have noticed a pattern forming; early in the morning there is a light breeze.  Around 10 or 11, as the sun gets stronger the winds increase to 20 to 30 mph.  By 2 or 3 in the afternoon, when the sun is at it's hottest, the winds are gusting and around 6 or 7 the winds die down to a gentle breeze.  The winds, coupled with the heat coupled with the hills are taking it's toll on me.  My legs are tired and my body is tired.  I had expected to get a tail wind at least through Western Texas.  Unfortunately, there is a front heading Northwest from the Gulf which has been straight against me as my route has been Southeast.  The forecast for tomorrow is again in the upper 90's and again for winds out of the Southeast.  Oh yeah, possible thunderstorms.  Been lucky so far with only a light rain coming into Silver City.  Now I know why I haven't seen a "recreational cyclist" since Las Cruces, NM.

My riding partner, Neal, had a spoke blow out on his rear tire somewhere East of Dryden.  We patched it up as good as we could and now trying to make it to the next bike shop which is in Del Rio, a distance of 33 mile from the hotel here in Comstock.  If one more spoke goes on the back tire, we might be hitchhiking.  Comstock is an interesting place.  There are 4 buildings.  The motel, a place to eat, a market and a closed cafe.  Everyone is sitting out front of their places, drinking beer, chatting, laughing and having a good old time.  The woman who cooked me a "tamale pie" told me if I needed anything else to holler and then left to resume her conversation with the other folks sitting out front.  The same scenario repeated at the market with the clerk chatting with the half dozen patrons and taking beers out of the coolers and spreading them around.  Everyone that I've met so far in Texas has been very friendly.

Today I ran into some cyclists crossing the Country going East to West.  The first, Janet left last October and has been camping and riding 10 to 30 miles per day.  At the Judge Roy Bean museum in Langtry, I ran into 2 cyclists in their mid 20s from Kansas City who started in St. Augustine, Fl and are heading to San Diego.

Who's the hombre wearing the Arrogant Bastard Ale jersey.     The mouth of the Pecos River just before it empties into the Rio Grande

The commode/flower pot next to the table was a nice touch for  dinner at the local restaurant.    This is how kids spend their nights after dinner in Comstock.