Sunday, May 31, 2009

May 21

This morning I was doing a little better and feeling tough enough to try and blast through the desert towards Gallup. About 10 miles in I realized how bad of an idea that was. I was lucky enough to find a gas station the first time the diarrhea hit and thought I could easily find another if it hit again. I was not so lucky, I was unlucky over and over again, desert shrubbery and wash underpasses on 491 were the most comforting things I could find.

I passed over the New Mexico border but wasn't in the mood to embrace it or soak in the mesa's. My plan was to hopefully find a motel in Shiprock. No motel would mean camping out in the desert and hoping tomorrow is a better day. On my way in to town a Navajo kid in a slick looking Pontiac stopped me and asked what was up? I told him about my trip explained my health and asked if there ia a motel in town. He said that the closest motel would be in Gallup, then offered me a place to stay. I was thrilled Navajo Tony is a good guy.

Tony drove back to his trailer and I followed behind him. He just got out of the marines and is staying in Shiprock with his mom. Very nice place. Tony said he had to go but would be back later, He said he would speak with his mom and ensured she would be fine with this. He kept telling me how they are Mormon and they are all about helping people.

I went to sleep in an empty bedroom tony said I could use, It was about noon. I woke up around seven o'clock from an angry knock on the door, It was getting dark and storming hard outside. Tony barged surly and drunk. He said "If you got a reason to be here then that's fine, If not then get the fuck out." Then shut the door and passed out on the living room couch. I still don't get it, why did he do that?

I decided to take my chances and stay, I didn't really have anywhere else to go, except camp out in the rainy desert. I called Dana and got some unbelievable news, they were farther than expected. they were already in Albuquerque. After explaining the situation they were more than willing to come get me. It wouldn't be for another four hours. They stopped in a Walmart in Gallup to get a bike rack for the car, then we just have to hope everything fit.

An awkward and uncomfortable wait until Dana and her mom arrived, the rain was still coming down hard. They finally called around eleven and luckily by that time Tony's mom had come home. I was thrilled to learn that she was a happy drunk. She grabbed the phone from my hands and started rattling of complicated directions. She then ran out into the street with my phone and a flashlight to wave them down.

She was gone for longer than expected then I see her parading around the corner with Dana and her mom following slowly behind.

I wasn't ready for the trip to end, I was ready for that situation to end but it took me a while to realize that it would also mean the end of my journey. I was glad to see Dana.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

May 20

I can't imagine what this would be like if I was camping out in the desert.

I feel like hell. Anything I eat I throw up, I was up all night with retched vomit and awful diarrhea. Cold sweats, I'm dehydrated, I physically can not ride today. Jake offered me to stay another night, I would be crazy not to take him up on that.

I want to hit the road tomorrow, Dana and her mom decided to leave for Show Low today instead of tomorrow. If I could muscle my way to Gallup by Friday I wouldn't feel bad having her rescue me from there. This is a huge blow to morale, at this point I just want the trip to be over. Unfortunately the hardest riding I will see begins tommorow, Its through the barren Navajo Nation from here to Show Low.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

May 19

I woke up early and about an hour later a National Forest representative approached me. He explained that if the gate is locked and a campsite is closed it is illegal to camp in it. He told me that I need to leave IMMEDIATELY. I said ok... and I left.

I got to the top of lizard head pass and then it was all downhill to Dolores. Not much happened, I ran into yet another cyclist, Dave. Straight out of the Navy he is riding across the country. I let him know all the great places to stay, the hostel, the hunting lodge. He couldn't be of much help since I will be off the trail very soon now.

I got to Dolores no problem, It was still pretty early. I stopped at a gas station and picked up a map of new Mexico. I visited the Dolores public library to do some last minute research on a route to Arizona. I decided to ride south through New Mexico on 491. I'll be going through the Navajo reservation.

I went ahead and kept on pedaling past Dolores to Cortez, now I won't have the trans america maps anymore, It was a little unsettling having no idea where I'll be sleeping. These reservations are pretty barren, I will see nothing between Cortez and Gallup, just the lone gas station here and there and towns with nothing more than trailers and RV's.

In Cortez I found a bicycle shop, Kokopelli Bike and Board, very nice shop. I decided to have my rear wheel trued. I spoke with the fellas there for a while and asked about whats to come through new mexico, They told me the rought I have planned out sounds good. It seems most people going to phoenix go straight through four corners to Arizona then through flagstaff. Since I want to make it to Show Low first I'll be going down south into New Mexico.
They're Jumping

My bike shop friends diddn't even charge me to true the wheel and then on my way out one of the employees, Jake, said I could stay with him. He lives in an apartment near the shop. I hung out and checked out all the merchandise untill Jake got off. They sell salsa bikes I kept playing with a very cool singlespeed salsa casseroll.

When Jake got off we went back to his apartment and his lady Kaila and their friend Chuckles stopped by. We all went out to eat at a local resturant/brewery. I had a lovely IPA and some fish, Chuckles also works at the shop so there was a lot of bike talk going on. Jakes dad used to have a Schwinn Voyageur SP, so he was very excited about my bike.

Back at Jakes apartment I started to feel a little off. Something wasn't sitting right. I ended up rejecting the fish and IPA and turning in early for the night.

Mileage: 67

Total: 1780

May 18

We got up early, strapped the Voyageur on top of the mini cooper and shoved the 520 in back. Those things are roomy, With three fella's and two fully loaded touring bikes it was very comfortable.

Breakfast in Gunnison, very nice, This will be our last breakfast. Very emotional. There are aspects of being alone that I have missed, but having someone to ride with has made the trip much easier.

I was dropped off in Montrose about 12:00. This is the latest I have set out on a ride. Loneliest ride of the trip. Just passed Colona I saw a trio of older gentlemen on my right with their bikes leaned up against a four door pickup. They fed me lunch and I let them know whats to come. I'll be off the trail by the end of tomorrow so there isn't much they can let me know about.
Check out their blog

Just passed Ridgeway I passed another cyclist, Sean, Big dude, mountain biker. This guy is doing 90 mile days, he is a maniac. He told me about a bear that roamed into his campsite last night. He said I should get my hands on some pepper spray, luckily I keep a can in my handlebar bag. Sean told me about this guy Dale that I'll be running into. He is some crazy dude that has been biking around the west for the past five months.

I climbed the Dallas divide, 8,970 ft, It was a bump in the road compared to Monarch. Then I carried on easily to placerville, all down hill. on the way down I could see what looked like a bunch of junk crawling up the mountain. It was Dale.

I stopped and talked for a while, this guy started out with nothing but his bike and he said he has aquired everything over the course of his travels. Even the two dogs Sadie May and Chloie. for the past five months he's just been roaming. He was walking up the pass, with his load he has to walk up almost every incline, but he's in no hurry. He's been to Vegas, Phoenix, up and down the western coast, he had a whole list of places written on his covered wagon, it went on and on. This guy is on a real adventure, or he might just be a crazy homless dude, you tell me.

I chugged along late into the day, I had a campsite in mind in the national forests just past Telluride. I wasn't paying much attention to elevation, I knew there was another pass coming up but I didn't't realize I was halfway up it untill I got to my home for the night. It was almost 8:00 and getting dark when I arrived but there were signs posted that the campsite is closed. I figured I would be better of just camping here rather trying to find a spot up the road.

I set up and made a backpacker's pantry dried meal that Paul and Rebecca gave me before I left Elmwood Park. I had been holding on to them for an emergency but I decided to dig in. I just added boiling water and then enjoyed a delicious helping of organic tofu pesto pasta. Thanks Paul and Rebecca.

I called my brother and talked to him for a while, He informed me that Timi, my longtime childhood friend and neighbor in Elmwood Park was looking to buy a touring bike. This is exciting. I gave Timi a call and left him a message about how I am extatic to see one of my closest friends is getting interested in this type of adventure. It is a big investment, the bike and all the gear, thats what usually holds people back. I would love for him to get involved in this, Especially after riding with Tyler this sort of thing would be awesome to do with one of my friends from home. It doesn't even have to be a 30 day trek to phoenix, a week long tour or even a weekend excursion would be tons of fun. Get the touring bike Timi, lets ride around Lake Michigan this summer.

Mileage:69+66 boost

Total: 1713

May 17

The big guy looks like he's going to need another day, I'm not excited about this. Knowing Dana is going to be in show low on the 22nd I want to get to Show Low on the 22nd. I miss Dana, I don't want to have to wait another day to see her.

I was thinking about going on without Tyler, we would only be riding together for 3 more days to Dolores anyways. I decided not to do that, How would I feel if he left without me, that wouldn't be cool.

Some good news came when Will's friend Chris, who had been visiting from Salt Lake City for the weekend heard Tyler and I talking about possibly staying another night. Chris is leaving tomorrow and he offered to give us a little boost. Some bad news also came with this boost. Tyler is on a bit of a tight schedule, he has a job that starts the 15 of June. The trans america route is not exactly the most direct when it comes to getting to San Fransisco, it is more of a scenic route. Montrose is the next town west of Gunnison, That is where my boost ends. In Montrose the route cuts south towards Dolores, this is perfect for someone heading to Phoenix. It would be silly to cut south if the destination is SanFrancisco, especially if time is a factor. Tyler and Chris will continue west towards Salt Lake City and San Francisco after dropping me off in Montrose. Chris will then drop Tyler off somewhere south of Salt Lake on route to San Fran. But Before all of that We gotta go out and shoot some guns.

Any negative feelings I may have seemed to have towards trap shooting in my last post I would like to take back. That shit is fun and I'm pretty damn good at it.

Thats me on top and Chris and Tyler on the bottom. Note the snow.

May 16

Day off today, Hanging out with the Kids from Crested Butte. I woke up relatively early, 9:00 and walked around town a bit. Last night it was dark when we arrived but now I got a real feel for it. Crested butte is a secluded mountain town, it's very bizarre. That's the best way to put it. It's perfect, everyone rides bicycles to get around, the speed limits are 15 everywhere, no one works, just hunt and fish all day then drink all night. It's a ski town but now they're in the off season, In season people will ski day and drink all night. That's really why they're here, to ski. The hunting and fishing is just to hold them over until next season.

This is the most beautiful town we have been in but I can't wait to leave. I don't like it here, it's just bizarre it makes me feel uncomfortable. I miss the boys of sugar creek, there are no video games, graphic novels or Monday night raw in Crested Butte just outdoor recreation, real outdoor recreation, no whiffle ball or Frisbee golf. Trap and Skeet, lacrosse, rafting, thats they way they do it here.

I spoke to Dana this evening and she received her orders from the US Public Health Service. She is allowed to leave Illinois the 21st, and must report in on the 26th. She and her mom are going to leave for show low early on the 21 and will hopefully arrive the following day. Now I am very excited to get back on the road. Looking at my maps and averaging 60 mile days I could also arrive in show low on the 22. This seems to be working out perfectly. Now I'm counting on the big guy to get himself together to ride.

Monday, May 18, 2009

May 15

I woke up before Tyler so I updated some Blog with the computer. I then got on the waffle maker and started busting out some Golden Brown Belgium beauties. Smokey, Tony, Jeremy, and Tyler started emerging from their bunks one by one. we all ate at the table and chowed down. I was curious to hear smokey's story but he didn't seem to talk much, he was just such an odd fella,Tall Lanky guy with a full beard, Baggy Capri pants, chaco sandals, and dashiki. He really didn't say much of anything and hit the road right after his waffles. Tyler and I started getting ready to head out. Jeremy rode out of town with us and then we were off to climb Monarch.

Monarch pass was unbelievable, the last 12 miles of this climb took us 3 hours. We were both crawling in our granny gears up to 11,300 feet. The smell of cars melting brake pads and the sound of engine breaking got overwhelming, but Between all of that the scent of pine and trickle of the snow melt creeks was soothing. The top of monarch was beautiful, and knowing all the work that we had done to get there made it that much better. I wanted to cry looking out at the mountains, they were majestic. there were 3 feet of snow on the ground but the sun was so hot I was comfortable in my cycling jersey. We had to bundle up for the ride down. The breeze is very chilly. Riding down that pass was one of the most exciting things I have ever done. Flying down the side of a mountain on top of a 70 lb loaded touring bike. We maxed out at 38 mph and on some of the curves the speed limit drops down to 35. We were drafting behind trucks and RV's flying just as fast as traffic. Some of the drivers would get confused, they see a bicycle and immediately think they need to pass it. Tyler was in front of me for a while and I would see a car try to pass him then realize that we are actually speeding then pull off and settle behind him. Very fun, very exciting.

Our goal was to get to Gunnison. Tyler has a friend in Crested Butte. That is a town just north of Gunnison. The plan was to make it to Gunni then Tyler's friend, Will, would pick us up and take us to the Butte. The following morning we would get a ride back to Gunni and continue on our route to Dolores. The wildest thing happened on our way there, A toyota tacoma pulled off the side of the road in font of us, and who steps out? None other than Rusty Nails! This is some wild stuff. We talked for a while, he told us about his bike club back in Plano Texas, then wished us happy riding. We only made it to Parlin, 12 miles east of Gunni, Will picked us up from there and took us to crested Butte. We cleaned up and got ready to hit the town, Crested Butte is a popular ski and vacation spot.

Bad news, Tyler isn't doing so well. We think he has the altitude sickness, we are at 9,000 feet. I feel bad, he was excited to go out tonight and hang out with his friends. He insisted we go on without him. We hung out at Will and his roommate Kevin's town house drinking PBR and Sierra Nevada. I met a lot of people, surprisingly many of them are from Chicago, some from New Jersey, and many from Denver. It was strange, most of them have college degree's, It's like they move here because they aren't quite ready to start life yet. they work part-time jobs in bars, movie theaters, and ski shops. They ski, fish, and raft all day and drink all night. They're living the dream. I don't blame them, I suppose partly why I'm doing this trip is because I'm not quite ready to start yet. I just diddn't take it to such an extreme.

The bars were fun, it's like college without a college. Very small town, they walk into a bar and everyone knows everyone. I didn't stay out too late, I was exhausted from the climb today. I walked back before anyone else and passed out.

Mileage: 66

Total: 1581