Posted by carlpyt On August 30th, 2014
This post so soon after the last one is the result of rain. I’m currently in a motel room in Lima, MT, although, I should be on the road but woke up to rain and, a cold rain at that, and decided to stay put. Originally, I planned on taking three days to ride from the Elkhorn Hot Springs to Lima (as in Lima beans) but the two cyclists, Gary and Gail, informed me that they were going to ride 50 miles each day to make it in two days.
Two days seemed over the top. I stopped at Bannack State Park (see photos), which is a ghost town but Gary and Gail rode on. I wouldn’t recommend going to Bannack, but I would recommend Virginia City, Nevada and Brody, California.
After, Bannack it was a roller coaster ride on dirt (see photo, in addition we climbed 2240′ and descended 2670′). I just kept riding and riding throughout the day, and saw no reason to set up camp as long as there was plenty of sun and I felt reasonably strong. Thunder and lightening started to make it’s presence known so I kept riding while looking for a place to set up camp.
After, riding 57+ miles I spotted Gary and Gail setting up their camp on a hillside covered with sagebrush. I dragged my bike and trailer about thirty feet up the hill to a flat area that was bare of sagebrush and steaming cow pies. As soon as I got my tent set up it started with a downpour. I climbed into my tent where it felt cozy as the rain slapped against it.
The rain was short lived, and I went out and set up my stove, and whipped up a bowl up Top Ramen. For dessert, I had fig newtons. The next morning, I flung the rain fly out of the way to check the weather. There were some awesome clouds and I reached over for my camera and took a photo of my trailer with the clouds in the background (see photo).
We started out around 8am for a long day to reach Lima. We got slammed with a nasty headwind as we rode in the open, but lucked out as we turned and rode parallel and close to these cliffs. The valley we were riding in was ranch land, and besides the Black Angus cattle, they grew hay for cattle feed in the Winter.
As we rode, actually, Gary and Gail were a ways ahead of me, a group of four wheelers rode pass me. The last member of the group was an older man who stopped to talk. He mentioned that there are five generations of his family that have been involved with the Hansen Ranch. His grandfather homesteaded the land. He pointed in the distance and said “see that mountain that looks like a tit well just to the right of it is where the road goes”. Thanks.
The road the rancher was talking about, is Medicine Lodge Sheep Creek Divide, and it was one steep road (see photo of Gary and Gail pushing their bikes). To add insult to injury, we were told that it’s all downhill on the other side. Not so.
After, putting in some miles the road turned into one long meandering downhill snake, that traversed the valley floor and then through a canyon with massive rock monolifts. What was interesting was the number of caves in these granite rock mountains.
The road surface for most of the ride was gravel, which can get old after a while, even if it’s downhill. The cattle on the road (see photo) can be intimidating, especially, the ones without an utter. So far, the intimidation proves to be in one’s imagination for they move away when you get close enough. Maybe they’re playing Mexican standoff.
After, 43 miles of gravel and dirt you turn on to the frontage road that parallels the I-15. Only seven miles to go and on asphalt, You’re home. Want to bet? As soon as you make the turn you get hit in the face with an unrelenting nasty headwind. I didn’t think that I was going to make it to Lima. I stopped so many times to rest and felt like giving up. When I got within a mile, I picked up steam and here I am in Lima, like in Lima beans.
Photo: On swing at Elkhorn Hot springs
Photo: Shoe tree at Mountain View Motel. Shoes of Continental Divide hikers.
Photo: Pork Chops at Elkhorn Hot Springs.
Photo: Mountain view Motel sign. Sorry, if you were thinking of dressing your deer in the bathtub.
Posted by carlpyt On August 28th, 2014
This will be a short update. I’ve been at the Elkhorn Hot Springs for the past two days and it’s been the highlight of the trip so far. I came close to missing this experience when I first spotted the steep climb off the main road and had to think twice before deciding to push my bike up this long gravel road. When I got to the top I checked my phone and noticed that there was no cell phone or internet service, so I decided to take off. When I rode by the lodge on my way out someone yelled for me to stop.
I stopped and when I was informed, yes, they don’t have cell phone service but they do have internet service and the cost for a room is $35 which includes breakfast and the use of the pool facilities, I signed the dotted line.
The staff have been so gracious and helpful…is this a dream? The food was excellent and more than enough. I used the pool several times, which is surrounded by tall pines, well they look like pines. Overall, it has a rustic,Topanga Canyon, feel to it. I included photos.
Today, three other cyclists arrived and we shared our war stories. Tomorrow, we’re off for more adventure.
Posted by carlpyt On August 27th, 2014
In my last blog I said very little regarding Butte, that’s because I saw very little of Butte. When I got off I-90 I went directly to the first motel I saw which was next to the off ramp. I rented a room and took a hot bath to thaw out my bones. I went to the Safeway down the street to get supplies for the next day’s ride and then got a burger. I hadn’t used the $20 the fly fisherman gave me.
I returned to my room, which looked like a war zone, and started working on my blog. I ran into a bunch of problems to the point that I had to get a hold of Keith. He was able to work the blog on his end. Just minutes before midnight I was able to complete my blog. I forgot to mention that I blew away several paragraphs of text when I transferred some photos to the blog and had to redo the text. Enough of Butte.
The ride out of butte on 8-23-14 went smooth for several miles then there was this brute of a climb. I had company for awhile when this woman, who is doing some of the Divide, pushed her bike along side me. She proved to be too young, too strong, and had minimal gear so It wasn’t long before I was pushing alone.
Miles later, I reached a plateau where you actually cross over the Continental Divide. It was cold at the top and when I checked my thermometer it read 44 degrees.
The ride down from the Plateau went for miles through open range land with rolling hills and sage for the view. At times cattle stood in the road way, which was gravel, and I was concerned because it didn’t look they would move, or if they did, it would be at me. Well, at the last moment, they would gallop off.
As the gravel road headed downward, I forgot to mention that I had to pushed my bike up numerous hills, toward the I-15 there were two choices when you reached the frontage road, turn left and end up the next day tackling a real nasty ass kicking, although scenic (like who’s smelling the roses) section, or turn right and take the pavement for the next two days.
Forget the glory, I took the pavement, which turned out to be like riding on carpet, and the only concern I had was there were no campgrounds listed on the map that wasn’t another day’s ride away. My plan was to ride until I found some place off the side of the road where I could camp, but there was a problem, every square inch of land was fenced and festooned with No Trespassing signs.
As I turned off the frontage road, onto U.S. 43, I kept my eyes open for a place to bed down. If you forgot, my tent, tarp, and rain fly, are more than wet from the Merry Widow Campground soaking. Imagine, sleeping off the side of the road inside a dripping wet tent.
After riding a little over a mile, I saw it, but didn’t believe it, Campgrounds. As I turned off the road toward the entrance, I was giddy but still skeptical that there was an actual campground. There it was, and with several available sites. In addition to the find, the sun popped out and I was able to dry out my gear. In addition, the neighbor next to me, brought over some hot dogs for my Ramen.
I took the road less traveled and how sweet it was.
On 8-25-14, I resumed riding on U.S. 43 which follows the Wise River. It was only 10 miles to the Wise River Cafe where my plan was to have breakfast. I had a big breakfast and followed it up with peach pie and ice cream. I used the $20 from the fly fisherman to pay for the breakfast. It was just enough.
I started down U.S. 43 and after about 2 miles I decided to check my map and compass and I discovered that I needed to go south on U.S. 73. There’s a wasted 4 miles. This was another smooth as silk highway with minimal traffic. It’s referred to as one of America’s Scenic Byways.
As I was headed south this cyclist going north yells to me, ” are you riding the whole mountain?”. I was thinking what did he mean by that because the road only had a gradual incline. Well, I learned later that there are some tough climbs to get to tonight’s campsite with more and tougher ones to follow tomorrow.
I camped at Little Joe’s Campground, climbing 2100′. This has been basically, a roller coaster highway following the river where fishermen using drift boats with one person using oaks to hold the boat steady while the others fish.
I built a campfire for the first time since starting the Divide. I spent a lot of time fanning the fire to get it going. I found a log to sit on and wrote notes for my blog. I had to put my down jacket over my sleeping bag to keep warm. I found out the next morning with my digital thermometer that it got down to 26 degrees.
On 8-26-14, I started the day with one climb after another. I climbed close to 1500′ in 8 miles. There was this long steep descent that was exhilarating if not fun. I’m currently staying at the Elkhorn Hot Springs. This was a real find.
Posted by carlpyt On August 24th, 2014
The weather forecast for the next few days is rain and I’m not staying put in Helena so on 8-21-14 I rode out of Helena into a light rain looking for Grizzly Gulch rd. I found it, and for the first time spotted an official Divide Route sign. It was 24 miles to Park Lake with some steep climbs that required me to push the bike. The elevation is 6150′ and for the first time I had to wear my down jacket. I met some fly fishermen who were loading their truck. One of the fishermen, Dave, showed the most interest in my trip. He asked me if I’m stopping in Butte, and I said yes, and then wondered why he asked that question. He then pulls out a $20 bill and hands it to me, stating it’s for dinner in Butte. He was also very helpful in providing detailed directions for a tricky section of the route. There was thunder and lightening and rain while I listened to classical music on my ipod.
Left campsite at Lake Park at 8am to a cold, foggy, and light rain morning, although the whole day was like this. In a few miles I reached the section of the route that will live in infamy, as far as I’m concerned. This is a two mile plus motocross course it was not intended for bicycles. It took me three hours to finish this section. One only gets a partial sense of the wanton nastiest this section provides through photos. Every so often the left pedal would hit the back of my right calf while I pushed the bike. My leg looked like someone used a meat tenderizing mallet on it.
I camped at Merry Widow Campground in Bain, which is 30 miles north of Butte. It’s a weird experience riding through the back woods all day, thinking that this is the world, and then entering a clearing and out pops the I-15. It rained all night and it was a bitch packing all my gear, especially, the tent, tarp, and rain fly and the wetness adds to the weight. Just what I need is more weight.
After a big breakfast in the town of Bain I headed south toward Butte. The ride wasn’t too bad except for the constant cold rain. When I checked into a motel I had a very difficult time unbuckling my helmet because my fingers wouldn’t cooperate. As I said it was cold.
Posted by carlpyt On August 21st, 2014
On 8-18-14 the ride out of Lincoln began on a dusty gravel road that led 15 miles to Stemple Pass. The road, Sleepy Hallow (sic) Ave./Stemple Pass Rd. leads pass Ted Kaczynski’s former residence. In fact, I stopped to talk to a rancher who was spraying weeds between his property and the road. He pointed to a knoll where Ted’s “cabin” was located. He remembers Ted passing his ranch, as the Unabomber walked to and from Lincoln, always keeping to himself.
I was able to ride almost 14 miles before the road became too steep and I had to push the bike to the top. I included a photo at the top which has benches for cross country skiers. The top wasn’t the end of pushing the bike for there was more pushing on the road I turned left on. I rode for quite a while on a ridge with a view of the forest as far as the eye could see.
I missed a turn, need to follow the map much closer, and ended going on this, at least ten miles, hang on to the seat of you pants, downhill “run”. The road left the forest and exited into this wide valley. I had no idea where I was, but felt relieved when the road I was on, ended at a T and there was this sign that read Helena 28 miles. All I that to do was turn left and go South. It was around 3:30 and I thought I had a chance of making it to Helena before nighttime. This was a wide gravel road that cut through ranch land. There were these big tracker like combines that were gathering the cut hay into these huge rolls(1500 pounds each) to store for feeding their cattle during the winter.
I was cranking on the pedals, but at times had to slow down, because the wash board became so jarring that I was afraid of loosing control of the handlebars. Finally, I spotted a store, Canyon Creek, that was around 1/4 of a mile after where the gravel road turned to pavement. Was I in luck, the store also had an area for camping and camping on thick soft grass, not the hard gravel that I was used to. See photo of camp ground. The first thing the owner of the store asked “are you doing the Divide?”. She said she gets a few of them time to time. It was a tough day, for I climbed 2890′. I don’t think I would have made Helena.
On 8-19-14 I rode into Helena and rented a room. My plan was to have a lay over day, i.e., spend two nights here. I spent my time in Helena taking care of business, such as, buying supplies, cleaning my bike chain and lubing it, eating at Panda Express and MacDonald’s. It’s weird seeing all these familiar stores, Home Depot, Lowes, Office Depot, etc. It’s like you haven’t left home.
My big concern is the weather. There’s a storm predicted, with T-storms on Thursday and “regular” rain for Friday. I don’t want to spend any more time in a motel room. Need to hit the road. By the way, I spotted quite a few of these roadside memorials, young people, how sad.
Posted by carlpyt On August 18th, 2014
It’s been a while since I last got on the computer mainly because they don’t have wifi in tents. On 8-12-14 I rode 41+ miles mostly on farm roads, which was a treat, from all the riding through dense forest. I camped at a state campground a mile from the quaint town of Big Fork with views of Flathead Lake, which by the way is the largest freshwater lake west of the Mississippi.
To give my dupa a rest, I decided to walk to town for dinner. I found a pizza place and besides pizza, I had two beers and two jello shooters. With all the riding and the booze, I was feeling a little light headed and looked like someone who is failing a sobriety test as I was making my way back to camp. Twice, I had take a break by sitting on the stoops of a store. Half way up this long steep hill to reach the campground I stuck out my thumb and got a ride.
I was dreading the next day’s ride because of a 6 mile steep climb that is mentioned in the book and on the map. I knew that I would have to push my bike and my ever so heavy trailer for 6 miles and of course that’s what I did, and in 90 degree weather. It took more than a few hours to reach the top. I averaged around 1 1/2 miles an hour.
The top was so sweet with the added attraction of an 8 mile, hang by the seat of your pants, downhill. You had to really grip the handlebars because much of the road surface was crushed rock that was laid a little too thick in places. I think you get the picture.
When I was close to the end of the downhill I happened to look at my handlebar bag and noticed that my bike map was missing. It fits under a sheet of plastic. I went into a panic, because without this very detailed map the ride is impossible. I unhitched the trailer and started riding back up to look for the map, and after about less than a mile, I turned around and hitched the trailer back up.
After riding for a few minutes, I spot a forest service truck, from Arizona no less, coming up the hill. I stop them and let them know my situation. They gave me their blessings and continued on. My mind was flooded with possible, actually, impossible ways that I could get a new map. Around two hours later I hear this truck behind me, it’s the forest service truck and this guy is waving the map. I did not make this up.
The next day, 8-14-12, I fixed myself, freeze dried Pasta Primavera for breakfast. I was in no shape to fix dinner the night before. There was a light rain that stopped after a couple of hours of riding. I decided to avoid the forest, beating me up too much, and took highway 83 to the next stopping point which was Holland Lake. The highway had it’s own disadvantages, narrow shoulders with speeding cars, trucks, cars pulling trailers, and even a truck pulling a trailer and the trailer pulling a boat.
Holland Lake is a very popular camping and boating spot. It’s a beautiful place surround by majestic mountains. That night, I was in for a treat from mother nature; violent thunder and lightening. Of course it rained, and to my surprise my rain fly failed me. Of all places the water dripped, it had to be on my face. I threw my jacket over my face but then I felt that I was suffocating. Finally, I got out of the tent; and getting a good soaking as I arranged my ground cloth over the top of my tent. It worked.
Took highway 83 to Seeley Lake on 8-15-14, where believe it or not, nothing event full happened. I’ll be back in the forest when I leave Seeley Lake.
On 8-16-14 I left Seeley Lake at 8am and didn’t get to Big Nelson Campground until 6pm. I rode through the forest most of the way. I rode 47 miles and gained 2580 feet with a lose of 2060. This campground leaves much to be desired. There’s only 10 camping sites, and two of them, mind being one of them, are situated below the roadway. I had to unpack most of my things on the shoulder of the road and carry them down on these homemade steps cut into the embankment.
Sometime later, the neighbor campers came over with a 32 inch chain saw and an axe. Good thing I wasn’t camping in Texas. They cut up firewood for me and even got the fire going. Also, they brought me a bottle of Kona beer. The next day they came over to carry my bike and trailer up to the roadway. Their names are Paul and Josh. I gave them a free copy of my blog.
It’s 8-17-14 and I’ve been cooped up in a motel room working on the blog. This am I left Big Nelson and rode and also, pushed my bike to get to Lincoln. I had 5 miles of pushing. I met a couple from Spain who are doing the Divide. Now I have left to do is to upload some photos.
Posted by carlpyt On August 12th, 2014
On 8-8-14, I left Eureka for the first leg of the Divide, Tuchuck Campground. I didn’t make it. The map gets 1/2 credit for me taking the wrong road. I was wasted and demoralized and decided to forget about the first three legs and take the highway back to Whitefish and start from there. The third leg finishes in Whitefish anyhow.
I rode back to North Dickey Lake and camped with the Canadian family. Besides riding on their Seadoo they fed me chili dogs with cold beers. We sat around discussing health care systems. They just loved my company. When I got into my sleeping bag, I had an epiphany, don’t ride back to Whitefish, ride to where the wrong turn was made and go the right way.
On 8-9-14, I finished the day’s ride at the Divide’s first destination, Tuchuck Campground. The two mile section before reaching Whitefish Divide was Nasty. I had to push my bike and trailer the whole way. The “road” was steep and paved with loose gravel and rocks that varied in size between potatoes and misshaped cantaloupes. I kid you not. There isn’t a number for the number of times I had to stop to catch my breath. I got a real treat when I reached the top. There was snow lodged in the roots of a fallen tree (results from an avalanche), so I made myself a snow cone with my Powerade. From there it was downhill to the campground. My back didn’t appreciate pushing the bike.
The next day’s ride was from Tuchuck to Red Meadow Lake. It was quite a down hill ride, but it was pay back time with the last two miles, which I had to walk. Actually, the elevation gain was 2190′ and the loss was 1560′.
While at the lake, this guy walks up and asks if I met a man driving an old blue pickup. I said yes, that I met him while I was pushing my bike up Nasty Hill. He then tells me that the man is his father and that his father told him about a guy a year younger than him, who’s riding the Divide. This is incredible, since Nasty Hill lies more than 36 miles and over a mountain from the lake. The son gave me two ice cold sodas and a couple of hot dogs that I would add to my Top Ramen. The cold sodas were heaven sent because I was over heated from pushing the bike.
I’m writing this blog from a bike hostel, Montana Bike Hostel, which is around six miles Southeast of Whitefish in Columbia Falls. I have my own cabin out from the main house which sits on an acre. The place is surrounded by horse farms, the kind one would see in Hidden Valley. I finally got to take a shower. It was 37 degrees this morning when I left Red Meadow Lake. It was an incredible long down hill ride into Whitefish. This should be the last time you see the word Whitefish.
Posted by carlpyt On August 8th, 2014
Much has happened since the last post, negative and positive. I set 8-04-14 as my start date because the flight was $119 while the other dates were between $169 and $179. A week before the start date, I shipped by bike, trailer, camping gear, clothes, etc. to Glacier Cyclery in Whitefish, Montana. I told them to assemble the bike. Just one less thing to worry about. A couple of days before the start date, Glacier Cyclery calls and informs me that while assembling my bike they find that the frame is cracked and can’t be fixed…I need a new bike. They said that they had a bike that I might like. It has 27 1/2 inch wheels and my bike has 26 inch wheels. I did buy new tires (not steel beaded) and tubes for my bike and they couldn’t be switched out.
Talk about uncontrollable anxiety and having, basically, sleepless nights. I thought of all kinds of back up plans, such as, calling another bike store in Kalispell, Mt. This guy was big on 29 inch wheel bikes. That put me into a real spin. On Monday, the day of my flight, I called Keith and he basically, calmed me down by telling me that 27 1/2 inch wheel bikes were what people were buying. 26 inch wheel bikes were old school. He also, informed me that 99% of new bikes did not come with steal beaded tires, which can be can be a nightmare changing…think crow bar, smashed fingers, and lots of cussing.
The flight to Seattle went without a hitch and I got a bonus when Mt. Rainier poked it’s head out through the clouds. Needless to say, I took more than a few photos. I transferred to a crop duster for the flight to Kalispell. I won’t go into any detail, or anything in general, regarding that leg of the trip. I got to my room at Cheap Sleep ($127) at 1am and of course had a fitful night’s sleep thinking about what this bike looked like that they set aside for me. I just hoped it would work out because the thought of renting a car and going to Kalispell to check out their inventory only added to my anxiety.
Glacier Cyclery is about 1 1/2 miles from Cheap Sleep, so picture me walking down the street dragging this old beat up suitcase with a green stripe spray painted across it, so it would be easy to identify. When they brought out the bike, I was more than pleasantly surprised. I took it for a spin and told them “wrap it up”. Actually, they spent most of the day modifying the bike, such as adding the bike computers from my old bike, the seat, and what took a really long time was adapting the rear housing, which was radically different than the housing on my old bike, so it would accept the trailer axle. You know technology, they’re always changing things.
Well, to make along story short, I got out of the bike shop at 2 and was hell bent on riding to Eureka, Mt, 50 miles. It was in the 90′s and pulling this trailer, which was more than fully loaded, was proving more difficult than I thought it would. At around 30 miles I knew I had to find a place to camp, no way could I make it to Eureka, unless it was in an ambulance. I spotted this house with what seemed like an acre of lawn and checked with the owner, who came out of the house looking and acting like Yosomite Sam, about camping on his lawn. His way of saying no was to inform me that there was a campground two miles up the road. Wow! two miles away, no problem, even though it turned out to be five miles.
I was more than happy to see the sign, North Dickey Lake Campground, even though the small sign under it read, “Campground Full”. My plan was to inform the camp host that I had a chronic condition that required immediate attention, which was rest. I didn’t have to say anything because when she saw what I look like, basically, beat to hell she said she has a site for me. Then she brought out from her motor home, fruit, candy, crackers, and lots of cold water, even a cold wet towel for my head. In no time I felt 100%, well actually, 60% better.
The site she had for me was on the side of a hill, so I didn’t know how I would get my bike and trailer up there. Just then, the direct neighbor of the host said he had a tent site that he wasn’t using because he had his trailer. He and his family are from Canada and they were very gracious. Before leaving to visit their friends in another camp site they left me several slices of pizza and two can of beer.
To fully recover from the beating I took today, I decided to stay another day at Dickey Lake. The next day I did go for a short bike ride minus the trailer to have a late breakfast at this cafe I was told about. After breakfast I hung around the lake and eventually, went swimming to cool down. It’s still in the 90′s.
Today, which is 8-07-14, I rode to the U.S./Canadian border, the official start of the Great Divide Route. I rode ten miles on the route, which is a paved road, that went through ranch land and had a couple of nasty hills. The route took me back through Eureka. It was around noon and it was hot and I was next to this motel so I decided to treat myself to a room as opposed to camping in a city park. Next to the room, was a Subway with wifi and I spent more than a few hours working on this blog, downloading and editing photos and having to redo part of the blog because I hit the wrong button and things disappeared. You know computers. Tomorrow, I’ll be heading to the backwoods, so the blog will be on hold for a while.
Posted by carlpyt On July 17th, 2014
Following are some photos of previous tours:
1. 1984 Simi Valley, CA to New Amsterdam, New York. Twenty eight days of riding. Two lay over days. No bike computer so I don’t know the mileage. Over 3,000 is a good estimate.
2. 1990 Seattle, WA to San Diego, CA.
3. 1994 Northridge, CA to Boston, MA. When I arrived in Boston and checked into a fancy hotel the first thing I saw when I turned on the TV was a white Bronco being followed by a phalanx of black and whites.
4. 2001 Round trip from Altadena, CA to Fairbanks, AK. A total of 7,000+ miles and almost 5 months.
5. 2009 Yorktown, VA to Florence, Oregon. 4,300 miles and 3 months.
All my tours were solo except for 2009. See group photo below. There are several selfies, although not technically selfies, they were taken of me by me: Drinking from a mug; Eating on a Victoria, BC hotel balcony; Hiding from the rain in a storm drain; On the road to Haines, Alaska; and Crossing the Ohio river on a ferry is technically a genuine selfie.
Click on any image to enlarge it. Some of the text is difficult to read but pops right out when enlarged.
Posted by carlpyt On July 16th, 2014
I get periodic rushes of anxiety thinking about the ride and all the things that I need to take care of. One thing I feel good about is that I’m doing the miles on the bike, not long miles, but miles in the San Gabriel mountains which face my front door. First thing after this post is to make a to do list.
A question that people ask: why? Well, I remember the excitement and feeling of adventure listening to this runner, at one of the numerous races I ran, relating to me how he and his brother cycled across the United States: the sights they saw, the places they stayed, like, city parks, churches, even a jail cell, and the people they met. Sometime later, maybe more than a few months, I developed intense pain in my left achilles that wouldn’t go away, and this affected my emotional state, because I was running since I was 34 and I was now 44. Long distance running was in my bones. Sometime in September, 1983, the story about cycling across the U.S. surfaced in my mind and it didn’t take but more than a moment to decide that I was going to make that ride.
Once, that decision was made, I was pumped. I bought a bike from a guy I worked with and started training on the bike with the same kind of schedule that I used in training for running races. I started by riding a few miles at low intensity and on flat roads. I slowly increased the miles and intensity with higher gears and with hills thrown in. I alternated with a hard day and then with easy days for recovery. My goal was to leave Simi Valley on June, 1 and arrive in New Amsterdam, New York June, 30, where a staff member I used to worked with move. I also, dumped old Betsy and bought a brand new touring bike, and what a difference that made. Part of my training was to eventually, ride a 100 miles in one day each week, in addition to the miles I was putting in on the other days. I reached that goal but don’t remember when. I had eight months to train, and each month’s total mileage steadily increased to 300, 400, 500, and up to where I rode 1,000 miles for the month of May.
A big question is, how does one choose a route to bike across the U.S.? I picked up numerous state maps and I knew to avoid the Interstates and large cities, and then basically, designing a route based on the places that I wanted to visit: first, was the Grand Canyon, next, was my aunt’s home in La Veta, Colorado, then my uncle’s farm in Ashley, Illinois After leaving his farm, I checked out more state maps and chose what I thought was the most direct route to New Amsterdam. At times, I would ask some local which would be the best road and what roads to avoid. I camped at camp grounds, and when there weren’t any and I was far from civilization, I would pull far off the highway and camp in a field. Besides staying at my relatives, I stayed with a few kind strangers who invited me for dinner, a shower, use of their washing machine, sleeping in a bed, and having breakfast before hitting the road. I also, stayed at a few motels, the cheapest being $15. I never stayed in a jail cell, but I did camp in a cemetery in Chalmars, Indiana, where in the middle of the night, thunder boomed and lightening flashed, illuminating the head stones.
I reached my goal, flying (riding) by the seat of my pants. There were some good days and there were some bad days, but overall, it was truly an adventure.