Monday, July 7, 2014

it's just too much

Montana and Alice had been keeping a steady half-day distance behind me for almost a week after I somehow managed to accrue small buffers over time.  Their pressure was solid, never waiving, and kept me searching for cell service more than food.  I hadn't seen Montana in days, and Alice since day one, but I knew well they are both very strong and sly, almost menacing.

Late into yesterday's evening, with three storms converging from the east and fifty miles of desert to supplies and beds, we had taken refuge in the eve of a church.  Getting wrapped up in the beginning of monsoon season in the desert is not something either of us wanted to add to the evening's tasks, so with compass in hand, wet fingers in the air, we worked trajectories for the meteorological risk assessment analysis.  The conclusion, grab a couple hours sleep and be pedaling at 3:00am for the push to Grants.

We slept until 5:30.

They were 17 miles away.

My legs still pounding after the time trial to Pie Town, a belly stuffed full of bacon burger, apple pie, coffee, and chocolate ice cream, I quickly followed David searching the food bins at the Toaster House for anything to garnish tomorrow's lunch: another bacon burger and apple pie in my bag.  Grabbing a package of crackers, exchanging thank yous, hand shakes, and smiles after the last couple days of battling this dragon together, I bolted out the door to try and push my lead a few miles more as David chose to get some R and R before the next day's one hundred and eighty mile push.

Switching on the light, the blood wrung from my leg like rope burn as the first pedal stroke plunged me into the darkness.  Up and over the top of the hill, the rattle of the cattle guard tolled the end of civilization, as well as the impending suffer fest just ahead.  I looked up at the sky, and with more stars than night, I began the search for a rhythm in my cadence. 

This is not going to be fun.  Putting my head down and plowing out another twenty or thirty, just to wake up on the ground looking at a hundred and fifty more before resupply of any kind?  I'm packed well for this second to last day, with no issues in simply leaving at any time without warning.  There is just over three hundred miles left to cover until the border, and unless something catastrophic happened, no matter what, I'll finish day after tomorrow.  Friday, without a doubt, it will be all over, I'll be out of these clothes and eating food from a plate.  I don't have to do this.

What am I thinking?

The loud snap of clipless engagement announced the stomp back into the pedal, and the cool air began to move over me again.

As the kinetic energy of three pedal strokes began to fade, I'm standing, looking again to the sky.  I'm done racing.  The cacophony of anxiety, pressure, pain, fear, elation, every emotion you can imagine, all of it, I'm done.

Moments later, back at the Toaster House, I explained that I was going to wait for them, to thank them for their unintended gift, driving me beyond what I believe was attainable.  Every day they insured I left it all out there, some to the point my legs gave out forcing to bivy literally at the day's last pedal stroke.  It was awesome.  I had no idea of what I was capable of, and they showed me, and for that I will for ever be grateful.  My plan was to ask them to ride with me to the end, for a three way single speed tie for first place, and with Max and David, there would be five of us to celebrate our grand success in a sweeping ninth place group finish.

That's when David handed me a cold can of High Life.  Seems the fridge had two cases of beer in it, and the freezer was stuffed full of frozen pizza.

We had already won.


Sunday, May 4, 2014

jumping off the cliff.

Well, I'm finally riding, not so much racing, the Tour Divide, and the final preparations are being made...



...and with this, I am straight up asking you to support Ride for Reading with your wallet.  Yeah, books are important, volunteers are important, but there are always costs, and a little can go a long way.  To make it easier on you, and harder on me, you can make a donation per mile I ride, or just throw down a pile of money without making me do math for all 2745 miles and 200,000 feet of climbing, from Banff Alberta Canada to Antelope Wells New Mexico, off road, through the Rockies.

http://www.adventurecycling.org/default/assets/Image/Routes_Maps/Overviews/Great_Divide_Mountain_Bike_Route.gif

...just so you know, a nickel per mile is about $130.

100% of your tax deductible donation goes to Ride for Reading.

All of it.

I'm not taking one penny.

Click here to make your donation.


If you need more persuasion, keep on reading, because you can.
 
So why the hell should you pony up your hard earned cash?

Reading is a fundamental tool of life, much like fire.  We didn't always have fire, and when we didn't, it probably wasn't an uncommon occurrence to wake up to the screams of your bed buddy being dragged from the pile o' slumber for an evening treat.  Reading is just as important.  If you don’t know how to read, then how do you decipher the hieroglyphics warning you about the beast in that cave you’re planning to move you and the Frankenbrow clan into this afternoon?  You can’t decipher them because you can't read, so you’re lunch.  But we don't have to worry about those carnivorous, Bic lighters are everywhere. 

Unfortunately illiterate children and adults are as well.

Who knows what brilliant and beautiful minds have never been unlocked from the blindness of what might as well be blank pages staring them in the face every time they crack a spine.  With only one age appropriate book for every three hundred American children, fostering the fundamentals and building the skills to digest literature, schematics, or even street signs is becoming more and more difficult every day.  The loss of potential is staggering, and education on a whole is suffering.

Ride for Reading is changing this.  Their mission is helping children in low-income areas become healthy and literate.  What started in a living room in Nashville Tennessee has grown into an energized and passionate behemoth of hundreds of cyclists literally handing a brighter future to underprivileged children.  In just the last few years, Ride for Reading, along with local volunteers, have placed more than 120,000 books into the excited hands and imaginative minds of children throughout the United States, and we’re just getting started.  During Ride for Reading week, we will have nearly 1,000 volunteers in 32 cities and 16 states donating almost 60,000 books in just a few days.

Check it out.




You do understand, right?  Free books, personally delivered to children from people in their community, and it is all done on bicycles. 

Don't forget the bicycle advocacy element.

You see, every time a volunteer helps a child choose their book, this child is having a healthy, positive interaction with a local cyclist.  They are sharing this experience with a volunteer that is investing in their community through these children, and this person is showing them that we, as a collective group of cyclists, truly care and believe in them and in their potential.  We know that this one book can be the first steps toward a path that leads to great success, not only as a real, tangible investment into the future of the local community, it is also the most astounding and beautiful cycling advocacy I have ever witnessed in my life...

because one day they will be the one behind the wheel of the car passing you.

Here again is the link where you can make a donation to Ride for Reading.

Thanks in advance, that is unless you do nothing.

Monday, April 8, 2013

happy monday you heathens

this has been one mother fucker of a trip.  almost every night was spent sleeping under the stars, seeing some of America i never knew existed, and meeting awesome people everywhere i go.  falling face first into the love that is cycling's heart.  ...and rediscovering mountain biking on a cruiser frame (thank you again Ralph) rolling rigid on big balloon ass 26'ers.  and i've been lucky to always hook up with a local or crew.

meet this kid.

he's been riding his dad's Marin, just shredding on, well, you know... what you ride when yer riding in california.  something designed by people who live there.  when i noticed the pedals as willing to work with my cleats, i almost asked.


so he decided just a couple weeks ago, after getting his masters and before his kick ass internship, at 22 years old, mountain biking is more fun than the years of road riding.  yeah.  well i ran into him while lost at La Costa outside of Carlsbad.  the trail is just a couple miles from the beach, or just a little farther if you can't afford to sleep on the beach.  basically you should ride there, and look for the dude handing out asses on his dad's old sled, eating shit, and jumping right back in.

i was also afforded the opportunity at trying not to die chasing some dude on a 6" travel 29'er, which almost looked something almost like this... never mind trying to get a shot off.



Randy brought another opportunity on the way north.  the Inland Empire.  bring yer dual slalom bike.


i can not remember all the people's names because i'm an ass, plus we spent more time chatting about rides and drinking beer than anything else.  i know they did a 24 minute race, and it's in their second year.  but all the locals smiled and chatted it up on the climb all the way to the top.  then back to the truck in a quarter of that time.

all i can say is its out there people, all of it.  go get it.  turn off your nightlight babysitter and go do cool shit, not matter what your kind of fun is.  now

in other news, $50 a night to camp on the beach, or in any park in california whether it's on the beach or not, never mind they all get booked up months in advance, or random roads get closed whenever because of whatever.  gunna need to invest in some paper BLM maps here shortly, the ones with marked roads.  this is getting stupid.  thanks internet.  do you not go outside?

other than that, buncha driving the last couple days, i took a bunch of pics from the truck, as that was the majority of today.  but they're from the truck, and i ain't into trucks, i just drive one.  so enjoy this pic i took at Pacific Coast Cycles.  it's softer on the eyes.



Friday, April 5, 2013

Van Halen sounds better in California

so much has happened in the last 72 hours that i can not even begin to unwind the tentacles of memory enough to put them together into a constant stream of thought.  the final night in phoenix started innocently enough...


and ended looking exactly like this...


i would like to give Dirty and crew a heartfelt thank you for the wonderful tuesday night that allowed me to wake up drunk, sober up packing, and eating a 4000 calorie, heart clogging breakfast to keep me full and soak up what needed to be sponged out of my gut in order to allow me to drive to our next destination.

as we had no plan other than no plan, a quick pull off the interstate to jump behind a bush to take a piss brought us to the fact that between us and the Salton Sea was National Wilderness.  which means camping bliss.  basically leave it the way you found it and all is good.  so not only is it free, it is as primitive as it gets, and as far as i am concerned one couldn't ask for more.


a quick jaunt through the Wilderness Area brought us to a vast body of water that could easily be mistaken for a "real" sea.  that was until the doors of the truck opened and the familiar aroma of Atlantic City filled my olfactory glands.  "The Sea was created by a flood in 1905, in which water from the Colorado River flowed into the area."  and it is as salty as Quint.  as beautiful and stunning it is to the eyes, the flavor permeates to the point you can taste it.  a shoreline riddled with the mummified remains of fish bathing atop large swaths of sand made of scales and bones.




i have to admit it was an amazing thing to behold, and with every reason to never visit in the first place, i am glad i did.  and as always, when you visit any natural wonder be sure to leave it better than you found it.


with the sun beginning it's drop below the horizon, it was time to motor back up to find a place to camp, eat dinner, and relax before the final push west to the point the adventure begins moving north.





one rested and rehibilitated from the last night in Phoenix (yes, it took two nights sleep), it was back on to not the interstate for the final leg of following the sun.

the climb up this mountain pass was so amazing, and every single person on a bicycle working their way up the thousand plus foot ascent had no idea how jealous i was watching them grind out the climb while my big toe gently nestled the accelerator keeping the truck at around 35mph with literally zero effort.  this is the type of climb where you earn the descent, and it is worth every ounce of strength.



once over the pass and through the southern California desert and pines,the road lumbered along thin lanes and over small passes until the final drop down until my feet planted a few inches into negative elevation gain.  the ocean air is one of the most cleansing things i have ever enjoyed, and with the theme music of the mountain pass still ringing in my head, i engulfed it as heavy as i could.



Friday, March 29, 2013

if you wanna screw a goat, and the goat is into it, i support that

it's good friday.  but every friday is a good friday.  i like tuesdays as well.  in fact, tuesday seems to be THE pivotal day for me for some stupid reason.  maybe it's the fact that for so long, like years and years, my day off was tuesday.  so going out on a monday night to party like it's 1994 seemed to make sense to me, however many of my drink.ride. buds that went along seemed to suffer much more greatly at the hand of doom than i.


1994.  fuck.  that was some shit.  that was my own personal heyday year of hedonism, drinking nothing but coffee and booze for days on end, and sometimes waking up somewhere strange missing a shoe and walking back to where ever i happened to be hoarding up that week fuzzy and half blind.  seems no matter how hard i try, 1994 is who i am.  guess maybe that was the pinnacle of reckless abandon in my life and i've tried as hard as i can to hold onto it like a cop after a doughnut.

and that's why these things happen less than two hours after i show up for the party...  almost every time.


but my life phee-lo-soffee (which is much like Cee Lo Green without the marketing) is simple:

if everyone is cool about it, then everyone will be cool about it.


see, nobody got hurt.  sure, this dude was only doing his job, and the fact that we kinda launched off the curb right in front of him is why he did his job. if i was riding my motorbike and some punk fuck pulled some shit like that, i'd probably get in their face and offer an ass whipping, which is much differnt that a warning ticket and a laugh at his expense.  there were others breaking laws right in front of us, and we were pointing it out, but The Man does, and the Dude Abides.

and i'll tell you what, being cool about gives great opportunities like one bud in Pittsburgh telling you that you need to know someone that lives in Tucsony and it turns into this.


 
apparently here in the desert there is only one way to pose for a picture, especially when the dude hauling your slow and out of shape ass around his home trail has convinced you to ride flat pedals on a single speed when he's pushing gears and clickity pedals.  there was no fuckin' way i could have even thought about getting a pic on the move considering the knives spires spears shivs and bayonets lining the trail.  then again, maybe that was punishment for not being ready at all in any way shape or form when it was time to go.

some more people being cool about is the High School Mountain Bike Association.  and wouldn't you know it, they were having a shin dig here that coincided coincidentally with my visit.  as always, we rolled in to the premiere just in time for the credits.


be certain to watch this movie when you can and tell me about it cuz i missed it, and support these people being cool about it.

so there you go on yer good friday, with a little inspirational speech from yer unkle dan.  go out into the world and be cool about it. and get drunk and others drunk, cuz i'm gunna and maybe we can do that together...

Thursday, March 28, 2013

missiles and gypsum

White Sands National Monument in New Mexico is where the government tests war machines.  missiles, stealth fighters, you know... all that kinda shit.  it is also one of the most beautiful places i have even been in my life.  i really dig the desert, and this is as deserted as it gets.

the blinding white sand (which is actually gypsum) feels like snow beneath your feet, and it always seemed to feel cool, even in the heat of mid day.  it never stuck to anything.  as in you could fall down and roll around, get up, shake yourself off, and you would be pretty much clean as a whistle.  the campsite was about a mile hike unto the desert, and after the wind storm in the middle of the night, there was no argument as to why you were not allowed to camp on top of the dunes.

shortly after sunset, planes started taking off form the military base near by, which continued until the following morning.  shortly after 10:00pm, a huge blast shattered the still, followed by a grand explosion that could only be a missile test.  not many things make me nervous, but this was a hell of a jolt.

...and the sunset was as an indescribable spectacular light show that rivaled anything i have even seen.  if you have the chance to visit this place, you better.