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.

...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.