Trip Summary

Day 52: 2929 miles completed, 8 states, 7 flat tires, 4 flat mattresses, 40 new friends and Bruce #1, 8 rest days

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Day 24: Out of the Desert

We were greeted by a warmer than normal morning, but overcast. We had seen the forecast and it was supposed to be near 90 again, so a lot more people than normal started out shortly after breakfast around 7:30. The day was completely overcast as we stopped for lunch at the recommended Rudy’s BBQ in Del Rio. By the time we came out, it was sunny and humid. After a quick stop at Wal Mart for additional provisions, we spent the rest of the day fighting heat and headwind, but we made it another 70-something miles.

We are overlapping some days with the Womens Tour riders who are also going cross country. Bubba invited them to join us at our camp for an ice cream social. We had met several of them already, but we had time to talk more. They have 3 riders from New Zealand, 1 from Australia and England and a couple from Madison, WI.

They are talking about storms blowing thru tonight here in Bracketville,so we are heading to bed and hope to have a pleasant, quiet night. We’re sleeping in cabins for the next 2 nights with an off day but still have to ride 70+ miles tomorrow!

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Day 23: Ups and Downs

Our day was literally filled with ups and downs. It started with a rear tire that was down. This was our first flat tire of the trip. A piece of steel belt from a radial tire pierced the tire during the ride yeste4day, but it didn’t flat until this morning.

Then our eighty mile ride was through the rolling hills of Texas. The entire day was a series of uphill followed by a downhill; repeat 50 times. And it got warm, almost 90 degrees. Although our elevation did not vary much throughout the day we climbed almost 3000 feet and descended 4000 feet. It was a veritable roller coaster.

We would have missed the hottest part of the day as we had planned, but our front tire developed a small bulge due to a small cut. We are very lucky that it didn’t blow out on one of the speedy descents. That would have been a big problem. Our mechanic, Chandler, swapped out the old for a brand new tire and we were off. Although an hour behind schedule.

The scariest part of the day for me was crossing the Pecos River Bridge. Not a fan of bridges and we were going 20 mph with a small shoulder and crosswinds. I was praying for no semis to pass. A few had brushed us during the day and I didn’t want to wrestle the tandem in their wake, so close to the edge.

Back at camp we enjoyed our Easter Dinner of ham, au gratin potatoes, spinach salad,and coconut cake.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Day 22: Start Week Four

Today’s ride was uneventful and rather short, only 53 miles. ONLY, who thought we would ever say that? The only other ride statistic worthy of mention is that we experienced a tailwind for the majority of the ride – first time in a week.

Over the last week, with a few notable exceptions I have been amazed at the nothingness along the route. The desert is deserted, go figure. So much our riding has been completed in these isolated conditions that we make sure to notice the occasional deer along the road, seemingly wild horse, vulture circling, or cattle grazing. That is just the price to be paid between the glimpses of true natural beauty.

In Big Bend, there is a rock formation called Mule’s Ears, and if you stand in just the right spot, the photo of you looks as if you have mule’s ears–see in the photo above?

We got a special treat last night when a supervisor for the Sanderson Unit of the US Border Patrol gave us a tour of the USBP building–Thank you Santiago! Unlike some of the bigger units, this agency has only 60 agents to cover hundreds of miles of border and very little high-tech equipment that bigger units get–no helicopter, no night vision surveillance, etc., just some dedicated agents (just 1 woman among them at the moment, but she gets the locker room to herself!) tracking and watching and patrolling with ATVs, pickups, etc. Last night they made an apprehension of several people who were being run through their system.

Sometimes Border Patrol vehicles are the only vehicles that we see for hours while we are out on the road, so they have become a familiar companion on our journey.

Some time during the night, the Easter Bunny snuck in and left us all eggs filled with candy and a tiny Easter Bunny. We showed our gratitude by letting her hitch a ride on our tandem for the day–a bicycle built for 3!

Happy Easter everyone!!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Day 21: Big Bend

Our third rest day was anything but restful. Our host, Bubba, provides additional excursions in the evenings and on non-biking days. They are always entertaining, but sometimes we just need to rest and we have opted out of the evening adventures. This is also when we get the blogging done, if we have internet access, which we have not had for the last two days.

We spent a full day traveling to and enjoying Big Bend National Park. The scenery was magnificent, but indescribable. You had to be there!

More photos available on Lisa Arndt’s Facebook page.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Day 20: Easier Marathon

Finally we had another joyful riding day (52 miles) into Marathon, TX. The winds were more favorable and the route was shorter and the weather warmed up nicely. We had several things happen along the way which added to the enjoyment.

First about 6 miles out of Alpine, we looked over into a field and this beautiful little deer raised her head up and watched us curiously as we biked by. The scenery from Marfa to Alpine was gorgeous, many more full-grown trees, greenery and these waves of purple flowers that I do not know the name of, but they filled the air around them with a beautiful perfume.

 In Alpine, we stopped at a bakery famous for their cinnamon rolls. Since we had just sampled some of Bubba’s that he generously shared, we opted for a muffin with cranberries and raspberries and a warm pecan roll–delicious. We joined Mark for our treat and were talking biking, etc. As we got up to leave, a lovely older lady sitting by herself asked me (Lisa) if I was really biking all the way to FL’ and when I said yes, she touched my hand and looked straight in my eyes and smiled as she said “I’m so proud of you!” It made my day!

Under the TMI category, sometimes when you bike for miles in the middle of no where, nature calls. Now Bubba does his best to bring his camper on days like this to make it available for the women on the tour, and I LOVE that he does this, but sometimes you have to go out in the “wild.” The picture here was at one of those nature breaks. Two things you should know about this: First, the more times you do this outdoors, the less modest you get (because frankly no one really cares) and ,second, if you have to potty outside, you could have much less beauty around you in an indoor bathroom!!

One last highlight from Marathon–we had a visitor before we went to bed, a javelina or wild pig,visited camp–FYI, apparently the accepted name is javelina or peccary. He visited camp but was unsuccessful in getting in, However at 3 AM, apparently 3 of these creatures were roaming around camp! No one even would have known except Mark got up to take his dog Dusty outside and found them–Dusty did not see them. All part of communing with nature!!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Day 19: Thousand Milestone

 We have completed over a thousand miles of riding, so far.

Another 70+ mile day with a shifting headwind / crosswind. To make the ride a little more daunting, the last 20 miles was on “chip seal”, very rough road. Our bodies are still rattling. We completed the last twenty miles without stopping. This being the fourth consecutive day with headwinds, I wanted a break, but Lisa said she felt good and didn’t need a break. Being a male, I wasn’t going to be the one that needed to rest.

Once we got to camp we were greeted with an open air shower. They designer or construction crew had a shortage of lumber. The walls were only neck high with inches between the boards. Ours even had a vertical gap which allowed a line of sight into our shower, which Lisa covered with our towels, and allowed a cool breeze.

Dinner was my favorite dish, paella. We passed on the optional trip to view the Marfa Lights. Lisa stopped at the Prada store located in the middle of nowhere (Valentine, TX).
Note: We are back in the central time zone, until we midway through Florida.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Day 18: Another Hard Day

It seemed the farther we went today the harder it got; there was a relentless headwind and no one nearby to draft with. We hardly saw anyone all day except Mark and Stretch, then later Bruce1. We met up with Bruce when we nearly made a wrong turn; we were following instructions that told us to do 2 things that would have been impossible and our electronic map was telling us we were off the route.

We kept going rather than turn back, and good thing because the SAG was also out of place and we ran into them and nearly hugged them we were so happy to see them. Bruce came down the road next with a very similar story to ours, so more arrows were laid down for the remaining riders.

We came into camp in Van Horne,TX,and the chefs Ann and Shawn, had a snack of sushi waiting for us. Jeff even got a few made just for him because he is not a fan of the kelp wrap! The snack was a prelude to Asian night, so the menu was stir fry chicken and stir fry beef, Asian noodles, fried rice and homemade egg rolls, topped off with chocolate chip/walnut cookies as big as your head, lemon bars and sugar cookies–life is so hard at camp!!

There are some friendly horses right next to the camp, so we spent some time just petting and watching them before heading off to bed. Tomorrow another 74 miles, please no head wind for a change and maybe warmer so don’t look like a bunch of hobos on bikes, all covered with every piece of clothing we have and covered from our eyes to our toes. Apparently, camp tomorrow night in Marfa will be quite interesting…hopefully the blog will be also!

Goodnight for today–we entered a new time zone again today!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Day 17: Cone of Silence

We are preparing to leave El Paso this morning on our way to Fort Hancock (population 1700), referenced in Shawshank Redemption.

We will be traveling through some remote parts of Western Texas. We will probably have cell service thanks to Verizon network, but blog and facebook updates may not be possible. So we may be incommunicado for a few days.

We have had Verizon cell service when all other providers have been unavailable. Once again, Thank You Verizon!!

Since our day’s ride was a short 58 miles and we were staying in a hotel, we slept in and didn’t leave until 9am. It wouldn’t have been a hard day, however once again we had a headwind. We opted not to participate in a pace line,took our time, and fought the wind for the first 48 miles. I was exhausted, not sure what Lisa thinks, but I prefer the benefit of drafting. We had to be “pulled” in by our fellow riders the last ten miles. Thank you Mark,who found after we were in for the day that he had a flat tire! Lisa had a better day today, adding shoe covers and extra gloves helped a lot. From Lisa, I don’t mind drafting, it takes a lot of concentration though and you end up in the saddle pedaling constantly, those are the drawbacks.

As we approached the last sag\food stop at mile 48, I noticed something blue and glimmering. It looked like water. I must be hallucinating because we have been biking through the desert and haven’t seen any significant bodies of water in weeks. It disappeared as we passed a grove of pecan trees and rounded a corner.

To our surprise it was a lake, a man-made lake to retain water for irrigating their pecan trees. This little area is famous for its pecan tree groves and we talked to local grove owner at lunch who said they were worried about the crop budding properly if it stayed cold much longer.

We are back to tent camping tonight—brrrr–its supposed to be in the mid 30s tonight again; extra clothing handy and stocking caps on our heads and wool socks on our feet and hands too!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Day 16: Now Entering Texas

Our stay in New Mexico was short. One day’s riding was very enjoyable with perpetual tailwinds. The second day of riding, today, was not so enjoyable.

We experienced headwinds all the way to El Paso. Lisa rode in her first pace line and wasn’t overly excited because we couldn’t take our usual stretch breaks. That, in combination with the 36 degree temperature at the started made it a hard day, her worst day so far. It was more like riding in Wisconsin; it was about 42 when we stopped for lunch. Jeff kept assuring me the pace line was easier than doing it alone, but I was literally in tears for most of the way before lunch.

Remember how confident I said I was yesterday? Today my thoughts initially were “What made me think I could do this?” I felt miserable and sad, but I told myself even if I let Jeff or any of the pace line (Pat,”Stretch”–who is my biggest cheerleader out here, and sometimes Mark who is the fastest cyclist in the group) know that I was wiping away tears as we rode, there was nothing they could do to help me. They could not turn up the temperature. I decided to just tough it out and get to the city of El Paso as quick as possible.

Changing my mental attitude had a promising effect on my outlook–it did not make me any warmer, my fingers and toes were still numb, but here I sit tonight in a warm hotel room and feel satisfied the day is behind us. Tomorrow we get to sleep in, we’ll have much of the same weather, but most riding will be urban through El Paso, and Bubba wants us to try to avoid the rush hour traffic,so should get a good night’s rest before going back to the tents tomorrow night in the bustling metropolis of Ft Hancock.

Although our stay was brief, the people of New Mexico left a lasting impression. They enhanced our experience. We will remember them for their generosity, friendliness, and helpfulness. The mayor of Columbus said that she is always amazed at how little the people have,but how much they have to give. Now we know where our Albuquerque (NM) puppy raiser, Dusty, gets it from

We crossed the Rio Grande via a bridge, to enter Texas, although we probably could have ridden our bike through it. Drought has hit this area so hard and we have yet to see a body of water yet. We hope they
fair better this spring and summer with rainfall.

We will now spend the next three weeks navigating our way through this humongous state.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Day 15: South of the Border

Two weeks ago we began our journey in San Diego. Our second rest day provides an opportunity to look back, look forward, and recharge.

The mountains of California and Arizona are behind us and the plains of Texas begin next week. We are beginning week #3 of a trip we never thought we could take. We are beginning to feel like we can do this–actually Jeff being an athlete is always the more confident, I am the one who has to fight off the little voices in my head that tell me I do not belong in an event that requires athleticism and endurance; every day I tell myself I did it yesterday and I can do it tomorrow too. Frigid nights at altitude will be replaced with hot and humid nights. The trepidation of climbing has evolved into confidence, while a concern of riding into the headwinds of Texas creates worry.

We have spent our rest day relaxing in Pancho Villa State Park while learning about his historic expeditions and learning about rattlesnakes. The afternoon was spent resting after our lunch at the Pink Store, South of the Border in Palomas, Mexico. In addition to recharging our muscles, we need to recharge mentally. Remembering all the support from friends and family provide both inspiration and confidence, that’s our friend Steve above showing his “proud sponsor” P4P t-shirt. We are also thankful for our new friends of the C2C ride.

The tailwinds that carried us from Rodeo to Columbus have turned into a dust storm. Visibility has been reduced to less than a quarter mile and has provided each of us with a mouthful of sand-like debris. A red flag warning with wind speeds gusting up to 50 mph will be in effect until 8pm. Thankful our lodging has been moved indoors, prior year’s groups camped at the state park. Hoping that conditions improve for our ride into El Paso tomorrow.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Day 14: Lisa’s Century

Prior to our trip, Lisa’s longest bike ride was about 33 miles. The route to Columbus, New Mexico (pop.1800) was just under one hundred miles. In cycling circles, this is the classic Century. In preparation we awoke well before sunrise and hit the road as soon as it and we were visible. This enabled us to get a few photos of the sun rising over the mountains and allowed us to complete our 100 miles before dinner.

We didn’t need to worry because we had a strong tailwind (25 mph) for almost the entire distance. We were racing downhill and cruising uphill with our air assistance. Without a speedometer, we had to estimate our speeds. Near the end Lisa tracked the time between mile markers and we were close to 2 minutes per mile (30 mph). Needless to say we didn’t need to leave so early as we pulled into camp at 2 pm. We turned directly into the wind for the final 1.2 miles. This last stretch took us about ten minutes (6 mph).

Tomorrow we all get a well-deserved day off, which means we can sleep in until 8 AM breakfast and then visit Pancho Villa state park and then head about 2 blocks over the border to visit a friendly cantina–first margarita is free!

What Lisa keeps saying is “I can’t believe I’m doing this!” It is truly an experience most people will not get to partake in but one which has already been amazing–the fact that we are also doing this for our near and dear charity, makes it all the more sweet!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Day 13: Two Down, Five To Go

Even the most wonderful technology, which was provided for our trip by Verizon, isn’t much use when the town only acquired cell service two weeks ago.We were able to make phone calls with our Samsung Note 2, however, we could not upload any information to FaceBook or the blog. So we have double duty today.

Our bike ride out of Bisbee took us downhill through the winding streets, past the Lavender Mine (copper) and then another wicked fast descent for 23 miles into Douglas. There we grabbed some Mexican “pan dulce” from La Unica Bakery.

The remaining 54 miles included an uphill segment for 30 miles and a downhill out of Arizona as we entered our third state, New Mexico. Our riders and staff essentially doubled the population of Rodeo.

After our Greek themed dinner, which included stuffed grape leaves and spanakopita, Bubba had arranged two guest speakers. The first was a border patrol agent who shared his perspective and stories. We had observed severaof his fellow agents apprehend a group of illegals aswe biked by in the afternoon. The second shared the history of the Apache tribe and their most famous medicine man,Geronimo, who surrendered near Rodeo. Note that Geronimo was never a chief of the Apache.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Day 12: Summit

Today we climbed to the highest elevation for the trip. It’s all downhill from here. The climb seemed harder than the climbs on days 1 and 2 in CA, maybe because we “slept in” this AM til 7 and it was warmer by the time we made the climb, or maybe it was just a harder climb, hard to tell. It was a short day, only 24 miles, so we were able to explore the eclectic town of Bisbee. We had some delay in getting to camp though since there was a brush fire right across the road from our camp so the local fire dept kept our setup crew from entering until they were sure it was contained.

After a quick shower and change, the group visited a must-see for cyclists, the Bisbee Bicycle Bordello–it is as interesting as it sounds. The shop is chock full of incredible old bicycles, photographs and memorabilia from years of collecting. Prices were more than reasonable,but alas, we left empty handed.

Next on the agenda was dinner. We found a place called Poco and enjoyed a wonderfully fresh and flavorful Mexican dinner. While we were eating, a pretty little fellow patron came up to us and asked us about the Coast 2 Coast gear we were wearing. It turns out she and her husband who are now a youthful looking 75, had done their own self-contained C2C trip from CA to FL sometime ago and also had done Seattle where they live to CA and were looking for another C2C. It also turns out they are also tandem riders! We told her about Bubba’s Pampered Peddlers and she nearly signed up right there! When Jeff told her I had quit my job to take the trip, she thought that was fantastic and said”you go girl…you have to stop to smell the roses, life is too short!” Words to live by

Monday, March 18, 2013

Day 11: Tombstone

Last evening’s dinner was seafood lasagne with real garlic bread followed by pineapple upside down cake. Even with all the biking that we do, I have not been losing weight. Hopefully, there is a redistribution process underway.

We started our eleventh day as soon as possible again in anticipation of climbing 2000 feet during the first 24 miles. This was to be followed by 40 miles of flat/downhill, and an 8 mile uphill finish. And we had to be at the HOTEL, showered, and changed by 4:45 to go to the OK Corral for a gunfight. I was nervous that we might struggle.

The ride began and we passed Tucson Raceway. Next a roadrunner shot across the road in front of our bike. Not sure if that means good luck or bad, only time would tell. It was not looking good a mile later when Lisa developed a foot cramp causing us to pause for stretching, electrolyte replacement,and new shoe adjustment. Shortly after that the climb began. It took us four hours, including many stops, to traverse the initial 24 miles to reach the summit (mile high) before lunch.
Only four and three quarters hours for the final 48 miles. Not to worry, the next forty miles were the best of the trip so far. A moderate downhill allowed us to average 20 mph and we reached the hotel by 3:00. Plenty of time to enjoy our private bath – simple pleasures.

Tourist Information: A trolley took us into Tombstone where we attended a gunfight comedy show and went on a ghost tour of the town’s haunted sites, including Boot Hill Cemetery. Dinner at the Crystal Palace and then a trolley ride home. Each of Bubba’s guests was provided cowboy attire as not to stand out (or to standout). Either way everyone had a good time.

P.S. We had snow today also. At least we saw it on the mountain peaks.

Hotel room, sleeping in a bed with a private shower. I thought that I must have died and gone to heaven.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Day 10: Scenic Tucson

Another cold night in the mountains. Just my observation, but it appears that there is an inverse relationship between the temperature and the number of rest room visits during the night. Colder temp meant four potty breaks after hydrating all day.

The route was scheduled for 40 miles and for the second consecutive day we remained on course. Low mileage and only a few hundred feet of climbing resulted in a leisurely ride around Tucson. Even after a long lunch, we ended up back at camp by 1 pm. This gave us time to create a cacti photo gallery. There are an amazing variety in this area of Arizona and 1 more interesting than the other.

We did ride through some road construction. The drivers were very courteous and 3 of us received a “police escort” for a portion when a police car slowed traffic for us;Thank you Tuscon PD!

As we were making our way through town, we heard some bicycles approaching from behind. They called us by name, but we didn’t recognize their voices. As they passed us, they were not part of our group. How did they know our names? Our names are on the back of our safety vest.

Day 9: Restful

Being a rest day, not much to report except that Lisa has her new shoes and cooling sleeves. We also restocked on toiletries and picked up a king size fitted sheet for the air mattress. We spent the day relaxing around camp, re-hydrating and refueling – no bike time.

Yesterday we rode most of the day by ourselves. Not sure if that might have contributed to our fatigue. I think it had more to do with the headwind. It was the only day of the last four that we did not make a wrong turn. Bubba contributed that to it being the first day that he had personally placed route arrows. We should be okay tomorrow because I was able to download the instructions to navigate through Tucson.

Tourist: there was an ostrich farm along the route, but we weren’t in any shape to add to our daily mileage or time on the road. We also did some star gazing with amateur astronomers. The views were awesome without local lights nearby.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Day 8: Hard Day

Today, I started out thinking about my best friend, Julie , who was taken much too soon in a car accident along with her entire family–mother, father, and 4 kids, in a horrible car accident in Arizona. It was south of Flagstaff on Interstate 17, while the family was taking their last vacation together as a family. They were on their way to Phoenix to visit more family when coming down a steep road, a semi truck tried to brake and burned up his brakes and went careening into Julie’s family’s car. It was said if the impact did not kill them instantly, the ball of fire that engulfed the car immediately after certainly did. I have never been to Arizona and realized we were biking about 3 hours away from the accident site, and it made me miss Julie very much. She and I laughed so much together and I have never had a friend like her or as close as she and I were. I miss her every day, but I know she is an angel on my shoulder. I have heard that the runaway truck emergency lanes on those mountain roads, like the one we biked down in CA were brought about as a result of accidents like the one Julie, Lori, Kevin and Brian died in along with their parents Mary Ann and Jim.

Maybe because of the above or maybe because it was just a hard day, I bonked at about mile 49 today. I just felt like I couldn’t go further,but of course we had to. So we stopped, found some minimal shade ate some fruit and nuts and lots of fluids and got back on the bike. We thought we had about 5 more miles to go, but were so surprised to find we had miscalculated and the sag stop was just a mile or so ahead–that was a great surprise!

We are camping in beautiful Catalina State Park in AZ and looking forward to a day off the bike tomorrow. Our bodies and minds could use the rest!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Day 7: Seventy-Seven Plus

Our cue sheet said 77 miles, mostly uphill, and the thermometer read 95 degrees. To make matters worse, we experienced a headwind. Having ridden 350 miles the previous six days made this the most difficult day yet. That said, the ride was made considerable easier by riding in a paceline with fellow riders for the last fifty miles. Drafting makes a big difference and pulling the line keeps you motivated. Were were able to average 18 mph. Only one more day until our first rest day at Catalina State Park  

We all got up earlier than normal to beat the heat. Breakfast was served at 6:30 and we were on the road by 7:00. The first sag stop was at the 26 mile mark. However, it turned out to be 29 miles away for us because for the third straight day we made a wrong turn. Today and Wednesday it resulted in longer rides. Yesterday, our failure to follow directions was beneficial because we entered the nicely paved highway one entrance sooner and we got to chat with the friendly Border Patrol at their checkpoint, which we would have missed on the official route.

We only have good things to say about Shoe Goo as it held Lisa’s shoe for the entire 80 miles. Nonetheless, we will be stopping at REI on Sunday to purchase a replacement pair, additional “cooling sleeves”, and another taillight to replace the one we lost on the harrowing descent last Monday. The “cooling arms/legs, in addition to providing a level of cool, also offer UV protection that eliminates the need for messy suntan lotion. Now if they would just offer a mask, we could be covered from head to toe.

Tourist Highlight: Riding through the Sonoran Desert surrounded by the segura cactus.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Day 6: Broken Link

Today was not as tough as yesterday, but we had a couple of mishaps. First on mile 52 of 55 total today, my shoe broke….not just a small break, but my entire sole was coming off. It held until we made our final turn into camp, then 1 of the pedal caught on a speed bump and I pulled up and now the entire sole was left cleated into the pedal. Chandler our magnificent mechanic located some Shoe Goo and we are hoping it holds by tomorrow. We takeoff tomorrow early and go 79 miles. Keep your fingers crossed and maybe your toes too! We have other flat pedals, but it will be a short term solution. May have to order some new shoes to arrive when we get to Tuscon. 

OK mishap #2 is more delicate, so at the risk of giving you TMI, I have a saddle sore starting, even though I have been careful. Lots of lovely experienced riders gave me their best advice–first on the list is ditch my soft gel seat pad–done. The others are in the process. Again, keep fingers and toes crossed and maybe a few prayers for fast healing, otherwise I have some miserable days ahead!

Our fun was talking to the kids at Lincoln/Lebanon Schools over speakerphone. Kids asked great questions, including did we bring a dog with us and do our feet get tired, so cute. Facetime did not work today but before the 7 weeks are up, we will figure it all out. These are generous students in Watertown and they are starting their penny war for Custom Canines soon! Thanks kids!!!!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Day 5: Ride, Refuel, Repeat

Day 5: Laughing Lab Scottish Ale, Colorado Springs

Life on the road has become very simple and we have established a routine. Today we woke up at 6am to prepare ourselves and our bike before breakfast. We fill water bottles, top off the air in tires, attach cue sheets, change into cycling clothes, apply anti-chafe cream, pack up bedding/clothes, and apply sunscreen. At 7 am breakfast is promptly served. After a quick and hearty breakfast , we are on the road by 7:30.

We try to leave with a few other riders because it’s safer and easier to ride with a group. We are usually with the first riders to leave, but drift backwards throughout the day. So we generally see and ride with everyone during the day. Today,s ride was scheduled for a little over seventy miles and the forecasted temperature was 94 degrees. It turned out to be longer and warmer. About ten miles in we missed a turn and had to backtrack a mile. After 15 miles we found a port-a-potty and made a pit stop. Mile 25 was our first sag stop; we filled our water bottles with Gatorade and had peanut butter, honey, and banana wrap. You must try this in a tortilla instead of bread. We also ate some chips and candy – calories are a good thing , no bonking allowed.

After a short rest, it is back in the saddle and we rode through a town about three miles away. We made another pit stop and grabbed an ice cream because any time we use the facilities we buy something – good karma. Lunch was only 16 long hot miles away. A huge pulled pork sandwich and soda with water/Gatorade refills. Back on the bike at 12:30, we still had over twenty miles to go.
The 13 mile journey to the next sag stop was a lonely straight desert road with the temperature close to 97 degrees. We stopped once to stretch and rest. At the sag stop we consumed more calories and fluid. Only eleven more miles till we are home. Shortly after the sag stop we made an impromptu pit stop along the highway. Finally, we take the exit to our camp site, but first we stop for some homemade date ice cream and a cactus shake. While relaxing on the lawn, the sprinklers turn on; although refreshing riders quickly scatter.

At camp we locate our tent, already assembled and our bags are stored inside, and we discard our bike wear.It is time to rehydrate with a COLD soda. Then shower and shave to resemble ordinary humans. This is immediately followed with our daily snack which was artichoke with crab dip and chips. An hour later, dinner is served which we follow up with a preview of tomorrow’s ride.

This leaves just enough time to get ready for bed, edit /post photos, and prepare a blog post before lights out (9:00).

Tourist Items Today: We rode through the fields that produce our winter vegetables. We were thinking of our CSA farmer, Kristen.

Dateland, AZ is famous for it’s date shakes.

Everyone thought that Lisa would be our team’s weak link. As it turns out, she may not be the one that keeps us from completing our journey. Although looking forward to our first rest day this weekend, she is getting stronger. I am in greater need of a rest day as my sciatica flared up when were climbing the mountains. Riding has been quite challenging.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Day 4: Out of California

Center of The World Plaza Felicity California

We started out early this morning to free up the school facility for classes and to beat the expected heat as we left California and entered Arizona. It was reported that Yuma reached 99 degrees today. The ride today was uneventful in that there were no long climbs or speedy descents. However, there were two sections, about six miles of the worst (rutted and bumpy) roads that I have ever seen, let alone biked on – more respect for the elite cyclist who ride cobblestone.

As expected the days are long and hard. I have often said that anyone could bicycle cross country, but I no longer believe that. The challenge is turning out to be both physical and mental, focused on the day’s mileage or just getting to the next sag stop. It is truly a blessing to have Bubba’s team providing nourishment, both food and encouragement, throughout the day.

Tourist highlights today were seeing the sand dunes on our way to visit the Center of the World. This is based on the book “COE the Good Dragon at the Center of the World”. We each were able to make a wish while standing at the Center of the World. I can only assume that all the riders made the same wish

While showing Sawyer, Avery, and Lexy a cactus I poked my finger on a thorn. So far that is the only injury.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Day 3: It’s All Downhill

Holy Moly! It was a test in courage today for those of us who would much rather do a slow uphill ride to a fast downhill any day! We started at elevation of 4000 feet and ended at -39! We traveled downhill for 10 full miles along the I-8 freeway in about 20 minutes. As a passenger with absolutely no control, the speed coupled with a nasty crosswind made for a thrilling, breathtaking ride. Jeff did a great job keeping the speed reasonable, averaging about 26 MPH. With the momentum of a tandem carrying 2 adults, we could have easily probably surpassed 60 MPH or more, but the margin for error at that point was not worth the risk.

We had a 62.1 mile day of riding, so the 10 mile downhill was just a small portion. WE also got as close to the US/Mexico border fence as we have been yet. WE saw many, many Border Patrol, especially as we rode across the Yuha Desert. Remember how we complained about the frigid cold the first 2 nights? NO longer a problem once we decreased the elevation. It was hot today and dry in the desert.

Tonight we are camping indoors at Calexico Mission School, a private school where about 1/3 of the students cross the border daily to attend (legally). It costs their parents (most of whom are affluent doctors, etc) $9000 to send them here, and some can take nearly 3 hours to get to school. In fact, they give the students a flexible star time so they are not continually tardy. The students treated us tonight to a great dinner, prepared by the students. Being a Seventh Day Adventist School, it was a vegetarian meal of cheese enchiladas, rice, beans and chocolate chip cookies. The tour guide will make a donation to the school on behalf of all of us to thank them.

We phoned the Hagens from the road, and while we were sweltering in the desert, they told us they had school canceled because of snow and were out building a snowman.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Day 2: Camping vs Climbing

Our first overnight on the road was spent camping in a tent. We have not done that for many years now, but it always seemed enjoyable. Last night was anything but enjoyable; it was cold, actually dipped down to 32 degrees during the night. After a long, cold day on the bike, all I needed was a long hot shower and good night’s sleep. Well, I got neither; the shower was short and our air mattress lost air. We were sleeping on the ground by morning. However, the absolute worst was needing to get up every two hours to go potty in the cold- my re-hydration protocol needs some improvement.

Still cold in the morning, we ate another great meal and bundled up to climb above 4000 feet elevation, descend 1600, and then climb back up to 4000 feet. We spent almost all day climbing; an average 6% grade with a maximum of 11%. It took us three and a half hours to travel 30 miles and we finished in the first arriving group. The rides are so different than anything in Wisconsin. One ascent today was about nine miles long. We are riding these with a group of ten or so,, which changes every day, at 5 to 6 mph. Around every corner is a picturesque photo opportunity.

Based on our initial exposure, I am not sure which will be more challenging the camping or the climbing. It might just be the camping. Our novice pedaler, Lisa, is holding her own as we occasionally pass single riders on the uphills.

Big day tomorrow. It’s laundry day. In addition to providing our food/beverage, setting up tents , transporting luggage, providing route information , and pampering us, Bubba and staff perform laundry duties. Fifty-two days without having to cook or do laundry is a true vacation.

Good Night (as the coyotes serenade us), “It’s ALL Good”

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Day 1: Life Begins at the Edge of Your Comfort Zone

Our journey began …we were all up early with nervous energy. Most all riders were milling around the designated meeting spot well before the 9:00 AM ride to Dog Beach for the ceremonial dipping of rear wheels into the Pacific before taking off on the ride. We had the great honor of having guests to see Jeff & I off; my sister Debbie, her husband Bob & our nephew Sean came and gave us 1 last hug–even though we were such lousy company on Thurs night! We also had the privilege of meeting our counterparts from Guide Dogs of the Desert & their trainee, handsome Taxi. We were finally off and even though it was cold, it was not rainy…we will learn to be appreciative for these small blessings! Speaking of dogs, we have a mascot traveling with the group, Mark from sunny FL brought along his long haired Dachshund named Dusty. He is blonde and looks like a miniature golden retriever. Everyone takes turns taking Dusty for walks and no one can pass him without petting him, which he loves.

Let’s see, what did we do today on our way up 3800 feet elevation? We made a couple of wrong turns, but minor mistakes. We went by an ostrich farm. We learned the SAG stops are great for filling up on all kinds of nourishment. When we finally made it up what seemed like a never ending climb, we got to camp to find our tents all up, air mattresses in place and bags inside–great job to Captain & crew. All in all, it was a better day than I had dreamed in my mind, and the 1st couple of days with all the climbing are supposed to be the toughest. Tomorrow will be a shorter mileage day, but just as much climbing and cold–we are all in our tents and sleeping bags because it was just too cold to sit outside, so have not seen the sunny part of CA yet.

A fellow rider last night on our walk together home from dinner had cited the quote that became the title of this post and it is something I have heard before and truly believe; you only really learn the most about yourself when you are at the limits of your comfort zone….so I feel I will have a whole new understanding of myself as each day goes by. Today alone I broke my record for mileage and elevation, that surpassed my comfort zone and it feels good and I’m looking forward to tomorrow!

Friday, March 8, 2013

Tomorrow We Begin

Today was our final day to prepare both physically, but more mentally. It rained off and on all day which was probably a good thing because we weren’t tempted to get in one last training ride. At this point it is more about trusting that you are physically strong and able to face challenges with a positive attitude. We finalized our baggage and fine tuned the bike while we weathered a brief hailstorm which unfortunately caught a few of our friends.

We were able to go for a walk along the beach and out on the pier to stretch our legs. In the distance we watched a battleship pass by and we were able to observe a few dolphins swimming , apparently feeding as they moved back and forth in the waves.

This evening we received final instructions from our benevolent and fearless leader, Bubba, and his team: rules of the road, camp procedures, etc. It was apparent that they all love what they do and are committed to enhancing our experience. He told the story about how this year’s ride almost didn’t happen. Three days before the end of Coast 2 Coast 2012 he told the staff that that would be the final C2C ride; he wasn’t having fun. He had even notified a couple people who had signed up very early. Meal preparation responsibilities were robbing him of spending quality time with his guests.  Fortunately, he figured out a way or he was provided an answer to his problem that has enabled 24 people to spend eight weeks learning about each other and themselves.

It has started raining again and I need to get to sleep . Hopefully this note has emptied my brain of any/all thoughts, resulting in a quick path to slumber.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Long Day

Our travels to San Diego started bright and early . Lisa woke up at 3 am, so we were all up at 3am, and we left for the airport at 4am for the 6 o’clock flight. No problems as my parents left with Monte gazing out the window wondering what was going on.

Then 6:00 turned to 6:10, then 6:20, then 6:30. And we had not left the terminal. I began to worry because we only had 30 minutes to catch our connecting flight in Denver. Finally they fixed the mechanism and we were off. We monitored our progress throughout the flight , willing the plan e to move faster. Upon landing we raced across the terminal to our waiting aircraft just in time. Now we could rest easy.

Bubba’s crew picked us up at the airport. We ate lunch with some fellow pedalers since our rooms were not ready yet. Returning to the hotel, we stopped to pick up our tandem bicycle and walked it home because we had not shipped the pedals.. A quick test ride to shake down the bike revealed a slight issue with handlebars and rubbing brake pads. After a quick adjustment, we were off to visit the Sea Lions with Lisa’s sister. Then we went out for our last real meal (table, silverware, glass, …) for two months.

Before heading to bed at 10pm PST (12 CST), we did a bit of photo sharing and fine tuning or new technology. I also performed more packing preparation – we packed way too much stuff not having accounted for all the merchandise Bubba would provide and our NEEDS, not nice to haves.
It was a long 21 hour day after a brief 4 hour restless sleep the night before.
It’s All Good