Sunday, June 29, 2008

Blessed Be Your Name

This is the song I sing the most while bicycling.

Blessed be Your name In the land that is plentiful Where Your streams of abundance flow Blessed be Your name And blessed be Your name When I'm found in the desert place Though I walk through the wilderness Blessed be your name
CHORUS: Every blessing You pour out I'll Turn back to praise And when the darkness closes in, Lord Still I will say Blessed be the name of the Lord Blessed be Your name Blessed be the name of the Lord Blessed be Your glorious name
Blessed be Your name When the sun's shining down on me When the world's "all as it should be" Blessed be You name And blessed be Your name On the road marked with suffering Though there's pain in the offering Blessed be Your name
You give and take away You give and take away My heart will choose to say Lord, blessed be Your name I will bless Your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord Blessed be Your name Blessed be the name of the Lord Blessed be Your glorious name
You give and take away You give and take away My heart will choose to say Lord, blessed be Your name

A Biking Day in Detail

Today I am going to describe the details in completing an 85 mile ride from Dillon to Cameron. Although there hasn’t been an average day this day was typical. I left Dillon at 7:00 a.m. The temperature was 50 degrees. I was dressed for the rest of the day, so it took several miles to warm up. The route was gradually downhill for about 30 miles to Twin Bridge. As has been true every day, I start with energy and a little extra adrenaline. It was easy to sustain 19-20 mph the entire distance. Even at this decent speed, I was pacing myself. Also as has been true every day so far, there was no wind and very little traffic. At Twin Bridges I drained and refilled a water bottle.

From Twin Bridges, a gradual climb began for 21 miles to Alder. The morning adrenaline has worn off. The pace is now 16-17 mph. I drink another bottle of water on this stretch. Mary catches me just a little past Alder. She’s taken down the camper, gassed the van and been to the grocery store. We typically stop and I eat wherever she catches me, but I ask her to go another 6 miles to Virginia City. I know from the maps this is the beginning of the one big climb for the day. We meet in Virginia City 60 miles into the ride at 11:30. I drink and refill another water bottle and have some lunch. There are 25 miles left.

Immediately out of Virginia City I have a 3 mile 7% climb. I don’t know this until I get to the top. I just know it’s hard. I climb in my lowest gear at 5 mph. I focus on being in the moment. I focus on cadence, relaxing, breathing and breath prayers. I do not focus on the idea of the summit. I take one break, drink most of a water bottle and just look around. Then I complete the climb. At the top I shift from my smallest front chain ring to my largest and begin shifting into progressively smaller gears in the back. I hit 45 mph, the fastest speed yet. Going down a hill like this requires total concentration. I don’t stay to the far right; I stay in the right car wheel indentation. It’s too dangerous to be further over. Plus I figure most people behind me are bemused by a bicycle descending so rapidly. Here's a picture. Ennis is way down the hill in the distance.

Now I have only 11 miles from Ennis to Cameron. Again the views are exquisite with snow on the mountains to the East and well maintained pastures to the West. The road is flat. The temperature has climbed to the high 80’s. I drain both of the water bottles. It’s getting tougher. I haven’t fully recovered from the challenges of yesterday. I’m tired, numb and sore. My left hand pinky and ring finger are numb and tingling and shifting hand positions isn’t helping anymore. My bottom is sore. I can’t sustain my position of or cadence. I coast and stand on the pedals every half mile or so. Ahead I see a line of trees along a stream. I know this must be the tiny town of Cameron with 38 residents, but it doesn’t seem to be getting closer. This is were I remind myself of the songs Pressing On and especially Blessed by Your Name.

I finally arrive. Mary has the camper set up. It’s a great little campground behind the Cameron General (think only) store. I sit down and tank up on water. It’s only 2:00. The rest of the day will be spent eating, reading, meditating and just hanging out. When I go to bed I’ll be exhausted, but eager to do it again tomorrow.

Tomorrow we enter Wyoming and Yellowstone National Park!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

One Thousand Miles

My total miles through today are 1,028. This is very satisfying. I achieved today’s 110 miles the old fashioned way, I earned them. We had planned a shorter day, but I met James again on the road. His goal was to push through to Dillon. This entailed a mountain pass and two 1,200 feet climbs. I decided to do the same. It was hot. Half the day there was a headwind. There was a 48 mile stretch with no services. Most of the time I couldn’t stop because of the attack mosquitoes. For the first time I can tell you today was hard work and I’m tired.

The terrain did change through the first part of the day, changing from the high mountains to broad plains. The end of the day was cattle country. I had to stop to let a herd go past. Notice the road past the cattle. That was the beginning of my last climb for the day.

Missoula to Sula

I was a little apprehensive returning to the bike after a rest day. I worried whether a rest day would decrease my motivation. Fortunately, it was good to ride again. It was another wonderful day. I know this is sounding very repetitious, but it’s true. I finally have my bike seat and the rest of the components adjusted to the point that I don’t notice them.
I misread the map yesterday. Instead of 110 miles, today was only 96 miles, including another map mistake which caused me to add some extra miles in Missoula. I needed to backtrack to Lolo to head south. The Adventure Cycling maps don’t show this very clearly and I had neglected to look at a regular map. Once I got this clarified, I was on the road again. I began humming a paraphrased version of a song my father liked. “You can bring cake and porterhouse steak but don’t bring Lolo.”

Today’s ride was very easy. The terrain was flat overall. I pushed into a mild headwind the first half of the ride and enjoyed a mild tailwind the second half. First thing tomorrow, I climb to the 7,241 foot Chief Joseph Pass on the Saddle Mountain.

Road kill. I’ve seen deer, a dog, a cat, skunk, opossum, several types of birds, raccoon and a fox. Today for the first time ever I saw a porcupine. Mary wanted a picture and a quill, but at the time I had no interest in stopping. It stunk.

Tonight we’re back in a national forest. Mary has selected yet another delightful USFS camp site next to the East Fork of the Bitterroot River. It’s just as lovely but quite a contrast from the Wendover campsite in Idaho. That was still rain forest. This is Ponderosa pines. The campsites make interesting bookends to the KOA now enclosed by Missoula. Here’s what it looks like from the camper.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Bialetti & Bagels

First for breakfast, I tried oatmeal with raisins and instant coffee. The oatmeal stuck in my throat and the coffee tasted terrible. My new breakfast is espresso with a bagel and cream cheese. I learned in Italy last year that at home many Italians use a simple Bialetti espresso maker. It works great. Because the water is forced through the coffee grounds, they're quite dry and easy to clean up after breakfast. Plus I get a great shot of real coffee. I typically prepare everything the night before. Then I heat the coffee in the morning while I prepare for the day. I eat breakfast while reading my Eugene Peterson devotional and I'm ready to ride. I like this routine.

Map of Idaho Route

Unending Beauty Two

The water pump at the Wendover Camp Ground.

Rest Day

Yesterday I biked 68 miles into Missoula Montana completing two states, 820 miles and the first leg of this ride before taking a rest day today. After climbing Lolo Pass in the morning, it was a challenge to bike the next 40 miles. My attitude said I’d done the work and deserved my rest, but I wasn’t there yet. The days ride ended at the Adventure Cycling Association’s headquarters. This is a non profit organization whose route and maps I’ve been using. They had pictures and bikes going back 30 years. They publish the Glacier National Park biking poster I have framed in my office.

I’ve now biked 820 out of 3,800 or so miles. I’ve averaged about 75 miles a day. At this pace I’ll get 7 total rest days. I started the ride untested but humbly confident. Now I’m just humbly confident. Other than one 3 mile climb up a 10% grade, I’ve learned there should be no other climbing challenges ahead that are greater than those I’ve completed. Going forward the biggest challenges will be days with a combination of heat, humidity and headwinds. I have yet to bike in the rain, but I’ve done it before. Maintaining a positive attitude will be very important.

Last night and tonight we’re staying at a KOA. On a family vacation, we stayed here 16 years ago and I was looking forward to the facilities, but times have changed. The campground hasn’t changed much, but the city has grown around it. I walked one block to a Great Clips this morning for a hair cut. All the big box stores are on the main drive one block away. It’s such a contrast to our site from just two nights ago. Can you find the KOA sign?
Tim from Iowa Bike and Fitness wanted me to see a friend who worked at Red's Bar, which apparently is famous. Tim, I hate to tell you this, it looks like a dive. I did go in and ask. Nobody knew what I was talking about. They made the usual friendly but disparaging comments about Iowa, so I left.

The goal tomorrow is a 110 mile ride. The next day will be my highest climb up to 7,241 feet over Gibbon’s pass.

Unending Beauty

Today was a gradual 90 mile climb through unending beauty along the Lochsa River through one national forest after another. The first road through here wasn’t completed until 1962. The picture shows what we saw the entire day. There is little to report. I did pass the APGAR campground but I don’t know it’s score. It seemed healthy.
Tonight we're staying and the primitive but very lovely Wendover campground. Only two other sites are occupied. We left the back hatch on the van open and a very hungry chipmunk climbed in, trying to find a way into the plastic tot with our food. Mary and I chased it for quite a while as it didn't want to leave, first hiding under one of the front seates, then scurrying behind a tote. After we finally succeeded and chased it away, it hung around the tires for quite some time trying to find a way back inside.

White Bird Mountain

Flowers while climbing White Bird Mountain on the Nez Perce Trail

First Century Ride & Contrasting People

Yet another beautiful bicycling day. That makes nine in a row. James, another Transamerica bicyclist and I rode 108 miles from New Meadows to Stites. We’re camped behind the general store. Most of the ride was downhill, with one beautiful and very challenging climb on the Nez Perce trail. It was very long and I stopped several times, in part to catch my wind and in part to view the treeless beauty.

Yesterday I wrote about the solitary process of biking which is true. Then just about the time I was done we had a guest, Earl Wayne Bolton? From Kentucky? He was from the hollers of Appalachia? And he ended each sentence as though it was a question? Earl is very involved in outreach ministries. He went to the Cowboy Church on Friday night and the local Methodist Church on Sunday morning. He wanted to show us the stained glass and the food pantry, so we went for a drive. The Methodist Church was a lovely example of classic small town churches. One food pantry freezer had a large sign saying “Make No Judgments.”

While biking, I’ve seen hundreds of “Adopt a Highway” signs. Today I was bombing down the mountain and saw one that said “Adopt a Highway. Yahweh 666 Warning Assembly.” To my knowledge, most groups with names like that are premillenialists. I don’t think they typically care much for creation after the rapture occurs. Then a big gaudy pile of painted plywood flashed past on my left. It was the headquarters. I’ll post the sign it basically said Allah is Satan and Jesus it Satan, etc. Clearly this group (or probably just a person) is very opinionated and very judgmental. What a contrast to Earl Wayne Bolton who just wants to serve Jesus and help people.

There were at least four Yahweh 666 Warning Assembly Adopt a Highway signs on the road. It occurred to me the signs were simply free advertising. I hope the road side gets cleaned.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Map of Oregon Route


All I can say about leaving Hell’s Canyon is HALLELUJAH I'm out of there! It was tough biking in and it was tough biking out. For the fifth time in 8 days I started with a climb to a summit. After yesterday, my legs were tired for most of today’s 76 mile ride. Today has been very solitary. Other than Mary, the only other person I talked to was a store clerk while purchasing beef jerky and a Gatorade. I didn’t see the other transcontinental bicyclists today, but Mary said she passed two coming out of Hell’s Canyon and they waved at her. I think the riding itself will be solitary. Connecting with people will happen in the campgrounds. So far, other than the first two days, it doesn’t seem to happen at the churches. Most of the churches have given us permission to camp and left us alone.

Lesson for today. Don’t sweat on the bike computer. (My family teases me about sweating. Here’s your chance again.) I stopped after climbing out of Hell’s Canyon to get my wind and I was just leaning over my bike. While biking down the summit I noticed my computer had quit working. After 12 miles it dried out and was normal for the rest of the day.

Odors/aromas. Some of the odors are gas and diesel fumes, and road kill. There’s a plant I don’t recognize that has a strong sweet/sick aroma. Others include; cattle, sheep, horses, alfalfa, prairie grass, cotton wood, juniper, pine, fir and sage brush.

Hell's Canyon

After an 85 mile ride, tonight we’re staying at the Woodhead Campground on the Brownlee Reservoir. We’re just in Idaho and it’s now Mountain Standard Time. Today’s ride was very rewarding and contained some surprising challenges. Overall it was a gradual downhill ride with one 1,300 foot climb about 40 miles into the ride. I was surprised at the difficult grade, having to stop three times to catch my wind. Looking back from the summit, the sign said “7% grade. 3 miles.” From the east side of the summit, I enjoyed dropping 2 miles on the same 7% grade into Hell’s Canyon. The Adventure Cycling map warned of the high temperatures in the canyon and said bring extra water, which I did. The ride was going well until I reached the Brownlee Dam on mile 82, with the campground 3 miles into the reservoir. There was another 7% grade and a mild head wind. It was very hot and dry. In fact I learned the temperature was well into the 90's. I rested, finished my water and said a quick prayer. It wasn’t enough. Again I stopped a few times to regain my wind. The third time I stopped a young man; John pulled over and asked if I needed help. He gave me ice to put on my neck and water to rehydrate. Then Mary came back down the hill to check on me. After resting and rehydrating I went on. It was only an eighth of a mile and then downhill to the campground. John and his family are also camping and he directed Mary to a just vacated site. Then he came by later to make certain I was OK, which I am. I told him he’s an angel.

Several other transcontinental bicyclists planned to make it to this camp site today. The wind has become strong enough to blow over camp chairs. I hope they make it.

I did get a new saddle yesterday. It’s gel. The geometry doesn’t quite fit and it feels like wearing a diaper. It’s great. It absorbed all the road shock today. I wouldn’t be able to complete the tour without this more comfortable saddle.

Friday, June 20, 2008

4,000 Feet

Wow. Three summit passes and 4,000 feet of vertical climbing in one day. I did break the speed limit going down the other side of one summit when I hit 40 mph. That was fun. Tomorrow we enter the wilderness of western Idaho. According to the maps it appears the next 2-3 days we probably won't have cell phone contact, internet contact or a wireless connection.


I’m making progress in identifying how to pace myself for an 80 mile day. I’ve found that the key is my pedaling cadence. Believe it or not a cadence of 80 – 90 rpm is the most efficient. I’m in that cadence most of the time now. When the cadence drops, I shift into an easier gear. Typically, it’s my nature to track my biking details during a ride. The ones I track the most are average speed and distance. I’ve found it’s very important for me to not look at either one on this ride. For example, today the climb out of Mitchell was a true 6% grade. My computer also shows my current speed which I new was 6 mph. My temptation is to push it down the other side of the mountain to increase this. It’s also important for me to not look at the day’s total distance. As I near the end of the day and I’m getting tired, I’m tempted to watch the miles and time begins to drag.

Two other pacing items are food and breaks. So far I eat breakfast and then don’t take a break for 30-40 miles. Mary meets me for this break. Today I took another break at 60 miles and had a Dillie Bar. It’s necessary to think of your body as an engine and I’ve yet to determine how to make it run best.

Today’s 77 mile ride was moderately challenging. In addition to the first climb, there was about 20 miles of loose gravel on a newly tarred road. Pushing through it was exhausting. Another reason to use cadence as my guide. The ride would have been 83 miles except for the road construction. Three of us had to put our bikes in the back of the Pilot Car (actually a pickup) to be transported through the construction zone.

Sited on the roadside: Ground squirrels and chipmunks that first ran and then scolded me. Two startled mule deer in the sage brush. Many red winged black birds that took offense at me. They would escort me out of their territory and then pass me off the next sentry. One bird after another shadowed me (literally) for the last 15 miles. And finally, in the middle of nowhere, an evergreen tree full of shoes. I have a picture which I’ll post when I can.

Tomorrow, 66 miles and three summit passes into Baker City.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Relax & Restore

After a 47 mile ride and another (easy) mountain divide today we stopped in Mitchell, population 190. The city park allows free camping. Once again we have restrooms and water but no other amenities. Mary has devised a system for camper based sponge baths while I wash up with a small hose outside. Her way is warmer. Mine’s faster.

As I’ve said before, there are many people who make transcontinental bike trips. In fact, there are four of them, all self supported, staying in Mitchell tonight. Two decided to take a bunk and a bath at the local Oregon Hotel for $15 a night. Two of them are camping in the park with us. James is from Eugene, taking the Adventure Cycling route to Virginia. Allen is from Connecticut and I’m not certain where he leaves the route. He’s got a solar cell that charges his cell phone, MP3 player and CPS. Steve is from Philadelphia. He’s taking the route to Virginia and then taking another Adventure cycling route to Florida. Then there’s the guy on a recumbent I met yesterday who did the route last year and the two Dutch guys whom I’m told are just ahead of us. In fact I saw them leave Mitchell just as I arrived. They plan to bike to the John Day Fossil Beds yet today. Everybody’s bike and equipment are unique. Every body’s story is unique.

Overall the ride today went very well. I am having a problem with my bike seat which won’t stay pointed down. I’m afraid to try tightening the bolt again for fear of breaking it. Although I’ve had this seat for several years, it may be too hard for a long tour like this. The next town with a bike shop is Baker City, which is a two day ride. I think I’ll investigate saddles there and also have them tighten the bolt. If it breaks, which has happened before, they’ll have another one. More later.

Tomorrow is just one climb of 1,300 feet up to 4,320 feet. This starts right out of Mitchell after which it’s a gradual down slope of 80 miles to Prairie City.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

One Down

I'm very pleased that I passed the test of the first mountain pass. From the campground, it was 15 miles of almost continuous climbing. For most of the climb I think the temperature was 40 degrees. This was my first big test and it went well. The reward was dropping down 2,000 feet on the other side, coasting at 35 mph. That was great. Five more mountain passes and we're out of Oregon. I haven't dared look ahead to Idaho and Wyoming.

What wasn't so great was falling off my bike. I was biking up a grade before the town of Sisters. There was a passing lane. My bike lane was narrowed by gravel. Two trucks passed. I pulled into the gravel and off the road. Just last night I tried to adjust the cleats on my bike pedels so they would release easier, but I didn't have the right size allen wrench. So into soft red lava rock gravel I went, falling on my left side (the right side derailleur and gears need to be protected) both feet still in the pedals. The only thing hurt was my pride. I found a bike shop in Sisters and they're now adjusted for a faster release. I've also adjusted the angle on my bike seat to point down a little more. Biking in the mountains is fine, but just sitting pedalling on the plains gets a little uncomfortable.

Most of today's ride was in what's called the high desert. This area is at 3,000 feet and receives 12 inches of precipitation annually. While totally different than the Northwest coastal rain forest, it's very lovely.

Tomorrow will truly be a shorter day of 48 miles. The choices were to bike the Ochoco Pass (4,720 feet) and stay in Mitchell or also bike the Keyes Creek Pass (4,357 feet) Unfortunately there's no lodging or camping, or towns for that matter, for quite a ways past Keyes Creek. I think Google Maps said it would be about 90 miles to the next campground. The ride is off to a great start. I bonked once in training and I don't want to do it again. Tomorrow I stop and smell the mountain flowers.

Tonight we're staying at the 1st Baptist Church of Prineville. Tonight we'll also research a campground in Mitchell that has showers. The van needs to be washed, but Mary says she gets a hot shower first.

Another Wonderful Day

Tonight we’re in the Willamette Nation Forest at the Ice Cap Campground on the McKenzie River. This is a very lovely very primitive U.S Forest Service campground. There are no showers or electricity and no cell phone reception. The water is very cold. I almost got a headache rinsing my hair as part of a very quick and very cold sponge bath. The beautiful Koosah Falls are less than a quarter mile from our campsite, making a lovely white noise in the background that later should lull us to sleep.

The weather was gorgeous again today with temperatures reaching the low 80’s, no humidity and a little tail wind. As we left Eugene, both Mary and I made a wrong turn which added about 4 miles to my 80.75 total riding distance. Most of the route was on Highway 126 along the McKenzie and Blue Rivers. It was stunning. I took pictures of mountain flowers and small water falls surrounded by rocks covered with most and ferns. Unfortunately it takes a long time to load them. Please use your imagination. For the last 5 miles, I rode up a very steep grade, which went very well. Tomorrow the grade will be the same until I cross the Santiam Pass at 4,817 feet. This will be my first mountain pass ever. From there it’s downhill to Redmond and on to Prineville. Because of lodging, this will be another shorter day of about 75 miles.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

An Excellent Day

What a wonderful day. The challenges were all manageable and the blessings will take time to sort out. I rode 66 miles today. Knowing that it would be a short day, I decided to attend the 8:15 service with Mary. Then it was time to start. Highway 126 connects Florence to Eugene. It begins along the Siuslaw river, which is beautiful. Unfortunately, it was very congested with weekend travelers returning from the coast. That was a little unnerving. I had two fairly steep climbs and rode through a tunnel. There was no bike lane in the tunnel. You actually pushed a button by the tunnel. This activates a flashing sign warning there's a bicylist in the tunnel and that the maximum speed is 20 mph. Mary met me halfway at a the town of Walton, which has a Walton's Mountain General Store.

Until reaching the Eugene city limits, the second half of the ride was more challenging. The road ran through a marsh. The road narrowed and the traffic seemed to increase. No vehicles really came very close to me. There were just a lot of them. I decided I need to practice being in the moment.

Eugene is wonderful. It reminds me of Madison Wisconsin, full of alternative people. I knew it's described as one of the most bike friendly cities in the country and this is true. There were bike trails and bike paths everywhere. What a blessing after the narrow congest section of 126 that I had just completed.

We had been given the name of the Norkenzie Christian Church. Mary called and talked to an elder, Merlyn Hough. He gave us permission to camp in the church parking lot and then invited us for supper. We met his wife, Martha, her parents, her sister and sister's husband and three of their five children. What a wonderful family. Turns out Merlyn also bikes. Last year he rode in the week long Bike Oregon. He new of Pella and RAGBRAI. He and his brother in law, Bill helped me plan for tomorrow. It turns out the road to McKenzie pass is still closed due to snow and won't open until mid July. We'll be taking the alternate route which again is Highway 126. We're at about 400 feet right now. Tomorrow I climb to over 4,000 feet. There are no towns along the route, but plenty of camp grounds. The goal will be to climb as high as I can or even make it over the pass and then find a camp ground. They also told us we probably won't have cell phone coverage for the next day which means there won't be any updates.

What was the biggest blessing today? Meeting the Houghs.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Pre Ride Musings

In the book "The Right Stuff" Tom Wolfe describes the Apollo astronauts training. He said they went through so many simulations they would compare the actual event, such as the rocket lift off, to the simulations. I wonder if that's what I'll experience tomorrow. I've ridden 13 Tour's of the Mississippi River Valley (TOMRV is a great challenging two day ride.) I've ridden 5 Register's Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa. I've ridden over 2,000 miles many years. But I've never ridden up a 6% grade in the Cascade Mountains. I wonder what the back roads of Wyoming will be like.

I hope the riding will be a combination of all the best of my experience and reasonable training with all the adventure, excitement and challenge of a new unknown road. In five or six days I'll have a much better idea of the ride.

Tonight it's windy. Apparently it's windy most of the time in Florence. The temperature will be around 40. I'm only going 60 miles tomorrow, so I think I'll go the the 8:15 church service with Mary and let it warm up a little bit.

Travel Observations

Just a few random observations.

  • It's 2,035 miles from Pella, Iowa to Florence, Oregon. According to the van computer, we used 97.8 gallons of gas, averaged 20.3 miles per gallon and averaged 55.7 miles per hour.

  • How many times can you meet a stranger on a trip? We ate breakfast at a Burger King in Wyoming. In the restaurant, there was a Hispanic family, a real cowboy (He had a cell phone along with his leather gloves. He had a sweat ring on his hat with two stains on the crown. Mary said they came when he gallantly doffed his hat to women) and a German couple with three little girls. I met the German couple again six hours later at a gas station on a different interstate. A couple hours later they passed me.

  • I've seen at least a dozen bicyclists so far. A few have road bikes like me. Most have touring bikes or mountain bikes and are loaded with gear or pulling a trailer. Many of the self contained bicyclists are couples. They seem to come in two ages young and pre-family or older like Mary and me. Several bicyclists have clearly been indigents. In Idaho, it's legal to bike on the interstate. One disheveled man was peddling a tadpole recumbent (that's the one with two wheels in the front) and was pulling what looked like a six foot trailer covered with tarp. He has stopped at the road side and was examining something from the ditch. I wonder what his life adventure has been.

  • Finally, don't wear rubber sandals for 36 hours straight and take them off before going to sleep in the van with the windows closed. Your wife might object.

Dedicated to Phil

I'm dedicating this ride to my second older brother Phil. Phil has many great qualities. He's curious. He has many interests. He's an instigator. Phil has non specific neuromuscular degeneration. It's similar to ALS but slower. Professionally a computer programmer, he's now on disability fairly house bound these days. One of the most frustrating problems with the disease is extreme fatigue and boredom. He's as sharp as ever, but has no energy. Even so, he has his ways. Just today he sent an email to my extended family and friends telling them to read Mary's blog because I don't publish very often. I told him I've been busy taking care of work items such as time cards so the staff can be paid, driving and sleeping so that I would be alert. I also told him I wasn't defensive, after all, I'm a trained professional.

If you recall, Phil gave me the cash to purchase my first bike. He and I have had a few nice rides including a very nice one on my tandem. He's had some great rides with his older sons before the illness progressed.

Phil I'm dedicating this ride to you.

Farewell's and Blessings

After we left home (notice Mary driving?) and when we pulled away from the Pella Clinic late last Thursday morning, it was hard to believe that Mary and I were finally starting out on one of the biggest adventures of our lives. Could it really be true? Was it finally happening? It was hard to comprehend. All the planning and preparations were complete. We were moving ahead for better or for worse. It reminded me of getting married. Mary and I drove away from the Tracy Iowa church and I looked at my ring and remembered my vow and I thought, "So this is it. Now I'm married. How does this feel? I felt excited, relieved, apprehensive, curious and in love. And I felt sick. Which was true. Mary and I and half the wedding party came down with a bug or something that gave us a violent stomach flu. We spent the first night sick and the next day drinking SevenUp and passing Pepto Bismol between us. I left Pella with all the same feelings except being sick. We're off to a great start.

Over the last couple weeks there have been farewells and blessings from so many friends and colleagues, it's been a little overwhelming but very encouraging. Thank you everyone! One friend told me call him from the road. He asked me to describe the view from the top of a mountain after completeing a challenging climb.
A favorite prayer for bicyclist is the Irish blessing: "May the road rise to meet you.May the wind be always at your back.May the sun shine warm upon your face.And rains fall soft upon your fields.And until we meet again,May God hold you in the hollow of His hand."

Here's another one for anyone on a journey:
I lift up my eyes to the hills
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the LORD,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot slip
he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
The LORD watches over you
the LORD is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.
The LORD will keep you from all harm
he will watch over your life;
the LORD will watch over your coming and going
now and forevermore.
Psalm 121

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Marty Doane

This is Marty Doane, owner of Iowa Bike and Fitness. For about 20 years now, Marty has provided me with bicycles and serviced them. He typically compliments me that I'm good at keeping the tires inflated and bad at keeping them clean. This is true. Anyway, in addition to the bike, he's also provided me with tires, clothing, helmet and everything else I need all at cost. He's been unfailingly helpful and supportive and given me good advice. I'd send you to his website, but it's still being built. You can call him at 641-628-1373. I know I've said it before, but I need to say it one last time. Thanks Marty!

Friday, June 6, 2008


Well I did it again. Yesterday I bonked. I know better, but it still happened. What's a bonk? A bonk occurs for a bicyclist by completely running out of energy, usually due to dehydration and depleted calories. The solution is prevention. Drink plenty of water and take energy bars or some other high calorie food with you. Of course I know this, I've bonked more than once in the past It happened again because I didn't plan carefully. I wanted to complete one last 60-80 mile ride. I had the time, so I left home with two water bottles and a power bar. Unfortunately, I was riding into a 25-35 mph wind with 85 degree temperatures and humidity. There were no gas stations or convenience stores along the route. I turned back at 30 miles and was totally exhausted with 10 miles left. I felt like a drained battery. I stopped for a rest, which helped briefly, but just like battery, I didn't carry a charge for long. After several more stops, each one happening sooner than the last, I finally made it home. After drinking several glasses of water and eating some good food, I felt fine.

Did I learn anything? Nothing new, but it was good to be reminded of an old familiar lesson.