Archive for June, 2009
So I’m sure you’re all waiting for this blog update. Here you are. I’m still alive and well, but tired in Stillwater, MN. Over the past five days, I’ve logged nearly 300 miles of cycling. Whew…
I set out from Madison on Monday morning. Look at that beer gut there. We’re gonna do something about that, no doubt. I’ll take an after picture of me on the Oregon coast and we can look at the two side by side.
It’s been a long, hot week. I think the highs I’ve encountered every day this week have gotten close to 90, if not broken through (I think Tuesday was 95), and the humidity’s been pretty intense too. Rare cloud cover made for a lot of cycling down sun-parched roads. Fortunately, I have a nice stockpile of sunscreen to keep all that annoying solar cancer away. Even with all that, though, I’m developing a solid and well-defined cyclist’s tan (kinda like a farmer’s tan, but with some extra shapes produced by the cycling gloves).
It was a very warm night to be camping in White Mound County Park on Monday night. I noticed a lot of abandoned firewood at other empty campsites. Enough that I could’ve built a pretty sweet fire, but it was just too damn hot. I was sweating bullets for quite a while and didn’t even want to think about crawling into my sleeping bag until after the sun had set. Even then I had left it half-way open all night, but I awoke early, and knowing it would be a long, hot day, set out early as well to get as many miles in as I could before the heat really started pounding down.
Made a stop in the library in Richland Center to check in online briefly, and post some quick updates (by the way, I seem to be updating my twitter page more often than this site. So for more timely, if less detailed updates, surf on over there as well. Say what you will about twitter, and I can say many things, but it is, on occasion, handy). All the computers there were running linux, which I thought was pretty cool for a small town library. The morning was getting on, so I was off again, down a very hilly US Route 14 into Viroqua, WI. There are some surprisingly solid uphills on that route. A few climbs of 8% or greater grades had me thoroughly worn out. I think that I’m getting better at these intense climbs, slowly but surely.
At the top of some of these climbs, at least you might run into this very friendly sign. The sign you see here is probably a cyclist’s best friend. It means time to cruise like the wind. There are many other road signs that have special meaning to cyclists. Perhaps there’s a blog post in there somewhere.
There was a very lovely homestead just out from Viroqua whose owners let me crash for a night. A fun game of scrabble and some delicious fresh fruits and veggies was about all I could take in my exhausted state, but a good time was had no doubt. Back on US 14 the next morning and I was up over some more hills, heading through La Crosse and up to Trempealeau.
I’m up way later than I should be. In part, there’s a lot of excitement looking forward to tomorrow. Mostly, I’ve just been up packing and double-checking my supplies. I think I’m ready to go, now, logistically speaking. Psychologically… well, I’m going in the morning ready or not. No giving up until I reach the Pacific Ocean. It still freaks me out to think about. I’m about to bicycle 2,800 miles from Wisconsin (around a few detours) to the coast of Oregon.
Since I could not go without a few parting words, here I sit, typing out one more pre-launch essay while sipping on some New Belgium Fat Tire Amber Ale and listening to the latest album from Melody Gardot.
I can’t technically be claiming to ride a fat tire bike, but I’ve got 700x32s on her at the moment, and that gives me a pretty stable and balanced ride.
It was a pain in the ass packing everything up tonight, but now it’s done. I’m hauling way too much food, but that’ll be taken care of in a hurry, no doubt, and I’ll just have to watch my food purchases in the future to prevent myself from packing too much stuff around. That bike is heavy though. It’ll be an interesting ride tomorrow.
I’ve been riding around Madison a bit over this last week — not as much as I would’ve liked, but it’s still nice to put a few miles in. The intense miles are about to start. There’s some nice riding around Madison. You get some bike paths with some really cool lake views. It’s a very bike friendly town overall, I would say.
It’s also the home of Trek Bicycles. There’s a Trek retail outlet I was able to stop in at. This was very handy as I was able to get stock spare parts that are an exact match for my FX 7.3 without too much worry.
To continue my completely disjointed late-night, per-departure ramblings, this beer is quite tasty. It’s right out of the fridge, so it’s probably colder than I technically should be drinking it, but after a long night of packing up the panniers, it is quite refreshing at this temperature.
My apologies for being away from the blog for so long. There hasn’t been much cycling for me lately, so I haven’t had too much to say. Instead, I’ve been spending the last week or so road tripping around.
There was some excellent hiking in western Virginia, then out to Norfolk, up through Pennsylvania, a night in Rochester, and now, one last weekend in Cleveland. All told… that’s a lot of driving! So much driving!
My shiny, red Trek FX is resting up for some serious miles in her temporary home in Wisconsin while I’m off tooling about. The downside of such is that — excepting some very nice hiking in Virginia — I’m growing a bit restless with all this sitting in a car.
Life has been strange in other regards, with some personal troubles here and there, but all of that just has me more ready to go. I look forward to the mind-clearing opportunities of the upcoming 3,000 mile ride. So much of this summer is a disentangling of the head and reset of many aspects of my life through the intense mental and physical struggle of the trip as well as the beauty of the experience.
At the moment, though, I’m getting to relax, surf the web, and take in some food porn. Several years ago, when I ditched cable television, I was very happy with the decision; I did not really miss anything from cable television, except for one thing. I miss the Food Network. Thanks to my friends here in Lakewood, who are letting me crash with them for the weekend, and who have cable, I’m able to veg out with some food television for a while.
Hopefully, I’ve only 500 miles of driving left ahead of me in the near future as I head back up to Wisconsin this weekend. My car is surely in need of some rest from the road as well. In the last four months, I’ve racked up over 10,000 miles of driving. My legs are getting stiff just thinking about all that time in a car… Whew… Time to go for a stretch.
All goes to plan, I should be able to set out by the summer solstice. We’re almost there…