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Friday, August 19, 2016

Days 53 - 70 /// Go West Young Man

"Go west young man, and grow up with the country".  ~ Horace Greeley

"Go west young man..."
I do feel like I'm growing up, that's for certain.  At 38 I still have a lot to learn about both myself, and the world at large.  Bicycle touring provides time to think, reflect, and grow if you choose to do so.  In fact, I've been telling people lately I feel fortunate to have "found a fountain of youth" of sorts.  It's one thing to be present, and touring on the bike provides that opportunity, but the days are extended indefinitely.  Two months have gone by, but it feels like an eternity.  Often, I find I can't remember where we were just yesterday, and that's an amazing thing.  Two months in my former corporate, management, and travel life would have gone by in the blink of an eye.  Now my days consist of breaking camp, cooking breakfast, packing, riding, taking in epic scenery, figuring out where to sleep, setting up camp, etc...  rinse...  repeat.  Life on two wheels (motored or not) is treating me well.  

Approaching the Grand Tatas
Sorry the posts have been few and far between.  I've decided to let my pops do the majority of the journaling on this leg of the adventure.  His musings can be found here.  Once we split up in Oregon, I'll take on a more active 'writing' role again.  

A few things of note, and then I'll post some photos...  First, thanks to everyone that came out to visit us in Breckenridge.  I lived in Denver for 8 1/2 years, and my father currently lives there, so we have a fair amount of friends/family in the area.  Special thanks to Raph, Sam, and Peter who showed up at Hoosier Pass to welcome us and ride down in the cold, torrential downpour.  Also, thanks to Nick, Chris, Peter, and Katrina for showing up to say hello.  Finally, a huge thanks to my stepmother Tish for showing up on the route three separate times.  You've been the definition of 'trail angel'.  Finally, a shout out to my lovely girlfriend Jenni who has been incredibly supportive of this adventure, mailed NY bagels to me in Missouri, and showed up to provide encouragement in Breck.  Love you all.  

Also, we've met a few cool people en route.  Matt is a 26 y/o guy from NY making his way across the TransAm before 'growing up' once and for all back home.  Colin is a nice 28 y/o from the D.C. area.  Wally is a 40'something guy from Florida who we've been riding with on/off since we met randomly at a fire station in Kentucky.  The five of us are now in Yellowstone and are riding together to provide safety in numbers.  The RVs and drivers here are seriously out of control.  Only in 'Merica, the land of the free, can you buy a 200ft RV and drive it with no license (towing a Hummer and boat no less - with your gun on board!).  However, God forbid if you try to camp anywhere without a permit.  Meh...  

Book cover?
Finally, here's a status update.  We've ridden ~3,200 miles.  The only issues I've had are a snapped front derailleur cable, and one broken front spoke (Pting!).  The former wasn't an issue and was an easy roadside repair.  The latter was a bit more serious, as the wheel was way out of true, and required me to hitchhike 20 miles back to Lander.  That meant I had to retrace my steps that day and put in almost 100 miles.  Not ideal, but you can't have the good without the bad I've learned, which seemingly goes for everything in life.  

Plan from here is to exit West Yellowstone and continue the TransAm route to Oregon.  My pops will be flying back from there to Denver.  I was gonna hook a left and make my way down the coast to San Fran, but the girlfriend has called an audible and we're now planning a different adventure now.  Looks like she may meet us at the end of the TransAm in Florence, OR.  From there we may hire a van and tour up to Vancouver together to visit friends.  After that there is a ton of adventure planned, but I'll wait to put it all here.  

Until next post, hope everyone is living and loving life.  Ciao for now, 

Jeep life near Breck
Stayed with Bill at the Guffey Garage in Guffey, CO
Dive bars galore across middle America 

Crossed paths with Terry Taylor, a 78 y/o riding
TransAm for his 2nd time 40 years later!
Hoosier Pass w/ friends - highest point on the route

Fixin $hit redneck style w/ a few new, short term, riding friends

Colorado is equal parts Heaven and Hell from a cyclist perspective 

I LOVED Lander, WY and was invited to check out a killer show

Giving/getting road advice from a passing tourer

Downhill and tailwind?!?  Does it get any better?  
I think we're headed that way, no???  

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Days 45 - 52 /// colorful coloRADo

Well, we finally made it to Colorado after ~50 days on the road.  I thought this would simply mark the halfway point of the trip, but I was flooded with memories, feelings, and a sense of 'returning home' when I crossed the welcome to Colorful Colorado sign.  I can't count how many times I've passed one of those with a smile on my face.  The moto trip had me leave and return to Colorado, and now I've made my way 'back' after being in Brooklyn for almost two years.  Definitely a bit more crowded, but it's good to be back.  

Kansas was great.  We were lucky and had tailwinds for the most part.  While weather does travel W to E, wind at ground level can be a crapshoot.  Some have said we're crazy heading E to W, but majority headwind aside, there are reasons we decided this direction.  I've also found a few bonuses that I didn't know existed.  First, the sun is at our back for the majority of ride time.  That means less sun in the eyes, less sunburn/sunscreen, and much better visibility in the morning (drivers don't have EB sun in their eyes).  Anyway, it doesn't really matter which way you go, just get out and pedal.  Headwind certainly does suck, but there are plusses and minuses to every decision/direction.  

This bicycle touring thing continues to amaze.  It's certainly straining on the body and mind.  However, it's the most amazing way to stay grounded and present, and allows the opportunity to explore like no other.  You can cover large distances, but slow enough to really see, hear, and smell everything.  Not the case when blowing by in a car, moto, or plane.  Speaking of straining, I've noticed a few things that I'll need to address soon.  The ring finger on my right hand has tingling/numbness, I've been experiencing some nerve pain in my upper back, and the tops of my knees are very sore.  Stretching has helped immensely.  Everyday when I finish riding I stretch for a bit and have been honoring the commitment to myself to do 100 daily push-ups.  I think I'll extend the stretching sessions from here on out.  

I think that's enough for now.  As usual, check my dad's journal here.  I'll ramp up my writing once we're done with this chapter and I'm solo again.  For now enjoy a few more pics...  

Moto trip route - last time I returned to 'Colorful Colorado' 
Current route/progress

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Days 40 - 44 /// Heat + Headwind = Kansas

I find myself writing this from the super posh, boutique Comfort Inn in Newton, KS. I wanted to crash the Newton Bike Shop and Hostel, but the owners left a couple days ago for vacation and have closed shop. Bummer. I was really looking forward to meeting other TransAm'ers, having my bike massaged, and sampling the all-you-can-drink beer they apparently have on tap. Again, bummer. 

We're all up in Kansas now and it's incredibly hot. I mean literally hot... and windy. It seems to blow northeast constantly, which is pretty rough to push through when headed west. It's no wonder everyone heading W to E talked about how miserable the Ozarks were. I reckon they were used to being pushed along like a sailboat on pancake flat ground for ~1k miles. Personally I thought the Ozarks were easy compared to Virginia and the Appalachians.

We've been meeting more bike tourists as of late. Jamie from Manchester and a nice couple from just outside of Munich to name a few. On a funny note, I met Erika and her two friends in Ash Grove. After meeting them I had three random guys ask if I'd "seen the three girls". There are so few females doing this, that all the guys get excited. So I call them the famous trio now. Hilarious. Erika, if you read this know you have a couple different groups of guys chasing and trying to track your crew down. Giddy up!  

Services in Kansas have been sparse to say the least. I rode 75 miles today from Eureka to Newton and the only place to get water was in Cassoday from a well in the public park. Hysterical, yesterday I rode through Toronto and stopped at the only open store in town. It was a liquor store, but Kansas law meant they couldn't sell anything non-alcoholic. So here I am, in the middle of F all Kansas, in 100 degree heat, and the ONLY thing I can get to drink is booze. Awesome. A nice couple saw me laughing about the whole thing and directed me to Lizard Lips, a restaurant two miles up the road. Plenty of fluids there and the best baked beans I've ever had. 

Aight... Time to rest up a bit, then eat like a fat kid.

Famous trio - The Femme Fatales

Best pie this side of the Miss'ippi

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Days 35 - 39 /// State of the Union

A little update for ya... As usual, until I'm on my own you can keep up to speed on our bicycle adventure via my dad's very detailed journal. As for me, I'll pepper in a few things...  

First, today is my birthday. My mother messaged last night to remind me that at 1:42am, 38 years ago, I hatched. Being 38 is strange. In the mirror and on paper I'm seemingly getting older. However, I feel just as healthy as ever, and still haven't quite figured out 'what I wanna be' when I grow up. Then again, has anyone? I guess I still have a couple of youthful years until the big 4-0, so I'm gonna take advantage!  

On a random topic, what in the F is going on in the world?  We left on June 11th and the $hit has literally hit the fan. Ever since a lunatic gunman opened fire in an Orlando nightclub five weeks ago, we've been hammered by news of bloodshed in Istanbul, Dallas, Nice, Baton Rouge, and others. What gives? All that, plus the ridiculousness of the current American political system, the incredible poverty and general fucked'up'ed'ness of most of the areas we've ridden through, cops and citizens at war, and the absurdity of Brexit. I'm beginning to think we're seeing a global 'fall of Rome', and it saddens me deeply.  

The other day we stopped at a gas station in the middle of nowhere and I came across a stack of old NatGeo magazines. The first one I grabbed was from 1970 and the headline was something about pollution, and how we're "killing the environment" and need to change our ways or we'll create a little thing called "climate change". Fast forward almost 50 years... did we do anything? Of course not. 

We are an interesting species capable of compassion and kindness. We love and romance, cry for each other, even tear the very organs from our bodies and give them to strangers. At the same time, we slaughter one another, and destroy our only planet simultaneously. We are certainly compassionate and kind, but we are also clearly very susceptible to greed, gluttony, and lust. I don't know what to do about any of it. I see nothing being done but people arguing their opinion is the right opinion. I won't share my opinion on any of it. I'm just going to try to be a better person to myself, others, and the environment. I wish others would take a step back and do the same. 

On one hand it was a wonderful birthday. On the other, I can't help but think what things will be like in 5, 10, 25 years. For now, I'll just stay present watching the wheels go round.  

Here's a few pics from the past few days...