Monday, August 23, 2010

good stuff, continued

unfortunately blogger is wreaking havoc on my computer skills. therfore these pics are in reverse order, and they precede the writeup....use your imagination.
at least the visual folks will be satisfied-

a day on hwy 1

come on!?!?

more eye candy

high sierra trail

on foot for once

at the start

house of prostitution.....nevada.

coming off the road at I-70

arches- moonscape

wilson arch, not in the park

this is what getting annihilated by a hail storm looks like 9 minutes before hand

prettier times in the hills....

rain and cold heading out of pagosa. a long trip looming.
things changed when i found out about a car ride to california. peter and brian are running the high sierra trail, and steph could use some company for the crewing. my dark thoughts about dust storms change to light hearted smiles about friends. i'll meet them in moab and get a free pass across the desert. doesn't hurt that i get to hang with some super cool folks that i can learn from!

hot and sunny by durango, replacing calories and a ripped tire.

phone call from brad smythe (leadville bound) brought joy in the afternoon.

the 15 minute talk meant, however, that i was still 15 minutes outside of cortez later when the hail storm attacked. ominous black clouds rolling east, just as i rolled west.

after getting annihilated i found an awning at the first available building and waited out the worst of it.

cortez offered food and a leaping off point for the evening's ride, but the a mechanical changed things a bit.

a bracket on the bicycle broke and instead of riding into the night to look for camp, i spent an hour in walmart fabricating a replacement. due to the late hour i opted for a cheap hotel room.

west to utah in the morning, i send post cards from yellow jacket, co. homage to the alma mater.

monticello offers a great meal of hummus and sprouts (once in a while i go without coke and candy...!)

the trek to moab sees dry heat yet again, and i guzzle the 55 miels worth of fluids i packed. wilson arch is really astounding, the red rock contrasted with the bright blue sky. i hike for a bit.

reaching moab i hustle to the information center and here about arches national park. the last minutes of the afternoon are whiled away waiting for a hitch across the "no bicycles allowed" bridge, with no knoweldge of the pedestrian bridge 300 yards away, over the colorado r.
i was livid after an hour and at least 50 empty pickup trucks passing me by.
after failed attempts to call police and sherrif's dispatch, a 911 call got me the requisite info:

police: "the main bridge over the colorado? there's a pedestrian bridge right behind you!"
me (thinking): "WTF! no one thought to annouce the pedestrian bridge with even a small sign!?!?!?!?!?"
me (outloud): ""wow, i wish there had been a sign, thanks for the info."

riding into arches park late afternoon, my emotions are dulled, and i enjoy the moonscape. so much of this trip is totally new to my eyes. as the sun sets i am still miles and miles from the park entrance, and i need to leave the park to camp (or do so illegally).

setting up a late night vantage point, i sit and contemplate balanced rock for a while.
next i head to the park headquarters and use my waterbottles and camp soap to wash off the road grime.

riding out of the park i consider an allnight trek to the interstate where peter and steph will pick me up in the morning, but i instead opt to roll back into moab and hit the denny's.

my hamburger is delicious after another 150 mile day....
around 1am i poach a campsite at an intown campground, and am out before 5:30am.

the ride up to the interstate is really nice. i get stopped by road construction for a bit and explain the trek to the flagger. she asks if i ever get tired of riding?
"umm, sometimes...."
cruising in to the interstate exit i talk the proprietor of the lone store into letting me hose/shower off out back, and bring myself back to socially acceptable standards of cleanliness.....almost.

soon enough the subi pulls up, and i am out of the elements.

the ensuing 12 hours bring me up to speed on the boulder community, and the recent FKT knowledge. steph works in the back seat while i am googly eyed over the western landscapes. utah, nevada, death valley, and finally the sierras. we land in lone pine, and find that brian has already secured whitney permits for the trek, and peter/brian must get to sleep immediately.

4am and we are in the car again, me dropping off the guys at the whitney portal. i drive back down to the motel amd fall asleep in the front seat, not even making it back to the room to nap for the couple hours i can afford.

at 7 i wake up and panic for a moment thinking i've overslept. up int he room steph is basically ready to go, and we hit the road. a 5+hr ride to sequoia park is what this crewing epic needs....

the drive is fun for the conversation, and we get to sequoia intime to get a last minute campsite, and head to crescent meadows to start our own trek.

the plan is to hike in until we meet the FKTers, and then try to keep up with them back to the car. 18 is but an estimate for the trek. after several hours of hiking we find a glorious granite hillside and waterfall. steph meditates while i explore the mountainside. the haze from several prescribed fires is obvious across the vale, but the expansive views of these mountains continuously blow my mind.

after an hour's diversion, we trek on, finally deciding a mile or two before bear claw meadow that if we go much farther the return run is going to be a monster itself. the whole hike back we hope the guys will catch us near the cars, but they don't. we end up sleeping until almost first light in the car.

upon arrival, peter and brian recount the serious altitude issues brian encountered, as well as the accidental off-route excursion in the early morning hours. still, sub 25 hours is a FKT for the high sierra trail, and the guys are happy. we go sleep in the almost unused campsite for several hours and then pack up for a trip to denny's in vesalia, ca.

a dip in a river on the way out of the park is a highlight.

once in vesalia my next travel plans must be decided upon. brian recommends that i ride with them to his house on the monterey peninsula, and then continue the bike trip. i am excited for the 1,890,560th time this adventure, and agree.

evening brings us to pacific grove, and i am exstatic that i can sleep at brian's place. peter and steph head to their retreat (their kindness in including me is so awesome), and i cozy up for a decent rest.

i miss my early alarm (which seems to happen at least every 3-4 days :) - and get to eat breakfast with friends....very nice. thank you brian and sophie!

i cast off into the misty pacific morning, with the pebble creek 17 mile drive and hwy 1 in the plans for the day.
can life get better?

of course pebble beach and carmel are pretty, but the day really starts as i head south towards big sur.
the spectacular mountains sea are ispiring and i crank all day. the pictures will speak for themselves.

i camp at morro state beach, after finding a quarter machine shower near the marina. arriving in camp after 11pm, the guard shack is empty and although the campground is full, i find a spot to set up.

before 5:30 i am on my way again into town, hawkeyed for breakfast.

the ride towards fresno kicks my butt all freaking day long. i am back in the dry heat, and there are some hills, but the headwind is a monster. 30, 40, 50, 60 miles.....into this wind...with the worst traffic thus far, hwy 41 is not a good choice. yikes!

dan calls and offers to deliver me from my sins by drving to lemoore and retrieving me. thank god, 110 miles in these conditions is as much as i want. the last miles are ridden in the backseat of the audi, like a visiting business man.....except the smell and coating of road grime.

up next: a return to sequoia?????????????? and yosemite.....

Sunday, August 15, 2010

part 1 - nashville to pagosa springs

so, after hanging out in bell buckle for a day, and enjoying a rest day with good company, i got a ride to the bus station in murfreesboro.

big mistake. i will not be recommending greyhound anytime soon.
i had 2 main reasons for choosing the bus.
1. i could buy my ticket last minute without a monstrous penalty.
2. i could know where my bike was at any given time, and be sure it wasn't being dropped off a forklift onto a runway.

these were smart reason, IMHO.

here are the reasons why i would negate the importance of these previously stated reasons:
a. on a plane from nashville to denver you might sit like a sardine for 3 hours- not 26 hours!
b. on a plane i feel it would be less likely to wake from your uncomfortable sleep at 2am to the dude next to you rubbing your leg.
c. did i mention the dude who was rubbing my leg while i tried to sleep?

- so, arriving in denver after an "interesting" 26 hours on the bus, i put my bicycle together in the parking garage of the greyhound station and pedaled off around 1pm.
leaving denver was uneventful, i kept the mountains on my right and headed south on the first main road i encountered.

i found out that my friend's aaron and leah now live in colorado springs, and since i got such a late start i was happy to find that they could accomodate me for the evening. the trek south from denver was notable for several reasons:
first, the headwind was ridiculously demoralizing. i was struggling mightily for 10mph on flat ground. i got off on a canal trail so that i didn't have to deal with the traffic AND the wind, but it was a let down to be trying so hard for such a slow pace.
second, the scenery was instantly inspiring, it's been several years since i was in CO, and the mountain views, and general wide-open-ness of the area were really refreshing.
third, around palmer lake i caught up to another cyclist, who turned out to be an interesting guy. he has survived some really extreme cancer operations, and now lives without most of his digestive system. we chatted for several miles before stopping for a beer. he drew me some directions for a convenient way into the springs, and we parted ways.

arriving at the kelly's house around 9:30, leah and i went out and filled me up on taco bell, catching up about work and life. it was a good time, but she had to be up early so the evening was short. when i got up i waited for aaron, who would be arriving home from the night shift at 8:30, and we met up with another college friend for a big breakfast at the village inn. good times.

this morning's late start was a little bit of a let down, heading out at 11am...but if you want fun social time you gotta pay the (time)'s worth it.

so, friday morning was another one of fighting the wind on my trip southwest. I had lined up a visit with the furtaws in pagosa springs for saturday evening, so i needed 265 miles or so in 2 days.

i managed to make it to canon city after an early afternoon of dealing with more rough winds, and was almost tuckered out. after a meal of food, i hit the road again and headed into big horn sheep canyon, along the arkansas river.
great stuff. you could take a picture a second through here and every one would be worth framing!
i jumped in the river at one of the may access points and felt instantly refreshed. gosh there is nothing like a cold river to make you feel alive.


i camped at about 10 miles east of salida, and then got up at 5am and road 165 miles to pagosa springs....two mountain passes (9,000 and 10,800 feet) and arrived last night at 9 pm. that was a really long ride. crossing over the continental divide at mile 150-ish of a day long trek is pretty "special" (read: exhausting) good stuff. today i was dragged into taking a day off with the furtaws (ok, so i was easily convinced!) - a 5 mile walk this morning showed my legs as ok, and pizza and beer at the brewery tonight should get me ready to push on tomorrow.

(reminder to fill in more details about the salida->pagosa springs trek)

next to the canal path south of littleton, co

san luis valley, co

necessary evils?

arkansas river valley

arkansas river

no comment

a long day

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


in bell buckle for a day off, after just one day on the road!

the prologue consisted of a serious bicycle trek.
my 6am sunday morning start was delayed 8 hours due to the rush to get all my work out, and actually pack. 3am sunday saw me finally go to sleep, with a few more hours of computer work to do sunday.

with a 2pm start, 290 miles to the cantrell's in TN no longer seemed like a 2 day option, but without the experience necessary to guess an ETA, i just started off into the hot sunday afternoon sun.

1am found me in calhoun, ga - and in need of some rest. i hit the motherlode when i found the hotel pool gate unlocked, and the shower house open! i got to feel clean and lay down on a lounge chair next to the pool for 3+ hours.
4am and i was done with resting...and took off into the cool morning, heading west through the chattahoochee national forest. later, when the sun came up the views of the ridges in the area were really nice. i struggled to navigate efficiently around chickamauga and lookout mountain, but found my way to hwy 41 and along the tennessee river.

at sullivan's bait shack i found three old codgers shooting the bull and having a beer (at 10am) of course it was miller time for me as well.
after 20 hours of sugar drinks the beer was really refreshing. i followed that with a jump in the river, where the current was much stronger than i'd guessed it would be.

the hilly last few miles to nickajack lake were another surprise, especially as the mercury steadily climbed.

i got a 2 liter mountain dew in halestown, and the attendant was vehement that murfreeboro was going to be a "hard haul."

god he was right!

climbing up from jasper i walked my bike for the first time ever. the short steep pitch about 3/4 miles from the top took me from the the gage bursting. as i traversed the mountain towards monteagle i continued down the path to dehydration, and in tracy city i was absolutely having an episode. i had a quart of chocolate milk and then started at my food for over an hour before i could take a bite. sure enough though, the miracle of recovery happened again, and i was back on my way.

plunging down from monteagle, i had another beer in hillsboro, and doused myself with cold water for the umpteenth time as the temperature finally started to fall (slightly).

the last 15 or so miles were really nice, the scenery through bedford and rutherford counties was inspiring.
just before i would have needed my headlamp, i arrived.

31 hours for 290 miles. lounge chair nap included.
i must have spent $35 on food and cold drinks!

this effort earned a day off, before i catch the bus to denver.
the good thing is, 200 mile days are now on the "doable" list.
even better, not having ridden the bike in several months, the legs actually got better as the ride went on.

check in again from CO.....!

Monday, August 2, 2010