Sunday, February 28, 2016

Ride Across America, March 2002

Friday, March 1, 2002 Here we are in San Diego California. I remember when I was thirteen years old. We were living in the Carribean at the time and I had a surfing magazine subscription. I remember dreaming of the beaches and the west coast. The surfers with long hair and beat up cars. It is the west coast, the one the Beach Boys wrote many songs about: California Dreamin', one of my favorites.
Well here I am, sixteen years later. I used to dream of coming here to surf and as we drove down to Dog Beach this afternoon, I had no interest in the waves. We drove all the way out here, over 2600 miles, so that we could turn around and head east. Crazy huh?
San Diego seems to be a nice town. We went down to the Gas Light District for dinner. The restaurants with outdoor seating have gas powered lamp/ heaters to keep the patrons warm.
The trip from Las Vegas was pretty, more desert land. Passing just south of the legendary Death Valley, we came over a mountain pass and saw a huge cloud of what looked like fog. It turns out that it is smog. Welcome to Las Vegas!!
Tomorrow is the day we have all been waiting for. I will start riding at Ocean Beach, also called Dog Beach. We went down there today and Texas really enjoyed it. It is a beach designated for dogs to run without a leash.
We will head east for about sixty miles and spend the night in Live Oak Springs.
This will be the last time for a while that we will be in a hotel. That means that I don't know when we will be able to post newsletters. So, continue to check back and watch our progress.
Have a great day,
Stephen J.

 Sunday, March 3, 2002
Correction: The smog that I talked about was in Los Angeles not Las Vegas. Las Vegas has very clean air.
3/1 Friday
Friday morning I started riding. We hit the road around 9:30 and within 2 miles I got lost. I found my way though. The weather was good. I had an elevation change of at least 4500 feet. I am sure I climbed more than that because of all the ups and downs.
I think I hit every red light coming out of San Diego. The roads are good with wide bike lanes.
20 miles into the ride we finally got out of the city. I meet up with Rhonda every 10-15 miles to get water and to chat.
We end up with 56 miles and spend the night in Pine Valley. Camp is at Cuyamaca Rancho State Park. This means " the place where it rains".
As the sun goes down the cold moves in. The temp. is in the mid 30's. It is a cold night. Around midnight the almost full moon rises. At first I think it is our neighbors headlights.
We both hear strange noises in the night, there are supposed to be mountain lions in the area!!!!

Saturday morning
We roll out around 7:30 and head to Majors Coffee House diner for breakfast. I had some of the best bacon I have ever had, along with hashbrowns, eggs and toast.
As we are sitting in the diner, a couple starts a conversation with us and they end up writing a check to YAP for a donation.
Today the terrain is more mild but the wind is crazy. There are gusts up to 50 miles an hour. The terrain is more desolate, and we see a couple of vagrants with shopping carts in which they keep everything they own.
I get a long downhill but with a 20 mph constant headwind, it is not real exciting. I ride 76 miles with a 14.3 average. riding into the wind most of the day really takes it out of a person.
We stop in Seely, CA and since there are no campgrounds nearby we opt for a Motel 6 in the neighboring El Centro.
Rhonda and Texas are doing well. Rhonda is the best support vehicle driver I have ever known.
Tomorrow we hope to make it to Palo Verde, 84 miles away.

 Tuesday, March 5, 2002
The day starts out like any other day. We make our way to the only Starbucks this side of the desert and drive to Seely, CA. where we stopped last night. Seely is a so-called one-horse town. It is made up of a crossroads, a building on each corner and irrigated hay fields in the background.
We were getting everything ready to ride, when I saw a woman in her 40's pushing a baby stroller. I thought, " How nice". She stopped, said "good morning", and made small talk. It was then that I realized there was no baby but a bag full of who knows what? I figure she is one of the many homeless people that walk this desert. We offered her some Girl Scout Cookies and she accepted. We chatted some more and when she found out that we were doing a fund-raiser for youth she pulled out $10 from her pocket and insisted that we take it. I was torn because I knew that this was probably all she had. She had next to nothing, yet she gave. We said our goodbye's and she walked off. As she was crossing the street, I noticed she was only wearing socks!!! She looked about the same size as
Rhonda so I asked her what size shoe she wears. She started to say "seven", and then stopped somewhat embarrassed. Rhonda wears size 7. I turned to Rhonda and asked her to give the woman her shoes. As she accepted them, she said with childlike wonder," Ooooh, I needed some shoes".
What a testimony, she gave knowing that an All Powerful God would provide for her!!!
Well, after that Rhonda and I started on our path. It was a very humbling experience to say the least.
The day started out quite well. No wind!! I made the first 20 miles in 1 hour. As soon as I got out of town the wind kicked up. Our route took us back into the desert!! We passed the Algodones Sand Dunes and headed for the Chocolate Mtn Range.

The wind was blowing around 20-30 mph. Nearing the mountains the terrain turned into rocky ravines which caused the route to dip up and down the ravines. The ravines are so large that they could swallow a whole RV and I couldn't see it until it started up the next ridge. And this was only 40 ft ahead!!!!
We finally reached Palo Verde. 90 miles later. I decided to ride to Ripley so I could have 100 miles.
We ended up driving another 14 miles to a very nice KOA campground in Ehrenberg, AZ. Can't beat $10 per night!!!

We slept in this morning, and then went to town for breakfast. We are taking a rest day today. Rhonda drove me to Ripley and dropped me off so I could ride the 14 miles to the campground, where we will stay again tonight.
We are in a beautiful valley, surrounded by a mountain range. Tomorrow we will head to Harcuvar, AZ. We should be in Phoenix in 3 days.
Rhonda is doing well and enjoying seeing the countryside. She will be putting in updates now and then.

Wednesday, March 6, 2002 3/5
Ehrenberg- Harcuvar AZ 56 miles, 3.5 hrs
Rhonda has had the nasal drip for a day now and I woke up with it this morning. I have headache and sinus pressure. We think it is from the different climate and from the cold nights.
Hence, the ride today was rough. The first half is was on I- 10 east. I had to ride on the shoulder and for about the first 10 miles there were gouges dug across the shoulder to wake up the wandering driver. The gouges were spaced every 20 ft. so every 20 ft. it was bump- bump. How annoying and rough on the tires, bearings, rump!!!

So I decided to ride in the right lane of the interstate. Traffic is pretty thin out here so anytime something was coming up behind me I got over. And here I am, still alive!!!
The route took us up through some low mountain passes and into wide desert plains. It is very beautiful yet desolate. We also started seeing more cactus today.
The ride is mostly uphill, and by the time I reach the Desert Gem RV Park I am feeling quite ragged.
The owner of the park has allowed us to stay for free!!! So, if any of you are ever in Harcuvar, AZ., please stay at the Desert Gem!!!! It does have hot showers.
So, we were in the tent by 6 pm to try to get some good rest.

Harcuvar-Wickenburg AZ
We did rest well and I felt much better this morning. It is only 56 miles to our next stop. And the exciting thing is that we have a free hotel room at the Rancho Grande Best Western in Wickenburg. So, if you ever come to visit Wickenburg AZ, stay at the Rancho Grande Best Western. They have a heated pool and hot tub. The rooms are very comfortable.
The ride today was much better than yesterday. It was only half uphill and the second half was up and down with the last six miles all down!!!
The weather has been great. Highs in the 70's and lows in the 30's.
We stopped at Ginny's Vitamin Village to get some zinc for our colds. The ladies there got all excited about the trip and ended up donating our medicine to us.
The following is from Rhonda:
Hey there everybody, this is Stephen's other half, his wife, companion and support AKA "The Sag Queen". These past 6 days of our ride has been so amazing. The terrain out west is so beautiful and unique. I have been so excited and proud of my husband. His strength in these winds has been so amazing. I just admire his perseverance. I would have quit 5 miles outside of San Diego.
Yesterday was the first day that I actually felt a little bit lonely. We were in the desert, out in the middle of nowhere, all day and spent the night in a Campground....out in the middle of nowhere. It's amazing how people find these places. Anyway, the vastness of the desert made me feel so little and insignificant yet it made me appreciate my life and my home in Shelby, NC. I am so thankful for these opportunities to reflect, which I have a lot of time to do. Today we arrived in Wickenburg and the hotel room has been an oasis. I love camping out but it's nice to sleep in a bed and have a bathroom 5 feet away from it.
Thanks so much for reading our journals and I hope that whoever reads them enjoys them and also learns from them. Until next time......

 Friday, March 8, 2002
Wickenburg-Scottsdale: 69 miles, 16.7avg
We woke up today feeling a lot better. Thanks to Ginny's Vitamin Village. And to Best Western, or it could have been the $2.99 Original Grand Slam from Denny's for dinner.
Anyway. We stopped by the Pony Espresso for breakfast. Rhonda had a bagel and tea and I had a latte and Gatorade bar. We were on the road by 8:15 am.
I felt better today than I have in a while. In the first 20 miles I had an average of 19.9 mph. ( it was not all downhill either). The terrain today was more scenic with a lot more knolls, buttes and cactus. The road was very smooth for the first 40 miles and not rolling hills but long ups and long sloping downs. When we got near Phoenix is when things went crazy. Traffic got worse and the road we were on was two lane and had been there for about one hundred years. There were also a lot of semi's, although most of them were very courteous, it is still nerve wracking.

So we get to the Arizona Canal Bike Path which cuts across this city and we part ways. On the path I met another cyclist, Tom, a local vet, who helps me find my way. Periodically on this 14 mile stretch I wonder how Rhonda is doing. At least I don't have to deal with traffic, yet. After about 45 mins. I reach our appointed meeting place and Rhonda is not there. I call on our handy dandy cell phone. We were to meet at Bethany Home rd and 18th st. 18th st. turns out to be one of those roads that is divided in two by neighborhoods and one way streets. If you wanted to travel the whole road in one continuous trip you would have to know how to travel in another dimension.
So, it turns out that Rhonda is on 18th and Bethany and so am I only in two different places?!?!?!
Anyway, we talk on the phones, I ride around and finally find her. By this time I have ridden in traffic 6 lanes wide, not including turning lanes. We decide that it is better to skip the next 14 mile section or the "Phoenix Phourteen", than to risk being crunched under some city slicker's SUV that will never see a dirt road!!!

We load up the bike, get some lunch and head to Scottsdale in the relative safety of the Honda. (It has 2 airbags, my bike only has one).
We are staying with Jim and Susan Hawthorne here. It is great to be in a home. We enjoyed a homecooked spaghetti dinner with peach pie a la mode.
Tomorrow we are taking the day off. We plan on seeing some of the sites here and relaxing.
It is a long way to El Paso where we have another home waiting for us!!!!

 Monday, March 11, 2002
We get on the road at the edge of Phoenix and Mesa. Mesa is the longest flatest neighborhood I have ever been in. I rode for about ten miles in a straight line. Amazing.
I rode for a couple of blocks with four kids who of course had a ton of questions.
The scenery went from flat to large sized rolling hills.
We ride to Superior for the night. It is a quaint little town with towering mtns. They also have a Dairy Queen which is refreshing. For dinner we have freeze dried Mexican chicken and rice. It was yummy.
Around 7 pm as I was headed to bed I heard a noise down a couple of sites. I looked up and there was a cyclist with a trailer. I thought at first it was the couple we have seen for the past week, but it turned out not to be. Her name is Stephanie and she is traveling solo. She is with the Peace Corp and visiting Peace Corp people around the nation.

She had been riding in the dark for about the last half our and since it was dark I told her she could pitch her tent at our site, which she did. Then, I headed to bed.
This morning was warm. Around 50 degrees with highs to be in the 80's. We started out thinking we would go 56 miles and halfway through we decide to go all the way to Safford: 102 miles.
After climbing the mountains on the east side of Superior we enter the lush high desert. We reach an altitude of 4,500 ft. the desert up this high is still rocky and barren but it is also more green. The trees and shrubs have a more irrigated look about them. There are several long climbs.
We got to a town called Globe. rhonda was ahead and I was taking my time because the wind is blowing about 20 mph. As I am riding up a hill on the east side of town, I see a boy walking his dog on the sidewalk. Right when I am beside them, the 50-60 lb dog lunges at me. I barely had time to react. I threw my arm up and leaned on my left foot. The dog missed biting me but did manage to get a paw on my right butt cheek. He left a small scratch and ripped a huge hole 8-10 inches in diameter in my riding shorts. The phones weren't working, so I had to ride the rest of the way to Rhonda with one cheek exposed to the public!!!
Since the dog did not bite me, only a small scratch, I didn't call the authorities. We cleaned up the wound and put disinfectant on it, changed shorts and hit the road.
Usually when I ride with friends I tell the dogs to go after them. I gues my turn finally came. We are thankful that there was no severe damage.
Later, we stopped in Peridot for lunch. We were sitting outside a grocery store in the San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation. an indian walked around the corner and struck up a conversation. He was very friendly, as are all of the locals in this area. He ended up sending his wife in the store to buy bananas, Gatorade and water for us. Thanks Ano Hoffman, my indian friend.

Well, after this we I rode another 50 miles to the town of Safford. Here we treated ourselves to a hotel and buffet at Golden Corral. We will take the time on monday to visit the local bike shop for a tune up and a new pair of shorts.
We should be in New Mexico in 3 days.

 Monday, March 11, 2002
Safford - Buckhorn 79 miles
Today was great. for the first time on the trip I had a tailwind. How exciting!!!! This does not mean it was on easy day. I climbed two passes, one 5000 ft and the other 6275 ft.
The second one took us up above the desert floor and into a huge pine forest. Then we crossed over into New Mexico and everything opened up into high plains. This is the most scenic day I think we have had. It is very beautiful.

We got to Buckhorn, which is another town with two buildings, one of which is the RV Park we stayed at!!! We walked 200 yards to the other building: "Last Stop Liquor". It was actually a general store with a tack shop and everything.
A guy at the RV park told us it would not get below forty degrees that night. I guess we should have known being at an altitude above 5000. It did get real cold. We stayed warm, but in the morning on the way to a cafe for breakfast, there were a bunch of pretty icicles on a fence where someone had left the sprinklers on!!! Brrrrr!!!
I had breakfast burrito with bacon. It was huge. They must have used 5 or 6 eggs to make it. I finished that off and considered ordering some pecan pie. I still had 30 miles to ride, so I didn't.
Buckhorn was also the place where I got my first flat. I think it happened as I was riding in some gravel going to the camp site.

 Tuesday, March 12, 2002
Buckhorn to Silver City
We got to Silver City, finally. We had lunch, dropped the bike off at the shop for a tune up and lube, then headed north in the car. The destination: The Wilderness Lodge-Bed and Breakfast.
A friend gave us some cash before we left Shelby and said, " This is for you guys, do something not logical with it". Well here we are. Enjoying some hot spring tubs, and a huge bed in an old schoolhouse!!!!

The drive up here was very pretty. The road winds through the high pine forests and into valleys, up onto ridges where you can look down 1000 feet. It is kind of scary.
We stopped at the Gila rive and let Texas run and play. He loved it. The water was chilly and it was good to soak the feet in it.
Today we will be going to see the Gila Cliff Dwellings and the head back to Silver City.

  Thursday, March 14, 2002 Silver City - Arrrey
Breakfast at Daylight Donughts. They were fresh and tasty. It turned out to be a mistake though. I felt great for the first 5 miles, and then my body used up all of the sugar. From there it took a while to recover but I finally did.
I had my second flat tire today. The rim tape slipped exposing a sharp edge on a spoke hole. So I filed it down and covered it with duct tape.
The route took us up and over Emory Pass. The elevation is 8,225 feet. This is the highest I have ever ridden and it was quite an experience.
To start the wind was gusting up to 45 miles and hour. This made the wind chill in the teens to 20's. Then there was the lack of oxygen. Whenever my heart rate rose, I started to get lightheaded. A weird sensation with the wind trying to push me over the mountain.
I finally reached the pass and put on a fleece jacket which I wore the next 10 miles. I finally got back down into the valley and warmed up. I think aat the top of the pass I might have paid $10 for a fresh cup of Starbucks dark roast.
In Kingston I had my first run-in with some cattle. For days now we had been passing over cattle guards which resemble ten sets of railroad tracks scrunched up into 5 ft of space.
I came around the corner and there were two bulls and a cow. There were guardrails on both sides of the road and as I neared they turned as if to cut me off!!! So I turned around and they started following me back up the hill. It was kind of scary. I didn't know if I could outrun them. Rhonda was only 100 yds down the road watching the whole thing. She ended up driving back up and we rode past the cows side by side, with the car between me and them.
The next twenty miles I had the 40 mph tailwinds pushing me along at 30 mph.
We stopped in Arrey for the night at an RV park.

 Friday, March 15, 2002
Arey - Las Cruces 56 miles
I got up a little after 5 am in order to beat the headwinds. It worked. I made it the 60 miles to Las Cruces in a little over 3 and a half hours.
We went to La Mesilla, an neighboring town for the afternoon. It is the town where Billy the Kid was tried to be hanged, but he escaped.
It has been great staying at RV parks. They all varyin quality but every now and then we get on with a hot tub. See the picture on the web-site. They only cost $6-10 a night too.

 Saturday, March 16, 2002
Las Cruces - El Paso TX 56 miles

The ride went smoothly today. We made it to Texas!!! There was no sign the way we came in so it was pretty anti climactic. Oh well. Today we passed through a lot of pecan groves.
We are staying with some friends of family in El Paso and we will be here unti lMonday when we will head toward Del Rio. We estimate we will be in Texas for 1.5 - 2 weeks. This place is huge.

 Monday, March 18, 2002
We leave El Paso today after a nice weekend of homecooking. Bob and Carol McDonald took good care of us. We were able to go to Ciudad Juarez and barter with some merchants, they took us out to a great mexican restaurant, and they took us up the Franklin mtns. to the the city lights. Thanks to Bob and Carol.
The next 450 miles to Del Rio has mostly tumbleweed and cattle. Not much else. We are counting on several 70+ mile days in a row just to make it to the next campground. Not only that we will be dealing with wind up to 50 mph. This should be interesting. Have a great day, Stephen and Rhonda

 Monday, March 18, 2002
El Paso - Van Horn 116.89
After a great weekend in El Paso, we head east once again. Our goal today is Sierra Blanca, 80 miles. The route took us through old Sorrocco. It is a cool western town with lots of old buildings. After this we enter the barren desert once more. There are a few small three building towns and farms, but that is about it. Most of these town do have a post office in them. No Starbucks though.
Today the forecast was for winds up to 40 with gusts to 50. Thankfully we did not get those but we did encounter our first rain. It was scattered showers. At one point the wind kicked up a little and there was a shower coming in from the side so I drafted behind the car to get past it. Another time we waited for about 15 minutes under the front porch of a building.
After about 40 miles the route took us onto I-10. The problem was the construction. The left lane was closed and they had the concrete barricade going down the middle. This left the right lane open, but the trucks still had to ride on a bit of the shoulder. And now that you mention it, the shoulder might as well have been a gravel road. Crazy. At our next meeting spot, I told Rhonda that that was crazy and we loaded up the bike. Looking at the map it was only 3 miles to where there was a frontage road, so we drove up to that point.
We arrived in Sierra Blanca which is named for a big white mountain that stands 6,800 ft tall. There is nothing here so we decide to go to Van Horn 40 miles down the road. Everything is going well until I run out of daylight. 12 miles left, the route goes back on the interstate. I go over the pass into the valley and it starts to get dark. 3 miles from the Van Horn exit, I get flat number 3. I am carrying a spare tube and repair kit so I change it right there. 2.5 miles later, I get flat number 4. ARRRRGH!!! I can see the Rhonda up ahead, so I ride on the flat the last 300 yds. I load the bike up satisfied with 116.89 miles, but disappointed that I missed a double metric (120 miles) by 3 miles. Oh well, I'm sure I will have more opportunity to try again.
We get to Van Horn for the night. We will stay here tomorrow, the 19th so I can recover. I will ride 20-40 miles and Rhonda will come out and bring me back. The next town is 75 miles so I don't think I will try for that.

 Tuesday, March 19, 2002
Van Horn TX.
I set out to ride 20 miles so that tomorrow I only have 70 instead of 90 to ride. I have a tailwind so the ride is not bad, my body is tired from yesterday though.
While I am gone Rhonda visits the Best Western in Van Horn TX, we wind up with a free room for the night. How great!!! That makes the rest of the day a chill day. An added bonus is the Dairy Queen across the street!!!!

 Wednesday, March 20, 2002
Van Horn TX. - Ft. Davis, TX. 71.58 miles
We are on the road by 9:30 AM. I am really dragging plus the skies are gloomy. Very overcast and a headwind to boot. The first 20 miles is also on I-10.
I make it to the exit alive and the sky starts to clear up. There for a while I considered packing up and driving to a Cracker Barrel!!!
The suns begins to shine and my spirits rise. This area is real pretty. The hill country of West TX. Lots of high hills, cactus, shrubs , grass lands.
Today we pass numerous cattle guards and a sign that says " Loose Cattle". I don't see any though. I do see my first roadrunners dart across the road. We also see what I believe are antelope.
We stop by the McDonald Observatory for a short visit and the head down to Ft Davis, TX. "The highest town in Texas".

 Thursday, March 21, 2002
We generally use the dog's water bowl as an indication of the temperature. This morning the water was frozen solid. This puts the temp between 25-30 degrees. This was later confirmed!!!!
We manage to stay warm but are slow getting started. We only have 55 miles today so it is alright.
We pass through the small town of Alpine and stop at a bakery. It is delicious and the baker ends up donating some goodies!! Yum!!!
I am feeling much better today. I am able to push a little bit and we get to Marathon by 2 pm. We set up camp at a quaint little RV park and then tour the town. That takes 3 minutes. We were directed to a spring fed pond at the county park. Texas went for a swim and loved it.

We finally met the couple on the tandem that we had been hearing about. They are really nice. They are having a rough day though. He has food poisoning and they cracked a rim on a cattleguard.
Things are going really well for us. We should be in Del Rio, Texas in 3 days. We have been covering one state in 4-5 days. Being in TX makes me feel like I am going slow. It will take us about two weeks to get through.

 Saturday, March 23, 2002
Marathon TX.- 30 miles west of Langrty TX. 85 miles
I laid in my warm sleeping bag waiting for the golden yellow of the son to light up the side of the tent. It never did. It was then that I remembered the overcast sky at 3 am when I went out to take care of business. It is about 6:30 am. I crawl out of the tent and begin my morning ritual. It is rather cold.
I go ahead and have a Cliff bar. Later we are going to the Burnt Biscuit Bakery. I know to get my real nutrients into my body.
We are aiming for Sanderson 55 miles away, but we end up 10 east of Langtry, 85 miles away. Sometimes we come to a town and decide that we feel good, and that there is nothing here that we want to stay for. Then we move on.

This side of Texas there is not much to move on to. Very desolate. So at 85 miles in the middle of nowhere my body tells me that it is time to stop.
This is one great thing about a supply vehicle. We load up into the car and head 27 miles east to the next town with camping, Langtry, TX. This is the town that Judge Roy Bean " The law west of the Pecos", ran. His sentencing was often something like, " Your fine is $45 and a round of drinks for the jury"! He also owned the bar so this worked out great.
We camped in the parking lot of the community center. We were really roughing it tonite. No showers and the available toilets were open from 8am -5pm. So, I get my first sponge bath on the trip.
30 miles west of Langtry TX- Del Rio, TX
Another uneventful day of headwinds. They are up to 20 - 30 . Hence, my 11.5 avg for 85 miles!!! Long day. We finally made it to Del Rio though!!!
Some good news. I was on the 10 pm news in El Paso on Monday night. I guess now I am famous!!!!

 Sunday, March 24, 2002
Wow. We have made it to Del Rio Texas. I am so glad. Texas is a HUGE state. I am still having a good time and having adventures from day to day. There is one thing I want to address to all of our "fans" out there. I have been getting some emails asking what I do while I am waiting for Stephen. This is basically what I have been doing. I have been driving east 10 miles and park on the side of the road or in a picnic area. Then I usually get Texas out of the car and leash him to the car or play fetch with him, depending on where we are. I also read my Bible, write in my journal, listen to music (all it has been lately is Waterdeep's worship album), I have been communicating with God alot, I sing, I think, or just sit in the car and wait. These are the basic things that I do while I wait. The time really does not drag by either which is nice. Once I get to where we are staying the night, I usually go get the tent site and set up the tent, or check into the hotel room (which averages about once a week...we need a treat every once in a while :)). **Praise God we have had 3 nights donated to us which is great. He is really taking care of us.** Once Stephen gets to the car, I fill up his water bottles, make him a sandwich, or just stand there and watch him do whatever. Hope this gives you a better idea of what I am doing. Thanks for reading our journals and keep praying for us. We need it. Please pray that God will continue to provide rooms for us for free, friendly people along the way,protection, and good health. I think my body has had a hard time getting accustomed to the water here. But it's slowly getting used to it. Thanks again for all your thoughts and prayers. Talk to yawl later.

 Monday, March 25, 2002
Del Rio , TX.- Campwood, TX. 81 miles

One of the best days yet. The mildly rolling hills contain more trees that we have seen on this trip. I saw wild turkey, antelope, black squirrel, a zebra, sheep, goats, and cows.
The first 60 miles I had a side/ tailwind. I was able to make great time. The the route turned straight into the wind for the last 20 miles. This slowed me down to 10 mph.
We camped out in Campwood, by the Nueces river dam. We haven't been around much water on this trip either. This is very refreshing to us.
Sharing the campground, are two men, one in his 50's and one in his 70's. They are on a trip to Michigan. They left the west coast in February. They are self- supported , meaning they carry there own gear, and they are going 40-50 miles a day.

 Tuesday, March 26, 2002
Campwood TX- Kerrville TX 85 13.1 avg
A slow but very scenic day. We are in the heart of hill country, and it reminds us of the Blue Ridge Parkway. It is very pretty and a lot of short but steep hills. The wind is strong but the road winds so much that it does no slow me too much.
The biggest problem I have is my gears shifting on their own!!!
The weather has been good. It was cold this morning, so we started around 9 am.
Tonight it is supposed to get in the upper 30's. The moon is almost full.
Texas has had a cold or something the past few days but is doing much better.
Be sure to check out the web-site to take a look at some pictures.

 Friday, March 29, 2002
Lockhart- LaGrange TX
Not a bad day. Good weather. Almost hot but not quite. More rolling hills and farm land. A lot of Texas Blue Bonnets along the side of the road.
We got to La Grange around 3 pm. I decided to call some restaurtants for some donations. We ended up getting a seafood buffet for 2 donated at Olsen's Kountry Kitchen. It was very delicious and appreciated. So if you ever come through La Grange TX, stop by Olsen's Kountry Kitchen for a great home cooked meal. At the junction of hwy 71 and hwy 77!!!

 Saturday, March 30, 2002
Today I slept in till 8 am. ( My body is telling me it is time to take a break). Then we went and got breakfast and headed to Round Top to check out the antique fair. Lots of stuff!! The rest of the day we will relax.

 Sunday, March 31, 2002
La Grange TX- Navasota TX 71 miles
The thunder and hail storms that were supposed to hit nevert did. So, there are no exciting stories about getting crushed in our tent and all that.
It is good to see that Big Jim has joined me my buying a stationary bicycle. Jim if you are going to be just like me you need to sign up to be a mentor with the Youth Assistance Program of Cleveland Co. 704-482-2315!!!!!
The ride from La Grange was great. A lot of rolling hills through ranch land. The roads were good. The temperature was in the 60's.
The wildflowers are out in abundance. Purple, red , pink white, all over the shoulders. Sometimes it gets distracting and I find myself heading into a ditch!!!!
Sunday night we spent at a home in College Station TX. Bryan and Valerie are a young couple who house some college students. One of the students gave up her bed for us.
It worked out well, since my wound on my buttocks from the dog attack two weeks ago has not healed. We will be going to the doctor for some tests. A doctor friend of theirs was over last night and he said that it looked infected, maybe getting close to a bone infection. He said that there was only a 50 % chance of rabies at this point.
Ok, Happy April Fools Day!!! Everything ecxept the last paragraph is true. Have a great day.


The kid and I hide from each other each time we come home.  If he is home and I'm gone,  he hides when I get home and vice versa.  I have started hiding on the couch, "in plain view". 

The first time, I hid under the blanket no the couch.  It took him a few minutes because the blanket is big and floppy.

The next time, I placed pillows under the blanket to look like a person.  Then I hid behind the bedroom door.  He went straight to the couch and jumped on it,  thinking I was under there.  Nope.  Got him good!

I decided to up the game the 3rd time.  I placed pillows on the couch, covered them with the blanket,  pulled the seat cushions out about 8 inches,  slid in behind the cushions and pulled the blanket over me and the pillows.  I left a little peep hole under the pillow so I could watch and breathe!  Success.  The kid went straight to the couch,  pressed the pillows then moved on through the house looking for me.   The wife had pity on him and gave away my secret,  but, that hiding place was amazing!   

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Ride Across America, February 2002

Wednesday, February 6, 2002
Time is drawing near. As of today we have 16 days until we get in the car and head west. Only 16 more days, to get everything together, only 16 days to get in shape, ( oh wait, that is taken care of), only sixteen days to ....... so much to do.
Yesterday, I placed an order with Mountain House, a company that makes backpacking foods. I ordered about 50 days worth of meals from them. These meals are specially designed for high energy activities and they provide the consumer with carbs and proteins and all that good stuff. I just hope that the 50 meals will last for more than two weeks!!!
I am excited to see how much food I will consume during the ride. I am already almost in a constant state of hunger. I just hope that there are some good country folk out there who will invite us in for a large sized home cooked meal!!! And pecan pie!!
Looks like rain/snow/sleet again for the rest of the week. This means more time inside on the stationary trainer. It is possible to ride in the rain, but not preferable. It leaves one chilled to the bone and shriveled like a raisin.
On Monday the 11th, I will be speaking to the Piedmont Flyers, a cycling club in and around Winston Salem. For more info contact me.
Thanks to my grandma who I call Nana. She sent me some Shaklee products to help my health on the trip.

Yesterday was an interesting day for me. I have had a toothache for quite a while now. It started getting worse so I went to the dentist. We decided to get a crown!!! After all, Stephen does mean " crowned one". So I had my first crown. It wasn't terrible but I would rather ride my bicycle across America!!!!
Finally, Rhonda is also excited about the trip. Her # 1 fear is getting lost and not being able to find each other. I am very thankful for her. Without her this trip would not be a reality. She is the greatest!!!
Well, have a great day, and if you see a cyclist on the road, give them plenty of room!!!!
Stephen Janes

 Friday, February 8, 2002
Two weeks left until we head out west. Below I have listed most of the towns we will be going through on the trip. The names with the asterisk are the ones we are more likely to spend the night in or near. I thought I would post them in case anyone out there had any info on the towns: places to eat, campgrounds, hostels, etc.... If anyone has any such info, please e-mail me at This will make the trip a whole lot easier.
Thanks for your time,
Stephen J.
Alpine, Pine Valley, Buckman Springs, Live Oak Springs*,Boulevard, Jacumba,Seely, El Centro, Imperial, Brawley*, Glamis, Palo Verde, Ripley, Blythe*,
Ehrenberg, Quartzsite, Brenda, Hope*, Harcuvar, Salome, Wenden, Wickenburg*, Morristown,Peoria, Pheonix, Tempe*, Florence Junction, Superior, Claypool, Globe*, Bylas*, Geronimo, Fort Thomas, Pima, Thatcher, Safford, Soloman*,
New Mexico:
Mule Creek, Buckhorn, Cliff, Riverside, Mangas, Silver City*, Pinos Altos, Gila , Hot Springs, Lake Roberts, Mimbres, Kingston, Hillsboro*, Arrey, Derry, Garfield, Salem, Radium Springs, Las Cruces*, La Mesilla, San Miguel, La Mesa, Chamberino, Sunland Park,
El Paso*, San Elizario, Fabens, Tornillo, Acala, Mc Nary, Esperanza*, Sierra Blanca, Van Horn, Kent*, Fort Davis*, Alpine, Marathon*, Sanderson, Dryden*, Comstock*, Del Rio: , Bracketville, Montell, Camp Wood*, Leakey, mHunt*, Ingram, Kerrville*, Centerpoint, Comfort, Sisterdale, Blanco*, Wimberly, Kyle, Lockhart*, Bateman, Bastrop, ,Winchester, Lagrange, Rutersville, Oldenburg, Warrenton, Round Top*, Burton, Longpoint, Gay Hill, Independence, William Penn, Washington, Navasota*, Anderson, Richards, New Waverly, Pumpkin, Evergreen, Coldspring, Shepherd*, Dolen, Romayor, Thicket, Honey Island, Kountze, Fred*, Spurger, Mt Union, Kerbyville,
Bleakwood, Bon Wier, Merryville, DeRidder*, Mittie, Oberlin, Mamou* Prairie Ronde, Opelousas, Washington, Lebeau, DuPont, Plaucheville*, Moreauville, Hamburg, SimmmesPort, Morganza, St Francisville*
Natchez, Mount Locust, Rocky Springs, Jackson, Information Center, Jeff Busby, Tupelo, Colbert Fairy, AL
Lawrenceburg, Pulaski, Fayetteville, Winchester, Jasper, Chattanooga: , Cleveland
North Carolina
Ranger, Murphy, Hayesville, Rianbow Springs, Cullasaja, Gneiss, Highlands, Cashiers, Saphire, Brevard, Hendersonville, Saluda, Tryon , Forrest City, Shelby, Wilmington

 Wednesday, February 20, 2002
In less than 48 hours Rhonda, Texas and I will begin the long awaited journey west. We are very excited, to say the least.
Yesterday I had my first ever root canal. It was not terrible but I think that I would rather ride my bike across America.
After we leave North Carolina on Friday, we will drive to Henderson, Nevada. There we will visit my brother and his family. We will be speaking to his youth group on Wednesday night and probably head to San Diego on Thursday.
We have had some response in people opening their homes up to us. San Diego, CA, Scottsdale AZ, El Paso TX, are covered.
I am very excited about the trip and even more excited that I will be able to post some more exciting stories about the trip.
Thanks to all who have made this trip possible. Continue to spread the words among family and friends, and help to make a difference in your community.
Have a great day,
Stephen J.

 Friday, February 22, 2002
8 AM, Friday, we are filled with butterflies and the nervous shakes as we finish packing the car and close up the house. We will be leaving by 9 am. I can't fully tell you how excited we are because the immensity of the trip has not totally hit. So much planning and preparation. The big day is finally here.
Thanks to all of the friends and family members who have made this trip a possibility. Thanks Almighty God, our Lord and Savior, for this opportunity to see His creation and help my community. Thanks Youth Assistance Program for your devotion to the youth in Cleveland county.
To the group of guys in Shelby that I ride with, thanks for the encouragement, it has been great getting to know you and I look forward to riding again with you.
Thanks to Crossroads Ministries for allowing me the time to fulfill a dream. You guys are great and we'll miss you.
Thanks to all who have made contributions in funds and product, without you this trip would be more difficult!!
Please feel free to contact us via e-mail, and share the web-site with your friends.
Lastly, thanks to Brian at, for his contribution of the web-site. Brian is a talented musician and artist. Help support him by clicking the link my web-site.
I hope you all have a great day,
Stephen and Rhonda

 Sunday, February 24, 2002
8:45 AM
We got all packed up, nerves and everything. Driving to the YAP office we are both quiet with excitement. We visit for a few minutes and then hit the road.
Within the first 3 hours the check engine light comes on in the 1997 Honda Accord that we are driving. My prognosis is that because of the drag from 3 bikes and a luggage box on top of the car, the computer is getting a poor emissions reading. We opt to keep driving.
7:50 PM
As we pass Memphis we wave at my Nana and Pepa. Starbucks is also in order: double tall caramel macciato for me and a chai tea latte for Rhonda.

11:30 PM
120 miles east of Ft. Smith, we decide to call it a day. 800 miles is plenty for us old folks.
Around 10 pm we were cruising along and noticed a car stopped on the overpass above us. Suddenly an unidentifiable mystery fluid hit the windshield. I guess when you gotta go , you gotta go.
8 Am
We are in the middle of AK and we stop at Mom and Pop's for breakfast. Pecan waffle for me and eggs, hashbrowns and toast for Rhonda.
4 pm
We stop on route 66 for gas.
5:30 pm
Finally we reach the Lone Star State. How about them Cowboys?!!!
10:41 pm mountain time zone
We stop in Moriarty NM. for the night. Another 800 miles today. Tommorrow we will visit the Grand Canyon!!

Tuesday, February 26, 2002
We arrived in Henderson, NV. yesterday. It was good to get a homecooked meal and a not hotel room bed.
The trip went well. We left Flagstaff around 9 am and went north to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. It is an amazing place. So huge. Words can't really explain it, so you'll just have to come see for yourself.
After the Canyon we went south back to I-40 and had lunch in a pizza place on Route 66.
The road to Henderson crosses over Hoover dam. About 5 miles before the dam there is apolice checkpoint. They waved us on through. They must have heard about our trip because they were all wanting an autograph. Ok not really, but they did wave us through.
The dam is another amazing sight to see. We drove up over a hill into a steep valley and there it was. The water from Lake Mead is crystal clear.
Today, my brother Geoffrey and his wife Nancy and two kids Kara and Garren will be taking us to the strip in LV. Tommorrow we will be hiking up Mt Charles. There is snow up there and down here it is to get up to 75 degrees. Very different from the south.
Thanks again for you support. Please continue checking the list of towns below and let me know if you know of someone who we could contact for campround and route info along the way.
Have a great day,
Stephen and Rhonda

 Thursday, February 28, 2002
After a great visit with Geoffrey and Nancy and kids, we head to San Diego. Tomorrow the second stage of this trip begins. We will be leaving from Ocean Beach Park. Rhonda and Texas will be riding the first few miles of the trip with me.
Have a great day,
Stephen J.

Ride Across America, January 2002

Thursday, January 24, 2002
This past weekend, we went to Gatlinburg, TN, where we held the CrossRoads Winter Conference. The weekend was filled with speakers, Siler's Bald, and discipleship workshops. There were over 500 in attendance.
I thought this would be a great opportunity to spread the word about this fund-raiser. So, I got a little container, cut a hole in the top, and glued a brochure to the outside. The MC made an announcement about the fund-raiser and the coins started dropping in. By the end of the weekend I had collected $68 in coins, $108 in bills and a $600 check. The check is from a 15 year old guy. He gave me the check and asked me to wait to cash it so he could transfer the money.
After I got home on Monday, I received an e-mail from him explaining why he chose to make such a contribution:
"I'd been saving the money since I was about 12, having the intent to buy whatever car I could get with the money when I turned 16. I was 15 and I had $1000 cold hard cash saved up. But, this was my plan, I hadn't really let God do much planning when it came to me getting a car. At summer CrossRoads (summer camp), we talked about idols. God showed me that I did have some stuff that I was putting before Him, one of which was a car that I most desperately wanted. So, I stopped craving to get a car, stopped going and looking at cars, stopped spending my free time on the computer looking at car web-sites.
Then one day God said, "Hey, you know what?, You don't really need a car all that bad!" So, if God didn't want me to have a car, then I didn't need one. So, He told me that when I needed a car, he'd get me one, but until then I didn't need the money either. So $400 went on a mission trip with some good friends and YAP's got the rest. I'm fully confident that God knows what He's doing, so therefore I got no worries. Rock on, Your Friend."
Not much to say to that other than a great big thanks.
In 29 days Rhonda and I will begin this great adventure. Please continue to share with your friends about this project. We only have $47,000 to go!!!!
Have a great day,
Stephen J.

Monday, January 14, 2002 As of last week, we have made it to the $2000 mark. Now we only have $48,000 to go. Thanks to all who have donated so far.
Please continue to tell your friends about this project. We have forty days until we make the drive out west.
I had the opportunity to meet with some friends in Davidson on Saturday. We rode a metric century (60 miles). It turned out to be a pretty chilly day but it is always good to see old friends. They even offered to let me come speak to the cycling club about the trip and Youth Assistance Program.
In case I did not mention it before, I am available to come speak to your club, civic group, church group, ice cream social group, or any other sort of group you can think of.
Special thanks to Shanewolfe Cycle Sports for donating two sets of bike tires, tubes and energy bars!!!
Have a great day,
Stephen J.

Thursday, January 3, 2002 First, I wish you all a happy new year. I got back from Chambersburg, PA yesterday. Rhonda and I had a youth retreat up there with along with our friends Matt and Shannon Orth. Since we were there we decided to spend New Year's with them.
Northerner's are great people, although they have an odd tradition. At midnight everyone grabs pots and pans. They then go out on the porch (in the freezing cold) and start banging and clanging. I have to admit that it was a lot of fun.
As I write this newsletter a very rare thing is happening. SNOW!!! Ok, if you are in the north it is not a big deal. But to those of us who live in the south, it is quite exciting. I haven't been to the store yet but I'm sure there is no bread, milk or eggs left on the shelves. I don't know what they do with them but I guess they have eggs sandwiches with milk!!!
The south pretty much shuts down during the rare snow "storm". School is cancelled and all that!
I am a little different. I look at snow as an opportunity. An opportunity to venture out, to explore untraveled roads. When the forecast calls for snow, I plan on going hiking!!! ( sometimes I even go mountain biking in the snow). What an opportunity to see the environment in a covering of white.
When I was in college, 5 years ago, I would talk a couple of friends into going driving with me. In Northeast Ga. there are a lot of State game lands and forests and therefore a lot of dirt roads. We would drive all over the mountains in my little front wheel drive VW Fox. The nice thing about driving was that if I were to get stuck, my friends got to push while I drove. This is why it is good to have strong friends.
To end the day we usually went to a local restaurant, Hickory Mtn. Restaurant or Betty's in Helen.
So today, instead of going for a ride on the bike, I will head out in my Fox station wagon, looking for adventure.
The moral of my story is: Don't let an opportunity pass by without at least considering it.
Have a great day,
Stephen J.

Ride Across America, December 2001

Monday, December 17, 2001
We are now well above the $1000 mark. At $1563 we are actually on our way to $2000. I wonder if we can break $2000 before Christmas?!
67 days from now Rhonda, Texas ( our dog) and I will leave Shelby and head out west!!! The excitement is building!!
Training is going well. I was able to go up to Winston-Salem and ride with some friends from Cycle North Carolina. We did a 60 mile ride which included a trip up the steep Pilot Mtn. The good thing about going up is that you get to come back down. My top speed that day was around 42 mph.
Thanks for your support, have a great day.
Stephen J.

Thursday, December 6, 2001 Yesterday, Rhonda and I donned some dress clothes and headed out into the business world of Shelby in search of corporate sponsors. It is a cold cruel dog-eat-dog world we live in. Overall we had a fair response. Most businesses said to come back in January due to the fact that all funds has been allocated for the year. Hampton Inn of Shelby did promise a couple of nights free. This was very encouraging. It will be nice to look forward to a warm dry bed on some nights.
One thing I am attempting to do is to contact the hotels that are on the route. Most of the major chains have hotels somewhere along the way. Our hope is that we can acquire more complimentary rooms, as this will make the trip easier.
Consider this: You have been on your bicycle for two weeks now. It has been raining off and on all day and the high temp is only 45. You shiver now and then but don't worry this is only your bodies way of generating heat. And suddenly you remember that when you get to town in 10 miles you have a hotel room waiting for. And then you remember the kind soul who donated that room. So, you get to the hotel and before you even take a shower, you send an e-mail newsletter telling how thankful you are for a warm room tonight as opposed to a cold tent to sleep in.
Thanks for your support. stay tuned for more exciting stories!!!
Stephen J.

Ride Across America, November 2001

Tuesday, November 27, 2001
Exactly 88 days from today Rhonda and I will begin our drive out west. As we count down the days we continue to trust that the funds will be provided in order to reach the goal of $50,000. We have gotten to the $900 mark and are holding steady.
Training is going well. The warmer than usual weather has thrown me for a loop, but I am not complaining about being able to wear shorts for a few more days or weeks?!!
Not much to tell right now. But in 88 days we should have lots to share.
Have a great day and stay posted!!!!

Your Friend,
Stephen J.

Ride Across America, October 2001

Friday, October 26, 2001 The winter winds are blasting. The forecast calls for snow in the mountains. The long sleeves and heavy coats come out of the closet. Old man winter has stopped by for another visit.
Some cyclists hang up their cycling shoes for the season during this time of year. Others simply put on more layers and keep riding.
I have backed off for a little while. I always get burned out this time of year. It is good to take a break from the daily routine. It helps a person regain perspective.
120 days from now, we will begin driving west to SanDiego. Plans are beginning to come together. Special thanks to Adventure Cycling Association for donating the route maps. An individual has also promised to donate a laptop computer. This make it easier to update you with our progress during the ride.
Thanks also to Cliff Bar and Mountain House Foods for discounts.
We still need several things to make this trip a success:
-digital camera
-gas card
-hotel pass: we plan on camping out, sleeping in our tent most of the time, to save money, but the occasional hot shower and soft bed will be welcome when it is pouring down rain.

Thanks again for your support and prayers. We are still at the $200.00 mark. Let's see what kind of impact we can have in our community!!!
Have a great day,
Stephen J.

PS I would love to hear from you, don't hesitate to e-mail me!!!

Sunday, October 14, 2001 My wife and I just got back today from our trip across North Carolina. Rhonda volunteered at the rest stops while I rode. With around 1000 cyclists registered the volunteers ended up making over 1000 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches each day for the week. Kudo's to the volunteers.
We rode across the northern part of the state from Mt. Airy to Elizabeth City. The temperature of the first morning was 36 degrees and warmed up after that. We slept in the tent each night.
We averaged 60 miles a day with the shortest day being 48 miles and the longest was 82. One day the route took us to the top of Sauratown and Hanging Rock Mtns. some steep climbing and some fast descents with speeds reaching 45 mph. Overall we rode approxamately 450 miles in seven days.
Good news: The web-site is in full working order. Please continue to spread the word to family and friends in your area. I am still looking for corporate sponsors so if you know someone who may be interested let them know about me.
Thanks again for your interest in this project. Please contact me with any questions or comments. Have a great day,
Stephen J.

Thursday, October 4, 2001 Fall is in the air. The cool mornings bring a new challenge to training rides: What to wear!! It is cool when I start out but will it warm up or stay cool? Evening rides with the group are also getting shorter as the sun sets earlier. There have been some very nice sunsets though.
This Friday Rhonda and I will be driving up to Mt. Airy, NC for the annual ride across North Carolina. You can check out details by looking up the Cycle North Carolina web-site :
A t-shirt design is in the works. The proceeds from sales will go to the fundraising process.
I had my first TV interview with the Gardner Web U. television and radio station. This was on the air last Sunday night and will air again, so if you live in the Shelby area, check your local listings!!
We broke the $200 mark this week. Only $ 49,800 to go. Please help me make this goal!!!
Thanks for your support, Have a great day,
Stephen Janes

Ride Across America: September 2001

Sunday, September 30, 2001
In approximately five and a half months I will be embarking on the trip of a lifetime. We plan on leaving North Carolina the last week of February. We will be driving out to San Diego with as few stops as possible. We also plan on spending a day in Henderson NV with my older brother.
Lots of people have asked about my training. It is pretty straightforward. I ride my bike every day that I can. I usually ride between 30 and 60 miles at an average pace of 18 miles per hour. Lately I have been logging about 150-200 miles per week. I plan on keeping this regimen until Cycle North Carolina, an annual ride across the state, and then ride about 30 miles a day until the end of the year. In January I will resume some longer rides, gradually building up.
I need your help to make this event a success. Please help me get the word out to people who would like to sponsor this trip. Feel free to print anything you see on my website or e-mails and hand them out. I have a brochure that I have made up to pass out. I would be glad to send you a copy if you are interested in making copies to hand out in your area. Also, it would be great if you could organize a fundraiser in your area. My only request is that you would be sensitive to the rights and privacy of others.
My goal is to raise $50,000.
If you have any questions please do not hesitate to e-mail me. I would love top know that you are interested in this venture.
Thanks for your time, have a great day.
Stephen Janes

Monday, February 22, 2016

3 Hours On The Ridge

I arrived at Pleasant Ridge Park Saturday morning, unsure of what to expect.  I had heard about the race via Facebook from a friend and expected to see more Asheville folks.  It turns out, I was the only one representing WNC.

The volunteers were super friendly and I got checked in and changed.  At the pre-race meeting, everyone was slightly chilly, but the temps promised to warm up to close to 60.  After "the talk",  the race director said,  "Oh, look,  it is 10 am sharp.  Ready- Set- GO".   And that is how the race started.

20 of us rolled out of the park and up the pavement through Camp Spearhead before finally entering the single track.  We made a short loop and ended up back at the start/finish pretty quickly.  Then we started getting down to business.

The single track here, built by none other than "Shrimper" and his crew, reminded me a lot of Squirrel Gap trail, but a little bit easier and let remote.  Definitely narrow, twisty single track with some rock gardens and switchbacks thrown in for fun.

At the start everyone got a red rubber bracelet.  The bracelet granted a 1 time access to "Sassy's"  a short cut trail, which eliminated about 1 mile of the most techy section of the loop. 

I was caught in traffic and not going my pace, so I used my pass on the first lap.  It was good to get out on my own and settle in.  I figured if I got caught and passed, then,  well,  they were just faster than me.  Nothing I could do about it but keep moving forward.

Laps 1-3 went by and I was feeling good.  At the end of lap 3,  they told me the time was 11:45am.  Cut off for one final lap was at 12:45pm.  I had barely 1 hour to complete 2 laps.  I asked a fellow single speeder who was going about the same pace what his lap times were.  He told me about 30 minutes.

Ok,  do I ride hard and try to get 3 more laps or settle in and finish with 5 laps total.  My goal coming in was to get 6 laps, so there you have it.  I pushed the pace but stayed within myself in order not to blow up.  I watched the time, trying to decided if I could do another lap at this pace.

I neared the finish line and yelled across the field to Tyler Crotts and asked him to hand up a bottle for me.  He did and that act helped me out.  I crossed the lined and they called out 30 minutes left to the cut off.  The previous lap according to my watch had taken 31 minutes.  I took about 15 seconds deciding what to do.  Never give up, hammer down.  I went redline and pushed up the climb that consisted of most of the first half of the loop.   When ever my body thought it had enough, I gave just a little more.

Ugh,  I was moving forward but I had not given this type of effort on the bike in a long time.   Relax,  pedal, breathe.  Eddie Odea sat on my shoulder and reminded me to hold my position and focus on breathing and pedal stroke.  I pushed up one little grunt climb and hopped back on the bike, easing off the brakes and allowing myself to coast through the corners, powering out of the apex, and spinning through the flatter portions of single track.

I finally saw the field and the tape marking the course leading to the finish line.  I spun through the field and wanted a new bottle.  I didn't want to miss the cutoff by seconds so I skipped the bottle.  My bottle was still half full so I would use that to nurse me back to the finish.  I crossed the line and made the cut off.   I was done.  But,  I made the cut off, so I wasn't really done.  I knew there were people ahead of me, and tried to pick up the pace, but could not.  I settled in to try to recover and finish 1 more lap.

It took me closer to 45 minutes to finish, but I did.  They didn't really keep track of standings after the top 3 but by my calculations, I wound up in 5th place men's, and 4th single speed.  Complete results are the only thing that I would like to see different at the event.

It was great to get out in some new territory and experience the burn in my legs and lungs again.

This event was awesome and here is why:  It was so simple.   No t-shirt, no swag,  1 table for neutral water support at the finish line.  Simple prizes 3 deep, 3 categories.   And it only cost $25.  That's it.

While I love the races that are around and have grown, and throw a huge party,  I appreciate the grass roots feel and low cost provided by 3 Hrs On The Ridge!   I hope to be back!

Monday, February 15, 2016

Snake Creek Gap TT #2 2016

I got packed up headed out for Dalton one more time.  I love the drive through the Ocoee Gorge so that is the route I chose to go.  It was really pretty, with snow on the ground and flurries in the air, but for some reason it felt like the 4 hr drive was taking a loooong time. 

I finally got to Dalton and drove up to the Quality Inn where I had made my reservation.  I suddenly realized that the hotel with outside access rooms,  several other hotels nearby and a restaurant right in front might have been a bad choice if I wanted to get some sleep.   I drove over to the hotel I normally stay at and asked if they had any rooms left.  Yes, they did, but only a jacuzzi room.  And it was cheaper than QI.  Sweet,  I called to cancel my reservation and moved in.  I wasn't sure if this was a good sign, but I was giddy.

I went up to "The Snake Pit" checked in and then back to the hotel to enjoy my evening of solitude and relaxation.   

I slept well enough that the 5am alarm went off and I rolled out of bed excited.  After years of struggling with pre race food intake, I was trying Ensure before this one and had high hopes.  I had tested it over the past couple of weeks and looking forward to how my body would respond this morning.  I sipped on Ensure and coffee, got packed and prepped. then drove down to meet Ron Marcus and Daryl for my shuttle out to the start. 

I'm excited that the Ensure did the trick and I was able to get nutrition into my body and did not get the empty stomach jitters or motion sickness that I usually get. 

We lined up and took off one by one. 

It was cold.  24 degrees cold.  I felt good but my body did not respond.  I wondered what was up but found out later that everyone was feeling the same.  Sluggish and little like riding underwater.  It is hard to get the body to go at temps that cold. 

So,  I assumed my pace and rode my race.  Several times I wanted to slow down and enjoy the ride, but kept reminding myself that if I did that, I could easily slip into 3rd, 4th 5th.....   I kept the hammer down. 

Other than the bitter cold, I felt good, so I was pleased about that. 

I finally ticked off the miles and hit the normally 40 mph pavement decent.  Today, however, thanks to a strong headwind, I could only hit 30mph.  Bummer, I always look forward to that drop in elevation!

I rolled to the finish in 4h1min,  2 in faster than last month.  After changing into warm dry clothes, I ate 2 bowls of chili and a bowl of peach cobbler.  After all the single speed riders finished, I landed in 2nd place with 3rd barely 1 minute behind me.   I was really glad that I had not slowed down to enjoy the view.

Great start to my season,  looking forward to what the year holds!

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Feb 2

 Headwinds had me riding slow.  I had no power,  couldn't even spin.  I could not figure out what was going on.  It was going to be a long day.   30 minutes later the front tire finally went flat.  I had forgotten to twist the valve closed and the air had slowly leaked out.  I didn't realize it at the time though.  I went to replace the tube and found that my spare was a previous flat..... 
 What now?   Co2 and ride to Epic Cycles in Black Mountain.  The tube held but I replaced it anyway.   It was cold, drizzly and windy.  I wanted to go to Old Fort to feel some warmth, but it looked like rain.  I cut the ride short.

 At the Eastern Continental Divide on Hwy 9 there was still snow,  and wind and drizzle for shizzle my nizzle. 
And of course I found a gravel road to ride on.