Happy Birthday to me!

September 29th, 2011


Today is my birthday.  My early birthday present to myself was I spent the day yesterday biking around Arches National Park.  Its pretty small, the road running through it is about 16 miles one way, but all hills.  Which is good about half the time.  I didn’t get back till dark.  Here is me at Delicate Arch, the most famous one.  You may recognize it from the sign in my last post.


I stayed with another Warmshowers.com member, Terri Ann.  She was trippy and very cool.  Her yard was fill with artwork.  Also staying with her were two other touring cyclists.  Martin was German and had sold all his posessions to tour.  After going across the country on basically the same route as me but 100-200 miles north of me, he is heading into Mexico and will continue into South America.  He does 100 miles a day because he has to leave the country before his 90 day visa expires.

The other cyclist, who I picked up on the way back from Arches at a McDonald’s because he didn’t think to bring lights, was Joe.  He has been touring for at least 20 years, going across the country, southern Africa, and from Alaska to the bottom of South America in 6 trips.

As you can see above the other thing I did for my birthday was get an Oreo cake.  I ate the whole thing.  And while I didn’t feel great afterwards, I regret nothing. Which is how I feel after some rides.

Thanks to everyone for their birthday wishes in all forms, SMS, Facebook, email, etc.

A night ride to remember

September 28th, 2011


Other titles for this post were: A night’s ride tale, In the heat of the night ride, Boogie night ride, and of course Night rider.

Yesterday was my favorite 100+ mile ride so far.  The first 70 or so miles really sucked, but the last 40 were amazing.  Let me start from the beginning.  I got a late start yesterday for a variety of reasons.  I waited till 10 for the REI to open, then ended up not getting anything.  Setting up the map took about 30 minutes, a lot of that just waiting on the computer.  I also had to write up yesterday’s blog post twice because I lost the first version.

So overall I didn’t hit the road till around noon.  This put me biking through the hottest part of the day.  I got another flat about 20 miles in, and I lost my headband somewhere along the way.  I didn’t notice until I stopped for the above picture, though I think I took it off earlier and forgot to put it back on.  Another problem was that after Mack, CO there is a whole lotta nothing till Moab, about 80 miles away.   My new Camelback came in handy, but its no fun having to ration water.

I got off I-70 around sunset leaving me with about 45 miles to go. My original plan was to get close to Moab, UT, then wake up early, finish the ride into town, then explore Arches NP.  Instead I decided to go the whole way.  It was a really nice night out, with a warm breeze and clear skies.  It was also slightly downhill almost the whole way. 

The road is a designated scenic route, but because I was riding at night I didn’t see a lot of detail.  What I did get was a ride surrounded by huge, pitch black shapes against the backdrop of a grey sky packed with stars.  It was a very tranquil setting.  I rode for about 3 hours and loved every minute of it.  I stopped at a campground near town around 11pm and am now looking forward to riding around Arches.

So long Rockies, hello mesas?

September 27th, 2011


I finished biking through the Rocky Mountains on Sunday and I celebrated by visiting the Vapor Caves in Glenwood Springs.  So named because of the sulfurous hot springs nearby.  The caves are similar to a sauna but smellier. A good way to rest my muscles and the smelliness is supposed to have healing properties.  After steaming myself for about an hour I ventured out to find a campsite.  This turned out to be a more interesting process than I expected.

The first site I found was off a trail above the town.  There was already a tent setup, but no one was there.  It looked like someone had been living there, but it might have been abandoned. Around the tent were tiny liquor bottles and the exploded contents of a wallet.  Overall pretty sketchy so I decided to move along.  This process did use up a lot of my daylight so I ended up biking around at night until I found a nice campground west of town. Plus it had wifi and electricity,  two of my favorite things.

The following morning I biked about 90 miles on I-70 to Grand Junction, the last big city in Colorado.  I found that I prefer riding in a huge shoulder on the interstate compared to riding in no shoulder on a local highway.  Once I got into town I headed straight to the REI to fuel my outdoor gear addiction.  I picked up some tire levers because I lost mine somewhere, and more tube patches.  This turned out to be a good idea because I have gotten 3 flats in the last 24 hours.  One on I-70, one after I got in yesterday and another this morning. I hope I’ve filled my flat quota for the next couple weeks.

Fortunately last night I stayed with Keith and his girlfriend Rosa from Warmshowers.  They were very friendly and super helpful in planning the next part of my trip.  I’m now going to travel through southern Utah instead of going through Salt Lake City.  This should be much more scenic and will take me through some National Parks including Arches, Capitol Reef, and Bryce Canyon.  I also got to pick Keith’s brain about my ride from SF to LA as he did a tour down the Pacific Coast, from Canada to the Mexican border.  The slideshow he made of his trip got me really excited about that last leg of my ride.  A big thanks to Keith and Rosa for the bed, dinner, and great conversation and advice.

In other news I gave up trying to update my map so instead I made a second one.  Enjoy!

Mountains and rivers and foliage, oh my

September 25th, 2011


I’m suffering from what I’ve dubbed Colca Canyon syndrome.  Located in Peru, Colca Canyon is the 2nd deepest canyon in the world.  While in Peru I did a tour of the canyon and the surrounding areas. As Rebecca Ming and Jon Sundy can attest to it is amazing.  So much so that every five feet is another breathtaking vista that you want to take a picture of.  You eventually realize the futility in attempting to capture the thrilling grandeur of it all and start taking pictures only every thirty feet.  The Rocky Mountains have been a similar experience.

First of all, Vail Pass was a piece of cake.  Short ride up, nice lunch, then a really long and fun coast down.  Overall the Rockies have been a big disappointment. The best kind of disappointment, where I think they’re gonna really suck but then it turns out they’re not so bad.  And the views have been amazing, resulting in the aforementioned syndrome.  It wouldn’t really be a problem except for the fact that for some reason I can only transfer a couple pictures from my camera to my Nook before it stops working and I have to turn my camera off and back on.  Its kinda a drag and makes me reluctant to go all Ansel Adams up in this bitch.  But its hard when the scenery is so good.

I stopped for the night at a little campground off Route 6 near Wolcott which ended up working out great.  There I met DJ Parrish who was very friendly and allowed me to stay at her campsite.  She also fed me and got me buzzed off pumpkin spice beer and tequila which might explain the rambliness of this post.  All I had to do was help her setup her tent.  We had a really fun time and I’m glad I could share her first night camping.  Apart from riding in circles due to a very poorly marked detour it was an excellent day.  I think I’ve used up all my synonyms for good, so thats it for now.

I also updated the stats page.

Suck it Continental Divide!

September 24th, 2011


As you can see I have crossed the Continental Divide.  I’m following I-70 through the Rockies, though I’ve only had to ride about 8 miles on the interstate itself.  However as the highway approaches the divide it cheats by going through a tunnel under the mountains.  A tunnel that cyclists can’t use, and instead have to climb Route 6 over Loveland Pass.  It took me 1 hour and 15 mintutes to cross the Pass, of which 55 minutes were going up, and 20 were spent going downhill, not pedalling, and going “Wheeeee!”  And “Brrrr”, because most of the downhill was in the shade and is at least 15° cooler than in the sun.  Plus going 30+ MPH creates its own wind chill factor.  Halfway through I remembered I had bought gloves specifically for that scenario, which helped.

Honestly it wasn’t that bad.  Certainly not as bad as I made it out in my mind.  Today’s climb of Vail Pass will probably be harder since it’s a steeper grade though not as high.  Overall the Rockies have been great so far.  Slow, I think I averaged 9 MPH yesterday, but not the worst climbs.  I had a harder time in PA, though part of that is because back then I didn’t have thighs bigger than fat dachshunds.   The weather has been warm during the day, and not too cold at night.  The scenery is gorgeous, and a welcome change of pace from miles of farmland.  Now that I’ve written all this (and flipped off an inanimate object) the next couple of days will kick my ass, but I say bring it on.

Shipping my insecurities home

September 23rd, 2011


A member of a backpacking forum said that you pack your insecurities.  I’ve found this to be true particularly in cases of nebulous travel where you don’t exactly know what’s going to happen and you tend to pack for “what if.” 

What if my gear or brake cables snap? 
What if the temperature drops to 20°?
What if I can’t find a store that sells fuel for my stove?
What if I get bored?
What if I need to carry water from a stream?
What if I need something but I don’t have it?

These are all questions I answered by packing more and more stuff.  Part of me knew that I was taking more than I needed, but the other part of me said “shutup, that hill isn’t going to climb itself!”  Now that I have more than 2,500 miles under my belt (feet?, ass?) I had the confidence to reevaluate what was actually necessary.  The result is the above picture. 

Through a combination of smaller frame bags, moving stuff around, throwing stuff out, and most importantly shipping stuff home I was able to get rid of both my front panniers.  The rear panniers are also easier to access without unpacking everything on top of the rack.  Hopefully this will make for a better ride.

I’m still carrying more than I need.  Which I’m fine with because I still feel like a cycling noob.  As I go farther and experience more I’ll understand better what it is I’m doing and be able to travel less encumbered.  That feels like the start of something profound or at least a trite anology, but I’ll leave it to the reader to figure it out.  Not because it will make it more meaningful (though it probably will), but because I have a 12,000ft high mountain pass to cross and I’ve procrastinated long enough.

On the road again, I can wait to get on the road again

September 22nd, 2011

David, Mark, Jan, Grandma

After a rather long break I’m back on the road Thursday morning. A big thanks to my Uncle Mark, Aunt Jan, and especially my Grandma Lois for all their support over the last week, which has made it hard to leave. It’s also very hard to go back to sleeping in a tent and eating the same thing all the time after having a bed and good food that someone else makes. Especially when the next part is probably going to be the hardest part of my trip, at least in terms of long, agonizingly slow rides up mountains. But onward I go.

Sorry for my lack of posting; I’ve been pretty lazy. I was actually planning on leaving Wednesday morning but ended up staying up way too late on Tuesday and didn’t get enough sleep. Part of that was because I needed to hit up the REI again and got a flat when I was about 1 mile away. Of course I had left my pump behind thinking “its only 10 miles.” I walked my bike the rest of the way and fortunately the people at the REI bike shop were very friendly and happy to fill up my new tube.

I tried to update the map but the only computer I have access to isn’t fast enough to load the map to allow me to edit it. Just imagine my route continuing in a straight line for another 1,200 miles, then dips south a bit into Denver. I’ll also update the Stats page in the next couple days.

Dammit REI!

September 18th, 2011

Damn your garage sales and your great bargains.

For those that don’t know REI is an outdoor retailer that allows you to return anything that you ever bought there. Forever. Seriously. Then every so often they have a “garage sale” where they sell all the returned stuff for pretty damn cheap.

As I mentioned in my last post I went to the REI to see if there was anything I needed to prepare for the upcoming mountains/desert. Unfortunately for my wallet they were in the middle of a garage sale. While I did find some things that I legitimately needed, I found a whole lot more stuff that I probably didn’t. Such as the Vibram KSO Trek’s (more toe shoes!) that I’ve been wanting to get for a while, or an air mattress that’s normally $80. The Camelback I actually might need when crossing the desert because there are some stretches where I’ll be 80-100 miles between towns. But the Timbuk2 bag and the fleece lined stuff sack? That’s just cause I wanted it.

I know this post sounds like a commercial for REI. While I really like REI, what it really is is an explainabrag about the awesome kinda-new gear I got for really cheap. And if you don’t know what an explainabrag is then you really need to watch Community.

Rest and recovery 2.0

September 18th, 2011

I made it to the Denver area yesterday.  I biked to my Uncle Mark and Aunt Jan’s house, and then Mark drove me to my grandmother’s apartment.  She cooked a huge dinner, steak plus lasagna, and I ate everything in sight.  Again.  I’ll be here until at least Monday, which will give me time to rest up and plan how the hell I’m going to cross the Rockies.

Its getting to be a little late in the year for crossing the mountains as they’re starting to see snow up there.  I might have to either buy some heavier duty gear(and have an excuse to go to a giant REI), or avoid the really high parts by riding a couple days north or south.  But that’s for Future Gibbs to worry about.  I’m going to spend some time with my family and deal with it tomorrow.

I’m On A Bike!

September 16th, 2011

What a miserable ride today. Cold and wet makes for a very unpleasant morning.  Thank you for coffe shops being everywere.  I spent an hour in one this morning warming up, then spent another couple of hours in one 30 miles later in Akron after losing most of the feeling in my fingers and toes.  Currently in Fort Morgan with at least 80 miles to do tomorrow.  But then I get to take a couple days off.  I was going to wait till one of those days to post my song parody parody, but lets just put it up now.

I present to you my parody of Lonely Island’s parody “I’m On A Boat.”  See the original video here. [NSFW language]

Aww shit, get your helmets ready it’s about to go down
Everybody in the place hit the fucking road
But stay in your motherfucking toe clips
We spinning this, let’s go

I’m on a bike
I’m on a bike
Everybody look at me ’cause I’m riding on a bike
I’m on a bike
I’m on a bike
Take a good hard look at the motherfucking bike

I’m on a bike motherfucker take a look at my feet
Straight cruising on a bike going down the street
Busting speed limits, wind whipping at my face
You can’t stop me motherfucker cause I’m on a bike

Take a picture, trick
I’m on a bike, bitch
We drinking Gatorade champ,
Cause it’s so crisp
I got my bike shorts
And my reflective shirt
I’m ridin’ cross country, you in traffic
Riding to and from work

I’m riding on a Schwinn, doing flips and shit
The puddles splashing, getting me all wet
But this ain’t Tour de France, this is real as it gets
I’m on a bike, motherfucker, don’t you ever forget

I’m on a bike and
It’s going fast and
I got a ridiculous looking farmer’s tan
I’m the king of the world
On a bike like Eddy
If you’re in a car, then you’re sure not ready

Get the fuck up, this bike is REAL!!!

Fuck water, I’m on a bike, motherfucker
Fuck trees, I climb hills, motherfucker
I’m on the road with my boys, motherfucker
This bike chain makes noise, motherfucker

Hey ma, if you could see me still
Legs pedaling fast going down a hill
Gonna fly this bike to the moon I will
Like Kevin Garnett, anything is possible

Yeah, never thought I’d be on a bike
It’s a long hopefully paved road
Lance Armstrong Look at me, oh

Never thought I’d see the day
When a big bike coming my way
Believe me when I say I rode a hundred today

I’m on a bike
I’m on a bike
Everybody look at me ’cause I’m riding on a bike
I’m on a bike
I’m on a bike
Take a good hard look at the mothafuckin’ bike