traciwentling

Inspiration Day

A Time of Preparation

“Uh oh” I announce to my aunties who love me like a daughter…I’m going on another adventure! It doesn’t officially begin until July 1st, but the preparation and training are well under way. Why you ask? Why in March am I writing about a ride that begins three months from now? Because dear readers, it will be the most physical, the most remote, the most dangerous adventure of my life. Truly EPIC!

I’ve been thinking about this ride for years but it was really just a dream until two years ago after finishing my ride to Alaska. This year’s adventure will take me from Banff, Alberta Canada all the way across the U.S. (Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, Colorado and New Mexico) following the Continental Divide (called the Great Divide in Canada). 2,770 miles on a bicycle with no vehicle support. That means carrying all my gear and enough food to last sometimes five days.

I would need a new bike. And, according to my beloved husband, I would need companions. No solo adventure for me on THIS route. So, I placed a “Companions Wanted” ad in Adventure Cycling Association’s magazine and website and have seven or eight women who will at least begin this adventure with me. Ages range from 29 to 69. It’s very hard to find women who can dedicate a whole summer away from work, school and family. At this point almost all of us plan to ride the whole distance. One gal plans to venture off to see friends before finishing up the trip so we will lose her somewhere in Montana. The youngest, who says she is joining us, isn’t very vocal so I’m not sure if she will really be there when we leave Banff. Another woman plans to ride about three weeks with us then has other obligations so will also be leaving us somewhere in Montana. I think it’s possible that the physical aspect of this adventure might also have a few more dropping here and there, but for now most are in preparation to ride the whole distance.

I will be writing my blog as I go, knowing full well that I will only find wifi when the route takes us through some civilized areas. There maybe a week of no blogs and then BOOM, they will all come through the same time. I suspect my blogs will be shorter, with perhaps less stories. I don’t know how much energy I will have at the end of the day to write. But, write I will! For one thing, it is an ORDER from John ūüėé

I’ll share more in other blogs between now and July 1st, but for now…planning and training is in the works and excitement builds with each passing day. The preparation continues…

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Day 2: Seeley Lake to Swan Lake

The two Davids

The two Davids


Hamburgers at the local bar

Hamburgers at the local bar


Hamburgers at the local bar

Hamburgers at the local bar


The rain on my tent last night was like a lullaby as I slept soundly and woke up quite refreshed. The rain was still falling so I packed up my bags while sitting in the small confines and did not exit until every bag was water-tight sealed. The cooks had already pulled out breakfast and everyone had begun to gather under the awning of the motel we were sleeping behind. It was about six feet deep so everyone was lined up shoulder to shoulder eating bagels, cereal, or oatmeal. I wish I had gotten out my camera to snap a picture because it was a colorful sight with everyone wearing brightly colored rain gear and not an ear was peaking out of shiny vinyl looking hoods. It was cold baby cold outside!

We still had to take down our tents and it was done in a rush to try to minimize rain soaking the inside once the flys came off. I strapped mine to the outside of my pannier hoping that somewhere I’d be able to take them off and dry them in the sunshine. Ho Ho Ho… It literally rained every second of today. The great thing about this Montana rain was that it came straight down unlike the rain of Western Kansas that comes in sideways. We started out with a 40 degree temp and ended the ride with it dropping to the 30’s. The only snow came late this afternoon and it was brief, however I did take a cool picture of the nearby mountainside where the trees are covered by a heavy dusting of snow.

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The Bear Grass is in full bloom and growing wild and wildly on both sides of the highway in many places. At one point Sue needed to stop to add another layer to her clothing and I took the opportunity to take the camera out of hiding just long enough to take a picture for you. At the same time the two Davids came riding by and I caught another good picture if I do say so myself ūüėé

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We stopped for a second breakfast (which I will refer to from now on as B2) at the Hungry Bear Cafe. I don’t know that we were particularly hungry, but hot coffee and a warm place to get out of the constant rain was just a great idea. I have taken to not putting in my contacts on these rainy days and therefore have to pull out some stylish reading glasses just to read a menu. Said glasses immediately fogged over. Sue snapped this picture of me. The camera lens was also foggy, so the combination made for a rather scary image. We had a good laugh over it, but I almost had decided not to post it for fear of frightening little children.

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One funny thing that happened today, and perhaps you would just have to be here to appreciate it, but someone had thrown a beer box out at a wide spot in the road. As I’m riding up to it, I can see it, and I see that it is green. It really looked like a Jetboil sitting there. I’m not kidding! I told Sue, “Look! Someone left us a Jetboil to make coffee!” Sue went with it and we were imagining that there would be some really good instant coffee lying there right beside it. We would make a cup, get comfortable and watch all the riders go by. Obviously, it doesn’t take much for Sue and I to entertain ourselves.

Everyone was talking about the Great Divide racers that were up at higher elevation earlier in the day, but came down to sleep in the motel for the night. Evidently it was just brutal weather up there. The rules say you can venture off the course but you have to start back up exactly where you left off. Wally said he saw one of them come out of a room this morning and he was a muddy mess. He must have come in and not even showered. He probably slept on the floor just to get in out of the rain and cold for a few hours. Once this afternoon, one of our guys spoke with a racer from New Zealand who had quit the race and was heading as far as Seeley Lake tonight.

Today’s ride wasn’t easy, but I stayed warm enough to ride. Sue was cold but she was a trooper and with quite a bit of humor, we made it here. Wally surprised us by calling ahead and got us cabins to sleep in tonight. There are three cabins and they are tiny. Along the wall is a set of bunk beds (one single and one double) and a chair in the corner. I set my tent up on the porch of one and had every intention of sleeping in it, but there was an intervention amongst my ride mates and here I sit in a bunk typing. There is no heat and I’m not quite sure about these mattresses (let’s just say they aren’t new), so for these reasons, I will hopefully sleep soundly even though I’m hearing the beginnings of what I feel will be a snorefest before long. My tent is still sitting up on the front porch, so I guess I could move out there if it gets too loud. The dang thing is so wet though and since I couldn’t stake it down, the useable space is more than cut in half.

It’s time to snuggle deep into my down sleeping bag and prepare for whatever my roommates have in store for me. Goodnight friends.

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Pig and Pancakes at Perkins in Pocatello

Taken in Wyoming on I80 at 8,600 ft elevation

Taken in Wyoming on I80 at 8,600 ft elevation

I left home at 5:00 a.m. on Monday morning and didn’t stop for the day until 5:00 p.m. I had reservations in Rock Springs, Wyoming at the LaQuinta. The motel was old but the room was clean and comfortable. I left Mabelline in the back of the locked Yukon parked right outside my window. At check-in, they had just brought out some warm chocolate chip cookies from the oven and the clerk encouraged me to help myself. Not wanting to appear ungrateful, I took two and went to my room to settle in for the night. I went to sleep watching the movie “Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs”. I was awake early and back on the road with only an eight hour drive remaining to reach my destination of Dillon, Montana. The GPS on my Yukon though, told me that if I were to stay on Interstate all the way, rather than taking a much shorter route, I would cut almost two hours off the trip. Could that be right? I decided to trust it, and followed the suggested route and sure enough, I arrived in only 6 1/2 hours driving through Wyoming and parts of Utah, Idaho and into Montana. This also included a half-hour stop in Pocatello, Idaho for pancakes at a Perkins right off the interstate. Perkins’ pancakes are the best (by far) of franchise pancakes (if you wanted my opinion on that subject). I needed gas for the Yukon anyway, so fueling up I did…killing two birds with one stone (bet you haven’t heard that saying in awhile).

I pulled up to Sue parents’ home and Sue ran out of the house to greet me with a hug. I heard her before I saw her as she yelled my name. It was so so SO good to hear her voice and to get my hug. We snapped a selfie with my phone and sent it to John with the message “I’m here!

Sue’s mom is a sweetheart and Sue looks so very much like her and with many of the same mannerisms. She was so gracious and invited me to join them for lunch, but my stomach was still full from breakfast. We visited awhile and then Sue’s mom laid down for a bit and so Sue and I, with our loud laughs decided to walk downtown to give her a chance to nap. As we were just a few blocks away, Sue’s father came driving down the street pulling a fishing boat. He and a fishing guide had been out fly fishing.

Sue’s father seems so familiar. His voice especially, but even his face. Does he remind me of a radio host? A television personality? A famous pastor? Someone from my past? He is the age my father would have been if he were alive. He is not a big man, he is not a small man. He is very intelligent, but I can also sense that he is very wise. I listen to him tell stories and as he speaks, I watch him closely… I laid awake removing layers of my life trying to find the person he reminds me of…

I have been to Dillon on my 2008 trip across the U.S. but I couldn’t remember anything about it. I was anxious to see if I could stir up some memories made here and it didn’t take very long. On our walk, Sue pointed out a building that she said “used to be a bike shop”. It was the trigger that brought back the memories I was hoping for. That year I was riding Silver Sal (the name of my recumbent bicycle) and the rear derailleur somehow locked up and could not be ridden any further that day. We loaded her up and drove the remaining 20 miles or so here to Dillon. The 2008 Adventure entailed riding from the east coast of Virginia to Astoria, Oregon. My friend, Kathy was with me and we had another friend driving a vehicle and pulling a camper that we slept in at night. This particular day, we found the KOA and I went on the lookout for a bike shop. Gratefully, there was a makeshift bike shop and the owner was able to borrow some parts off another bicycle to get me fixed up. Kathy and I arrived in Dillon on a completely different highway and so it took me some time to get my bearings today, but once I saw the old bike shop building, the town shifted a quarter turn in my mind, and I knew exactly where I was.

This is fly fishing country. The rivers and streams are filled to the brim and the water runs briskly. I would call this area of Montana high desert perhaps (elevation 5,200) except there is water! Lots and lots of water. A fly fisherman’s paradise (which is what drew Sue’s parents here beginning in the 70’s). There is quite a bit of irrigated farming and the water supply comes directly out of the big Beaverhead River. There are not a lot of trees. Sage brush fills the hills and there are cattle grazing this time of year. I was told that once it warms up in the mountains the cattle are moved there to graze. We can see the Pioneer and Centennial Mountain Ranges from Dillon. The pastures are green now, but once summer arrives here, most everything that is not watered will turn yellow.

I was awakened by crows and doves and the sun had already risen by the time I climbed out of bed this morning. Sue and I are going to go for an unfettered ride after breakfast (she cooked up a great egg sandwich with bacon). We are in no rush as it’s only in the low 40’s. The Koch brothers own a ranch out here somewhere and the road to the ranch might be a good place to ride. Tomorrow we will pack a lunch and ride to the ghost town of Bannack, but today we will stay closer to home because Bob and Betty are taking us out to supper tonight.

We will stay here in Dillon until Friday morning and then will make the two hour drive to Missoula. Getting ahead of myself again. One day at a time ūüėé

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Morning Thoughts

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I sit here this Sunday morning at the counter in our kitchen. I hear the washing machine as it washes our sheets. The door to the deck is open and I hear the never-ending wind in the trees and the call of the turtle doves. It’s cloudy and the humidity is so high it might as well be raining. I am enjoying a bowl of oatmeal that is honestly more peanut butter than oatmeal. A large palmful of golden raisins is the final ingredient of delicious-ness. This is right up there at the top of my list of a favorite forever breakfast. But of course, if you have ever read my blog, you know all of this ūüėé

John and our friend, Van, left on their bicycles at 6:00 a.m. to ride towards the folks heading this way on Bike Across Kansas. Last night the BAKers spent the night in Satanta and are fighting the gentle headwind as they head east and north. John and Van will meet up with a couple of guys he races with and they will be back here in Dodge City before you know it. John does not know how to ride slow or to stop and smell the roses. John doesn’t appreciate the weight of a touring bike and gear. John only knows riding as fast as his fitness will allow (and that, my friends, is substantial). He appreciates the lightness of a high-end bicycle with light wheels and fast smooth tires pumped to 130 psi. He enjoys and appreciates the friendship he has with those who share his need for speed. Yes indeed, they will be back here before you know it.

Soon, I will get ready for church. I don’t want to miss seeing all those I love before I leave on this adventure of mine. Church (for me) isn’t just for worshiping my Creator and Savior. Church is also about communion with my church family and although I won’t see those folks for several months at a time, I know they pray for me and my safety as I venture off to the wilderness once again. Of all the things I have to do today, this is at the top of my list and if nothing else gets done, I will feel the love of these people who mean so much to me.

The Yukon is packed including Mabelline who sits on her head upside down in the back. We had to get creative because of the racks and fenders. She won’t attach to front fork tie downs in the traditional transport mode. So placing her upside down, I only have to remove the front wheel and she is bungied (sometimes I make up words) securely and packed in tight surrounded by my bright yellow panniers.

I will leave Dodge City about 5:00 a.m. in the morning and plan to drive about 12 hours to Rock Springs, Wyoming. From there I will only have an 8 hour drive on into Dillon, Montana on Tuesday. Sue’s parents have a summer home in Dillon and I have been invited to hang out there for a couple of days to begin to acclimate to the higher altitudes. If you think the acclimation process might be hard for me, consider Sue who lives on a sailboat in the Puget Sound. She is coming from sea level! Sue is my riding companion of choice; we met on the first day of my 2012 Adventure and became fast friends. She is about my age and we seem to always be near the same fitness level where riding together requires little compromise for either of us. Although we talk and email almost weekly, I haven’t actually seen her since last fall when she introduced me to the San Juan Islands where we toured on our bikes for a week. She came to the hot and dusty place I affectionately call home (a/k/a Dodge City, Kansas) last summer to ride Bike Across Kansas with me. I introduced her to headwinds and 100 degree temps; to wheat fields and elevators. On the day we returned back to Dodge City and were unloading the trailer, she was present as I stepped off the side and rolled my ankle severely spraining it. THAT was a painful experience that I pray no one would ever have to experience for themselves.

I am looking forward to tomorrow but I will enjoy today to its fullest. The afternoon and evening will be spent with my one and only. We will most likely have supper at our favorite Mexican Restaurant. The place where they start cooking our chicken fajitas before we even sit down. An old Disney movie in our recliners or snuggled on the couch. I will miss John and he will miss me but we are inseparable in spirit and soul. He will run the dealership and race on weekends. I am so grateful that he understands and encourages my Adventures. We have always had the attitude that we should do these things while we can because we cannot predict the future, even if we wanted to. Not knowing what lies ahead means we make the most of the good health and blessings we have been given for this time here on Earth.

Thank you friends and family for riding vicariously with me as I begin my 2014 (this time truly epic) Adventure! I am so excited…I can hardly stand it!

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Wheat Fields and Wind Turbines

Last Thursday, I loaded my panniers on my bike leaving the house at 7:30 a.m. and arrived back home at 6:00 p.m. That’s 10 1/2 hours in case you don’t want to do the math. The winds were light and temps started out in the 60’s and ended up at 95 degrees. My kind of bicycling.

Yesterday, my intent was to ride to Jetmore. It was already windy, but the sun was shining at 7:00 a.m. and the temperature was 71 degrees. Riding against the wind has always been the genesis to preparing me for the mountains. About six miles later, as I turned east, clouds rolled in from the west, the temp dropped 10 degrees; and the wind increased by five to ten mph. I got chilled and I began to worry. This is what I do when the sky turns cloudy. I think about the things I should be doing at work and the things needing to be done at home. I stopped and pulled out my phone to check the weather but there was nothing of real concern to worry about. I got back on my bike and continued to the highway where the decision had to be made to continue to Jetmore or to head home… I’m going to have to get a lot tougher…mentally and physically as I turned homeward bound.

Today I rode 50. The sun was shining and the winds were light. I rode the first 20 miles harder than I normally would just to test my stamina. It was tested all right and that’s all I’ve got to say about that.

If you had been near me with your window down this evening, I’m sure you would have gotten a good laugh at something that happened. I was nearing Dodge City on Highway 400 just finishing up my ride. I have ridden that stretch of road 30 to 40 times over the past two or three years and have never seen even one dog. I was deep in thought about something and Mabelline was practically on cruise control. All at once I came to the realization that I was surrounded on three sides by three big dogs. Not a one of them had so much as barked to let me know they were on their way to me. Not a one of them growled or tried to nip at me. They were simply out for a run. But, they startled me (and that’s a profound understatement) and I involuntarily let out the most ugly sound you have ever heard. The deep scream that came out of my throat scared me as much as the dogs did! And let me tell you, the scream stopped the dogs in their tracks. I can just imagine the conversation they had with each other back home about that animal on the bicycle. I am wondering if the ugly sound might frighten a grizzly…hummmm?

My posts will become more frequent as the time approaches for this adventure of a lifetime to begin. Please stay tuned.

The wheat is turning and it will soon be time for harvest in Kansas but I will be on my way to Montana on Monday. The two pictures I am posting are of the same field south of Spearville taken one week apart.

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Successful Shakedown Ride

I accomplished everything I intended this weekend. I now know my tent is still in good shape (and I remembered how to set it up); my Thermarest and pillow still hold air all night; my new insect repellent walk-around clothing appear to work; and I have a very short list of minor items that I still need to pack.

Last night we had a light rain that lasted for several hours and naturally, this morning my tent’s rainfly and footprint were soaking wet. I didn’t want to put them in my panniers, so I placed them in a nap sack that I always carry on tours and strapped it to the top of my left pannier. After riding just a few minutes, I discovered that it blocked my rear view mirror. The back roads we were on had very little traffic so I didn’t bother moving it to the other side, but also since there was no wind today, I could hear vehicles coming up from behind for a mile or more.

Did I mention there was NO wind today? Zip. Zero. Zilch. It was bizarre and simply a great day to ride a bike in Kansas. Perfect temperature. The scenery was nothing less than beautiful. We crossed streams where you could actually see the water moving (a rare sight in Western Kansas where I live). Everything was green and almost every old homestead had a barn. If I had read the provided map, I would have known that we were not backtracking to Topeka today but rather took a completely different route. Even though we didn’t get to pass by that barn again that I told you about yesterday, there were others equally interesting and I have included pix for your enjoyment. I’m assuming you also have an appreciation for barns. Ha!

Everyone seemed to be on a mission to get home today and so the riding was faster and less dawdling at the SAGS. I, on the other hand, dawdled a lot and may have been the last person to finish. Someone has to be last, right? About 20 miles from finishing, I stopped for the umpteenth time to snap a picture, and one of the sweep vehicles came by to make sure I was alright. I have a feeling he was hoping that I was tired and wanting to load my bike but I disappointed him with my smile and waived him on. This particular young man, would ride this way and turn around and ride back that way, just to be there for anyone who might be having trouble. It was comforting to know he was on the road in case we needed him.

I met a man from Nebraska who was riding with his two adult daughters and a son-in-law this weekend. They are from Nebraska and were training for the Nebraska State tour starting in a couple of weeks. They were such a great family and I am grateful to have had some time to visit with them.

From old friends to brand new ones, I think we can all agree that the Cottonwood 200 is a “must do” tour each year.

Check out the brickwork and rock cornerstones of this old barn

Check out the brickwork and rock cornerstones of this old barn

These would be happy cows 8-)

These would be happy cows ūüėé

Look Sue!  Lightning rods!

Look Sue! Lightning rods!

Mabelline dawdling AGAIN

Mabelline dawdling AGAIN

Pastors Dave and Gary

Pastors Dave and Gary

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Council Grove to Cottonwood Falls

Long ago abandoned one-room school house

Long ago abandoned one-room school house

Big Poppi Bicycles out of Manhattan always near for breakdowns

Big Poppi Bicycles out of Manhattan always near for breakdowns

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This is what I perceive Scotland to look like...  But no, this is the Flint Hills of Kansas!

This is what I perceive Scotland to look like… But no, this is the Flint Hills of Kansas!

I found this old and long ago used corral to be special...

I found this old and long ago used corral to be special…

Historic Chase County Courthouse.  It is still in use.

Historic Chase County Courthouse. It is still in use.

Today we rode the 22 miles from Council Grove to Cottonwood Falls and back. ¬†They said it was 25 miles, but no. ¬†The ride yesterday was supposed to be 75, but it was actually 76. ¬†Of course, they have to fudge a little bit, otherwise the ride would have to be called the Cottonwood196 and that just doesn’t have the same ring to it.

Since we are spending two nights in Council Grove, everyone just left their sleeping bags and luggage in the gym. ¬†99% of the tenters left their tents up. ¬†What did I do though? ¬†This IS my shakedown ride after all, so I took down my tent and broke camp and loaded my panniers and carried my gear all day. ¬†This brought on much conversation as most people realized that I was preparing for a self-contained tour. ¬†After the turnaround a guy on a recumbent came up behind me on a steep hill and began pushing me from behind. ¬†I felt it immediately and gave a little giggle as I thanked him for the boost. ¬†He couldn’t keep it up for long, but it did stir up memories of John doing that for me years ago when we used to ride together in the 80’s and 90’s. ¬†That was before he got so fast and I sloooowed down. ¬†In fact, I want to brag on John as he won his time trial today in Gardner, Kansas. ¬†He’s quite a guy! ¬†He’s my guy! ¬†Did you know we will be married 38 years this summer?

Since I only had 44 miles today, I got back at a decent time. ¬†Set up my tent and showered and came downtown to a nice coffee shop called “Historic Grounds”. ¬†I highly recommend the blueberry scones and in fact, it’s all I can do to not go back for another. ¬†It looks like storms are a brewing so will close this out and head back to the safety of my tent. ¬†Tomorrow morning there is no really big hurry to break camp and leave town, but I probably will get around early because that is just what I do. ¬†75 miles back tracking to Topeka. ¬†I hope it’s not raining because I have a VERY cool barn that you’re going to want to see!

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Green, Lush and Wet

There are the three words of the day. ¬†Oh to have rain in Western Kansas such as the rain we had today from Topeka to Eskridge. It came straight down and without any accompanying lightning. You can see from my pictures that this part of the State is indeed green and lush. I would have liked to take more pictures than I did, but I was a tad worried about my camera getting wet. I just couldn’t help myself sometimes though as I passed by quaint barns, a lovely B&B, and a rural home surrounded by flowers

A pretty rural home surrounded by flowers

A pretty rural home surrounded by flowers

Fence line at the same home

Fence line at the same home

Does everybody know that I love old barns?

Does everybody know that I love old barns?

I saw very few crops today.  This one was just outside of Topeka.

I saw very few crops today. This one was just outside of Topeka.

B & B in Dover

B & B in Dover

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I did okay today. The hills were no match for Mabelline (my bike’s name) even carrying 45 pounds of gear. My biggest issue is my saddle. I think I now have the one I will ride on all summer, but my goodness, I hope I get used to it quickly!

I am the only rider on the Cottonwood 200 who is carrying gear. People are curious why, since there is a perfectly good truck along to carry it. One snide remark from a young man who slowed down only long enough to ask me “how do those bags feel right about now?” It was his condescending tone of voice that he meant to bother me. Little did he know that nothing…absolutely nothing was going mess with my joy of the day. Every other person who spoke to me just wanted to know my story. One thing is for certain, I am very visible with my big yellow waterproof Ortlieb panniers!

I was happy to run into some old friends from Hays that I have not seen in years. Also another friend, Ron Leiker, saw me during the meeting earlier and invited me to join he and his friends for supper, but they were ready to go and I hadn’t even showered.

After cleaning up and getting organized, I walked to the local Mexican restaurant and sat at a table with two retired Lutheran Pastors. They evidently have been friends for a long time and both ride. We sat and ate casually and talked about a little bit of everything: a little politics, a little religion, but mostly bicycling conversation.

Most people are camped in the gym but I am happy to be in my tent tonight. The rain has passed and it’s going to be cool and breezy. A perfect end to a splendid day…

 

 

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In Training

I am excited to announce my 2014 Summer Adventure! I will be riding my bicycle from Missoula, Montana to Denali National Park, Alaska. I will tell you more about the exact route and various details as we go along. On June 9th, I will leave Dodge City and drive to Dillon, Montana to meet up with my riding buddy, Sue where we will begin the acclimation process for riding at high altitudes.

If you’ve followed my riding over all these years, you know that I’ve ridden big tours of 1,700 people such as Bicycle Tour of Colorado or Ride the Rockies. I’ve ridden tours of 300 people such as Bike Across Kansas, Freewheel of Oklahoma, or the Tour of Montana. I’ve ridden with a handful of guys across Kansas north to south and south to north. In 2008, my friend, Kathy and I rode across the U.S. while accompanied by another friend driving a camper. Then…in 2012, I rode west to east across the northern United States, seven weeks of it solo and about seven weeks of it joined by Sue.

This year, this ride (Adventure Cycling Association’s North Star Tour) will consist of 16 riders, all on bicycles. Besides, Sue and I, I have met the leader (Wally Warner) only because he was bicycling through Kansas on his way from the Florida Keys to Missoula just a couple of weeks ago. I found out his route and invited him to stay with us so I could pump him for information. John was very happy to meet Wally and to find out what a capable and quality human being he is. The other 14 people I will meet on June 14th as we rendezvous at the Missoula KOA.

For now, I will say that I’ve been riding as much as possible to prepare. In the past few days I have begun to ride fully panniered on flat roads close to home. But…on this Memorial Weekend, I will ride the Cottonwood 200 which is an organized tour of 300 people that begins in Topeka tomorrow. We will ride the Flint Hills to Council Grove (75 miles). On Sunday, we ride to Cottonwood Falls and back to Council Grove (50 miles). On Monday it’s back to Topeka (75 miles).

When I say I’m riding fully panniered, I mean that my bags (called panniers) are fully packed and attached to my bike. This weekend I will experience riding these famous Flint Hills of Kansas carry 45 pounds of tent, sleeping bag, and various other sundries (or if you live in the south, assundries).

I begin the blog today with a new piece of equipment, this iPad Air. It has built in Verizon Wireless that I will have to switch over to an International Plan very soon. For now, I will be experimenting with transferring what I write here in “Notes” to my blog at WordPress. The issue of inserting pictures just where I want them is always a challenge; typing on this tiny keyboard making as few typos as possible is a challenge; and typing while sitting in a camp chair in the confines of the small area of my tent…now that’s another challenge.

Please stay tuned as I blog this weekend all in the pursuit of adventure! (Oh, yes…and fitness ūüėé

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August 18-22 – Last day on the Islands

Lovely home on San Juan Island

Lovely home on San Juan Island

The barn that goes with that home

The barn that goes with that home

Last night was absolutely sleepless.  It was quiet, but I had a little anxiety (okay a lot of anxiety) about waking early; packing up; and the last hard ride back to Friday Harbor.  I laid awake all night, literally, waiting for 5:30 a.m.  FINALLY AND MERCIFULLY the magic hour finally arrived and I began the process.  Coffee, oatmeal, etc and we were heading east towards Friday Harbor.  As is often the case though, the hard ride that I was expecting, turned out to be an exaggeration in my mind and we actually got to our destination so quickly that we had time for a second breakfast.

The downtown cafe was a popular and busy spot¬†this Sunday morning¬†and our arrival time was just ahead of even a larger crowd that had to stand out on the sidewalk for their turn at pancakes. ¬†As we were waiting inside for a table, a very old cute couple walked in behind us. ¬† The older couple, I’ll call John and Traci 30 to 40 years from now. Traci was using a cane and John was using a walker. ¬†When, a few minutes later, a table became available, we tried to give up our spot in line for this older couple, but the host said if we did that, we would have to go to the end of the line. ¬†Well…that was not an option since the sidewalk outside had filled up with about 30 hungry islanders. ¬†We sat, and just about two minutes later, a table opened up for the older couple. ¬†Yea! ¬†Now Sue and I could enjoy our quick last island breakfast.
The ferry ride back to Anacortes, was a bumpier ride than any of the others and it had to make some deep turns to go around islands to get us back to the mainland. ¬†Those turns made my stomach queasy and the ride, although the longest in terms of miles, was also the hardest for me to endure. ¬†In the midst of this vacation, I have had five boat rides and this was the only one that bothered my land-loving stomach, so for that…I am…well…thankful.
Just one of the ferries we rode this week

Just one of the ferries we rode this week

Waiting our turn to embark on my last ferry ride

Waiting our turn to embark on my last ferry ride

Colorful crab pots going down the road

Colorful crab pots going down the road

After being on the bike for a week, driving a car is a strange sensation. ¬†It was a couple of hours drive back to Seattle in bumper to bumper heavy traffic. ¬†Back at Sue’s boat we showered and got dressed for what was going to be a tremendous time meeting many of Sue’s friends. ¬†We were invited to a GARDEN PARTY! ¬†This beautiful woman, also named Sue, is a landscape artist by trade and her home and her garden were just magnificent and yet quaint and inviting. ¬†On the way, we stopped to pick up Claudia. ¬†Mark, who travels and commutes solely by bicycle, arrived by his own power soon after. ¬†A great and memorable evening that even included live music by a young man playing base and a woman singing. ¬†I want to tell you more about this garden. ¬†It had many levels with steps down to her studio. ¬†Large plants and flowers seeming almost tropical gave privacy to smaller more intimate seating areas. ¬†Twinkly lights in the trees, and friends laughing, tons of hugs and a great selection of meats, vegetables, and fruit dishes, many made by friends from Senegal, Africa. ¬†There was one African woman who had a baby a few months before and this baby girl was so SO gorgeous! ¬†Momma wrapped a sling around her waist and placed the sleeping baby behind her all snuggled and content as momma danced to the music. ¬†I kept watching the baby wondering how she slept through it all.
At the Garden Party!

At the Garden Party!

It's a Garden Party!

It’s a Garden Party!

Sue lighting a fire in the outdoor fire pot

Sue lighting a fire in the outdoor fire pot

Bees at the Garden Party!

Bees at the Garden Party!

Sadly for Sue, I was ready to head back to the boat long before she was, but being my friend, tore herself away and drove us back to the other side of Seattle to Pier C, where I slept soundly for my last night aboard a sailboat on the Puget Sound. ¬†I want to take this opportunity to thank my friend and riding buddy for showing me her world…a world so different from the plains of Kansas. ¬†Sue taught me one time, that everyone, no matter what their background, just wants to be loved. ¬†You are indeed loved and admired by this simple farm girl and I’m so looking forward to whatever bicycling adventure we tackle next!
Sunrise near Moab

Sunrise near Moab

Sue fixed me one last cup of coffee before I left early and headed east and south to meet my one and only in Frisco, Colorado. ¬†John and I have been vacationing in Frisco for 20 some years. ¬†It is a quiet village between Vail and Breckenridge with a wonderful small Main Street where you find The Frisco Lodge. ¬†This quaint bed and breakfast is our far-away get-away romantic destination of choice. ¬†About 24 hours of driving brought me from Seattle across Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Utah, and finally down I-70 in Colorado on the most scenic highway from Grand Junction, though the canyons of Glenwood Springs and finally to Frisco where John was waiting my arrival. ¬†We only had two days so we made the most of it taking in parts of two stages of the U.S.A. Pro Challenge, eating more than once at the famous Butterhorn Cafe, walking hand in hand down the sidewalks in Frisco and Breckenridge, and even a bicycle-pulled surrey ride around Vail Village. ¬†Oh ya…my home is where John is, and we feel at home there.
Main Street Frisco

Main Street Frisco

Frisco Lodge Bed & Breakfast

Frisco Lodge Bed & Breakfast

Lots to do back in Kansas. ¬†John is back to work and I have laundry piles all over the bedroom and kitchen. ¬†My tent and rain fly are airing out draped over the Harley’s in the garage. ¬†For some reason they smell like campfire ūüėé
All is well and let Autumn commence!
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