Welcome to Deidre's Dream

An unsupported bicycle ride across America to benefit cancer survivors and their families 
Click here if you would like to support our effort

What it's about

Help me help cancer survivors to Livestrong like my wife Deidre did. Deidre was a woman who accomplished anything she set her mind to. Neither chemotherapy nor radiation slowed her down. Her love of life, family, and friends will never be surpassed.

When she decided to take up cycling, it lead to dozens of centuries (100 mile ride in one day). When she decided to learn to swim competently it lead to her winning her age group in the 2006 Los Angeles County Triathlon Championship Series.

When she decided to be a mother and wife, she set an example for the rest of the world with her capacity for love, caring, nurturing, and support.

Please help me continue Deidre's legacy of love and living life at it's fullest by supporting my ride across America and contributing to the Lance Armstrong Foundation.

Chris Bredenberg, our friend and neighbor from Santa Fe, and I will be riding from San Diego, CA to St. Augustine, FL beginning on or about May 10, 2008. We are aiming at a 35 day crossing. Our ride distance will be approximately 3,200 miles.

Our efforts won't bring us the pain and doubt that comes with a cancer diagnosis. Though diminishing over time, as life returns to something a little more predictable and with an ever more urgent need to live it, none the less the doubt is ever present. Deidre's courage and relentless fight to live continues to inspire me, and others who knew her.

Deidre died September 10, 2007 after a long and brave battle lasting nine and one half years but she lives in the hearts of all who knew and love her.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Day 21 Del Rio, TX to Leakey, TX

Sorry for the late post, no internet in Leakey.

May 30

Del Rio, TX to Leakey, TX

105 Miles
3050 ft of climbing



It's always tougher getting an early start when you wake up in a clean, air conditioned room.

We managed to roll out at a decent hour and headed next door for breakfast. What a great location for eating. Sirloin Stockade on one side and on the other a restaurant that was labeled with a giant sign reading "Pancakes". An omelet and a blueberry shortstack would make for adequate morning fuel. At the register, the cashier was aware they were on the route to Saint Augustine. When she found out about our mission, she gave us a discount on our breakfast. Thank you Sepa.

We continued on the route but somehow I missed the turn before downtown that would have bypassed Main Street. Maybe because I was looking for the bike shop listed on the map. We put our spare tire on Chris's bike the day before after yet another flat. I think that made six or seven and they were starting to come every day. I may have broken three spokes but I have not yet had a flat.

The shop was curiously under stocked for the items a touring cyclist would need. The guy at the counter didn't seem to know that they're on a mapped route. The waitress at breakfast knew more about the Southern Tier than the bike shop.

We left the shop and ended up riding right down Main Street, Del Rio. It had a very Mid-Western railroad town feeling.

We eventually found our way back to the route and had a tour of the town as a bonus. There actually is something fun about riding in a populated area after being in the bush for awhile.

It was hot, much more humid, and much greener than the ride to Del Rio. We rode past the Laughlin Airforce Base while what must have been a squadron of trainers were landing. When we rode under their glidepath they were only a couple of hundred feet above us.

We headed East almost directly into a light breeze of 10-15 MPH but with very little gusting. Some local cyclists we had met at a water stop on the Western edge of town the day before were right when they said there was a lot more vegetation heading East from Del Rio that would help break up the wind.

We arrived in Bracketville a few minutes before 2:00 PM and stopped first for water. I asked the cashier about a lunch spot and she recommended Julie's Café just down the road. It was still a little before 2:00 when I went to the door at the café to find it barred. A woman inside came to the door and said they were closed early for graduation. I put on a sad, hungry, and hot face (little effort required) and said, "thank you anyway". She said, "you can get something to go if you want". I said, "Thank you so much. We can sit out here in the sun and eat it if you don't mind." She looked outside and after a short pause said, "It's too hot for you to eat out there. Come on in and I'll fix you something." I thanked her profusely as did Chris when he came in a couple of minutes later and I explained the situation.

You were one of our heroes yesterday Josalyn. Thank you.

Josalyn explained that every high school in Texas was holding their graduation that night and everyone had a child or friend's child graduating and not much would be open anywhere. Everyone was closing early.

She said she and her husband were heading out on a three and a half hour drive to a graduation. I asked where and she said West out of Del Rio. She said the distances between gas where so great they had to get gas in Comstock (the last available going that direction for over a hundred miles). We noticed that the smallest stations, like Langtry, were only open 7:00 AM to 5:00 PM so its also a case of timing. I told her we rode through Comstock the day before and they only had diesel at Halley's (the only station there). The gasoline pumps were broken. She was extremely grateful for the information. It reminded me of the bar owner in Santa Rita (outside of Silver City) who told us the information we gave her about weather West of her was worth the cost of the sodas she gave us. Information about weather, food, lodging, and fuel is worth a lot out on the range where distances are great.

We headed North out of Bracketville with a very minor crosswind. Finally, after a week in the wind it was just us and the terrain again. The simple joy of it!

We rode through ranch land for awhile then we started to notice quite a few game ranches. In the town of Camp Wood we stopped for drinks. We had 22 miles or so to go to Leakey (pronounced lakey) and the route elevation profile showed a pretty stiff climb shortly after leaving town.

As we parked the bikes, a lady coming out told us to hurry, the owner's son was graduating and they were closing. This was at 7:00 PM so we were fortunate they were open at all.

We headed out for Leakey Mountain. Oh yes it was a climb. Steep with many spots at 15-17% but only going on two and a half or three miles.

Chris had been riding hard and struggling a bit in the heat and at a stop just before Camp Wood he didn't look so good and was feeling a bit off. One Red Bull later, at Camp Wood, and he crushed the last 22 miles. I think he got to Leakey 15 if not 20 minutes ahead of me.

There was a Lodge in the middle of town and it had an open restaurant to boot. We walked in at 8:50 or so and when we asked if we were in time for dinner a fellow, who turned out to be the owner, said, "if you hurry".

It was the healthiest dinner I've had since being on the road. The first broccoli, without cheese. I had to try a couple or three fried pickles though. Our waitress was right, they are good! We asked about a room and the waitress called Walter over to our table. He said he wasn't sure but he'd check.

After dinner, I walked to the office with Walter and we had a nice talk. He's put us in a really nice room and we had another great sleep.

I think we'll go on a bike ride tomorrow.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Day 20 Langtry, TX to Del Ri , TX

May 29

Langtry, TX to Del Rio, TX

61 Miles
1600 ft of climbing



The rooster living next door went off the first time around 4:30 AM. It's a sound I actually remember fondly from my childhood. I rolled over thinking I'd gotten a pretty good sleep.

It was hot in the tent when we went to sleep. It's a comfortable tent and good sized for two but bodies are heaters. Chris opted to sleep under the stars.

I woke up again at 6:30 or so and watched outside as a cackle of hens, led by their rooster ate from the lawn around us. Very insect rich environment.

We got up and struck camp. I came around the corner of the building, after washing up, and saw a flock (?) of turkeys in our camp. Then the neighbor dogs visited.

All friendly morning visitors.

W decided rather than cooking oatmeal and making coffee for breakfast we'd give the small store across from the visitor's center a shot. Most of the small stores we come across on the road have something to eat. The nice lady at the visitor's center told us, the day before, that the store opened at 8:00 AM.

At 8:05 we were out front but no one was home. We thought we would go back up to the gas station on the highway and probably end up eating some variation of Twinkies for breakfast. Fast energy but not lasting.

We rode up and heard the air conditioner running. That is always a good sign some one's home. We went in and met a super friendly fellow named Mike who had recently purchased the station and had just re-opened it a couple of weeks ago. He was eating an egg and sausage biscuit and got up offering to make us some.

It was an entirely unexpected treat to have a hot breakfast. Two biscuit sandwiches each, coffee, and various cold juices and water. We hadn't had anything cold since the morning before.

You get spoiled with common conveniences. Cold drinks are magic in the heat. Flavored drinks are good too. We each carry three bottles in cages on the bike frames. The first few days we started the ride with at least two bottles filled with sports drink and one water. As the riding has gotten warmer, nothing flavored tastes good hot. Now we carry three bottles of water.

When we stop at a store we usually drink between one and two liters of various cold, flavored drinks. I usually start with a V-8. Something my riding buddy Will used to do on hot, long days in the saddle. A V-8 is good for a big dose of sodium.

We talked with Mike awhile. He told us he lived in the house across the road from the community center. He said he's always happy to come up and open the station to make travelers a hot meal if they come knock on the door at his house. I told him he should mention that to the lady at the visitor's center. We thanked him, gave him the website address for adventure cycling (the group that publishes the maps), gave him our blog address, and hit the road.

Thirty miles to Comstock, the next town (which the map shows has a restaurant and service station.

We started in mild, 10-15 MPH winds blowing SSE (South Southeast). Not too bad. At about our 2:00 but keeping us cool.

On the way, we saw quite a heavy Border Patrol presence. We even watched a helicopter patrolling for about an hour. The route runs very close to the Mexican border where we were riding.

We got to Comstock and found the café out of business. We went into Halley's, the service station whose pumps were labeled broken. The woman inside was very friendly and showed us a refrigerator full of homemade sandwiches and another filled with ice cream. Yum, yum.

She offered us a seat at a table in back and we had a good lunch. It was the third time on our trip and the second time in one day we were sitting at a table in a service station having a meal.

We had a nice talk and she told us about other cyclists who had been through. She told us about two women travelling and camping alone. She asked them if they were afraid to be out there on the road by themselves and one of them said, "if we ever get any trouble from anyone we tell them Charlie and Ben will be along shortly", "are those supposed to be your husbands or something?", she asked. "That's Charlie Horse and Ben Gay", the woman answered.

On down the road to Del Rio we went.

Another ten miles or so we came to a construction zone where cars and trucks were being escorted by a pilot car. We waited in line with the cars and then followed.

We found ourselves on very fresh chipseal. Chipseal is a surface created by spraying hot, liquid tar on old asphalt and then spreading pulverized gravel chips on it. Then its rolled over. At best it's not a very pleasant riding surface. One hour old it's 130° and the chips aren't set in their tar glue.

First we rode up behind the rollers, then the gravel spreader (four guys shoveling) and finally the tar sprayer. After passing the rollers we were riding beside the freshest part of the new surface.

Without exception, every person working on the crew, at least fifty in all, stopped to give us a thumbs up or the peace sign. It felt great. I think they appreciated that we knew about hard work on hot asphalt.

Another few miles and we crossed the bridge over the Amistad Reservoir. My cousin, Tom, told us about how clean the water is, having been there with his wife Birdie, and was he ever right. Beautiful deep blue water.

Finally we arrived in Del Rio. It was a nice day. Hot and slow. Wind back up to 15-20 MPH in the afternoon but the distractions made it fun.

We checked in to the local La Quinta (our favorite chain so far), each took two showers, took a dip in the pool, showered again, and headed next door to Sirloin Stockade for dinner. It was a meat fiesta. A buffet of fried or grilled everything (except fish). I even had a piece of deep fried macaroni and cheese. We felt like we'd hit the food jackpot. Especially after two days of caloric deficit.

More to come.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Day 19 Sanderson, TX to Langtry, TX

May 28

Sanderson, TX to Langtry, TX

62 Miles
1920 ft of climbing



I should be more careful about stating so decisevly where our next stop will be. The plan was to make it to Del Rio which is a long ride but which the route profile shows as primarily downhill. The people we talked to in Sanderson said the same.

Although there is an overall elevation loss, it is amid dozens of steep rollers. That would have been OK, in fact we talked about how fun it would be in a dead calm. It was not calm. We had a 25 MPH in our face or at our 2:00 from the first turn of the pedal.

About 30 miles in I heard a big explosion behind me and this time it was Chris's legs and his head (not literally of course). Mine was more of a smouldering.

I think the age difference shows both physically and psychologically. Physically, Chris seems to recover faster but maybe not so deeply. That is improving with his attention to nutrition. Psychologically he is brave enough to go harder when he feels better. I'm always saving a little because I've seen the wall and don't ever want to hit it sixty miles from food and water.

We grunted away for six hours of hard pedalling. At the tops of the hills, the wind would gust to 35-40 directly in our faces as it was squeezed through the cut made in the hillside for the road.

We finally got to Langtry about 5:15 PM. Langtry is notable as the home base of Judge Roy Bean, the law West of the Mississippi. The gas station and gift shop had closed a little early but fortunately there is a very nice visitor's center with drinking water available 24 hours a day.

The ranger at the center directed us to the community center where we could camp.

We filled our bottles at the visitor's center (thank you to the State of Texas). We can carry almost ten liters of water and we filled up.

It was hot all day but the wind made it feel cooler than it was. Maybe it was our salt encrusted jerseys that caused the nice lady at the visitor's center to offer Chris her Lipton iced tea and sprite that were in the fridge.

We made camp on the leeward side of the "Vashti Skiles Community Center" building. Thank you Vashti! We found a grassy spot and pitched the tent. I deposited the recommended $2.00 donation in the lockbox for "dry camping". I made it $4.00 for two. Pretty fair deal.

Leeward was on the Northwest corner so it would be in morning shade too. All fine except it was a might warm while we waited for sunset.

Fortunately, we stopped at a market in Sanderson the night before and purchased a small bottle of laundry soap. We needed to wash jerseys and shorts in Sanderson. A little sink agitation action.

In Langtry, it was a little cooking pot (titanium of course) agitation action. We first bathed under the non potable (as far as we knew) irrigation taps, then did laundry with them then cooked ramen and dehydrated dinner. For the cooking we used the visitor's center water. The ramen is far better to the palate than dehydrated chicken and rice. It's not that it's so bad but it makes me feel like I'm eating baby food. The difference is when I don't want anymore my adult makes my baby eat the rest anyway. The calories have to come from somewhere.

Off to bed.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Day 18 Fort Davis, TX to Sanderson, TX

May 27

Fort Davis, TX to Sanderson, TX

108 Miles
1720 ft of climbing



We had a great day from the beginning today. We got up and out early and headed for breakfast.

We had such a good lunch at the Fort Davis Drugstore Monday we thought we'd head back for breakfast. We rolled down the road and were curious at how quiet things were at just after 8:00 in the morning. Fortunately the Drugstore was open. We parked the bikes and walked in. The process is a little like parking two wheeled trucks on the sidewalk. We found ourselves alone in the restaurant. It smelled really good inside.

Our waitress, Mary, was not long in coming with coffee and taking our order. I had an omelet and pancakes. It was hands down the best omelet I'd had in 1200 miles. Very good pancakes too. I don't generally eat pancakes but on a high output trip like this they are my regular morning fuel. I think some cooks mix the batter with dishwater. You wouldn't think it would be so hard to make decent pancakes but evidently it is.

As we were finishing breakfast Mary came to the table and asked us about our trip. We talked for awhile about what we were doing and how she used to ride her bike. A lot of people tell us about their bike riding days when we start talking. Michael, the chef and the man running the place, came and stood next to Mary and listened to our story. I told him how much I enjoyed the breakfast he had prepared and boy did I mean it. It was all around fantastic.

When we asked for the check, Mary told us Michael had bought us our meal. Wow! Not only the best meal of the trip but we got a big portion of love that wasn't on the menu.

Thank you Michael Beach (I hope I got that right and it wasn't spelled Beech) and the Fort Davis Drugstore and Texas Inn. I recommend both highly.

Next it was down the road to Alpine, TX. We read of a bike shop and wanted to get some inner tubes and a few small items and navigated our way to Bikeman. Navigation isn't too complex in these small towns.

At Bikeman we met and were helped by the owner, John who expressed his desire to ride the Southern Tier route one day.

We are firmly on the tracks of an often traveled line. Many people we met today are familiar with the fact that a published route runs through their towns.

We stayed and talked with John for awhile and he commented on how well outfitted we appeared to be. It makes me wonder if we've got too much. I think I'll be sending some items home with Ashleigh when we see her in Austin.

After leaving Alpine, it was a thirty mile ride to Marathon, TX. We rolled into Marathon hungry. We rode down the main drag and every place serving food seemed to be closed. We came across a fellow who had parked his truck and was getting out as we rode past. It was obvious we were looking for something and he asked what we needed. "Food", was the simple answer. He said, "the Shell station at the end of town makes a mighty good burger". We thanked him for the tip and rolled on down.

As we saw the Shell on our Left, I noticed a sign in front of a building across the street that said, "Big Hair Shop" and a smaller sign promising the best cup of coffee around. As I doubted the delectability of a Shell station burger I wondered if the coffee place served food. Just as I thought about this a woman ran out of the Big Hair Shop and said she had seen us on the road to Fort Davis Sunday and asked if we'd like a cup of coffee.

Linda Spears, the proprietress, is recently moved to Marathon after eleven years on Maui. She said she would like to put a pot of Maui coffee on for us. We gratefully accepted her offer. She did not however have food at the shop so we said we'd go to the Shell and get a couple of burgers to bring back over and eat with her.

We walked across the street and into the Shell. In the back, on one side, was a grill. I asked if we could get a couple of burgers and the lady who seemed to be running the place pointed to another woman and said, "she'll make you something".

The woman working the grill was Rosa Linda from Austin. She asked about our ride and when we told her about the LAF connection she said she had lost her sister, Esmeralda to Breast Cancer. Esmeralda had survived five years and died Thanksgiving night 2005. A running event, Ralda's Run, has been organized, in her honor, to benefit Lance Armstrong Foundation and is held annually in Austin. There is a wonderful letter written by her son on the event website http://www.raldasrun.org/brentsletter.asp . It makes me want to hug him and shed some tears. The story is very familiar to me.

Brent, your mother Esmeralda Werbeck will NOT be forgotten.

Rosa Linda said she had retired and moved to Marathon when Esmeralda was in the last days of her life and she had spent time there with Rosa Linda.

Rosa Linda was a very on the ball lady a bit out of place flipping burgers in Marathon. I got the strong feeling she is an educated woman and certainly is a lady that exhibits great dignity. I'm only sorry I couldn't have met her sister.

We took our burgers back to Linda's place and had a really nice lunch spent chatting and drinking the best coffee I've had since Peet's before we left. I'm sure Jonathon (my son who works at Peet's) will forgive me when I say Linda's Maui might have even been a little better.

Apparently, Linda was out cruising on motorcycles with a friend when they passed us as we rode up that difficult shallow grade, before the climb to the observatory, with the 25-30 MPH wind in our face. She said she commented to her friend about those crazy guys on bicycles and wondered if she'd see us ride past her place in Marathon in the following days. You can order her beans by e-mailing her at spearslin@yahoo.com.

We finished our coffee and off we went to Sanderson. 53 miles of nothing but asphalt and wind. It didn't feel that hot but we could hear the tar bubbles in the pavement popping as we rolled along. We worked together in the wind and had a pretty good rhythm going for the last 35 miles.

We got to Sanderson late and very hungry. Luckily we saw Murphy's Pub on the way to the motel and stopped for four excellent dinners. Food is now the top priority when we arrive at our destination.

On to Del Rio today.

More to come.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Day 17 Fort Davis, TX Recovery

May 26

Fort Davis, TX

2 Miles
4 ft of climbing

Today we decided, after some procrastination, to apply our better judgement and eat and rest. We're getting ready for our second hot meal of the day.

Both of us are starting to feel twitchy legs and ready to go again. Tomorrow we start the final haul to Austin.

If we don't get too much wind it should be fairly pleasant. Weather is forecast for the low to mid 90's with chances of thunderstorms. I don't mind rain at all. It's cold and wind that gets me.

As we were riding around town today I remembered thinking my rear wheel looked out of true when I looked down during a climb yesterday. I checked it and sure enough, another broken spoke. This time it was just one so it was much less noticeable while riding. It was on the opposite side of the wheel from the two that broke in Arizona. Another difference this time is having spares. It was a painless fix and we're ready to roll again.

We went to "The Drugstore" for lunch. It's a big soda fountain specializing in everything fried plus smoked brisket. Yum, yum. I started with a malt. It was great.

While we sat at our booth, a young man in the next booth kept looking over at us. He was with a group that looked like a couple of families. Just before they left, a woman from their booth came over and asked if we were biking across the country or something. I said, "yes, how did you know?" she said her son had seen us biking into town yesterday. She motioned him over and he started asking us questions. He wanted to know where we were coming from, where we were going, and how long it was taking us. He wanted to know if we were competitive athletes and his mom said he wrestled. They asked if we were sponsored or something and I told them we were riding to raise money for Lance Armstrong Foundation to benefit cancer survivors.

It was a really nice and friendly interaction. I like talking to people about what we're doing and why. People like to hear about it too. I feel like I'm celebrating Deidre's life every day. Sometimes it's the solitude of being surrounded by such epic natural beauty and other times its talking with people who want to hear our story. What a gift I feel I'm receiving daily.

More to come.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Day 16 Van Horn, TX to Fort Davis, TX

May 25

Van Horn, TX to Fort Davis, TX

98 Miles
4020 ft of climbing



Before anything else, I want to thank any and all veterans who may be reading this blog. I urge other readers to do the same. It is a great debt of gratitude we owe to those who protect our freedom. Weather you agree with political policy or not, thank a vet.

On to yesterday.

EPIC. All the elements necessary to qualify were present yesterday.

We started by going to the front desk and asking about a breakfast spot. The fellow at the counter began giving me directions that eventually included a reference to Wendy's and I stopped him. I said, "I can't eat Wendy's for breakfast. Is there a café on the way down the business loop?". "You don't understand", he said. "Papa's Café is next door to Wendy's and it's the only place to get breakfast". With that he ran around and grabbed a menu from a stack and insistently put it in my hand saying we would like it.

We got on the bikes and rode. We hadn't had more than one sit down meal a day in two days and I was feeling it. We rode up to Papa's and it was closed for Memorial Day Weekend. Ouch. All that seemed to be left was Wendy's. I was starting to feel a malnutrition headache coming on. In we went. I ordered a burrito, two sandwiches, french toast sticks, hash browns, and three orange juices. Chris could only manage to choke down a sandwich and a half before he started feeling sick. It's not that fast food tastes bad, it's that trying to run your body on it feels like putting watery gas in your car. A lot of sputtering.

To continue our route we had to ride a few hundred meters back to the I-10 business loop and head East. As we rode through the rest of Van Horn we passed a number of cafes. Some appeared closed for the day but most closed for good. The last business on the loop was a motel with an open café. I slowed down and told Chris I'd sit and have coffee if he wanted a real meal. He said, "no, let's just go". On we went.

We road the frontage road for about twenty miles and then the shoulder of the interstate for the last ten or so to Kent, TX. I thought Kent might have a spot for lunch, and it may have, but we came to the 118 which was our route and all we saw was a general store, gas station. We stopped and watered up.

Because of the Warning from Joe, the day before about there being a fifty mile stretch of nothing, we each took an extra liter of water giving us three liters each. We thought surely that would be enough to get us the forty miles to the MacDonald observatory at the top of the climb.

We set out on the 118 East, which actually runs South for the first twenty six miles or so from the I-10.

Hopefully the map links are working so you can zoom in and take a look at what I mean.

We started down the highway driving through ranch land with a minor incline of 1-2 percent. The wind was a mild breeze and it was very pleasant riding. I was appreciating more beautiful Texas countryside.

After a couple of miles the road tilted up a bit more and the wind started blowing. We settled in to a 20-25 MPH headwind with a 3-4 percent grade. Very, very tough as it went on. There were angry skies on the horizon and it looked like we were riding into rain.

As the wind picked up a bit more, not too gusty, just a steady 25-30, the going was slow. I looked at our position and saw we had twenty more miles of this and we were lucky to be going 7 MPH while pedaling hard. I didn't mind the effort but I started to worry about water.

Chris and I often ride at different paces and when a large enough gap forms that we can't see each other, the lead rider eventually stops to wait. We both have what we need to change a tube so only a breakdown would require the lead to turn around and ride back.

As I continued into the wind, I began riding through bunches of grasshoppers. The wind blew them right at me as they hopped up from the highway. It was hot and I had my jersey zipped halfway down when one flew in. I grabbed at it and lifted the front of my jersey to try to get at it but that just made it slip further down. I could feel it trying to hop and eventually managed to pull the jersey over my head and it fell out onto my shorts. No easy feat I can tell you. Our heavy bikes are far from nimble and there is no way to ride with both hands off the bars or the whole process would have been much easier.

At about 18 miles from Kent it looked like rain would start anytime and I found a place to pull over and wait for Chris. As I waited I pulled the raincovers out and battened down the hatches. I assessed my water situation an found two and one half bottles. At the rate we were going it would get me to the Observatory but just barely and only if I was careful to sip. I debated having something to eat, knowing I'd have to drink with it, and decided I really needed the calories. I figured, based on our pace, that the Visitor Center at the observatory would be closed but I would have no bones about knocking on doors if I had to. As I waited, it rained a couple of times. Big drops but not for long.

After a few minutes Chris caught up and pulled over. He looked thirsty. His bottles were empty. He said his knee had started bothering him and he had taken an 800mg Ibuprofen. It had made him feel sick. I offered him one of my bars and gave him a bottle of water. He drank half in one gulp and I immediately started thinking about waving down a car to ask for more. There wasn't much traffic but every ten or fifteen minutes a car would go by so I knew the situation was inconvenient but not dire.

We saddled up and rode on together, faithfully taking turns pulling each other through the wind. It was much better working together. After another three miles, and almost thirty minutes, we came to Texas Road 166 which marked the beginning of the real climbing. I was looking forward to a change of pace. A couple of miles down, the road tilted up, the wind died and even though our speed remained about the same, I was happy for the change. The first climb was crazy steep. 17 percent for almost half a mile. Let me say it again, I'll take climbing over wind anytime. I checked the altimeter and we were already at 5400'. Our climb crested at 6200' or so. We were still 12 miles from the observatory. Our cumulative climbing was at 3000' already and I was expecting a total around 4000' based on the mapping.

I told Chris not to worry, there was a picnic area in the next couple of miles and maybe there would be water.

As part of my ridiculous overpreparedness (except of course for spokes) I am carrying a water filtration bottle. I started looking around for windmills and water tanks in case the picnic area was dry.

As I seriously began thinking about stopping and hiking it to the next windmill I saw, that looked maintained, we came to the picnic area. We pulled in and I saw a couple of cars and tents and we rode straight to them.

A couple of families were spending the day in the mountains. I waved and said hello as we approached. I asked if by chance they had a bottle of water to spare. I was immediately directed to a cooler and one of the men came right over and started handing us bottles while he asked where we had come from and where we were going. They were extremely generous and insisted on filling all of our bottles plus giving us each an extra. I should have gotten information from them to send a card from St. Augustine but I felt like we were imposing on their family day as it was.

THANK YOU! You helped us tremendously!

He asked if we'd had rain and we said, "a little" he said we had a lot of downhill ahead but a big steep climb also. I made sure to thank every single person there, including the kids, and off we went.

We rode another couple of miles, mostly swooping downhills through beautiful forested land but took it easy because of the wet road surface. Then we came to a crushing steep long climb just as the clouds opened up. It started with hail and turned to rain. Pouring, monsoon, thunderstorm rain. Then the lightning started. We were winding our way up a road completely exposed to our right and it was dumping on us. We started seeing lightning strikes in front of us but there was really no place to seek shelter. I looked at the galvanized guard rail next to us and thought it was a toss up whether we'd be hit or the guard rail would. I guess its splitting hairs. A million volts of static discharge will give you a new hairdo whether you get it directly or a few feet away.

The rain tapered off at the top of the climb. The air was crisp and it was magnificently fresh. It must have been super oxygenated or full of negative ions or something but it was glorious. We held back on the wet descents, dotted with short climbs, and eventually descended into a beautiful high plateau when we saw the three domes of the MacDonald Observatory on the hillside across the meadow.

The University of Texas at Austin MacDonald Observatory boasts the largest telescope mirror in the world.

The remaining seventeen miles to Fort Davis were as breathtaking as the ride up but much drier. We got to town just in time for dinner. Our host, Steve, told me that you couldn't see the swimming pool from the office because the rain had been so heavy.

We are, at this moment, considering our plans for today. We decided we need to moderate and nourish our bodies today. We might spend the day here, in Fort Davis, or we may go short to Alpine to help reduce the next two days to hundred mile rides.

What was I thinking when I said the climbing was done after Emory Pass?

More to come.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Day 15 Fabens, TX to Van Horn, TX

May 24

Fabens, TX to Van Horn, TX

98 Miles
1885 ft of climbing



Phew! Today went on for a long time. It wasn't too bad on paper at just under a hundred miles and shy of 2000' of climbing. The first fifty miles went by pretty quickly too. Just over three hours. The wind never got too bad either. I think it had everything to do with nutrition. Our Raman dinners were followed up with oatmeal for me and cold cereal for Chris in the morning. It was not a protein rich twenty four hours.

Our lunch stop was fifty miles into the day and I was very, very hungry. We were so glad to see the truckstop over the final rise. They had a real diner to boot. I had two lunches and told Chris I'd be moving kind of slow after eating but I needed to feel full. Chris had a single lunch and I think he is feeling it this morning. He did have two dinners though. I explained at lunch and dinner that pushing it like we did deep into caloric deficit, I have always found it very important to try and make up for it if you can. Most especially if protein was largely missing.

We left lunch and rode to the next town of Sierra Blanca. It has a classic main street that runs past an old train station that's been converted to a museum commemorating the spot where the Southern Pacific met the Texas and Pacific railroads in 1881.

We Stopped for water at the local market, hardware store, tack outfitter. The proprietor, Joe Bustamante, was a nice, friendly fellow and wanted to hear about our adventure. He said he gets a few cyclists through town and was familiar with the Adventure Cycling maps we're using. He commented on how pleasant and interesting he found the riders that came through. He asked if we were riding thirty five to forty miles daily like most of the tourers who came through and was floored when I told him we had been averaging eighty five miles daily (including the short days).

We exchanged information and he said he looked forward to checking out the blog.

We got to Van Horn at what we thought was going to be 7:00 PM or so but as we rode down a mild descent to town we crossed the Culberson County line which also marked the Central Time Zone. Realizing we were arriving closer to 8:00 than 7:00 I started worrying about dinner. We asked the woman who checked us in at the hotel and she said the restaurants stayed open until 10:00. Most notably Chuy's across the street.

Chuy's was made famous by John Madden apparently (former football head coach and currently a TV commentator).

I'm getting pretty tired of Mexican food and I'm ready to shift gears to BBQ. I think that and steakhouses are in our future.

I slept like a baby last night but I think it was Chris's turn to run too long in the red yesterday and when the alarm went off at 7:00 AM (really 6:00 for us) he said he hadn't slept at all. I figured I'd write a little before getting him up.

Today it's 88 miles and around 4000' of climbing to get to Ft. Davis. There really aren't any bailouts either. We'll have to see how Chris feels.

West Texas is wild and beautiful. Yesterday was the Rio Grande Valley in the morning and mesas in the afternoon.

More to come.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Day 14 Las Cruces, NM to Fabens, TX

May 23

Las Cruces, NM to Fabens, TX

83.5 Miles
1145 ft of climbing



Today was the first day since the breakdown that we're back in sync with our originally planned route. We've only added two full pedaling days because of the short day when we broke down and another when we stopped in Three Way. Because we're in sync again, I'll start posting links to the maps I created before we left. Cut and paste the address above (beginning with http://) into your browser address bar to load the map.

We are now over 935 miles from San Diego and have climbed over 36,000'.

The day began with weather reports of diminishing winds. We started by riding twenty miles with the wind in our faces blowing 10-15 MPH but it was not a significant factor after that.

I was also pleased to see Chris try a new nutritional strategy. He had a good strong day today. He ate pretty much everything available at the hotel's continental breakfast and took some for later.

It was a pretty and pleasant ride today. Rather than ride along the border in El Paso, we opted to head North through Anthony Gap and across Fort Bliss.

At our first water stop of the day we learned quickly about Texas size abundance. It was a McDonalds, Churches Chicken, Subway, convenience store, gas station. And everything was available in extra large.

After settling in, showering, and watching the first few minutes of the basketball game, we walked next door to the diner as they were locking up for the night. We thought we'd be safe to head for dinner at 7:30 but I guess dinner happens early around here.

When we first rode in to town, Fabens looked to be a nice little place with an auto parts store, movie rental, and a couple of cafes but then we had to turn North and ride a couple of miles to the motel at the I-10. The last few hundred meters are uphill. After showering up I didn't really feel like riding the two or so miles to find more closed cafes and then coming back up that hill.

We'll see how ramen and PB&J sandwiches work to get us to lunch tomorrow. No pizza delivery in Fabens.

I was glad to get some pictures posted yesterday but I must have hit a daily upload limit or something because the site wouldn't accept more. Those were just from San Diego.

Tomorrow winds are forecast at 10-15 increasing to 20-25 during the day gusting to 30. Out of the South. Ouch.

More to come.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Pictures 2

Here's some more

Pictures from San Diego

Sorry, but I don't think I'm going to be able to caption them. I'll post them in order though. The pictures showing the two of us riding were taken by Charles Davis, the guy I posted about who drove ahead of us several times to shoot them.

Thank you again Chuck!

Day 13 Caballo, NM to Las Cruces, NM

May 22

Caballo, NM to Las Cruces, NM

65 Miles
1600 ft of climbing

The day began with the winds a bit more moderate than yesterday but continuing to blow from the south-southwest.

We woke and washed up and went into the gas station/convenience store/laundromat at the campground. Our new friend at the counter was comfortable with us feeding like we were at a trough and helping ourselves to refrigerated drinks and food and bringing him the empties when we were done.

I had another stellar (great) sleep but Chris said it was his turn to wake weary from a restless sleep. I think he popped in the mountains but to his credit he never complains so I only know he's hurting when I wait at the summits. When climbing, you find a rhythm based largely on grade and your weight. Your body is naturally comfortable generating and maintaining a given power output and that level varies between riders.

Sensing Chris's struggles the days into and out of Silver City, I took some time this morning to explain drafting to him.

When one cyclist rides very close behind another, a power savings in excess of thirty percent can be realized by the trailing cyclist. I explained that ideally he should have his front wheel six inches from my rear but I stressed that he should never let his front overlap my rear because if the wind gusted and blew me sideways into his wheel, we would both likely suffer involuntary dismounts (crash). Unfortunately our view directly in front of us is obscured by our bar bags.

I went on to explain the protocol of drafting so down the road, when he is doing day rides, he wouldn't irritate riding partners. The proper protocol holds that cyclists take turns pulling, or being the front rider. I further explained that our situation is unique and as good as I've been feeling, he should let me do all the work today if he felt tired. He did his best to stay with me and I did my best to wait for him.

We rode off and realized immediately the wind was blowing in the 15-20 MPH range gusting to 25 or so. Our route had us heading into the wind at about 1:00 o'clock most of the day (our direction of travel can be described with 12:00 o'clock being directly in front of us which means 1:00 o'clock has the wind not quite straight in our faces but close to it).

Our route was a bit winding and when we came around to a cross wind (3:00 o'clock) I told Chris he should move as much to the leeward side of me as possible using me to keep him out of the wind. On the rare occasions the wind came around to 4:00 o'clock (more of a tail wind than a head wind but not directly at our backs) our speed would go from 13 or 14 to 22 or 23. Those times were brief but wonderful.

We rode to Hatch (the chili capitol of the world) and stopped for an early lunch. I try to set a good example and often ask Chris to describe how much of what types of food he's eating. Ride lunches work best for me as primarily carbohydrates with some protein and allot of hydration. I avoid cheese but sometimes a pizza slice or two works pretty well.

People sometimes say things to me like, "you can probably eat as much of anything as you want". That's not exactly true. Some fuel is better than other and sometimes you have to keep eating even after you're full to avoid constantly operating at a caloric deficit. It is an unnatural relationship with food we have and that makes it kind of unpleasant sometimes. Fortunately I have a big appetite and the stomach volume to match.

After lunch the wind seemed to pick up a little more and between Hatch an Las Cruces I heard a small explosion behind me. It was Chris's legs falling off completely (I don't mean either of those things literally of course).

We got to Cruces and our turn for El Paso and Chris had continually been falling off even after I moderated my pace to a crawl.

I stopped and waited for Chris to catch up and we both agreed it would be counterproductive to continue into an ever increasing afternoon wind for the four hours I figured it would take us to go the forty additional miles.

We got a room and I seized the opportunity to find a Radio Shack to get a cable for my camera and am at this very moment sitting at a Kinko's preparing to post some pictures one I finish this text post.

I had a voicemail when I turned on my phone at the hotel. It was Dianne at the Post Office in Salome. My parts arrived there today. Overnight took eight days. I'm glad we didn't wait!

We achieved another milestone today when we crossed the Rio Grande.

More to come.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Day 12 Silver City, NM to Caballo, NM

May 21

Silver City, NM to Caballo, NM

74 Miles
6800 ft of climbing

I can't believe I forgot to mention we crossed the Continental Divide Monday on our way to Silver City. Yahoo!!

We woke this morning to weather predictions of 25-30 MPH winds gusting to 50. It was however supposed to be coming out of the Southwest and that would have it at our backs most of the day. It was much cooler, by almost twenty degrees, this morning and the sky was brilliantly clear and blue.

Today's ride was some of the most beautiful scenery I've ever ridden through.

It began by heading East to Santa Rita. Santa Rita used to be a mining town but now it is just a huge open pit copper mine one mile across and sixteen hundred feet deep. The town was razed in the fifties so they could mine under it. It is an awesome sight. We stopped for pictures and headed down the road.

The stretch between Silver City and San Lorenzo (about eight miles East of Santa Rita) is special for me. It is a route Deidre and I rode when we came to Faywood Hot Springs with Chris's parents, Thom and Gitti. Deidre rode with me today, like every day, but with a little extra magic today.

Chris and I stopped again a couple of miles further down when nature called and we came across a bar all by itself in the trees. It appeared the proprietor lived on the property and when Chris tried the door to find it locked a women in the yard of the house came over and said they were closed but asked what we needed. Chris asked if he could use the restroom and she put down what she was doing and said she'd be around in a minute.

While Chris used the facilities I sat at the bar with the woman and we talked. It was a really lovely place and I told her so. I asked if she had a cold Coke (two birds with one stone-sugar and caffeine). She said she had a cool Coke and got up and got me a can. Chris joined us and she got him a Sprite. We talked about the weather where we had come from. She told us about what she had heard about weather in the direction we were heading. When we told her we were aiming for Hatch, she said, "you'll probably be fine to Caballo Lake but then you'll turn South for the last twenty miles and the wind will get you". She couldn't have been more right. We got up to go and I asked what we owed her. She said, "the information you gave me was all the payment I needed". What a very nice and tuned in lady she was.

We knew we were in the mountains the first forty five miles of the day and in my experience you usually enjoy some protection from the wind in the mountains. Today provided another example of my limited experience. Even though I enjoy riding in the mountains, one of my favorites being the ride to Santa Fe Ski Basin (3200 ft or so of climbing in 13 miles from 7000 to 10200 ft), when I thought about it today on the bike I realized I don't ride high mountain passes. Today was Emory Pass at 8228'.

The wind was howling and I think it must accelerate through the passes. I am sure a couple of the gusts were close to 70 MPH. It was kind of exciting and wild actually. Incredible scenery but because the wind was so unpredictable in the canyon as we climbed, the technical aspect of the ride required all of our attention. We present a pretty big aspect to the wind from all sides with the panniers.

After Emory Pass came a three thousand foot descent in seventeen miles. Don't tell our moms but we hit fifty on the way down. After seventeen miles more fun and exhilarating than any ride at Six Flags we arrived in a lovely little town called Hillsboro. We stepped inside a quaint and comfortable general store and soda fountain. The lady working the front told us they closed in ten minutes but they would be happy to cook us whatever we would like. We had a great lunch in a wonderful atmosphere and watered up before we hit the road again.

Next came another sixteen miles and eight hundred feet of descent. This stretch was much more exposed and the wind was coming from four o'clock or so and it was blowing every bit the forecasted thirty miles per hour and the gusts were every bit of fifty miles per hour.

We got to Caballo and the road turned directly into the wind. With El Paso about one hundred miles down the road, and a gradual descent all the way, we opted for discretion and checked in at the local campsite general store to find they had a cabin available. Just what I'd hoped.

Wind permitting, tomorrow El Paso.

If anyone reading this finds themselves in this part of the country looking for something to do, I highly recommend a drive between Caballo Lake and Silver City.

More to come.

Day 11 Silver City Rest Day

May 20

Silver City, NM

Rest day

We spent our first scheduled rest day doing primarily that. Resting.

We slept late and when we got up, took our time getting ready to go explore a bit.

What a blast riding the bikes unloaded. Even unloaded the touring bike is about twice the weight of my road bike but after getting used to the load with panniers, it felt like a featherweight without.

I remembered Gila Hike and Bike from visiting Silver City in the past and thought it would be a good idea to stop by and see if they could check the torque on a couple of drivetrain components for me. Jay was super accommodating and Chama, the mechanic, was happy to help.

When I removed the panniers in the morning I noticed that I had lost a set screw from one of the mounts and asked Jay about a hardware store. We also asked about a place for internet access and a full sized computer too. He steered us to a hardware store and the library.

But first, the priorities of coffee and lunch, in that order.

First stop, Java the Hut. Excellent coffee and very nice people. Second stop, Diane's for lunch. I've been garlic starved for a week and a half and made up for it in one meal. I think we'll be safe from vampires for a couple of days.

Then we went to the hardware store and got the parts and on to the library to post some pictures, sewing our blog address as we went.

For a guy who made a living connecting things together with cables (video and audio equipment) you'd think I would have learned to triple check everything. When I sat down to plug my camera into the USB port at the library, I realized that the cable I brought fit my handheld (the thing I'm using to post) but not my camera. We went looking for a cable but the town is a little small for that. No luck.

I'm sorry for not posting pictures. I'll try again at our rest in Austin.

We walked around downtown while the bike shop had my bike and after picking it up we went back to the motel and got our laundry together for a laundromat trip. What good fortune that Silver City Brewing Company was an easy roll to the laundromat. Alternating between a wonderful IPA and changing loads we had a very pleasant time getting our clothes clean and sitting on the patio sipping one of my favorite energy drinks.

Then it was to the market for water and sandwich fixings for Wednesday's ride.

We have one more significant mountain pass to ride over before almost a hundred miles of downhill. Emory Pass is a bit daunting at over 8200' but after talking with Jay at the bike shop it sounds like a good steady, long seven to eight percent grade. It shouldn't be too painful but it will take awhile.

Then it was dinner, the Boston vs. Detroit game (NBA Eastern Conference Finals) and early to bed to get another good night's sleep.

More to come.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Day 10 Three Way, AZ to Silver City, NM

May 19

Three Way, AZ to Silver City, NM

84 Miles
5800 ft of climbing

I want to start by correcting my final thought from Sunday's post. I didn't really mean Silver City or bust. If I had to walk on my hands for a mile a day I would have continued to Silver City.

Fortunately though, I write this after waking from nine glorious hours of air conditioned sleep in Silver City, NM.

We're in our third state now with over 750 miles and over 26000' of climbing behind us. We have traveled just shy of one quarter of the total distance but have over sixty percent of the climbing done.

Yesterday started with the sun shining on our tent and taking the temperature from somewhere in the high sixties to the high eighties in minutes. Because Arizona is the state furthest West in the Mountain Time Zone, but not observing Daylight Savings Time, it is, during DST, the state furthest East on Pacific Savings Time. That means dawn is around 5:00 AM.

We woke and made coffee and struck camp. We knew our toughest climb yet was coming with a 6300' pass in the Big Lue Mountains just 14 miles up the road.

We weren't really in the mood for freeze dried eggs and wanted to get cranks turning so we passed on Mexican omelets and hit the road.

Our campsite was a couple of miles off route so we rode back up to Three Way, and the store where we got the tip on camping. I started my day with a 540 calorie cinnamon roll, a 720 calorie muffin, two Starbucks double shots, another cup of coffee, and plenty of water. Since we knew the next water was 47 miles down the road, we each filled one of our extra two litre bottles. That gave us four litres and eight pounds each of water.

We rolled away from the junction (for which Three Way was named) and immediately began up a shallow two percent grade. You can even feel two percent on a sixty something pound bike. The climb began getting steep several miles down the road but even though the going is slower, I find it much easier to get into a rhythm at seven percent and above. As we neared the pass the grade steepened. At five miles from the pass we had 2000' left to climb. 1500' the last three miles and 1000' the last two miles. That meant an average grade of just around ten percent the last three miles. It felt great!

We summited and rode big rollers to Buckhorn.

In Buckhorn we stopped at the store and had a pizza and drank a couple of litres of iced tea and water. There were a couple of fellows there, on motorcyles, enjoying a cold one before they hit the road again.

They were Jim and Derrick and were on their way back from riding in Mexico for a couple of weeks. We exchanged stories about our experiences and then Derrick asked if we were sponsored being on such an epic journey. We told him no but we were riding for a cause. They were interested to hear about it. Just as we began telling them about Livestrong, and me about Deidre, a man and woman drove up. The woman went in the store and the man stayed to talk. He told us she was his wife and was fighting cancer right now. Jim then told us his girlfriend's mother was fighting cancer. Everyone wanted a card from us. All I could do is provide them the blogsite address.

When it comes to life, death, and love, we are all the same.

We eventually said our goodbyes wishing each other luck and safe travels. On down the road we went.

We rode fast and with the wind at our backs for the next twenty miles. Then began the final climb of the day. The final pass was almost as high as the first of the day but the climb was a much shallower average grade. Coming almost seventy miles in it was one of those two hour grinds where your head is down, music is playing in your ear (I only ever listen in one ear and it's the side away from traffic) and you concentrate on your breathing and pedalling rhythm.

The final summit was a welcome sight. Tuesday we'll go downtown and find a place for coffee and internet so we can post some pictures.

More to come.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Day 9 Safford, AZ to SThree Way, AZ

May 18

Safford, AZ to Three Way, AZ

37.5 Miles
1750 ft of climbing

It was 80 degrees at 8:00 AM this Sunday morning and I had such a good sleep I didn't want to get out from under the air conditioned sheets. It's beginning to sound like it's all about sleep with me. To some extent it's true. That's when the body does the most recovery. Being 22 years old, Chris's body is in a recovery mode any time he's not pedalling.

Eventually I dragged myself out and we began making ready to grab some breakfast and hit the road. It was a late start and 95 degrees when we started turning cranks. After three hard days of hot riding, and just shy of 300 miles covered during them, we were both feeling the fatigue. We agreed we would ride 35 miles through the first pass and assess our condition. Our bailout option would be Clifton which is nine miles off route to the North of Three Way. The next running water on the route is another 47 miles and it's camping only. Camping is OK as long as you can pitch your tent while its light out.

We came to Three Way which consists of a store and gas pump. The woman working in the store was very talkative and super helpful. She told us that she had met a man and woman, while walking her dog, who were camped in the trailer park next to her. She said they told her there were showers and laundry.

It was only a mile and a half down the road the opposite direction of Clifton. We thought to save the extra miles and camp down the road rather than ride a total of fifteen extra miles for a hotel in Clifton.

We stopped at a store next to the campground to get water and dessert and went on to Ponderosa RV Park to make camp. KOA it is not, but the showers work, there's a washer and dryer with a working light in the room, and at ten bucks the price was right.

As I write this we just finished eating lasagna with meat sauce and Carribean rice and beans (freeze dried). It was all surprisingly good and my packs are a bit lighter as a bonus. The only problem, it was only seventeen hundred calories between the two of us. It was plenty satisfying and filling but tomorrow we climb the remaining 6500 or so feet and go seventy five miles to Silver City. We'll be travelling heavy with extra water too. We will have about four litres each for the forty seven miles between water stops). We agreed to have Mexican omelets at the campsite (freeze dried again) and stop at the store for milk and have cerial out front before we head for the first climbof the day.

Tomorrow it's Silver City or bust. Then a day off.

More to come.

Day 8 Superior, AZ to Safford, AZ

May 17

Superior, AZ to Safford, AZ

103 Miles
3750 ft of climbing

Sunday morning and we find ourselves in Safford, AZ. I am finding that pretty much any town with a couple of thousand people or more has internet service for my handheld. I just need to pay more attention to the map. On review, this area has somewhere on the order of fifteen thousand people between the three towns of Pima, Thatcher, and Safford.

We started from Superior a little late yesterday. I had a fitfull sleep and I find I move slowly in the mornings after those nights. I'm not a person who has ever had any trouble sleeping and I think the cause in this case is purely physiological.

On our arrival in Superior I knew I had pretty much hit my limit. I was running purely on what I was ingesting for the last two hours of the ride and that is an unsustainable situation. Terrain, speed, wind, and hydration level determine hourly caloric burn rate (ultimately affecting heart rate which is the primary determiner for burn rate). Given the body's ability to convert a maximum of 500 or 600 calories per hour (depending on metabolic factors) you can see the deficit that you create after all the stores are burned and you continue to burn 700 to 800 calories per hour.

I don't know what exactly happens after a ride like that but even being dead tired it's very hard for me to get a good sleep.

Determined not to let that happen again, I started my day with two breakfast burritos (loaded with eggs, ham and potatoes). Then some donuts, coffee, orange juice, and milk. The feeling of being on empty, like Friday, is a bad one. There is definitely a pscychological effect too. Blood chemistry gone awry.

Our day began with a touch of dread. We had a climb right from the start and Merlin (the proprieter of our Friday night lodging) told us it was a tough one. We stood outside our rooms and smelled the burning brakes from the cars coming down the hill. There is no doubt we were psychologically prepared.

We started at the bottom with an immediate 7% grade and by the time we got to Queen's Creek Tunnel the climb was varying between 7% and 13%. I looked at my bike computer at one point and it told me the temperature was 115 degrees with a 16% grade. It sounds worse than it was. It is much easier, or so we find, to brace yourself for a visible grade than a gusting wind. 2200 feet and eleven miles to the summit and we were done with the big climb. I was feeling great!

Over the top and then miles and miles of rollers (rolling hills). Even the rollers felt good.

We road onto the San Carlos Apache Reservation and stopped for fueling at a supermarket. As we were preparing to leave a significantly self medicated local resident approached us.

Chris and I are both familiar with being asked for money or being told an inane story in a situation like that but this day I had a couple of minutes to listen. Leonard is an Army Special forces vet having served in Viet Nam. It was evident he as damaged inside and out. I was confident he wouldn't ask for money after we told him about our fundraising efforts. Once that was out of the way I figured I could afford ten minutes to converse. He wanted to take us and show us teepees. We said we had to go and rather than get belligerent he asked for a promise. "Promise you will always tell the people you care about that you love them every time you leave". An easy promise to make and an easy promise to keep. Thank you for the reminder Loenard.

Leonard asked if we had a card (with our information and LAF info) so he could make a contribution. When I said no and asked if he used the internet he said, "we got no internet on the reservation". I don't know if that's true or not but it sounds right. Tragic how the powers that be in this country coddle some and cast aside others. Especially troubling when those cast aside are our warriors who were willing to sacrifice so much.

On down the road we rode. As the sun set behind us a man drove around us and pulled over. He hopped out of his truck and started snapping photos in our direction. He did this three times. I wasn't too worried about any lurid use for the pictures given our appearance. He pulled over one more time and then as we rode up he shouted to us. We pulled over and he said he thought he got a great shot or two and would e-mail them to us if we gave him an address. I gave him the blogsite and the e-mail address and when we got to the hotel I checked my mail and there was a picture from him. It looks pretty cool on my 3.5" screen.

We were about twenty five miles from done and the wind was beginning to howl. Literally howl. It looked like big rain in our way and I stopped and put the rain covers on my panniers (saddle bags). The insurance worked. We finished the ride dry.

As we re-entered civilization my body was demanding protein. I saw a Burger King ahead and had my first fast food burger in ten years (meat only of course).

Today we face 111 miles and 8000' of climbing. We may need to stop on the way but this is one of the emptiest stretches on our route.

More to come.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Day 7 Glendale, AZ to Superior, AZ

May 16

Glendale, AZ to Superior, AZ

86 Miles
2085 ft of climbing

Wow, Phoenix is the epitome of urban sprawl and it appears to be growing like a weed. We rode from the Northwest edge at Surprise to the Eastern edge at Apache Junction. By my reckoning it covers somewhere around seventy miles.

We had a comfortable night in Glendale and on waking I began the quest to find the bike shop most convenient to our route. The maps we use have a wealth of information contained in them including everything from points of interest to locations of bike shops and libraries. We haven't had much time for reading but this particular day we did find ourselves needing a wrench (a mechanic). In reality, it was my intention to purchase parts and do the work myself.

I've seen too many kids turning wrenches that were barely qualified to assemble bikes at Walmart but were instead fixing bikes in a shop.

The map only had three shops in Glendale and we waited until opening time (10:00 AM) to call. I started with one that, according to the map, was directly on the way back to the route. They had moved and we would have to backtrack several miles to get there. I pulled out the device I'm using now to write this and hopped on the web.

I found a shop in Glendale named Bike Den. The location was pretty convenient and I gave them a call. A fellow answered the phone and I simply asked if they had spokes. Keep in mind there are probably six or eight commonly used varieties (varying in thickness, shape, strength, and color). Not to mention dozens of different lengths of each type. I didn't specify what I needed and hoped for the best as we set sail for Bike Den (I use that term because when we're in the wind it feels like we have sails deployed, for better or worse depending on the direction).

We got to the shop in about half an hour and left the bikes outside. I told Chris I wasn't wasting any energy pulling the wheel off until I knew they had the part we needed.

In we went. The fellow at the counter, who we later learned was named Todd and had been working there (and in the bike business) less than a week, was talking with a more experienced looking man (a sympathetic way of saying he had gray hair) in a shop apron. They were a bit impassive and I didn't know what to expect.

I said we were there for spokes and the man in the apron asked what size. 14 guage 296 mm (from the side that broke) and 294 mm (from the other side) in a straight guage I said. I wanted to have every spoke we might need down the road. He went in the back and after a couple of minutes he came back out front and said he didn't have the length. He offered to make them though. It's not uncommon for real mechanics to carry a couple of different lengths in the more common types that they cut and thread as required. I took his offer as a hopeful sign.

He asked how many of each size and I asked for four of the longer (the ones that broke) and two of the shorter. He said OK and told us to bring the bikes on in and lay them on the shop floor while he made the spokes.

After the bikes were inside I stuck my head around the corner to look into his repair area. It was immaculate and organized. I asked if he minded if I came in. He said "you're not supposed to". I told him I understood and from where I stood I asked if he would be able to lace the spokes into the wheel for me. I based my confidence on what I saw. He said "OK, bring it on back".

When he saw the wheel he looked up at me with his eyes widening a bit and said "you're not supposed to do it like that" (meaning using bailing wire spokes). He immediately became more friendly and I knew from his reaction he was a real deal mechanic.

Ken was our hero yesterday. A former interstate truck driver from Savannah who is both a cosumate pro at wrenching on bikes and a gentleman of the highest order (you can get a pretty good idea about people when you start talking bikes with them). I guess he could actually have been an axe murderer but I don't think so.

He went to work right away and I thought it was a good opportunity to grab breakfast. We walked accross the street and had a great breakfast, or four, at Ronnie's Café. It was excellent. It was also almost lunch.

We got back to Bike Den just as Ken was remounting the wheel on the bike. He had replace the broken spokes and tensioned all of the spokes on the wheel and then trued it. It really was better than new. We talked for awhile and I gave him the blog address. We tried to buy him lunch and he flatly refuzshed to take any cash. His only requirement was that we promised to be very careful on our journey.

Thanks for all your help Ken. Todd, if you want to learn about bikes I don't think you could have done much better than working for Ken.

On down the road we went into an irritating headwind all day long. The wheel felt great. I hadn't realized how flexy it was with the bailing wire. It nolw felt nice and stiff and perfectly true. I should mention that a light head or cross wind is actually helpful at keeping you cool in 108 degree weather. It does however add to the effort.

We rode across metro Phoenix all day long.

We stopped for water at the border of Tempe and Mesa to call ahead and make sure that the one motel in Superiolr had a room for the night. They did and we confidently set back out into the wild.

We arrived at The Copper Mountain Inn at around 8:30 PM and rode up to Merlin, the co-proprieter, waiting out front for us. "You made it!", he said. "Welcome".

Saturday we start the crushing cruise across the Rockies. We have over fifteen thousand feet of climbing to do in the next two days. I told Chris that when we get to Texas we will think we'd happily trade wind for climbing. We'll see.

Once I find internet access on a rest day I'll post pictures and maps so it's easier to follow our progress.

We may be without internet for a couple of days but I'll post again as soon as possible. I just don't really know what to expect.

Wish us luck in the mountains.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Day 6 Salome, AZ to Glendale, AZ

May 15

Salome, AZ to Glendale, AZ

101 Miles
1082 ft of climbing

As nice as the people of Salome were it was time for us to hit the road. I rode down to the Post Office and at 9:01 I went inside to see about the package of spokes . The woman who came to the counter looked a lot like the lady who had helped me the day before but I didn't recognize her right away because of the long haired wig she was wearing. I guess you do what you can for entertainment in a town of 200. I stepped hopefully to the counter and when she saw me I could tell from the look on her face the package had not arrived. She asked what we were going to do and I said we had to get going and couldn't wait another day. She gave me the name of the Postmaster in the next town down the road and told me that if we made it no further than the thirty miles to Aguila I would go to the Post Office there and ask Tina to call Lilly in Salome to have the package forwarded there (assuming it would eventually arrive in Salome).

Lilly wanted to help.

I went back to the motel and told Chris I was prepared to take the chance on the bailing wire repair and get out of town.

As a quick note, bailing wire is probably somewhere in the 12 to 14 guage range. The spokes I was waiting for are 14 guage. One problem with the bailing wire is the greater flexibility than the stainless steel of a proper spoke. Contrary to what you may think intuitively, all spoked wheels (auto, motorcycle, and bicycle) work by bearing the weight they carry hanging the hub from the spokes at the top of the wheel rather than resting the weight on the spokes below the hub. That's how it's possible to use a very flexable material like the bailing wire as a substitute. So I told myself anyway.

In my experience spokes break from a lack of tension rather than too much tension. Any movement of a spoke as the wheel turns and the weight shifts pretty much guarantees failure of the part sooner or later. In my case it took about 350 miles.

Not knowing if the fix would even get us to Aguila, thirty miles down the road, we set sail hoping for the best. I told Chris I would always be looking for the smoothest part of the road and I'd keep a high pedal cadence to try to minimize the torque I applied to the back wheel. I also decided I couldn't risk standing up in the saddle, something you do periodically on long rides to stretch out your back and hamstrings. When you get out of the saddle like that you usually shift to a harder gear and slow your cadence to fifty RPM or so (mine is usually closer to between the mid nineties and low one hundreds). It's a little l like climbing stairs slowly and it feels really good after spinning in the saddle but it causes you to apply much more torque to the cranks and I was afraid to do that.

We rode off from Salome into a fifteen MPH headwind. I usually ride with music in my right ear (opposite the traffic side) but I thought better of it waning to hear every sound the bike made. I expected to hear the snap of the wire breaking any minute where it went through the holes in the hub.

On our way through the next litle town of Wendon we saw a building covered in signs advertising the coolest coffee bar in town staffed by the unforgetable ladies of Wendon. How could we not stop? They wanted to hear all about our journey and offered the back yard for camping if we broke down before we got to Aguila. They were very nice and asked us to sign their guest book. Here's the goofy note I left:

Your coffee is strong
Your attitude great
When I saw you served food
I was sorry I'd already ate

A poet I'm not.

We made it the thirty miles to Aguila and I was very surprised the wheel was still rolling true. We went the next twenty six to our originally planned stop at Wickenburg and felt like we re-entered civilization. Wickenburg is a nice town of 5000 or so but it's obviously a regional shopping center. We ate two lunches each and headed on down the road.

For the next twelve miles or so we got our only break from the wind all day.

The road from Wickenburg to Phoenix is a state highway that becomes larger and busier the closer you get to Phoenix .

We needed water and stopped at the first gas station we came to in Sun City. As we filled bottles a young woman approached me asking us where we were going and where we were coming from. I must say as we get further down the road (about four hundred miles at that point) people's reactions are more animated. At first we were getting a lot of 'good luck, it's a long way'. Now were beginning to get 'holy smokes, that's crazy, good going'.

The young lady in Sun City was particularly interested because her friend had recently been diagnosed with breast cancer and she was familier with Lance Armstrong Foundation. We shared stories for a few minutes and then she asked if we were taking cash contributions. I hadn't thought about that until she asked. I asked her to go to www.livestrong.org and contribute there if she liked. She went right to her car, where she had her laptop and wireless internet card, and made a contribution on the spot.

I should explain that Chris and I wear matching Livestrong jerseys and shorts and to look at us it's obvious we are representing the cause.

When we get to a rest day in a town with a full size computer and internet access I'll post some pictures.

We said goodbye to our newest supporter and hit the road again. Another five miles or so and the highway was getting very busy with suburban Phoenix commuter traffic. As we were about to pass a gas station, a fellow ran out in the street and hollered at us to pull into the gas station saying he had something for us. I didn't know what to think and when I saw his buddy parked with the tailgate of his pick-up truck down I thought they were trying to sell us something. Maybe bike bags or gloves or something. We had ridden 85 high anxiety miles by then (expecting the bailing wire to fail at any minute) and all but a few into a stiff wind and I was in no mood to shop.

I immediately began demanding to know if they were trying to sell us something. Honestly I was a bit rude about it. Boy, was it a lesson for me about goodness surrounding us and our quest.

The two mem were Rich Weis and his partner Kirk from Oakley. They saw us riding and recognized the Livestrong gear. Rich said he saw I had the limited edition Oakley Livestrong Radar sunglasses but Chris didn't and he wanted us to match. He gave Chris a brand new pair and wished us luck. We couldn't believe it. How thoughtful, kind, and generous of these men.

Thank you Rich and Kirk and Oakley!!!

Back on the road we went on quite a high.

We eventually found a hotel in Glendale, on the edge of Phoenix proper, and ate three dominoes pizzas between the two of us.

Tomorrow it's breakfast, bike shop, and riding in t at order.

More to come.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Catching up

Please be sure to scroll down for days 5 and 6 posts. I just put them both up. We're at a lunch stop in Wickenburg and it's my first internet access in two days.

We love the mail!!! Keep it coming.

Day 5 Salome, AZ

May 14

Salome, AZ

Resting and waiting for Spokes.

There are worse places than Salome, Az to be stuck for a day. For sure the desert would be worse.

I should say that more nicely. I got to know Salome a little better yesterday and there are some very nice and helpful people here.

The day started at the diner across the street with breakfast. We took full advantage of the oportunity and Chris and I slept twelve and ten hours respectively.

When we came back to the motel we sat on the portal in front of the room and read and wrote. A nice lady named Marjorie walked over asked if we were staying another night.

She is the person who actually lives here and manages the Motel. I explained our situation to her.

Marjorie told me that mail isn't delivered here. She told me there was a post office a few hundred yards down the highway and anything coming by mail would come there general delivery.

I walked down to the post office and was helped by the nicest lady. She asked what the delivery address on the package was and told me it hadn't come that morning (there is one daily mail delivery from Phoenix). She wrote down all the info and said she sorted the incoming mail and would be on the lookout for it.

I came back to the Motel and Chris was napping. I think the capacity for sleep has to be part of the adaptability and fast recovery young bodies enjoy.

As I sat outside ading I noticed a hardware store across the highway. I thought how dumb it would be if by some chance they had a spoke or two and I failed to ask. It may have been delusion caused by legs itching to turn cranks. As I crossed I started thinking like McGiver. Of course they had no spokes but they had bailing wire and needle nose vice grips. Since two spokes had broken I imagined threading the wire across the tire bed of the rim, through the spoke holes, dowto the hub, threaded through the spoke holes in the hub, and joined by twisting. I bought the items and in case I ended up having the time later I asked the woman proprieter if I was mistaken that I'd seen an add somewhere around for a barber in Salome. She said the barber was away but directed me to a salon.

I went back to the hotel and Chris was very interested in my repair idea. It was about noon by now.

I removed the single spare spoke I had installed on the road Tuesday afternoon and did my steel seamstress impression. I overtensioned the adjacent spokes on the same side of the hub and detensioned the nearby spokes on the opposite side of the hub. I thought by doing that I could get enough tension on the wire by threading it, twisting it together and then tensioning the opposite side and drawing the rim away from the wired side as the wheel came into true. I was very surprised at how well tensioned the wire became and how true I was able to get the wheel.

We put the whole thing back together and took all the panniers (saddle bags-front, back, and bars) and went for a ride. I rode down the rumble strip (the bumpy feature at the edge of the driving lane meant to wake sleeping drivers). I was surprised how stiff and true the wheel rolled and after about half a mile we turned around and went back to the Motel. For the next test I loaded the bike and did the same thing. It held and rolled true.

I asked Chris what he thought. I was itching to go but told him I needed his judgement because I was too pleased with the repair to make a good decision alone abou risking it. We are riding in an area where it's thirty miles between towns and ultimately we had about a hundred miles to the first bike shop in Phoenix . He wisely suggested we find out what time the mail would come in the morning.

We rode to the Post Office and found out it comes at 5:30 AM and is sorted by 9:00. The nice woman who had helped me earler told me she would look for our package and have it when they opened at 9:00 if it came. Her co-worker actually glared when witnessing how helpful our new friend was being.

We wisely decided to enjoy another night a Sheffler's Motel and if the package didn't come we'de put all the weight possible on Chris's bike and try for Phoenix.

It was 3:00 PM by then and I decided to go looking for a haircut. I followed the hardware store proprieter's directions and rode over to the Nu Vu salon down the road past the Post Office.

There were three ladies in chairs and one woman doing all the cosmetology. Her helper told me to come back at 4:00.

At 4:00 I headed back to Nu Vu and Pam gave me a shave with a number 4. She had seen me ride up on the bicycle and asked where I was headed. I told her the whole story. There was another, older, woman in another chair with foil in her hair who listened and then slowly said 'I know about Lance Armstrong and I think what he's doing is awesome'. It turns out her brother is recovering from acute lymphatic lukemia and had undergone chemo, whole body radiation, and bone marrow transplant. He now repairs cars for abused women anonymously.

We all had a little cry. Another highly empowering and fortifying experience.

Then it was dinner at the diner and another nine hours of sleep.

We will see what Thursday brings.

Day 4 Quartzsite, Ca to Wickenburg, uh make that Salome, AZ

May 13

Quartzsite, Ca to Wickenburg, uh make that Salome, AZ

46 Miles
1875 ft of climbing

We had a fairly modest goal Tuesday with Wickenburg as our intended destination (about 93 miles and 3500 ft of climbing). The day began a bit sleep deprived for me because of the traffic noise at the Quartzsite Super 8. We got a bit of a late start and had a nice hot breakfast in town.

As kind as the wind was to us yesterday, it was coming almost straight on at 30 MPH today. While we averaged 16.5 MPH yesterday for just under seven hours, it took us 4 hours to go 46 miles today (closer to 12 MPH).

We came to a town called Salome and rode on through aiming for the next town, 30 miles down the road, for refueling. We figured that if we were going to make it to Wickenburg before dark the wind would have to let up a bit. Either way we were confident we would sleep in Wickenburg tonight.

3 miles out of Salome I heard a faint ping and immediately knew what it was. A broken spoke. On examination it proved to be two adjacent spokes broken. The only thing on my list that didn't make it on the bike were two spare spokes.

The first thing I did was pull the map out to see if there was a motel in Salome. There were two. The International Hotel and Sheffler's Motel. I called the International Hotel first and got an answering machine. A fellow named Jeff picked up the phone at Sheffler's and when I told him what was going on he asked if we needed a ride. All I could imagine was seeing the bikes in the back of a pick-up truck bouncing around. I thought even if it was two or three miles I'd rather walk it back to town. I thanked him for his offer but told him I'd limp it in.

You have to understand that the bikes represent our food supply, wardrobe, transportation, entertainment, and last manner of refuge. As a result, they get the best possible treatment. I thanked Jeff for the offer and after asking him for the motel address (to have spokes shipped) told him we would be there eventually.

The next call I made was to the wheel builder in Petaluma, Ca to see if he had any spokes he could send me. He didn't but felt really bad about it and was able to provide the 'likely' length. I appreciated the sentiment but I needed spokes.

It was time to call in the big guns. It was 4:30 when I contacted Sean at Edge Cyclesports in Laguna Woods, Ca. Edge is a racer's shop that I've done business with in the past and they bend over backwards to keep you on the road (or trail as the case may be). Sean got the hub and rim info from me so he could calculate the correct length. He doesn't trust anyone else to come up with the right spoke length. He got the shipping info and we agreed if he sent Devon, his counter guy, that I'd buy him (Devon) his first pony keg of beer for his 21st in two weeks.

Chris and I both have plenty of reading material. Plus, one of the four channels on the TV is TNT which means we always have the NBA playoffs.

As it happens, Chris's bike came with two spare spokes. Ironically, he threw one away earlier in the morning. It had been bent accidentally and a spoke bent like it was could only be considered for use in an emergency. One spare spoke was in a trash can at our first stop today about eight miles back up the road from where I'd broken down.

I saw we had the same hubs but different rims and thought it a longshot his remaining spare spoke would work for me.

I held it up and it looked very close in length. Beacause the heads had broken off of my two I couldn't really hold his up to an existing example to compare. The length tolerance for a spoke is generally considered in the one or two millimeter range. I pulled the tire and one of the broken spokes and installed Chris's spare. It was certainly within one or two mm of being the right length. Probably good enough to roll back to Salome.

We mounted the tire and filled it with air. Then the wheel went back on the bike and I used the brake pads to judge the trueness of the wheel and tweaked as best I could. It rolled pretty true for still having one broken spoke. One advantage to the heavy equipment built for touring is the overbuilding of parts. For instance, these wheels have 36 spokes while even the heaviest duty mountain bike wheels have 32. Touring wheels are more akin to tandem wheels.

I emptied all of my fluids, about three and a half litres to try to eliminate as much weight as possible.

We rolled easily to Salone and Sheffler's Motel. At the desk we were met by Jeff's mother Nancy. She was very friendly and told us about all the cyclists that had stopped there on their ways to Florida, and points both East and West.

We asked about laundry and she ended up delivering it to us done after we got back from dinner at a decent mexican diner across the highway.

Sheffler's Motel is much quieter than Super 8.

Here's hoping the good old USPS can get an envelope here overnight.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Day 3 Brawley, Ca to Quartzsite, Az

Brawley, Ca to Quartzsite, Ca

111 Miles
3500 ft of climbing

The day began hopefully with the news forcasting temperatures in the low to mid 90's.

I've driven through Needles and always thought the only place worse to get stuck outside without air conditioning would be Blythe.

Both are border towns on the Arizona-California state line. Both are notoriously oppressively hot. Blythe was about 95 miles into the ride yesterday and I have to admit the thought of riding through there had me a bit nervous.

We started after having a breakfast of cerial, bananas, and coffee. All in the greatest posssible quantities. Chris has come to realize that our success depends largely on fueling. Our approximate burn rate is six thousand calories daily on average.

The ride started with us heading East out of Imperial Valley. I can't tell you how large it is but in the middle of South Central California is an area of hundreds of square miles of irrigated farmland. It makes for an unusual combination of desert heat and Mid Weatern humidity.

We rolled into Glamis feeling pretty good and ate and drank ourselves full before turning North. As we started North we were gifted the most amazing riding conditions possible. It has happened to me before, but not for nearly as long. Any cylist can appreciate a tail wind but few ever get a 30 MPH wind directly at their backs for almost forty miles.

We rode our seventy pound bikes at 30 MPH for at least forty minutes.

What fun!

When we got to Blythe I was starving for fuel. At the end of town we rode up to a Foster's Freeze and both had quadruple burgers and fries. I had two litres of iced tea and lemonade which made for a restless sleep. Either that or Interstate 10 being 100 feet from our window had me tossing and turning all night.

After Blythe we crossed the Colorado River. It was evident that very few pedestrians cross the bridge. It was our first significant milestone and we high fived, took pictures (which I will post when I get somewhere with a full size computer with internet access) and suffered a flat tire.

Our second big challenge was successfully completed. With happy knees and good attitudes many of my initial concerns have passed.

Chris is an animal and never complains. His strength on the bike is a happy surprise.

Tonight we aim for Wickenburg.

More to come.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Ride Day 2

Jacumba, Ca to Brawley, Ca

57.5 Miles
588 ft of climbing

The day began with us sleeping in as a reward for yesterday's efforts. We got to breakfast around 10:00 and then took advantage of the facilities and had a soak in a hot spring fed jacuzzi. It was a nice start to the day.

Everyone at the motel told us we had nothing but downhill all the way to Brawley. The ride began with 500 ft of climbing but then we flew down 4000 ft of descent in over 10 miles or so. I said to Chris that the payoff for eight hours of climbing the day before was over in thirty minutes.

At the bottom the temperature was twenty degrees warmer. On the stretch from El Centro to Brawley my computer told me it was 113° on the asphalt.

We got to Brawley and quickly found the hotel. The Friday before our departure I booked the first two hotel nights feeling confident we would maintain our schedule that far anyway.

We rode up to the hotel and I was sure I was going to see a sign posting hourly rates. I rang the bell on the bar covered door and wondered if we should head down the road to find another place but noticed a supermarket and several restaurants across the street and realized the convenience of that.

When I made the reservation I was amused to find at the conclusion that the online reservation service I used had a UK internet address.

In any case, the motel is operated by a family from India and it is quite an enterprising group. While I checked in, the woman helping me, who was very nice, sent packing a crack head who came in asking for a room. I was a little comforted by that.

I asked about doing laundry . I explained our situation and how we are travelling lightly and she offered us the industrial machines they use for sheets and towels. The machines were being used when we got in and we had to check back several times to see if they were available. Each time I ended up talking to a different family member. Each time the conversation began by me being told the laundry was broken. I would then explain how we are on Bicycles and need to do laundry frequently and how their mom had offered us the motel's machines. As soon as anyone heard bicycle, their demeanor changed from 'get lost crack head' to 'how far are you going, come with me and we'll see if the sheets are done so you can use the machines.

We stocked up on water and snacks and had a massive (in Brawley volume is value it seems) Chinese dinner for four.

Back to the motel and our laundry service knocked on our door to tell us our laundry was done. No quarters, detergent provided free of charge, and no lost or stolen items (the machines were in a room off of the family's living quarters and is kept locked so we knew we could safely leave our stuff).

Today we try for big miles. 111 in the heat. We'll see.

More to come.