12mph America At The Speed Of Sanity

30Jun/050

Fuzzy Math Without the Election

Now that Steve is 33 days into his trip, I'm sure that many of you are wondering how far he actually has ridden. Well, thanks to manual non-GPS latitude/longitude data and a little "rithmatic", it's pretty easy interesting to find out. Sparing you the boring math, unless you ask nicely, here are the numbers:

At the end of the day, Steve will be 244.877 miles south and 1012.820 miles east of where he started. If you took off in a plane from the beach in Bandon, Oregon and flew directly to my Grandparents' house in Centennial, it would be 1042.002 miles. (give or take several miles, of course). This means that although Steve has seen some wonderful sights, he'll have done about 900 miles of extra work so far.

So that's all fine and dandy, but how far away from the end is he?

Well, if he sticks to the plan and ends in Virginia Beach, he needs to go 189.159 miles south and 1574.017 miles east. The oh so familiar "crow route" would be somewhere around 1585.342 miles.

See, at first you might have disagreed-- "there's not really many of us that want to know this"-- but now that you know, wasn't it fun? 🙂

30Jun/050

Nederland, Colorado

No...not Neverland, but Nederland. Steph and I left Estes Park about 10:00 this morning and are enroute to Centennial. We were driving along a Colorado Scenic Byway, when I needed to use a restroom. Alas, go to the public library when none is available elsewhere! And, the temptation to send a quick posting to the website overcame me when I noticed their computer lab with free internet access!!

Just so ya'all know, Steve's 51st birthday is tomorrow. It'll be fun for him to celebrate his birthday with Steph and I, his parents John & Lois, sister Meri, and little niece Hailey. At this moment, Steve, Meri, and Hailey in her little Burley trailer are riding from Standley Lake to Centennial. John & Lois drove Meri and Hailey up to Standley Lake this morning and from what I understand will meet them along the way to retrieve Hailey since she'll likely not be up for the entire ride.

So, from Nederland, have a great day! The mountains are gorgeous, the skies are blue with meandering puffy white clouds casting their shadows below. The streams are running rapidly with late snow melt from the upper elevations. Sunny, upper 60s, low humidity....can't get better than this. We'll keep praying for rain for here and the midwest though as we know it's been awfully dry. The threat of wildfires is high in this region and back in the midwest we're suffering from drought conditions. 'Til later.....Diane

29Jun/051

Who Wants to Stay in Boulder Anyway

Steve made it WAY past Boulder today, and not really by his own choice. He finished at Standley Lake after an 86.9 mile ride from Estes Park. Not exactly the day one looks for after finishing Trail Ridge Road, but at least tomorrow's ride into Denver should be a little easier.

He tried to find a place in Boulder and several hotels near there, but every place was booked for about 30 miles due to a softball tournament. When I talked to him, we both couldn't understand why that many people would swarm to Boulder for a softball tournament, so I told him I'd try to find something.

Sure enough, Wednesday through Sunday is the 2005 Louisville Slugger Independence Day Softball Tournament. This tournament, besides the long name, brings hundreds of college softball coaches from around the country to scout for talent.

Hmm, seems to me that they're in the right place at the wrong time, because.....

.....June in Colorado is Bike Month, not softball. I know, I know...perfect coincidence, but I'll take it.

In other not-related to biking news, Shingo Tsubol, a journalist from Tokyo, may not have gotten the bike month message either, but that's ok because he's working on amazing feat of his own. (scroll down after the link to see the article). I told Steve to watch out for a long distance walker/hitchhiker, as they appear to be in the same area.

Ok, last and of course least, Steve confirmed (without my instigation strangely enough), that cyclists in Boulder seem to be slightly "full of themselves". From talking with a friend in Ft. Collins, this seems to be common for Boulder, which is really unfortunate. Only about 1 in 10 cyclists that he met riding in the area would return his wave, although there were plenty of riders around, and cyclists going faster than Steve buzzed by him with no warning or acknowledgment.

Oh well, not everyone lives in reality yet.

29Jun/051

Trail Ridge Road: Closer Than You Think

US Highway 34

Yesterday, Steve rode the beautiful and historic Trail Ridge Road through Rocky Mountain National Park. The part you may not have known is that he was on the same highway as many of us drive to work on every day-- the not so beautiful, but still somewhat historic, US Highway 34, known to me as Ogden Ave.

According to various road geeks, the highway became a highway in 1926 and originally ended in Council Bluffs, IA. From there it's gone through many changes, and now ends about 60 miles away from where Steve is right now. He'll be off of US-34 soon if he isn't already, but who knows, if he pays attention (probably doesn't care) and rejoins the road later on, he might even be able to take US-34 through Aurora, Nebrasa on his way towards Aurora, Illinois.

29Jun/051

Finally!! Trail Ridge Road!!

We've heard from several of you that you were beginning to wonder Steve's whereabouts since it's been several days. Stephanie and I left last Friday evening, June 24, and drove westward, stopping in Lone Tree, Iowa to spend the night with my sister, brother-in-law, niece, and nephew. On Saturday we made it as far as Ogallala, Nebraska after Stephanie negotiated our van fantastically through a pounding thunderstorm. On Friday, Steve went from Jeffrey City, the ghost town, to Rawlins, WY and rode 69 miles. On Saturday he rode from Rawlins to Riverside, WY for 62.2 miles.

Then on Sunday, June 26, we came across a handsome bicyclist..yes...it was Steve... on Colorado Route 175 near Cowdrey, Colorado. We knew that we were going to meet Steve in Walden and suspected that perhaps we'd even see him cycling! We came from the northeast on another road that intersects 175. From Cowdrey he had another 7 miles to Walden. Well, he said that he has never, ever in all his years and miles and conditions of bicycling experienced anything as WINDY and challenging as those 7 miles. The wind was either in his face or coming as a crosswind. Having 60 pounds of pannier weight clinging to the bike only makes more surface area for the wind to abuse. He managed to ride 49.8 miles despite the awful wind. We spent the night in the North Park motel, which appears to cater to the rodeo and trans-America bicycling crowd. While heading through town later that evening we came across Deren, Steve's acquaintance who he met several days earlier who is also cycling across the U.S. The cross-country biking world seems to be getting smaller for Steve!!

On Monday, June 27, I rode 22 miles with Steve from Walden to Rand. I loved every mile of it. Along the way Steve demonstrated his time-passing game of "I Spy" that he plays with the prairie dogs. They seem to respond quite well, although I think they may be waiting for him to play "Hide and Seek" instead!! 🙂 We also saw probably 2 dozen pronghorn antelope at different locations in the sage brush terrain along the way. Antelope tend to stay loners or in smaller groups and are fun to watch slalom through the sage brush as they set more distance between us and them. After a snack stop in Rand (which has a great gift shop and one of the nicest outhouses I've ever seen....we're not talking about port-a-potty style folks. It is made of the finest cedar, has a light inside, a wooden seat, and decorations. Most importantly it was impecably clean! Having had an outhouse on the farm to use during the summers while we were outdoors playing as children, I can tell you this one ranks as one of the best!)

Steve left Rand and went onto Stillwater National Campground, 5 miles south of Grand Lake. His mileage for the day was 65.4 miles. Stephanie and I had driven ahead to find a campground and this one was very nice. Our campsite overlooked Shadow Mountain Lake and the marina. It was set among the pine trees with a spot for our two small tents, a picnic table, a fire ring, and a short walk to the flush toilets. When tent camping, the important things in life flush or have warm water. They even had a shower house. Yeah!

We were fortunate to have a family next to us leave who offered us the rest of their firewood. In fact, she was formerly from Emmetsburg and Des Moines, Iowa and she and her husband are riding in RAGBRAI (the bike ride across Iowa that takes place the 3rd week of July each year). After dinner in Grand Lake we came back to start a roaring camp fire, enjoy some long talks, and roast marshmallows for yummy s'mores.

Yesterday, June 28, was a BIG day for Steve. This is the day for which Steve has waited a year. Last year he rode in Ride the Rockies and the second day of the ride was cancelled due to snow and ice on Trail Ridge Road. The organizers of the Ride had to transport cyclists, bicycles, and all of their gear from Estes Park to Grand Lake via buses and cargo vans. He and many cyclists were very disappointed for their BIG climb for the week was not to be done. So, when he planned his route for the summer, he definitely had Trail Ridge Road as part of his ride.

He left the campsite about 8:45 A.M. and headed off to Grand Lake and Rocky Mountain National Park beyond it. Trail Ridge Road is a 46 mile long road that ascends to 12,183 feet of elevation and is the highest continuous highway in North America. While he biked, Stephanie and I rented kayaks and paddled the circumference of Grand Lake about 6 miles. It was beautiful with the surrounding mountain ranges, the reflection of the snowcapped peaks in the water, the quaint and not-so-quaint cottages lining the lake, and the scent of pines as it wafted past us. I was reluctant to attempt kayaking, but Stephanie quickly reassured me that it was pretty tame. And, it was awesome. With the kayak, I just sat down inside on a very comfortably padded seat, adjusted the foot pedals to fit my legs, leaned back as if in a recliner, and paddled away. This type of kayak is not the type one would see in river rapids as they aren't designed to go upside down and around again. Thank goodness! Being done with kayaking, Steph and I drove into Rocky Mountain National with a quest of locating Steve and appreciating the beautiful, gorgeous, awesome scenery that our Creator has given to us. Well, we pulled into the visitors center parking lot to find Steve with his bike leaned against a wall. He was enjoying a peanut butter and bagel sandwich and busily fielding questions from passers-by. I have to tell you, it was an emotional moment for me to see him there as I knew that he was fulfilling his dream that was dashed a year ago.

Steph and I continued on from the visitors center, again on a mission to locate a motel this time. We found a room at the Twin Owls Motor Lodge on the edge of town that placed Steve just bike strokes from Colorado Route 7, which goes towards Boulder. We met up with Steve at Starbucks in Estes Park after he rode 53.8 miles!! He DID IT!!! Yeah!!!

Yesterday we also made cell phone contact with a friend from Batavia, Tyler, who was formerly in our high school youth group. He's in college now and emailed me last week that he was going to be vacationing in Estes Park this week and could we hook up with him. It was great to have dinner and a nice visit with him last night. In fact it was a perfect ending to the day to see a friend!

This morning Steph and I have enjoyed a leisurely pace, sleeping in, watching TV, and now spending some time at a coffee house with internet access. After we're done here we're going for a hike somewhere. There are so many options, but we're probably up for a 3-4 mile easier hike today. Steve is enroute to Boulder today and will bike from Boulder to his parents' home in Centennial tomorrow. Hope you're all doing fine! ~~ Toodles...Diane.

24Jun/051

Wind

I have been very fortunate so far. The wind has been helpful or neutral - until today.

As I set out from the ghost town - and it really was spooky - the wind was from the southwest and helping me. I covered 15 miles in the first hour. Then the wind switched to the east-south-east and it took me an hour to ride the next 7 miles to Muddy Gap. From Muddy Gap all through the Great Divide Basin, the wind was from the south-south-west and daring me to go faster than 8 miles an hour. I thought it was going to take all day to get to Rawlins. Finally, on the climb out of the basin, the wind shifted more to the west and lessened. The climb became reasonable. After getting out of the basin, the wind shifted again and picked up strength. It was from behind and across, feeling like from the northwest. I raced to Rawlins at 20+ miles an hour just beating the rainstorm. But at times, the wind would literally blow me 5 feet sideways - thank goodness for wide shoulders!

One more wind story. This one is set back in Oregon. I was coming down Drinkwater Pass, cruising along at 25 mph. The wind was from the right, but gentle. Ahead of me I noticed a dirt road came in from the left. The dirt from the road was blowing like crazy from the left. Hmm. I took a firm grip on the handlebars. Seconds before I reached the dirt road I was blasted by a gust from the right. Then, still recovering, I was blasted by a gust from the left. Dazed and confused, the wind then hit me full force from the front. The wind slowed me from 25 mph to 15 mph almost immediately. Then, all the the gusts were gone and the situation returned to normal.

Steve

24Jun/050

Rawlins, Wyoming

Steve just called and he rode 69 miles from Jeffrey City to Rawlins today. The wind was sometimes with him, against him, right at him, not a factor, or behind him. He said that overall the wind was his biggest challenge today. This morning he awoke to find a pronghorn antelope grazing next to the shelter where his tent was pitched. Along his route today he descended slightly into the Great Divide Basin. Surrounding this basin are ridges and hills. He had a fairly steep climb to negotiate once he was across the Basin. I asked him what wildlife he's seen besides the antelope and he said he thought a badger crossed the road, but some rabbits...none looked like jackrabbits...some prairie dogs. The terrain has been very dry with sage brush and tumbleweeds for vegetation. He had lunch at Grandma's Cafe in Lamont today. Tonight he's going to enjoy the Day's Inn in Rawlins where he'll get to shower, do laundry, and sleep in a bed. Ya all take care now! --Diane

23Jun/051

Ghost Town Accommodations

Well, unbelievably I heard from Steve again tonight. This time he was calling from Jeffrey City, Wyoming....a bonafide ghost town...and a 76 mile ride from Lander. When he called he was on his cell phone as there's no pay phone in a ghost town. We still find it remarkable how Verizon has come through for us.

His tent is pitched beneath the rooftop of a Lion's Club picnic shelter. Since he couldn't stake his tent, he had to tie it to rocks that he found strewn around the area. Not only was he calling on his cell phone, he was calling from the comfortable surrounds of his little tent with every zipper tightly zipped to keep out the swarming mosquitoes. For anyone who knows Steve and mosquitoes, he breaks out in big nasty welts from their bites. So, envision if you will a bicyclist ducking in the shelter of his tent, he's warm, sweaty, and probably stinky. There are no showers, but thank goodness for those cool, moist Wet Wipes that he has. No toilets....bad news. No stores..oh yeah, he said that there is a tavern down the road if he's really desperate. It's windy, in the mid 80s.....you get the picture. Not very pretty I'm afraid. Bless him tonight as I would imagine he's feeling a tad bit uncomfortable.

There are thunderstorms in the forecast for tonight. Besides the threat of scattered thunderstorms tomorrow, he will likely face some pretty stiff winds from the SW, meaning crosswinds to challenge him. He said tonight that tomorrow night he'll have earned a motel room! Amen.

Stephanie and I leave for Colorado tomorrow on our road trip. Back in B-town Jeremy will be our pinch hitter once again and I'm sure will keep the website lively. Our kids are awesome. Steph's taken really great care of Zaney and the house. And Jeremy's one exceptional webmaster. -- Love, Diane

23Jun/051

Sweetwater & Jeffrey City, WY

Steve just called from Sweetwater Station, Wyoming. Yes, they have advanced since the Pony Express and stagecoach era with a rest area and Conoco station. Verizon Wireless doesn't work there so fortunately there was access to a pay phone. He's ridden 56 miles so far and will go another 20 to Jeffrey City. He's been told that they allow people to just pitch a tent anywhere. I asked him who "they" are since it's a ghost town. 🙂 Yes, he's stocking up on food and water since he knows that he's heading into an area with a slim chance or no chance of water or food. The temps are in the 80s today and right now he's taking a break to wait out a thunderstorm passing through the area. Since he's one of the highest points as he pedals along, he doesn't want to play with lightning.

This morning he decided to investigate a place he'd been told about outside of Lander where the Sweetwater River literally flows out of the mountainside. It's referred to as a sink. This investigation added an additional 15 miles to his day and he said now that he regrets it 'cause he'd be near Jeffrey City by this time. I asked if he saw this sink feature, and yes he did, but it wasn't a big deal. I give him credit for checking it out though...that's part of the fun of Stevie's great adventure. --Diane

23Jun/050

Lander, Wyoming

My phone rang as I waited for Stephanie to pick me up from O'Hare last night. It was Steve. He had ridden 78 miles from Dubois to Lander, Wyoming. Yes...the temperatures are warming up he said. He managed to score a spot for camping at the Lander City Park and said that others were camping there too. Lander is the county seat of Fremont County.

Where he will go today I'm not sure. His next "big" city would be Rawlins. Out of curiosity I decided to try MapQuest and provide Lander as the start point and Rawlins as the end point. From Lander Steve goes "straight" for 80.7 miles, then there's a "slight right" for 0.2 miles as the road bends. Then he goes "straight" again for 42.8 miles. A "slight right" into Rawlins. Some of his straight days in Oregon seemed to go on forever as he continued to focus on a hill or mountain ahead of him. I'm not sure if he can see mountains or hills as this point, unless he looks back! It does look like there are two small and lonely options for stopping tonight in Sweetwater Station or Jeffrey City. They don't look populated and may just be a gas station if he's lucky or a collection of buildings along the route.

Sweetwater Station was so named as it was a stop for stagecoaches and the Pony Express along the Sweetwater River. Do we have stagecoaches or the Pony Express nowadays? Yup...may not be promising as an overnight unless a gas station emerged during the gasoline era. Jeffrey City is listed as a ghost town!! Stay tuned for where he ends up.~~Diane