Sunday, July 12, 2009

Time Off to Mountain Home, ID: Uncertainty, Fighting Hail and Winds and Other Stories

Miles Per Day: Time off to rent a cabin and explore Colorado via car; Day 54=62.37; Day 55=50.15; Day 56=60.00; Day 57= REST; Day 58=REST; Day 59=45.03; Day 60=44.99; Day 61=68.21; Day 62=REST; Day 63=REST; Day 64=53.10; Day 65=49.96; Day 66=59.21; Day 67=84.21; Day 68=61.56; Day 69=65.90.

Total So Far: 3,106.51

Inspiration: Pink Floyd; Eminem; Paul Simon; Beethoven's 6th (Karajan); Coltrane; Madonna; Johnny Cash [by far my favorite music on this trip]; The Wire [without question, one of the best dramas ever filmed].

Spirits: drained; strong; homesick; fearful; indomitable

Things Seen On the Road/During Time Off: desert hills of southern Wyoming; northern Colorado Rocky Mountain range; mama duck and little chicks crossing the road; a hawk picking up a field mouse right off the road; antelope and gophers galore.

Favorite Quotes: (1) gold prospector in southwestern Wyoming in response to a question about what it was like to grown up in Detroit: “I loved it, even with all the niggers around;” (2) gold prospector after I mentioned that I was hungry and needed to get some food [paraphrasing]: “Here, have this sandwich. I'm not going to have time to eat it...have to get home to feed my rabbits.”

The past couple of weeks have unleashed a roller coaster of emotions, most of them centered on whether I would even be capable of finishing this trip. It's really all my fault. As you might recall, I took 10 days off from cycling to rent a cabin and explore Colorado by car. And while it was a respite full of beautiful scenery, good food and welcome rest, it was also an excuse to avoid any physical exertion of any kind. I should have realized that 10 days away from riding would weaken my muscles and that I would require a bit of training to get back to par. Three days of 50+ miles later the pain in both of my knees was unbearable. I could barely get to my destination that third day and practically waddled my bike the last 3 miles to a motel. An absolute depression descended on me that day. For the first time in a long time I was uncertain about so many things. And not just about finishing this trip.

But not to worry. Two days rest, slow but deliberate exercises + yoga did the trick. Two weeks later I feel great. Better than great. I have never felt this strong and have never had this level of conditioning in my entire life.

It's been a while since my last trip update. It would be impossible to cover every significant story on this leg of this trip, but here are a couple of highlights:

*Country/Western Tunes: Somewhere near Rock Springs, Wyoming, I stopped at a late night bar for a bite to eat. Little did I know that a pretty good country/western band would play that night. Favorite tune of the night, the hilarious “You Would Never Catch Me at Brokeback Mountain.”

*Rain Simplicity: It has been amazing to watch storms on this leg of the trip. Heading west, I have seen gangs of storm clouds develop on the horizon. The more and more I pedal the more defined they become until I can actually see the outer edges of the storm above me. Even more impressive are the rain bands spraying jets of water every which way, like fingers stroking the ground below.

*Southern Wyoming Desert Terrain: The terrain of southern Wyoming is rather impressive. It is definitely high desert, with a twinge of the Grand Canyon to boot. There are hills that tower above you filled with a deep red hue and crevices that betray thousands of years or erosion.

*Fighting Hail and Winds: Heading past Green River, Wyoming, I spot a band of rainclouds off to the southwest. Heading west, with strong headwinds I pray that the storm passes south of where I am heading. Up ahead, the road starts forking southwest. I gulp. Within five minutes I am stopped dead in my tracks by the fiercest wind I have ever experienced on this trip. As I get my rain jacket on the hail starts falling loudly. Quickly, I unfurl my blue tarp (the same one you have seen in videos of previous storms) and without any place to tie it to I place it over my head and over the side of my bike. I push hard against the wind without much success, listening to the sounds of hundreds of projectiles hitting firmly and loudly. Suddenly, the wind gets underneath me and captures the tarp in its clutches. In a split second, one side of the tarp slaps me hard in the face before the entire thing just slips into the air and flies out of view. I have no choice but to huddle in a fetal position next to my bike for next 20 minutes until the hail stops and the wind subsides.


Country/Western Band: Anyone a fan of O Brother Where Art Thou?

Some Wildlife For Your Viewing Pleasure:

Rain Band Just Miles Away:

4th of July at Kemmerer, Wyoming:



bill h said...

great post dude, love those photos of the pronghorn. Beautiful country. Went for a walk this afternoon here in Dallas, it was 103. I sat on a boulder in a creek and had some water, pouring some on my head, said a prayer of thanksgiving for the natural air condition, great simple pleasure

Mini Me said...

Good to hear your knee (and you) are strong as you head west - such pretty country you are in!

Oh, and I LOVE O Brother, Where art thou. The soundtrack is a fav.

Fonk said...

That sucks about your tarp, man. That must have been some brutal wind.

Elizabeth Halt said...

"blue skies, nothing but blue skies .."

I'm glad you're feeling strong! Idaho is awfully close to the Pacific. :)

SF Kid said...

Don't ever think of quiting. You're heading for California - the land of dreams ... and simplicity if you want it.

Frederik said...

Uncertainty or not, you've done great (3000+ miles on a bike)! I find your trip very inspiring btw, would love to hear more about the practical side. Where do you sleep? (even cheap motels add up right?) Do you bike on tarmac (risky w/ all that traffic?) or do you take dirt roads as much as possible?

Nicole said...

Jack, I'm happy to see you photography skills have improved immensely.

charmed said...

wow, i just spent the last two days reading your entire blog and i am really jealous, even though i don't have the guts to bike across the country or the endurance,strength or training. everything you have done is incredible.

Jack said...


Thanks. Careful with all that heat. I've avoided the worst of this summer, but I think I might get a full blast of it later this week. Supposed to be 101F in Boise by Wed. Should be further West by then, but who knows...

@Mini Me,

Thanks. And yes, that soundtrack is fantastic.


It was pretty brutal. Right out of a movie. Felt totally exposed on the side of a road. Weird feeling.

Jack said...


And don't think I don't know that. :) Been dreaming of the pacific this past week...

@SF Kid,

Would only quit if it was just medically impossible. And to be sure, heading to Oregon, but will end up in Cali regardless.


Do check out some of the prior posts. You will find a ton of info on this. But I will say that I camp most of the time and bike on side roads as well as state and interstate highways.

microwave said...

Just wondering what the gold prospector does with his rabbits... I'm guessing food source over pet bunnies...

Secondly, did you take the sandwich half? And if so, was it delicious? I want to know what gold prospectors eat.

Thanks in advance for the this most important clarification.

Anonymous said...

Happy travels. Random: Christian orientation (somewhat of a requirement, apparently), but a friend who used to be with Big Law went on to work for IJM. Just a thought. My friend had a great run with that organization and worked in a few different locations. Came to mind when you mentioned feelings of uncertainty.

amy said...

We just came from Wyoming (we're on a family vacation), so I know what you mean about the terrain there, and the storms, too. I was amazed at all the cyclists in the mountains; I know there is no way I could ever do that :-)

Todd said...

Great recap with some amazing pics.

I just love the rain. I love the sound of it, the smell of it, etc. but you can keep the hail :-)

Rain and snow are so beautiful.

Your journey has been amazing and I appreciate you sharing it with us.


Anonymous said...


Something to contemplate during rest periods

The paragraph that I found particularly tragic was the one discussing the fact that he justified his actions because he was making 400K per year but felt his colleagues were doing better.

Things like this are not unique to our profession but this tragedy certainly resonates with me.

Liisu said...

After your photos I'm wondering if the American sky is different from that of Finnish. No, I think.

I'm pleased to look at your skypictures. I like clouds. They are wonderfull with their colours and forms. Sometimes they look like sheep, or some other animals, sometimes people in different positions. They are intresting. (Like your blog :)

Dreamer said...

Jack - you seem to be pushing yourself physically rather hard, why is this? I see now that you have been to the ER, this is not a competition, its your chill out time, take it easy for a bit, your free now.

Jack said...

@ Miss Scorpio,

I will take that as a compliment.


Thanks. Happy you are joining the party.


It was a ham sandwich and it was delicious. Not sure he ate the rabbits though...

Jack said...


Thanks for the tip. Already looking ahead at something similar. Weird.


Glad you enjoyed Wyoming. On my end, just glad that I missed all those cyclists who headed north to Yellowstone. I feel happier off-trail.


Thanks. Glad you liked the photos. Methinks we are very much alike...with a bit of poetry mixed in.

Jack said...


Thanks for the kudos. Always nice to hear good things. And, of course, love rain as well.


Only now checking out the link. Would you believe me that I actually sat across a conference table from him? Unbeleivable.


Don't think I've been pushing myself too hard. The reason for the ER visit is now explained in my latest post.

Adrienne said...

Why in the world would that be your favorite quote?

Jack said...


I suggest you revisit the Favorite Quotes section of this post. I have a feeling the irony has escaped you.