The other day I was sitting around bored and somewhat despondent. I couldn’t figure out why I was feeling this way. Yes my Arthritis was acting up more than it has recently and I work in retail again for the 1st time in 42 years, so there is not currently a plan or financial means to plan another adventure. But this was different, I knew something was missing that should have been readily available & I didn’t know what it was.
Suddenly or maybe slowly I realized I missed music. I mean my diverse music that hurts at times other times makes me want to dance & sometimes I even sing along with (sorry I do not share my singing because honestly it is not pretty). I miss the music that grabs me by the balls and either brings me pleasure or squeezes so tightly my other concerns failures and pains are inconsequential. This is music where a single note can twist your emotions in your stomach in such a way that you feel life coursing through your veins with fire and passion you had forgotten. At least that is the way it is with me.
Anyway I plugged in and started listening to Johnny Cash’s version of “Hurt” . Johnny is one of my favorites but I do have to be in the right mood to listen to him, there is something about his course textured voice that conveys pain & loss while still somehow gives hope & let’s you know true love exists.
I also listened to Mindy Smith’s come to Jesus which is so damn energetic & hopeful you just get lost in it’s intensity.
By this time I was feeling so much better I decided to listen to Los Lobos Good Morning Aztlan, one of my favorites and Ozomatli. Soon I was moving my feet and even got up and danced around the room a little, Latin music does this to me ever since I spent years living and traveling around Latin/predominately Hispanic countries.
Today has been even more diverse, I have listened to everything from Nina Simone and Tommy Bolin to Pearl Jam & the Neville Brothers to Robin Trower & the Reverend Horton Heat which doesn’t touch me powerfully but can somehow be a fun little release or interlude. Currently I am listening to the Buena Vista Social Club.
Somehow the simple act of rediscovering music that touches me physically and emotionally has also made me remember I did and do still have plans for an adventure. I still intend to ride the Tour D’Afrique, which will probably be my greatest adventure yet. It isn’t as though this dream adventure had been lost to me it is more that I had somewhat given up on it due to my current financial constraints (remember I still work in retail). But just listening to powerful music has the ability to inspire and re-energize one’s dreams, hopes and or goals.
For those who are thinking I am complaining about my job in retail, I am not, at least for the most part. I do not get paid nearly enough but I am able to look myself in the mirror and smile. I sell firearms and enjoy being able to touch beautiful works of art or technological works of engineering and design And smile at every one of them.
What this post is about is the ability of music to lift the soul and inspire. Music can make one feel and even if you only feel pain it is so much better than not feeling anything at all & any emotion is better than no emotion.
Hopefully the writers block that I have experienced for the last 1.5 years is a thing of the past and I will be able to put somethings out there that will inspire me by the simple act of putting my thoughts & dreams to paper “so to speak”.
So for now I return to the Buena Vista Social Club & planning my next Adventure.
The other day I was sitting around bored and somewhat despondent. I couldn’t figure out why I was feeling this way. Yes my Arthritis was acting up more than it has recently and I work in retail again for the 1st time in 42 years, so there is not currently a plan or financial means to plan another adventure. But this was different, I knew something was missing that should have been readily available & I didn’t know what it was.
I have this writers block and just when find this twisted emotional release that I am willing and able to put into words and “poof I hit the wrong key” it is all gone. All that emotion and pain/pleasure disappears at a single stroke. Well guess what I am still going to write this post. But this not that post, what a tease I am!
Be patient with me because my next post has been written and erased and the emotion is missing. Skip forward to my next post.
OK just to let you know the only reason I am doing this post is because I haven’t written for a while and I need to practice. I do not profess to writing anything prophetic or earth moving or even something that is even slightly interesting. I am writing purely for the sake of writing. I haven’t had any new experiences worth writing about and to be honest the planning process for my summer is somewhat boring to write about (although it is exciting to plan this adventure) and I do not expect to inspire anyone or anything with this post.
I as you may know am planning to backpack (through hike) both the CT and the CDNST Colorado portion only this summer. With side trips to towns for resupply and hiking from Durango to Chama NM a total of around 1500 miles. When I think of this I am at first hit with this feeling of what a difficult goal I have envisioned for myself and what an accomplishment it will be to reach that goal. I have been called immature for wanting to keep adventure in my life, well actually I have been called much worse than that by a family member. Apparently the accepted way to live one’s life is to become a slave to your job and the almighty dollar and do not do anything that makes you happy. I have never been one to be happy leading a sedentary life, the life of a brainless Zombie plodding through life without joy or happiness or even sadness and pain. Emotion ie. happiness and joy or fear and satisfaction and peace are not to be reached for instead one is expected to be a sheep and follow the crowds to the mall buy a home that looks like every other home in the neighborhood and just assimilate into the culture, boring as it may be. It is not that I believe the way to be happy is to just go off half cocked on whatever hair brained scheme I am able to think up. In fact if my employer hadn’t told me I would be out of a job after 04/30/12 I wouldn’t be doing this trip. I even postponed my journey when my employer asked me to stay an additional 60-90 days for a special project. I agreed to 60 days because I was unable to commit to the uncertainty of 60-90 days. I need to chose my own direction the almighty dollar be damned.
But why would I want to put myself through the hardship of this challenge ahead of me ? The list of answers to this question grows everyday. I am not an adrenaline junkie but I do like a certain risk and edge to my life, this edge forces me to think and feel and be aware of the world around me. Yes there is also a bit of a boost to my ego as well. I mean completing something as physically and mentally demanding as this trip will be is something few people do, so yeah it will give me some pride and boost my ego (in a good way) somewhat.
Then there is the joy of being surrounded by nature, from meadows of tiny flowers to majestic views of the Rocky Mountains and the wildlife in this beautiful State. There is a feeling of responsibility for my own actions, my own life. The knowledge that I am doing this and I have to be competent to make decisions that will keep me alive and get me to my goal, but also will enhance my Peace and Joy, a feeling of recognizing and being humbled by the world that surrounds me.
I have read an article in a magazine recently that was about how hiking in the great outdoors may actually help to increase cognitive abilities, ie. make a person smarter. Now I am not going into this believing I will be smarter when it is over but maybe I will be able , by removing myself from the multitasking roar of an industrialized society be better able to focus on what counts. Maybe by getting all this exercise and forcing all that cleaner air through my lungs and ultimately through my whole body I will be stronger healthier and clearer thinking when it is all over.
Those are all good reasons for this challenge but if the truth be known I am doing this because at one time in my life I was truly happy, but that was long ago when I was younger and spent almost every weekend winter or summer in the mountains. I would backpack sometimes alone but frequently with one friend and sometimes a group. Back then I was so happy to head out to Longs Peak for an attempt at a winter ascent of Christopher Robbin or the Black Dagger (both failed). The rush that came from seeing a Wolverine deep in the Gore Range when and where they were and still are supposed to be extinct. The time I spent 2 days in the Gore Range and witnessed over 20 avalanches, I mean feel the wind, shake the ground and hear the roar type witnessing of avalanches. There was a certain comfort in being uncomfortable and maybe not in terrible danger the but the possibility of danger was exciting and life affirming.
I have had and hope to continue to have many adventures in my life outside of my beloved Rocky Mountains. I was happy traveling through South America and South East Asia, I had an incredible winter in Alaska living in my tent no matter how difficult it was at times. I intend to continue my journey of reaching for the goals on my life list ie. travel to 100 countries, only 63 left to go. I enjoy very much being immersed in different cultures, I do not mean getting off of a cruise ship and visiting a port area along with the throngs of other travelers, but instead just getting away and meeting the people and listening to their stories while occasionally telling my story. There is something to be said about being picked up on a rural road by a truck filled with a family and their sheep chickens and pigs in the back with myself and my new friends, breathing the animal aroma choking on the dust and diesel fumes and struggling to communicate but doing this with a smile as broad as the horizon on my face and the face of those I meet.
But this trip is about finding my own Peace, experiencing the wilderness and Isolation of the Colorado Rocky Mountains and accepting that life is beautiful and full of joy and finding that for me it is getting back to my roots where in my youth I experienced Peace, Beauty, Joy and sometimes hardships and difficulties but there was always happiness to be found in the Wilderness and calmness to be found in the solitude.
The next five weeks I will continue to plan and outfit myself for this trip. I will work for another three weeks which is really not that bad of a thing. And at night I will dream of my past memories and future journey’s, waking with a smile on my face in anticipation of reaching for one goal while planning the next one.
Yes this summer is going to be for me getting back to where I belong. Maybe I will meet someone whose has read this post and feels the same way I do, or not. I am certain I will meet some wonderful and somewhat like minded souls on this trip and am looking forward to that. Until then or even if it doesn’t happen I wish for all of you out there much Peace, Joy and Happiness.
As I prepare for my next adventure where I intend to hike the entire Colorado trail and immediately walk down to New Mexico’s border with Colorado to hike at least the Colorado segment of the Continental Divide trail, I have been wondering how I ever did it before. What I mean is that I used to be a minimalist. I began backpacking with my older brothers scout troop when I was only about 8 years old. I had an old boy scout rucksack with no frame that I eventually added a homemade frame to, my sleeping bag was an army surplus mummy bag, tennis shoes I think and no stove or G P S. I probably had a light jacket, a boy scout mess kit, a compass and an Army surplus canteen.
Now after another 40 + years having passed I recently purchased a pair of Zamberlan 760 steep GT boots, I paid more for them than I would have ever dreamed about spending but they are without a doubt, even straight out of the box the comfortable boots or shoes I have ever worn. I have decided that I am older now, my body doesn’t recover or last as long as it used to (although I think I have after my last summers adventure proven to myself I can do it). I have decided where possible my equipment needs to be of a quality that will assist me on this journey. I have been reading blogs and articles by persons who have also hiked these trails. Some of them are hardcore minimalists others have done these trails possibly over several years with new equipment every year and possibly 10-15 supply cache’s. I am going to do this somewhere in the middle.
My tent will be a R.E.I. Passage 1 person tent, A Marmot Sawtooth Down 0 degree sleeping bag, MSR Whisperlite Universal Stove, I will be carrying a Osprey Aether 85 pack, only 1-2qt stainless steel pot, a Black Diamond Icon headlamp. I will take 1 pr of Mountain Hardware Canyon shorts, 1 pr Columbia Silver Ridge II convertable pants, 1 pr Helly Hanson Voss rain pants, 1 Marmot Oracle rain jacket, Outdoor research Rocky Mountain High gators. I will have medical supplies, a compass a couple of t shirts and a fleece jacket, a insulated beanie, lot’s of fuel, protein powder, waxy maize carbohydrate, pasta, lentils (all organic). I will take foods that I have or will dehydrate myself, simple seasonings and my salt. I am certain everyone is shaking their heads wondering about my salt. I have recently been turned onto the amazing differences that a good salt can make. I mean I will sweat a lot and need to replace my electrolytes and since I have a substantial collection of gourmet salt that is lower in sodium and higher in other electrolytes than table salt. Simple salts that make an amazing difference in how enjoyable meal is. I am not concerned about the minimal weight from these salts it is worth it.
All of my gear and food will amount too about 40 lbs total weight. I have debated with myself round and round about taking my camera but what it comes down too is that I will kick myself for the rest of my life if I don’t take it. I am going to take my laptop also. I know everybody has too be shaking their head at my apparent slip into utter insanity, but I can’t do this blog on my smart phone (OK I could but it would be extremely difficult) and I feel as though I have to continue telling this story. So I will shoulder the burden, literally, and take it with me. My posts will be irregular depending upon signal availability and battery storage capacity. My total weight is expected to be around 52 lbs. which I consider an obscene amount of weight to carry on my back through the Rocky Mountains. On the good side every day my load will get lighter by consuming my food stores.
As a former minimalist I carried Army surplus halazone water purification tablets but rarely if ever used them. I am, on this trip, because I have suffered from the effects of giardia and amoebic dysentery and never want too feel like that again so I will be taking a Steri Pen classic water purifier with pre filter.
Hopefully my equipment will be good enough to minimize the effects of carrying a fairly heavy load all while falling prey to my need for being able to document this journey both with my photographs and written word.
Last November after 3.5 months of looking for a job I finally got one. I had put in hundreds of applications and went through the qualification testing on a few call backs. I failed 1 of the tests miserably, another I passed with a very good score. Unfortunately there were only 2 positions available and 5 out of the 300+ people who tested were ahead of me on their tests. Finally an old employer called me and made me an offer I couldn’t resist. The position paid pretty good for this economy but I did not really want to do this job again, I had tried to get away from it but since I was in need I took the job. It was supposed to be for 2 months only so it wasn’t hard to do. Later I discovered that not only was I still pretty good at this job but it had changed and I actually liked it. I spoke to my manager and told her that if it became possible I would like to stay permanently and would even commit to not running off around the world on 1 of my adventures. This boss tried to get me on full time and was able to keep me employed for nearly 3 months longer than originally intended. I hoped and all my managers and supervisors tried to make room in the budget for me but alas it was not to be.
Yesterday my manager informed me that the 30th would be my last day on the job. At first I was a little concerned after all I really need this job. But then I kind of kicked back started looking for that door or window that opens when a different door or window closes. My boss told me about a job opening in Manilla Philippines that I could certainly get and too be honest I thought about it seriously. She also suggested relocating to Fl or TX or AZ amongst other places. But I won’t go back to Fl and TX has never interested me and then Az well I just can’t imagine wanting to move there in the summer. So that left me to make my own little plan.
And since I am adopting the mantra of when life gives you lemons make lemonade. I have now decided to live my life doing what I want to do. This job I currently fulfill has made me fat and lazy and my R.A. has taken it’s toll. Now though I have an opportunity to retrace my step’s to my youth, to go back to those places and that life I used to love, and discover new places at the same time.
My plan is to begin backpacking the Colorado trail in Waterton Canyon on 04/17/12 and walk to Durango Co a total of about 480 miles. After arriving in Durango I am going to continue South to the new Mexico border north of Chama NM and walk the Continental divide trail through Colorado North to Wy. At this point I may head to Moab UT or continue north on the C.D.T. through Wy ID and MT all the way to the Canada U.S. Border. My Bicycle ride last summer was huge and major accomplishment physically and emotionally, but this will be different. I have steel in both feet and 1 ankle so walking can be a challenge. Top that with my R.A. and this looks like it will be a huge effort. Still 4-6 months of hiking and camping every day in my beloved Rocky Mountains is my dream or actually my fantasy and I can’t imagine a more beautiful fantasy.
I intend to either take my laptop or downsize to a small tablet because I can’t really do this blog on my smart phone and I really want to share this with everyone. Of course that means I will be feeding off of the energy and comments of my readers ( I hope they all come back). So anyone who wants to follow me feel free to do so. If you wish to comment feel free as well and if you wish to give me advice or send me waves of positive energy I can use both of those.
Yes everybody I am still here, although honestly my life lately has not been exciting or inspiring so I have not been posting for that reason. Also I have been spending much of my time searching for a job. The job search has not yet been successful however I do have some possibilities that are exciting.
My last tour did not come about instantly but instead took much planning and research. It is for that reason my next adventure is now in the beginning stages of planning. In all actuality this adventure will not take as much planning on my part because much of the planning has been done for me. The training is going to be extremely demanding though. Also the financial aspect is extremely daunting. This next adventure is going to cost about $30,000.00 or possibly a little bit more. Just a little bet intimidating and scary to think of financing this adventure while still supporting my life until that time.
So, just what is this adventure I am speaking of you ask ? This is so exciting and it will be such a challenge that my heart rate increases at just the thought of it. OK here it is: I intend to ride in the Tour D’ Afrique🙂 Just what is this? Well it is a 12,000 Kilometer bicycle tour/race that begins in Egypt near the Great Pyramids and from there travels through I believe 12 countries over 120 days with 96 days riding, eventually ending in CapeTown South Africa. There will be numerous days of approximately 125 miles per day including 6 days in a 7 day period of over 100 miles per day. It is a supported tour so I do not have to haul my trailer on this tour or thankfully even have heavy Panniers because the swag wagon will carry my gear and they also provide 3 meals per day on most days. I am excited about camping in a tent in “AFRICA” and about doing a 200 meter bungee jump near Victoria Falls or if possible climbing MT. Kilimanjaro.
Just so everybody doesn’t think this is all about the adventure I will tell everybody this is actually a ride for a cause. The cost of just the Tour and not including airfare to Egypt and back from Capetown is nearly 10,000 Euro’s this pays for food some of the support but many of the support crew are volunteer’s ie. cooks etc.. There is a medical staff but I will need travel insurance to cover major issues including evacuation and repatriation back to the U.S. . So what is the cause that is the benefactor of this tour? Much of the cost of the tour goes to purchase bicycles that are donated to health practitioners in Africa so they do not have to walk miles to visit their patients and thus are able to see more patients. I personally hope to continue to use this opportunity to raise awareness of Rheumatoid Arthritis and hopefully inspire others to live a healthy active lifestyle. I am also hoping that on rest days there may be some opportunities to volunteer in some fashion that will help others less fortunate than myself.
On my last tour I did not seek donations or support from anyone although many people helped me by providing meals on occasion and the occasional hotel room for a night. Although I am not asking directly for contributions ( but they would be gratefully accepted ) I am asking for help from my readers. The help I am asking for is more in the realm of intellectual assistance. I am asking for suggestions on how I can pay for this. If you know of an organization that may be willing to assist through some sort of sponsorship let me know. If you can think of some sort of fund raiser that would help let me know. I am really not very good about asking for this assistance because I have always done it on my own but this is just so much bigger than what I have previously done. I also realize that this is a very difficult time financially for many people and indeed it is very difficult for me in this economy so I am certainly not soliciting funds from those that are already struggling. However I do believe that where there is a will there will be a way. I also believe in prayer and if it is God’s will that I do this then I will do it.
In the end I do have some time too put this all together. This is an annual race/tour and the tour I intend to participate in begins in January 2013 giving me almost 15 months before I leave.
Things I need for this tour is an extremely lightweight and compact sleeping bag and a solid well ventilated tent with a fly that will provide weather protection during the rainy season that I should probably run into about 2/3 of the way through the tour. I will also need a new bike preferably steel to stand up to the stresses of the tour while still being weldable if needed. The simpler the bike the better although a shock absorbing seat post would be nice and a front suspension is also a possibility. The bike must have room for fat large diameter tires and only in 26″ will size. Although it doesn’t have a front suspension a Surly Long haul traveler or their new Disc traveler with disc brakes is in all truth probably the best bicycle for this tour. I need to get many vaccinations some just booster updates and other new vaccinations such as yellow fever. The need to protect myself from such nasty afflictions as Malaria which currently take the lives of over a million persons every year in Africa and the possibility of a assortment of stomach upsetting fungal bacterial and viral attacks and also assorted parasites, so a number of visits to the travel clinic are going to be in line. I have long been aware of the dangers of Malaria and have supported in a small way through my meager contributions to different organizations that research treat and try to educate and prevent Malaria and this trip will give me an opportunity to not only witness 1st hand it’s affects but also hopefully through this blog raise awareness and hopefully some contributions to different organizations that are working to eradicate this horrible disease.
I will not be posting daily for a while or maybe even weekly but my posts will continue when I feel as though they are relevant. I will however read and respond to any suggestions or comments I receive. Hopefully I will receive some good suggestions that I will be able to implement and raise funds for this trip. In the interim I hope that I will at least be in the thoughts and prayers of everyone out there. I do need your help and suggestions and prayers on this journey but I believe that together we can do some very good things that help many people.
Also just for all of you who followed my previous tour and are curious or concerned about my health I am indeed doing well at this time. Yes my RA is still out there and in my face but that is just a part of my life I have to deal with and since I am remaining active I am at least managing some of my symptoms.
No I have not quit riding or writing. I am still here and have all intentions of continuing this post and continuing riding my bicycle.
With that in mind a little update on what is going on in my life is in order. I did take 5 days off from riding so I could rest and try to get a little direction for my life going forward. Most of my rides were at least 32 miles and 1 was 63 miles.
Oh, and today I completed my first Colorado century. Today I rode 104 miles. I realized today that a century at over a mile high and with several somewhat challenging hills is substantially more difficult than a century at sea level on flat terrain. DUH ! This really is not a new revelation. So that having been said I have to admit that I am filled with pride as I sit here and think about today’s accomplishment.
One thing about riding over 100 miles in Colorado is it is far more interesting, at least to me than doing it anywhere else I have ridden. For one thing nowhere else has RED ROCKS Amphitheater. Today I started my ride a little before 07:30. It was a bit brisk out and honestly since my RA was making itself well known I was not sure how far I would be able to ride.
I hit the Bear Creek Trail and headed for Morrison and Red Rocks which is a 16 mile ride when I take some of the little side trails and loop around a little. I then reversed my route and headed back down the Bear Creek trail. When I hit the confluence of Bear Creek and the Platte I headed south on the Mary Carter Greenway towards Chatfield reservoir. Most of this section is uphill at a very low grade but still uphill. When I reached Chatfield I rode several roads and trails just enjoying being out there on my bike. My RA was still barking at me but I felt strong enough to go for a century.
So back down the Mary Carter Greenway and on north towards downtown and Confluence Park. By this time it was a beautiful day for a ride and I knew I was within striking distance of my century so I once again reversed my path and headed back down to the Bear Creek trail.
I was feeling strong but definitely knew that I was going to have to work hard to complete my ride successfully. So once again my bike was heading for Red Rocks. Once again it was almost all uphill although most of it was low grade incline. Unfortunately when I hit the climb at Bear Creek Lake Park up and over the Dam I was hurting more than I would have liked. I kept going and soon was at Morrison and heading for Red Rocks. This is where I decided to show some mercy to my body and not head up the mountain. After all I did not need this distance for a century.
I am really glad I didn’t continue because climbing back up the Dam at Bear Creek Lake Park before heading down too Fox Hollow Golf Course was very difficult and my body was really screaming at me. Still I had no choice but to succeed and once on top it was all down hill from there. At least until the last quarter mile where I had one last climb for the day.
When it comes down to it I am ecstatic about completing my first Colorado Century. This was a huge accomplishment for me. I hope to continue doing this at least 1 time per week as long as the weather allows me.
I have to be honest, this post is long overdue and for that I am sorry. I should have written this 2 weeks ago but I honestly did not really know what to say. Also I was a little lazy and in a bit of culture shock. While at the same time I honestly was really tired both physically and mentally also emotionally from my tour. So I ask for forgiveness from everyone out there for my negligence in putting this post out there on a timely basis.
That all having been said I sincerely want to express my gratitude and thankfulness too every person out there who followed my tour and supported me either through following this blog and posting their comments and also those friends and family members who spoke to me on the phone and expressed their support.
I am incapable of putting into words how thankful I am too everyone out there. I have though about going through my journal and posts so I could mention every name I wrote down. But that would inevitably lead to me omitting more than 1 person who deserves my thanks. And so too avoid missing anyone I have decided to thank everyone in mass.
I never put it in my posts but in all actuality there were dozens of people almost every day that I met on this tour who supported me with their positive words and wishes for my health safety and success. These people I never knew their names but nonetheless their support was instrumental in my success. Too those who commented on this blog I looked forward everyday to reading your words of support and when things got difficult it was knowing that I would someone would probably comment and give me their support helped me to keep going.
Too my family and friends who cheered me on I love you all and I am so grateful that I had you in my corner supporting me and giving me the strength and courage to keep going.
Then are those people out there who are anonymous and I never spoke to or read a comment on my post but who followed me every day and whose prayers and positive thoughts and wishes that I absolutely felt and I thank you every bit as sincerely and with all the thankfulness that my heart can express.
There is also a special group of people out there and it is those people that I undertook this tour for in the 1st place. I feel honored that I was able to go out there with hopes and prayers that I would be able to inspire or provide hope to those followers who suffer from Rheumatoid Arthritis. I do not know if I succeeded in providing that hope or if I inspired anyone with RA to attempt to become more active but the thought that just maybe someone out there was being inspired and was receiving hope form my tour kept me going when I questioned if I was really going to be able to continue. For all of those who suffer from this disease and who I received strength and hope from, for those who gave me the courage to continue and who I couldn’t let down I say with all my heart and soul thank you thank you thank you.
Before I started this tour I never doubted my success but there were many times on the tour when I sincerely questioned my ability to complete this ride. But the prayers hopes positive energy and words of encouragement that I continuously received kept me going no matter how much pain I was in or how weak I may have been feeling kept me going. So too everyone out there whether I know you or met or never have met online or in person I offer my thanks and heartfelt appreciation too everyone of you.
There is 1 more group of people out there who I also want to thank. While in Missouri I became extremely ill and nearly died and for all the Doctors Nurses Technicians Ambulance Drivers Policemen who because of them I am still alive, I thank you more than I could ever express. There would never be any way I could thank these people enough for saving my life.
For my Daughter and my Parents I Love you very much and your support was instrumental in my success and survival. I love you.
Posted in My Crazy Adventures | Tags: Hopes and Prayers, Riding a bicycle to manage the symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis, Strength and courage, Thank you for the success of my bicycle tour, The good people I meet while riding my bicycle, There were dozens, traveling across the country on a bicycle, Words and Wishes
I woke up this morning barely to move, I fell over while trying to stand up after crawling from my tent. I didn’t want to ride today but I had promised myself I would get into Colorado today. For breakfast I had a couple of packages of instant oatmeal and I didn’t even add any protein powder.
Eventually I climbed onto the bike and was riding by 06:30 but riding was painful. The ride began with a long climb, it was of a moderate grade but over 2 miles long and the way Arthur was attacking my joints every yard I pedaled was torturous. I made it nearly to the junction of hwy 85 and state hwy 213 which I had planned to ride into Colorado. AS I rested virtually unable to move a truck drove up and the farmer who had given me the directions yesterday that had lengthened my ride got out.
He said he thought I looked like I could use something to drink and handed me a can of Arizona ice tea. I told him about the additional miles I had pedaled the day before and he was very apologetic. We determined his calculations were off because he was calculating mileage from his home which is halfway through the shortcut. All is well that ends well and I forgave him and we had a couple of laughs about the whole thing.
As we spoke it became obvious that I was in a lot of pain and it would be extremely difficult for me to pedal any further. I was in the middle of nowhere surrounded by private property with nowhere to camp. And I don’t stealth camp! I will not camp on someone’s property without their permission. An offer of a ride into Colorado was made and even though I had some misgivings I accepted.
My plan was to only take a ride across the border into Colorado but in our discussion he mentioned he was going to LaSalle Colorado and offered to take me to his friends farm there.
Today my family was having a surprise birthday party for my father and I really wanted to be there so I decided to accept the ride all the way to LaSalle where I could call my daughter and arrange for a ride to Denver and then my fathers birthday party. When we arrived at the farm of my friend who was giving me a ride I was in pain and barely able to stand again but after pedaling into town and getting some Tylenol I called my daughter and soon her man was on his way to get me.
As I was riding into Denver I kept looking up at the mountains that I love and miss so much I was so happy to see those mountains. I was so excited to be able to see my family again and surprise my father, but at the same time I felt a sense of loss and had a feeling of emptiness inside of me. This ride was over and it wasn’t ending under my own power. Suddenly I was throwing myself back into the mix of things without having had the last few days of my ride to prepare myself as I had originally planned. I was in shock and really didn’t feel as though I was able to think clearly.
But I made the decision to end this ride in this manner for my DAD. It was very important that I be at my fathers birthday celebration. It would be important for him and it was important for me. So when I arrived at my daughters home I quickly showered and prepared to go to the party. My daughters significant other told me that nobody other than my daughter and him knew I was going to be at the celebration and it was decided that we would wait until everyone was at the party before we went over. My daughter was already there helping to prepare everything and I would follow L into the house kind of hiding behind him so nobody would see me until I was ready to expose myself.
My brother in law spotted me first when he opened the door but he saw that I wanted it to be a surprise for my parents and kept the secret. My daughter was there with a camera to capture the moment and I gave her a big hug before walking down the hall where I waited for my brother in law to get my mother. It was a surprise to her and very emotional. Other people started to notice me although most of them didn’t recognize me. My aunt walked in the door saw me and stopped in her tracks with a look of shock on her face unable to move or say anything.
My father was in the backyard on the patio when I walked outside. I walked by several family members, most of whom did not know who I was. I walked up to my father and shook his hand and gave him a hug while he stood there in shock. He said my name and then started crying. Everyone had told him I wouldn’t be there and he was so surprised he couldn’t believe I was really there. At that moment I was very worried for my father and was uncertain if surprising him like this was the right thing to do.
I spoke to my father for a few minutes before walking away to allow him some time to recover. Other family members were coming up to me wishing me well, confirming I was who they thought I was and was saying I was. Everyone wanted to know how I got there and how I was doing so I told my story of today several times.
Then it slowed down a little as the eating began and like always there was so much good food to eat. I sat down with a couple of aunts and uncles and cousins enjoying their company and relaxing. I ate and had a couple of beers all the while catching up on the lives of others will updating them on my life.
There were unfortunately some tensions as a couple of people that did not support me in my decision to make this tour were there and since we had all had words and all said things that the others didn’t like it was difficult to be around the others.
But today was all about my father and every effort was made by me to not let these tensions become public or even for my return to steal the show and detract from his day. I casually made the rounds speaking to this group here and that group there and in general had a very good day.
Soon it was time to leave so goodbye’s were said and I walked out the door seemingly all too soon. Now I have to try to put a life back together and decide on where to go from here. I had thought it would know exactly what I was going to do from here. I thought or maybe hoped there would be so sort of Epiphany for me and I would somehow have all the answers but somehow in my present state of shock there seem to be more questions than answers.
But there are no worries no regrets about having gone on this tour or how it ended. Now there is only a desire to spend time with family and friends catching up on all that has taken place since I last saw everyone.
Last night as I was sitting around at the church in Lingle where I was volunteering for the biker pit stop I was speaking with 1 of the other volunteers who was a told me about a shortcut that would cut 15-20 miles off of my journey and was about the same difficulty as far as hills go. He also said there would be far less traffic to deal with. He was absolutely correct about being far less traffic on this shortcut, but that was all he was correct about.
I took his suggestion even though I had my reservations about doing so. But he insisted he was a former bicyclist and since he was local knew what routes would be good for a cyclist. His shortcut added 10 extra miles to my ride today. I know I should have checked my map before I started riding but since when do ever follow a mapped out route. Sure I look at maps and get a general idea of where I want to go but then I put it away and don’t look at it again for a week or 2. If I would have checked the map this time I would have saved myself 10 miles on the 1st part of today’s journey. I also would have been riding on smoother roads with a shoulder and no sections where the asphalt had been removed entirely on the side of the road for my direction of traffic. I also would have had a 10 mile section of downhill to start my day rather than climb and down climb and down over and over.
Then on my final leg he had said if I had enough energy to go another 7-8 miles I would find a better place to camp than the 1st place he mentioned. He also was right about a better place to camp. But what was supposed to be 7-8 miles was 10.3 miles, the 1st 2 miles were pretty easy then I got hit with a brutal wind from the south east as I was heading directly south. This had all the worst elements of a headwind and crosswind.
Do I really think I have learned my lesson ? probably not!
The day started off at 05:00 in a rather funny way when the woman who ran the biker pit stop fell out of her hammock as she was waking up this morning. She fell with a crash and then her head popped up behind the hammock like a little chipmunk poking it’s head out of it’s whole. It really was funny but I am very happy she wasn’t injured.
We all got up and had a huge breakfast of pancakes bacon eggs sausage milk orange juice and oatmeal. I sure ended up needing all of those calories. I had also pigged out on pizza last night and was fully carbo loaded although it wasn’t the ultimate choice of carbs it sure did taste good.
All of the people I worked with at the biker pit stop were really great people very enjoyable to converse with and all worked hard to care for the needs of whoever needed their assistance. Many of the volunteers are local but 1 couple was from Canada and others came from other states to help or at least other cities or towns in WY.
I hit the road about 08:00 far later than intended but food and conversation were my priority at the time. I hope to come back and volunteer again in the future.
After 31 mile ride that turned into 42 miles I stopped at a bar in Hawk Springs, actually I think it is the only place in town that isn’t abandoned. I went inside and asked if there was a place to camp nearby and was given permission to camp in the yard behind the bar. I decided to have a coke when a woman I thought was a waitress walked up behind me and said I looked very hot and could she cool me down. About that time a bucket of ice water was poured over my head and down my back. I sure cooled me down alright. This woman went out side and got this super soaker like water gun and sprayed everyone who came in or out of the bar.
After a while she came back in and said I still looked hot and if I wanted to cool down she could spray me down better outside. So outside I went and was sprayed from a hose with very cold water. There was a biker chick there who kept commenting on how nice my legs were and how nice my butt probably was, suddenly she yelled out look he has T.H.O.. I had no idea what she was talking about neither did her boyfriend or husband so we asked her to explain. I will not say here but needless to say the cold water had an affect on my anatomy and her boyfriend and I nearly fell over laughing.
I stayed at the bar for a while outside getting cooled down and occasionally spraying the woman who had started it all and who I found out owns the bar. Suddenly I got my second wind and decided to go for another ride down the road, remember that 7-8 mile ride that turned into 10.3 miles. So off I rode into a beautiful sunny but not overly hot afternoon.
I finally made it to the Bear Mountain Stage Stop and that is where I will be camping tonight. The owner is very helpful and friendly and although I am not eating there they do have what looks to be a decent restaurant. I asked the owner if the name came came from a rock on the mountain that if looked at from 1 direction could look like a bear standing on it’s rear legs. He informed me that rock was called squaw rock by the Indians and they called the mountain in their own language Bare Mountain because there are no trees on the mountain. He also said some people may say it is because of the rock but they would be incorrect.
I exerted far to much in the headwind today and my ankle and knee joints are all inflamed from my RA. All my joints are inflamed but those are the worse. My hands are also having a lot of pain and this post is very difficult to type. I have no idea how I will feel tomorrow but I have to ride 53 miles tomorrow. Thatis my goal and I must succeed. So off to bed I go with the hope my pain does not keep me from sleeping soundly
Posted in My Crazy Adventures | Tags: bicycling across the country, rheumatoid arthritis awareness, Riding a bicycle to manage the symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis, The good people I meet while riding my bicycle, The People I meet while riding my bicycle, traveling across the country on a bicycle