Posted by: twistsoffeet | August 5, 2011

Today I get to give back a little


I woke up this morning stiff and aching but after carbo loading at the free breakfast the motel provides got on the way full of energy for the ride. I was origionally going to ride only 23 miles to Jay EM but I found it is true due to the curvature of the earth it was all or at least mostly downhill and I had a tailwind so after 23 miles I decided to ride another 27 miles to Lingle WY.
I rode into town right past a church and didn’t see it from the direction I was riding. This 27 miles had been more difficult and after a 50 mile ride knew I probably couldn’t make it to Torrington so I stopped at the local police station and spoke to the local police woman who informed me I couldn’t camp at the park. The police woman did call the Baptist church and handed me the phone so I could speak to the Pastor. He informed me that they were hosting their annual biker pit stop for riders on their way to Sturgis. They provide water, breakfast lunch and dinner as well as showers and a place to sleep. He also let me know I would be welcome.
I went to the church and spoke to the Pastor and volunteered to assist for the day. I have been setting up furniture and the kitchen for the last 5 hours or so and will set up tents later and help in the kitychen or whatever they need me to help them with.
It is really nice to be able to help others for a change when so many people have helped me along my way on this tour and in my life. They apparently have been doing this for about 10 years and get all kinds of bikers as well as bicyclists like me and truckers.
My RA had abated a bit for a while but now that I have been sitting around typing this post. I have had an opportunity to talk to a number of people today about RA and it’s affects or symptoms. I have talked about the need to lead a healthy lifestyle stay active and moving.
Anyway today has been a good day overall and it is a pleasure to help others for a change.

Posted by: twistsoffeet | August 4, 2011

It’s all downhill from here


I woke up this morning stiff and with moderate pain but I was so anxious to get on the road I did not really care. That is until I started pedaling. When I actually start pedaling it really does not matter how psyched I am if my arthritis is acting up I feel it immediately and today was one of those days. One of the problems is that as it was pointed out to me today as it has been pointed out to me almost every day recently is ever since I crossed the Missouri river I have been traveling uphill at a gradual but nearly constant rate.
I have also been dealing with heavy headwinds or crosswinds and today it was mostly crosswinds. These winds were so strong today that every time a Semi would pass me going either direction I would be hit by a crosswind just after the vehicle passes me that would nearly blow me off the road. It is generally more physical to deal with headwinds but the crosswinds are in my mind more dangerous. I only rode 32 miles today but each mile was demanding.
I made it to Lusk Wyoming after riding about 4 hours. The 1st 9 miles were additionally difficult because of road resurfacing. By the time I made it to Lusk I was exhausted and just wanted to relax. I inquired about staying in one of the towns parks but was informed it is not allowed. I next tried 1 of the local campgrounds and was told $15.00 to pitch my tent amongst RV’s behind a drive in restaurant on gravel with no access to restrooms . Obviously I turned down this option both because I did not have the funds but also out of principal because this was just plain and simple not worth it at the very least. I then decided to look for a church. As I rode around I spotted a church which turned out to be a LCMS Lutheran Church. I went in search of the pastor but he had apparently stepped out. I decided to stick around and soon enough the pastor rode up on his bicycle. I asked for permission to pitch my tent at the church and also was allowed access to the church restroom water and air conditioning. One of the other benefits is that it also let me get away from the flies that are everywhere although not as heavy here in Lusk as in the last few days.
As I was relaxing inside the church the pastor Darrin offered for the church to get me a motel room for the night and asked me to go to dinner with his family. I readily agreed to both offers. I was extremely grateful for these offers but I was not looking for help like this and was very grateful just to have a place to pitch my tent and access to fresh water.
I checked into the motel and quickly shaved and showered. It really is amazing how something so simple as a shower can change so dramatically how a person feels. I dressed in something other than my riding clothes and waited for the pastor to call me and let me know when and where dinner would be. I then decided to torture myself by watching cooking shows on the food network and the travel channel. I was delirious at the thought of preparing and eating all the food they were preparing.
After the pastor called me I rode my bike to the Pizza Place and met the pastor and his wife. We went inside and ordered our pizza and then had a very enjoyable conversation, although to be honest I did most of the talking. I spoke of my tour and my diet of  protein shakes and also about my experiences on the road. I also spoke about RA and my desire to inspire other sufferers to stay active and lead a healthy lifestyle to help in managing the symptoms of the disease.
And the pizza was delicious  although my stomach has apparently shrunk because I was only able to eat 2 slices at the time. I was able to take the 2 remaining slices from my pizza back to the motel with me and they should provide a delicious breakfast if they last that long.
As we were speaking the pastors wife reminded me that my ride was all downhill from here due to the curvature of the earth. Now that is just the kind of motivation I need after 300+ miles of almost constant uphill riding.
It is now about time to go to sleep and hopefully recover from today’s ride so that I can ride strong tomorrow. I saw on the news today that there is a tropical storm coming up from the south in the Atlantic ocean and that explains why the winds from the south have been so strong as they are being pushed ahead of the storm. But at least my ride is downhill due to the curvature of the earth.
My RA is pretty much mellowed out right now and hopefully will remain mellow tomorrow as I begin my southward journey. I actually will have at least 500 feet of net altitude gain but since I am not certain of all the topography between here and my destination but it is almost certain I will do at least 3 times that amount in gain and loss of altitude.
I once again now have to express how thankful I am that when things are not really going well I get the help I need and my prayers are answered. I once again ran into good people who were able willing and wanting to assist me. I am continually amazed at the good people that inhabit this country and world. We see on the news and read in the newspaper all the negatives that go on this world but when out in the world trying to survive and make my way on this journey I have seen almost exclusively the generosity of good people. And I thank GOD for his watching over me.

Posted by: twistsoffeet | August 3, 2011

As the end of this tour approaches


As the end of this tour approaches I find myself somewhat conflicted. On the one hand I really want this to be over. I am tired sore and lonely for my family. On the other hand I do not want it to end. I feel as though I haven’t yet accomplished all the goals I was hoping to complete on this tour. I have seen this country in a fashion I have never seen it before and have met some really wonderful people not to mention the true characters I met. I put myself to the challenge and for the most part met that challenge head on.
But there is so much of this country not to mention the planet that I have yet to see. I haven’t yet brought my message that keeping active and leading a healthy lifestyle to manage the symptoms of RA to all the people I had hoped to bring that message to. And I still have my RA and it will never go away so I have no choice but to keep moving and active.
When I think of staying moving and active for some reason today I am reminded of a movie. I think it was called crank where a man was somehow given some sort of a poison or something (it has been a long time since I saw it) and he could never sleep because it would kill him so he had to keep his heart rate at an obscenely high level. Now I am not comparing my need to keep moving to the character in the movie but there are some similarities. The main thing that both he and I have in common is that if we stop moving our bodies will suffer. His body dies and mine hurts and stiffens up and my joints are destroyed.
So with that in mind I do not want to quit this tour. But there are other reasons also. I am not comfortable with the same old thing. I like new discoveries. One of my biggest joys is traveling. Not just any travel but travel where I am immersed in a culture other than what I am from. I love to experience new foods and languages, I love the colors of different cultures art. I know some people will find it strange but I enjoy the smell of different cultures, smells of food and nature. I can be blindfolded and taken secretly to a market in Vietnam or Guadalajara and by nose alone tell you what country I am in. I am certain after I visit India I will be able to identify it as well. They say that the olfactory senses are one of the most memory stimulating senses we are in possession of.
But I also love the struggle to communicate with someone when neither of us speaks a common language. I enjoy meeting new people and learning of their life and sharing my life story with them, even if we do not convey the story through a understandable verbal language.
I can not go back to the corporate world sitting behind a desk with the pain intensifying daily doing a job I hate. I will not be happy landscaping. What I want to do is travel and learn about this world and write about it. I enjoy watching travel television when I am able to do so and one of the people I find stimulating and interesting is Anthony Bourdain. I don’t want to be Him but what he does is what I dream of doing. Traveling to different places experiencing the culture the food the art and the lives of those he comes into contact with and then relaying the story of that interaction. What a life. I know millions of others also dream of doing that same thing so I have to figure out my own unique spin on how to do this and tell the story in an interesting manner. I could be happy doing that.
But still as the end of this tour approaches I look forward to seeing family and old friends. I look forward to going into my beloved Rocky Mountains and enjoying the smells and of caressing stone and getting high off the ground as I feel the air beneath my feet.
I really hoped I would have this all figured out by the time I finished this tour but apparently that isn’t the case with me barring some epiphinal moment.
Still I have shared my story of RA and how I manage the symptoms with many people on this tour. I hopefully have inspired someone out there to become active and lead a healthy lifestyle to manage their own pain rather than just giving in to the disease. I know that I have at least further inspired myself into keeping active. I am still weak from my illness in Missouri but that is getting slowly better and I am committed to staying active and healthy.
I did not ride today because I had done some laundry in a sink in the bathroom in the park I am in last night then hung everything out to dry. Mother nature decided to play a trick on me and it rained last night heavily so all my clothes including riding shorts were still wet this morning. It is still somewhat overcast and rain is again expected tonight but hopefully I can get out of here tomorrow. I actually started to write this post earlier today because to be honest I have no expectations of anything happening that will urgently need to be written about today. But my RA was extremely active this morning and although I was able with effort to climb out of my tent dragging my laptop case with me and stumbling stiffly over to a shelter with electricity, I was unable to get my fingers to work. The pain in my hands was to intense to type so instead I slept through the cool damp morning listening to music while trying to concentrate on something other than my pain.
Anyway here I am still in Harrison Nebraska with nothing to do except relax and type out this post. Since that doesn’t take all that long to accomplish I have also been torturing myself by surfing the web checking out different cooking sites such as smittenkitchen.com my favorite and torturing myself by reading recipes that I am obviously not in a position to attempt at this time. Still I am happy as I sit here bored listening to my music and dreaming about delicious food.

Posted by: twistsoffeet | August 2, 2011

Milestones and other things


I woke up this morning all bright eyed and bushy tailed, I was quite the eager beaver although I really do not think beaver tails are bushy but nonetheless I was. I went for a quick walk to loosen up and then packed my trailer. After packing my trailer a quick inspection of my bike showed I had a flat tire. I quickly repaired the tube and inspected the tire. I decided to replace the tire although I probably could have gotten 5-600 more miles out of it I would also run the risk of increased flats which I couldn’t chance. It was my rear tire and the one which takes the most abuse and has worn out the fastest. There is really nothing to complain about though because that tire has over 5000 miles on it as does the front tire which should get at least another 1000 miles on it before replacement. These tires were the stock Bontrager H2 tires that came stock on the bike and were not a special flat resistant or extended wear tire and the amount of miles put on them speaks very highly about their quality. Now if the new Bontrager H2 Hard Case tire I replaced it with wears as well and provides me with more flat protection I will be ecstatic.
After changing out the tire and repairing the tube I discovered I also had a brake issue which I quickly remedied by adjusting my rear brake cable. I will probably have to replace the pads soon.
I hit the road and immediately began the uphill portion of the day which is a gentle way of saying all day was uphill. At first the uphill started out gently but gradually increased in it’s angle. Still I was rested well fed and feeling pretty good so no big deal. That is until about 3/4 of a mile from the top of the biggest steepest climb for the day. That is when the headwind started, actually it had been there all day but was gentle enough that it was not a major issue, but I knew it was coming. When the headwind hit it really had no mercy. It was a full on frontal attack right in my face trying to stop me dead in my tracks or knock me over. I ended up walking the bike up the last almost 1/4 mile of the biggest steepest hill of the day, but I feel good that I made it as far as I did before walking.
I did drink my 2.5 gallons of water fairly quickly and ran out about 1 mile before reaching my destination for the day. When I entered Harrison NE I was a bit concerned about finding a camping spot. The town looks like it is almost a ghost town when on the highway but when you get off the hwy and into the town you see a fairly well maintained small town with a nice little park and a swimming pool. They do have water and electricity available as well as picnic tables with benches including some under shelters.
It is a hot day even with the wind blowing probably in the mid nineties and although there is some cloud cover now it is not much and definitely wasn’t there while I was riding. In fact I do feel a little toasty today. Hopefully it will cool down earlier than last night which was so hot it was nearly impossible to sleep until well after midnight. I need to be able to get a good night’s sleep and recover from today’s ride that because of the headwind was extremely challenging.
I have hit some milestones lately the first mentioned is replacing my 1st tire due to simply wearing it out. The other and much bigger milestone for me is that I hit the 2 thousand miles actually pedaled a couple of days ago before entering Chadron. I also had approximately another 600 miles where I was given rides mostly due to being sick and unable to ride. I am probably another 400-500 miles from my at least short term destination.
All in all I am both pleased and surprised with how my gear has held up over 2000 miles of pedaling. The tires on my bike even though I had way to many flats held up extremely well. The bike has been incredible when considering it is really a low dollar entry level bike the TREK NAVIGATOR 2.0 and was never built to withstand all that this bike has gone through to carry me and my gear for nearly 3 months. My tent is a Kelty Vortex 2 that I bought in 1996 and has now over 200 days camping in it and except for the broken pole that happened in the flood in Iowa is still performing like a champ. And then there is my poor trailer a CROOZER designed to carry a maximum cargo of 66 pounds. Even though my trailer has had to have a couple of major repairs it has really held up very well considering my starting cargo weight on it was over 150 pounds but is now down to about 50 pounds of cargo.
I am not certain if my body has held up as well or maybe even better or if it has fallen apart. What I mean is that I was very sick and in the hospital and I am not as strong as I need to be but considering how sick I was I am amazed I have been able to continue on this tour. My RA is still ever present and at times is cruel and merciless but I know if I wasn’t keeping active like this I would be totally crippled and in much worse pain.
I struggle every day to continue on this journey. I struggle with my pain and my lack of strength and endurance as well as struggling with the high heat and it’s effects on me. I have been seeing many other cyclists on tour recently almost all of them going east with the prevailing winds at there back and none of them carrying a load like mine. When I meet these cyclists the 1st word out of their mouths is WOW because none of them can imagine carrying the load I have been carrying. So I ask myself does this mean I am a huge idiot by carrying this load ? I do not think so because for this particular tour it was necessary I bring this stuff with me. Should I be proud of myself for being strong enough to pack this stuff halfway across the country ? Hell Yes, I have always liked being strong and this is a huge thing to be able to be strong enough to pack this stuff across the country.
So now I can rest easy knowing I am nearing my destination and that I have been strong enough to physically handle the rigors and challenges of this tour. Now hopefully I can keep it up and finish what I started.
I want to mention the good people I met in Crawford Nebraska. It was such a fun and pleasant experience and I thank each and every person I met there for their kindness. Last night the pastor left a bag of fresh Banana Nut Bread and a whole bunch of chocolate brownies, I know I can’t live by dessert alone but when it comes along it sure is enjoyable.

Posted by: twistsoffeet | August 1, 2011

I needed today


I woke early this morning and decided I really did not want or feel up to riding so I went back to sleep. Soon it started to get warm enough that staying in the tent was not an option so I went up to the park pavilion and checked email and some other things online. That is when I met the pastor of the local congregational church who invited me to services in the park. Apparently 1 Sunday every year the church has a service in the park and today was the day.
I agreed to attend the service and then the pastor said they would be having a meal after the service and I was invited. I decided to clean up a little and shave which I hadn’t done for a couple of days and then headed back to the pavilion where a country gospel music group was setting up for the service.
The service started with the band playing and then some other hymns half of which I had never heard of before. But the message in the service was what I believe in and needed to be reminded of and that is of Gods love and sacrifice for his children who believe. I usually do not get into my faith in these posts but sometimes it is important to say what you believe in. Today is such a day.
Anyway I enjoyed the service and the music and the people welcomed me sincerely. I met a woman who grew up in the same basic part of Denver as I did although she went to a different high school 11 years after I did but we talked about some things that stimulated my memories.
Then We had lunch of fried chicken pasta salads spaghetti and meatballs salad egg salad potato salad and lots of beans and more dessert than I needed. I do think I pigged out a little to much because I still hurt in my stomach. But it was all so good and solid food is so enjoyable when a person has been on a mostly liquid diet.
After eating they had a horseshoe pitching tournament which I was invited to participate in. Now please understand I haven’t pitched a horseshoe since 1995 and before that day it was probably 20 more years so needless to say my expectations were not that high. But I fooled myself and for the first 3 rounds my partner George and myself were undefeated. Then we cooled off and were beaten in the 4th round before totally chocking in the next round. But the good thing is that I had a lot of fun and met quite a few friendly good people. It was another fantastic day.
Everyone has left now although there are other people in the park. It is way to early to sleep but the flies are now gathering in force so my plans for the next 3 hours are up in the air. I know though that I will sleep well because I am very relaxed.
When I woke this morning my RA was uncomfortable but not overwhelming and I was able to work through it with little difficulty. After getting eliminated at horseshoes and sitting around for a while I became quite stiff and moving is now a bit painful.
I firmly believe that the symptoms of RA are intensified by stress and negative emotions and improved by eliminating that stress and keeping emotionally positive. Keeping that in mind tomorrow should be a very good day for riding with a minimal amount of RA pain. I will be rested well fed spiritually nourished and positive with my emotions which is for me a winning combination.

Posted by: twistsoffeet | July 31, 2011

WOW


Today started with a struggle but it did get better. I was awake until about 03:00 last night with very high winds threatening to carry my tent away with me in it. I calmed down about 04:30 when I got up and decided I had better make a break for it while I was able.
I started riding at about 06:30 after working some of the stiffness from my joints but it was still a difficult ride. I ran into a headwind about 2 miles after I started and it did nothing but get a little stronger. Still it wasn’t a terribly difficult ride and it did have it’s high points like the herd of Antelope mixed with mule deer 100 feet from the road. And yes I did say mule deer not white tail deer.
As I entered the town of Crawford I noticed 2 things. The first was that they welcomed campers in their park for free and the second was that today was the Peabody Hay’s fiddle contest at the park.
I went to the park which is very nice except it doesn’t have showers but I will make do. Water is available but not as easily as some other parks and the bathrooms are quite far from the camping. still at least I wasn’t being threatened with arrest for camping there. I quickly set up cam much earlier than normal for me since I was uncertain how much traffic would be in the camping area and I wanted to secure a place for me. All for nothing as I appear to be the only person camping at the park.
The fiddle contest was actually a contest with categories of singing, fiddling, and miscellaneous which included harmonica mandolin and even accordion. It was a decent contest with some talent and I did enjoy all I watched even though most needed a fair amount of work and practice it was still very enjoyable and the musicians enjoyed playing which is what matters most.
There was a local country band that played and they were not bad.
Then the magic happened. A Trio of family members called Dyer Highway from Delta Utah got on the stage. Now keep in mind this is a rustic stage with a metal roof and metal building supporting it. An open air concert in a small town park. The trio consisted of a 14 year old girl with a great voice who played mandolin and bass her brother who is 18 who sang with a very good voice and played guitar and their sister who played fiddle and sang with this absolutely incredible voice that made my jaw drop and my ears tingle with pleasure. Oh by the way this sister is 15 years old and when she played the fiddle or sang she blew me away. They performed a long set of about 30 songs from old country like the streets of Laredo The Devil went down to Georgia (you know Charlie Daniels tune) and Orange Blossom Special as well as many newer songs many of which the Male wrote. They finished with a song I had never heard called Traveling soldier that their mother joined them on stage for and also did a song with a 5 or six year old relative female playing fiddle and she even impressed me.
My Ra was really bothering me but music does seem to sooth this savage beast at least in me sometimes. I do think I need to rest before this next section of road since I hear there is a big hill coming up in a couple of miles, but who knows tomorrow will tell.
The only problem right now is the train that comes by every half hour blowing it’s or their horn but I can deal with that.
I also ran into an older gentleman today that reminded me of my grandfather but was a bit more frail than I remember my grandfather. This gentleman had difficulty opening the door to the restroom and I helped him get out then he was having much difficulty making his way back to his chair where his wife waited for him. So I assisted him both giving him support when needed and directing him and also helped him into his chair. I would have wanted someone to help my grandfather like that also.
I forgot to mention for humors sake the bird that crapped on my shoulder while I was watching the singing contest today. See the day did have a small negative point but nothing I couldn’t wash off.

Posted by: twistsoffeet | July 30, 2011

It would be so easy to…


Today was basically a horrible day. It would be so easy to be totally negative at this point but I will attempt to bring some balance to this post.
I woke at 04:30 in pain from this RA that torments me daily but wanting to ride anyway. The weather didn’t want to cooperate though. My first view outside the tent showed thick fog that would be just plain dangerous to ride in. So I kicked back for a couple of hours hoping it would clear up but it got thicker instead. Finally I decided that if I didn’t get up then I wouldn’t move once the fog did clear so out of my tent I crawled and packed up everything.
At 09:00 there was a slight hint of the fog lifting so I hit the road but feeling in the pit of my stomach that it was a mistake and it was. Soon I was hit with a short lived but strong rain storm. I was already 3 miles into the ride so I just kept going, Thank goodness for fleece. For the next 16 miles I struggled through the pain of my arthritis along with battling a headwind and basically climbing a very shallow grade. Then I got relief just when I thought I wouldn’t be able to continue. The relief was in the form of an 8 mile shallow grade downhill section with a couple of very short low grade uphills thrown in just to keep me honest. The fact of the matter is that I also had a tailwind for the first time in a very long time and combined with the downhill I reached speeds of 31 mph and except for a couple of quick strokes I didn’t have to pedal for 8 miles.
Then just as suddenly as the tailwind started it turned to a headwind at the same time as the rolling hills started and back to struggling through the pain I was in. I am however very grateful for the 8 miles of no pedaling as I truly question if I could have completed today’s ride without it.
I will say right now that for the most part I have an extreme dislike for Chadron NE. I tried to camp at the city parks but the police said no camping and if I did I would be arrested. They say this is because the Native Americans (not his term) get drunk and pass out in the park and they can not allow that. So now my philosophical question is do I have a right to be upset? and if so who or what should I be upset with? Should I be upset with the Native’s for their inability to handle alcohol or the Europeans who brought them alcohol and who continue to profit from their alcoholism? Should I be upset with the tribes who seem to fail to put enough effort into eradicating this or at least minimizing this scourge amongst it’s people? Or do I put the blame on the Europeans and white Americans who took everything from these people forced them to live in subhuman conditions while taking their religion and all they hold dear and valuable, while continuing to profit from their treatment of the native population? Should I be angry that these people lost all sense of hope and self respect at the hands of the white man and by loosing that hope and self worth and self respect have they no other choice but to become alcoholics?  Did the white man by providing the natives with some land and a monthly tribal check enslave the natives by holding them captive with our money? I think the blame and or responsibility falls on both sides of this fence and it is a far more difficult problem to solve than I am wise enough to resolve. But I do put much of the blame on white America and our policies for the last 200 years.
My ancestors walked the trail of tears (actually it was many trails over several years led by several different army commanders and soldiers) so I may be biased in my compassion for the native Americans and the societal problems they now face. But I believe we each have the ability to make choices and bear responsibility for those choices. So how do we change American policies in regards to the native Americans? And how do we help or teach or guide the native Americans into making more positive choices? These are questions that need to be answered in regards to the rest of society also as we also have our issues.
Now that I have gone on my tirade and put things out there I will describe the next part of my day.  I went to at least 6 churches in Chadron and failed to find a living person at a single church so I couldn’t camp at a church. I tried the local agency in charge of assisting the homeless and less fortunate but guess what? There was nobody home there also. I would have been able to get a hot meal if I had contacted them but that isn’t what I wanted. I just wanted some suggestions on where to camp for the night.
At this point I headed down the road for the next town 25 miles away. But the rain came again and after the rain winds that nearly knocked me off my bike and when I got off the bike they nearly blew me off my feet. I  came to the Eagles Rest RV Park outside of Chadron but nobody was home, just my luck today. But I was able to get behind a building and keep much of the wind off of me. Then the proprietor came back and after some discussion decided I could camp for free but couldn’t  use their shower facilities. At least I had a water faucet to get water that I could use to make myself less offensive to the public. I am grateful for her letting me stay there at all.
|Now I can’t shower and have no electricity to charge my laptop with but I am comfortable inside my tent while the wind blows ferociously outside.

Posted by: twistsoffeet | July 29, 2011

Not much going on here


I woke early and packed quickly because the automatic lawn sprinklers were beginning to come on at the church where I was staying. It would have been nice to know about them before this morning but then watering the lawn is not 1 of the pastors duties and he probably didn’t have a clue about how or when the lawn gets watered.
It was cold and damp this morning which as all of us non medical people know does affect pain and stiffness in RA sufferers. I had to wear a heavy fleece pullover when I began my ride but soon I was sweating profusely although when I took it off I was freezing in the cold damp windy weather.
I made it a total of 19 miles today when it started to rain and I took refuge in a small cafe in Rushville NE and had a cup of coffee and several refills which I am really beginning to regret about now. I sat around spoke to a few locals and waited for the weather to clear up which it started to do several times and just as I was getting ready to go back out it would start raining again.
Finally I asked about local camping opportunities and was told that it might be possible to camp at the local park. I headed for the park which is pretty nice with water shelter and electricity. Unfortunately the toilets at 2 of the 3 bathroom buildings in the park were all blown up by pranksters on the 4th of July. There is still 1 bathroom building with operational toilets though but it is a little distance from where I am camped.
At the park I ran into the head caretaker Phil who said it is perfectly alright to camp in the park. I waited for a break in the weather then set up my tent just in time for the next round of rain. It has rained off and on and off all morning and although I had thought it was all cleared up for the day it now looks like another round may be coming in. At least my tent is already set up.
I really do not mind staying here because I was not looking forward to a 50 mile ride today. Instead I will relax listen to music  and not stress about the weather.
The sun has now come out and with it the flies and kids. The flies are unwelcome but the kids are welcome and seem to find me interesting. A whole group of them were here with their mothers one of whom had been my waitress when I had coffee this morning. The kids decided to descend on me in mass just to find out about this stranger in the park. They all checked out my tent and sleeping pad and asked all kinds of kid questions such as does it get scary at night in my tent and do I get wet when it rains. They were all curious and I tried to be positive about their curiosity.
After the one group of kids left another group showed up and had to check me out then they went to play. Then I heard one of them say to another go ask the guy in the tent if he can help but the little girl was apparently not sure if she should ask me for help. I called out and asked what they needed and it turned out 1 little 6 or 7 year old girl had gotten stuck in a tree and needed help to get out so I came to the rescue and helped her out of the tree.
I have recently been without any source of light at night because when I was changing batteries I apparently dislodged a little spring that was attached to an electrode that completed the electrical circuit. I had searched and searched for said spring and figured it was lost forever but today even though I had shaken out my tent several times it suddenly appeared. Now I have light again and what is funny is that it works better now than when new.

Posted by: twistsoffeet | July 29, 2011

Cramps


When I woke this morning I had a good attitude and still have that attitude but it was a difficult day for me. I was very gelled up this morning and it took me a while to loosen up enough to ride. I got up at 04:30 but didn’t hit the road until 06:30. It was cool this morning and no wind whatsoever, however that didn’t last for long.
The first 24 miles to Merriman were not bad although there were some good sized hills and a headwind that took it’s toll on me but I at least for a short while was able to work through the pain and stiffness of my RA. By the time I hit Merriman I had drank nearly 1 gallon of my water supply and had planned on refilling in that town. Unfortunately the towns water treatment system broke down and the whole town was under a boil order and no water was available to refill my water bottles. This was definitely not a good thing for me as I still had 30 miles yet to ride and it was getting hotter.
The man who ran the gas station in Merriman was actually a pretty cool guy and his bookkeeper was friendly and pretty cute. He advised me that the road between Merriman and Gordon was mostly flat except at 6 miles this side of Gordon. It never fails to amaze me what people call flat. I mean there were huge rollers and long hills with short downhills for the first 10 miles then it leveled out, or maybe leveled out is the wrong term to use. The road stopped going up and down and started just going up at about a 4% grade for the next 10 miles. Then at 10 miles from Gordon the up and down started again for 4 miles until I reached the top of 6 mile hill. At this point the road dropped quickly and I actually rode 1.8 miles without pedaling a stroke.
The next 4 miles were very small rollers up and down and up and down and should have been no problem. But there was a problem because I had run out of water before beginning the 4 miles of rollers and hills to the top of 6 mile hill and by the time I reached the top I was feeling the effects of mild dehydration. I was starting to cramp up pretty severely and by the time I finished my coasting down the hill I was barely able to pedal.
So off the bike I climbed and began the walk/push into Gordon. Fortunately when I got there the woman at the Pump and Pantry let me fill my water bottles with ice and water, she also let me have a few little packages of salt. I had originally planned on camping at the town park but there was very little shade and no restroom facilities or electricity. There were water faucets in the park but I decided to look elsewhere. I rode to the Local Lutheran church where the Pastor readily said yes to my request to pitch my tent at the church. He told me where the most private place would be and gave permission to get water from the outside faucets. He also let me use the bathroom facilities and clean up a little. I pitched my tent today much earlier than usual to avoid the flying critters which have been everywhere today. The horse flies were able to out run me on my bike and feasted upon my flesh all day long.
I am now sitting in my tent 3 hours after setting it up, the cramps are just now subsiding and my RA well it rarely subsides so why should today be any different. I rode a total of 56.8 miles today, OK I walked a couple of those miles. And I have another 45+ mile day tomorrow so I sincerely am praying that my RA and these cramps subside by tomorrow morning.

Posted by: twistsoffeet | July 27, 2011

A big storm last night


After riding from Valentine yesterday I was relaxing trying to just shake off the arthritis pain that was making my life less than enjoyable and I decided to take a shower and do some laundry. It was a bright sunny day when I entered the shower, in fact it was hot very hot. When I came out the sky on the western horizon was dark and ominous. As I was watching the sky the dark clouds were moving rapidly towards me. The wind suddenly intensified and the big trees in the park began to sway too and fro. I continued to watch the dark storm clouds racing towards me, not wanting to get in my tent until it actually began to rain hard. Then the storm arrived and the sky just opened up and poured.
I decided it was time to get in my tent and stay dry. Even though it was only 6:00 P.M. it was dark outside so I tried to sleep, and succeeded. An hour later I suddenly was awoken by voices outside my tent when I heard a voice say that there was another bike here. I called out to the new arrivals and one of them asked me to come out and greet them so I got dressed warmly and crawled out of the tent and under the shelter to avoid the storm as much as possible.
My new neighbors were Jose who is riding around the country and eventually too Argentina on a mission to raise money to dig water wells in Africa. He has a blog and I should be receiving his blog info soon and will pass it on for those interested. My other new neighbor was Kevin who is also on a mission but his mission is to travel to all 48 of the contiguous United States with a Cross on his trailer. His blog site is Bike4God.com. He does a lot of radio and newspaper interviews and shows.
We stayed up for a couple of hours watching the storm and talking before I went back to sleep. They stayed up waiting for the storm to abate a little so they could pitch their tents.
When we got up in the morning there were several good sized limbs that had fallen to the ground in the park but fortunately no damage. The wind was quite strong and coming from the east where Kevin and Jose were heading so they decided not to ride today. I had already decided not to ride because my Arthritis was telling me I needed a break and we all know I always listen to what my body is telling me.
They gave me some instant oatmeal for breakfast then Jose decided to fix some pasta which they also shared with me. We all sat around talking for a while doing little chores when they decided to go to the local restaurant for a spaghetti buffet. I stayed in the park and replaced the tube on my trailer and ate some peanut butter and a protein shake. And then 1 x 1 we all settled into relaxing naps. When I awoke to the voice of Kevin and Jose they seemed rushed so I crawled out of my tent to see them packing hurriedly. The wind had changed and it looked like they may be able to make it to Valentine with the wind at their back before it rained. So at about 4:30 P.M. mountain time they departed after we all prayed. I wish them well and a very safe and blessed journey wherever they may go.
So now I am alone again in the park with just my arthritis to keep me company and maybe Cooper will return also. Cooper is a six year old little boy who seems to be the head of the local visitor and tourism bureau. he can tell you anything you want to know about the town and is seemingly related to every person we saw today. His mother runs the local AG supply store where he took us to buy some Pepsi and 7UP. Cooper’s birthday was yesterday and he got a new BB gun and he had to tell us about the Mountain Lion or Bobcat he had shot with his previous BB Gun. IOt seems Cooper has a very vivid imagination like most kids his age and his company was enjoyable to all of us today.
Hopefully tomorrow I will be feeling strong and relatively pain free so that I will be able to ride strong. I also really hope that I have a strong tailwind to help push me along.

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