Archive for the ‘Pearson’s Notes on the Journey’ Category

How the Riding’s been…..

Tuesday, July 14th, 2009

It’s been far too long since I’ve updated my part of the Long Bike Back and all-of-the goings on.  So let’s start here:

Since the end of trip I haven’t stopped riding, but I must admit that cycling around town here has become far less interesting and more dangerous.  I long for the open tarmac of Idaho, Wyoming and western Nebraska.  I long for the days where nothing mattered more than getting on the bike and doing another century.  I long for a new town, a new hotel room and a new face pouring me a beer.  I am longing for new memories.

Where I live is an amazing place, certainly not for its natural beauty or friendly people but for the access to art and opportunity for expression.  I would however, trade all of it to get back out to the scorched earth of eastern Oregon or bask in big sky’s of Idaho.

Although I’ve been riding, I’m not clicking in as many miles as I’d like to or perhaps should be.  But here is a short rundown of a few of my favorite rides since October 2008.

On our way out of Iowa I took a very nasty fall.  Spraining my wrist, bashing my head against the cement highway, damaging my cherished bicycle and breaking the tray for my odometer.  I had to use grey gaff tape to secure the odometer/computer back in place, which held through the next six falls and 1200 miles.  Sadly my tape work was no match for Southern Westchester, on one of my first rides back home, I crashed because my cleat slipped out of its pedal and I went back down for another asphalt groping.  My left hip absorbing the brunt of the fall and leaving a gnarly bruise, I got up brushed off the stones, tar and broken glass and continued riding only to realize about a mile later that my computer the one that had logged all the miles and info since Boise had been lost.  I was crushed.  I spent days looking for it.  In leaf piles, drainage vents, yards and driveways, anywhere I could think of along the route that morning.  No luck.  Emotionally I was split, I knew that this was very Zen* and in a way fitting, but at the same time, typical, sad and too much of Murphy’s Law.

*I only say Zen b/c of a story Todd Coolman told me about Monks, who make sand art.  After they feel a work is complete, they look at it, ponder it, enjoy it, then sweep it all away and move on to the next work.  Exactly what we’re doing here now.  Moving on.

Not far from our home is where the oldest weekly ride starts called the Gimbels.  The Gimbels is a 50mile or so part race, part rider get together.  It was started in 1947 and leaves at 9:20 am every Sunday and most Saturdays regardless of season, rain or snow.  Within the peloton you can hear multiple languages taunting each other, old friends re-connecting, re-hashing last week’s battles, who sucked or who really soared and of course gear geeking.  Anyway I’ve ridden in the Gimbles a few times, once on my 29er which was a joke after 30 miles, but this past February, I decided to get up early and hit it.  Despite the awful rain, I managed to complete the ride in about 2.5 hours.  My gloves where like refrigerated wet towels, my clothes sticking to me like a layer of skin with icicles forming in the creases.  It was horrible, but I felt like a hero and now I get to write about it.  I giggled to myself most of the way that morning thinking about what I would say about the experience here on our LBB blog.  Sadly this transcription pales in comparison to the heroic adventure I had concocted in my mind.  Anyway last Sunday I rode in it again and it was pure joy, not to mention really fast, 28 mph at times!

I’ve been doing far more off road riding which is much more enjoyable now.  I can roll over obstacles I never could before and I’m not falling nearly as much, which is also promising.  With dreams of mounting a podium I joined the NYCMTB Team, but just when I was paying for my USA Cycling license I had some more health set backs for my back, which I have to allow to heal before I can compete.  Honestly I would probably loose anyway, so where’s the fun in that?  Who am I kidding though it would be pretty sweat to ride around with a team on all the amazing trails here in the North East.  Needless to say I’m very disappointed but I’ll get there.

A couple of weeks ago Julia and I got a private off road tour of the concord grape vineyards along the shores of Lake Erie.  Pat Sheridan (our guide) took us through a maze of tractor lanes and picker trails that yielded fantastic and almost surreal vistas of lake Erie.  Sweet ride and a great way to spend the third anniversary of my collision with the SUV that brought us here.

While down in Maryland a few weeks ago I rode with Julia and her father Len through Civil War battlefields at Antietam National Park.  I love it there very much, the ugly beauty of the brown arid useless fields really rouse my imagination about what happened to make it the bloodiest single day battle of the great(?) war.

We wondered off the beaten path to find some delicious dirt that took us along the banks of Antietam creek.  I almost ran over a turtle, I rarely get to see turtles, so I played with him/her for the time it took my partners to catch up.  I loved that turtle.  To me the shell of a turtle is much like a bicycle, it pretty much has all you need to travel throughout the world.

Julia and I rode as part of the Aeolian ride, which was an awesome 90 minutes of cycling.  The Aeolian ride is hard to explain, but in brief, we are wearing white nylon suits that (when filled with the air and wind generated from riding) balloon into different shapes, you can wear a rabbit, a droplet or a ghost.  It’s a very cool live motion performance art and something I had always wanted to be a part of.

At the Fat Tire festival I got to meet Gary Fisher, which was oh so very sweet, but I have to say that nothing compares to seeing the new Raleigh Bikes that are being unleashed to blow our minds this coming season.  Raleigh has really upped the anty as far as cool bikes that are a dream to ride.  I want the XXIX pro & the Rush Hour.

Jennifer Clunie executive director of the New York State Bicycling Coalition invited me to speak at the Coalition’s annual legislative breakfast in Albany.  I was far too nervous speaking in front of all those officials.  It certainly wasn’t one of my best speeches, but the commissioner of the DMV sent me one of Governor Patterson’s, official declarations that May is Bike Month, which was a really nice surprise!

Thank you for all the thoughts on the mailbox incident.  Just so that you know I am not screaming in pain as much as I’m screaming the mother of obscenities. It was my second fall of the day, the first took down big brother Pete and that stupid mailbox (which is still broken as of last month by the way) came out of nowhere, I couldn’t wear my contacts because of the ulcer in my eye and with the rain my glasses were useless.  I had also just repaired another flat in that icy cold central New York Autumn shower and had an unbelievably frustrating morning dealing with Pete’s faulty break cable.  The same break line that I’d stayed up late working on the night before.  Either way it is ok to laugh at me, there is so much more coming to poke fun at and I enjoy reading the comments, positive and negative.  Next up is my best Coen Brother homage. (Which is directly below my posting, check it!)

So what is the next adventure?  Well as much as I want to announce what we’re planning next, now isn’t the time.  There is a lot of work that needs to be done to make our roads safer, change our driving habits and of course watch a really cool film about two brothers and two cool chicks bicycling across this incredible country.

-Pearson July 2009, New York

Part 4

Tuesday, December 23rd, 2008




Chicago, Illinois

Day 35 {Monday}

0 miles

 Off day!  I got to sleep in, Julia went out for her morning walk and brought back the coffee that apparently runs America.  In the afternoon it was down to the Michigan Avenue clinic for some x-rays.  Nothing looks too threatening but I am now wearing a brace on my wrist, the doctors are concerned my shoulder and arm pain could get worse and need to be followed up by my doctors back in New York.

 Anyway I really love Chicago.  I looked but didn’t see Oprah.  I did drive around, downtown for an hour or so, running up and down different avenues seeing all this stunning architecture.  I even saw the buildings that were photographed for the Yankee Hotel Foxtrot album by Wilco.

 Dinner for me was steak & eggs, pancakes and fries.  I didn’t eat the eggs or the p-cakes, but did slather butter all over my steak and ate the whole thing.  I’m sad that tomorrow morning we exit Chicago and Illinois.  I need at least another off day!



Chicago, Illinois to Elkhart, Indiana

Day 36 {Tuesday}

125 Miles

My first drum set was a vintage green metallic Leedy & Ludwig (1950’s era) kit, all original rims, lugs and casings, including working heaters that was made in Elkhart, Indiana.  Too young to appreciate them then, but today I’m excited to see the town where these beautiful, hand-me down tubs where born.  Wearing the immobilizer while cycling is alright, I can at least hold the grips tighter which gives me more confidence and stability, not to mention its rather tough looking with this black industrial brace on.  

The traffic was thick and we were in a hurry to meet with a few ladies who wanted to join us for a ride out of Chicagoland.

White Castle was our meeting point.  Julia and Pete had never had a slider.  Being only a single visit veteran to the castle a few years ago in Brooklyn, I was the only one who could order.  A fine lunch, however two sliders are really not enough for 125 miles so I had two more and an order of chicken rings.  Chicken rings; are small breaded circles of white meat substance.  Hmm-high living!

I of course got another flat.  Shocking, no. Annoying yes.

With all of the flooding the major roadways were closed thus making route 20 very, very congested and difficult to get through.  Today was the ideal climate for cycling, not too hot with a light cool breeze. While longing for the open roads of western Illinois, I was anxious and excited to arrive in a new state.  My elation dwindled as Pete and I were accosted by a malicious truck driver’s unrelenting desire to get us to fall of our bikes.  He failed.

The stunning setting sun made me fall in love with Indiana.  The orange glow of New Carlisle felt like a place I could call home, it is also where our clocks ticked back to Eastern Standard Time, yet another telling sign that we are closing in on the end of the road.

Dinner was in a delicious brewery, where a pitcher of beer was actually cheaper then a single pint.  So we all had our own pitcher.  


Elkhart, Indiana to Holiday City, Ohio

Day 37 {Wednesday}

85 Miles

Another beautiful morning, the riding was smooth, a little windy but a joy to be rolling.  The quaint towns of Indiana are exactly what I imagine quintessential Americana to be, it’s literally as if the sun shines red white and blue here.

To avoid flats I am trying on one of Pete’s Kevlar tires, which is actually seven centimeters to large for my frame.  Doesn’t sound like much, but it makes cornering rather challenging because the nose of my shoes interact with the spokes violently.  I fell off in the middle of the street because of it; I can’t wait to get this tire off! 

Julia and I split perhaps the best chocolate chip cookie sandwich at Shipshewana, the largest Amish community in the world.  I let Pete get a 30minute lead on me – I wanted to ride alone at my own pace and listen to music.  I hate to say the music I listen to when I ride isn’t what I normally have on my record player.  I tend to go after a little heavier rock, maybe some mathrock, grindcore or anything with Busta on it.  So today I rocked the Dillinger Escape Plan followed up by the Used.

As the riding got swift I started passing horse and buggy in between cars in the lanes -meaning I was able to keep pace with automobiles for extended periods.  It felt incredible to be going this fast, I love the feel and reaction my bike has to speed.  The sound of the bike as it cuts through the air is my addiction. 

Pete stopped for a rest, as his achilles has really taken on a vicious swelling and is causing him intense pain.  He claims it was all the walking in Chicago in his new crocs.  Whatever it is, it looks terrible, a bulging bright red sack on the hind part of his ankle, I’m grossed out, but part of me wants to poke a needle in it – at least maybe he’d get some relief.

Riding together, I popped another flat.  Upon removing the tire we found a minuscule piece of metal, I of course had to run over it with my rear tire, the non-Kevlar protected.  I have only one tube left and its not new, it has a slow leak, but I think I can ride on it long enough tomorrow to get to a bike shop.  I hopped on my mountain bike for the rest of the afternoon into Ohio, planning to change the tube in the morning.

We roll into Ohio amongst a beautiful prairie sunset.  The sky, screaming with a breathtaking blood, red orange, I am made acutely aware that shorter days and the harvest are approaching faster than I’d like.  Feeling grateful for not having to ride nauseous these past few days, I’m riding with the same excitement I had back in Oregon, I feel blessed to be out here, borrowing these roads.

Our hotel was beautiful, almost gothic despite it being new.  For dinner we had to drive to the next town, because Holiday City, Ohio isn’t much of a town and certainly is not a city, it consists of two gas stations and two hotels, ours is obviously the five star stay, but it really is immaculate. 

Hooker was the name of our frenetic waitress. She showered us with boundless love and gave us memorable time, in the city that looked exactly like the town from Back to the Future.  Being sick and tired of burgers, or chicken sandwiches, Pete and I both had a “thanksgiving dinner.”  The absurd amount of tasteless food made us both feel like gluttons, but it was fun. 

After dinner, Julia and I had to do an interview with David Wilson, who is writing a feature on us for the Purchase Magazine.  We were on the phone for over an hour.  There really isn’t sleep on the road.  Ever.  Especially not for Julia.


Holiday City, Ohio to Fremont, Ohio

Day 38 {Thursday}

85 Miles

Wow, what a morning!  The sunrise today is as beautiful as last night’s sunset.  I snuck out early to repair my flat, switch out the bulky tire and make a couple of brake adjustments.  While out at the car, a hotel employee came over for a chat.  He asked me a lot of questions before noticing my guitar in the back of van, which provided him with an excuse to tell me about his true calling, his true passion, country music.  I was surprised to learn about all the country jams they have out here in the middle of nowhere, but what really turned me on was his insatiable thirst for music, it turns out he just turned 60 and only recently picked up the guitar, four years earlier.  I spent the rest of the day wondering what if all musicians where that inspired? (!)

When we were able to get on our bikes, I instantly noticed that my rear tire had already begun to run flat.  The tube’s leak wasn’t as slow as I had hoped!  To make matters worse the nearest bike shop was forty miles ahead, into a head wind that according to NOAA was blowing in our faces at a steady 20 to 23 miles per hour according.  At four miles in of struggling, my rear is running on the rim.  I had to pull off and catch the van to get air in it.  I also want to put the PAT on my handle bar to see how that’ll work in severe wind.  Pete wasn’t in the mood to have to stop so he went on.  That was the last we rode together today.

I grabbed my hand pump, tied on the PAT and set back out on my way.  I had to stop about another three miles, with only seven miles on my cyclometer my mind starts to take over and relentlessly starts beating me up saying get on the 29er and get to the bike shop without all this stopping. 

I got on the 29er.  Now my road bike weighs less than 17 pounds, my 29er is a little more than 35.  With such high winds in my face, admittedly the 29er was a huge mistake.  The distance between Pete and I grew to almost 18 miles.  I stopped for about an hour to fix the clipless pedals on the 29er which creates an even larger space between us. 

About 10 miles away from the bike shop I had had enough of the pain and struggle I was enduring on the 29er, so it was back to my roadie.  I put an additional 20 pounds of air pressure in my leaking tire with hopes that it could last a little longer, perhaps even enough to get me to the bike shop.

The bike shop didn’t exist.  After making a wrong, turn and loosing the chase van, I did find a ski shop that had a bicycle annex.  I was able to buy their remaining two tubes – luckily they were my size. 

Pete was now in Toledo, Ohio at least 25 miles ahead of me.  I was bummed that it had taken me the better part of the day to go these 50 miles.  Fully inflated I was cruising as hard as I could, given the traffic, stopping at lights and another couple of wrong turns, it was back to the mental struggle to not beat myself up for not being able to catch up to Pete.  I started to give up.  I wanted to stop riding for the day.  I was psyching myself out, attacking my resolve.  When I heard from Julia that Pete was only a few miles from Fremont, it was almost 6 pm and I had convinced myself that I was a failure, with 12 miles left to ride, it would have taken me less than an hour, but I stopped and put the bike on the van.  I quit.  I let the pain and frustration make my decision. 

Our dinner was at the only Chinese restaurant in town.  Our waitress, Sue who had been there for 35 years was spectacular.  We engaged her and peppered her with questions about the town, unfazed she left nothing out and included stories of her family, grandchildren and her late husband, the chief of police.

All in all I learned that even though I’ve taken this trip, I’m still me.  I still hold myself to perhaps too high of a bar and that I shouldn’t beat myself up as much and at the same time I need to learn how to give myself a break.


Fremont, Ohio to Cleveland, Ohio

Day 39 {Friday}

87 Miles

Today started early.  We had a photo shoot in the parking lot of the hotel at 8 am.  Then Julia, Pete and I had a newspaper interview while on the road.  Sue, the waitress from the last night, hooked us up with a radio interview.  She had called the hotel and tracked us down and caught Meghan as we were all getting ready to roll.

We had an interview set up with a local reporter who was close friends with the parents of a cyclist who was killed two weeks prior.  The father wanted to meet us.  I was unsure of what this experience was going to be like.  His child, 18 years old, was killed on his bicycle two weeks ago, hit head on by a drunk driver.  He was a freshman on the cycling team, away from home for the first time at college.  Pete and I shook his hand over and over again.  His strength, unlike anyone I’ve ever met held on to his emotions to tell us stories of his son.  Told us how he had traveled to the jail to meet the 23 year old driver of the suv that took his child’s life, told us how he had forgave him and hoped he could do something meaningful with his life.  I was speechless and am still moved by him, I will never forget this morning. 

Well, our ride was going pretty well, I stopped at another bike shop to buy some tubes and discuss cycling with the owner, while Pete got out a head of me again.  When I got back on the bike, I was flying, 24 mph.  It was awesome.  I was passing cars, leading the escort vehicle at a construction zone that was a seven mile stretch.  I felt like changing the music in my ears so I reached around my back and pulled out my ipod and pda.  While fidgeting with my gadgets, I hit a patch of loose stone and at 26 mph went sailing over freshly paved tarmac.  The road rash was unique, just pealed skin, no gushing blood.  It stung a little, but I didn’t really care.  I was mostly shocked that not one of the few hundred cars, lined up for their turn through the construction zone asked if I was all right.  One lone truck driver just looked at me shook his head and giggled as I gathered my things and hopped back on my bike.  Just then Pete called and told me he was having a union break and drinking a soda a few miles ahead saying he’d wait.

When we got riding again, he saw my bright red skinless left elbow (&area) and exclaimed, “How’d that happen, Jackass?”  Funny both he and Julia call me “Jackass, ” which would only be cool if my name was Steve-O or Knoxville.

The closer we got to Cleveland of course the traffic picked up.  Given that this is Friday afternoon rush hour and we’re on major sub and urban thoroughfares its bound to get dicey.

It did.  About 15 miles or so left in our ride, I was struck by a minivan.  When I saw the green van cut a few feet in front of me, I yanked my brakes and unclipped, I knew it was going to hurt.  My front tire got clipped and the bar end of my handle bars jabbed me directly on the left side of groin/pelvis, not more than a couple of centimeters from my where my leg and pelvis had separated the last time I was struck by a car.  When I looked back at Pete he was under the bumper of another car, we gave each other a typical “You’re ok” nod, as we knew it was ass-kicking time.  The driver had turned into the bank they were headed for.  I instantly took my helmet off and threw it at the car, striking its rear window.  Yelling for them not to go any further, I realized I was walking very well.  Pete was already at the window of the driver, who turned out to be an older woman on her cell phone, completely shocked and unknowing and uncaring that she had just hit us.  After we told her how dangerous what she had done to us was, she really didn’t care and just wanted to get on with her business.  Beside myself, I sat down on the curb and took a few minutes to calm down.  I checked over both bikes and made sure Pete didn’t get hurt either.  Although he would never let on if anything was bothering him.

With that behind us, it was back on the bike.  I was getting cold and my back and leg were really sore as we made our way into this beautiful city.  Our hotel and dinner were complimentary tonight so we decided to live it up a little.  Still in our cycle clothing we sat out side a brewery and had a nice relaxing recap of the day.  Then it was on the Macaroni Grille for another free delicious meal. 

Our hotel was the Holiday Inn Select, a little bit nicer than the amazing Holiday Inn Expresses we’ve been staying in for the bulk of the trip, the beds were massive and rooms were nicely appointed.  After my shower I noticed the discoloration of my pelvis and the golf ball that was growing there.  I looked in the mirror, raised my left elbow and shook my head.  Today things could have been a lot worse, but we got through another day on the road. What a great day really!


Day 40 {Saturday}

Cleveland, Ohio to Erie, Pennsylvania

102 Miles

Hard to get out of that huge bed after only a few hours; I feel that I may never be able to sleep enough to make up for these long days.  I’m always so tired.  The hotel hooked us up with breakfast then it was back on the bike.  I’ve been wearing the helmet camera a lot lately, but am really psyched to be wearing it today, giving a clear depiction of cycling though this placid city morning. 

Downtown the streets were empty with glorious morning sunlight breaking past the concrete cut canyons of buildings and streets, while the drone of a sleeping city made our ride feel magical, if only for a few minutes. 

Shortly on, towards the eastern part of town, it was revoltingly apparent where a line had been crossed between the “good” and “bad” sections of town.  It was as if a police state had taken over and the city’s alders had forgone its duty of keeping a sustainable condition of life.  Not to mention the basic civics of usable roads that include working traffic signals and buildings with power.  It was early in the morning and a fire truck with blaring sirens and flashing lights, was cutting cars off, Pete and I were looking for a fire, trying to smell the smoke, because the truck was rolling about as fast as us, 16mph.  Being so close to the air piercing horns, it was painful, our ears were cracking from the pressure– and then the truck stopped, stopped traffic too, as two firemen got out of with bags of groceries, and dropped them in front of the firehouse.  Then snickering they got back in to truck to resume the blaring of their sirens and horns.

I was appalled.  Not to be outdone however, we saw a man being arrested, shook down, searched, cuffed and scared.  The streets were littered with obstacles, potholes, pavement that bubbled up like tumors, loose stone and broken glass covered the road way like sand.  It was a long haul getting out of Cleveland.

The traffic got much thicker when the neighborhood changed to typical suburbia again.  I must say its far worse to ride through the burbs than any city I’ve ever rolled in.  Granted it was a Saturday morning, but really more like a parade of SUVs and we got caught at what seemed like every light.

We could hardly break 15mph with all this ridiculous stop and go traffic.  A an old man beeped his horn and pointed at me, trying to get my attention so I followed him into the parking lot and asked him what his problem was – he said that we should be riding on the sidewalk, I told him that it was actually illegal and he huffed and went on his way.  I’m tired of engaging lunatics; I’m tired of sharing the road with them and trusting their humanity to keep us safe.

Lunch was awesome, I love fast food and today was Chick Filet.  My first Chick Filet meal was in Texas back in January, I’ve raved about it since and have been craving that chicken fried goodness this whole trip.  Today I took full advantage of our suburban isolation and rode until we found one.

We had to hurry because outside of Erie tonight we were meeting with Julia’s mother, sister and Meghan’s father Pat who were going to ride with us into town and we had to hurry because we needed to time it accordingly with the sunset.  Also we were heading to an Oktoberfest party at the BrewErie.

One more quick stop in Ohio at Bernie Baker’s bike and art shop.  Bernie builds recumbent bicycles and is a wonderful still life painter.  I had a blast fumbling around his shop, I even got to sit in his private modified Velokit – the Velokit is an enclosure that wraps around your recumbent bicycle ideal for inclement weather cycling, especially excellent for folks who ride their bikes to and from work daily.  Bernie’s is a little different, featuring a windshield wiper, vents and an all weather lightweight fiber, providing even more protection.  I loved it and want one.

 As the afternoon wore on, we crossed into Pennsylvania.  The temperature was perfect, the sunlight a gorgeous orange and then all of the sudden we were smack dab in the concord grape vineyards.  The timing was perfect as it was harvest season and the aroma of fresh grapes overwhelmed our senses and refreshed us for the rest of the day’s ride.

Our guest riders rode like the wind, I’m impressed, it was really nice to ride with family the last few miles.  After a quick interview for one of the local television stations it was on to Oktoberfest, which was actually a lot of fun, decent beer and excellent weinershinztle, along with an Oompa band and great friends, this is the best Oktoberfest I’ve ever attended!


Day 41 {Sunday}

Erie Pennsylvania, Off Day

0 miles

A typical beautiful Erie morning to wake up to, another reporter came over to talk about the mission and film us riding around.  I had some bike repairs to make and some shopping to do, before it was off the Meghan’s father and close pal Pat’s house for a nice home cooked dinner. 

We are staying in Julia’s mother, Kathy’s home.  Kathy being a very generous supporter of our trip loaned us her van for all of the 12,000 + miles we were traveling, that grey Honda Odyssey has become our rolling home base, office, refuge, beacon and relief.  I could not imagine a more perfect car, other than an H1 Hybrid, if one existed.

It was good to be with family for an afternoon and eat some excellent food.  Pat even baked us a pie, with a bicycle carved in the crust.  Awesome! 


Day 42 {Monday}

Erie, Pennsylvania to Buffalo, New York

94 Miles

Wind! Wind! Wind! Wind! Terribly strong wind in our face or as big brother stammers, “in our puss!”  However it’s said it’s horrible and makes for some very tough riding.  Although I speak for everyone and anyone who’s been out in this part of country, it is rather hard to be upset or angry in this exceptionally stunning part of our planet, especially this time of year.

Jogging back a little, Erie was tough to leave, a lot of traffic and tough to say goodbye to family, but the show goes on.  We grooved as smoothly as we could today given the oppressive power of the breeze.  One amazing aspect of the thunderous air that fought us like a tyrant was that it came with such a wonderful bouquet of the ripe concord grapes.  As angry and frustrated as we were with having to use three or four times as more effort to go at a slow pace, the aroma was ironically breathtaking. 

It was bittersweet if not a lot more bitter (for me) to cross back in to New York State.  We did so with such little fanfare, a few photographs, hugs and some commiserating between Julia and I off camera, its tough to be getting close the termination of this journey that has brought us closer as a couple, but mostly as people, all of us for that matter.

We stopped to have lunch in a gorgeous park, where I gave an interview for the local Syracuse newspaper via cell phone.  The reporter was awesome and seemed really excited about what we were trying to accomplish.  I love that!  I love it when people are turned on by the mission and take it upon themselves to sink their teeth into getting the message out to the masses, which will save lives. 

Autumn in the northeast is ridiculous.  The colors are astounding and we were rolling through the peak.  I’ve driven these roads a lot and been out here often, but being here by bicycle is truly a gift, amazing to really get a sense of the land, smell the harvest, the dirt, feel the not yet totally cool air.  I could ramble on for days.  We stopped a short while in Fredonia, in front of the building where I recorded my first album after college.  I half lived here, Buffalo and Skaneateles that summer, recording and riding my bike everywhere I could.  It was a strange time, none of us had any money and we were living on our own, well, with a lot of help.  That was my last summer upstate before moving to New York City officially and in a lot of ways was the last summer of my childhood.  Within a few months the world would change and so would my outlook on most things.

Anyway the further east we rolled, we crossed a reservation and meet some pretty cool, American Indians.  Pete drank a mountain dew and ate a bag of combos to help get him the last 40 miles.  He told me an awesome story of how he stole home plate on his high school baseball team.  We talked about physics and didn’t stop rolling for over 30 miles, our longest continuous spin in a few states.  It just happened that way, we just didn’t have to stop, no traffic lights, left alone by cars, it was as if we were on a particular mission to Buffalo and actually we were.  We were meeting some more family at Duff’s in Orchard Park.  Duff’s is the home of the Buffalo Chicken wing and every time I get to Buffalo which fortunately is often, I manage to get a Duff’s stop in, and tonight would not be an exception.  In the parking lot as we rolled in we were met by Julia’s grandparents and a few aunts and uncles along with a television crew.  After a brief interview, a few photos with the waitresses it was time to chow and boy did we. 

Our hotel was nice and fancy, a huge bed, the only problem was the hotel was a labyrinth, it was a real mystery to find our rooms and get there from the parking lot, it was annoyingly comical.



Day 43 {Tuesday}

Buffalo, New York to Lima, New York

83 miles

We woke to another absolutely beautiful autumn morning, another great day to be out on a bike.  Before the wheels could turn I desperately needed to clean my cog from being over lubed by the last repair in Iowa.  I should have done so much sooner, the build up was severe and messy.  The ride was much smoother after the cleansing.

The riding was uneventful today, mostly just beautiful autumn and a little warm which was also nice.  About 25 miles from our destination we stopped and had some delicious ice cream.  I was getting excited for the hotel tonight because it was our last “mom and pop” and I had driven by it on a few recon trips.   In my mind it seemed like a real classy bed and breakfast type of place.  It turned out to be quite the surprise!  The rooms haven’t been changed since the 1930’s, an aspect the current owners are proud of, the beds were all painful, there was a toilet was in our room, with a sink.  The shower was next to Pete’s bed in the next room.  A third room, with strangers in it had to share with us as well.  Fortunately they didn’t have the need and we never saw them.  Pete and Meghan’s room had a television, with only one station.  Our room didn’t have a television or a light bright enough to read which didn’t matter to us as we had to head out after dinner to locate some wireless internet and find something for my left eye, my good eye, which was really hurting. 

Before I talk about the hotel any further I want to mention that Julia’s aunt Christine had made signs for us along the roadway about 5 or 6 miles out of town, which were really touching.  She had also created a gift basket full of wine and delicious beer that was waiting for us on the porch of the hotel.  As Pete and I rolled into town she had gathered a bunch of folks to clap for us too, which was also really touching, thank you Christine!

Julia’s uncle Dana and aunt Sharon along with their son, Dylan joined us for dinner at the hotel.  The menu wasn’t very extensive except for the 55 different soups they offered.  Soup! I find it suspect that a person’s passion is Soup.  I like a good soup now and again, but let me recite some of their flavors, cheeseburger soup, macaroni & cheese soup, Meatloaf soup, Potato and Squash Soup among a few other classics.  I stuck with a messy chicken sandwich that was surprisingly good and worth biking to Lima for, however I was bummed that fries were not offered.

Later on at Tom Wahl’s a local chain restaurant Julia and I found Internet, doughnuts, root beer and fries, we were actually given every French fry left in the fryer, what a great group of folks there at Tom Wahl’s.  On our way back to the hotel I saw in the dark the ghost bike memorial for Jonathan Dechau, a 33 year old father of two, cyclist who was killed by a woman downloading ringtones on her cell phone while driving.


Day 44 {Wednesday}

Lima, New York to Skaneateles, New York

70 miles

We woke up early, no showering for me, not last night nor this morning, I wanted to get out quick and early.  The sleep was restless as the truck traffic was non-stop all night, keeping all four of us rather awake.  I ate a stale bagel and drank some black coffee from a no-name gas station and then it was back on the road.  The riding was comfy today, we knew we were heading to our childhood home, it had been 3000 miles of road, and we were on the short ride into town.  Well it wasn’t that short as we had to time it right for the media and our friends and family who were planning on greeting us as we arrived in town. 

Lunch was at a winery, we sat outside on the porch and ate the remainder of Pat’s pie, its no wonder why I haven’t lost any weight on this trip given all the goodies I gorge myself with daily.  I think I had three pieces of that pie today, not to mention a dozen or so twizzlers, a coke, and about six cookies.  In my tight Canari’s I must look like the Michelin man, I afraid of seeing myself in the camera.

In Geneva, New York there is an awesome bike shop, which I have looked forward to stopping at since we started riding and, of course, today it’s closed!  The only day a week they close is Wednesday.  Despite being disappointed it was still cool of them to have our poster in their window. 

Well our next stop was just outside of Waterloo at a Byrne Dairy where big brother Pete got his first flat!  I fixed it for him but not without a lot of laughter and stuffing the afore mentioned six cookies down my fat throat.  His Kevlar tires protected him well across the United S. of A. but was no match for upstate New York.  In all fairness the tires were amazing, we found at least a dozen bits of debris that would have shredded my tubes, so he was really fortunate to have such an awesome set of rollers, thanks Vittoria!  Being sentimental we retired that tire and put a brand new fresh one on for him.

Our last stop before getting to Skaneateles was in the canal town of Seneca Falls, where Pete treated us to a history lesson on this Erie Canal town.  We had a little over 20 miles left to roll and this was a really nice little break, to sit by the water and think of what it must have been like 150 years ago. 

A few miles outside of Auburn, New York, our supporter Todd Diel rolled up to us on his beautiful Harley Davidson with a fist in the air and massive chest pumping growl! An awesome welcome to say the least, the first thing Todd said about our bikes when he rolled back up to us was, “looks cool, but there isn’t enough chrome boys.”

As we rolled into town it was great to see my parents, friends of theirs, life long friends of Pete’s, Erin and her parents and Mrs. Fagal, my fifth grade teacher who has been a tireless supporter of our efforts and mission.  The reunion was just perfect as it didn’t last too long and we were able to sneak back to my folk’s house for that long awaited shower.

Later in the evening a few dozen more people turned up to meet with us and have a nice gathering.  My mom had made sauce and meatballs for us that were excellent (on order from my attorney –seriously call him, Vincent Corbacio of Hillsberg, Sharp, Corbacio & Vitiello)   

It felt good to be around a lot of people and it never at all felt too heavy, folks were all in their own conversations and not focusing on us, which was the best for me, I was able to sneak outside and sit in the cool autumn and watch the stars.  Then a tired came over me that I couldn’t explain so it was off to bed.


Day 45 {Thursday}

Skaneateles, New York

0 miles


Today was not necessarily an off day.  It was an early wake up and rush down to State Street School in Skaneateles, to meet and talk to a group of third graders.  I felt what I had to say was rather lame but all of the children were so excited and great to be around.  Their questions were excellent and all promised to wear helmets for the rest of their cycling lives, which overall is all that matters.  Mrs. Fagal brought her class in first which was nice and gave me an opportunity to meet them individually and learn their names.

While there a local tv station came by and ended up doing a really great story on the trip, film and mission.  Tanja Babich the reporter did a really excellent job and I was really touched by how much she cared about the film and our goals.

So then it was off to Jordan Elbridge to meet with a group of eager 6th graders, led by our pal, teacher Christopher Palen.  Another really rewarding experience with a group of excellent kids!  They each took turns lifting my bike and asking what kinds of tricks could I pull off.  I can jump over a lot of obstacles on and off road and go really fast, but I’m not good at doing any serious stunts like Wade Simmons or Travis Pastrana,  I hate to disappoint so I’ll try and work up something for next time.

A brief lunch break back at my folks, then it was off to Skaneateles High School, to meet with 11th and 6th grade students, with teachers Peter Chapman, Liz Hyatt and Mitch Major. 

It was nice to see a few of my former teachers, including Ms. Georgia Peach who taught me how to think differently.

Over the last week or so, I’ve grown a gnawing pain in my left eye.  Julia took a quick look and made me make an appointment in town, so it was off to my childhood optometrist.  As it turns out wearing contacts everyday for the last two months with grease and road grim on my hands have led to a bulging corneal ulcer in my “good” eye.  I suffer form significant keratoconus in my right eye so having this new ulcer is making seeing hard.  My cautious doctor frightened me stating I could do permanent damage to my one good eye.  It should clear up with mediated drops and no more contacts for at least 3 months.

Later on in the evening we gave a presentation at the downtown library – there were a lot of faces there so thank you for coming, paying attention, asking your questions and taking a step toward being safe.

Before heading off to bed, I had to fix Pete’s brakes, swapping out his pads, with the worn cable I hope my rigging holds.


Day 46 {Friday}

Skaneateles, New York to Waterville, New York

60 Miles

Woke up to a typical central New York rainy day.  As we got our things together said our goodbyes and made it on our way, Pete’s cable gave out and his brakes ceased up.  I felt like I could adjust them, so back to my dad’s garage to spend a very frustrating hour making no headway in trying to make up for the stripped cable.  The pressure was on, as we had a date with the Lafayette Middle School 18 miles away up hill, it was the student’s recess and they were expecting us. 

Then my dad had a stroke of genius that allowed us to make it happen for the kids.  Pete and I hoped in the car and drove just outside of Lafayette, then we movie faked it in to town on the mountain bikes.  We did this while Pete Sr. took big brother Pete’s bike to nearest bike shop to have them fix whatever I had made worse.  I’m really not a mechanic, I’ll tinker and try and repair something but like my uncle Joe, if I do end up fixing something, there will be (original) parts left over.

As we rode in the front of the school, the children charged us like a mosh pit.  It was an assembly line of high fives and autographs.  Autographs!  Bizarre and lovely, I will cherish those few minutes for the rest of my life.

We snuck back to the car and returned once again to my folk’s house, to begin again properly.  Today was the most important riding day off the trip, personally to both Pete and I.  The hills between Skaneateles and Waterville, New York are the most difficult in the country.  Yes not as high at the Rockies, not as dangerous as the Cascades, but a looming series of arduous, steep knolls that have haunted both of us our whole lives as cyclists.  I rode a short strain from Cazenovia to Cardiff about 26 miles back in May (West to East) on my 29er.  I topped off at a speed< 70 mph down a hill that had taken me 17 minutes to climb the other side.

On the first climb out of Skaneateles, Pete was tight on my rear; I stepped up off the saddle to crank harder as my left foot slipped out of the clip jerking me hard causing me to crash to the pavement in one swift motion.  Pete’s front tire buckled on my mangled bike because he was sharing my line, he ended up in a somersault over me, slamming his shoulder elbow and back to the tarmac.  We both laid there for what felt a lot longer than five seconds, then I got up quickly and moved our carnage from the road way.  The van was coming up and found us on the ground.  Ok but upset, I felt guilty for taking the big guy out, not to mention hurting him.

As the rains grew harder and harder, there we were shivering up and down this beautiful pass, my brakes were so weak, I had to squeeze my the levers to handle bars to actually slow me down, my pads had finally worn and in the rain were now very dangerous.  I love danger, but this is getting stupid.  I couldn’t keep my bike under 40 on these slick roads.  Imagine a burn out, at that speed, well, I was trying not to, but the shimmer on my skinny bald tires held the reminder for me.  So I took of my glasses so I couldn’t really see them all that well.

We had a quick visit with an old college professor of mine and toured his new home.  He was surprised to see us and very generous and happy that we stopped by.  Shortly thereafter I suffered a flat.  My fingers struggled in the icy rain to remove the tire to swap out the tube, so it took even longer to make the repair.  Another endless climb followed as the rains picked up.  Having taken my glasses off, I was starting to get a little dizzy, so to avoid spiking another headache I was riding my head down.

What seemed out of nowhere and for no particular reason I picked my head up just in time to see that I was about to hit a mailbox.  Square in the chest the black plastic farmhouse shaped box broke apart and fell to the tarmac with me. I stayed on the ground for a minute, cursing and kicking my bike into the ditch.  Pete passed me, nobly refraining from laughing in my face.  Angered and even more defeated I did get back up on my bike and continue riding, if not for a few minutes of rightful rage.  My chest thumping anger even scared off a dog that was barking at me.

We make it to Cazenovia and stopped in McDonalds for some delicious fast food and warmth.  Another hour off grey sunless riding remained before we retired for the day. 

Our hotel for the night was the same hotel Pete and I stayed in with our Dad on our bike trip out to Cape Cod back in 1992.  We were wet and grimy then too, except without a chase van so we had to bring our bikes directly into the room.  Sad to say the hotel seemed to have stayed the same, no elevators and difficulty getting around, but the rooms were large and surprisingly relaxing.


Day 47 {Saturday}

Waterville, New York to Albany, New York

111 Miles

Up early and out riding, a little soaker but our new cool weather cloths from Canari arrived at my folk’s house and today they made their protective debut, suspending us from the elements.  There is something costume like wearing these fresh tights, leg warmers and shells.  We were on a hustle today we had to reach Richfield Springs for an interview before lunch and then about 20 miles outside of Albany a group of riders from the New York Bicycle Coalition were going to escort us down to the capital where we were giving a speech at a fundraiser for the NYBC.

Before we could get rolling both our bikes needed some repair.  Fortunately on the annex of an auto body shop was a bicycle repair shop.  For $8 we had Pete’s bike restrung with a new brake cable, my 29er’s disc brakes tightened and my roadie brakes adjusted.  The shop was sweet and the owner/wrench was a character.

Before our typical pbj lunch we met with the reporter and had some photos taken.  Ten miles later I got another flat.  While changing the tire we realized we were running out of time considering the amount of miles we had to make.  In our haste to get back out on the road, Julia left her very expensive tripod on the side of the road, of course we didn’t realize until much later and sent my parents out to retrieve it, while they were rushing to meet us in Albany.

The NYBC folks greeted us with cheers that were very kind, but made me feel uncomfortable, considering they were going to have to wait a little longer because I got another flat.  Julia’s father Len, had driven up from his home outside of Baltimore to ride this spit into Albany with us, got to mount my 29er.

The ride in was pleasant, a lot of good conversation, although I mostly listened.  Len rode hard, perhaps a little harder than necessary.  I felt terrible as he was not all that accustomed to riding a big wheeled bike with a bizarre gear ratio, which kept skipping on him. 

Riding with a group through a city is nice.  People stop and get out of the way, not everybody but most do, it was like Critical Mass, at least what CM was intended to be, not what it has become in a lot of cities, there was no violence or obnoxious cyclist screaming at motorists, just people working together being safe.  The closer we got to the venue for the fundraiser the more riders we gathered.  What an awesome way to close riding in our home state!

Except for my folks not being able to make it, Julia loosing her tripod and not having the proper adaptors for our computers to show the slide show it was an excellent discussion about safety.  It didn’t really feel like I was preaching to a choir, it was far more constructive and positive.  The interaction made me feel far more confident about the mission as a whole.

Our complimentary stay at the Crown Plaza courtesy of Joe Kelly and Lodgian, was just in the shadows of the State Capital building, quite the view!  After a quick shower and change it was off to Chris and his fiancé Mary’s home for a dinner and party.  My parents, Julia’s father Len, Erin’s parents and a few of big brother’s other pals from Albany all hung out and had a nice evening bbq.


Day 48 {Sunday}

Albany, New York

0 Miles

Off day! Julia and I slept in a little.  Well at least until 8 am.  After the party last night Pete went to his home in Glens Falls for a day of relaxation.  Julia and I went out to breakfast with Len and took a short walk around Washington park, which is across the street from the Downtube Bicycle shop where I got my first 29er (the first bike I bought for myself).

After breakfast it was laundry time, of course our luxury hotel couldn’t accommodate us, but our trusty gps did and found us a facility next to a nice and delicious spicy burrito joint.  Since my brother has lived here for many years, I felt like I was somewhat familiar with the city.  In fact I love the city, the presence of government, but also the bohemian sense of metropolis that Albany embodies.  It reminds me of the west village in New York, just reduced to a few blocks.  I applaud Albany for its dedication to bicycle safety and creating an environment of safer road usage.

The ABC affiliate did a really nice story on me, which aired on the 6 o’clock news.

Dinner was in a gorgeous old brewery by the Hudson, excellent food and decent beer.



Day 49 {Monday}

Albany, New York to Springfield, Massachusetts

94 Miles

Morning came far too early.  Our friend David Wilson, the reporter and president of the Westchester Cycle Club drove up from his home in Rockland to ride along a little and finish his interview.

He was very inquisitive taking notes on everything we had in the van, on our bodies, our bikes, Julia’s camera gear and anything he could write about.  He rode with us about 15 miles and ate a few of Erin’s brownies before turning back.

After crossing into our final state the sky cleared as Pete and I retraced some of our steps from our trip with dad to the cape.  Of course we traditionally relived ourselves on the Appalachian Trail, took some photographs in revolutionary war cemetery and did a lot of reminiscing over the last 18 years.

After lunch we really found our groove, the autumn sun was perfect as was the sweet chilly air.  We were really moving, until I lost control of my front wheel and couldn’t correct, I took a super man across the tarmac, tearing off some skin on my knee and elbow.  My jersey ripped away and my Zoic baselayer, sheared off, blood was everywhere.  Pete who happened to be in front of me raced back and the car that was behind me stopped to see if I was ok.  This was my seventh fall and perhaps the gnarliest.   

After a dramatic discussion I was not allowed to ride the remaining 30 miles.  Pete did, as I stayed in the van, dabbing blood and stretching.

Our night’s rest came from another complimentary Crown Plaza and we had an awesome meal at a local Springfield brewery, so today wasn’t all that bad, just painful.



Day 50 {Tuesday}

Springfield, Massachusetts to Boston, Massachusetts

84 miles

The final leg of route 20!  We gave an interview for the Springfield paper in the rear parking lot of a radio station.  I spent the interview changing my cleats and clipless pedals because I suspected my falls had more to do with something mechanical not the hitting of my head like the rest of the team suspects.

Since suffering a concussion I didn’t know I would be prone to them reoccurring all that easier.  Maybe I did black out the last time I don’t recall what had happened, I remember starting to fall and glancing at my speedometer and thinking I’m going too fast for this not to hurt.  Imagine if we could harness that power of thinking in a split second and then of course defy gravity.  Oh well I can dream.

Anyway the riding today was much like yesterday, smooth and comfortable.  Then out of nowhere my hanger breaks… derailleur hanger snaps clean off.  The end of the bike unless I can get or at least find a derailleur hanger for a Raleigh 2008 Cadent FC, while in the middle of Massachusetts, this is not good.  

So I swap the pedals back on my 29er and mount up for the last 60 miles, stopping at any bike shop asking for help.  No luck!  No Raleigh dealers and my contact at Raleigh is away at Eurobike.  It looks like I’m going to have work even harder to finish the trip if even at all.

With everything going on, I’m also suffering from some severe diarrhea and now have to give an interview, suffice to say the majority of it was from a McDonalds bathroom, fortunately for them it was a phone interview.

Pete called in reinforcement and Erin found us Bicycle Bills in Alston, who hooked us up with master frame builder Arnie Mostowy.  Arnie said he would have a look, but we still had to finish the ride first.

The closer we got to Boston the more treacherous the roads became.  It was rush hour, the traffic was scary, and it was close call after close call.  All the years of riding in New York City seem like a walk in the park compared to today.  The drivers in Massachusetts are reckless, irresponsible and downright dangerous, there is nothing redeeming about their driving habits.  For the first and only time on the whole trip and since my accident have I ever been afraid of being on my bike.  I will forever be sickened by the nasty gestures and the disgraceful behavior the drivers of Boston greeted us with. 

All that said we flew into town, riding hard and with our heads down, the rains kicked up and then left us with a crisp and swift tail wind blowing us to the eastern termination of route 20 and the culmination of our dream.

It was surreal rolling to the END ROUTE 20 sign.  All the risky cycling we had done for the past 20 miles had retreated to the back of our minds and now we were filled with elation. A few hundred photos, hugs and cliché phrases we said, but it was a huge wordless sensation to meet the end of the way.

 Post celebration we drove over to Bicycle Bill’s where Arnie greeted us from behind the security door with cracked Budweiser’s and a huge open smile saying, “Welcome to Boston.”

As it turns out Arnie stayed on well after hours for us to turn up.  He took us down to the shop, where there was a frame jig and more tools than I have ever seen in a bike shop.  He never wavered in confidence about fixing my bike, what seemed like out of thin air he eyeballed some measurements and created a new hanger for me.  On top of that he didn’t charge me at all, but did say that it may not last.  As I sit here and edit this two days before Christmas 2008, that piece is still holding my bike together, even after another 1000+ miles of riding.

Despite the terrible drivers in Massachusetts, Arnie and Bicycle Bill’s redeemed a whole city and state. Well, that and another free night’s stay at the Residence Inn.


Day 51 {Wednesday}

Boston, Massachusetts to Marconi Beach, Cape Cod, Massachusetts

105 Miles

Another beautiful sunrise and a never-ending breakfast.  Our last day on the trip, it has not hit me yet.  I racked my brain trying to come up with something profound to say, something enlightening to feel, but I’m overwhelmed.  I have just ridden my bicycle 3466 miles, in 51 days thereabouts.  I have seen things I never imagined.  I put my tire in the Pacific Ocean and drew a line due east to this point.  I don’t want it to end.  I never want it to end.  I have run out of country, out of road and out of time. 

The sun was setting as we road through the National Sea Shore’s winding roadway, as we rounded the final turn and saw my parents, their closest friends the Baules and Erin, with arms raised it was a tough moment.  Down the erosion stairs on to the beach, I didn’t know how to react.  I didn’t know what to do for the film, all the plans seemed to fade, so I mounted my bike and rode right into the water, the icy waves sinking my bike into the soot and I actually couldn’t ride anymore.

I wake up in pain everyday, it hurts me to sit, to walk, to lay down, it keeps me awake at night, keeps me feeling dark all day, all because someone carelessly ran me over one morning nearly two years ago.  It’s because of them, indirectly, that I am here, that I made it across the country.  That day changed my life, physically and challenges me mentally everyday, but I will never allow that to stop me from doing anything I want to, ever.

Part 3

Wednesday, October 29th, 2008


Day 23 {Wednesday}

Chadron Nebraska


Off day!  I needed to get some prescriptions filled, so after breakfast Julia took me over to the pharmacy.  The pharmacist was curious why folks from New York would be in Chadron, so I explained our situation, mission, trip and film to her and she became very sympathetic to me and impressed by our trip. 

When she was calling my doctors and transferring my prescriptions she noticed that my insurance had lapsed by one day (thanks to my employer) and I was going to have to pay out of pocket for all of my medications.  She paid half of one out of her own pocket and got another down to the pharmacy’s cost so it was deeply discounted.  She also called a local clinic and had them give me a sample of my asthma medication to get me through the rest of the trip! 

An incredibly kind gesture of a stranger, I will forever be touched by her.

Julia, Meghan and I traveled to the Badlands via the Pine Ridge reservation, Wounded Knee and Scenic, South Dakota.  We also visited Mt. Rushmore and Crazy Horse before having dinner in Rapid City’s oldest and first microbrewery.

The Nebraska night sky on our way back to Chadron was void of light pollution and it was the clearest of nights.  It was as if we were in outer space, the stars seemed like we could touch them.  I’ve never seen so many planets, satellites and shooting stars, leaving the three of us dazed and awestruck.  I will never forget this night. 



Day 24 {Thursday}

Chadron, Nebraska to Valentine, Nebraska

133 miles

A very long day.  The folks in Nebraska are incredibly friendly.  Perhaps being from the east, these folks are too friendly, albeit annoying with their friendly welcoming.  Every car that passes us, gives us the finger – the index finger greeting including a full on wave, I’m serious every car!  That’s a few hundred a day!  Its as if they’ve never seen a person on a bicycle before.

Pete and I were separated for a good part of the morning, I was tired from yesterday’s long drive and restless sleep.  My legato pace of 30 miles at slow consistent relaxed revolutions, gave me plenty of warm up time and allowed me to follow these huge birds, float above me.  They were majestic, but all black.  I’m no ornithologist, so they were probably raven’s or black crows. 

After our first stop, I let Pete go and grab a 30-minute head start on me.  The problem with Nebraska is that the road has a joint or separation every 100th of a mile in the shoulder.  I have to brace this gap, like a rumble strip, except far worse, the edges are inconsistent and abrupt.  Rolling over them is painful, like injecting a dull knife in my shoulders and lower back.  I tried jumping, which helped and of course looks cool for the film, but after 50 or so times it defeats the purpose and I just felt silly.

So I said to hell with it and road in the (car) lane, the separations having been sealed and run smooth by the heat and weight of car tires. 

Well that lasted a while, at least until I caught back up to big brother Pete.  Which was around mile 70, it had taken me three hours to go those 40 miles to grab him, I was sluggish like mad today. I stopped a couple of times from boredom and wanting to see Julia.  Seeing Julia is a wild card decision, because of the camera’s in my face, not to mention her and Meghan do a lot of chop busting, especially if I (we, being Pete and I) are tired or sore, or hungry or if our water bottles are empty, or if I get a flat.

Anyway Pete and I had a tone of laughs today and as the miles stacked up, the heavier our mile intoxication became.  We surpassed silly and moved on to obnoxious around mile 104, that’s about when his shoe cleat for his pedal came loose, losing its screw somewhere along the way.  Being the crew’s mechanic*, I fashioned a new one for him on the side of the sandy Nebraska highway.  Close enough for government work, I’ll say.

We crossed into Central Time and ended our ride.  Beat tired, I literally fell off the bike onto the grass and waited for the van to catch up so we could get a boost to the hotel.

Our hotel, by the way, wasn’t, the owner who is an awesome fella had booked us on the wrong night.  So he put us up at another far less charming hotel, nevertheless free of charge – he was donating rooms at his place to us because he loves the project.

Valentine, Nebraska, is an up and coming golfing community, with a lot of bars and farmers.  They are expanding their airport to accommodate 747’s, so I bet we see PGA tour events from Valentine in the not so distant future, that and an influx of retiree’s.

*Pearson the mechanic, hunh?  I learned everything from my dad who can fix anything and have parts left over.  It’s that drummer ingenuity in us, we love to tinker especially when something doesn’t make sense.  I should also mention that Julia’s grandfather Leonard showed that anything could also be fixed with duct tape. He repaired the front end of his car with duct tape after a accident on the thruway.  So that inspiration along with a relentless pursuit of puttzing around, I feel I’m confidant that I am the best mechanic in this crew.



Day 25 {Friday}

Valentine, Nebraska to O’Neil, Nebraska

103 miles


We all woke up to rain and clouds.  As we got on our bikes, the skies opened up and the sun warmed us a bit.  Today we passed through our halfway point!

The riding was fine, no flats, and no crashes, nobody trying to kill us today.  Nebraska is endless, rolling prairie.  I kept thinking of Neil Young songs today.  I shouldn’t mention this but yes I occasionally have been listening to my ipod, especially when my mind starts to wonder and my pace dwindles.

We reached half way across the country today – Stuart, Nebraska in the early afternoon and had a bittersweet champagne toast! 

Julia and I had saved the bottle from one of our trips to Epernay in France.  Fitting to pop that cork after toting it nearly 12,000 miles.



Day 26 {Saturday}

O’Neil, Nebraska to Randolph, Nebraska

71 miles

Julia’s birthday!  Sadly, we woke up to a soaker.  The folks at the hotel asked us to sign some autographs, which was an honor but terribly awkward for me, they stopped me to do so while I was trying to hide their candy dish under my shirt. 

I love riding my bike through the rain it’s just those first few miles while waiting to get thoroughly soaked and past the initial chill before it becomes fun.

The rain did give way to a drizzle, but never light enough for us to totally heat up.  After a week of really long days and hard rides, today’s 70 miles seemed like nothing.  The over cast grey sky were so dense and low, it made the rolling vistas seem eerily spectacular.

I of course got a flat, didn’t feel like fixing it so it was on the 29er for the rest of the day, just 25 miles.

At the top of a long climb a dog charged out from behind the only house we’ve come across for in miles, he didn’t bark at us, all he wanted was to run along.  So run he did, probably for 2 or 3 miles, he kept running, like Forest Gump, even long after we were hundreds of yards a head.  I wanted to take him with us.

Our hotel was sad and old, the town, just as sad and old.  The sole restaurant for Julia’s birthday supper was at the gas station on outskirts of town.  So there we went.  It was a packed house, a full restaurant with fair menu, definitely memorable, but not the birthday dinner she deserves. 



Day 27 {Sunday}

Randolph, Nebraska to Sioux City, Iowa

56 Miles

Morning couldn’t come fast enough as the bed I was laying on was doing more harm to my body than resting it.  I snuck out to the van early to fix my tire and ready the bikes.  While shivering from the cold morning and rubbing talcum powder on the new tube, dad the motel proprietor came out to engage me in another escapeless conversation.  He was insisting on me to go into his basement or gimp closet to show me his train set(s).

I kept noticing the eyes of Julia and Pete peer out of the doors of our rooms (cells), worried that if they came out they too would be sucked into his egocentric nonsense.

Eventually we were able to get away, the riding similar to yesterday.  What will forever stain my memory are the unforgiving odors blasting our senses to the point of choking.  I have developed an ability to control my nausea and remain functioning, having kicked different pain narcotics over the last year, but today was an Olympic challenge not let my guts fly.

We passed multiple hog farms, but the clincher, the Mecca of all un-holist of putrid was the 1000 plus cattle farm.  It was the most abominable, suffocating stench that I have ever inhaled.  I knew Julia and Meghan would drive right pass here so I had to dupe them into stopping and getting out so they could get a whiff of this tang.  Pete wussed out on my devious plain and kept on riding, but I stood and waited.  I thought perhaps, I could get used to it for the ten minutes or so it might take for the ladies to catch up, but no, every breeze blew something wicked my way that have altered my nostrils forever.  It’s far worse than any rotten cheese, or flesh, or septic tanks or wet dogs.  Its 1000 or more cows, defecating (for years) and rolling around in it, its not just manure its, well, I simply just don’t have the words. 

Julia did get out of the car and the ghastly look on her face as she began to gag for air, blew me from giggling to feeling terribly guilty that I did this to her, never the less it was hilarious and Meghan’s photos do show that.

Speaking of feces and horrible smells, as we road to the outskirts of Sioux Falls, the city’s wastewater plant is open air, sending out all that dangerous ph into the atmosphere, given the afore written description, I will simply say this; no animal has anything on the smell of a few thousand humans. 

I hope the smells do not get any worse.

We were treated to an awesome dinner courtesy of the Texas Road House in Sioux Falls and are really excited for an off day tomorrow.


Day 28 {Monday}

Sioux City, Iowa


Off day! I hoped to sleep in, but the local CBS station came knocking early for an interview.  Samantha Suttle was the reporter, perhaps the best television story on us so far.  It was the lead story for the 6 and 11 pm news!  So far folks here have been really interested in the mission.



Day 29 {Tuesday}

Sioux City, Iowa to Rockwell City, Iowa

95 miles

Leaving the city was great; I was psyched to finally get out to the Iowa plains.

Good climbs, whirling winds, stunning views and all of the sudden, terrible roads.  There is no shoulder!  It’s a white line, then an abrupt edge dropping off a few inches to gravel, then a few feet to a ditch then corn.  For a state that has so far been very supportive of us and one that boast the yearly RAGBRAI – Registers Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa – I’m very disappointed.

I know that this year hasn’t been good to the folks of Iowa, with the “500” year flood and devastating tornados.  So I’m sure the capitol needed for road repair will be appropriated for the needed aid and rebuilding.  I just hope that they can someday take a look at their roads.

Folks here are reluctantly friendly nothing like Nebraska and the road sharing is not at all desirable.  A lot of dangerous interactions with trucks giving us only a few inches – that is not an exaggeration, its horribly scary and has happened at least a dozen times today. 

Pickup trucks pass us with more room, but small compact cars buzz by us at outrageous and unnecessary speeds.

The sky and landscape are appealing though.  It is really beautiful here.  I love the rolling cornfields and gentleman farms.  The hills give way to superb vistas of literally the curvature of the earth full of farmland, corn and wheat fields.

We were told that the United States is 40% of the world’s corn.  The bulk of the corn here is used as fuel, as it does seem late in the year to still have corn in the fields.

We stopped for a snack at a cross roads and a wind farm.  Being fond of wind farms this was a neat place to take a rest and stretch out.  While there, a school bus passed by and a bunch of young kids sticking their heads out the window, shouting their names and waving.

15 miles down the road I was craving cookies and a bathroom, the van needed some gas so we stopped and coincidentally a crew of the those kids rolled up on their bikes to the same gas station.  They were buying RedBull and Monster energy drinks – Pete and I signed a bunch of autographs and took some cell phone pictures with these awesome kids. 

I was disturbed that none of them were wearing helmets on their dirt bikes, on these god-awful roads.  There is something particularly wrong with that in my mind. 

When we got into town, it was about 6:30 pm.  We took showers and got ready to go for dinner.  We found the only restaurant in town…except it was 7:55 and they close at 8 – they wouldn’t serve us any food.

We were relegated to the Subway at the gas station.  

Then it was back to the smallest motel room Julia and I have ever shared – it also had  a funky scent, partly sweet, partly vomit – its only one night and we’ve stayed in far worse.



Day 30 {Wednesday}

Rockwell City, Iowa to Waterloo, Iowa

122 miles


Damn cold this morning!  When I went to Pete’s room, I found a very sick older brother, shivering.  He had come down with a bad case of food poisoning.

Subway? Maybe.  We got off to a rocky start.  Slow as the wind had kicked up and turned  into our faces.  It was a grey, cloudy ceiling of a day and we had a lot of miles on our plate to cover.  I wasn’t in the best of moods, I despise going slow and the thought of spending 8 hours on the bike, infuriates me, but this wind was killing us.  With Pete being sick, today was going to be uncomfortably long.  I wanted to be done as soon as possible and in a nice hotel room.  When planning the trip, I knew there would be days like this, but it doesn’t mean I want to deal with them.  Plus with Pete being sick.

I was riding hard and out in front of Pete.  When the guilt of not breaking the wind for him rushed over me, I slowed down and heard horn type blasts.  I looked back and saw Pete’s orange jersey with a huge white tractor-trailer directly behind him, like a scene from Duel, the truck was forcefully trying to knock Pete off his bike and off the road.  I stopped, got off the bike and picked a handful of rocks – when the truck neared me, I saw the over weight driver, mouth “What’s your fucking problem?”  I screamed at the top of my lungs every thing I could muster – my pacifist nature took over the rock tossing, which I will never forgive myself for.  I had many wishes to break his windshield and get that lardass hick out of his cab to come down and try and get a piece of me.  He may have gotten me until Pete caught up.

When I reached Pete he was visibly shaken and deeply upset.  This was something I’m not use to seeing in him.  Pete is my older brother, he has always been bigger than me, stronger than me and much more powerful.  To me he’s goliath, incredible physical ability, athleticism and strength.  To see him scared is not normal for me.  For the first time in my life I wanted to beat another human alive for doing this to him.

That of course is not the mission.  We are not on a trip to retaliate to every asshole truck driver we encounter, but for the rest of today, we were out for blood.

Shortly thereafter on an incline the largest John Deer tractor I had every seen, ran us off the road, it looked like a mechanical spider, this is when Pete threw up for the first time.  He said, “well, I guess this is as good a place as any, excuse me….”

The wind and dangerous interstate was getting to me.  My back and knees were screaming in pain, from fighting the wind, so when I could find a place to stretch out, I did.  By this time the van had caught up and Pete went inside for a rest.

Julia, Meghan and I found a park to have some lunch.  I started to feel the first chills of something come over me.  Nausea had started to set in, but I continued to ride.  I rode on to Iowa Falls and found a bike shop to have my bike looked over.  The gearing had been off for a few days and I was getting tired of the skipping.  Well in retrospect this shop owner/mechanic did absolutely nothing to my bike, but over charged me for lubing up my chain and cables, which had nothing to do with the problem.

To make a longer day even longer, our afternoon route was on a series of county roads, as route 20 becomes a non-bike allowed interstate.  The county roads in Iowa are a sweet dirt and gravel combination.  County road 17 is 14 glorious miles of grid cut farmland that as picturesque as the Rocky Mountains, its just dirt and gravel.  Terribly impassable by bicycle, but since I’m an actual maverick, I forced Pete and me on these roads with our road bikes.

The countryside’s relentless beauty kept me from getting discouraged.  We rode until I got a flat.  Being a few miles out of Waterloo we decided to just get in the van and make up the miles tomorrow.  The sunset for lack of words to describe it was heavenly.  Iowa really could be heaven, when the sun is out.

The happiest of all the accidents today was that our hotel didn’t have rooms for us.  We were bumped to the local casino.  Perhaps the greatest and most luxurious hotel any of us had ever stayed in.  Pete had his own room.  Meghan had her own room and Julia and I had a suite, all for free.

Pete went to bed, while the three of us went out to dinner.  During dinner I lost my appetite and started to really feel ill on the drive back to our hotel.  By the time we got up to our room I was completely exhausted and nauseous, not able to keep my eyes open.



Day 31 {Thursday}

Waterloo, Iowa to Dyersville, Iowa

68 Miles

I woke up feeling worse than when I went to bed.  Julie too, she was fighting a migraine.  Pete was feeling even worse and Meghan’s allergies were gaining on her.  With all four of us were hurting, we slept in, considering the miles today were low.  Julia and I went to Starbucks, a true reminder that we were sadly almost back home.

When we got on the bikes, we got off course a little thanks to our failing GPS and found ourselves backtracking through flood ravaged neighborhoods.  It was really striking to see.  The floodwater only recently receded.  On the drive out, Julia and I spent our first night in Iowa City, Iowa.  During our morning exercise we walked through a neighborhood that was still fighting the high waters, it was truly remarkable and disturbing.  I am saddened that people have to live in such horrible conditions.

As we made our way out of town, Pete was feeling a lot better, as I was feeling a lot worse.  I think all these miles each day with only 5 hours of sleep are wearing me out like a wheel without grease.  The humidity today is potent and high adding to my body’s weak achy feeling.  Given that each pedal stroke hurts normally, adding a headache, nausea and the aching, all I want to do is stop riding and go to sleep, even on the side of this road.

We stopped at a gas station to have lunch and the owner came out to chat with us.  A cyclist herself, she rides a badass Bianchi, after we chatted for a little while, she went inside and came back out and handed me some cash to donate to our ride.  Strangers, blow my mind.

At a gas station later on Pete and I decided to stop, use the bathroom and eat some Clifbars.  While I was sitting outside on the walk way with my back against the building I saw a guy finish pumping gas, go inside the store to pay and come back out with a 24oz. can of Busch Beer.  I like a beer here and there, but not as an afternoon snack while driving.  What happens when this guy finishes his tall boy and is driving down a country road where those boys are out on their bikes or Pete and I?  Is it population control? How come he feels that is acceptable behavior and then is afforded the right to vote? 

A few miles out of town, the road was closed, again being true mavericks, we hucked it and went through.  It was awesome to finally be totally alone again.  The traffic has been relentless since Cody, so this was a nice reminder of the vast west. 

Tonight’s motel is in Earlville, rotting flesh is the best way to describe smell that was in the air when we passed the welcome sign.  Our motel was at the end of a dirt road.  This rocky, pothole laden, rutty fire road featured a curve that had a broken down yellow school bus, with folks living in, their dogs and jackass met us at the road.  Pete and I were freaked! It was getting dark and Julia and Meghan were nowhere to be seen.  We thought for sure we were being lead out there to get whacked! 

We did find the motel at very end of the road, the owners were sitting outside on the porch waiting for us.  The motel was actually nice, satellite television offered us nearly 300 channels and there was a full kitchen in every room.  Across the highway (which oddly enough was route 20) was the only NHRA sanctioned concrete drag strip in North America.

We had dinner at the only restaurant in town, Boonies’s!  That was the name, Boonies’s, also the owner’s nickname, Boonie.  The food was good, Pete and I both had the “eyeTalian” chicken sandwich, funny thats how the waitress pronounced it.  Still feeling sick, I couldn’t finish eating, in fact I could only get half down.


Day 32 {Friday}

Field of Dreams

15 miles

Essentially an off day, except I really wanted to ride to the Field of Dreams.  We had to hurry because reporters were meeting us there.  Of course I woke up to a flat tire on my road bike, so it was back on my 29er.  

How come reporters are always early?  Bizarre, they give us a specific time to be ready, but invariably they always turn up at least 20 minutes ahead of schedule.  They were waiting for us in the road.

Despite the interruption our ride in to the park was magical.  I have always wanted to get to the field. I love the film and the story.  I missed my parents today. 

The reporter was very interested and asked excellent questions, so I felt good about this interview. 

I walked into the cornfields, it was a grey over cast humid day, but being there was just incredible.

While in Dubuque we had lunch at a brewery, except no beer was available, they were cleaning their taps.  On a Friday afternoon?  Not a very happy hour.  So then we found the Star Brewery and made our way over there, which was along the banks of the Mississippi.  Beautiful, except they don’t craft beer there, the make wine.  A nice change from all brewery’s, but what really made the Star, stellar were the series of excellent folks there.  One couple, both fans of cycling and veterans of the RAGBRAI really fell in love with our project.  The bar tender’s nephew was also hit by a car on his bicycle, so we all had plenty to talk about. We learned a lot more about the flooding and what was going on politically because of that catastrophe and they asked a lot of insightful questions for us so it was a really great afternoon.

I must mention my favorite part of the Star brewery, their history.  They used to craft, hundreds of different brands of beer there.  During the 70’s they were even contracted by Labbatt Canadian to craft their beer.  In a tribute to Star’s refreshing history they had a display cans from all the brews brewed over the years, it was done with such great detail it was like a Warhol. 

Although Iowa is stunningly beautiful I am excited to see Illinois. 



Day 33 {Saturday}

Earlville, Iowa to Freeport, Illinois

98 miles

Woke up to another day of rain.  Luckily last night on our way back to the motel we stopped and bought some ponchos.  Of course I favored the camo styled rain suite, so that’s what I got.  It was $7.99 verses the brand name rain suite in dark blue for $20.00.  Like my redneck brethren, Camo is the only way to roll.  For safety we did get a couple of bright orange hunting vests.

Rain, rain, rain, as Pete and I got on the cement road, I took a nasty fall off the abrupt edge and properly tore muscles and tendons in my left wrist!  It hurts terribly bad.  I had to ride most of the day with one hand.  I bent the front brakes and rear wheel.  My cycle computer also broke off

We did finally cross the Mississippi today into Illinois and instantly I’m in a better mood.  Still it was hard to hold the bike with my left hand, so it’s really just resting on the handle bar or in my lap.

The climbs into Galena were monstrous.  Rather shocking as we haven’t had an extended climb in a whole state, but a certain welcome change for me.  There are always two sides to a climb and on this way down I reach 37 mph into the beautiful town of Galena.  We stopped and had lunch in front of some colonial homes that were painted these vibrant brilliant colors, it reminded me of up state New York and New England.  Today there is a canoe/kayak race, which paddles right through town, how cool is that.

This place in particular really made me wish there was more time to see and feel all of the beautiful places we’re passing through.  Its a strange tease, to come across a town, you’ve never been before, especially by bike.  I’m afforded an excellent perspective on these new places and its contours, in far greater detail than car or even walking.  Invariably there’s always that pang, the realization that I can’t stay long, because around the corner is another new adventure.  Well, today, I want to put a pause on the adventure and rest for a while.  I will come back here.

On the climb out of town, I slowed my roll and let Pete pass me.  I was feeling really drained, I caught up with the van and packed my pockets with a Hershey bar, a Clifbar, twizzlers and a Gatorade.

Another climb came and for the first time on this trip I was going really slow, struggling to climb, when I reached the top I stopped completely.  I got off my bike and feeling exhausted and achy, I walked around a little, ate the candy and the Clifbar, finished the Gatorade and started to feel a little better.  So I got back on the bike.  I was hoping I could catch Pete.  As I was picking up the pace and telling myself I was over the bonk and feeling better, nausea came over me and started zapping all of my momentum.  I kept surging, and telling myself I’m not sick, I don’t have a headache, I can ride through this.

As the day wore on, the further behind I got.  Totaling 12 miles.  I ended up riding 98 miles, with a badly damaged arm and a raging stomach.  Julia shut me down at 7pm.  The clouds on the setting sun made me seem invisible on the road.  Pete had already made it to the hotel.  With occasional truckload of hecklers shouting out the window while passing me and blasting their horns to try and get me to fall, the narrow shoulder and darkness, I got off the bike and hopped in the van.

Dinner was awesome, a true Italian restaurant.  It was delicious, although still feeling bloated and nauseous, I forced all the meat and bread I could fit.  Even took it back to the hotel, to eat a few more bites.  Not the best move as I threw it all up.


Day 34 {Sunday}

Freeport, Illinois to Chicago, Illinois

99 Miles

A morning interview got me out of bed far too early.  My health is not good today.  Vomiting and far too much time spent in the bathroom.  I forced a cinnamon bun down my throat to keep from passing out in front of the reporter, although I almost did.

I couldn’t get on the bike, so Pete put on his poncho and rode off in the rain alone.  I promised to catch him.  After he left, I went back to the room to vomit and force myself to get pumped up for riding.  I am exhausted.  I am scared that I’m not going to be able to do this today.  Again, my rear tire is flat, with my left hand swollen like softball, both Julia and Meghan had to help me work in the new tube and re-seat the tire. 

Some more bouts’ of nausea and it was not looking good for me to get on the bike.  I sat in the back seat of the van as we started to make our way to out to catch Pete.  Beside myself, in pain, frustrated with anxiety, I sat in the back feeling like a weakling.  A quitter.  A pussy.  We stopped at a CVS to get some medicine and I spoke with some folks about the mission, our ride and what we were doing there in this horrible rain.  The rains were coming up from gulf coast storm, hurricane Ike.  I kept singing Jimmy Webb’s track, Galveston, over and over in my head, hoping everyone is ok down there and his song doesn’t come true, again.

We caught up to big brother at a Taco Bell.  He was shivering and soaking wet.  I started to feel better and was eating some Saltine Crackers and sipping flat coke. 

A little further on down the road, I got out the van and forced myself on the bike.  Wrapped up in the Poncho and my tights, I road and caught up with Pete at a McDonalds about 40 miles out of Chicago.  Getting on the bike weak was the best thing I did.  I was amped up and feeling considerably better.  The cool air rain washed away the bulk of any illness I was suffering.  Meghan gave me some of her fries and we rode on.  It was fun and I was trying hard not to let my disappointment distract me from this great ride we were having.  It was a blessing to be able to get back on the bike.  It felt as if I wouldn’t be able to ride, but when I got back in the saddle it was very special.  Today was an incredible day so far.

As the clouds started to fade away we got much closer to the city of Chicago.  Then out of the blue the road became a dangerous highway, so that’s when I decided that its best to not get hurt again, we’re done for today.  Pick it up on Tuesday.

Our drive to our hotel took another two hours.  The flooding was surreal.  Suburbs, apartment buildings, parking lots were all underwater.  We had to drive through a causeway only to find that the road we needed no longer existed.  As we turned around we drove through an abandoned neighborhood, fresh homes with boarded up windows and no lights on, a hundred or so.  Strange seeing eminent domain in 2008 being used and for what, to expand a runway?

Our hotel was super fancy.  The Crown Plaza.  The bed, sweet, Pete stayed at another hotel with Erin who was in town.  Julia, Meghan and I went into the city to find, the Great Lakes brewery.  We did, while walking down the street we came upon Wrigley Field!  A huge moment for me, I love baseball.  I was brought up a Yankee fan, but the Cubs have a similar devotion of followers, so I loved seeing this historic building and on the same night Zamrbino pitched a no hitter. 

I actually ate dinner too!  It was fun, I didn’t drink beer, save for their homemade root beer.  It was a relief to be feeling better, except my swollen hand and wrist. 

Being out here and seeing a new place every day, is an amazing indescribable feeling.  I am incredibly lucky to be doing this.  To reminisce on how I got here, from a stranger running me over, is amazing.  I’m a long way from my walker.  Its not that original to ride a bicycle across the country but, to be here in Chicago via Portland, via bike, despite everything that has happened, I am very lucky and forever grateful to everyone that has helped get me here.






Timeline 2

Thursday, October 16th, 2008

Here’s a second look at my thoughts.



Day 9 {Wednesday}

Boise, Idaho to Fairfield Idaho

101 Miles

The state of Idaho is breathtaking! As route 20 merged with interstate 80, I elected to not ride it and follow our gps through 40 miles of circuitous dirt road. 

Today was so beautiful.  We had wind in our favor!  I held an average of 31 mph (Thanks to the wind, by the way the peloton at the tour de france this summer averaged 33 mph, with wind in their faces too! So it’s nothing for the pros but for me it was a very sweet taste).  It was awesome!  I have never felt as free.  The roads were excellent and the sky behind the mountains, surreal.

There were hundreds of crickets dancing onto my legs, some sticking and breaking my skin others committing suicide by slamming their bodies into tire walls of the van that was rolling next to me. 

There is so much to sing about how amazing today was!


At the corner of town we saw a sign for DollarHide Bike shop – of course we had to stop in and hang with owner/pro rider Dave Harrison.  He hooked us up with ReddRox recovery drink and a couple of ReddRox bottles. 

For a town populated with 396 people this is one progressive shop.



Day 10 {Thursday}

Fairfield, Idaho to Butte City

92 miles

For the second day the wind in our backs helping us race through Picabo and on to Craters of the Moon National Park.  What an otherworldly place – I can’t wait to return.

After lunch the winds crossed us, making the climbing treacherous.  Then I got another flat.

After spending an hour at Craters, I decided to forego fixing the flat and hopped on my 29er* for the rest of the day.  About 28 miles. 

We reached Arco, the first city to be powered by atomic energy – Arco is more or less 20 miles west of the INL (Idaho National Laboratory, the nucleolus of Nuclear energy) mid way through town I noticed another flat brewing in the rear tire of my 29er.

I rode the remaining four miles to Butte city on the rim.  Two flats, two bikes, one day.

*29er – my beloved mountain bike that has 29 inch wheels (A birthday present on my 29th from Julia) traditional mt. bikes roll 26” wheels and a road bike is roughly 27.5” or for those who this matters to 700c.  My road bike is 700X25 & Peter’s is 700X32.



Day 11 {Friday}

Butte City Idaho to Sugar City, Idaho

95 miles

Our hotel – the Holiday Inn Express (Courtesy of Lodgian) is in Idaho Falls, 33 miles west, so we had to drive back to Butte City to resume the cycling.  During the return trip we saw the remnants of the previous nights brush fire, amazing.

The riding was rough.  The wind shifted to our faces, as much as it helped the past two days, today it was hurting.  I started off far too strong, the pain scaring me, I rode 17 miles to our first stop and stretched out on the asphalt until Pete, Julia and Meghan arrived.  Pete didn’t want to stop for long as Erin was flying this afternoon.  I stuck around the INL rest area to learn about the three volcanic buttes surrounding the 900 square mile facility that is currently working to harness Geothermal Energy.

Pete broke away from the ride/filming to spend the afternoon catching up with Erin (Erin Mattson his girlfriend).  A rather happy accident for Pete because I ended up getting lost and riding at least 20 miles off course, during that meandering hour I did find the inspiration to test the PAT.

As I rode the last few miles of the day on the interstate I hopped back on my 29er, and watched the setting sun baste the peaks of the Grand Tetons off in the distance in a brilliant Red – an another personal spiritual moment that I will never forget.



Day 12 {Saturday}

Sugar City, Idaho to West Yellowstone, Montana

77 Miles

After yesterday’s long ride I wasn’t feeling that well, along with the endless teams of obnoxiously loud motorcycles passing us, I was wearing down fast.

Despite my weakness the vast mountain range and starch white clouds were the appropriate crescendo to the West Yellowstone gateway, lifting my spirits.

I was so proud to cross the continental divide and as I did, Julia saw a grizzly bear cross the road behind me. 

This morning Pete, Julia and I gave a television interview which was excellent except for the spelling of my name: Pierson Constantine?  At least the message was there.  This makes me curious because when she started the interview as all reporters do, I have to say and spell my name.



Day 13 {Sunday}

Jackson Hole, Yellowstone National Park &

0 miles – off day!

We left Idaho Falls and had a nice drive to Jackson Hole – met with Julia’s father Len, his wife Lisa and her father John – who had rented a house in Gardiner, Montana, to spend a few days with us and see the park.

Driving through Yellowstone was incredible, the thermal features, the wildlife, plus knowing Yellowstone Lake is the epicenter of the Caldera that formed this part of the country really fascinates me.

I want to come back on a motorcycle – maybe a snow cat during its closed winter months to avoid the rows of RV’s and tourists.



Day 14 {Monday}

West Yellowstone, Wyoming to Yellowstone Lake

60 miles

The biking today wasn’t so smooth for me – in the middle of my back I had a muscle spasm, which radiated down my right side, so I slowly got off the bike and stretched out in the van for a while.

After having lunch and taking in a walk around a massive thermal feature, I felt better and was back on the bike for some climbs and of course, I got lost again.  The search party was out as I was all by myself, rolling in the complete wrong direction, (I was having an incredible time by the way) south towards the Grand Tetons.  With no cell phone service, I think the panic of the crew was thick.  Eventually Julia found me about 8 miles off course – which I had to make up and catch Pete.  I did and we rode for another 12 miles or so.  Then I fell asleep in the van back to Gardiner.



Day 15 {Tuesday}


0miles – Off day

The pain kept me off the bike today, except for a short spin around Gardiner this morning with Julia, which was just enough time for me to get another flat on my 29er.

We took advantage of having our own tour guide in Yellowstone today (Meghan worked there for a few summers during her college days) and saw this remarkable park from an insider’s perspective.



Day 16 {Wednesday}

Yellowstone to East Yellowstone, Wyoming

56 miles

Meandering around Yellowstone Lake, with favorable winds, me and Pete sailed above the shoreline of Yellowstone Lake until we reached a pack of Bison.  Bison’s apparently charge cyclists, so we were told to gingerly engage these beasts standing along the tarmac. Being brothers, Jackass’ and lovers of all things dangerous, we steered into the pack at full steam, both of us running the big ring at about 34 mph.  I was eating an apple, which I planned to use, as a peace offering with any massive herbivore should they feel an inclination to wrestle with me.  No problems with the Bison just a passing car, the driver not paying enough attention running us into to even greater danger – but we survived and giggled until the van caught up with us.

The water breaking along the shore of was black with volcanic sediment as we began our ascent on Sylvan Pass.  I felt the need to attack the pass, I felt weak for being in pain the day before so I broke away from Pete and went as hard as I could.  I don’t think I could have rode as hard if it wasn’t for the cool crisp day, our thermometer was 49 when we reached the top of the pass. 

Our way down was eight miles of beautiful curved descending! I kept it under 40 mph, the wind was too strong and curves too unforgiving for any faster.  I wore the helmet camera and the footage is wild.



Day 17 {Thursday}

Yellowstone East Entrance to Emblem, Wyoming

85 miles

We got to run Sylvan Pass one more time – so we actually started back in Yellowstone for another run of those eight miles.

Pete was so nervous that I was going to do something crazy, like not brake to see if I could beat my speed record.  I didn’t but I did feel like just running off the edge and seeing how far I could sail over the ravine.

Shoshone forest is beautiful.  Huge red rock cliffs cut just wide enough for the road to have a shoulder so a cyclist could roll past and feel the earth.

A few miles down the pass out of Yellowstone we began to see smoke from a series of wildfires, the closer we got to Cody, the fires grew.  This particular fire is called the Gunbarrel fire, at the time we passed, it was 13% contained and had been started by lighting.  It had injured three fire jumpers and gobbled up hundreds of acres of forest.  The projected extinguish date wasn’t until mid to late October. 

There were two positive outcomes of this fire, one; it had burned off old fire logs and waste from previous burns, thus protecting it from future fires.  Two; allowed us the incredible experience of riding through the most amazing canopy of smoke for nearly, 70 miles.

Our hotel was in Cody but our stop point for the day was 30 miles east, in Emblem.  So we stopped, checked into the hotel and had lunch before finishing the day.  While eating pbj’s and drinking a shiner bock in the parking lot the winds shifted from southeast, to northwest, which meant the next 30 miles were going to be a battle.

As we left town, the winds were gaining strength.  Feeling anxious and overwhelmed again, I attacked and broke away from Pete.  I got way out in front and left him, not a good thing to do to your cycling partner, ever.  Feeling guilty but was overzealous I wanted to get out into the nothingness as soon as possible – once I was there I was struck by the emptiness of the pure wild void.

Aside from the van maybe a dozen cars went by me in the 26 miles I was alone out there, I saw groups of wild horses and prawnhorns and miles of rocky useless earth.

We reached Emblem, Wyoming, population 10 around 6pm.  An awesome day of riding!



Day 18 {Friday}

Emblem, Wyoming to Thermopolis Wyoming

90 miles

With wind in our faces all day, plus 110-degree heat, this was not a fair day.  I got a flat tire before lunch and rode on it until we could find a tree to pull over and repair it under.  Of course the tube I put in the tire had a ruptured valve that went unnoticed until after it was seated on the rim and I was trying to pump air into it.

Two flats and massive frustration, I decided to ride my 29er for a while.  Later on we did manage to fix the flat and make it to Thermopolis, before sunset.

The temperatures changed erratically.  On one decent alone it went from 101 degrees to 89 degrees in the matter of a few hundred feet, it was wild and disturbing.

Julia had to put on a sweatshirt, not only to avoid the mosquito’s but because she was shivering, in golden sunlight.


Dinner was at a bowling alley, the only thing open, but to order we had to use a telephone at the table, which went directly to the kitchen.  Our hotel had an open gun and knife display, dozens of game heads and a natural spring fed pool.

We stopped at a drive through bar/liquor store to fix the second flat.  Folks would drive up and a glass of beer would be brought out to the driver while sitting in the driver’s seat, engine on, to wait while a six-pack or a case of whatever was put in the bed of the truck. 

We passed an airplane graveyard.

We saw a few dozen Haliburton trucks and Oil rigs.

I ate four blow pops in a row on the bike, one after another and did not drop any trash along the roadway.



Day 19 {Saturday}

Thermopolis, Wyoming

0 miles

Off Day! Julia and I slept in a little before taking a walk into town.  Well, the town was basically closed for labor-day weekend with only a few shops open.  We also celebrated our First year wedding anniversary with one of the bottles of wine Jeff and Patti Evans had given us.

Pete took a dip in the natural hot springs with a gaggle of strangers, who should have been more covered. 

I got schooled on a unicycle by a 13 year old.

One of the waiters at the restaurant was 8 years old and I put him on my 29er for a spin around the block, he was a sweet kid.  His mom who is younger than me owns the restaurant and an Oil Rig and four other children.



Day 20 {Sunday}

Thermopolis, Wyoming to Casper, Wyoming

138 miles

The first 30 miles today were through Wind River canyon.  Pre Cambrian era rocks that absolutely blew our minds, we took it super slow to absorb this incredible place we’re in.

At the southeast end of the canyon is a man made reservoir, a flooded mountain range.  With depths of 2500 feet, it felt like we were on another planet.  This beautiful lake was open and natural, not disrupted by endless mansions or pathetic state parks like I’m used to seeing in the northeast.  I was amazed and psyched to be there.  We were flying too, about 25 mph, straight into Shoshoni.

After a brief stop it was 90 miles of no towns, no gas stations, complete void until we reached the outskirts of Casper.  One hell of a ride!  With a southeast wind, we were moving about 25 to 28 mph.  Awesome!  I loved today.

Despite the occasional rifle shot, I felt alone with the road.  The overcast low ceiling of clouds sheltered this beautiful landscape that is marred by the history of the Sand Creek Massacre.

The miles caught up to us towards the end of the day, right before we got lost looking for the hotel. 

I snatched the gps out of the van and lead the team myself. 


Well only one really, we say the young mother/owner of the restaurant from the night before at the gas station in Shoshoni and the little boy who ripped up my 29er back on the streets of Thermop! 


Day 21 {Monday}

Casper, Wyoming to Lusk, Wyoming

108 miles

Rain, our first day of getting wet, after a brief stop in Glenrock at the gas station we, meet the Mayor who urged us to get on the mountain bikes and ride the short cut that’ll link us back up with (non-interstate) route 20, Tank Farm Road.

It was awesome.  The road was part of an open range where cattle and steers roamed.  Pete and I loved it.  There were bullet holes on every sign, mailbox and fence.

When we got back to tarmac, we swapped the heavy 29er and Opie (The name of my other all black stump jumping mountain bike) for our roadies.  Just then the sky’s opened up a deluge and crushed us with icy cold rain.  We road about 6 miles and stopped for an early lunch to dry off and change into warmer clothes. 

It took me and Pete a good hour to heat back up, as we rode further into the afternoon the sky became black, except for a growing glow of golden setting sunlight behind us.  It was like nothing I had ever seen before on any landscape in the world.  My weak sentence structure does not do this incredible experience justice.  It really gave me a sense of doing this trip and what it means, something I had been missing, while always being concerned about speed, keeping up with the schedule, the interviews, speaking about safety – this was an awesome moment, the kind of experience I had hoped I would have.

Pete and I rode tight together, he was feeling a bonk and it was too dark for us to be separated, until he got out in front of me to race a freight train.

The darkness over took us so we had to stop a little outside of our destination. 

Our anniversary dinner was at a truck stop and featured chicken fried steak and flat root beer.


One of our detours today was a soggy road named Pearson.

Pete who vowed never to wear them, wore his tights today!

Pete who is the son of an incredible Italian chef, had a meatball sub at Subway today.

Despite my fear of dairy I had an awesome gas station Cappuccino for $1!


Day 22 {Tuesday}

Lusk, Wyoming to Chadron, Nebraska

100 miles

 We started were we left off last night – adding to today’s miles, but the sun is out and the cool crisp air is wonderful.

Our lunch stop was in the last town on Route 20 East in Wyoming called Van Tassell, population 14, well today 18.  We discussed politics for far too long, we’re all concerned about any further damage to this country we are so deeply in love with.

The wind carved silver rocks were stunning and again the train engineers were as friendly today as last night!  I think Pete hugged the welcome to Nebraska sign. 

Our groove was odd today, the wind was whirling around, sometimes helping, sometimes hurting and just completely strange, during one climb it helped me maintain 23 mph up a 3% grade.  Perhaps that has more to do with the curvature of the road but nevertheless awkward.

On the last climb to Chadron, the roads were littered with debris, jagged rocks and broken glass, being a little out in front of Pete I didn’t hear the car load of good ole boys heckling him trying to knock him off his bike.  It saddens me that that is the nature of some people.


At the onset of town there was a man in a mobilized wheel chair with the word AWOL on the back of his seat, riding directly in the shoulder and blocking Julia’s shots.  There was a car in front of him as well, terribly bizarre.  I have a personal rule never to engage crazy or go to a second location with a hippie, which is why I didn’t even bother to ask him what he was about.  I do not consider that a loss.

Our hotel was the Bunkhouse, for the first time Julie and I watched a program called redneck wedding on the country music channel and laughed hysterically, waking up the folks in the room next to us.

Dinner was the largest burrito I’ve ever had.  It was smothered with a Pork Verde sauce.  How come Nebraska has the best Tex-Mex I’ve ever had?  Even on our way out, Julia and I stopped in Lexington, Nebraska and had the best, no holds barred, Mexican food ever.

Another interesting sideline about Lexington, Nebraska; while taking a walk after dinner a nicely dressed fella on a bike who hardly spoke English, rode by and kiddingly said to us among other things, “hey, I ride my bike all the way to Boston, Massachusetts, You?”  Well yes my friend, I have and will be doing so again in a few days.  He was too drunk to ride in a straight line and shortly there after skidded and almost fell.

Nebraska.  More to come.

Timeline Part 1

Thursday, October 9th, 2008

So below are my personal journal entries.  I think in run on sentences and tangents and have left all of them in.  Some of my grammar has been checked but not much.  I have purposely left things out to leave room for the film – to tell them in full color.  

This is our first week – I will post the next few in the coming days.  Transitioning back to a ‘normal’ life is not always smooth.

Thanks – 

Pearson (thursday 10.9.08. 8pm, new york)





Day 1 {Tuesday}

Newport, Oregon {Pacific Ocean} to Sweet home, Oregon

85 miles

Wake up 3:45 am – drive to Pacific coast, we soaked our tires at sunrise and road due east to the beginning of United States Route 20.

The first mile of route 20 is up hill, our energy and mood was exceptionally high, the cameras were rolling and the wheels were spinning all with hopes and thoughts of an incredible adventure.

The first 50 miles through the Cascade’s beautiful knolls opened me up comfortably.  At lunch we gave an interview for the Corvallis paper and then it was off to Sweet Home.

Along the way we saw three controlled burn forest fires & Julia got dusted with hideous cow dust.  Our skin baked in the sun and our rumps wore raw in our saddles but it was a beautiful first day.

Today is also my 30th birthday! So the team treated me to an ultra spicy Thai dinner & a dq blizzard.  Before this trip I had never had a blizzard, as I am lactose intolerant or as Julia would tell you, afraid of dairy.  My brain, body and taste buds aligned nicely so I could enjoy that creamy cold sugar delight.


At a gas station when I was putting air in the tires we obliged the gas station attendant’s cell phone photos of the Empire State building that he’d taken while a chaperone for his son’s school trip to our home city.  He did go on to say that his cell phone was as sophisticated a camera as Julia’s hdv – the one she was filming this scene with.  Some people say some incredible things.



Day 2 {Wednesday}

Sweet Home, Oregon to Bend, Oregon

97 miles

6500 feet of elevation

Being sore from a week of driving west and the subsequent van lag associated with that, not to mention a day of running around making final preparations and giving a speech in Eugene add another day riding 85 miles makes day 2 perhaps the hardest of our trip.

It was 40+ miles of climbing.  Unexpected too!  The meandering roads tricked us into thinking we were near the summit when actually we were miles from it.  The grade kept getting worse (2% to 4.5% to 6% to 7% to 9%).  Tack on the heat of the day and we were in serious trouble.

Pete and I got separated, our bodies responding differently to the elevation, heat and riding. 

When I was above the 6500 feet mark, cutting through the high desert the spectacular sunset lit up the sky behind the three sisters of the cascades capping off a truly special and unforgettable day for me.


We needed to reach Bend, in time for a scheduled interview on the evening news.  Sadly on our way into town a local resident and well-known cyclist Keith Moon was struck and killed by a car while cycling in the municipal bicycle lane.  He was not wearing his helmet at the time – which of course is ironic.  

The interview took place the next morning.  I am saddened by Keith’s tragic and unnecessary death.  As the evidence has come out his helmet may have saved him, but its really the woman driving the SUV, if she hadn’t hit him he may still be out riding as you read this…months later.


I ran into a fella riding his bike and struggling with about 150 pounds of gear up Tombstone Pass.  I stopped to talk to him and he quilted me into helping him carry the heavier of his bags on my back for a few miles.  Thankfully Julia and Meghan drove by, saw me straining under the weight and stopped to help me unload.  We put his bike on the roof and they drove him to the campsite he was trying to reach.  He was rather opportunistic and didn’t have an issue getting us to oblige him despite our mission and goals.


Our waiter at dinner had an uncanny knack for working the word killer into almost every sentence.  For example, “Could I have some ranch dressing?” “Killer.”



Day 3 {Thursday}

Bend, OR

0 miles – day off!

We gave two interviews today, about the long bike back mission and film for the local television news and radio.

We went to the Deschutes Brewery and had an awesome tour and delicious free beer.

Needing my bike to stop skipping gears under the pressure of my cranks I found Hutch’s Bicycle shop – the good folks there repaired my bike for free and gifted me with a water bottle, albeit a slightly used one.

Hutch’s was also our meeting point with Jeff Evans a local cyclist who heard about our project and was also recently clobbered by a car, shattering his tibia.  Jeff and I have some commonalities; overcoming pain and a deep love for cycling, we instantly got close.

Along with Jeff’s wife Patti and daughter they took us out to an awesome dinner and gifted us two incredible bottles of wine, one to celebrate Julia’s and I first year of marriage and another to uncork at the termination of our journey.



Day 4 {Friday}

Bend, Oregon to Riley, Oregon

118 miles

Well, the unexpected high desert almost ate us alive.  The thermometer relentlessly rose to 114 degrees.  As we rode into the desert nothingness the winds shifted into our faces, slowing our roll from 19 mph to 12mph for the rest of the day.  It was a nine-hour ride; our skin became leather and the water in our bottles boiling, instead of cooling our bodies.


Our lunch stop was in a town called Brothers, population 10.  The only building in town was a combination saloon, jail, a post office and general store.  The four of us had a picnic.

A vulture followed Pete and I along a telephone wire for a few hours, circling overhead wishing our deaths.  The road became a line-less gravel highway with endless vista’s of brunt earth and liquid heat reflecting over the soft loose stone for miles, a remarkable and unforgettable experience. 

The sun gave way to another surreal setting as we ended in Riley – a town that consisted of a single pump gas station that housed a general store and taxidermy shop. 

Today was my first post accident century plus ride.



Day 5 {Saturday}

Riley, Oregon to Juntura, Oregon

The wind picked up, according to NOAA 17 mph west, to southwest, which means in our faces.  Which also means we had to pedal twice as hard to go the same distance.  If yesterday was painful, today is an iron maiden.  The heat even hotter, the road far crueler, more stones, more glass, more pop bottles full of urine and chew spit, more dead carcasses and more SUV’s grazing us over the white line.

I fell for the first time today.  Pete made me laugh which caused me to lose control and get caught in the loose stones.  Oh and I also got my first flat today.  The stiffness of the fresh Vittoria tire made it almost impossible to remove it from the rim to get to the blown tube.  As I worked, the 113-degree sun burned my right leg.  Having changed dozen’s of tires, I was shocked at how long this was taking me causing me to get even more upset.

As we rode further into the nothingness, we reach the foot of Stinking Water pass.  So beautiful, it was a series of considerable climbs that gave way to incredible descending and a wonderful panoramic of the desert floor.  I will go back there someday.


Richard – a bike a shop owner with more fingers than teeth, had never seen a carbon bike before and was not at all impressed.  His shop had an amalgam of old mass produced junkers with florescent paint jobs and abandoned bicycle-esq type creations.  He showed me his project bike, which I think I’ll refrain from describing for you – we can all wait for its grand unveiling together! 

On the other hand he did show me a 1972 Raleigh with all original parts (I think tubes and tires too!) told me for $300 it was mine.  He did have some old school aero bars, which I considered buying from him, well only for about 14 seconds.



Day 6 {Sunday}

Juntura Oregon, to Vale Oregon

85 miles.

Well we didn’t actually make it Juntura last night, so we had to make up some miles today.  We opened nicely with some incredible descents I was pumped and rolling, reckless and free.  I was spinning at 24 to 27 mph, the wind giving me some love for once.

There were a few nasty climbs, but nothing like Wednesday.  Once we reached Juntura I had to switch tapes on my helmet camera, so Pete took off into the desert, alone.  He was pumped because today we were following the Snake River all the way to Vale, so he felt more secure.

When I left, I became instantly aware of the serene loneliness of 108 degrees heat, the volcanic buttes and left over burnt earth.  The wind was in my face again and draining my fresh legs and good mood.

When I reached Pete, he had gone through the three liters of water in his Camelbak and was feeling the terror of his first ever bonk.  I feared water intoxication as he quivered from the lack of sugar in his system and the over heating.  When the van caught up, we got him inside and cooled him down.  He took a few miles off and joined me later on down the road when the sun was far lower in the sky.

To tell you honestly about today you need to picture part of this country with no actual town for over 60 miles, all empty useless land.  Route 20 is cut through mountains that look liked those photographed from Mars, all orange, jagged, rocky and full of nothingness.  It was brutally hot and unforgiving but, private and spiritual. I was alone with the earth.

Onions are the main crops in Vale – apparently between Vale and parts of Idaho 20,000 acres of onions are grown.



Day 7 {Monday}

Vale, Oregon to Boise, Idaho

86 miles

Well we stayed in particularly old motor lodge.  Lacking an Internet line or a clean shower, but did feature a small working fridge that kept my soymilk and icepacks cold.  Julia and I got up early, she took a walk and I went for coffee.  The locals were particularly curious of my clothing – which yielded much wasted time on uncomfortable small talk, I think people sometimes forget that people are humans and not alien specimens that require probing and inquisition, to understand them.  Sometimes I dig that awkward attention; at least it affords me the chance to talk about the mission and why we’re there making this film.

When we rode out town, Pete lost control and swerved into the road. directly in front of rancher.  The white stetson’d hat cowboy had no trouble yelling at Pete about how important it is to stay tight to the side of the road.  It was a touching moment seeing this good ole boy, driving a pickup with a gun rack, telling big brother Pete how not to “git his-self kilt.”  Yeehaw!

We stopped in Nyssa Oregon, directly on the border of Idaho and on the banks of the Snake River, to speak with a chamber of commerce representative and learn about the town’s slow introduction of bicycle lanes.

Then I got a flat.  I was able to fix it quickly, eat a PBJ and get out of Oregon

Pete and I had good wind, so we rode together for most of the day at 23 mph and sometimes a lot faster, which was great for me.  Speed is one thing I strive for, even when climbing, I love it, I love the way my bike sings.  The carbon whistle of this machine is one of a kind.


Ok so it was still ridiculously hot today, we had to detour a little and got separated from the chase van.  I was still concerned about Pete’s low sugar so we stopped often to get more food in him.  At one stop a Schwan’s truck pulled up and an obese man stepped out and told us how badly he missed his bike and cycling in general.  He told us of all the century rides he used to take up the buttes in and around the truly beautiful setting that surrounds Boise.  He reached in his truck and handed us ice cream sandwiches, ice cream.  Well, I ate Pete’s too!

Ok the Macaroni grille.  So one of our supporters is the Macaroni Grille.  They gave an allowance to spend at their restaurants around the country.  Boise is our first chance to take advantage of their generous support.  The four of us ordered what we wanted and as the food came to our table there was asparagus on Meghan’s plate.  She loathes asparagus something she told our waiter during the ordering I of course forked all that green goodness before the plate was taken away.  When her steak returned, green veggie free, it was obviously over cooked. so back to the kitchen it went. {Please bare in mind all four of us has made our livings at one time or another in a restaurant – Pete; a chef, Meghan an expeditor, Julia and I both servers} On try three the steak was gravely undercooked.  Since the M. Grille has an open kitchen we heard the plate the thrice, returned dish explode and some yelling.  The manager delivered the fourth properly cooked steak and offered us free desert and coffee.  It was hilarious! Meghan is not that particular, it was just a rather enjoyable interaction that I felt worthy of writing about.



Day 8

Boise, Idaho


0 miles – off day 2!


So no miles today, but a need to have my bike worked on again rose.  My wheels have slightly worn out of true after putting over 1000 miles on this bike since becoming mine in July, anyway it needed a good overhaul. 

I found Pederson’s Bike shop and the wrench there; Michael Wiser hooked both bikes up with a full tune up.  Michael is a young pro-wrench that has a bright future in the bike world.  Not to mention a decent racing record.  The shop is truly lucky to have his skills, and he deserves a stiff raise.

Our hotel had a gas grille so big brother/master grill man Pete fired some burgers, corn on the cob and Idaho taters – too much food, but a ton of fun.

Julia and Meghan convinced me to get out my guitar and join big brother Pete for a few jams, it felt good to feels the vibrations of my guitar against my chest, it has been a few weeks since I made music so this was a special sunset treat.

The Silver Spur

Sunday, August 17th, 2008


Oregon! OR the whole state is perhaps one of the most dynamic places I’ve been; Sunday: big city, Monday: ocean, Tuesday: ocean & mountains, Wednesday: mountains and lava lakes, Thursday: great beer & incredible people, Friday: high desert & badlands (head winds) and Saturday: horrible winds, high heat and desert mountain ranges.
Yesterday we traversed 106 miles of the high desert from Bend to Riley passing through Brothers, which has a population of 10 hearty soles.  The head wind was as potent as the 110 degree heat baking our skin. 
I have never been in the desert, never heard a rattle snake and since last Saturday I have seen three and heard many.
This evening I’m sitting outside our hotel in the only town for 127 miles – Burns.  I can not believe that there is this much open space in our country, its amazing.  
As we were riding we could see the road stretch on for miles & watch the heat, smolder up on the tar as if it were a river.  There is no shade out here, just fences, dirt and a lot of trucks.  
We ventured further into the desert abyss today – with another fierce uncontrollable head wind, forcing me to fall off the bike three times. 
The last hour up Stinking water pass was incredibly beautiful – but the pain was too much to continue.
We’ve met so many terrific people in Oregon who have gotten behind our advocacy mission.  I would like to mention the great support we received from Daniella & Elliot Crowder, owners of Bike Newport- an amazing shop, who gave us some additional gear for our mountain bikes.  Also, the hospitality of Patti & Jeff Evans, a Bend couple who really believe in what we’re doing.  They are both incredible cyclists and human beings.  While out on a brand new Scott Plasma, Jeff was clobbered by a car, his fourth car/bike accident where he broke his fibula.  It’s been 10 weeks and he’s back on his bike(s) limping when he walks but his fervent focus on staying active is intoxicating.  I hope that I can ride with him and Patti soon.
-Pearson 8/16

Raleigh Bicycles

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2008

Yesterday, Monday July 21, Julia, Peter and I (the Long Bike Back Team) were at the Inside Edge in Glens Falls, NY to pick up our brand new Raleigh bicycles.  Bill Trombley, Inside’s master mechanic, personally met us before the shop opened to finish assembling and fit us to the bikes.  The entire staff including Bill, Doug Baehme and the owners have all been awesome in their support of us and our project. 

Back in May, Bill at the Inside Edge had tuned up my 29er so I could test the old legs on the 36 miles of brutal hills that comprise Route 20 between Skaneateles and Cazenovia.  My cyclometer displayed a speed I’d never seen before going down into Cardiff and it took me over 11 minutes at 8 mph to climb the tallest hill I’ve ever seen out side of Cazenovia.

Anyway let me talk about the bikes! I am not all about gear– but I want a bike that inspires me to ride better.  Raleigh met this by sending us a Cadent FC & a Cadent FT1.  Both bikes, in my opinion, transcend hybrid. They beg for ridiculous speed and react as well if not better than any road bike I’ve been on or ridden next to at the Gimbel’s.  I have to admit that I love Carbon – the whole concept of being incredibly light and freakishly strong, simply inspires me.

To me these are not just bikes. These machines are the culmination of two years of work, two years of swallowing pain, two years of laying on my back dreaming of going fast again, dreaming of the open road, dreaming of being me again.  These bikes are not just bikes; they are our tools of change.  They are taking Pete and me across the country, through big cities and small towns, and ultimately into movie theaters and living rooms around the globe.  These are not just bikes; these machines will help make all of us safer.


-Pearson July 22, 2008. 11:28 PM, NY