Archive for October, 2008

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.

Ocean to Ocean in 51 Days!

Saturday, October 4th, 2008

On Wednesday October 1st we traveled from Boston to Cape Cod along Route 3A.  After a brief stop at Plymouth Rock Pearson and Pete rode across the Sagamore Bridge and onto Cape Cod.

On The Cape Cod Side of the Sagamore Bridge (Photo by Julia Wrona)

On The Cape Cod Side of the Sagamore Bridge (Photo by Julia Wrona)

Pearson Just After Entering Cape Cod (Photo by Julia Wrona)

Pearson Just After Entering Cape Cod (Photo by Julia Wrona)

They then cycled down Route 6A and arrived at the Atlantic Ocean (Marconi Beach); ending the cross-country trip at sunset.

Pearson and Pete at the Atlantic (Photo by Meghan Sheridan)

Pearson and Pete at the Atlantic (Photo by Meghan Sheridan)

Pete, Julia, Pearson and Meghan at Marconi Beach

Pete, Julia, Pearson and Meghan at Marconi Beach

Pearson & Pete Celebrating at Marconi Beach (Photo by Julia Wrona)

Pearson & Pete Celebrating at Marconi Beach (Photo by Julia Wrona)

Thank you to everyone who helped to make this amazing trip possible!  And thanks for all the support and comments on the blog.  Please keep checking back for more notes about the trip (Pearson will post his daily journal soon), updates about the film and video clips.


Almost to the Ocean

Wednesday, October 1st, 2008

On Wednesday September 24th Pearson and Pete left Lima, NY and rolled towards their hometown of Skaneateles, NY.  Just outside of Waterloo, NY Pete got his first flat tire. 

After laughing and celebrating, Pearson changed the tire and tube for him.  There were many pieces of glass and other objects stuck in his tire, so the Kevlar lining has saved Pete from many flats.

Pete's First Flat Tire (Photo by Meghan Sheridan)

Pete's First Flat Tire (Photo by Meghan Sheridan)

As Pearson and Pete cycled into Skaneateles they were greeted by cheering friends and family.  We were then treated to a dinner of sauce and meatballs made by Pearson & Pete’s Mom—Thank you!

Pearson & Pete Rolling Into Skaneateles (Photo by Meghan Sheridan)

Pearson & Pete Rolling Into Skaneateles (Photo by Meghan Sheridan)

Friends Welcome P&P to Skaneateles (Photo by Meghan Sheridan)

Friends Welcome P&P to Skaneateles (Photo by Meghan Sheridan)

There was a photo and blurb about our arrival in the Post-Standard Newspaper:

On Thursday September 25th Pearson got up early to talk to the 3rd graders at his old elementary school.  The kids were enthralled with Pearson and his bikes and he made them all promise to wear their helmets every time they get on a bike. Thank you to Pearson’s 5th grade teacher Janet Fagal for arranging the event.

Pearson at Skaneateles Elementary School (Photo by Meghan Sheridan)

Pearson at Skaneateles Elementary School (Photo by Meghan Sheridan)

 News Channel 9 in Syracuse came to the event and interviewed Pearson:

Later in the morning Pearson and Pete spoke to the 6th grade at Jordan-Elbridge Middle School.  The kids asked specific questions about the ride and they all wanted to lift Pearson’s bike (because it’s very light).  Thanks Chris Palen for setting up the event.

Chris Palen, Pete & Pearson at Jordan Elbridge Middle School (Photo by Meghan Sheridan)

Chris Palen, Pete & Pearson at Jordan Elbridge Middle School (Photo by Meghan Sheridan)

In the early afternoon they addressed a group of high school students and 6th graders at the Skaneateles schools.  The 6th graders mobbed Pearson and Pete after the event—very excited to meet them.  Thank you to Pete Chapman and Liz Hyatt for arranging the event.

Pearson & Pete Greeting Kids in Skaneateles (Photo by Meghan Sheridan)

Pearson & Pete Greeting Kids in Skaneateles (Photo by Meghan Sheridan)

Pearson went to an emergency eye exam and found out he had a severe eye infection that has caused an ulcer on his cornea.  To make matters worse the infection is in his good eye (he has almost no vision in his other eye due to a degenerative eye condition).  He was given eye drops and told not to wear his contacts. 

In the evening Pearson and Pete gave a public presentation about their trip and their mission at the Skaneateles Library.  Thank you to Janet Fagal, Liz Hyatt and Mitch Major for all of their hard work to make the event possible.

Pearson and Pete Giving Presentation at Skaneateles Library (Photo by Meghan Sheridan)

Pearson and Pete Giving Presentation at Skaneateles Library (Photo by Meghan Sheridan)

On Friday September 26th, despite the rain and a problem with Pete’s back brakes, P&P tackled the hills between Skaneateles and Cazenovia – which were anticipated to be the toughest of the trip – with relative ease.

While going up the first big hill Pearson tumbled off his bike and took Pete down with him.  Luckily both of them were okay. 

They rolled through Lafayette, NY (about 20 miles from Skaneateles) to the cheering of the Elementary School.  Pearson and Pete shook hands, gave hi-fives and even signed autographs for the kids—it was like they were rockstars!  Just before they left Pearson encouraged all the kids to wear their helmets. 

Pearson and Pete with Lafayette Elementary School Kids (Photo by Meghan Sheridan)

Pearson and Pete with Lafayette Elementary School Kids (Photo by Meghan Sheridan)

Down the road they found the second LBB sign spray-painted on the road by friend Todd Diel.

Note From Todd Diel (Photo by Meghan Sheridan)

Note From Todd Diel (Photo by Meghan Sheridan)

Because of his eye infection Pearson couldn’t wear his contacts and because of the rain he wasn’t able to wear his glasses so he was effectively riding blind.  About halfway through the ride he slammed into a mailbox and was knocked off his bike and onto his left arm (again).

Pearson Hitting Mailbox (Photo by Meghan Sheridan)

Pearson Hitting Mailbox (Photo by Meghan Sheridan)

As Pearson and Pete cycled through Richfield Springs on Saturday September 27th they had an interview with the Richfield Springs Mercury newspaper. 

As we approached Cooperstown Pearson got flat #19.  During the rush to change his tire and get going again I put my tripod on the side of the road and must have forgotten to put it back in the van – Pearson’s parents looked for it- even knocking on doors but with no luck.  So if anyone in near the Cooperstown baseball diamond or in Richfield Springs find a black tripod please let me know.

In the late afternoon we met up with a group from the New York Bicycling Coalition and they, along with my Dad, rode the last 15 miles with Pearson and Pete.  They all rode to the Upstate Artists Guild where the New York Bicycling Coalition welcomed us with a reception and Pearson and Pete gave a presentation about their mission.

Pearson Riding with NYBC Group (Photo by Julia Wrona)

Pearson Riding with NYBC Group (Photo by Julia Wrona)

Pearson and Pete Riding with Albany Group (Photo by Meghan Sheridan)

Pearson and Pete Riding with Albany Group (Photo by Meghan Sheridan)

The Albany Times Union ran an article about our arrival and events on Sept 25th: 

In the late evening we all went to a party and great dinner at Chris Duryea and Mary Witkowski’s house—thank you!

On Sunday September 28th we took a rest day in Albany and Pearson had an interview with Albany’s ABC affiliate WTEN and they did a great story on the 6 and 10pm.

On Monday September 29th we were back on the road and Pearson and Pete were joined by David Wilson, the president of the Westchester Cycle Club, who is writing a profile of us for the Purchase Alumni magazine.

Pearson and Pete Riding with David Wilson (Photo by Meghan Sheridan)

Pearson and Pete Riding with David Wilson (Photo by Meghan Sheridan)

In the afternoon we entered Massachusetts — our last state.

Entering Massachusetts (Photo by Julia Wrona)

Entering Massachusetts (Photo by Julia Wrona)

Pearson took another nasty fall (#7) “supermaning” across the rode and is now covered in a bloody road rash.

 On Tuesday September 30th we started with an interview for the Springfield Republican Newspaper and then took off towards Boston.  Just outside of Palmer, MA Pearson’s rear derailleur hanger sheared off his bike. 


Pearson's Broken Derailleur (Photo by Julia Wrona)

Pearson's Broken Derailleur (Photo by Julia Wrona)


We stopped at the nearest bike shop but they didn’t have the proper piece. We called around to the nearest bike shops and Raleigh dealers but couldn’t find the piece.  Erin got on the case (thank you!) and found us a bike shop in Boston that didn’t have the piece but could rig something.  Determined to ride to the end, Pearson rode his mountain bike to Boston and the end of Route 20!


Julia, Pearson, Pete & Meghan at the End of 20 in Boston

Julia, Pearson, Pete & Meghan at the End of 20 in Boston


Along the way Pearson had an interview with WXTK news radio in Hyannis and a Worcester bicycle columnist. 

After celebrating at the end 20 sign we took Pearson’s bike to Bicycle Bill’s and the shop manager/mechanic/frame-builder created a derailleur hanger that worked—we were all very impressed.

Today we head for the Atlantic Ocean and the completion of our cross-country odyssey.