What I MEANT to say…

When I said life comes at you fast, I had no idea what was just around the bend.

Last week I got laid off from my job at SoFi.  Not gonna lie, it stung. But looking around the room at the 35 other people in my department, I wasn’t the most talented, brilliant person in the room, nor was I the least – it wasn’t about me.  It was strictly business.

But that means that plans change again.

In one week I will be on my way to the next leg of this grand adventure; another 476 miles on the route to Key West in 7 riding days.

Which means lots of quick planning and adjusting of plans.  But ultimately it’s going to be perfect.  Then when I get a new job, I can plan on weekend rides between Wellington, UT and Albuquerque (making up the 405 miles I haven’t done yet through there on Saturdays).

I will miss my friends at SoFi but have no hard feelings for how it was handled, nor where it has taken me.  I will treasure the fun we had.  🙂  See you in a week or so!

 

Next Stage

Well, life comes at you fast!

Found out Friday I could have Memorial Day week or Labor Day week, but not both. So I did some scrambling and worked out that I would take Good Friday (March 30) and the week after off instead, dropping my prep time from 133 days to 77.

I did get to ride outside in January on Saturday. A quick not-quite-sixteen miles in the gorgeous cool sunshine. Riding in the gym is paying off, though. It was a lot easier to pump out the hills, and even increased my pace going up the hill over my average pace heading down the hill.

Life is good. I’ll be posting more videos sometime this week – d’Artagnan has been editing and adding music so it’s not quite so boring. 🙂

December 2, 2017

Price CanyonSo because I had 520 miles between Albuquerque and the Rest Area I’d stopped previously, Randy and I had discussed how to make those up.  The plan was to ride any day that looked clear enough with not much snow in the previous week or so, throughout the winter.  That is being revised after this ride, since it was super cold and there was ice on the side of the road that made me pretty nervous.  But I did get in 45 miles in Price Canyon, Utah – a stark contrast in terrain from just one week ago.

Seriously, east of Albuquerque is super flat.

Price Canyon is not.  From the Rest Area it is 8.5 miles to Soldier Summit, and it’s all uphill, with anywhere from 3-5% grade.  Then it’s another 8-10 before you hit the downhill.  The downhill is fun, to be sure.  But because I’d had an appointment that morning, I hadn’t started until after noon, so the downhill I was in shade 100% of the way.  At 38 degrees, the fingers were stinging they were so cold.

But the really interesting story is this:

While I was climbing in those first 8 miles, I was focused on the road ahead.  Often I get so intent on “that piece” that I don’t see anything but the white line on the road and the edge of the shoulder, and I’m focused on continuing to move and push rather than how much farther or how steep it looks – or how slow I feel like I’m moving.

This time – and I’ll stress I had been on the bike under an hour – everything hurt.  My hair was complaining that it was being pulled by something in my helmet.  The headwind was pretty harsh, and I was considering packing it in.  A few moments later I was prompted to “Look Up.”

Price Canyon is amazing.  (see pics – not mine – below) Yes, the view was worth it. But I would call the view a fringe benefit.  As soon as I looked up, the pressure on my shoulders and neck relaxed.  My hips shifted ever-so-slightly and allowed the stronger muscles in my thighs to take over the pushing and pulling I have trained for.

Here’s the thing: Life is just exactly that way.  When it’s flat and the wind is at your back, it flies by, and honestly, there is very little interesting to be said about it.  The beauty comes when you’re having to endure to the end up some rough terrain.  Stuff you don’t know if you can do.  And yes, it gets to be hard.  It’s also part of the joy in getting to the top.  It gets easier if you will Look Up.  Look around and see others who have struggled before you.  Look around and see how far you’ve come.  Look up to the Heavens and say a prayer for continued strength.  Look up and let the stress melt away.

Life is beautiful.  Enjoy the ride!

Castle-Gate-UtahFrozen Waterfall

Day after Thanksgiving and Saturday, November 25, 2017

Clines Corners SunriseGot up early in the morning and headed back out to Clines Corners – a truck stop east of Albuquerque, and where I started on Thanksgiving.

It was a lot chillier than the picture above seems to indicate.  I had several layers of clothes on, including two jackets and long pants over my cycling shorts, and it was a couple hours after sunrise that I took the one jacket and the pants off, and not until almost 11AM that I was ready to take off the lighter jacket.

The goal was Fort Sumner, 102 miles southeast of Clines Corners.  The wind for the first 40 miles was coming at me from my right hand side, but it wasn’t terrible.  Then I turned toward the East and the wind picked up to the promised gusts of 25 mph.  In the same direction I was heading.  I tell you what – there is nothing like riding 60 miles with a 25 mph tailwind.  At one point I unclipped my shoes and just coasted because my feet were hurting, and I still maintained 18.5 mph on the super-flat road for almost 10 minutes.  It was entirely pleasant… except that if you come unclipped, all your weight is on your rear end, and you’re not shifting your weight consistently, so the “sits bones” give you a reminder pretty quickly that you’re not meant to be on the bicycle for more than half of the previous 24 hours.  All in all, it was my fastest century (100 mile) ride at just over 6 hours.  Pretty great.

On Saturday we got up early again and headed out to Fort Sumner (who knew that Billie the Kid died and was buried there?  Not me!) with the goal of Olton, TX – 126 miles away (and the halfway mark on the route). At 14 miles in I knew I was in trouble, as every time I took a drink of water I got more and more nauseated.  I stopped and caught my breath at a historical monument, and kept going. At just shy of 20 miles the nausea caught up to me, though, and I texted Randy and had him come get me.  I suspect it was just exhaustion, as by the time we were halfway back to Albuquerque I was feeling some better – though, not nearly well enough to ride again.  So we “checked out” of the Airbnb we had stayed in, and hit the road home at a little after noon local time.  I slept several of the hours on the way home, and we got home just before midnight.

All in all, not too bad.  Not quite 180 miles on the route.  I’m pleased, over all, even though I was 106 miles shy of my goal.

Thanksgiving Day, 2017

We didn’t get to the starting spot, a gas station called Clines Corner, until 11:30 AM, and I was on the bike by noon. The first third was relatively quick, and it looked like I would finish in under 5 hours. Then the incline and heat smacked me and reminded me that I’m human. Those moments I just get to keep pedaling. I hit the downhill again a little after 5, and was flying down Historic Route 66 as the sun set and it started cooling off. Boy, howdy did it cool off. They aren’t kidding when they say the desert is hot in the day and gets cold at night. Dropped down into Albuquerque and was shivering.

The map took me onto a trail downtown and I had about 6 miles left when I passed my first tent with a shopping cart next to it. The next tunnel under a major street was lined from end to end with tents, and some guy yelled at me as I passed in a language I didn’t understand. As I got to the next tunnel, there was a sign – “Dark tunnel ahead”. I couldn’t tell, but it LOOKED like it may have been completely lined on both sides by tents.

Believe me, I was not judging them. But I had been riding my bike on roads with cars and trucks speeding past me at 70 miles an hour for almost 6 hours, and my gut waited until that moment to tell me that I needed to be afraid. I got off the trail, hung out in the Walmart parking lot and texted the most incredible support vehicle driver on the planet, and was safe and warm within 15 minutes.

We found a local buffet that was open until 8 and serving Thanksgiving Dinner and hurried over and had all we could eat. (d’Artagnan discovered that he doesn’t like prime rib, btw.) You would think burning 2,500 calories would have me ravenous, but it was closer to the opposite. I had a hard time eating very much at all, but I am indeed grateful for the opportunity that has been afforded me to try this.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

 

 

Gearing Up

I’ll be hitting the road again next week over Thanksgiving.  The plan is 311 miles in three days.

I’ll be leaving Albuquerque sometime Thanksgiving morning, and riding east.  The intent is Plainview, Texas by Saturday night.

Watch this space!

Westport, WA to Lehi, UT COMPLETE

On the bicycle route there are 1,024 miles between Westport, WA and Lehi, UT.  On May 27, 2017 I started riding in Westport.  The injury on May 31 put a 6 week hiatus on cycling while my knee recovered, so we regrouped and decided to do the route in snippets instead of one long “thread”.  On Saturdays since I was cleared to ride I did the miles between Nampa, ID and Lehi, UT.  Then last Saturday (Sept. 2) got the miles done between Vale, OR and Nampa, leaving 329 miles, all in Oregon, to complete by today.

There were days this week that felt frustratingly long and slow, and days that I thought, man, I could ride all day today – though I’m glad I stopped when I did.

Today’s highlight was how it ended.  I’d only been on the bike about 3.5 hours and the only significant climb of the day was almost done.  I knew I was close, because the GPS said I had two miles left.  As I crested the hill and Randy was at the top, he stopped me and asked which shot I’d like him to get – (will upload probably sometime tomorrow) and we agreed to which one we thought would be the best one, he got the drone into place, and I headed toward the downhill as my music changed songs. Now, don’t judge me for my music selection on this playlist.  Almost any song with a good beat or inspiring message can make my list.

Whitney Houston’s One Moment in Time from the 1988 Olympics started.  (official video here) Whitney Houston – One Moment in Time  And yes, I was flying down that hill.  (the video may or may not bear that out, but suffice it to say I was.) Two miles of downhill goes pretty quick on a bike, and it’s kind of a long song, so it was just finishing up as I hit the bottom and slowed down.  It’s been hitting me all day that I’ve done something pretty incredible – mom said it best, though – it’s a little surreal.  So here are the statistics and charts:

1,024 miles

Approximately 90 hours on the bike

Approximately 29,314 feet of climbing

Approximately 24,774 feet of downhill (the fun part… lol)

26.9% of 3,800 miles total complete

41% of the total climbing

Now I’m going to rest for a few weeks and do some more miles after some planning and some more training.

Thanks for all your encouragement and love from across the miles!  I couldn’t do it without you.  🙂

 

Burns, Oregon

Burns is a lovely small town.  We had a great lunch on Wednesday at the, “Ye Olde Castle Family Dining” restaurant and antique emporium while we waited for our “Small House” to be ready to check in.  If you’ve just been on a bike for almost 6.5 hours, I highly recommend the Custom Burger with onion rings.  If you haven’t, then split it with someone you love.  Or maybe two someones you love.  It was massive.  We liked it so much we went there for lunch Thursday, too!  (although I had the Surf Burger on Thursday so I could have room for pie)

Our server, Debbie, was there both days.  She was great.  On our way out on Thursday I was telling Debbie about the ride, and she said I should tell the story to Rosie, the owner.  What a great lady this is!  If you ever get into Burns, you must stop here for breakfast or lunch.  Here’s the fun part – when I was telling Rosie about the ride, Debbie opened up a back room where they must have banquets or company parties for the locals or something, because it isn’t open generally.  Hanging high on the walls are close to 20 antique bicycles.  I am not ashamed to admit I was geeking out like crazy in this room.  (pix to be added below, as soon as I can get them actually uploaded – internet is a little bit sketchy out here)

But the ride was even better than the meals, and that is saying something, because I loved the meals.  We woke up at 2:15 Thursday morning and had an hour drive to get back to Hampton Station, so we got ready and headed west.  I was on the bike by 4:00.  Randy follows pretty closely at that time of day, partly to keep me being able to see, and partly to keep people able to see me.  So that was almost three hours – yes, my husband is a saint.

The AirBnb is 68 miles from Hampton Station, so when I was deciding where to stop, just chose to ride “home”.  The first 20 miles was pretty quick, and it was evident that Thursday was going to be a much different ride than the previous two days.  It was still dark and I was almost 30% finished.  By 7:20 I was halfway through and charging ahead.  The climbs were easier. I had much more energy and didn’t need as much distraction.  At 43.56 miles in, I hit a series of climbs that, when driving them on Wednesday, I fully believed I would have to walk at least one of them.  They were brutally steep, and I was starting to get tired.  Randy had just headed back “home”, after filling both my water bottles.  He texted (no cell signal, but texts make it through – weird) to let me know that a string of several unusual and similar cars were headed my way. I was about halfway up the first (and most brutal) climb, and I saw the first – a convertible; I think it must have been a Fiat or some similar foreign car and was definitely was not built in the past 50 years – come flying over the top of that hill, followed by several more.  I would guess 15 of them, though not all were convertibles.  Each one beeped their horns and waved, and for a moment I thought I’d gone back in time.  I hadn’t made it to the top of the hill before they were past me, but they were a pleasant distraction, and their beeping horns felt like encouragement as I conquered the beast.  I didn’t end up needing to walk up a single climb in the past three days’ ride and that is new for me.  I’m getting stronger.

Would have been finished by 10:30 AM, but the stoplight in Burns was red when I got to it, so it was 10:31.  68 miles in 5:43 of riding.  Two days left in Oregon – 49 miles tomorrow, and then 57 Saturday.  On Saturday I will have completed all the miles in three states – Washington, Oregon, and Idaho.  1024 miles all told on the route.

Coincidentally, as of today I have 26.9% of this leg left.  On Saturday I will have 26.9% of the total ride complete.

 

Hampton Station, Oregon

If you’re not from Central Oregon and you know where Hampton Station is, I think you probably have too much time on your hands.  Or a photographic memory.  Or… I don’t know.  It is an old cafe, that to almost all visible indications, has not been open in somewhere between 20 & 30 years.  The only reason we know it’s been open is because a hand-painted sign out front says, “Home of the Eclipse Burger”.  That appears to be the newest thing for nearly 100 miles.

The ride from Moss Solar Farm (south of Prineville) to Hampton Station was only about 45 miles.  It was rolling hills all the way – never enough of a fall to make the climb effortless, and never enough flat at the top to make it possible to completely catch my breath before the downhill.  The sun was incredible, though.  It would peek out from behind the hill I was climbing and be the most incredible red – think Tattooine Sun in Star Wars – and the greatest part is that it stays pretty cool out.  We left Prineville at roughly 4:45 AM, and I didn’t get finished with 45 miles until almost 11:30.  It’s only just starting to get warm at almost noon with the minimal cloud cover and the smoke, but that’s a long time to be on a bicycle.  My feet were okay, with the Aleve and a new technique where I focus my “push” on my big toes while I climb instead of how the clips normally have my feet angled toward the center of my foot.  For whatever reason that takes off just enough pressure to make climbing bearable when they start swelling.

It’s going well and we’re learning a lot about what works – and what doesn’t.  The body is holding up, and I’m more than halfway done with this “leg”.  Since there is quite literally nothing out here, (including cell service) we are driving an hour to Burns, where we will stay two nights in a lovely AirBnb, and where tomorrow’s ride finishes.