Day (-1) - Friday, June 14, 2002|
On the eve of my departure I sit with my bags packed, still not quite believing where this journey has brought me, and what adventures and challenges lay ahead. The fundraising efforts have yielded phenomenal results. Without any major corporate donations (the largest being $2500), we've managed to raise close to $40,000. The effort is truly a community affair. There is NO way I could have done this alone -- the emotional support from friends and colleagues, as well as the tangible efforts (from letter editing, to envelope stuffing, to party planning, to errand running, to packing help) have been more than I ever could have imagined would exist. While it may seem trite, it's hard for me not to have tears in my eyes as I think back over the last couple of months and watch people, one by one, offering their help, and coming through on help, in an effort to embrace the fight against breast cancer and to help us acheive the goal of making a meaningful contribution to breast cancer research, allow me to honor my mom's passing, assist me in cycling the country, and help be a part of funding research so that a generation of women can look themeselves, and their daughters in their eyes and tell them that breast cancer is no longer a life threatening disease. I'm not often without words, but somehow, perhaps because I'm exhausted, but probably not, I cannot form the words to fully express my gratitude to all that have contributed to this effort.
The spring has been an interesting one for me. Narry a month ago, I laid in bed struggling with the reality that the dream of cycling the 4200 miles across the country (not the 2400 as noted in yesterday's Recorder) would remain merely a dream. I suffered a horrible, and unnecessary, back injury (the details of which I'll spare you). I was off my bike for a solid three weeks; and, really, it was only a couple of weeks ago that I was able to get back on it, for real. While I should have used that time to prepare for the non-cycling aspects of the trip, I couldn't bring myself to do it. Getting out of bed was a chore, walking seemed like running a marathon, working a necessity but quite difficult because of the pain, and, cycling, a distant memory. Thus, the lack of emails leading up to the ride. Despite the horridness of the pain (I've described it as the worst pain I'd ever felt with the possible exception of when I dislocated my knee as a kid), it brought renewed appreciation for those that live with chronic pain, as well as a reminder that no matter how bad I may have felt, it was pain -- it wasn't cancer running rancid through my body. It brought home, for real, just why I'm riding this ride (as exciting and fun as it will be), and why so many of my friends and colleagues have rallied to support this effort. While our dollars alone may not cure breast cancer, they do count -- one by one -- and are making a big difference. Just ask the Komen Foundation, which is delighted by our efforts.
So, tomorrow, actually, later today, I'm off to Seattle, to start the second leg of this fantastic journey. The daunting reality of riding 70 miles a day for 2 1/2 months has not really sunk in, other than to say that I'm pretty terrified by the thought of this, and question whether I'll be able to. (Just what was I thinking??) I guess I need to get a few days of riding behind me so that I'll be reminded that I do know how to ride a bike, and I have the endurance to do so (despite the fact that my training scheduled was severely foiled). I bet when I close the door behind me later this morning and board the plane, the reality of getting to experience our amazing country, 65-75 miles at a time, day after day, will begin to sink in. I can't wait. I'm also looking forward to the time -- time to reflect, time to dream, time for silence, time to read, time for wonder, time with friends -- old and new, time to be at one with the road, time to write, time to sleep, and, just, time....
I do hope to have periodic access to email, so please don't hesitate to send an email. (I'm sure I'll appreciate it when it's raining, or in the headwinds, or the 100 degree weather. . . ) If I can't respond, please accept my apologies in advance. And, yes, I do hope to send email updates from the road. (A friend and I have spent the last several nights trying to ensure that this will work.) In addition, I understand that Cycle America ( www.cycleamerica.com) will have a website that will be updated daily for those that want to track us. Finally, I've attached a mailing list should you be so inclined to want to send snail mail.
Until the tire dip in the Pacific --
Be safe, smell a flower today, and share a smile and laugh,
Day 0 - Saturday, June 15, 2002 - 0 Miles|
Frank (the guy that built my bike -- and is responsible for this craziness!) has annointed me an official bike traveler as I learned to box the bike, and wheels, on the curb at SFO, a mere 30 minutes before take-off! Thanks Frank for all the bike help, and to Karen for the technology help!
After a fantastic visit with Lisa and John (Lisa's a friend from my days at Cooley), including lunch/dinner, on the lake in Kirkland, WA (who said you had to go to Alaska for fantastic Copper River Sockeye salmon?), Lisa and John drove me to Everett first night with Cycle America. Yes, a great "ease" into the ride. Although they offered me a warm bed in their house, along with a private room and hot shower, rather than my tent and sleeping bag, I decided the inevitable needed to start sometime, and it may as well be tonight. In lovely Everitt, WA (not), we stayed at a middle school. Hmmmm, perhaps I should have taken them up on it!
Best story of the night - There are 2 guys from the Netherlands on our trip. They had the poor luck of pitching their tent on top of the sprinkler. So, in the middle of the night, they got up to move their tents, and were chatting between them in Dutch. The local police came by and almost arrested them b/c the police thought they were stealing tents! What a welcome to the US of A. Thankfully, though they have a wonderful sense of humor.
May the tail winds be with us --
STATS: 8 covered bridges/ 1 cappucino/1 ice cream/1 beer/ 1st cold shower
The morning started early with a symphony of zippers at 6:00am. Breakfast at the VFW in downtown Everitt. It was amazingly good - a plethora of food including eggs, bacon, oatmeal, blueberry pancakes, coffee, juice, cereal, and probably other things I can't remember. Gosh, I better start riding!
Of course, the ride started with the obligatory back tire dip into the Pacific Ocean (OK, well, it's really the Puget Sound, but it feeds into the Pacific Ocean).
Next tire dip?? Well, at least the next saltwater tire dip: The Atlantic Ocean on August 17, 2002 (I will, I repeat, I will, make it to Boston (I hope!)
Gosh, it was good to get on the bike, and to put some pavement beneath me. It didn't take long to get out of town, and for my heart to begin to smile. The bike was working like a charm (thanks Dave and Frank!), and Washington's secondary roads are nice and smooth! Though not raining or sunny, it was perfect cycling temperature. It didn't take long to remember that this ride is about seeing and experiencing America - and, about smelling America - mile by mile, and inch by inch. Yes, we don't have many cows in California, nor did we in Alaska; but, Washington surely does. I'm sure your imagination can conjure up this smell.
Reminiscent of Italy, the first cappucino stop came 17 miles into the ride in the cute town of Snohomish. Ah...life is wonderful.
And, of course, not only will my daily routine consist of a daily espresso hit, the afternoon will also have an ice cream stop. Remember, I'm on a mission to find the country's best ice cream! And, yes, Baring, WA was a formidable first ice cream stop (chocolate cherry and chocolate peanut butter). Gosh, scoops up here are big - and this was a one scooper. Yes, local color galore - the Baring General store doubles as a post office, general store, ice cream parlor, the local drunk, and who knows what else!
Skykomish -- (Home for the night: Skyhomish Middle School - K-12; 75 kids; 5 in 2002 graduating class. 1 watering hole - the Whistling Stop)
Kumbaya evening - Tonight, the coast-to-coasters met (ala kumbaya) to share with each other why they're here, and what's motivating them to do this. Needless to say, it seems to be a great group. We're all a tad crazy, but, already, there's a bond. There are about 3 others, out of 47 coast to coasters, that are also doing the ride for charity.
And, being tucked in? A call from Barb, my friend in Alaska. A tough day for her - she had her last chemo treatment on Thursday, and, although this concoction of drugs aren't making her sick like the first set, they make her really tired. But, yahoo! It was her last treatment; and, her port gets removed on Tuesday. Then it's 6 or so weeks of radiation. . . . and, then her husband Rich, son Michael, and her will join me on the last day into Boston as Barb's planning to ride the last 10 miles with me to the Atlantic Ocean! (I have to make it now!) So, good thoughts, wishes and prayers to Barb for the port removal, radiation, and quick recovery. . . and, maybe, just maybe, she'll be able to do more than 10 miles!
Day 2 - Monday June 17, 2002 - Skyhomish to Wenatchee, WA (77 miles,
though I managed 87) (TOTAL: 151 miles, aka 3.5%)
stats: 1st flat tire; 2 bugs eaten (need to learn to catch them in
my teeth); 1 waterfall; 1 espresso/ 1 ice cream stop; 1 beer along
the road (versus at night)/ 1 barn-housed art gallery; 3 covered
bridges; 1 dousing of insecticide meant for cherry trees/; 2
cherries personally hand-picked from cherry tree (not the one that
was just sprayed with insecticide); waterfalls and views of river
from the road too numerous to count; no shower (writing this instead)
Oh yea, the cycling. It's going swimmingly. Well, no, I'm not swimming; I am cycling, but all is working and I feel great. A tad tired today, but no significant pains. I am so jazzed, and thankful, to be on the bike, crossing the United States. Going to places, stopping and smelling flowers, checking out rivers, climbing the pass. Ah, it feels good to climb.
Thanks to Paul and John - It's great to have some friends along the ride - to share cycling, laughter, adventure, and encouragement. Oh, and of course, the back wheel (yes, drafting is nice).
Finally, in words of the early birthday card given to me by my friend Liz late Friday night at dinner before I left: The days and years rush by and yet within them there is a sprinkling of joy and simple times that remind us of what is truly important: to live is a gift, and every ordinary moment is filled with beauty when seen through tht eyes of the heart. A wish that [we] be given time to dream and to share love and laughter. May all [our] wishes come true!
I couldn't have said it better. . . Thanks to all for the encouragement to make this wish come true, and to do it while raising money for breast cancer research.
Day 3 - June 18, 2002 - Wenatchee to Electric City, WA (Coulee Dam)|
97 miles; Total: 248 miles (oops, Cycle America's brochure said 77. ah heck, what's an extra 20 miles?); Total 248
Stats: 1st radio interview; lots of climbing; second flat, 1st cabin night; 2 covered bridges; 1st massage [Photo Album]
Unfortunately, or fortunately, depending upon how you look at it (isn't life always this way?), I left my camera battery and recharger at the Quake last night (the radio station). So, my morning started off early - showed up at the radio station and, after convincing the guys at the station that I wasn't some crazy person (well, OK, I am) and that Bruce, from the night before, had let me use their computers.... Steve, the News Director, told me I could have my battery back (after we found it), if I agreed to be interviewed. Yepper, my radio debut. Despite some nervousness, it was a ton of fun - and, despite being 'live' on the air, Steve asked me if we could do a follow-up interview when I make it to Boston! He was kind enough, too, to provide me with a tape of the interview for those looking for a good laugh! On the serious side, perhaps it'll even bring in some donations so that we can hit (or surpass) that $50K goal!
The day was a day on the bike, and a great day it was. The scenery was pretty awesome. Started in the foothills of the Cascades, went through Cherry tree country, miles and miles of wheatfields, then magnificent Canyon country, through lakes, and, finally, to our campground in Electric City, home of Coulee Dam. After today's ride, I finally felt like I was riding,,, Yes, the 97 miles felt like 97 miles. But, all's working - the bike, the body, and the brain. The adrenaline is still flowing, but the legs were definitely sore, as were the shoulders.
Most memorable parts of the day: The tailwinds (must have been 20 mph) through wheatfields. It was green as far as you could see - and, riding 20 plus mph for a couple of hours, without drafting, was pretty amazing. At one point, I crossed the road to take a picture of the fields of green and felt like I was going to be blown over. How fun! Yep, but, of course, all roads turn at some point - metaphysically as well as physically, and the right turn from Hwy 2 to Route 153 (for you geography buffs) was no different. I suddenly had to slow to 8 mph, and a hard 8 mph that was. As I was pondering what to do (at this point I was riding alone), I stopped to take a picture of the 24 miles to Sunbanks Resort, home for the night, when 2 other riders came riding by. Needless to say, I quickly popped my camera in my jersey and road my heart out to catch up to Fred, and his son Justin. The 3 of us had a great ride in - Fred, who's in his 50's or 60's, is also riding for breast cancer, and in honor of his mom, who lost the battle to breast cancer when he was 7. And, he, too, has a number of folks meeting him along the road this summer. Hats off to him! (His day job is as a wine distributor - I keep trying to get him to get some shipped...) Of course, a day on the bike is never without challenges - from the headwinds, to the second flat (and I can't get the danged tire off my new wheels - thanks to Fred and Justin - yep, how many cyclists does it take to change a flat???), to the obnoxious, unnecessary, cracks in the road (aka washboard) every 5 yards for the last 15 miles. To understand what this means to a cyclist - it's like going 'kachunk, kachunk, kachunk - and jarring your hands, wrists, shoulders and butt every 5 yards. If my butt wasn't sore after hours on the bike, it sure is now! So, when those bond issues arise for road improvement, make sure that the shoulders are improved too!)
Of course, we needed to check out the local watering hole in Electric City, where there there sign, under which we sat, said, "Have a great summer!" You damn better believe it. Couldn't imagine a better one!
Paul, John and I rented a cabin for the night so that we could get a private hot shower - and, of course, the bugs, yes, the bugs. Gosh, my tent is looking better all the time!
Day 4: June 19, 2002 - Electric City to Spokane - 95 miles (They missed another 20); Total: 343 miles
Stats: 95 miles; more climbing; 1st truly sunny day; 1st Huckleberry Shake (w/banana); NO covered bridges, flats, or bugs eaten
Another great day on the bike. Starting to get into this, and the confidence level, that I'll be able to make it across the country, is building. Left early, alone, because I wanted the time, and to be at one with the road and the bike. Despite sore legs and shoulders, I actually felt pretty good! The day started with a long 13 mile climb, though not a terrible grade. The roadside scenery was so green that it seemed like I was peering at a moving painting. Glorious! Of course, it didn't hurt that it was our first incredibly beautiful sunny day! I felt great through the lunch stop, and even snuck in a nap on a local park bench in Davenport.
Food tidbit: Still trying to get the food intake dialed-in. Can't eat too much in the AM, but need the calories. They feed us big breakfasts and lunches, but, for me, eating too much at one sitting just bogs me down. I'm a grazer... So, went for the pancakes with peanut butter - protein and easily digestible - at breakfast (worked better then yesterday's no breakfast), and, for lunch, declined the massive pig-out... The huckleberry shake in the afternoon, and the espresso shot mid am help out too (as do energy bars (I think I'm really liking powerbar's new protein bars)!
Day 5: June 20, 2002 - Spokane, WA to Sandpoint, ID; 86 miles; Total: 429 miles; First state crossing – Idaho|
1st busted water bottle; 3 bananas, 1st glass of vino, 1st huckleberry ice cream cone; certifiable saddlesore. [Photo Album]
OUCH! One word. Sums up the day. OK, skip today, time to move to tomorrow. Well, OK, twist my left pinkie - might be the only part of the body that's not sore. I rode fast today, perhaps too fast. I was like a horse going to the barn. Today was not about the journey - it was more about the destination. I wanted to get to Sandpoint, hang out in the sun, relax, and figure out computer stuff so that I can share some of the awesome pics I've taken with you. (Thanks, Dave...) And, hopefully, thanks to Hank (whom I haven't yet spoken with), we'll be able to have a website so that your email inbox is not cluttered with Rottenberg's rambling tales.
So, why the OUCH? Well, for starters, tailwinds, bonking, saddle soreness, dehydration.
And, despite my kvetching, the scenery and the riding was great. The afternoon was truly a treat. Rounding a corner we came to a lake - rode for miles by it. And, around another corner, 2 guys, looks like father and son, hanging out in a canoe, fishing.
Or, looking at the telephone pole and coming across an Osprey, with chicks in the nest.
The reality truly is dawning on me that I'm riding this country - and experiencing it mile by mile -- The morning café stop, the afternoon ice cream stop, the kids selling lemonade who just can't believe that we're riding to Boston (OK, neither can I), or the woman who comes out to the water stop along the side of the road to ask us questions, or the 2 women at the
I arrived in Sand Point around 3 in the afternoon. I knew I was tired and sore, but didn't think I was THAT tired. Until, that is, I tried to set up my tent. For some reason, I couldn't get the poles right. Finally, I did, only to endure the challenge of figuring out how my fly fit over the tent. Now, realize, yes, it is a new tent. However, I did set it up, for the first time, in the dark in Tahoe, in a fraction of the time. I also have set it up numerous times on this trip too. Unless the tent devil came and changed the poles, the fabric, the whatever, there is no good reason as to why I couldn't figure out how to set it up. OK, it's a good thing that my work conference call was cancelled. Thankfully, though, the cure for not enough water and food is, you guessed it, liquid and food. Ice cream solved the latter, and the former was solved
A great afternoon - Hung out a bench at the public beach at Sand Point - very reminiscent of Tahoe. Very, very beautiful; and, I think, larger than Tahoe.
Saddlesoreness: This is worth a description for those non-riders. You may think that saddlesoreness is merely your butt bones being sore. That's part of it, but only part. The other parts are the welts/cysts/bruises you get - on your butt, as well as other places that I won't mention here (aka soft tissue). You might think that those $80 8-panel special shorts that have limited seams would take care of everything. They don't. Thankfully, I don't have the welts, yet, though I'm a tad afraid of what may come... So, the solution? Ride through it. Shift the position on your seat. Stand more. Let your body air out when you're not on the bike. Suggestions?? Afterall, shouldn't there be some compensation for the diaper in it? (Basically, the padding in the cycling shorts feel like diapers.)
Goal for the night: 8 hours of sleep (Will be the first 8 hours I've had in 2 weeks)
Day 6: June 21, 2002 - Sand Point, ID to Thompson Falls, MT; 90 miles; Total: 519 miles; 2nd state crossing - Montana; 1st time zone change|
Stats: 1st truly jerk driver (and that's being nice)
Somehow, when I awoke, albeit exhausted as another few hours of sleep would have been most welcome, I felt good, until, that is, I stood up. The pain in the knee. . . Switched to the better anti-inflammatory drug - bikers' candy. And, although I usually am caffeine free, I was quite thankful that my friend Josh sent me off on this trip with a pound of Peets coffee and a coffee filter. Caffeine's boost creates miracles. Thankfully, I was only stiff. I did some stretches, downed some food, filled 2 water bottles, and off we rode. The scenery today was stunning; and, for some reason, when I sat on my bike, my butt, though certainly not healed, felt like it might belong in the seat. I hate to jinx it; but, perhaps, just perhaps, yesterday was hump day. It might, though, be because there were no headwinds (nor were there tailwinds), not too hilly, and I rode slower today... Or, maybe it was the conversation I had with the Iowa doctor, Jim, the last 15 miles into town about health care reform and malpractice claims. But, whatever, I felt strong, wasn't tired of being on my bike, and could have continued to ride at the end of the day. The food seemed dialed in, and I was getting enough liquids. Maybe, too, it had something to do with getting more than 5-6 hours of sleep. Or, maybe, it was the glass of wine! J At some point, every day will be like this (I hope)... it's just a matter of when. It would be incredible if hump day was indeed yesterday, but I won't get my hopes up.
Stops along the way: basic café, where we came across two guys having their second beer by 9:30 in the am. General Store stop in Trout Creek where I sat outside and wrote a few postcards.
Rode into town ISO ice cream. Wishes were answered as the "Little Bear" is supposed to be the best ice cream around. Not only is it a cute place, it also has awesome ice cream and yogurt. I chose the vanilla yogurt base, with huckleberry (after all, Thompson Falls is the Huckleberry capital of the world), banana and chocolate.
There's been a suggestion that I provide numerical ratings for ice cream stops. Would anyone like to proffer up a suggested rating system? Either a 1-5 or 1-10 - let's see - flavor selections, creaminess, etc.
Tomorrow's a century day into Missoula, and then our first day off. We shall see what the day holds... I do, though, look forward to when I know that my body won't feel thrashed.
Happy Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year - Make it Count!
Day 7: June 22, 2002 - Sandpoint, ID to Missoula Montana; 101.5 miles (gads!); Total: 620 miles|
OK, two days ago wasn't hump day. Morning came way too early (the loss of an hour probably didn't help any); and, today, cycling definitely seemed like a job. Nothing really hurt, I just didn't feel like riding a century. I went to bed last night ravenous. I downed a power bar. Awoke this morning, ravenous. I guess the metabolism is kicking in. My body's wondering what's happening to it.
No matter, I didn't want to ride. However, the only thing between giving my body, and especially my butt, 24 hours rest was 100 miles. Yea, only 100 miles. At breakfast, everyone seemed tired, and moving slowly. This has been a tough, tough week. 600 miles. The most I had ever done previously was 750 miles in 2 weeks last October in Italy; and, yes, I thought that 750 was a lot. This is, though, the toughest week.
There aren't many towns in Montana; but, at mile 20, I came along a non-descript coffee stop in Plains, Montana, and spotted several bikes outside. Ah, an excuse to stop! I downed a cup of coffee with some friends; and, then decided to try my luck at a lottery ticket. The local FM radio station is raising money so that they can produce news and increase the # of hours on the air; so, if I win, I'll be the proud owner of some massively large, single shot/barrel old gun. (Laurie, Jim's wife (see yesterday), has already practiced aiming it) Hmmmm...
And, of course, the post-lunch blues. Working out the kinks. John was sweet, and allowed Tom and I to draft off of him. We knocked 15 miles off pretty easily. But, the heat was beginning to catch up with us. Around mile 75 we ran into Jim and Laurie,
At the top of the hill, before the descent into Missoula, I stopped at the bar the Stockman's bartender told us to stop. For some reason, my compatriots missed my bike and didn't stop. Nonetheless, I stayed, ordered a half a dozen wings, and proceeded to have nice conversations with the bartender, a railroad worker, a motorcyclist (who doesn't know what a brush is) and a local women whose daughter lives in Palo Alto. What a great time. All in all, another fantastic day, capping off a nearly perfect week.
We were on our own for the night, and we found a great restaurant, an impressive wine shop (yes, I bought a bottle), and a group of us capped off an amazing week. And, to think, only 8 more to go. We ended the evening listening to an acoustic guitarist. And, ah, we can sleep in tomorrow!!!
Day 8: June 23, 2002 - REST DAY!!
I can't believe a week has already passed, and we have 600 miles under our tires. I'm shocked at how well my body is adapting. Thankfully, this is supposed to be the hardest week. (I don't want to dissuade those thinking about joining me from staying away.)
Tomorrow night I will get to see my friends Karen and Frank, and their kids Katie and Colin. I can't wait. They're taking a week's vacation in Montana, and will be riding with me on Tuesday, and spending the eve before my 40th (gulp) with me at Jackson Hot Springs, MT. How fun!!
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