Erika's Ride - Week 2 - Journal & Pictures
Week 2 - Monday, June 24, 2002 - Sunday, June 30
   Washington · Idaho · Montana
  • 6/23-6/30
   Montana · Wyoming
   Wyoming · South Dakota
   South Dakota · Minnesota
   Michigan · Ontario
   New York
   Vermont · New Hampshire · Maine · Massachusetts

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Day 9: June 24, 2002 - Missoula, MT to Darby, MT 79 miles; TOTAL: 703 miles    [Photo Album]

Given that I'm writing this on July 2, I don't remember anything about the day. My notes are scarce, as the entry merely says, "at lunch by 10:30; never thought 79 miles wouldn't seem like much." Ah. I remember some things. Stopped at a brewery in Hamilton - Actually, I had to stop as I got a flat right in front of it... Tyler, a racer from Indiana University, had to help me change it as these axial pros are just way too tight on my rims - he said it was the hardest tire he's ever tried to change. Damn that glass.... But, great excuse for the stop. And, then, around the corner, the ice cream stop.... What a great afternoon! This is the night that Karen and Frank are going to join me. I was psyched to see them. Spent the late afternoon in town, checking out ice cream, and some tourist shops. Also checked the one room library, and the internet connection - very cute library. A trip across the country visiting local libraries, I think, would be quite a treat.

Met up with Frank and Karen late at night. Excited to see them, as well as their kids Colin and Katie. Get to ride tomorrow!



Nancey & Tom - A Summer of Play

Day 10: June 25, 2002 - Darby to Jackson; 70 miles; TOTAL: 773 miles    [Photo Album]

Stats: 8 mile shuttle through construction; Chief Joseph Pass, 1st Continental Divide Crossing; another flat (3 among Frank and me)

Given that Karen shared her journal entry, I'll keep this short.... I must just say, however, that I'm incredibly touched that Frank and Karen were able to make it out here, and to share in the actual journey, versus solely the preparation. (They were both instrumental in getting me out of California and onto the plane, as well as taking care of home things while I'm away. This trip, while cycling solo across the country, isn't a solo trip... it's because of Karen and Frank, and friends like them who have rallied to make this happen, (including the successfulness of the fundraising effort) that it's as fun as it is. It truly has been a community affair.

Left around 7ish (Frank actually makes an early Tues AM Ride!), and rode the first 15 miles to the construction. Had to almost pinch myself - cruising along, mountains on both sides, with my buddy Frank who built my bike 4 years ago (my goal was to make it up Skyline once - now look at what he's created), in Montana. Unfortunately, had to get on a shuttle as the construction precluded cycling. . . . . shoot (however, given all the cycling I've done around towns we've been in, I've more than made up for the 8 miles) Time to climb the pass; and, Frank's being a sweetheart not to hammer, or make me ride faster than I'd like. Bummer, though, I got a flat - in the same spot. Damn these tires/wheels. . . real struggle to change, even for Frank.

Hit the Continental Divide - YEA! Cool pics of us.... Montana on one side, Idaho on the other. Gloriously clear day. Frank was here yesterday with Karen and the kids driving to meet me - but, need bike pics at the welcome to Montana sign! And, guess what? Not a pink slipper, but a pink flip flop on the ground. . . turns out it's Katie's! Yep, they were looking for Katie's flip flop last night and couldn't find it. How lucky is that? Is this real?

Started to climb the second pass... but, Frank flatted. Gosh... what's going on? 2 flats in a day? Oh well, it's the journey - not the destination. Started the descent, and then the ride into lunch. Fields of green, covered in lupine, and big, big sky. I now know why they call it the Big Sky State! Met up with the rest of the Zack/Scioscia clan and hung out with them. Started to ride after lunch and my buddy Tom decided to pick up the pace. I tried telling Frank that this wasn't a race (he was a big time racer), but he showed me the echelon ropes, and the 3 of us were cruising around 25-30 mph. How fun!!

Had to share our afternoon stops with him -- Stopped at the visitors center, took a snooze during the video, and got a third flat! OK, enough karma... Stopped in Wisdom for ice cream with the gang,,, pie and huckleberry shakes! But, welcome to Montana mosquitoes! I thought Alaska had bad mosquitoes. Perhaps my memory has faded, but the swarms here were unbelievable. Reminiscent of Chena Hot Springs north of Squarebanks... And, the last 8-9 miles Karen donned the bike - Yahoo! How cool is that? She was cruising, despite having not ridden in years. . .This week's a celebration for her too, though that's her story. Came cruising into Jackson, at the hot springs, and Karen and I visited - you guessed it - the town bar - for some cokes (despite the joke pics).

Passed on the hot springs; can you imagine? Somehow, it was just way too hot!

Had a magnificent evening - old friends, new friends. An early bday celebration (though this whole summer is a celebration.) Karen shared the details. But suffice it to say - I couldn't have imagined a better way to spend the eve before my 40th. Thanks, guys!

Funny for the night (that I learned a few days ago in buffalo on the 5th as we were discussing the mechanics of peeing) - Lauri, a fellow rider and friend, woke up to go potty in the middle of the night (something we all battle with - the precarious balance between staying hydrated and getting to sleep versus waking up every hour to go pee). After visiting the little girls room, she couldn't find her way back to the tents, not just hers, but any of them. She ambled around the lodge, in a fog, thinking at some point she'd have to find the tents. You see, after cycling day after day, our bodies are just beat. Sleep may or may not come easily, depending upon the heat and noise level. But, once you fall asleep, almost to a person, it's a dead sleep. That night (after she finally found her tent) she decided, along with others who reached similar conclusions, that bathrooms, at night, were no longer necessities. Yahoo! Yes, this group is starting to become like family....
Chief Joseph Pass and 1st Continental Divide Crossing
Erika & Frank - The Happy Duo
despite 100+ temps
Creativity amongst cyclist to get through the construction - the pilot car


Day 11: June 26, 2002 - Jackson to Dillon, Montana; 50 miles; TOTAL: 823 miles    [Photo Album]

Stats: 2 relatively small passes; 2 cattle herding; 1 heck of a hot day

So, here I am. Another day on the bicycle road. Somehow, though, this isn't just another day. I awoke, in another decade. Decades should be tough, but I think my tough year was last year. I really can't imagine what else I'd rather be doing; and, thankfully, I have the wisdom to recognize it. (As Frank said, how lucky to find Paradise and Wisdom, just a few days a part!! Paradise and Wisdom are two towns in Montana which we had the pleasure of cycling through.) I feel like the sun is shining on my shoulders. I'm living a dream - cycling across the country, raising money for breast cancer research while I'm doing it, and getting to experience, mile by mile, America, while meeting new friends, and connecting with old friends. The last day and a half really was perfect. Getting to ride with Frank, and then with Karen, yesterday, and spending the evening with them, along with some great vino (Jordan '97 Cab for you winos) in Jackson, Montana was pretty unbelievable. And, to awake this am, to an easy day (a mere 50 miles), therefore getting to hangout in the AM before leaving, was ideal. And, then, to ride - and to be at one with the road. To look up, all around me, and see mountains, either snow capped or green; and, to look to either side of me and see wildflowers - lupine and a type of mustard-looking flowers - challenges one's sense of reality. Basically, it seems that I'm living in a dream world. Old friends, new friends, my bike, spectacular scenery; and, now, getting to write, on the front porch of an inn, in downtown Dillon, MT, while sipping a glass of wine. I don't think it can get much better.

OK - stats on the ride today. Started the ride today, late - because I had the luxury of a relaxing morning with Frank, Karen, and the kids. And, had the chance to ride a bit with John and Paul, though rode most of the day solo - by choice. Although it was hot (hot, hot, hot - the sign on the bank says 103!!!), it was a glorious ride. After the first pass I had to stop so that the cattle herd could go by. Tons and tons of cows. More mooing than one could imagine. Wish I had a tape recorder. And, REAL cowboys. And to think that I thought that cowboys were only icons in movies (JK). Seriously, though, the cow herding was pretty entertaining, and spectacular. The symphony of 'moos', combined with the sights of cows, hefers (yes, I learned the difference), and calves, just amazing. Also, got a couple of new tires last night for two reasons. First, had my second flat, two days in a row, in the same spot as the first. And, second, the combination of my Axial Pros with the Shimano wheels made it way too difficult to change a flat. Both Frank and Tyler (one of the staff, who also happens to be a racer with his University team) said that my tire was far too difficult to change. However, I must admit that I can't stand these new tires - touring Continentals. And, OK, to be a bike snob - to invest in racing wheels (Shimano Durace Wheels) only to put touring tires on seems like blasphemy. Also, believe it or not, I really can tell the difference. They seem sluggish on the flats, climbing, and descending (OK, maybe it's the motor wrt climbing and the flats); but, for sure, I can't get the speed I get on the other tires going downhill. So, if anyone out there has suggestions for what tires to use on the wheels, I'm all ears.

Quote of the Day: After climbing the first pass, and passing the second cow herding, "The descent's going to be pretty shitty...."

Happy Birthday!
Arrived in town, thinking that I was going to do some journaling, but, at least so I thought, randomly running into John who 'shoo-shooed me out of the Patagonian Outlet Store to tell me that "I needed to go to lunch" (yes, I can (at least occasionally) follow instructions-
A birthday present from Jim and Lauri
and a memory never to be never to be forgotten
Sometimes!), to arrive, as the last cyclist, to a stunning rendition of Happy Birthday, and an amazing cake! Thanks, John, for making my 40th even more special.

After dinner, and another stunning rendition of Happy Birthday (there are a number of singers on the ride), several of us went out for drinks. Never knew there were so many beers. Who knows, perhaps I'll have to turn into a beer drinker, rather than a wine fan... We walked out of the bar, and it was raining and lightning. Paul, John and I decided that we'd wait out the storm, after all, who wants to ride back in the dark, rain and lightning? Believe it or not, we found a non-smoking bar, and decided that the food bug hit us again. Somehow, one is perpetually hungry - constantly hungry. An hour or two after eating, I'm suddenly starving. We ordered up a pizza, as well as some chicken and Jo-Jos (Montana's version of blended potato skins and French fries.) Left the bar around 11 (late night!) to a storm that was coming in. Turned out that we had quite the lightning storm that night! Lying in my tent, with the window, and the fly's nightlight window, gave me quite the view. One has to wonder whether we're sitting ducks out there. The one saving grace, I guess, is that it didn't matter that we stayed up late because there was no sleeping during the rain-lightning storm. Not even the oft-used earplugs dulled the noise. Wasn't certain about my bike; however, so I decided to sleep with it in my tent. Makes for a crowded tent, but it's good to know that in major downpours, there's an option for my bike! Thankfully, the tent is, indeed, waterproof.

In any event, today was a pretty surreal day. I guess turning 40 should feel somewhat monumental. To me, it seemed like a great day, without the sadness I thought I'd feel. Perhaps, though, it's that this summer is just one great celebration - starting with the going away gig in June at home, and with the ride this summer, and getting to meet up with folks along the route from all different phases of life - past, current, and future -- it really is a celebration, and a great chance to relish the past and those that played major portions in it, as well as ponder the future. So, to all of you who have made this dream a reality - Thank you, and this glass of wine is for you!

Real Cowboys (Cowgirls!)
Montana Continental Divide
Not the NASDAQ kind


Day 12: June 27, 2002 - Dillon to Ennis 75 miles; Total: 898 miles    [Photo Album]

Stats: another day on the road. Two bugs eaten. Body is tired.
OK, awoke pretty tired, and, for no particular reason, though I guess the thunderstorms of last night are part. The first 20 miles felt great. Flat, and spun pretty quickly. Rode a good chunk of the first part with Nancy, a fellow rider who's from Boston and a 'just quit' tertiary nurse. Stopped for coffee and an English muffin - need to watch what I eat, so I skipped the cinnamon roll. The next 10 miles, however, were quite challenging. The winds picked up...probably spent too long at the lunch stop, as it was getting quite warm. Rolled through two gold mining towns, Nevada City and Virginia City, though didn't stop to tour as it was hot, and getting hotter. Dry country indeed. In Virginia City, though, several of us stopped at a pre-turn of the century bar (incredible woodwork) for a coke - energy to make it up the 1400 climb into Ennis. Gosh, why are these climbs saved for the end of the day. Needless to say, for the first time this trip, this climb just about killed me. It wasn't particularly steep, nor particularly long, but I think the day after day cycling, and the heat, just sapped me. It was way too hot, I felt like my tires were particularly sluggish (and, yes, they were, even on the descent down), and I wanted to get off my bike. I am really beginning to doubt what the hell I was thinking about wanting to ride 4200 miles in a summer. Hmmmm, a beach in Fiji is sounding pretty darn good. Truly, the climb up from Virginia City, far easier grade than Old La Honda, totally sapped me. Not even the downhill rekindled my body, nor my spirits. Needless to say, town was a welcome sight, despite the heat!! Grabbed a smoothie at the Cowboy whatever (yes, we're in Montana), and went to set up tent. It was also mail call - Yahoo!! Had a number of cards and well wishes, which definitely lifted my spirits!


Thursday night in 'hopping' downtown Ennis was a street fair, but I was too beat to go out. I decided sleep and rest was a premium, so tried to sleep, though unsuccessfully, around 8:30 or so. The staff was reveling, and though totally beat, my body was wired. It was good, though, to just lay there and not have to do anything.
Yellowstone's Paint Pots (aka Hot Pots)
Continental Divide Crossing #4


Day 13: June 28, 2002 - Ennis to West Yellowstone; 82 miles; TOTAL: 980 miles
[Photo Album]

Stats: Took the long option, lots of headwinds

I awoke early this morning, though still tired. I still didn't feel like cycling. Dilly dallied around....gosh, when's the next day off? John convinced me to go for lattes with a fellow rider Nancy in town. Anything to delay the inevitable getting back on the bike. Turns out that even though we got a later start, and stopped in town for lattes, Paul (from home) and Tom (from southern California) joined us too. Turns out to have been a great stop. My mood started to change...the first 10-15 miles were great...then, total headwind. What a bitch. Couldn't really go faster than 10
mph, if that. Fortunately, cycled with a couple of others (John and Tom), so I didn't have to push to hard. Finally made it to lunch around 11:30, which may sound early, but it took probably twice as long as it should have, and took a lot of steam out of me. Didn't want to stop for too long lest the muscles get tired and sore, and just wanted to make it in for the night. Had a choice of two routes today, a shorter and longer one. . . and , after lunch, joined up with my friends Jim and Lauri (from Iowa), and rode with them. Really helped to get in a pace line in the wicked winds. From the route sheet, it appeared that the longer route would have fewer headwinds, so I decided to go for it. Great move! (Yes, not all miles are created equally) Stopped at earthquake lake, aka Hegbi (sp?) lake, and used it as an excuse to visit the visitor center (when, really, it was a $2 entry fee to air conditioning and a 10 minute excuse to sleep during the video) to learn about the earthquake which devastated the area on August 17, 1959 (same day we arrive in Boston). Very reminiscent of the quake that hit Anchorage. Also hooked back up with John.

Erika & John at Yellowstone
My mind was a churning, thinking about spending the night at West Yellowstone, but not getting to go in the park. Seems like such a shame. Hmmm, started looking at the map, and thought that, hey, if we scouted our own route, we could easily go from West Yellowstone into the park, to the paint pots and Old Faithful, and then on to Yellowstone Lake and Grant Village where we could spend the night, and then pedal our way south the next day out the park, through the Tetons, and meet up with the group in Jackson, WY. Hmmmm..and it looks like I'd have a partner with whom to share the journey! John, too, seems to be pretty disappointed about nudging the door of Yellowstone, but not going through it. Hmmm. This could be fun and different. Shake things up a bit. But, first, need to make it to West Yellowstone. Headwinds decreased, though didn't disappear. Riding was challenging. We did sneak in for a pie stop,
Erika resting at Yellowstone
though Lauri and I unsuccessfully tried to get the group to order one big pie with a number of spoons. Wimps! Finally got to West Yellowstone which is kind of a kitchy town. Touristy, without being cute. Did, though, figure out that we could get reservations in the park, and that riding wasn't prohibited. John was up for the ride, and made lodging reservations, and I made restaurant reservations. It'll be a 65 mile day. Not too bad. Made it to the campground, and talked with the Cycle America folks, who responded with enthusiasm at our plan. No problem. A couple of other folks thought about joining us, but, for a variety of reasons, there were no takers. Personally, I was looking forward to the change of pace, as well as the opportunity to experience one of our National Parks from the seat of a bicycle, rather than the window of a bus like many of our compatriots that were going to spend our day off in Jackson going through the Park. They'll cover much more ground than us, as we'll only cover a fraction of the park, but I just can't stand the thought of a schedule on a precious day off, and sitting in a bus on a day off. And, again, there's something magical to me about getting to experience a national park from the seat of a bicycle.

So, despite a slow and somewhat down early am, my mood had totally shifted by day's end. I was happy and relaxed, and my body was feeling reasonable. The reason for the latter, I believe, is that, while the cycling was hard today, I didn't push myself, and kept some energy in reserve. It took longer, but I wasn't wiped. (Yes, lesson learned) Went to IMAX's Yellowstone in the evening, and then hung out in town, b/f hitting the hay. Also had my tires swapped back to the axial pros - and am hoping I don't flat!
Yellowstone - We Biked Here - Yea!
Erika and a new friend


Day 14: June 29, 2002 - West Yellowstone, Montana to Grant Village, Wyoming (in Yellowstone Nat'l Park); 69 miles; TOTAL: 1049 miles; 4th state -- Wyoming    [Photo Album]

Stats: crossed the 1000 mile mark; 4 Continental Divide Crossings; 4th state (Wyoming); Ridiculous and Wicked headwinds, Lots of Wildlife; Old Faithful; Incredible Scenery

Awoke this AM with the realization that my ATM/Credit card, and significant cash, was no longer in my jacket pocket. Thought that it had fallen out of my pocket when I was doing some stretching while waiting for the shuttle to take us from IMAX back to the campground. Uh oh....I guess one of the advantages of getting up early is that most towns haven't yet unrolled their sidewalks. Today was the day that John and I were venturing solo into Yellowstone, with minimalist gear. The big debate was toothbrushes and deodorant. For me, both lost out as I could buy a toothbrush, and who needed deodorant? We could shower before dinner, and deodorant is useless when you're riding anyway (at least for me). And, no, we decided that we wouldn't bring a spare set of cycling clothes. We'd wear the dirty ones, or do laundry. Whatever... After giving John my gear, and laughing at his new nickname (John Emmel is now John E-mule), I skipped breakfast and headed to IMAX's parking lot in search of my missing ATM card. The 8 miles into town weren't too bad, and I arrived at the lot and couldn't find my card. Though the theater complex hadn't yet opened, the doors were opened, and disappointingly, no one had turned in my card. Shoot...rode around the lot a bit, contemplating what to do, thinking about how I was going to get Citibank to send me another card when we're spending a night in a town, when Tim, the Coke truck driver from Bozeman, rolled up asking if I was looking for something. Turns out that he picked up my card and had turned it into the police station. He figured that someone needed it, and the cash...A smile to my heart and face,,,just goes to show, that, to a person, our country is made up of pretty incredible folks. Tim, Coke man from Bozeman - THANKS!

Met up with John, grabbed a bite to eat (John didn't want me bonking - after all, I can't keep up with him even when I'm pedaling fantastically and he's having an awful day), and lobbed a call to Frank and Karen. They were in Jackson the last couple of days and were headed back to Boise. Maybe, just maybe, they were headed home through the Park. Gosh, it'd be fun to hook up with then again! While I was delighted to speak with them, unfortunately, they were interstating it back to Boise. They had a fantastic rest of their trip, and capped it off with a 2 night stay at a lodge on Jackson Lake that sounded fabulous.

Yellowstone Hot Pots Video
Yellowstone Paint Pots
Yellowstone Park: To ride my bike through the Park entrance, for starters, was thrilling. Have often thought about doing it through Yosemite, but just haven't managed to make it happen. The feeling was one of thrill, freedom, peacefulness. . . Within a few miles, we saw elk in the river. . . The scenery was beautiful. Once The first 15 miles were pretty incredible, and equal to a Denali trip in terms of wildlife. Deer, elk, bison. . . The paint pots made it seem as if I was on another planet. When the road headed north from the Madison intersection, however, we were greeted with more howling headwinds. The jaunt into Old Faithful was quite challenging - My bike felt like a sailboat (deep dish wheels), and, that combined with passing cars and Winnebagos larger than my apartment, sucked you in and spit you out. Despite the fact that the scenery was stunning, the conditions really sucked. I was doubting the wisdom of continuing, and started to play the mind game - hmmmm. Can we hitch a ride from Old Faithful to Grant Village? Is that cheating? It's only 17 miles, and I easily made up for that by taking yesterday's long route-and, our route today is longer than the group's ride today. Hmmm..The rangers said that it was the windiest it'd been since the beginning of the year, and warned us to watch out for falling trees. The advice: If you hear cracks, or something like thunder, don't think it to be nothing - it's a tree starting to fall. Decision delayed, though, until after we watched Old Faithful spout, and did some walking around the grounds. Someday I'll need to come back and stay at the Old Faithful Inn - looks wonderful, along the lines of the Ahwanee in Yosemite. And, yes, Old Faithful is pretty amazing. Actually, the whole area is. The pots and the pools the geysers, you have to see them to believe it. Totally cool, totally bizarre, and totally unique. Headed off late for Yellowstone Lake and Grant Village - I guest the winds weren't as bad, but we had a couple of passes in front of us. Thankfully, they were shaded. I heard the sounds of trees cracking that the rangers warned us of. We saw one fallen tree that, perhaps an hour previously, had fallen and closed the road. But, pedaled on we did... climbed the passes, and were fooled by false summits. I was tired...4 passings of the Continental Divide - didn't even stop for the last one. While tiring, there was no question I was jazzed to be riding through the Park. We did arrive at Grant Village, where even the store owner took one look at me when I was searching for bananas and said, "you look tired." Yea, no shit. Tired, dehydrated, and hungry... But, it's amazing what a clean (and private) shower will do, as well as a reasonable meal, in an amazing place. It was also great to sleep in a bed!! (And, yes, thanks to John who didn't want to wear dirty cycling clothes, we actually washed our clothes!) Not much nightlife, not even the night skies - too tired.
Continental Divide Crossing #5
Enuf Already!
The Grand Tetons & Jenny Lake


Day 15: June 30, 2002 - Grant Village to Jackson Lake Lodge (and Jackson) 48 miles; TOTAL: 1097 miles
[Photo Album]

Left reasonably early on Sunday, even though we got to sleep in until 6:30am. (Yea, since when is sleeping to 6:30 sleeping in??) On the road by 7:30. . . wanted to avoid most of the traffic as the shoulders narrow the last 20 miles out of the park, and we had a long day of cycling in front of us. Also, wanted to try and avoid the headwinds that kick up, badly, in the afternoon. (I hope that we don't follow these headwinds across the country or it'll be a long, long 9 weeks.) Tomorrow, thankfully, is a day off. I need it - 2 days off, in 14 days, is a bit hard. 7 more weeks of this is feeling like a really long time. What was I thinking? The scenery today was incredible. Perhaps the best. . . The ride through the park was hilly, though net elevation loss. Also crossed the divide once. Most beautiful, was the Snake River, the falls, and the plethora of wildflowers. Unbelievable. Also unbelievable was the fire damage. Dead trees all around - and, mostly from the '88 fire. I couldn't believe the damage. But, the old dead trees, juxtaposed with the new growth, allowed one to feel as if they were a part of the rejuvenation process. Most spectacular - and this goes down as one of the great 'oh my goshes, I can't believe my eyes' of my life, was turning a corner and seeing wildflowers, Jackson Lake, and the stunning tops of the Tetons. Even now, as I sit on Dornan's porchdeck a day later overlooking the Tetons, I can't believe my eyes. The snowcapped peaks, jutting out of the flats against the brilliant blue sky look like a fabulous theater set. They just don't look real. I love them. These miles, despite the headwinds, are great. I stopped at the Jackson Lake Lodge as it was around lunchtime, and I wanted to seek what Karen and Frank were raving about. Turns out that this place is heaven. Also bought a map. My mind was churning again. We go to Dubois from Jackson on Tuesday, which means that we have to cycle past the lodge. Hmmmm, 38 more miles into Jackson, only to turn around a day later to cycle the same 38 miles back. I've done enough cycling. . . .I could leave my bike at the lodge, jump a shuttle into Jackson for the night, and come back out tomorrow, on Monday, rest and recuperate, and, on Tuesday, leave from the lodge to meet up with the group. The bike stays at the lodge, doesn't get into a car. That counts. It's not cheating. It's all by pedal power. Hot, tired, and not eager to ride gratuitous miles (eg, miles for nothing), I decided to book a room for Monday night. Jumped a shuttle to town, packed up some more minimalist things, and hooked up with my friends Brian and Robin in Jackson Hole for the evening.

Brian and Robin are folks I met on my Italy cycling trip last fall who have managed to find work, and build a life for themselves, in Jackson, WY. How lucky can they be. . . It was a real treat to stay in a home (more than I thought - camping has been great, and really comfortable - but I wasn't relishing the thought of the zipper symphony at 6:30 am this morning as folks were preparing for the bus ride to Yellowstone.) I definitely need a day off - My regular life is too scheduled, and I'm finding that, though this trip is fantastic, our days are too scheduled, and full, as well. One would think that there's plenty of free time, but, somehow, between all the riding and riding life's necessities, there isn't much time to do nothing. I'm craving downtime, and some alone time. . . They opened their home, graciously, and I had another normal shower. .. . and a normal evening. They live in walking distance to downtown, so we walked into town, met John and Paul, who are both excited about not having to don their bikes again as this is the end of this trip for them (though they're both talking about joining for a couple more weeks - and, in fact, John's leaving his bike with the group and has committed to join for the last two weeks), and went to an all you can eat gourmet pizza place. It doesn't sound great, but, it was, and just the fix for hungry cyclists. (BTW, John had to get his bike to Jackson, so he did ride the whole way!) It was great to spend time with Robin and Brian, learn about this fabulous town, have our own town tour guide (eg., where to find the best coffee and bagel), and just get to hang out for a few hours and share stories and lives. . . . It really is amazing that Robin and Brian have managed to build lives in a town that sports skiers and cyclists by avocation, and vocations that require one to focus on the service industry. They've broken out of the service industry, have real day jobs, but follow their passions. Robin (Lisa, Sherry, Steve, Joe and Vivian you'll be glad to know) broke into the pro racing circuit this year and, along with Brian, is thinking about all sorts of things. She's quite modest, though Brian is honest and her future is bright - - We all think about Italy, and realize how fortunate we were to land with such a great group. I'd go on vacation with any one of them again - They're thinking, and I'm hoping, that they'll come to California this fall for their anniversary and Waves to Wine, or perhaps this winter for some skiing in Tahoe, or, both. There's an open invitation!!

Slept in this AM to 7 gosh, getting spoiled), and am just delighted at a day off. John voiced concern when I decided to stay at the lodge tonight that perhaps I'll jump off the trip with them today, and stay at the lodge all summer. Though I couldn't afford to do this, John mentioned that I could join the staff of the lodge. Hmmmm, tempting, I know, because another 7 weeks of this, while I know (intellectually, know, that is) it will be fun, will be hard. Though the body is working and nothing is terribly broken, I'm fatigued. Just plain old tired. I have to believe that this will pass, though I hope it passes soon. And, I hope these winds disappear - soon!! I know that Vivian and Joe will be joining in a few weeks, and that's certainly fun. . . If any of you have plans to be out west, please let me know. It'd be great to be able to hook up with you, and a real boost and encouragement.

I downloaded email this am, and must say that the encouragement from the messages, and the cards received last week are welcomed, and do make a difference. Thanks! I'm having a fabulous day today - I've spent the last couple of hours sitting on the porch of Dornan's (which sports an amazing deck overlooking the Snake River and the Tetons), nursing a glass of wine, downing most of a pizza, writing. The view, as mentioned above, is of Grand Teton and the Snake River. It doesn't get much better (even though I awoke in Brian and Robin's guest room this am overlooking SnowKing, Jackson's town ski slope, which, also, is amazing). I'm about to figure out a way to get up to Jackson Lake Lodge soon, to hang out some more, hook up with Paul, and his (and mine) friends, Dave (Lai) and Cobin who drove out from home so that the three of them could play in the Tetons and Yellowstone for a few days. We'll hang out some more, perhaps do a float trip down the Snake River (though I'm perhaps too tired for even that), or, even better, hook up for dinner at the lodge with Brian and Robin. Whatever it is, the scenery's great, the nap will be wonderful, and the water activity, whether it's a pool or the river, fabulous; and getting to share it with some friends from home, a peaceful grounding.

Though I haven't by any stretch of the imagination spent every moment, or perhaps even most moments of this trip with John and Paul (my two friends from home who joined the first two weeks of this trip), it'll be sad to bid them farewell this evening. While the exact description eludes me, there's a certain sense of comfort and peacefulness in getting to meet new people, but also spend time with Paul and John, and deepening these friendships, which will, thankfully, continue to be a part of my daily life. I'm glad I've had the chance to spend some of the last two weeks with them...

To Paul, who's training for the crazy Death Ride (a one day, 16,000 foot, 129 mile ride in the Sierras) in 2 weeks, I wish him the best of luck, and hope that he makes all 5 passes. While I just about died on the 1400 foot climb 3 days ago from Virginia City to Ennis, Paul did it TWICE. He also did the Teton Pass climb twice yesterday. For some of you folks that just say - well, Paul's a biker geek, the truth is that while he may be a biker geek, he, even by his own admission, is a slow climber. The number of hours he spends on the road is pretty amazing. . . basically, he's one of the most tenacious riders I know. He puts his head down, pedals for as long as it takes, doesn't complain, and gets there. Goodness knows, I complain a lot. And, I'm a fair weather cyclist - I don't like it when conditions are less then perfect - too hot, too cold, too wet, too flat, too hilly. . . . So, Paul, here's to an awesome Death Ride experience - however many passes you complete. And, I only hope that this summer I will have 25% of the tenacity you possess, because, if I do, I will make it across the country. And, to you John - Mr. Speedy - thanks for the pulls along the way, the encouragement to keep on going, and the positive attitude. Thanks, too, for your sense of adventure and wanting to figure out a way to see Yellowstone, even if we had to do it on our own. (It was nice to share the 'if there's a will there's a way' attitude) And, thanks for understanding (and tolerating) my desire for some solitude, as well as my slow cycling. . . Assuming you do come back - we're going to put a 50 pound weight in your bag so that, perhaps, just perhaps, we'll be able to keep up with you!!

I look forward to seeing you both back this summer. I, and the group, will miss you.

And, for me, sorry about the lack of updates the last few days. I'm trying to get the technology dialed in, and hope to have pics in a few days. Hopefully, this next week, despite the most climbing of any week, will allow me to dial in a schedule and routine that's comfortable - both physically, as well as psychologically. Even without that, though, there's no question that this summer's journey is a blessing, and I'm very thankful and fortunate, to embark and experience this journey - while I'm the only one I knew doing the whole 9 weeks, the folks who are joining for a week, or even a day, and those cycling compassionate friends or cycling friends who are not physically along this trip but here in spirit, are a part of the team making this dream a reality - thanks for the support, and the spirit all in the name of raising funds for breast cancer research. That's the grounding, and what grounding it is.
Grand Teton National Park
Duff Day at Grand Teton Lodge


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