Catfish on a bike part 3
Part 1 started mid July 2000 as a ride to prove some things to myself and others. There is life after major back surgery and reconstruction. I decided one night while at a Spinning convention to ride the bicycle from Wisconsin to Los Angeles California to the next Spinning conference. Some people wished me luck, some laughed and said yea right others offered some advice while others wished they could do the trip them selves. This ride lasted 3 1/2 months
Getting ready to tour was hectic. I had about 6 weeks to find and buy a bike and all the gear, move out of an apartment figure out a route and take care of a bunch of loose ends.
To say this 1st trip was an adventure is an understatement. I kept an online interactive log on Bicycle Bobís web site. That site since closed down and the journal and all its posts are lost in cyber space. I did however print it out one day and have it on paper in a box some place.
The route started at my place in western Wisconsin and headed north up the Great Mississippi River road HY 35 north I Made 54 miles the first day and camped in a state park. I already figured out that first day I had way too much stuff along I just didnít realize how much of too much yet. To give you an idea of how much weight I carried I could barley pick up my loaded bike. I took every thing the online packing lists suggested taking. I quickly figured out these folks writing these lists never really did a loaded tour. Every item needs at least 2 uses or it should be left behind.
The second day of riding I made other 5o miles and found some big hills. I decided right then to get rid of stuff that night. I set up camp along the river at a free camp site. I met the people camping on both sides of my site. I dumped out all my stuff and discarded about 25 lbs of extra stuff and pitched most of it in the trash can and never thought of any thing about it.
I got up early and left before any other campers were up yet and made another 55 miles and some really BIG hills most likely the 2nd highest hill in Wisconsin I was glad I got rid of some stuff but I still had too much weight. Remember the stuff I discarded? One of the campers found all this stuff in the trash can and freaked out. He called the local sheriff and they had these thoughts I got abducted by aliens or some foul play happened. One of the items I tossed was an address book; since I had a journal I transferred the addresses and phone numbers into the first page of my journal rather than carry two books.
The sheriff dept went though the address book and started to call people. The first one to answer is my sister and they tell her they are about to start dragging the Mississippi river to find my body. She was most likely a little concerned but knowing me and my methods figured I had good reason to toss this stuff, however the sheriff could not understand why I would get rid of so much good stuff. For some unknown reason I called her that night and I got the story and had her call the copís t let them know not to drag the river.
I kept getting rid of stuff until I got it to a manageable amount and everything needed to have at least two uses or it got trashed or sent back home.
Every day I rode and got stronger I was about 220 lbs when I left and felt every bit of it going up hills. The days went by every thing was new, ride, eat, make camp write in the journal sleep get up and do it all again. At first I was just interested in putting in miles later, I wanted to see big numbers on the odometer Later I got more interested in the people and places along the way and wondering about the history of everything. I just let the ride take its own pace.
Days off at first were scheduled I was never ready for a day off when it was scheduled and would end up with a day off on a nice day and riding on a rainy day. I learned to keep going and my body would tell me when it was time for a day off. If I struggled all day and the miles didnít seem to go by I knew it was time for a rest day, if I found myself in a very interesting place I would take a day off just didnít plan them much.
I rode mostly alone at first. The few people I saw were going the other way. I was on the northern tier route. Minnesota, North Dakota Montana Idaho etc. All I knew was ride west and when I got to the ocean make a left hand turn till I got to L A. The directions sounded really simpleÖ. But it is everything that happens in between those points that matters most. If you read part one on Bicycle Bobís site you know what I am talking about.
There was hot dry weather at first. This year was a drought. I made my first major climb up and over the Rocky Mountains on ďGoing to the Sun Hy in Glacier national park. I felt proud and called myself an accomplished climber after that 3 hr climb. The ride down the other side was fast it was the first time I hit 40 mph on a bike. I wasnít smart enough to change into a dry jersey at the top and was freezing going down the other side in the shade. The climb from the east was tuff but I could see the climb from the west would be more difficult.
The climb over Mc kinziee (sp?) pass in the Cascades that damn near did me in as the weather turned and got cold rain windy sleet and even a few snow flakes absolutely the worst day ever for me on a bike but by night fall there was a double rain bow and things had turned in to one of the best days to remember. Major forest fires and riding through smoke and trees burning on booth sides of the road some falling into the road way, being rescued by a couple from Washington in a van that drove me 60 miles out f the smoke. Having to go north into Canada to escape the fires and adding another 300 miles of adventure to the trip. Riding down the coast meeting other touring cyclists from around the world and finally pulling into LA and riding along the beach looking 40 lbs lighter and 3 months worth of road on my face and body and bike. I remember a young boy riding an expensive bike with his Dad and saying ďDaddy, look at that guy (me) he has all that stuff on his bike and looks like a bumĒ The kid was curious but the dad just said oh he must be home less or something donít get too close to him. I just laughed and rode on to Manhattan Beach where I was going to stay for a week.
I had no clue what to expect this first time out. I found most everyone I met on the road was curious and wanted to talk and ask questions. In the small towns through the heartland of America the town parks were open to through cyclists to camp and most have pools you can shower and take a swim. Town people come by to chat offer food and or shelter. Some times I grab an occasional cheap motel they can be found for 20 or 25 bucks,. or hostiles at times to get inside and into a real bed.
Part one started in mid July 2000 and finished in late October 2000
Part 2 began in mid August of 2001 and in hindsight was probably too late to begin a cross country tour. The weather got cold and I ran into snow in the mountain passes. For this ride I took the train to Portland and rode back to Wisconsin thinking I would catch a tail wind all the way. Let me tell you if you expect a tail wind, count on a head wind!.
There were many fond memories from part two. I got to ride through some places I missed the 1st year due to the fires. I was on the road on 9-11 and was effected as everyone else was by it and just like everyone else can remember exactly the day and where and what I was dong and who I was with when I first started hearing the news. I pulled into a town and holed up for a few days and was glued to the tv like most everyone else.
To finish up the ride I got back into Wisconsin and headed north for the spectacular fall colors the day temps were crisp sunny fall days just right for riding the nights were just COLD for camping and found myself being cold in my tent most nights. When I could find a cheap motel or an invite into someoneís house for the night that was a welcome choice.
I wanted to tour again in 2003 but was busy with other things, including a new job, and building a garage that became a cabin instead. And that brings me to now and ďcatfish on a bike part 3Ē
Today if Friday July 9, 2004 I have one more day to work Monday. I really have a dream job I pretty much make my own hours and work with and for some very nice people. The pay is adequate. But there is something missing I donít know what it is. I am not going on this ride to find some profound answers because, I really donít even know what the questions are.. I am not doing a charity fund raising with this ride although I have thought about it. . Iíve been involved with many charity rides, both as a participant and involved with planning and implementing. The ride is just about taking time to just ride and see what is over the next hill or arround the next corner.
How long will I ride? I donít know I will ride until I am finished. My supervisor gave me 10 weeks I may or may not be done by then. Where am I riding? This I know for sure I am starting at my place at Desoto Wisconsin along the Mississippi river I am riding south along the river. At some point in Illinois I can catch he trans am route west I want to go to the Grand Tetonís then head someplace else maybe west maybe north maybe a big loop back to Wisconsin. Do you want to ride along? I will stop at libraries along the way and post about the ride. Stop by read some and leave a message of encouragement or just tell me Iím nuts, anything is fine / really. When on the road it is so refreshing to log on and find someone is thinking about you.
Equipment is my 2000 trek 520 of course I reworked the gearing. That first ride t get a real low granny 22 up front and 34 in the back rarely used but thankful for it when needed. I added an unconventional big ring for days of flat riding and tail winds. Continental top tour 2000 tires 700c 32 mounted on 36 hole Bontreager Clydeís I used 37ís last trip they were a little slower but made for a nice ride Ill let you know how I like the 32ís I like my older version of the 520 since it has a quill stem, the new ones have thread less head set. . The quill allows me to raise and lower the handle bar height as my back warrants. Remember my back is held together with plates and screws.
I carry a whisper lite stove, small cook kit, North Face talus tent, kelty sleeping bag therma rest pad, Madden panniers (expedition set) handle bar bag. I got one of those head lamps that clip to my helmet and doubles as a flash light. 35 mm Camera
One last thought, I know some people get wigged out because of bad grammar and spelling. I type slowly, and after riding 60-80 mikes the one free hour in the libraries goes by so fast there is no time to make the corrections so I will apologize in advance for that.
Almost ready to ride/ catfish
07-10-04, 03:07 PM #2
Registered: Apr 2002
Location: Chicago Whooooooooooo Catfish!
Keep up the travelogues, and good luck with your trip!
Would you like cream with that?