Monday, July 18, 2016

Segment 5, Summer

7-22-16: bike day 28 - York, NE: 83.1 miles. I did 75, ran out of battery at mile 74; the support van on the way to church came by a mile later, so I didn’t have to bike the remaining 8 miles pulling a very heavy bike.

  Today I rode in a pace line with 4 other riders, and averaged 18 mph for the 75 miles. A very fun day using my new power, and getting a better idea of how long the battery will last doing different speeds and power settings. It looks like we have a shorter 60 mile day tomorrow, so I’ll have power all the way with no problem. I got away at the back today, and caught a light, but then put on some power, ran at about 25 mph and soon caught up to the group I wanted to ride with. Interesting, because 25 is about as fast as I like to go on the downhill areas, sometimes up to 30, but only if I can see that it’s a clean road. Running flat, on a rough road at 25 with the sun in my eyes did not seem dangerous. Hmm…

  Dinner on our own tonight, and the birthday girl wants Mexican food. Hopefully they will have something I can eat (like a hamburger). Then the plan is to see a movie after dinner (but will I stay awake?). Hmmmmmmm…

7-21-16: bike day 27 - Kearney, NE: 61 miles. I swept them all with Lesly. I swept them all with Lesly. Had dinner with the lovely Anne Troyer Winkel and Nelson tonight. Pacemaker lasted entire trip and worked great. Ready for a day off in two days.

7-20-16: bike day 26 - Gothenburg, NE: 91.0 miles. I did 93 miles, but I need to subtract about 8 miles because we were forced to take a detour on a sandy gravel road. I managed to ride about 2 of the 10 miles of gravel, but decided I break too easily to continue and take a chance.

  So after the first rest stop, I hooked up with Stephany and Rosie. They were kind enough to let me pull them all the way to the last rest stop. We were running at about 19 mph and I was having a ball. The pink stallion was performing wonderfully. I could cruise at 19 mph or 24 mph (which I did for a little bit) with about the same effort. Just put it in another gear and pedal the same. Lovely!

 They left me at the last rest stop, telling me to just catch up. So when I left a little while later, I kicked it up to about 22 mph, they had dropped back to about 17 mph, and so I had about caught them about 7 miles out, when I noticed that my battery was now about 8% and dropping fast. So, I backed off the speed, nursing the battery, but still about 5 miles I was again biking with no battery power, but still made it to the church, with an average of 17.8 mph. I wish I could ride like that without the pacemaker, but nevertheless, this is fun. Now I need a second battery to be able to swap out.

7-19-16: bike day 25 - Ogallala, NE: 67.0 miles (I did 44.01 miles).
So it seems I have a learning curve with the pacemaker. Charging it last night everything looked good. I went to bed and the battery was almost fully charged. This morning everything was dead. Or, more to the point, everything looked dead.

  So I rode the van to the first rest stop, where I had time to get my other bike off the roof of my car, get it set up properly, and rode it the rest of the day. (In planning ahead, I did not take my new bike home when I picked up Pink for this very possibility…wanted to make sure everything was working properly.) Got to ride one segment with Lauryn Kostopoulos, but she had trouble riding slow enough to stay with me! Nevertheless, a fun ride for me. 

  Rode the last segment with Lesly again, and had trouble staying with her also. Seems the kids keep getting stronger but I don't get stronger at the same rate. Hmmm …

 I talked with the bike store, and was told hopefully it was just a switch that got turned off, and everything will be fine tomorrow. I did a practice ride (to A&W Root Beer, settled for a float) and everything appears to be all charged up and working just great. Back to the pink stallion tomorrow to ride as long as the battery lasts.

7-18-16: bike day 24 - Sidney, NE: 102.2 miles. I did 97.3. The pink stallion was marvelous! I rode mostly with Lesly again, keeping a rein on the stallion. After the first rest stop Lesly left before me, so I took off, and let him have his head. I was cruising along at 30 mph in 5th level of 9 levels of poser. And, I was not even working hard. Caught Lesly easily, and then later in the day I was racing a train, but the train won. 

  At one point we had a tricky turn that was not marked well; I was following my GPS, so I had no trouble, but then decided to go back and mark the turn properly. E-assist allowed me to be able to do that. Mostly a fun day with the pink stallion and his pacemaker.

  After the 3rd rest stop my battery was depleting. So I cut back on the power level and started nursing the battery. About 5 miles away from the last rest stop I turned the power off and rode into the last stop under my own power (“powering” a bike that now weighs about 50 pounds). I thought about getting in the van at this point, but decided I could tough it out even if I lost all power. So I left, using only the 1st level of power, and was able to nurse that until about 15 miles from the church. At that point I was completely out of battery power, and was again pedaling this 50 lb bike on my own. Did I mention it was also hot? I began getting sick to my stomach, and finally had to call for the van to come get me with only about 5 miles to the church.

 So, I will totally love the pink stallion with his e-assist when I’m able to procure a second battery for the longer mileage days.

7-17-16: off day 4 - Cheyenne. Breakfast before church this morning, then lunch, then an ice cream run. I think I’ll skip dinner, and just make the group meeting before bed. After this lazy day I’m ready to stretch out the pink stallion tomorrow for 102 miles! Good test for my battery for distance.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Segment 4, Summer

7-16-16: bike day 23 - to Cheyenne, WY: 48.1 miles. Zero miles for me on this relatively easy ride, more down biking than up today, for the rest of the Blue riders, while I am still at home, tending to the pink stallion, which is now ready. He has been through his paces, and is fully recovered from his pacemaker surgery. The pacemaker is a Bafang 750 w Mid Drive motor with a Luna Cycle 52V 13.5Ah Battery. It has a full color display so I can monitor its performance. It operates from my cadence pedaling, rather than using a torque system. He is quick and responsive, wants his head, and is hard to hold back. I may just have to let him run for a while. Now it's a matter of how long he will last; he may tire out before the end of our longer rides, and I may have to nurse him to the church at times.

7-15-16 bike day 22 - Laramie, WY: 65.4 miles. Absent from this route also, while I have the Stallion out for some recovery riding at home, putting final touches on him to have him ready to rejoin the Blue ride tomorrow.

7-14-16 bike day 21 - Walden, CO: 102.3 miles. The bike route was over Rabbit Ears Pass. Since I was home taking care of the Pink Stallion's recovery, I missed biking the pass this year. Recovery is progressing nicely and I took the Stallion out for a short easy ride. Lauryn helped me by riding with me on a borrowed mare.

7-13-16 build day 3 - Craig, CO: I missed the build day as I went home to be with the Pink Stallion as he got his pacemaker.

7-12-16: bike day 20 - Craig, CO: 87.4 miles. I skipped the second segment and ended up only doing 70 miles. Another tough day of hills and wind, but the wind was not awful like it has been. Even had some tailwind on the last segment.

  Rode with Lesly again, except she skipped two segments, but she did help me with my second flat tire. The first one was flat in the church, so it was easier to change, but this one was on the road, just after the last rest stop. Found a piece of glass that I could not feel on the inside of the tire, but it was where there was a hole in the tube. I love it when I find out why, hate it when I can find no reason, which means it will probably go flat again until I find out why.

  I am exhausted tonight, but enjoyed a delicious cookout at the park, provided by the local chapter of FC. Since I am completely beat, I would have preferred to grab some fast food and come back to bed, but the cookout was great. And, as soon as I finish this, I will be off to bed.

  Tomorrow is a work day here in Craig. Unfortunately I will be getting a ride to a car rental and be on my way home. I’m having the Pink Stallion fitted with a pacemaker (electric assist), and plan to ride it the rest of the way. I like my new bike, but love the Pink Stallion, so it should be fun getting back on him with easier pedaling. Got word today that parts have arrived, so I’ll drive to Boulder to check on the operation. If all goes as planned, Friday I’ll have it serviced and ready to get it back to work. Lois will then drive me back to the Blue ride in Cheyenne Saturday. I’ll be missing three bike days, as well as the build day, unfortunately, but will be ready to pedal to Nebraska when I ride again July 18th.

7-11-16: bike day 19 - Dinosaur, CO: 62.9 miles. I did it all!!! Started out fairly strong, staying ahead of the sweeps, the knee only bothering me a little for the first 7 miles or so. Rode with Lesly (spelled correctly this time) again. However, when we got to the last rest stop, Lesly started talking about getting in the van. I told her she could not do that, as she would miss the chance to ride into Dinosaur, CO with a dinosaur. That convinced her to get on her bike and finish the ride with me. Well, we both struggled the last 24 miles, all uphill to some degree, but we made it.

  Then Lesly made me stop at an ice cream place less than a mile from the church. We ordered food, and of course I had to order a chocolate malt, just to save face with the other riders (9.5!). This is at least my third time stopping in Dinosaur, and it is fast becoming one of my favorites. The previous stops here we were at the school; this year we are at the Baptist church, the school having closed. This church is great, and is now the smallest church I have stayed at with FCBA.

 Only saw the sweeps briefly at the rest stops on today’s ride! A beautiful day for riding, weather was great, only a little wind for a while today, no major steep climbs. Another great day of riding for FCBA. And, I may even have time for another malt after dinner. ;-)

7-10-16: bike day 18 - Roosevelt, UT: 99.6 miles (I did 91 miles). Leaving the church, I thought I had my Garmin and my iPhone with "Ride With GPs" all set and working. Well, I forgot to start the Garmin, and my phone had yesterday’s ride, not today’s ride. So first I stopped and got the iPhone working, then noticed the Garmin not working, so stopped again. Then I noticed the iPhone was on the correct route, but had yesterday’s mileage in total miles, so stopped again to try to fix that. Thought I had it, stopped again and decided I was just not going to make it correct, so rode on, mad! Before starting, I had decided that I would try to ride the entire distance today, 99.6 miles, but now just 5 miles into the first climb, mad, and with the sweeps on my wheel, I decided to just do whatever. I was going to get in the van at the first check point, about 10 miles into the ride. Besides, my knee was hurting a little. So, now mad, and trying to get my head on right, my core started to get cold, so it was an easy decision to stop at 10 miles, which I did. Will the child in me never leave?

At the first rest stop, about mile 20, I am warm. I hooked up with Lesly and started to ride again and was starting to get out of my funk, and together Lesly and I talked each other into riding the rest of the way, and so I only missed the 9 miles of the first climb. Lots of hills and lots of wind today, both headwinds and crosswinds. I actually prefer the headwinds, because the crosswinds can gust and knock you down, especially if you are going too fast downhill. As we were heading toward the last rest stop we had been trading the lead, with both of us trying to slow us down as we fought the winds and hills. With about 15 miles to go we made the last rest stop very short, and Lesly took the lead, determined to slow us down. Well, she did a great job because we were very comfortable just cruising along for a while, when I looked down at my computer and saw that we were going almost 20 MPH. Hey Lesly, we finally caught a nice tailwind, and we relaxed and floated into Roosevelt, UT. So, except for the first section, another nice day on the bike!

7-9-16: bike day 17 - Heber City, UT: 41 miles. A short day of miles, but bit of a tough day with all the climbing and then headwinds. A fun day for me, as I managed to ride it all, with my knee about 95% pain free (hurting some after the ride, but not bad). About 16.5 miles to the summit with the grades running mostly between 5% and 6%. We left the church, made a few turns, and were suddenly looking at a very steep climb. Not long, but I registered it as a 15% grade, which got a lot of us working very hard. My knee held up mostly all day, and I was riding strong.

  During the climbing out of the city we had this rather long incline, and I found myself riding about 5 feet behind a jogger who was on the sidewalk with a dog on a leash attached to his belt. Now I could keep pace with him, but I could not catch up, let alone pass him. I told him he had an advantage because his dog was pulling him, and after telling him what we were doing and why, we hit a flatter area and I was able to get ahead of him.

  I have been (mostly teasing) all the people that I ride with about making “friends with the headwinds and the hills”, and today I actually found myself enjoying “my friends”. Riding strong all day, through the hills at the start, and then through the hills and headwinds later, I found myself totally enjoying the ride. It obviously slowed me down, but gave me more quiet time to have deeper conversations with myself, looking at the large lake we came upon, and enjoying the beauty of the Rockies (from the other side of geezerville).

 Peace, and love to all.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Segment 3, Summer

7-8-16: off day 3 - A lazy day off in Salt Lake City. Up early to go to breakfast with Matthew and Judah, and send them home. Greatly enjoyed having them riding with me this past week. Spent the rest of the day just hanging out at the church.

7-7-16: bike day 16 - Salt Lake City, UT: 84 miles (I rode 66.3). Finally another good day riding! And finally after 5 years, biking into Salt Lake City! A fabulous day. Looking at the "lake" was a blessing after all these years.

  The start of the ride was about 18 miles of climbing, so i decided to start by riding in the van to the first rest stop, to rest my knee. This of course, put me well ahead of the sweeps, but I had to start by climbing the rest of the hill, which I took very slow, and in my largest geezer gear. Matthew had helped me raise my saddle slightly, and I was feeling some pain in my knee getting to the top. But then after a very nice 7 mile downhill, I started to actually pedal, and soon found my knee to be 95% pain free. I HAD FUN BIKING AGAIN! 25 miles to the next rest stop with no pain to speak of. I kept telling myself to slow down, and pace myself, but I was having too much fun. Leaving the second rest stop I got a jolt of pain again, but it eased up quickly and I had fun the rest of the day. 

  So here’s the thing: I have been riding in the van to not hold up the sweeps, or because of the knee pain, or both. And, I have been debating the question of electric assist for my bike, and feeling guilty about getting it. Well, no more! I have greatly appreciated the support I got with this decision in a previous post, so thank you all for that.

 Today, being ahead of the sweeps, and riding well, I was actually able to stop, take pictures, admire the view, and most importantly, able to stop and enjoy a chocolate malt at Steak N Shake (9.0) and still not see the sweeps. I have never been able to stop before in 12 FCBA rides to be able to eat food, take pictures, etc. So, if I have an electric assist bike, and it allows me to still raise money for FCBA, and have more fun doing it, then it is a done deal, and it will be worth it. So, I’m guilt free, and have ordered the bike to be fitted with the electric assist.

7-6-16: bike day 15 - Logan, UT: 98 miles. I only did about 40 (the first 20 and the third 20). Knee was bothering a lot, from the first pedal strokes to the final painful stop at third rest stop. I have raised the seat a little to see if that helps, and will try to get my knee taped again. I drove the van to the last rest stop and worked the support there. Fun again to be supporting, but only temporarily!

  Tomorrow I will ride into Salt Lake City to complete this third segment, and to finalize the three weeks I missed in 2011. Finally, the conclusion of my ‘first ride’ with FCBA!

 This week I have had my son and grandson riding with us. And today Judah rode his first century ride,100 miles at 15 yrs old! The kid is great! Well, of course he is. Duh.

7-5-16: bike day 14 - Pocatello, ID: 80 miles (I biked about 60). Headwinds again guessing, up to 30 mph. I was moving under 10 mph for most of the day. I hate not being fast enough to get away from the sweeps, so I got in the van at the first rest stop and rode to second rest stop. This put me ahead of everyone, but not for long! Some of these ‘kids’ are strong and fast. Not any climbing today, but the winds were like climbing a 6% grade for 80 miles.

  Pocatello is a nice little town. Found a bike store less than a block from church, and about 12 of us had our bikes worked on. While waiting for my bike I just happened to find a source for a chocolate malt ( 8.0) so a nice wait. At the ice cream store I picked up a card, called, and made a reservation with massage therapist Darla Siler Johnson, who was fabulous! She worked my legs hard, along with the rest of my body. Highly recommend her. Unfortunately I don't know anyone else living here that I could refer to her. Since I missed our dinner Darla drove us to dinner and then back to the church. Enjoyed getting to know each other a little bit. 

  First Baptist Church is providing breakfast for a 98 mile day tomorrow.

7-4-16: bike day 13 - Rexburg, ID: 82 miles. A great start to the morning. As I was loading the trailer, my good buddy Blake Smith showed up and surprised me! What a great treat to see him again. He went whole way in 2011, and also did the West Coast ride in 2012. 

  We left early to try to beat the wind forecast for later in the day, but found fog, cold, and dark for the first miles. My glasses got wet, so it was hard to see the narrow area to the right of the white line and the rumble strip. Cleared up by first rest stop and I shed my rain jacket, so, of course, we started to get some rain and cold again. At the rest stop we got to watch a small plane practicing aerobatics; flying straight up, doing loops, etc. Fun to watch! 

  Made it to the second rest stop but did not get away fast enough, and got chilled. Tried to bike and develop body heat, but decided to turn back and get in the van to last rest stop. Missed a nice downhill but got warm again, and took off for the church. Matthew and Judah soon caught me. Judah biked on, but Matthew biked with me the last 15 miles or so. The wind did find us - I’m guessing maybe 20 MPH or more. Nate had gotten a bike and was biking with us while taking photos. Judah was riding strong, looking like a natural biker. Lots of fun! 

 Macy taped my knee last night, and either the tape, the day off, or both, seemed to help my knee, as it performed much better.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Segment 2, Summer

7-3-16: off day 2 - The end of segment 2 has me driving to Salt Lake City to pick up my son and grandson, who are leaving their car there, and biking back to SLC with our riders. The rest of the group are acting like tourists in Yellowstone!

7-2-16: bike day 12 - West Yellowstone, MT: 74 miles. Headwind and slight uphill for most of the first 40 miles. My knee was hurting so I decided to sag for the next 20 and then bike to the church the final 14 miles. Took off, made a left turn catching some tailwind, and started pedaling easy, waiting for my knee to stop hurting. Finally decided it was swollen and was not going to stop hurting, so I turned back to the rest stop and sagged to the church.

 This was the last bike day for segment 2. My son Matthew and grandson, Judah, are joining for segment 3 to Salt Lake City!

7-1-16: bike day 11 - Ennis, MT: 55.5 miles. Got away from the church ahead of all but Dave and Jennifer. Dave took off but I stayed with Jennifer at about 20 mph for about 3 miles when a pace group caught us and tried to pass. Jennifer was having none of that, so they all dropped me fast. I managed to maintain a good pace until we got to the Lewis and Clark Caverns where we were scheduled for a tour. I decided to skip the tour and just kept on riding to try and beat some of the heat. So with no one to keep up with or stay with, I relaxed and just did a comfortable easy pace. Then it started to get hot, and with about 20 miles to go I started about an 8 mile climb. Not too bad a grade until about 5 miles to go when I was seeing 7% up and down from 5% which turned into a tough climb in the heat. I made it to the summit, took a selfie with the sign, and was resting in the only shade of an RV. Then a lady opened the door, asked me how I was doing, and if I would like a ham sandwich that she was making for her and her husband. I declined the food, but asked for water which I desperately needed to get through the last 11 miles. This is the kindness that I continue to experience each of the 6 years I have been biking for FCBA. Then, on to the church, hoping that none of the other riders would catch me and beat me to the church. Well my 2 or 3 hour lead was enough, and for the first time I was first. Maybe I should just wake up 3 hours earlier and leave before everyone else? Ok ,maybe it is just not important enough to be first, as it has never been a race. At least not for me.

6-30-16: bike day 10 - Whitehall, MT: 85.5 miles. I am still not feeling 100%, and with a long climb the first 20, I chose to help drive my car. Then I biked the middle two sections, for 46 miles. Felt pretty good and had fun riding at 23-24 MPH for 15 or more miles. I was with Stephany, and Leslie of DC3 fame, and we blew by Dave (one of the faster riders) who had stopped, and he had a time catching us. OK, so it was downhill, with a slight tail wind. Had some strong head winds for a while, and my support van had to take a bike off the roof because of a low tunnel. 

  Last night I had a tire that was low, so near the third rest stop when I saw a Toyota dealership, I decided to wait with my car, and take it to the dealer after the sweeps left. They found a nail, and repaired it best they could. If it holds air overnight it should be good. If not I will have to find another dealer to get a new tire. Not having fun with car problems this year. Tomorrow is a short day with a climb, and we are stopping as a group to visit some cavern; more on that tomorrow.

6-29-16: bike day 9 - Philipsburg, MT: 80 miles. First, thanks for all the well wishes on my riding! However, all that sweetness must have made me sick because I woke up this morning not feeling well. I managed to ride to the second rest stop, about 40 miles, before getting in the van to ride to the third rest stop. Tried to get it together and bike in, but after getting my bike off the van, I was just not feeling safe to ride, so back in the van. Napped all afternoon, and at least I’m not feeling worse tonight. Will have to see how I feel in the AM and decide to bike or ride. :-(  I want to bike, but will only do what I can.

6-28-16: bike day 8 - Missoula, MT: 62.3 miles, yet another climb day. Beautiful first 20 miles, climbs all day between 5% - 7% and all on roads. After the first 20 miles we were jumping on and off the interstate for short distances, having to keep catching the side roads. No malts yet today, chocolate or otherwise (otherwise not really even being an option!). Still some pretty riding, but it started to get hot after the last rest stop, but stayed under 100F. Today I made sure I had enough water.

  Rode some with Stephany and Julio; also with Ericka, then most of the last 20 miles with Diane Buckley-Maidt and Liz. Getting to know the new people a little better; starting to bond as family. 

  So, I’m a little short on donations, but still getting some coming in. Missing home, missing archery, missing my birds, and missing Hobbs.

  In 2013 I struggled with saddle blisters, and switched to supporting. In 2014 Lois and I supported together, and in 2015 I struggled mentally and with the heat, so I stopped biking and supported. This year no blisters, (just normal tired and sore butt), the heat is bearable, the mental is under control, and next week my son Matthew and grandson, Judah, will be joining me for a week. Life is great!

6-27-16: bike day 7 - Superior, MT: 66.9 miles, with another climb day today. Started out with about 7 miles of easy grades, switched to a dirt/gravel/rock combination, about 8 miles of climbing at 5% to 7% grades with one short area that I was not going fast enough to record the grade and I had to get off and walk maybe 20 yards. Otherwise It was a lot of fun on this section. Then a downhill - nice!. That was followed by another climb on a full gravel road, hard packed, but had to keep trying to dodge rumble areas in the gravel. That was followed by a great downhill to our last rest stop. I found a chocolate malt (well, you know, bought at a store), but it only rated a 6.0, but at least it was cold. The last 16 miles the weather started getting hot, and I ran out of water with about 5 miles to go, with the temp registering 110F-113F. Tired tonight 😴

Monday, June 27, 2016

Segment 1, Summer 2016

Note: these are entries taken from FB

6-26-16: off day 1 - Wallace, ID: spent our first rest day today by attending church, then a group of us enjoyed touring a silver mine, after which I worked on my bike to clean and oil chain.

6-25-16: build day 2 - Kellogg, ID: today we worked on a roof project and a shed project, tore out and replaced a window, widened a trap door for an access ladder, unloaded material, etc, etc. Some were over helping the local affiliate set up and start a pig roast, to which we were invited. Another great build day helping people in need of affordable housing. 

6-24-16: bike day 6 - 99.9 miles to Wallace, ID: some 6% hills to start and then on a flat trail for some 60 miles. Rained for most of the trail with temps at 45F the whole way. I had to double back a little looking for the last turn so I ended up 0.4 miles over the distance. I only got cold the last mile while trying to find our way, and then shivered for about 15 minutes in the shower trying to get warm. One week down! Build day tomorrow.

6-23-16: build day 1- Spokane, WA: I took the day off to get insurance papers filled out and filed. Made it to one of the sites for lunch and to take Ryan to the airport for his trip back to Americus. Ryan has done a great job with FBCA, starting the first ride in 2008 with a small group of whole way riders, to this year heading up 4 separate rides with close to 80 riders and support people - what a fabulous accomplishment! A big ‘oyee' to Ryan Iafigliola!!!!!

    Enjoyed a chocolate malt at a little diner today, that looked like it was from the 50's. They spoiled the malt a little with a squirt of whipped cream on top (I always seem to forget to ask for NO whipped cream), BUT, it gets a 9.5! Makes a guy consider moving here!

    Tomorrow is another long day, 99.5 miles. I hope I don't make a wrong turn and have to do a century. Although, if someone wants to make a generous donation to my ride, I will sacrifice and do the additional 1/2 mile.

6-22-16: bike day 5 - 74.5 miles to Spokane, WA: leaving after an early breakfast, I was pleased to be able to still ride my age in miles! Had a nice day mostly riding with my buddy Dan Sheridan, which made the day seem shorter. Also getting to know another group of great people that I’m riding with.

6-21-16: bike day 4 - to Wilbur, WA: a day off from the scheduled ride. My support car was damaged Sunday, nobody hurt, but the transmission needed to be replaced. It was towed into the nearest dealer, the transmission replaced, and then it needed to be picked up two churches back, so I had enjoyed the day in a rental car with Erica going back to get my car while the team rode on. We missed biking a 95 mile day, and did not get back to the Wilbur church until 11:30pm.

6-20-16: bike day 3 - to Sunnyslope, WA: finally, Stevens Pass, 70 miles, and good weather. Never saw the 11% grade, which is ok with me. I did have to stop a few times, mostly to talk to insurance people about the car (more later). The first stop I made was to shed some clothes; getting my leg over the cross bar, my heel caught and I fell over backwards on my butt. Smacked the back of my head good, but thankfully nothing to damage in that area! Small headache for a couple of minutes, with no serious issue. But, the helmet was compromised with that hard hit, so I will be replacing it ASAP (right A.J.?). The ride down was the most beautiful ride I have ever taken on a bike (sorry, Colorado).
6-19-16: bike day 2 - to Skykomish, WA: 52 miles, with a number of climbs that registered 12% and 14% grade. I biked them all except the last one when I ‘ran out of gas’ and walked some close to the top. Beautiful ride, great weather! Tomorrow we have Stevens Pass, which is about 15 miles to the top with mostly 6% grades, but 11% near the top. I have been waiting 5 years for this pass. Hope the ride will be worth it! 😀

6-18-16: bike day 1 of 45 - to Bothell, WA: swept and finished 44 miles! Had a flat tire, but it waited until I got to the church to go flat. I got help to use the new tire iron to put the tire back on; works great and helps prevent a pinch.

6-13-16: and so the 2016 FCBA begins today for to Washington I drive, part of the "blue ride" this summer

Monday, May 4, 2015

Reflection ... The Rag Man

Reflecting on The Fuller Center and what it means to me, I immediately thought of The Rag Man, and the number of times I have been asked about the rags on my ankle. I signed up to ride with The Fuller Center for Affordable Housing for a very selfish reason: I wanted to ride my bike across America, and this was the cheapest way I could find to do that. My reason changed as soon as I realized what our purpose was, namely helping families in need, and the story of The Rag Man. The nine rags that have been tied to my ankle over the last five years represent and remind me of the hundreds of people I have personally witnessed who have shared their love for their fellow human beings in need. It is the focal point of my continued riding, when it is becoming much harder to ride day after day, week after week, for this year 10 weeks. But there are still over 1 billion people in need of affordable housing in the world, and so I continue to do what I can.

So to recap, it was June 2011 when I first became aware of how The Rag Man story played out in my life. It started with the FCBA van stopping at my house on its way to the start of my first ride, Seattle WA to Washington D.C.

After breakfast at my house, eight of us climbed into the van, pulling the trailer, on our way to Boise and then Seattle. Michael Tiemeyer was driving and I noticed he was drinking from a St. Louis Cardinals cup, so I teased him about “keeping it safe” (me being a Cubs fan) “or it may end up out the window”. A while later after changing drivers, I got a text message: a picture of the Cardinals cup on my bike stored in the back of the van. And, so, another Cubbies vs Cardinals rivalry quickly started between Michael and me (all in good fun, of course).

Well, an accident on the expressway totaled the van and trailer; four riders went to the emergency room; and a lot of fast shuffling was done by a lot of loving hands to get the ride back on track and started on time. I was the only one hurt badly enough to leave the trip and go home (with a separated shoulder). Eight of us waited in a hotel lobby: me for my ride back home, and the other seven to get a ride on to Boise. My right arm now in a sling, with my Cubbies hat hidden, when Michael left the lobby I was able to sneak my Cubbies hat into his duffle bag. Michael opened his bag that night to find a dreaded Cubbies hat in his possession. And so for me, the story of The Rag Man started without my even knowing the story. As I was at home with my arm in a sling, riding a stationary bike trying to stay in shape and rejoin the ride, I learned Michael was wearing my Cubbies hat when he was not biking. I was being supported, encouraged, and loved by a guy I barely knew. And so after two weeks to stabilize my shoulder, one week to rehab, I was able to rejoin the ride. And in thanks for the support while I was gone, I showed up for the ride wearing that Cardinals hat.

For every ride I have been on, Ryan Iafigliola, the originator and yearly participant of FCBA, has read The Rag Man (The Rag Man by Walter Wangerin).  Following his reading we pass around a strip of cloth (a rag) and each person ties part of that rag onto the person next to us. This to me has become symbolic of the love and support I receive and give as I ride my bike across this fine country of ours, helping other people. It represents the love and support between the riders; between the riders and the church members who give us a safe place to sleep and provide great food; between the home owners and the riders; between the local Fuller Center affiliates that have prepared the worksite for us to help; and includes, as well, all the strangers we talk to along the way, who support us and pray for us.

There are now eight rags tied to my ankle, all wrapped together for strength (missing the 2011 one that broke and fell off). I have what amounts to a community of Christ's love on my ankle, reminding me of what is important in life: helping and supporting other people. I look forward to receiving that tenth rag at the start of the ride in June.

Go, Cubbies!


Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Spring ride is over ...

The Natchez Trace bike ride is an annual Fuller Center event, this being our fourth ride down the Trace. This time it was scheduled about a month later than the first three times, which made the ride so much more beautiful, with spring “springing”.

Weather report: it rained four of the six riding days, almost all day, but temperatures were much warmer than the last two years, so it was good riding. Still a bit of a hassle having to dry everything each night, but at least we didn’t have to lay on the hood of the van at the rest stops trying to warm up! I did get slightly chilled at a couple of rest stops, but warmed up again once we started riding. And, we had no rain on the work day.

Work day: we split up to work on four projects. I got to dig a ditch, clean up the yard, and then after lunch transfer over to the second project, roofing, to help pick up shingles. With the other two groups working on their projects we were able to help a total of four families, which made for a great day of service.

Biking: I rode the entire distance, no support needed, about 375 miles. I hooked up with 4 other riders and we rode a pace line each day, helping each other. We were an older group, but we pulled along one 25 year old rider. :-) Picked up other riders at times, getting up to maybe 10 riders total with us. In the past I have been mostly riding by myself, because I don’t seem to match up ability wise with many riders, although the double pace line we had last year was fantastic. 

Chocolate malt report:  DISMAL Only managed one, and that was a milk shake, so barely worth rating. 

Food:  we had to cook dinner two times, which was really good, but the rest of the time we had more great food provided by the host churches than we could eat. 

Summer ride: and now, on to the summer ride. I need to get a lot of saddle time, but have been sick this past week with some respiratory issues. Hope this clears up soon, ‘cause since I’ve been back this is now 9 days out of the saddle, and I need to be riding!  

I’m feeling better about the summer ride since the spring ride went so well for me. So, if I can get well soon, I feel I’ll be able to do the summer ride, and be ok doing it, although it is a huge mental challenge for me. So, here’s to health!

Oh, and, I still need donations to help with the summer ride, if you are so inclined.