Saturday, May 20, 2017

TABT Days 5 & 6

Days 5 and 6 were awful. Everything started out fine. I met another biker, we biked together for a bit and then we parted way so I could eat breakfast. I had a bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich that I believe was deep fried and then grilled in butter. Delicious! After breakfast, I hit the road again. About half an hour later I stop by the forest ranger station and asked if there was anything I need to be aware of. Oh there was a blizzard in the mountains last night? Oh they need 4 days to plow it? Oh that road is closed? Oh that's the road I'm supposed to take? Oh there's more routes I need to take later that they expect to still be closed and I'll have to take alternative routes for those too? Damn!

They tell me bikers do these "alternative routes" all the time. So I begin my way out that way.

I began "the climb" (photo of me at the 2000ft (610m) point. Not so bad, so I decided to continue on to the next camp site as I had only biked about 10 miles (16km). The next site would only take 2 hours to get to. On the way there, I lose ALL phone reception. Not even emergency call access.

I arrive, but it's closed.

So I decided to bike to the next one about 30 minutes away...also closed.

I bike to the next one which had an open gate and no closed sign...but the map said it didn't have drinkable water and I was out about an hour before and starting to get really thirsty.

I decided the next one would be best because it's got a convenience store and listed as having cabins. So I pull into the gate and notice I'm going to have to do a considerable climb down the road to get to it. After biking down 400ft (192m) I pull in front of the convenience store / cabin rental office. Nobody's in there and the door has a sign that says CLOSED. SUMMER HOURS 0800-1800. I glance at my phone and notice it says 6:25pm (18:25). MOTHER @#$_&-+()/*"

I began to feel the creep of despair. A girl walked across the parking lot and asked if I needed help. I told her I wanted to rent a cabin. Apparently the US government is more bureaucratic than the German government. You can't get one unless you reserve it 24 hours in advance. She suggests I go back to the one with no water, but to take 4L of water from there before I head over. SUCCESS! Or so I thought....

After climbing the huge hill again and then biking 3mi (5km) back downhill the way I just came from. I turn into the campground road and follow that road about 15 minutes as it's already getting dark. As I make the final turn for the campsite, I turn the corner but instead of a ranger I see a gate and a sign that says CAMPGROUND CLOSED. WTF? LIKE REALLY WTF? Words can't even express the level of despair I was at. So I climbed the gate with my bike and went to campsite #5. I put up my tent and threw​ in the sleeping bag. I began to cry because this was the most vulnerable I had ever felt; then fell asleep. The time was 8:30pm(20:30).

Around 12:30am (00:30) I was suddenly awoken to the sound of CRUNCH CRUNCH CRUNCH outside my tent. I suddenly needed to pee. I layed there still, without making a sound. After about an hour of hearing nothing more, I finally used the bathroom and then layed back down. I was mostly in/out of sleep until my alarm went off at 4am(0400).

DAY 6 was finally here!! After the rough day, the day before, I decided I needed to start the day off with a positive outlook. So I bike up the mountain beyond the convenience store and have a coffee by the lake. I was in a good mood because the internet finally came back. So then I  start the trek up the 2000ft (610m) to the peak of the mountain.

Between my legs being weak, cars zooming by ever 5-15 seconds, breathing in only car exhaust, no shoulder, and the side of the road being a snow and lava rock mixture; I was not able to bike very far. I had to PUSH the bike up the @$_&-+*# mountain. All 19mi(30.5km). This took me about 8 hours. All the while, cars are still close to hitting me. And I'm having to walk through the snow/lava rock mixture, which provided no traction.

When I finally reach the peak of the mountain, I broke down in tears again because I knew I could fly down he mountain and be at my hotel in no time. Except that I had to ride the breaks the whole time because the cars were not moving over at all. Even on the downhill, I only had car exhaust to breathe in.



I'm finally at my hotel. I'm alive. I survived. THAT SAID... I need to ask the hive mind of the internet. Should I change my plans? Should I move off and try to find a different route that might be biker friendly until I get beyond Colorado? The only time I've enjoyed myself so far was on the Eugene/Springfield bike path, where I was in nature and not a busy highway.

Another option would be to rent a car and drive to different bike paths along the way and still bike my 40-60 miles every day until I get down to Colorado? It seems less genuine that I'm going across America, but I'd be happier and I'd still bike from Colorado and doing the full 4000miles (6400km).

Or am I just overreacting? Is this just the mind playing a trick on me because it's under so much stress? I know I'm in love with biking in general because my legs and stomach are HOT after just 1 week of biking this much. But I kept feeling like my leaving Berlin was final and I keep going back to that, every time I have a car zoom by.

If there wasn't going to be more alternative routes ahead, I'd think I was overreacting.

Distance for the day: 33mi (53km) and 35mi (56km)
Total distance: 203 mi (327km)

17 comments:

  1. Hi Michael,

    I just wanted to let you know that I really enjoy following your journey. The good, the bad, and the ugly parts of it. Sucks that you had to detour because of the storm, but I'm glad you powered through. You'll get through this rough patch.

    What you are doing is so inspiring. I used to enjoy biking until my asthma got really bad, but since reading your blog and following your photos on Facebook, I decided that I can learn to manage the asthma and ride again. I got myself a road bike and will start cycling to work at least once a week to start (a total of 21 miles rt).

    Hope you got a good night sleep and a smoother day 7. I look forward to more of your adventures. Keep up the great spirit.

    Best,

    Adrian Kyzer

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    1. Yes! Overcome your obstacles. You can do it too. Even if you have to ease into it, maybe it'll even help with the asthma. Good for you. I'm so proud of you. :-)

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  2. I think your mind might be playing some tricks on you. That said, you need to keep your personal safety in mind - but these are the challenges that you're going to look back on with fond memory of how hard you were able to push yourself.

    You are inspiring a lot of people with this trip – myself included. Just be safe, take it one day at a time, and if you need to go super slow for your safety and comfort for a few days – do that, you have it built into your schedule.

    Rooting for ya... next time I'm in Berlin I want to hear stories from the trip.

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    1. It might be less enjoyable if I get stuck on more highways that are out of control, but I can push through and I will.

      Glad to see I'm having a positive impact on others :-)

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  3. I'm rooting for you too -- I totally understand the car issue, and if there are routes you can shift to without the highway, then I'd definitely switch. If there aren't, well then that's way harder. Maybe you can reach out to a local cycling group near where you are for advice?

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    1. So far it looks like there are a few quieter paths to take. I'll try one out tomorrow to see how that goes. :-)

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  4. Love following your adventure, Deppy! I agree with David, I think you're just stressed but of course you need to keep your personal safety in mind. I'd see how you feel about the alternative routes after you've had a good night's sleep and aren't so frazzled. Rooting for you and stay safe!

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    1. Big thanks! Yeah, stress of 2 days of endless issues got to me. I'm taking an off day and already feel way better. I just need to better plan my backup for a few days and a few options. Looks like the alternative routes ahead might not impact me fully since I'm a slower biker still.

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  5. Hang in there and be safe, pretty soon these rough days will just be great stories/memories as you keep pushing onward!

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    1. Haha thanks. Yeah, it's easier to deal with the frustration when there's no internet because I can turn the "pain" into forward movement. Luckily once I leave this town, I'll have no internet for almost 5 days. Just need to plan ahead for backup plans and keep pushing. If I have to modify my route for safety, that's a minor issue compared to quitting. :-)

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  6. If you don't get back on that trail in the morning, i'm not going to go to mediation!

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  7. Sometimes these routes just suck and you have to deal with cars and crap. Thing about it like this though: you have to pass/deal with this so you can move to the nicer parts (this essentially means: suck it up and deal, sorry!)

    Btw, keep posting! Really enjoying the posts

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    1. Oh this was Roeland. Stupid Google thinks I am unknown. Hurray I guess!

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    2. The downside is, those nice parts are less than 5% of the time. This route unfortunately was not what I and imagined it to be. I ended up biking forward another day, but to be honest I've not enjoyed a single day in the week that I went forward. I'll try my other ideas out and see if that helps. I'm really enjoying the biking and I'm getting stronger each day. I even biked 80km (50mi) yesterday without any pain. In fact I rode a bit through the town I stopped in because I was thinking ready to get off the bike. :-)

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    3. Stupid autocorrect.

      Was not what I had* imagined it to be

      I was not* ready to get off the bike

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  8. Michael, you are such an inspiration. I can't imagine having the guts to travel all alone and especially on a bike, going up steep hills. Not even if I was still your age :p

    You have great intuition and inner wisdom and I know that you will listen to that wisdom and do what is safest and best for you. I am enjoying reading your posts and seeing your photos. BTW, I got your post card and it made me smile so big to get it. Hopefully, you will enjoy Colorado much more than the places you've been so far, but doing what you're doing and making the best of the worst parts makes me so proud of you. I definitely hope we can meet up in the Hampton Roads area for that last leg of your trip. I will plan on being there and renting us a place in Newport News and then drive your thru the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel...Unless anything changes.

    Be safe and may the rest of the trip be less stressful. I love ya to the moon and back...Mom <3

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