Wednesday, May 31, 2006


We leave on Sunday and I can't wait!  I got my bike checked out yesterday and it's OK but it will need a little work when I get back.  I rode out to the beach after work yesterday and it was really windy but really pretty.  Ashley's foot seems to be a lot better so I have one less thing to worry about.  Mimi, of course, has completely recovered and is back to romping around the house all day long.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

I went on an AIDS lifecycle training ride this morning--  nothing very challenging just a slow 17 miles out to Tiburon on the flats.  The ride was staying for lunch and Margaritas and taking the ferry back.  I had a party in the afternoon so I ate my luna bar and headed back to San Francisco.  I felt a little sluggish and my bike definitely needs to get the gears tweaked but I think the rest of it will hold until after the AIDS lifecycle.  I'm going to head out tomorrow by myself.



Here's bike #2 that has been such a trooper this year. 

Saturday, May 27, 2006


Day 0 for the AIDS lifecycle is one week from today and I'm very excited. I was a little worried that after my long tour I would not be looking forward to it but I'm so excited and I find that my fondness for biking has increased instead of waned. I've been taking little rides before work and taking the slow way home almost every night this week. I haughtily boasted that I wouldn't be experiencing an separation issues from my tour but last night, I blew off plans with my friend nick and proceeded to wash and lubricate first my three bikes, then Jeff's bike, then the neighbors upstairs' bikes and then there wasn't anything with two wheels left to work on.

I had to go to Kaiser for a check up on Wednesday and some 70 year only russian lady totally felt me up on the Geary bus on the way back. And I wasn't even in bike shorts. She tried to make off like it was an accident but it totally wasn't an accident because the bus wasn't really crowded and the length of contact was ... extended. I'm looking forward to my layout in AARP magazine where I'll be photographed scantily clad filling out the medicare drug benefit forms.

I'm very pleased with REI this week as well. They reassembled bike #2 and luckily my half assed packing job did not result in any trauma to my bike this time. I'm never packing my bike again!!! I wouldn't have this time but there was no other option because I needed it right away. And that bike goes to Lombardi where I get free gear adjustments because I bought it there but the only way I can make it there on a weekday is on my bike. So.... it had to be assembled at REI. They did a great job for $30. Can't beat that. I was back a few days later to get a gear adjustment on Bike #1. I could probably save a lot of money if I learned to do all this crap myself but I'd rather go to the professionals rather than risk my bike or my safety with my own crappy repairs. My cleaning skills are pretty good though.

Today we had to go out to the Richmond to get a smog cert for my truck. And it passed! It turns 10 next month and shows no signs of slowing down. We had lunch at a Korean place and I had Bi Bim Bop which is about my favorite and it came in the hot stone bowl which made it better still.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

I got up early and had a nice bike ride this morning.  Nice to see I'm still interested in biking.  My bike is assembled at REI and I'm going to go get it after work.  I'm excited that it wasn't ruined because I had to pack it myself and I did a crappy job.  The guy at REI was a real trooper and didn't scold me on my half assed effort but rather showed me the important parts on my bike I'd neglected to proptect.  Ouch! 

Monday, May 22, 2006

Back to work!  I've been eating all day like some kind of crazy person.  Today it's OK but I've got to get back to regular diet pretty quickly or I won't be very happy with the results.  Taking my bike to get reassembled after work.  I need it for this weekend because I've got a training ride because I'm kinda out of shape :)

Day 28 - Travel Day SAV-SFO


Woke up at 6:30 very hungry.  I had a nice breakfast with Klaus who seemed a little sullen until he realized there was a waffle maker--  which I might point out that he has mastered the use of to the point that he knew there was a waffle maker in the room because he could recognize the ding it made when it was done cooking.  Stan took us to the airport where I hung out until my flight.  Flew on Delta Savannah to Atlanta and then Atlanta to San Francisco.  The flight to Atlanta was on an MD88 and it was really neat because it's such a short flight they don't need a lot of fuel and we were off like a rocket when we took off.  Easily made my connections to a 767-400 that was continuing to Honolulu and was back to rainy San Francisco in the late afternoon.  Jeff made me cold soba noodles for dinner and they were just delicious.  Had trouble getting to sleep because of the lack of exercise that day but eventually drifted off in my comfy comfy bed.


Day 27 - Savannah, GA - 105 Miles


Today was a fun day.  Hot but fun.  It was a reasonably flat, fast ride from Vidalia to Savannah.  The countryside is beautiful and got prettier and prettier the closer we got to the coast.  Everybody seemed to have a good day and nobody got into too much trouble.  I finished pretty early so I took a brief tour of Fort Pulaski out on Tybee island. 



When everyone was assembled we biked the final five miles to the beach to dip our wheels in the Atlantic and then then we were done. 



We went to the hotel, I had to box my bike, and then I went for a fun but fast walk around Savannah. 




Then we had our final banquet and it was time to go to bed.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Day 26 - Vidalia, GA - 103 miles


The days have been getting a LOT easier as we head for the coast.  Honey, we're racing through Georgia faster than Sherman did.  We saw a lot of farmland today and we went through a few cute little towns.  Vidalia, unfortunately, is not one of them.  There's a lot of traffic and all I saw were highways and trucks.  There's probably a lovely part to Vidalia but I'm not sure where that is and we missed the onion festival.  Tomorrow we go to Savannah and our journey is finally over.  I'm really looking forward to going home but I've had a fabulous time.  Here's a pic of me in our kitschy hotel room. 



The news from home is that Mimi needs to drink more water so we're going to be introducing a consumme course to their dinner in hopes that she'll drink more and Ashley will eat less.  Man are we whipped.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Day 25 - Perry, GA - 97 miles


Today had a lot of variety.  We started out going through a beautiful river walk up to Fort Benning.  Then we headed through rolling hills through Buena Vista, GA and Ellaville to Perry.  It's a beautiful town with friendly people.  I enjoyed a vegetarian meal at Arby's with the staff who were eating waiting for the dinner rush to start.  Then I headed back to the hotel.  Only two days left!  Here's a pic of Johannes and I from the cracker barrel gift shop.  They have all sorts of genuine country things.



The news is all abuzz over the bigoted same sex marriage ban they have in Georgia being thrown out on a technicality and the governer is going to call a special session to protect the good people of Georgia from -- you guessed it -- me.  It would seem that I'm such a threat to the southern states that it's a wonder I haven't been whisked off to Guantanamo by now.


Day 24 - Columbus, GA - 110 miles


Today started off with some horrible news.  The ride leader Mike's mother was taken ill suddenly and he had to leave the ride to go make preparations.  We bade him goodbye and started off on our day.  First, we made a visit to the Emerald Mountain Christian School to visit the kids who had been following our journey via or postcards and updates from the ride staff.  They were very sweet.  Here's a picture of Rachael posing with some horrible rasberry twinkies I'd gotten her. 



Then, we went through Tuskegee, AL.  Gorgeous!  Small, quaint, friendly, and southern.  Also the home of a fine University:


  


and the home of  George Washington Carver



Nice!  The rest of the day was a little dull--  nothing but pine trees and single wides.  After a confusing detour, we finally made our Alabama Getaway into Columbus, GA.  Our last state!  It's a town outside of  Fort Benning that has a beautiful downtown.  We stayed pretty close to it, but our hotel was stocked with so much white trash I was wondering where the tractor pull was.  I babysat one of the rider's dog while he was at dinner and we went for a little walk through the historic district:




Then I watched the final of America's Next Top Model (go Danielle!) and went to bed.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Day 23 - Prattville, AL - 120 Miles


Another big climbing day in Alabama with 6000 feet of climbing.  Who knew there were so many hills in Alabama?  Besides the Alabamans.  I started the day in a crappy mood because I saw a reelection campaign commercial for the Alabama governor pledging to "defend the sanctity of marriage".  From me.  Yep, you heard it here first..  the good people of Alabama need to be protected from me and my insidious desire to have the same rights as everybody else.  Unbelievable.  I keep forgetting the thing I liked least about the south was not the heat or the poverty but the bigotry.  And whether you're a bigot with a hood and a burning cross or a bigot with a bible in one hand and republican national funding in the other you're still a bigot.  And that means you too Bill Frist.  The record will show that I knew that Jeff was the man for me the second we met and I married him the first chance I got.  If that threatens your marriage than you're relationship has problems that keeping us down isn't going to fix.



So I was pretty pissed for the first few hours but I finally got over it when I found two adorable puppies playing in their front yard.  Luckily for Jeff I couldn't keep them but they were so sweet--  lab hound dog mutts and I think I saw their daddy a little further up the hill.  Most of the day was pretty monotonous.  Trees and single wides with an odd farm or two.  We stayed way away from populated regions for some reason so I focused on staying on top of the hills and trying to get in a good run.  Which I did.  After lunch I headed into Prattville, a cute little town outside of Montgomery.  It has an old cotton gin factory that is very pretty.





and also a pretty victorian-- although it could be Antebellum it looks 1870's to me or maybe a little later.



I got totally lost on the way to the hotel and ended up on a busy road and the motorists were not happy about it at all.  Man everybody seems awful wound up in this town.  With all the honking and shouting and cursing I heard you would of thought I was walking down the street buck naked with a burning flag in one hand and wiping my butt with the bible with the other.  Sheesh!  I wonder if they make Xanax in town size?  Tomorrow we're off to Georgia!  I can't wait.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Day 22 - Tuscaloosa, AL - 110 miles


Today had 5000 feet of climbing but it was all rolling hills so I didn't have any problem with it.  We're in Alabama now!



Note that my bike is the only one pointed into Alabama.  Ain't no way I'm going back to Mississippi.  Almost immediately I saw my first "Tara".  I expect I'll see many more versions of that house as we head towards Georgia.  Coming into Tuscaloosa, which I believe is an indian word meaning "hard to spell", we passed by Lake Lurleen which left me chuckling about Lurleen Lumpkin, the Simpson's favorite country singer:


Once I got into town, I went to the bike shop and got my handlebar tape replaced and my tires rotated.  The guys at the bike shop were really nice and did a lot of things on my bike for very little monry.  Also they were hot in a country fried way.  Then I took a short tour of the University of Alabama campus.  Man, they love their football here.  The bank machine actually played the Alabama fight song while it spits out your money!  The campus is enormous and very beautiful. 



This is the home of the president of the university.  Or maybe Coronel Sanders.  It's really kind of hard to tell.  Then I headed into the hotel to get ready for tomorrow.  120 miles to Prattville, AL.  Only five ride days left!


Day 21 - Aberdeen, MS - 135 miles


This was our last really long day, a backwoods ramble through rural Mississippi.  We were chased by many dogs and several of them meant business.  Aberdeen, MS has a small Antebellum neighborhood.  I was impressed by The Magnolias



Fiddle-dee-dee!


The town itself, unfortunately did not hold up to it's architectural heritage.  There wasn't much in the form of food and the hotel restaurant evidently had a "animals only" policy.  So I had french fries and peanut butter sandwiches for dinner.  But that only cost $1.65 because I brought the peanut butter.  On budget!  It's probably a good thing that this ride is winding down because I'm getting pretty skinny but at least I don't have zombie hands like Nicole Ritchie.  Yet...


At least I got to watch Simpsons although I also watched The Family Guy which did a Hitler bit which totally horrified Klaus.  I couldn't even explain it to him myself.  It was a little tense because the Germans don't find anything about Hitler funny AT ALL.  I don't blame them.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Day 20 - Senatobia, MS - 112 Miles


We passed over the 2000 mile mark and there's less than a thousand to go.  As much as I'm looking forward to getting back to my life, I love riding and I love touring and I will be sad to see it end.  We left Arkansas today for Mississippi which is either a step up or a step down depending on whether you're from Arkansas or Mississippi.  Breakfast came out VERY slowly today, so we all lingered at the first SAG so we didn't get too far ahead.  Here's a picture of David and I.




David has Diabetes and has had to be very organized on this ride.  Check out his blog:


http://www.ridingwithdiabetes.blogspot.com/


He's got a great attitude and has been a lot of fun to ride with, although he's so fast that I rarely see him. 


We crossed the Mississippi river today




Then we crossed the Mississippi delta region, home of some of the most grinding poverty in the south.  I felt threatened for the first time on this ride in Crenshaw, MS while enjoying a cold drink at a gas station where some of the locals seemed inordinately interested in the value of my bike.  I got the heck out of there and finished my diet Coke under the veranda at the local library.  Then we rode out of the delta to Senatobia in the rolling hills above it.  Gorgeous!  The land is covered in Kudzu and dotted with horsefarms and cattle pastures.  Our hotel is a lot nicer than anything we've seen since Ft. Smith and there are a bunch of OK choices for dinner.  Score!  Tomorrow is the last of out long days, 138 miles to Aberdeen.  I can't wait.  We have seven ride days left and eight until I see Jeff and the dogs.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Day 19 - Brinkley, AR - 100 miles + 15 bonus miles


Why the bonus miles??  Well I made a wrong turn right out of the hotel this morning and then I found myself in a town called Pickle Gap that made me think about pickles for ten minutes and then I realized I was heading north and not east.  I found a connecting highway through beautiful farmland that eventually met up with the main road, but I added a bunch of miles.


The rest of the day was fast with a hearty tailwind that left me going 29mph on the flats!  We rode through some swampland and rice farms  and finally ended up in Brinkley, Arkansas.  Brinkley is the kind of town that people make fun of Arkansas for.  Small, backward and strange.  They about had a heart attack at the Sonic when I ordered my BLT without Bacon and then I had to explain to them what a vegan was which almost sent them over the edge but luckily they had been told there'd be bikers in town so it didn't turn ugly.


I went  for Chinese and it was a bizarre experience.  First, the restaurant was actually staffed by chinese.  And these chinese had thick southern accents.  A chinese Bubba!  Second, their idea of chow mein is to deep fry the noodles until crispy and then serve them separately.  Ouch!  I avoided those entirely but luckily it also came with rice so I was able to have that with the vegetables and although it was a little weak in the taste department it filled me up.  Also, I got some onion rings and they were pretty good.


We are the only people at our hotel and I don't know why that is.  I've already told Klaus of my intention to use him as a corpse shield when the hillbillies come for us later tonight.  Tomorrow 112 miles to Senatobia, Mississippi.  I'm expecting a similar experience there but I'm avoiding Chinese food until I get back to San Francisco.


I'm all set for the AIDS Lifecycle.  I've made my fundraising minimum which is Fantastic.  I've got my tent situation set up with my friend Russ.  I can't wait!

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Day 18 - Conway, AR - 122 Miles


Fabulous day!  We had this crazy tail wind that left me with about a 20.9 mph average for the day.  Arkansas is beautiful.  Gently rolling hills and tons and tons of trees.  Gorgeous!  We're stopped for the day is Conway and the best thing I can say about it is that we won't be lingering.  But that's OK because the country is gorgeous and that's what I came here to see.



Here's a picture of myself and Rachael.  She's from England and experiencing Hostess porducts, one by one, for the very first time.  I personally recommended the pink snow balls that she enjoyed very much, and now she's moved on to Suzy Q's.  I believe Ho-Ho's are next on her list. 

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Day 17 - Fort Smith, AR - Rest Day


Fort Smith Arkansas was once known as the western most outpost of civilization.  Current sensibilities might put that point a little farther east.  I walked all around town today and I was almost ready to give up on dowdy Fort Smith until I stumbled upon the large, beautiful University of Arkansas campus.



Not a lot of people about but the campus was stunning.  In fact, pretty much the only other pedestrian I saw all day was Johannes, one of our riders.  Go figure.  Urban renewel has yet to come to Fort Smith, but there was a pretty rose garden downtown.



Tomorrow we're supposed to get pretty strong tailwinds.  Let's hope the weather forecaster is a little more accurate than the sign maker:



Tomorrow we're off to Conway, a little town north of Little Rock.  I can't wait.  We have ten ride days left.  I had chinese for dinner and my fortune cookie said "Use your abilities at this time to stay focused on your goal.  You will succeed."  Believe it.

Tuesday, May 9, 2006

Day 16 - Tuesday, May 9 - 105 Miles


Long day as well, despite the reduced mileage.  It was hot and we had some headwinds but it was a pretty day.  We're in the Ozarks now and they are green and gently rolling.  Our day ended in Fort Smith, Arkansas.  State #6!  We're having all sorts of tornados in the area this evening.  Sirens have been going off all night but I don't think it's going to amount to much but it might keep us up.


Day 15 - Monday, May 8 - 150 Miles


This was probably the hardest thing I've ever done on my bike.  It started out with eight or so miles of rolling hills.  Up and down.  Endless.  Like Oklahoma is corrogated or something.  After lunch there were a few problems with the map which added only six miles to my day but ten to other peoples.  Ouch!  Once we were back on the course, I passed a farm that had dozens of cow skulls on pikes all around the perimeter of the property.  Let me tell you as a former New Mexico resident.  One cow scull is an accent.  A dozen or more is Deliverence.  I wanted to take a picture but understood that display as nature's way of saying "Keep on movin'".  The last thirty miles were a lot easier and I managed to get a nice run in.  I blew past the mechanic going about 23 or 24 and he couldn't believe I had it in me after such a long day.  Believe it. 

Sunday, May 7, 2006

Day 14 - Sunday, May 7 - 125 Miles


Today was so much fun.  We rode through rural Oklahoma and ended up in Chickasha, OK, a beautiful little town I'm afraid I can't pronounce.  Well we're leaving tomorrow and I can only do so much.  The ride was so pretty!  I'm not sure what I thought central Oklahoma was going to look like, but it is certainly prettier than that.  We got chased by quite a few dogs, although only one of them was serious about it. 



We also hit the ride's halfway point.  Which makes me feel great.  I'm performing well, feeling good, and having a great time, but I've been gone two weeks and it's nice to feel like this trek is starting to wind down.  We did laundry and the hotel is really nice.  Tomorrow is a 145 mile day.  Do I have 145 miles in me??  You bet I do!

Saturday, May 6, 2006

Day 13 - Saturday, May 6 - 98 Miles


Another rainy headwindy day with no end in sight.  But it was less windy and less rainy so today was a huge improvement.  We left Texas behind and biked to Elk City, Oklahoma



This area is a lot hillier than I thought it would be and we had increasinly rolling hills as we came into Elk City.  Food options are limited here and I actually ate at Arby's.  Yes I found a vegan meal at Arby's and wasn't hustled out the door by the irate staff. 


We haven't been able to do laundry and Klaus put his wet stuff over the heater to dry and I came back to the whole room smelling like feet.  Yuck!  But admittedly the rank odor fit the crappy hotel we are staying in to a tee from the spooky sixties style pool to the science project of a bathroom.  Klaus apologized profusely and we pledged to do laundry tomorrow.


We have two long days coming up tomorrow and Monday and it looks like headwinds both days.  Ouch.  I'm sure I'll finish but it isn't going to be pretty.  We hit the halfway mark on our ride tomorrow and we'll be done in two weeks.  I'm having a lot of fun but I miss Jeff and the dogs so much and it's really hard to be gone so long.

Friday, May 5, 2006

Day 12 - Friday, May 5 - 110 miles


Headwinds again!  This time with rain and fog.  I was convinced we'd get no love from Texas today, but around mile 40 the weather managed to clear and I had a great afternoon.  I was the first one in by about 20 minutes today, mostly because of my hauling ass ahead of an impending storm.  Good thing I did because some of the riders behind me got hailed on.  Hail!  Tomorrow looks like more of the same but it's a shorter day and we'll be in Oklahoma.

Thursday, May 4, 2006

 


Day 11  - Thursday, May 4 - 95 miles


Welcome to Texas!  Today was another dayDay  of headwinds but I was better prepared for them had a much better day.  We're staying in Dalhart, TX a friendly town where a farmer actually drove slowly enough for me to follow him to the Wells Fargo bank.  Here's a pic of me at the border.


 



Tomorrow we go to Pampa, Texas with another day of headwinds, this time with rain.  Well I was probably too dry anyway.  Headwinds are not my specialty, but I'm getting a lot of practice so hooray for me.

Wednesday, May 3, 2006

Day 10 - Wednesday, May 3 - 110 Miles


Today had such promise.  Only 110 miles (?!?) with a 3000 foot descent.  But we didn't count on the 25 mph headwinds so today pretty much sucked.  But it's over now and tomorrow is a measly 97 miles so headwinds or not it's going to be shorter.  We passed over the 1000 cumulative mile mark.



Don't I look delighted??  We'll be halfway through the ride in another couple of days.  My knees are holding up and I'm feeling pretty well. 

Tuesday, May 2, 2006

Day 9 - Tuesday, May 2 - 135 miles


Today was the hardest day we've had.  Lots of hills, lots of climbing, lots of interstate highway.  We went from Albuquerque to Las Vegas, NM via Albuquerque's east mountains.  It was super tough.  I wasn't completely sure I was going to be able to complete today and I was very relieved when I did.  Tomorrow and the next day should be a little easier.  They certainly couldn't be any harder. 


Monday, May 1, 2006

Day 8 - Monday, May 1 - Day off in Albuquerque


We had the day off, but it was important to stay moving so I went for a long walk first thing in the morning.  I walked over to the university and then through downtown to old town.  Athena and Quela came down from Santa Fe and we went to lunch and then headed to Acoma Pueblo.  Acoma Pueblo is the oldest continually inhabited settlement in the new world and was founded around 1150.  It's a pueblo built high on the mesa with spectacular views.  We took the tour which was very interesting and walked around a bit.




The tour guide told us all about the spanish missionary Father Ramirez who converted the indians, forced them to construct a church using timbers hand carried from Mt. Taylor 30 miles away, and then sold their children into slavery to purchase church fixtures.  The Acoma people finally had enough when he bashed an alter boy in the head with a chalice and tossed him off the mesa.  And yet they're all still Catholic.  And here I'm ready to become Episcopalian over the marriage thing.  Kinda makes you think.  We decided my Acoma name was Joseph Light in the Mocassins.


Then we went to El Malpais national monument before heading back to town.




 


Day 7 - Sunday, April 39 - 145 Miles!


I rode 145 miles, more than I'd ever ridden, from Gallup to Albuquerque.  The first thirty miles were a grind, up about 800 feet to the continental divide.  My knees were stiff and it was cold but I grunted my way up the hill.Here's a pic of my roommate Klaus and I at the marker. 



The rest of the day was much improved.  We caught a tailwind and a gentle descent and I made it into Grants in no time.  We got off the interstate right before we hit town and rode sparsely populated side roads until after the Laguna Pueblo.  And it was beautifl.  The rest of the ride into Albuquerque was a long, dusty grind but I made it around 4PM.  I ate an enormous amount of  food and finally went to sleep.