Well, my bike ride will start in just over a week, March 29th.
Lee Francisco, owner of SUPERIOR SPORTS, has my bike all ready to go and will ship it to Charlotte, N.C., where I plan to start my trip. Over the years, Lee or Mike Stupak, both Spartan alumni, have kept my bike(s) in good working order, which is a challenge in itself! I'm definitely not noted for keeping up with maintenance on anything! Lee will also be the person I will be coordinating with for biking information throughout my trip. Committee members are in the process of fine-tuning this website, getting ready for community presentations and designing a letter which will be sent to all Spartan alumni concerning the sports complex project. By early April we should be in full operation. My wife, LuAnn, and I are in Charlotte now and plan to go to Charleston, S.C. for a week long vacation with friends. She'll fly back to Superior on March 28th, and on the 29th, I will start my ride from the Carolina Panther Football Stadium.
Today I did an interview with the Charlotte News. They, along with Spartan alumnus and Carolina Panther Assistant Head Coach, Scott O'Brien, will be at the stadium on the 29th to see me off. The following is my tentative time schedule: (subject to change by weather conditions and me getting lost!) Charlotte to Miami (March 29th to April 4th) Miami to New Orleans (April 5th to April 15th) New Orleans to Brownsville, TX (April 17th to April 23rd) Brownsville, TX to Phoenix (April 25th to May 7th) Phoenix to San Diego (May 10th to May 12th) San Diego to San Francisco (May 14th to May 18th) Somewhere around May 25th, I will fly home for about a week and return after Memorial Day weekend to continue on towards Seattle and then east to Superior. I will post again on Sunday, March 28th. Coach (That is the trail name I was given when I completed hiking the Pacific Crest Trail last year. So, I thought it was fitting to use "Coach" for this adventure.) The Pacific Crest Trail is a 2,658 mile hike from the border of Mexico to the border of Canada across the Sierra and Cascade Mountain ranges. But, that's another story which can be found on this site if you’re interested!!!)
Well, the trip begins in the morning. At 9:00 A.M. I have an interview with the Charlotte Observer and then I'm on my way. My good friend, Ron Zachow and his wife, Barb, will take me to the edge of town and I'll be on my way. If you are interested in the newspaper article, it should be in the Tuesday, 4/30/04, edition of the Charlotte Observer. Look up: www.charlotte.com or do a search for the Charlotte Observer. I have mixed emotions about starting this trip because I received news today from Superior that my very good friend, Bob Ellis, passed away. Bob's son, Tom, was a very good player for me back in the early 70's. Bob, along with his wife, Phyllis, have been great friends ever since. If I ever needed anything, Bob was always there for me. I will never forget him and my thoughts and prayers are with his family. Superior lost a great man. Bob was one that always likes to give you a jab or two. Once he told me he appointed himself as the president of my Players Mother's Club. He said his job was to sit behind the mothers during the game and help out when needed. Then after the game he'd let me know what he did. (Always with that mischievous smile.) One of his best was when he'd say he'd tell a mother how good a player her son was and he wondered why I wasn't playing him!!!! I'll miss you, Bob! You look over our son, Ryan as you did me for so many great years. As I ride tomorrow, my thoughts will be with all in Superior as you send Robert Ellis home.
Today started with my friend, Ron Zachow taking me down to the Carolina Panthers stadium for pictures. The Charlotte Observer will be running an article tomorrow about my ride. (www.charlotte.com) After the pictures Ron drove me to the edge of town and I was off. The route I chose was highway 321, which is a back road going to Savannah, GA. I felt good all day and was able to make it just past Columbia, S.C. Just south of Columbia I broke the chain on my bike while climbing a hill. Tried to fix it with the tools I had, but the chain repair tool broke. So, I had no choice but to walk back about six miles to see if a repair shop I passed could help. Thank goodness they were able to repair it. By the time I was able to go again it was getting dark so I found a place off in the woods and made camp for the night. All in all it was a good day.
I got in about 128 miles today. I felt it was a very good day considering it rained all day. Nothing exciting today. Although, I did lose my first item….. sunglasses! Tomorrow I will be in Savannah around 8:30 and will need to get a new chain. Since the repair I've noticed it slipping a little. I do not want to strip the gears so I'll get a new one. The road I've chosen is not the most scenic. Very few towns and the ones I do go through have bars on the all the windows and doors! Once I get to Savannah I will be on U.S. 17 which is the coastal highway along the Atlantic Ocean. Should be a lot better than this road.
Arrived in Savannah about 9:00 A.M. and stopped at the first pancake house I saw! After gobbling down a large helping of pancakes, eggs, sausage and two large glasses of orange juice, I was off to find a bike shop. I finally found one on the wrong side of town for me. (About 8 miles out of my way). After my chain was installed, I went to pay for it with my credit card and lo and behold it would not work! It said the bike dealer was to call in. To make a long story short, someone had gotten my credit card numbers. They attempted to make two purchases of over $1,000 dollars each somewhere in Mexico! The credit company caught it and put a hold on all further purchases. Glad for that! They will be shipping me a new one by FedEx tomorrow. I will pick it up in Brunswick, GA. Rest of the day was uneventful. Just kept riding and found a field to sleep in just short of Brunswick, GA. Lots of bugs tonight. Glad for the tent. Nice clear sky and was able to find the Big Dipper. For those that may not know about the Big Dipper, I look for it every night. Each of the seven stars has a different meaning for me which I'll explain at a later date.
Got into Brunswick at about 8:00 a.m. Did one of my usual not asking for directions to the FedEx building soon enough. When I did, I had to go back five miles and then another eight miles west. Oh well, it's going to be a long trip anyway! After a few more wrong turns, I got my card at about 9:30 and was headed to Jacksonville. I had my first flat tire just on the south side of Jacksonville. Once I got it fixed and some air in it, I limp into the next nearest community and stopped at a fire station to get the proper amount of air in the tire. Glad I stopped at the fire station. The men on duty gave me some very good information. I've been concerned about going down the Florida coast because of the extra traffic due to spring break. They agreed and said if were them they would either go down the middle of Florida or turn west and head to Mobile. They felt those two alternatives would be the safest. I've decided to try going down the middle of the state and see how that goes. They said I'd like the ride along St. Johns River and then the forest and wildlife refuge areas in the middle of the state. Tonight I'm camped just outside Green Cove Springs. This is a beautiful area, although lots of people, along the St. Johns River which runs though Jacksonville and down to Lake George.
Today has been a very good day, although there's a lot of traffic. I rode along St. Johns River on Highway 17 and 19 down to Lake George. Just a nice ride. From Lake George I continued on Highway 19 to Eustis, FL, which is just short of Orlando. Time to turn back northwest. Just too much traffic. Right now I'm in Ocala, FL at the library and hope to get down the road about 20 miles to Williston, FL. From there I will work my way back up the west coast of FL and get on U.S. 90 and head west. Probably should have taken U.S. 90 back in Jacksonville like the firefighters suggested. Most people when they ride around the U.S. do that. Now I found out why. A lot less people across northern Florida and a lot safer. Everything has been going well. I feel strong even though it seems like I'm doing a lot of miles. I've been averaging about 130 or more a day. Only bad thing is I'm just riding and not taking time to see the sights. That I need to change. I have trouble slowing down. I've always been one that just pushes ahead as hard as I can. Once I get up to U.S. 90 I will try and slow down and take some time each day to get off the bike and enjoy the area. (I hope!) Time to get up the road and find a place to sleep.
Well, last evening was interesting. After I got done with my journal entries I ran into a gentleman that had done a lot of biking around the area. After telling him a little about my journey and my plans, he felt it would be a good move to go back up to U.S. 90 and head west. (I could tell he thought I was a little nuts for coming this far south already.) He was heading up to Lake City, Fl, which is straight north of here on U.S. 90. He offered to give me a ride. At first I said no and then after he convinced me I was only going north and not gaining ground west I decided to take him up on his offer. I'm glad I did. Once in Lake City, I still had enough light to get to the next town, Live Oak. What a nice little town. As I entered I noticed a sign saying back in the early 90's they won four straight high school state football championships. Turns out they are the only city in the nation that has won four in a row. Once in town, I notice the fire hall off to my left and decided to go over and see if I could set up my tent alongside the station. Great move! Not only could I set up my tent, they allowed me to take a shower, etc. Needed that!!!! After cleaning up, I went over to eat at a local diner and met Bob and Cheryl Sellers. Very nice people. They filled me in on all the history of the town and its great football tradition. They have sent numerous players to Division I colleges and to the pros. They also introduced me to one of the town’s best players, Matt Frier. He played on the 1993 Florida State National Championship team. He was also on the front cover of Sports Illustrated after they won the championship. What a great young man Matt is. Very humble, very caring. Just an all-around great guy. In fact I had to take a double take when we were introduced, because he sounded so much like Ryan. Matt said that Florida State has their spring game tomorrow in Tallahassee. Tallahassee is 85 miles and the game is at 2:00. I will try and make it. Glad I decided to come this way. This was the best evening I've had so far. Need to get to bed and up early for the ride to Tallahassee.
Made it to Tallahassee by 1:30!!!! Yes, this old man can still move a little when he wants to!!! I thought Matt told me the game was at Florida State's stadium, but it turns out it was at the Fair Grounds. Little back and to the south of the stadium. After getting lost a couple of times, I did make to the game by 2:15. Although it was hot I enjoyed the game. Matt Frier, if you are reading my journal, your Seminoles need a little work coming off the ball offensively and defensively they need to tackle better. Maybe a little help in the secondary. They are very fast defensively and your tailback is outstanding. My coaching job for the day!!!!! It is hot and I'm on the outside of Tallahassee and one mile short of 100. Found a nice cheap motel ($28.00) Going to take it and wash my clothes at the laundromat next door.
Bummer to the start of the day. I remember when I was on the Pacific Crest Trail having days when you just wondered why you were doing this and you had to work through them. Today seemed different. I just wasn't sure if I wanted to really do this. I never have been one to give up on anything, but this morning I really doubted myself. Not sure if it was because this trip is so much different than my PCT hike. Maybe it was because I was missing everyone back home, or was it that I've really underestimated how much this trip is going to cost, or maybe it's all the white crosses I see along the road. That really tears me up. While I was feeling sorry for myself, at about 1:00 P.M., a couple was coming the opposite way on a tandem bike. They stopped and told me they were doing a similar trip as mine, in the opposite direction. We chatted a little bit about how it was going and I told them that I was having a hard time today getting into it. I mentioned I did the PCT last year and that I was trying to compare this trip to that experience and have come to realize I can't. They are two different experiences. They said they had done the PCT three times! I said, "You have, I only know of one couple that has done the PCT......."
Then I looked at the gentleman, and he said yes, “I’m Ray Jardine!" I could not believe it. Ray Jardine and his wife, Jenny, are the Babe Ruth's and Babe Didrickson's of the ultralight backpacking world. It is Ray's book that all the PCT hikers, including myself, follow in preparing for long distance hikes. I could not believe it. Made my day! After taking pictures and saying goodbye, I was off. After such a poor start to the day, it became my best day for mileage -- 142! The Jardines were great people. Maybe I will see them again up north when I turn east and they are heading west. Ray and Jenny, I hope all is well. I will follow your journal.
Well, after one flat tire and another broken chain, I've made it to Mobile, AL. Finally out of Florida. Back in Milton, FL I had to get another new chain and also my back gears replaced. As it turns out, the bike shop back in Savannah, GA, did a very poor job in replacing my chain and it ruined my back gears. I stopped at the local fire station in Milton, and firefighter Dan Basked help me with air in my tires and gave me directions to the local bike shop. The bike shop was closed on Mondays, but it just so happened that the owner was there and helped me out. He (sorry for his name) replaced my chain and gears for less than what the guy in Savannah charged. Live and learn. If anyone who is following my journal and is close to Milton, stop by the local bike shop and say hi for me. Milton is very close to Pensacola, FL.
It is a little past 11:30 a.m. and I'm about 18 miles from Biloxi, MS. I need to find another bike shop to get new tires. I will rewrite this day tomorrow or when I can get to a computer. (Sometimes that is hard to do.) I hope all is well with everyone. Well, I found a bike shop in Gulfport, MS but they did not have the size tires I need. I did buy one that will work if needed. I'll try again in New Orleans. After leaving Gulfport, I made it just short of New Orleans by about 25 miles. It was my lucky day. I ate supper at a small bar and grill, close to Seidell, MS, and got to talking with a young man, Zack Jennings. He offered me to stay at his house for the evening. Could not pass that up. A bed and shower! Dan just moved from New Orleans back to his former grandmother's house and is in the process of remodeling it. Doing a great job. Zach is an artist and does sculpture work. Very good. Thanks Dan for the bed and shower. I'll keep in touch.
I left Zach's house at about 6:25 and in about an hour I had a flat tire. Bugs ate me alive while I changed and fixed the tube. I reached New Orleans at about 9:00 A.M. Last night, Zach had mentioned he did not really like New Orleans that much. I can see why, the area I rode through was not the best. Even in the daytime I did not want to stop! Again, I could not find the tires I needed. So instead of staying on 90 I turned northwest on U.S. 61 and headed for Baton Rouge. Twenty five miles out of New Orleans I had another flat tire!!!! Darn! It was a very warm and humid day. Finally got to Baton Rouge around 5:30 only to find out that it was going to be very dangerous to cross the Mississippi River. It took about a half hour, but finally found a young man with a pickup truck that took me across. Everyone was right; there was no way I could have ridden across. I found a place to set up camp and called it a day. This was my toughest day of riding. I believe I did about 125 miles, but cannot say for sure, as my bike computer stopped working around New Orleans. Still no tire. Hopefully I’ll find a tire in Lafayette 50 miles down the road. Tomorrow I can ride on the freeway, which I hope will get me to Lafayette early in the morning.
Well, I'm in Lafayette! The day started poor again. I was down in the dumps again, but that changed quickly. As I was riding along on Interstate 10 a pickup stopped. D. Scott Vaughn told me that I had an eighteen-mile bridge I had to cross just ahead. Scott said no way would the state troopers let me ride across it. So, he offered to get me across. I hate to do such things, but again, he was right, I could not have gotten across, so I guess I can justify it. I will continue with this page tomorrow. Need to go find the bike shop and hopefully they will have the tires I need. I'm about 100 miles from the Texas border. Should be close by day's end if all goes well. I feel good so maybe I can make it! The person I got a ride from really got my spirits back up.
I set up camp about 25 miles short of the Texas border. I found a small field with a little patch of woods and put my tent up. About a half hour after dark a pickup pulled in to the field, which made me a little nervous. Two guys got out with handguns. Oh my!! Turns out they had just bought the land and were going to camp for the weekend. They enjoyed hearing my story and were fine with me setting up my tent. They had their two boys with them and were planning on spending the Easter weekend fishing and 4 wheeling, etc.
I'm in Texas! When I got to the border, the first sign I saw was, El Paso, 880 miles! Texas is going to be a long - long ride! Nothing really exciting today. Was able to ride on the freeway for awhile and then I turned a little north to go around Houston, TX. The last 15 miles of road was the worst I've been on. I thought County Road L back home was bad. This was twice as bad! I crossed Houston Lake and made it to Humble, TX about 6:30 and found a nice cheap motel. Nice shower!! (Humble is a northern suburb of Houston).
The day started out just great. Nice sunny morning and all was well. Then, I was coming to a stop sign, and these young kids thought they would be funny and came real close to me and bumped my bike. I took a header into the ditch. Took a couple of rolls and ended up back on my feet in a good breakdown position! (That is a little football talk) The kids got nervous and sped away. My bike and I were okay. Just a little sore shoulder, small cut and bruise on my right thigh. About 30 miles down the road I thought I'd make a call home. No cell phone!! I carry it in a small net pouch on the front of my bike. I figure it fell out when I hit the ditch. No way I'd find it, so when I got to the next phone, I called home and LuAnn called Verizon and stopped the cell service. Hopefully down the road I'll be able to get another phone. Speaking of losing things…. (Seems like everyone likes to know what I've lost) So far: One cell phone, two pair of reading glasses and one pair of sunglasses. Also lost my tent stakes one night, but found them under the tent the next morning! Late in the day it began to rain. I stopped at around 5:30 in Giddings, TX, and was told severe weather was heading towards us. Possible tornadoes and hail. I decide to take a motel room here. It did rain most of the evening, but the worst weather was south of Giddings. We just had some high winds and a couple of good downpours.
It was raining, cold and very windy when I left Giddings. Tough, tough day! Wind was right in my face all day. Rain was strong at times. Many times I wanted to quit, but kept going. This is the kind of challenge I normally like, but I really had to fight through it today. I just think about stuff too much. Sure hope I can work though those sad times. Hopefully as people become more aware of what I'm doing, I will get some good moral support once in awhile. Maybe even start seeing people I know in the area I ride through. In fact, when I was riding through Austin, TX, I passed I-35 north. I sure thought about taking a right! Finally made it to Fredericksburg, TX late this evening. Very cold, very wet, very down! Fredericksburg is a very nice town. Very western. (Tourist town, lots to see.) This is also what they call the hill country. Nice rolling hills. Fun to ride though,,, except in the rain and wind! Just east of here is the birth place of LBJ. (Even stopped long enough to take a picture.)
Also, I took a picture of these blue weeds I keep seeing along the road. I've notice many cars stopping to take pictures of them. Turns out they are Texas' wild state flower, blue bonnets. Also had some major bike trouble. All day I had noise coming from my back wheel, but could not find exactly where the problem was. Fortunately they have a very good bike shop here in Fredericksburg. (Lots of bikers in this hill country.) Turns out my back wheel is coming apart. I have spinenrgy wheels and the back one is shot. So,,,, to the tune of $280.00, I now have a new high tech back wheel. Ouch!!!! Maybe I can do even better mileage now!!!!
I may not enter anything for awhile. I will be going across west Texas and there is not much there except wide open spaces. I should be in El Paso in about 3 days if all goes well. Check with you then.
Coach on the road
PS. Also need to mention and thank Brad Runions and Dick Sandeen. Brad is a former alumnus and Dick I played football with at Augsburg College. They gave us our first two pledges!!! Thanks Men! They tell me the alumni letters are being sent within the next day or two. I look forward to seeing how that goes.
Still Day 15
Just had another quick stop at a visitor center and a guy let me use his laptop. I want to tell every one that sent me emails thanks. Just now I learned how to get to them. Heck and I didn’t think anyone cared. You sure made my day. Road is good and wind is supposed to be light and at my back tomorrow. I think I have a couple of 150 mile days in me after all the nice emails. Thanks, I would like to answer everyone, but it is tough. Just understand the emails mean a lot to me. Old Coach - Just got a little younger. I'm off and running, there is still 4 hours of light!!!!
WEST TEXAS IS BORING AND SO IS SOUTHERN NEW MEXICO!!!! Hi everyone. Computer access has been a problem. For the good news....... Fredericksburg is a very nice town. Even for a tourist town. It has a very nice museum about the Pacific War and just outside town is the Lady Bird Johnson State Park. I recommend stopping for anyone passing through this way. Also this is what they call the hill country and it is very nice. Then you hit west Texas, which is another story. Just a lot of wide open area. At first it is nice with fields, I believe peach trees. Then it turns to basically wasteland. New Mexico is much the same. I've told you that I've been doing up to 130 plus miles a day. Well, I did plan to slow down, but,,,, for the last three days and possibly again today and tomorrow, I will be in the 150 mile range per day. Biking on the freeway helps a lot, plus the wind and temperature has been okay. One day I did 162! Also, I took Dave Thornton's advice and switched to a Kevlar tire on the back. Still having a flat or two, but not as many. I'm just biking from sunup to sundown (sometimes a little longer). Nothing much to do, but ride. Still, at the end of the day I feel good. After a short rest I usually go for a short walk to get the blood circulating in my legs. In the morning I feel physically good for another day.
Emotionally, well that is another thing. It usually takes two or three hours to work through things and then I'm okay for the rest of the day. I received an email from a good PCT trail friend, Keith Drury, and he thought one mile of hiking was equal to about five miles of riding. So 20 miles of hiking equaled 100 miles of riding, 30 miles of hiking equaled 150 miles of riding. I believe he is very close on that, depending on conditions. Keith is a very interesting individual. Do a web search on Keith Drury to find out all the interesting things he's done. (I hope that is okay, Keith)
Tomorrow I should be in the Tucson - Phoenix area. I hope to run into someone I know. As of now, to be honest, there is very little I like about this ride. It is not like hiking. I think when I get to San Diego I will need to re-evaluate this whole trip. I'm not sure I want to continue. I believe right now the only thing that will keep me going is the Stadium fundraising. I do not want to jeopardize that in any way. So for those that are following my trip, (as it concerns the stadium) I wonder what you think. I will look for your comments. Maybe things will pick up as I reach the Phoenix area and beyond. If not, I'm thinking maybe of doing something I will enjoy more. Possibly hiking the Superior Trail along the north shore of Lake Superior. I also thought others may have adventures they would like to do that will promote our fund raising project. I believe this website can be a valuable tool for anyone that has ideas that will help the project. If anyone does, let me or the school know. Anyway,,, those are my thoughts for now. Need to get in some miles. Heck, even if I do not make it all the way around, I still feel good about making it all the way across in this amount of time. Like I said, I'll re-evaluate in San Diego.
Coach (needing your thoughts)
Yesterday I finished my ride just on the west side of Wilcox, AZ. I found a little place alongside I-10 and set up my tent. Noticed I had a flat tire and fixed that before bed. Very nice evening - stars were very bright. Today, I had about 170 some miles to Sun Lakes, AZ. Jacque and Connie Ziebell (Connie is LuAnn's aunt) have a winter home in Sun Lakes. I made it!! I started a little before the sun came up and had a climb of about three or four miles. Then it was almost all downhill to Benson, AZ. From Benson to Tucson was an easy flat ride. I tried to stay on the freeway through Tucson, but was kicked off by the highway patrol. Tucson to Sun Lakes was another 100 miles. I was able to take a frontage road along I-10 to I-8 which is the turn-off to San Diego. I was thinking about going on to San Diego, but decided I needed some time to think and maybe a day off. So I continued to Sun Lakes on U.S. 87. All the way from Tucson to Sun Lakes I had about a 25 mile wind behind me. Very nice! I bet I was cruising at over 25 miles an hour all the way. I made it to Connie and Jacques' at 5:00 P.M. Conditions were perfect for me to do this stretch in that amount of time. I think I could have made close to 200 today.
I'm glad I decided to come this way. I need a good night's rest and maybe a day off to recharge. Also, was hoping to see Dale Dhooge but found out he moved back to Elk River, MN. Dale played football with my sons, Dean and Eric. Very dedicated player. Bruce Mathison also lives in the Phoenix area, but I could not find him at home. I will try tomorrow. Bruce was a great player for the Spartans. He went on to play for Nebraska and then into the pros spending most of his career with the San Diego Chargers. I hope I get to see him before I leave. Time to relax.
P.S. Also had a little run in with a semi- trailer truck early in the day. I heard a truck coming and then I heard tires on the rumble strip. Before I knew it this truck was right next to me. It was close enough for me to touch it with my elbow. Scary!! He stopped about a quarter mile down the road and was just shaking when I rode up to him. He just did not know what happened to get over that close to me. I thanked him for stopping and moved very nervously. That was close.
I decided to take my first day off!!! Last night I was able to spend some time reading the nice emails I've been receiving. I hope to reply to each one when I can. Again, just remember I'm reading them and they mean a lot to me. THANKS! It will be good to relax for a day. Then I will move on to San Diego tomorrow and should be there by Wednesday. Then I will work on the next plan. Still need to figure out the best route to Seattle. Still need to decide if I have it in me to continue. Need to find a way to make this more enjoyable. Need to find a way to not let all the white crosses along the highway tear me up. Too many young people have lost their lives on our roads.
Just to let everyone know that this day of rest was very good. I feel better. I leave for San Diego tomorrow and should be there by Wednesday. Hopefully things pick up as I get closer to people I know. Just got back from dinner with Bruce Mathison and his wife, Bonnie and daughter, Sid. (Sid looks just like Bruce, only better looking!) It was a great visit. Bruce was one of the best athletes to play at our high school. More important, he's one of the nicest young men I know. I'm proud to have been his coach and his friend. (Even though he hates the wishbone!!) Take care everyone.
Coach, (in a little better spirits tonight)
I met Bruce Mathison at the intersection of Riggs Road and Interstate 10 this morning at 7:30 A.M. (He was late, not me!) Last night at supper, Bruce offered to drive me back to my starting point on Interstate 8 heading to San Diego. Glad he did, we had a good chat about old times, etc. One being me riding my bike over 2,000 miles just to see my first Spartan alumnus! Not good percentages. Although, I told him if he had 2.5 million I could end it and fly home! (Slight pause in the conversation at that point!)
Seriously, Bruce does have some very good ideas and plans to get in touch with our committee people back in Superior. We do need to get this project coordinated better or my ride will be over before anyone knows about it. Bruce dropped me off and after taking a couple pictures and saying goodbye I was on my way to Yuma. (I noticed Bruce just shook his head when I said I was going to make it to Yuma!) Tough to say goodbye, but we will see each other again and stay in touch as I continue my trek. Remember that wind which blew me into Sun Lakes? Well, it was in my face all day. No smiles today, just pushed on to Yuma and made it with about 45 minutes of sunlight left. I decided to stay on the freeway and go across the Colorado River (not much left of the river down here, now it's a canal heading to L.A.) into California expecting to find a motel, food and water on the other side of the river. Not a good move! Services were a long ways away and of course I could not turn around and go back! At dark I did find a place off to my left where a few campers were parked in what looked like an open lot in the middle of nowhere. I decided to go over and at least ask for some water, which I needed bad! I found out people camped here so they could go over to Mexico and get their medical needs. All were very nice and helped me out with water and food (which I didn't have either) and showed me a good place to set up my tent. Thanks! A day and half to San Diego.
I was up early so I could get to the next gas and market service area for some food. It was about six miles away, but when I got there it was closed and the sign said it would be two hours before it opened. So I went on figuring I had enough water and it was cool enough to make it to Calexico about 40 some miles away. Arrived in Calexico at about 9:30 or so,,, very,,, very hungry and a little dizzy. Once I ate and felt better, I was on my way, noticing a sign, "Calexico, elevation minus 1”. Let’s see, minus one here and in about 30 some miles I'm suppose to be at 4,000 feet. Even I could figure out the rest of the day would be no picnic. Also, just outside of town there was this big sign, "Welcome to the Yuma Desert"!!! Desert,,, I've been in a desert forever and now they are welcoming me to it! Not a good day.
At about one in the afternoon I arrived at a little service station just before I had to start my mountain climb. The guy at the service station said it was thirteen miles to the top and the last three were straight up. Usually thirteen miles takes about 40 to 45 minutes or so. After three plus hours,,,, a number of stops,,, a few choice words,,, the climb was over. Boulevard was about twenty some miles away and so was a motel! NO tent tonight! ABOUT 65 MILES TO SAN DIEGO
All downhill from here I was told! Wrong! Still had to make about three up and down climbs, but nothing like yesterday. In fact, I enjoyed them today. It was a short day and the climbs made it a good workout! (Can you believe that?) After the last climb it was all downhill at about a seven percent grade. Very fast. At one point I switched back to the freeway thinking it was the only way to do the next seven miles. Once I was on my way down at about 45 miles an hour, I passed this sign, "no bikes"! Too late now!
I arrived in a suburb of San Diego, El Cajon, at about 10:30. Made a call home and then to Jay Mitchell, our Superintendent of Schools in Superior. He said his wife's sister and husband lived in the area and said he would call them and see if they would come and get me. Lauri (Jay's sister-in-law) and Ed Lynch live in Escondido. After Jay told them about me, they were on their way to pick me up. What a nice couple. Jay had great things to say about them and he was right. Lauri also had nice things to say about Jay. (I kept my mouth shut, Jay!) Ed had a meeting that evening, so Lauri, her friend, Stacy, Whitney and I went to dinner at a very nice Mexican restaurant. Great food! Stacy's son, Doug, also joined us. Doug is a quarterback for the local high school and his dream is to play for Nebraska someday. I told him I would let Bruce Mathison know about him. (Bruce also played for Nebraska). His eyes just lit up. I said it was now up to him to prove himself.
After a good night’s rest, Ed and Lauri took me to the airport and I was on my way home. I've decided to take about ten days off and come back to San Diego, May 3rd, and continue on to Seattle. This will do me good, plus give our Spartan Fundraising Committee a chance to regroup. As I look back, plans were to be in San Diego around, May 7th! Just a little ahead of schedule!!!! Roughly, I think I've done about 2,700 miles or so. I think that's about 120 plus miles per day average. Better than I figured I could do.
While home I will enter a few journal notes to let you know what is up, recap this leg of the trip and let you know what is ahead. For all those who sent me emails, I cannot thank you enough. I think the toughest part of this trek is over and your emails really helped me get through it during the rough emotional times. While I'm home I will try and answer each.
P.S. I forgot to mention, just before I got to San Diego, I crossed the Pacific Crest Trail. The Pacific Crest Trail (for those that may not know) is a 2,658 mile hike across the mountains of CA, OR, and WA, starting at the Mexican border and ending at the Canadian border. This is the hike I completed last year and it was neat to see these crossings. I will cross it again in Washington.
(I think I have one of those,,, "honey do lists" at home!!!!!!!)
Hello everyone. Well, I'm back! I feel re-charged and ready to go. The time off has done a lot of good; finished most of my "honey do" projects around the house, was able to play with the grandchildren and visit with friends.
I believe we have our fundraising efforts on the right track. Five thousand letters to alumni have been sent and another ten thousand plus will be going out soon. Rick Lubbers, editor of the Superior Daily Telegram will be running articles updating my trip.
In fact I know for sure we are on the upswing. My son, Eric received his letter in the mail this past week and already has sent in his pledge. That is really saying something, for he still has the nickel the tooth fairy put under his pillow for the first baby tooth he lost!
Right now (Sunday evening) I'm at my sister's house, Clarice (Ron) Sprengler in Apple Valley MN. My mother (91) also lives with Clarice and Ron so it was good to visit with her. She is doing great for 91 except for short term memory loss.
Tomorrow I will fly to L.A. and then take a train back to Escondido to Ed and Laurie Lynch's. Then on Tuesday I will head north. I hope to be somewhere north of L.A. Tuesday evening by way of the Pacific Coast Highway. I purchased bike route maps while at home that should help a lot for this section of the ride; especially through L.A. and San Francisco and other large urban areas.
Tentatively I expect to be in the San Francisco area on May 7th or 8th. I hope to cut back on my mileage to around 100 a day and try and "smell the roses" a little. No matter what I do, I always push too hard and everyone says, "Slow down,,, smell the roses a little bit!" We will see.
Also, I've been riding about 20 miles a day (approx. 200) at home. So, I feel better about any miles I've missed along the way.
I arrived in L.A. at about 9:15 A.M. and caught a bus to Union Station, which is downtown L.A. Then I was able to take the train all the way to Oceanside. Everything went without a hitch. Ed Lynch picked me up at the train station.
Once back at Ed and Laurie’s home in Escondido I noticed I had a flat tire on my bike. I knew I had to replace my chain anyway, so I decided to get new tubes and a couple of spares. What I did not expect was when at the bike shop the service man told me my derailleur was shot. So, after $135.00 bill for repairs I was ready to start in the morning. At least one good thing, I did not have the derailleur breakdown on the road.
Ed, Laurie and Stacy (Laurie’s friend) and I went out for dinner. They have gone out of their way for me since I arrived so I wanted to at least treat them to dinner. I'm a little anxious about tomorrow’s ride to L.A. and the traffic, but we will soon find out.
Ed gave me a ride back to Oceanside and the bike path along Interstate 1. We said our goodbyes and I was off. The day’s ride was a lot better than I expected. In fact I had little trouble with traffic until I got to Santa Monica and had to get off the bike path routes and onto Pacific Coast Highway 1 again.
Just great views all day long. I was on the beach bike paths most of the day. Many great towns I went though all the way to L.A. Even in L.A. I was on a bike path or back streets with little traffic problems. Then, just when rush hour was hitting I was in Santa Monica and the bike path ended and Coastal Highway 1 took over. I had nine miles to Malibu and was hoping to still make it. So, I waited until about 6:15 and started out. Road was a little tight but no great problems. Only thing I was unaware of was Malibu was 26 miles long!
Once there I found a little ballpark across from Pepperdine College and made camp. Full moon over the ocean was beautiful.
So far so good. Although I've been told there will be a lot of traffic on my ride to Santa Barbara tomorrow.
My worries about riding through the Santa Barbara area were quickly answered. A Pacific Crest Trail friend, Linda Jeffers (Trail Name - Gottago) called me on my cell phone last evening and offered to follow me through this area. She lives within an hour from Malibu. Glad she did for the traffic was bad. Once past Santa Barbara, I got into open country of beautiful rolling hills. It reminded me a lot of the area around Prairie Farm, WI, where my mother grew up.
A very good day and it was great to visit with Gottago. She is an amazing woman. In 2002, at the age of 57, she hiked the entire Pacific Crest Trail and this year, starting in June she will attempt the Continental Divide Trail from Canada to Mexico across the Rockies.
Best day I've had in a long time. Great ocean views all day long. Outside Morro Bay, I stopped at a roadside viewing area that had just thousands of elephant seals sunning themselves along the beach. Just an amazing sight.
Then, in about eight miles I started to climb a small mountain range where the road became a little tight for both car and bike. If you looked over the side it was straight down. At least I was on the inside lane. This was the first day it really felt like I was working at this biking. I was in my "granny gear" often.
I camped at a nice little state park surrounded by beautiful moss oak trees. People at this camp grounds tell me that tomorrow I will be traveling through the Big Sur country which is suppose to even be prettier than what I came through today.
Yes, the Big Sur area was beautiful. The road wound through a small mountain range of beautiful redwoods. What a peaceful early morning ride. It felt like I was back on the PCT.
Once through this area, I thought I was through with the up and down climbing, wrong! The hill coming out of Carmel was tougher than the ones I went up in the Big Sur area. Once through this area things started to level off and I was making very good time. I was hoping to get as far as I could today so tomorrow's ride into San Francisco would be short.
All was going well until I came to Soquel (suburb of Santa Cruz). I hate working my way through cities! I never look at the map until I'm usually lost, which I did at least three times. Coming into Soquel I was on the correct road, but missed a turn and climbed this long winding road that was straight up for about 5 miles. Finally realized I was going southeast!!!! Long story short,,, by the time I got through Soquel and Santa Cruz I'd gone about 15 miles the wrong way!
So now I'm mad! Figured I had to make up for it and rode until well after 8:00 P.M. Yes it was dark, plus I missed the little tent campgrounds I was trying to get to. Ended up sleeping on an edge of a newly seeded field.
Still, it was a great day. Nice scenery and even had to laugh at being myself. Oh, by the way, I did not stop to "smell the roses", but I did stop to take a picture of a beautiful nursery field of flowers!
When I set up my tent last night I could feel the fog rolling in off the ocean and knew it would be a damp night. Boy was it damp, everything was soaking wet: tent, bike clothing, and sleeping bag.
Good news is that because I was so stubborn about riding into the dark last night, I only had around 60 miles to San Francisco. Larry and Ann Kaustermeier will be meeting me at the south end of the Golden Gate Bridge.
Everything was going well on my ride into San Francisco. When I got to Pacifica, CA I called Larry and Ann and told them I should be there in an hour. They said they would be there.
Within minutes of calling I made a wrong turn. Fortunately I was back on track within 15 minutes and still thought I could make it on time to meet Larry and Ann. I was feeling very proud of myself as I worked my way through San Francisco and to the Golden Gate Bridge. It was very foggy, but I was following the bike map to a tee.
I knew I was getting close, but it was so foggy and the bridge was not visible, but all I had left to do was find Merchant Rd. off Lincoln Blvd. and I was there, plus I was going to be 10 minutes early!
About an hour later I get to Larry and Ann's car!!!! Could not find Merchant Rd. and ended up almost in downtown San Francisco! Darn!!!
It was great to see Larry and Ann. Ann and my wife, LuAnn, went to college together and Ann and Larry have been great friends all this time. They are one of the couples we vacation with over Easter break. Larry had his bike with him so we rode over the Golden Gate Bridge together. Could not see much because of the fog.
I will rest up for a day and start out again Monday morning. Larry made tee times for tomorrow! Couldn't pass that up. I will need to beg for a couple of strokes this evening!
Golf was bad! Need to stick to bike riding. Also, walking 18 holes of a very hilly course was tougher on my legs than 120 miles of riding! Seriously, the day of rest has been very good. Larry and Ann have really gone out of their way to make me feel at home.
Tomorrow I will be back on the road and should finish riding CA in about three and half days if all goes well.
Larry Kaustermeier gave me a ride to my starting point, which would be just northeast of the Golden Gate Bridge. The route would join Coastal Highway One at Marshall about 40 miles north of the Golden Gate Bridge. By taking this route I was cutting off about 20 miles and avoiding the morning traffic in San Francisco.
Like most shortcuts, this one turned out to be a tougher ride than expected. Very little traffic, but I wound around and went up and down hills that I would not have encountered if I'd started from the Golden Gate Bridge. Oh well, a ride that I expected to save an hour's time of riding turned into an additional hour by the time I got to the Coastal Highway.
Now the fun continued. All day long I was riding into northwest winds gusting to 30 miles an hour. Mid-afternoon I had a climb of almost 2,000 feet which actually went better than expected, except for one flat tire! (I'll post a picture of this mess later.)
Towards the end of this climb, I was in my "granny gear" and my chain came off. Once I got it back on and started out again, every so often it would slip. This continued for the rest of the day and by day’s end was getting worse. At about dark, I found a little place in the woods near Anchor Bay and set up camp. I was among a number of condos that were along the coast and mountainside to my east. I believe I was on private land, but no-one could see me. It took almost 13 hours of riding today to get 100 miles in.
I was getting worried about my chain so I thought I'd try calling my son, Eric to get his opinion. (Eric rides his bike year round, either on the road in the summer or on his trainer in the winter.) This little resort area in the middle of nowhere must have its own cell phone tower because my reception was excellent. Eric thought I'd pinched a couple of chain lengths and that was causing the problem. After our chat, I checked to see if that was the problem and it was.
So, for what probably should have taken maybe a half hour to remove and replace the bad links, took me about two! It solved the problem and I should be able to get to Fort Bragg and have it checked at a bike shop.
Time for bed. Long day, although I think I will call Larry Kaustermeier and see if he and Ann are chuckling about this not so hilly ride I was supposed to do today!
Very nice morning to start out, but within an hour the wind was back in my face.
I arrived in Fort Bragg at about 10:00 and found the local bike shop to have my chain looked at. This was the best bike shop I've encountered. I felt I may need another new chain and maybe new gears on the back wheel. As it turned out the bike shop owner (forgot name) only needed to replace a couple more chain links and do a little cleaning and tuning. He could have easily sold me a new chain and gear set and I would not have known the difference. Nice to meet an honest person.
My ride out of Fort Bragg brought me inland over another 2,000 foot climb to Leggett, CA. This was a very nice ride. The elevation gain was not bad - plus I was out of the wind. I rode along a nice winding road which came in and out of redwoods to the small town of Leggett, CA.
Leggett is the town that has the redwood tree that you can drive your car through. I've seen it before so I did not ride the quarter of a mile south to see it again. So instead I continued north now on 101 which was all downhill to Benbow. I was told Benbow had very nice state campgrounds with showers and a store near by. All along the coast there were nice camp grounds like this that I avoided because they cost $13.00 to $15.00 to stay in and I figured why spend that when I could find a little place alongside the road for nothing. All I was missing was a shower! Come to find out when I was in Leggett, all these campgrounds had special rates of $2.00 for hikers and bikers! Here I could have been starting or ending the day with a nice shower rather than the one piece of wet wipe I was using to wash with!!!! Doesn't this sound like fun!
Only problem I had today was one time I tried to shift down into low gear and the chain would not move over and rather than take a chance on wrecking the chain I tried to dismount, but my foot would not release from the pedal and I strain my back a little as I tried to keep from falling. Hopefully it's better in the morning. It should be, after all, I’ve taken a nice hot shower!
I'm in Eureka, CA and heading for the border of Oregon! Only have a half hour on this computer so this will be quick.
Last two days have been tough riding. Lots of hills - a couple of close to 2,000 foot climbs and wind in my face. The climbs I like, it feels like a good workout and the up is canceled out by the nice glide down. Only thing that does not cancel is the wind and on Monday, it was 25 miles an hour and gusting higher. Once I had to pedal down hill it was so stiff. Did make 100 miles that day, but it was a real struggle. Legs felt like jelly at the end of the day, but felt good the next morning. Still had some wind, but not as bad. One long climb out of Fort Bragg to Leggett, but it went a whole lot better than Monday.
Today I just finished going through the redwoods on the south side of Eureka following the Road of the Giants. Once on that road I made a stop and was wondering if I should go back and follow the freeway because it was so tight. (I got a picture of it) While I was trying to make a decision a SUV pulled up and two guys got out to look at the information sign I was standing by. We started talking and wouldn't you know it, they were from Wisconsin. I told them what I was thinking and they said, "why not ride with us through this beautiful area." It was about 30 miles long and I wanted to go through it so I decided to take the ride. Like before, I'm glad I did. We took some side roads on the way, and saw areas I would have missed. Also, gave me a good rest for my back was hurting some. Very nice guys and it was good to visit with someone.
Still have a lot of daylight so I'm going to try and get as close to Crescent City as I can. Sometime tomorrow morning I will be in Oregon and heading to Seattle.
Looking forward to Seattle. Lots of people I know there.
Again the start of the day was nice, but by the time I got to Garberville, CA the wind was in my face and my back was beginning to bother me some. I ate breakfast at Garberville and continued on to Avenue of the Giants which was about 10 miles away and was the beginning of the ride through the giant redwood forest.
By the time I got to the turn off to the Avenue of the Giants I was really feeling my back. I pulled over to rest a little and read an informational sign about the Giants Avenue ride. Within minutes a SUV pulled up and two guys came over to look at the same sign I was reading. We greeted each other and after a little conversation and them learning what I was doing, one mentioned to me that I looked like I was hurting a little. I said yeah, that my back was giving me a little trouble and jokingly told them that their SUV was looking awfully good to me. Well, it turned out they offered me a ride if I wanted to do some sightseeing throughout the park. Not sure why, but I took them up on it.
Again, I was glad I did. First I got to see parts of the park I never would of. Second, it really gave my back the rest it needed. Third, this road was very narrow and the ride was a lot safer than biking. Fourth, come to find out, these two guys were also from Wisconsin. In fact they knew many people I knew, one being Keith Lahti of South Shore. Scott Steinhardt was from Grafton, WI and played basketball with or against Keith back in his college days. Ron Weyker, from Belgium, WI owns land near Ladysmith. Small world.
My time with Scott and Ron was fun. Lots of laughs. They said just minutes before picking me up that they had a conversation how neither would ever pick up a hitchhiker no matter what the situation. Then I come along and they go against everything they had just said. Glad they did for I gained two new friends.
Eureka, CA was the next town after the Giants Ave. I was planning on staying here, but it was so early in the day I decided to find a place where I could lay down and rest my back a little more and then make a decision as to whether to stay or not. I found a small park and rested for about an hour and a half and then decided to move on.
The rest of the day went well. My back felt a lot better and I did not push that hard. Still, by riding until dark, I was able to get to Orick which was about 30 miles from the CA / OR border.
Thanks Scott and Ron for help and making this a great day.
I'd forgotten about the long hill going into Crescent City!!! Tough ride to start the morning, plus there was very little shoulder to ride on. On the plus side, it was a beautiful ride through the redwoods. Years ago our family made the trip from Florence, OR to Leggett, CA with my good friend Charlie Wright and his family.
One of the highlights of that trip was staying at Jedediah Smith State Park which is east of Crescent City. I was thinking of going over to it, but, as I'm sure everyone is starting to figure out, if it's not on my path I probably will not see it. (Got to make those miles you know!)
Well, CA is done! I remember the coastal drive of Oregon being very winding and lots of hills. Also very pretty with the high coastal cliffs and huge sand dunes which I will ride alongside tomorrow.
Legs are tired. Body is starting to feel the effects of the hills and wind in my face. Need to get to bed.
Just like I remembered this area. Lots of hills and winding narrow road. People biking this route during summer and the height of the tourist season must have a lot of close calls. Dangerous day, but no real close calls. Although in the morning as I rounded a corner, a whole guard rail was wiped out. Found out later that a semi turned over on its side last night. Makes you think a little.
Much of the day was spent riding along the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area. Saw a couple of dune buggies flying over one mound to the next. Looked like a lot of fun.
This was my toughest day of riding. Wind is still in my face and the hills are starting to get to me. My legs are weak and each hill becomes tougher than the one before. To get my 100 plus mile day, I rode from 5:30 to 8:15 today with probably no more than a half hour to forty five minutes of down time. What a goal to have.... to ride yourself into the ground just to get 100 miles. Sounds like my Dad!
Great camp tonight. I'm at Honeyman State Park in The Dunes National Recreation Area. Need a good hot shower tonight and I know I will sleep well. Tomorrow, sometime late in the morning I will be turning northeast on Highway 18 which goes to Portland. I've been told this is a very pretty ride and not so hilly. Also, the wind should not be in my face. Need a break from that wind. Time to eat and go to bed.
Just a quick note while I can. Wind is getting better, but body is for the first time starting to wear. My legs are getting heavy.
Plans are to turn in towards Portland on Highway 18 and head to Tacoma. Should be there possibly late Sunday or more likely Monday.
Then this leg is over. Plans are to stay in Tacoma until the 20th with my cousin, Loraine. My sister Clarice, and my cousin Elsie, will be coming on the 18th and spending a week there too. My plans are to go home on the 20th and rest. I'm beat. I know my legs cannot take the climb over the Cascades so I will finish this leg here. Then, when I'm ready, I think I will start out from home and do the Superior to Charlotte leg leaving the Washington to Superior as the last hurrah.
I wish I knew how to slow down, but I guess it is not in the cards. Just hope I have enough to get to Tacoma. When I get there I will update my entries day by day, but for now this will have to do. Still have daylight and the wind is down. That is a big plus.
Even though I'm tired and weak it was a great day. At about 11:00 A.M., I turned northeast on Highway 18 and started towards Portland. This road came just at the right time; less hills and finally, very little wind. Highway 18 winds through some very beautiful farm county and small towns. I seem to like this type of setting the best. Maybe because it reminds me of home. Lots of trees, nice streams and neat farms along the way. Very peaceful ride. Good thoughts today.
Took a room in a motel tonight. It was raining off and on today and I found a cheap, $35.00 room in Lafayette, so I took it. Everything along the coast was so expensive so this feels good. I'm even going out to eat tonight. Normally I grab some sandwiches and snacks at a gas station and ride down the road until I find a place to put up my tent. Then crawl inside and have supper.
With the help of the Portland city bus lines, I was able to make it to Chehalis, WA.
I made it to the south side of Portland at about 9:00 A.M. and used the city bus lines to get myself through Portland and across the Columbia River and into Vancouver, WA. From Vancouver, I followed Interstate 5 to Chehalis, WA. Many times I had to ride on I-5. The onramps I used said nothing about bikes not being allowed. I was even passed by a state trooper so it must have been okay.
Last night's stay in the motel really helped this old body. Legs still are a little weak, but nothing like the previous few days. Nothing real exciting about today’s ride, just a good 120 - 130 mile day. I'm camped on a hillside overlooking nothing and have the company of three cows off to my right. I think I have about 60 some miles left to Tacoma and hope to be at my PCT friend, Bill "Geezer" Irey's house by noon tomorrow.
The west coast ride is history! Made it to "Geezer's" house just before noon. Geezer and I met in 2002 at the beginning of my Pacific Crest Trail hike. He's in his mid 60's and over a number of years now is close to completing the PCT hike. We've stayed in touch the last few years and it's good to see him. He's had some medical problems the past couple of years and is hoping to regain some weight and strength so he can complete another section of his PCT hike this summer. We spent a few hours visiting and then he took me over to my wife's aunt’s home in Orting, WA, which is not far away.
Connie and Jacque Ziebell are the same people I stayed with in Sun Lakes, AZ. They are back home here in Orting and again have offered to let me stay with them until I fly home in three days. (May 20th) I think they are getting tired of me following them around!
Time to clean up and relax a little. This section of the trip was tough, especially the wind. Like I've stated before, the up and down of the hills cancel themselves out, but the wind, well that was a real pain in the backside from San Francisco on. Of course, having the obsession of "must do" 100 miles at least everyday did not help the cause!!!
Maybe the next leg of this trip I will be able to talk myself into some 50 - 60 mile days! The third leg will begin after Memorial Weekend and I will start in Superior and go east then south to my starting point in Charlotte, N.C. After a short break I will go back to Seattle and do the last leg back to Superior. I think it makes more sense finishing in Superior than Charlotte. Besides, my golf clubs are here in Superior!
I thought I'd just let you know that my days here in Orting and Seattle have been fun.
Got up early on the 18th and just for kicks I went for a 25 mile bike ride before breakfast. Must be nuts!
After breakfast, Jim Winans, Connie and Jacque's son-in-law, came by with his 1982 Porsche and we went for a ride in the country. This particular Porsche is number 59 of about 200 models made in 1982. Just Old Coach "styling" a little today!
After the Porsche ride, we met his wife, Debbie, and went for a boat ride in Puget Sound. Now this little boat ride was on a cabin cruiser that can sleep six. (I will post pictures of the boat and Porsche later.)
Later this summer, Jim will be going on a cross country motorcycle ride that he's been doing the last couple of years. Sounds like more fun than this pedaling.
Jim is a retired pilot/instructor and his wife, Debbie, is a pilot for American Airlines. Someday, LuAnn and I will be back and spend some time with them. Thanks, Deb and Jim, I had a blast.
On, Wednesday, the 19th, I went over to visit with my sister, Clarice and cousins, Elsie and Loraine. They were at Loraine's son, Ron's home in Seattle. Very nice place that overlooks Lake Washington. I have not see Loraine for years. Great visit!
Tomorrow I fly home. On Friday this lad turns 60. Maybe I will now need a small motor attached to my bike for the next leg!!!
I will do a few journal entries while I'm at home to keep you posted on what is happening and plans for the next leg of this adventure.
Hello everyone. If you are wondering what is up, well, I will be starting the second half of my ride this Sunday, June 13th. I will leave Superior early Sunday and head down Highway 53 to Rice Lake. Then I must get off U.S. 53 because it becomes a freeway. Plans are to follow side roads to Eau Claire and then side roads along Interstate 94 until I get just north of Madison, WI where I will turn east and head to Milwaukee. When I reach Milwaukee I will take the new ferry service across to Michigan and head southeast to Cleveland, Ohio, northeast to the Atlantic Coast and then south to Charlotte, N.C.
Before I leave on Sunday, I will post a tentative map and timetable for this section. I've had a good rest. My legs feel strong and emotionally I'm ready to go again. I feel more confident that I will finish this trek, although I'm doubting if my journey is helping much with our Stadium fundraising. The Stadium committee and I will be meeting later this week with a person that does fundraising for a living. We need help and we need your help. Before I leave I will update you on what the committee and I feel needs to happen if the stadium project is to become reality. I look at this restart of my ride as coming out of half time and beginning the third quarter behind in the game. On the football field we've been there many times, but have never gone back into the second half of the game without giving it our very best. Most of the time we won... if not...we all knew we gave it our very best shot. That is what I'm expecting now. We are behind...but we will all come together and win----THIS ONE MORE GAME!!!
More on the game plan before I leave on Sunday. A number of things have happened while I've been home---one very nice honor, a great Boundary Waters trip and my wife's retirement. To my surprise I was inducted into our school system's Hall of Fame. This was totally unexpected. So many others who've served our system deserved this honor more than me. At the induction I told everyone I had a very simple philosophy. As a physical education teacher, find ways through activity to build each student's self-esteem. As a coach, if I had 60 players on a team, work to make all 61 have one the best experiences of their life. As an assistant principal, always be there for the staff so they could do their job to the best of their ability. Not sure I accomplished that, but maybe some.
Our annual Boundary Waters trip was great. Cold, windy, some rain ---- perfect---- because of the people. Coach Wright and our children have been doing this Memorial Weekend trip for over 25 years and this one was special because we were going back to visit our son, Ryan's favorite Boundary Waters lake and the island we spread some of his ashes at last year. I've posted some pictures of this year's trip along with a picture of the island where Ryan's ashes were spread last year (the tree on the island has a cross carved in it that faces the sunset). Also I've included a few pictures of Ryan.
Last is LuAnn's retirement which is this Friday. More on that later. Need to go for a bike ride around the block (20 miles)...just to make sure my backside has not forgotten what this is all about!!!
On Sunday, June 13th, I will begin my ride to Charlotte, N.C. with the hope we start seeing better results in our fundraising efforts. Right now we continue to get contributions averaging about $400.00 a week. At that pace I will need to ride my bike about 12 times around the United States in order to reach our goal. I'd rather not do that!!! So, we need to address a few problems. First, we are having some difficulty in reaching our Alumni. So, I'm asking you to pass the word on. I'm hoping many of you would like to get involved. We need your ideas and we need your help in contacting fellow classmates. Maybe you have businesses in your area that have an interest in such a project. Please contact our secretary, Joan Parenteau, at the Board Office by phone or email if you can help. (email: email@example.com or phone: 715-394-8710)
Second, I believe it is hard for most of us to make a financial commitment without knowing if the project is really going to happen. This I think is a big problem along with our contribution link being confusing. Therefore, we are re- doing this link so people have the opportunity to make a pledge over a three year period. That way you need not send money at this time, but can make a serious pledge that we will follow up on at the end of our pledge drive. You will be able to go right to the link and make your pledge, which, after being confirmed by the committee, will be posted. We expect to have the link up and running in about one to two weeks. However, if you would like to make that commitment now, just call or email Joan Parenteau. To get things going, Joan, "LuAnn and Larry Hoff pledge $5,000.00 over a three year period." NEXT??
Third, many have questions about this project and rightfully so. Therefore, we will add a question and answer link to our website. In closing this journal entry, let me make a plug for the Spartan Garden project. On our home page we have a link to this project. I do understand not all may want to support an athletic project. Therefore, I ask you to consider a contribution to Spartan Gardan project. What a great focal point the garden will be for our entire community. Better yet, consider supporting both projects! Thanks for your support. See you in Eau Claire, or perhaps Milwaukee, or perhaps Toledo, or perhaps Maine, or perhaps South Carolina...!
Okay, it is time to get serious. I'm getting fat and need to get on the road. I will leave tomorrow, Sunday June 13th, around 6:00 A.M. and head down Highway 53 to Rice Lake and then follow 53 and other side roads along 53 to Eau Claire. Plans are to be in Eau Claire, Sunday evening or early Monday morning. After breakfast with friends in Eau Claire, I will follow as close as I can Interstate 94 down to Portage, WI where I will turn east and follow U.S. 16 and U.S. 60 to Cedarburg, WI. I'm planning on camping south of Tomah Monday evening, and east of Portage Tuesday and then stay with a friend in the Milwaukee area Wednesday evening. Thursday morning I will take the 6:30 A.M. ferry to Muskegon, MI and ride to Grand Rapids, MI. From Grand Rapids, MI I will follow Highway 50 and 223 to Toledo, OH and the coastline of Lake Erie to Cleveland. I should be in Cleveland by no later than the 21st of June.
It was tough to leave family and friends, especially the grandkids, but it was also good to get started again. I started the day by going to church with my wife, LuAnn, and her mother, Glenys. (One needs all the outside help he can get!) After saying my goodbyes, I was on the road at about 10:30 heading south on Highway 53 to Eau Claire. My legs felt good and I had a quartering wind at my back so I was making good time. My first stop was Cameron, WI where I met John Nielsen. John is a psychologist in the Cameron school system and along with his wife, Nancy, have been friends for years. This also is the area I spent my childhood. I was born in Barron, WI, which is just five miles west of Cameron. After lunch and a picture with John, I was off to Eau Claire. Because of the late start, I was not expecting to make it all the way to Eau Claire, but with the wind behind me, I made it by 6:15.
Eau Claire is the city where I began my teaching career and still have many good friends. Before going over to one of those friends home, Denny and Norma Bohman, I swung by Central Jr High (no longer a school) and took a picture for old times sake. Lots of good memories at this school. It was good to see Denny and Norma. When LuAnn and I lived here, Denny and Norma lived across the street. The four of us did a lot together and have remained friends. Denny, now retired, was the athletic director at Memorial High School and for many years their baseball coach, and a very good one, winning the state back in the 70's. Tomorrow morning I hope to have breakfast with a few other friends before I start out. Very good first day. Made better time than expected, even with one flat tire! It would not be a complete day without a flat tire!
Denny, Norma and I met Diz Kronenberg, Tex Books, and Deloyd Shears at a local restaurant for breakfast. When I lived in Eau Claire, Diz, Tex and I taught at the same school. Tex and I taught P.E. together and Diz was a social studies teacher. The two are great men. Tex was an outstanding fast pitch softball player and has been inducted in the U.S. Softball Hall of Fame. He had a great way with young people. They loved him. Diz, well, Diz has done more for his fellow man than anyone I know. He is an all around athlete and in his day, a world class paddleball player. But his greatest accomplishment is giving of himself to others. I bet there are few people in Eau Claire that Diz has not touched their life in some way. I know he had a major impact on me. I had a lot of fun with Diz, Tex, Denny and a number of other friends from Eau Claire. It's a wonder how they survived without me taking care of them!!!!
After breakfast I was on my way. The day was spent riding along back roads that paralleled Interstate 94. Beautiful, rolling hills. Lots of farms, creeks and wildlife. In fact, I saw three of the largest turkeys I've ever seen. At first I thought they were small deer. They were huge! Mauston is about 100 miles from Eau Claire, but I managed to make it 125 miles by making a wrong turn and started heading west to the Mississippi. I usually do something like that once a day. All in all, it was a very good day. Body feels good. I'm staying with Mike, Laura, and Mallory Taake here in Mauston. Mike is the high school football coach in Mauston and is also a good friend of our school superintendent, Jay Mitchell. Jay was the superintendent in Mauston before he came to Superior. They've made me feel very welcome.
Tomorrow I will try and get to at least Columbus, WI which will put me in Milwaukee early Wednesday. You know, if I would have put in full days I think I could have made it to Milwaukee tomorrow. But...I'm slowing down now you know!!!!!
Up to my old ways again! At breakfast this morning, Mike Taake asked me how far I was going today. I said I was thinking about getting somewhere just past Columbus, WI. He said that Columbus was only about 70 miles. I asked him how far was Milwaukee? He wasn't sure mile-wise, but thought a guy riding like I was could easily make it! That was just enough said to know that would be the goal for the day! So, by way of Highway 60 to Grafton and then following Shoreline Drive I was in Milwaukee at 7:30 P.M. I think it was just under a 150 mile day by the route I took.
My best friend I grew up with in Barron, WI picked me up in Milwaukee and took me to his house in Racine. The good thing about today's long ride is... Wednesday will be a rest day!!! Plus tomorrow evening we will go to the Brewer's game. Then, on Thursday, Jim will take me back to Milwaukee and I will catch the 6:30 A.M. ferry to Michigan.
My stay with Laura and Mike Taake was great. As expected, Mike and I talked some football that I will not bore you with. Let me just say, from our short visit, I believe Mauston is lucky to have such a quality person. He's coaching for his players, not for his personal gain. I will be following you in the years to come, Mike. Monday, as I came into Mauston, I was thinking how great the ride towards Grafton was going to be because of this nice west wind I was feeling. Well...you guessed it...SOUTHEAST WIND ALL DAY! One can never win! All in all though it was a great day of riding. Lots of good thoughts and great views. Well, time for this guy to take a little nap! Hope I do not dream about bikes!
I had a great visit yesterday (Wednesday) with my friend, Jim McIntyre. The Brewer - Seattle game was fun, plus the Brewers won. Miller Park is a beautiful stadium. Before the game they had a ceremony honoring Paul Molitor who will be inducted into baseball's hall of fame next month. Thursday morning we were up at 4:30 A.M. and out the door by 5:00 A.M. so I could catch the ferry in Milwaukee by 6:00 A.M. No problem, made it in plenty of time. Another good-bye to a very good friend and I was off to Muskegon.
The ride across Lake Michigan was nothing great because you could see absolutely nothing. Heavy fog the entire way, although the ferry was very nice. Brand new with all the modern conveniences one would expect. The trip took about 45 minutes longer than expected because one of the two engines was not working right. The fog lifted when we came into the Muskegon harbor. Very pretty the entire way through a long narrow channel and then about a 20 minute ride across the bay to where the ferry docked. As I was getting my bike ready, a very nice young lady told me about a bike trail that went for about 30 miles east towards Grand Rapids that she felt would be the safest and best route for me. She was right. It was a very nice paved abandoned railroad bed that went half way to Grand Rapids. She also told me the best road to take from the end of the trail and about some great camping places as I headed toward Cleveland.
I had rain on and off for most of the day, but was able to make it just east of Grand Rapids. This area of Michigan is a lot like northern Wisconsin. Beautiful rolling hills, lots of oak trees, nice winding rivers and very green countryside. Very enjoyable day. Looks like I should be able to make it to Cleveland easily by sometime on Sunday. Plans are to ride about 100 miles a day and stay at a couple of the nice campgrounds I heard about. Once I reach Cleveland I hope to see my Pacific Crest Trail hiking buddy, Jim Reagan (trail name - Commodore). Commodore and I hiked part of Oregon and all of Washington together last year and it will be good to see him again. From Cleveland to Maine I'm unaware of anyone I might know. So, if anyone knows of someone in the area I'd appreciate an email letting me know. I will be following the coastline of Lake Erie to Lackawanna, N.Y. and then cutting east towards Bar Harbor, Maine. I will give a better time line on where I will be during this section once I reach Cleveland.
From my point of view, Michigan is a mirror of Wisconsin. The Grand Rapids area is very much like northern Wisconsin and as you go southeast it looks much like southern Wisconsin. Very beautiful state. Rick Lubbers from the Superior Daily Telegram is from the Grand Rapids area and I can see why he talks so highly of it. Today's ride was relatively easy with a nice strong northwest wind at my back all the way to Tecumseh. I was riding on highway 50 all the way and had little traffic until I got close to Tecumseh and then I had cars everywhere. Come to find out, Michigan International Speedway was close by and everyone was coming from miles around for the weekend's race. This was the big one; national TV and all the big NASCAR racers. I guess people start getting here as early as Wednesday. Very big event, but I could not get a time trial for my bike!
Oh yes, those tailwinds are nice. Again I had a nice wind at my back all the way to Huron. Nothing really exciting about the day. I had to work my way through Toledo, Ohio which was easier than expected. I did take a picture of a huge nuclear reactor east of Toledo that was very eerie as you approached it. Other than that it was just a comfortable ride to Huron. I found a nice campground about 3 miles south of Huron and had a very peaceful evening. Tomorrow I have about 65 miles to Euclid which is just east of Cleveland. My PCT trail friend, Commodore lives in Euclid and I should be there by noon. It will be good to see him again.
It's Father's Day. One should have an easy day on Father's Day and that is exactly what I had! Again, wind at my back and I was in Euclid by noon. Commodore picked me up and I will spend the rest of the day and evening at his home.
The ride today was along Lake Erie. Very pretty ride. Beautiful homes along the lake and nice farms on the other side until I got close to Cleveland. Then it was all suburb riding to Euclid. I rode right though Cleveland with little trouble. (Although, I was on a highway that did not allow bikes. Good thing it was Sunday!) The route took me by the Cleveland Browns Stadium and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Yes, I did take the time to take a picture! Tomorrow I will continue northeast along Lake Erie to Buffalo, New York. I should be in the Buffalo area by Tuesday. Then I will turn east and head to Maine. If I continue to have the wind at my back I expect to be on the coast by Friday.
Looking forward to the ride through upper New York, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine. Everyone tells me the scenery is exceptional. One note about Michigan and Ohio before I close this entry. Man do they like to cut grass. At least along the route I was on. Lawns were like golf courses with acres of manicured yards. Nice, but I think I'd rather be on the lake fishing!
Great breakfast that Commodore's mother, Angie made this morning. Angie is a very special person. She is 83 and looks like she is in her 60's. She volunteers at a local hospice unit in the Cleveland area. She's been doing this for a number of years. She works with patients that have no kin and stays with that individual until he/she passes on. She does this, I believe, seven days a week. Today was Sunday and she'd been with her patient most of the day. Came home for a short time and then went back till dark because no one else was there. Unbelievable!!! One thinks in his lifetime he's done some good along the way and then you meet someone like Angie and realize there is so much more one can give of themselves.
Commodore drove me to my bike route, but not before having to go back to his house because I forgot my billfold. He said with a smile, "You never change, do you?" I wonder why he'd say such a thing???? It was great to see Commodore. I had a great time with him hiking part of Oregon and Washington last year. This year he plans to hike the Colorado Trail in August. Best of luck Commodore and thanks for taking care of me,,, again!
My ride today took me through three states. I started in Ohio, went through Pennsylvania and stopped in Silver Creek, N.Y. I was on the Lake Erie Shoreline Road (U.S. 5) but seldom saw the lake. Again, a very easy ride with the wind behind my back. Not sure how far I came, but think it was 130 miles or so. When I got to Dunkirk, I stopped to get some money at an ATM machine, but my credit card would not work. Big trouble, for all I had was six cents on me. So, I called home and LuAnn (in tears) said her purse was stolen and she had to call the credit card companies and cancel them out. Not good. Fortunately they were cancelled before anyone could use them, but I still had no money! Lu was really down, but I told her things will be okay. By calling the credit card company they allowed me to make a transaction at the ATM machine. For awhile I thought I may have to sit on a corner with a sign reading, "PLEASE HELP -- PENNYLESS!!!
I called Lu back and told her I got some money and not to worry. You learn to adapt quickly when you lose things as much as I do. I think she feels better now that I can eat!
Right now I'm in the little town of Lima, N.Y. This morning I got real lucky. I'd sent for bike maps that would take me on my ride from Buffalo, N.Y. all the way to Maine and then down to Charlotte. I was worried they had not arrived yet because I was so far ahead of schedule, but the Postmaster said they just came late yesterday. Things are looking good. I have my maps and my credit card will be mailed to me tomorrow at a town up ahead. Today I rode in a light rain all morning, but it was nothing to worry about. Right now I'm east of Buffalo, N.Y. and still have four hours of daylight. This will be a 150 plus mile day. Winds are right at my back and very strong. They are just blowing me along. I did have one flat tire about five miles back, but other than that, everything is going good. I will update today's ride tomorrow sometime. Time to get moving while I'm feeling strong. Supposed to have thunderstorms this evening and then the rest of the week it is supposed to be nice. I should be in Maine by the end of the week . Then I turn south and hope to be in Charlotte by around the 4th.
I rode all the way to just east of Geneva, N.Y. I stopped right at dark and found a little stop in the woods to set my tent up. Good long day, but I feel okay. Tomorrow I need to get to Utica. Looks like 110 miles away. Need to get there before 6:00 P.M. Looks like an early start in the morning.
Remember those nice winds I had at my back? Well, they turned a little. They were more southeast today. I did not need that. Plus I had tough hills for the first 60 or so miles to Madison, N.Y. (Also one flat tire) At Madison I was able to turn north to Utica on 12B. This was a very comfortable ride, very little up and down and now the wind was at my back again. I made it to the UPS place by 4:30. I was so worried I would miss it that I over pushed myself most of the day. Turns out I didn't need to, but at least now I have a credit card. After a good break I started toward Albany on Highway 5. This follows the Erie Canal all the way to Albany. Very nice road with wide shoulders. In fact most of the roads I've been riding on have wide shoulders. Almost as wide as a car lane.
At about 5:30 P.M. I was getting very hungry and I noticed a town, Frankfort, that was one mile to my south. Now normally I would not turn off my course, but this time I'm glad I did. In Frankfort I had the biggest haddock fish dinner I've ever had in my life. The cook said it was fresh that day and did he do a job preparing it. Also, had a great time visiting with everyone in this small restaurant. As usual they couldn't believe I was doing what I was doing. Sometimes I have a hard time believing it. Specially with the emotional times I had early on. But, like most know, it is tough for me to give up once I've set my mind to something. Tough day, but still feel good. I was going to stop in Herkimer for the night, but I felt so good after the fish dinner, I just kept going until dark again. Tomorrow I hope to get through Vermont and into New Hampshire. That will mean Friday I will be at the Maine border.
Oh, did this day start bad. Wind in my face and I did not feel like riding at all. I had to really push myself to get going. I thought of my players and how they always gave everything no matter what. Never can I remember any team ever giving up. They always put out, win or lose. Heck, if they could, I can. On to New Hampshire! Toughest part of the day was getting across the Hudson River in Troy, N.Y. I couldn't ride on the freeway so I had to find a back road. That took forever, but I finally made it. Once out of Troy, I had about 30 miles to the Vermont border. Now the hills start, which began with a good one leaving Troy. I was a little worried how long it would take to get through Vermont, which was only 40 miles wide along Highway 9. This was called the Green Mountain country and I had visions of very high switchback rides. Nothing of the kind. Grade was very good without any switchbacks. In fact, it was more like high hill country so the ride went a lot better than expected. Specially on the east side. All downhill!! One stretch was a seven mile downhill ride. I like those. Also passed the crossing for the Appalachian Trail. This is the eastern counterpart to the Pacific Crest Trail I did last year. Maybe someday!!!!! I did take a picture of the sign. This is also where the Long Trail of Vermont joins the AT.
I finished my ride around Keene, N. H., again stopping at dark. I was getting some food at a gas station and a lady and her son overheard me asking the clerk if she knew of a place I could pitch my tent. Turns out this lady did some cross country riding just after her college days and said they just lived up the road and I was welcome to set my tent up there. Very nice of them to go out of their way to do this for a total stranger. Also, good to end the day visiting with a very nice family. Tomorrow,,,, Maine!
Great day today. I had a very good night's rest at the farm I stayed at this morning and was ready to ride. Not like yesterday when I just did not want to go. Again, like Vermont, the ride through the mountains (actually high hills) was not anywhere as bad as I expected. Did have some nice climbs, but the downhill more than made up for the time spent going up. From Keene, N.H. I followed Highway 9 to Concord and then 202 and 4 to the Piscataua River which divides N.H. from Maine. Like Vermont, New Hamphire is also a very picturesque state. Lots of mountain streams and lakes. Just a very peaceful ride all day long. Plus, it did not rain like it was predicted.
Once I got to the Piscataua River I crossed over and touched Maine. I made a quick call home to let LuAnn know I made it to the coast. Even I was a little excited. Seems like just yesterday I started this adventure and now I'm beginning to see some light at the end of the tunnel. So many experiences. So many ups and downs. I hope, for those that are following my escapades, you're able to get some enjoyment out of my notes.
Tomorrow I will head to the Boston area. I will take the day and part of Sunday visiting some of the historical sites of the area. Also, it is supposed to rain so it will be a good time to slow down and rest a little. (Never thought I'd say that!)
A short day today, plus it is raining. I've decided to find a motel and spend the afternoon in this area and part of tomorrow touring some of the historical sites. Plus, it is time for a rest and good hot shower. It's been since Monday since I've had a nice hot shower and a bed to sleep in. Also, it will be good to take a break before I start towards Charlotte. Come to think of it, I need to do some research on what route I need to take to get to Charlotte. Now,, it's time to find a motel and take that nice long hot shower!
Remember that day I was going to take off,,,, didn't work! Decided to keep going. Although, I did get a chance to see the spot where the Revolutionary War started. Part of the 26th and all of today got me just northwest of N.Y. City. The ride through Conn. was as beautiful as Vermont. Great rolling hills and beautiful forest. Never thought this part of the country would be this nice. Nothing great to report other than I rode until after dark (9:30P.M.) because I could not find a place to put up my tent. I even checked out a $25.00 type motel,,, only to find out it cost $85.00 in the New York area!!! So, I ended up sleeping behind a grocery store in a small woods. Worked out just fine. I'm following highway 202 which is taking me around New York and Philadelpha. Tomorrow, 6/28/04, (actually writing this on the 28th) I will be northwest of Philadelphia. Then I will take Highway 1 to Baltimore and 29 to Washington D.C. Then I will take highway 15/29 to Danville, VA, which is at the N.C. border. From Danville, I will follow Highway 49 into Charlotte. I'm expecting to be in Charlotte on July 2nd or the 3rd. I will fly home on the 4th!!!!! Time to get moving!
It's been awhile since I've had a chance to update my journal, so this day is a little vague. Today I was in three states. I started in New York, went through New Jersey and spent the night in Pennsylvania. Yes, it was a long day and lots of miles. I believe in the high 150's. Like New York, New Jersey was very bike friendly as far as nice road shoulders to ride on. For most of New Jersey I was riding through residential communities. High end residential communities!
Now Pennsylvania was a different story. Roads were very busy as I neared the outskirts of Philadelphia and the roads,,, well, much more narrow. All in all it was a good day of riding, cool, little wind and very few hills, easy to get in the mileage.
A 175 mile day! Well, almost. I did get a ride of 15 miles, but it was lateral and a little north. Still it was one of my best mileage days and of course it started at sunup and went past dark because I was having trouble finding a place to put up my tent. So I just kept going. Also, one of the few days I did not get lost! Why the 15 mile ride? Well I had a decision to make of either going through the heart of Baltimore and Washington D.C. or go about 17 miles northwest and somewhat around both cities. Yesterday a guy told me it would be best to go around, that Baltimore and Washington D.C. would be a real mess. Well, I still wasn't sure. Going through the two cities was more of a straight line and going other than a straight line is hard to do! Also, in Baltimore, lives a former classmate of Ryan's, Mike Stark and it would be good to see him.
My decision was made for me. About the time I had to decide which way to go, I came upon a young lady who just had a flat tire so I stopped to help her out. She was about Ryan's age and also a teacher. (Spanish) She already was late for an appointment and was glad that I helped her out. After hearing my dilemma she offered to give me a ride to Lancaster, which was the place I needed to get to go around Baltimore and D.C. Things like this make you really think. More than once on this trip something out of the blue has come along to help me out just when needed. Thanks, Jennifer!
Time to eat! A Waffle House! I have not seen a Waffle House since Savannah! I was over to it in a shot and filled up on almost everything in sight. One good thing about this trip is you can eat like a horse. Must also thank the waitresses for being so helpful and listening to my story. They also thought I was nuts! The rest of the day went very well. Mostly a nice country road ride. I did go by Gettysburg, but did not stop because (of course) it was 20 some miles to my west. Will do that someday with LuAnn and JoAnn and Charlie Wright.
As nice as yesterday was, this day was a nightmare. VIRGINIA ROADS ARE TERRIBLE FOR BIKES! At least the roads I traveled were! I left early again this morning and in about an hour I was crossing over into Virginia and onto Highway 15 just north of Leesburg. What a nightmare. Cars and trucks everywhere and no and I mean NO shoulder to ride on! First chore was to walk my bike across the Potomac River bridge. That was okay, but once on the other side there was no way I could ride so I continued to walk. Finally I found a small break and rode cautiously (cautiously for me) to a gas station. There a nice older gentleman (older than me) gave me a ride to a small town about 4 miles down the road. From there I was able to make it to Leesburg. From information at the visitor's center it sounded like the next 30 miles was going to be the same, plus there was also construction ahead. Well, did not have much choice, so I started out. They were right, it was the most dangerous road I've been on this whole trip. If I was going to get hit by a car, this was most likely the place.
Again, I got lucky. When I reached the construction area I stopped to talk to the flag person about continuing. She advised against it. Just then a worker came over and after hearing my story, offered to drive me around the mess. Man, again the help is there when I need it the most. Many times today I thought about quitting. It was hot (96), and the road was unsafe, but like always, I just keep going. Finally made it just south of Charlottesville and took a motel for the night. Boy, did I need a shower and a bed! Oh, this bad road I was on, about 15 miles north of Charlottesville, a truck had rolled over going the opposite direction. What a mess. Fire trucks, police and ambulances all over. Makes you think! Good thing this day is over and I'm nice and cool in my room with another 150 mile day behind me!
Back at Clupper, VA, Highway 29 & 15 split. I decided to stay on 29 because it was a four lane highway. Big mistake, because the traffic was very heavy and most of the time there was little or no shoulder to ride on. This morning I decided to take a back road that eventually got me over to Highway 15 again, figuring there would be less traffic. It turned out to be a good move. There was a lot less traffic although still little shoulder to ride on. Last night, after yesterday's adventure, I wasn't looking forward to today's ride. But, the night's sleep on a bed, less humidity, cool breeze and less traffic got the day off on the right foot. Also, it seem like I was riding downhill a lot. I was looking forward to getting out of Virginia, which I should be by late afternoon.
At about 4:30 I was at the Virginia/North Carolina border east of Danville on highway 501. At last out of Virginia and hopefully North Carolina roads with better shoulders. WRONG! Same old thing! I made it to south of Burlington at about 8:00 and decided to call it a day. I believe I have just under 100 miles to Charlotte and hopefully Highway 49 to Charlotte is a better road.
Good news - bad news for the day. Only good news is I had a great night's sleep and I'm finished! I made it to the Carolina Panther Stadium at 5:00 P.M. Third leg is over and I'm at the place I started this trek on March 29th! Virginia and North Carolina must have the same road commissioner! No sane person would ride a bike on these roads. (That did not say much for me!) Again, seldom was there decent shoulder room to ride on. Most of the time I'm riding on the white line with about an inch to spare before the pavement drops off about 2 or more inches to soft dirt. It is not a safe situation by any stretch of the imagination. All day I'm thinking, I'm this close and some truck is going to knock me for a loop and I'll be in a Charlotte hospital with legs and arms in casts!
Finally made it to Harrisburg, a town about 20 miles from Charlotte. Great, finally a four lane highway with a shoulder to ride on! I'm home safe,,, but,,, not exactly. About five miles on this nice highway I run into road construction and they had just finished putting in new curb and gutter but had not put down the last two or three inches of road bed. This left about a three inch difference between the road and the new curb. Well,,, wouldn't you know it,,, with minutes of riding along this exposed curb I hit the edge at about 15 plus miles an hour and I'm airborne, landing on my right shoulder and side, skidding along the ground in front of a car dealership. Came out of it with some scrapes on my right shoulder, arm and hip. My helmet saved any head injury.
My bike, well, it was okay, although for the rest of the ride to Charlotte my handle bars were tilted about a quarter turn to the right! All this way, and only 20 miles to go I have my first real crash! Good thing was I and my bike fell to the curb side and not the traffic side, or I would not be writing this journal entry.
March 29th,,,, July 2nd,,,Lots of things have happened between those dates. Lots of things have happened. One leg to go --- Seattle to home! It's good to be back at my friends Ron and Barb Zachow's. Seems like just yesterday I left from here!
I flew into Seattle on Saturday, July 10 and spent the day relaxing in preparing my bike for this final leg.
On Sunday, I began at 9:30 in the morning with my assault of the Cascade Mountains. I've been thinking about this climb for some time, wondering how hard it is going to be. To my surprise it was not that difficult. The grade was very manageable and I was at Stevens Pass by 2:00 P.M. First thing I did upon reaching the pass, was go over and take a picture of the PCT Trail I hiked over last year. That means I've crossed this trail at both ends, outside San Diego in the south and now at this pass in the north.
Today's ride was really two rides in one. Going through the Cascades was, as expected, beautiful mountain scenery. Then once I reached Leavenworth on the east side, I was in desert. Although, it had its own beauty. Lots of orchards of pears, cherries, apples, etc. They are able to have such orchards because the Columbia River winds its way throughout this region.
Even with the late start, I did about 125 plus miles. I camped at a state park about twelve miles from Wenatchee at about 7:00. Very nice park and a good place to rest, because tomorrow I begin with an eight mile climb at 6 per cent grade to Waterville. The word is this is the toughest climb in the state of Washington. We'll find out real soon!
Before I close there are two things I would like to mention for those that are interested.
First, my Pacific Crest Trail website is now back up and running.
Second, The Second Annual Ryan Hoff Foundation Golf Scramble will be held on August 7th. If you are interested in sponsoring a hole, playing or contributing to the foundation in any way our family would certainly appreciate it. Hole sponsorships are $25.00, $50.00 or $100.00. We also are holding a silent auction in conjunction with the tournament. Scott O'Brien and Bruce Mathison are in the process of gathering items from the NFL and other professional teams for this auction. If you have or know of anyone that may want to contribute an auction item we again would most welcome it. Anything you can do will be most appreciated. The goal is to have a fund that will continue to support the needs of youth in and around our community.
Tax Deductible, hole Sponsorships, donations, or auction items can be sent to:
The Ryan Hoff Foundation
Superior Senior High School
2600 Catlin Ave.
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Today was a tough day behind the old plow! Started at 5:00 A.M. so I could make the eight mile climb into Waterville while it was cool. It was a tough climb, but doing it that early really helped. Once I was at the top I thought I had it made. Wrong thought! In about another hour I had another climb like the first, but only four miles.
Okay, now I must be okay. Wrong! Those nice west winds I was expecting on this leg of the ride were coming strong from the east! Plus it seemed like I was riding gradually uphill all day. For the rest of the day it was one small rolling hill after another. Now normally I like riding rolling hills, but this time it was usually up and then it leveled out. There seem to be very few down sections to cancel out the up.
Also, my plan was to stop at around 6:30 today, but could not find a place to camp. All I had around me was miles and miles of wheat fields. So, I ended up riding until after 9:00 P.M. and finally found a little pasture with a few trees about 15 miles from Spokane. Spent the night with horses roaming around wondering who the idiot was invading their territory!
Like I said, a tough day behind the plow.
My roommates (horses) awoke me around 4:30 A.M. this morning. They came galloping by and stood off in the distance wondering who the idiot was invading their territory.
I said goodbye to my new friends and was riding towards Spokane by 5:00. Very nice cool morning. Stopped for breakfast at a McDonald’s and headed north on Highway 2 towards Sandpoint. Sandpoint is about 70 miles north of Spokane and I followed the west shore of the Pend Oreille River all the way. Very pretty ride with mostly rolling hills. Although, I still have the wind in my face.
I stopped at Newport, ID for a lunch and did yesterday's journal entry. Glad I stopped to do my journal here. I got some good advice as to the best way to go to Kalispell. My plan was to continue on Highway 2 all the way, but was advised to turn southeast on Highway 200 and then take Highway 28 and 93 to Kalispell. By doing this I avoid lots of climbing. Highway 200 follows the Clark Fork River and has very little elevation gain.
I made it to Sandpoint exactly at 4:00 P.M. Now, this is a first. I stopped for the day and took a room at the K-2 Motel. For some reason I was feeling a little sluggish and felt it was best to stop. For once I listened to my body!
I met a very nice couple from California last night. John and Cielo Batchelor. Spent some time visiting with them at a motel/restaurant that overlooked Lake Pend Oreille. Very nice evening in a very picturesque town.
Also, as I was preparing to leave at about 5:30, I noticed a young couple coming out of another room all decked out in biking gear. Keaton and Claire were just beginning the second day of their trip to the east coast of Maine. They began yesterday in Newport, ID. Very nice couple and they were taking the same route I was to Kalispell. They left behind me, but I ran into them again after I'd stopped for breakfast in Clark Fork.
I rode with them for awhile and at day's end we all ended up staying at the same motel in Thompson Falls. Very nice couple. Keaton's mom and grandmother were following along in a car and plan to stay with them all the way to Minneapolis. They seemed to be having as much fun as Claire and Keaton.
My plan for the day was to ride to Plains, MT, but as I headed out of Thompson Falls I decided to go back. Now, yesterday I stop at 4:00 and today I turn around and go back! Never thought that would happen, but the wind was still in my face, temperature on the bank in Thompson Falls read 108 degrees and still wasn't feeling 100 percent. I'd had enough, so I turned around and rode about 6 miles back to the motel.
Wish I felt better. Not sure if it's the heat or I'm getting a little sick.
Very good night's rest, plus a very good meal. Keaton's mother invited me over to their room last night for supper. Couldn't pass that up.
Because of yesterday's heat I was ready to ride at 5:00 and beat the heat. Then rest during the hottest part of the day and continue when it cooled down in the late afternoon. I'm in the mountain time zone now and it doesn't get dark until around 10:00P.M. so I still can get in the miles and beat the heat.
As I came out of my room, Keaton and Claire were already on their bikes and heading out. We rode together most of the way to Plains where they stopped for a rest and I had breakfast.
The ride from Sandpoint on 200 to Plains was very enjoyable. Nice mountains on both sides of the Clark Fork River with little elevation as we followed it all the way to Plains.
Now things were about to change. At Plains we turned off onto Highway 28 which headed north to Kalispell. The first 8 miles were all uphill and mostly at a very steep grade. It took a good hour and half to do this climb.
Also, this was the last time I would see Keaton and Claire. I hope they stay in touch and let me know how their trip goes. I wish them well.
Once at the top the countryside changed again. I was now in the Flathead Indian Reservation and would be all the way to Kalispell. At first I had rolling hills, then about five miles from Hot Springs the countryside opened up into beautiful plains. Very peaceful ride as I continued on to Hot Springs.
Hot Springs is noted for just that, hot springs. Believe it or not, but I even stopped and took advantage of the springs and spent about an hour in them. Very nice on the muscles.
The rest of the day was spent riding on mostly level ground with the last 30 miles or so following Highway 93 alongside Flathead Lake.
Again, very hot day and I still was not feeling that good. I hope that changes because tomorrow or the next day I will be in the heart of the Rockies and Glacier National Park.
Still not feeling that good. In fact I feel terrible. Tired, eyes watering and weak.
So I decide to go the 30 miles to West Glacier and find a place to rest for the day and do the Going to The Sun Road tomorrow. Besides, you cannot bike this road between 11:00A.M. and 4:00P.M.
Just not up to climbing 6,800 and some feet today. Hopefully tomorrow.
I'm a wimp when it comes to getting sick. Physical pain I sort of like, but getting ill,,,, I'm a baby! Where's my nurse!!!!
I guess I made it sound like I was on my deathbed in yesterday's journal entry. When I arrived in Cut Bank, Jim Waletzko had a message on my cell phone that Lu Ann's mother was real worried about me. Quickly made some calls to let everyone know it wasn't that bad. Like I said, I'm just a baby when it comes to being ill. Still a little ill and weak, but nothing real serious. I promise I will take care of myself Glenys!
Going to the Sun Road was a piece of cake! I've been worried that this would be my toughest climb and take at least three hours to do. Made it in about an hour and half. Last night I worked my way to the far end of Lake McDonald and started the 12 mile - six percent climb around 6:30A.M. Everything worked out very well. Encountered very little traffic and the weather was cool. At 8:00 A.M. I was at Logan Pass. This climb would rank as the easiest of the five biggest climbs I've had to do. The eight mile climb to Waterville, WA was twice as hard as this one and that was supposed to be a six percent climb. Anyway, all the big climbs are over!!! Now, I just need west winds and my strength back.
The rest of the day went okay. I was weak and really did not feel like riding, but what is one to do. I did finally have west winds and that really helped getting me to Cut Bank. Now to find a nice cheap motel and rest for the final push to Superior.
Best thing about the day was the nice 10 to 15 mile hour winds. Still hot - still not up to par health wise, but getting better. Winds have pushed me to the town of Havre. It is about 4:30 and I've decided to stop and rest and also wait until it gets cooler. Although, it is getting overcast and looks like it could rain. I'll wait until about 7:00 and then ride on until sunset which is around 9:30 - 10:00. Should be able to get in another 30 or so miles. This could have been a real big day if I felt better. With the wind and flat terrain, one can comfortably cruise at 17 plus miles an hour with little effort.
Tough day of riding. Wind was again from the east and at about 7 miles an hour. Good thing was it was overcast and a lot cooler than the last number of days. Rode until about a half hour until dark and took a room on the east side of Glasgow.
About 60 miles outside Glasgow I notice a car pulled over on the side of the road about a quarter of a mile in front of me. I was thinking maybe it was somebody from home that may have recognized me and pulled over. To my surprise it was Keaton's mother and grandmother. She said Keaton and Claire were somewhere behind me. Great to hear. I mentioned when I left them outside Plains I wasn't sure they were going to make it. Now I know they will. Good for them. Couldn't believe they were that close. It means they have been doing some good mileage days too. Well, you know what that means! I need to step it up!
Later in the day I stopped at a small town to rest and get something to drink and a man in his 40's came into the store who was doing the same type of trip as I am, only going in the opposite direction. He goes by the name of Kilt Guy and has a kilt with him. He was blown away by how light I was traveling. He is loaded down with over 60 lbs of gear and at one time he was carrying 100 lbs.
He kept saying over and over, "12 lbs, 12 lbs, 12 lbs!" That is about what my gear weighs. I haven't looked it up yet, but his website is: www.KiltGuy.com for those that may be interested.
Tomorrow the wind is supposed to be from the west again at about 15 to 20 miles an hour. I'm looking forward to a big day. One goal I still have is to see if I can do 200 miles in a day. I'm feeling almost 100 per cent again so maybe tomorrow will be the day!
This could be the day! I was on the road before 5:00A.M. and the winds started coming from the west at about 7:00. The road is fairly good and so far very few hills. At about 9:00 I was doing about 20 miles in an hour! Just flying until about 20 some miles outside Williston, ND and I really twisted my chain to the point it hardly worked.
My chain has been slipping for awhile, but had no way of replacing it because there are no bike shops between Kalispell and Williston.
Like in the past, when I needed help it was there. Here I'm out in the middle of nowhere and this couple in their 80's pull over and ask if I needed help. Without hesitation they offered to take me to Williston. Now this is something very special, not only was it a surprise they stopped, but they were in a car which meant little room for a bike. But, after taking the wheel off we were able to get it in the trunk and tie it down.
Bill and Wilma Sansaver are from Wolf Point and very well known in the area. He used to coach youth league and said he knew right off that I was an okay guy so that is why they stopped. They have 10 children and it sounds like a very close family. Bill just had cataract surgery and they were on their way to Williston for a check up. They even bought me lunch and would take nothing for helping me out.
This ride also meant I did not have the climb into Williston! Nice!
So many nice things have happened on this trip it is hard to believe.
Well, my bike should be ready to go. We'll see how far I can get today. I'm now in the central time zone and it will not get dark until around 10:00 P.M. It's 4:45 now.
If tomorrow is like today I should get through N.D. in two and a half days.
Sure looking forward to getting home!
Just a quick update now and I will post the last few days when I get home.
Man, have I been moving. Strong, strong west winds the last two days and today they are out of the northwest. I believe I was over two hundred miles on the 20th. I need to figure it out when I get home because I'm not sure how many miles my ride was into Williston to get my chain fixed. Looks like it was 40 some. One thing I should mention about that breakdown. Come to find out that particular part of the Fort Peck Indian Reservation (around Poplar, MT) has one of the highest murder rates in the U.S.A. Just a few days ago a person kayaking about a mile from my bike breakdown was beaten badly. They took everything he had, including his kayak and clothes. When they found him, all he had on was his pants.
Yesterday I again made around 190 miles. About 20 miles from Grand Forks. One time I clocked myself from a sign saying it was 24 miles to the next town. I made it in 58 minutes with hardly pedaling. I ride for about four hours straight and then take about a half hour break and I'm ready to go again. I do that about three times and then around five I take a good hour break and ride to sunset which is after 9:30 P.M.
Usually starting at 5:00 A.M. or 5:30 A.M. it makes for a long day in the saddle, but each break rejuvenates you.
By day's end I will be on the east side of Bemidji. I hope to have less than 100 to do tomorrow. Hopefully arriving in Superior sometime in the afternoon.
Time to go. See you soon. I wonder if Mayor Herb Bergson has enough pull to see if the police department will let me go down the freeway from Proctor to the Bong Bridge?!!! That would be nice!!!!
Last big mileage day, about 170. About 70 to go tomorrow. This day's ride was very easy. Again, strong winds right at my back and the road was perfect. Nice 8 foot wide shoulder and in most cases, very smooth, very few hills. It felt like a 100 mile day.
Most of the day I spent thinking about all I've gone through on this trip. March 29th seems like a long time ago. I thought about all the times I wanted to quit and knew I couldn't because of all the nice people that helped me along the way. Always there when I needed it. All the great encouraging emails I received...not sure I would have made it without the support of so many. When I get home I will reflect on all that has transpired. Right now I'm just thinking about ---- getting home!
I think I may sleep in and start around 8:00 or 8:30 tomorrow. This motel bed feels good.
Oh, by the way, I did not get the 200 miles I thought I did. I found my North Dakota map and after re-figuring it looks like I did two days in the 190's. At best 192 miles. Oh well, I guess that is not bad for a 60 year old Norwegian!
I could not sleep! On my bike by 5:30 and heading for home! Still decent winds, but coming out of the north more than the west. I'm finding myself pedaling faster than normal. Must be in a hurry for some reason! Very cool today. I even have on a light windbreaker. Big difference compared to the 100 degrees stuff I was riding in a few days ago.
When I reached Floodwood I called Jay (our Superintendent) and told him I should be in Superior in no more than three hours. Turns out he had Verna Vendela (Board Secretary) call all the TV and radio stations to let them know I was getting close.
As I made my final turn towards Proctor, MN, this white pick-up pulled up alongside me. It was Jay with a big smile on his face. He told me the Minnesota State Patrol would escort me from Proctor to the Bong Bridge and then the Superior Police department would escort me over the bridge and through Superior and to the High School.Also, Dave Thornton met me just outside Proctor on his bike and we rode together to the Bong Bridge.
At the bridge, Officer Hendry, Officer Law (Charlie Law was an assistant coach for me) and one other officer that I did not know met me and led me across. I think I was pedaling faster than the guys over in France! Ryan (I'm riding his bike) and I are coming home!
As I came over the last overpass on Belknap, I saw all these people along the road with welcome home signs and congratulating me as I rode by. I did not expect such a thing, but what a great feeling.
As I turned onto Catlin and headed to the high school, I was greeted by Coach Vesel and some of his football players. Then, as I approached the high school, I saw a number of friends, my wife LuAnn, daughter Heidi, and her twin four year old boys, Devin and Drake holding signs saying, "WELCOME HOME GRAMPA."
Thanks Superior! Thanks for the nice homecoming! Thanks for allowing me some 30+ years ago to coach and teach your children! It's been an honor!
ONE LAP AROUND THE UNITED STATES! APPROX. 9,000 MILES!
70 DAYS IN THE SADDLE!