Sunday, March 30, 2008

Post # 10 - Hello Arizona - Ghost Post

Dee called last night and they have crossed into Arizona. They plan to reach Phoenix on Monday and have a layover day there on Tuesday. She really enjoyed the campsite they stayed at on Fri night. It was right beside the Colorado River so dee had a chance to soak her feet in the cold waters and, once they were adequately numb, retreat to the hot tub.

Yesterday Dee had her first flat tire along with 3 other riders. The culprit was the steel wires embedded in steel-belted radial tires & truck retreads when they blow out. Dee said you could avoid the remains of the tires along side of the road but the fine pieces of wire are hard to see and can work their way into your bike tire. She was assisted in the flat-changing process by Steve, one of the riders who had a flat at the same place as Dee. She was glad for the help but felt she could of managed by herself if she had to. Saturday's ride was close to 70 miles, a bit farther than originally planned so they can stay at a better campground. Today and Monday look to be 60 mile rides that will get them to Phoenix.

I told her of the great messages that have been posted by all of you since she was last able to get to a computer and she is really anxious to read them when she makes it to Phoenix. I think she is even more anxious to get to a computer than to a Weight Watcher's weigh-in in Phoenix but she will probably do both!

Take Care folks, Rob.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Post # 9 - Ghost Post from Rob

Dee called me last night after the long days's ride to Palo Verde. It was 70 miles and the longest ride so far. Dee did really well with the ride despite the heat and rolling hills. She says her riding & shifting technique are improving and she's starting to go faster down hill than before. Today, the destination is Blythe, CA., right on the border with it's 1 state down and 6 more to cross. She said due to the length of the ride yesterday, they ended up eating hamburgers at a small bar to avoid having to cook dinner in camp. Dee mentioned that eating enough food throughout the day is a challenge. One of the riders estimated conservatively that on long days, they are burning 6000 calories. It's been a long time since Dee had a day where she has been remotely close to eating that much. The night skies have been beautiful with lots of stars visible as the places they camp in are very tiny towns with almost no lights on at night.

Today is a fairly easy ride of 30 miles and the campground they plan to stay at has a hot tub and swimming pool, both of which sound good to Dee. She really enjoyed reading all the blog comments at the library on Wednesday. One of her fellow riders noticed she was getting teary while sitting at the computer and asked if she was alright!

Things on the homefront are going well for Jamie and me. The dishes & laundry are done, the fish & dog are fed, and we have been excited by Dee's progress. Kali is going with a friend to Harrisburg this weekend while Jamie and I plan to do our first paddling trip of the Spring in Ohiopyle tomorrow. Take care. Robbie

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Post # 8 - Exquisite Agony...

I am so glad to have this moment in a cool library in Brawley California. It is a beautiful little town -with a town square and all- and we are all camped in a public swimming pool area. It was so hot today -I can't tell you what it is like to ride in these temperatures. Today was an incredible 50 mile ride, but not such extreme climbing. We rode past lots of farms and lots of border patrol hangouts. In fact some of my day dreaming was about the border issue-- and all I have learned from Kali about this subject. One night after her "border experience" last summer I heard crying coming from her bedroom at 3 or 4 am . I went in to check on her, and she had been speaking to someone "on the computer" who had crossed the border and was working illegally, but lived in such isolation and loneliness. He shared terrifying stories of why and how he chose to come to the US ..and well it was just overwhelming to think about.

We rode through the desert today and it was amazing. Not just the heat, but as the heat rises it seems to spread color across the mountains in this "Imperial Valley" --pink and purple hues--with cacti in the forefront and sand everywhere. I try to pay attention as I ride --I still have so much to learn about this life on the road on a bike. Yesterday one of our ladies going down a 7 mile hill lost control and was hurt and spent a night in the hospital --she hopes to rejoin us in Phoenix--she was probably our strongest female rider. Let me tell you I am out of my league with many of these riders --they are amazing. Our oldest is going to turn 67 on this trip and our youngest is a lad from England named Matt -- he gets to our daily destination hours before anyone else!

I don't have but a few minutes left of my library time...I may try to come back later for a bit. I love and thank you for every single comment and thought. I can't tell you what it means to read your kind and encouraging words. I will remember them tomorrow on what will be our longest day so far, 70 miles to the town of Palo Verde and it appears from the map to be hillier than today. Rob shared a quote with me from Ray Genet, the man he worked for and climbed with in Alaska after he finished high school. Genet would say "the way out of the pain is to embrace the exquisite agony of what you are doing". I will try... I have to go---love dee

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

7th Post - Ghost Post w/ pics from Rob

Dee called me today (Tuesday) at 9:30 a.m. her time. It is the second day of the actual ride. I had hoped to hear from her last night at the end of her first day but cell phone coverage is spotty when heading up into the mountains east of San Diego so she couldn't get a connection. I assume this will be an occasional problem.

She made it through the first day's ride and said that the camping was fine. She slept warm and comfy in her tiny tent. She had been on the road for two hours when we spoke and it was clear that it was already a challenging day. She got rid of some gear last night to lessen her load. I asked her to describe the nature of the riding this morning and she said it was like riding east on Rte. 40 from Uniontown up to the Summit only steeper and instead of it being just a 2 mile hill, it will be like this for the next 7 miles.... a steady, relentless uphill grade.

Dee's ears (and legs) must have been burning because she just called me again to let me know that she is ok but that physically, it has been the hardest day of her life - child birthing included. The temps have been near 90 much of the day. Despite her exhaustion, she says she has no specific aches or pains - back, shoulders, neck, even hands have been good so far. Her feet, well they been painful for most of her life and she knows how to deal with them. I think she is looking forward to being in her tent before too long.

The pictures posted are of Dee & her bike in San Diego (she mailed me a disposable digital camera). I told her of the many comments posted by all of you and she can't wait to read them when she next gets to a computer. It goes without saying that the enthusiasm, support, and love from her friends and family is the fuel she rides on.

Thanks folks,

Sunday, March 23, 2008

6th post...beyond the light...

I am beside me on a bike
there is a blue light nearby
and sunshine
I feel calm
and remain standing
while pedaling beyond
the light

It was necessary today to push back our start. The group is now all here now. And what a cool and varied group we are. I am really proud to be a part of it. We had a "shake down ride" today since we couldn't leave and it was amazing. We rode all over the beautiful outskirts of the city and ended in an amazing spot ,The Carillo National Monument. The hills were pretty tough --one in particular -- but when we all made it to the top Andy , our leader, said that we would not peddle up anything that steep on the trip was an excrusiating grade. At one point my chain popped off because I was going in to such a low gear, but I was able to get it back on and re-start which to me was like a tiny minor miracle. My love of the sun is sure to be tested on this ride. Looking ahead the temperatures we are expecting in the next couple weeks could easily be in the 90's!!

So-- tomorrow is our start (the 24th)....and it is probably for the best...because one fellow did have trouble with the "Bob" he is pulling and will need the time to get that together. After today ,many are going thru their gear and sending yet another box home. These bikes get so heavy when they are loaded down. I sent home one box, but decided to give it more time before I "down load" even more of the sharp outfits I brought to ride in! I'm kidding -- actually this is just my style, we wear the same stuff over and doesn't take much thought to plan the days "outfit". I wore my new riding shorts today for the first time --they were great. But the riding gloves (also first time to be worn) made me feel like my hands couldn't breath.

Last night we had our group meeting and discussed the trip and divided up the "group gear". We had to tell a little about ourselves...which I did fine with...and I even told them that my ride is dedicated to my son and I was fine... then someone asked what his name was...and I could not say it...the room was quiet and I looked around as if someone there might be able to help me. Finally I took a breath and I said Tyler. That speechless moment hung in time--it could of been a hour or a day.

What can I say -- I just needed to get that out --and that's really all that was said. The meeting went on, and I was fine. So--tomorrow we leave at 8AM for our 38 mile ride. And the next day is 58 miles. I am happy...and ready. Love to you all--Dee

I am beside me
on a bike-watching
there is a blue light nearby
and sunshine
I feel calm
and remain standing
while pedaling beyond
the light

Friday, March 21, 2008

Fully loaded ......with rhythm...

Hi All--Today is another sunny San Diego day -- honestly it's beautiful here. It just feels like heaven! I get this way in sunshine though -- concerns float away and any anxiety I had about me being able to pull off a cross country ride is out floating in the surf! Today we fully loaded our bikes and went on a "toodle", that's what Shirley from England calls a fully loaded 20 mile ride! It is really different riding with so much gear on your bike,but also very cool to think you could live nicely with so little for quite a long time! I thought I had done well limiting what I brought until I saw the limited gear some of the others are taking. this is especially true of those english folks (Shirley is from Leicester and Matt is from Harrogate)...WOW, they really know how to pack light!! So, do I dump the extra few things I have and send them home....OR do I become a traveling second hand shop for the rest of the group. Some have already borrowed from me and I was thankful I had extra! Besides, can you really ride across America with only 2 undies (one on.. one off)??

I read yesterday that ... A treasure lies -however elusive- in every circumstance-in every journey. So I am a treasure seeker of sorts, and perhaps that won't come as a surprise to some of you. My brother Ken has been on my mind so much. One of the men along named Tom is going to celebrate 17 years of being sober -- he is such a sweet person and I shared lots with him about Ken -and Ken's struggles with alcohol. He answered some questions I had , speaking from the "other side" and I am thankful for his sharing -- and his listening about one of the best and sweetest guys there ever was. I love you ken! Watch me ride! Dave and Vanessa -- you made my day when you cruised over to Curves to surprise me! Thankyou so much. It meant a lot to me.

Well guys --that san Diego sunshine is calling to me and I am in charge of the fruit salad for dinner, so I must go to the food store. I hate being the heaviest person in San Diego....I rode for an hour just looking for a Weight Watchers today. Do they not need them here??? I am sure I have lost more weight and that makes me desperate for a weigh in --needless to mention hanging out with all these lean bikers. Naw--I'm kidding --I'm doing fine -and thinking of so much as I ride! Mary and Rob always hate it when I have this much free time to think...and dream!

I am looking for my biking rhythm -fully loaded- and here in San Diego they say that "Your rhythm is your truth, and it shall set you free." so, there you go--love to all, Dee

Thursday, March 20, 2008

San Diego and the new BIKE!

Hi All-- I am at the Point Loma Public Library in San Diego with a few moments to write. It was a long day getting here on Tuesday the 18th due to severe storms in Dallas ,which became a huge problem for flights out of every other connecting airport. I finished one book during this long day of being patient. I made it to San Diego at 1AM on the 19th and things have been going smoothly since. The new bike is all I had hoped for....clearly it is a case of the biker (me) having to "catch up" to the bike! Hey-- it's a great way to meet guys....any guy in to biking seems interested in stopping to talk to I mean look at my bike and ask me questions! Just kidding --but really --it's wonderful and I have been riding as much as possible to get used to it before we leave on Sunday! The weather here has been great and I am staying at a cool hostel (I have 7 roomates!) about 2 miles from the beach. Those of you that know me know that the beach brings out an uncanny ability in me to sit still for 10 hours and gather rays! Well, that's just not possible this time around -- so I have been riding -- but I keep finding myself at the Beach --no matter which direction I head for!

Today myself and one of the other ladies going on the trip rode to our starting point (the Ocean) and then out the direction we will head in a few days. It was absolutely gorgeous --purple and yellow flowers blooming everywhere --sunshine --lots of cool skateborders! Hey --why weren't they in school?? I hope my skater back home is in school and behaving himself at all times!! Last night some of us rode our bikes down to "The United Republic of Ocean Beach" -- an awesome community of crazy street vendors, organic veggie producers, live street music and folks who have managed to find a way to incorporate dread locks in to almost every known hair style.

I miss everyone already, but I am so excited now --and really gathering focus for the first 2 weeks of the trip. I have been climbing hills pretty well on my new bike and I will continue to push myself with that until we leave. The first 2 weeks sound very intense -- and looks that way on the map too! Slowly our group is arriving, and everyone seems great. Some of us are going to load up our bikes tomorrow with lots of gear and about to the Beach (should I ask them if we can pack our bathing suits?)!! Love to all --and thanks for the comments and loving support. Dee

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Post # 3 - Teetering On One Foot...

Nobody doubts the wisdom of the Chinese adage "a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." It's just that we can't stop focusing on the "thousand mile" part. We start wondering where we will get the energy for step two. And then there we are, teetering on one foot, 999.9 miles from our goal.

With one day left before I leave...I guess I am at the "teetering" point. I have packed, unpacked, and re-packed. Basically I have no idea what the fashionable are wearing in the desert this year! I have changed my last tire in the luxury of the family room! Something tells me it will not be so easy beside the road where there is no coffee table to set my tools on. The well wishes and send off have been more than I could have imagined. Thankyou--thankyou!

My inner gypsy really comes out at times like these -- as I worry more about the good luck trinkets and stickers that I must attach to my bike,than what rain gear to pack. If you place the trinkets right -- that could mean good Karma -- which might mean I don't need rain gear. I'll write next from San Diego --let the games begin. love,Dee

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Post # 2 - All who wander are not lost....

Ten days left till I leave for San Diego! I am excited beyond words followed by moments of sheer panic. Yesterday I began working with my new bike tools--so my old orange spatter-painted bike -- that often elicits a chuckle from the bike stores it has visited-- is in various stages of "break down". I even took the peddles off , how will I make it go now?? I mounted my new hard core "biker chick" seat on the Schwinn Airdyne about 2 weeks ago and have been working out on it to see if I can locate those still partially buried "sit bones". Hmmmm--for the record, I found them!

Thankyou for all the awesome messages. I love you all for such votes of confidence--and believing in me--and know that on the day when I call crying, I really will be fine. I have been so emotional lately. I once read "find an expression for your sorrow, and it will become dear to you"--this journey is of my heart, so forgive me all the weepy goodbyes over the next week.

It has been fun to get e-mails from some of the people going. There are 10 men and 6 women. Three people are from out of the country (England and the Netherlands). A few are from Colorado and California, one from Kentucky, one from Illinois, one from Washington ,one from Ohio and me from PA. Some folks will be pulling "Bob trailers", myself and others will be using Panniers on our bikes for our gear. We are a "self contained" tour, so we need to save some of our "personal gear space" for group gear (primarily extra first aid, group cooking gear and bike tools). Rob has approached the trip details like he used to do for himself in preparation for his major climbs. He knows every single detail of the entire trip. His love and willingness to help my dreams come true mean more than I can say. Sir Edmund Hillary said "It's not the Mountains we conquer, but ourselves." In that spirit, I continue to prepare. Love, Dee