Desert Heat

When people learn that I’m a traveler they often ask me what the most beautiful place I’ve been to is. When I reply that it’s the US they often look at me in disbelief, as if thinking “I didn’t expect him to be so nationalistic.” The thing is I’m not nationalistic. It’s simply that the natural splendor of the western US is really unlike anything I’ve seen before.

The Desert

These past two weeks of biking through the desert have reminded me of just how true that is. Each day as I bike, I think there couldn’t be a more beautiful place to ride and the next day I relive the wonder as the landscape morphs into yet another new, strange and wonderful shape.

To think they change every day...

To think they change every day…

For those of you who have never been to the area, I can’t recommend it enough. Photos are nice, but the grand scale of panoramas like the one at Dead Horse Point , where the Canyonlands stretch out for a hundred miles 2,000 feet below you, simply cannot be captured by a flimsy two-dimensional image.

Biking adds yet another layer to the appreciation. 50 plus miles of untouched wilderness are passed so easily in a car, but on a bike the amazing scale of unoccupied land reveals its true significance. Of course riding through 100 degree weather isn’t always the easiest on the body, but even that grants a new appreciation to the stories of settlers and native Americans who explored and covered these lands, very often on foot.

Like nowhere else on Earth

Like nowhere else on Earth

We’ll soon be entering the Rocky Mountains, which have a beauty and challenge all their own, but even if the trip were to end right now I’d be grateful for the beauty I’ve been lucky enough to see. What a world…

Setting Sun

A nice way to end the day


Categories: Biking, Photography, Travel, United States | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

On the Road

Wow, where to begin? After three weeks on the road, this is my first much belated update. There’s already been a cross country drive and two weeks of biking through some of the most scenic places on Earth. In fact, as I write this, I’m sitting under a tree in Zion National Park, another place so blessed with beauty that I lament not only my own skills as a photographer, but the absolute limits of the art, which could never do anything but give a pale imitation of natures capacity for splendor.

I captured this just outside of Yellowstone.  To think this was an area they decided wasn't worth protecting...

I captured this just outside of Yellowstone. To think this was an area they decided wasn’t worth protecting…

So rather than do gross injustice to the places I’ve already visited, I’ll Continue reading

Categories: Biking, Photography, Travel, United States | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

A Night in the Hay

Being homeless has turned out pretty well for me.  Over the last few years I can count on one hand the nights I’ve been stuck sleeping on the street, but it’s hard to remember all the amazing places I’ve had a chance to rest my head.

I was digging through some of my photos from last year and was reminded of one particularly nice night when I slept in a barn.  It had been a long day of biking through a heat wave in southern France and as the sun neared the horizon it was time to look for a place to stay.  I was ready to just set myself up in the woods when I stumbled upon an old horse farm.  The lovely woman who ran the place was kind enough to give me a place to sleep in the hay and the old stone buildings that covered her property gave me plenty of things to photograph as the sun faded away.  One of my favorite photos is of her garden shed.

I couldn't have imagined a more perfect seen.

I couldn’t have imagined a more perfect scene.

Of course, not all my thoughts were spent contemplating artistic creation and biking all day left me in desperate need of nutrition.  Fortunately my kind hostess also provided an amazing spread of food.  I wish I could say I accepted her generosity hesitantly and with moderation, but the record shows otherwise.  It’s a good thing there are still people who like caring for the homeless.


I take my eating seriously.

Categories: Biking, France, Photography, Travel | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

$30 and a Dream

For most competitors Ironman Wales will begin at 7am on Sunday the 11th.  For me it began Sunday the 4th when I left Glasgow.  I had a bike, $30 and my gear.  I was up against 400 plus miles, nearly continuous rain and a persistent headwind.   I had no places to stay and no tent.  I didn’t even have a map actually, but when you’ve come this close to catching a dream, obstacles like that are no obstacles at all.

The biking was the simplest and the hardest.  You move your feet in circles and you move forward.  All you have to do is not stop.  Fortunately at this point my legs are pretty strong, unfortunately sitting on a bike seat that long leaves me feeling like a eunuch.  It’s mind numbing as well, especially as I did the ride solo.  The roads I took were heavily trafficked, which would make listening to music akin to Russian roulette.  The result, a lot of time alone with your thoughts in the rain, is as hard on the mind as those persistent circles are on the legs.

I was lucky in regards to shelter.  Between the two endpoints, where I had friends waiting to help, I relied on the kindness of strangers.  Miraculously, I found someone to give me a place to stay every night, even if sometimes it wasn’t until midnight or even 2am.  Still, the amazing hospitality of these kind strangers inspired me, and more often than not even provided me with bodily sustenance.  I was fed pumpkin curry, fresh baked banana bread, crumpets and pancakes.  I even had my lunch packed for me!

One of the lovely places I was lucky enough to call home for a night.

I often had to stop for directions, but some people went so far as to print me maps.  When I needed water, bars always refilled me. Even the infamous Starbucks and McDonalds did their part, providing me with free internet.  Like making a cake from a box mix, just add concentrated power of will.

At least I know it's downhill from here.

My body hurts everywhere, everywhere I can still feel that is, but here I am.  The Ironman is just three days away and the forecast for that day is storms with high winds.  I like a challenge.  It’s possible they’ll cancel it if there’s thunder and lightening.  Even that doesn’t really matter.  There will always be another race to run, another mountain to climb.  In the end, it really is the journey, not the destination.

“It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.”

T. Roosevelt

Categories: Biking, Ironman, Journeys, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , | 13 Comments

Hard Times

Except for the lives of shipping magnates and Paris Hilton, my life is as close to permanent vacation as they it comes. Still, while I can’t ever really claim to suffer like the downtrodden workers of a Dicken’s novel, there are hard times.  Take the other day for example:

When I left Glasgow it was raining, not an auspicious beginning, but waiting for the rain to stop in Scotland can leave one waiting a rather long time. Things rapidly went from bad to worse, when in less than 30 minutes I heard the whistle of my first flat tire.  I though it was going to be one of those days. As it turns out, I was right.

My goal was to make it 100 miles (160km) to Carlisle where I hoped to couch-surf.  Not the greatest of plans, but my twenty dollar, four day budget didn’t leave a lot of room for five start hotels.  Now I’ve biked 100 miles before, but as I learned that day, biking 100 miles alone with heavy bags in the rain is a different sort of experience.  To top it off, when I arrived 100 miles later, soaked to the bone at 10 o’clock, I found out I was homeless, not just in general, but for that night as well.

2200 Calories for one British pound = Extreme budget traveling

Now, I know that most people would rather not have an experience like I did that day. I don’t blame them either.  There was a time when something as small as a speeding ticket or a missed flight would leave me feeling as upset as the Count of Monte Cristo.  Yet strangely enough I didn’t have a bad day.  Of course I’d rather have been sipping a pina colada served in a baby coconut that was picked by a wild money, but now, rather than feeling overwhelmed by the difficult circumstances, I feet challenged and invigorated.

For those who are looking, beautiful days always come around, but the same is true for the bad days as well.  As it’s still raining after three days, I’m looking forward to better days even now, but in the meantime I’m comforted and strengthened by the satisfaction of pursuing something worth more than money.

Even rainy days present opportunities.

Some months ago when I lost my wallet in Spain, someone said they thought they saw me biking through the rain, but that it couldn’t have been me.  The person they saw was smiling. Strange, perhaps, but for, a me a better way.

“I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

St. Paul

Categories: Biking, Ironman, Journeys, Words | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Blog at

%d bloggers like this: