Posts Tagged With: cycling

The Next Big Thing

So I apologize for my extended absence. While I don’t mind taking photos of the same lake repeatedly, writing about the process just isn’t my cup of tea, or maybe it’s more that being in ones own home town dampens the adventurous spirit. Whatever the case, my long winter of hibernation has come to an end and it’s time to get back on the road. The next big adventure? A bike trip across America!

This post comes at the last moment as we leave tomorrow by car from Cooperstown, NY and begin the long drive out to San Francisco where the actual biking will begin. Here’s our tentative driving route:

There will probably be much too much to share on the way, but even so I’ll wait until I have some good photos before I write more. In the meantime you can check out the page we’ve set up for the charity we’re raising money for. Should be amazing!

Riding for Music and Arts Education

We’re taking a two-wheeled tour across the country to raise funds for the music and arts in our local school!
Aperçu par Yahoo

Categories: Travel, United States | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments


Biking was the one area of the race where I felt some confidence.  Unfortunately I hadn’t counted on biking with tired legs after drinking two liters of sea water.  I was sick and tired and had eight hours to cover 112 miles (180km) of extremely hilly ground on a very windy day. Before I could even begin to worry about that, I had to get my bike from the transition area, which was about 1km away from the beach. The only problem was that I had no spare running shoes so I had to run barefoot.  It could have been difficult, but I was far too excited to have finished the swim to notice.  In fact, I felt exhilarated as the crowd continued to cheer as the commentator talked about me and my bare feet.

In the changing area a wonderful women who’d given me a ride in her caravan earlier in the week was there to help me with the transition.  I truly felt surrounded by friends, old ones in my heart, new ones beside me and future ones among the crowds.  I wrestled my way out of my wet suit and slipped into my casual bike shorts, the only ones I had.  As I biked out, I could hear the commentator again, “He’s wearing baggies!”  The crowd cheered, I waved and the crowd cheered some more.  Then I was off.

You know it's not me because there's more than one bike in the picture. (Photo by Bymez )

If there is one advantage of being in dead last place out of 1,200 people, it’s that no one can pass you, but you can pass them.  Still, I was far behind and passing anyone was going to take some time. Most people had beaten me out of the water by at least 30 minutes, which is quite a head start.  It took me almost an hour to catch another racer, but as time went by I began to catch more.  My stomach hurt and my mouth was dry from the sea water, but my spirits were high.  I tried to conserve strength in my legs for the marathon, and focused on drinking fluids to flush out the salt.  Hours came and went and one by one I continued to catch other racers.  Even so, at the six hour mark in I realized I was barely on schedule to make the cut off.  Even worse, I’d failed to take into account that the last part of the course was the hardest with numerous steep climbs.  I needed to hurry.

With about an hour to go I knew it would come down to the wire.  The rain had started falling and seven hours, even at a moderate pace, is tiring.  I needed to go faster not slower or I wasn’t going to make it.  As I pushed on, I tried to guess how many miles remained and what my speed was.  Calculations and estimates were spinning in my head, but what I should have been thinking of was how wet the road had become.  When I turned a sharp corner with 30 minutes to go I felt the tires slip out from underneath me.  Gravity took it from there and I skipped across the wet road like a rock across still water.

Race marshals had been posted at all the corners.  The two at this corner had taken shelter from the rain in a van, but came running out as soon as they saw me fall. Like someone who’s just woken from a bad dream, I was dazed and confused. They asked me if I needed an ambulance, there was only one thing I needed.

“How far?”


“How far to Tenby?”

“About five miles.”

Could I bike five miles hurt, tired and on a damaged bike in 30 minutes?  The support and faith people had shown in me raced through my mind again, excuses didn’t matter.  It wasn’t a matter of being able to, I had to. “I can make it. There’s time.” I got back on my bike.  The front wheel was bent and I was bleeding, but those were concerns for another time.  I had people counting on me.

I pedaled as hard as I could and soon found myself at the beginning of the hills.  The crowds by the road, which had been amazing the whole day, had grown intense with the knowledge that the cutoff was approaching.  At one point, a man yelled out encouragement and counted down the meters to the top of the hill.  My legs were on fire, but his voice burned in my ears.  I kept pushing.  The crowds seemed uncertain about the time, but still I pushed. The town and finally the finish came into site, but the crowds had moved to the running course.  Was I too late?

I don’t remember much from the last 500 meters, but as a I pulled into the transition area I must have looked like a lost lamb, because a race marshal read my race.  “You made it,” he said.  “Only four minutes to spare, but you made it!”

I don't like photos of myself, but this is a special occasion. Plus you had to see the "baggies" 😉

Categories: General, Ironman | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments

$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

The Wonders of Scotland

Most visitors to the United Kingdom never get past London, and if they do it’s usually only for a short tour or day trip to the English countryside.  In my opinion that’s a tragedy.  For I have found few places on Earth I would rather be than Scotland.

The reasons I love Scotland are plentiful: it has a rugged beauty the closely matches my imagined ideal; it is an out of the way place, leaving it largely unspoiled by the flocks of tourists that migrate to countries like France and Italy annually; and, it has cheap and excellent shortbread, my favorite cookie.

That would be plenty of reasons to love anywhere, but the truth is that above all else I love Scotland for the people who live there.  I could give countless examples, but my recent arrival and the day I had yesterday are a perfect example of what one can expect from Scotland…

Proving yet again that I’m less responsible than a fifth grader, I failed to transfer money into my bank account and thus arrived in Edinburgh needing not only a place to stay but without even a way to pay for food.  Fortunately I met some wonderful Scots in Sevilla earlier this summer who not only gave me a roof over my head, but food, drink and entertainment.  Hence, I awoke well rested yesterday to yet another wonderful meal, this time of Scottish porridge.

Not only does it taste good, but it comes in an amazing box!


After I’d eaten my fill I’d decided to head out on bike for Glasgow, where yet another friend from my travels awaited my arrival.  That plan went smoothly for nearly an hour when the bike path I was following turned into a gravely trail that chewed through my tire tube like a rat through cheese. After about three flats, someone stopped to help me and give me patches, which came as a great relief as I was out of my own.  I then spent a lovely half-an-hour chatting about traveling before I continued forgetting all about my irresponsible behavior.

Unfortunately, my bike wasn’t done throwing fits and I soon had another flat, only this time the valve broke so patches were useless.  All I needed was a spare tube, which of course, I didn’t have.  So after this tragic and completely foreseeable event, I was stranded.  Still, having watched Cast Away, I knew that if Tom Hanks can survive for four years alone on an island; I had no reason to panic.  I was right too, rather than having to do an Edgar Alan Poe imitation and sleep in the gutter; I managed to flag down another kind Scot, this one on a bike.  I asked for a bike store; he asked what I needed.  One free tube and assisted flat change later and I was on my way – to the train station.  There, yet another kind stranger helped me find the train and then let me use his cellphone to text my friend that I would be arriving, most unexpectedly, rather a bit later than planned. Naturally I arrived in Glasgow to find only more warm hospitality from friend and stranger alike.  All in all, it was just an average day in Scotland, except perhaps, for my extremely poor planning.

In New York and many other places in the modern world, we have adopted an every man for himself attitude.  Strangers are met with skepticism, hesitance and even fear.  To be someplace where you’re membership in the human race is enough to entitle you to warmth and kindness makes Scotland someplace truly exceptional and a joy to visit.

This may look like scenic countryside, but it's actually a park within Edinburgh!


Categories: Biking, Journeys, Scotland, Travel, Words | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments

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