The Steel Steeds

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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Journey Ends

Friday, Augusts 27 we left Omak to ride over Loup Loup Pass to Twisp on Rt. 20. We rode through Okanogan, just south, where we picked up Rt. 20. The ascent was gentle for many miles passing through fruit orchards.  The steeper ascent began at the intersection of Rt. 20 and Pleasant Valley Rd. Go figure. From the start it was 25 miles to the 4,020 foot pass. The route was bordered by many cliffs which caused Rosie extreme anxiety. Around 19 miles out she got a flat. Walked the bike about a quarter mile up to where I came down to and said she could not ride along anymore cliffs. She called Jason and he returned from his scouting in Twisp.  Solo, I crested the pass and viewed the Cascades.

The descent was eight miles at 6% and a rolling four into Twisp. Rosie and Jason were waiting in front of our overnight. Some sipping of Glen and a couple fine cigars culminated an enjoyable 40-ish day. BTW, the motel had self-laundry service which Rosie used.

Saturday, August 28 was a 30 mile day to Klipchuck Campground just beyond Mazama. I had ridden through Winthrop 21 years ago from the west. The town had been transformed from a dying timber town to a western theme tourist trap. Didn't recognize anything. Our camping experience began with comfortable temperatures to be followed by 30-ish temps in the night. Our camp food included chilliemac, Chef Boyardee Beef Ravioli and Spaghetti-O's. I would have sent Rosie out to hunt with my jack knife, but she was tired. Rosie took refuge in Jason's truck while I fought the elements. If we had to contend with such conditions throughout the trip we would never have completed the ride. We had talked about camping the next day, but after that night I announced we would not repeat such torture. Jason, of course, a mountaineer, was in his element and didn't use his sleeping bag half the night and wore flip flops. I created a freak! We never did finish our card game before retiring. The ounce of Glen left in my cup, resting on the picnic table, still had ice cubes in it from the night before.

Sunday, August 29 I had planned to ride to Marblemount, about 70 miles, including Washington and Rainy Passes. Rosie said she could not endure the cliffs anymore and opted out. I layered up and headed out soon stripping the excess as I climbed. The Cascades were one of the most scenic parts of the ride. It was about 15 to the first pass and another five to the next. After that it was 25 downhill to Diablo where Jason and Rosie were waiting. Half the downhill I had to pedal against a headwind. The winds continued and storms loomed over my route. We were two hours north of Lake Stevens where family resided. We shared our inclinations and I concluded 2966 miles and 60 days on the road were enough; that the tour need not be extended a couple more days. This is Diablo.

Tuesday, August 31 we are enjoying our stay with James and Jenni (my cousin), Uncle Ralph and the kids. We have until Sept. 9 to explore the area.  Jason, Rosie and I visited two micro breweries today.  Rosie is already missing riding. She is enjoying her new found libation beer. We purchased clothes. I am two sizes smaller than when I started. Oh, what to do with my XXL shirts? Rosie said due to nature's graces, she wears the same size shirt. I told Rosie I'm planning our next adventure. She gave me the eyeball.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

WA- Days 56 and 57

Wednesday, August 25 we rode from Republic to Tonasket.  We left Republic at 10ish believing at least half our miles would be downhill after climbing over Wauconda Pass. The 13.42 mile climb was comparatively gradual. There were few exciting vistas and the summit must have been summarily marked. The first few miles of the downside was at a 5% grade enjoyed by moi at least. It leveled out here and there. Thirteen miles from Tonasket we were hit by winds from all directions requiring us to pedal downhill to maintain a 10 mph pace.  We rode around the wind at eight miles which quicken our pace reaching the last five miles which was downhill at 5% grade right into town. At the junction of Rt. 20 and 97 sat the Junction Motel, our digs for the night.

The best part of the day was meeting up with the Boy who is sagging us the last week of the trip. We were eager to see the boy. It was over a year since we saw him.

Jason and Bear, his boxer, arrived with complementary spirits, cigars and desiccated turkey. The evening was spent sipping on Glenlivet and gnawing on good stogies. The boy had grown as much as I loss weight on this trip. Horse would be an inadequate description.

Thursday, August 26 was a day off with miles. We planned to ride to Omak or Okanogan, the furthest being 28 miles. Prior to leaving, I did a bike check and found Rosie's rear tire had flatten.  Changed that and lubed the steeds. Just before mounting I double checked the tires and found Rosie's rear had lost air. We were back to square one. We were off shortly after repairing it again.  Jason drove to our potential overnight, visited a bike shop for tubes and looked for appropriate lodging. Meantime we rode a gradual ascending grade against a steady headwind. Half way the smooth road changed to rough chipseal making a short day longer. Jason met us as we entered Omak. After lunch we decided the Omak Inn was suitable lodging. Besides, it was adjacent our lunch site.

Tomorrow we are scheduled to ride to Twisp over the Loup Loup Pass. Rosie is once again reluctant. Having a sag makes it difficult to cajole her.  I'm thinking of offering Rosie two free pedicures.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Days 54 and 55 - Clewelah to Republic, WA

Monday, August 23 was a day off with miles.  Rode about 30 miles from Chewelah to Kettle Falls. Followed the Colville River on Rt. 395, a busy highway.  Passed through Colville and  rode seven more to Kettle Falls. The Kettle River Range was on our left. Relaxed at the motel, stretched out on comfy chairs, and caught up on postings while enjoying a few beers and a good cigar. Rosie didn't have a cigar. She prefers chatting with her girl friends.

Tuesday, August 24 trepidation has set in once more. Rosie fretted during the night, while I slept, about climbing yet another pass. After riding the Flowery Pass the other day she wasn't keen on doing another. Flowery was on a county road and Sherman Pass, the one planned for today, was on a state road and I was sure it would be an easier grade. The ascent began three miles outside of town just after we rode over the Columbia River. Twenty-three miles later we were at the top and this was Rosie's expression:

While at the top we met three other riders approaching from the west.  Two were from the Syracuse, NY area, the other from Portland, OR. Another small world experience.

It was more or less 18 miles downhill to Republic where we found the Northern Inn. Nice digs.

Tomorrow, we cross over Wauconda Pass, 4310 feet. Locals said it was easier than Sherman. We are meeting Jason in Tonasket and he will be accompanying us the remainder of the trip. Haven't seen the boy since 2009. Rosie is doubly happy because she said she has had it with passes. Tough on her knees. We'll see as the day turns.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Our Last Days In MT, A Day In ID and Our First In Day In WA

Thursday, August 19 I nudged Rosie at 0530 suggesting an early start. She gave me the eyeball. Coffee might have helped, but this one light town hadn't started brewing yet. I repaired yesterday's flat and lubed the bikes. Rosie finally decided to join the day. Our destination was Plains via St. Regis and Rts. 135 and 200. We would continue to follow the Clark Fork River.

The only access to St. Regis was I-90. I might have mentioned before that you can ride on I-90 in many of the western states because of the lack of other roads. Taking frontage roads doesn't normally change the scenery and the drivers, although fewer, have less road to work with. However, I'm always looking for alternate routes. 

The leg to St. Regis was 14 miles. About five miles out, the road builder decided to put narrow rumbles across the entire shoulder about every 30 feet.  This lasted for about four miles when the shoulder changed to moderately loose chipseal. I preferred the narrow rumbles.

St. Regis is just another one block town providing gas, food and lodging for travelers, however this time it also had an antique store. Rosie's alternate route found no treasures, but they did sell good beef jerky.

From St. Regis we took Rt. 135 along the Clark Fork River and through Lo Lo National Forest, AKA The St. Regis Paradise By-Way, nestled in the Bitterroot Mtns. This was the most scenic day of our trip to date. We had one brief delay when plagued by yet another flat. We've noticed more glass on the shoulders in this part of the state.

Route 135 took us to Rt. 200. When we turned onto that road the winds seemed to hit us from all directions.
The route travels between two mountain ranges. As we crossed over the river to get to Paradise we saw a large eagles nest, including chicks, on top of a train trestle. We ended our day in Plains at the Dew Duck Inn, probably the best little motel in MT.

Friday, August 20 we continued on Rt. 200 to Noxon. The road is bordered by the Coeur d'Alene Mtns., part of the Bitterroot Range and the Cabinet Mtns. We had little wind in either direction and a comfortable 62 mile day.  With respect to our accommodations, we stayed at the Noxon Motel. Our first indication that this nine room gem was on the rough side was that there were weeds growing up around a car parked in front of one of the rooms. Guess we could have tented along the road, but that's becoming a tougher option.  The room was small and lacked AC, although it did have a window fan. After I secured the fan on the sill with a length of rope tied off the curtain rod, so we could rotate it to regulate the flow of air, we were set for the evening. We did have great sirloin steaks at the Rusty Beaver, only a half mile walk from the motel.

Saturday, August 21 we crossed into Idaho on Rt. 200 heading for Sandpoint. En route Rosie thought she saw a Black Bear in the bush next to the road, at least it was black and hairy. We actually did see Big Horn Sheep grazing next to the road. We stopped in Clark Forks for our morning lunch. We had gained an hour, riding into Pacific Time. As we were leaving town we saw a group of bikers. Stopped to chat and learned they were from Pittsburgh, PA on a week long supported tour. The tour operator said the all inclusive tour costs $1,400.00, including middle shelf wine and speed rack whiskey.  They were staying in resorts, not Noxon Motels. Rosie and I both got the impression many wanted to but didn't have the time to do a self-contained tour. We ended our day in Sandpoint, a 50 mile ride.

Sunday, August 22 we were on the road early having a 71 mile day ahead of us. Our destination was Chewelah, WA. We took Rt. 2 along the Pend Oreille River. Had some tailwind and enough downhill to quicken our pace. Rosie let me know she preferred a 15 over 18 mph pace. In any event, we made it to Newport, WA, 30 miles, in short enough order. From there we headed north on Rt. 20. Had to climb about a mile out of  Newport, but the next 14 miles was a gift. We stopped at a restaurant just outside of Usk. A happy go lucky guy saw my camera around mt neck and offered to take our picture. As you can see, we were still in fine spirits after the first 45 miles..

The night before I had changed our route hoping to cut off a few miles. I found a road connecting Usk and Chewelah. Keep in mind, Google and printed maps are not current.  I questioned several people in Sandpoint and the inn keeper in Chewelah about the road and they all said it was paved and beautiful. Well, it was, however I didn't ask and they didn't mention after the first five miles it was uphill for 18 to Flowery Trail Pass, 4024 feet. Not many cars and not a soul for miles. The climb up was often an 8% grade with a mile and a half at 6 and 7% down and then back up.  Rosie counted it as two mountains.  At times I heard voices I thought were coming from the woods, but I finally realized it was Rosie lamenting when was the climb going to an end. Then there was the other side, eight miles downhill into Chewelah, much of it at 8% grade. I was in heaven. Rosie wanted to put me there. We had a nice motel. To calm her nerves, I fed her Jameson and bought her a sub for dinner. Well worth the climb.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Montana Days 46-49

Sunday, August 15 we left Helena, MT under blue skies. Our destination was Drummond via Route 12 which took us over MacDonald Pass (6320 feet). We had traveled 2,319 miles uphill to get to this point. What point might that be? Considering the last three days of wind and rain, the pass was a piece of cake. From our hotel to the base was 12ish miles. The climb was 6.5 miles on a road that curved along the side of the mountains giving those that dared a spectacular view. Yes, Rosie hugged the other side telling me she'll look at the pictures. Down the other side we passed through Elliston, Avon and Garrison before arriving at Drummond., following the Black Foot River. It was 50ish miles downhill.  Cool haystacks along the way. See the pics. Drummond, as described by the owner of the bar I visited to get on the Inet, is a piss stop. Let's just say you could hit a golf ball the length of the town against the wind from the men's tee. Even my sister could do it.

We again experienced tire problems. Rosie's rear tire was delaminating. Had three ugly bumps that deflated after we got into our room and turned on the AC.

Monday, August 16 I discovered Rosie's rear tire was flat. A quick fix before we headed for Missoula on I-90.  Another 50ish miles downhill. All sun and no wind. Now here is a oxymoron, sometimes life is good when you're going downhill. We arrived at the Thunderbird Motel and decided we needed a day off.

Tuesday, August 17 we spent the day seeing the sites in Missoula. Visited Adventure Cycling, had three helpings of their complimentary ice cream and obtained useful information used to decide what route we would take the next 12 days. While cruising the streets Rosie spied an antique shop, better identified as a junk shop. Good thing there were no good junks. I found a bike shop that had a Brooks saddle wrench. Gave it to me for half price. An important tool to help regulate the tension on the leather. Soon after that I found a great sports bar. Rosie agreed it was better than the junk shop.

Wednesday, August 18 we left our digs in Missoula with the intent to ride 58 miles to Superior, MT.  Lubed and spruced up the steeds before we departed.  All looked copacetic.  We had to ride through town to the west side, about five miles.  While Rosie was off-loading excessive fluid, I checked our rubber and found a blossoming bubble on my front tire.  Same problem we've been having. We found the Trek dealer and he replaced the tire, pinching my tube in the process.  So I got a new tire and tube. We could not replace Rosie's. They only had one tire that was the correct size. This was the first Trek dealer to admit knowing about the delamination problem. The other shops denied such and didn't honor the warranty. I've written a letter to the manufacturer.

We finally got out of Dodge about 11:45 AM with an additional 10 miles added to our day. We had good road, however at 48 miles out we rode into a storm, including marble size hail.  Rosie voiced her displeasure yelling ouch and than some.  I grinned as the hail splattered into pieces as if it was hitting armor plated steel, although as we were fast approaching an overpass I halted so Rosie could obtain needed relief.  We waited about 15 minutes and the storm seemed to be hung up on the mountain. I pointed to a patch of blue just west of us. I told Rosie we could sit here for hours or head for the blue. She begrudgingly followed. About 1.5 miles later we found dry road. Our clothes dried quickly. We were six miles from Superior and looked forward to relaxing when my rear tire flatten.  I grinned once again and made repairs. We were back on the road in ten minutes and arrived at our motel much sooner than later. Thank God Rosie bought meds before leaving Missoula. My armor plated steel needed repair.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Days 43-45: Wind-Rain-Wind

Thursday, August 12 we rode from Harlowton to White Sulphur Springs, MT. It was a 59 mile ride on Route 12. We climbed from an elevation of 4227 feet to a mile according to Squirrely, our bar maid in White Sulphur Springs.

Now, let's just say it was the toughest day of our trip. Not only was it uphill, but we had a constant 20 mph plus head wind and more rough road than Charlie Rangel has had lately. The scenery improved from brown grasslands to green forests, but it wasn't enough to quell the drudgery. Rosie, within the first five miles, was ready to abandon ship. At first she quietly said, "Let's hitch hike." That comment grew louder as the day progressed. I promised her things would change weather-wise or terrain, but it never happened. Just one mile at a time I'd say, "grin at the wind". It took us 5 1/2 hours to do the first 37 miles. The wind and rough road conditions were taking a toll. For at least ten miles it felt as if we were riding over rumbles.

There was one stop midway called Checkerboard. Rick, one of seven residents, owned and operated Checkerboard Bar, which is also a restaurant, the post office and town hall. Food helped mitigate our discomfort. Rosie's knee was bothering her and I started to wonder whether proctologists did rear end replacements.

We finally reached the Hot Springs Motel in White Sulphur Springs about 4 PM. Eight hours to do 59 miles is ouch in many ways. On the plus side, our motel actually had natural hot mineral spring pools. They promised it would cure our tender joints and after a couple hours we became believers, but the several beers beforehand might have been a significant variable.

Later that night, we had dinner at The Mint. Had broasted chicken and more beer. Our hostess was Shirley, nicknamed Squirrelly.  She had a sparkling demeanor.  A good sense of humor and someone who laughs at my jokes was definitely good medicine.

The day was summed up by a poster in the bar that read, "Life's journey is not to arrive safely at the grave, in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally worn out, shouting, "Holy shit, what a ride!"

Friday, August 13 the day began when Rosie looked out our motel window and saw wind and rain.  I told her this wasn't some 40 days and 40 nights ordeal, that I put in a special order for sun. I checked the weather channel when Rosie was out of the room. Hmm, I guess things could get worse.

We went to the motel office to reconnoiter. We met Boris from Austria, who was riding from Alaska to Florida and Paul, a retired pipe fitter, from Kansas City, retracing his past.

Boris said he works in the computer field; that he'd work and save for five years, quit his job and do a bike tour. Said he rode all over Europe, New Zealand and Australia. He met a guy from Spain on this ride that was a teacher. He was riding from Alaska to South America and because their system allows them to take two years off without pay without losing their job he could afford such. I recall meeting policemen from Australia that can save up to two years leave and do the same. Politicians will do anything to protect their jobs, but I digress. With respect to the inclement weather, Boris said he just "smiles at the wind" and trudges onward. Rosie rolled her eyes.  With respect to those that smile, tell me, do you not think they're crazy?  Think again.

One of the stories I told was about my first ride across country in 1972. All I had was $150.00 and figured I could spend $5.00 each day and make it across in 30ish days.  I was riding over 100 miles per day.  When in Kansas, I met two older bike tourists from Belgium. When I mentioned my daily mileage one man said I wasn't touring, I was racing. I told myself if I should ever do this again I'd do half the mileage. Well, I didn't during my second ride in 1976, but we are now.

Paul said he related to that story; that he raced his entire life and missed too much. He said he grew up in Montana and was trying to visit his friends from yesteryear while he had the chance.

With respect to our route, it was 50 miles to our campsite and we had to cross a 6500 foot pass in our first 19 miles on a 6% grade road.

We waited until 10:30, hoping the rain would subside. Rosie "bagged her brain" and we got back on the road. The wind helped us the first eight miles.  The first crest was at 14.5 miles followed by the 6,500 foot summit and downhill beginning at 19 miles.  We entered Deep Creek Canyon. The rain increased and rock slides were a hazard. The rain let up about the 26 mile mark and it was clear the rest of the way.  We came out into the flats to see one more hill before Townsend. It was a mile long and at least a 6% grade. Rosie said it was a piece of cake. 

Just north of Townsend we rented a log cabin. The winds increased during the evening. We soon realized there was a crack between a couple logs because we were serenaded by whistles and howls throughout the night. We just shook our heads and "grinned at the wind".

Saturday, August 14 was a day off with miles. We rode 26 miles to Helena.  Tomorrow we have a 60ish day.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Montana Days 39-42

Saturday, August 7 we had dinner at the only diner in town, Legends Grill. Rosie put a load of laundry in at a nearby laundromat while I secured a table and tested the beers. Now, don't get the wrong idea. Rosie has lost weight, but she doesn't trust me with reducing her cup size prematurely. After we were pretty much spent for the day, watched some stupid TV and read we called it a night.

Sunday, August 8, as we were leaving our room we met an elderly man leaving an adjacent room.  He was using four different oxygen support devices while he traveled the country. I helped him load them into his car. We had a pleasant chat and he was excited about our adventure. Just goes to show you the tenacity of individuals not content with sitting on their front porch bemoaning their weaknesses and playing the victim card. Unfortunately, the whining SOB's are increasing in number as they sit on their government subsidized front porches spending their delusional lives chasing the candy man.

We left Ranchester, WY and rode to Hardin, MT.  From the border to Hardin we rode in the Crow Indian Reservation. We traveled on I-90 until Lodge Grass, about 30 miles, where we took our first break. We met Joyce, an elderly lady, at an IGA who had plenty of questions about our trip. The man in Ranchester and the Joyces' of the world make our day. From Lodge Grass we took Route 451 and other frontage roads into Hardin, stopping one more time in Gerryowen, down the road from the Little Big Horn Battlefield. Off I-90 was a plus. The roads were flat and nearly traffic free.

In Gerryown, we stopped for a bite to eat. While I guarded our goods, Rosie forged for subs. As I waited, I met Mike Dench, who resides near London, Ontario. His son Ryan attended and was hoping to work at the Texas Longhorn Ranch, owned and operated by Fred and Gail Cahill. It truly is a small world.

Options were few in Hardin. Thought about staying at a KOA, but that cow pasture was dismissed given we rode 73 miles and the temp was 90+.  AC, indoor plumbing, a complementary breakfast and WI-FI made the choice simple.

Monday, August 9 we rode to Billings via Old Route 87 instead of I-90. Few cars. Forty miles out we entered a small canyon, then uphill for about two miles to a panoramic view of the valley where we first saw Billings. The ride down was on a switchback road. Without a car in sight, I used the entire road banking around turns. Rosie was a bit more conservative. At the bottom we met a guy from St. Louis that has been biking/touring for 2.5 years. Said he has visited all the National Parks and every state. It seemed the road had taken it's toll.

We entered Billings in the industrial section. Not a good first impression. The city backs up to a cliff in the north and spreads east and west. I wouldn't put it on the top 100 places to visit.  Having said that, our short stay did not afford us time to see the other half.

Our first stop was the Spoke Shop to buy new tires.  Still had some tread, but the road was chewing them up. About a mile from the shop we got our second flat.  I picked up a half inch brad that flatten my rear tire. I changed it out in quick order and made it to the shop. Dean handled our transaction, providing us with a couple Blue Moons, to the chagrin of a co-worker, while we waited.  I guess they get cross country riders in there everyday.  Another customer warned us of an impending storm. We had about two miles to our overnight and made it before the sky opened up.

Tuesday, August 10, we decided to avoid I-90 and ride north on Route 3 to Route 12 which is part of the Lewis and Clark Trail. Leaving Billings we took the Zimmerman Trail up to Route 3.  The last mile was an 8% twisting climb.  Rosie powered through it like a champ even with a hundred foot cliff to her right. 

Route 3 started with a great shoulder. About 30 miles out it turned to a loose chipseal and then to a narrow shoulder. The chipseal was jarring. It makes for a longer day.

Our destination was Lavina. We arrived after 47 miles. Like many of the towns that once serviced the railroad, it is now a quiet hamlet. In yesteryear towns were built every 15 miles to service the railroad. Some survived. Many didn't.

I visited the only occupied building in town, the Post Office. There I met Kim who welcomed us and said the church and school were available for our personal needs and we could stay in the city park. Rosie met Ellen Lenfeldt who was working at the American Legion/Town Hall.  We had a great chat with her. She told us about her biking adventures in New Zealand back in the 70's. She and her husband are ranchers. His family apparently began ranching in this area over 100 years ago. They have 1000's of sheep and Angus cattle.  She gave us the key to the town hall which was adjacent to the park.  Came in handy the next morning.

We also met Junior. He maintains the city park. Said he just turned 82 and had a catfish fry last week.  He caught the fish. The park is a labor of love. The lawn was like a carpet. We had a pavilion for our bikes. He turned off the automatic sprinkler system, scheduled to come on at 4 AM. If he hadn't, it would have been in addition to the rain that Rosie said came down all night long. I said, what rain..

Wednesday, August 11 we rode to Harlowton on Route 12, stopping in Ryegate for breakfast. Harlowton was 45 miles, Ryegate 17.  Before leaving Lavina we policed the grounds. Rosie mentioned everything was as it had been accept for the matted grass where we setup the tent.  I rolled my eyes and said, "You're thinking of fluffing up the grass, aren't you? I'll leave it to your imagination.

We had a relaxing coffee at the gas station at the corner of Routes 3 and 12 around 0730.  The bar next door was open, but they didn't serve food. We had a congenial conversation with the owner. She mentioned that the Lenfeldt's use the sheep and ship the sheep to other ranches to eat a toxic weed that affect cattle.

Our first 16 miles on the Lewis and Clark Trail were easy. We arrived in Ryegate to find the Buffalo Trail Cafe. Rosie gave the diner a "10". The food was great. We learned that the toxic weed is leafy spurge. It is an invasive weed and the plant's milky sap is toxic to cattle. Other people eating breakfast are a wealth of knowledge where ever we go.

Our day ended in Harlowton. We had our bath, bread and beer. Bon Soir.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Wyoming Days 37-38

Friday, August 6 the map said we had a 68ish mile day on a long stretch of road with only one rest area between Gillette and Buffalo. We had two to six mile pulls, that's trucker lingo for climbing a hill. Those of you familiar with Route 20 between Skaneateles and Cazenovia, NY, add several more hills and we did several times that each day for the last couple days.

En route Rosie had our first flat. I heard an emergency tone 50 yards to the rear.  She normally doesn't use the word "leak", but I thought she was yelling I got to take a leak. Rosie is much more lady like so I was confused. Well the leak was in the general area, but it was her rear tire. Repairing the tire, I found several shards of glass embedded in the tread. We have hard case tires which are resistant to punctures.  The one that got her was not glass. It was scoria. Scoria is slag or lava. They crush and use it instead of sand on the roads. Such debris is found all over the shoulders. We've been lucky. I replaced the tube and fixed the damaged tube later that day. We were back on the road in less than 30 minutes.

We finally made it to our halfway point, a rest area.  We parked our bikes against a tree. Three older guys, about my age, were sitting on a bench. They had handicap bikes. Our chat revealed the guys were from Little Falls, NY. One of many small world coincidences. Then Rosie was accosted by Ray Perez, another handicapped biker. He was spreading the gospel as he rode about the country. Said he was a badman in his youth and finding Jesus turned him around. God bless you Ray, where ever you are now.

From the rest area, I attempted to contact our friend Tony who works for Hilton Hotels to arrange a cheaper stay in Buffalo. During a six mile pull he returned my call. Rosie was behind me somewhere. I pulled up and was talking to Tony for about 15 seconds and Rosie rode into my rear wheel. She had had her head down and didn't realize I had stopped. By the time I realized she was horizontal to the ground she had picked herself up, giving me the you know what look. Guess I should have put the phone down. Tony had no favors and Rosie didn't talk to me for five miles. I did finally find another place called the Blue Gables and her urge to kill me subsided.

Our stay at Blue Gables was a delight. We had a log cabin. The owner, Jim had left the corporate world for a simpler life.  He worked around the country, including Norwich, NY.  We had our first spaghetti dinner at Dino's Diner, drank enough beer and enjoyed a camp fire with other travelers at the motel. Zack and Darla and three kids, from Belle Fourshe, WY, were escaping from the Surtgis Rally crowd. The rally officially started on August 9, but really begins several weeks before and continues for as many afterwards. Hundreds of bikers pass through their little town at all hours with no regard for the locals. It's a catch 22.

Old Route 16 runs through Buffalo to Yellowstone. Jim told me when they developed Yellowstone they had to build roads. Route 16 was built, not only to help develop the area, but was built from Chicago, Ill to encourage people to visit Yellowstone.

Saturday, August 7 we had a 50ish day to Ranchester. Took I-90 the entire route. Had a long lunch in Sheridan 33 miles out. They don't have a mall. Main street is nearly a mile long bordered with all kinds of stores. Felt like we went back in time. We stopped at a bike shop hoping to replace a few tires, but like Rapid City they didn't stock our size.

We climbed back onto I-90 leaving Sheridan. We had 17 miles to ride. A storm was brewing in front of us. We pulled under a bridge about 10 miles out. The gusts were at least 40ish mph. We waited for 30 minutes while the sky returned to a friendly blue. I said giddy up even though we still had stiff head winds. Rosie was reluctant, but acquiesced when I mounted the steed.  Just ahead of us was a downhill for at least two miles. The grade was at least 6%.  The winds were such that we were held to a speed of 9 mph coasting downhill. Pedaling we did 12 mph. The descent calmed Rosie's nerves. She was concerned about control. Of course, I told her never to fear because Bikebill was here. Add your own expletives. She had a few.  It was four miles before we saw rain water from the passing storm. The winds calmed and we made it to Ranchester, our motel and a hot meal without skipping a beat.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Wyoming - Days 35 and 36

Wednesday, August 4 we started the day in Spearfish with a hardy complimentary breakfast having 68ish miles to ride to Moorcroft. The sky was blue, unlike yesterday, and not even a breeze. We had 13 miles to the Wyoming border and another 20 to Sundance, our halfway point for the day. We had to take I-90, which actually has better shoulders than any of the few available frontage roads.  Those 33 miles were all uphill. Even when it appears we're riding down we're riding up. After Sundance, the grade became more gentle and our pace picked up considerably. Approaching Moorcroft, our overnight, I suggested we ride on to Gillette, another 28 miles, but Rosie's parts demanded otherwise. 

Shortly after entering Wyoming we found a flyswatter on the road. Yes, we retrieved it. Let's just say it would have been handy starting in Wisconsin where the deer flies were out for blood, in Minnesota where the flies were relentless and in South Dakota where the grasshoppers thought we were on the road for their amusement. So picture this, Rosie has the flyswatter strapped on her bike. We had just arrived at the Cozy Motel in Moorcroft and encountered a guy with similar intent. He saw the flyswatter and said to Rosie, "You're not riding fast enough if you need one of those." We're still laughing.

Our rest stop in Sundance started with a visit to US Forest Service Ranger Station.  Thought we'd obtain information on the State and its wildlife. We heard about a bear attack in Yellowstone and I might of mentioned to Rosie that she should keep an eye out for rattle snakes when seeking privacy along the road. I told her to stomp her feet and wave a white towel; that it would scare off the critters. I don't know about the critters, but I'm enjoying it. The ranger wasn't a wealth of information, but she did assure Rosie that we were not in bear country and the rattle snakes shouldn't be a problem. She also told us we would be able to see Devil's Tower from I-90, which we did.  Looking for a snack, we stopped at Hey Joe Espresso To Go, a trolley converted into a joe hut. We had a nice chat with Charlie, the owner.  Nice lady.

We arrived in Moorcroft and found the Cozy Motel, Deer Haven Bar and Donna's Diner next to each other. A note on the motel's office door instructed seekers of lodging that they'd be back at 5:00 PM.  We had time to eat dinner at Donna's and met Don Mercer, a cattle rancher and ex-truck driver.  Said as a young man he drove two million miles in five years. He told us about the Powder River Basin, mining and ranching in he area and possible alternate routes. He warned us about the hail storms, that we should purchase a tarp in case we're on the road without cover. He said baseball size hail is not uncommon in these parts. The day we were in Sturgis and it rained Deadwood received 8 inches of hail. Thousands of bikers and their bikes were in harms way.

After cleaning up I suggested to Rosie we go bar hopping. We learned there were four bars in town. We hopped once to the Deer Haven. Elizabeth, the bartendress, soon became our friend. Rosie did her best to drink all the wine in the bar. I might have had a six pack. A unique thing about this bar is it has a drive-up window. We had plenty of fun talking to patrons waiting for their purchase. Liz told us that two riders came through town four years ago and slept in the city park. They used hammocks. Apparently they asked a local authority for permission, but that person failed to tell them the sprinklers came on around midnight. The biggest laugh of the evening came when an old coal miner said he was surprised we were bikers. He said all the bikers he met were skinny.

Thursday, August 5 we had a easy 30 mile ride to Gillette. Had to shorten the day because the next town is Buffalo, which is 68 miles from Gillette. A 98 mile day is not part of our agenda. So here we are in our $160.00 room obtained using our Marriott points.  En route we passed by a coal burning power plant. The coal is mined from adjacent hills and conveyed under I-90 to the plant. We considered this a day off with a few miles included.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Our Last Day In South Dakota

We took one day off while in Rapid City to tour the area and take care of personal and bike issues. After acquiring a car we visited two bike shops before I found a tire. About one week ago my front tire was making a clicking noise. Not having experienced such a problem before I wasn't sure what to make of it. Looked at all the obvious, but not until we pulled off the road to check our tires for glass we rode through did Rosie see a bulge on my front tire. It eventually grew as pictured in my latest Kodak pics. Appears the tire was defective given the inner layer was incomplete leaving a gap. Only if wasn't such a load....

We enjoyed our tour through the Black Hills. Our touring was shorten due to the bike issue, but we at least got to visit Deadwood, Lead, Spearfish Canyon and Spearfish. Mt. Rushmore and Custer's Monument was to the south and more crowded than the direction we took. Coming off the mountain into Spearfish the descent was over three miles at 7% grade. I mentioned to Rosie we should ride this route. She told me otherwise. Got her to drink beer and eat biscuits and gravy on this trip. Still working on riding the hills.

On Tuesday, August 3 we rode to Spearfish, stopping in Sturgis for lunch.  Spent about three hours in a diner waiting for a storm to move through. Our bikes were just outside the door and a gust of wind pushed my bike. Rosie jumped up a ran outside grabbing the bike and dragging it inside. Not far behind her we secured the bike and I turned to the customers and said if I could move as fast as my Little Woman I could enter the Olympics.

It continued to rain for several hours. The streets turned into streams. When it finally broke we hit the road and completed our remaining 17 miles to Spearfish, From our room we look out at the Black Hills.  Tomorrow we will be entering Wyoming, heading for Moorcroft, 62 miles.

Monday, August 2, 2010

We Probably Would Never Have Visited

Places Rosie and I would probably never visited if we weren't riding our bikes. We stayed at *.  If I didn't indicate camping, Rosie ordered room service. We're also rating some of the places we've been because of the digs and or food. Updating the Google maps is time consuming. I figured those interested can connect the dots. At some point I will make a map.

Sodus Point* (Camped)
Hamlin Beach State Park* (Camped)
Point Breeze (Met a man that knew my father.)
North Tonawanda* (My hometown. WE stayed an extra day.)

Port Colburne
Rock Point Park* (Camped)
Tilsonburg* (Our first KFC)
Vila Nova
Melbourne (Hey Jean and Betty) (10 - Port Hole Diner)
Texas Long Horn Ranch*(10) (Covered Wagon and the Cahills)
Oil City

Marine City*
Addison Oaks*
Lakeview (10)
Grand Blanc
Carson City*
Crystal Lake
Cedar Springs*

Milwaukee*(10- We stayed an extra day with Bob and Jill.)
Lake Mills*
Sun Prairie
Merrimac* (Camped)
Union Center
Rock Land
West Salem
La Crosse
Trempealeau* (Camped - Carol Ann and the kids joined us. Sagged us to New Ulm, MN.)

St. Charles
Rochester* (Camped)
Byron (Mickey D's with leather chairs)
Dodge Center
Waseca* (Camped an extra day. Lots of rain.)
St. Clair
New Ulm* (Camped)
Sleepy Eye
Lamberton* (the American Legion was a hoot)
Walnut Grove (of the little house on the prairie)
Lake Benton*

Lake Preston* (Lake Preston Motel and the LPM Crew)
De Smet
Plankington* (Camped)
White Lake
Kennebec* (Hot Rod Steakhouse and the King's Inn -10. We rode in the rain most of the day.)
Cactus Flats
New Underwood
Rapid City*
Sturgis (Waited out the rain for three hours.)


Lodge Cross
Crow Agency
Lavina* Camped in the town park.
White Sulphur Springs*
Missoula* (Stayed an extra day.)
St. Regis
Clark Forks

Priest Lake
Old Time

Kettle Falls*
Mazama* camped - the temp dropped into the 30's
Diablo- the end of the ride

Saturday, July 31, 2010

South Dakota - updated

Monday, July 26 we left our Becker Resort digs after finishing left over pizza. I drank the remaining two beers. Before you think me crazy, just consider it an "E-Fuel".  It was eight miles to the SD border and 28 to Brookings, the first town.

There was a mile long climb leaving Lake Benton. The road was bordered by windmills. It was early in the morning and we were close enough to the windmills to hear them whooshing. As I took pictures Rosie rode ahead eventually reaching the top of a hill looking over the border of MN and SD. It was downhill to the border.

Arriving in Brookings, we had breakfast at Perkins. Perkins is high on our list because we've found the staff friendly and helpful. They also have fast WI-FI and more importantly pie.

Our goal for the day was Lake Preston where we found the Lake Preston Motel and Bait Shop. The price was right and they had beer in the Bait Shop. Toni (Boss), Brent (Boss Too), Mark (Three Sheets), Paul (Bad Back), Brian (AllState), Kevin (Suds), and Luke (The Kid) avoided the hot sun sitting in a car port. They made our stay a joy and provided a wealth of information helping me decide what route to take across SD and beyond. The people we meet on this ride mean more than anything else. It was a pleasure meeting the LPM Crew.

Tuesday, July 27 we left the LPM with the intent to ride to Woonsocket. En route we stopped at the Blue Country Foods Diner in Iroquois to fill the void.  About 1430 we arrived in Huron, our last stop before our over night town. A quick stop at Walmart, one of few out this way, resulted in a change of plans. I called the two motels in Woonsocket without responses. Not having confirmation and hearing thunder storms were imminent we opted for the local comforts at Comfort Inn.  The digs were great, a free breakfast, and a great steak dinner at the Prime Time. We avoided potential tornadoes. There was a report of a nine pound 18.5" round hunk of hail south of us, the direction we were eventually heading. It was in a town called Vivian. Just think if the town was called Mary?

Wednesday, July 28 we literally flew down the road to Plankington. We were averaging 20 mph. The day was 25 degrees cooler and we had a tail wind.  About the only time we stopped was at Rosie's urging. The 59 mile trip ended at the Plank Inn, had a nice lunch and found Gordy's Campground for the evening. Ending our day early made for a long day in camp. Gordy's was spartan and Rosie preferred to use the men's showers. Something about the she-side didn't meet her standards. For dinner I forged, returning with beans, mac salad, a two bean salad, chocolate milk and beer. Rosie rolled her eyes enough to make room for her spoon to reach her mouth.  All was consumed accept for one beer.

Thursday, July 29 we learned that just beyond a dense tree line was another more modern campground and a restaurant. I've got to train Rosie to be a better scout. Rosie's night was restless given the bugs and her thoughts of bowling ball size hail. So, I promised her a good breakfast, hoping our first town out had a diner. Fifteen miles later we found Jacki's in White Lake. The pancakes were at least 10 inches wide. I had the standard and eggs and et al. We learned thunder storms were on the way and as we were leaving town they had arrived. We rode in the rain for the next 45 miles. We spent most of the day on secondary roads, but had to ride on I-90 after Chamberlain, down a steep 2 mile hill and up a 3 mile hill and exited after 15 miles at Reliance where we had clear sailing to Kennebec. I had booked a KOA in Kennebec, but upon arrival Rosie pointed at the King's Inn and said she was staying there. The KING must make an executive decision. Mama told me there would be days like this.  Bob and Vicki, the owner's, treated us royally and the digs were top notch. We even had a King bed. We were able to dry out our gear, wash our clothes, update the blog and I worked on the bikes in the morning. We had a great dinner at the Hot Rod Steakhouse. It was a 76 mile day.

Friday, July 30 I first worked on the bikes and found things had loosened up a bit. After snugging parts we made our way ten miles down the road to Hutch's for breakfast.  We had a short day to Murdo, only 44 miles so we had a late start. This put us in the heat of the day. Not like the day before, the temp was 90+ before considering the index. We rode on probably the worst roads since we started the trip and on top of that there were thousands of grasshoppers bouncing of bike and body. Rosie, she doesn't like them. When the gritters jumped through our spokes it was as if they were plucking them. I called it a Hops-A-Cord. We first had milkshakes at the GTO Cafe for $8.00. No, they were not anything special. I called around for lodging and we ended up at a Super 8 next to the cafe. Never thought I'd say Super 8 was a bit of heaven.  The elevation is 2,280 ft. We climbed all day.

Saturday, July 31 we had the Super 8 complimentary vittles and got on the road early thinking we had a 71 mile day ahead of us. We rode the old road parallel to I-90 until Cactus Flats where it ended. We rode the last 22 on I-90. The old road was rolling and left mostly to us. We had pie and a beverage in Kadoka after 42 miles. The day started cool, but quickly changed to 100+. We learned our maps lied to us by a gas station attendant in Belvadere. That was for the democrats following this blog. We ended up having to ride 83 miles, the last mile uphill to Wall. You could say we hit the wall.  Rosie is drinking heavily right now. Did I mention, she started drinking beer on this ride and is now less bashful when having to find a bush.  There are no bushes in the grasslands of South Dakota. BTW, imagine hundreds of grasshoppers jumping about while in the tall grass.

Sunday, August 1 we left Wall after fueling up at the hotel. We met a couple during breakfast. They were touring the west on their handicap bike, that's a bike with a motor. They were from MN. The husband had a bruise under his left eye. As we were commenting on the grasshoppers, he pointed to his eye.  Said he took one head on at 80 mph. Taking a hit at 20 mph isn't the same to say the least. 

There are no frontage roads from Wall to New Underwood so we were on I-90 for 33 miles. Had a great shoulder until after Wasta. After that the rumbles were several more feet further into the shoulder giving us about two feet to ride on. We only had a 52 mile day, but considering the head winds and shrinking shoulder we elected to take the Old 14/16/frontage road from New Underwood.  The road closely followed the interstate, at times we felt we were still on it accept I was riding in the middle of the road. Now we had rolling hills instead of the gentle grades of I-90. We took a break in New Underwood, visiting Steve's Biker Bar touted as the smallest biker bar in the world. It was a gimmick to get people to stop at his real big store next door. Nonetheless, we got our picture. From there we had 20 miles left for the day, if our map didn't lie to us again. As we got closer to Rapid City the Black Hills came into view. Rosie was none to happy with the thought of riding over those. We could cut the angle off and ride up to Spearfish on secondary roads, which would be very pretty and hilly, plus not many services for cyclists. Therefore, I'm thinking of the round about way. The day ended at 54 miles. There is an Outback nearby. I think Rosie is already there.

Here is an interesting aspect to I-90 in South Dakota, the rest areas are always next to the exit ramps to towns.  Give it some thought and tell me why you think they do this. Send your response to

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Do The Math

The ride began with the first pedal stroke. So you can better appreciate the stroke aspect of the ride and a few other related topics, I thought I'd do the math for you.

First you have to understand the general parameters of multi-geared bike. Our bikes have 700 cc wheels, roughly 27" diameter.  We have 3 cogs in the front called chainrings and 9 cogs in the back called the freewheel. When the chain is in the largest chainring you are in a high gear. Lowest chainring is a low gear. As you know the cogs have teeth. The three chainrings are 48/36/26 and the nine cogs in the rear go from 11-32 (11 - 12 - 14 - 16 - 18 - 21 - 24 - 28 - 32 teeth).  If you divide the number teeth on a rear cog into a chainring you get gear inches (48/12=4x27 (diameter of the wheel)=108 gear inches. That is equivalent to a wheel with a diameter of 108 inches. To determine the distance traveled you multiply by pi or 3.14. Therefore, with a 108 inch wheel the bike would travel 339.12 inches. You can determine your speed by dividing 5,280 feet (63,360 inches) by 339 inches equals ~187 strokes. Divide this number my minutes (3, 4 etc) and you get the number of strokes per minute you would have to pedal and your speed. So, 3 minutes would be 20 mph and you would have to pedal 62 strokes per minute. Easy right?

Now we are riding approximately 3,000 miles and a 27 inch wheel has a circumference of (27x3.14) 84.78 inches.  There are 63,360 inches in a mile. Therefore, our wheels rotate about 745 times per mile and will rotate 2,235,000 times by the time we're done.

Now the good part. Lets say our average cadence is 80 revolutions per minute. In one hour it would be 4,800 strokes. In five hours it would be 24,000 strokes, our average day. In our first 26 days of riding our feet went around 624,000 times. I'm averaging on the low side. By the time we're done we will have made over 1,300,000 strokes.

Rosie said, "Can you say rock hard buns?"

Women Don't Wave As Much

We have been in South Dakota for three days. Rosie remarked that women drivers don't wave as much as men drivers.  Not sure what to make of that. I started paying more attention and noticed the same. She said she noticed States ago.

After further consideration, I've surmised the following. Men can better relate to the adventurist spirit. Women on the other hand, not as though they are not able to multi-task while driving to say the least, are not indifferent, but are awe struck by our pulsating pistons.  First they see me with legs appearing if carved from fine marble, then they see the Biker Goddess following close behind.  They can only wonder what it would be like to have legs like the Biker Goddess as they momentarily gaze at their pasty thighs.  There have been reports, from where we've ridden through, that women are breaking into Walmart and stealing bikes. Those that fair better have been lining up outside of bike shops.

To all those pasty-legged women, you're welcome.

Sunday, July 25, 2010


On Tuesday July 20 we woke in the Great River State Park, Trempealeau, WI about 15 miles from the bridge to Winona, MN and breakfast.  Rosie's niece Carol Ann and her kids Josh and Jenna met us the day before in the campground as we were waiting for them in the rain.  It didn't start raining until we arrived.  Carol brought a popup to ferry us most of the way across MN. The first night with our new sag service was definitely a change of pace.

We started out about 8 AM taking the north exit in the park. There was more fog than road. Not having exact directions we were lucky to run into a local who was just coming off the Great River Trail. We opted not to take the trail, but to stay on pavement to MN. Enough of the trails for now.  An hour or so later we were at the bridge. Those that viewed the pictures saw my Little Woman ensuring the bridge's stability a few times. Bridges and high places don't mix well with Rosie's sensibilities. Nonetheless, a trouper that she is, she made it across the Mississippi River to the Timber Diner and had coffee before me. Yes, I was taking pictures.

When in La Crosse, WI while at our overnight, I had inet. Rosie copied the directions to Route 14 once we arrived in Winona. Having a keen sense of direction, I often, as I did when we left the diner, alter our route which drives the woman nuts.  It's not my intent, but no matter it drives her nuts. I must say though, the light is starting to penetrate...

Route 14 began with a 2.78 mile climb, followed by 2 miles downhill into Stockton then 1.5 miles up to Lewiston. We found them to be quite comfortable. BTW, the definition of a hill has been added to the list. We counted about eight across MN on our route. Talk about luck.

Our destination on our first day was Rochester. Carol Ann found a RV park south of town only assessable on a major four lane road ending in a mile uphill climb. Subsequently, Rosie had a long enough talk. Other than that it was great. It wasn't far from a Best Buy where I purchased a new netbook with the extend 2 year warranty to protect against stupid bike riding.

On Wednesday, July 21 we took a Bill Route, zigzagging to Byron. Can you hear Rosie? Our destination was Waseca.  Our first stop was in Byron at a Mickey D's which had a reading area with leather chairs. We met a group of Australian farmers touring the area sponsored by Case Supply. They loved America. They had nothing good to say about our Idiot and Chief. Not my words. Let's just say they were not bashful. Leaving our first rest stop we witnessed a near accident when a Cadillac pulling out into traffic nearly hit a passing car. Both Rosie and I often remind each other how vigilant we have to be. BTW, Cadillac's will be mentioned in an upcoming list about potential dangers on the road. Cadillacs are especially dangerous because they are usually driven by someone as old as your grandparents' great grandparents. Traffic was very heavy around Owatonna. Lots of construction. The last 13 miles into Waseca were white knuckling on a 18" shoulder bordered by rumbles and gravel. That evening it rained all night. We took the 22 nd off.

On Friday, July 23 we left Waseca taking county roads (Bill Route) paralleling Rt. 14. Nicest roads we've been on in MN. Rosie is thinking of calling me Pathfinder. It must be the light. We were on a paved bike path in Mankato taking us one mile from Rt. 68 the road we needed to take to New Ulm. Arriving in New Ulm we stayed at Flandrau State Park, at the top of a hill, where we had another evening thunderstorm. Thunderstorms out here are far different from what we're use to in Syracuse. Multiply our usual storms by 20.  As fast as it started it stopped. There was an eerie silence.

On Saturday, July 24 we headed for one of several possible destinations none of which we reached. Head winds, traffic, a gravel road and poor timing ended our day in Lamberton.  We thought about reaching Walnut Grove or Tracy, just 10 and 17 miles further, but learned from a store keeper that Walnut Grove was having their Laura Ingall's pageant. All lodging within 50 miles was booked. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. Lamberton Motel was across the road. The owner said he was holding one room and after consulting with his wife gave it to us. Showered and hungry we went to the only eatery in town, the American Legion. The streets were empty, not even a stray dog. When we opened the door to the legion we were met by at least 100 people partying it up. Hilarious!  Lamberton graduates 40ish kids each year. We walked in on a reunion of classes 78-82 and 60. What a hoot. Just like dancing, both Rosie and I said people looked like people back home. Had fun with that. After pizza and beer we were done in and slept for 11 hours.  We think it was more to do with the kids than the riding.  Just kidding Josh and Jenna.

Sunday, July 25 we had the highway to ourselves for most of the day. No rumbles, lots of good road and a fast day. We had breakfast at Neille's in Walnut Grove.  The waitress was named June. I asked her if her husband's name was Ward.  People often refer to us a June and Ward Cleaver because Rosie waits on me. Remember the "Home on the Range" picture? We also talked to an old dairyman who said he farmed for 50 years and he never spread has much manure as Obama. His words not mine. Talked to a couple in Tyler, who told us we missed the Aibleshiver Festival, a Danish tradition. Aibleshiver is some kind of pastry. The couple also directed us to Becker's Resort. Our room looks out onto Lake Benton.  We think it was a barn at one time because Rosie has killed about 50 flies. I just type and drink beer. 

We have ridden 1250 miles. Tomorrow we enter South Dakota. Met a rider today heading east who has been through SD eight times. She gave us a few ideas. Our plan is to make it to Rapid City in the next five days. We might have a problem with lodging because the Sturgis Bike Rally begins next weekend.

Monday, July 19, 2010

List of signals and verbal codes

Communicating with the local natives and your riding partner are paramount for safety and harmony. Here is a running list we're compiling in case you should need additional explanation.

1.  Standard traffic hand signals including international jestures of contempt.
2.  Pointing to the ground with or without exaggerated motions notifies tailing riders of road hazards.
3.   International stop - putting both arms above your head while standing in the middle of the road.
4.  Butt break - short rest.
5.  Shade - rest stop under anything that casts a shadow on a 100 F day.
6.  The ladies are shaking - rough road.
7.  Hammer - ride fast
8.  Gotta pee - any bush will do.
9.  Drafting - riding near the rear wheel of the lead rider, preferably someone with the nickname "Wideload".
10.  Giddyup - lets head out.
11.  I thought this wasn't a race. - Slow down
12.  It's coming up. - We're lost.
13.  Jerk - not quite an asshole.
14.  Michigan drivers - not many jerks
15.  Chain ring tattoo - leg brushes up against the front sprocket leaving the greasy outline of the chain ring.
16.  ish - a suffix. We're riding 60ish today.
17.  Octogenaria - Mickey D's and the like where Octogenarians hang out
18.  Grab this cowboy - she wants sex
19.  Butt butter - lots of lotion applied each day to preclude chaffing.
20.  The morning miles go faster.
21.  It's just like dancing. It's how we ride.
22.  Potatoes in a bag.  Leftovers from breakfast when carried in a plastic bag affords nourishment down the road. It helps to know the window of opportunity given the microbiological considerations. I never get sick.
23.  Always heading west.  The only time we move north or south is to find a bush.
24.  She is getting "itchie". bbbbbbbbb
25.   Activator - coffee
26.  Timing the turd. Getting caught on the road with that urge and you've got 5 miles to ride.
27. Double Dump - usually done before giddy-upping or you be timing the turd.
28. Educated stupid- a progressive or anyone else that believes people like Castro, Chavez and our current lot will lead us to greener pastures as they drive their armored Lincoln Continentals while encouraging us to walk to save the planet.  You can give these people a straight edge and a pencil and they still can't connect the dots.
29.  Level ground. Only found on rail beds in Wisconsin which is why campground attendants have no idea what level ground looks like.
30. Hill - the definition of a hill is it has to be at least a 1/2 mile long or shorter is the grade is over 7%.
31. Slapping the right buttock - giddyup faster
32. Handicap bike - one with a motor


We entered the state on Tuesday 7/13 from Cedar Springs, MI. As mentioned in an earlier post Bob and Jill were the quintessential hosts. Bob has promised to send his photos of our fording a flooded trail that resulted in a temporary loss of telecommunications. Passing underneath power lines on part of the trail I quipped, " We cyclists are a wired bunch, but we have little tension". Having traversed this state, nothing has changed.

The first day in WI took us to Lake Mills via trails and roads. We first encountered deer flies on the Glacial Trail causing Rosie to pickup her pass considerably. I was not far behind, shooing the beasts from her back as we rode. The trail was paved to the 32 mile point then turning to pee gravel. The trail appeared to have a clay foundation with a pea gravel aggregate. Much nicer than the NYS Erie Canal which has a crushed limestone foundation. Less dust in WI means less damage to the bike. We got back on the road at 38 miles and rode into Helenville for vittles. The Kodak photos will show you construction on the trail. It was off road riding at this point. We intended to stay at Aztalan Park, but learned from a drunken couple at Aztalan Bar that overnight services were not provided at the park. We did get directions to America's Best Value Hotel run by a couple from Punjab, India. Seems everybody I meet from India is from Punjab.

The second day we headed for Merrimac via Waterloo, the home of Trek; Marshall, that has a dairy farm in the middle of town and where Rosie lost one of her flip flops; and continued on Route 19 until we encountered too much traffic where interstates intersected. We took a parallel road and those in the know will not believe this, it was Easy St. We truly were on Easy St. until a dog took pursuit followed by its owner, a teenage boy. Rosie was frantic. I tried barking back. The young boy said keep riding my dog likes to run. I growled, "I don't want to run your GD dog so handle  it or I will!" The boy stopped dead in his tracks. If only the dog responded in kind. It was a hot and windy day with more uphill than down, but the down came soon enough to take us the last five miles to the free ferry into Merrimac. Had a bite to eat at the Ferry X-ing and found the Merry Mac Campground a few miles in the direction we wanted to go. More food and drink was had provided by our camping neighbors.  Chad, a Septic Engineer, his botherinlaw Chad and the sisters that married the Chads treated us into the evening.

Day three took us to Wilton via a two mile climb from our campground (see Rosie climbing on Kodak), breakfast at  Jen's Alpine Rest. in Baraboo the home of the Circus Museum where the Ringling Bros. got their start.  Failing to realize the 400 State Trail began there we took country roads (Terrytown, Hogsback, Ableman and Beth... this I wrote not for your benefit but Rosie's because she insisted taking these roads.. all uphill). I suggested otherwise, of course.. We picked up the 400 State Trail in Reedsburg and continued to Elroy finding no acceptable lodging continued to Wilton where we rented a three bedroom house for $80.00. Our hosts were Larry and Lori Beaver. Suggest all fellow riders heading through this area to seek out the Beavers. Nice digs.

We were on the Elroy Sparta Trail that took us through one of three tunnels the first day. See Kodak.

Day four started at Riley's Rest. for breakfast. We leisurely prepared for a short day. I cleaned and lubed the beasts. We passed through two more tunnels on our way to Sparta. We saw a lack Bear about 4 miles from Sparta. I had both rear wheels re-trued. Milt took care of us. We met a customer originally from Rochester, NY. Once again, it's a small world.  Lunch in Sparta at Rudy's was disappointing. Rosie longed for a hot dog thinking about Heids. Well it was nothing like the Syracuse Dogs. Rudy gets a 3.  Met a few Harley bikers at Rudy's. We compared bikes. When I told them I was riding a two-stroke 240 HORSE steel steed they thought it was a 260 horse. All this riding and I'm more of a horse than I thought.

We arrived in La Crosse, WI surviving another week. The trail riding has it's advantages including shade and gradual grades, but we didn't see much of WI while shrouded by tree cover most of the way.

Today we are heading for Trempealeau where we plan to meet Carol Ann, Jenna and Joshua, her niece and kids, who will be sagging us for a week or two. Rosie is already returning to Mommy Mode....

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Special Thanks

We arrived via the Express Ferry from Meskegon, MI to Milwaukee, WI to be met by Bob and Jill at the terminal. I met Bob and Jill on RAGBRAI years ago and they were gracious enough to host us for a couple days. Rosie and I thoroughly enjoyed the stay and judging from my liquor bill we had a great time.

As previously mentioned, I needed a new rear wheel. Bob took me to his local shop where John Johnson did a makeover on the stead and provided me with a bomb proof rear wheel. The Wideload should not break this wheel.

Bob had a wealth of information regarding routes across WI. and provided me with his personal maps along with a self-address envelop. I mail them as soon as I get to MN.

Yesterday we visited a famous haunt in Milwaukee called Wolski's. We didn't close it, but made an attempt to leave our mark. My bike was repaired by our second Bloody Mary so off we went to pick it up followed by a delicious dinner at a place I can't recall right now because it included Manhattans.

Today Bob and Jill accompanied us for the first 15 or so miles that took us along several trails, including the New Berlin Trail. Saved us many miles and fighting with traffic.  Part of the trail was adjacent to power lines. I waxed poetic saying "although cyclists are wired, they have little tension."

Fording a flooded trail may of cost me my computer, but it was a small price to pay for a great couple of days.  Bob and Jill, thanks again and we'll make plans to meet in Cabo next Spring.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Last Day in Michigan

The day began with a relaxed breakfast with Walt at a Big Boy in Cedar Springs, MI. We had a perfect overcast sky and a straight route to Muskegon. The first eight miles to Kent were rolling and after that we felt it was downhill with a tailwind. For long stretches we were doing 20 mph plus. We were on Route 46. It was lined with fruit orchards much of the way.

Fortyish miles later we were at the Express Ferry terminal in Muskegon where upon we had our first surprise of the day. Our one way pass to cross Lake Michigan was $210.00. The price one has to pay for fun.

Then came the second surprise. I decided to check and lube the bikes while waiting 4 hours for the ferry. That's when I discovered my rear wheel was failing. The freewheel side spokes were pulling out and the rim was cracking. For those in the know, this is a hint the wheel was never properly dished. On the other hand I've always had problems with rear wheels breaking. I like to think it has to do with the horse power generated by the Horseman, but as you might recall I started this trip with this observation: the bike, the gear and me weighed 312 lbs. The combination of a poorly built wheel, a wide load and punishing power destroyed the rim. The photos are on the Kodak site.

At the end of the day all is well. We're in Milwaukee visiting Bob and Jill, who have already plied us with good food and beverage. While Rosie improves the scent of our biking regalia, I will be seeking a new wheel at the local bike shop. Tomorrow, if all goes well, we will be riding true and smelling like a rose.

Monday, July 12, 2010


It is our last night in MI. We've had a good week starting in Marine City to Addison Park in Romeo to Durand to Carson City and now Cedar Springs. Tomorrow we'll be in Muskegon where we'll take the Express Ferry to Milwaukee, WI. We roughly rode 200 miles this week bringing us to about 660 miles for the trip. I asked Rosie for the exact mileage and she didn't have it immediately at hand. She just gave it to me and told me to let you know it was 222 miles this week.

Marine City up to Durand was for the most part through the bedroom communities of Detroit. The roads had gravel shoulders, the pavement was torn up two feet into the road and the drivers were less than considerate. Just before Durand we were in a rural area and the roads improved and so did the attitudes of the drivers.  We stayed in a Quality Inn given it was Rosie's birthday on the 10th. Couldn't find a Ritz in town.  After plying her with a bit of Jameson's, I took my Little Woman to the top burger joint in town recognized world round as Wendy's. It was that or Taco Bell.

The ride to Carson City was on relatively flat roads traveling through Corunna, Owosso, Ovid, Elsie and Bannister.  Avoided the heavily traveled roads. We met the owner of a near 200 year old house in Corunna where Ulysses Grant stayed, visited the Curwood Castle in Owosso, an author of many books including "The Bear", stroked the teat of a giant Holstein in Elsie and ended up in Carson City in a cottage for $20.00. We were faced with our first thunder storm 15 miles from Carson City taking refuge on Judy's porch who directed us to the cottage. We avoided the rain and had a bed that night.

We took back roads to Cedar Springs ended up in the Lakeview Camp Park. We met Walt, a long time resident who shuttled me to the store for beer and KFC.  Rosie loveeees KFC. It actually is one of the perfect foods for this kind of thing. I can hear the "You're kidding me." now.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Where have we been

We arrived in North Tonawanda, NY on the 3rd, spent the 4th and left on the 5th. BTW, follow this in conjunction with the Kodak pics. Robin, sisinlaw, bother John and sis Doris accompanied us on the 5th along the bike trail from NT to Buffalo to see us off across into Canada. My brother Jim, Mom and b-inlaw Scott met at the Peace Bridge. Jim ferried Rosie across due to acrophobia.  We continued through Ft. Erie to Port Colburne, not realizing there was a bike trail starting in Ft. Erie called the Friendship Trail. We got on it in Ridgeway after meeting two riders coming off the trail. The first day we lodged at Rock Point Provincial Park where you can get a $5.00 ice cream cone. Yes, this is where we're headed, thank you Demo Loons, but I digress.

Trans-America Bike Ride- Day 4 in a larger map

We left Rock Point early the next morning thinking of going to Turkey Point Park, but altering our plan en route to go to Tillsonburg. Had to get off the heavily traveled Rt. 3 and work our way through the back roads. Having GPS helped some, but Longway can be a jerk. We all have names for that woman. You know who I'm talking about?  Hoteled it and had some great KFC.


Trans America Bike Ride - Day 5 in a larger map

I spent a good part of my post ride figuring out our next route which we stuck too even when the names of the roads had been changed by the original aborigines. Ten miles of gravel lengthen our day. Can't see that on Google. We ended up in Melbourne at the Porthole Diner where we met Jean and her mother Lard Ass Lucy. Great food and Jean hooked us up with  Fred and Gayle Cahill owners of the Texas Longhorn Ranch, 15 miles away. Thank you Jean and Betty (and Happy 90th BD). We got there at 1730 to be treated the rest of the evening with a Covered Wagon digs, more evening food, beer, great conversation and help yourself breakfast the next day. We had dinner with the family including Greg, there son and two hired hands. Don't remember their names, but  I'll call them Ellie May and Ellie May. A special thanks to the Cahills. Our door is open to you at a moments notice.

Trans America Bike Ride - Day 6 in a larger map

We had a hearty breakfast thanks to Gayle and left at 0805. Our first stop was in Petrolia which is down the road from Oil City where the first oil well in N. America was drilled or should I say dug. We finally arrived at the border in Sombra, Ontario after 50 miles, had vittles at Anita's Place in Marine City, MI a ferry ride away where beer was a featured happy hour beverage. There was an antique mall across the street for Rosie t o look at... We finally put ashore at the Anchor Motel. Not too new, but clean enough. Rosie just checked the sheets and they passed the test.

Trans America Bike Ride - Day 7 in a larger map

Four Days in 100 plus degree heat

The last four days the east coast was hit by a heat wave.  We didn't realize the actual temp the first day traveling 56 miles followed by days of 74, 63 and 53. A Canadian said it was 44 C. Lots of water and whatever aid to stay hydrated. Started mixing 3 teaspoons of sugar and a 1/4 teaspoon of salt in 28 oz. bottles. Rosie describes the taste as dishwater like. Only a woman could appreciate the taste of such given their normal domestic obligations. ;) I'll continue to work on my formula.

We switched from our normal bike jerseys to a long sleeve wicking shirt, mine purchased at Walmart and Rosie's at LL Beam. Try it, you'll feel much cooler. BTW, my Walmart brand was less expensive and works just as well, just in case we have shirt snobs out there.

Time in the shade is important. We find a break every ten miles works.

Rosie made an observation the other day. She said it's better that we ride when it's cooler because tensions rise with the temperature. Yes, she gets mean. On several occasions I had to forfeit a bottle of water to check her heated attitude.

Don't fear I'm here.

We have been fortunate thus far and the crazy canines have been few and far between. The first day out a pit bull started for the street and Rosie took flight like a jaguar. I stood my ground and put myself between her and the nasty beast telling it to halt with a firm voice that would stop a Marine.  Rosie survived and showed her gratitude by kissing me about the face at our next rest stop. All I can say is, I'm thankful for electric fences.....


Seven days in the saddle and our behinds are fine. Lots of lotion to ease the friction is a must. Beforehand, I purchased a combo lotion that has all the butt soothing ingredients needed for cycling over 60 miles per day. It was a bargain at the Dollar Store. Spare no expense I say!!!  Although I've offered to assist Rosie with daily applications, she told me to talk to the hand and of course she refuses to reciprocate. Go figure.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

The first three days

Day - 1: It was a great start!

We rode from Syracuse to Sodus Point, 68 miles. Our friend Craig met us five miles out and accompanied us for the first 18 miles stopping at Bob's Tires where our neighbor Jim works, rode a section of the Erie Canal Trail, returning to the black top east of Weedsport, continued through Port Byron and worked our way to Wolcott for food and then the point.

Our route was like a flower garden. The roadside was groomed with wild flowers.

A favorite moment was when we came upon a cross road called Shortcut Rd. Rosie was drafting at the time. A minute later I realized she wasn't behind me. She had turned. What else can I say?

We ended the day with a spectacular sunset over Lake Ontario. See the Kodak pictures.

Day-2: Many Quotes

Sodus Point to Hamlin Beach State Park, anther 68 miles, but loaded. We rode along the lake most of the way, detouring once to bypass a seasonal bridge that fortuitously led us to Salvatore's Pizzeria in Rochester. Good pie!

 We spent most of the day on Lakeshore Rd. and the Ontario Parkway. Staying close to the water lowered the temp at least 10 degrees. We had planned to stay at Green Harbor Campground, a private site because State parks had a minimum two day rate. We learned from three guys riding around the Great Lakes that they had “walk-on sites”. Go figure, they were from PA.

We changed our plans and stayed at Hamlin. While setting up camp a van pulled up carrying a young family. The father introduced himself and said his kids were curious because we arrived on bikes. Their eyes were wide and their expressions were priceless when we shared our adventure.

Our first night in our itty bitty tent was eventful. Lets just say level ground in a small tent is very important. A few thoughts from the day:
1.Don't want to exercise all night long, find level ground.
2.Old people shouldn't sleep in small tents.
3.A 6'2” 240 lb. Man should not try to use a tent the size of a shoe box.
4.Yellow tents are bright in the morning. A wake up call.
5.This is why they invented 5th wheels.
6.You have to be a contortionist to work the zippers.
7.Rosie said the last time her hips hurt like this it was during childbirth.
8.Got a cramp?
9.It actually has an overall body toning affect. You wake up stiff as a board.
10.The last time I slept this long in the fetal position I was in the womb.
11.Rosie said, “Yes it was my idea, but I was thinking hotels not hard ground.
12.If it doesn't kill us, it will make us regret tenting.

View Trans America Bike Ride - Day 2 in a larger map

Day – 3

Hamlin to North Tonawanda, 69ish miles. We're at my brother's. It doesn't take long to appreciate a bed. Oh, we had ice cream today. Me a banana split and Rosie a twist. See pics. Oh, did I mention, it was a great ride until we left the lake and the temp spiked 10 degrees?

BTW, as I expected WI-FI is here and there and updating this block will not always be timely. I'll try to unload pictures to the Kodak site often.

View Trans America Bike Ride - Day 3 in a larger map

Special Thanks

A very special thanks to our friends Hanie and Rick. They provided sag service our first day with Rick arriving early in the morning to acquire our gear, take our departing photos and sending us off with a special prayer. They arrived at the campground one-half hour before us and had all the fixings for dinner and breakfast as well as libations.
We had summer squash and Argentine steaks cooked on a campfire. Not familiar with Argentine steaks? They're cooked directly on the coals. We shared many laughs and stories and I contemplated hiring them to sag us across the country. Rick's hourly rate is equal to a Wall Street lawyer. Said he'd gives us a deal, but I'd have to return to a 9 to 5 job and Rosie would have to clean houses for the rich and famous. The following morning we had blueberry pancakes, steak and eggs all cooked over the same fire pit. Rick said it was nice being away from the daily madness. So what is madness?

Thanks again guys. True friends don't hesitate to lighten your load.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Cracking the Whip

While our elected representatives pull most of us further towards central planning and crony capitalism (fascism) promising a government shepherded life with less risk where they steer and we row, Rosie and I seek the open road on our trusty steel steeds. I was up at 0446 while the Little Woman caught a few more moments of sack time knowing a comfortable mattress will be less often enjoyed in the next 60 days. I prepared the coffee. The scent nudged Rosie from her fetal position. Looking forward to one more morning on the front porch, Rosie said it was a bit too chilly. This could be a foreboding moment. I'm typing this as Rosie is preparing my last breakfast, not necessarily comparable with the Last Supper. I don't expect to be crucified any time soon, although my fate is in the hands of the Open Road God.

We've batten down the hatches and await our friends Hanie and Rick who will be providing us with sag service our first day. They've taken time out of their busy day to share with us, carrying our gear to our destination and setting up camp. Along the way our friend Graig plans to meet us on his bike and escort us to the outskirts of Syracuse. Jeff and Karen visited us last night to send us off with a few laughs and good lucks. Jeff considered riding with us the first day, but like everybody else he has to work. Oh yeah, that's why we can do this ride. All of Rosie's girlfriends have voiced their concern for her health and safety and have charged me with ensuring both even though this was not my idea. My friends for the most part have remained silent and suspiciously envious I'm sure.
Well, I should make haste because Rosie is doing the dishes and just asked me if I've finished eating. There are many ways to crack a whip.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Trepidation and Just Like Dancing

On Friday June 25 we gathered our gear and packed it into our panniers to do a dry run. Rosie said she had 39 lbs. without reading material. I had 43 lbs. I can’t divulge her total weight, but mine was approximately 312 lbs. including gear, bike and body.

For several weeks I’ve suggested we do a dry run for all the obvious reasons. Rosie insisted she needed no such thing and threaten me with her shoe if I didn’t back off. I continued to coax, she calls it nagging, hoping she’d have a change of heart to avoid surprises on the ride. Her mood was more trepidatious than rebellious.

We left the house intending to ride twenty miles as a dry run, but eventually did thirty-five, which will be about half the distance of our first day. Our first stop was only a block from the house when I had to readjust my newly installed cyclometer. Five miles into the ride Rosie commented the bike seemed more comfortable/stable loaded compared to unloaded. I mirrored those sentiments. I noticed abrasions on equipment secured with bungees. This is a constant that has to be monitored to avoid other problems.

Surprisingly, our pace was comfortable. At times cruising at 18 mph or better and obviously slowing on the long hills. The bikes tracked well and seemed nimble. As we entered the final quarter of the ride Rosie said it was “just like dancing”. I lead and she follows as she holds her line and drafts inches from my rear wheel. It is not only in body, but in mind as I thought about stopping at Clark’s Ale House for a beer and a roast beef sandwich Rosie said, “Let’s stop at Clark’s”. I responded “It’s just like dancing.”