Thursday, December 3, 2009

Epilogue: 091203, Oakland, CA

Hi all!

My apologies for the delay in getting the final blog entries, and now this trip summary to you. Whenever I have extra time on my hands, I have a tendency to get distracted, and futz around (procrastinate). On the road, I was much more efficient, hardworking and focused toward updating the blog, because I had very limited time; funny how that works. Anywho, here’s the sum-up of the experience: It was great. Thankyouverymuch! What’s that? Oh, all right.

Overall, it was a wonderful experience, and an accomplishment I can be proud of, as it was something I actually did, myself. But, it was a LOT of work, discomfort, and pain – sometimes straining my physical self to the point of crying out with the effort (Yarghh!) Before beginning, I knew conceptually that, yes, it would be hard, that there would be times when I would be physically miserable, that I could be maimed for life, or even killed. But to see the wonders of this country that I have always wondered about, to have the adventure of a lifetime, and to see for myself, what I might be able to accomplish – those were the rewards which enabled me to start and to keep going – that, plus the promise of the industrial grade bragging rights. I learned a few important concepts while on my journey – nothing really new that I didn’t already know conceptually, but were made much more real and useable to me:

1. I could accomplish something huge, given enough time, persistence and patience.

2. The pain I endured to make progress was indeed nasty, but once it was over, it was over, and the gains I made in progress, experience, and knowledge made all that pain and effort, worth it.

3. It was good to know, ahead of time, the obstacles coming up, be they tall mountains, bad weather, rough roads, etc., so I could prepare for them, mentally and/or physically, or plan ways to avoid them. Oftentimes, though, when all the preparations that could be done were done, or if there was no other way to avoid the problem, I had to say, “I can’t let that stop me,” and just plow through, keeping Point #2, above, in mind. Sometimes, I *would* get stopped, and was forced to make less palatable choices, but there was always a way to move forward, even if it meant going backwards, or enduring more pain.

4. There are a lot more good people in the world, than there are bad. And some people are *really* good. Inviting me to stay with them, giving me money just because they admired my efforts so much they wanted to take part in supporting me, taking me across non-cycleable bridges or impassable construction zones in their trucks – just a lot of help and support from total strangers – it was amazing. The worst people I met on this trip (besides Mr. Pecs, who was over the top) were usually young males in trucks or muscle cars who would bark like dogs to try to scare me as they passed. I don’t startle easily, and I oftentimes had my earplugs in, anyways, so not once did I give them the satisfaction of reacting to their alpha ape-howls. It must be a combination of adolescent poor self-esteem and having too much power without a constructive outlet that almost forces them to behave in this manner. Hopefully, they’ll mature.

And, here are some observations I made while I was out there:

DRIVERS: Ninety-seven point five percent of the drivers whom I encountered treated me with respect and care – taking great pains to be sure they did not disturb me as they passed – oftentimes putting themselves at risk from head-on collisions to give me plenty of room. The great majority of drivers actually gave me more room than I wanted or needed. Being on a tricycle (three wheels), I was not nearly as subject to the dangerous cycle-sucking vacuum generated by passing vehicles, so didn’t need quite so much ‘special treatment.’ In fact, I became a bit annoyed by the ‘antics’ of some drivers who would move an entire lane away from me, even though I was on a more than sufficient shoulder. I began to call this the ‘Galahad Syndrome,’ where it seemed the drivers were more intent on trying to prove how nice they were, rather than merely passing me safely. I’m fine with granting a driver the opportunity to prove their own wonderfulness, corny though it may be, but some of them would do it even if there was oncoming traffic! And, (I’m assuming) to prove their coolness, many of them would drive ‘nonchalantly,’ and not rush back into their own lane, but would casually do so, causing near misses and high levels of consternation. People.

ROADS: The quality of roads varied greatly, especially from state to state, and even from county to county. The best, most consistent roads were in Florida, but they’re practically flat as a pancake, so it’s a lot easier and cheaper for them. The worst, I’d have to say, were Georgia (a consistent lack of shoulders), and Maine (not only no shoulders, but some of the roads themselves were literally falling apart). Most of the rest of the states averaged out as having mostly decent roads. Oregon’s coastal cycling route was second to none. New York State also had some really nice roads. Nobody was perfect, though. When roadways became too narrow, the great majority of drivers behaved very well. There were a very few minor exceptions – a shout here, a shook fist there – I think someone tried to spit on me once, but missed. Nobody ever threw anything at me, which was a miracle. Oh, I take it back: when I was in French Quarter of New Orleans, someone tossed a shiny bead necklace on me from a balcony above, which I took, but eventually left on a post by the side of the road.

CAMPS: Stealth camps can be found just about anywhere, though their acceptability depends a lot on what you’re willing to tolerate with regard to noise, cleanliness, safety, and critters. I would never pick a site I thought might be in a bad neighborhood. I tried to pick spots that had gravel, or grass, or (my favorite) that were cleanly paved. Whenever possible, I avoided dirt, unless it was clean and dry. If it wasn’t too cold, had no chance of raining, and there were trees or poles available, I would use my hammock.

TENT: A bivy sack must have a dependable wire frame to keep its mosquito netting off of you – otherwise, the mosquitoes will bite you through the netting. Also, a bivy sack is only good if the weather is some degree of cool or cold. If it’s hot and humid, they’re *very* uncomfortable. I found my quarter dome tent worked much better than my bivy sack in all conditions. It did a better job of handling wind and rain, and allowed enough space to be more comfortable, to doff and don clothing, and to eat, drink and read. So, while a bivy is lightweight and compact, a small one-man tent packs nearly as small, and is much more useable.

COOKWARE: I didn’t really need my camping cookware. On a less tightly scheduled tour, it would have been fine, and early on in my trip, I did use it. After getting further along on my route, I realized I couldn’t take the time to cook, and so ate exclusively from restaurants and mini marts.

FOOD: At first, I cooked for some meals, but I stopped doing it fairly early on as the weather became warmer. I found I didn’t want hot food when the weather got hot. Also, I didn’t have a lot of extra space, so couldn’t carry bread, jars of peanut butter, potatoes, lettuce, etc. I found I could have a more balanced diet by just going to restaurants for a burger and fries (admittedly not the healthiest of fares), but practically everywhere I went that had a population base of greater than 2000, I could almost always find a Subway sandwich shop, and would get a sandwich with ‘all the veggies,’ which was quite healthy. Mini marts supplied me with mostly empty calories (meat and cheese sticks, sodas, candy bars, hot cocoa, pastries, etc.), but some of the stuff was good, like trailmix, fruit drinks, or apples and bananas. I initially kept a lot of those expensive power bars on me in case of (food) emergencies, but that never happened. By the time I figured out that I didn’t really need them, 2/3rds of the trip was already over, so I ate up my surplus, and only kept one or two on hand from then on.

DOGS: I had nearly a dozen dog incidents. Most of them were of the ‘bark ‘n chase’ variety, with a couple more that were annoyingly friendly (couldn’t get rid of ‘em). The ‘bark ‘n chasers’ varied from single dogs, to small packs of dogs; some were quite ferocious sounding. I successfully handled all of them the same way: I’d first slow down and stop, not looking at them, but just calmly looking straight ahead. Some of them would run away once I stopped; others might stop several feet away, and then start looking around as though they’d lost sight of me. Some would bark and growl quite ferociously, but whether they did or didn’t, I would do the same thing: slow down, stop, sit calmly, and make no eye contact. After a short wait, I’d start up slowly, again. It was rare, but if they started to chase me more, I’d stop again. After one or two stops, they’d get the idea that I was not prey, and let me go on my way. Dogs were not a problem.

Here are some of the statistical summaries:

--Total distance pedaled: 12,614 miles
--Total Hours in the Saddle: 1,374.25 (approx 57.25 days)
--Total altitude gained: 438,000’+ about 15 Mt. Everests from sea level to peak! (There were a bunch of times when I forgot to reset my altimeter watch, and so lost the ‘altitude gain’ for the day; maybe I'll figure it out more precisely for the book)
--Trip Expenses: ~$7,600 This covered everything - food, equipment purchases, tolls, ferry rides, etc.
--Initial Equipment Expenses: $4,744
--Grand Total: $12,344
--Number of hosts (31) (relatives in italic):
Auntie Elsie, Los Angeles, CA
John & Janet G, Las Vegas, NV

Paul R, Lake Mead, NV
Angel Lucy, Hurricane, UT
Chris & Spencer, Alpine, AZ
Trey, Sonora, TX
Walt T, Austin, TX
Stewart D, Houston, TX
Becky & John W, Lafayette, LA
Ray & Emily, New Orleans, LA
Billy, Moss Point, LA
Cho, Pensacola, FL
Stan, Clearwater, FL
Cynthia (hotel room!), Miami, FL
Art & Luigi, Miami, FL
Lynne D, Jupiter, FL
Kim D, Cape Canaveral, FL
Clint S, Ruckersville, VA
Steve & Karen M, Silver Spring, MD
Julie & Mike G, Atlantic Highlands, NJCarol M, Boston, MA
Tony & Marjorie, Brunswick, ME
Scott & Katie G, Rochester, NYWanda & Terry, Hurdsfield, ND
Ron & Joyce G, Bismarck, ND
Scott & Rachel H, Rexburg, ID
Bob & Leslie M, Boise, ID
Leo & Linda L, Payette, ID
Joe & Joanna S, Seattle WAPaula & Dennis B, Sequim, WA
Pat & Pete H, Arcata, CA
--Number of flat tires: 16
--Number of tire sets: 4
--Number of centuries: 6

--States/Provinces visited (in sequence)*: CA, NV, AZ, UT, NM, TX, LA, MS, AL, FL, GA, NC, VA, MD, PA, NJ, NY, CT, RI, MA, NH, ME, NH, VT, NY, ONT, MI, WI, MN, MAN, MN, MAN, MN, ND, MT, WY, ID, OR, WA, OR, CA

*Totals: 32 US states, 2 Canadian provinces – states/provinces entered into more than once not counted in the total.

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
(If you have a question, email it to me, and I’ll add it to this section:

1. Why did you do it?
I’ve always been curious to see the different parts of the country I’d never been to before, and wanted to see the various regions intimately, yet still be on a very restricted budget. I knew I couldn’t experience the peoples and lands as closely as I would like while in any kind of motorized transport, and I’ve always enjoyed cycling as a mode of transportation my entire life. When I got laid off from my job with the University of California, I had money saved up, and now had all the time I needed to do it. So, I decided to take this golden once-in-a-lifetime opportunity (while I was still young and strong enough to at least try), and went with it. I knew a lot of people cycled across the US one-way, but I wanted to attempt something a bit tougher, so I came up with the “around the US” route. To help define the task further, I added the goals of “hitting the extreme compass points of the contiguous 48 states,” and of seeing fireflies for the first time in my life.

2. How fast/far would you go?
On flat terrain with no wind, I would average from 10-12mph; my fastest speed was 45 mph going down a very steep, long road after finishing the Blue Ridge Parkway. My average distance would vary with the terrain, but generally speaking I would average 40-60 miles in mountainous terrain, 60-80 miles in semi-hilly terrain, and 70-100 miles in flat terrain. Most of my handful of 100 milers (6 of them) were achieved on mostly flat terrain, in the middle of summer when the days were long, although my record furthest day (118.73 miles) occurred mid-October – I cheated by riding both day and night, a total of 22 hours and 28 minutes. As an attestation to a combination of my physical conditioning and the comfort of the trike, I then stayed up an hour longer with ease to chat with my old friend.

3. What would you eat?
On typical mornings, I would eat mini mart choco milk or hot cocoa with a packaged pastry or two; usually a berry or cheese Danish and/or a muffin. When I was in Dunkin Donuts territory, I would often get a bagel w/cream cheese, sometimes with an additional donut, and hot cocoa. For the main meal of the day, I would usually get a footlong Subway sandwich with drink and chips (a ‘meal deal’), eat half of it, and save the other half for the next day’s lunch. Sometimes, I would get a Burger King hamburger with fries and soda. For ‘dinner,’ I would often just get a bag of Fritos curly or chili chips and a soda, which I would eat while reading whatever book I had at the time. Sometimes, if I didn’t get ‘dinner,’ I’d just munch on trailmix and drink Gatorade. I also would get bananas and apples, which some mini marts carried. For snacks, I would get meat and cheese sticks, Pay Day candy bars, M&Ms Peanut candy, and Nature Valley breakfast bars. Sometimes, these would temporarily replace more regular meals, if a mini mart or restaurant wasn’t readily accessible. I drank almost no water, preferring instead either Gatorade, sodas, or fruit drinks. Not too often, but sometimes I would eat at regular, sit-down restaurants such as Denny’s or mom ‘n pop places. I would always look to see if the restaurant had wi-fi and/or electrical outlets near the tables. One of the justifications for going to a sit down restaurant was: I could check the weather, review my route, or charge my electronics while at the same time eating – thus saving time.

4. What was the best/worst place you’d been?’
That’s an impossible question to answer. Each of the best/worst places had their own unique characteristics that may have been affected by many different factors present, both internally and externally. So, for example, if I was physically straining to climb over a beautiful mountain pass in Arizona, or if I was on an endorphin high while traversing the vast suburbs around New York City, my perception of these places would be quite a bit different than what might otherwise be expected. There were amazingly gorgeous views along the Pacific Coast, but there was also great beauty and a sense of mystery and history in the old buildings of New Orleans; both very different places, but impossible (for me) to say whether one was ‘better’ than the other. I can give a list of highlights, though:
-- Pacific Coast – gorgeous views
-- Los Angeles – familiar stomping grounds; visited with my Auntie Elsie; saw sci-fi movie The Watchmen at the theater
-- Death Valley – unusual geological formations and grand vistas
-- Las Vegas – over-the-top casinos; unbelievable what gambling money can create; great food
-- Zion National Park – incredible views from astounding heights
-- Carlsbad Caverns – vast, underground caverns with amazing formations and ‘bottomless’ pits
-- Deserts of the southwest – starkly beautiful, with star-studded night skies
-- Survived a heavy west Texas desert thunderstorm while on Interstate 10
-- Austin, TX – a river through town that has tons of big turtles; Texas state capital
-- Southern states – fireflies!
-- New Orleans – most haunted city in the US; has a definite spooky aura to it, which makes all the parties and celebrations seem like a gay cover, a thin veneer, to hide something not nice, beneath. I liked it(!); took the Haunted History tour; also took the Cajun Encounters alligator tour; also visited the New Orleans aquarium
-- Didn’t see that much of Mississippi or Alabama; nothing much stood out; the weather was often nasty, too
-- Verbally accosted by a cartoonish bully who was apparently a law enforcement official in Cross City, Dixie County, Florida
-- Florida swamps with alligators; snorkeling in the Florida Keys; first extreme compass point (southernmost); the Kennedy Space Center
-- Georgia kind of stunk; beautiful region with lots of trees, but ultra hot and humid; shoulderless roads
-- North Carolina – start of the Blue Ridge Parkway – very beautiful but torturously hilly for 464 miles; at least the higher altitudes made it somewhat cooler; witnessed a truly mysterious phenomenon
-- Virginia – still on the BRP, still beautiful, still torturous
-- Washington DC with impressively dignified buildings
-- Philadelphia, PA – more impressive historical buildings
-- Visiting my little sister and her family in New Jersey; saw Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince at the theater
-- Visited the Museum of Science in Boston
-- Reached the second extreme compass point at Quoddy Head, ME (eastmost)
-- Survived more very hilly (but very pretty) terrain in New Hampshire, Vermont, and New York State
-- Visited with my nephew, Scott and his fiancée Katie in Rochester, NY
-- Entered Ontario Canada through Niagara Falls; first time ever seen the falls, and first time ever been to Ontario
-- Re-entered US at Sault Saint Marie and passed west though Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota – never been to any of those states before
-- Went to the third extreme compass point at the Northwest Angle in Minnesota (northmost) via Manitoba, Canada
-- Experienced the vast crop fields of North Dakota
-- Went through the beautiful desert plains of Wyoming
-- Visited Yellowstone National Park for the first time and saw Old Faithful
-- Saw the eerie, volcanic landscape of Craters of the Moon National Monument
-- Survived the sub-freezing temperatures of eastern Washington State
-- Visited with my old grade school friend Joe and his wife, Joanna in Seattle, WA
-- Made it to the last extreme compass point (westmost) at Cape Flattery on the Olympic Peninsula of Washington State
-- Saw the incredible redwood forests of the Oregon Pacific coastline
-- Visited with my cousin Pat and her husband and son Pete and Parker in Arcata, CA
-- Made it all the way back to the South Tower of the Golden Gate Bridge in two weeks less than I thought the trip would take

5. Trice QNT by ICE (Inspired Cycle Engineering)
-- Why the trike?
>>I’m getting old, and my wrists are prone to the nerve pinch of having my upper-body weight resting on them, as what happens when I ride a bicycle. This causes my hands to go numb after about 10 miles, so doing thousands of miles was out of the question.

-- Why the Trice QNT in particular?
>>The ‘NT’ stands for ‘narrow track.’ I picked it, because I wanted to fit on the side of the road, better, and to be able to fit through narrow openings (doorways, gates, traffic barriers, etc.) and indeed, it made a difference in many situations.

-- How much weight did you carry?
>>I weighed ~135 lbs, the trike weighs ~40 lbs, and my gear + food and water weighed ~80-90 lbs, bringing the total to ~250 lbs. Oofta!

-- Trike Advantages/Disadvantages:
>>Very comfortable. I could ride it pretty much as long as I wanted (once up to 22 hours) without putting stress on my spine, but

>>I couldn’t use gravity to help push the pedals down, but I could push my back against the seat to provide extra leverage when going up hills. The stress to my knee joints could become painful, though.

>>Going up tough hills, I could go as slowly as I wanted without having to balance, and I could stop at any time to rest – then easily start up again.

>>You would think that being so low, cars would have a hard time seeing me, but not once during this entire trip was that a problem. Being a bit unusual, I actually drew a bit of extra attention from drivers, who would mostly pass me with a wide berth.

>>My ‘wind profile’ was less than a bike’s, so I was less affected by headwinds, and so could go downhill faster than a regular touring bike. Also, having such a low center of gravity helped keep me stable at high speeds.

>>Having three wheels made dodging road debris more challenging. Also, on sharp, fast, curves, I had to brake more than a regular bike might, losing precious momentum.

>>I found that I didn’t need to worry quite as much about having my trike stolen, because a) it had clipless pedals, so anyone wanting to move it would have a tough time; b) it was an unusual item, so it would get noticed wherever it went; c) it was too heavy and unwieldly for one person to lift; and d) it had weird controls for steering, changing gears, and braking.

>>Being in a reclined position, the Sun would shine into my eyes in the morning or evening, depending on which direction I was going (east or west). I had to invent a Sun blocking attachment to my helmet to protect my eyes.

>>Also, being in a reclined position, a regular zippered rain jacket would pool water on my stomach, and then drain through the zipper into my clothes, underneath (eek!) Near the end of the trip I found a lightweight kayaking pullover jacket with no zipper and sealable neck and cuffs. This kept me drier, but I didn’t get a chance to fully test it.

-- How well did the trike hold up?
>>Not one broken spoke, probably because the wheels are 20”, so the spokes are shorter and therefore harder to break.

>>Had to replace the chain and rear gear cluster/cassette after nearly 8000 miles (probably needed to do it earlier).

>>The gear changing mechanism (deraillure) went a bit funky after a near accident in New Mexico, and I had some slight trouble adjusting it, but got it to be pretty good. That lasted a long time, but eventually got worse again. By the time I got to Maine, it got really bad; hardly any of the middle gears would shift properly. I didn’t know how to fix it, so I just lived with it until I got it to a trike mechanic in New York State. Even after that, it wasn’t quite right, but it was good enough to see me all the way home.

>>Each set of Schwalbe Big Apple tires lasted an average of about 3000 miles; I went through three sets, and ended on a fourth. I eventually figured out that I could have stretched the distance-per-set to 4000 miles.

>>Speaking of the Schwalbe tires: they were a bitch to correctly mount. Without soapy water as a lubricant, the tire bead would almost always get pinched, causing a hump on the tire, which could be felt with every revolution. There seemed to be only one way to fix it: by having soapy water, and by overinflating the tire with an air compressor (as found at most gas stations) to push the pinched tire bead out, and then deflate the tire to the desired pressure.

>>For roughly the first half of the trip, I regularly got flat tires. Then I figured out a pretty bulletproof combination of products to keep flats from happening at all. First, your tires can’t be too worn down; then, install tire liners (such as Mr. Tuffy or Stop Flats – flat, flexible strips of dense plastic that go inside the tire, between the tire and innertube); and finally, self-sealing innertubes that have goop inside them which automatically plug up small punctures.

>>I accidentally bent the left-side steering tie-rod slightly, which caused the two front tires to go out of alignment (toe-in). This caused the front tires to wear faster than normal. A simple adjustment fixed that.

>>For roughly the last 3000 miles or so, the trike developed a squeak that I couldn’t locate. It would only occur when I rode over rough or bumpy surfaces, and it happened whether it was loaded with touring gear, or not.

Again, if you have any other questions, please email me, and I’ll add them to the FAQ – how nice! (

Items I ended up with:

Starboard Rear Pannier:
(top to bottom, left to right)
1- pair of regular pants
1- regular long-sleeve shirt
2- long-sleeve lightweight wool shirts
1-mid-weight long-sleeve wool shirt
1- neckerchief/face mask

1- pair swim trunks
5- pairs underwear
1- handtowel
4- pairs wool short socks
1- thin mini-towel (never used)
1- spare reflector triangle
1- reflective cycling vest

1- 100' length of nylon cord (never used)
1- MSR Firefly camp stove w/instructions, cleaning kit, and aluminum shields
1- spare innertube
2- pairs of cycling pants
10- pairs of chemical heat pads
1- camp pot and pan
2- bottles of camp soap, w/cleaning pad, lighter, handle, and vegetable steamer
1- AA battery 2-hour recharger w/power supply
1- pair of binoculars
1- 3-way electrical plug
4- aluminium tent stakes

Port Rear Pannier:(top to bottom, left to right)
4- pairs of gloves (med-warm, warm, lightweight, extra warm)
1- bottle campstove fuel
1- headlamp
1- water-resistant jacket
1- United States passport*
1- small backpack"
1- bag of toilet items: fragrance-free shampoo, Bactine ointment, Neosporin ointment, SPF 30 KINeSYS fragrance-free spray-on sunblock, Afrin nasal spray decongestant, Shoe Goo, lip balm, nasal inhaler
1- pipe whistle
3- mini-markers (red/green/blue)
1- safety razor
1- packet of Bandaids
5- spare 20" spokes
1- bottle of Avon Skin So Soft
1- camera to TV connector
1- Garmin Foretrex 101 GPS unit
1- book (for reading at night or during downtimes)
1- HP Mini notebook computer w/protective sleeve and power supply
1- mini roll of duct tape
1- helmet cam video recording unit including recorder, camera, and camera cable
1- digital still camera battery recharging unit and cord
1- bag w/spare batteries for phone and digital camera
1- connector cord for CC Witness radio
1- AC adapter recharge unit for Bluetooth cell phone headset
1- spare set of earphones"
1- USB 4GB flash card
2- 2GB SD cards for digital still camera and helmet cam recorder
1- bag to hold small electronics
(not shown) 1-AC adapter recharge unit for cell phone
1- pair waterproof pants
*I actually kept this in the food compartment of the top-rear rack pack
Port 'Banana' Pannier:
(top to bottom, left to right)
1-lightweight felt jacket
1-6' inflatable mattress pad
1-set of tent poles
1-heavy-duty plastic mat/rain guard for top rack-pack
1-roll of spare trash bags
1-REI quarter-dome one-man tent w/fly
3-hammock set-up ropes
1-Moskito Hammock
1-bag of aluminium tent stakes and parts
Starboard 'Banana' Pannier:(top to bottom, left to right)
1- REI synthetic fill sleeping bag
1- Collapsible folding mosquito headnet
1- knit cap
1- 6'x5' ground tarp
4- spare ropes
1- garbage bag to keep sleeping bag drier
Rear Rack Pack (w/two fold-out panniers):
Topmost compartment:
(left to right, top to bottom)
1- spare large wire tie for undercarriage chain guards
1- plastic bag for spare cycle shoe cleats, spare master links, screws, etc.
1- hand operated air pump
1- 4 oz bottle of chain lube
1- 2 oz bottle of teflon lubricant
1- Topeak Mini 18 Multi-Tool
3- tire levers
1- small crescent wrench
2- cycle shoe plain-sole inserts
1- Planet Bike Superflash rear bike light
1- mini pepper spray
1- 3-color LED flashlight
1- CO2 tire inflator
6- CO2 cartridges
1- tire inflation guage
1- roll of fluorescent tape (for making flags)
1- spare earplug, metric screw, and odd bits
1- bag of spare rubber gloves, more earplugs, and innertube segments (for emergency brakes)
3- boxes of Super Patch, innertube repair patches
1- bag of spare iPod covers, napkins, and odd bits
1- spare lighter
1- 4GB USB flash drive (2nd one)
2- spare velcro straps
1- pen, lip balm, campstove lubricant, mini LED light, and 3 spare strings
Food compartment (mostly):
1- plastic rain cap for helmet
1- combination cable lock (sat on top of rack pack)
1- spare Stop Flat tire liner
1- butane gas canister (for lighter)
1- spare bungee cord
1- shoe horn
1- Andean wind flute
1- set-fork/spoon/knife
1- metal mini tripod
1- pair chemical glow sticks
1- Joby tripod
1- mini sewing kit in a tube
1- hacky sack
4- Gatorade powder packs (make 1 qt each)
2- Power Bars
4- Gatorade powder packs (make 1 pt each)
2- Meat 'n Cheese stick packs
3- Nature Valley breakfast bars
1- Pack of M&Ms Peanut
1- Pay Day candy bar
1- quart bottle of trail mix (approx 1/3 full)
1- electric toothbrush + dental floss
1- stick of Glide Anti-Chafe creme
1- electric razor
1- scrubby pad (another)
1- handtowel (aka "croth" - "crotch cloth")
4- battery holders, two of which have 4 AA rechargeable batteries in them
1- 120GB external hard drive
2- Subway sandwich bags (used as waterproof sock protectors)

The yellow jacket underneath (Kokatat) was stowed in a fold-out side-pannier of the rack pack, as were the electric shaver, anti-chafe stick, plastic shower cap, bungee cord, and trailmix bottle. The shoehorn, battery packs, and external hard drive shared space in a small, flat pocket at the rear of the rack pack.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Trip Summary is coming!

Hi all: Thanks for hanging out with me -it's been a blast! I'm working on the summary, now, and will post it within a few more days. After that, I'll really be done (holy shmoly!) If you have any questions, please do let me know, and I will answer them in the trip FAQ.

Until we meet again, happy trails, and may the stars shine down upon you!

Cheerios! (crunch, crunch)
Day Two Hundred Fifty-nine, Date Saturday, November 14, 2009
Time in Saddle: 3:38
Distance for the Day: 27.86 miles From Stinson Bch To San Francisco, CA
Accumulated Trip Distance: 12,613 miles
Altitudes: Starting/Ending 32’/22’, Highest: 207’ Accumulated: 806’
Speeds: Avg: 7.6 mph, Max: 30.1 mph
Weather: 40°
Expenditures: $13

I woke up all through the night every now and then, but would go right back to sleep, again (as usual). Once, at 4:15am, I poked my head out to check the weather and to see the beautiful stars. Orion was now leaning down, heading toward the western horizon; Mars was in Cancer, Sirius sparkled like “a diamond in the sky.” At 6am, I woke up for real, and got up to see a thin crescent Moon while I broke down my gear as the dawn brightened. Venus just popped its head up over the hills, and Sirius was still visible, though no other constellations were. There was quite a lot of moisture on the inside and outside of my tent fly, but I ignored it, as I knew I’d have plenty of time later, to dry out all my stuff. There was a pretty heavy stream of clouds coming out of the Golden Gate, beyond the town of Stinson to the south. I hoped they wouldn’t be sitting on any of the hills I planned to ascend. I didn’t see it last night, but at the further end of the lot, there was a small sign that said ‘no camping.’ Well, I don’t consider what I do really camping per se; I call it ‘overnighting,’ as I don’t light a fire, or cook food, or lounge around enjoying the scenery (much). I just set up my tent, hop inside, and after a while, go to sleep. Then in the morning, I get up before sunrise, break down, and am out of there without bothering anyone, and usually, without anyone even knowing I was there. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it. I’m sure by now, you’re quite familiar with my modus operandi, but I might not have ever explained how I justify my actions, which are admittedly not necessarily aligned to the letter of the law, but are so harmless, it’s hard to imagine anyone being even more than mildly irritated. Except, of course, for Mr. Pecs (Day Eighty-seven).

I made it into the town of Stinson Beach, proper, at 7:20am. I passed the familiar businesses along the way, noticed they had a new library I’d never seen before (I’m very familiar with this town, as I fly my hang glider from nearby Mt. Tamalpais, and land on the beach, here.) I stopped in at the mini mart, but they wouldn’t open until 8am, so I just pushed on.

After climbing up from Stinson along Hwy 1 on the ocean-facing mountains of the Marin headlands, it being Saturday morning, I called my Auntie M at 7:55am and chatted with her while looking out over spectacular ocean views. She was very excited that I would finish my excursion, and would be coming home. I could see the land across the waters of the Golden Gate, and could see the Farallon Islands away off in the ocean to the west. I continued to slowly work my way up this mountain, and quickly enough took off my jacket because as cold as it was, I was starting to sweat. I topped the mountain at 8:50am, and had a nice coasting ride all the way down into Marin City, where I stopped for breakfast at the Shorline Coffee Shop. I ordered eggs, toast, hot cocoa and hash browns ($13), and ate from about 9:15am to 10am. From there, I went into Sausalito to look for the route into the Ft. Baker Military Reservation that Street Atlas said was there, but for the last time, it tried to take me straight up a super-steep hill. On consulting with a local, I found out the route I wanted to find was a road that literally turned into a set of stairs. Hokay. I gave up on that route, and just took the road/bicycle route out of Sausalito towards the Golden Gate Bridge. It was getting pretty late in the morning – almost noon, by now. I had posted in my blog that I expected to finish some time between 1pm and 3pm, and I thought I’d better not try to get into the military reservation, or I’d be late. Along the way, though, I re-discovered the tunnel road that led into the military reservation (I’d been on it before, but coming from the other direction), and decided I could still make it without being too late. So, I rode the easy path that included a cycle lane, through the tunnel and into the military reservation. From there, I was able to find the road that would take me up and over the small mountain to the south Marin headlands, which has these amazing views of the GG Bridge and San Francisco. The grade was moderately steep, and shorter than I remembered, so I reached the top a lot quicker than I thought. I stopped to take some pictures and set up my helmet cam, and then continued down the steep road to the cyclist entry of the Golden Gate Bridge. I thought I might have to navigate some stairs getting onto the sidewalk that I would ride across, but either they changed it to make it easier, or I just forgot how easy it was, but all I had to do was ride through a large parking lot filled with cars and other cyclists (getting a lot of smiles as I whizzed past), and then zipped up and onto the bridge’s pedestrian and cycle path. I crossed the mid-span of the GG Bridge at 12:50pm, took some pictures, and headed down into Ft. Point to greet my family and friends.
After reaching the south end of the bridge, I proceeded to the road that took me down to Ft. Point, right at water level, and was heading toward my original Start Point 8 months, 14 days ago, when my old boss, Bill T, called my name. Hi Bill! We chatted as we continued the few dozen more yards to the Start Point in front of the fort, and when we got there, I looked around, and no one else that I knew was there. Hey! Where were my adoring fans? Nobody. Well that was a bit of an anti-climax. Eventually, family and friends did start to show up. Nobody thought I would be on time, so no one except Bill showed up on time. I had no idea I had such a reputation, but, as was pointed out to me later: in my earlier blogs, I described on several different occasions how I would misestimate arrival times, so that’s why everyone thought I would be late, this time. Demitol. Here’s who eventually did show up: my former boss, Bill T of the University of California; fellow amateur astronomy friends and co-volunteers, Debbie D and Rod S; former co-worker Steve O and his girlfriend Vicky; my sister Bev and her husband Hector; my hang gliding buddy Dave G; and my brother Rich and his wife, Dian (who had to come the furthest – from south San Jose!) After all the celebratory congratulations, hugs, handshakes and fielding a gazillion questions about the trip, folks started to leave, so at around 2:30pm, we loaded my trike into my brother’s truck, and then left Ft. Point at 3pm, heading over the Bay Bridge to Oakland, and home. Once there, we unloaded stored my trike in the garage, and then went over to pick up my uncle to go out for a celebration dinner at a fancy restaurant (Skates), in the Berkeley marina. After *that*, we all said ‘goodnight,’ and went back to our various homes. I got to sleep in my own bed, again: quiet, warm, dry, with all the familiar LEDs silently and gently blinking me to sleep. Well, I’m back.

Day Two Hundred Fifty-eight, 091113 - Stinson Beach, CA

Day Two Hundred Fifty-eight, Date Friday, November 13, 2009
Time in Saddle: 6:47
Distance for the Day: 63.71 miles From Jenner To Stinson Beach, CA
Accumulated Trip Distance: 12,585 miles
Altitudes: Starting/Ending 92’/32’, Highest: 223’ Accumulated: 1387’
Speeds: Avg: 9.3 mph, Max: 41.6 mph
Weather: 43° clear and cool, warming to the mid-60s
Expenditures: $30

I woke and got up at 6:15am to a perfectly clear sky, with a bit of breeze out of the north. The light of day was enough that I couldn’t see the stars, but the crescent Moon stood out in the pale blue in sharp relief. Someone from the fort was walking outside the walls, coming up from the ocean headlands, and probably noticed me, but I was halfway done breaking down, and they were several hundred yards away, so I didn’t worry much about it. I rolled out at 6:55am with the light of day continuing to brighten; a beautiful, peaceful day on the Pacific. Last night, I heard a dozen or more coyotes across the highway and up in the hills go into an extended chorus, cows mooing in the field (also across the road), and a couple of hoot owls this morning. Sure is a noisy neighborhood, around here. Early on along the way, I saw a vulture soar cross the crescent Moon, forming a kind of mystic ‘x’ in the sky. When I got to the town of Jenner, I stopped from 8:50am to 9:04am for a mini mart breakfast of hot cocoa, muffin and Danish + food items ($10). I continued down the coast, stopping now and then to take pictures. Passing through Bodega Bay, I made certain the birds weren’t acting strangely (see Alfred Hitchcock’s movie, The Birds). I stopped at an internet café in Tomales for lunch at 12:40am, where I got a hot pastrami sandwich and soda ($11), and posted the ETA to the blogsite, as promised. I continued on at 2:04pm; the sky was still mostly clear, but now had a thin, high layer of cirrus clouds that filtered the Sun a bit. I had now entered the first, somewhat familiar terrain I’d seen since leaving Seattle, having been this far north along the coast once before, long ago, and stopped in Pt. Reyes from 3:45pm – 4:05pm to get ice cream ($3) at the grocery store. (Actually, I *did* visit the coast near Mendocino once, on an outing from my former boss’ Joe A’s home in Comptche – he would invite his staff there every now and then just for the fun of it. I didn’t recognize the area, though.) Back in Pt. Reyes, I also visited the used book store to trade in my old book (Mutation), and got another thin book: Six Arguments for Atheism ($6) – ought to be interesting.

It was still a good 17 miles to Stinson Beach, and with less than an hour before sunset, I knew I’d probably be riding in the dark to make it there, but I resolved to do it, no matter what, and I did pretty good – by the time I did get to just before Stinson, the sun had already set, but it was twilight, and still light enough for me to see the road and surrounding land fairly well. I found a semi-large lot off the side of the road at about 5:20pm, with a couple of piles of debris, one of which I could hide behind enough to go unnoticed by the drivers passing by (N37 55.856’ W122 41.340’). I parked behind the bigger pile, and waited for it to get darker. Once it did, I set up my tent, cloaked my trike, and was inside by 5:55pm with food, soda, and new book. I recorded the daily stats before munching, drinking, and reading, and went to sleep by 8:15pm. Tomorrow, I knew I’d be doing some mountain climbing, but I’ve done these hills before, and as I recalled, they weren’t too terribly bad. Of course, there were a lot of differences between the last time I did this route, and now: I was at least 15 years younger the last time I did them, but my legs weren’t nearly as developed as they are, now; but I wasn’t hauling an 80 lb. load back then, either; but my old bike didn’t have the low gears this trike has. Overall, I thought it should be pretty easy, and should go fairly quick. We’ll see. You know, for a Friday the thirteenth, this one wasn’t bad.

Day Two Hundred Fifty-seven, 091112 - Jenner, CA

Day Two Hundred Fifty-seven, Date Thursday, November 12, 2009
Time in Saddle: 6:34
Distance for the Day: 63.94 miles From Albion To Jenner, CA
Accumulated Trip Distance: 12,521 miles
Altitudes: Starting/Ending 19’/92’, Highest: 136’ Accumulated: 1383’
Speeds: Avg: 9.7 mph, Max: 43.9 mph
Weather: 38° clear and cold, warming to the low-to-mid 60s
Expenditures: $35

As is often the case, I woke up at various times during the night, and got up briefly at 2am to drink the rest of my ‘reserve’ soda, then woke up for real at 6:11am, and got up at 6:15am. There were two more cars around 5am or 6am that left the area this morning (I wondered if they were the two cars that went in last night). A lovely crescent Moon hung fairly high in the southeast in the totally clear sky. The dawn was bright enough I couldn’t see any stars; I could hear a flock of redwing blackbirds in the reeds between myself, and the Navarro River. I broke camp, stowed my gear, and was ready to roll by 6:49am. A slight breeze blew, but the big surprise was that clear sky; I wasn’t expecting that. From the weather predictions I got while up at the 3Ps, I thought it would be at least partly cloudy or even a bit of rain. I guess heading south got me out of the cold front’s path, except I thought I took that into account by checking weather forecasts for points down along the coast. Anyways, I wasn’t complaining. I stopped in the town of Elk from 8:15am to 8:41am for a breakfast of eggs, toast, and hot cocoa ($10) at Queenie’s Roadside Café. I talked a while with a local, Brett, who owns a house that is almost right on the edge of an escarpment facing the ocean – lucky guy. We chatted about my trip, and I gave him a tip on how to view more green flashes (use binoculars just before the last bit of Sun disappears). Continuing on, the Sun was now shining brightly, but it was still very cool, out. I would have to start using my face mask, again, to keep the UV off me. I stopped for 10 minutes at 10am to do my civic duty, and picked up dozens of nails and U-tacks that some knucklehead dropped on the road – each one a potential flat for cars and cyclists. I threw them into the bushes, out of harms way, and noticed they were a bit rusty, so they must have been there at least a week. I was a bit disappointed that no one else bothered to take a few minutes to pick up those nails and prevent innocent people from getting flat tires. Not always, but every now and then, I pick up or shove off debris from the shoulders. Of course, being so close to the ground makes this possible.

I stopped in Manchester at 10:30am for food drink items ($10), and stopped in Anchor Bay at 12:20pm for lunch. I already had the 2nd half of my Subway sandwich from yesterday, so I just got a side of fries and soda ($9) (expensive!) I also stopped for a few minutes in Gualala at 1:12pm to get more drink and chili cheese chips ($6). I was a little concerned for my progress, because the coastline was just so beautiful, I kept stopping to take pictures. It was necessary, though, not just to capture all those aesthetic views, but to also give me poor legs some rest stops. It was getting so bad, I would limp for a minute after getting up, before I could walk normally, again; that never happened to me before. I think my body was in anticipation for the end game, and was saying, “Okay, since we’re so close to finishing, now I can fall apart.” I hate it when my body anticipates. Like when you have to relieve yourself, and you can see you’re getting close to a relief station (a bathroom), and your body prematurely begins the dump sequence countdown, making the situation much more urgent than it was, just by the power of a thought. It’s even worse if the anticipated bathroom is for some reason unavailable. There you are, ready to blast off, and the launch pad is gone. I thought up an (I think) original expression for situations like that: “When the chocolate dogs come scratching at the back door, the hounds must be released!” It’s a bit crude, I know, but it’s just so true. If you’re truly strong, you can pucker up with Herculean effort and delay the launch, but it’s tough. Do those Kegel exercises!

The whole day had been beautifully clear with mild temps, and even a light breeze out of the north (a tailwind - yes!) The terrain was still relatively tough – always some degree of up or down, and as described yesterday, there were lots of those fingers of water that poked inland, creating short but steep descents and ascents. As evening approached, I found a reasonably good stealth campsite at 4:45pm (N38 30.870’ W123 14.408’). This site seemed to be an historic cemetery, perhaps associated with the historic fort complex (Ft. Ross, as I found out later) several hundred yards to the north, across a ravine. It had odd-looking crosses to mark the graves. There weren’t any signs saying ‘keep out,’ or ‘private property,’ or anything else, and there was an opening in the low picket fence that I could *just* barely squeeze my trike through, which I did. I then waited about 15 minutes to watch the sunset on the ocean. I could hear children playing at the fort, but it was several hundred yards away, and I didn’t see any lights from buildings, or any people, so I figured I was pretty safe, there. There were clouds on the horizon, so even with binoculars, I only saw some hints of the green flash as the Sun went below the somewhat sharply defined clouds. I continued to wait about another 20-30 minutes for it to get darker before setting up my tent as far from the road as possible, without making myself too visible to the caretaker occupants of the fort. I finished setting up at 5:50pm and hopped in by 6pm to munch, drink soda, and finish my book (this one was a pretty quick read). I now had less than 90 miles to San Francisco, which meant doing two 45 mile days, if I took it slow and easy. If I went my usual pace, I could probably make it back to my Start Point by late morning or early afternoon of Saturday, November 14th. I would wait until most of tomorrow to verify my progress, before getting online to post my ETA for the hoards of my adoring fans (all ten of ‘em) who wanted to be there when I arrived.

Day Two Hundred Fifty-six, 091111 - Albion, CA

Day Two Hundred Fifty-six, Date Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Time in Saddle: 5:50
Distance for the Day: 54.48 miles From Westport To Albion, CA
Accumulated Trip Distance: 12,457 miles
Altitudes: Starting/Ending 1208’/19’ Highest: 372’ Accumulated: 1038’
Speeds: Avg: 9.3 mph, Max: 37.1 mph
Weather: 44°, solidly overcast, but no rain
Expenditures: $16

As ususal, I woke up at various times throughout the night and morning. I really woke up at 6am, and got up at 6:30am. I packed up my gear, and was ready to roll by 7:10am. I had a quickie breakfast of meat and cheese stick and Pay Day bar, before starting out, heading towards the Pacific coast. I had stopped and camped last night a bit past the peak of this coastal mountain range, so I started today with a fast roller coaster ride of several miles downhill (wheee!) before reaching the coast at 9:45am. I stopped a few miles down the coast at the first mini mart I found for a second breakfast of choco milk and Danish ($5) (things are pretty expensive on the coast). Now that I could see the sky, again, I noticed a medium-thick, high overcast; the Sun shone faintly through it sometimes, but not a patch of blue. The terrain along the coast was a lot flatter – there were still *some* meager hills to contend with, but nothing major. However, every time there was a spot along the coast where a finger of water poked into the land, the road would always follow the outline of that ‘finger,’ and turn inland, go steeply downhill, turn sharply around the tip of the finger, and go steeply uphill, before following along the coast, again. There must have been dozens of these, and they were a pain, as in, “ouch!” me poor legs. The real insult was not being able to use the momentum gained from doing the downhill speed-up, due to the sharp turn back out towards the ocean. I had to brake to make the corner, I’d flip the trike. A tour-loaded bicycle would perhaps do a little better in these instances, but not by much, I don’t think.

I got to Ft. Bragg at 12:45pm, and stopped to have a Subway meal deal ($8) while I charged up my notebook and answered email (there was a working wi-fi signal there – I love it when that happens). I left at 3pm, and continued down the coast, stopping once to get a bit more food and drink for the evening ($3)
I kept going until after sunset before looking for a stealth camp location, and at 5:15pm, I saw a ‘coastal access’ sign on a side road, so I took it down a few hundred yards. I figured it must be a dead end, so there should be no or little traffic, and found a flat, level spot on the grass at the side of the road next to the Navarro River to set up my tent (N39 11.798’ W123 45.053’). I was set up, cloaked, and inside with munchies, soda, and book by 5:47pm. Two cars did pass by, heading down, but that was it for the night (that I noticed). I was about 5 miles north of Elk, and figured if I could keep up my current pace, I should make it home by this coming Saturday or Sunday. That was a bit of an odd concept to grasp, mentally. Done? Finished? Over? Nahhh! Yeah!

Day Two Hundred Fifty-five, 091110 - Westport, CA

Day Two Hundred Fifty-five, Date Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Time in Saddle: 5:44
Distance for the Day: 43.40 miles From Miranda To Westport, CA
Accumulated Trip Distance: 12,403 miles
Altitudes: Starting/Ending 201’/1208’, Highest: 1910’ Accumulated: 4009’
Speeds: Avg: 7.5 mph, Max: 36.9 mph
Weather: 49° overcast but without rain
Expenditures: $25

I woke and got up at 6:54am – a little later than usual for me – the late night blogging at the 3Ps must have finally caught up, but I was now fully rested. It was solidly overcast this morning, but it didn’t feel like it would rain. As predicted, the traffic noise from the local road died out late in the evening, and the noise from Hwy 101 was too far away to be of much bother, so I got a decent night’s sleep. I packed up and was ready to roll by 7:04am, and continued on through the last third of the Avenue of the Giants, which ended in Garberville. Along the way, I stopped briefly at The Legend of Bigfoot Gift Shop to get a couple of drinks, and also picked up an interesting, scallop-shaped Andean ocarina flute (I like flutes), just for the heck of it ($10), and continued on. I stopped at Garberville at 10am to get a mini mart breakfast of hot cocoa, and a couple of pre-packaged pastries ($3), and to recharge my notebook. The next time I stopped, it was at a mini mart in Leggett where I got a late lunch (burger and food/drink items - $12) at 2:20pm, and left at 3:02pm. From here, my route split off to the southwest from Hwy 101 onto Hwy 1; it was a bit of a climb – up almost a thousand feet in elevation through dense forest on narrow, winding road, before it began to go downhill, again. Traffic was very light, though, so I didn’t have any problems.

At 4:50pm, I found a stealth camp on the downhill side of Leggett Hill; a gravel pile (I love gravel piles) in a lot off the road looked like it might have potential. But there was a trail at the back of the lot that I could ride and get still further from the road. I didn’t go very far – just far enough to be well hidden from the road (N39 48.659’ W123 47.343’). Traffic was light, and would get lighter as it became darker, so the noise level would be minimal. I set my tent up on a moist carpet of pine needles, and hopped inside by 5:15pm with munchies, soda, and book. I read until about 9pm before saying goodnight to myself. This was a nice site, as I could read without worrying about anyone seeing my light. Also, this site was almost disturbingly quiet. No sound at all. No wind, dripping water, birds – no nothing! I felt like I was in a soundproof studio – very odd, indeed. In fact, it was a bit spooky, but in a good way.

My legs today and yesterday were a fair bit more painful than usual with the somewhat heavy climbing, today; I just had to kind of grin and bear it. I would have thought they would be better after having rested a few days, but I think I’m noticing a trend that whenever I stop cycling for more than 3 or 4 days, starting back up again is a painful process. The pain was from the muscles, not the knee joints, so the usual leg stretches didn’t help. Maybe just before I finish, I’ll figure out some quick and easy solution for the relief of muscular pain. Oh, this was a little disappointing: before hitting Leggett, I saw a highway sign that said, “199 miles to SF” (progress – yay!), but later, after going past that sign at least 5 or 10 miles, once I got onto Hwy 1 heading for the coast, I saw another sign that said, “208 miles to SF.” Anti-progress – phooey! This must have been a longer route – not too surprising, as coastal routes tend to wind around a bit more than inland routes – but still.